(Thank You Aaron, Kizarat, Roanz, Chris, Soriosh, Luis, Vimal, Nero for helping me 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/214/
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A great gust of wind swept up, forcing Subaru to lift his arm to cover his eyes.
The abrupt wind made waves in the grassfields at his feet, sending green blades swirling and scattering into the air. Inadvertently following it with his gaze and letting his eyes be drawn up into the sky, when he looked back again,
[Subaru: Sorry for putting you through the trouble, Echidona]
[Echidona: I just knew it would turn out like that… that’s why I tried to stop you]
[Subaru: It’s not like it can be helped… She kinda released her bondage and flipped up her blindfold herself. You should actually praise me a bit for not touching her, you know]
[Echidona: Right. If you did touch Daphne, it wouldn’t have ended so easily. Her left eye alone is not as much of a threat. But the horror of Daphne lies in her right eye, and it only truly begins once you’ve been “Eaten”]
Subaru couldn’t help but recoil a bit at that terrifying statement.
Frankly, the part about “Not as much of a threat” was already enough to set off some alarms.
[Subaru: What’s the point of showing me my opponent’s STATS after the battle’s already over? Gees. Although, I might want to hear it out in case I run into another monster with a similar setup…]
[Echidona: Monster, you say?]
Still not quite able to shake off his negative impression of Daphne, Subaru realized he might have misspoken when he heard Echidona’s disappointed mutter.
To her, Daphne was someone she could call her friend. Although one must admit that only a Witch could be friends with someone like that, this was this and that was that. No matter how you look at it, to call a Witch a monster in front of another Witch was,
[Subaru: Ahh, I wasn’t thinking just now. Sorry. Got carried away. I have absolutely no comment about that friend of yours. That’s all I have to say]
[Echidona: Huhuhu, there’s no need to be so considerate for a Witch’s feelings. We are quite used to those words of ostracism]
[Subaru: ……I can’t be so sure about what words to use for Daphne, but I don’t think you’re a monster. That much I should clarify, you know]
Hearing this, Echidona’s eyes widened in surprise.
And, seeing her reaction, Subaru quickly looked away, chiding himself for his self-serving thoughts.
What he said just now was clearly to get on her good side. Of course, half of it was sincere, but that didn’t change the fact that he was trying to avoid making a bad impression on the helpful Witch.
Then again, considerations of this caliber must surely have been seen through by this seasoned Witch.
[Echidona: No, it won’t work! Even if you try to dupe me with those pleasing words, I won’t let myself be duped! Want some more tea or cookies?]
[Subaru: Saying that while looking so cheerful isn’t convincing at all! What’s with your route being so easy? This is like desperate-lonely-girl-level!]
If she fell for such obvious flattery, then he’d have some serious worries about her future.
But, as much as he knew she didn’t―― it still left an ache inside his chest.
[Subaru: I think I’ll pass on the body fluids and the who-knows-what’s-in-there cookies]
[Echidona: I didn’t put my hair or anything in them?]
[Subaru: How can I not doubt every statement you make at this point!]
Subaru had already decided that he would never eat anything from here again.
Seeing Subaru shoot her a suspicious look, Echidona gave a wry smile. Then, she returned his gaze with her all-seeing eyes. Sometimes, for some reason, he just found those eyes really disconcerting.
[Subaru: I don’t like that look that feels like it can see right through me]
[Echidona: If I could see through all of you just by looking, then I wouldn’t mind staring at you until you are burned to a char…… But anyway, are you aware of it, or not, I wonder?]
[Subaru: Aware or not of what?]
[Echidona: Well, in my narrow, clumsy imagination, what you went through just now should be considered a rather shocking experience to most humans. Surely, being compelled by hunger into eating your own body isn’t a common occurrence?]
Listening to Echidona’s understated delivery, Subaru was reminded of just how hideous his situation had been. Holding up his right hand, he confirmed that all five fingers were still there, all thanks to a certain Witch’s hit-and-run healing.
While Subaru quietly thanked her in his mind, Echidona closed one of her eyes,
[Echidona: Minerva just ignored my calls and jumped out. When she catches sight of a wound, she’ll charge out regardless of appearances…… it’s hard to live a long life with a personality like that. In fact, she was the first of us to be killed]
[Subaru: The end of the Witches…… huh. I heard you were all eaten by the Witch of Envy, but is it alright for me to ask about that?]
[Echidona: To ask the dead about how they died, is that too crude a thing to do, I wonder? It is certainly unprecedented. And as for how I feel about it…… hmm, let me see. I don’t think I should relay that story. It involves the other five’s reputations, after all]
Seeing Echidona unwilling to discuss the details of their deaths, Subaru could only accept that it can’t be helped.
Subaru himself had died many times before, and knew full well that it was not a topic for lighthearted conversation. After all, “Death” is an awfully heavy thing.
[Subaru: In that sense, I guess you guys are some of the few people who could share that feeling with me]
[Echidona: ……no, I wouldn’t be so sure. Indeed, we have died once, but I don’t know if we could think of it the same way you do]
Just when he thought he had found some common ground, Subaru’s words were rejected.
But, just as he was about to object to Echidona’s curtness, all of that emotion evaporated when he noticed the grave expression on her face. She was looking directly at him, her brows furrowed with a tinge of sadness,
[Echidona: This is also related to the matter of awareness…… have you noticed that your current state is crooked?]
[Echidona: It is no doubt a consequence of the special circumstances of “Return by Death”. And so, while it pains me to recognize that as the reason, it pains me even more to see that you yourself are not aware of it]
[Subaru: I’m not sure I understand… So, what’re you trying to tell……]
[Echidona: Do you think it’s normal for someone who just ate their own fingers, even if they are healed, to carry on a casual conversation as though nothing had happened?]
For a moment, Subaru stopped breathing.
With steady eyes, Echidona watched the frozen Subaru. And then, to that Subaru who had forgotten how to breathe,
[Echidona: You weren’t entirely unaware, it seems]
[Subaru: ……It’s a matter of how I look at it, I guess. Honestly, I’m aware that the way I’m thinking right now isn’t normal. But for the sake of what’s most important to me… I feel it’s alright to cut off the rest of it]
[Echidona: The rest of it, such as?]
[Subaru: Well, my primary goal right now is to break through this deadlock. The problems at the Mansion, the problems at the Sanctuary, and most of all, the problems facing Emilia. I’m still as stuck as ever, and still have no idea where to begin, but……]
Breathing in through his nose, Subaru looked up to the sky.
Blue and vast, with white, drifting clouds, and a somehow soothing breeze. Letting it all soak into his sight, immersed in this scenery detached from the tedium of reality,
[Subaru: I’ve already decided that I’ll use the hell out of everything I can get my hands on]
[Echidona: ……So you’ve accepted “Return by Death”, then?]
[Subaru: It’s not that I’ve accepted it… Only, I’m a bit short on tools to begin with, so it’s just about all I have. ……Don’t misunderstand though, I really don’t like using it at all]
In front of Echidona, who must have already picked up on his thoughts, Subaru nonetheless tacked on this unnecessary clarification.
[Subaru: In order to reach that desired future, even if I have to pay with my life, I will do it. For now, I’ve at least been assured that I can keep Returning by Death for as long as I can keep my sanity. In that case, I’ll just have to muster as much backbone as this boneless self can muster]
[Echidona: To pile on the “Deaths”, in order to bring it within your reach. ――That is not a resolve any ordinary person would be capable of]
[Subaru: I’ve died too many times, I guess. ……Before I knew it, my head must’ve gotten messed up]
He wasn’t making light of “Death”. It was just that the accumulation of the experiences of “Death” in Subaru had strengthened his conviction into something irreversible, and terrifying. Without a doubt, Subaru now feared “Death” more than ever before.
But, in spite of this, Subaru nonetheless intended to make full use of “Death”. It was as simple as that.
After piling on his deaths, and having witnessed the ends of worlds, what he found far more unbearable than his own death, were the deaths of the people close to him.
If it meant saving them from the inescapable fate of “Death”, then he would expend as many of his replaceable “Lives” as necessary.
Swallow down all the pain, agony, and horror, and die in order to survive.
――That, was the basis of Natsuki Subaru’s so-called crooked resolve.
[Subaru: If the only thing I have to sacrifice is my own heartbreaks, then I will gladly do it. “Return by Death” is just the perfect ability for this powerless brainless always-relying-on-others self, isn’t it?]
[Subaru: I was hoping you’d console me with “Don’t think so little of yourself!” or something!?]
[Echidona: Considering the obstacles that await you in every direction, I can’t say it so lightly. In fact, if you wish to take control of this current situation, there is no way not to use it. Although personally, I would be quite displeased to have no choice but to rely on Envy]
The fact that Echidona refrained from offering easy consolations just meant that she was the type to be mindful of the circumstances.
Although it wasn’t much for encouragement, he was still grateful for having someone to kick him awake like this.
After all, knowing that the road ahead will leave him full of wounds and scratches only made it all the more worth taking.
[Subaru: In the end, all I can do is spam Return by Death and keep going over my options, huh. I’d hate to imagine how many painful experiences I’m gonna be facing up ahead]
[Subaru: One of the mysteries I gotta solve though, is what kind of experiments were you running in this Experimental Grounds of the Sanctuary…… you probably don’t feel like telling me, do you?]
[Echidona: …….No, I don’t. I already told you before. I wouldn’t want you to despise me]
Echidona shook her head at Subaru’s question, and denied his request.
Receiving this reply, [I have no choice, then], Subaru went on with a click of his neck,
[Subaru: If you won’t tell me, then there’s no other choice. I’ll just have to go ahead and rip open all the secrets you wanted to hide. You won’t try to stop me, will you?]
[Echidona: ……If you want to rip it open, there’s nothing I can do. If you want to overpower my secrets you despise so much and forcibly expose them under the sun, then my only choice is to silently endure it]
[Subaru: You’re making it sound like I’m planning to do something awful can you not please say it like that!?]
Echidona’s cheeks blushed and quickly looked away from Subaru.
He seriously wasn’t sure if she was doing that on purpose or if that just happened to be her personality. Just from what he had seen over the course of the tea party, she really might actually be that airheaded… Witches are scary.
Then, just when he was about to resume the conversation,
Suddenly, still seated in his chair, a dizziness struck him. Something almost like the dazzled feeling from standing up too fast continued to sway Subaru’s consciousness. That is,
[Echidona: It seems your body is close to waking up]
(The amazing thumbnail fan art is by @kurokawa!)
Chapter 48 Live Draft: