(Thank you Daisuke, HX, 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/267/
THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 98 [A Bed Devoid Of Warmth]
――Whenever she closed her eyes, the memories would come back vivid, even now.
White. A world of white.
Waking, exhaling puffs of white, young Emilia found herself within a snowscape.
“Why”, asked her heart. But no answer came.
There was no memory before this, and her consciousness was hazy.
Getting out of bed, she ran to see the scene outside the window. Her familiar village amid the lush green forests was now completely covered in the freezing, world-ending white.
Since it was the first time Emilia had ever seen snow, she didn’t even recognize that this was the phenomenon called “Snow”. But the vivid instincts of cold and fear nevertheless seared the image into her young memory.
Still without knowing what was happening, Emilia tensed her cheeks and tightened her throat as she broke into a run.
The moment she dashed out of the old house built within the great, hollow tree―― her body was cut through by the frigid wind as piercing cold stabbed her soles like knives in her baptism by ice.
The snow immediately grabbed her foot as she tumbled face-first into the ground.
A freezing embrace of white, powdery, crystallized snow. The very first contact with those icy flakes instilled horror into the young Emilia. They were so astoundingly beautiful, yet so horrifyingly cold.
Her simple garments were no better than a thin cloth around her body against the frigid chill and her body began trembling to the core from both cold and terror.
The snow pillaged her body of heat as the white crystals tore away at her heart. But Emilia, groaning as she swiped away the snow, began running once more.
Falling snowflakes danced endlessly from the sky. Looking up as she panted, flakes of snow stuck to the back of her throat. She coughed it away as she ran, tears trailing down the sides of her cheeks.
She didn’t know why she was crying.
She was scared. She was afraid. Why was she here alone? Where did everyone else go? Everyone who was kind to her, who smiled at her, and who would offer her their hand, where did they all go?
She tried to remember their faces, but something clogged up her thoughts.
The faces of everyone in her mind―― their faces, their smiles, were painted over by black shadows as if depriving them of their very existence in her brain.
Shaking her head frantically, tears poured down her face as she ran.
She mustn’t think. If she thinks about them, the black shadow will consume them. Everyone precious to her will disappear from her mind.
But if she doesn’t think about them, she will be all alone. In a cold, impenetrable world of white, alone―― was a terror the young Emilia could not bear.
Powerless and ignorant, all young Emilia could do in the world-ending white was struggle.
But as if mocking her futile struggles, the falling snow wrapped around her until her tiny body sank into its inevitable, pure-white abyss.
――There’s no one here. There’s no one in sight. Now, she couldn’t even [――――] everyone anymore.
Trapped in this white world, her limbs growing numb and unmoving, Emilia fell to the ground crying like a newborn.
Her knees sank into the tender snow, and though it should have been cold, she couldn’t feel the cold at all. Her skin, so often called “white as snow”, now burned pure-red in the cold of true “Snow”.
Just like that, running from everything, Emilia hugged her head as she sank into the snow.
Falling snow mercilessly piled upon the little girl as Emilia’s small body disappeared into the white――
As she closed her eyes, falling into wakeless sleep, a scream tearing through the silence woke her.
Forcing open her long-lashed eyelids, Emilia sprang up. And instantly, her lightweight body was pulled out of the snow and into an embrace.
[???: You’re okay, Emilia. It’s okay, everything’s okay. Thank goodness…… I’ve found you……]
She wanted to speak, but her throat, frozen by the absolute cold, only managed a groan. However, understanding Emilia’s condition, the person only held the young Emilia in their embrace, their voice trembling with joy at her safety.
Emilia, her nose red and sniffling, rubbed her face against the person’s short silver hair, trying to communicate her emotion through her entire body. Conveying through action that, just like the boundless love directed towards her, she felt exactly the same in return.
It was the happiness of being held in their arms, speaking with them again.
In the white, despairing snow that made little Emilia wonder if everything was over, there existed that definite warmth here and now.
Still hugging Emilia, shivering from both joy and cold, the woman with short silver hair looked around her as her relieved expression tensed and she started to run.
She drew her lips next to Emilia’s ear in her arms, exhaling breaths of white,
[???: Emilia, you hear me? I know you’re worried, and I know you don’t understand, but…… everything is alright. One way or another, I’ll make it alright. Even if we get separated here, I will never leave you alone……]
Emilia couldn’t understand those determined words, but just the thought of being separated from the person before her eyes filled her with dread. Her numb fingers grasped the woman’s collar, her eyes teared as she frantically shook her head.
For the young, ignorant Emilia, appealing to the other’s emotion was all she could think to do.
For as long as she did this, Emilia had been loved and adored by all those around her. It had always been this way. So whether it was here, or here on out――
[???: No, that won’t do, Emilia. Even if it was fine up to now, you mustn’t do this anymore. You must become a strong, smart, and brave girl. Unless you do, you won’t be able to accept yourself, and you’ll inevitably meet a tragic end. And that will make me…… my brother, and everyone, very, very sad]
She desperately shook her head.
Nevertheless, the woman heartlessly disregarded her appeals. Telling her she mustn’t do this, she rebuked Emilia’s reliance on others.
Emilia couldn’t believe it. Of course it was painful.
Even when she was told she couldn’t, one way or another, she would always have gotten her way in the end. But why wasn’t it working this time?
Why must it start failing now, when she was facing the most painful, difficult, and frightening moment of her life? If there was a more correct way of doing this, how come no one ever told her about it? ――She was starting to resent everyone.
[???: I’m sorry, Emilia. I’m so sorry. For never teaching you even a single important thing, for hiding everything from you…… for letting you remain an adorable little princess, please forgive me…… forgive us……]
――I don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive. Don’t want to forgive.
[???: Everyone around you who cherished your smile, and the gentle lies they told… please don’t hate them……]
――Hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them. I hate them.
She hated lies. She detested lies. Lies only lead to sadness. Lies were the reason everything turned upside down. Lies were what left Emilia alone. And so, she detested lies.
Because she hated lies. Because she hated liars. Everyone should just [――――].
[???: Our beloved Emilia…… someday, you’ll……]
Emilia let out a wordless scream. She didn’t want to hear any more. No matter what she hears, it wouldn’t change a thing.
The howling gale and Emilia’s shriek drowned out the woman’s final words from this world.
The silver-haired woman looked sadly at Emilia’s rejection and her violent struggle in her arms, but, casting all emotions aside, she faced forward once more――
――And there, the true end came.
The woman running with Emilia in her arms caught sight of the presence before her and stopped.
Prompted by the faint jolt, Emilia looked up, and at the top of her vision―― she saw the face of the woman holding her, looking more tense than Emilia had ever seen.
In her expression was surprise and sorrow, rage and grief, disgust and awe―― and even a tinge of relief.
Battering at Emilia’s cheeks, the cold, white gale intensified.
In a blizzard so strong that even opening her eyes was difficult, overwhelmed by terror, Emilia held her near-frozen ears and screamed.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
I’ll try to finish part 2 tomorrow!
Chapter 98 Live Draft: