Immediately after Subaru felt a sharp impact on his right hand, the whip he was holding was ripped out of his hands. He immediately put all his strength into his hand to resist, but he was no match for the opposing force, and instead he fell forward and was flipped over onto the ground with an "Oh!".
???: [You have to stay diligent every day. You are still lacking in training. Lousy.]
Subaru: [I don't know how to respond to that...]
Subaru collapsed to the ground, frowning at the scathing remarks raining down upon him. As he slowly sat up, his gaze met with a beautiful face. He was a man with carefully tied back dark blue hair and sharp, reptilian, eyes. His monocle and butler's uniform give the impression of a smart and neat worker. His name is--
???: [Clind! How dare you be so rude to Subaru-sama!]
Without saying a word, the young man called "Clind" silently turned his gaze to the side. The figure of a tall woman slowly came into view..
The woman had beautiful, green eyes and long, golden hair which shook back and forth with each step. She appeared as the epitome of a stylish and beautiful woman. In her black and white maid’s uniform, she directed no attention to Clind as she walked directly to Subaru, who was currently getting himself up off the ground. With great care, and the finesse of a superior maid, she offered Subaru a white hand towel, which he accepted.
???: [Is everything alright Subaru-sama? From what I can see, it seems your face hit the ground...]
Subaru: [Oh, I'm fine, Frederica. My clothes got a little dirty, but that's normal.]
He graciously accepts the hand towel and wipes his face, but the beautiful Frederica watches Subaru with concern, and persists in her worry.
Frederica: [This is…]
However, Clind shrugged his shoulders at Frederica’s kind words
Clind: [As Subaru-Sama said, this is normal practice for him. In fact, you're the one making a big deal out of it and embarrassing Subaru-sama, aren't you? Meddling.]
Frederica's face reddened at Clind's remark, and she showed her sharp teeth and ever sharper gaze. As the two of them began to glare at each other, Subaru felt like shaking his head, thinking, "here we go again..."
Clind and Frederica...
In their butler and maid’s clothes, they are both servants of the Mathers family. He was told that they had known each other for a long time, but despite this, their relationship was not so great. Normally, they are both polite, attentive, and capable servants, but when they come into contact with each other, an argument immediately sparks up. Sometimes it's a very high-level exchange of opinions as servants about the political affairs of Roswaal, and other times it's just a silly argument about who has the right of way in the hallway. To put it bluntly, they don't see eye to eye.
Subaru: [Frederica, I'm glad you're worried about me, but I'm fine.]
Frederica: [No, I'm not worried about you, Subaru-sama. I'm just annoyed by this man's pretentious face, attitude, and inconsiderate comments...!]
Subaru: [Oh, you aren't worried about me!? Well that’s embarrassing!]
Frederica: [Oh, no! It's not that I'm not worried about you! Of course I'm worried about you, Subaru-sama. Not just me, but Petra as well.]
Frederica blurted Petra's name out before she could stop herself, and Subaru couldn’t do anything in response but scratch his cheek and force out a laugh. Excluding Ram, all the women of the household are particularly worried about leaving Petra to her own devices. The truth is that Frederica was asked to watch Subaru instead of Petra, since the little maid could not keep her hands off.
Subaru: [I'm the one who asked for it. I'm prepared to be a Spartan... No matter what, I must remove my weaknesses before the master returns to Annerose’'s place.]
Clind: [That's a good resolution. I'm sure I'll be able to put the same effort into teaching you. Inspiration.]
When Clind heard Subaru's answer, he swung his arm, and the ivory whip in his hand snapped in the air. Wielding the same weapon, Clind helped Subaru learn. Respecting his skills and position, Subaru called Clind his master.
Subaru: [In fact, if I hadn't found a teacher, there would’ve been a limit to how much I could learn on my own.. It's nice to have someone close to me who can use a whip.]
Clind: [I'm honored to be of service. Delighted. However, there are others who can use the whip besides me. Candidates.]
Subaru: [What, there are others who use it? I mean, Ram can control the verbal whip, it's not like that right?]
Frederica: [Subaru-sama, such an idea is not... though in Ram’s case, it cannot be denied.]
Frederica made a bitter face at Subaru's light-hearted comment, he picked up his dropped whip and prepared for the next attack. Clind quietly compares the two and closes the eye under his monocle.
Clind: [It's easy. The master of the house. Almighty.]
Subaru: [Then I definitely don't want to be taught!]
As he said this, Subaru stepped over the seemingly impossible choice and swung his whip. At top speed the whip is seriously fast, even faster than the speed of sound. The tip of the whip roars towards the firewood in front of them..
Subaru tries to wrap the whip around the firewood and pull it towards himself. This was the challenge given to Subaru by Clind, and it was a high hurdle that until today, he had never gotten over, It wasn't purely because of Subaru’s inexperience that he couldn't catch the firewood with his whip.
Clind: [Your aim is too obvious. Block.]
Clind's whip strikes off the tip of Subaru’s whip with terrifying accuracy. Avoiding this obstruction and pulling the wood towards him with the whip was the requirement of the task. It is true that Subaru has never been able to overcome this challenge.
Clind: [Hit where you aim, catch what you aim at, and achieve what you aim for. You must be able to bear the fruit of choosing the whip instead of relying on the sword or spear. Pointless.]
Subaru: [Da! De! Doh! Shit! I'll be struck down with a cool face! I don't need you to tell me that! This is the only way to make use of my cleverness...!]
As he tried to pull in the whip, the tip of it was caught by Clind again. It was too late when he realized that fact. The next moment, Subaru was knocked off balance and easily pulled down by Clind, who was hardly even trying.
Subaru: [What a strike!]
Clind: [That was a flashy move. It's important to be passive, too. Vigilance.]
Frederica: [Su- Subaru-sama!]
Frederica rushed over to Subaru, who had fallen forward once again. This time, he was struck in the face and blood was spilling from his nose. Fredrica hurriedly covered it with a hand towel.
Frederica: [Clind, this is too much, no matter how you look at it!]
Clind: [Considering Subaru-sama's position, it can't be helped. Necessary. You mustn't interfere too much with the man's determination. Understand.]
Frederica: [A man’s determination…?]
Frederica looked skeptical, but Clind shook his head. With stern eyes he looked at Subaru, who was wiping his nose.
Clind: [Subaru-sama, I appreciate your attitude in asking me to teach you. Admirable. As you stand beside Emilia-sama as a knight, you must have the strength to protect her and yourself. Essential.]
Subaru: [...Oh, I know. I'm grateful you're being so strict with me.]
Even with blood spilling out of his nose, Subaru's morale was unbreakable. Seeing this, Frederica also pursed her lips.
Frederica: [These men, they’re as dumb as Garf, aren’t they? ......]
Subaru: [It would have been a great help if we had his stupidity and his strength, but that doesn't seem to be the case.]
He held his nose and blew blood out of one nostril at a time, forcing the nosebleeds to stop. Looking over at Subaru, who stood up, Clind lifted his chin.
Clind: [Your positive and unstoppable attitude... is really pleasant. Expectations.]
Subaru: [Well, thank you. The better I handle the whip, the more options I'll have. The more options I have, the stronger I’ll be.]
Clind: [Yes. But don't be overconfident; it's not every day that Subaru-sama has to fight alone. Backup.]
Clind lowered his chin, and indicated his comment towards Frederica. Starting with her, Subaru is surrounded by Garfiel, Otto, and most importantly, Beatrice, who is closest to him. And of course, Emilia. So, Clind's point is correct. Subaru's fight is not about Subaru taking credit for himself, but about making the most of someone of his companions.
Subaru: [By the way, what should I do if I accidentally find myself in a situation where it's just me?]
Clind: [You should run away. Haste.]
It was a joking remark, but Clind didn't laugh. It was the kind of situation that almost never happened, but that still didn't mean it wouldn't. In such a trapped and desperate situation, Clind's advice was straightforward.
Clind: [Escape, Subaru-sama. Run away at once, with all your might, without any pretense. That is your best bet. Only.]
Subaru: [That ending makes it sound like there's no other way, rather than a better way. ......]
Neither does Clind answer those words nor does he change his expression. Subaru has no need to answer. After all, it's proof that he's right.
Subaru: [Damn it, my master is relentless!]
Frederica: [He's always been like that, you know. He's been strict with his prospective partners, and even though he's... strict with them, when he's not interested in them anymore, he just throws them away. Coldly and cruelly.]
Subaru: [Derica-san? What's with the coldness in your voice?]
Feeling the killing power that would be cut off when touched, Frederica turned away in a sullen mood, saying, "I don't know!" to Subaru, who asked quietly. She then dusted off the hem of her maid's uniform.
Frederica: [I've decided. I, too, support the success of Subaru-sama's training. Please let me scratch that Clind’s icy face.]
Subaru: [That's a pretty tough request...!]
Frederica: [Oh, this coming from the person who wants Emilia-sama to be the king?]
Subaru was sure she's a talented maid, and a top-notch provocateur. Subaru was amazed at Frederica's words and nodded with a bad smile, "Sure." Then he held his whip powerfully.
Subaru: [If you can't do it, you're not a man! I'll do it. Watch me!]
With a brave shout, Subaru swung the whip with all his might. With a sharp trajectory, the tip of the whip flew straight into the air toward the stump.
Clind: [Your enthusiasm is admirable, but your skill is poor. Unskillful.]
Once again, he was pulled down to the ground, face-first, as hard as he could.
A large tree was snapped above Subaru's head, and a shock wave was felt over his entire body. Lying on his back, Subaru spat out the rusty blood that filled his mouth.
In his arms, there is the soft, warm body of Rem. She has both her hands and feet. Apparently, they had succeeded in evading the arrow strike. If that's all he knows, this moment is as good as it gets.
Rem: [What the hell did you just do?]
Subaru: [Shut up or I'll bite my tongue!]
Rem's reaction was delayed by the suddenness of the situation, but he didn't listen to her rebuttal. Subaru tried to stand up with Rem in his arms, but fell forward, then backward, and rolled vigorously. In his arms, he could hear Rem stifling a scream, but it was interrupted by a louder sound - the roar of a large, snapped tree coming down.
The place where Subaru and Rem had been lying just moments before was crushed by the tree. The other trees caught in its fall alo fell, spreading the already rampant deforestation. As a human being who lives by nature, he was terribly pained by this fact, but...
Subaru: [... This is my priority right now!]
Despite the dust from the fallen trees, Subaru continues to roll, and despite the difficulty of holding onto Rem, he pulls himself up by force with foolish strength and adrenaline, as if he was in a fire. As he rolled and rolled and rolled, the ground unexpectedly disappeared.
The floating sensation was only momentary, and soon the ground caught them as they fell. A number of fallen trees and a large hole filled with earth and sand - it was a pit that Rem had made to trap Subaru. By rolling into the hole, he had cut off his opponent's line of fire. However, that does not mean that they had got off totally scot-free.
Subaru: [Urg... you broke them...!]
The left arm that selflessly embraced Rem, and the fingers that she grabbed were snapped. All but his thumb and index finger, that is, his middle finger, ring finger and little finger, were annihilated. Rem, who had fallen into the same big hole, crawled away from Subaru, who was writhing in agony, trying not to look directly at the fingers that were pointing in strange directions.
Rem: [Of course! What the hell is going on in... all of a sudden like that!]
Subaru: [...I failed to tell you, but there's a dangerous hunter in the woods. This almost eliminates the possibility that he misfired for the purpose of hunting deer, though… zhu]
With greasy sweat on his forehead, Subaru straightened out his three broken fingers and fixed them with a hand towel, temporarily using one of the branches as a splint. It was fortunate that it was the fingers on his left hand that were broken. If it had been his dominant hand that handled the whip, Subaru's strength would have been reduced to that of a schoolboy.
Rem: [A dangerous hunter... isn't he on your side?]
Subaru: [Would an ally fire at me with such vigor? In general, what's the point of firing at me... whoa!]
The moment he gently poked his head out of the hole and tried to look outside, the fallen tree right in front of him exploded. It seems that the hunter began to prioritize clearing his vision first in order to shoot at Subaru and Rem. They have seen that we have no means of long-range attack.
Subaru: [Normally, the theory should be that snipers should change their position as soon as their position is known... Shit, they're licking my brains. I ain't got nothing to say back, though.]
Rem: [... This is the power of a bow and arrow? I can't believe it. This is not normal.]
Subaru: [Ah! I think so too! I bet if I got shot, I'd have a huge hole in my chest!]
In fact, last time the result was that he was shot with an arrow and stuck directly to a tree to die like an insect specimen. However, it was not without its oddities… The last time, Subaru went to the opposite forest.
Subaru: [Why the hell are you coming here...?]
The pain coming from the broken finger poked at Subaru's brain like a drill. Subaru desperately exercised his thoughts, biting his back teeth to the point of them being painfully cracked.
It's hard to imagine that this hunter and the hunter who killed "Subaru" are two different people. Both of them had attacked Subaru, and they both had the same weapon, a strong bow. The question is whether the attack was accidental or a targeted one.
Either way, the question remains as to why they targeted Subaru at this moment. It's true that Subaru and Rem were facing each other, and that Subaru was on the ropes because of her rejection, but that doesn't mean that it was in a better position to aim for than before.
In addition, if the other party was actively targeting them, it would raise the possibility that they were being followed. The situation is still vague, but they don't know how Subaru and the others were sent from the Pleiades Watchtower. It's possible that they flew through the sky like a shooting star and crashed into that grassland. Of course, in that case, it would have been a different situation, since it would have been impossible to explain unless Subaru's fragile body, aside from Rem, had been shattered.
Subaru: [They're aiming for a suspicious person who fell into this place, or...]
Or that this was private property and they were trying to chase off a trespasser in a radical manner. Subaru's not sure if he should take it as a sign that the hunter ... contrary to the accuracy of his bow is not very good.
Subaru: [Then I guess we can discuss it! Hey! There's nothing hostile about me! It's just a coincidence that we're in this forest...]
Rem: [Wait a minute! Are you saying that you are including me and that girl? I don't want to be lumped in with you!]
Subaru: [This is not the time to be talking like that.]
The reply to Subaru's call for a ceasefire was a single arrow that gouged the ground. The fierce power that erased the argument with Rem on it’s way will wipe out all obstacles in sight, and bare its fangs at Subaru and Rem in the big hole.
Rem: [Apparently, it's not someone you can talk to. ......]
Subaru: [If the opponent is an archer, you have to assume the possibility that they will hit you with a curved shot... If you are set up for hours, like a serious sniper... No, it's not like looking through a scope with a bow and arrow, so it is impossible to sit around for a long time?]
Often in movies and manga, scenes where a sniper handling a sniper rifle waits for prey for hours will appear, but bow and arrow will be different. Unlike a gun where you only need to move the trigger, an arrow must be attached to the bow and the string must be pulled. Even people with uncommon physical strength in other worlds have their limits. If that's the case, the enemy hunters will be looking for...
Subaru: [Short term battle.]
Thinking that the other party would make some kind of move in the not-too-distant future, Subaru set a time limit for himself, saying that he could not afford to think for too long. As long as the other party has no intention of agreeing to talks, a battle is inevitable. And even though the fight is inevitable, the cards available are too meager.
Subaru: [As my master taught me, there is only one option, to escape.]
Fortunately, thanks to the fact that they had jumped into the big hole, the other party could not see the position of Subaru and Rem. If they climbed up from the other side of the hole and lowered their posture to escape, they might be able to escape into the bushes. Or--
Rem: [...? What's wrong with you, suddenly shutting up? Weren't you just now making plans to escape?]
Subaru: [...It's indeed an emergency situation, and it looks like you're ready to listen to me.]
Raising a shapely eyebrow, Rem folded her knees on the dirt and looked uncomfortable. However, she seems to have understood that she cannot afford to argue with Subaru as long as he does not immediately attack her. A temporary truce, and if her hostility could be retracted at least once, it would be easier.
Subaru: [Rem, listen to me. I'll jump out and get his attention. In the meantime, you're going to climb up the other side of the hole and take shelter.]
Subaru: [The power of his arrows is bad enough, but if you want to shield yourself, the green wilderness is all you need. I'll buy you some time, and you can run.]
To take Rem with him or having Rem run ahead of him. Subaru wondered which would have a higher success rate, the latter of course. No matter how skilled the opponent was with a bow, this was a dense forest, and Subaru had to take into account the possibility of arrows flying at him. It would not be an easy shot.
Subaru: [If I can buy enough time, I'll run away too. However, I don't want to be separated from you when you run away, so please leave me a signpost if you can. I know it's hard to tell, but there's a symbol in my hometown called an arrow, and you can use it to get the general direction of .......]
Rem: [..Please don't take the liberty of saying that.]
Subaru quickly tells Rem how to get away, but Rem interrupts his explanation and glares at him sharply. The sharpness of her gaze made him choke up, and he wondered what was wrong with her. And Rem, looking more and more annoyed by Subaru's confusion, said
Rem: [You're telling me to run away after deciding... everything and everyone on your own? To me, who is angry with you for trying to abandon that child?]
Yes, she rejected Subaru's proposal for the same reason she had rejected Subaru in the first place. That logic is understandable. It's good human nature, you could say. But he didn't think it would keep Subaru abandoned in this situation.
Subaru: [That's... but I-]
Rem: [No need for excuses. I don't have the time. But I refuse to be instructed to run off on my own. I'm not even going to leave the girl in the first place.]
Removing her gaze from the surprised Subaru, Rem turned her attention to the outside of the hole, to the large tree that the first arrow blew off, another large tree that is slightly farther away from it.
Subaru: [I thought she wasn't here, but she's hiding in there? How can she be so quiet... when there's such a commotion?]
Rem: [It was hard to... walk her around, so I knocked her out. I don’t think she is going to wake up for a while.]
At this stage, Louis was the baggage of Subaru and Rem’s departure. The resentment that had almost sprouted at that shattered when he heard Rem's overly Rem-like answer. That somewhat radical and immediate decision can only be described as Rem.
Rem: [... I think it was a bad idea, too.]
Subaru: [No, I don’t think it was a strange move in the current situation. I'm asking for your help, but you're not going to leave that girl and run away with me, are you?]
Rem: [I don't even know what I am, but I'd rather bite my tongue and die than do that.]
Subaru doubted that Rem would die from such a thing, but even if it was just a test, he didn't want Rem to do that. Honestly, the best option for Subaru would have been to throw Louis out and leave with Rem, but Rem herself wasn't going to let that happen.
Subaru: [I'll curse myself for being so Buddha-like before the shadows swallowed me. ......]
When the "Green Room" was swallowed by the shadow, he held not only Rem, but also Louis's body in his arms, which caused this situation. It's a scene that can no longer be redone, but Subaru can say out loud that he made the wrong choice there.
Rem: [What are you going to do?]
Subaru: [I'll go... I'll bring her in. Are you sure it's that tree?]
Rem: [...Yes. She's lying behind the tree. Do you have a chance of winning?]
Subaru: [My master told me to run away without hesitation when I'm facing a strong opponent.]
It wasn't a matter of understanding the difference in ability between the hunter and himself. In this world, most of the opponents are stronger than Subaru anyway, so the best way to defend himself is to assume that everyone he encounters is superior. That's why his first priority should be to escape. But if he can't get away...
Subaru: [I'll use everything I've got. Rem, I know you don't want to, but I need your help.]
Rem: [...If it's to help her.]
Rem stared at the hand he held out, but did not shake it. She just nodded disapprovingly to Subaru, who had devised a plan.
Subaru shook his left arm hard once to check the condition of his three broken fingers. The pain is there. As he savored the sensation of a dull ache clawing at his brain, Subaru made up his mind not to let it get in the way of his running. And then...
He pushed a small fallen tree up to the ground from the big hole with all his strength. In the next instant, an arrow pierced the fallen tree that had been pushed up, coming at a tremendous speed. The impact ripped the fallen tree from his arms, and he was blown backwards with great force.
Subaru: [Whoa, whoa, whoa!]
With that, Subaru crawled up from the large hole and stomped on the rough ground. Even if a hunter is confident in his archery skills, there is a limit to how fast he can shoot a bow. Unlike a gun, it is necessary to aim by holding the arrow and pulling the string. This time lag gave Subaru the slightest chance of survival.
Subaru: [That was fast!]
This was the moment when Subaru crawled out of the big hole and kicked off his first step. In terms of time, it was a mere two seconds after the first shot had blown away the fallen tree of the decoy...but for a skilled hunter, those two seconds were enough to unleash the next one.
Immediately after Rem's voice was heard, the ground blew up behind Subaru. It was a good thing he stiffened at the call and did not go into a defensive posture. To put it another way, his nerves were just not good enough to react to the call, but the result was good enough.
As it was, the arrows kept coming within two seconds of each other as Subaru ran toward the target tree. If pursued by them, Subaru would soon be turned into a hedgehog. But...
Rem: [I won't let you...!]
The hunter's next attack is interrupted by a cloud of earth that is thrown with a brave voice.
It was a powerful attack that could be called a throw ... no, a bombardment from Rem, who had her back against the wall of the large hole and was holding a large stone.
Rem: [It would've been best if I knew how to use magic. ......!]
While confirming her strength, Rem had expressed difficulty in using magic and the power of the demon tribe's horns. The truth is that she couldn't remember how to use them. However, she could not spend the time to remember those techniques. Therefore, Subaru proposed instead that, even though she didn't have the skills, she had the arm strength that was still in her body.
The oni’s innate strength that is filled to the brim with primitive force attacked the hunter who had not changed their position, underestimating Subaru and Rem as weaklings.
Subaru: [Have a taste of this! It’s the fight of a cornered rat!]
A large stone that Rem had thrown flew into Subaru's field of vision, towards the direction from which the hunter had fired the arrow.
Rem: [Ah, aaahhh...!]
Rem's charm is that when it comes to hostilities, she doesn't take it easy. The rock that she had picked up just in case was quickly transformed into an incredibly dangerous weapon just by being thrown from her slender arms.
Subaru: [Well, you know, while Rem is buying me some time...]
Subaru reached the target tree while performing good tactics, smashing the sniper with coverfire. As he walks around the back of the tree, he sees Louis asleep, wrapped in her own blond hair, in a hollow that has opened up due to internal rot.
He looked at her cherry-red cheeks and her chest, which was rising and falling slightly, and confirmed that she was alive. As he tried to reach out his arms to her body, Subaru felt a strong sense of rejection inside him. Even though he thought he had separated them, his soul, not his brain, was rejecting Louis.
Even if she is exposing her childish sleeping face, this is a Sin Archbishop. She is an unforgivable enemy.
Rem: [Please don't stop running!]
That hesitation was shattered by Rem’s urgent call.
As soon as he heard it, Subaru managed to swallow his displeasure and carried Louis's body up. Then, grabbing the lighter body, he leapt out from behind the tree and underneath Rem...
Then, right in front of Subaru's eyes, a black shadow unexpectedly blocked the way. He was supposed to take the same path back to the big hole. There was nothing like this in his path, he thought, as he looked up at the shadow that had suddenly appeared.
A huge shadow slipped noiselessly through the forest and stood in front of Subaru. It was a huge snake, nearly ten meters long. A huge snake with green scales covering its entire body and yellow eyes. When Subaru saw the twisted white horn on the forehead of the sudden intruder, he knew what it was.
Subaru: [A demon beast...!]
With its majesty before him, Subaru regretted his foolish oversight. Subaru himself knows why the demon beast is probably here. Ever since Subaru had been summoned to this other world he had the unfortunate trait of emanating the “Witch’s scent”, a scent that lured demon beasts to his location. If this is the case, it is inevitable that demon beasts will be drawn to Subaru, just as they were in the Augria Sand Dunes, and as they have been in many other situations. In the dark forest where people rarely came and went, it was a perfect place for demon beasts to live.
The snake opened its mouth and took aim at the Subaru. The snake's mouth is so large that it could easily swallow Subaru and Louis, and as it approaches, Subaru's sense of time slows down.
It's not good, Subaru feels as he was having an out of body experience. The slow and gradual shimmering of the world is similar to that of watching his life flash before his eyes. There is a theory that life flashing before their eyes is the brain's search for a way to save itself from the experiences of life before death. In Subaru's case, however, no matter how much he searches his brain, he has never narrowly escaped being swallowed by a giant snake. The only thing that comes close is a herd of rabbits, but it is a memory that he would like to reject even as a passing memory.
A faint moment is spent in such useless thoughts, and Subaru shrinks back. While cursing his body, which moved to protect Louis at once from the head of the big snake opening its mouth...,
Subaru closed his eyes and something splashed down on his head. He had an unpleasant imagination that it was a type of snake that sprinkled digestive juices before meals, but that was not the case. It was the black blood that was flying throughout the air that polluted Subaru's entire body. It was a large amount of coughed up blood, with the large snake struck by a sharp arrow through it’s torso.