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.

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

―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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