(Thank you Brototype, Austin, Roanz, Axl, Aaron, Alpha Cartographer, Lucky, Federico, Rodolfo, Julian, for helping me proofread 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/247/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Interlude II [After The Guests Have Left]
[Sekhmet: Was it really alright… haa. Letting them leave like that… huu?]
[Echidona: It was his decision, his choice. I would like to respect that. ……Although, I can’t say I don’t have a thought or two about the way he left holding that thing’s hand]
Echidona shrugged in response to Sekhmet’s listless voice.
Just as always, they were inside the Citadel of Dreams with its grassfields and blue skies unchanged. A cool wind scraped by, gently caressing the Witches’ hair.
――After the fracturing world swallowed Subaru and Satella, releasing them from the Dream, the world was formed anew.
But of course it was. This indestructible space was woven from Echidona’s soul, and so long as Echidona exists, it too would persist in this state. What transpired had been nothing more than an extravagant send-off for the guests who were leaving.
[Echidona: Still, when you fire off your ability all over like that, I can’t help but end up drained, you know. I’d appreciate it if you could exercise a little moderation with your rampant healing]
[Minerva: I follow my creed, if I see an injury, I heal it. Be it humans, Witches, animals, birds, fish, bugs, or Mabeasts, it makes no difference, any wound on a living being is my enemy!]
[Echidona: Yes, but, unlike in life, everything you do here is a burden on me. When you were alive, it was the world that had to shoulder that burden, but now that’s all on me, can you imagine how tough that is to bear alone?]
[Minerva: Burden or whatever, I couldn’t care less about stuff that I can’t see. I heal wounds. If it shortens the life of the world or something that’s not my problem]
Minerva crossed her arms, propping up her ample breasts, while the other two Witches wryly smiled.
At first glance, the Witch of Wrath Minerva might seem like the most amicable Witch of Sin―― or at least, the most harmless of the Witches.
In fact, her actions consisted entirely of healing, and the number of lives she saved in her lifetime must have surpassed the tens of thousands.
――However, Minerva’s seemingly harmless healing was indirectly causing equivalent damage to the world.
The destructive energy of every punch, kick, and bite would transform into healing in Minerva’s hands. This being the algorithm of the Authority of Wrath, no one besides Minerva could perform it. Even Echidona, who could understand its construction, could not replicate it.
Minerva’s healing strikes could bring lifeforms back from the brink of death. ――But to think that this Authority was all-powerful would be a mistake.
The healing power of her punches is the product of an algorithm which twists cause and effect by force and expends incredible amounts of mana to activate. The mana required far exceeds the capacity of humans, and, even for a Witch, Minerva could not possibly manage it alone.
In that case, where did the mana for her strikes come from? ――The answer is simple: it was stolen from the very core of the world.
Ordinarily, when humans use magic, it is done by drawing mana from the atmosphere through their gate, converting it into magical energy, and then releasing it once more as spells.
In Minerva’s case, her gate wasn’t linked to the atmosphere, but directly to the core of the world. It’s hard to explain what the world’s core is, but it is a supernatural mass of mana―― one might even say that it is the place where mana is born.
Minerva’s strikes were drawing mana from precisely that to convert her attacks into healing.
By repeatedly doing this, the mana that should originally be provisioning some place in the world would never reach it, and with the drying up of mana responsible for sustaining the fundamental structures of the world comes the extreme danger of natural disasters befalling that part of the world.
She may have healed over tens of thousands with her punches.
――But, in the natural disasters indirectly caused by her actions, just as many would have lost their lives.
Therefore, the Witch of Wrath Minerva was among the most dangerous of the Witches bearing the names of Sins, such that she was regarded as an enemy of every nation.
[Minerva: All I can do in here is draw up whatever mana you have, Echidona. I can barely cure or heal anything even if I suck you dry, that’s so lame]
[Echidona: There shouldn’t have been anyone getting hurt in here in the first place. But that’s all gone out the window with all that ruckus recently]
[Minerva: Right……yeah. It was pretty rowdy, for a little while]
Echidona’s words somewhat doused Minerva’s intensity. Her adorable face took on a visible shade of gloom as the blond-haired Witch looked up to the sky,
[Minerva: You think he’ll be alright? I’m getting super worried]
[Echidona: You can rest assured. Since he’s rejected my hand, he will be struggling with everything he’s got to make sure that he succeeds. Although, he doesn’t seem to have an answer yet]
[Minerva: What’s with that phrasing? You’re the one who lured him into rejecting you, and now you’re trying to pretend you didn’t when we all know what you’re thinking? What’s the point of that!?]
[Echidona: It’s not that I was trying to be rejected. ――Since whether he declined or accepted, I would’ve been glad either way]
Answering Minerva’s objection, Echidona sat herself down at the regenerated table. Clicking her fingers, she produced a teacup. Then, bringing the steaming cup to her lips,
[Echidona: I will affirm whatever choice he makes. And I don’t see any problems resulting from that choice. The fact that he chose it, or the fact that he didn’t choose it: that’s the important part. Whether the outcome is good or bad, I’m rather proud of my ability to be happy with either]
[Daphne: But~ that doesn’t mean you don’t have preferences~]
As Echidona brought the tea to her lips, a pitch-black coffin came inching up beside her. Daphne, who had settled herself inside her coffin once more, was attracted over by the assorted sweets on the table.
[Daphne: You say you respect the outcomes~, but Dona-Dona doesn’t hesitate to guide towards the results she wants to see, does she~~. It’s probably true that you’d be glad either way~, but it isn’t true that there isn’t one you wanted, is it~?]
[Echidona: You barely have any interest in others, yet you always hit things right on the mark, don’t you, Daphne]
[Daphne: Compared to the constant hunger on my mind~~, I don’t really get caught up on the unimportant stuff. Haahaa, munch~munch~]
Munching straight through the sweets, Daphne ate up the plate as well. Seeing this, Echidona sighed before looking over the other Witches who were now taking their seats at the table.
Languid, visibly indignant, timid―― and one with a particularly perilous gaze.
[Echidona: Well you sure look angry, Typhon]
[Typhon: Because Dona wasn’t honest… Wasn’t honest… means you’re a liar? And liars… are sinners? Dona… are you a sinner~?]
[Echidona: I always act in accordance to what I desire. Telling lies would be something I don’t presently recall doing]
Unfazed, Echidona answered Typhon’s innocently blunt question.
Echidona’s roundabout phrasing would probably have been lost on the young Typhon. After all, Echidona knew that if she really got on Typhon’s bad side, everyone present would be in terrible danger.
Condemning criminals and judging sinners amounted to no more than a fraction of Typhon’s Authority of Pride.
But, seeing Typhon puff up her cheeks assenting to Echidona’s careful mental tiptoeing, the next to speak was the Witch buried under a ball of hair.
[Sekhmet: Hiding your true intentions while speaking… haa… isn’t exactly lying… how convenient for you… huu]
[Camilla: E-Echidona-chan, is, really…… just hopeless, isn’t she……]
[Echidona: You two……]
Seeing Echidona scowl at being caught in the concentrated barrage, the other Witches smiled.
The only one still sulking was Minerva, glaring at her with the corner of her eyes tilted up.
[Sekhmet: Minerva too, how long are you gonna stay grumpy about it, haa. Didn’t we all agree beforehand, huu? You knew we’d be doing this when the Sage Candidate came…… haa]
[Minerva: Ugh, I know, I know. I know everyone agreed on it. But I can’t just rationalize it like you guys. I hope you know that]
[Daphne: Met-Met’s always sticking with Ty-Ty, she wouldn’t understand~. You guys spend too much of your life worrying about stuff that isn’t eating~ it’s such a waste, isn’t it~?]
Daphne jutted in, prompting a snort of displeasure from both Minerva and Sekhmet.
There was a certain perfect balance to the Witches’ tea party, which would otherwise have been a gathering of willful egos. They disagreed on all manner of things, and it wasn’t rare for them to end up in spats like this.
Especially between Minerva, who could take offense from anyone, and Sekhmet, who dislikes quarrels, there was no shortage of these little skirmishes. Every time, Daphne would get between them by striking to the heart of the matter with one of her tone-deaf comments. And more likely than not, the conversations would end like this with no real conclusions being made.
Minerva gets mad, Sekhmet checks her advance, Daphne comes in teasing, Camilla soothes Typhon so she doesn’t explode, and Echidona watches happily from the side―― while Satella watches over them, smiling to see that all six are safe.
Those were the days from four hundred years ago, never to come again.
Satella was driven mad by her Witch Genes, Minerva died insane inside a trap, Camilla perished in a sea of flames, Daphne withered to death in an ocean of sand, Typhon drowned in a flood, Sekhmet fell at the Great Waterfall as she decimated the dragons, and Echidona collected their souls even as she herself was tied to the world by soul alone.
This was but an imperfect reproduction of those forever-gone days.
[Camilla: You look, sad…… Echidona…chan…? Really…sad?]
[Echidona: Why’s that? I have no reason to be sad. You’re all here with me, and I’ve had a chance to interact with the outside world. ――Why would I be sad?]
[Camilla: Is, that, really alright? W-we are, just…… souls, and, so, it’s not really us, ri-right? We, are… mn, al-already……dead. We can’t, really, be together with, Echidona-chan, anymore, right……?]
Camilla’s stuttering words struck Echidona silent for a moment.
――It was Echidona’s powers that had given the Witches, who had lost their bodies and existed only as souls, these temporary bodies in the form of mental constructs.
She had prepared the vessels, and housed their souls inside them.
But their souls were frozen at the time of their death, without a single change afterwards. So was the Camilla that Echidona was seeing now truly Camilla herself?
Drawing from their souls reactions that they’ve made in life, and using them to animate these bodies―― was this just a game of dolls instigated by Echidona’s own desires?
The truth is, they all shared in Echidona’s knowledge.
So how could one explain this, except by the fact that they were being generated by Echidona herself? ――This was a question Echidona would have thought over countless times already.
[Echidona: Being the bundle of narcissism that you are, though I am a friend, it’s quite unusual for you to worry about me. ……Don’t tell me his boisterous, soft-headed personality has rubbed off on you?]
[Camilla: I, wouldn’t…… know, anything, about, that…… Echidona-chan…… dummy]
In front of Echidona’s self-distracting answer, Camilla muttered with a despondent expression.
Hearing her reply, Echidona couldn’t help but burst out laughing.
Seeing Echidona like this, the other Witches, who had not been paying attention up to now, all turned to look at her.
And, showered in all their gazes, Echidona spread out her arms,
[Echidona: Now, the tea party will go back to just being us Witches for a while. He―― Natsuki Subaru probably won’t be setting foot in here again, I’m afraid]
[Minerva: And you’re okay with that? Not that I’m worried you’d get lonely or anything, but don’t you usually say something at the end? You were always so insistent about getting your compensation or whatever]
[Echidona: Compensation…… ah, that’s right. Would you guys laugh if I told you that was my parting gift to him in consideration of his foreseeable tribulations?]
While she put her hand to her chin and pondered, the other Witches looked at each other.
Then, sharing a nod, they opened their mouths at once,
[Echidona: Oh my, I never knew you guys thought so highly of me……]
[Minerva: No, that’s because there’s no way in hell you’d help someone without taking anything in return]
Saying this, Minerva folded her arms while the other Witches nodded in agreement.
Echidona closed her eyes in front of their unanimous opinion, and, clearing her throat,
[Echidona: I guess we still have a whole lot of things to talk about. But seriously now, is that really what you think of me?]
[Echidona: But, well…]
Before the silent Witches, Echidona drank up the remaining contents of her cup, and then, bewitchingly licking her tongue over her lips,
[Echidona: ――You’re not wrong in the least]
-=Arc 4 Interlude II End=-
This one hit unexpectedly hard…… I’m tearing up right now……
Camilla almost knows that she isn’t real.
And every time Dona is talking with them, it’s like she’s talking to herself in the voice of a dead friend.
Let me know if you see any typos ❤
Chapter 80 Live Draft: