(Thank you Bobb, Kam, 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/
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The morning of the fifth day at the Sanctuary―― the vital day that will determine whether or not Natsuki Subaru will break through this loop, opened with the worst possible news.
[Ram: Barusu. ――Where did Emilia-sama go?]
After washing his face at the pond and wiping down his body with a wet cloth only to see Ram unabashedly appear amidst the throng of half-naked men, Subaru answered her question with a stupid groan.
It was slightly after sunrise, around what would have been 8 o’clock in his original world. Waking up one after another, the men among the residents and refugees gathered around the pond to wash away their sweat from the night.
And then, brazenly barging into the men’s washing area, the first thing out of Ram’s mouth was the question concerning Emilia’s whereabouts.
Seeing a woman show up like it was a matter of course, some of the men hurriedly scuttled away in shame, but Subaru had no time to tease them for it.
After all, he couldn’t understand what she meant at all.
[Subaru: Emilia…… what’re you talking about?]
[Ram: Just what it sounds like. When I went to Emilia-sama’s room to wait on her, there was no one there. I thought she might be with you, Barusu……]
[Subaru: No one’s there…… how’s that possible? I mean, I made sure to say good morning to her when she woke up before I left…… and I came here after that]
Unable to hide his shock at what Ram had just told him, Subaru thought back to the events of that morning.
He had held her hand through the night just as she had asked, and when Emilia woke in the morning and saw him watching over her at her bedside, she gave him a quiet smile.
At the time, Subaru thought it was just another uncharacteristically good awakening without her usual drowsiness. Emilia looked down to find her hand still enveloped in his, and softly confirmed her intention to continue their conversation from last night:
[Emilia: I’d like to talk… as soon as everything’s sorted out in my head. After Ram helps me get dressed, I’m sure I’ll be ready to talk about it]
And with this, she drove Subaru out of her room.
As impatient as Subaru was, considering Emilia’s feelings, it would’ve been cruel to hurry her. More importantly, Emilia seemed calm. Pushing her further would only have had the opposite effect. At least, that was what Subaru had judged, but,
[Subaru: With that, I left, thinking you’d take care of the rest……]
[Ram: So you left the building before I arrived…… then. I see. ――You screwed up, Barusu]
Subaru had no rebuttal against Ram’s icy verdict.
The fact is, he did mess up by letting down his guard without waiting for Ram to take over. But he never thought Emilia, of all people, would do something like this.
[Subaru: Maybe… she had to use the bathroom, or……?]
[Ram: Do you think I would be careless enough to come here without checking the perimeters first?]
[Subaru: That’s, not what I was…… but, what else could it be……?]
[Ram: You really don’t understand?]
Ram relentlessly pursued as Subaru’s voice choked up.
Her gaze was cold as usual, but, for just an instant, that coldness seemed to have intensified. There was the same listlessness in her eyes as when she cast him that glance last night.
Seeing the disappointment and dejection in her eyes, Subaru lowered his gaze.
[Subaru: ――You’re saying… Emilia ran away?]
[Ram: What else could it be? Maybe the forces against the liberation of the Sanctuary had been waiting for precisely this opportunity where neither of us is at Emilia-sama’s side and finally got their chance this morning to make their move…… but is that what you’d rather believe?]
[Subaru: ……It’s… not impossible]
[Ram: If you actually want to cling to that, then you’re more hopeless than I thought. Either way, that doesn’t change the fact that Emilia-sama is missing. Regardless of the fact that she has no way of leaving the Sanctuary, this is bad]
Though her attitude was harsh, Ram still took care to lower her voice so that no one would overhear them. She too recognized the need to keep Emilia’s disappearance under wraps, lest it shines badly on Roswaal’s reputation.
As such, she must’ve judged this to be a matter to be handled discreetly.
Looking up, Subaru muttered that girl’s name under his breath.
As Ram pointed out, even if Emilia wanted to abandon everything and run away, there was no way she could leave the Sanctuary’s Barrier as a Half-Elf.
Emilia was still trapped in the Sanctuary, and no matter how she tries to run, she couldn’t get away.
She wasn’t so foolish that she’d fail to recognize that. But if she was feeling so cornered that she tried to flee anyway, then……
[Subaru: It’s all me and Puck’s fault……]
It was Puck’s fault for failing to imagine the extent of the shock Emilia would feel upon losing her bond with him.
And it was Subaru’s fault for underestimating Emilia’s wounds and mistaking her feigned calmness to be genuine.
If Emilia really chose to escape, then it would only be the consequence of their compounded failures.
[Ram: Assuming Emilia-sama ran away and is hiding somewhere…… Barusu, any ideas?]
[Subaru: Hold on. Don’t just decide that she’s run off. I mean, there’s nowhere she can go in the Sanctuary without someone seeing her. And there aren’t many places Emilia could’ve wandered to]
Subaru appealed, flapping his hand to stave off Ram’s conclusion.
Seeing this, Ram expelled a sigh and slightly nodded.
[Ram: I admit I might’ve been overhasty, but what do you suggest? Since you were here, the men obviously didn’t see anything. So we’ll have to put our hopes on the off-chance that one of the women in the Cathedral spotted her?]
[Subaru: The Arlam villagers will say something if they saw Emilia wandering around by herself. Worst case, one of the residents of the Sanctuary might’ve seen her…… We should try them first before jumping to any conclusions]
Even while hurriedly brainstorming ideas, Subaru more or less understood that he was only delaying that conclusion. And though Ram was listening to his proposals, she was most likely thinking the same thing.
Their only point of agreement was that it’d be bad if the news got around that Emilia intentionally went into hiding.
But whether they were concerned for Emilia or for Roswaal’s sake was another story.
[Ram: If either of us can find her soon, we might just hang on by the skin of our necks. But it’s best to keep the worst possibility in mind. You do understand, Barusu?]
[Subaru: ……really rather not think about it, though]
Ram’s reminder was also a warning for him not to avert his eyes from the worst case scenario.
If they fail to find Emilia before the Trial and her disappearance becomes common knowledge throughout the Sanctuary―― there would be no recovering from this.
And so, they must do everything in their power before that happens.
[Subaru: If we ask around and still can’t find her……]
[Ram: Then we’ll have to exhaust all efforts to search through the forest]
[Subaru ……That’s not gonna be doable in one or two days]
Lifting his head, Subaru looked to the forests surrounding the Sanctuary and furrowed his brows.
Although blocked off by the Barrier, the Sanctuary was still more than wide enough to hide one single person. If Emilia was hiding in the forest, she wouldn’t even necessarily stay in one place.
Today, and tomorrow. There was at most 48 hours remaining before the bet and contract’s deadline.
Within that time frame, he would have to find Emilia, make her challenge the Trials, and have her beat them.
――But is that even possible?
Could he, of all people, after pushing Emilia to her limits without noticing the toll it was taking on her heart, really then give her that strength to move forward?
[Subaru: You seriously overestimated me, Puck……]
[Ram: ……This would have something to do with the loss of her contract with the Great Spirit-sama, I suppose?]
[Subaru: Losing the primary support in her heart couldn’t have had nothing to do with it. But…… neither of us thought she’d snap like this]
There must have been something that pushed her over the limit.
Thinking back on Emilia’s calmness last night and this morning, that was the only way he could explain it.
“Unless”, something came to mind.
He had thoroughly made sure before he acted.
But, hypothetically, if Emilia found out――
While brooding, the sharp call made Subaru’s shoulders jump in surprise.
Looking over to the village center―― he saw a grey-haired youth, frantically running over with great waves of his arm.
It was Otto, who hadn’t joined them in the morning bath but stayed behind with the villagers in the Cathedral to help out with the breakfast preparations.
He reached Subaru, pale-faced and panting with his hands on his knees,
[Otto: Th-there’re several things I need to report. Well, quite a lot more if I go into the details, but…… for now, two major things. There’s good news and bad news]
[Subaru: That sounds important, but I have a question first. Did Emilia show up at the Cathedral by any chance? Or was anyone talking about her?]
[Otto: ――? No, I haven’t seen her this morning. I didn’t hear anything at the Cathedral, either]
Otto frowned at the apparently unrelated question that couldn’t wait until after the news, while, hearing his obliging answer, both Subaru and Ram’s faces darkened.
Otto seemed to have sensed their unease, but, judging that his report was more important,
[Otto: So, good news and bad news…… which one you want to hear first?]
[Subaru: Kinda hate having them bundled like that…… but, good news I guess?]
When he hears bad news, he’d need time to think of countermeasures. With Emilia’s disappearance, the situation was already the worst it could possibly get. He’d rather not get plunged into head-clutching despair by having more bad news piled on top of that.
Receiving Subaru’s decision, Otto crossed his arms with a nod,
[Otto: Good news, then. I’ve finished talking with the refugees as we discussed. They’ve made their preparations and are ready to leave today any time you want. I’ve asked them to stay alert so they can go as soon as you give the order]
[Subaru: ――I see. Sorry. I really should’ve been the one to talk to them and ask this of them]
[Otto: Luckily, they’ve warmed up to me over the last few days. Considering what we’ll be doing together, it’s a good thing I had that opportunity. Anyway, they’re ready without any problems]
Otto’s voice was confident, but, despite his impressive achievement, his face was far from bright. Chances were, that good news was being overshadowed by whatever problem had arisen.
Yielding to Otto’s silent gaze, Subaru prompted for the other report――
[Subaru: So, what’s the bad news?]
[Otto: Just now, an enraged Garfiel came storming into the Cathedral, looking for you, Natsuki-san]
[Subaru: Looking for me……? Why? I don’t think I pissed him off that much this time……]
Persuading Garfiel was supposed to have been the final confrontation of this loop. Subaru had taken extra care in his interactions with Garfiel, and even after sealing his bet with Roswaal, Subaru had avoided talking to Garfiel as best as he could.
So far it had paid off, and Subaru managed to reach the critical day without facing off against Garfiel, but――
[Subaru: Ideally, I would’ve liked to have talked with Lewes Theta before dealing with him……]
[Otto: That’s just the thing]
As Subaru muttered about the sequence he had hoped for, Otto raised a single finger.
Subaru’s eyes widened at this gesture, not knowing what Otto was referring to.
But, seeing the question mark pop up over Subaru’s head, Otto’s face darkened as he said,
[Otto: That Lewes-san had apparently gone missing this morning. Garfiel’s been searching all over the village, looking desperate. That’s why he’s looking for you, Natsuki-san]
-=Chapter 98 End=-
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!
Let me know if you see any typos or missing words!
I’ll get started on the next chapter tomorrow ❤
Chapter 99 Live Draft: