(Thank you Roanz, Axl, Salal, Rodolfo, Daisuke, Kam for helping me with proofreading on the Live Draft!)
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/234/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 69 [Liar]
Feeling the touch of the hard ground, cold as always, Subaru’s consciousness was pulled back to reality.
Lying flat on his stomach, he opened his eyes and pushed himself up while spitting out the dirt and gravel in his mouth. He looked about his surroundings, and found himself in a murky darkness.
――It was the Trial room inside the Tomb.
From the same spot as it ended, Subaru’s world began anew.
Although a part of him was relieved to have managed to come back, the suffocating prospect of repeating the same hell in this world clenched onto his heart and would not let go.
Shaking his head, Subaru rejected those ominous portents of another dead-end.
Then, standing up and brushing the dirt off his clothes as he scanned around the area―― he found Emilia, collapsed in a corner of the room.
But, just before he could call out and run over to her side, Subaru hesitated.
What scraped across his mind was the scene that immediately preceded his return―― of Emilia with him dying in her lap, oblivious to his departure as she shared with him a kiss.
Without meaning to, Subaru touched a finger to his lips and furrowed his brows at the dry sensation.
In those last moments, Subaru’s face must have been a mess from all the blood he had coughed up. He couldn’t possibly understand what Emilia was thinking when she kissed him, but it was certainly not a memory which he would remember fondly.
Just as it had been when he was on the verge of death, though he could remember it happening, no emotion or tactile sensation carried over to the present world.
It was Subaru’s first kiss, as well as the first kiss he shared with Emilia. But, having been obstructed by the unreasonable barrier of Death, it had left him no notable impression.
Yet, Subaru’s hesitation was not the result of that regret.
His reflection on that kiss was not for sentimentality’s sake, but for the enormity of the dangers surrounding Emilia. ――The way she had clung to Subaru, utterly detached from reality.
With Puck refusing to show himself, she was crushed by the pressure from the villagers and the Sanctuary’s residents. And when even her last support, Subaru, left her, Emilia’s heart was finally broken.
If the result was her falling into that state, then what had happened to Emilia in all those loops up to now?
Subaru had left the Sanctuary for the Mansion four times now. Of all those times, the last was the only one where he had managed to come back to her―― then what became of Emilia in those other three loops?
In each of those loops, Rabbit would have attacked the Sanctuary.
Even if Emilia had managed to keep her sanity intact, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the outcome considering the Mabeast’s ferocity. But, just what must have been going through her mind back then?
[Subaru: As if there’s any point in asking…… if it turns out like that every time I leave, I’ll have no choice but to stay around……]
Nothing about their situation inspired optimism.
He could leave everything to the future and distract himself from what was happening around him, but that would be pointless.
In order to reach the perfect future, Subaru must constantly assume the worst possible continuation.
Assume that the world would always prepare for him the cruellest, most unreasonable fate.
In that case, the problems surrounding Emilia, Beatrice, Elsa, and Roswaal would naturally always be arranged in the most difficult way possible.
[Subaru: What I’ll have to do is……]
Save Emilia from being broken, save the people of the Sanctuary from the Great Rabbit, and save his friends at the Mansion from Elsa’s violence. ――No doubt, it would be a perilous path.
――Can it really be done?
Inside, the weak part of himself was asking, while preparing escape routes, excuses, and safeguards.
――It’s not a matter of can or cannot, all there is is to do it.
Subaru bared his teeth at that weakness inside himself, and declared his resolve not to betray his oath.
All he had to do was to retry as many times as necessary to clear away the obstacles, confirm the victory conditions, sort out the chronology, and determine the best use of his time.
Even if Subaru’s heart would be worn down by every failure, even if it meant having to witness things he’d never want to witness, as long as it brought him closer to grasping that perfect future, then it’d suit him just fine.
That was why――
[Subaru: ――Emilia. Are you alright?]
Reaching out, he shook the shoulder of the collapsed, lovely girl.
Emilia’s eyelids twitched at Subaru’s touch, as her consciousness was brought out of the world of the Trials and back to reality.
Her eyes opened, reflecting Subaru inside their amethyst gleam. Within seconds, tears welled up, rejecting her past as she clung tightly onto Subaru.
Accepting Emilia’s reach for his support, Subaru returned her embrace as he silently reaffirmed the promise he had made.
――He would protect Emilia to the very end, as well as save everyone there is to save.
Because there was no one except Natsuki Subaru who could do this.
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He began organizing the chaotic information from the end of the previous loop.
Most important among them, was that concerning Roswaal L. Mathers.
The same Roswaal who, right in front of his eyes, had lost his life, becoming the Great Rabbit’s feed.
Roswaal knew about Subaru’s Return by Death.
Even if he didn’t know that “Death” was the trigger, he was aware of Subaru’s ability to “Rewind”.
Though Subaru wasn’t sure if Roswaal had learned of this after his arrival at the Sanctuary, or if he had known long before that, most likely, it was written in Roswaal’s Gospel.
Subaru hadn’t been able to recover Roswaal’s Gospel in the previous loop.
If the Gospel had been tucked in Roswaal’s robes, then it would have been swallowed by the rabbits alongside his flesh. But even if Roswaal had left it in the residence, Subaru was in no state of mind to run inside to check.
And so, Subaru never got to see what was recorded inside.
――Or just what Roswaal’s ultimate objective might be.
If Roswaal was only acting according to the Gospel’s text, then what made him abandon his life in the end? ――Perhaps the answer lay in the Gospel itself.
Most likely, Roswaal would obey the Gospel even if it cost him his life.
Subaru didn’t know what format the entries in Roswaal’s Gospel would be written in, but they should be instructions, signposts towards its owner’s desired future, just like in Petelgeuse’s Gospel.
When something deviated from the Witch Cultist’s Gospel, Petelgeuse would use his own judgement to improvise within a reasonable range until the outcome matched the records.
But it was very different for Roswaal.
Acting with the knowledge that it was possible to “Rewind” the world, when the future differed from what was written, he would give up his own life just so he wouldn’t have to endure the time that would pass in error.
When reality differed from the text, Petelgeuse chose to improvise.
Whereas, refusing to permit the slightest deviance, Roswaal insisted that reality must follow the writ.
Though they were both dangerous adversaries in possession of Gospels, and even if the contents of their Gospels were largely the same, their approaches were almost complete opposites.
Considering the ways they relied on their Gospels, Subaru couldn’t help but find Roswaal’s to be the more misguided of the two.
――The problem lay in the contents of Roswaal’s Gospel.
If the outcomes of the attacks on the Sanctuary and the Mansion were all recorded in its pages, then the tragedy would only repeat over and over again until Roswaal’s wishes are fulfilled.
Even the snowfall in the Sanctuary could be attributed to Roswaal’s desire to match the Gospel’s prophecies. Which means, the snow was probably a part of every loop.
The only reason Subaru hadn’t encountered it until now was because it always started after he had left for the Mansion, and he never returned in time to see it.
Roswaal had induced the snowfall on the Sanctuary in order to isolate Emilia.
But just what was the point of doing that?
Even without such roundabout methods, the unbearable pressure from all sides should have been enough to wear her down. With her sense of duty, and being acutely aware of the expectations of those around her, Emilia could only bite down on her unease and powerlessness and continue challenging the Trials.
The moment Subaru was no longer at her side, she would lose her way and descend into a state of self-abandon.
Unless, that was Roswaal’s goal to begin with?
But if Emilia stopped acting for “Everyone else’s sake”, the Sanctuary would never be liberated. And without liberating the Sanctuary, there would be no escape when the Great Rabbit attacked.
There were too many places where Roswaal’s actions and attitude towards Emilia were at odds.
More than anything, there were Roswaal’s final words, moments before he was devoured by the Great Rabbit.
――Cast away everything except the one most important to you.
That was what Roswaal had whispered.
If you do that, you too, can become like me.
Nevermind whether Subaru wanted to become like Roswaal, the underlying implication of those words was that Roswaal had abandoned everything except what was most important to him, and that was how he wound up here.
In fact, it was a resolve for which he could relinquish his life―― there was no doubt in that regard.
If everything followed the Gospel’s writ: Emilia was driven into isolation, and events progressed exactly as Roswaal intended, would he really obtain that thing for which he was willing to abandon all else?
Or, perhaps a better question would be: why did Roswaal tell Subaru all this?
In any case――
[Subaru: If you’re telling me to let go… there’s no way I could do that]
Emilia was important.
But, it goes without saying, that there were people who Subaru wanted to protect and to keep at his side, far too many to count.
In Subaru’s narrow world, even the loss of a single fragment would forever render that world colorless.
Greedy and selfish as he was, there was no way he could permit it.
And so, he could never follow Roswaal’s advice.
[Subaru: Roswaal…… I―― will never become like you]
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I might’ve caught the flu… or it could be a very bad cold. The fever’s went down from yesterday but my head is a bit wonky at the moment >_<
As always, let me know if you spot any typos! ❤
Chapter 69 Live Draft: