(Thank you Tamas, Roanz, Daisuke, Austin, Socite, A S Lord, White Rice, Brototype, Glavos, Danny89, Tamer, Kam, 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/243/
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He felt like he had just heard something that would turn everything he knew on its head.
Minerva’s question ran completely contrary to what Subaru thought he understood. But the silence of the other Witches who had personally lived through that era only confirmed that Minerva was neither confused nor joking.
Hearing Minerva’s call, for the first time, the Witch of Envy’s shoulders trembled. The black mist concealing her head writhed, as she apparently turned towards Minerva.
――It was only now that the Witch seemed to have noticed Minerva’s existence.
“What did she mean when she said that?” there was no time for Subaru to ask, even as the sense of apprehension tightening in his throat rapidly exacerbated his restlessness.
The Witches’ affirmation only further confounded Subaru’s thoughts.
Since, Minerva’s words would mean that――
――The one called the Witch of Envy, Satella, might in fact be a different person.
No. That would be over-interpreting from the little information he was given.
How many times had he gone through painful experiences because he fell into such stubborn assumptions with only superficial clues to go on? Although he must always consider the possibilities, he mustn’t get stuck with any particular idea.
More importantly, he couldn’t afford to divert his attention from the scene before him for even a second.
[Minerva: Since you didn’t attack me at the very first question…… there’s still a chance]
Saying this, Minerva closed the distance.
Between the Witch of Wrath and the Witch, there were now only five steps remaining.
[Minerva: Though, if you were the Witch of Envy, I’d be surprised if you didn’t attack out of jealousy the moment I came between you two… so I’m not that worried]
[Minerva: Then again, you could’ve said something right from the start. I mean, I know we don’t get many chances to meet face to face in our relationship. And your last expression when you swallowed me back then isn’t something I can forget]
[Minerva: Rather than the other five, I thought it’d be better if it was me. Besides Typhon, out of the other Witches, I was your…… closest friend, I thought]
Two steps. She lowered her head.
[Minerva: Yeah, that’s what I thought…… and because I thought this……!]
Stooping down, with only two steps between them, Minerva leaned forward, pouring her strength into her back leg.
[Minerva: Do you realize what it feels like to be ignored, when it’s been so long――!?]
The ground exploded, instantly annihilating the distance between them.
Minerva charged forward leaving a cloud of dust in her wake as she twisted her body to punch with all her might. Piercing the air, breaking through the sound barrier with a thunderous clap, the strike continued towards the Witch’s head, into the shadow obscuring her visage, and――
[Minerva: ――There, I knew it]
Minerva’s fist miraculously stopped mere inches from the Witch’s face.
It wasn’t because the Witch’s shadow reached out to tangle her arm. But instead, Minerva had intentionally stopped just before the strike would reach her.
With her fist still extended, Minerva leaned back, swaying her golden hair,
[Minerva: Look, see? She knew there was no need to dodge my punches, it’s Satella, not the Witch of Envy. Echidona, you were worrying too much]
[Echidona: ……I wonder. While I honestly admire your spirit for using your own body to test it out, those aren’t the same things. It could just be that it perceived your threat to be so negligible that it naturally didn’t react. So, Sekhmet…]
[Sekhmet: You’ll find any reason you can to get me to move… huu… and you’re just as bad at knowing when to give up, Echidona… haa… Admit it, that’s Satella, huu]
Sekhmet let out a sigh at the silenced Echidona.
Still existing as a ball of hair, the Witches’ final weapon showed no intention of moving. Then, standing within reach of the Witch――Satella, Minerva turned back to Subaru.
Seeing himself reflected within her pale-blue eyes, still unable to take in the fact that she was standing right beside that enormous threat, Subaru only stood there, dumbstruck.
Seeing this, Minerva snorted, and pouted with a dissatisfied expression,
[Minerva: What’re you standing there for? Come on, get over here]
[Subaru: Get… over…… well, even if you say that…]
[Minerva: What, you’re not a man at all. I’m all the way over here and proved that it’s fine, didn’t I? So you can just scuttle over already. Right? Or is all this table-setting still not enough? If you won’t cross the stone bridge even when someone’s tapped it out for you, how’re you ever gonna get across!?]
[Subaru: Don’t just get excited all of a sudden! It’s not like I won’t come over because I’m freaking out! I’m not going over there because I don’t know why I should!]
Shouting back at Minerva in the same indignant tone, Subaru objected to being left in the dark.
Pointing at Satella, who had apparently been deemed no immediate threat, Subaru looked around at the other Witches, who were unraveling from their combat stances,
[Subaru: First of all, what do you mean the Witch of Envy is different from Satella!? You keep talking about it like it’s obvious, but that’s not the case from where I’m standing!]
[Echidona: It’s not too complicated. When you forcibly inject Witch Genes into someone with no affinity for it, these afflictions are bound to arise. The Witch-Personality emerging from the influence of the Genes would then conflict with the original self…… or that’s one way to explain it. But as far as I’m concerned, they are one and the same, so I don’t see the point of differentiating the two like the others do]
[Subaru: A split… personality……? Then, what’s…? You mean the one who swallowed you guys and carved those atrocities into history was the alternate personality, even though the original personality didn’t mean to……]
[Echidona: No, that’s not it either]
Just as Subaru tried to make sense of the information he had been given, Echidona stopped him. She shook her head, and, as if to correct Subaru’s theory,
[Echidona: Consuming half the world, and devouring us six Witches of Sin, were entirely Satella’s doing, not the Witch of Envy’s]
[Subaru: Wh――!? No, but that doesn’t make any sense! If the one who swallowed you was Satella, and that’s Satella standing over there……then…]
[Sekhmet: Actually, it does make sense, haa. While we cannot forgive the Witch of Envy… huu… we hold no grudge against Satella…haa… That’s all there is to it, huu…]
[Camilla: I-I don’t…… like, Satella-chan ei…. either, but…… at, least she’s, better, than, the Witch…… I, guess]
Sekhmet and Camilla’s agreement only put more questions into Subaru’s head.
The Witches seemed to have some sort of consensus, but Subaru couldn’t understand it at all. They would forgive the personality that destroyed them, but not the alternate personality that didn’t―― what was that supposed to mean?
[Echidona: I’ve always been asserting that such distinction is pointless…… but it’s a futile effort. So I can’t just ignore their feelings and eradicate that thing. My frail spirit-body won’t hold up for long if I do it, only to have them turn their banners against me. Even I can’t come back from having my only soul scattered into the wind]
[Subaru: B..ut…… isn’t that extremely risky for the other five as well? You’re the one keeping their souls intact. If you disappear, the other Witches would……]
[Echidona: They have already come to terms with their own “Deaths”. So they have no special attachment to prolonging their existence as souls. ――They would rather choose destruction than live on betraying their ideals. It’s because they think this way that they are Witches]
Neither Sekhmet nor Camilla objected to Echidona’s words.
“High-minded” might be too flattering of a description, but Subaru had no words for the uncompromising way the Witches chose to live.
“If only I could be like this”, “I wish I could be like this”, anyone would have had such thoughts at one point or another.
But to stay true to their ideals even after death isn’t something anyone could do.
[Subaru: And Minerva……]
Is probably the same.
Before anyone else, she was probably the first to be destroyed by the Witch of Envy. But she still trusted her enough to approach within arm’s reach, and the result proved that that trust wasn’t misplaced.
Subaru didn’t know what kind of relationship these girls had had.
But if there was this bond of trust between them, what drove the Witch of Envy to destroy the other six? And how was it, that they could then forgive her?
Echidona’s thoughts on it were at least understandable.
But, even so――
[Subaru: I can see this is how you guys are. It’s a bit…… hard to take in, but I think I got it. But, I still haven’t heard anyone explain to me why she’s here]
[Subaru: She isn’t going to attack no-questions-asked. I get that. ……But, that doesn’t mean she’s safe. If the one I’ve been dealing with was the Witch of Envy, then what does Satella want from me? The Witch of Envy has been a serious pain in the ass… so even if you suddenly tell me that this one’s different, it’s not like I’d just understand]
Besides, according to the Witches themselves, Satella was definitely the one who devoured them. So even if the one who swallowed the Sanctuary was the Witch of Envy, it would seem that Satella was no less dangerous.
So who could blame him for feeling threatened and wary, and wanting to stay away?
[Subaru: What does she want, why is she here. As long as no one tells me……!]
[Minerva: If you want to find out, then you should come over here]
Minerva stopped him just as he was raising his voice.
Placing her hands on her hips, Minerva couldn’t hide the annoyance on her adorable face as she stared at Subaru.
[Minerva: That’s enough of your long-winded excuses and drawn-up defenses. I’m here standing right next to her, and nothing’s happened. And also, she came here to see you. So if you’re gonna keep acting like a loser and won’t come closer, that can only mean we’ve misjudged you]
[Subaru: What was there to misjudge!? Don’t just go one-sidedly imagining things about me! And stop pushing that crap on me! What would you know about me, anyway!?]
Being slapped with some arbitrary image of himself, it wasn’t like he’d just start acting in accordance with it.
But, once, when Subaru had shouted that exact same thing, there came a voice that answered him. He could still remember what it said. And that those words had become his strength.
――If he didn’t want to betray that past-self that was saved by those words, then,
[Subaru: Agh, damn it…… what was I thinking… idiot……]
Being irrational, making decisions based solely on emotions.
After so many painful experiences resulting from this, had he learned nothing at all? Instead, he should be paying attention to the details, stifling his emotions so he could act calmly, not out of impulse, but on facts alone―― to uphold that never-wavering heart of steel.
That was what he had always wanted himself to be.
[Minerva: You’re taking too long]
[Subaru: What it’s like to be up-close to someone you’ve tangled to the death with…… crap, actually you do know, don’t you? It’s kinda hard]
[Minerva: It’s not like we don’t have any thoughts on it. Sekhmet and Camilla are just more mature, unlike me. But there’s a reason I look after her]
Watching Subaru clicking his tongue as he walked over, Minerva shrugged. Giving him no time to ask her what that reason was, Minerva handed the scene over to Subaru.
The Witch of Wrath naturally stepped aside as Subaru drew closer to the Witch―― until he was face to face with Satella.
Unwittingly gulping in front of the thing before his eyes, Subaru was at a loss for words.
Although he had already expected this while watching from afar, as well as while walking up to her, he still couldn’t get used to the immense emanated pressure and the visual sense of incongruity.
The shadowy dress clinging to her body carved out the curvatures of her figure, while the impenetrable veil above her neck gave rise to a perverse sense of glamor.
But all that was instantly swept away by the dissonance of her unrecognizable head.
Seeing her from up close, Subaru realized that it wasn’t anything physical obstructing his recognition.
What seemed to be a darkness shrouding over her head was not, in fact, what hid her face from view.
What made the Witch’s face invisible was something more primordial, something on the mental level.
No physical obstacle was blocking her face from view. Instead, it was something instinctual that was not allowing him to “See” it.
[Echidona: Everyone wants to avert their eyes from their most repulsive delusions]
[Echidona: If you can’t see her face, then that’s a problem with your own heart]
The cautioning voice came from behind him, affirming Subaru’s realization.
Resisting the urge to fire back at her, Subaru ignored Echidona―― or rather, he had no attention to spare as he continued to face against Satella.
Meanwhile Satella had yet to take any kind of action.
The only thing Satella had done so far was appear here, and it was those around her that had kicked up a fuss, frantically trying to prevent any potential damage from being brought about by her actions.
It’d be no exaggeration to say that the fear inspired by her presence was a testament to the danger her existence posed.
And, just when Subaru was growing impatient with her lack of motion,
Seeing her hands suddenly reach out to him, Subaru’s throat froze.
Not distracted for a second or even a blink of an instant, Subaru kept his attention fixed on Satella. What would happen in the next moment? ――The tension of not knowing was like imperceptible hands toying with his mind.
His shock wasn’t because he had failed to see the hands move. Subaru clearly saw Satella’s hands move towards him. What surprised him was his own consciousness, which had quietly watched their approach to the end.
[Subaru: What…… are you, really? What… do you want with me?]
In fact, Subaru hadn’t made any useful reaction to those hands reaching towards him. Though subconsciously understanding what her gesture meant, Subaru hastily uttered those words.
As if he didn’t need to acknowledge that fact, as though he didn’t have to face it, he wrenched out the words,
[Subaru: If you’re… the one giving me the power to rewind…… why… are you……]
He didn’t know why Satella was doing this.
Or why his body, facing Satella at a distance close enough to touch, despite him time and time and again screaming commands from the depths of his consciousness, was refusing to obey him.
――Was he supposed to feel so inexplicably “Relieved” in front of her?
Still struggling with his disobedient body, Subaru belatedly reacted to the voice striking upon his eardrums. This time, it was no doubt the correct reaction to something so far outside his expectations.
Holding his breath, Subaru waited for her to continue.
In front of Satella, staring at him with her still-indiscernible expression, Subaru swallowed, as he went on waiting while time slowly passed on, until she spoke.
[Satella: ――――I will]
[Satella: I will always. Always. Love only you]
-=Chapter 76 End=-
(The amazing fan art is by @HaruSabin!)
I’m a bit too tired to tell if it’s good enough right now… I might revise it again before I go to bed.
Please let me know if you find any typos!! ❤
Chapter 77 Live Draft: