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/205/
[Subaru: Play a part… in the escape?]
Subaru narrowed his left eye at the perilous word that flew out, and repeated it under his breath as he ruminated. Then, it suddenly occurred to him what Otto must be thinking.
Subaru looked up at Otto and, [Unless], he licked his lips,
[Subaru: You want to have the villagers to escape while the Sanctuary is in a state of chaos, and you want my help in that escape, is that it?]
[Otto: Precisely, I’m glad the conversation got moving quickly. We’re a bit pressed for time, so I hope Natsuki-san can agree to help without any conditions attached]
[Subaru: ……Take me through the process first. Even I’m not going to agree to go in without a plan. I need to make sure we got a chance, since we won’t have any excuses once we get caught]
Above all, if they roused up the faction opposing the Sanctuary’s liberation, it would mean placing Emilia, Roswaal and all the hostages in danger. Not that he really cared what would happen to Roswaal, but Subaru wanted to keep Emilia, Ram, and Patrasche from getting hurt.
[Otto: I would like it if you could add my name to the list of people you don’t want to get hurt as well]
[Subaru: It’s natural for men to endure pain in the gambling halls. Maybe I’m just that old-fashioned kind of guy. Good men stay out of the house, you know]
[Otto: That’s the first time I heard that phrase, but I’m already almost completely sure that’s not where it’s supposed to be used]
Subaru made a face at Otto’s correct guess, and then, clearing his throat, he brought the conversation back on topic,
[Subaru: If it’s not just some haphazard desperate gamble, then tell me your plan. After that I’ll decide whether to assist you or sell you out]
[Otto: It’s pretty scary that selling me out is even on the table…… but the plan is straightforward. We’ve already talked with the moderate faction of the Sanctuary, so while they keep the extremists busy, we’ll try to break through the Barrier in our dragon carriages. Then, all that’s left is to say goodbye]
[Subaru: Isn’t that just plain reckless? And who else are you working with……?]
[Otto: That’s something I’ll tell you once you’ve agreed to help. But the task we want to leave to Natsuki-san would be persuading the villagers and dealing with the unpredictable Garfiel. After all, if it’s between the Natsuki-san and the villagers, he’ll probably bite onto Natsuki-san]
[Subaru: My body is pretty good bait, huh. Well, I can’t really deny that]
Otto was right. If it was a choice between Subaru and the refugees, no doubt Garfiel will dive straight for Subaru’s blood. But, as one would expect, that would mean considerable hardship for Subaru,
[Subaru: So after all that, we still have no idea where Garfiel stands in this, do we? That guy’s like family to Lewes-san, so he should be with the moderates, but…]
[Otto: Originally, that was how I’d count him as well, but considering his approach to Natsuki-san and Emilia-sama, it’s pretty hard to tell. So, even if we don’t consider him an active enemy, we have to treat him as a passive enemy. That’s the consensus we’ve come to]
[Subaru: Sounds like your accomplice has a pretty good grasp of the situation……You can count me in. But, just out of curiosity, what would you’ve done if I refused to help?]
[Otto: We’ll go around announcing that you’ve escaped, and then we won’t have to worry about any potential threat from Garfiel for a while]
[Subaru: That’s just perfect, you bastards. The moment my hands and feet are freed, you’ve already got me going against Garfiel! God damnit, I’ve been played]
Scratching his head, Subaru could only accept that he was thoroughly in the palms of Otto and his accomplice’s hands. From the moment he was put into this situation, Subaru had no choice but to dance to their will.
However, Subaru wasn’t as upset he claimed.
Because now, by taking part in Otto’s plan to free the refugees from the Sanctuary, Subaru might just find the answer to why everyone had vanished from the Sanctuary.
If the plan succeeded, it would at least explain how the refugees could have disappeared from the Sanctuary without Subaru’s interference. But that still wouldn’t solve the rest of the mystery.
[Subaru: It still wouldn’t explain how all the residents trapped in the Sanctuary went missing……]
Subaru could accept the conclusion that those who could leave might have left. But that wouldn’t explain how the people who supposedly couldn’t leave went missing as well. Either way, he would have to leave this place in order to find out what happened.
By following along with Otto’s plan, seeing this loop to the end wouldn’t be so pointless after all.
[Subaru: Come to think of it, I’m pretty impressed how you managed to find me. Since this place is probably like a secret hideout in the Sanctuary or something]
He had already more or less pieced together the details of the interior of the room from Garfiel’s words and the excessive free time. After looking around the place, Subaru clicked the bones in his neck.
Dim crystal lamps served as the only light source inside the room, which had no windows to allow any outside light to enter. Built out of wood, its shoddy construction showed signs of rain leaking through. That was probably the source of the sound of dripping water that had gradually worn at the blindfolded Subaru’s nerves. A painful thought.
[Otto: Well, it certainly wouldn’t be easy to find his place using any conventional methods. And I’d say it feels more like a secret base than a hideout]
[Subaru: Looking around again, I’m getting that impression too. It doesn’t seem to be the handiwork of a pro. It’s more like an amateur with too much energy threw a building together based on whatever he felt like]
The rundown little cabin was quite far from Subaru’s original impressions of his prison. It was just a narrow, ordinary little shed.
While Subaru was busy going through such sentiments, with [Leaving that aside], Otto gestured to move on with the topic,
[Otto: Finding you was all thanks to me, you know. I believe this is where you give me your most sincere praises, so, what do you think, Natsuki-san?]
[Subaru: I’m honestly impressed, and you really helped me. So how did you find me?]
[Otto: Fufufuu~, do you really want to know? You want to know, right? You want to know]
[Subaru: Yeah, I wanna know. You must’ve used your Divine Protection of Anima Whipering to talk to the bugs and lizards and plants in the forest to gather information to find me here, huh]
[Otto: Yes but can you please give me back my sense of superiority!?]
Otto lamented being destroyed. All the while, having originally intended it as a joke, Subaru couldn’t hide his internal astonishment that it was confirmed.
Even though he knew Otto had the Divine Protection of Anima Whispering, he never thought it would have this kind of practical power.
Before, Subaru had followed this Divine Protection while driving Patrasche to save Emilia from danger. That time too, Otto had listened to the bugs and foliage to take one shortcut after another to close the otherwise impossible distance between them.
[Subaru: Really is handy, your Protection]
[Otto: ……It’s, honestly not that great of a thing]
In front of Subaru’s sigh of admiration, Otto’s response suddenly became low-spirited. Subaru furrowed his brows at this reaction, but Otto only clenched his fists and did not follow up on it, [Anyway],
[Otto: Emilia-sama’s Trial will begin soon. Garfiel will be at the Tomb during that time and away from here. Which means now’s our chance]
[Subaru: The prep-time before executing the plan is way too short, isn’t it…… If you didn’t manage to find me in time, wouldn’t your ass be burning with a schedule like that?]
Whining about how Otto was rushing him, Subaru, who had already agreed to help, gave his body a twist to confirm his physical condition. Although it was nothing to be satisfied with, he had food delivered to his mouth, and his poop cleaned up for him without fail. Thinking about it now, it was rather embarrassing to not even know who had been doing this for him, which kind of reminded him of that time when he was hospitalized for breaking a leg.
Anyway, aside from the creaking, there seemed to be nothing else wrong with his body. Giving Otto, who was watching him, a nod, he set out his step, and――
[Subaru: Uh, can I just ask one last thing?]
[Otto: ……What is it now, geez. This is really the last one, ok? If we take too long, the plan will move to the next stage and we’ll just look like a bunch of idiots]
[Subaru: My bad my bad…… But, why did you take such a risk to help me?]
As if a bucket of cold water was just splashed on him, Otto’s expression suddenly vanished when he heard Subaru’s question.
That was actually the first thing Subaru had wanted to ask. No doubt, resolving the conflict between the residents and the refugees would be beneficial to both parties. It was what Subaru wanted too, and would also support Emilia and Roswaal. But,
[Subaru: I don’t see how you’d benefit from all this. I might just be too dumb to see it, but…… it really irks me when I don’t know]
He didn’t want to doubt Otto, but it was true that there was something about this that didn’t feel right. The fact was, Otto had been caught up in the Sanctuary’s problems for no reasons of his own. He was never supposed to be here, nor did he have anything to do with the Royal Selection.
The moment felt these entangled circumstances to be too troublesome, he could have abandoned any involvement and left by himself. Even if he wanted to strike up a relationship with the Margrave and took that as his goal, the current situation was just “Way too poor to bet on”.
Even if it was not as bad as Subaru, surely, Otto wasn’t seeing any light at the end of the tunnel.
That was why Subaru couldn’t understand what would make Otto brave such dangers to stand by his side. Just as he said, in the three days he spent in thought, Subaru really had forgotten about Otto’s existence. Subaru had found no cause to doubt him. And so, in a sense, one could even say he trusted him.
But now, with the weight all the negative conditions piling up, the only way Subaru could truly trust him was if he could understand “What” Otto was doing it for.
So, at the risk of overturning that trust, Subaru needed to know Otto’s true intentions.
If even Otto had a side to him that Subaru could not trust, then that would just have to――
[Subaru: Please answer me, Otto. Why are you going to such lengths to do this?]
He asked quietly. It was a small, but definite watershed.
Stopping his breath, Subaru waited for Otto’s answer. And, taking in Subaru’s question, Otto gazed back at Subaru in turn, as he chose his words,
[Otto: What kind of person do you think I am, Natsuki-san?]
[Subaru: Someone who’d reach for a penny in front of him while he drops all his belongings on the other hand…… I think that’s the kind of dopey character I have in mind]
[Otto: That’s a terrible way to think of me! Even though I admit I’ve done something like that before it’s still irritating to be thought of like that!!]
That really was Subaru’s impression of Otto――or, rather, it was the impression Subaru wanted to believe.
Protesting against that unacceptable evaluation, [Just, really], Otto gave a tired shake of his head,
[Otto: You know, Natsuki-san]
[Otto: ――If I just wanted to help a friend, would that really be so strange?]
――For a moment, unable to understand what he just heard, Subaru’s time stopped.
It was several seconds later when time began to move again. But even as it moved, Subaru still couldn’t comprehend the meaning of those words. What did Otto say, just now?
Friendt? Who’s Friendt? Was there someone with that name around here?
[Otto: Wh-what’s with that face frozen in surprise all of a sudden!?]
[Subaru: No, I just suddenly heard the name of someone I didn’t know so I lost track of what you were saying. Who’s this Friendt-san supposed to be?]
[Otto: I don’t know what kind of conclusion you just reached but it’s completely wrong from head to tail! Not Friendt, friend! Like good friends!]
[Subaru: Good friends!? Who and who!?]
[Otto: Me! And Natsuki-san!]
Subaru’s eyes opened wide, staring at the out-of-breath Otto in disbelief. And Otto, stomping noisily on the floor, flapped his hands up and down, [Are you even listening?],
[Otto: When I was captured by the Witch Cult and my life was in danger, it was Natsuki-san who saved me. And there were all those things you said and did to help me after that. I may have come here in order to meet the Margrave, but that doesn’t mean my relationship with Natsuki-san is just one of convenience]
[Otto: At the end of the day even without these troublesome things, I still think of Natuski-san as a friend. There may be all sorts of complaints I’d like to raise about my usual treatment, but don’t say such unreasonable, stupid things like we don’t know each other! So―]
Suddenly feeling embarrassed halfway through, Otto quickly scratched his nose and looked away. Subaru remained silent while listening to Otto’s words. And Otto, having reached the end of his speech, stared quizzically at Subaru’s lack of reaction.
There was a visible unease on his face, probably because Subaru hadn’t said anything to confirm what he said just now. It felt like a situation where someone just opened the door to a friendship sales-pitch.
Able to imagine what must be going through Otto’s mind, a certain emotion began to swell up in Subaru’s heart. And, the reaction brought about by that emotion was――
[Subaru: Whuahahahaha! Fr-friends? We’re good friends! Aaah, is that’right is that’right. Otto, you, you want to be my friend!?]
Unable to keep his laughter from blowing out, Subaru boorishly slapped the red-faced Otto on the shoulders. Still couldn’t stop himself, Subaru kept hugging his belly while stomping the floor.
[Subaru: Pffuahahaa, friends. Aaah, damn it. Otto, you bastard, you!]
[Otto: Ow! Ow! What’re you doing!? Yeah, I was stupid for saying it! I get it, Natsuki-san doesn’t see it that way. But even so, I’m pretty sure it’s not something that laughable!]
[Subaru: Nononono, I can’t stop laughing! I’m not laughing at you……my stupidity is too damn much I can’t help but laugh at myself]
Using his left hand to wipe away the tears from the explosive laughter, Subaru finally managed to get his urge to laugh under control and regained his composure. Then, he looked at Otto before him.
Otto looked like he painfully regretted mentioning the word “Friend”. But at this point, the only thing inside Subaru’s heart was appreciation, and inexpressible gratitude.
――What was Otto’s motivation? What could be hidden behind his mask?. What could be believed, and what couldn’t be?
Otto called Subaru his friend, and came to help him out of concern. And when he came, Subaru’s first thought was to doubt him rather than believe him, that was just how foolish he was.
Thinking that there must be something in it for him, “Something” malicious at play, that was just how petty Subaru was.
Having been tossed around by his circumstances, Subaru had lost sight of the feelings of the people around him, and, believing only in the existence of malice while forgetting the existence unconditional kindness, he had even forgotten what gratitude was.
――Did Natsuki Subaru know so much about the world, that he could just give up and throw it away?
After only these few loops of repeating the world through death, did he imagine that he was now enlightened? All the while, he didn’t even notice he had a true friend at his side.
Unaware of Subaru’s self-admonishment and deprecation, even more confusion floated onto Otto’s face. Seeing this, Subaru managed to form a smile, and suddenly drew in a cheerful breath,
[Subaru: I’m sorry. You are my friend, Otto. ――Thank you, for saving me]
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
The building where Garfiel had imprisoned him was secluded deep within the forest, far from the village where the people of the Sanctuary resided. If Otto wasn’t there to guide him, Subaru would have long lost way in the interwoven paths.
[Subaru: Thinking of it that way, we’d be pretty screwed without your Divine Protection, huh]
[Otto: Please keep your voice down. I don’t know the way either, so I’m trying to rely on the flowers and frogs and lizards right now. If we offend them, they could trick us or guide us off a cliff]
[Subaru: Nature’s creatures are scary!]
Otto carefully listened as he cautiously chose the path. While Subaru, following behind, ran perilously through the gaps between the trees, trying to get used to seeing with only one eye.
Natually, it was painful to lose his depth perception and the right half of his vision. The full-on feeling of loss would probably hit him later, on but it was doing its job hindering his movements rather effectively right now.
However, Subaru didn’t feel any resentment towards Garfiel for these injuries.
Considering what he himself had done, Subaru was aware that he had brought it upon himself. Besides, there was always something incomprehensible and contradictory about Garfiel. But Subaru wasn’t ready to settle with that reasoning.
If he just gave his imagination a little more to work with, perhaps he would be able to form an idea of Garfiel.
[Subaru: There’s still too much I don’t know, including whether he has a Gospel or not…]
But he had to shelve that question for now.
While he was reluctant to let it go, Subaru made a small sound when a branch grazed his right ear as he struggled to step over the roots. Then,
[Otto: I see it. We’ll come out at the village soon]
Hearing Otto’s call, Subaru strained his narrow vision to focus ahead. Between the gaps of the trees, through the dark and green, he saw the lights of the village.
Coming out of the forest, at once, the light of the moon and stars shone down from above their heads, as Subaru’s dark field of vision cleared up.
Catching his breath, Subaru looked over his surroundings and confirmed that they had returned to the village of the Sanctuary. Since the time was already night after moonrise, by now, Emilia would have probably started her Trial at the Tomb.
A desire surged up within him, to run there so he could be at her side. But pushing down that emotion once more, Subaru turned back to Otto, and,
[Subaru: If the Trial is happening right now, then this is time to escape. So what are the arrangements, and where are we meeting with our accomplice?]
[Otto: Well, our accomplice――]
Looking up at Subaru’s rapid-fire question, Otto started to point his hand towards the direction of the village. But that movement was interrupted halfway through. And the reason, was a voice.
[???: ――There’s no need to worry, I’m already here]
Cutting into their conversation, a person stepped out with the sound of a footstep.
An extravagant, black maid’s dress. Its white apron, gleaming under the starlight, adorning the lovely girl who still carried some remnants of childishness, like something out of a dream.
[Ram: For now…… well, I’ll just congratulate you on your safe return, Barusu]
With her peach-colored hair swaying, Otto’s accomplice―― Ram, greeted Subaru with her usual refreshing expression, spewing venom.
-=Chapter 39 End=-
***There is a passage where Otto commented about something Subaru didn’t say out loud. This is exactly as it is in the text and there’s no way around it. I think it could either be hinting that Otto’s Divine Protection actually allows him to read Subaru’s thoughts(which could be why he says it’s not that great of a thing), or Otto is just that familiar with how Subaru thinks***
Yesterday I stopped at Bow Lake on the Icefield Parkway for the night and there was no cellphone signal in a 40 km radius so today I had to backtrack all the way to Lake Louise to release the chapter.
I’ll resume Chapter 40 on Wednesday, and I’ll work on Arc 6 in the meantime.
I’m going to cross the border into Montana tomorrow, so I’ll have no internet at all unless I drop by a town. I’ve already saved the text for the next few chapters so I’ll continue working on the road.
Chapter 40 Live Draft: