(Thank you Jeffry, Aaron, MrAwesome, Soriosh 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/
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――On the way to the Sanctuary, he passed through the place where Ram and Garfiel had fought.
There were scars left by wind-blades on the trunks of the nearby trees, as well as familiar claw-marks carved into the earth and the rocks, brutally gouged out by whole chunks at a time.
He briefly searched the area for any signs of Ram―― or, most likely, Ram’s body. But, unsurprisingly, he did not find her.
If the enormous tiger really was Garfiel, then, to him, she should have been his long-time crush. Subaru might even have believed it if their feelings grew into something deeper, but,
[Subaru: To go to the point of killing each other just to say “I like you”…… I must’ve read too many light novels]
Because neither of them would back down, it did not end until one had killed the other.
Just how much could that love or longing have helped to stem the tide? If it truly could have stopped the violence, it would have stopped it before it even began.
The moment they had cast it aside, there was already nothing that could have stopped them.
[Subaru: ……I’m, sorry]
She was nowhere in sight, but Subaru nevertheless offered his apology to the girl who did her best to save him.
Her fight would also become meaningless, and her thought would have been in vain once Subaru returned to the Sanctuary. For ahead of his path was something Subaru needed, now that he intended to die.
Despite his mounting regrets, Subaru doggedly walked towards the Sanctuary. The road on which he had begun walking before noon was only a distance of about ten minutes on Patrasche’s back.
Defying his wounds, and advancing at a caterpillar’s pace, it was already evening by the time Subaru drew close to the Sanctuary.
[Subaru: took half a day……fin..ally……]
He was back.
Almost collapsing on the spot of relief, there wasn’t the slightest sense of accomplishment. Instead, the flame consuming Subaru’s insides was the sense of powerlessness and anger at himself. And far surpassing his self-hatred, was something black and shimmering,
[Subaru: You fucking back yet…… huh, Garfiel……?]
Don’t think about it, don’t think about it, he told himself in his heart to stem the overpowering hatred and rage towards that golden-haired piece of shit.
There were three primary reasons he returned to the Sanctuary.
The first was to get to the bottom of the mystery of how everyone had disappeared. It was essential for the future to grasp at least a part of that answer.
The second was to confirm that Emilia, who had remained in the Sanctuary, was safe. If everyone had disappeared, she would probably be no exception. So he intended to make sure.
And the third―― far greater than the previous two reasons combined, was that furious flame charring the depths of Subaru’s heart.
The impulse to tear that bloody tiger apart.
He took a step into the Sanctuary. Two moss ridden pillars stood in place of an entrance. Passing between them and entering the Sanctuary, Subaru quietly lowered the sound of his breathing as he looked around him.
Silence had fallen on the Sanctuary, as one would expect of a place devoid of people. But even before that, Subaru had not heard a single insect in the forest on his whole walk here.
It wasn’t just the residents of the Sanctuary that had disappeared. It was as though the activity of every living thing in the region had been halted into silence.
Even his own breathing felt too noisy in this silence. Subaru painfully pushed his throat to the limit to not make a sound. Taking short, careful breaths and dragging steps, Subaru headed to the depths of the Sanctuary―― to the house where Emilia should be.
――In the hours before nightfall, Emilia would be passing the time leading up to the Trials curled up and hugging her knees. This usually became particularly striking after the third day, and especially this time, when Subaru was not at her side. Most likely, isolation and frustration had been shaving down her heart more acutely than in any of the loops before this.
[Subaru: not here, huh……]
Pushing open the door and looking inside, Subaru saw no one in the room and sighed.
Although Emilia was absent, her unoccupied bed was messy, and a chair was left knocked over by the bed. He could not be sure if this happened while she was resisting whatever caused the disappearance, or if Emilia, worn to her limit, had done this out of impulse.
Only, all the way along the road, Subaru hadn’t encountered a single person.
[Subaru: Should I stop by Roswaal’s place……?]
Accepting that Emilia was no longer here, Subaru’s heart was calm as he considered the next course of action.
Although decisiveness in carrying out his plan was necessary, part of himself already knew that he would find nothing even if he went there.
Just as he feared, there was no one in the Sanctuary. The moment Emilia was gone, Subaru should no longer have any attachment to this place.
Emilia, who was supposed to be the subject of his attachments, had disappeared. But, as Subaru noticed, even this had barely caused a stir in his heart.
Was it because he finally had acquired that unshakable, dauntless, dazzling heart of steel?
No, Subaru immediately shook his head.
This sense of loss, of being deprived of the harbor of his emotions, was far too different from that heart of steel he had strived for. This, was but the result of excessive rage at the end of incomprehension, having worn everything else away, leaving only a fractured heart behind.
It was not unshakable, but only drained of all its contents.
――He had already lost the will to live.
Of course, it was only natural.
The current Subaru wasn’t living for the sake of living. He had failed to die when he was supposed to, and so, he couldn’t die until he had found something to justify his prolonged life.
In other words, it was not the will to live, but the resolve to die where all his consciousness was focused.
What was there to live for in a world like this?
Emilia was gone. Rem was gone. Patrasche was dead, and most likely Ram and Petra, too. And there was no question whether Otto had survived or not.
There was no one. There was no one left. Because Subaru wasn’t smart enough, because Subaru wasn’t strong enough, because Subaru didn’t try hard enough, because Subaru didn’t want it enough, he failed to save everyone. He didn’t save anyone. Even though it was something only Subaru could do.
[Subaru: So…… I……]
Have to take it all back. See it to the end. And set everything on the correct path.
It was something only Subaru could do. And it was something Subaru had to do.
All the sacrifices made for its sake, Subaru must always keep in his heart.
All that which was lost, Subaru must always keep in his thoughts.
All the price that must be paid, Subaru must always continue to pay.
To pay whatever price. Pile on the sacrifices. And take it all back in the end.
Limping and staggering, Subaru came out of the building.
His steps did not turn towards the residence where Roswaal was recuperating, but to the very depths of the Sanctuary―― the Tomb. Last time, wandering through the depopulated Sanctuary, it was there where he was killed by “Something”. This time, he was heading to the exact same spot.
What for? To be killed, of course.
If the conditions were the same as last time, then Subaru should be killed there in the exact same manner.
But, knowing that the attack would come, Subaru judged that he should be able to dodge at least one fatal strike.
Even if he was killed by the second blow, as long as he could catch a glimpse of the enemy’s true form, it would be enough.
Having prepared the resolve to die, step by step, Subaru steadily approached his destination.
The place where his stomach was gouged through from behind―― although he couldn’t remember the exact spot, he was certain it was only inches from the entrance of the Tomb.
Spotting the tip of the Tomb’s structure in the distance, Subaru’s heart rate grew frantic as the blood pulsing through his body flashed between hot and cold. Was it heating up or cooling down? Even that, he couldn’t tell.
His body was hot, his hands and feet were numb. But his fingers were stiff, cold, as if pressed against frozen lead, and his head was cool enough to objectively see his situation.
A foolish existence heading to its death, knowing that it would die.
He was supposed to have made the oath in his heart to wager his life in exchange for results, but his expression was far from that resolute will. His brows were downcast, he bit his lips, and his limbs trembled uncontrollably.
All pretense fell away in the final moments, as he loathed himself for revealing that weakness underneath. Pushing that sentiment aside, Subaru went on without slowing his steps.
Even though he couldn’t change the fact that he was weak, frail and stupid, he nonetheless wanted to have the courage to move forward from that self, and become the self he had always wanted.
Just like how a negative and a negative makes a positive, his crooked optimism was banking on weakness and weakness producing something good. And with this, Subaru steadily treaded along the path to the Tomb, and to Death.
The Tomb drew closer. His heartbeats thumped, and he could clearly hear the sound of blood pulsing through his scalp. The bile retching up from his empty stomach burned in his throat. His trembling knees were on the verge of collapsing to the ground, and his left field of vision was drenched by sweat, blurring everything in sight.
Roughly raising his left arm to wipe his eye, he faced forward once again. And it was then, he noticed it.
Just as he lifted his leg towards the Tomb, Subaru saw that a change had taken place before his eyes.
Without even the chatter of insects audible, there was only the chorus of the occasional rustling of leaves stirred up by the wind. But suddenly, cutting into it, there was the sound of a small, intermittent chirp.
At first, Subaru thought it was a small, white furball being blown over by the wind.
But the furball stopped just a few paces in front of Subaru, and made a little twitch. Incredulous, Subaru furrowed his brows as he saw two long ears rise up.
[Subaru: a, rabbit?]
A little animal with two long ears and white, fluffy fur. With two characteristic red eyes, its mouth jittered as it looked about its surroundings. Then, looking up at Subaru, it tilted its little head, and let out a high-pitched squeal.
A small, teeny-tiny rabbit. It was about the size of Subaru’s fist and, at a glance, it was not that far from the size of a hamster. But since its ears were as big as the rest of its body, the term “fits in your hand” might be slightly misleading.
In a place where bugs, humans, and dragons all vanished without a trace, there was suddenly a rabbit.
Although it could be just one of the critters that lived in the forest, considering how Subaru hadn’t encountered a single living creature up to this point, seeing it here was exceedingly strange.
[Subaru: Why is there a rabbit here…… it.. is a rabbit.. right?]
With endless questions, Subaru looked over his surroundings, confused, trying to see if there were other animals besides this rabbit that had wandered back into the Sanctuary. And, with no particular intention, he reached out his hand towards the rabbit, hoping to confirm what it was, or perhaps just wanting to pet its fur――
The next moment, Subaru’s entire left hand was detached from his wrist upwards.
Blood sprayed out from the ragged, sloppy wound, and green-blue veins dangled from the stump. Were the thin, white strings tendons or nerves? Either way, it’s always something grotesque when human body parts are destroyed―― and those, were his few seconds of escape from reality.
Pain of an entirely other dimension trashed at Subaru’s brain, and, suffocating from the agony, his body collapsed to the ground. The branch that pierced his collarbone snapped in half upon impact, transforming into shattering pain. Pain, pain, pain.
[Subaru: Ggha!? Aa,uaghaa! Aaauu, uuuuaaAAAA,AAAAAAAGHAAAAAAAAA!!]
His thoughts turned white-hot.
It hurts. Every cell of his body was dominated by this emotion of pain and there was already no way to register the reality of the agony as the thought occurred to him why it had to hurt so much and where it came from and why was it happening to him and why it hurt so much and it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts――
Suffocating from sheer agony, blood gushed from Subaru’s wrist as he drove it into the ground, and, for some reason, he bit into the earth, inexplicably gnawing at the puddle of mud. The bitter, asphyxiating soil brought back a moment of mental clarity, and his eyes dashed as if searching for the cause, when he saw the white furball at his feet―― the little animal’s white fur was speckled with dots of red, and its tiny mouth was busy working away. Under its black nose, its cheeks were puffed up, twitching. And, sticking out of its mouth, Subaru saw his left pinky finger.
Understood. Gotcha. What happened here? He got eaten. He got eaten. He just got eaten.
[Subaru: Gu, ghhfffuuaaaAAAAAA!!]
Comprehension and pain drove him into a scream bordering insanity, Subaru turned to face the rabbit. His right arm was broken and immobile, and his left wrist was in the rabbit’s belly. There was nothing he could do, but if he could just confirm its true form――
He felt something burning into his thigh. With the unamusing shock of sharp, merciless blades scraping his flesh to the bone, he turned up the whites of his eyes as white foam gushed from the back of his throat. If only he could lay down his head and faint, but the intensity of the agony had no intention of releasing his consciousness.
Bubbling blood spilled from the corner of his lips, and he writhed like a fish on land. The fact that his ears could still hear, must be both a miracle and a joke by a cruel God.
Like the rustle of lapping waves, the sound captured Subaru’s eardrums.
Little hops. Small, tiny bodies. The chain of overlapping chirps expanded to enormity, and even if his vision were still present, he had no desire to count them.
And, in a moment, he was sincerely glad that the only thing left to him was his ears.
Simultaneously feeling the bites of feeding teeth over all of his body, now, through the tactile and unmistakable pain, Subaru understood that he was being devoured by threats numbering in the hundreds.
He shrieked. And a surge pushed him onto his back as his throat trembled. Immediately, furry creatures dived into his opened mouth. His tongue was torn to shreds, sharp teeth flashed across the depths of his throat, ravaging everything from his esophagus to his stomach.
Inside, they collided with the others that had invaded from his rectum, and, as if descending into a competition, they devoured his organs left and right, turning Natsuki Subaru into minced feed.
It was the unmistakable sensation of being alive while living creatures shredded him from within.
Fear had already left him. There was barely any more pain. He couldn’t understand why he was still conscious.
He was being eaten. He was being eaten. His left eye was gouged out. His ears were no longer there. His organs had already been consumed, and now the skin of his face was being peeled off. A hole opened in his skull, and teeth sank into his exposed, bulging brain――
-=Chapter 43 End=-
Well, I’ve been waiting to use that screenshot >_<
Chapter 44 Live Draft: