(Thank you Rodolfo, Federico, Brototype, Tamas, S Alal, A S Lord, Roanz, White Rice, Lucky, Danny89, Vojta, Daisuke, Kam, Glavos for helping me proofread 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/242/
Echidona’s eyelashes trembled in trepidation for his reply, as her fingers holding her chest anxiously fidgeted about. Her lips tried several times to speak, but, hesitating, she merely moistened them with her tongue.
Subaru looked up into the eyes of the one restraining him, Minerva.
For a while, they went on staring at each other, until Minerva spilled a small sigh and finally released Subaru’s arm. Freed from her hold, Subaru stood up with a roll of his shoulders.
Just as Minerva promised, the aching in his shoulders was gone. In fact, he could feel that his somewhat tensed waist and other parts of his body have been purged of their fatigue as well. Such was the terrifying healing of the Authority of the Witch of Wrath.
Rolling out various parts of his body, Subaru checked the sensations in his limbs as he reorganized his thoughts:
About what he had heard just now, of Echidona’s unreserved, truest of true intentions.
[Subaru: You’re…… going to use me?]
To use, and be used. That was what Echidona had repeatedly proclaimed in her speech. Hearing it, Echidona nodded without hesitation.
[Echidona: I am. Just as you may use me. The contract is merely a safeguard should either of us stray from that agreement. If you wish to chastise me for wanting to do everything in my power to hold onto you, then I can only resignedly accept it]
[Subaru: It’s not that I haven’t thought about it… Ultimately, that’s what mutual interest is, I understand this too. As much as I hoped that you were only helping me out of the kindness of your heart…… I was at least prepared to accept the reality that you weren’t. But…]
In front of Echidona, Subaru covered his face with his hand and leaned back his head.
[Subaru: It’s just, not there anymore……]
[Echidona: What… isn’t?]
[Subaru: Everything you have done up to this point… looks faded to me now. Every warmth you have shown me, everything that made me want to trust you, to start believing that perhaps you weren’t a bad person after all…… all of it, has faded]
Everything from their first meeting to this moment suddenly collapsed with a thud.
Their first tea party, the scene after the Trial, and those countless times, impeded by reality, he had imposed on her wisdom: When he had thought that he could not regret sealing a contract with her.
――All of it was now mercilessly jeering at Natsuki Subaru’s foolishness.
[Subaru: Was this your intention from the start?]
[Echidona: I don’t see what you have a problem with? If it means reaching the optimal future, then you won’t hesitate to take whatever path to get there―― isn’t that the resolve you have made? You yourself have affirmed it, and I was merely agreeing and giving you a push on the back……]
[Subaru: When I decided that…… when I hadn’t yet, and you tried to guide me down that path, was that all a part of your plan? ……Is that what you’re telling me?]
[Echidona: I wouldn’t want you to misunderstand. That conclusion was entirely your own. All I’ve done was give you a little nudge. To blame your own conclusions on someone else is something I cannot agree with. I cannot agree with it, and I am not so meek that I’d just sit down and take it]
Pouting up her lips, Echidona’s face sulked in protest. That display of emotion was so childish and out of place that it only intensified Subaru’s sense of incongruity.
Somehow―― there was just something off about the degree of her affectations.
There was nothing wrong with where Echidona expressed her emotions. She would be indignant when doubted, smile when there was something to be happy about, and let slip glimpses of grief when there was reason to be sad. All of these were on point, and without error.
Yet this sense of incongruity, and the distrust it inspired, was because――
[Subaru: All your emotions are synthetic… and superficial]
[Subaru: Whether you’re happy, or mad, your emotions are equally childish and shallow. Just now, when you were riled, all you did was pout. It had nothing to do with magnanimity. Your reactions…… all your reactions have been strange. Before… I had thought… you were just an easygoing, open-minded person, but……]
[Subaru: The truth is something else. You’re―― you’re someone who can’t understand other people’s emotions at all]
Recalling all of Echidona’s behavior up to now, it was as if everything had been toned in sepia.
What he had previously imagined to be her good nature had in fact merely been owing to the shallowness of her emotions. The moment he saw through this, all their interactions abruptly faded of color.
And, even when showered by these unsparing words, Echidona’s face remained unchanged from the sulking expression from before: As if she didn’t know any way to express any greater discomfort.
[Subaru: This is where you’re supposed to be angry, you know]
[Echidona: ……Is that so. So here is where I should raise my voice, and shower you with insults? I see, now I learned something. I’ll make sure I do so the next time I get the opportunity]
With the fall of Subaru’s words, Echidona’s expression vanished.
Expressionless―― it was something Subaru had never seen from the Echidona he knew: but the true face of the Witch of Greed.
In front of Subaru, who had fallen into silence, Echidona snapped her fingers. In an instant, the destroyed hillock was restored to its original shape, and the shattered table and scattered chairs were formed anew.
Echidona sat down in one of the chairs, and pointed to the one opposite her,
[Echidona: Would you like to sit? I’d like us to iron out the details of the contract]
[Subaru: ……With things as they are, do you still think I’ll readily consider a contract with you?]
[Echidona: Unless, you are really going to reject me over such a small disagreement? What would be the point of that? Driven by the impulse of a moment to abandon the correct choice can’t be considered wise. I suggest you take a good look at reality, and select the most rational course of action]
Faced with Echidona’s words that were frozen of emotion, Subaru closed his eyes and held his breath.
Echidona was right. Subaru was the one who was losing himself to impulse: there was no way around it. Her argument was sound. Nor was she lying.
All Echidona did was hide her true intentions from Subaru. She had merely kept silent about how she benefited from observing Subaru on his path.
If he sealed this contract, chances were, he would finally reach the correct solutions. And that he would obtain Echidona’s unreserved cooperation was also an indisputable fact.
[Subaru: There is one thing… I’ve been meaning to ask you the moment I got to see you again]
[Echidona: ――Hm, and what is that?]
[Subaru: Once I hear the answer, I think I’ll be ready to choose]
Echidona awaited Subaru’s question.
Subaru would put forth this question as his touchstone: the question he hadn’t been able to find even a fragment of an answer to since embarking on the loops starting in the Sanctuary. A question which she could not possibly have nothing to do with.
[Subaru: ――You know about Beatrice, don’t you, Echidona]
[Echidona: ……Yes, I do. I was rather deeply involved in her creation, in fact. Did something happen with her?]
Echidona returned this innocent reply, seemingly bearing no hidden meaning, yet rife with questions all the same.
Subaru closed his eyes once more, and saw the girl with drill-curls in his mind.
In her last moments, with her back pierced through, just before she vanished.
At the end of her long, long solitude, the shadow she had cast within him remained heavy in his heart.
Knocking Subaru aside, shielding him from that murderous blade, that final expression she showed him―― even now, was seared into the back of his eyes, refusing to fade. And so,
[Subaru: Because of her contract, Beatrice has been waiting for “That Person” to come. Are you the one who forged this contract with her? Are you the one who bound her to the Mansion?]
(The amazing fan art is by @smk38d!)
Oooooo we’ll finally find out more about Beako!!
Let me know if you find any typos! ❤
Chapter 75 Live Draft: