Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Prologue: Waste Heat Of The Beginning

―This is really bad.

He felt the hard floor against his cheek, and realized that he had collapsed onto his face.

His strength was completely gone, and he had already lost sensation in his fingers.

The heat from his core was so excruciating it made him want to tear his throat out.

―Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.

The moment he opened his mouth to scream, what spilled forth was no shriek, it was a clump of blood.

He vomited up large quantities of his lifeblood as he coughed. Frothy blood started foaming up at the corners of his mouth as he gurgled. Within his dim field of view, the ground had been dyed red.

―Aah, this is all, my blood?

There was enough to soak his fallen body. Blood comprises about 8% of the human body, and it is said that losing about a third of that would be life-threatening, but ― It seemed to him that he’d already lost just about all of it.

He had stopped vomiting blood, but the ‘heat’ that felt as though it would incinerate him still persisted. He moved his hand toward his abdomen with great difficulty, and having felt an impossible sensation there, he understood.

―My stomach’s been torn open, huh.

It was no wonder he felt so hot. It seemed his brain had confused ‘pain’ for ‘heat.

He was almost torn in half, only a bit of skin at his back held him together. 

In short, it seemed that this was ‘checkmate’ for him.

The moment he realized this, his consciousness started fading.

Even the heat which was making him writhe in agony had disappeared, Even the unpleasant feeling of blood and the sensation in the hand he’d used to feel his organs, it was all fading away along with his consciousness.

All that was left was his body, which would not be able to accompany his soul.

This body used the last of its disappearing consciousness to move just a little. It turned its head upward.

Black shoes formed ripples in the pool of blood before his eyes. There was someone there. And that someone was most likely the one who killed him.

Strangely, he didn’t feel like looking at their face. This person was the one who took his life, and yet he still decided to simply remain a spectator to his own demise. He had no clue who they were, but right now he didn’t really care about that.

He only wished for the girl’s safety.

“―Baru?”

He felt like he heard a voice like the chime of a bell.

He was beyond the point where he could even differentiate his senses, so he probably just imagined it.

Despite that, even supposing it wasn’t real, he found it extremely comforting.

So―

“―!”

A short scream, and then the carpet of blood welcomed yet another person.

She had fallen right next to him, exactly where his arm was.

Her fair hand dropped powerlessly, and intertwined with his.

―Probably just a coincidence.

He felt her fingers move slightly, as if squeezing his hand.

“…ait”

He forced his disappearing consciousness to return for a moment. The pain and the heat, everything had faded away. It was a meaningless effort, nothing but a loser wasting time.

But even so―

“I will, definitely―”

―Save you.

At that moment, Natsuki Subaru lost his life.

Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Interlude: The Moon Is Watching

A faint blue light―As he watched the water-like waves administer healing from a distance, Reinhard heaved a sigh so faint no one noticed it.

His handsome profile was rather despondent and his clothing was slightly battle-worn. His figure standing before the wreckage was such that an image of it would be a masterpiece in itself.

However, despite his objective brilliance, from his subjective viewpoint, his inadequacy brought him such chagrin that no amount of words could describe it.

Even now, Emilia was putting her all into healing Subaru. The wound he had received was due to the opening created by Reinhard’s conceit.

He had let Subaru sustain an injury that shouldn’t have reached him, and placed an unnecessary burden on Emilia.

Furthermore, due to his innate characteristics he would only hinder Emilia if he was by her side.

Watching from afar like this was the best he could do, realizing that some part of him was calmly acting on this judgement increased his guilt even further.

“―Alright, that should be enough.”

As Reinhard condemned himself with his eyes closed, a voice like a silver bell reached his ears.

Emilia lightly brushed away his bangs as if wiping his forehead, and confirmed that his face was tinged red. She then stood up with a nod and turned around.

“I’ve finished his treatment.― Looks like we’re past the worst of it.”

“That’s splendid news. Now, Emilia-sama…”

Reinhard briskly walked over to Emilia who seemed satisfied, and dropped to his knee and lowered his head. Not a single one of his movements were lacking, his etiquette was flawless.

“Due to my inadequacy, I have caused you a great deal of anxiety. I shall accept any punishment for this failure.”

He placed his sword before his knee as he apologized for his failings.

To a knight, this was the highest form of apology. Reinhard was prepared to accept any order or punishment she may give him.

However, in response to his apology, Emilia,

“You know, I don’t really understand why you people are like that.”

“Huh?”

“You came to save us from danger, and somehow settled things without anyone dying. Despite this, you’re now trying to take responsibility for all the pain and suffering that occurred in the process.”

Waved her finger and pouted, a little displeased.

She then suddenly turned her finger toward Subaru who was sound asleep,

“That kid’s a lot more straightforward. He saved my life, and thus demanded a reward. Although he really didn’t ask for very much.”

Reinhard too had seen Subaru try to act cool as he asked for her name. As Emilia smiled thinking back on it, Reinhard’s lips ended up forming a smile as well.

‘So,’, Emilia suddenly narrowed her amethyst eyes at Reinhard,

“Thank you for helping us. ―That’s all I have to say to you. As far as I’m concerned you haven’t done anything wrong, so there shall be no punishment. If you can’t accept that, then do your best from next time onward.”

“―Understood. I am thankful for your kind words.”

After lowering his head even further to show his respect, Reinhard stood up.

Now that the two were facing each other, Reinhard ended up looking down at her since he was much taller. Even so, what was that majesty he had just felt from her?

It was probably the difference in their caliber, Reinhard guessed, aware of his narrow-mindedness.

On the other hand, this only reaffirmed the fact that Emilia too was one of the ‘Chosen’.

“By the way, you’re dressed rather lightly today…”

Emilia murmured as if she just realized this as she watched his silent form.

Her eyes were on his clothes―Since he was off-duty today, he wore dark clothes suited to a stroll around the capital. He understood that the fact that he didn’t look very much like a knight must have been strange to her.

“Today is one of my rare days off, so I wasn’t wearing my imperial uniform. My armor is presently in the castle, so for today my sword is the only knightly object I have on me.”

He placed his sword back at his hip, its conspicuous claw marks catching Emilia’s eye.

She then blinked, seeming somewhat surprised,

“How come you got wrapped up in this on your day off?”

“That’s a little complicated, but… It was thanks to Subaru over there.”

It was his encounter with the boy who was presently unconscious that led him here.

If he were to explain things in order, he would have to start with the alley where he first met Subaru and spoke with him.

Back then, Subaru had revealed to Reinhard that he was looking for a silver-haired girl in a white robe. Reinhard knew of only one person who fit that description.

Subaru wished to meet her. While in the process of investigating him, Reinhard ended up coming to the slums,

“I met her along the way, and then arrived here.”

“Right, that girl.”

Now that she had been brought up, Emilia’s eyes turned to a corner of the clearing―To the girl who was tending to the still unconscious old man.

Feeling her gaze, the blonde girl turned around and then lowered her eyes awkwardly.

“Emilia-sama, she…”

“Reinhard. You’ve been a great help. I’m grateful that you saved us. But I have one more request, don’t interfere any further.”

In response to her firm words, Reinhard gave up on saying anything further.

Taking his silence as a yes, Emilia walked toward the blonde girl. The girl also turned to face her, as if prepared for the worst.

“Is that old man your family?”

Emilia leaned over to meet the crouching girl’s gaze as she asked this.

The girl was dumbfounded by this question. That was probably because this was entirely different from the sort of words she was expecting to hear.

Even Reinhard who did not know their circumstances could tell that their relationship was not a friendly one.

The girl who seemed to have the wind taken out of her sails scratched her cheek as she tried to compose herself, and repeatedly tapped the unconscious old man’s head as if to hide her embarrassment.

“S-Something like that. To me, old man Rom is my only… Yeah, something like a grandpa I guess.”

“I see. I’ve only got one family member too. He’s always asleep when it matters, I could never say that sort of thing while he’s awake, though.”

“Yeah, I couldn’t say this sort of thing if Rom was awake either.”

It seemed like her blows to Rom’s head were becoming more than just taps. This was probably unintentional. Her pace increased as well, and his round white head started turning red.

.

She then looked up at Emilia with a frail light in her red eyes,

“I thought you’d be way harsher.”

“I suppose you would. Perhaps I would have if things were the way they were before, but it seems I don’t feel like it now. So I’ll let it go out of consideration for that kid’s face, just a little, though.”

Emilia shrugged her shoulders with a wry smile like it just couldn’t be helped.

When she did this and pointed Subaru out, the blonde girl lowered her face for a bit, and then quietly mouthed an apology, “I’m sorry”,

“You saved my life. I can’t act ungrateful. I’ll return what I stole.”

Saying this, she stood up and directed her gaze toward the alley.

She then addressed Emilia, “Listen,”

“When I came back, I wasn’t sure you guys were even alive… So I hid it elsewhere, is it fine if I go to retrieve it?”

“I see you’re rather cautious… I don’t dislike it, though. I’ll wait here.”

“… Are you sure? I might be making stuff up to run away, you know?”

“Running is fine, but you’ll have that coming after you, you know?”

Reinhard, or ‘that’, as Emilia referred to him, straightened his posture.

It was a mystery what the blonde girl felt when she saw him do this, ‘Uee’, she let out a sound showing deep displeasure and then dashed into the alley saying she’d be right back.

“Once she comes back and returns everything… We’ll finally be able to go back, huh.”

“I won’t ask for details, but do be careful. ― I shall have a squad join you, please allow them to accompany you on your way home.”

“Going that far is… Even if I say that, I suppose it hardly makes a difference considering how much trouble I’ve already put you through. Very well.”

Having received her consent, Reinhard responded, “Understood.” He then followed her gaze to Subaru who was sleeping peacefully. “Well then,”

“What is your relationship with him―with Subaru?”

“Passing acquaintances.”

Reinhard was taken aback by her immediate answer.

Perhaps finding his reaction amusing, Emilia’s lips broadened into a smile,

“That’s all I can tell you, we really are just passing acquaintances. I don’t remember ever meeting him prior. I believe just now should have been our first meeting…”

“However, he was looking for you. He said he wanted to give you something. He was here during all of this, and also…”

‘He put his life on the line to protect you’, Reinhard hesitated to speak this next part out loud.

It felt like doing so would somehow sully the nobility of his actions. He surely did not do it to receive praise.

Furthermore, Emilia probably understood without having to be told.

She continued from the part Reinhard did not speak out loud,

“That’s what’s strange about it… Although I do suspect that that pervert might have something to do with this.”

“Please refrain from speaking poorly of Lord Roswaal. He is a magnificent person. It is true that he is somewhat eccentric, but…”

“You knew who I was talking about, so it’s rather obvious what you think of him.”

“… My apologies. Please keep this secret from Lord Roswaal.”

Reinhard winked as he apologized, and Emilia ambiguously replied, “Right, right.”

After this, Reinhard once again raised the topic of Subaru.

“What shall we do with him? If you wish to leave him to me, my family can take him in as a guest.”

“… No, I’ll take him with me. I’ll be able to find out exactly who he is, and even supposing he isn’t connected to that pervert, the fact remains that he saved me.”

“Thank you for your concern.” She finished, and Reinhard responded with a nod.

With that, their discussion had concluded for the most part. What was left was to assign some subordinates to Emilia and escort her home safely. In the meantime, Reinhard would also have to deal with the aftermath.

Taking a look at the collapsing building, Reinhard closed his eyes at the scale of the damage.

As usual, he cursed his lack of self-control. He had failed to restrain just a bit of his power and this was the result. His power would wipe away the entire region if used carelessly, he had to be cautious.

“What’s going to become of this place?”

“We’ll forbid entry into the area for a while, and put up some wanted posters for the bowel hunter. Although there’s always plenty of shady rumors surrounding her, so there’s a good chance it would only be a waste of time.”

“And that girl and the old man?”

“… I’m unsure of the circumstances, but considering my duty as a knight I do not believe I can overlook their actions. However,”

He paused and took a breath, and then shrugged slightly.

“It’s my day off, and furthermore, if the victim does not file a complaint, it would be difficult to pursue the matter due to a lack of evidence. Haha. Seriously, I don’t know the situation, so.”

“Fufu, you’re a bad knight.”

“Sadly, this is the true nature of the man known by such titles as the knight among knights.”

As they spoke, Reinhard sensed someone approaching them from the alley. From her gait and breathing, he knew it was that girl without even needing to look.

The snaggletoothed girl showed herself, and looked at them with an embarrassed expression,

“I brought it back like I said I would.”

“Great, I’m glad you came back. I’d feel reeeally guilty if I had to set this guy on you.”

“The knight among knights, it’d be insane to try to outrun someone like that. This is my first time seeing someone faster than me, that shocked me quite a bit.”

Responding to her gaze with a smile, Reinhard took a step back and watched the two.

The girl approached Emilia while fishing around her chest.

“Alright, I’m returning this. ― If it’s important to you, conceal it so it doesn’t get stolen next time.”

“I find it a bit strange to receive that warning from you of all people… If possible, I’d prefer you stopped doing this sort of thing entirely.”

“That’s impossible. Let me tell you, I only wanted to return this to you because you saved my life. I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, and I have no intention of stopping.”

She bluntly refused Emilia’s request and donned a stubborn smile.

Her profile felt rather tragic when one considered her age. Even as he heard her position on the matter, Reinhard silently accepted it.

He knew that this definitely wasn’t something he should overlook considering his responsibilities. But how else could they survive? It wouldn’t be right to simply speak of justice without even offering an alternative.

Reinhard’s thoughts were the result of all he had seen in the capital.

Emilia seemed to feel it as well. She lowered her eyes for one fleeting moment, and then extended her hand without pressing the matter any further,

“I see… You’re pretty stubborn, huh.”

“I might stop if food just appeared before me without me having to do anything, though. Anyway, here you go.”

The object she took out was in the palm of her hand, she was returning what appeared to be the stolen item to Emilia.

For an instant, a red shine flashed by his eyes. That dazzling light felt familiar, and in an instant Reinhard narrowed his eyes and searched his ocean of memories.

He then found a memory that matched,

“―Eh”

“Reinhard…?”

He grabbed her hand which was holding the insignia from the side.

Surprise filled both the girls’ eyes. The two of them looked up at Reinhard, and hesitated to say anything further when they saw his serious expression and gaze.

“T-That hurts… Let go…”

Felt weakly shook her head as she resisted.

However, Reinhard’s grip on her hand showed no signs of loosening. Reinhard’s strength was such that he could even crush steel if he wished. Although he was holding back, it definitely wasn’t the sort of grip a dainty girl could shake off.

“What is this…”

A quavering murmur. It had come from Reinhard’s mouth.

It was Emilia who responded to his words. Her amethyst eyes seemed shaken,

“Reinhard, wait. I do understand that it won’t be easy to let her off just like that. But she didn’t know the insignia’s true value. And I, the person she stole it from, don’t intend to make an issue of it either. ― I was also at fault for letting it get stolen, so. So.”

“That’s not it, Emilia-sama. That’s not what I’m worried about.”

The firm tone of his response caused Emilia to fall silent with a perplexed expression.

Even disregarding his rudeness toward her, Reinhard looked at the girl whose arm he was holding. Looking up at the young man whose hair was the same color as her crimson eyes, her eyes wavered with unease.

“… What is your name?”

“Fe-Felt…”

“Your surname? How old are you?”

“I-I’m an orphan, you know? I don’t have anything fancy like a surname. My age is… Probably around fifteen, or so I’m told. I don’t know my birthday. Hey, let me go!”

The girl returned to her usual self as they spoke, and struggled as she yelled in a coarse tone. However, Reinhard kept her in check with his dexterous control over his strength as he fixed his eyes on Emilia.

“Emilia-sama, I can no longer uphold our agreement. ― I shall take charge of her.”

“… May I ask about the reason? If it’s about punishment for stealing my insignia…”

“That is certainly no small sin… But compared to the sin of overlooking what’s happening in front of me, it is but a trifling matter.”

Emilia raised her eyebrow in confusion and incomprehension.

Reinhard deemed her confusion something that couldn’t be helped and simply accepted it. After all, this was a sight she was used to. It would probably be cruel to tell her to notice it.

“I would like to take you with me. My apologies, but you do not have the right to refuse.”

“Don’t screw… Don’t get carried away just because you saved…?”

Her foul-mouthed response to his words was interrupted when her body went limp.

Her shoulders mysteriously lost their strength before she could finish, and she resentfully glared at Reinhard to the very end,

“Go to hell… Damn it.”

After she hurled this final abuse, her head slumped.

Supporting her unconscious body, Reinhard smoothly carried her under his arm. In response to his practiced movements, Emilia,

“That’s not very knightly of you either… If you’re too harsh, there will be lasting effects on her gate.”

“Fortunately, I’ve had to deal with this from birth so I understand how to control it. ―Emilia-sama, it seems you may soon receive a summons. Please understand.”

He gently took the insignia from the unconscious girl’s hand and presented it to Emilia.

The draconic insignia truly appeared to symbolize ‘The Dragon Kingdom of Lugunica’ itself. The red jewel emitted a faint glow in Reinhard’s hand― When it was passed to Emilia, it shone brilliantly as if overjoyed to be reunited with its owner.

“I shall leave Subaru in your hands.”

Reinhard bowed to Emilia who wordlessly gazed at him once she accepted the insignia.

As he felt the weight of the light girl in his arms, he suddenly brushed the bangs covering her forehead aside. Her cherubic white features possessed a charm befitting her age now that she was unconscious and thus had no need to brace herself.

If he gave her a change of clothes and got the alleys’ grime off her, she would surely shine brightly.

A strong wind blew, causing Reinhard’s red bangs to dance.

He looked up at the sky through that gap, it was already dusk and the moon floated in the capital’s sky.

The full moon shone a faint bluish white, its beauty was filled with a certain bewitching charm.

“Today might be my final opportunity to calmly gaze upon the moon―”

Reinhard’s whisper did not reach anyone but the moon looking down at him.

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 22: Starting Life In Another World From Zero

“Hah?”

The atmosphere before him seemed to be warping, and he got the feeling that the room was somehow getting darker.

Furthermore, the temperature that was already low from all that ice magic had now dropped even further, causing Subaru to clutch his shoulders as he shivered.

And then,

“Eh, huh, hey.”

“Excuse me… Lend me your shoulder for a bit.”

Subaru was in a panic as he supported the silver-haired girl who was now leaning on him.

Her delicate body felt terribly hot, and Subaru felt his heart race for a different reason than it had been until now. But those feelings vanished in an instant when he saw her expression.

Her breathing was rapid and shallow and she seemed to be suffering, as though she had a high fever.

“What’s wrong, did you suddenly feel unwell…”

“That’s not it. My mana… You understand, right?”

―I don’t understand at all.

He wanted to cross his arms and announce this, but this wasn’t the time.

The main factor sealing his lips was not the weight on his shoulder, but the change in the room’s atmosphere―And who stood at the source of it.

In the center of the room, Reinhard held the two handed sword in a low stance.

No, he had been holding it since the battle started. But even so, Subaru felt that it was appropriate to say that he was now holding it for the first time.

―Right, the ‘Sword Saint’ Reinhard had just now readied his sword.

“The bowel hunter, Elsa Granhiert.”

“―From the line of sword saints, Reinhard Van Astrea.”

His sword’s overwhelming aura enveloped the room, and their fighting spirit made the atmosphere tremble.

Elsa introduced herself with a lick of her lips, and Reinhard responded with a dignified nod.

In this place that had almost been turned into a ruin, the assassin dressed in black and the lightly dressed hero faced each other, the metal that would clash was on one side a knife drenched in blood, and on the other a rusty old two handed sword ― Even so, Subaru gulped.

Having introduced themselves to one another, the two would now face each other one on one.

The brilliance of this scene was such that it truly appeared like a verse straight out of some epic.

“―!”

There was a breathless scream, was it Elsa, Reinhard, or Subaru himself as one would expect? It was unclear.

But the result was clear to all three of them.

A brilliant light tore through the loot house that had lost its roof, and split space itself in two.

It looked as if the world itself was misaligned, that extreme light dyed the room white in an instant, but the world suddenly changed when the light faded.

The misaligned space started to return to normal, and the aftershock of this power so great it even warped the atmosphere was now rampaging through the room as wind.

The surging wind enveloped the loot, the furniture, and the scrap wood and violently tossed them about, and Subaru desperately held on to Not-Satella and Rom to protect them from this disastrous collateral damage.

“Nuwaaah!! What the heeeelll?!”

He didn’t understand the blast wave, but he did know what caused it.

With all his might, he had swung his sword but a single time―That was all, and it led to this.

Raising his voice, he endured the wind and the pain. Finally, the storm faded, and the sounds of the loot and wood that were being flung about falling to the ground in addition to the dull sound of the building creaking announced that it was over.

Tossing aside a hanging scroll-like bit of wreckage that had fallen on his head, Subaru confirmed the safety of the two he had given his all to protect. It seemed Subaru’s cover wasn’t quite enough, it looked like Rom had some milk or something splashed on him, but he’d cut himself some slack for that much.

“What do you mean hunting monsters is your specialty, you’re quite the monster yourself!”

“Even I get hurt by words like those, Subaru.”

The source of this destruction, Reinhard, turned around and said this with a faint smile.

His seemingly blazing red hair had been ruffled by the storm, and even his nonchalant face had some sweat on it. As for the two handed sword he was holding―

“I pushed you too far. Rest easy.”

It crumbled in his hand, its poor craftsmanship could not withstand Reinhard’s attack.

An attack so powerful as to destroy a steel blade, and Elsa who took it head on,

“There isn’t even a piece of meat left… Maybe it’s actually a good thing that she completely disappeared like that.“

In the aftermath of the slash that seemed to split the world itself, there truly was nothing left.

The destruction had blown away the counter near the entrance along with the seats, and the shockwave even reached the clearing in front of the building. The violent winds caused much of the building to crumble, and even now it looked like the whole thing could collapse.

Naturally, the spot where Elsa had been standing was also within range of his slash. Her tall figure dressed in black was nowhere to be seen, and he couldn’t even begin to comment on Reinhard’s overwhelming power.

“But with this…”

Stretching his body that was stiff with tension, Subaru heaved a big sigh.

And as if to confirm the reality that he just couldn’t accept, he thought of the person next to him.

The silver-haired girl leaning on his shoulder―Though her breaths were still shallow, her amethyst eyes met Subaru’s gaze when she noticed he was looking at her.

“Is it over?”

“Yeah, just barely, in the true sense of the term.”

Answering the question she weakly asked, Subaru supported her as she stood up. In doing so, Rom’s head that was in her lap ended up falling to the ground, but that didn’t really matter.

Having stood up, she fixed her hair and separated from Subaru, though her legs didn’t seem very steady just yet.

Now that Not-Satella had left his side, Subaru stared closely at her.

“Why are you staring at me like that? I think that’s reeeally rude.”

“You’ve still got your head, and of course your limbs too.”

“… Isn’t that obvious? Could you not say such scary things?”

She probably didn’t understand what he was feeling.

As she glowered at him with reproachful eyes, he raised his thumb and flashed his teeth,

“That’s true isn’t it, it’s obvious. I’ve got my limbs too of course, and there’s no knife sticking out of my back nor is there a massive hole in my stomach!”

“You speak as though you’ve actually experienced such things.”

He did. Those were some seriously troublesome times.

Because of his uselessness, Not-Satella had lost her life, Rom had lost both his arm and his neck, and Felt had been sliced open, it was truly cruel.

“Speaking of which, Reinhard. I haven’t thanked you yet. You seriously saved me. There was that time in the alley too, you must have heard my heart cry out, friend.”

“I would be rather proud if I could do that, friend.”

Reinhard shrugged his shoulders with a somewhat pained expression, and indicated a certain direction with his jaw.

Following his gesture, Subaru looked in that direction,

“Oh”

The sight of the person standing there caused Subaru to feel his mouth unexpectedly change into a smile.

At the now destroyed entrance to the loot house, in the shadow of a barely standing pillar, was a girl with a snaggletooth and striking blonde hair looking their way timidly.

“She was running around the alleys desperately. She then asked for my help. It was thanks to her that I was able to come here. After that, I just did my duty as a knight.”

“A knight’s duty, huh. Does that include leveling old buildings?”

“Do you not think you’re being rather harsh, Subaru?”

Reinhard touched his chest as if that struck a nerve.

Now that he’d created such a disastrous scene, his unchanging friendliness seemed a little frightening. In other words, Ikemen Maji Ikemen.

“That girl is…”

Not-Satella, with her unsteady footing, also noticed Felt’s presence.

Subaru stepped between them as if to keep Felt out of her sight,

“Time out, time out. We’d most likely be dead if she hadn’t called Reinhard, you know? So out of consideration for my face, please spare her the ice sculpture punishment.”

“I wouldn’t be that violent. Also, out of consideration for your face…?”

Not-Satella rubbed her brow in exasperation.

Even that gesture of hers somehow brought Subaru joy.

They were both alive and on somewhat good terms, because of which they could mess around like this. It felt pretty misleading, but this was basically the development Subaru was hoping for.

“The rest depends on my negotiation, huh… That’s completely unreliable!”

“What’s the matter with you all of a sudden? You’re all flustered and it’s reeeeally disgraceful.”

Her words cut deep, Subaru placed his against his chest just like Reinhard had. But he only ended up looking funny and didn’t have the slightest bit of Reinhard’s coolness.

Watching their exchange, Reinhard smiled without a hint of malice. He then raised a hand toward Felt who was watching them silently, and started walking over to her.

Watching his gallant figure from behind didn’t even inspire envy, Subaru simply dropped his shoulders. So this was the difference between those who had it all and those who had nothing.

Though cautious, Felt seemed to be grateful for his help, she did not try to run away when Reinhard approached her.

Subaru found the sight somewhat charming as he watched them,

“―Subaru!”

When Reinhard suddenly turned to him and shouted, causing him to realize they weren’t out of the woods just yet.

“―!!”

Some wooden wreckage burst open and a black shadow emerged from underneath.

The shadow’s black hair danced behind it as it firmly pushed against the ground to accelerate, dripping blood all the while.

Tightly grasping a crushed kukri knife, Elsa wordlessly dashed toward them covered in blood.

“You―!”

The murderer had kept her life by somehow evading that incredible slash, and her eyes were now filled with absolute darkness.

The killing intent she was now releasing was the greatest thus far, and it was like ice down Subaru’s back.

She would reach them in mere seconds, in that time Subaru’s thoughts raced rapidly.

A crushed knife. An instantaneous exchange. She’s probably betting it all on one shot. Reinhard won’t make it in time. If I somehow survive just one attack, Reinhard can take it from there. Not-Satella doesn’t even have time to turn around. Who’s the target? This third time, I’ll protect her.

Protectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectprotectproteeeect!!

“She’s aiming for the gut she’s aiming for the gut she’s aiming for the guuuuuut!!”

He pushed Not-Satella out of the way and immediately raised the club he was still holding to guard his abdomen―Impact.

The force behind the horizontal slash was such that it felt more like a heavy blunt force attack than cutting one.

The impact to his gut swept him off his feet and he felt the world turn upside down as he coughed up blood.

His field of view kept spinning. In truth it was his body that was spinning, having been blown away.

He had no clue how far he had been sent flying and ended up crashing into the wall completely defenseless.

“This kid again―”

Elsa clicked her tongue in frustration as she looked at Subaru whom she had sent flying.

She then turned to Not-Satella who was standing stock still, but,

“That’s enough, Elsa!”

Reinhard had returned, and she realized it would be meaningless to continue fighting.

She threw the kukri knife in her hand at Reinhard, though it was completely bent from her final attack against Subaru. It failed to reach him due to his divine protection of arrow avoidance, but,

“Someday, I shall slice open the bellies of everyone in this room. So until then, do take good care of your bowels.”

It bought Elsa enough time to leap away atop the wreckage.

It would take too much effort to pursue her now that she was nimbly leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Not wanting to fight anymore, Reinhard intentionally stayed behind, choosing not to chase after her.

After he saw her fade into the distance, he ran over to the silver-haired girl.

“Are you unhurt―”

“That doesn’t really matter, does it?! More importantly―”

Worry flashed across Reinhard’s handsome face, but she brushed him off and forced her unsteady legs to move toward the wall― Toward Subaru, who had collapsed upside down.

“Hey, are you alright?! That was far too reckless.”

“Y-Yeeeah… T-That was nothing. That was exactly the time to act reckless, ya know? I was the only one who could move, and I knew right away where she would strike.”

Subaru raised his hand as Satella’s worried face drew closer, and then gently rubbed his abdomen where he had been hit. He was terribly bruised, when he rolled his jersey up he saw that everything underneath had turned purple.

‘Uegh’, he stuck his tongue out at this disgusting sight, he then rolled over and used the momentum to stand up.

“She’s really gone this time, right?”

“My apologies, Subaru. This happened because of my negligence. If you weren’t there, the outcome would have been much worse. If anything were to happen to her, I…”

“Stop stop stop stop! Don’t say another word! I’ve been acting pretty pompous thus far, if I leave even that part to someone else I won’t be rewarded.”

Subaru stopped Reinhard’s apology, and smiled at him when he fell silent. He then slowly turned to the silver-haired girl looking up at him, and met her gaze.

She stirred slightly, and then stood up. They were about two steps apart, he could touch her if he reached out. It was a long, hard road to get here, thinking back on it caused powerful emotions to well up within him.

When Subaru suddenly closed his eyes and fell silent, she looked like she wanted to say something.

But before she could open her mouth, Subaru thrust his finger into the sky.

With his left hand on his hip and his right hand reaching into the sky, he completely ignored the surprised gazes of those around him and loudly raised his voice.

“My name is Natsuki Subaru! I know there’s tons of things you want to say and tons of things you want to ask, but set that aside for now and hear me out!”

“W-What…?”

“Just now, I saved your life by protecting you from that evil blade! Are we okay on that?!”

“O―Kei?”

“Meaning is that clear. So, are we okay on that?!”

Subaru twisted his body into the shapes of O and K, and in response the silver-haired girl responded ‘O-Okay’ as she twitched.

Subaru nodded enthusiastically, and continued as if pressing her for an answer.

“The one who rescued you, the savior of your life, was me. And the heroine whom I saved was you. So naturally I ought to receive a fitting reward, right? Right?!”

“… I get it. Only if it’s something I can do, though.”

“Alright then, I have but one wish, just a single one.”

Subaru raised a single finger and thrust it before her, emphasizing his words further. He then wriggled his fingers which made her somewhat anxious, after which he cleared his throat and shot her a lecherous smile as she nodded with a grim expression.

“Right, my request―”

“Yeah.”

Flashing his teeth and snapping his fingers, he raised his thumb and donned a posed look,

“I want you to tell me your name.”

Her eyes widened, her expression was one of astonishment.

The room fell silent for a while, and Subaru started to tremble slightly as he maintained his posed look.

The feeling he’d disregarded earlier came back in the form of extreme embarrassment, but he couldn’t lose his nerve before even seeing their reactions, that was the worst cliche in this sort of situation.

So he remained silent, and waited for the girl’s response.

He was ready for anything, be it lumps of ice, icicles or even a freezing beam. Ah, he’d rather not deal with the freezing beam.

“Fufu”

 As Subaru’s thoughts rapidly turned to extreme situations, they were drowned out by the faint sound of someone giggling.

With her hand against her lips and her white cheeks flushed, the girl smiled as her silver hair swayed behind her.

It was not a smile of resignation nor was it a faint fleeting smile, and it certainly wasn’t a grim smile prepared for the worst. She simply smiled because she was happy, that was all it was.

“―Emilia.”

“Eh…”

In response to the word she said following her laugh, Subaru could only let out a small gasp.

Seeing this reaction, she straightened her posture and smiled impishly with a finger to her lip.

“My name is Emilia. Just Emilia. Thank you, Subaru.”

“For saving me.”, She said as she offered her hand.

Subaru looked down at her fair hand and timidly touched it. Her fingers were slender, her palm was small, her hand was delicate and terribly warm, a woman’s hand with blood flowing through it.

―Thank you for saving me.

She wasn’t the only one who wanted to say these words, that went for Subaru as well. She was the one who had saved him first. All this meant was that he was finally able to repay her.

He had been slaughtered thrice before he finally reached this point.

After all that pain, all that sorrow, all those horrible memories, after he fought to the bitter end with his life on the line, his reward was her name and a smile.

Aah, seriously―

“Man, that’s not nearly enough.”

Saying this, Subaru smiled as well as he firmly returned the girl―Emilia’s grip.

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―That would have been a good spot to end things, but,

“At any rate, I’m glad you’re alright, Subaru.”

He was probably waiting for Subaru to finish his conversation with Emilia.

Having been forcibly silenced, Reinhard now spoke a few words of surprise at Subaru’s safety.

Perhaps that meant that even to someone like him, Elsa’s final attack must have looked devastating.

Subaru lightly pressed his sore abdomen and then pointed to the club on the floor.

The spiked club served as an excellent shield, just as its thick and study appearance suggested.

That may not have been what it was intended for, but even so.

“It’s because I was able to use that to block right away. If it weren’t for that, my torso would be split in two right now.”

“Right, if it weren’t for this―”

He wouldn’t have been able to avoid BAD END 4, Subaru smiled casually and Reinhard smiled along with him as he innocently picked the club up,

“Huh?”

In his hand, part of the club slid off due to the smooth cut going through it, producing a dull sound as it hit the ground.

Now that it was split in two, its days of service were over.

Reinhard slowly looked in Subaru’s direction with pained eyes.

Following his gaze, Subaru felt an unpleasant premonition as he rolled his jersey up. His torso was completely purple from the bruising just like before, but there was a difference.

―There was a red line going across it.

“Ah, this is bad. Even I can tell what happens next.”

The sharp pain arrived first.

The next instant― Subaru’s abdomen split along the middle, causing copious amounts of blood to gush out.

“―Hey, Subaru?!”

Subaru could hear Emilia’s panicked voice from right beside him.

Aah, I finally heard her real name and now it looks like this could be the end.

―But even so, I’ll probably come back here again.

His field of view tilted. Perhaps his body had collapsed.

Reinhard looked panicked as well, and Emilia’s well-featured face drew closer as she looked at him with an expression of sorrow.

―Aah, so cute even when she’s panicking, a true parallel world fantasy.

With that final impression, similar to a certain other time, the sharp pain and shock swept his consciousness away like surging waves.

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Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 21: The Power Of The Sword Saint

[Side: F]

Her body rode the wind out of the battlefield, she felt as if she was freed from the despair the moment she passed the entrance.

In the end, in that world she didn’t even have the leeway to look back at, the battle raged on even now.

There was the dry sound of freezing air as well as the sound of steel shattering ice, and there was also the sound of a blunt weapon tearing through the air along with the occasional ‘Hyoeh’s and ‘Fuah’s as someone dodged while making strange noises.

The battle wasn’t over.

Even though Felt had run away, leaving it all behind.

“What the heck am I thinking? Isn’t it lucky that I was able to escape?”

If she had stayed there, she would be dead, that was obvious.

Felt didn’t have the slightest change against a woman who could bring Rom down with one blow. It was the same for the silver-haired elf, she probably wouldn’t be able to match Elsa now that she had lost her spirit’s support.

As for Subaru, it was completely obvious that he was worthless.

Once could tell at a glance that he was just an ordinary fellow, and he hadn’t the slightest hint of combat experience. His lovely fingers suggested that he had never held a weapon, and his unmarred hair and skin probably meant he had never been injured.

In other words, he had lived a sheltered life. His social status was such that he didn’t need to think of combat.

He did bring that absurdly expensive meteor, so this way of thinking made sense.

She should just think of it as him getting his just deserts. Ignorant of the ways of the world and possessing just a little chivalrous spirit, he ended up trying to do more than he could. She should just laugh at his recklessness.

“Right, keep running. I can’t stay in this town anymore. There’s people that terrifying. Before they find me, before it’s too late to run away, I need to, quickly…”

Even within the slums, she had to choose a route known only to those who stayed here. Narrow and tiny, it was like a path for animals, but it was an ideal escape route.

Considering her agility and small frame, she didn’t think there was anyone who would be able to capture her here. If she was to prioritize her life, this was the ideal method.

After all, Subaru who was probably dead by now had tried to act cool by letting her escape, so if she ran away successfully, he could at least rest in peace. That much was obvious.

It was obvious, but,

“―Someone, isn’t anyone there?!”

Even though her brain told her she should choose the narrow path, her legs took her to the slum’s main road which connected to the main street. Her expression was one of panic and she was out of breath, even her line of sight was unsteady.

Sighting a rundown shack, she ran up the wall and stood atop it, she then sent spittle flying as she screamed.

It wasn’t just anyone that she needed.

She needed someone who had the power to face that murderer―Elsa.

If anyone would do, she had already seen several figures as she ran here. But Felt was by no means someone well-liked around here.

Especially now that she was in trouble, Rom was probably the only one around here who would help her.

If she just left Rom like this, he would die.

Even Subaru who had helped Felt escape was probably fighting for his life right now.

It was a strange feeling. Without understanding why, she desperately rubbed her eyes that were on the verge of tears.

Setting Rom aside, what was so bad about some guy she just met dying? He seemed to have had a good upbringing, spoke a lot of nonsense, and to call him inconsiderate was putting it lightly.

But when Elsa’s words almost made her cry, he got angry for her, and even now he was sacrificing himself so she could escape.

She didn’t understand what she was feeling. However, because she was feeling it, Felt’s heart urged her to run.

She had felt something in response to his actions. Because of this feeling that wouldn’t stop heating up, Felt continued to run, desperately wanting to scream.

And then, once she had run through many, many streets―

“―Please, help.”

“Understood. I shall help you.”

She encountered a young man like a crimson inferno, and changed fate. 

※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※

“… Reinhard?”

“That’s right, Subaru. It’s been very long, has it? Sorry to be late.”

The tall figure turned its head toward Subaru who was still on the ground―Reinhard’s faint smile seemed apologetic.

Even though he had ripped through the roof and dropped about five meters, this didn’t seem to have had any effect on him as he casually walked forward. His movements were refined even as he cleared the dust, Subaru felt that he was now somewhat different from when they had faced Tonchinkan, he felt that he was getting a glimpse at Reinhard’s true nature.

Reinhard looked forward with his guard up, at the beautiful woman in black clothes whose hostility was directed at him. His blue eyes suddenly narrowed as if remembering something,

“Black hair and black clothes. And a curved blade characteristic of the north. ― With those characteristics, there’s no mistaking it. You’re the ‘Bowel Hunter’, yes?”

“What’s with that super disturbing nickname…”

“It was given to her due to her distinctive method of killing. She’s a rather infamous criminal who is known to be dangerous even in the capital. It is also said that she’s just a simple mercenary, though.”

Reinhard sincerely responded to Subaru’s mutter, and set his clear blue eyes on Elsa. His gaze caused her to stir,

“Reinhard― Yes, the knight among knights. From the line of sword saints. Incredible, to think I’d encounter such interesting opponents, I suppose I’ll have to thank my employer.

“There’s a number of things I’d like to ask you. I recommend you surrender.”

“You think a starving predator could resist a splendid steak dripping blood?”

She seductively licked her lips with her red tongue and looked at Reinhard with an ecstatic expression.

Receiving her gaze, he scratched his cheek as if troubled, “I suppose not.”.

“No choice. Subaru, step back a bit. Get the old man somewhere safe if you can. It’d be a great help if you could stay by that person’s side after that.”

“Understood… She’s a monster of a woman, so don’t let your guard down.”

“Fortunately, hunting monsters happens to be my specialty.”

With these promising words, Reinhard advanced, completely calm.

He did not even reach for the sword at his hip, he approached her barehanded.

His composure made Subaru gulp, but what happened once the battle started shocked him even more.

“―Sh”

Exhaling sharply, Elsa brandished the knife in her hand, aiming for his neck.

She was no longer holding back like she was against Subaru, the flash of silver killed the air itself as it rushed toward Reinhard’s slender neck. Reinhard seemed completely defenseless against this. Forget drawing his sword to block, he did not even attempt to dodge.

As the blade swung toward him, Subaru saw a vision of Reinhard’s head being torn off. There would be a spray of blood, and Reinhard’s head would fall later like in a manga.

That was the scene he saw. But―

“I’d prefer not to be too violent against a female opponent, but…”

Reinhard said these gentlemanly words in a somewhat lower tone. Then,

“Excuse me.”

With force that shattered the ground and created a shockwave, his kick sent Elsa flying.

The shockwave even reached Subaru, who was rendered speechless by the wind..

It looked like a normal front kick, and yet it held such power that the wind from the shockwave shook the entire building. Having received a direct hit, Elsa’s body flew like a leaf until she sprang off the wall to reduce the impact and landed as if tumbling onto the ground. Ever her expression was one of astonishment.

“Woawoahwoah, seriously… What’s with that?”

He had used the term ‘off the charts’ many times until now, but right now, for the time Subaru believed that he had been using it all wrong.

The term surely existed just to describe the man standing before him.

Compared to him, running like the wind, swinging a club like a twig, transcendent battle sense, and magical power boasting overwhelming quantity, all of these were completely overshadowed.

“You’re as good as the rumors say… No, you’re even better.”

“I’m not sure I can live up to your expectations.”

“Will you not use the sword at your hip? I would love to experience its legendary sharpness.”

Elsa recklessly pointed at Reinhard’s sword, she wanted to face him at his best.

But Reinhard shook his head in response,

“This sword can only be drawn when it is necessary. That it has not left its sheath means this is not one of those times.”

“It seems I’m being looked down upon.”

“I find this judgement rather troubling as well. Therefore―”

Reinhard suddenly averted his gaze and looked around the loot house. He then found a worn down two handed sword among some loot that had been placed against the wall, but were now strewn about the ground.

He flipped up the handle with his foot and easily caught it as it spun, he then lightly swung it as if testing it,

“I shall face you with this. Are you dissatisfied?”

“―Not at all. Aah, wonderful. Simply wonderful. Please, do entertain me!”

As Reinhard held the sword, Elsa took the initiative by spinning her body to the side.

Immediately after, she threw several knives as she spun. There were four of them, thrown near simultaneously. She had been holding back when she aimed for Felt.

These blades thrown at different heights weren’t as fast as Not-Satella’s ice, but the difference in their trajectories would make it difficult to dodge. In other words, he had to deflect them, but,

“Of course, I’ll take advantage of that opening.”

Elsa’s body leaped like a wind-up toy. She flipped as if using the ceiling as footing, and then sprang back down aiming for Reinhard.

A two stage attack, even if he managed to deflect the knives he would still have to deal with Elsa’s attack.

There were four attacks and another one right behind them, in response Reinhard raised his sword before him,

“Sorry, but― Projectiles won’t reach me.”

Immediately after he whispered this, Subaru saw a sight that defied the laws of physics.

The knives that were going to plunge straight into Reinhard’s body―Their trajectories suddenly changed, they missed his body and hit the wall harmlessly.

He hadn’t used any special magic, nor had he swung his sword faster than the eye could follow. He had essentially faced her first attack completely defenseless, this was an unfathomable spectacle, an absurd sight.

“The divine protection of arrow avoidance―!”

“I was granted it at birth, you see… Please don’t think of it as unfair.”

The knives completely failed to impede him, so their next exchange turned into a direct confrontation.

Elsa’s slash had all the speed from her leap, and Reinhard was prepared to take it by swinging his sword directly upward.

Even though it was an exchange of an instant, Subaru could see everything in slow motion.

Perhaps that was because Reinhard’s movements were perfectly refined, his every action seemed to possess divine skill that was almost magical.

He was holding some crude sword he found in a warehouse in the slums, but in his hands it shone like a legendary sword spoken of for generations.

His swordplay truly seemed to push the sword to the limit of what it could do.

Reinhard’s blade hit its mark, the base of Elsa’s kukri knife―Even though it was a clash between steel, that absurd cutting power easily dispossessed Elsa of her blade.

Flipping by placing her hand on the ground, Elsa was left speechless by the fate of the weapon she held.

With the blade sliced off, all she had left was the handle, and as for the blade,

“Now that you’ve lost your weapons, I recommend you surrender.”

Reinhard held it in its hand as he turned around, lowering his sword.

Reinhard threw it with a flick of his wrist, and it did not even look as it pierced the wall with a sharp sound. Even Subaru could hear Elsa gulp.

“This guy’s seriously out of this world. Even I can’t find the energy to crack jokes about this.”

This impression leaked out of Subaru as if he was being squeezed, he then excitedly distanced himself from the battle.

He approached Rom’s fallen body, and somehow managed to drag him near the wall.

“Old man, Rom. Hey, baldy, listen here, are you still alive?”

“Uu… Who’s… Bald…”

“You, obviously. As if it’d be anyone else. My only goals in life are to never go bald or become fat. From my perspective, you’re a great example of what not to do.” 

Though frail, at least he was able to respond, Subaru struck his forehead and heaved a sigh of relief.

Setting aside the severe damage to his head, the old man was probably alright. His memory might end up getting a little worse, but that would be a small price to pay to keep his life.

“Is that person alright?”

As Subaru relaxed, Not-Satella called out while running over to him.

With her long silver hair flowing behind her, she analyzed Rom’s injuries, she then whispered, ‘I’ll have to heal this’ as a faint blue glow emanated from her hands.

“Hey now, this old man’s one of the people responsible for your insignia’s theft, you know?”

“That’s the reason. Once I heal him up, he’ll have to repay that favor by answering my questions. He definitely won’t lie to someone who has saved his life. This too is for my sake.” 

Perhaps she needed to make such long winded excuses to justify her actions.

Smiling wryly at her roundabout nature, Subaru redirected his gaze to the battle.

Elsa was on her knees, he couldn’t see her expression but it seemed that Reinhard had concluded that she had lost the will to fight. Lowering the hand holding his worn out blade, he approached Elsa with his guard down.

This was probably because he was confident in his superiority, but conceit always led to the worst outcomes. Alarm bells went off within Subaru, and the moment before Elsa moved as if leaping,

“She’s got another one, Reinhard!”

The knife she drew from her waist sliced off a bit of Reinhard’s bangs as he leaned backward.

Now that her surprise attack had failed, she turned to Subaru,

“That was rather sharp of you.”

“I’ve experienced it first hand, after all!”

He flipped her off with pride that barely even counted as pride, but Elsa seemed to think he was talking nonsense and simply ignored him.

“However, I have more than just two fangs… Shall we start over?”

“Will you be satisfied if I dispossess you of all your weapons?”

“If I lose my fangs, I shall use my claws. If I lose my claws, I shall use my teeth. If I lose my teeth, I shall use my bones. And if I lose my bones, I shall use my life― That is what it means to lust for battle.”

“Well then, I’ll have to shatter that declaration of yours.”

Pulling out a third knife from her waist, Elsa took a two blade stance as she once again rushed him.

Blade met blade, the clash of steel caused sparks to fly. With the force against one blade, Elsa swung the blade in her other arm.

The curved blade was aimed at Reinhard’s neck, but his long leg shot up into her arm, ensuring it wouldn’t reach him. Elsa used the momentum to withdraw and leap off the wall up to the ceiling. She then kicked off the ceiling to reach another wall.

In a manner befitting the ‘spider woman’ insult Subaru had lobbed at her, her movements around the room defied gravity and prevented Reinhard from going on the offensive.

She would freely attack from any direction and immediately withdraw, and Reinhard was completely focused on intercepting her attacks, not moving a single step from where he stood.  However, it didn’t seem like there would ever be an end to this.

“Don’t tell me even Reinhard can’t finish her off…”

Elsa’s inhuman skill was now at an entirely different level from when she was wielding a single blade.

It was like a boss character reaching their second phase. She had ascended to a higher realm.

And even Reinhard who was facing her possessed his powerful divine protection (Subaru didn’t really understand much about this stuff, though) and his supreme combat ability, he too had transcended the realm of humanity.

It truly was a battle between Gods. But even so, it did seem to Subaru that Reinhard was superior in terms of ability, however,

“… He’s being considerate of us.”

Not-Satella whispered as she healed Rom, as if answering Subaru’s doubts.

She sent a sidelong glance at Subaru when he went ‘Eh?’ and bit her lip restlessly, 

“I’m using the spirit arts right now, so he can’t fight seriously. At the very least, until I finish healing this person…”

“What’s the connection there?”

“If he were truly intent on fighting, all the mana in the atmosphere would turn away from me.― I’m almost done here. When I give the signal, call out to him.”

“Ye-yeah.”

Her explanation didn’t quite hit the mark, but since she was relying on him, Subaru accepted despite his confusion.

The blue glow continued to heal the blow to Rom’s head, and a cut that had been bleeding slightly. His wounds and the traces of blood on him gradually disappeared, and Satella sighed deeply as Subaru looked on in admiration.

After wiping off the scar tissue with some cloth, there was no longer any sign of the blow that had knocked him unconscious. As Subaru gasped at her magnificence, she tapped his shoulder.

“Please.”

“Leave it to me.― Reinhard! I don’t really get it, but do your thing!”

Subaru announced the completion of Rom’s treatment to Reinhard who was still on the defensive.

Reinhard glanced at him for a moment. When his eyes met Subaru’s, he gave a slight nod.

“―What are you going to show me?”

“The swordplay of the Astrea family―”

Elsa asked this mid-leap, and Reinhard’s answer was short and stern.

―Immediately after, Subaru felt the space within the loot house warp.

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Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 20: The Gang’s All Here

He leaped into her waist, and embraced her small body as they fell toward the ground.

The instant before he hit the floor, he felt as though steel had singed the hair on the back of his head which made him shudder. But he forced himself to ignore it due to the weight in his arms, and tried to create some distance as they tumbled.

He got on his knees and turned around to find Elsa standing still with an expression of surprise. He felt as if he’d gotten one over on her, and donned a twitching smile at his triumph.

His smile almost made her retaliate, but she switched to defending against the rapid-fire icicles coming from behind her. Thankful for Not-Satella’s aid, he looked down into his chest,

“Are you okay?! It was a desperate situation, so please overlook it if I touched anything I shouldn’t have!”

“I’d have thanked you if you didn’t say that.― Wait, why?”

“No clue! My body just moved on its own! It’s seriously a miracle! Make miracle! If I had to say, it’s because I’m repaying a favor, although you probably don’t know what I’m talking about! You don’t!”

[T/N: Subaru says ‘Make miracle’ in English]

He released Felt and clenched his fist, congratulating himself for somehow doing a good job.

In the second world, Felt had saved him from Elsa. He was able to repay her for that. But that was a meaningless memory in this world, and now both Felt and Subaru had fallen before her blade.

―But even so, the kindness he received wouldn’t just disappear. And if he could move now, he obviously had to see things through.

“Alright, I can move. Did that brush with death suddenly strengthen my resolve? Bravado is still bravery, recklessness is still courage. I’ll do it, it’s time to do it, gotta do it, have to do it, aren’t I gonna do it?!”

“H-Hey, bro…”

“Listen up, listen me. Listen closely, Felt. I’m going to start buying time just like Rom did before he fell in battle. I’ll create an opening one way or another, use that to run away. Run straight out of the entrance with all you’ve got, don’t look back. It’s what you call an escape, got it?”

[T/N: Subaru says ‘listen me’ and ‘escape’ in English]

“―! Absolutely not! Are you really telling me to just turn tail and run?!”

Her red eyes looked up at him as if glaring, and he accepted the challenge and brought his face close.

He immediately noticed when for a moment, his strong will caused Felt’s expression to falter.

“That’s exactly right, turn around, tuck your tail in, and run. To be honest, that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to stay in this violent hellscape a moment longer than I have to.”

He patted her blonde hair with all his might and then took a breath, “But,”

“You’re fifteen, and I’m eighteen. So you’re probably the youngest one here. Therefore, we obviously have to choose whatever option gives you the best chance of survival. It’s obvious!”

“W-What are you… Don’t screw around, you were cowering in fear just moments ago.”

“That was then! This is now! I’m not cowering now, so it’s fine! Or rather, I’ll have to do this before the fear paralyzes me again. That’s how it is, so run!”

Subaru pushed on her forehead to silence any further objection, and then started warming up as he stood up. Rom’s club had also fallen out of his hand and tumbled nearby.

He picked it up with great effort, despite its extreme weight, he could still swing it.

“I can probably keep her in check with at least one good strike… Looks like I was right to swing that pointlessly large bamboo sword every day. To think it was all for this moment, not bad, me.”

He sang his own praises as he swung the club, and then held his breath as he waited for the right time.

Felt looked like she still had something to say as she held her breath behind him, but he didn’t have the time to deal with her indecision right now. Their chances of survival were probably dropping with every second.

There wasn’t any sign of sluggishness in Elsa’s movements as she danced through the ice. To begin with, Subaru couldn’t even begin to understand whether or not she was open considering his complete lack of actual combat experience.

Therefore, the instant Elsa’s view was blocked as she cut down a particularly large icicle, he forgot to even breathe as he brought the club down.

“―Fush!”

It seemed the desperate situation had increased his strength, he swung the club even faster than expected.

It was a blow that could split a human head like a watermelon if he scored a direct hit, but,

“Your aim was excellent. But unfortunately, you exuded too much killing intent, it made your attack obvious.”

“Killing intent?! I have no idea how I’m supposed to control that!”

Although he’d attacked from right behind her, Elsa slammed the back of her blade into the club, altering its trajectory to avoid it. As Subaru whined about the failure of his surprise attack, he bared his fangs,

“Now! Go, Felt―!!”

“―!!”

As if jolted by his shout, Felt’s small body dashed forward, riding wind itself.

She’d reached her top speed in a single step. She ran through the room so fast the human eye couldn’t track her, moving past the scattered icicles and frozen floor as her body headed toward the entrance.

“You think I’ll let her?”

To stop her, Elsa drew a knife and threw it from right beside her.

Perhaps as revenge for Felt’s interference earlier, the plain looking knife was going to plunge straight into her back as she ran. But,

“You’ll have to let her go!!”

Kicking up a nearby table, Subaru blocked the knife’s path.

His reflexive reaction produced results, the knife ended up piercing the table and thus could not reach its target. Subaru couldn’t help but internally applaud his miraculous feat,

“Awesome! But my toes hurt more than expected…Bubugaru?!”

A long leg kicked him in the side of his head, interrupting his praise midway and causing him to crash into a wall.

The impact was to his shoulder so his head was fine, but this unexpected force halted his thoughts. The pain finally set in, and he once again tasted blood in his mouth.

“How unusual, I feel just a little annoyed.”

“Well, that’s just great! Hahaa, That. Is. What. You. Get! I made you lose one! Now, let me enjoy your whining, you loser!”

Putting on a show of courage as he got back up, he relentlessly provoked Elsa to draw her attention.

He didn’t think it was a very reliable plan considering her personality, but as if reading his mind, her smile deepened and she completely disregarded Felt.

“Alright, I’ll play along. In exchange, don’t bore me with your dancing.”

“Let me warn you, you’d better be prepared if you wanna dance with me. I’m rather unrefined, so I’ll end up stomping all over your feet.”

He ended up taking some mental damage when he remembered how he couldn’t dance with the girl he liked at a certain folk dance.

He spat out the blood gathering in his mouth, and fixed his grip on the club he was holding.

He wouldn’t have very many chances to use it. So instead of thinking about using it like Rom or whatever, he focused completely on meeting Elsa head on as she approached.

“Don’t forget about me!”

As Elsa focused on the opponent in front of her, she was suddenly assailed by some ice from behind.

She swung her blade without even turning around and deflected the attack. Her senses transcended human understanding, even Subaru couldn’t crack jokes at this point.

“I’m tired of that game, though… Do you think you can still entertain me?”

She asked in a low voice, her smile the color of blood.

This smile sent a chill down Subaru’s spine, he then glanced at Not-Satella. When their eyes met, he gave her a slight nod,

“If you have some kind of hidden power or something, now would be a good time to use it.”

“… I do have a trump card, but if I use it I’ll be the only one left.”

“I’ve got this! I can still do it! It’s too early to use your trump card! Why give up so soon?! The fight is still even! Let’s do this, me!”

Subaru waved his limbs around to show he was in good health, trying desperately to stop her from giving up on everything. His frantic expression caused Not-Satella’s lips to relax even though they were in the midst of battle.

“I’m not going to use it. Not while you’re still trying so hard. Let’s struggle all we can― Running to daddy is my last resort.”

Her resigned expression as she said this caused something to light up within Subaru.

He thought it was rather unlike him to have this sort of sentiment well up from within.

It wasn’t like him, he wasn’t that kind of person at all.

He was always apathetic toward his surroundings, he was unaffected by whatever went on around him, no matter what sort of problem arose, he would never choose to face it earnestly, instead he would just casually wait around for it to fade away, like a cloud or something.

Pinning his hopes on others or having others place their hopes in him, he thought he didn’t care about any of that.

―Just now, he ended up hoping. And because of this hope, he was disappointed.

He had only ever seen her look tense or brooding as she looked for a certain something, so he wanted to see her smile.

But to think that this expression that looked like she was giving up, like she had resigned herself to whatever was going to happen, would be the first ‘smile’ he received from her, there was no way he would allow that.

“That doesn’t count…”

“―Eh?”

“Ignore what I just said! It’s all nonsense! I’m seriously fired up here!! I’m going to do this, damn it!  I definitely won’t let you use that trump card!!”

He thrust his finger out, and announced this to both Not-Satella and Elsa.

He stomped his feet and sent spittle flying as he howled in excitement.

“Don’t make that sort of face, you’re wasting your beauty! And you, you damned sadist of the year, read the mood! Don’t make her look like that! You’re wasting your beauty too!”

“… Seems you have a little too much energy.”

“Because you haven’t managed to spill a single person’s blood! But this club, ‘Kotetsu’, has been lusting for your blood all evening! Fm! Fmm!”

He swung his club on the spot, like a bat.

Pulled by its weight, Subaru staggered around flustered as Elsa pointed her knife at him.

“That’s enough fooling around. It’s about time we started dancing, do try to keep up.”

“You too, don’t think this will be over too quickly. Don’t underestimate me, I’ll toss you with my right and slam you with my left!”

As Elsa leaned forward slightly, Subaru pointed his club at her as if he was announcing a homerun.

Because of this unnecessary gesture, he wasn’t able to respond in time when she leaped at him. He readied the club in a panic, and prepared to strike the slender figure flying toward him.

There was a strong wind as he swung from the side, this attack would blow Elsa’s head off.

He put everything he had into this merciless swing, prepared for the horrific sight it would create. It wouldn’t be strange if a direct hit turned part of her into mincemeat.

“As if I could beat her by showing mercy!”

The urgency of the situation meant Subaru couldn’t even think about holding back.

In response to this lethal blow, Elsa lowered her stance even further with practiced movements and continued to approach if slithering on the ground as she avoided his attack.

“You damned spider woman―!”

“Well, you are trapped in my web.”

Seeing the blade reaching up to him, Subaru immediately threw himself backward. However, he still couldn’t escape the blade’s range.

In an instant so short you’d miss it if you blinked, the memory of the first time he stood up on his own two legs flashed through his mind, his parents clapped and exclaimed ‘This kid might be a genius’.

“Damn it, looking at my current situation after that flashback, there couldn’t possibly be a more pathetic memory―!!”

The embarrassment this memory caused made his knees shoot up.

He hadn’t been aiming for anything, but Elsa ended up taking a direct hit to her torso as she slipped toward him.

She let out an erotic moan of pain and her blade’s path was thrown off slightly. There,

“An ice shield― Nice cover!!”

“I’m not very good at forming it where I want to. ― I almost ended up creating an ice sculpture there.”

“You mean her, not me, right?!”

A block of ice appeared near his face and stopped the blade, Subaru immediately spoke his thanks as he retreated, and Satella stated this as she wiped her forehead.

She then dodged his question and started firing another barrage of ice at Elsa to keep her in check.

“You insects are starting to become an annoyance…”

“Hey now, don’t go underestimating insects. You might be allergic to our bite!”

“You’re acting pretty cocky now that you’re in a safe spot.”

Elsa was focused on dodging the hail of ice, and Subaru was attempting to break her focus with his taunts.

He would have loved to slip behind her to attack, but if he carelessly stepped into that barrage he would probably be taken out by his own ally.

That was probably why Not-Satella had restrained her attack while he was fighting.

This was the level of teamwork you could expect from an impromptu team formed on the spot.

“However, the two worked together to overcome this trial and their bond deepened. Before they knew it, trust had turned into love and their burning passion could no longer be stopped…”

“I have no clue what you’re whispering over there, but it’s clearly something compleeeetely irrelevant.”

“To think of another girl while you’ve got a woman right in front of you, how very boorish.”

“They both hated it?!”

Elsa somehow kept her composure even in the midst of these rapidfire attacks.

Subaru continued to watch as Elsa deflected the ice, he would occasionally cut in with an attack of his own and then immediately retreat, he kept repeating this cycle as he thought.

Their steadily worsening situation hadn’t changed, it was obvious that Elsa could easily take out Subaru just like she did to Rom if she felt like it.

It only seemed like he was able to put up a fight because she possessed an overwhelming advantage in ability and was making light of him. The fact that Subaru’s fear would not let him step any further into lethal range was another reason.

If Subaru had more courage than brains, she’d probably end this equilibrium in a single swing.

Nonetheless, it didn’t seem his cowardice could prove useful for much longer.

The severity of her slashes was gradually increasing, and Subaru was steadily accumulating cuts as he failed to evade in time.

There were cuts on his arms, his calf, under his armpit, and even a shallow one on his neck, his gray jersey was starting to turn red as his blood stained it.

“Getting cut hurts! It hurts real bad! Even wounds of this level could make me cry!”

“―No good after all, huh.”

“Ah, sorry! I lied! Please ignore that! Don’t give up, don’t use that trump card! I can still do this! I’m completely fine, I’ve got this!”

He waved his hands to show Not-Satella he was fine, and then immediately performed a spinning kick.

He had aimed to catch Elsa off guard with an attack completely different from the pattern he established with the club. But,

“Right, got you.”

“Geh.”

She easily avoided his kick, and then grabbed his leg before it could pass by. She raised her kukri knife aiming to chop off his entire leg. The force would easily tear through his leg in one stroke, its speed and sharpness were more than enough.

The shock from the blood loss and pain of having his thigh severed would kill him― He could see the words BAD END 4 appear before him.

“Nuooo! Whatever is within me, burn up―!!”

He immediately tried to raise the club to block, but the weight meant he couldn’t lift it in time while standing on one leg.

Not-Satella screamed in despair as the merciless slash reached his leg.

The premonition of horrible pain and fresh blood caused him to quite literally scream up blood―

“―That’s enough.”

Piercing the roof, a blazing inferno descended into the loot house.

The flame’s dreadful aura swept through the room and even halted Elsa’s brutal act.

Subaru stumbled backward when his leg was released and ended up falling on his butt.

And before him, within the swirling dust and smoke, he saw a crimson glow.

“It seems things were rather risky just now, but I’m glad I made it in time.”

“Y-You’re…”

The flame wavered as it stepped forward.

In its path was Elsa, who had retreated quite some distance. She adjusted her grip on the kukri knife as she faced the being before her, losing her composure for the first time.

Before this overwhelming sense of intimidation, she no longer had the leeway to enjoy herself.

Its dignified presence froze Subaru’s, Not-Satella’s, and even Elsa’s expressions.

Even with all their eyes on it, its handsome features did not waver.

The young man only had a single-minded sense of justice in his sky-blue eyes as his lips formed a slight smile.

“Now, it’s about time we finished this―!”

Brushing his crimson hair upward, the handsome youth loudly declared this.

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Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 19: A Spirit Arts User’s Battle

The icicles crisscrossed mercilessly, filling the room with a white mist and covering the black cloaked figure in freezing wind.

The speed of these icicles was far beyond what he’d seen in the alley, as far as Subaru knew this had transcended the major league and had reached a level of speed you only saw in video games.

Their sharp tips would easily pierce through the human body and come out red with fresh blood.

There were about twenty of them. If they landed, it’d mean certain death. But,

“Is she finished?!”

“Right, there’s a bad flag―!!”

Even though he had remained silent for so long, the baldy just had to go and say something at the worst possible time.

And as if to answer Subaru’s shout,

“―I was prepared, you see. I quite dislike its weight, but it was the right decision to wear it.”

Cutting through the white smoke, Elsa dashed forward with her black hair dancing behind her.

As she brandished her kukri knife and nimbly advanced, there was no sign of injury on her body. She had cast aside her cloak and was now only wearing the form-fitting black clothes she wore underneath it, but there was no change besides this.

“Don’t tell me it’s the sort of thing where you take off weighted clothing and become faster?!”

“That would be pretty interesting, but the reality is simpler. ― My cloak had a spell woven into it that could negate magic just once. Seems it allowed me to keep my life.”

Elsa politely answered Subaru’s query, and then swung her blade forward from a low stance.

Standing in her path was Not-Satella who had just unleashed that huge attack.

The blade’s path was true, intended to plunge the heavy tip into her chest. Subaru was about to scream, but before that could happen,

“You’d do well not to underestimate a user of the spirit arts. We’re rather frightening when you make enemies of us.”

A multilayered shield of ice easily stopped Elsa’s blade.

Not-Satella placed her hands together before her chest. She had probably formed that shield using her hands. With her attack blocked, Elsa immediately backflipped away. 

A number of slightly smaller icicles were rapidly fired in pursuit and pierced the ground.

This was Puck’s attack, he floated by Not-Satella’s silver hair as he waved his arms like he was conducting an orchestra.

“They’re splitting the roles of offense and defense―It’s really two on one.”

“That’s what makes spirit users dangerous. One handles offense while the other handles defense. Depending on the situation you’ll have one stall with simple magic while the other prepares a powerful move… They can do that sort of thing. On the battlefield, it is commonly said that ‘If you encounter a spirit user, you should drop your weapon and wallet and run.’”

As Subaru looked on in admiration, Rom who was next to him muttered gravely as he tightened his grip on his club.

Subaru nodded at his words. Indeed, in a one-on-one battle their advantage was absolute. Overcoming it would be no easy feat.

“By the way, what are you planning to do, old man?”

“I’ll look for an opening to help the elf girl. She seems more reasonable than the other one.”

“Waitwaitwaitwaitwaitwaitwait! Don’t try it! You’d only be a burden! You’ll just have your right arm and throat ripped apart if you go, so stay right there!”

“Don’t be that specific! It almost feels like that actually happened!”

He had actually seen this happen twice, as a result his statement felt genuine.

Rom seemed rather displeased as he clutched his arm and neck as if he felt himself getting cut down in another dimension.

Even as they had this exchange, the battle continued.

Although Subaru had warned Rom with his frivolous talk, in truth there were no openings to interfere in the battle.

―Countless lumps of ice formed one after another and were blasted all over the room.

Their sizes varied, the larger ones were about the size of a head, and the smaller ones were roughly fist-sized. They were all fired with the speed of a full power pitch, and it was clear just how dangerous they were.

However, even as she was surrounded by all of this ice, Elsa’s movements now that she had lost her magic-negating cloak had transcended the realm of common sense.

She would twist her body, lower herself to the ground as if crawling, and occasionally even defy gravity by running the walls. If she judged that even this wouldn’t suffice, she would strike the ice with her blade, shattering the white crystals. She matched quantity with overwhelming quality, her skill was exceptional.

“You handle yourself well for a girl.”

Even Puck had to admire her combat sense that could only be described as godlike.

His mutter caused Elsa to smile broadly even in the midst of that chaotic battle.

“Oh my. It’s been quite a while since I was last regarded as a simple girl.”

“Most of my opponents might as well be babies from my perspective. But even so, you’re so strong it’s almost pitiful.”

“It’s quite the honor to receive praise from a spirit.”

Genuinely delighted this compliment, she swept away the ice surrounding her with her blade.

He must have fired close to a hundred by now, but besides that first bombardment not a single one connected.

Puck was pressuring her with the sheer quantity of his offense, but he was unable to land a decisive blow.

“At this rate, won’t they run out of MP and lose?”

As he pictured a reversal in offense and defense, Subaru pointed out that a lengthy battle would prove disadvantageous.

However, Rom shook his head.

“I don’t know what this Empi is, but there’s no need to worry about a spirit user running out of mana in battle.”

“No need to worry about them running out of mana…?”

“Unlike magic users, spirit users do not use the mana within them, but rather the mana around them. Unless the world itself runs dry, a spirit user will never run out of mana.”

“They’ve got unlimited gasoline so they can rev their engines as much as they please, huh. Quite a cheat.”

Rom cocked his head, Subaru’s response was completely incomprehensible to him.

He then continued with his head still tilted, “But,”

“There’s also the matter of how long the spirit can remain corporeal. Once the spirit is gone, the situation might change drastically.”

“Crap, that’s right… It’s almost five, isn’t it?!”

In the first world, Puck went to sleep not long after sunset.

It hadn’t been that long since the fight started, but surely throwing around that much magic must have been a significant drain on his mana reserves or whatever.

Subaru’s worries,

“Ah, this is bad. I’m getting a little drowsy. Actually, I was fighting in my sleep just now.”

“Hey, Puck! Get it together!”

“… Hah! I’m up! I’m awake! I’m definitely not sleeping!”

“His voice is so low, isn’t that conversation super concerning?!”

Seemed to be right on the mark.

Puck seemed to be nodding off already, and he could see that Not-Satella who had Puck on her shoulder was also starting to look anxious.

“Just when it was getting good. You’re not even paying attention, how cold.”

“That’s the problem with being a popular guy. The girls just won’t let you sleep. But staying up too late is terrible for your skin, you know?”

Bending her knees slightly, Elsa prepared to leap.

Anticipating this, Puck shrewdly winked at her and spoke.

“How about we go ahead and put an end to this? You must be tired of seeing the same old performance, right?”

“―My leg.”

The instant she tried to advance, she tipped forward and had to put out her hands to stop her fall.

Subaru stared in shock at this unbelievable screw up, the reason for which was at her feet.

Elsa’s right foot was stuck to the frozen floor.

The shattered ice had slowly piled up, and had now been used to trap her foot.

“It’s not like I was just firing randomly, you know?”

“… So you’ve got me, is that right?”

“Just think of it as the difference in experience, I believe this is worthy of some praise. Good night.”

As he threw his chest out, Puck’s small body started to waver.

He thrust his hands out in front him, a pose that suggested he was about to use a killer technique, and started gathering up the largest amount of magic thus far― Even Subaru could see it radiating from him.

That magical power did not turn into ice, it was fired as pure destructive energy.

The bluish white light froze everything in its path, and dyed the loot house white in one fell swoop.

The energy passed through Elsa and slammed into the entrance to the loot house, blowing away the poorly fitted door. The freezing waves left in the aftermath even reached outside.

Once that magnificent light passed through, all that was left was frost. The goods, the furniture, the counter, everything was completely frozen.

Naturally, anyone who took a direct hit would inevitably be turned into an ice sculpture.

However―

“You’re joking…”

“I’m afraid not. Aah, splendid. I thought I was going to die.”

If she had taken it head on, perhaps.

“… You’re a girl, so I can’t really praise that sort of thing.”

She had managed to avoid his last resort, but Puck wasn’t any angrier than his words suggested. He truly was displeased by the act itself.

―Subaru could see blood dripping, and traces of steam coming off the frozen floor.

The source of the blood was Elsa’s right foot. She was standing barefoot just barely out of the path of Puck’s attack, and a large amount of blood was pouring out of her right foot.

It was only natural. After all, she had sliced off the sole of her foot.

“I was in such a hurry I almost chopped the whole thing off, that was a close one.”

“But even that amount ought to be quite painful.”

“Yes, I suppose you’re correct. It is painful. Wonderful. I feel alive. Now…”

In response to Puck’s concerned words, Elsa nodded with an ecstatic look, and then raised her bleeding foot and pressed it against a nearby lump of ice with no hesitation.

It sounded like the air was cracking, Elsa moaned seductively after which she used her kukri knife to smooth the ice’s surface. 

With that, she managed to stop the bleeding. She had recklessly attached a part of the ice to her sole.

“It’s a little hard to move, but it’s enough.”

Her ice shoe produced a stiff sound as she tested it against the ground, she then smiled even more cheerfully.

The fact that she was so addicted to battle that she didn’t even mind mutilating herself left Subaru speechless, but it left an even bigger impression on Puck and Not-Satella who were facing her.

“Puck, can you continue?”

“Sorry, I’m really sleepy. I underestimated her a bit. I used up too much mana, gonna disappear.” 

When Puck responded to her murmur, his voice had for the first time lost its composure.

The cat on her shoulder, by her silver hair, started to emit a faint glow and looked as though he could disappear at any moment. He was out of time.

“I’ll handle this somehow, so get some rest for now. Thank you.”

“Should anything happen to you, I’ll act in accordance with the contract. ― If it comes down to it, wring your Od to draw me out.”

As if urged on by Not-Satella’s tender voice, Puck’s body suddenly scattered and vanished.

Every single person in that room lamented his retreat, but the one who was most disappointed was,

“―Aah, he’s gone. How terribly unfortunate.”

Elsa, who had been fighting for her life.

She once again readied her blade, and moved toward Not-Satella with high-pitched footsteps.

In response, Not-Satella started forming icicles one after another, but she couldn’t form nearly as many as Puck had.

But considering Elsa’s mobility had dropped, their chances of winning were probably still fifty-fifty.

“We can’t just stand around staring anymore.”

Rom gripped his club and readied himself, perhaps he thought the situation looked bad.

When Subaru silently looked at him, he shrugged his shoulders,

“We don’t know if she can win without assistance. So if we just sit around and watch, we’re just missing our chance… You understand, right, Felt?”.

“Yeah, I get it. Even if we choose to run, we’ve got to do it right now.”

Felt hadn’t spoken a word since Elsa first made her threat.

She stood next to Rom who seemed ready to fight, and then suddenly turned to Subaru.

“About earlier… You kinda saved me.”

“―Ah?”

“Just a little, mind you. Also, don’t call me a kid. Despite how I look, I’m actually fifteen. Probably around the same as you.”

“… I’m eighteen this year. I can drive and get married.”

“You don’t look it! You look like a kid, you gotta live a life that shows on your face more!”

On top of being a shut-in, he also lived a life without major ups and downs..

But still, he felt that his current situation had way too many gigantic ups and downs.

As the two resolved themselves and observed the state of the battle, all Subaru could do was watch.

He was probably the weakest one there. And it wasn’t merely fighting strength that he lacked…

“My legs are trembling, they won’t move… I don’t even have the resolve.”

It was more than a problem of being unqualified, he couldn’t even get involved.

.Rom had his arms, Felt had her legs, and Satella had her magic, they could use these to fight. However, Elsa’s abnormality transcended all of these.

Truly―

“She’s getting overwhelmed.”

Rom’s candid impression said it all.

Not-Satella continued to fire an endless barrage of ice, but they were all smashed apart by Elsa’s blade dance.

Elsa sprang toward her, slashing as if she was dancing, and in response Not-Satella halted her attack to block with her ice shield and then froze the ground underneath her to slide away, barely avoiding the subsequent attacks.

If she managed to gain some distance she would once again go on the offensive with her ice barrage, but Elsa didn’t seem like the kind of opponent who’d fall for the same trick twice.

The next time she approached Not-Satella, Subaru would probably end up seeing a sight he never wanted to see again.

“Here goes―!”

Probably imagining the same thing, Rom roared as he joined the battle.

He raised his club and produced a powerful wind as he swung it, a bit of the hair on the back of Elsa’s head got caught up in this as she ducked.

“Oh dear, it’s rather boorish to cut in on a dance.”

“If you wanna dance that bad, I’ll make you dance the finest dance of all! Here, round and round!”

Rom thrust his spiked club at her, changing the scope of his attack from a line to a point.

This sudden unconventional attack was aimed at Elsa’s throat, and the end the result froze Rom’s throat.

“What the hell?!”

“Because you’re so strong, I can even do this.”

Elsa was on her tiptoes, standing on the tip of his club.

There was a divinely inspired sense of balance to this disparity in power, the first time such acrobatics were performed. Before this miraculous balance could collapse, Elsa swung her blade horizontally.

It was aimed at Rom’s temple, the force was such that a direct hit would blow the top of his head off.

“As if I’d let you―!”

Clang, a small knife was thrown into her blade’s path, hitting it.

The impact from directly below slightly disturbed the blade’s movement, and the side of the blade slammed into his head, still retaining its speed. There was the dull sound of steel striking bone, and Rom’s body collapsed to the side.

“Bad girl.”

“―Ah.”

Elsa landed casually, and turned her gaze toward Felt.

Felt’s small knife had saved Rom from a fatal slash. She had probably been aiming at Elsa’s arm, but it seemed her haste threw off her aim.

But it could also be said that this just barely saved Rom’s life.

“You have neither the resolve nor the strength to fight. That being the case, you should have just cowered in the corner, making yourself small.”

With high-pitched footsteps, Elsa’s dark figure seemed to be gliding as she instantly appeared before Felt.

Rom was unconscious from the blow to his head, and since Not-Satella had put some distance between them, she would not make it in time. Felt herself was paralyzed, like a frog in a snake’s sights.

“Haidaraaaa―!”

So the only one who could grab her small body and leap out of the way was the one who had been cowering in terror right next to her.

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Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 18: Battle In The Loot House

They saw Subaru’s breath catch, and he realized what a mistake he had made.

This was where he needed to brush things off with a casual joke like he had been doing, but instead his complete lack of communication ability had him displaying his weakness for all to see.

In a negotiation, there was nothing that could make you lose your advantage quite like having your weakness exposed.

As a result, the edges of Felt’s mouth relaxed in response to Subaru’s silence.

“The woman who hired me didn’t want to say anything either, and it looks like it’s the same for you, huh?”

“… Thievery is pretty immoral in itself, so naturally anyone involved in it would have some shady business going on.”

“But you’re the shadiest one here. Thinking about it clearly, what you’re trying to do is to snatch away a stolen item requested by someone else.”

With the cruelty of a cat toying with its prey, Felt incessantly attacked Subaru’s incompetence.

She then coldly addressed him with a sadistic smile,

“What is this insignia anyway? The truth is it’s worth way more than it looks. That’s why you all want it, right? In other words, it’s worth more than a meteor.”

“Wait, Felt. That way of thinking is really dangerous. I can pretty much guess at what you’re going to say next thanks to my gamer brain, but… You’d better leave it at that.”

Subaru saw her miser gauge start to fill up, and tried to keep her in check even as he broke into a cold sweat. At this rate, she’d just keep on raising her price.

If that happened, the negotiation would drag on and they’d walk right into the BAD END waiting for them.

“It’s more than twenty holy gold coins, just take the deal! Don’t try for more than that! El… The one who hired you can’t go over twenty either! You’re not going to get more!”

“And why do you know that?”

“Ah…”

“You’re slipping up. ―So you know her.”

How easy it would be if he could just declare that he knew because of Return By Death.

But even if he actually tried explaining it, there’s no way she’d believe him.

The suspicion in her eyes was getting deeper, she probably wouldn’t believe a word he said at this point.

If it was going to turn out like this, he’d be better off just snatching the insignia from her, but,

“This muscly old man’s going to be a problem if I try that…”

“She got you good, kid. Pretty pathetic to be outwitted by a girl younger than you.”

“It’s probably because of how you raised her. Her stubbornness could make me cry.”

If he resorted to violence, he’d just get flattened by Rom.

Even supposing he were able to snatch it away from her, he didn’t think he could outrun her.

If it came to a long distance race, Subaru’s ability was pretty low even among his classmates.

No matter how much he placed in the top three elsewhere, he could only ever manage consolation prizes in long distance runs which meant he would generally never get an A.

“Felt, please…”

“Begging won’t do you any good. I acknowledge your right to negotiate, but it’s hardly fair to end things without even hearing the other party out, right? But it’d be a different matter if you could tell me what this thing is really worth and produce adequate compensation.”

Her pressing eyes didn’t contain the slightest hint of mercy or compassion.

Her eyes were completely focused on him, hoping to deduce the truth from his behavior. However, it wouldn’t be possible to ascertain the insignia’s value no matter how much she started at him 

But the reason he wanted the insignia was different from Elsa’s, he just wanted to repay a favor.

Beyond that he only knew what it looked like, that it had a jewel embedded in it, he didn’t know anything Felt didn’t.

Thus, it would not be possible for him to give her the response she desired.

“The reason I want that insignia… Is so I can return it to its owner.”

“―Hah?”

That’s why, with all of his sincerity, he revealed the truth

“I want to return it to its owner. That’s why I want it. That’s all.”

As her eyes widened, Subaru raised his head and repeated his declaration.

Her crimson eyes were filled with hostility as she glared at him, but even so Subaru could only remain silent.

He didn’t have the leeway to crack jokes, he sincerely got on his knees and lowered his head.

“… Felt. It doesn’t look like the kid’s lying.”

“Don’t be fooled, old man. He’s clearly screwing around. Return it to its owner? As if he’d pay such a large sum to get it back from the person who stole it, that’s absurd. It’d be over if he just brought a guard with him to apprehend me.”

He couldn’t do that.

Not-Satella didn’t want guards involved in this.

That’s why he even refused Reinhard’s offer to help.

If it was something inconvenient for her, then Subaru wouldn’t do it.

That was all he could do, his sincere response to her for saving his life.

“You need to come up with something better if you want to trick me. I won’t fall for it no matter how serious you act. Otherwise I… Right. I won’t fall for it.”

“Felt…”

Felt’s voice was hoarse, as if she was trying to get something off her mind.

Rom seemed concerned, perhaps his pained expression was because he understood what she was feeling.

Either way, all Subaru knew was that her obstinate attitude meant she wasn’t going to change her mind.

In other words, this negotiation had ended in failure.

“―Who’s there?”

At that moment, Rom’s expression changed as he glared at the entrance to the loot house.

Subaru, still on his knees with his head lowered, was currently in shock from the breakdown in negotiations.

Because of this, his mind’s response was just a little too late.

There were several sharp knocks, and Rom silently turned around.

His gaze was directed at Felt, who nodded. She pointed to herself,

“It might be my client.―Seems kinda early, though.”

She headed toward the door as she said this, she reached for the door with her anger still evident in her expression.

As Subaru watched her from behind, he suddenly felt a terrible sense of unease well up within him.

Loot house, knock, Felt’s client― There was only one answer that fit.

“―Don’t open it! We’ll be killed!!”

This was earlier than expected. The bit of light pouring in from the window was still fairly bright, that orange shade was too brilliant for the sun to have set. 

In both the first and second worlds, the despair came after the sun went down.

It wasn’t as if he was taking things lightly because he thought he had time.

But even so, this was still too soon.

―He still hadn’t managed to change anything about this world.

His scream filled with grim determination was futile, he was unable to stop Felt from opening the door.

With the door open, the loot house’s dim interior was faintly illuminated by the evening glow.

And then,

“―Kill you? I wouldn’t do something that drastic without warning.”

A silver-haired girl entered the loot house with a sour look on her face.

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“Thank goodness you’re here… You’re not getting away this time.”

Felt wordlessly backed away at the sight of the silver-haired girl―Not-Satella.

She had a mortified expression as she retreated, and her lips warped in annoyance.

“You really are a stubborn woman.”

“You’re quite impertinent for a thief. I won’t hurt you if you hand it over quietly.”

While Felt seemed to be grinding her teeth, Not-Satella’s voice was extremely cold.

Subaru felt the temperature of the room drop rapidly, and couldn’t help but shiver at the changing atmosphere.

―Why is Not-Satella here?!

The sun was just now setting, from what he’d previously experienced, she shouldn’t have even reached the entrance to the slums at this point in time.

And from there, gathering information would take almost two hours. And only then would she reach the loot house, that was how it went on his first attempt.

“So basically, she would have gotten here this quickly if I weren’t with her?”

If she hadn’t healed him in that alley, she would have just made it here on her own. And this quickly.

Subaru couldn’t describe how he felt now that there was proof of his uselessness that transcended space and time.

Even as Subaru felt this emptiness, the situation continued to progress without him.

Felt had already crossed the center of the room and reached the back as she continued to retreat, and Not-Satella smoothly blocked the path to the door as she turned her palm toward them.

The magic being gathered in her palm caused the air to crackle faintly. It seemed like ice magic was her specialty, the room’s temperature dropped as she formed icicles.

“I have but one demand. ―Return my insignia. It’s important to me.”

There were six icicles floating in the air. Their tips were rounded, so their power came from their weight rather than their sharpness. But if she scored a direct hit, the damage would definitely be on an entirely different level from those rocks.

Of course, Subaru himself was one of her targets and this caused him to break out in a cold sweat, all he could do was watch what happened silently so as to not provoke her.

“… Old man.”

“I can’t move. You picked up something troublesome and someone troublesome came with it, Felt.”

Felt quietly called to him, but Rom shook his head, his giant body filled with tension.

The familiar club had appeared in his hand at some point, but his arm didn’t look like he could swing it. As if lost, as if bewildered, he alternated between loosening and tightening his grip on it.

“The fight hasn’t even started and you’re giving up?”

“I wouldn’t withdraw if she were just some magic user, but… She’s trouble.”

Rom chided Felt for her provocation.

His gray eyes narrowed slightly as he stared at Not-Satella who had icicles at the ready.

His eyes were filled with strong caution and even stronger reverence as he looked down at her.

“Young lady… You’re an elf, aren’t you?”

Rom asked with trembling lips, causing Subaru to look up instinctively.

In this sort of fantasy world, elves were an indispensable race.

They had long ears, long lives, and were beautiful.

Rom’s question caused Not-Satella to close her eyes briefly, after which she sighed,

“That’s not quite right.― I’m actually only half elf.”

She spoke as if this confession was painful, and Subaru knit his brows at this.

But the other two had much bigger reactions.

Felt’s reaction was especially striking, she shuddered as she retreated even further,

“Half-elf… And silver hair?! Don’t tell me…”

“It’s an accidental resemblance! … I find it quite bothersome.’

Subaru didn’t understand their exchange, but he did to some extent get that it was one Not-Satella really didn’t want to deal with.

He didn’t know what exactly she was denying, but it didn’t seem to calm Felt down at all.

Rather, she turned her gaze toward Subaru who was just standing there in silence, and her red eyes were filled with intense animosity as she glared at him.

Subaru’s face stiffened in confusion, and she laughed as if mocking herself.

“So you were playing me all along, huh?”

“What?”

“I thought it was weird when you started talking about returning it to the owner and stuff. Stopping me from hiring those guys in the alley to block her was part of the plan too, wasn’t it? You were with her from the start.”

Her questions were filled with resentment, and Subaru realized she had misunderstood the situation.

But he also realized something else, he was now closer to piecing together why Not-Satella had arrived so early.

Originally, she wouldn’t have made it this soon after all. Right, normally the guys Felt hired would meddle with her and delay her arrival.

That didn’t happen this time thanks to Subaru, and Not-Satella was able to appear earlier than usual.

From a causal perspective he was the main reason this happened, so Felt’s anger wasn’t exactly misplaced. In truth, the situation was starting to go the way he hoped.

Unless Felt and Rom had some trick up their sleeve, they would have no choice but to return the insignia to Not-Satella.

To be honest, Subaru wanted to obtain the insignia and return it to her himself, but he wouldn’t complain as long as it ended up in her hands.

If things kept going like this, one could probably call it the second best plan. However,

“…? What do you mean? You’re not comrades?”

Not-Satella reacted to the apparent break up between Felt and Subaru.

In response to Not-Satella’s confusion, Felt laughed scornfully, “Hah”

“Just drop the act already. I’ve been cornered. How about you just take the insignia back and laugh at my stupidity?”

“You’re caving too easily. All that just because you’re at a slight disadvantage?”

“That’s what you have to say after landing me in this situation? Aah, damn it. I’ve been had!”

Felt angrily scratched at her blonde hair and groaned in frustration.

The crease in Not-Satella’s brow deepened further as she watched this completely unladylike behavior.

Seeing that they weren’t quite on the same wavelength, Subaru clapped his hands and intervened,

“Well, things are just getting complicated so let’s leave it at that. Give that insignia back, Felt. And Sate… You, leave this place quickly. Don’t let anyone steal from you again.”

“Why are you acting nice all of a sudden? I don’t get it…”

“I don’t understand either. What’s with you?”

His plan to smoothly intervene had failed magnificently.

It had completely backfired, he had drawn their attention to him and become the focus of their ire.

It’d be too hard to explain, so he turned to Rom for help, but he crossed his thick arms,

“Our opponent uses the spirit arts, not ordinary magic. Can’t make any careless moves.”

He ended up misunderstanding Subaru’s intent and denied him his aid.

Subaru was interested in the new term Rom had casually used, but the sharp gazes from the two girls were unbearable.

He had to get out of this somehow―The moment he glanced at the door, 

―A shadow stealthily approached the silver-haired girl from behind, as if gliding.

“―Puck! Block it!”

A sensual smile passed through the room’s shadows, and a silver glint that seemed to be squirming lunged at the girl’s white neck.

In an instant, the girl’s head was torn off as Subaru watched with wide eyes― That’s probably what would have happened originally.

―A crack.

What hit his eardrums was not the sound of steal severing bone, but that of steel smashing glass.

Not-Satella lowered her body slightly, and a magic circle that glowed a pale blue manifested behind her head.

The knife was stopped when it slammed into it head on, the magic circle had perfectly protected her neck from the blade.

“Puck…”

“That truly was by a hair’s breadth.”

Not-Satella leapt forward and turned around.

Following after her was her silver hair, and a small animal with gray fur peeked out of it from around her shoulder.

Puck hummed in pride and glanced at Subaru,

“Right in the nick of time, you saved us.”

“I’m the one who’s been saved. Thank you.”

Puck’s gesture was akin to a thumbs up, and in response Subaru offered a frail thumbs up as well.

Satella had appeared before sundown―Meaning her reliable backup was still on the clock.

Even though he had been called so suddenly, Puck was able to protect her with his unexpectedly splendid performance.

As for the assailant whose surprise attack was blocked,

“―A spirit, you’re a spirit, yes? Fufufu, wonderful. I’ve never killed a spirit before.”

The familiar murderer raised her kukri knife up to her face that was filled with ecstasy―It was Elsa.

Her sudden appearance put Not-Satella and Subaru on guard. However, the first one to take action in response wasn’t either of them.

“Hey, what’s this about?!”

Felt yelled as she stepped forward.

She pointed at Elsa and pulled the insignia out of her bosom.

“I thought your job was to purchase the insignia. Turning this place into a sea of blood wasn’t part of the deal!”

“Purchasing that insignia is indeed my job. But negotiating won’t be possible since you’ve also brought the owner along, so I’ve decided to change my plans.”

Felt’s face had turned red with rage, but faced with Elsa’s gaze full of killing intent she instinctively stepped back. Elsa looked down at her as if she found her fear adorable,

“I’ll massacre everyone in here, and then collect the insignia.”

Elsa’s smile was like that of a loving mother as she made this cruel declaration, she then tilted her head,

“―You couldn’t do your job properly. It’s only natural you’d be cast aside.”

“―!”

Felt’s face warped in agony, not from fear but from a different emotion.

Subaru didn’t know if Elsa’s words touched a sore spot. He didn’t know, but

“Quit screwing around, damn it―!!”

It angered him enough to make him forget about the difference in their ability and yell at her.

Elsa looked at Subaru in surprise. Felt, Rom, and Not-Satella were no different. But the one who was most surprised of all was Subaru himself.

He himself didn’t understand why he suddenly flew off the handle.

He didn’t understand, so he just let his emotions take over and spilled everything.

“Is it really that fun to pick on a little kid?! You damned bowel-loving sadist!! Also, your appearance was way too sudden, were you just waiting outside for the right timing or what?! You made me celebrate prematurely because it looked like things could go smoothly, you’re too damned scary, I really didn’t want to meet you! Just how many horribly painful, tear-inducing memories do you think I’ve got?! If I had some change for every time I got torn up by a blade, I’d be a damned millionaire! That was an exaggeration!”

“… What are you saying?”

“My tension and rage meters are maxed, so I’ve got no clue what I’m saying either! That’s how my day’s been, so how are you guys doing? And please don’t change the channel.”

In response to Subaru’s nonsensical screaming, Elsa let out a small sigh of exasperation which was rather unusual for her.

Subaru found her attitude strangely hurtful, and as he sent spittle flying.

“Stalling complete― Do it, Puck!!”

“That was magnificently awkward.―I’d better live up to your expectations.”

As Subaru stamped his foot, an aloof voice responded to him causing Elsa to look up.

Sharp icicles surrounded her in every direction ― There were more than twenty of them.

“Seems I haven’t even introduced myself, young lady. My name is Puck.―Remember that name in the afterlife.”

In an instant, Elsa was bombarded by icicles from every direction.

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 17: Negotiation In The Loot House

Having reached this point, Subaru decided that beating around the bush would only worsen her impression of him.

There was also the fact that Elsa was prowling around the area, so he wanted to finish this up as soon as possible. However, this caused Felt to become even more cautious.

She placed her hand on her chest, presumably where she was keeping the insignia.

“How do you know that I stole an insignia? I don’t imagine the one who requested it would have leaked it, and I only just stole it. It certainly isn’t the sort of thing you’d just happen to hear.”

“Now that you mention it, that was far too impatient. I’m so damned careless!”

“…  You can’t possibly negotiate with anyone if you show your hand that easily. You crumbled way too easily to a bit of pressure.”

As Subaru stressed over his thoughtless blunder, the hostility left Felt’s face.

Subaru crouched down with his head in his knees and Felt knelt down to meet his gaze as she spoke, “Well?”

“So you want to purchase this insignia, what’s that about? You’re not with the woman who made the request, right? A business rival or something?”

“I guess you could call her a business rival, but there’s probably a mountain of things that doesn’t cover?”

“I don’t get it. Well, I don’t really care about that anyway.”

As Subaru agonized over how to talk himself out of this one, Felt seemed indifferent as she laughed it off. She then extracted the draconic insignia from her bosom.

In her hand was the insignia, the jewel within it glowing red. She dangled it before him as if to flaunt it,

“I’ll just sell it to whoever can offer me the highest price. That woman will probably be mad if I scrap her request, though.”

“It’s even possible she’ll go crazy, but― Never mind, I’m just talking to myself.”

Setting aside these words that would only complicate things, Subaru once again cleared his throat and donned a serious expression,

“So, you’re going to allow me to negotiate for it?”

“I’ll hear anyone out so long as they can bring me some profit. Ain’t it obvious?”

“Talk about a strong will… I’m going to be offering an item worth more than twenty holy gold coins. I would like to use it to purchase your insignia.”

“Hmm, I see. You’re offering quite a bit, huh. That’d certainly reward my efforts… But your rival’s offering that much too, you know?”

“Yeah, right. The deal was ten holy gold coins. Too much greed is going to kill you, you know? Seriously.”

Practically speaking, he did think that that was probably why the first massacre happened. Cause of death: Greed.

Since he even knew the exact number, she must have thought that her tricks wouldn’t work. After her eyes widened slightly, she scratched her head in resignation,

“What, you even know that much? … That’s right, it was ten holy gold coins. Even so, once she learns she’s got a rival, she’s bound to offer more, isn’t that right?”

“That much is true, you know?” The edges of the perhaps fourteen or fifteen year old girl’s lips curled upward.

She sure is sly, as Subaru felt a certain degree of admiration toward her boldness he was also excited at the prospect of negotiating from a superior position like this.

“I don’t suppose you’d listen if I asked to make the deal right here and now?”

“Obviously. I mean, the stuff you said earlier is pretty suspect too. I definitely didn’t mishear you, and what you said was not that you have twenty holy gold coins, but rather something worth that much. It’s unfair for only one side to know what cards are being played in a negotiation, right?”

“I think what really matters in a negotiation is how much you can prepare beforehand, but… I suppose it’s also true that you can’t make a decision without knowing what I’ve got.”

He didn’t want to waste time with her grumbling.

Making a decision, he pulled this negotiation’s key item, his cell phone, out of his breast pocket.

The sight of this small contraption caused Felt to raise her eyebrow slightly, but that was it. As usual, she didn’t really care unless there was a clear connection to money.

“That’s supposed to be worth twenty holy gold coins? Doesn’t look any different from a hand mirror or something to me.”

“This is one of those ‘Meteor’ things that are all the rage these days. It can freeze a moment in time. Alright, now check this out―NATSUKI FLASH times eight!!”

Subaru turned on continuous shooting mode, causing mechanical sounds and flashes of light to emanate in rapid succession.

White light filled the alley, and as the light covered her, Felt reacted to the sounds and flashes with a rather unfeminine shriek.

Subaru was happy to have gotten a better reaction than last time, and quickly thrust the screen before her when it looked like she wanted to complain. Her red eyes widened in surprise.

“This is the power of this meteor. It can produce exquisite pictures in this manner. And if you’ll let me add some PR speak, it’s the only one of its kind in this world. So, how about it?”

As Subaru looked down at her with pride, Felt hummed in response. She examined the phone in his hand closely, and once she’d looked it over, she nodded in understanding.

“… Doesn’t look like you’re lying. But is this supposed to be me?  You said it produced a clear picture of the world, but I think I’m prettier than this.”

“I get the feeling that you’ve got a fine base, but when the presentation is this bad there’s really nothing to be said… If we cleaned you up and put you in some nice clothes, you’d be like a totally different person, for sure.”

“That condescending attitude and the way you ended that sentence piss me off… Kinda makes me want to never show you that.”

He had needlessly provoked her, but Felt’s attitude seemed favorable..

But then, that these slum dwellers didn’t easily go along with others’ plans was one of their strengths.

Felt smiled sadistically at his proud expression,

“I’ll admit you’ve got something unusual there, but it’s still unclear how much it’s worth, you know? Let me warn you, I’m not so much of an airhead as to just accept everything the other party says, I’m not going to believe this thing is an easy twenty holy gold coins just like that.”

“… Well, that’s obvious. I wouldn’t really mind if your brain were a sponge, but I suppose we do need a third party’s opinion.”

It would have been nice to keep things going and settle it right here, but he did expect that it might not work. The problem now was who to use as a third party,

“Deep in the slums, there’s a place called the loot house. The place is as the name would suggest, I think it would be quickest to ask the weird old man in there. He appraises things fairly, you know? He’s got some experience, so he should be able to judge a meteor as well.”

“It comes to this after all…”

He also expected that she would end up suggesting this.

From her perspective the loot house was the place she was supposed to meet Elsa, and also a place that had a bodyguard she could rely on in case things got violent.

When you also added the appraisal of the meteor, there was no other choice. Despite this, Subaru really did wish to settle this before they reached the loot house.

“I’m fine with having the old man take a look, but…”

“You’re suddenly calling him an old man even though you’ve never even met him, you might end up regretting that, you know? He’s actually pretty scary if you’re rude to him.”

“Although he does seem to dote on a certain foul-mouthed girl, giving her milk and stuff…”

This was clearly irrelevant, but Subaru did feel like it was as if he was doting on his granddaughter.

Regardless, the problem wasn’t the person, but the location.

“Can you not call him out here or something? You can use my phone if you want.”

“Even if you ask me, I’ve no clue what I’m supposed to do.”

“That’s true, isn’t it.― I’ve only got family and stuff in here, anyway.”

And to pad his lonely contacts list, he also had the police station, fire department, ambulance, time announcement service, weather report etc. It was like a prideful loneliness.

“I don’t know what your issue is, but if you’re in a hurry let’s head there right away. There was a little something I wanted to do, though.”

“Something you wanted to do?”

“Ah, the owner was a lot more persistent than expected, it was a real pain to get away so I wanted to sabotage her. Give ‘em a little money and the guys around here will happily do it.”

“Alright, let’s go, right now, immediately, in a flash!”

As Felt started walking, Subaru started pushing her shoulders from behind and hurried her toward the loot house.

“What the hell?” She pouted as Subaru hurried her, congratulating himself for minimizing unnecessary damage.

To try to hinder Not-Satella while she was chasing after her insignia, there was a limit to how far you could go for a little money. If it meant being blasted by ice and writhing in pain, it was probably better to just stay home clutching their empty stomachs.

“But we’ll have him look quickly and then seal the deal on the spot.”

“Man, why are you in such a hurry? You’re getting pretty sweaty, live strong.”

“Looks like everyone around here says that, is it a slogan or something?!”

Subaru thought it ought to be revised to ‘live stubborn’.

Leaving such impressions behind, he headed to the loot house for the third time, in this fourth world.

―He’d get out immediately. He’d dash out of there. He’d leave even if he had to leave them behind.

Having come to this decision internally, Subaru was fire up and pushed hard at the shoulders before him.

“That hurts.”

“That hurts!”

He was kicked.

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“To the rats,”

“Where do they sell boric acid balls? Poison.”

“To the skeletons,”

“Digging is a lot harder than you’d expect, huh. Pitfall.”

“To the noble dragon we are,”

“It probably really exists since this is a fantasy world, but if I were to actually face it I definitely wouldn’t be able to do anything. But it certainly fascinates me, so I do want to meet it. I can’t deceive this wavering heart of mine, however I can’t say I dislike it. A real shitbag of a feeling.”

“Can’t you just say the password without adding all that crap?! You’re too damned annoying!”

The door opened from within with such force that it was like it had been kicked open, but Subaru had anticipated this and quickly leaped backward to avoid taking damage.

There was a giant standing there, too tall for the door and growling in frustration―It was the bald old man Rom whom Subaru was already familiar with. His face was red, it seemed like his blood pressure had spiked.

“You’ll have an aneurysm if too much blood flows into your head. That’s pretty dangerous even with modern medicine.”

“If you know it’s bad for me, don’t anger me! What’s with you?! I have to keep the place cleared out today, so you can’t enter! You can’t! Serves you right!”

Rom stamped his feet in a very immature fashion. But, what wiped the smirk off his face was,

“Aah, sorry. This guy’s one of my guests too. Let him in, old man.”

Felt who was hiding behind Subaru.

She looked at Rom with sympathy as his shoulders dropped in disappointment. She then cast a sidelong glance at Subaru whose expression was apathetic as he whistled,

“You’ve got a pretty horrible personality, huh. You’re the worst, and that’s putting it lightly.”

“I just somehow end up wanting to tease people. The type that shines when they get to mess around, huh… I thought I’d discovered my M tendencies, but it turns out I was an S as well…? Isn’t this the perfect offense and defense?!”

“I don’t know and it looks like it’d be best not to know so I’m not listening. We’re coming in, Rom.”

Felt slipped by Rom who was hanging his head and entered the loot house as if it were completely natural.

Rom’s gaze seeking an explanation was ignored, so he turned his confused face toward Subaru instead. Subaru nodded at his wrinkled face,

“This is why self-centered people are troublesome. Average fellows like us just get left behind, huh?”

“I’d like to start over from when I was teaching her what words meant… Get in quickly.”

Rom seemed to have given up on everything as he carelessly shrank his giant frame and went back in. Following him, Subaru entered as well, welcomed by the dusty interior.

Still cautious, he snuck a glance inward, but fortunately it didn’t look like Elsa or Not-Satella were lying in wait.

Felt casually sat at the counter, drinking some milk like she owned the place. She noticed his gaze,

“What? This is the only cold one, I’m not giving it to you.”

“Your shamelessness doesn’t bother you at all, huh. I’ll take some booze, old man.”

“You’re just as shameless as she is! I’m not giving you any! None at all!”

The floor creaked under Rom’s giant body as he ran to the other side of the counter to hide a box that seemed to contain his drinks. His turmoil almost inspired pity, and Subaru chuckled in response, “That was a joke.”

“I see, so that’s where the alcohol is. Now that I know where it is, it’s practically mine already…”

“You’re saying that out loud! To try to loot booze from the owner of the loot house, you wanna be lower than the lowest?!”

“Woah… You’ll make me blush. And it’s not like I’ll do the stealing myself. I’ll be hiring Felt.”

“Sorry, old man. I can’t turn down a job.”

“Will no one take my side?! Isn’t this my house?!”

By this point he was actually worried about Rom’s blood pressure, so he decided to stop teasing him.

Felt seemed disappointed since she was just getting into it, but Subaru brushed her off with an ingratiating smile and turned to the counter

He didn’t want to sit on these seats any longer than he had to, so he got the point right away.

“Alright, old man. We got sidetracked, but let’s get to the point.”

“Feels to me like that was mostly your fault, but… What do you want?”

“What I want to request is an appraisal, basically. I’d like you to put a price on this meteor I’ve brought and guarantee its value to Felt.”

Rom’s gray eyes became serious when the conversation turned to business.

He looked at Felt to confirm this, and returned his gaze to Subaru after she nodded.

His eyes suggested he wanted to see the item, and Subaru took it out of his pocket.

What first caught his eye was its metallic appearance. It looked like a toy in his oversized hands as he gently handled it.

“This is a meteor, huh. Even I’ve never seen one before.”

“There’s probably only one of this thing in the world. Also, it’s pretty delicate so handle it carefully. If it breaks, I’ll seriously have to die.”

Meaning a retry.

As he felt around its exterior, he gently opened the flip phone. Its startup sound was what first surprised him, and the wallpaper was the next surprise.

“This picture is…”

“I thought it was perfect timing, you see. To show you how effective this thing is, I decided to use a scene from Felt’s day as the wallpaper.”

The phone’s wallpaper had been set to one of the pictures of Felt he had just recently taken.

He picked the one he thought looked the cutest, and the image quality was decent as well so he thought it was pretty nice to look at.

Rom compared the picture with the real Felt who was sipping milk right next to him.

“What a surprise. I don’t think there’s anything out there that could produce such an excellent picture.”

“It’s a meteor that seals away a moment in time, you see. A human couldn’t draw anything even close to this, right? I could even photograph you if you’d like.”

“I’m interested, but it’s also somewhat frightening. It doesn’t shorten your life or anything, right?”

“Regardless of the age and regardless of the world, looking at a picture brings to mind that kind of superstition, huh…”

Rom’s reaction felt like it came from before the Taisho period. Next to him, Felt’s ears pricked up when they started talking about lifespan. Subaru reassured them by responding, “You’ll live to eighty just fine even if you get photographed”, and then used the camera function to photograph Rom.

Rom hummed as he looked at the picture.

Doing this before his very eyes was probably sufficient as a demonstration of the phone’s abilities. To begin with, he already knew from personal experience that Rom’s impression of the phone would be favorable.

“This is definitely something amazing. If I were selling this, I’d take at least fifteen… No, twenty holy gold coins. That’s how much it’s worth.”

Perhaps his smuggler spirit had been stimulated, his eyes were sparkling.

He dealt in stolen goods, Subaru wondered if such an occupation was really one to be proud of, but he was still relieved to receive Rom’s seal of approval.

Subaru turned to Felt, his nostrils flaring as his face filled with pride.

“Well, that’s what I’m offering you. Just as I said, an item worth more than twenty holy gold coins. I’d like to trade this for your insignia.”

“Seems you make that face often, it’s annoying.”

Perhaps unhappy that things went as he expected, Felt’s expression was one of displeasure. But still, that didn’t change the fact that this meant she had a windfall coming her way.

Her gaze moved toward the cell phone in Rom’s hand,

“Well, I’m definitely happy now that I have a guarantee that this thing can make me some money. It looks like I don’t need to doubt your claim of twenty holy gold coins either. Alright, I accept the card you’re playing.”

“Right?! Okay, negotiations went off without a hitch. Selling it is up to you, do your best! Anyway, I’m in a hurry, so I’ll be taking my leave now…”

He approached Felt in a hurry and extended his hand, seeking the insignia.

However, his palm was gently pushed away.

When Subaru raised his eyebrow, Felt brought her face close to his,

“Hold on a moment. Why are you in such a hurry?”

“It’s not like I’m in a hurry or anything? A-Also, your face is too close.”

“What, you’re the sort that gets shy when a girl gets close to you?”

“Nah, you probably haven’t bathed in several days so there’s this terrible stench.”

She walloped his jaw from directly below.

The pain of biting his tongue brought tears to Subaru’s eyes as he recoiled.

“You sure don’t go easy on the girls, huh?!”

“And you, can’t you take a little joke?! I’m already shedding blood here!”

The cut in his mouth was fairly deep, and the metallic taste brought back some unpleasant feelings.

Felt’s face turned red, and she covered her face with her shoulder-length hair.

“Do I really smell that much…”

“I just said that to hide my embarrassment, is what I’d like to tell you but I can’t lie to myself.”

He turned his face away, still teary-eyed, and collapsed on the spot, his teary form looking rather effeminate. The triviality of this act sent Felt beyond the point of anger, and she simply took deep breaths with her fingers on her forehead.

“Alright. Hold on a moment. Let’s get back to what we were talking about. Calm down, cool off.”

“What we were talking about, huh. Yeah, that’s right. For now, I think it’d be best to start cleaning up around your bed. There’s quite a bit of garbage around there, so even when you sleep the stink…”

“How about we forget about my stench and get back to the other thing?!”

“… You… Sure kick, quickly…”

She kicked forward in embarrassment, and scored a clean hit on Subaru’s jaw due to the position he was crouching in. He didn’t bite his tongue this time, but he hadn’t even stopped bleeding yet, and the second impact caused even more blood to pour out.

“Drinking too much blood makes me feel absolutely horrible…”

“If you’ve learned your lesson, take our conversation more seriously. Well, getting back to our return to the topic at hand, I’ll ask you again, why are you in such a hurry?”

She extinguished the anger from her expression, and looked as cold as she could as she asked this.

Rom read the mood and remained silent, so he couldn’t look to him for help. Subaru shrugged his shoulders in resignation,

“Life doesn’t last forever. Every second is precious, I don’t want to waste any…”

“Aah, right, right. That’s enough of that. Hey…”

Subaru attempted to cover things up, but Felt stopped him in his tracks.

Her red eyes narrowed, and with a detached attitude she finally pierced the heart of the matter.

“To begin with, why do you even want this insignia?”

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 16: Negotiation In The Slums

Having returned to the trading street, Subaru immediately started trying his hardest to locate Not-Satella..

Although, all he could really do was stare into the crowd with eyes as wide as dinner plates. In the third world, he wasn’t very far from the fruit shop when he encountered her, so he decided to position himself around there for now. Subaru could see the shopkeeper’s face in the corner of his vision and his expression seemed rather stern.

“Our meeting didn’t go that well this time… But I know that you’re actually a great guy deep down! I know it!”

Subaru directed a smile and a thumbs up at him, and the shopkeeper immediately averted his eyes with an expression that looked like he’d seen something unpleasant.

Subaru felt somewhat lonely as he withdrew his thumb, and once again directed his gaze toward the street.

The street was swarmed with all sorts of people as usual.

Diverse inhabitants of a fantasy world, and among them Subaru saw what one could perhaps call a beastman, a bipedal dog-like being that had incredibly fluffy fur which caused him to freak out. He wanted to feel it, really badly.

“What’s with that loveliness… They’ve already won at birth, just like Reinhard or Not-Satella, it’s sinful.”

Their gait was tottering due to their short stature, giving them the charm of a small animal.

“Kh… Calm down, my right arm… This isn’t the time to feel them up, have you forgotten why we’re here?!”

He somehow gained control of his arm that was going to reach for that white fur, and after he regretfully watched them walk away, he returned his gaze to its original position.

However, it had already been almost ten minutes since he started watching the road, and he didn’t find anyone that looked like her. Confirming the time on his phone, he found that it had almost been an hour since his reset.

“My sense of time feels off, but going off my memories it’d be weird if the theft hasn’t happened by now…”

As he said this, an unpleasant premonition suddenly flashed through his mind.

Once he felt the chill of doubt, there was no escaping it. Subaru scratched his head and let out various ‘Aahs’ and ‘Oohs’, and having no other choice, he walked toward the stall before him. 

“Hey, old man.”

“What, broke kid.”

Standing before him was the owner of the fruit shop, clearly annoyed that Subaru dared to show his face again as he responded.

True or not, that was a pretty harsh way of saying it Subaru thought as he forced a smile, and without being discouraged,

“It’s true that I’m broke so I won’t deny it, but… There’s something I wanna ask you, old man. Has there been a pickpocketing incident around here?”

“You’ve got some nerve asking questions without even buying anything… Also, too bad, but that sort of thing is really nothing unusual.”

“Seriously?!”

Subaru couldn’t help but raise his voice in surprise at this mean-spirited response. But it wasn’t as if he didn’t understand. To begin with, the loot house was a place where stolen items from all over the capital were gathered. There was enough theft going on to fill that giant storehouse, which gave an idea as to the level of public order around here.

“Does this mean I’m out of luck…?”

“―But, I do remember the commotion just now since it was unusual. There were two or three blasts of magic, you see. Have a look.”

He leaned out of his stall and pointed to the left, at a stall about four spaces away. Subaru’s line of sight followed and,

“Woah, incredible.”

“Those icicles pierced that wall like arrows and left that damage. They disappeared immediately, though.”

Right next to the stall was the entrance to a narrow alley, and one of its walls had holes bored into it.

There were four of them, and each one was around the size of a 500-yen coin. Since they were able to piece a stone wall, the thought of their speed and power at the moment of impact sent a chill down his spine.

“This isn’t like those ice rocks she fired before… I wonder if she’s angrier this time.”

If he approached her carelessly, he might end up getting blasted with them himself. The thought of this caused a cold sweat to form on his forehead.

“But this means I was too late this time too.”

Setting aside his frightening imaginations, he wiped the sweat off his forehead as he muttered this.

Not-Satella was most likely the one who left these marks behind. If it was a theft involving her, it was probably alright to assume that Felt had snatched the insignia from her.

That being the case, it meant that he had lost the means to link up with Not-Satella.

At least, there was no surefire way to meet her as far as Subaru knew.

In other words, what he ought to prioritize was,

“Meeting up with Felt who has the insignia, huh. I’d like to get to her before she reaches the loot house, and trade my phone for the insignia on the spot if possible.”

He truly did not want to approach the loot house, considering he had been slaughtered there twice.

Strictly speaking, what he actually wanted to avoid was getting involved with Elsa there.

“It’ll just be a repeat of the first time if I’m too late. Having said that, reaching Rom first and waiting for Felt would be no different from the second time.”

So the crucial point was Felt’s location.

At the moment, she was probably desperately running around in order to shake Not-Satella off. Of course it wasn’t like she could run forever so he figured it should be possible to catch her somewhere, but such a thing would prove extremely difficult for Subaru who was even less familiar with the capital than the average person.

“Should I rely on Return By Death and just use this attempt for investigation…?”

It certainly seemed like an effective strategy, but Subaru shook his head and rejected it right away.

First, having experienced death three times, he didn’t think he could make the decision to throw his life away in order to retry. All three deaths were quite literally so painful he could die. If he could settle things without tasting death, then he’d rather only ever experience it at the very end, on his deathbed.

In addition, he was also concerned about the fact that he didn’t know exactly how Return By Death worked. Throwing his life away only to find out he had zero left wouldn’t even be funny as a joke.

“In the end, I guess I’ll just have to struggle all I can while I’ve still got life. That much is obvious, though.”

He twisted his waist, grinding his joints, and started bending and stretching to warm up.

The shopkeeper seemed annoyed by the fact that he was doing radio calisthenics in front of his stall. Having warmed up, Subaru raised his hand toward him as he jogged away.

“Alright, thanks a lot, old man. I’ll be leaving now. I’ll definitely buy some appas next time.”

“Yeah, you’d be more than welcome as a customer. Work hard, broke kid.”

“For sure.― I really am praying I have some money the next time I show up here.”

The shopkeeper apathetically saw him off as he broke into a run.

He was headed toward the slums―But not in the direction of the loot house. He had already decided that he’d be raising BAD END flags if he went there. That being the case, it was time to try a new angle of attack.

※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※

“Where Felt lives, huh? Head two streets down that way, it’s ahead of there.”

“Thanks a lot, you’re a lifesaver, brother.”

“It’s no problem, brother. ―What was it, live strong?”

The middle aged man said with a weak smile as he disappeared into the creaking door.

Thinking back to how the man’s strained smile was filled with sympathy from beginning to end, Subaru pumped his fist at his strategy’s success.

He was covered in mud and dirt, his appearance was such that even slum dwellers found it pitiful.

“It was a strategy I devised from my experiences in those first two times, but… That sure was effective, huh.”

As he said this, Subaru wiped off his sleeves which had become crusty now that the mud on them had dried.

Having arrived here, he devised an ingenious plan to pinpoint Felt’s destination, which was to play the part of an extremely downtrodden person.

When he was wandering around the slums with Not-Satella in the first world, he had just recently been beaten into the ground by Tonchinkan, and the inhabitants’ reception was correspondingly sympathetic and cooperative.

Completely different from the second time, when their reaction was cold and curt since he had no real damage to speak of. Thinking back to that, he ended up going a little overboard with his appearance this time.

“Well, I did end up stepping in some unknown animal’s dung and stuff.”

Thank goodness he barely managed to avoid falling in it, he thought as he trembled.

Since it only got on his shoes, his honor was probably still intact.

Unfortunately, even as he thought this there wasn’t the slightest hint of honor or anything of the sort left in his filthy appearance.

“I’ve got four reports right now… Three of them match.”

Sympathizing with him, four people gave him information. Right now, three of the comments about Felt’s location matched. Unless they were all conspiring to screw him over, it was probably okay to assume the information was accurate.

The one differing report came from an old woman who was hard of hearing, so she definitely wasn’t trying to deceive him. Maybe.

“I think I’ve found out where she sleeps, but… Now the problem becomes whether or not she’ll come here.”

He did find out where she normally stayed, but since she was currently in the midst of escaping it was fifty-fifty whether or not she would run here. If she was worried her pursuer would destroy her place, perhaps she would think it better to avoid it.―If that happened, he could only say he had no luck.

“It’s not like worrying about it will do anything. I’m not going to worry about things I can’t answer, alright.”

Even when he was at a loss, he wouldn’t waste time on things that couldn’t be helped. His decisiveness shined here too.

Subaru jogged deeper into the slums as he knocked the hardened dirt off his clothes. When he first came here, he couldn’t even do anything besides hide behind Not-Satella let alone independently gather information, he had developed quite a bit. Made him want to reward himself.

“A reward for my hard work… Am I going to open my corn potage again?”

As he fished around in his bag, he approached a road. He then almost collided with someone who suddenly emerged from there.

He moved out of the way in a panic, but his back ended up colliding with that narrow road, knocking the wind out of him. Watching him, the person he was about to walk into spoke in a gentle manner,

“Oh, do excuse me. Are you alright?”

“I’m good, I’m good. Despite how I look I’m actuallyyyy!”

Subaru raised his face to play it off, but was unable to end his sentence when he saw who he was talking to. Hearing his high-pitched voice, the black-haired woman giggled slightly.

“You’re a fun kid, aren’t you. Are you really alright?”

She brushed up the hair covering her ear. Even this gesture was somehow sexy, and Subaru thought to himself that her each and every action was as erotic as usual.

A sexy beauty who behaved in an erotic manner―Someone he absolutely did not want to meet.

“―You don’t have to be so afraid, I’m not going to do anything to you.”

“Af-afraid? It’s not like I’m afraid of anything? What proof do you have to claim that I’m nervous? I’m seriously freaking out, though―, but you can’t talk down to me like that―, I’m really nervous, though―”

“Your scent…”

Ignoring his attempt to act tough, her eyes narrowed into a sweet smile.

Subaru cocked his head at this, and in response she used her well-shaped nose to sniff.

“When someone is afraid, it shows in their scent. Right now, you’re scared… And you’re angry too. At me.”

She seemed to be having a good time exposing his inner feelings as she looked up to him.

Subaru went silent, only responding with a forced smile as he took deep breaths to calm his rapidly beating heart.

Her words were true.

Subaru was afraid of her. The woman before him was the most terrifying person he knew in this world.

She was also the one he hated most in this world.

He truly wanted to beat her down if it was possible for him to do so, and before that he had an unbearable urge to run away immediately.

He had died by her hand twice now. She inspired fear from the bottom of his heart, and who could laugh at him for it?

Elsa narrowed her eyes like a snake in response to his silence. But even as he felt her gaze pinning him down, he would not allow himself to show weakness by averting his eyes.

She licked her lips at his bravado,

“… I am somewhat interested, but it’s fine. It wouldn’t do to cause a fuss right now.” 

“T-That’s not a very nice thing to say. Act too scary and that beauty will go to waste, you know?”

“Ah, very nice.― Hide your hostility and it’d be even better.”

She reached out and lightly tapped his forehead with her finger, and this simple gesture released the tension from his body.

Subaru exhaled, his shoulders heaving, and Elsa placed her finger against her lip,

“Well then, I’ll be taking my leave. I get the feeling we’ll see each other again.”

“If it’s a bright place with lots of people around, I’ll be able to relax too.”

It took everything he had to get those sarcastic words out.

Elsa flipped her cloak with a longing smile as she disappeared into the alley’s darkness. After he watched her quite literally disappear, Subaru felt exhaustion rush through him as he leaned against the wall.

“That… That was an unexpected encounter, seriously. To think she was prowling around here before going to the loot house…”

This unexpected encounter almost tore his heart apart.

In terms of mental preparation, this was far more of a shock than Not-Satella. He wanted to pray that this would be his last encounter with her if possible.

“Felt’s place should be around here, I believe… But surely it’s not possible that Elsa already destroyed it…?”

She was a pervert who drowned in pleasure when she sliced people’s bellies open. 

It wouldn’t be strange if she carved up a few people to kill time before the appointment. Furthermore, now that he was heading deeper into the slums, he couldn’t help but imagine all sorts of horrors.

“I-It’s okay, probably. There isn’t the stench of blood, nor do I see any, maybe.”

The garbage and the rotten smell made it impossible to discern the smell of blood, and it was too dark for him to confirm if there were any bloodstains around, but there definitely wasn’t any blood. That’s what he wanted to think.

He didn’t have the courage to run right now, so he slowly continued onward with stealthy steps.

Even the hum of an insect or the sight of a not yet empty bottle of alcohol would cause him to freak out as he searched.

About five minutes after his encounter with Elsa, he finally reached a rundown shack.

“This should be it according to my information… But does a human really live here?”

Subaru tilted his head as he stood in front of a wooden board that seemed to be the door.

The shack before him was around the size of two of those porta potties one would see around construction sites and the like. It felt like someone was actually putting the saying, ‘half a tatami mat to stand, one tatami mat to sleep’ into practice.

“This is definitely what you call a place to sleep, so I guess that’s about right.”

Even so, the idea of such a small girl living in a place like this caused him to feel some pity. He felt like he could forgive her, that her ambition and greed couldn’t be helped.

“She’s curling up her already small body and living in a place like this. Guess it couldn’t be helped that her personality would turn out so warped. Aah, it just couldn’t be helped, poor thing. Aah, how pitiful.”

“You’re going way too far, it’s disgusting. I can’t believe you’re looking around someone else’s bedroom like that.”

As he was entering his sympathetic mode, a voice from behind him caused him to turn around.

Before his eyes was a small blonde girl glaring at him with disgust―Felt.

She didn’t look particularly different from their previous meetings. That her slightly dirty clothes were now dirtier than usual was probably a sign that the chase was much more intense this time.

“What’s with that increasingly pitying expression? You looking down on me just ‘cause I’m a girl and a little bit filthy?”

“It’s a different sentiment, but… Most of all, I’m glad we could meet.”

She made no attempt to hide her displeasure, and Subaru instinctively dropped his shoulders in relief.

He was truly happy that he was able to find the girl he was looking for. He was worried about what might have happened after his near miss with Elsa, but looked like things were alright after all.

In response to his murmur, she snorted, “What, a customer?”

She stared at him, still cautious,

“Since you came all the way here, I assume you have some business with me? … Judging by your look, you’re not from around here.”

“Oh. To see that I’m not one of you, you’ve got good eyes.”

“Even the guys around here are a little more careful about their appearance. That level of filth is just unnatural. In truth, you’re even dirtier than us right now.”

As usual, she always had a comeback―Made him want to retract his earlier sympathy.

Felt ignored his inner feelings even as his veins popped, and stepped back, “Well?”

“What do you want? If you want something stolen, I’ll need payment in advance. Depending on the target, I might ask for more after the fact.”

“Commissioned thefts… This sure is a greedy business you’re running. Are you proud of your sticky fingers?”

“It’s how I stay alive. If it weren’t for this, I’d have to sell my body. So, what’ll it be? Or do you perhaps have some other business? Depending on what it is…”

Felt rapidly moved her fingers to show off her dexterity.

Suddenly, a small knife appeared in her hand as if by magic. Probably a warning that depending on why he was here, she would use it to defend herself.

Speaking practically, if he ended up fighting her now he would have no chance of winning. She would just disappear from his sight with that speed of hers, and before he knew it he would complete the ‘Stabbed to death in a back alley: BAD END 2’ route.

“What I want is just one thing.― I want to purchase the insignia you stole right here and right now.”

< Previous Chapter ‎‎Next Chapter >

Re:Zero: Arc 1 – Chapter 15: Because He Is The Sword Saint

Thinking about it, his meetings with Not-Satella relied on a lot of random coincidence.

He did encounter her the first and third times, but the only connection was that both had occurred around this main street (He heard from the shopkeeper wearing the turban that it was commonly called the trading street).

It would have been great if he was at least obsessed with keeping time, but he hadn’t done the stalkerish act of recording exactly when he met her.

In the end, it was quickest to think back to the third time’s pattern, but,

“Back then, just how long did I spend sulking by that fruit shop?”

He sunk down to the ground overcome by dizziness and spent an unknown amount of time hugging his knees.

It felt like it was only a few minutes, but it also felt like it could have been an hour. Regardless of what the answer was, all Subaru could say was ‘I don’t know’.

“Should I just wander around this street looking for her…? And just hope my beauty radar works?”

Or maybe his silver-haired hottie sensor.

This ability was completely useless in his old world, but he’d be able to use it to great effect here.

He placed both hands in front of his face and straightened a finger on each, and went “MyonMyon” as a number of people looked at him strangely. He felt like he could sense something, and decided to follow whatever was beckoning to him for the moment.

His surroundings steadily changed into an atmosphere he was familiar with, filling him with thoughts such as “Woah, looks like my sensor’s working fine as ever?!”, and then he suddenly realized.

―Without realizing it, he ended up leaving the street and was now entering a narrow alley.

“Isn’t this where I first met her…?”

It looked very similar, but he was unsure.

It wasn’t that different from the path into the slums in terms of atmosphere, on top of which he had only been to the alley of their meeting in the first world, and had never revisited it since.

The second time was clearly in a different alley, and thinking back to the third time, that was yet another dead end. Even if Felt stealing Satella’s insignia was a fixed event, which alley she would run into after the fact seemed to vary depending on the situation.

Perhaps it was the same the first two times, but the third time things seemed to have changed slightly due to Subaru’s presence.

Having thought this far, Subaru suddenly realized just how shallow his thought process was.

Maybe he could find Felt or Satella now that he was in a familiar alley.

However, that also meant the possibility of a different reunion. In short,

“I’m so damn tired of seeing you, Ton, Chin, Kan!”

Subaru turned around fed up, and found the usual suspects blocking his path.

There was no difference in appearance, clothing, or countenance. Their goal and equipment were most likely the same as well, no progress whatsoever. It was only natural since he was back in the same spot.

“Even though I’m having such a hard time finding Not-Satella and Felt.”

The reason he was unable to find them was probably because their actions depended on many factors independent of him.

By contrast, the reason he kept running into these guys was most likely because they were targeting him from the start.

That’s why he kept encountering them despite taking a different path each time.

“Now that I’ve come up with a conjecture that doesn’t make me happy in the slightest, what exactly do you guys want?”

“Just what the hell has this guy been muttering about?”

“He probably doesn’t get what’s going on here. How about we go ahead and teach him?”

Even this conversation between Ton and Chin followed the template exactly, which caused Subaru’s mood to sink further. However, he also felt that he couldn’t take them lightly just because he was tired of dealing with them.

The clear conditions for the Tonchinkan encounter weren’t that demanding, but it wasn’t like he had a 100% chance of breaking through. After all, they were the cause of his third death.

Maybe Not-Satella would save him like the first time, or maybe he could beat them on his own like the second time, but he had no guarantees.

Things went really well the second time, but this time wouldn’t necessarily go down the same way. There was also a high chance that there was a big event waiting for him after this, and he didn’t want to sustain any injuries.

“On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to escape by handing over my stuff either, I could use those to negotiate.”

The ideal would be to get out of here without sustaining any losses, like he did the second time.

And if he could avoid wasting time like the first time, that would be best of all.

Subaru crossed his arms and cocked his head, wondering if there was some way he could get away from them.

On the other side, perhaps thinking Subaru’s attitude meant he was ignoring them despite their seemingly superior position, Tonchinkan’s expressions were dyed in hostility

He at least had to make a decision before they drew their weapons.

As he lamented their lack of patience, Subaru figured he would have to go with a surprise attack after all―Suddenly, he remembered the moment of his third death.

As he lay there on the verge of death, all he could do was hear.

Back then, what was it that they were talking about? His dying brain could not comprehend it back then, but it should be possible now.

―Yeah, that’s it.

“Guaaaaaards!!!”

Tonchinkan were caught off guard by his sudden call for help, causing them to jump.

The volume was such that it smashed the silence of the alley, and even tore through the hustle and bustle of the main street. 

His absurd sensitivity was well known when he took kendo, and had long since stripped him of any shame when it came to screaming.

Something like screaming for help did not damage his pride even slightly.

“Someone―! I need a man―!!!”

“Bastard… Don’t screw around! You’re seriously yelling at a time like this?!”

“You’re supposed to listen to us if you don’t want to get hurt, that’s how it’s supposed to be! You can’t just do this without even listening to our demands!”

“Shut up! Who gives a damn what normally happens?! Offbeat, off path, off course, wrong way, they’re all on the right track! As if I wanna deal with you guys! I just wanna have some fun with gold and silver haired beauties!”

As Tonchinkan went into a frenzy and stomped their feet, Subaru angrily yelled at them.

Subaru was putting on a defiant act as he verbally attacked them, but although it wasn’t showing, a sense of panic was rapidly building up within him. The plan to seek help was based on his very vague memories of his last moments in the third world.

The moment before his consciousness descended into darkness, someone among them had said something like “Guards” and “Run”, his shoddy strategy relied on this tiny hint.

There was also the fact that when he beat these guys on his second time, it seemed the people on the street simply turned a blind eye even though they knew he was getting robbed.

“So it was a mistake after all…”

“Trying to scare us like that… I was just a little nervous.”

“Just a little bit!”

“A really tiny bit!”

In unison, they denied how pathetic they were in a very pathetic fashion.

The men took a deep breath to calm down as if to regain control of the situation after Subaru’s stunt, and then they each drew their weapons.

A knife, a rusty nata, and,

“Why are you the only one without a weapon? Didn’t have the money to buy one?”

“Shut up! I’m stronger without one! Underestimate me and I’ll beat you to death, you damned brat!”

“If only I had a recording of the second time, I’d love to show it to you.”

As he thought back to his flawless overhead throw, he started to bask in his own admiration. On the other hand, his situation was now so bad his mind continually warned of danger.

They had already drawn their weapons, greatly reducing his chances of success.

Forget escaping without any injuries or losses, he wasn’t even sure he could make it out of there in one piece.

“Let me go already… I’d rather avoid the pain.”

Having died three times, Subaru now understood that it wasn’t something you could get used to no matter how many times it happened.

Furthermore, all his deaths until now were horribly painful ones brought about by blades. That sharp pain was always fresh and electrifying, like his nerves were being scraped.

He’d really rather not go through that again, and most of all―

“I’ve been able to come back from death until now, but there’s no guarantee it’ll happen again…”

He couldn’t be sure that this ability didn’t have a limited number of uses.

There was no number engraved on his body or anything, but it was said that even Buddha would get annoyed if you touched his face three times. Assuming that that was the case here, he had already run out of continues. If he pathetically died a pointless death here, his life in another world would reach the BAD END.

“…. In short, the best thing to do would be to run away, even if I get injured.”

The most lethal of them was, naturally, the tried and true knife. That nata was terribly rusty, so it’d probably be no different from a normal hit if he blocked it with his plastic bag. The empty handed thug was no problem.

As he watched Tonchinkan approach, he immediately made up his mind.

Subaru was completely focused on Chin, and started counting down in his head as he looked for an opening.

―Three, two, ah, hold on just one moment, three, two…

“―That’s enough.”

That voice suddenly and clearly tore through the tension in the alley.

Its dignified tone hadn’t the slightest hint of hesitation or mercy. All those who listened to it were struck by its overwhelming presence, and were naturally inclined to obey it.

Subaru raised his head, and Tonchinkan turned around― There was a young man standing there.

What first drew their eyes was his red hair that was like a blazing inferno.

Right below were shining blue eyes that could only be described as daring.

His extraordinary good looks only further amplified his awe-inspiring presence, and a single glance was all it took to tell that he was someone of great importance.

He was tall, slender, and well-proportioned, and he wore well tailored black clothing. At his waist knight’s sword that despite its simple appearance, gave off an abnormally intimidating atmosphere.

“Regardless of the circumstances, I will not permit any further violence against him. You’ve gone far enough.”

As he said this, he calmly walked past Tonchinkan and stood between them and Subaru,

Both Subaru and the men were left speechless by this excessively majestic act.

But it seemed they had different reasons for their silence.

Subaru had fallen silent from surprise, and because he was anxiously waiting to see how this never before seen development would progress, but Tonchinkan were different, their faces were going pale.

“N-No way…”

Chin pointed at the man, his lips turning purple as they trembled,

“Blazing red hair and eyes blue as the sky… And that sword’s sheath with a dragon’s craw engraved in it.”

He pointed to each location as if to make sure, and then gulped,

“Reinhard… The Sword Saint Reinhard?!”

“Seems I won’t need to introduce myself… That title is a bit much for me, though.”

The young man called Reinhard muttered in a self-deprecating manner, but the glint in his eyes did not waver.

With his gaze piercing them, the men stepped back as though they were overwhelmed. They looked at each other as if to decide when to run, but,

“I’ll leave it at that if you flee. You’d better head out onto the street. But if you wish to use force, I shall be your opponent.”

He placed his hand on the handle of his sword, and jerked his chin toward Subaru who was stood behind him.

“It would be three on two in that case. In terms of numbers, you would have the advantage. I do not know to what extent my meager strength can aid him, but as a knight I shall face you.”

“Yo-You’re kidding! There’s no way!”

Reinhard’s declaration caused them to panic, they ran off into the street having forgotten to even conceal their weapons.

They were so panicked they couldn’t even make any parting threats like they did the first time. That in itself showed just how extraordinary the man before him was.

“I’m glad we’re both safe. Are you unhurt?”

After he watched the men leave, the young man turned around with a smile.

Suddenly, the air of intimidation covering the alley disappeared. Realizing that even that was something the young man had consciously manifested, Subaru couldn’t help but fall silent. Most of all.

“To be this cool after doing all that… This is beyond the level of Ikemen.”

[T/N: Ikemen basically means attractive guy, but carries certain connotations.]

His face, voice, demeanor and actions, they were all scoring extremely high on the Ikemen index.  If he also had a personality and pedigree to match, he had to be doing something evil behind the scenes or the world’s balance would be thrown off.

Anyhow, setting aside his heart overflowing with envy, it was a fact that he had been saved. Subaru dropped to his knees and prostrated himself on the spot.

“I am ever so thankful to you for saving my life, please allow me to express my gratitude. I, Natsuki Subaru, admire your gallant spirit…”

“Relax, you don’t have to go that far. They felt that they had lost their advantage when it became three on two. It would have been different if I were alone.”

“No, judging by how terrified they were, forgot three on one, they’d back down even if it was ten on one… What’s with this guy. Is he truly an Ikemen to the core, both body and soul? You’re raising my route’s flags!”

It’d be a real tearjerker, so a handkerchief would be indispensable.

As he spoke random drivel, Subaru once again took a good look at Reinhard.

The more he looked at him, the more it seemed like his handsome features were sculpted by God himself, but his outfit didn’t really give the impression that he was a guard. Beyond the quality of the materials, his clothing didn’t seem very different from those of the general public milling about the street.

“Um, Reinhard-san… Can I call you that?”

“You don’t need to be so formal, Subaru.”

“You sure closed the distance smoothly… Uh, thank you once again, Reinhard. You were the only one who responded to my screams, how terribly lonely.”

Considering how many people there were, there was no way he was the only one who heard. Reinhard lowered his eyes slightly as Subaru lamented the lack of human kindness,

“I don’t really want to say this, but it can’t be helped. For most people, it would be very risky to antagonize such fellows. In that respect, your decision to call for the guards was the correct one.”

“From the way you’re talking, you’re a guard? You don’t really look like one.”

“I hear that often. Well, today’s my day off so I’m not in uniform, that’s probably one of the reasons.”

As Reinhard spread his arms with a strained smile, Subaru retorted internally.

The main reason he didn’t seem like a guard was because he seemed like the furthest thing from the somewhat unrefined image the term suggested  To add on…

“I believe they called you something like ‘Sword Saint’…”

“My family is somewhat special, you see. Every day feels like the weight of their expectations could crush me.”

He shrugged his shoulders in a lighthearted manner, it looked like he had a sense of humor as well.

There was already no doubt whatsoever that he was an Ikemen in both body and soul. Subaru couldn’t hide his wonder toward this man whose very existence was Ikemen, but Reinhard stared at him intently,

“You’ve got unusual hair and clothing, and that goes for your name too… Where are you from? For what purpose have you come to the capital of Lugunica?”

“It’s a bit hard to answer that first one. The typical setting of a small country to the east got some backlash so… H-How about further east, then―”

Subaru thought it seemed like a pretty safe answer. But Reinhard’s reaction was stronger than expected.

“East of Lugunica… Surely you don’t mean beyond the Grand Cascade, some kind of joke perhaps?”

“Grand Cascade?”

Subaru cocked his head at this unfamiliar term.

He figured it was something like a waterfall, but he was completely clueless when it came to the geography around here. To begin with, he didn’t even know how large the capital was. As far as Subaru knew, this Lugunica place only consisted of a trading street, some alleys, and the slum.

Essentially the same level as his old world, that only consisted of his home, his room, and the convenience store.

“Thinking of it that way, I’m basically being a shut-in even in another world, this has already become an inherent part of me… I really am something.”

“It doesn’t seem like you’re trying to trick me, so let’s leave it at that. Anyway, it does look like you’re not from around here. You must have had a reason for coming here, right? Lugunica is currently in a bit of a complex situation. I can aid you if you wish.”

“No, no, it’s your day off, right? You don’t have to throw it away just to help me out, you’ve already done more than enough… But while we’re at it, there is something I’d like to ask you.”

He shook his head at Reinhard’s proposal, and then raised his finger as if he just remembered something. Reinhard casually nodded, giving him the go ahead.

“I’m not well versed in the happenings of the world so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to answer, though.”

“Well, what I’m asking about relates to a person I’m searching for, so that’s fine. So, have you seen a silver-haired girl in a white robe around here?”

Having surveyed the main street several times, he could tell that Not-Satella’s clothes stood out. Her silver hair was rare much like Subaru’s black hair, and of course there was her robe with the hawk embroidered on it.

Thinking back, that white robe seemed expensive in its own way. Considering she had an insignia with a jewel embedded in it, he guessed her lineage must have been a prestigious one. 

“A white robe and silver hair…”

“In addition, she’s super gorgeous. And there’s this cat… Well, it’s not like she goes around showing it off. That’s all I can tell you about her, ring any bells?”

There would be no doubt it was her if the cat spirit was a match as well, but since it was usually hidden in her hair most of the time that was probably too much to ask for.

Mentioning her beauty, he ended up thinking she and Reinhard who was very handsome himself would look perfect standing next to each other. This arbitrary thought caused a strange envy to well up within him.

“… What are you planning to do when you find her?”

“I’m going to find something she lost, or rather, would it be something she’s looking for? Anyway, I’ll find it and give it to her.”

Of course Subaru didn’t actually have it on him right now, and it was even possible that it hadn’t even been stolen yet.

Reinhard narrowed his eyes at Subaru’s response, and contemplated for a moment.

“No, sorry. I don’t really know. I could help you with your search if you wish, though.”

“I can’t impose on you like that. It’s alright, I’ll find it one way or another.”

Subaru raised his hands when Reinhard offered his aid, and then decided that he would wander around the main street for now. If things went well, he might catch sight of her on the street like he did the third time.

If possible, it’d be good to stop Felt on the stop and prevent the theft entirely.

Thinking about what could happen after, he felt that that would be the best way, and became all the more impatient.

“The problem is how to stop her with that agility of hers… Repeated sideways jumps like this to block the road, a zone defense?”

“What unusual movements. For what purpose?”

[T/N: There’s some weird sports stuff below here, since I’m not very familiar with sports I have no idea what this is about]

“It’s a defensive action to pressure the opponent and snatch away the ball. Despite how it looks, it’s a well established defense. Later, you end up participating in a position where you have no effect whatsoever on the ball, it’s that kind of ability.”

Subaru was someone who, when he participated in dodgeball, would simply stand right by the line in such a way that you didn’t know whether he was infield or outfield. It wasn’t uncommon for him to go entire games without once touching the ball.

“Anyway, I’d better head to the trading street first.”

“Are you leaving?”

“Yeah, I’m going. You really helped me out. I’ll definitely repay you someday… Can I meet you at the guard station or something?”

“I believe so, you just have to mention my name. Otherwise, on days off I’m usually wandering about the capital.”

“I wouldn’t really want to wander around town looking for a man… This isn’t an Otome game.”

He replied with a joke and suddenly raised his hand, to which Reinhard responded “Be careful”, cool to the very end.

As if those words were giving him a push forward, Subaru successfully left the alley having sustained no injuries or losses.

―Never realizing that blue eyes were on him, appraising him.

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