(Thank you Alex, Aaron, Jason, Axl, Jeffry, Roanz for helping with proofreading and editing in 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/204/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 38 [Caterpillar]
――The first thing that drew on his consciousness was the continuous sound of dripping water.
Falling at equal intervals, the droplets carved out a constant rhythm, and with every beat sent into the silence of the room, Subaru’s submerged consciousness was guided little by little into wakefulness.
His slumbering brain resumed its activity, and his rebooted nerves sensed the circulation of blood through his veins. Twisting his body, he tried to rise up with a groan―― but couldn’t.
Dropping back onto the ground, his limbs would not listen to his commands, and he could do nothing more than to scrape his face against the cold surface of the floor. At the same time, trying to tax his recovering senses to survey his surroundings, he found that his vision was completely painted over with darkness.
――Both my eyes are blind!?
That was the immediate answer he arrived at as he confirmed his situation, but before fear could overtake him, he noticed the tight pressure binding his eyelids and abandoned that conclusion. He determined that he had been blindfolded, before realizing the strangeness of the situation.
Instead of his eyes being blinded, they had both been covered. In addition, the fact that his body couldn’t move was for the same reason, because his hands and feet had been firmly tied behind his back.
There was the sensation of a slender rope wrapped around his wrists and ankles. With his hands behind his back, even if he struggled, it would be no easy task to break free.
[Subaru: Wh, what is this……!?]
Fortunately, he wasn’t gagged, so he could still use his voice normally. But with his hands and feet literally tied, his mouth was all he had left. Truth is, whoever put Subaru in this situation probably wouldn’t be amicable enough to be satisfied by small talk.
Fear began to emerge from the inexplicable situation and the absence of information on his surroundings. In midst of these interwoven emotions, Subaru held his breath and forced his thoughts to move.
Organize the current circumstances: His eyes were blindfolded. His hands and feet were bound, impossible to break loose. He still had his voice. Should he yell for help? That would only draw his captor. Was there something nearby he could use to free himself from his restraints? It would be difficult to crawl around searching like this. The right side of his head was hurting, and, the moment he placed his consciousness on it, it began to assert its existence with throbbing pain.
[Subaru: Head, hurts……]
Becoming aware of the pain on the side of his head, Subaru remembered what had happened to him right before losing consciousness.
After Returning by Death and leaving the Tomb, Subaru confronted Roswaal with the new facts and speculations, and when he flew into a rage at Roswaal’s unforgivable statements, Subaru was knocked down by Garfiel, who had been watching him.
Or rather, “knocked down” would be too much of an understatement for the overwhelming force that had crushed him. Just a restraining strike from Garfiel had broken through his skull, and it wouldn’t have been surprising if he had died just like that.
[Subaru: If I died, this would be after Return by Death, but……]
If that really was the case, Subaru’s restart point should be in the Tomb right after the Trial. His soul should have been spirited to the room inside the Tomb, barely an hour before he headed to Roswaal’s bedroom, as per the rules of Return by Death.
At least, Subaru’s experience of being tied up and confined was only limited to that one time he flipped over the coffee table while imitating some anime, completely pissing off his father who threw him into the storehouse as punishment.
That was a memory from way back, even before he entered elementary school, and Return by Death couldn’t have returned him that far. Then, assuming the restart point hadn’t changed, the next conclusion would be that he was tied up immediately after Return by Death, but that should be impossible as well. So that only left him with one conclusion――
[Subaru: I failed.. to die……?]
Whether it was the lingering pain in his head or his current situation, it would explain all of it.
He had committed an act of unsurpassable violence against Roswaal. With that in mind, his treatment was only morally right, even if it was not something he could emotionally accept.
[???: ――Y’sure got a grasp of yer situation quickly, yeah?]
As though he had been waiting for Subaru to come to terms with his situation, a voice descended from above. Lifting his face, even though he couldn’t see a thing, Subaru turned towards the direction of the voice. If he were to guess who the other person was just from the intonation of that voice,
[Subaru: Garfiel, is it?]
[Garfiel: Got that right too. Looks like yer head’s still workin’, that’s a relief. Guess I smacked ya a bit too hard, my’bad my’bad]
Hearing his name being called, Garfiel apologized to the blindfolded Subaru. Even though the tone of his voice didn’t exactly match its apologetic content, he went on with [Who would’a thought],
[Garfiel: I was just givin’ y’a lil’ pat, didn’t think you’d almost die from that. Heard yer Emilia-sama’s Knight so I thought you’d have a bit more goin’ there, but guess I overestimated ya, huh]
[Subaru: Sorry to disappoint you. My character’s more of the brainy type than the physical type…… So where are we, anyway?]
Replying with a scornful quip, Subaru cut directly to the chase. Hearing this, Garfiel let out a short sigh through his nose, and,
[Garfiel: Don’t worry, yer still in th’Sanctuary. But this ain’t the Cathedral or th’Tomb, or one of them houses we’re lendin’ to the guests]
[Subaru: You’ve got a bondage room prepared? They say it’s good to be prepared, but if you’ve even got this kind of facility set up…… honestly I’m kinda creeped out]
[Garfiel: Go complain to the creep who made it if y’think it’s bad taste. In fact, y’get to speak to her directly, don’t ya?]
Garfiel made plain his discontent, or rather a sincere sense of discomfort. As though having caught something within his words, Subaru’s face frowned up,
[Subaru: Directly… what do you mean……?]
[Garfiel: With the Witch’s stench all o’er ya, don’t go playin’ dumb now. Y’met her inside the Tomb, didn’t ya? Why else y’suddenly smell like this?]
[Subaru: Met inside the Tomb……?]
Something in Garfiel’s words was tugging at him.
The Tomb. The Trial. The person he encountered there. It was all a blank. After bidding farewell to his parents in the Trial, at the end, he went into the empty school building, and there――
[Subaru: The Witch……!]
――He encountered the Witch of Greed, Echidona.
With the sense of incongruity that came with the filling of the void, the existence of Echidona was restored to Subaru’s brain. He had already experienced this in the previous loop, so why had he forgotten it again?
Unless, it was the result of the “Condition” imposed upon him at the end of their first meeting? But the fact that Return by Death could not overcome this effect was truly astounding.
Return by Death allowed him to carry over his memories, yet he would have no countermeasures against this direct interference. In other words, every time Subaru Returns by Death, he will have forgotten Echidona, and will only begin to remember when he is reminded again.
[Subaru: Then, was this the thing that Roswaal mentioned I’ve forgotten……?]
Only now, with the existence of the Witch restored, did Subaru realize this, but it was still a bit too early to draw such a conclusion. After all, despite being able to remember Echidona, he could find nothing in their conversations that would help him break through the present situation.
The way Roswaal said it, it was as though he wanted Subaru to remember “Something” which, in and of itself, would reveal Roswaal’s incomprehensible intentions.
Then again, this would only make sense if he was indeed in possession of a complete Gospel.
[Garfiel: Since yer quiet all’of a sudden, should I take that as yer feelin’ guilty?]
[Subaru: I’m not some highschool girl who’ll die if she stops talking, so I’m just quietly thinking over a thing or two. Although a thing or two probably isn’t enough at this point]
There were so many things to figure out that there wouldn’t be enough cells in Subaru’s brain to do it.
There was Emilia. Rem. Beatrice. ――Pretty much for every name in the female lineup, Subaru will have to dig himself out of the situation . And on top of that, there was the Sanctuary, Elsa, Roswaal’s true intentions, and the Gospels. And then,
[Subaru: There’s Garfiel… too]
To convince him and gain his support was an indispensable element of Subaru’s blueprint of the plan to save the Mansion. When it comes to repelling Elsa, there was no one else Subaru could draw on with greater combat capability. The fact that his strength could be counted on to match Elsa’s was something Subaru had both witnessed with his eyes and personally experienced with his head.
[Subaru: ……If I’m not mistaken, I’m pretty sure I got punched or kicked until my head was crushed, but what happened to that?]
[Garfiel: Hah. Took long enough for that topic t’come up. Yer head wasn’t crushed, but it sure was cavin’ in a bit. It’d be a nuisance if I just let ya die like that, so y’got a bit of healin’]
[Subaru: Healing…… by whom?]
[Garfiel: Well who else was there t’do it ‘cept me?]
Picking up some reverberations of pride in Garfiel’s voice, Subaru was at a loss for words.
Who would have thought that the rough-and-brutish looking Garfiel would have studied healing magic. Still tied up, Subaru squirmed a little with his body.
[Subaru: My… head’s still got it’s original shape and isn’t a box or pyramid, right?]
[Garfiel: Next time it gets cracked I could make it into that shape if y’want]
With a stupid sigh, having received this answer, Subaru shrinked up his shoulders and confirmed that at least his body was out of the near-death situation.
In that case, the next question would be Garfiel’s intentions.
[Subaru: Since you’re the one who crushed it, it’d feel kinda weird to be thanking you for healing it, but…… what was your aim in all this?]
[Garfiel: What. What kinda aim y’think I have?]
[Subaru: Considering the circumstances, from your standpoint, you made the right judgement to knock me down, so I won’t complain. I completely lost my head and it was a good thing that you stopped me. That’s just one of the mountain of things I don’t want to say but couldn’t help but want to say… if you catch my drift]
[Garfiel: That’s a pretty damn complicated feelin’. It’s not that I don’t understand wantin’ to bash that smug bastard’s face in, but that’d be trouble for Granny and the others if y’do that]
It seemed that Garfiel shared Subaru’s wonderful opinion of Roswaal. But since they both relied on Roswaal’s existence in no small part, neither of them could put that feeling into practice.
To Subaru, Roswaal was the guarantor of his livelihood in this world, and to Garfiel and the others, he was a necessary existence as the manager of the Sanctuary.
But seeing that the first reason Garfiel mentioned was Lewes―― he must have been thinking more about the lives of the residents of the Sanctuary than about himself.
This only supported Frederica’s assessment of her brother in the previous loop, that in fact, the reason he chose to remain in the Sanctuary instead of leaving with his sister was probably out of consideration for the feelings of the residents who stayed behind.
[Subaru: Because Lewes and the others are important to you, Roswaal’s existence as their protector is indispensable. Without him and his Demihuman fetish, the residents trapped in the Sanctuary won’t be able to continue living as they are now, huh]
[Garfiel: Don’t give me that embarrassing crap like y’understand everything. Who the hell y’think would stay here for sentimental reasons? I’m here cus I can’t leave the place, so……]
[Subaru: You can’t leave, even though your blood sibling Frederica could, Garf?]
It was information he had just gained from the previous loop. Playing this card, Subaru listened for any change in Garfiel’s demeanor. But the intensity of the reaction far surpassed Subaru’s imaginations.
There was a whistling of wind, and the next instant, a tremendous cracking boom rolled into the side of Subaru’s head. The sound of air breaking apart reverberated through space, and with a stomp of his foot faster than the mind could process, the floor gave way, shattering, as the shape of the entire room contorted.
The ground bent upwards, and with a whimper, Subaru was tossed by the shockwave into the air. Unable to even brace himself, he tumbled across the solid floor, and was only forcefully stopped when he smashed into a wall ahead.
The impact on his back wrenched out all the contents of his lungs as the back of his head screamed with pain. Coughing, saliva drooled from the corner of Subaru’s mouth. And, seeing this,
[Garfiel: Who th’fuck told you that, y’piece of shit? Was it Frederica runnin’ her mouth about these unnecessary……no, no way she said this. We already severed our bond as siblings when we parted ways]
[Subaru: That kind of thing’s just a figure of speech, there’s no way to actually sever the blood in your……]
[Garfiel: This here, now, bringin’ that up’s just even more weird, ain’t it. If y’wanted to use it, y’coulda found plenty o’better places to bring it up, couldn’t ya?]
Hearing Subaru’s winded response, Garfiel worked his disgustingly sharp intuition. The way he said it was as though while Subaru wasn’t paying attention, he had picked up on facts that even Subaru failed to notice.
Although Garfiel’s guess wasn’t far from the truth― in fact, it was almost spot on― the thought process he used to get there was far too direct.
It was as though he possessed some extraordinary perceptiveness, or, rather, possessed something “Impossible to Ignore”.
[Subaru: No way……you……too?]
――The moment the possibility struck him, Subaru could not conceal the tremors in his voice.
Subaru’s subjectless question received only an eerie silence in return.
In terms of time, only a few seconds had passed in that silence, but to Subaru, it was equivalent to an eternity.
No reply. Why wasn’t he talking. Was it because Subaru’s question was too vague? If he just plainly said that he doesn’t understand, or even gave him a kick, it would be better than this. The only hope Subaru could cling to was some short-circuited reaction like that.
[Garfiel: Me too……y’say]
High pitched footsteps. The sound of Garfiel’s soles striking upon the stone-tiled floor drew closer, and Subaru could tell that he squatted down beside him. Raising his head off the floor, he could feel Garfiel’s face drawing close to his, baring its fangs,
[Garfiel: And what make y’think that, huh, oy?]
[Subaru: Stop talking in a way that just stirs up even more bad feelings. I just said something that made no sense, right? It’d be alright if you could just straight up deny it…… couldn’t you?]
[Garfiel: What’re y’sayin like yer about t’cry?]
Ignoring Subaru’s pleading request, Garfiel replied in that same ambiguous voice. The indeterminate response only inflamed Subaru’s anxiety, his inner heart already a jumbled mess.
He wanted Garfiel to deny it, say it was some lucky guess. But the pregnant replies only deepened the sense of foreboding in Subaru’s heart.
Beatrice and Roswaal, both of whom he considered to be allies, were, one after the other, revealed to be owners of Gospels. For Subaru now, it would not be so strange if a third person was revealed.
[Subaru: Then……! That means you know too, don’t you……!?]
[Garfiel: ――Ah, so that’s what this’s about. Wonder where y’noticed]
His throat frozen by shock, Subaru traced the image of Garfiel within his blindfolded eyes.
The intonation of his voice, the listless sigh. None of it was like the Garfiel Subaru knew. But even as he relinquished these half-revealing words, the distance between them hadn’t changed,
[Garfiel: Y’look surprised, but it can’t be that strange. I’ve been livin’ in the Sanctuary forever, and we’ve known each other for a very long time. So the opportunities weren’t just once or twice]
[Subaru: B…ut……you… aren’t you supposed to hate the Witch? So much that you’d overreact like that……and yet…]
[Garfiel: Yeah, I do. I hate the Witch, I don’t trust yer stinkin’ like the Witch, and I don’t got no affections for that Half-Witch Emilia-sama, either. But then again, I can’t say what that thing says’s wrong. At least, it defin’ly knows what I wanted to know]
[Subaru: What you wanted… to know……]
[Garfiel: ――I got no reason t’tell ya anything. But why don’t y’try askin’? Y’might not get another chance]
After Garfiel spat out these words, Subaru could sense him standing up. Then, he drew away from Subaru, apparently making his way to the exit of the prison room―― and placed his hand on the door.
Hearing the wooden door creak, [Hey!], Subaru shouted to the departing Garfiel.
[Subaru: Wait! ……Wh-What’ll happen to me. Or I mean what’s happening right now?]
[Garfiel: For tryin’ to assassinate that Roswaal bastard, yer sure gettin’ off light. For now, you’ll just stay restrained and confined till the results come out]
Confined, that was the word that came up just yesterday. From Roswaal’s own mouth, no less. The fact that his self-professed status was now passed onto Subaru for enacting violence against him was nothing short of ironic.
In front of Subaru, who did not make another sound, Garfiel snorted through his nose,
[Garfiel: You’ll be gettin’ meals every mornin’ and evenin’. Don’t try anythin’ funny. I’ll be lookin’ after ya]
[Subaru: As if…… that’s the kind of thing I’d be worried about right now! Results? You said results? What results? What are you waiting for……?]
[Garfiel: What results, ain’t that obvious?]
This time, Garfiel replied as though he had just heard a most foolish question,
[Garfiel: ――The results of Emilia-sama’s Trials. After she heard what y’did, she’s gotten terribly enthusiastic, almost like she’s tryin’ to atone for what you’ve done]
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Part 1/2 is about two-thirds of the chapter, but it’s way too good of a cutting point so I’ll release it first and Part 2/2 will be released tomorrow!
In July, I’ve had to deal with some things in my life and I’ve tried my best to ensure at least a whole chapter a week. But I’m feeling better now.
So let’s keep going :3
Chapter 38 Live Draft: