(Thank you Kizarat, Rodolfo, Roanz, Kam, Mohamad, Patrick, H-X, Umut, Vimal, Ellydian Games, Aaron, Poppy, 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/230/
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
――It was when they entered the forests surrounding the Sanctuary that Subaru noticed that something was strange.
Riding on Patrasche, he was holding the sleeping Rem against his chest. It was a horrendously unbalanced and precarious posture, but thankfully, Rem did not move about, and Patrasche was able to perfectly make up for her master’s incompetence as they sped along the road.
Naturally, they couldn’t go at full speed as they did on the way to the Mansion, and it took them seventeen hours to retrace the same path. And now, it was already approaching the fourth night.
He had planned to spend a day and a half in the Sanctuary, but it looked like it would have to be shrunk down to one day.
It was a necessary use of time. And of course, he had no intention of blaming Patrasche.
But if there was one thing Subaru had failed to take into account,
[Subaru: Seriously, this is no joke…… What the hell’s happening here……!?]
Halfway along the road to the Sanctuary, through the forest where the Barrier stood―― they began to notice a piercing cold enveloping the world.
The trees’ green leaves were spattered with frost, and the surfaces of the branches were coated in white. The puddles along the ground had frozen over, and there were thin sheets of ice every way he looked.
The temperature was abnormally cold―― even more frigid than that of a harsh winter. Subaru tightened his arms around Rem as he looked about, expelling breaths of white mist.
As usual, the forest lacked the signs of animal life, but now, even the life force of the trees have weakened. The fact that the forest was so unprepared for the cold only proved that it was no natural phenomenon.
[Subaru: Everything ahead is frozen and white…… I got a bad feeling about this, Patrasche]
[Subaru: Hey… Patrasche?]
Irritated by the ominous feeling in his chest, he wanted to tell Patrasche to speed up, but Patrasche did not respond.
Furrowing his brows as he looked down at his favorite dragon, he saw that her legs were stopping, and her breaths were pained and ragged.
Subaru hurriedly pulled on the reins to stop her. He hopped down from the saddle, and reached out his hand to her neck. The rocky texture of the scales of her neck felt the same as usual, except it was terrifyingly cold. And, it was then that he realized it.
[Subaru: Unless, are ground dragons vulnerable to the cold……? They look just like reptiles, I wonder how they deal with winter?]
Most reptiles like lizards and snakes hibernate during the winter. Since they look so similar visually, perhaps some of the reptilian qualities applied to ground dragons as well.
In that case, having Patrasche move towards the cold would be nothing less than suicide.
If what Subaru imagined was correct, then the closer they get to the center of the Sanctuary, the more severe the cold would become.
[Subaru: It’s too harsh for you to come with me…… I guess. From the looks of it, the ground dragons that stayed in the Sanctuary might be in danger as well]
Subaru stroked Patrasche’s shivering body with his hand. Perhaps it was doing nothing more than to console her, but Patrasche leaned her body into his palm as if to wrap herself around the sensation.
Without her, it would no doubt take even longer to reach the Sanctuary―― but if she went along with him, she might very well die on the way there.
[Subaru: Patrasche.. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to leave you outside the forest…… or actually, could you go back to the Mansion?]
Hearing Subaru’s decision, Patrasche let out a sad snort.
But she was clever enough to understand Subaru’s concerns, as well as the state of her own body and the conditions of the forest ahead. After a few more consoling words from Subaru, she lowered her head and did not disobey him.
After rubbing her head to his heart’s content, Subaru took out some basic rations and clothing from Patrasche’s travel pack, and put on as much as he could to ward off the cold. He did the same for Rem, and after securing the baggage with her body, he lifted her up.
[Subaru: The way to the Sanctuary is… straight ahead……right?]
[Subaru: Don’t give me that worried look… I’m more worried about you, you know. You must be exhausted… sorry for putting you through this. It was inconsiderate of me, sorry]
Subaru drooped down his head, and Patrasche let out a small neigh as if to say “There’s no need to apologize”. Then, she set out her steps towards the forest’s edge, while Subaru watched her until she was out of sight.
Patrasche didn’t look back even once as she left. Perhaps, it was because she was too proud to let him see her reluctance, and, at the same time, it would have been out of the gentle regard to lessen his sense of guilt.
Through and through, Subaru acknowledged everything his beloved dragon had done for him.
[Subaru: Patrasche should have no problem finding her way out of the forest. ……Actually, I’m more worried about this end… crap]
Shifting Rem in his arms, Subaru walked onward with the sound of frost crunching under his feet.
His exhaled breaths turned white, and his teeth would clatter if he allowed himself to feel the cold. Forward, forward, he headed towards the Sanctuary.
[Subaru: What on earth happened… Emilia……?]
He called to the name of the girl who must be at the heart of this freezing cold.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
He forced his frozen legs forward, breathing in shallow huffs through lips that had already forgotten how to shiver. Doing his best to keep his sticking eyelids open, Subaru managed to maintain his hazy-white vision as he advanced through the forest.
――The extreme cold enveloping the Sanctuary far exceeded Subaru’s naive expectations.
With every step that brought him closer, he could feel his body temperature dropping.
He had long lost the sensation of his skin, and the only thing driving his body was the sense of duty to those who have departed, and the will to move forward,
In his arms, Rem went emitting her steady signs of life, giving no indication of whether the outside environment was affecting her.
Forging straight ahead, he advanced towards the Sanctuary.
He couldn’t tell by sight whether he was on the right path or not. But he could only trust that he was getting closer by the intensity of the cold as he walked.
The snow had already piled up to his shins, and before he knew it, the forest had completely transformed into a landscape of winter.
It was a power capable of transforming the very nature of the world―― and Subaru knew what it might be.
Quivering, he pried open his frozen lips while blood seeped from the ripped-off tissue as he gasped for air. He touched the warmth of his blood with the tip of his tongue, and was assured that his body hadn’t frozen through.
He could keep going. He could still do it.
He hadn’t learned anything yet. If he stopped here, he wouldn’t be able to tell himself what all those sacrifices had been for.
Suddenly, noticing something cut across his stark-white vision, Subaru halted his steps.
Rubbing his nearly-closed eyes open, Subaru strained his gaze to see the anomaly that had cut into his sight. Gradually making out its contours, he saw that it was a person―― a person he knew.
[Subaru: Lewes… san?]
At Subaru’s call, the girl only responded with a silent gaze.
Observing this reaction, Subaru immediately recognized that this girl wasn’t “Lewes”, but a replica of “Lewes Meyer”.
And that, if she was a replica, then he should have command authority over her.
[Subaru: It’s good.. you’re here…… please… guide me to the Sanctuary……]
[???: She ain’t gonna listen t’yer requests, y’know?]
Huffing with white, faltering breaths, Subaru called out to the replicant girl, but another voice cut in between them.
He looked up, and immediately saw someone landing in the snow beside the girl. Watching the figure sink into the snow with a crunch, Subaru saw that it was a single youth.
With short, blonde hair, and a sharpened gaze, his entire body emanated murderous hostility.
[Garfiel: Yo, y’still got the guts t’come back? Gotta say, I’m impressed. “Lyin’ Bittoon bows better than most” as they say]
Without forgetting to throw in an incomprehensible reference, Garfiel clicked his fangs at Subaru.
But as he disdainfully looked down at the panting Subaru, Garfiel’s eyes suddenly widened in surprise when he saw Rem in Subaru’s arms.
[Garfiel: Huh……? What’s Ram doin’ wi……wait, that ain’t Ram. Hah? Th’hell’s goin’ on? Who’s that girl……]
[Subaru: I’ll explain, but whether you’ll understand is a bit sketchy…… This is Rem. Ram’s totally authentic younger sister]
[Garfiel: I ain’t never heard ‘bout Ram havin’ a sister…… but can’t really decide if yer lyin’ outright either, oy]
Facing someone who looked exactly like the girl he had a crush on, Garfiel’s aggression somewhat diminished. Seeing how Garfiel didn’t kill him on sight, Subaru determined that he was still rational, and decided to put off making escape plans for now.
Then, Subaru turned to the Lewes replicant quietly standing at Garfiel’s side,
[Subaru: You said that girl won’t listen to me anymore… what do you mean?]
[Garfiel: ……Ain’t that pretty simple? Soon as ya left th’Sanctuary, I went to th’experimental grounds and overwrote the command authority to myself. Had t’revisit some unpleasant memories cus’ of you]
[Subaru: Really? You just have to go pat-pat, and the command authority transfers?]
[Garfiel: Y’basically just have’ta touch it. That’s how you got it, ain’t it?]
“It”, would be the crystal sealing the original Lewes Meyer inside. If touching it was how Subaru received the command authority in the first place, then it was only natural that Garfiel took it back the same way.
In any case,
[Subaru: It was really considerate of you to come all the way here to get me]
[Garfiel: I didn’t come here t’entertain yer bullshit. Just take a look at what’s happenin’ and it ain’t hard t’see we’re way past th’time for pleasant conversations, yeah?]
[Subaru: Yeah, you’re right. ……I’ll just come right out and ask, then]
Subaru nodded at Garfiel’s retort, then inhaled with a slight shake of his head, and said,
[Subaru: ――Emilia’s the one doing this… isn’t she?]
[Garfiel: Got no fuckin’ idea. Either way, she ain’t coming out of the Tomb]
[Subaru: She hasn’t come out of the Tomb?]
Subaru furrowed his brows at the unexpected reply. Seeing this, Garfiel clicked his tongue and kicked up a great chunk of snow with his foot,
[Garfiel: Th’Half-Witch’s been actin’ weird since th’day y’left. I thought she’s calmed down, but then she shut herself inside the Tomb. By the time we realized it, th’whole Sanctuary’s covered in ice. ――Just like Elior Forest]
[Subaru: You know about Emilia’s home……!?]
[Garfiel: Y’think I haven’t heard? Roswaal’s a fuckin’ bastard, but he still answers questions when needed. That’s why I ain’t trustin’ Emilia-sama one bit]
Listening to Garfiel spit this out, Subaru’s expression darkened. Yet, before he could react, Garfiel had already closed their distance and was now standing right before his eyes.
[Garfiel: That expression’s fuckin’ pathetic]
A palm shoved against Subaru’s chest, and he gracelessly fell backwards.
He hurriedly tried to shield Rem with his arms, but his hands clutched at nothing. As for why that was,
[Suabru: What’re y… Rem――!]
[Garfiel: What, y’want her back? Oyoy, yer one greedy bastard. And here I thought Emilia-sama was th’girl of yer dreams]
Having struck Subaru where it hurt, Garfiel snorted through his nose.
There, in Garfiel’s arms, was Rem’s body which he had snatched out of Subaru’s grasp.
Frantically forcing his insensate body into motion, Subaru tried to grab onto Garfiel, but Garfiel leapt out of reach.
[Subaru: What’re you going to do to Rem……!]
[Garfiel: I won’t hurt her or anythin’. That’d just be wrong. I’m a reasonable guy, y’know. I hate it when people ain’t got proper sense]
As he said this, Garfiel’s gaze as he looked down at Rem indeed did not carry any hostility.
At least, Garfiel’s nature wasn’t twisted enough for him to harm someone who looked just like the girl he loved.
“Then why”, Subaru almost wanted to ask, but Garfiel beat him to it.
[Garfiel: Go inside the Tomb. ――And pull that Half-Witch out for me]
-=Chapter 64 End=-
Oooh Subaru+Emilia and Dona-time!! (Hopefully)
Let me know if you found any typos! ❤
Chapter 65 Live Draft: