THE HISTORY-ENGRAVING STARS
“Fruits of The Battle for Pristella 1”
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ALL RIGHTS BELONG TO TAPPEI NAGATSUKI, THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR OF RE:ZERO STARTING A LIFE IN A DIFFERENT WORLD FROM ZERO, THIS IS A TRANSLATION OF THE FREE JAPANESE WEB NOVEL INTO ENGLISH
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The heinous Witch Cult, who captured the four control towers and threatened the city, have been thrown back. With this, the safety of the City is affirmed―― The triumph is that of the Water Gate City Pristella!
Subaru heard the broadcast that resonated in the city along with Emilia as they hurried to the City Hall.
The cheerful announcement was transmitted through a magical device that conveyed the voice to the city.
Although there were parts where the sound broke, it was only the fluctuation of the voice of the person making the broadcast. There was no reason to doubt the contents of the welcoming announcement.
Emilia: Subaru! Just now they said…!
Subaru: So it seems. Somehow or other, it feels like it’s over.
In front of the bright-faced Emilia, Subaru relaxed his cheeks as he dropped his shoulders.
The reason for his listlessness was out of relief, and a little bit of anxiety.
Subaru: ……At any rate, it’s ‘cause the enemies are who they are..
There was Capella of Lust , who possessed the Authority of Variation and Change; in the worst-case scenario, there was the possibility of the broadcast voice being a ploy to cast false hope over the citizens. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t go that far, and that malice was what made the Sin Archbishops so frightening.
However, the voice of the broadcast―― which appeared to be that of Kiritaka Muse, his statement was consciously respectful, he wasn’t able to conceal his faint emotions and joy. Upon hearing that voice, one didn’t have any reason to worry about being fooled by such wicked trickery.
Subaru: That means, that everyone did it……
The broadcast stated that the four control towers occupied by the Sin Archbishops had been recaptured.
At least with this, it was safe to assume that the E N D where all the Water Gates would end up being opened, and the city would end up being both flooded and annihilated, had been avoided.
On that point, they could be sincerely relieved. If there was one problem which made Subaru concerned―― It would be the victims.
Subaru: Miraculously, Regulus didn’t end up causing any casualties.
Although they had a somewhat powerful lineup as well, their enemies were the Sin Archbishops with one or two peculiarities to them. The only reason they overcame the crusade against the invincible Regulus, was because he himself was lousy in battle.
The cunning Lust and Wrath whose defeat he could not witness. And Gluttony with whom he was connected by fate, calling them difficult enemies or threats was simply not enough.
Even though they’d won, their damage――was frightful.
Emilia : According to what Subaru said, there were also Sin Archbishops in the other control towers. All the others, I wonder if they’re okay…?
It was Emilia’s words that were accompanied by the same unease Subaru felt, who couldn’t put on a joyful face.
Subaru shook his head, biting his lip, in front of Emilia who had cast her gaze down.
Subaru: I also feel troubled about that, but… All we can do is trust in the others. I want to confirm that they are fine as quickly as possible.
Emilia: Yeah, that’s right……
With such simple words of comfort, he couldn’t dispel Emilia’s distress.
If they considered how powerful the enemies had been this time around, they couldn’t avoid the possibility that there were victims among their allies. Still, it couldn’t be said that the massive destruction to save the city was the result they had desired.
Thus, although it depended on the circumstances, taking into account using Return by Death as one of his options was a determination which Subaru had held ever since the start of this operation.
Personally, Subaru did not like the strategy of incorporating his Return by Death.
Of course, he was opposed to choosing his own death, but it was also related to the Trial he had witnessed at the Sanctuary, the world after Subaru’s death.
In fact, it wasn’t known whether or not the world continued after Subaru’s death, but the Trials revealed that such a possibility existed. So Subaru had firmly decided that he would not use Return by Death to increase the number of attempts.
Even so, if Subaru willingly chose Return by Death, it would be when the unacceptable result of having to continue with a loss awaited him.
And this time, Subaru was considering such a possibility.
Those who swore to recapture the city and challenged the Sin Archbishops, the royal candidates, their knights, and their allies.
In order not to lose those he did not want to lose, he was prepared to repeat the pain and suffering.
Emilia: …Subaru, your brow is veeeeery wrinkled.
Emilia was gazing straight ahead at Subaru who had a grim and serious expression on his face. She’d shot Subaru a look at his wrinkled brow, causing him to reflexively open his eyes up wide.
As her amethyst eyes filled with gloom, Emilia spoke to him,
Emilia: After all, no matter what you do, you still care. I’m sorry. Although it’s a difficult time, thanks to those who captured me…
Subaru: No, it’s not Emilia-tan’s fault. Even without Emilia-tan, it was necessary to defeat Regulus. If Emilia-tan hadn’t been there, I don’t know if we could have saved the brides.
To save the brides from Greed, they had to temporarily stop their hearts which carried the Lion’s Heart
Emilia was probably the only one who could have done it from their existing lineup. Ferris perhaps could also have been a possibility.
Without her, in the worst case scenario, it would have been necessary for the brides to become sacrifices to defeat Regulus.
Subaru: Well, I didn’t want to make that choice either, and Reinhardt wouldn’t have allowed it.
Even if it was a necessary sacrifice to face such great evil, he couldn’t accept that.
That young man, who was a bundle of justice, could never allow even a few sacrifices. In that situation, the affair with Regulus might not have been resolved so quickly.
Subaru: Or, I may’ve ended up dying half-way through if only I ended up getting involved.
First of all, if Emilia had not been kidnapped, there was the chance that the formations of the teams to defeat the Sin Archbishops would have been very different. Since no one knew what the right answer was, it was useless to think about.
Subaru: After we split up, Reinhardt went to the others. That will lessen the damage…. That is what I want to believe.
Emilia: Yes, that’s true.――We have to make sure of that as soon as possible.
In response to Subaru’s reply, Emilia nodded with a serious look on her face.
And, as he resumed his step towards the City Hall next to her, Subaru gently placed his hand on his own chest. He felt that his heart was beating slightly faster―― There, another concern that Subaru had apart from his preparation for Return by Death.
The sensation of a strange black force callously curling next to his heart.
It was a perverse impurity that slipped into Subaru at the same time that the Death of Regulus was confirmed. Subaru vaguely knew the identity of that impurity.
――The Witch Factor.
That so-called thing was probably the identity of the impurity that connected Subaru and the Witch Cult.
Just after defeating Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti of Sloth, Subaru felt the same discomfort inside his body. The identity of the foreign force he felt was the Witch Factor, and the first person who had told him that was the Witch Echidna.
The Witch Factor had a profound connection to the Sin Archbishops and the Witches of Sin.
And for some reason, it also affected Subaru, as if it was consuming him.
If so, this was surely related to the Witch of Envy who induced his Return by Death
It wasn’t something that could be considered positive.
Subaru: No matter how many creepy things possess me, I’m me….. That should be fine.
No matter how much the influence of the Witch Factor increased, he would never let it affect him.
Even if the Witch Factor consumed Subaru every time he took down a Sin Archbishop.
Subaru: If Beako wakes up, she’ll get mad at me for not having told her.
No matter what the Witch Factor was, there was no need for Subaru to worry about it alone.
He had companions who would work together with him to try to solve the problem when he confessed his concerns to them.
He was sure he’d find a way to get over it.
Emilia: Subaru? Did something happen?
Worried about Subaru who spoke awkwardly, Emilia turned her glance to him. Subaru said No and shook his head, and after thinking a little,
Subaru: By the way, while listening to the broadcast before, I think Kiritaka’s doing all right. If she knew, Liliana surely would be glad.
Emilia: Kiritaka-san disappeared?
Subaru: He protected Otto and it was unknown whether he was dead or alive. For some reason it didn’t feel like he was dead, so I wasn’t that worried.
Emilia: Then cheer up more, or I’m going to end up feeling sorry for you.
As if she were casting away the anxiety that hung over her, Emilia pouted at Subaru.
Instead of being anxious about the possibility that someone had been hurt, he should have been glad that someone had been saved.
Perhaps that was also a necessary attitude for his current state of mind.
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And so, the two of them rushed on trying to avoid triggering each other’s anxieties as much as possible, but the scene that awaited them wasn’t something optimistic.
Subaru: …This is… Terrible.
Subaru was stunned to see that the City Hall had collapsed and turned into a mountain of rubble in front of his eyes.
The words that came from his dry lips gave off a candid impression of that scene.
The City Hall was a five-story tall building that was rare to see in the buildings of this world, but its greatness had crumbled without a trace.
The marks of destruction extended as far as the foundations of the building, the centre of the plot of land where the City Hall had been located had been crushed enormously, the large sunken hole looked like an open mouth.
This collapse likely wouldn’t have happened unless the foundations of the buildings had received a major blow.
Subaru made this assumption from the remains of the building; Emilia, who witnessed the same thing, gazed around with a restless expression on her face.
Emilia: The broadcast from before, it should’ve used the magical device that is in that building, no? Yet, with the building in this state…
Subaru: ――! Now that you say it, that’s true…
Faced with Emilia’s concern, Subaru looked around his surroundings in a hurry.
The collapse of the City Hall was not an unimportant matter. It was undoubtedly the result of having been breached by the evil grasp of the Witch Cult. In addition to that, in the City Hall there wasn’t only the magical device, Otto and the others who did not participate in the groups to recover the control towers, and the victims of Capella’s Authority also remained.
Since the City Hall suffered so much damage, it meant that there had been a battle. If so, what had happened in the City Hall where only the non-combatants had stayed behind?
Kiritaka’s transmission, even the fact of that matter had become suspicious.
But, Subaru’s concerns――
??? : Ah, the moment I think there’s someone coming, it finally ends up being Subaru and Emilia, in fact.
The girl’s familiar voice reached Subaru and Emilia who had frozen in their tracks.
When he looked up, Beatrice was at the top of the rubble looking at the two of them as she walked down holding the hem of her fluffy dress. She went down to Subaru’s side who opened his eyes in surprise, and looked at him from top to bottom to check the condition he was in,
Beatrice: Hmm, you don’t seem to be injured, I’m relieved I suppose. If you’d been hurt while Betty was absent, I wouldn’t have been able to leave you alone even to go to the bathroom.
Subaru: I’m not a child who needs this much care… Or rather what I should be saying is, Beako, why are you here?
Subaru was surprised by Beatrice who had crossed her short arms and held her head high with an aloof expression of composure on her face. That flippant attitude was exactly the same as always.
Subaru: Weren’t you supposed to have spent all your mana and left the frontlines? At least, you shouldn’t have been able to participate in this battle.
Beatrice: Spent sounds like you’re blaming Betty, so stop, I suppose! If it wasn’t for Betty’s devotion, your leg would be a little thinner now, in fact. Your thanks, your appreciation, and your hugs aren’t going to be enough, I suppose!
Subaru: I know, I know.
Subaru gently stroked the furious Beatrice’s head the way he always did. Beatrice puffed her cheeks in dissatisfaction, but even so, she took a step closer to Subaru, quietly enjoying his caresses.
And, following this interaction between Contractor and Spirit, Emilia gently butted in.
Beatrice: Thank goodness, Emilia seems to be fine too, in fact. If something had happened to you, Bubby would have been distraught, I suppose. Thanks to that, Subaru risked fighting without Betty, in fact. If you’ve learnt anything out of this, don’t let yourself be captured again, I suppose.
Emilia: Mhm, thank you. I’m sorry for making you worried.
Beatrice: In particular, Betty was only a little bit worried for you, in fact!
Emilia looked at Beatrice, who had moodily turned her face away, with a smile on her face. Then, Emilia gazed over Beatrice’s entire body, and gently narrowed her widened eyes.
An ornate dress,and carefully manicured curled hair.
Both were slightly stained with mud and blood. This was the proof that this spirit-girl hadn’t just woken up from her peaceful dreams.
Subaru’s absence, and the collapse of the City Hall.
These unexpected events were surely related to Beatrice waking up.
Emilia directed her gaze, which was full of such thoughts, and Subaru tucked his chin in. And, whilst looking down at Beatrice, whom he was still stroking, he said,
Subaru: Thank you, it seems like you were hard at work during my absence. I’m sorry about everything. I only ever cause you problems.
Beatrice: I’m pretty used to you causing me problems, so you don’t have to worry about that, I suppose. No, still do worry a bit about it, in fact. Worry about it, and give me your thanks, I suppose.
Subaru: Yeah, yeah…. But, even if you were hard at work, it was a bit over the top. Crushing the entire building is a bit too much.
Emilia: Huh, Beatrice did this?
Emilia looked at Beatrice in bemusement whilst she pointed at the mountain of rubble.
Emilia: Do you know how much it’ll take to repair a building like this…. Subaru?
Subaru: With Beatrice’s pocket money, I know it’ll be a big project that’ll take a few decades.
Beatrice: What are you two saying with those serious faces, in fact!? What Betty did is different, I suppose! Betty saw this building only after it became rubble, in fact!
Subaru: I said I know. If you’d struck it, we’d be able to hear it from really far away. Such a cute girl.
Subaru cackled as Beatrice tried to defend herself from the false accusations. To this exchange, Emilia said, Eh, eh, which one is it? for now.
If they’d encountered Beatrice near the remains of the City Hall, then…
Subaru: At least, it seems like we won’t have to worry about the Witch Cult trying to get up to no good around here. So, what happened to Otto and the others who were supposed to be in the City Hall?
Beatrice: Hmm, explaining that will be complicated, I suppose. But, those who were in the City Hall are……
???: We were able ta escape as well, so ya needn’ worry.
A voice with a Kansai accent, or rather more accurately, a Kararagi accent jutted in between Beatrice’s reply.
As they turned around in response to that, they saw a petite figure which was walking around the mountain of rubble. For a moment, they felt something peculiar about that person’s appearance, as the colour of their hair that she was adjusting with a hand comb was of a different colour than the one they were used to.
Subaru: Is that you, Anastasia-san?
Anastasia: What’s up with the doubt in the way yer callin’ me….. Eh, aah, mus’ be this, right? It’s ‘cause now my hair colour is differen’.
Her soft light purple hair was now dyed dark green.
Only with Anastasia in her kimono, did their impression change a bunch. She looked at Subaru and Beatrice, and then, when she looked at Emilia, she gracefully nodded in satisfaction.
Anastasia: Seems like ya were able ta get Emilia-san back without any problems, Natsuki-kun. The Sword Saint told me, so I wasn’ worried about that.
Subaru: So Reinhardt was able to rendezvous with the others without any issues.
Anastasia: He came whooshin’ outta the sky. Right now, he’s lookin’ for any stragglers from the Witch Cult…. Or rather, I should say that he took Ferris-san to visit the evacuation shelters.
Subaru: Visiting the shelters….. That sure is the duty of a healing arts user.
Even if they’d repelled the Sin Archbishops, considerable efforts would be needed to repair the damages which the city had received. Ferris’ role would be quintessential for the quick recovery of the functions of the city. It looked like Reinhardt now was being used in place of Ferris’ own feet to get about.
Emilia: I’m sorry, I also caused him a lot of trouble…. But, what happened to you, Anastasia-san? Like, with the colour of your hair, or with this building.
Subaru: Indeed, indeed. Did you have a makeover to change your hair to a colour which is more pleasing to the eye? I think it suits you as well, but when you know the original Anastasia-san, it feels strange after all.
Anastasia: Natsuki-kun, you’re pretty skilled at spewin’ out nonsense. However, I only dyed it for a lil’ strategy. Besides, it didn’ pay off….. on the contrary, it went bad as far as I could see.
Anastasia sighed as she twirled her hair around her finger, and looked on at the remains of the City Hall. From the words she was saying, it seemed like she was involved in the collapse of the City Hall.
Subaru: Ferris is fine, right? What happened, and what happened with the others?
Anastasia: The story is simple….. After everyone left to defeat the Sin Archbishops, an evil’n attacked takin’ advantage of yer absence. They screwed things up a bit.
Subaru: It doesn’t look like they screwed things up only a bit….
It was clear that it had been a ferocious battle quite in contrast to Anastasia’s lackadaisical tone.
The attack on the City Hall―― a malignant trick that took advantage of the departure of the combatants, he felt like it was probably Lust or Wrath who had been behind this, however, the one he felt was most likely was…
Subaru: Was the one who came here Lust ?
Anastasia: It’s as I’d heard, their personality was the worst. My encounter with ‘em gave me the willies.
Her opponent shouldn’t have been so frivolous tantamount to only giving someone the willies, but Anastasia’s attitude didn’t show any signs of fear or shock. It took real guts to have encountered a Sin Archbishop.
He wanted to flatter her with an As expected of you but more pressing than that, Subaru had something gnawing at his mind.
Subaru: I’m sorry. We left the control tower, and after that there was a surprise attack on the City Hall….. I should have taken more care.
Anastasia: Don’ worry about it. We jus’ did as we fancied whilst Natsuki-kun was missin’. Moreover, it’s embarassin’ that we didn’ get anythin’ outta it.
According to Anastasia’s words, it seemed like she was expecting a surprise attack, that was what Subaru felt. She’d probably dyed her hair green as a strategy for that.
When he thought to the relation between dark green hair and the person that Capella was likely interested in, he could vaguely understand the strategy they had devised.
Subaru: Anastasia-san, you dressed as Crusch-san and dangled them the bait, is that what you mean? If you turned back Lust with just you and Ferris with that, then that’d leave us in a fix.
Anastasia: It would’ve been cool if we did that, but we had someone else there. Priscilla-san’s esteemed knight.
On hearing the unexpected name come out from her, Subaru widened his eyes in surprise.
Al was the one who had been least interested in the battle to recapture the city. And to begin with, he was supposed to have gone with Priscilla and Liliana to defeat Wrath.
If he’d stayed to defend the City Hall, the Wrath capture team would be in a state which invited uncertainty and anxiety about their combat force and combination.
Anastasia: Just so ya know, the team that faced Wrath came back safely.
Anastasia explained this to Subaru, who had doubt etched all over his face. Whilst giving a wry smile, she looked over in the direction of the control tower that Wrath had occupied, and said,
Anastasia: Priscilla-san came back unharmed. The Songstress Liliana came back along with her prince, to everyone’s surprise.
Subaru: Her prince…. Do you mean Kiritaka? Those two went to battle, and came back with a guy who we didn’t know whether he was dead or alive; what happened?
There were too many mysteries, like Priscilla coming back unharmed from the battle with Wrath, and Kiritaka and Liliana reuniting. He would have liked to hear more details about that story, but he had to prioritise the general gist of things more than that.
Subaru: Can I believe in the broadcast from Kiritaka before?
Subaru: The recovery of the control towers were a success. What follows that is the status of everyone who fought. What happened to them?
The City Hall had collapsed, but they’d probably taken the magical device out from it.
So, it didn’t mean that he had to doubt the possibility that the broadcast was a trap. The other problem was that in the end, they’d only considered the damage to things from the start.
And, to Subaru’s question, Anastasia said,
Anastasia: You need’n worry. Natsuki-kun, you ‘n y’all were the last to come back.
Subaru: We were the last ones……And what about the others?
Anastasia: Don’ worry.
Emilia and Beatrice anxiously watched along with Subaru, who was showing slight traces of impatience. In front of those three, Anastasia nodded her head whilst smiling, and said,
Anastasia: Everyone came back safely. Not a single person was missin’.
And that was her response.
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Garfiel: Captain! Ya came back safe!
The nearest evacuation shelter had become the new rally point, in place of the City Hall that had collapsed.
A blond boy came running and called out with a cheerful voice as he looked at Subaru and the others who had joined him―― It was Garfiel.
Subaru: Oh… Garfiel… Eh
When he tried to raise his hand, he was surprised by the figure that came running.
Though Garfiel’s upper body was naked, his whole body was covered in blood. Nonetheless, his expression was radiant, it seemed that he’d had a rather difficult battle, but it seemed that he had fulfilled his duty.
Just by seeing that, Subaru immediately changed his expression from surprise to a smile,
Subaru: Heya, it’s you who doesn’t seem well. Your face looks terrible.
Garfiel: I don’t wanna hear that from ya, captain…. I don’t think that I can say that. But, it’s ya captain who showed his guts. Ye rescued Emilia-sama wit’out any problems.
Subaru: Of course.
When Subaru proffered out his fist, Garfiel bumped his fist with his own.
That was enough to honor each other’s good fight.
Subaru: But, I heard Lust showed up at the City Hall. You, where and with whom were you fighting?
Garfiel: Tis’ obvious, with the Eight Arms Kurgan…. Although, I don’t know to what extent he can be called by that name
Subaru: ――? What do you mean?
Garfiel: Ma amazin’ self was fightin’ only with a dead-body. Surely when he was alive he wasn’t like tha’. That’s why I don’t feel like I won.
It was a secret technique to manipulate the bodies of the dead and use them as warriors.
There was no doubt that this time this secret technique was used in the secret maneuvers of the Witch Cult. However, it seemed that the warrior’s capacity deteriorated compared to when they were alive. If he had been a warrior like Garfiel, he may have been able to perceive that difference.
Whether that had caught his attention, apart from the victory itself, it somewhat seemed like Garfiel felt as if he’d failed to obtain the result he’d desired.
That feeling, it was not something Subaru didn’t know about.
Emilia: The enemy wasn’t strong, is that why you’re down?
Emilia, who had been listening to the conversation, tilted her head, as she didn’t understand the feeling.
At her words, Garfiel first gave a Good thing yer safe, glad that she was back, then he violently scratched his short blond hair.
Garfiel: To be down ‘cause he wasn’t strong…. That ain’t it. Somehow, I can’t explain ‘t. ‘Cause Emilia-sama’s a woman.
Emilia: It’s something women don’t understand? So, Subaru understands?
Subaru: Just a little, though. But, even for men there is something like an unknown barrier between the strong and the weak… But, I think the result is because Garfiel is strong. Aren’t you overthinking this?
Garfiel: Am I…. overthinkin’ it?
Emilia had a face that showed that she didn’t understand, and Subaru’s response wasn’t entirely positive. At that, Garfiel nodded with a sorrowful look on his face.
Garfiel already had his head full of worries in respect to Strength. There was the question of having challenged Reinhardt to a duel, and also that later he had received a painful initiation from the way of the Witch Cult.
Even if he thought with his head, no matter how much he thought, the answer to his problem didn’t come into view.
It was possible that is was something like that. That was why, with regard to that――,
Subaru: Hey, Garfiel. If you think about it……
??? : Oh! There’s Gar~f! Itzuuuuu!
In front of Subaru who was trying to give him some advice, Garfiel’s body fell down with a loud thump. He barely noticed the little figure colliding against Garfiel’s waist, but his hand didn’t come out in time to stop him from letting out a groan of pain, and tumbling down.
He gazed at the collapsed Garfiel; the one who sat on his chest who had fallen off-guard, was a feline girl wagging her tail.
The girl pricked her ears up as she put on a cheerful and adorable expression on her face,
??? : Fuhaha! You let your guard down, Gar~f! Your real enemy is in your heart! And within your heart, you already have important people in there! I mean, it’s filled.
Garfiel: Yer knockin’ and climbin’ ’n a person’s chest….
Mimi: Hehehe, Missy told Mimi! That slapping a man on the butt can attract love… Or something like that? Missy said that that is attractive or something! Slapping him on the butt is what Missy said!
Mimi squealed with laughter, on top of Garfiel.
She was no longer in a state where she was losing blood from her deep wound that couldn’t be healed. Before the face of the girl who had completely recovered, Subaru touched his chest and bent down.
Subaru: You look lively, Mimi.
Mimi: Oh, Onii-san, welcome! Welcome! It seems like a lot of complicated things happened while Mimi was sleepin’, goodjob! Mimi slept very soundly! But it seems that Gar~f also tried very hard, didn’t he? Goodjob!
Subaru: Y-You don’t seem to have changed, that’s the most important thing. Isn’t that right, Garfiel?
He had heard that Mimi’s wounds had been inflicted from protecting Garfiel.
Garfiel had been shook to the core from her wound that refused to heal and he’d carried her back on the verge of death. He wondered whether he was relieved to see Mimi better or not.
But, at Subaru’s call, Garfiel, who was still sitting on his butt, rubbed his nose.
Garfiel: Haa, ‘t would’ve been problemat’c if I changed too much. I’ve said ‘t many times, but makin’ a fuss while yer recoverin’…
Mimi: Hm, what? Did you say something, Gar~f?…. Ah!
Mimi, who brought her face close to Garfiel’s, raised her voice and glanced down at her own chest. Mimi checked the inside of the white robe, and opened her eyes wide with surprise,
Mimi: Gar~f, this is terrible! Ya wound’s reopened! Blood is streamin’ out!
Garfiel: Idiot! That’s why I told ya ‘gain and again! Dam’ it, if I don’t bandage it ‘gain and apply healin’ magic it won’t heal! Ay, come here!
Mimi: Ukyaa! It huuuurts! It huuuurts!
Due to the wound getting worse, Garfiel took Mimi’s hand, who remained composed, and took her to the inner-part of the shelter. Faced with this exchange which was as noisy as a typhoon, even Subaru remained speechless.
Emilia: Pfffft… But, if Garfiel stays like this, he may not have time to worry.
But, next to Subaru who remained stunned, Emilia placed her hand on her lips and said that suddenly. Whilst gazing at the back of the two of them walking away, she referenced back to Garfiel’s prior worries.
I see, thought Subaru, in agreement with those opinions.
Subaru: Despite everything, they make a good pair. Those two, that is.
Emilia: Mimi is cute, and it seems she reaaaally likes Garfiel….. It seems that Garfiel likes Ram, so I don’t think it’s going to be that easy.
Subaru: Yeah, for sure…. Wait, did Emilia-tan make a comment about love between men and women!?
Even though the example was easy enough to understand, Subaru was surprised that she could make that kind of conversation.
Emilia, who even before Subaru’s confession had been in a state where she didn’t understand the love between men and women, had been able to comment on the love of others.
Emilia: Hmph, Subaru, I feel like you just said something reaaaaally rude.
Subaru: Alright, though I’d thought that was an accurate recognition….. No way, did Emilia-tan change without me noticing? And she’s dressed in a wedding dress!
Emilia: Even though it’s ended up very much in tatters.
Due to the fact that it was difficult to move around in, she’d torn her wedding dress; it seemed like she didn’t need to worry much about that around here.
Beatrice: My my, in fact. They’re a bunch of children, it seems like they only grew up in size, I suppose.
Subaru: I don’t want to hear that from you, who most resembles a child here
When Beatrice threw out her jape to recap things off, Subaru cleared his throat. Then, if Mimi had recovered, that meant that―― He looked around the shelter in search of the answer,
In a corner where there were people rejoicing at their reunion, he found the figure of the wisened swordsman standing in silence. Subaru held his breath for a moment at the figure of the Sword Demon who had his eyes closed in silence.
Subaru: Sorry. I’ll be right back.
Replying back to the anxious-looking Emilia, Subaru left both her and Beatrice there, and slowly walked up to where he had pointed his gaze to.
First of all, what should he call out to him? However, that worry ended up being unnecessary.
Wilhelm: ――Is it Subaru-dono?
Subaru: ……Yeah, it is.
Wilhelm, who opened one of his eyes, caught sight of Subaru, who had approached him, hesitating on speaking out first. Seeing those silent blue eyes, Subaru realised that keeping his silence was pointless.
Wilhelm was resting his back against a cold stone wall, blending into the landscape. Subaru stood beside him and saw his figure from the corner of his eyes.
A figure full of wounds, that made him feel the echoes of a violent battle.
There were traces of cuts all over his light garb without his jacket, his grey hair that he tied back had come loose and was flowing down his back. What looked more painful was the bloodstained cloth that was wrapped around the top of his right leg―― That was enough to know that it was a deep wound that threatened his life.
But what caught Subaru’s attention the most, wasn’t Wilhelm himself.
It was the jacket that was right next to him which had something that seemed important wrapped inside it.
Subaru: Wilhelm-san, that’s…..
He had tried to check what was wrapped up in his jacket, without giving it any thought. Receiving Subaru’s words, Wilhelm directed his gaze to the bundle.
The wisened Swordsman kept his silence for a moment, and then moved his parched lips,
Wilhelm: ……It’s as you’ve guessed, it’s my wife.
Wilhelm: Immediately after she died, her body turned into a pile of ashes. It would have been too wretched to leave her exposed to the wind this way, even though it’s shameful that I put her in my jacket…… Even if she’s mere ashes, I want to place her in a grave, and mourn her.
It meant that―― The secret technique that moved the corpses of the dead, in the end, the corpses turned into ashes.
It was a sacrilege towards one’s soul after death, and the impact it had on the people who had ended up being the target of this secret technique was immeasurable. He couldn’t even imagine what was going on in Wilhelm’s heart when he thought about it.
Wilhelm: I’m really sorry. It’s a rather unmanly, meaningless attachment.
Subaru: Don’t say it like that!
Subaru immediately raised his voice on hearing Wilhelm’s tone which sounded like he blamed himself.
Whilst unaware that he’d gotten himself worked up, Subaru looked straight ahead at Wilhelm. Wilhelm opened his eyes a crack, and looked over at Subaru as well.
Subaru: I don’t think you’re wrong, Wilhelm-san, not now, nor back during the White Whale, you’re an incredible person whom I respect. What’s so wrong about appreciating the people you care about? There’s nothing to be ashamed of, thinking like that is no good.
Subaru: You’re incredible, Wilhelm-san. Your wife…… placing her in her grave, mourning her, those thoughts are no mistakes. I can’t really express myself well, but you are amazing.
Those were his true feelings.
Those were without a doubt Subaru’s true feelings, his true thoughts that he didn’t want denied.
Back during the time of the White Whale, and during his sorrowful reunion now, destiny had been really cruel to Wilhelm.
Yet even so, the Sword Demon had gone against destiny to his utmost; he traversed it with his own willpower, and tried to reach love. Not all results may end up being rewarded.
His repentance and remorse may remain sempiternally. But, it should end well.
Wilhelm’s love in loving the one he loved, it all should end well.
Subaru: It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Please, duly place her in her grave. And, if the opportunity presents itself, and it’s not too much of a nuisance, please let me visit her grave as well.
Subaru: I want to do so, I think that’s what a person ought to do.
He wasn’t wording himself well, and furthermore he was getting emotional; Subaru grew vexed at himself.
In pushing his own egotistical feelings, he wouldn’t be able to help it if Wilhelm burst into laughter. It would be quite natural for him to say that it was none of his business and refuse him.
However, Wilhelm abruptly let his lips slacken before Subaru.
A small gap broke through on his stiffened, tense face. And, he said,
Wilhelm: ……Yeah, please do, Subaru-dono. I also want you to dedicate some words to my wife, I think. If it’s you
Subaru: ――! Y-yes, I will. I’m honoured.
He’d gotten his permission, or more accurately, it was thanks to Wilhelm’s generosity.
After hearing Subaru’s egotistical wish, Wilhelm let out a soft sigh. Guessing by his face that he didn’t want to talk anymore, Subaru bowed his head down.
He should leave Wilhelm alone with his wife for a bit.
But before leaving this place, he wanted to make sure of one last thing.
And that was,
Subaru: Wilhelm-san. ――About your wife, erm, did you manage to?
Had he reached closure with her? Had he ended up reaching a result he didn’t want?
Naturally, confronting his dead wife couldn’t have ended up acquiring a desired result. Even so, no one other than Wilhelm could have been permitted to face her; after having took in that situation, Wilhelm had sought closure.
Thus, Subaru shouldn’t be the only one who wanted that at least.
Wilhelm: My wife……
Wilhelm started to speak to Subaru, who had stopped in his tracks to look at him. But, his words stopped there. Wilhelm’s gaze moved slightly away from Subaru. He directed his gaze to his jacket that had his wife’s ashes wrapped up within.
For a split second, a huge swirl of emotions floated through his irises. And, he spoke out,
Wilhelm: ――Yes. I exchanged words with my wife, and certainly, I said goodbye.
Words, it was a figurative expression, most likely.
Wilhelm’s wife had been the prior Sword Saint, clashing swords with her, was a conversation like no other for the Sword Demon. Their blades of closure themselves should have been their final words of goodbye.
That’s why, surely that closure had been the result of Wilhelm’s choice――.
Wilhelm: I love my wife. ――I should have gotten that across.
Subaru: I see
Wilhelm’s quiet confession of love.
In contrast to the modest tone in his voice, there was a zeal which scorched the hearts of those who listened to it, and Subaru’s chest grew hotter. Taking a deep breath, Subaru closed his eyes.
Pouring out of him were raging billows of emotions. Keeping each one in check, he opened his eyes.
Wilhelm, who was in front of him, had a lonely smile on his face. However, since he’d allowed himself to break into that smile, it felt as if he’d been saved, and Subaru too allowed his lips to relax.
Subaru: Wilhelm-san. Thank you for your hard work.
Subaru: Perhaps, very soon everything will get hectic, I think, but until then please rest. I’ll go around a little more to see what happened.
Subaru spoke too quickly and wasn’t sure whether the last words were right or not. He scratched his cheek with one of his fingers, and felt embarrassed as he turned his back on Wilhelm.
Behind his back,
As he was called while he tried to leave, Subaru stopped and turned around. Then Wilhelm, who had a slight trace of surprise on his face, immediately said No and shook his head.
Wilhelm: My apologies. It’s something trivial.. Please don’t pay attention to me.
Subaru: Is that so? No, when you say it like that, it makes me feel the opposite…..… But well, right, yes. I’ll see you later.
Subaru walked away from there, with a bitter smile adorning his face due to Wilhelm’s atypical reaction.
Seeing what Subaru looked like when he returned, Emilia and Beatrice seemed to express relief on their faces. In that regard, Subaru’s expression had probably changed quite a bit between the time he’d left and the time he’d come back.
Subaru himself was well-aware of that.
Since reuniting with the dead was not something to be happy about.
But at least Wilhelm ended it with his own hands, and he was satisfied with the result. He felt that that fact was a modest salvation
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
As he narrowed his eyes, the Sword Demon stared at the back of the dark-haired boy who walked away.
His lips were firmly pursed together so to hold something back.
It was a breakdown in his camouflage which until a little while ago had masked his real intentions with firm willpower. A frenzy of emotion which was likely to gnaw through his pursed lips if he were to disregard it, even now.
Surely, what he kept hidden from that boy in his chest until then was――,
Wilhelm: Subaru-dono……You are…
Only within his mouth, whispering in a hoarse voice, did the Sword Demon say the boy’s name,
Wilhelm: You could be, my――
Having said that, the Sword Demon closed his eyes as if he’d closed off his own feeble heart.
The continuation that made no sound was never heard by anyone.
It was also something that would never come out of the mouth of the Sword Demon.
That was the only thing, which the Sword Demon would never allow.