(Thank you Jeffry, Aaron, MrAwesome for helping with proofreading on the Live Draft!!! <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/209/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 43 [And Then Everyone Was――]
――What woke him was the feeling of water drops dripping onto his face.
The steady rhythm of cold droplets splashing on his cheek pulled his consciousness upward. And alongside the awakening of his consciousness, an acute sense of being alive slowly permeated throughout his body.
Simply put, it was that primal and intense sensation which required no words to convey―― Pain.
As if to welcome Subaru’s awakening, agonizing pain embraced him with open arms. Once the initial shock was felt, there was no way to avoid the rest of the onslaught.
His cracked forehead, his mangled right arm, and his spine that was marred by the extreme impact all shrieked with pain. But, far exceeding all of them, was,
[Subaru: this’s b..ad……]
Directing his gaze towards the source of the razor-sharp pain, Subaru found that a branch as thick as two fingers had skewered him through the area under his right collarbone. Its point was slick with blood, and as much as Subaru rallied his resolve to pull it out it in spite of the pain, it refused to budge an inch.
Fortunately, the branch was broken on the way down, so, as long as Subaru ignored it visually, it wouldn’t do much to impede his movements.
[Subaru: way too eccentric…… this fashion……]
Somehow managing to get his unresponsive body to move and sitting himself up, Subaru leaned into a nearby rock-face to catch his breath. Looking over his surroundings, he found himself at the entrance of a small cave. Apparently, the water dripping onto his face was the morning dew falling from the top of the cave’s mouth. ――But morning dew would mean,
[Subaru: it’s morning……!?]
As Subaru understood the heartless passage of time, intense pain coursed up his trembling body as though the back of his eye was painted red and his entire body was pierced by needles. A tear rose in his single eye as his thoughts slowly caught up.
What happened to him before he lost consciousness? Recalling it,
Subaru remembered what senseless tragedy his existence had brought.
Timidly gazing upwards, he saw the daylight penetrating between the gaps of the trees and into the forest. Bathed in that light, Subaru looked up towards the slope from which he fell―― wondering what kind of scene was awaiting him there.
Gulping down a breath, tormented by the guilt of not dying straight away, Subaru crawled at a caterpillar’s pace, heading towards the other side of the slope.
Although his movements were hindered by the branch jutting from his chest, slowly but surely, he drew closer with time.
If this was the old Subaru, just imagining the scene that was awaiting him would have gripped him with horror, and he would probably have run away, refusing to look. But the current Subaru would not permit that.
He must see it to the end, swallow it down, and make it his food.
Because this was the duty of Natsuki Subaru, having failed to die when he should have.
With one crawl, and then another, he dragged himself up the slope with only his upper body off the ground. His breath panting, sweat soaking the dried wounds on his forehead, blood seeped out once more. He rudely wiped at it with his sleeve, soiling his face with mud and blood as he crawled.
Crawling past a totaled carriage, passing around a large toppled tree, Subaru’s fingers reached the destined rim of the slope―― the spot from which Patrasche threw him in her sacrifice.
For a moment, there was hesitation.
By raising his head and extending his neck to peek over, Subaru would be faced with the inescapable reality. He will no longer be able to escape into his imagination and indulge in the fantasy that some miracle might have occurred after he was driven away and that the majority of the refugees had managed to escape.
[Subaru: What am I, stupid? ……no, I am stupid]
Without a doubt, in his one sided vision, Subaru had witnessed the moment Patrasche was crushed under the beast’s jaw. After offering her all for Subaru, the instant of that loyal dragon’s death was still branded into the back of Subaru’s eyelids. To pretend that it was a dream or to escape into some convenient fantasy was nothing less than to insult her, who had sacrificed the very last embers of her life for Subaru.
Igniting the flame of conviction in his heart, Subaru wrenched out what little willpower he had left and opened his eye. Pushing himself up on his stomach, through the thick branches obstructing his vision and beyond the opening forest, in the scene of the tragedy――
There was nothing.
Nothing at all.
[Subaru: how is that…… pos…ble?]
With his face still twisted from imagining the carnage that was supposed to have panned out before him, Subaru’s eye bulged in disbelief, unable to accept the scene that dawned on his sight.
There were scattered wrecks of carriages and several uprooted trees. Claw marks were still gouged deep into the ground, and there were signs of destruction and resistance all over.
And yet, the most heartbreaking sight was not there.
The remnants of the slaughter. The corpses of the villagers who, in the truest sense of the words, gave their lives so Subaru could escape. The corpse of the ground dragon who was torn in two for her loyalty.
They were all nowhere to be found.
The beast and the battle could not have been a dream. The scattered wreckages proved this. Only, the consequence of the tragedy was missing.
With great effort, Subaru used a nearby tree to pull himself up. Fortunately, after the initial shock had passed, the wounds in his leg and hips were no more than superficial scrapes and bruises. He stood up, holding his right arm steady with his left to stop it from hurting from the motion of dangling. And, looking over his surroundings,
[Subaru: Ho..w? Where’s Patrasche…… everyone…… Otto?]
He didn’t want to see their corpses.
Honestly, he would like nothing more than if everyone survived. But there was no way for that kind of pipe dream to be true. Subaru, of all people, knew this in his very cells
After all, before Subaru lost consciousness, he had already witnessed several lives being extinguished by the beast’s claws.
The scrawny youth fought to the end, but without leaving even a single scratch, he was crushed. There was the woman who lost her life when she was tossed out from the dragon carriage that was sent flying. And the old man was snapped like a dried twig by a single swing of the beast’s claw, leaving nothing but a miserable corpse behind.
With every remembered death, pain and regret shaved away at Subaru’s heart. Yet, even so, those deaths that he supposedly witnessed here had somehow been stolen from this place.
[Subaru: Patrasche…… Patrasche……?]
Thinking of the lives that were lost, Subaru feebly and despairingly called his partner’s name.
The moment her body was torn in two, and the pain of her final gasp, Subaru had certainly seen and heard it, so he had no fleeting hopes that she could still be alive.
Nevertheless, he had wanted to find her soul-departed remains, and apologize. It was something only Subaru could do.
His steps dragged, and his body was near exhaustion. The search was slow and feeble, and it took all of two hours just to explore the surrounding area.
But despite spending all this time, all Subaru found was,
[Subaru: Luggage mixed with the wreckages, scraps of clothes, and……]
Massive amounts of blood.
Just as Subaru imagined with near-certainty, everything carved by the beast’s claws was accompanied by mass volumes of blood. He had expected there to be the choking stench of blood drifting about the scene, but perhaps because the blood clotting up Subaru’s nose canal had deprived him of his olfactory senses, he didn’t smell a thing.
He had already assembled enough evidence that the fact could not be denied. Yet the only piece he could not find was the conclusive proof itself, and how it came to be lost was enshrouded in mystery.
Even more importantly, it was while searching through the surroundings, that the extremely belated question finally burned into his mind. That is――
[Subaru: Why wasn’t I.. killed……?]
He didn’t finish Subaru off―― although Subaru surviving all those wounds may have been difficult to believe, it would still have been far too careless to have gone back without at least inspecting the body. After all, Subaru was Garfiel’s target to begin with.
Even though he still couldn’t understand why Garfiel would turn his claws to the refugees, he might have done it to teach Subaru a lesson.
But if that were the case, there would be even less reason for the bodies to disappear.
[Subaru: Even if… they were carried away……]
There were 42 refugees in total. Even if everyone turned into a corpse, it would still be too unrealistic to tow them all away, not to mention Patrasche and the other ground dragons as well.
[Subaru: But still……]
He didn’t want to imagine it, but if they were swallowed into the great beast’s belly―― yet, for the same numerical problem, it wasn’t a realistic theory. At least, while it was conceivable how they could be carried away, what was inconceivable was how they could afford the labor required to hide the bodies from sight.
In the end, before even considering whether the tiger would do such a roundabout thing, the crucial question was why it didn’t make an effort to finish the wounded Subaru off.
Suddenly, it occurred to him just how much this scene resembled the depopulated Sanctuary.
Although the conditions leading up to it were different, the results had many points in common. All the signs of the surrounding destruction were from the great tiger’s rampage, and unrelated to the tiger and the refugee’s disappearance. If one looked past the this most striking aspect of the scene, the two were eerily similar in that there were no bodies in sight.
In other words,
[Subaru: Th-the Sanctuary would be in the same state as last time too……?]
His breath growing ragged as he came to that conclusion, Subaru once again used up all his strength to stand. Then, looking over his surroundings, he deduced the direction of the Sanctuary.
――This was the morning of the sixth day.
Last night was probably the deadline for the Mansion. Although he could not say for certain, if Elsa’s attack took place, then it was already too late to prevent the tragedy.
On the Sanctuary’s side, something must have happened that made the tiger-morphed Garfiel abandon the thought of dealing Subaru the final blow. That something must have also been the reason why everyone here disappeared. But why the same thing didn’t happen to Subaru remained completely unknown.
Which way to go? Subaru hesitated for only a moment.
A warmth passing through his chest sent a faint ache across his heart. It was the inseverable sensation of guilt and remorse for the girl, still in her slumber, and all those he left in the Mansion.
Clenching his teeth, Subaru shook off these emotions and turned his steps to the Sanctuary.
With slow, dragging steps, in order to find out what had happened, Subaru made his way towards the Sanctuary.
What was waiting for him ahead? So that he could burn something worthy of the lives that were lost into his memories, he intended to spend this life for that redemption, even if only for the smallest hint to increase his chances of prevailing in the end.
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Next part should be ready tomorrow! ❤
Chapter 43 Live Draft: