(Thank you Aaron, Axl, Alex, Matthew, Jason, Roanz for helping me with the editing on the LiveDraft!! <3)
ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
JAPANESE WEB NOVEL SOURCE: HTTP://NCODE.SYOSETU.COM/N2267BE/202/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 36 [At The End Of Incomprehension]
――The moment he was ejected from the door, Subaru felt a sense of weightlessness as though the sky and the earth had been reversed.
The pain of his back striking the solid ground wrenched out all the air from his lungs and left his throat gasping for breath. Carried on by the momentum, he went tumbling across the floor and was only stopped by smashing into a wall. Shaking his head to cast off the ejected sensation, still dazzled from the pain, Subaru lifted his face and opened his eyes.
[Subaru: Beatrice…… hg]
Giving voice to the name of the girl whose name he failed to call at their parting, it was already too late for it to reach her.
The moment Door Crossing was activated, an insurmountable gap had been opened between them. Her rejection was so fierce and deep that Subaru’s voice could no longer touch her.
[Subaru: Why do I…… always……!]
Was there really no way for him to realize his own mistakes except by failing and picking the worst possible choice?
All he wanted was to take the optimal actions leading to the best possible future, but why was he always too weak, foolish and insufficient?
[Subaru: What are you doing with a Gospel…… just, what’s with you……!?]
The existence of the black-bound book in her hands――the Gospel decisively opened a distance between them.
Until this point, Subaru had been convinced that despite the short amount of time he and Beatrice had spent together, there was certainly “Something” that existed between them.
Even though they were always taunting each other, expressing their mutual displeasure at seeing each other, Subaru nonetheless believed that as long as there was that something, things could never come to an end between them.
But that was only presumption. Conceit. Misaligned understanding in the extreme.
Subaru’s conviction was nothing more than the product of his self-satisfaction, and Beatrice never held any sentiments towards him except the literal meanings of her words. She was merely following the Gospel’s orders, and was only putting up with Subaru in order to fulfill her purpose. All the while, in her heart, she was indifferent, or even despised him.
[Subaru: ……is that really how it is?]
The bond he thought was there was declared to be nonexistent, and his attempts to deny it were cut off by Beatrice’s angered cries.
As Subaru imagined, their connection was confirmed to be counterfeit. She had never been moved in the slightest by Subaru’s existence, and there was only ever the sense of necessity behind her actions.
[Subaru: All those times you smiled, got mad, or protected me…… were they all just some lies written in a script……?]
How is that possible, Subaru’s brittle heart still denied it. In that final moment, Beatrice’s tearful voice at their parting had drawn a mist over the veracity of her words.
No matter what, it was still too early for him to come to that conclusion.
[Subaru: Who cares if it’s written inside some book, all I remember is that you saved me…… nothing can change that fact. It’s a debt that only I remember]
In the loops beginning in the Mansion, more than once, Subaru had been saved by Beatrice.
There were all those times when he loitered in the Forbidden Library to gather his thoughts after Return by Death, and when she more literally saved his life when he was littered with the Mabeasts’ curses. And, in that lost world where he had allowed Rem to die, when he was hounded by Ram and Roswaal, she went so far as to twist the meaning of their offhand verbal contract in order to protect him.
Even if that great debt no longer existed anywhere in this world, it still remained within Subaru’s heart.
[Subaru: That time…… I was glad]
Even when he was convinced that there was no one left on his side, she saved him nonetheless.
When he thought Rem and Ram were his enemies, when he couldn’t fathom Roswaal’s intentions, and when he was worn to his core when even Emilia couldn’t completely trust him, Beatrice alone had saved him.
Just how much that temporary, transient contract had saved him was beyond what words could convey, and a kindness he could never fully repay.
[Subaru: I’ll repay that debt. I still don’t know whether you loaned it to me of your own free will, or if you were following that book’s wishes…… but I’ll find out]
Obviously, he could no longer ask her now after she had so firmly rejected him. So, since Subaru’s resolve no longer held any meaning in this world, it will just have to be carried over to the next one.
He held up his right arm. Hand missing three of its fingers. Shoulder and hip twinging. Head banged up. And tongue slightly shortened. Every last one dealt him pain impossible to forget.
He saw Rem beneath his closed eyelids. And Petra. And Frederica. And Beatrice, with her back turned to him. And, at last, there was Emilia.
――Everything that Subaru had failed to grasp because of his mistakes in this world.
In order to retrieve what was lost, he will commit himself to do what he must. To continue what Beatrice had interrupted, and once again dive into that spiral,
Subaru held out his shortened tongue and gathered the resolve to bite into it once more.
But, just the thought of his botched suicide resurrected his anguish, and seized him with fear once more. Hesitation surfaced, and his legs began to tremble. Word games like resolve are worthless when faced with the end.
Holding back such counterproductive emotions, overcoming the unsurpassable dread of impending death and praying to be returned to a time when he could still fix everything, Subaru shut his eyes for the final moment――
[Subaru: ……where… is this place?]
He realized that the room where Door Crossing had dumped him was a place he had never seen before.
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To Subaru, this was an unknown space completely different from the familiar Roswaal Mansion.
Damp stone slabs, and grimy walls covered in sprawling ivy. Randomly arranged tables with rusted metal tools scattered over them that evoked unease by sight.
And above all,
A dense, putrid stench, which, once noticed, could no longer be severed from his mind.
It was different from the rotten stench of organic waste, but there was no other way to describe it but as a horrid rotting stench that injected him with the urge to vomit. Quickly covering his mouth, Subaru’s empty stomach retched out all of its fluids.
Seeing the yellow stomach bile splashing onto the floor, panting, Subaru glared through his surroundings. The more he looked, the stranger the unknown space appeared.
A dark room covered by stone slabs, its space was about twice the area of the drawing room in Roswaal’s Mansion. It wasn’t large enough to be considered spacious, but it couldn’t be called cramped either.
Strewn about one corner of the room were tables with mysterious instruments scattered on top, and opposite the tables―― littering the vast majority of the room, were,
[Subaru: Broken tables and… crystals……? Crystals or, fragments of magic minerals? And then this hole……]
Looking at the ground before him, there were carcasses of broken tables and deactivated magic crystals scattered across the floor, and even further ahead, was a wide, gaping hole about four meters in diameter. In the absence of sufficient lighting, it was all the more impossible to gauge the true depth of the pitfall.
If he turned up his head, he would see pale blue light emanating from glowing moss on the walls. Like the ones growing freely in the forests, they absorb mana from the atmosphere to fuel their light. The forests surrounding the Mansion were spared from absolute darkness by the light of these very same moss along with the light of the stars.
Feeling his way across the floor with the aid of moss-light, enduring the unpleasant sensation of moisture soaking into his pants and the slime sticking to his palms, he peeked into the depths of the hole.
A quiet, cold wind swept up from below, carrying a nose-turning―― or rather, nose-demolishing stench along with it.
[Subaru: Uu…… pugh. Not having the courage to look inside would’ve been the correct choice, huh…… what is that smell?]
If it had been a stench characteristic of something harboring life, then Subaru’s imagination might have turned to the worst. But this rising stench was something different from that of rotting flesh, and was closer to a strong chemical smell.
Like the sensation of sniffing some stringent medicine, a painful shock jolted his nose. The stench rising from the dark bottom of this pit was wholly unlike the scent of any living organism.
[Subaru: ――something else]
Both physically and mentally unwilling to check the bottom of the pit again, Subaru wiped off his nose and consciously breathed through his mouth as he looked around the room.
The first thing his eyes landed on were the scattered carcasses of tables and expended magic crystals. The metal tables seemed to have been crushed by some tremendous impact, and the magic crystals appeared to have been stacked on the tables before that. Slowly flipping over one of the mangled tables, he noticed some sort of pattern engraved on its surface.
[Subaru: Looks like…… some kind of magic circle……]
Magic circles like this show up quite a lot in Alternate-World Fantasy genres, but Subaru couldn’t recall seeing anything similar since coming to this world. Basically, the magic in this world passes through living bodies to interfere with the outside world, and aside from magic lamps and Metias, Subaru had yet to find any exceptions.
So he was quite surprised to find a magic circle here, but,
[Subaru: Actually, does it even do anything? If it does, then…… why would they leave the circle in a place like this……]
Could it be that the magic couldn’t be activated here directly, and was instead meant to serve some remote functionality? Or perhaps it was some kind of system to run the spell continuously without the caster being present?
[Subaru: If that was the case, it’d explain why there’re so many used up magic crystals next to it]
After the magic crystals serving as its energy source were depleted, the magic circle lost its power―― that would be the most plausible explanation. But, despite reaching this conclusion, what Subaru still did not understand was the true purpose of the hole and the broken tables. Nor could he completely rule out the possibility that the room had been purposely designed to explode in the event that the spell was interrupted.
[Subaru: In the end… I still have no idea where I am]
A dark hole seemingly going down forever. A magic circle used for some kind of spell, surrounded by magic crystals. Looking over the rotting, putrid room, he saw another tipped-over table in the corner―― and picked up one of the rusted metal tools beside it.
Resembling a plier or nipper, it was the kind of utensil one might use when crafting plastic models. It was covered in the same slime that was smeared across the floor, and, more importantly, perhaps due to the passage of time in which it had spent in disuse, it disintegrated into dust at the touch of Subaru’s hand.
Not only the tools, but the table was in the same condition. After years upon years of exposure, its bent legs had deteriorated to the brink of dust, and when he nudged it with his foot with the slightest force, it lost its shape and transformed into powdered iron.
There was no other information to be gained beyond that. But if there was just one point he could not get out of his mind, it would be,
[Subaru: The way this was destroyed, and its timing, was drastically different from the table in front of the hole……]
Unlike the one which had become brittle from the passage of time before welcoming its collapse, the table beside the hole was obviously crushed by some destructive force. And, judging from the state of the ground beneath it, its destruction came extremely recently―― probably within the last few days.
[Subaru: A room destroyed…… by whom, and why……]
Muttering this question, Subaru suddenly realized that his thinking was somewhat ridiculous.
What was the point of asking this? It was not the kind of question that could be answered by thinking alone, and more importantly, the problems that Subaru had to deal with were already more than his arms could hold.
He mustn’t allow himself to be weighed down by small matters in between the large, which would only serve to hasten his collapse. Above all, the very act of distracting his attention away was nothing more than desperately dragging out the unbearable agony of the time before his impending suicide.
But, even recognizing this unopposable sense of “Shame”, Subaru could not pull himself away from the strangeness of this room. At this point, there was something very important right in front of him――
Guided by an inexplicable certainty, Subaru felt his way forward, turning his head about, searching for the room’s exit. Since he was brought here by “Door Crossing, this room must have a closeable door that tossed him out.
At last, Subaru found the door that had so rudely dropped him off―― a small flap installed on the upper part of the wall, perhaps used for ventilation or the likes.
Other than that, he could see nothing else that could be considered an exit. The official door might be on the other side of the collapsed pit―― in the opposite, unreachable end of the room.
When this fact finally sank in, Subaru had to give up on the notion of leaving in any conventional way. Wiping off the sweat and the unknown slime stuck to his palms onto his pants, he held his breath as he reached his fingers towards the flap.
The flap was at a height he had to stretch up on his tiptoes to reach, and its size would be closest to a garbage disposal chute. Although it wasn’t too narrow for a person to pass through, it wasn’t so luxurious that Subaru could fit through easily.
After some struggling owing to his maimed right hand, the rusted flap creaked open, and the effort to maneuver his body into the narrow tunnel began. The tunnel was the width of a ventilation pipe. In the worst case, he imagined it’d be a paradise for insect and rats, but it turned out to be surprisingly clean―― or, not exactly, but at least the fact that the dusty passage was free of living critters was a saving grace.
It took about three minutes before he passed through the tunnel. He got used to the crawling about halfway through, and just as his movements started getting smooth, he found himself at the finishing line. Popping out in the room connected by the ventilation tunnel, Subaru jumped down in the same manner, and started looking over his surroundings. He took the greatest caution to make sure there wasn’t another pit here, but,
[Subaru: It’s got a different vibe from the previous one. Compared to the one that looked like a lab this one’s more like a waiting room]
Only about a half of a half of the size of the previous room, it appeared to be a room whose sole purpose was to be passed through. Other than two walk-though-on-the-ground type of doors, there was nothing else in the room. Certainly, it was a waiting room-esque room.
It’d be perfect if there was a coffee table with some magazines stacked on it――
[Subaru: Judging by the direction I came from, the other side of this door would be…… yeah]
Turning the knob and pushing open the door, he was greeted by the collapsed pit in front of his eyes. Seeing this death-trap situation, Subaru spilled a small sigh and closed the door again for the sake of his mental health. ――And, smelling the putrid stench seeping into this room, he kicked himself for not being quicker with his decision.
Then, quietly turning around, this time he faced the opposite door. Behind that door, would be a space completely unknown to Subaru――
The sweat on his palm that was supposed to have been wiped off and the cold sweat dripping down his back became unbearable.
Since he didn’t know what was beyond that door, he could only imagine and prepare for the worst.
[Subaru: If…… this is inside the Mansion, then……]
Although it could just be another room he had never seen before, it was also possible that the moment he opened this door, he would find Elsa on the other side. If he did come face to face with that murderer, Subaru was not so confident that he’d be able to stay calm.
Even the impulse of “You Need To Die Immediately” insisting on his suicide could not help but transform into teeth-shattering hatred at that reminder.
Just the thought that the deviant whose blade killed Petra, Frederica―― and Rem, might be there tormented Subaru’s mind with rage surging to a boil.
Like a curse, a part of him wished that she was there, while a pathetic craving for life hoped that she was not. Wavering between the two extremes, Subaru’s mouth contorted into a wicked grin,
Whether she’s there, or not there, this deranged emotion would not be betrayed.
At the end of his thoughts’ departure from sanity, faced with the world that opened before him,
Witnessing a sight that should not be there, Subaru lost himself in that moment.
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The whole chapter was finished on the Live Draft last night, but I didn’t want to compromise the quality so I decided to do a final edit after I wake up.
I am editing Part 2/2 right now, it should be ready in an hour!