(Thank you Bobb, Austin, Aaron, Daisuke, Brandon, Xinzhong, 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/266/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 97 [Before The Dawn]
[Roswaal: Make yourselves at home. Whether it be a long conversation or a short conversation, we should get co~~mfortable, no?]
Closing a single eye, Roswaal shot his yellow gaze towards the two standing at the door.
Tangled within that viscous gaze, Otto gulped as if drowning in its devilishness. Although the same demonic hand also reached for Subaru, having braced himself beforehand, by taking a single cough he managed to stand his ground without allowing himself to be swallowed.
[Subaru: You put on your makeup and got all dressed up just for us? I’m gonna blush]
[Roswaal: Do~~n’t worry about it. After all, you were the one who to~~ld me to put on my makeup aga~~in]
[Subaru: Ah right… I did]
After sealing their contract and bet, that was indeed what Subaru had said to Roswaal before leaving the room. Though he never thought Roswaal would actually do it.
[Roswaal: You see, for me, these cosmetics are like my warpaint. In order to advance the world in accordance with the Gospel, I must never let down vi~~gilance. That’s why I wear this makeup, to constantly remi~~nd myself of that]
Unexpectedly hearing this backstory, Subaru couldn’t help but gawk at Roswaal’s face.
The bewitching eyeliners on that white-powdered face. The red-painted lips and the peculiar shape around his left eye. So all of it had some significance other than screwing with his conversation partner.
[Subaru: Or, are you just saying that to screw with me?]
[Roswaal: You can beli~~eve me, you know? We~~ll, I’ll leave it to your imaginations. Since things have already diverged from the Gospel’s writ, I was ready to give up on this world and had stopped putting on my cosmetics…… but now I’m wearing them once more. You can a~~lso interpret that however you li~~ke]
Listening to Roswaal’s roundabout words, Subaru gritted his teeth to keep his expression steady.
If it was indeed warpaint as Roswaal suggested, then the reason he put them on once more was clear.
Chances were, it meant that he has regained his motivation and his will to live.
Even if that was because he was intending to bring this world to an end and leave everything to the self in the next world, not unlike the hope Subaru himself once harbored.
[Roswaal: Would it have been better for you if I had continued to la~~nguish?]
[Subaru: Not really. We’ll still need your renown, position, and influence to put Emilia-tan on the throne. It’ll be a problem if you suddenly start playing dead. So I’ll be crushing what motivation you have and making you see a different kind of hope before dragging you into our team]
[Roswaal: Promising words. ……Feel free to tr~~y it, if you can]
Faced with Subaru’s brazen declaration of war, Roswaal’s lips twisted in delight. Then, keeping up that irritating smile, [Anyway], Roswaal turned to the one standing beside Subaru,
[Roswaal: This one spa~~cing out next to you… must be the Otto-kun previously introdu~~ced to me? Compared to how lively he was before, he’s looking aw~~fully glum, i~~sn’t he?]
[Subaru: He’s not so much glum as he’s just startled. Just when he was hoping to do some bootlicking, he got to see a creepy clown face waiting for him. It’s only natural that he peed himself a little, right?]
[Otto: What’re you doing suggesting that someone else peed themselves!? And don’t make it sound like I came here to shamelessly curry favor! You’re making my impression even worse!]
[Subaru: Your impression is already the worst it can get when you decided to go against him and help me, you know. At least try establishing yourself as a formidable opponent so you might get a higher placing in the popularity polls]
[Otto: I have precisely no idea what you’re talking about!?]
Exchanging their rowdy banter as usual, Subaru could see Otto’s tension loosening. And, as if realizing that back and forth was meant to relax him, Otto’s face took on a complicated expression.
Watching the expressive gazes exchanged between the two, Roswaal held a finger to his cheek and gave a meaningful laugh.
[Roswaal: Conveying everything to each other through eyes alone, wha~~t a great bond you two~~ must have. And when the relationship between Subaru-kun and I was supposed to have been longer, too. I’m kind of je~~alous]
[Subaru: Stop saying gross stuff. The number one and two places in my heart are already sold out. There’s absolutely no gap for you guys to…… especially your ass, to slip into, you ass]
[Roswaal: Unfortunate. But, do~~esn’t mean…… there’s no place left for Be~~atrice? Just how do you feel about her?]
No single word could have checked Subaru more effectively than that.
Having never expected Roswaal to bring up Beatrice’s name here, Subaru’s shock was as if he had just been slapped across the face.
[Subaru: Beatrice is……]
[Roswaal: That child follows her Gospel’s guidance. I~~n that sense, you could say that we are rather like-mi~~nded. Although, seeing how I am actively pursuing my Gospel’s writ while she is passively keeping hers, there is a difference in our appro~~aches]
[Subaru: You’re saying if she can get results just by waiting, there’s no need to trouble myself? While I agree…… in this case, the order for her to keep waiting is way too much of a curse]
[Roswaal: That very well ma~~y be]
On the instruction of her creator, Echidona, Beatrice had been waiting in the Forbidden Library inside Roswaal’s Mansion for a “Person” that doesn’t exist. As a spirit who was given this single purpose from the moment she was born, clinging mindlessly to this order was the only thing that gave her life meaning.
In terms of stubbornness, Beatrice is indeed very much like Roswaal.
Her pleas to be allowed to die still remained vivid in Subaru’s memory.
So did her expression at the very end, after all that had transpired in the Mansion.
[Subaru: I will undo that curse myself. I’ll drag her out of that stinking room and take her and her book and her dress out to dry in the sun. ――As for her feelings or whatever, I’ll leave that up to her]
Listening to Subaru’s proclamation, Roswaal narrowed his eyes, as if looking at something dazzling. Then, he expelled a short sigh and turned his gaze to Otto, who had been waiting to join the conversation.
[Roswaal: We~~ll then? Seeing how you brought him here, and judging by that exchange between you two…… Otto-kun would be the card you’ve been hi~~ding?]
[Otto: N-no, I’m only here to arbitrate between the two sides. I would never have the gall to challenge your intentions, Margrave……]
[Subaru: Why’re you backpedalling at this point! Just come out and say it! You’re pissed off about his clown makeup and wanna paint it red and white Kumadori-style as soon as he’s defeated!]
[Otto: I don’t remember saying that! And what on earth is a Kumadori!]
Sticking Otto with something that he didn’t remember saying, Subaru shot him a pointless thumbs-up. But, watching Subaru from the side, Roswaal closed one of his eyes in thought before turning a meaningful gaze to Otto.
[Roswaal: My impression…… is that Subaru-kun only managed to regain his confidence beca~~use of you. I’m su~~re that must’ve been a si~~ght to behold]
[Subaru: I can’t exactly deny that, but…… now that I think about it, story-wise, isn’t it kinda weird to recover thanks to a male character’s help? Normally, shouldn’t it be the heroine who gets me back on my feet?]
[Otto: Even if you look at me like that, I wouldn’t know what to say to you!]
Subaru dismissed Otto’s defiant gaze with a flap of his hand and accepted that there was no helping it.
Having been lent the strength to stand up again, it was now Subaru’s turn to take his heroine by the hand and pull her to her feet. At least, that was what his heart had decided to do.
Subaru closed his eyes and opened them once more. And, sensing a change in the sharpness of that gaze, Roswaal adjusted his posture on the bed as the atmosphere in the room shifted.
Above his sheets, Roswaal twined his fingers, with [No~~w then] as his opening salvo,
[Roswaal: When you’re locked away in isolation for the sake of convalescence, you simply must find so~~mething to do. I couldn’t help but get bored otherwise. And because of that…… I’ve been keeping my ears very open]
[Subaru: Well that’s a tasteless hobby]
[Roswaal: You may say that, but it looks like you’ve been making progress with those nefarious plo~~ts of yours. ……How this Sanctuary came to be and what complicated circumstances it’s tangled in, have you gotten a little fe~~el of it yet?]
[Subaru: Yeah, with all the convoluted details going on, it’s really a headache. If you add your problems and Emilia’s Trials into the mix, “Getting screwed on all sides” would be an understatement]
Subaru plainly admitted to the difficulty of his circumstances, but he had already taken his slim chances into consideration.
Telling Roswaal the same thing he had told Otto, Subaru held up a single finger, indicating the lack of any intention to give up on his situation just yet,
[Subaru: The deadline for our contract and bet is in three days. I intend to get things moving significantly tomorrow and the day after…… so you better not get in the way too much]
[Roswaal: I~~’m afraid that I’ll have to. Fulfilling the Gospel is my dearest wish. I thought I’ve already told you this many ti~~mes before?]
[Subaru: Within three days I’ll have Emilia pass the Trials and convince Garfiel to join me. Strengthening our faction shouldn’t be a bad deal for you either? I can guarantee you that my future will be brighter than what relying on your Gospel will get you]
[Roswaal: If it is as you say, perhaps that future has so~~me merit after all]
As futile as it was at this point, Subaru nevertheless made the attempt to persuade him. Suddenly, Roswaal looked down, muttering as if pondering over the future Subaru spoke of.
But, when he lifted his head once more, there was no more indecision in his mismatched eyes.
[Roswaal: Yet it isn’t certain. ――That is all the reason I need to reject your proposed future. If I obey my Gospel, my desired future is guaranteed. Even if it means making countless sacrifices to obtain it, what of it? After all, there is only one thing I desire]
[Subaru: For the one thing most important to you, you would abandon everyone who is watching over you? Everyone who’s helping you… and Ram… what’ll become of them?]
[Roswaal: No~~w now, that’s enough of that, Subaru-kun. ――What do you think qu~~estioning my resolve will achieve at this point? My answer remains unchanged, as are the tasks you must accomplish]
It was the anticipated outcome and rejection.
Roswaal had no intention of listening to Subaru. And just as Subaru rejected Roswaal’s proposal and Echidona’s contract, Roswaal already had his optimal solution in mind.
[Subaru: ……But you know, I’ll never become you, Roswaal]
[Roswaal: Is that so. ……That is truly unfortunate, Subaru-kun]
Leaning his weight into the pillow at his back, Roswaal spilled a quiet sigh. His disappointment must be because of the expectations he had for Subaru――
――That, once all roads are cut, no doubt Natsuki Subaru would become just like him, fighting with all his life.
[Otto: We should return to the topic at hand. Is that alright with you, Margrave?]
Otto stepped forward and broke the silence that had descended upon the room. Roswaal turned his yellow gaze to the grey-haired youth and wordlessly assented.
Then, Otto looked back at Subaru, who also nodded,
[Otto: It seems both sides have agreed on the deadline of three days for reshaping the circumstances of the Sanctuary. So even if the Margrave intends to influence Natsuki-san, it would amount to nothing more than quietly observing from the sidelines until then, correct?]
[Roswaal: Quietly observing…… I don’t recall making any promises of tha~~t sort?]
[Otto: And yet, the fact that you haven’t burned me to cinders by now is an indication of that intention, right? I assume the Head Mage of the Court of the Kingdom of Lugnica, Margrave Roswaal L. Mathers, would be able to incinerate me in the blink of an eye. Wouldn’t that be the easiest, most straightforward method to foil Natsuki-san’s plans while staying within the limitations of the bet?]
Subaru held his breath as he watched Otto build up his measured and fluent logic. Though they never rehearsed this beforehand, his delivery shot fire with every syllable.
Even Roswaal looked surprised as he read the intention of Otto’s words.
[Roswaal: You are an amusing one. Though I’ve given you a similar appraisal before…… let me revise it. ――You are a rare talent, far more amusing than I thought]
[Otto: I’m honored, but…… that was a compliment, right?]
[Roswaal: It is pure and unadulterated praise. Aah~~a, how splendid. Standing there at Subaru-kun’s side, you proved your argument at the peril of your own life. That i~~s truly an admirable determination, ve~~ry much to my liking. Not everyone could have done what yo~~u’ve just done]
[Otto: That’s…… thank you]
Though somewhat overwhelmed by Roswaal’s boldness, Otto nevertheless fearlessly faced him. As Otto himself had said, he was standing in front of a Mage who could incinerate him with the snap of a finger.
In fact, if Roswaal truly wanted to abandon all pretenses and enforce his contract with Subaru, then all he had to do was resort to the treacherous methods Otto had described. And even if he didn’t do that, but simply set fire to the Sanctuary or prematurely caused the snowfall to lure the Great Rabbit here, there would be nothing Subaru could do to stop him. Subaru’s bet would certainly be lost.
For Otto, who knew nothing about Return by Death, he had assumed that Subaru’s survival was a necessary condition of the bet, but for Subaru and Roswaal, who did know about Return by Death, Subaru’s survival was in fact irrelevant. As they sealed their contract, that had been Subaru’s greatest concern, whether Roswaal would burn him to death the moment he turned his back.
So what could it mean, if Roswaal would neither resort to violence nor simply watch from the sidelines?
[Otto: In any case, I’d like your assurance, Margrave. That regardless of what we plan or do…… you will not take any extreme measures until the three days’ deadline is up]
[Roswaal: Asking me for assurances, how auda~~cious you are]
[Otto: I doubt we’d have a chance of winning this bet if we had to constantly watch our backs. And besides, if you’re so sure that Natsuki-san will fail and that this bet is as good as won, then not doing anything to interfere shouldn’t be a problem, should it?]
Gesturing with his body alongside his words, the corners of Otto’s mouth rose as he spoke. Seeing this, Roswaal’s gaze sharpened.
Swallowing his breath while watching the negotiations, Subaru could sense that the critical moment had arrived. If Roswaal simply accepted Otto’s provocation, they will lose.
A heavy, breathtaking silence descended upon the room. However,
[Roswaal: I~~ see. Subaru-kun, you’re blessed to have such a wo~~nderful friend]
[Subaru: ……Yeah, you’re right. He’s the kind of buddy who’ll give me a good beating when I go astray, you know]
Answering the grinning Roswaal, Subaru’s gaze was looking somewhere far away.
Then suddenly, he realized it: Roswaal probably never had a friend like Otto. When Subaru was about to go down the very same path, it was Otto’s punches that brought him back again.
Most likely, Roswaal had no one around to correct his stubborn and twisted ideas like that.
[Subaru: No helping it, then. ――It’s four hundred years late, but we’ll be doing it now]
[Subaru: Roswaal! Your attitude earlier, can I take that as your agreement!]
Roswaal wryly smiled at Subaru’s pursuit, then tilted his clownish face,
[Roswaal: Very well, I’ll promise. Either way, I’ll need to store up my Mana for the snowfall in three days. Just so you know, even for someone as po~~werful as myself, it is a strenuous effort to contro~~l the weather. Even if only temporarily, and in a confi~~ned area]
[Subaru: So then, you’ll spend your time meditating from now on? Just for reference, if you can tell me what annoys you the most when you’re meditating, that’ll help a lot]
[Roswaal: I~~’m not in the habit of being so charitable to my enemies. ――In any case, there is no need for me to do anything, since I kno~~w that your plans will not succeed]
No concessions to be had on that one, apparently.
Subaru snorted at those taunting words, while Otto sighed with an exhausted expression.
Nevertheless, they have safely secured their biggest goal in coming here.
While they throw everything into the bet, Roswaal will not do anything to interfere.
Getting that assurance alone was a triumph. And the fact that Otto’s oration proved even more effective than anything they could’ve planned was huge.
[Roswaal: Incidentally, Subaru-kun]
[Roswaal: I hear that the Great Spirit-sama has le~~ft Emilia-sama’s side?]
It’s so awesome to see Otto being useful >_<!
We have an oversized chapter!
This one’s almost twice as long as a normal one.
Thank you everyone for helping me proofread on the Live Draft
I don’t know what I’d do without you ❤
Please let me know if you see any typos or missing words!
I’ll get started on the next part!
Chapter 97 Live Draft: