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/210/
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Repeating Echidona’s words in his head, Subaru chewed over the contents that could have only one interpretation.
From what she just said, and her meaningful gaze and smile, there was no way he could be mistaken.
She――the Witch knew. The burden weighing on Subaru’s soul, the residues of his failed futures, the piece of knowledge that should be left nowhere in this world.
[Echidona: Let me answer your question this way. This is my Citadel, and I am the Witch of Greed. I haven’t shown it to you yet, have I?]
To Subaru’s wrenched-out question, Echidona tilted her head and held out her right hand.
Dancing lights descended onto her palm, eventually taking form―― until there appeared a single book bound in pure white.
There was no title inscribed on its cover, and it was about the size of a dictionary. Aside from the fact that its color was blinding white, for Subaru, the sight of the book brought back nothing but reviled memories.
[Subaru: That couldn’t be……a Gospel, could it?]
[Echidona: Oh my, you just made an expression I could understand without even having to look inside this book. It’s as if your face is trying to say “You too!?” Just from that, I think I could already guess what you must’ve encountered in the outside world……]
Having read into Subaru’s inner heart from just the look on his face, Echidona opened the white-bound book in her hand. And, running her eyes over its contents, [Mmhmmhm], she nodded time and again as she followed along its texts,
[Echidona: I see, I think I more or less understand. Although there are still parts I don’t entirely follow, I should be able to fill them in just by looking at you. ……Mnn, it’s wonderful indeed. The feeling of missing pieces falling into place, the indescribable anticipation as the answer draws near. The fact that such feeling exists is precisely what makes life worth living……!]
[Subaru: ……but, aren’t you already dead?]
Being pushed into the back of his seat by the pressure of Echidona’s incensed fervor, Subaru somehow managed to get a jab in. Hearing this, Echidona fiddled with her white hair, sulking,
[Echidona: When you rain on people’s parades like that, even when it’s true, it’s still really demoralizing, you know. Anyway, then let me ease your worries. ……This book is not the same as the “Gospels” in your memories. Recorded in this book is neither the future nor the optimal solutions. Only truth]
[Echidona: If the Gospel could be called a book of prophecies, then this book in my hands would be a book of histories. This book is not bound by its shape, and its manifestation is as vague and as vast as the oceans. It is not any book, and yet it could be any book that was, or indeed any book that could be…… its blank pages record only truth, and four hundred years ago, people of this world called it “The Book of Wisdom”. But, I like to call it…]
[Echidona: ――The Memories of the World]
An outlandish name―― for an equally outlandish power.
If what she said was true, then no matter who the person was, no matter what that person had done, as long as it belonged in the past and in history, it could be read from this book. In terms of gathering information, this would be nothing less than a game-breaking cheat.
[Echidona: But to tell you the truth, I don’t really like to rely on it. After all, only things witnessed with my own eyes can be truly burned into my memories. A magical book that skips the step of “Acquiring” and directly leads to “Acquired”―― as much as I love to learn, it is difficult for me to judge the value of a book that bypasses the process of discovery]
[Subaru: If you don’t want it you could give it to me. I’ll have plenty of uses for it. In fact, if I had that, finding the openings to my problems would be……]
[Echidona: You should abandon that idea if you don’t want to be a cripple]
Echidona cut off Subaru’s smooth proposition straight off the bat, and held out the white-bound “Memories of the World” in front of him,
[Echidona: It may look harmless, but it’s still the instrument of a Witch. The volume of information that it’d burn into the reader’s mind would be enough to completely incinerate the brain of a common man. It’d be best not to read it if you wish to stay safe]
[Subaru: Then don’t shove it in people’s faces! That’s super scary!]
Learning that his breakthrough plan was out of his reach, Subaru’s spirits nosedived.
Seeing him shove the magical book right back, Echidona, with another wave of her hand, transformed it back into particles of light. Leaving aside the convenience of a book that could be stored away without a bookshelf, Subaru finally grasped the true extent of her knowledge.
By possessing this magical book, there was indeed almost “Nothing she does not know”. But to avoid using it just because of personal preference, perhaps only a Witch would think this way.
[Subaru: But if you already know, then that should make things easier. Say, Echidona. You know that I can…… Return b……]
“Return by Death.” Just as he was about to pronounce those words, Subaru’s throat froze.
But it was not due to the same non-negotiable penalty that visited every time he tried to utter the forbidden words.
In front of the frozen Subaru, Echidona was merely waiting for his next words, her white hair swaying in the wind, silently waiting.
Sitting there, she looked nothing like a Witch. There was something almost resembling warmth and sympathy, and the more he felt this way, the faster his heart pounded and the heavier his tongue became.
What froze Subaru’s voice, was the most primal of emotions―― fear.
Subaru already had several opportunities to utter the forbidden words in the past.
To utter the name of the Authority, “Return by Death”, residing in his body.
While it would be difficult to say whether it’d be correct to call it an “Authority”, whenever he tried to tell anyone else, a force prevented him from doing so. A direct pain would grip his heart leaving no room for resistance, a force unbearable and merciless.
And there was once when its venomous fangs did not fall on Subaru, but on Emilia, to whom he had tried to lay bare his heart. The grief and pain of loss of that moment, Subaru could never forget.
There were very few occasions when Subaru so sincerely desired to die, and to simply disappear.
It was not the only time that the bitter, indescribable regret of his own stupidity had weighed so heavily upon him. But in spite of misery and regret―― his heart, gripped by terror, still lacked the courage to take even a single step.
It was not that he was afraid of the pain that would be dealt to his heart. Of course, pain was frightening, but if it was the necessary price on the path to the desired future, then he would grit his teeth and endure it.
However, what Subaru feared was that if he uttered the forbidden words, the dark fingers would turn on someone other than himself.
No. Subaru shook his head.
In the battle against the White Whale, and in the final showdowns with Petelgeuse, Subaru had managed to utter the forbidden words when no one else was present.
Otherwise, he would always be forcibly stopped before he could reveal the secret to others, and his words would simply be discarded from the world in which time stood still. Because of that, he was never questioned further.
And the black hand of the Witch never made a sacrifice of anyone who wished to hear the continuation of those words.
The memories returned, of the silver-haired girl lying lightly in his arms.
If he were to taste that sense of loss again, this time, it would surely be unbearable.
It was a good thing he didn’t go insane back then, he thought. After killing Emilia, wandering aimlessly, holding her lifeless corpse in his arms, it was a good thing he didn’t go insane back then.
So unforgivable was his sin. And so terrible his crime.
And so, gripped by fear, Subaru hesitated to say the words.
Before him was the Witch Echidona. Frankly, she was no comparison to Emilia, so shallow was her acquaintance to Subaru.
Even if her heart was crushed, he probably wouldn’t feel the same loss and despair of that moment. That, was his hideous prediction.
But still, Subaru couldn’t move. Because while he was entertaining that naive train of thought, he realized that the conditions were far too different, and the results far too unpredictable.
When mentioning “Return by Death” to an unknowing listener, the forbidden words dealt pain to Subaru’s heart.
And when Subaru mentioned “Return by Death” to someone precious to him, the forbidden words crushed that precious person’s heart.
But what would happen if Subaru were to reveal “Return by Death” to someone who had already found out through some other means?
Would the suffering end with Subaru, or would the demonic hand extend to the one in front of him――
[Echidona: Why don’t you try it and see?]
[Echidona: Taking action to procure the results one desires, is deserving of my respect. I am not going to veer from that opinion. In fact, I believe it is precisely such actions that make life worth living]
Was she unaware of the cause of Subaru’s indecision, or was it because she didn’t know that she herself could become the target―― no, that would be impossible.
Most likely, the Witch had already seen through all of Subaru’s doubts.
Even though he himself could not reach a conclusion, the Witch understood. Yet, in spite of this, she urged him to go on for no other reason than a conviction from the depths of her heart.
[Subaru: You might not have time to regret it, you know……?]
[Echidona: Then, let me wait with eager expectations for you to break down crying beside my corpse]
Seeing Subaru trying to delay the choice to the last minute, Echidona cheerfully answered.
That attitude was probably to remove any remaining concerns hindering him from making his decision.
Rather than doing so out of consideration for Subaru, it was probably her desire to see the outcome――that was the basis of the sincerity of her words.
Without expectations, and without hoping for one or the other.
There was merely possibility. And for only the desire of the possibility of an answer, she pushed on Subaru’s back.
She must be living without the slightest doubt of the reason of her existence.
Even though he knew there was no way to live on that alone, he nonetheless felt saved by that strength.
[Subaru: Echidona. I can use Return by Death t――]
The forbidden words escaped his lips――
And, in that instant, the world――
-=Chapter 44 End=-
(For the thumbnail I spliced an amazing fan art by @HaruSabin with an anime screenshot!)
Please let me know if you find any typos or missing words ❤
Chapter 45 Live Draft: