(Thank you HX, Bobb, Austin, Brototype, Federico, Daisuke, Zenith, 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/268/
――“It’s a terrible shame about your older brother and his wife”, what was that supposed to mean?
Fortuna’s brother was Emilia’s father. Then his wife would be the person he married. His bride. And Emilia’s mother.
“It’s a terrible shame”, what could that possibly mean? And when Fortuna heard this, why didn’t she ask any questions?
Hugging her branch tight, Emilia stretched out her neck and perked up her ears so she could hear their conversation more clearly. Unaware of the micro-spirits’ blessing and the fact that her gesture was completely pointless, Emilia desperately kept up that posture so as not to miss a single word.
[Fortuna: Motivations have nothing to do with the nobility of an action. What you are doing deserves to be praised by tens of thousands. It’s reeeaally unfortunate that it can’t become common knowledge]
[Robed Man: Hha, ahaha. I appreciate the words of comfort. But, it is impossible nonetheless. If our true intentions were revealed to the world, the presently-stable order would once again be plunged into chaos. I’m sure neither you nor I… least of all, her, would want to see this]
[Fortuna: ……Hm, I suppose not]
Fortuna agreed with a nod.
After that, the topic seemed to drift away from what Emilia wanted to hear, and their subsequent conversation consisted mainly of casual small talk.
While Fortuna and the man conversed, the rest of the group had finished distributing the cargo. One of the adults called to Fortuna, and Fortuna nodded in reply before turning back to the robed man.
[Fortuna: Thanks to the spirits’ protection, the changing seasons don’t have much of an impact on the forests…… but still, these clothes and blankets are a great help. Thank you]
[Robed Man: If only for your deeds, you and everyone here should deserve better than this. You shouldn’t be forced to live in such a place]
[Fortuna: What’re you calling “Such a place”? We love living in the forest, you know]
Saying this jokingly, a faint smile emerged on Fortuna’s face. The man also smiled in return as the two shared an amicable moment together.
[????: Archbishop-sama. The items have been transferred, we are ready to depart. Please make haste]
[Robed Man: Mmm, understood]
Hearing the black-robed figure’s report, the man reluctantly took one last look at the village. Then, he gave Fortuna a bow, while Fortuna and the other adults put their hands to their chests and bowed to the group of black-robes in response.
The man turned away to follow behind the departing wagon train―― but then, he halted,
[Robed Man: Right, there was one more thing I wanted to ask]
The man turned around and lifted a finger, while Fortuna urged him to continue with her silence.
Seeing Fortuna’s attitude, for a moment, the man closed his eyes, before gazing into the depths of the forest,
[Robed Man: ――Emilia-sama, is she well?]
Hearing the man mention her name, Emilia unwittingly squeaked on the tree branch. But luckily, since she had just exhaled, it only came out as a little groan.
Fortunately, no one seemed to have heard it, and Fortuna only slowly nodded to the man’s question,
[Fortuna: She’s fine. Emilia is healthy, and growing up to be a good girl. A good girl who’s… more than I deserve. ……But, I’m sorry. I cannot let you meet her]
[Robed Man: That’s all I needed to hear. I understand. As long as Emilia-sama is safe and well, that’s more than enough. A sinner as I am, I don’t dare covet anything beyond that]
Rather than self-deprecation, it sounded more like he was cautioning himself.
But either way, no easy words of comfort escaped Fortuna’s lips as she heard this.
The man looked up with an expression as if he was relieved by Fortuna’s silence. And, after a while of staring at each other without either of them breaking the stillness,
[????: Archbishop-sama, is something the matter? ――Archbishop Romanée-Conti-sama?]
Someone ran back from the party that had gone on ahead. Hearing his name, the robed man spread out his arms,
[Robed Man: Not at all. Well, I best be going. Fortuna-sama, I’ll see you soon]
[Fortuna: Thank you for everything, as always. ……And sorry, Geuse]
Faintly smiling at Fortuna’s parting words, the man she called Geuse rejoined the party as they gradually left the forest.
Seeing them off until the last of them was out of view, Fortuna dropped her shoulders with a sigh. Then, she clapped her hands, drawing the attention of everyone present onto herself,
[Fortuna: Now, let’s hurry and get everything distributed. Please share them out as usual. I’ll go fetch Emilia]
Seeing the adults and children proceeding to transport the goods as per Fortuna’s orders, Emilia practically flew down the tree and sprinted towards the Princess Room as fast as her legs could take her.
She squeezed her tiny body through the gap she’d used to escape, and despite getting cuts all over her skin, Emilia managed to get inside. But, once inside, she was horrified to realize that her wretched appearance looked nothing like that of a good girl who had obediently waited in her room.
Until recently, Emilia had thought that even if Fortuna discovered that she’d went outside and scolded her for it, she’d be forgiven if she apologized and sincerely reflected on her actions.
But, after hearing what she had just heard, that optimism had all but vanished. In fact, Emilia was certain that she had just heard something she was never supposed to hear.
[Emilia: What do I do, what do I do what do I do what do I do]
Mommy Fortuna could come back and unlock the door any moment now. One good look at her, and it wouldn’t take much to figure out that Emilia had sneaked outside.
If Fortuna found out that she had heard that conversation, it’d mean complete and utter ruin for the young Emilia.
[Emilia: At least, I’ve got to hide the scratches……]
There were cuts all over her skin, her knees and elbows were scraped, and some wounds were seeping with blood. There was no way those wounds could escape Fortuna’s sharp eyes, and just the thought of how they’d hurt in a bath was frightening.
She had to do something, but, just when she was immersed in that thought――
――Emilia saw the pale-blue lights appear in the Princess Room once more, like a sign that she was saved.
The shining particles drifted in Emilia’s vision, captivating her consciousness with their movements before sprinkling onto her body.
[Emilia: ――a, aah]
Just like when they were sucked into the wall, the pale-blue lights sank into Emilia’s skin. As if attacking the young girl’s wounds, they gathered at the various scratches, staining the wounds white with their faint glow―― and, by the time the lights disappeared, only a vague redness remained where the cuts used to be.
The inexplicable transformation of her body left Emilia petrified and speechless.
The painful wounds on her elbows, knees, and skin had vanished, and Emilia’s body was restored to the state before her escape.
Realizing this, Emilia took off her clothes and changed into a spare dress in the Princess Room. But then, the torn and shabby clothes she’d just taken became a problem,
[Emilia: I know……!]
Tipping over the bottles of colorful drawing ink, she smudged them all over her torn clothes. And when she had stained them so thoroughly that they could never be washed clean again,
[Fortuna: ――Emilia? Are you awake?]
She heard Fortuna’s voice outside the door and quickly straightened her back.
Feeling her heart violently pounding at the hair’s breath timing, she tried to give some kind of reply, but her throat couldn’t utter a sound.
[Fortuna: Emilia? Did you fall asleep?]
[Emilia: I, I’m up? I’m up, mommy Fortuna. It’s just, I……]
[Fortuna: Oh, so you are awake. Sorry for making you wait for so long……]
As if relieved to hear Emilia’s reply, Fortuna unlocked the door and entered the room. But the moment she walked in, Fortuna’s smile disappeared as she wrinkled up her pretty nose,
[Fortuna: ……What happened? Smells like ink in here]
[Emilia: Uhhm, sorry. I accidentally spilled all the paint…… I got it all over my clothes, too]
Looking at the toppled paint jars in the center of the room, then at the befuddled Emilia behind it, Fortuna held her palm to her face with [Ah gees…],
[Fortuna: Well, there’s no helping it now. Good thing we had spare clothes in here. Otherwise, I’ll have to carry you back naked, you know]
[Emilia: Um, mommy Fortuna…… I……]
[Fortuna: It’s alright, Emilia. There’s no need to be scared, I know you didn’t mean to, so I’m not angry at you. More importantly, are you hurt?]
Crouching down to match Emilia’s height, Fortuna looked her beloved daughter up and down just to be sure. And when she saw there were no obvious injuries, Fortuna spilled a relieved sigh and gently took Emilia into her embrace.
[Fortuna: No, it’s nothing. I just…… reeaaally missed you, Emilia. I’m sorry. Just let me hug you for a little longer]
Keeping Emilia in her embrace, Fortuna pressed her cheek against Emilia’s.
Normally, Fortuna would always be too embarrassed to make such gestures of affection, so this was very rare for Emilia. Perhaps, it was an indication that Fortuna was truly worried.
[Fortuna: ……such a little troublemaker]
Fortuna softly opened her eyes and muttered as, wrapped in her embrace, Emilia stroked her short silver hair.
But, without heeding Fortuna’s objection, Emilia went on caressing Fortuna’s hair to her heart’s content.
There were so many things she wanted to ask her.
But there was too much young Emilia didn’t know for her to form them all into words, and so, she went on without saying a word.
[Fortuna: Hey, Emilia]
Watching as Emilia quietly stroked her head, Fortuna narrowed her eyes. Suddenly, in her amethyst eyes that were the same color as Emilia’s, a teardrop appeared.
In a blink of a moment, the teardrop rolled down and dripped off Fortuna’s cheek, but, without wiping it off, Fortuna only looked at Emilia, smiling,
[Fortuna: ――I love you, you know]
There were still so many things she wanted to ask.
――But, right now, those words from her mother was enough, she thought.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
Dragging her feet in the darkness with pale-blue lights drifting around her, Emilia continued on.
Exhausted, sapped of even the strength to walk, she could barely lift her feet off of the ground. But her still-persevering consciousness did not allow her to stop but only continue forward.
Memories from her childhood flashed across her mind.
But why was she remembering them now?
The past Emilia saw in her Trial was slightly different from the past she’d just remembered. The past she remembered was a bit earlier than the events shown in her Trials.
If somehow she could return to that time―― surely, everything would be different.
[Emilia: Mommy, Fortuna……]
Kind, warm, and strong, Fortuna was Emilia’s ideal woman, even now.
She wanted to grow up to be mommy Fortuna, to be just like mommy Fortuna. But every time she was faced with the slightest adversity she’d grow hesitant, vexed, and afraid until it resulted in an irredeemable end.
Whenever she thought about that irredeemable end, Emilia’s chest would be wracked by unendurable pain.
Sorrow, regret, and agony, overwhelmed by these tangled emotions, Emilia was brought to the verge of tears by her own stupidity, inadequacy, and shame.
Always. She’s always like this.
Frantically, desperately, unreservedly giving her all, Emilia would nevertheless fail to obtain what she truly wanted, or to even touch it.
Even the things she should have had, should have held safely in her hands, slipped through her fingers like sand, enchanting Emilia with their transient glimmer before vanishing into nothing.
Fortuna, Puck, Subaru, it was the same with all of them.
[Emilia: It’s all…… my fault. All because I’m… a bad girl… who couldn’t keep her word…… everyone……]
Sobbing under her breath, Emilia’s feet dragged on.
Amidst the thick, brambled green, sluggish and slow, she pressed on nonetheless.
[Emilia: Everyone tried to hide it from me…… hide it…… but, no. If I could’ve gone on without knowing, if I never learned of…… if I never found out, how much better that would be, and yet…… yet……]
In the forest. The pale-blue lights. The black-robed men. Mommy Fortuna. The giant Black Serpent. The closed door. The snow. The world of white. The world of silver-white. The end, the world that was ending. Father, mother.
[Emilia: Yet I……]
The endless maelstrom of words raced through her head.
Tossed and tormented in its wake, Emilia raised her head and pressed forward.
With feeble voice. And faltering steps.
――But not a single drop of tear in her eyes.
-=Chapter 99 End=-
This chapter was so good ;-;
I woke up today feeling better than I have in a while.
I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s nice to enjoy it while it’s here.
I’ve been realizing that things I felt like I wanted aren’t what I truly wanted at all. At least, they wouldn’t make me happy even I got it. All the while, I’ve been overlooking the little things that already do make me happy.
So instead of wishing that the future should be better than now, I should try to appreciate whatever now is so I don’t miss it.
Let me know if you see any typos ❤
I’ll start the next chapter in a couple of hours!
Chapter 100 Live Draft: