--When the smoke finally cleared, Ram felt something she had rarely ever experienced. Helplessness.
As she opened her bright red eyes, she frantically looked around at the dissipating smoke, but no matter how long she searched the empty scene, she wasn't able to find what she was searching for.
She was looking for any sign of movement, or any trace of black and blue, but all she found was emptiness.
As Ram tried to step forward, her shoulder was grabbed from behind, and she was suddenly pulled back to reality. If Ram had taken one more step, she would have fallen through the cracked scaffolding.
She hadn't been looking down at her feet.
Emilia: [I'm glad you're okay, Ram... Are you hurt Patrasche?]
Ram was biting down on her lip while Emilia, who should still have been at the top layer, was holding her shoulder firmly.
As Emilia confirmed that both Ram and Patracshe were safe, her rapid breathing returned to normal. Seeing this, Ram regains some of her usual composure and tries to take in the scene around her.
The Pleiades Watchtower was in a terrible state.
The passageways of the sturdy stone tower had collapsed, and many of the floors were falling apart. Peering through the cracked walls, they could see the sandy sea and felt the blistering wind that blew in through the many holes in the wall.
However, the room that had suffered the most damage seemed to be the room where Rem and Patrasche had been when the tremors struck the tower, the “Green Room.’’
The room, which had been covered with grass and ivy, had lost its pristine condition and healing effects.
The earthen beds, the soothing presence of spirits. It was all gone. Everything.
And the most important thing of all...
Emilia: [Ram, where are Subaru and Rem? They’re safe right?]
Emilia was looking around what remained of the “Green Room” realizing that two people were missing. Ram however, didn’t say a word.
The silence answered her question.
Anastasia: [First, let's talk about what we know. We won't be able to figure out what happened if we don't.]
Saying this, Anastasia looked around at the group of people that had gathered, and took charge of the situation.
She ran her fingers through her white fox scarf, Echidna, who sat around her neck. She was slightly stained with dust from the previous battle.
Anastasia: [The black shadow that attacked the tower just now...]
Julius: [It’s gone for the time being. Perhaps because of the Divine Dragon, Volcanica.]
Echidna: [Both the shadow’s and the dragon’s actions seemed to happen suddenly, and without any reasonable explanation.]
Inside the damaged tower Anastasia had begun the meeting, with Julius and Echidna following her lead.
Like Anastasia and Echidna, Julius had many wounds covering his body, and his clothes were in tatters. Their only salvation was that they had not received any new injuries since then. However, that was only true because Volcanica, at the top of the tower, had protected them from the shadow.
Beatrice: [If he hadn’t protected us, Betty and the others would have been killed, in fact.]
Beatrice crosses her short arms, and Anastasia nods in agreement at her statement.
Before Volcanica had released his breath, Anastasia had completely accepted the fact that she was going to die. The situation was so dire, she thought it was an impossible challenge to overcome.
Of course, the dragon’s breath didn’t mean all their problems were solved.
Julius: [It protected us from the shadow’s attack, but the Divine Dragon’s condition is still the same. Right now he seems to be following Emilia’s instructions and keeping quiet at the top of the tower.]
Anastasia: [Out of consideration for Julius I’ll say that Volcanica may have done that instinctively, but whatever the reason may be, Beatrice is right when she says we would ‘ave died then an’ there.]
Beatrice: [I suppose.]
Volcanica had been able to react in time, but what would have happened if the shadows had touched them?
They were just happy to be alive.
Meili: [Aren’t we forgetting about the massive amount of the shadow that went after oni-san?]
Meili: [Ah, I’m sorry!]
Due to the topic's sensitivity, when Meili mentioned it, it immediately put Anastasia on edge. Meili quickly apologized and returned her gaze to the floor, occasionally sneaking glances at Emilia and Ram, who were completely silent.
There had only been two people affected by the shadow’s attack, and they were both part of the Emilia camp. The Anastasia camp had suffered no losses.
Anastasia: [It's hard t’ say that when we’ll be traveling back together…]
Muttering to herself, Anastasia glances at Julius and Echidna. The two of them had been working alongside the Emilia-camp when she had been “asleep’’. Anastasia could see that Echidna, her friend of 10 years looked anxious, and Julius, who had recently become a new acquaintance to her, also looked worried.
Because of that, Anastasia found it strange that Beatrice, who probably had the most intimate relation with Subaru, was also the most calm.
Anastasia: [Beatrice, are you alright? Everyone else is panicking, but ya’ seem oddly calm right now...]
Beatrice: [...Even if Betty were to panic, that wouldn’t help with getting Subaru and Rem back, in fact. Betty wants to avoid rushing into things and messing up on her first move. That’s the most important thing right now, I suppose.]
Anastasia: [First move? Ya don’t mean…]
Emilia: [We’re going to bring back Subaru and Rem, that’s what you mean right?]
Anastasia had been looking at Beatrice with suspicion and started questioning her, but Emilia, who was still supporting Ram’s shoulder cut in, stopping Anastasia from asking her question.
Emilia’s deep amethyst eyes looked straight ahead.
Anastasia: [Well, I thought you would be havin’ a much worse time right now, but ya’ got such confident eyes. What do you have in mind?]
Emilia: [It’s not too complicated. We know that Subaru and Rem were swallowed by the shadow and taken away. Volcanica pushed it back a little too late but...]
Ram: [They definitely aren’t dead.]
Ram had closed her eyes while leaning on Emilia, and had answered with a sigh.
She gently touched her forehead where her horn would have been. That was the basis for her confidence.
Anastasia: [The twins' sythentisia... You’re still connected to Rem?]
Ram: [Yes, that’s right. Rem is still alive. As for ... Barusu, though.]
Beatrice: [Subaru is okay in fact! Betty can vouch for that!]
Ram’s remark causes Beatrice’s face to turn red as she turns to yell at her.. Beatrice is Subaru’s contracted spirit. Her statements also hold weight. In other words, the two people who disappeared were confirmed to be alive from different sources.
Julius : [It's worth believing that they’re alive ... Subaru has Beatrice's contractual connection, and Lady Rem and Lady Ram’s share their synesthesia, respectively. Besides, I’d like for that to be the case.]
Anastasia: [...Well, I hope Natsuki-kun and the others are safe, too.]
Anastasia stroked Echidna in response to Julius's reaction, stating that the two parties getting to close would be a problem. The two camps had formed a temporary partnership, but that didn’t change the fact that both Anastasia and Emilia were currently competing for the throne. Anastasia didn’t want to cause any misunderstandings that might lead to trouble. However, it is precisely because they are in a contentious partnership that they should make sure to repay their debts.
Meili: [That’s it? I think it's great that onii-san and blue onee-san are still alive, but where have they gone?]
Meili, still unable to read the room, asks her question while playing with the little red scorpion on her head. In response to this question, Julius formed his statement.
Julius: [I didn’t have the time to properly identify what that shadow was, but I’m certain it was Yin magic, or at least some rendition of it. It has the same properties as the seal I put on Roy Alphard and the seal on the “With of Envy's’’ shrine. And if I’m right, then I wish to ask a person that specializes in it...]
Beatrice: [...That would be Betty, I suppose. Betty's point of view is not so different from Julius'. It's a mass of yin magic. It's more like a directional “Shamak”.]
Echidna: [“Shamak”? It's the basic magic of the Yin element, right? That's how powerful it is?
Beatrice: [There are a lot of humans who misunderstand Yin magic because there are so few users. But even you, a spirit, aren’t aware.]
Looking at Beatrice, the white fox spirit bows her head. Sighing at her reaction, Beatrice holds up her finger.
Beatrice: [In fact, the speciality of “Shamak” is separation. A low level “Shamak” separates the body from the consciousness, while a high level “Shamak” separates space from space. Betty's "Door Crossing" is an application of this, connecting room to room.]
Ram: [It's the same trick that Beatrice-sama used in the old mansion. To be honest, Ram was fed up with the difficulty of calling you at meal times.]
Beatrice: [Betty is too upset to be honest with you, I suppose. I’m sorry, but I’ll apologize later... In other words, “Shamak” can separate anything, no matter how strong the object. It's the “Witch of Envy’s” specialty.]
Anastasia: [With that explanation, wouldn't that mean that Natsuki and the others are being torn apart?]
If that shadow was such a deadly spell, it sounded like Subaru’s and the other’s chance of survival was impossibly low. However, Beatrice shook her head in disagreement at Anastasia's question.
Beatrice: [Is that a metaphor I suppose? That shadow wasn't trying to kill Subaru and Rem, but it was trying to take them somewhere.]
Echidna: [Across space, to somewhere ... in that case, would it be to where the Witch is?]
Ram: [Maybe Barusu was taken because of the miasma that covers him.]
Beatrice's lecture was crunched over by Echidna, and finally concluded by Ram.
The miasma that surrounds Subaru … the miasma that caused so much excitement among the demon beasts on the way to the watchtower, it is now a well-known fact among the candidates for the Royal Selection. However, the cause of this miasma and the details of its nature have yet to be revealed.
Anastasia: [The only thing we know is that the miasma attracts demon beasts, and that those related to the witch cult often emit a strong miasma...]
Emilia: [Um, Subaru is often chased by demon beasts, but he has nothing to do with the Witch Cult. I know it's soooo weird, but...]
Anastasia: [It's okay, it's okay. I don't doubt it now, Emilia.]
Emilia: [Really? I'm glad then. Subaru is such a good boy...]
Emilia was relieved, but that was not the end of the problem. As she said, the idea that Subaru is related to the Witch Cult was no longer in Anastasia's mind. However, the fact that Subaru's origins are unknown still creates doubts. She doesn't think of Subaru as a malicious being, however, unconscious malice does exist.
...It is possible that Subaru's very existence is a threat that was hidden behind his good intentions.
Anastasia: Well that's another problem… But I understand the general idea of it.. The shadow that swallowed Natsuki-kun and Rem-san took them away somewhere. The question is, where?]
Emilia: [And what happened as a result of Volcanica's breath interfering?]
Beatrice and Ram, who are connected to Subaru and Rem, respectively, probably have a rough idea of where they are at.
The only thing the group knows about them is that they are still alive, and the group has no idea where they have been sent, and finding them is going to be a problem. At any rate, no one here has the option of not looking for them.
Emilia: [Please, both of you. Where are Subaru and Rem? Tell me.]
With Emilia’s sincere question directed at them, Beatrice and Ram look at each other. Then, after a few seconds of silence...
Beatrice: [...South, in fact.]
Ram: [Ram also feels something from that same direction. Ram doesn't know an exact location, but it's pretty far away.]
Emilia: [South? South from here...]
Hearing both Beatrice and Ram say south, Emilia raises her eyebrows. She tries her best to picture the world map, but is interrupted by Anastasia, who raises her hand. Their current location is the Auguria Sand Dunes, the most eastern point on the world map. To the south of here lie Picoutatte and Flanders, two of the five regional capitals of Lugunica. Those are two possibilities.
Julius: [If that's all, I can't figure out what those two are thinking.]
Julius, who seems to have come up with the same idea, expresses Anastasia's inner thoughts on her behalf. For his quick thinking, Anastasia assesses him as her own perfect night. She then closes one eye.
Anastasia: [I guess so. I'd say the damage is minimal if they were to be caught in that area, despite the distance. Even so, judging from how pale your complexions are ... is it more south than that?]
Emilia: [Farther south? Isn’t that...]
Meili: [Are you talking about the Vollachia Empire?]
Compared to Emilia's astonishment, Meili’s was less surprised. However, that was only because she didn’t understand the full magnitude of the situation. If they had really been taken there, then it was no wonder Beatrice and the others reacted the way they did. If Subaru and Rem had crossed the border into the Volachia Empire to the south, that would be a problem.
Emilia: [The Vollachia Empire and the Kingdom of Lugunica have a non-war pact for the duration of the Royal Selection ... that should still be in place, Julius.]
Julius: [Yes. As you may know, I was in the Vollachia Empire for the agreement. I went with Reinhard and Ferris to meet with the emperor of the Vollachia Empire.]
Emilia: [I heard that you had trouble in the Vollachia Empire, but things are okay now, right? We can go look for Subaru and Rem...]
Julius: [No, that won’t be possible.]
Julius scrunched his eyebrows and shook his head at Emilia's question. He gently lowered his yellow eyes, which shone like jewels in his neat face.
Julius: [The Empire has temporarily forbidden travel to and from the Kingdom for several months now. The same thing happened with the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko to the north in response to the Royal Selection, but that one has already been lifted...]
Anastasia: [The one in the Empire has not been lifted. It was a long trip to the Pleiades Watchtower, so we don’t ‘ave access to the latest information, but unless things have changed...]
Emilia: [Does that mean it's going to be hard to go save Subaru and Rem?]
After much thought, Julius's conclusion was one of regret. Anastasia had no choice but to come to the same conclusion as Julius. If one wanted to enter the Vollachia Empire, it would be impossible to do so by going through the front door. The only way would be to explore hidden pathways, but even that would require time and contacts. There is no quick solution. Emilia would be in a hurry to get back the two missing people...
Emilia: [--In that case, we need to move fast. We've got to get the blood from Volcanica and bring it back to Pristella and ... take the "Gluttony" we caught to the Royal Capital, right?]
Emilia: [I know, Beatrice. I feel super, suuuuper impatient. But I can't help Subaru and all the other people who need help if I start panicking. I have to keep my cool...]
Anastasia was the most surprised by Emilia's calm decision, which she thought would be full of panic. Emilia nodded stoutly to Beatrice, who was also taken by surprise. Her eyes were shaking and her voice was trembling slightly, but she tried her best to look confident.
She was not going to stop, not even for a second. She will bring Subaru and Rem back.
Emilia: [Subaru and Rem must be together, right?]
Ram: [Ram checked with Lady Beatrice… and we are pretty sure they are.
Emilia: [Yes. If so... Subaru will surely protect Rem no matter how reckless he is. So you don't need to worry about Rem. Subaru is a little scary though.]
There is a lot of trust placed on Subaru, but Anastasia agrees, albeit being equally worried. As a result of being left alone, Natsuki Subaru once lost his memory in this tower. That self-punishing boy has a bad habit of looking down on himself in order to protect the people he cares about. This can encourage others, but it can also be a source of anxiety as well.
Anastasia: [However, I guess we can only hope for Natsuki-kun's quick thinking. As Emilia said, the best we can do is not to sit in the tower and complain. We have to move.]
Ram: [I understand… Beatrice-sama, if there is any cause for concern…]
Beatrice: [...Subaru's body. Subaru's body has a broken gate, so he can't drain mana on his own. If you leave him alone for too long, he might explode due to mana blockage.]
Anastasia: [I see. I'm in a similar position, so I feel a kinship with Natsuki-kun.]
Anastasia's gate has a natural defect. It is a fatal flaw for a mage, for example, who cannot take in mana properly. It's not related to the business acumen and luck that a merchant needs though, so it's not a big problem for her.
Anastasia: [I know, I know. We'll talk about the problem between me and Echidna later. More importantly, there is no time to rest.]
Anastasia claps her hands, and Emilia and the others nod back, taking that as their cue. Their objective was to search for the missing Subaru and Rem, and in order to prepare a search party for that, they had to return from the Pleiades Watchtower as soon as possible. On top of that, they must also fulfill part of their original purpose for coming to the tower.
Meili: [We're so busy it's making my eyes spin...]
Emilia: [Yes, we really are. But I'm sure Subaru and the others will have a much harder time.]
Emilia tightens her fists and thinks of Subaru, who has been sent a great distance away. Meili, who had the small red scorpion on her head, narrowed her eyes and shrugged. As it was, they were about to begin preparations for their journey.
Meili: [Oh, by the way, did Ram one-san tell you about that?]
Ram: [...Not yet.]
Emilia: [...? That?]
At Meili's sudden question, Ram made a bitter face. In response to her reaction, Anastasia and the others, who had not been told anything, turned their attention to Ram. In response to this, Ram hesitated for a while, and then…
Ram: [Emilia-sama, we can't be sure of this yet, but ...... Barusu and Rem may not be the only ones who were swallowed by the shadows and sent to the Vollachia Empire.]
Emilia: [It's not just the two of them, but Ram, Patrashe and Meili are here too, so shouldn't that be everyone in the green room?]
Meili: [But before the shadows started to fill the room, a girl suddenly appeared. Oni-chan also said that she was the third, "Gluttony" or something like that.]
Emilia: [The third Gluttony?]
Anastasia and the rest of the team are shocked to hear the unbelievable revelation. The debate heats up as to whether they should ask Ram for the details she had withheld and whether they should modify their future moves. The Pleiades Watchtower is a flurry of activity, and Emilia looks out through a large hole in the green room, and folds her hands in front of her chest as if in prayer.
Emilia: [Please, Subaru. --Please, stay safe with Rem.]
--In a distant land, at the same time when Emilia's prayer was sent into the thirsty sky of the Sand Sea.
On a grassy field caressed by the wind, a boy is holding up a girl. The boy has black hair and a sharp look in his eyes. The large whites of his eyes and the way he looks at people always make him look unhappy, and in normal times his gaze is sometimes described as being murderous.. But now, the corners of the boy's eyes are soft and relaxed, and his lips are in a small arc. There was a hint of tears in his blank eyes, and the boy struggled to keep his vision from blurring.
Because, of course. How long had he been waiting for this moment? Thinking about those heartbreaking days, why would he want to take his eyes off the girl in front of him, even for a moment?
The girl with bright blue hair is held up in the boy's arms and they stare at each other closely.
Her large round eyes twinkled, and her adorable face showed signs of a weak will. The expression "sleepy-eyed" seems appropriate, but it's not wrong. In fact, she has just woken up from a long, long sleep. It was only natural that her mind was not working properly and that she was a little slow to recognize reality.
Rem: [...He, ro]
Her trembling lips repeated the previous boy's words, as if she were ruminating on them. In response, the boy - Natsuki Subaru - nodded back repeatedly, [Yeah, yeah.]
Subaru: [That's right. That's right, Rem. I'm your hero. I'll always be your….]
Trying to control the trembling in his own voice, Subaru tries to pick up the voice of the girl ... Rem. Perhaps it was the dryness in her mouth, but Rem's tongue and lips could not articulate sounds properly. Nevertheless, Subaru put his ear to her lips as she tried to say something, and tried to hear every word she said. He was shaking with joy that Rem was even moving like that, trying to tell him something.
Rem: [... U.]
Subaru: [What is it? There’s no need to rush. Rem, what are you trying to tell me…...?]
The words that he tried to continue with, “Are you trying to tell me?”, were cut off. As soon as he put his ear to Rem's mouth and concentrated on hearing her words, Subaru's head and chin were caught by an outstretched hand. As it was, Subaru’s voice was turned over with a “Ue!?” and not only his voice, but his body was turned over as well. That too--,
Subaru: [......Re, Rem?]
It was Rem, who had switched positions and was now on top of Subaru. Subaru's vision suddenly flickers, and he is unable to react immediately. Looking down at Subaru from directly above, Rem's blue eyes surveyed his entire body. Then she exhaled quietly and said,
Rem: [What exactly is your purpose? What are you going to do to me!?]
Rem: [A hero, suddenly… and who is this Rem you speak of? Answer me!]
With her knees on both of Subaru's shoulders, sealing his movements, Rem's hands are on Subaru's neck. Under the pressure of her weight, Subaru gasped in pain and flopped his legs. However, Rem's skill in restraint was outstanding. It was as if he could not regain his freedom.
Subaru: [Ku, ah, biah……]
Rem: [If you won't talk, I can just keep going until you want to. There's no point in prolonging it. Now, answer me this. Your objective is……]
Whether she was doing it on purpose, or whether she was a natural and didn't realize it, Rem's hand strength squeezing Subaru's neck was so strong that he had no time to answer her question. The lack of oxygen was starting to make him feel dizzy, and he knew that Rem would strangle him if he didn't stop. It was a one-sided reunion, but he couldn't and wouldn’t accept that it would end like this.
Even if she doesn't remember a single thing about her and Subaru.
Subaru: [Oh, ah…...]
Rem: [What is it? If you're going to talk to me, you’re going to have to be sincere--]
Rem had just frowned at Subaru's struggling.
Suddenly, a figure jumped at them from the side and vigorously pushed away Rem's body as she was mounted on Subaru. --No, it was more accurate to say that they got tangled together and rolled on the grass, rather than pushing her away. The weight atop Subaru disappeared and he turned his head to the side and said, “Geez! Geez!” He coughed and looked at Rem, who had rolled away from him, his eyes filled with tears due to factors other than the excitement of the reunion. Then he saw Rem and a young girl entwined together.
Louis: [Unh! Unhh!]
Rem: [What, what are you… stop it! Right now……]
Subaru's mind went blank at the sight of the blonde girl sprawled over Rem on the grass, teeth bared and face red as she growled. Gasping for breath, Subaru immediately stood up and ran over to Rem and the girl. And then--
Subaru: [You! Get away from Rem, you bastard!]
Louis: [Ah-, uh-!!]
Brushing away the hand that tried to grab Rem's hair, Subaru chokes the girl - Louis Arneb, the Sin Archbishop, and pulls her off Rem.
The light body of “Gluttony” flails in his arms, but the most the girl can do in defiance is to kick her legs. The only other resistance she put up was some Growling and writhing, but she didn't try to fight back any further.
Louis: [Aaah-! Uh-uh-uh-uh!]
Subaru: [Damn, what the hell is up with her......! Just flapping and… yeah, be quiet! Rem, are you okay? Are you all right?]
Rem: [No, I'm fine. In fact, you're the one who's been doing a lot for a while now……]
Subaru presses down on Louis, who is trying to flail her arms and legs, and Rem responds to his call with a furrowed brow. As it was, she kept her eyes fixed on them, and slowly tried to get up on the spot--
Suddenly Rem’s knee buckled, and she fell to the floor. The way she slumped down looked unnatural, and Subaru couldn't help but roll his eyes. However, she didn’t meet his gaze and, confused, put her hands on her knees and tried to stand up once more. But--
Rem: [...My feet, won’t do what I want them to do.]
Subaru: [What? You can’t stand?]
Rem: [No, no, that can't be... this, this is...]
Subaru's voice stiffens, and Rem responds quickly, once again trying to put some strength into her legs. But the more desperate she became, the more serious the situation became. Far from standing up, her legs were not following her intentions well.
Subaru: [Did your legs and feet get weak from sleeping so long? No... the strength in your arms earlier was not that of someone who was bedridden.]
It is often heard that prolonged hospitalization causes the body to lose muscle strength from lack of exercise. It is also well known that this causes weakness in the legs and feet, and that rehabilitation is required even to stand and walk, but is it possible that such effects are limited to the legs and feet? It's not like one was still moving their upper body while in the hospital. In Rem's case, she had been bedridden for over a year. If she was going to get weaker, she should have gotten weaker all over. And yet, the strange way in which Rem's body is showing signs of discomfort is...
Subaru: [--Is this some kind of feedback from your sister's fight?]
This was the thought that crossed Subaru's mind as he tried to identify the cause of the changes that were occurring in Rem's body.
In the “Green Room”, he had heard about the deadly battle between the deadly Sin Archbishop of "Gluttony", Ley, and Ram. Ram, who was forced into a corner because of Subaru's inability to take on her pain, chose to share the burden with Rem instead. As a result, the burden of Ram, who was said to be the strongest among the oni tribe, flowed into Rem, and he remembered that Ram had said that she didn't know what kind of effect it would have on her. If that's true, then...
Subaru: [...It’s my fault]
If Ram had asked him, he would have reprimanded her for being so smug once again. However, if Subaru failed to complete the task he took on, and as a result, Ram was reckless and that affected Rem, then it was Subaru's fault.
With no one around to rely on but Subaru, Rem, and Louis, who for some reason keeps acting strangely, the responsibility is even heavier.
Rem: [It's your fault... you, you did something to me!]
Subaru: [No, that was just a figure of speech...]
Rem: [In the first place! Who are you and who am I!?]
Slapping her limp leg hard, Rem glared at Subaru with furious eyes. Hearing Rem’s heartbreaking complaint, as if she was throwing a tantrum, Subaru felt bitter that his unpleasant imagination had come true.
--Who am I, Rem said.
“Who are you" was still better. However, the question of who she was was terribly piercing to Subaru, who had been waiting to be reunited with Rem in this way. He had a hunch from the fact that she had called herself "I" instead of "Rem".
Subaru: [......Is she in the same condition as Crusch-san?]
Rem was deprived of her “name” and her “memory” and was forced to sleep. There are two other patterns of victims of “Gluttony”: Julius who has lost his “name” and has been forgotten by the people around him, and Crusch, who had been robbed of her “memory” and lost herself. Rem woke up in a state of amnesia, waking up with no "memory" of herself. In such an incomprehensible situation, with a boy with evil eyes, a girl who only roars, and with her own legs not working, it was natural to be confused.
Louis, who had been quiet for some time, perhaps tired from her rampage, was dropped from the arms of a weakening Subaru's and screamed, falling on her butt. Louis rubs her backside and quickly rolls away. Without paying any attention to her, Subaru slowly walks towards Rem. Rem looks at Subaru's approach with a strong sense of caution in her eyes.
The look in her eyes reminded him of the first time Rem had turned hostile against him. It's easy to forget because they were so close after they got to know each other, but Rem was originally shy and getting to know her was difficult. In this respect, it's much easier to deal with Ram, whose responses never changed from before to after they became friends. … It's a scary fact that, according to one theory, they may not have actually gotten along at all.
Subaru: [Aside from onee-san…]
Rem: [What is it? I'll tell you what, if you're going to do something to me……]
Rem's expression, stiff with tension, turns into a dazed look. Stopping in his tracks, Subaru kept his distance, out of reach with a single step.
Subaru: [It's Rem. That's your name.]
He called her name again.
He said it softly, and Rem fell silent, unable to hide her confusion. But as she moved her red tongue, which was faintly visible behind her lips, she repeated "Rem" as if to confirm it. As if to reaffirm to herself that it was her name.
Subaru: [To be honest with you, I’m not exactly sure what happened either, but we’re separated from the people we were with and we’re in an unknown place. You know that’s bad, right?]
Rem's eyes check the surrounding grassland instead of Subaru, leaving him puzzled. The wind is blowing through the meadow, the sun is high in the sky, and his skin feels the moist climate. It was a feeling of wetness, different from the dry air of the Augurian dunes. He is in such a different place that the taste of the air has changed. In other words--
Subaru: [We can't expect immediate help. We have to do something to help ourselves get out of here. So…...]
Rem: [So, what is it? What do you want me to do? I can't even move my legs.]
Subaru: [......I know this is going to sound suspicious again, but I just want you to be here. If you breathe, if you talk, if you look around with your eyes, that's all I need.]
Rem: [--? Do you mean that I should let you know if I spot something dangerous?]
Subaru: [Not exactly. But that's okay.]
All he wanted was for Rem to wake up, breathe and talk to him. It's a very greedy thing to say, but Subaru only wanted the awakened Rem to be healthy.
Of course, the problem of the missing “memory” must be solved, and Emilia, Beatrice, and Ram, and the others in the tower, must be very worried about them. He wants to join them soon. … He wants Rem and Ram to meet. For Ram, who had been so loving to her sister, whom she could not remember.
Subaru: [Please, can you just trust me for this moment? Even if it costs you your life......no, it's meaningless if it costs you your life, so I'll protect you with my life. I promise.]
Rem: [-- If I were to accept your offer, what would you do?]
Subaru: [Yeah, that' s right. We can't move without a plan, and the best way to do that is to go to...]
In response to Rem's cautious question, Subaru thinks of the information he needs to make a decision. As mentioned earlier, Subaru and the others were in a large grassland, but they could also see large trees growing around the perimeter of the field. Their view of the horizon was blocked in all directions, as the tops of the trees prevented them from looking any further. It seemed that Subaru and the others were in an open meadow in a forest. To be honest, entering a forest in a place where one doesn't know where one is is just dangerous, but...
Subaru: [The first rule of thumb if you get lost in the woods, use GPS to let your friends know where you are.]
Subaru: [I know. Those don't exist here ... But, Beako has a connection with me, so there's a chance that she can track me down with something similar. In a way, you could say that my very existence is a GPS.]
There is a possibility that Ram can locate Rem through her synesthesia. And if that were true, Subaru and Rem both played the role of GPS for their friends.
Subaru: [Now it's important to secure a water source, no matter what. I think it would be a good idea to set up a base camp and expand the search area from there. I'm not sure if there are any grasses or fruits that we can eat. ...... Oh, it was a good decision to learn from Clind. He was a master of many things...]
In the process of learning parkour and wielding a whip, Clind has instilled in Subaru knowledge and various skills. He often made noises in his teachings, a versatile decree, but thanks to his knowledge, Subaru can use his guidelines for this situation. Anyway...
Subaru: [There's a lot more to it than that, but I'm not trying to move anywhere without a plan. Do you understand me?]
Rem: [...To some extent. Even if I wanted to resist, I'm in this state.]
Subaru: [...It's a subtle glimpse of your true intentions.]
Subaru tried to smile to reassure her, but Rem's reaction was not good. Having lost her memories, she had no reason to trust Subaru. If her legs had been free, she would have escaped long ago. He doesn't want to think of the misfortune that happened to her as a blessing, though.
Subaru: [I hope you'll be able to move your legs soon.]
Rem: [...Well, I don’t know if you mean it. What are you going to do?]
Subaru: [I told you. We’re going to look for water first. I'd appreciate it if you didn't go against me because of your legs...]
With that, Subaru closed the distance with Rem and turned his back to her and crouched.
By looking at his posture, Rem would have understood what Subaru was trying to do.
Rem: [Are you going to take me on your back?]
Subaru: [Well, there is the option of carrying you as a princess, but that won't last very long. I’d personally appreciate it if I could carry you on my back.]
After a moment of silence, Rem stared at the pitiful-looking Subaru. Then, sighing slowly, she timidly reached for Subaru's back. Rem's thin arms passed over his shoulders and tied themselves in front of his chest. Feeling a soft weight on his back, Subaru slowly stood up, trying not to shake her as she clung to him.
He can feel the weight of Rem. However, as he carried her on his back, he thought that she was light. In the past year, He had the opportunity to carry Rem while she was still asleep many times, and in each case, he experienced the difficulty of carrying an unconscious person. But he doesn't feel that way now with Rem, who is clinging to him like this.
Rem: [....? Is there something wrong?]
Subaru: [No, I was just feeling strangely emotional. So, time to look for water.]
Rem: [But first, what are you going to do about ... the girl?]
Rem pushed her chin over his shoulder, and when he saw where she was pointing, Subaru remembered one of their problems. On the grassy field, rubbing her bruised buttocks, was Louis, who was tangled in her own long blond hair.
--What should he do with this strange-looking Sin Archbishop?
As expected, Subaru knew that Louis' current state was unnatural. Originally, she had a mental state that could not be called normal, but that meant that she was vicious, not that she had this regressive infantile side.
Rather, she was intelligent for her age, and there was room for such devilish thoughts as licking the wisps of her opponent's mind at will. But now, what was she?
Louis: [Ahhhh, ahhhhh...]
As soon as she woke up, she was licking Subaru's face, growling like an infant who didn't know how to speak, and throwing a tantrum like a baby. There was no doubt that something unfathomable had happened to Louis' spirit. However...
Subaru: [Is that any reason for me to feel sorry for that girl?]
She is an unforgivable evil. That fact is absolutely unshakeable. In their last meeting, when they had met in the Corridor of Memories, Louis had been so traumatized by what she experienced by using "Return By Death" that she was afraid of everything in this world, not just Subaru. At that point, she had become a pathetic girl.
However, Subaru did not save her. He didn't even want to save her. With so many options, it was the Sin Archbishops who constantly made choices that were against humanity and finally lost sight of the opportunity to correct them. Her two brothers and herself are no exceptions. By committing an unforgivable evil, Louis Arneb turned into an animal worthy of going to hell... Why would Subaru have to save such a person?
Rem: [Why don't you help her?]
Subaru: [...It's complicated. I've been in the same position as her, but it doesn't mean we're buddies. In fact, she's the opposite of a friend. Leaving her alone won't hurt my heart.]
Behind him, behind his back, he could see that Rem had choked up, which was an inevitable reaction. To Rem, who didn't know what was going on, Louis was probably just as young and helpless as she looked. Even if the reality was that she was one of the blasphemers who played with the lives of many. So, Subaru had one choice.
Subaru: [I'm leaving her behind. We can't take any dangerous elements with us, ... let alone slow us down.]
Picking up Louis from the tower, from the encroaching shadows, was a misjudgement. If they had abandoned her, Subaru and Rem might have been able to avoid this. She was a girl who would cause a bunch of trouble and not help at all.
Rem: [Is that so?]
Subaru: [Yeah, I know. I'm not exactly the most likeable guy either...]
The first priority should be Rem and Subaru themselves. He can't misunderstand that. With that in mind, Subaru ignores Louis who was lying down and went to the forest opposite her...
Rem: [It seems I was right to believe in myself, even if it was in vain.]
It was a very cold and thirsty voice. At the sound of the voice whispered close to him, right in his ear, Subaru let out a gasp. However, without allowing for any further reaction, a thin arm wrapped around Subaru's neck.
--Rem being carried on his back, was strangling Subaru's neck from behind.
Rem: [You trick me with sweet talk, and then you abandon that girl. How can I trust such a person when he asks me to trust him? Please don't be so foolish.]
The power of the arm around his neck, unlike her crippled legs, is the arm strength of the oni tribe itself. Unable to pull her off, Subaru's breathing was completely blocked. He turns himself around and falls onto the grass, though he had not aimed to do so. However, even though Subaru is trapped underneath her, Rem does not remove her arm. Because she's on top of his back, he can't swing his arm to shake her off.
“Why?”, the question fills his head, There was no reason. It's just like Rem said. In front of her, who didn't know and didn't understand anything, Subaru was too hasty. He got what he deserved, and now...
Rem: [You can't have such an evil stench and say you're not up to anything!]
The evil stench, Subaru remembered when he was first told about it. When he first met Rem, the main reason why she was suspicious of him and considered him dangerous was never because of his bad first impression or his evil looking eyes.
...The “Witch’s Scent.”
Even Rem, who has lost her “memory” and has nothing but herself, can still sense it. This was the biggest factor that made Rem suspicious. It was too late for him to remember or realize that.
He tried desperately to wriggle out of it and make an excuse, but it was futile. As it was, Subaru's consciousness was slowly, slowly falling into the depths of darkness.
He shouted desperately that he didn't want Rem to kill him. His voice was inaudible.
Subaru: [Mhmmm ….. Rem!]
The sudden awakening of his consciousness makes Subaru sit up rapidly. Coughing and spitting out the tangled phlegm from his sore throat that had been recently strangled, Subaru somehow managed to sit up and look around.
The place that Subaru was sitting in was a grassy field. It was a familiar sight, but he knew immediately that it was not the same feeling brought on by "Return by Death".
It was because there is no sign of Rem or Louis around here.
Subaru: [This is where I was sent to ... that's for sure.]
Subaru thought back to just before, as soon as he touched his neck, the pain brought back bad memories. He was strangled by Rem who had him on his back and took his life. No, that wasn’t it.
Subaru: [My neck hurts ... which means Rem didn't kill me.]
Subaru had been strangled, but not killed. He was surprised at Rem's cold judgement, Subaru breathed a sigh of relief and immediately reminded himself that this was not the time for such reassurances.
He didn't die. In other words, the world continued on from the worst of what had just happened. Rem was still suspicious of Subaru’s humanity because of the “Witch's Scent”, and she was left with the worst possible impression of Subaru. The reason why the two of them are not here is probably because they tried to escape from Subaru. In the end, Rem was disgusted with Subaru's decision to leave Louis behind. He must have looked like a cruel man, abandoning that young child in a strange meadow.
Subaru: [She may not believe me when I tell her that it's a misunderstanding.]
Regretting his own errors in judgment, Subaru tenses his cheeks and stands up.
Looking at the sky, he can see not much time has passed since the sun was setting. Subaru hates to say that this is also a blessing, but Rem's legs are still weak. She can't run very far with those legs. As proof of this...
Subaru: [There are drag marks on the grass...! I can chase after them!]
Without any clues, the two fled into the vast surrounding forest. It was the beginning of an impossible chase. However, if Subaru follows the traces on the grass, he can find out where they entered the forest. Whether he could track them further from there was a gamble.
Subaru: [It's probably a bad bet, but I've made many bad bets before!]
Subaru shouted something not very praiseworthy and furiously followed the trail in the grass. Subaru could immediately pinpoint the location where they had entered the forest. It was densely covered with trees, and Subaru's impression was that it was somewhat like a tropical rainforest. For a moment, he remembers from a TV show that the Amazon jungle was a deadly place for humans.
Subaru: [If Rem entered such a place, I have to go in.]
Both Subaru and Rem are here without any preparation for entering the forest. When Subaru thinks of Rem, desperately fleeing in the forest on crippled legs, Subaru can't help but curse each and every rash decision he has made, wondering how stupid he was.
Subaru: [...Rem! Come out! Please! I'm sorry!]
Subaru calls out loudly as he steps across the soft ground and large grass in the forest. Of course, there was a chance that this voice would make Rem uneasy and keep her and Louis away. Still, it was better than wandering around the forest without any clues.
More than anything, if Subaru didn't keep acting like he was doing something to find Rem, he would feel guilty and hate himself for it. So many people had worked so hard for Rem, but if something happened to her, how could Subaru apologize? Even dying to apologize was not something he could do.
Subaru: [Rem! Where are you! Answer me! Please, don't leave my side!]
Subaru doesn't care if his voice dries up, he raises his voice in the dense forest blocked by trees. As he did so, his limbs grew heavy as he made his way through the forest, and he felt immensely tired. Thinking back, Subaru's body had only slept for a few hours after the fierce battle at the Pleiades Watchtower. Even though the healing of the spirits in the “Green Room” had helped his recovery, it was still a drop in the bucket.
If he was not careful, he might collapse in relief as soon as he finds Rem. Wary of such a ridiculous possibility, Subaru wanders through the forest...
Subaru: [Rem! Please answer me! Please, I'm sorry!]
Subaru forms a makeshift microphone with his hands and continues to shout loudly. It was a plea from the bottom of his heart, but there was no reply from her, and Subaru's heart was wanning. As it was, he chases after Rem, desperately staring into the trees of the forest...
As he opened his mouth to call out Rem's name again, something appeared at the edge of his vision. It was a faint change that peeks through the gap between the trees and beyond the thick foliage. Subaru sees that it moves differently from the grass swaying in the wind.
It was this moment when Subaru turns his head towards what he saw with hope.
--The impact came at a tremendous speed hitting Subaru squarely in the chest.
Without being able to raise a scream, the impact lifts him off his feet and sends his body flying backwards. Subaru slams into the back of a trunk from the furious force and chokes for breath.
Subaru: [What's ... this ...?]
The blow from the gap in the trees directly in front of him confuses his thoughts and makes him dizzy. However, considering the impact he had received, he knew immediately that it was an attack. Therefore, Subaru jumped out of the way before he could collect his thoughts. However, he could not jump away. Because...
This was because the thick arrow that had pierced Subaru's chest had gone straight through his back and nailed him to the large tree behind him.
Subaru: [Where, was ... I ... hit?]
As soon as Subaru became aware of this, blood began filling his throat all at once, and was vomited out.
A large amount of blood flowed from the pierced and torn internal organs and other parts of his body. It would not stop. Gurgling out blood instead of breathing, Subaru struggled to breathe again.
In pain, he grabbed the arrow in his chest and tried to pull it out. It didn't budge. Firmly, the arrow sticks Subaru to the tree, blocking his movement.
What the heck is this arrow?
It was an inexplicably, uncommonly thick and strong arrow strike. It was a strong bow, and his pierced body was nailed down like a lab specimen, ugly and scratching his feet.
Subaru: [Ahh ... Re ... ahh ... m]
Through the gaps in the overflowing blood, he calls out her name, she should still be in the forest. The unspeakable call is a warning of the threat lurking in the forest. Someone lurking in the forest took aim at him with a bow and arrow. And Subaru, in vain, failed to reach Rem, and thus, without being able to do anything...
What the hell is going on here? Where was he and what should he do? The heat and the pain that he had realized too late spread throughout his body, and blood flowed out of his eyes, nose, and ears.
Feeling the sensation of being lost and emptied out, and feeling cold "death" approaching, Subaru desperately squints, shakes his throat, and calls out her name until the very end.
…He calls her name until the very end.
While the blood he gurgles covers him, he keeps calling her name, calling her name, calling her name, until the very end.
He keeps calling...