(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/
[Subaru: The tea party is coming to an end, huh…… it’s been pretty meaningful, I guess]
[Echidona: Well, that’s because you surprised me last time, telling me there was nothing you wanted to ask. This time, I wonder if I’ve lived up to my reputation as the Witch of Greed?]
With all the discussing, teaching and chatting, this tea party must have been a great satisfaction for this Witch. Subaru was somewhat reluctant to leave, seeing her unbridled joy and her visible regret to see him go, but he quickly shook his head and severed that sentiment.
It was strange how this Witch managed to pull on his heartstrings, but it wouldn’t be good to become too attached to her. She was a Witch, and more than that, she was dead. Though it’s unclear which part was actually worse here.
[Subaru: What should I do when I want to come back here?]
[Echidona: You mean how to be invited to the tea party? Oh no no no, we mustn’t, you mustn’t become too dependent on me. It’s true that you have no one you could confess your Return by Death to in the outside world, and I know how much you long for me as the only person you could open your heart to, but I am dead and you are living…… no, it can never be, between us]
[Subaru: When you wriggle around looking strangely happy while saying that it’s not convincing at all!]
What was he supposed to do when Echidona suddenly behaves like an overenthusiastic eel-restaurant owner who saw his first customer in years?
Seeing the way Echidona was looking at him with her hand on her cheek, Subaru wasn’t sure just how to react. Then, with [Huhuhhu], she placed her hand over her lips, smiling,
[Echidona: Don’t look so troubled. I am a girl, after all, and sometimes I want to have lighthearted conversations like this too. That is all. I am still well aware of the gap between Witch and Human]
[Echidona: The condition to being invited to the tea party is to scream from the depths of your heart, “I want to know”, inside my Tomb. The first time, you are invited no questions asked, but the second time onwards will not be so simple. The third time…… might be quite difficult, I think. Merely superficial screams won’t be able to reach me]
Hearing her quickly explain this, Subaru recalled what had happened immediately before being invited.
He had just Returned by Death after being eaten alive by the rabbits. His body was drowning in the lingering agony of death, and his consciousness was endlessly screaming “What had happened?”
That was when he heard Echidona’s invitation. But next time, things would have to be even more desperate than that.
[Subaru: I really… would rather not……]
[Echidona: Precisely. So… this may very well be the last time we meet. Though of course, this would not be the last if you challenge the Trials again]
Same as in the first Trial, it seems she would be waiting for him in the second and the third Trials as well. As long as Subaru challenges the Trials in Emilia’s place, their reunion will be assured.
In other words,
[Subaru: I’ll see you at the next Trial, then? Guess there won’t be any tea there]
[Echidona: If you really want a drink, I wouldn’t mind brewing you some on the scene……]
[Subaru: No no, I get the feeling that if I see the manufacturing process I’ll want to drink it even less]
Seeing him holding up his palms to say no, Echidona made her most dejected expression yet.
He didn’t know why she wanted to push her body fluids on other people so much. Maybe she gets off on having a part of herself become a part of someone else, or some kind of fetish like that…The sin is deep.
[Subaru: Well, I guess I’ll be disappearing soon…… thanks for your hospitality, Echidona. Till we meet again……]
[Echidona: Before that, would you mind?]
Sensing that his body was fading, Subaru tried to say farewell to Echidona. But it was Echidona herself who stopped him.
She stood up from her seat, and, with her funerary dress swaying, she walked to Subaru’s side,
[Echidona: You have joined me in my tea party, and acquired some portion of my knowledge…… but, aren’t you forgetting something?]
[Subaru: Forgetting something?]
[Echidona: My compensation, that is]
Echidona narrowed her eyes, and poked out her tongue at Subaru’s tilted head.
Subaru’s eyes widened at her words, repeating [compensation……] under his breath. And with, [Yes, compensation], Echidona nodded,
[Echidona: I charged a toll for our last meeting as well? Dealing with a Witch always comes with a price. The last payment was for last time, so what should I take this time, I wonder?]
[Subaru: C-can’t you wait till I’m better off in life? I don’t really have much cash on me, and the stuff you charge can be a little too rough on me you know]
[Echidona: Your skills for negotiating with Witches might be a little lacking]
Seeing Subaru pressed into the back of his chair, a sadistic smile emerged on Echidona’s lovely face. She looked him up and down, wondering just what to take.
A Witch’s compensation―― last time, it was forgetting Echidona’s existence after returning to reality. If the same happened this time, then all the information he gained from the tea party, along with any hope of breakthrough, would be lost. Only, he wasn’t sure what other price he would be able to afford,
[Echidona: Alright, I’ve decided]
What’s going to happen? Subaru shriveled back, as Echidona leaned her body forward and placed her face up against his. While Subaru was busy being shaken by the closeness of her lips to his, she leaned down even further―― and reached into the inside of his jacket.
Her soft, white hair brushing against his skin smelled of the faint scent of flowers. Having no immunity to pretty girls, Subaru’s brain froze like a brick.
But, not minding Subaru’s mental issues, she touched him on his chest,
[Echidona: Then, I’ll take this]
[Subaru: ……Oo, eh?]
Pulling her hand out of the confounded Subaru’s chest―― Echidona’s white fingers drew out a small handkerchief, fluttering in the wind.
White, with gold linings, on its back was an embroidery of the gray Great Spirit,
[Subaru: The handkerchief Petra gave me when I left for the Sanctuary…….?]
[Echidona: You should thank the person who gave you this gift. It is imbued with only the pure and powerful emotion of concern for your safety. Every passing of the needle and thread instilled this magic into this object. I am quite fascinated indeed by the power residing here]
[Subaru: ……Petra…did that?]
[Echidona: Someone is very fond of you, it seems. While I must apologize to the child who offered you these thoughts, I will be taking this]
Echidona’s cheeks softened at the embroidered Puck on the back, before stowing the handkerchief away into her chest. Then, leaving Subaru’s side,
[Echidona: The price for the tea party has been paid. From the bottom of my heart, I look forward to your next visit]
In an almost joking gesture, Echidona picked up the edges of her dress and performed an impeccable curtsy.
Perhaps, she wanted to give him a lighthearted send-off―― noting that it wasn’t like her at all, Subaru stood up from his chair,
[Subaru: Thank you for the treat… and for everything. ――Until we meet again]
In the same way, Subaru picked up the hems of his jersey and did a curtsy of his own, prompting a wry smile onto Echidona’s face.
Then, as a white light enveloped the scene―― Subaru left the tea party.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
――The first thing Subaru felt as his consciousness returned from the tea party was the cold, hard floor, and the unpleasant taste of dirt in his mouth.
[Subaru: Uegh! Ghpphph! Does that have to happen every time now……!?]
Spitting out the foreign objects in his mouth, Subaru sat up and shook his head, pushing his mind to wake up.
First thing, was to confirm his body’s condition, and recall what had happened before he woke. When he Returned by Death after being devoured by the Great Rabbit, he was immediately summoned to Echidona’s tea party. There, he got mangled by Daphne’s eye, proceeded to strengthen his resolve, and was at last saved by Petra’s thoughts.
None of it was missing from his memories. And, relieved by this fact,
[Subaru: Looks like Echidona kept her word. The tea party didn’t get erased from my memories this time]
This time, the white-haired Witch still remained vivid in his memories.
Even though she had no lack of Witch-iness, she did at least keep her promises. In fact, judging from their interactions so far, she might even be among one of the few people he could call an ally.
Though it was too bad there wouldn’t be many opportunities he could rely on her help,
[Subaru: Can’t say I got everything I needed this time…… but at least it’s something]
Placing his hand over his chest, Subaru thought back to the events of the tea party―― to his confession of his “Return by Death”, and clenched down onto that feeling of salvation.
There, even though it was limited to Echidona and the other Witches, being able to say it out loud and share that burden was already more than he could have hoped for.
And having the chance to hear someone more knowledgeable about this Parallel World give her thoughts on “Return by Death” was just another one of the things he gained.
The Witch of Envy was the one who put everything into motion, and when the day comes when he will have to face her, he will be ready.
[Subaru: With that renewed feeling, Natsuki Subaru is reborn! So let me make good use of that Witch’s power for now. No matter how many times it takes, I’ll spend my life to do it]
If it could get him closer to the answer, he would ask for nothing more.
[Subaru: My sense of time must be off thanks to the tea party, but this is right after the first Trial, isn’t it?]
The location of his Return by Death hadn’t changed, that was what Echidona told him. Turning his head about to look over his surroundings, he was definitely inside the Tomb.
Having verified this, and deciding that he should start carrying Emilia out of this place, Subaru proceeded to search for her.
[Subaru: Considering this is immediately after Return by Death, and the third time at that, I better think about how to deal with Garfiel. ……Though I’m pretty sure he won’t just try to kill me all of a sudden]
But still, Garfiel was prone to impulsive actions. And it’d be impossible to predict what he will do.
Thinking back to their last encounter and his subsequent death, even though the Great Rabbit was his immediate cause of death, recalling the scene of the slaughter of the villagers made a dark emotion boil within Subaru, beyond his control.
Repel the Great Rabbit, repel Elsa’s attack, solve the Sanctuary’s mysteries, and settle his debt with Garfiel.
Even if none of it had happened in this world, Subaru was not going to forgive him. One way or another, he will exact his revenge on Garfiel.
Brooding over these thoughts, Subaru’s negative feelings towards Garfiel surged ever higher, seeping to the surface. But all these thoughts came to an abrupt end, when,
[Subaru: ……Where’s Emilia?]
――She was nowhere to be found.
The sense of incongruity made Subaru furrow his brows, desperately trying to peer through the darkness of the Tomb. But he couldn’t find Emilia’s body anywhere in the narrow room where their Trials took place.
This had never happened before.
[Subaru: Immediately after my Trial, Emilia should still be in the middle of her’s……]
Emilia, unable to pass her first Trial, should still be tangled by her past, suffering at Subaru’s side.
And yet, she was not in the Tomb. The place and time he returned to was no doubt inside the Tomb immediately after his first Trial, but,
He had a bad feeling about this.
Emilia’s absence meant deviating from all the conditions so far.
It shouldn’t be possible, not unless Subaru had changed the future. But what could an unconscious Subaru have done to have this kind of influence?
Stirred by unease, Subaru ran out of the Trial room and into the corridor. Then, carrying his reverberating footsteps through the corridor, he came out of the Tomb.
Underneath the moonlight, stepping out of the Tomb, what Subaru saw was――
-=Chapter 48 End=-
(The amazing thumbnail art is by @fumoice!)
Oh god the title for next Chapter…… >_<
Chapter 49 Live Draft: