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/241/
[Subaru: If I wanted empty idealism I wouldn’t have come to you. ……Don’t know why I have to say this, but did you actually think some run-of-the-mill counseling advice was going to help me get through this……?]
Echidona’s words were pleasant, and comforting.
If the wound was shallow, or the crime light, or if it had just been the matter of some causal occurrence, then maybe it would have helped.
Or perhaps, if he had merely wanted to feel saved, he may have made that “switch”.
[Subaru: It still doesn’t change the fact that everything I’ve done and everything I couldn’t do hadn’t changed reality by one bit… that everyone I sacrificed believing that those worlds would cease to exist could’ve been a mistake…]
[Echidona: ……That’s true]
[Subaru: Then how am I supposed to be okay with this? How am I supposed to forgive myself? When you tried offering me a hand I slapped it away. That’s because I didn’t want to be saved by a counterfeit Rem. I will definitely retrieve the real Rem in the end, one way or another―― but]
Pausing for a breath, Subaru’s face twisted in anguish,
[Subaru: ――When I do… would she really be the same Rem I had set out to save?]
[Subaru: Without an answer my heart has nowhere to turn. ……And here you are telling me that I don’t have to be like this, that all I have to do is decide……?]
[Subaru: Rather than count those I couldn’t save, I should live, counting the ones I did save…… is that what you’re telling me?]
What Echidona tried to tell him was that there was hope if he only looked ahead.
For Subaru, those words may have become a beacon.
――But the darkness into which he had fallen was not so shallow that he could consider it as such.
[Subaru: With this run-of-the-mill idealism… you’re telling me…… to just fight it……?]
[Echidona: ――I am]
[Echidona: That is what I am telling you]
While he was shoving aside all words of comfort and crying from the depths of despair, Echidona said this to Subaru.
Speaking slowly, pronouncing each syllable, Echidona looked Subaru straight in the eyes and told him.
[Echidona: Rather than count the multitudes you might not have saved, you should count all those you have saved. I have seen the roads you’ve taken to get here]
[Subaru: I, what…… what would y… about me……]
[Echidona: I have seen you doing your utmost, striving with all of your soul to forge your own path up to now. And so, I can say this. Indeed, I can]
[Echidona: Of all the paths you have taken until now, not a single one had been wasted. No one has the right to tell you that your utmost was “not enough”. It was only by throwing in everything you had that you have reached this moment. ――That is something to be proud of]
Echidona’s sincere words struck at Subaru’s emptied chest. Something resounded in its hollow interior―― but it was not enough. Those words could not compel him to stand.
Even if he was told that he should be proud, the fact remained that he had abandoned and lost too much. Things he should have been able to change. Things that would have gone differently if it had been anyone else besides Subaru. But, because that person was Subaru, there were so many that could not be saved.
That was Subaru’s crime. Subaru’s transgression. The sin which Subaru must accept and atone for.
[Subaru: There’s no one who can forgive me]
[Echidona: Then I will forgive you. I, who know everything about you]
[Subaru: There’s no one who can judge me]
[Echidona: Then I will judge you. I, who know all of your sins]
[Subaru: ――There’s no one who can accept me]
[Echidona: If you cannot accept yourself, then allow me to deny the self that you cannot forgive]
[Echidona: If you cannot accept your sins, then leave it to me to deny them]
For each of Subaru’s words, Echidona had one to strike it down.
Why was this Witch so insistent on denying Subaru’s sins?
Why was this Witch so unrelenting about wiping that darkness from Subaru’s heart?
[Subaru: Why… are you…… trying so hard to help me?]
[Echidona: ……Asking a girl to say this kind of thing is just plain mean, you know]
Echidona, who had not faltered once until now, was, for the first time, stuttering her words.
Then, with a slight blush on her cheeks, Echidona cleared her throat, and,
[Echidona: ――Will you forge a contract with me, Natsuki Subaru?]
Her voice was quiet, yet suggestive of her strong volition.
Subaru blinked, letting the words seep into his brain but still needing more time to comprehend them.
[Subaru: Con… tract……?]
[Echidona: Yes, a contract. A formal contract with the Witch of Greed――are you interested in sealing one?]
[Subaru: If we forged…… forged this contract, what happens then?]
[Echidona: It’s simple. ――From now on, whenever you meet an obstacle you cannot surmount, I will face the wall and ponder with you. Whenever you wish to hear someone’s words, I will endeavor to give you the testimony you desire. Whenever you feel close to being crushed by the weight of your sins, I will clear those crushing sins together with you]
Saying this in a single breath, a bashful smile rose on Echidona’s face,
[Echidona: Will you forge this contract with me?]
[Subaru: ……But you’re dead… so you can’t influence reality anymore, right?]
[Echidona: I believe my reach has already far exceeded that of the dead? I suppose it’s a bit late for me to admit this, but better late than never. ……That is, if you can forgive me]
Holding her hand to her chest, inclining her head as she spoke, Echidona’s words reverberated upon Subaru’s eardrums. The vibration passed into his body, bringing a gradual warmth that followed his coursing blood and pervaded throughout his body.
Sensation returned to his numbing fingers.
His parched tongue regained some of its moisture and mobility, and he could feel his thirsting eyes that had forgotten to blink being quenched by something wet and hot.
Her offered hand, her proposition, her proposal, her pledge of assistance left him at a loss as to how to answer.
Just when his oath to go on struggling seemed to have all but lost its meaning, the Witch pledged to be there to support him.
[Echidona: I don’t mean to brag, but I am rather confident in the volume of my knowledge. I can prepare countermeasures for just about any problem you might encounter, and no matter how absurd a situation threatens to befall you, unlike your peers, there is no need to go to such pains to persuade me. And, most of all, I can comprehend your Return by Death]
[Subaru: Are you trying to hit me with a fast-lipped sales pitch?]
[Echidona: As the requesting party, I do think it’s only natural for me to lay out all the benefits of sealing this contract with me. And if it has managed to put some ease into your heart, then all the better, don’t you think?]
Making use of Subaru’s words, Echidona took even those as a part of her pitch. Seeing the Witch this way, Subaru couldn’t help but loosen his cheeks into a smile.
Suddenly feeling the air peacefully flowing out of his lungs, “ahh”, Subaru sighed.
Bathed in the meadow’s gentle wind, he leaned his back into the chair and looked up to the sky.
In the blue, artificial sky, he could see white clouds floating.
Whenever he gets stuck, whenever he is lost without an answer, whenever he is facing against impossible odds.
――If he could sit here under this azure sky, and trade words with her in search of a solution…
[Subaru: Maybe, it wouldn’t be so bad……]
[Echidona: ――You mean……?]
Creaking her chair as she stood, inadvertently clenching her hands into fists, Echidona looked down at Subaru. But, noticing Subaru’s gaze looking back at her with his back still inclined against his chair, Echidona’s face suddenly changed color as if embarrassed by her own actions,
[Echidona: Ah, no…… Mn, but, if you absolutely must insist, then I guess sealing such a contract isn’t entirely out of the……]
[Subaru: It’s a bit too late to cover it up, isn’t it? I mean, you were the one who asked if…… ugh nevermind, saying it just feels incredibly crude at this point]
Echidona was the one proposing it, but she had done so to save Subaru’s heart.
To put it plainly, it was a Witch’s kindness. The fact that she didn’t make him cling and beg must have simply been the Witch’s consideration for Subaru.
No matter where he was, no matter who it was, was he always going to wind up being saved like this?
Bouncing off the back of his chair to jolt himself forward, Subaru stood up.
Standing close enough to touch if he only reached out his hand, Echidona looked into Subaru’s eyes that were now level with her own, a tinge of unease in her expression.
Even the Witch’s minutest actions are cunning, he thought.
But since he was the one being saved, he was surely in no position to complain.
[Subaru: So… how does one seal a contract?]
[Echidona: ――To seal a formal contract, you and I must be connected by a path between us. I will take care of the details…… but for now, your palm]
Echidona held up her right hand with her white palm facing towards Subaru.
“Here, put your palm against mine” was probably what it meant.
Feeling somewhat dumbstruck, watching the Witch across from him failing to keep the glee from escaping onto her lips, “haa”, he spilled a quiet sigh,
[Subaru: Now, hopefully things’ll finally start turning……]
Filled with great expectations of the future, he placed his palm onto her’s, and――
A crashing boom rang out as the cup-bearing table beside him burst into a thousand pieces.
The impact that shattered the table passed into the ground, birthing a crater in its wake as the rumble of the quaking earth jolted Subaru into squawking in shock,
[???: ――I’m putting a stop to this contract]
Striking her fist into the ground, proclaiming this in her magnificent voice, was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl――
――The Witch of Wrath, peering her eyes over the two, smoldering with furious rage.
-=Chapter 74 End=-
(The Echidona in the thumbnail is by @HaruSabin!)
This part was done last night but I was too tired to finalize it.
Let me know if you catch any typos!
I’ll start on the next one now ❤
Chapter 75 Live Draft: