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.
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 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.
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?”
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.