Chapter 8


Emilia: [Subaru is a reaaally hard worker, isn't he?]

Subaru: [Oh, yeah?]

Subaru puffed out his chest in admiration at the sound of the silver bell's voice.

He pulled a rag out of a bucket of water, squeezed it, and diligently wiped the floor. He was in the middle of cleaning the guest room, when Emilia, the owner of the voice in question, popped in. She stroked her long silver hair with her hand, nodding casually.

Emilia: [Yes, you're back to work after being sick from all that trouble with the demon beasts. I'm surprised.]

Subaru: [Heh, I don't know about that... WAIT! Could it be that you are lecturing someone who is still trying to regain their strength?]

Emilia: [Eh, that wasn't my intention... but, I suppose I will try saying that. This is no good, Subaru. You need to rest a bit longer..]

Subaru: [Gee, I guess I brought that on myself.]

Subaru regretted reading into things too much, wishing he had just taken the praise at face value. However, before he can reflect on his mistake, a third voice manifests from Emilia's shoulder.

Puck: [Hmph.]

A little gray cat emerges out of Emilia's silver hair.

Puck: [That took you long enough, Subaru. Just as I expected, if I let Lia give you straightforward praise you would try to find a deeper meaning to it.]

Subaru: [Puck, you ...... what a dirty trick! What do you want?]

Puck: [Huh, that's obvious, isn’t it? I'm a whimsical cat spirit. I enjoy playing tricks on people with my cuteness and fur. ….Nyan, nyan, nyan.]

Emilia: [Enough already, Puck you're acting weird again. Don't embarrass Subaru.]

The mean little cat spirit is defeated, being pulled by its ear while confessing his misdeeds. Having done so, Emilia apologizes to Subaru with Puck dangling from her hand.

Emilia: [I’m sorry. I had just finished studying and was walking around the mansion. Then Puck told me he found Subaru...]

Subaru: [No, no, that's totally fine. As far as I'm concerned, I want to spend every second of my day with Emilia-tan. In fact, I think we should thank Puck for his plan.]

Emilia: [You think so? I don’t really get it, but I'm glad you're not upset. I'm so relieved.]

Subaru: [Of course she doesn't get it! Aaahhh I was so straightforward that it was embarrassing and yet...]

Smiling, Emilia puckers her face and tilts her head at Subaru's appeal. It was a rather direct expression of fondness, but sadly, it didn't seem to reach Emilia well. The only way to make her understand was to be even more direct.

Subaru: [It's in a young man's heart to want to choose the right situation, mood, and lucky day to tell her...]

Puck: [I also recommend nighttime. If I'm awake, I'll definitely interrupt you.]

Subaru: [You're going to have to be more than a little graceful with your paternity.]

It is common for fathers not to allow their daughters to have relationships, and it is clear from looking at Puck that he is no different, even if he is a furry cat from another world. When he looked at Puck, the cat spirit puffed out his chest while on Emilia's shoulder.

Puck: [Of course. Considering how cute Lia is, there's an unusual number of bugs that come close to her. There would be no end to them if I didn’t stick around and get rid of them, right?]

Subaru: [No, no, I thought it would be a good idea to pick out one of the bugs early.]

Puck: [I don't want any bugs with evil-looking eyes. Besides, it would be weird to let a bug near Lia. I'll spend the next thousand years or so looking for the right partner for Lia.]

Subaru: [What a mythical level of scale!]

This is the peak of parental stupidity, but the problem is that with the combination of a half-elf and a spirit, there's a chance that they could seriously wait a thousand years. Unfortunately, Subaru is human, so he can't compete with that level of scale.

Subaru: [Even if I try really hard, I think the limit is about one hundred and twenty....]

Emilia: [...? What were you talking about just now?]

Subaru: [Oh, I was talking about my lifespan.]

Emilia: [Lifespan......? Oh no, Subaru, that's a strange thing to think about. You're still a child, it's too early to worry about such things.]

Subaru: [Hmm, there is a difference in perception here.......]

With a giggle and a hand over her mouth, Emilia laughs as if she's heard a great joke.

Subaru chuckled at Emilia's smile, but at the same time, he was happy to see the smile of the girl he wanted to be with. It's a complicated situation, but the first step is to make her aware of it.

Subaru: [At least, as long as I am treated like a child, I won’t be in danger of Puck’s wrath .]

Puck: [That's a good mindset, Subaru, and yes, the first step is to get your own place. If you don't, you won’t cross my threshold.]

Emilia: [This is Roswaal's house, isn't it? What threshold?]

Emilia questioned Puck, who had crossed his arms briefly after hearing Subaru's quiet determination. Subaru, however, is not deterred by that. Once he's decided what he needs to do, he'll just go straight for his goal.

Subaru: [Hey, watch it, Puck, I'm the kind of guy who doesn't mind doing the same thing day in and day out. Like grinding for XP in a game!]

Puck: [Ha ha ha, foolish human. Then prove that you are not just a young man who talks too much. I'll be waiting for you with the princess at the far end of the castle. Come on, Princess!]

Emilia: [Princess? You mean me? I'm not a princess, I'm going to be a king.]

While dealing with Subaru and Puck, both of whom are getting excited on their own, Emilia smiled at Subaru, who was wringing out a rag until it ran dry.

Emilia: [But you have to work hard. If you work hard, I'm sure someone will watch you.]

Subaru: [I don't want just anyone watching me, I want Emilia-tan to be watching. ......]

Emilia: [Yes, yes, I understand. I can't watch you all the time, but I'll come back once in a while to check on you. Besides, .......]

The corner of her eyebrows lowered slightly, and Emilia cut her words off. Then she turned to Subaru, who was waiting for her to finish her words, and made a fawning smile.

Emilia: [You're the one who sees your hard work the most, don’t you? That's why you have to work hard so that you don't disappoint yourself.]

And with that, she hit on the essence of hard work and made Subaru fall in love with her all over again.


Subaru: [Although I remembered the time when I fell in love with Emilia-tan again. Still... this will be tiring.]

As he said this, Subaru scratched his head as he looked around the deserted tent. The Vollachia Empire's soldiers are hunkered down in the encampment, and Subaru has been picked up and forced to work as a scullery butler until the supply convoy arrives. Subaru, who is practicing the "don't work, don't eat" philosophy on behalf of Rem, who can't move, and Louis, who is a waste for food, is not reluctant to help Todd and the other imperials who have provided him with a place to sleep, food, and even medical treatment for his injuries. However...

Subaru: [In a situation like this, I respond pretty well.]

While saying this, Subaru re-packed the stockpiles that were scattered on the ground into bags. Of course, no matter how sloppy and violent the Imperials were, they wouldn't have stored the supplies that supported their frontline life in such a random and disorganized manner. In the first place, the stockpiles in this tent had just been cleaned up by Subaru yesterday. There's one reason why it's in such a state of disarray.

Subaru: [The meddling of a troublesome little girl......]

Louis: [Ah.]

Subaru: [Ahh, there's also the possibility that these are the remains of the stuff you were breaking into in the middle of the night. Are you finally ready to reveal your true nature, Sin Archbishop!??]

Louis: [Uuh?]

As Subaru cleans up the scattered materials, he glares at Louis, who is standing next to him, gazing at his hand. However, Louis only responded vaguely to Subaru's question, biting her own finger. Apparently, she has no intention of revealing her true intentions, yet. It would be better for Subaru if she could just stay hidden forever.

Subaru: [... I don't know what to think about Rem’s story from yesterday.]

This morning, Louis has been waddling along with Subaru ever since he woke up.

It was all for Rem's rehabilitation, but he recalled Rem's grim gaze, and it still bothered him.

But, one more reason for Subaru's inability to deal with her compared to yesterday is exactly the information that Rem gave him. ...The testimony that Louis doesn't have the “Witch’s Scent”.

Subaru: [....]

Subaru hadn't really thought about it before, but he didn't think that the “Witch’s Scent” was an exclusive property he possessed.

In fact, he remembers Rem using those words when speaking of witch cultists before. He’s sure she also reacted that way against Petelgeuse and his witch cultists.

In this regard, Subaru, whose miasma concentration increased with each "Return By Death", seemed strange to Rem, even though he was friendly to her.

Subaru: [Between the wolgarms and the battle with the White Whale... Regular use of the miasma's power was becoming troublesome. After all, doesn't it seem to bring too many disasters towards him?]

Even though it’s true that there have been times when it has been useful, it’s just a reason for Rem to hate him at this moment, so Subaru's impression of the miasma is at the lowest it had ever been. And no matter how much he tries to think about it...

Subaru: [There's no way that the witch cultists ... and Sin Archbishops have nothing to do with the miasma.]

That's what Subaru concluded. Since he didn't know the causes or details of miasma, he could say that this was just a theory, but it was still difficult to accept. The connection between a Sin Archbishop and the “Witch” is obvious, witches are the manifestation of evil. However--

Subaru: [Wouldn't it be paradoxical if someone so involved in the witch cult didn't smell of the witch's miasma? This girl in front of me, is she for real?

Louis: [Aoh?]

Besides Subaru, who was struggling with his thoughts, Louis was just snarling with a dumb face and a mumbled voice. Sighing at the thought, Subaru gingerly raised himself up and decided to resume cleaning up the mess in the tent. The tools that had been set up were knocked over, and the wrappings that had been rearranged were untied and their contents scattered. The situation was completely on the level of a child's work.

Subaru: [Well, it’s just normal pestering isn’t it......?]

It was not Louis's intention to make a mess of the tidy tent, but it was someone else in the camp who was harassing or interfering. As long as he was in the camp of the Imperialists, he would naturally have contact with people other than Todd. And in most cases, their attitude is not friendly to him. Subaru guesses that's what Todd himself said, that he was a stranger.

Subaru: [Although, it's a lot better than getting beat up or having someone shove their shoe into my mouth.]

He can't deny that happiness has been on the decline, but in reality, since he didn't receive that harsh of a welcome, he would say the situation is fairly easy.

Subaru was accustomed to being distant and disliked, if he may say so himself. It wasn't as if he had stumbled in his high school debut and wondered around in the other world for almost two years. He hadn't been bullied aggressively, but he had a hundred battles worth of experience in handling bitterness. When he thinks about it, his classmates in high school must have been a bunch of good-hearted people. They may have treated Subaru like air, but they didn't go out of their way to harass or hurt him.

Subaru: [I hope all those kind-hearted people are making it big out there. I hope Inahata-kun, who went to the trouble of delivering the prints to me, is making it big.]

Thinking of his classmate, whose face was now a blur, Subaru finished tidying up the tent to the same extent and in less time than yesterday. However, it's as if the hole he dug was filled in and he was just repeating the same thing, so the balance for today's work is negative. Emilia had once told him that she, or at least someone, would be watching his efforts. Subaru would have liked her support right now though.

Subaru: [If it’s you that is watching me now, it won't help my motivation. but, if it was Rem, my mood would be very different....]

Louis: [Oh, Uah.]

Perhaps having learned a little from his anger, Louis did not interfere with Subaru's work for the moment. Thankful for that, Subaru went outside to move on to the next tent.

Subaru: [Whoa!]

Just as he was leaving the tent, he caught his foot on something and fell down hard. Subaru quickly put his hands out towards the ground, his right hand was okay, but his left hand was slightly sore. Although it was on the verge of healing, the scratches left by Rem were not fully healed. Subaru looks behind him, groaning.

Subaru: [Gagh.]

???: [Yo, coward. What are you doing crawling on the ground like a disgrace?]

Subaru: [You're .......]

Rolling his eyes, Subaru saw a wild-looking man standing right next to the entrance of the tent. With an eye patch covering his right eye and a light stubble, he looks like the embodiment of the word "roughneck" and is the one who made Subaru eat his shoe. As he recalls, Todd's words were.

Subaru: [Jamal, that's what they call you, ...... huh?]

Jamal: [It's Jamal-san. You and your woman are a couple of undisciplined bastards, aren't you?]

The moment he determined that Subaru had called him out, the man, Jamal, took direct action. Jamal stomped on Subaru's left hand, the fingers still bandaged and braced, with his heel. The pain reverberates through him as his fingers are crushed. Subaru held on, stifling a scream in the back of his throat.

Louis: [Auh!]

Jamal: [Oh?]

Louis clung to Jamal's leg as he stomped on Subaru's hand, screaming. The girl's weight was light, and Jamal, with his well-trained physique, didn't waver a bit.

As it was, Jamal grabbed the clinging Louis by her long hair and forcibly pulled her up.

Subaru: [Hey, she's just a kid!]

Seeing this, Subaru couldn't help but lose his temper and speak up. When Jamal heard the complaint, he twisted the corner of his mouth in displeasure and pulled up his hand that had grabbed Louis' hair, making the girl scream.

Louis: [Ahhh!]

Jamal: [What does it matter if she's a kid. I've heard that you've been pretty cold to this kid, aren't you? And now you're suddenly changing your mind?]

Subaru: [If you provoke her too much, you'll regret it.]

Jamal: [That’s as stupid as it sounds. Come up with a better excuse.]

Snorting, Jamal swung his arm and threw Louis to the ground. Louis rolls over and pulls her hair back from his grasp, holding her head and staring at Jamal with tears in her eyes.

Louis: [Uuh!].

To be honest, there was no guarantee that Jamal's outburst would not trigger Louis to go back to normal. The distressed remark that Subaru made had been honest. Fortunately, there was no sign of the original Louis' personality awakening from her pain and anger. In this case, though, it's hard to say who it was a blessing for.

Jamal: [You are an undisciplined child. No, I'm not talking about just this kid. I don't like you, or that other woman, every last one of you!]

Subaru: [Whoa!]

Jamal kicked Subaru in the side of the head as if he was angry while speaking. Subaru opened his mouth to the unexpected blow, and his teeth cut the inside of his mouth. In an instant, the taste of blood spread over his tongue, and Subaru looked up at Jamal.

Subaru: [We've been told by Todd-san that we can stay here .......]

Jamal: [Todd told you. You've got a lot of love for him, don't you? Is that what you're counting on?]

Subaru: [....]

Jamal: [Unfortunately for you, I have a higher rank than he does. It's not that I don't do what he asks, but there's no reason why I have to do what he says.]

Jamal said in a rough voice, and Jamal stepped onto Subaru again. Subaru quickly rolled his body to protect his head, but this time the kick went right into his stomach. The kick was delivered relentlessly to Subaru, who groaned in shock as his stomach was knocked into by his toe.

Jamal: [First off, two of my men were incapacitated by your women at the riverbank. Now that they're useless, I have to send them back. I've got a big problem and you have to pay for this... Todd, you found an unnecessary thing.]

Subaru: [Hgh.]

Jamal: [If you hadn't been carrying that knife, I'd have torn you to pieces and been done with it. It's tough being a soldier, huh?]

His kicks were relentless and his comments were getting on Subaru’s last nerve. Jamal’s aim was clear, Subaru didn't even have to look to know what he was after.

Jamal's goal is not to hurt Subaru, It’s beyond that. Most likely, his goal is to provoke Subaru into a counterattack, and then take him down viciously. Although Jamal said he would not listen to Todd's words, Subaru could see from the exchange when Jamal first shoved his shoe into Subaru’s mouth that he couldn’t completely ignore their relationship. So, Jamal wanted a reason to kill Subaru.

In turn, this would give him a reason to retaliate against Rem. If that was the case, Subaru would not be provoked. Even if the fingers of his left hand got broken again, or the rest of his fingers got broken, Subaru will win, if only to keep Jamal's vile malice from turning against Rem. To that end, he would endure, endure, endure...

???: [...Hey, what are you doing there?]

Jamal: [Tsk.]

As Subaru continued to endure, a voice other than Jamal's came flying at him. Immediately, Jamal, who had clicked his tongue, stepped back and slowly backed away. Then, there came a young man with orange hair.

Todd: [I heard you were headed this way even though you had no business here, so I figured I would show myself.]

Jamal: [Todd, huh? You're awfully overprotective, aren't you? Are you that fond of that imperial dagger? I'm not going to humor this coward.]

Todd: [...Jamal.]

Todd narrows his eyes and glares at Jamal. The atmosphere between the two is somewhat tense, but it is broken by Jamal.

Jamal: [Whatever.]

Jamal, who had broken the stalemate, looked down at the battered Subaru.

Jamal: [If you learn from this, you'd better watch your step when you're within my sight. I don't want to see you fall down again like you just did, okay? Ha-ha-ha.]

Denying any use of violence against Subaru, Jamal walked past Todd. Subaru had no words to stop him. If he complained about the damage here, it would be the same as reacting to Jamal's provocation. As it was, when Jamal's back was completely out of sight, Subaru raised himself up.

Subaru: [Oh, fuck ...... that hurts, ....... That bastard's got the guts of a rotten bitch. The things he does are so insidious....]

Jamal is full of resentment towards Rem, but he also has a horrible personality. In the first place, the reason why he was beaten by Rem in the first place was probably because Jamal provoked her with his attitude. Of course, it was also possible that Rem, who was still suffering from memory loss, had attacked him prematurely.

Subaru: [It can't be helped, Rem didn’t have any idea of what was going on.]

And while making that judgement about Rem, Subaru spat out the bloody spit in his mouth and slowly stood up on the spot.

Todd: [You all right, man? I'm sorry you got tangled up with Jamal.]

Todd calls out to Subaru, who was frowning in his wobbly state. If he hadn't come along, Jamal's assault would have continued. Subaru is grateful to him for interrupting it. But more importantly--

Subaru: [I'm good. I'm more interested in Rem's ......]

Todd: [That little lady should be helping with the cooking right now. Once you get her to sit in a chair, she's pretty handy. Jamal shouldn't be trying anything … in public.]

The lack of certainty didn’t reassure Subaru. Wiping the blood from his mouth, Subaru looked at his left hand. The splint had come off and the bandage had come undone. The finger, which was supposed to have almost healed at one point, was starting to turn a nasty color again.

Todd: [Oh no..., looks like I'm going to have to patch you up again. Damn you, Jamal.]

Subaru: [...What kind of guy is he?]

Todd: [Jamal? He joined the military at the same time as me, and he's a rising star. He's from a low ranking noble family, and he is on the way to being promoted to a Third Class General. ...... Ah, you do know what the three general ranks are?]

Subaru: [No, I don't know. Rank?]

When Subaru shook his head, Todd holding up a finger, nodded. Todd explained that in the Vollachia Empire, there’s a ranking system for military personnel called "Generals". Soldier, First Class Soldier, Third Class General, Second Class General, ...

Todd: [When it comes to First Class Generals, there are only nine in the Empire, which is exceptional. They are called the “Nine Divine Generals” and they serve directly under the Emperor. Well, at that level, it's no longer a matter of family or achievement.]

Subaru: [You mean talent?]

Todd: [That's what I'm talking about. That's why ordinary people like me aim to become a Third Class General.]

Hearing Todd's story without any self-pity, Subaru thought back to Jamal's attitude earlier. “General” is supposed to be a position that fulfills the role of an officer in the military, but Jamal didn't seem to have that capacity. He’s self-centered and has little empathy. He's the obvious, incompetent superior type.

Subaru: [Todd-san, tell him that on the battlefield, a lot of soldiers are killed by stray arrows from behind.]

Todd: [That's a scary comment. Anyway, what about treating you?]

Subaru: [Can you do that for me? ...... But, after I've seen Rem's face first.]

Todd: [Oh man, you got a crush on her?. …..What about this poor little girl over here?]

Even with the pain in his fingers, making sure that Rem was safe was Subaru’s top priority. Todd shrugged his shoulders at Subaru's attitude and pointed his water to Louis, who was curled up in front of the tent. Her hair, pulled by Jamal, was twisted around her fingers, and she was growling lowly like an animal.

Todd: [She looks like a girl who doesn't like to be left alone. I love a girl with a strong competitive spirit.]

Louis: [Aah! Uuh, Aah!]

Louis barks back in response to Todd's smile. “If you like her so much, why don’t you take her”, he almost said, but not wanting Rem to get wind of it and get angry again, Subaru zipped his mouth..


Rem: [That smell, did you hurt yourself again?]

Subaru: [Uu...... you can tell?]

Rem: [I understand. The child is watching, so please try to behave in a respectful manner.]

That was Rem's advice, who was eating lunch at the same table. While there were parts of the advice that he didn't agree with, there was no pointin disobeying it, so he nodded. Next to Subaru, Louis, who had imitated him, also nodded.

This was after Jamal's insidious bullying and him receiving treatment due to Todd's kindness. Once Subaru was sure Rem was safe, he was treated in the healing tent. The person in charge of the treatment was surprised that he had come back, but after Subaru was done, he finished cleaning up the other tent and joined them for lunch.

Lunch at the camp was almost a rationing system, with people who received food from the rationing station making up groups and cleaning up one after another. Rem was helping to prepare and serve the meal, and Subaru's group was the last one and got most of the leftovers.

Subaru: [Well, I'm not in a position to expect luxury. I'm just glad we have something to eat.]

Subaru brought his and Rem's portions and laid them out on the small table at the end. Louis, cheekily, had also secured her own portion, just as Subaru had. So, the three of them unwillingly gathered around the table to have a late lunch.

Subaru: [How have you been until lunch? Did you have any difficulties?]

Rem: [Not particularly, no. Todd took good care of my legs. ...... The only thing I helped with was a little cooking while being taught how to do that.]

Subaru: [While you were being taught... did your body remember anything?]

Rem: [.....]

Rem's pale blue eyes narrowed and her lips formed a knot at Subaru's rapid-fire questions. Subaru wondered if he had probed a bit too much with his question, but Rem quickly exhaled.

Rem: [...I'd be lying if I said I wasn't hoping for that.]

Subaru: [Rem...]

Rem: [I thought that if I tried this and that, I might be able to find something that would work in my hands. But that would be way too convenient, wouldn’t it?]

Gently looking down at her hands, Rem muttered to herself as if ashamed of her shallow thinking. But who, exactly, could call Rem's expectations shallow? Who can call Rem's attitude of clinging to answers when she can't remember the things that make her who she is?

Rem: [...Why do you look more in pain than I do?]

Subaru: [Why, that's...]

Rem: [...You know who I used to be, I can see that. There is no doubt about it.]

Rem surprised Subaru, who had downcast eyes, when she said that staring at him. It was the first time that Rem, who had so far expressed only negative opinions about Subaru, had shown any kind of compromise. Hope sprouted in Subaru's heart that she understood. But...

Rem: [It's just that no matter how many times you call me 'Rem', I can't accept that it's my name. That is, no matter what you say to me, I suppose.]

Subaru: [Ah...]

Rem: [Maybe, it'll be different if this girl is willing to talk about it.]

As she said this, Rem lowered the corner of her eyes and stroked Louis' head besides her, who was absorbed in cleaning up her share of the food in front of her as she was being stroked. But that cold hearted attitude she had, honestly, if Louis had a sense of self, Rem wouldn't be talking like that. Even if he wanted to talk about it, Subaru couldn't. No matter what, that hostility will get in the way.

???: [What's with the frown on your face? This table is so gloomy.]

The three of them were eating when Todd interrupted us in a casual tone. An awkward silence was about to fall before Todd's intervention. Relieved by the changed atmosphere, Subaru looked at the man sitting next to him.

Subaru: [Todd-san?]

This nice guy has been helping me out a lot, just like with Jamal.

Subaru: [It's really nice of you to care about us, but are you sure you don't want to eat with your friends?]

Todd: [Yeah? Well, we've known each other for a long time, and it won't change our relationship if we don't eat together for a day or two. I'd rather try and sell my face to you guys.]

Subaru: [Hey, even if you sell, I don't have any money to give.]

Todd: [That's the idea of paying for volume or in advancet. Just think of it as an investment for the future.]

Todd's light-hearted tone changed the mood, whether he was aiming for it or not. Then Todd said, [Even so,] and put his arm around Subaru's shoulders. He pulled a startled Subaru close, and whispered to him.

Todd: [You seem to be able to talk properly compared to yesterday. Did you make up?]

Subaru: [I don't know about making up… Though, I'd like to think that my sincerity has reached her a bit.]

Rem: [... I can hear you. If you think you've made up with me, you're mistaken.]

Louis: [Woo!]

Rem looked pensive and expressed her dissatisfaction with the conversation between the two men. Louis also seems to be on Rem's side, and she seems to be cooperating with her as she wipes her mouth. The synergistic effect of Rem's curt answer and Louis' acceptance of her makes Subaru's chest feel heavier and heavier. Todd, who was hunched over him, seemed to sense it, and he lightly tapped Subaru on the shoulder with his arm.

Todd: [Hey, hey. Don't be so downhearted, you're in a place and distance where you can talk like this. You're in a much better place than I am.]

Subaru: [Oh, Well. Todd-san, I thought you said you were separated from your fiancée.]

Todd: [Yeah. My fiancée lives in the Imperial City. Aside from having to take care of this mission, we've been separated for too long to begin with. Well, I'm lonely and in trouble. Huh?]

Subaru: [You mean that loneliness is the reason why you're bothering us?]

Todd: [That's what I'm talking about. So go ahead and let me take advantage of you. The results will be worth it]

Subaru inwardly thanked Todd for his concern, as if he didn't want to make him feel uncomfortable. It would be tactless to thank him directly. He seemed to have understood that. And so, the four of them proceeded to eat together.

Subaru: [Actually, we were told that we can get a ride in the supply carriage, but how long do you think it will take you guys to get done with your mission?]

Todd: [I told you. Until we find the “People of Shudrak” hiding in the forest... If we don't find them, we could be left here for years. It's not easy being a court jester.]

Subaru: [“People of Shudrak”......]

Subaru pondered over Todd's reluctant answer as he moved the wooden spoon in his mouth. "People of Shudrak"... When Todd first asked him about it here at the camp, Subaru guessed that the masked man he had met in the forest was the one they were talking about. He owed him a debt of gratitude for giving him the knife. That's why he hadn't told Todd about it, but now he felt that it was unfair.

In terms of gratitude, Todd has been as much of a help to him as the masked man. If that was the case, then why should he give the masked man the benefit of the doubt and not Todd?

Subaru: [What are Todd and the others going to do when they find the “People of Shudrak”? You're even setting up a camp like this. Are you going to fight...?]

Todd: [....]

He asked the question, trying to keep the atmosphere as casual as possible. But even so, he couldn’t completely hide the tone of urgency in his voice. In fact, even though Rem wasn't involved in the conversation, her face showed an immediate reaction to the topic. Even if he weren't consciously watching her, she definitely took exception to the word "fight". And Todd, when asked, closed one eye at Subaru's words and said

Todd: [No, it seems that the generals don't want to fight if they can help it. I don't know much about them, but it seems that the “Shudrak” people are very powerful. When it comes to fighting, a difficult fight is inevitable, and it seems that negotiations are the best course of action.]

Subaru: [Negotiation? What are you negotiating with a forest tribe for?]

Todd: [Don't ask too many questions to the underlings! I don't know, but I think they're asking them to swear an oath of allegiance to the Imperial capital and, by extension, the Emperor.]

Subaru: [You mean the “People of Shudrak” don't obey the Emperor of Vollachia?]

Todd: [Some of them don't. That's the Vollachian way, isn't it?]

Subaru raised an eyebrow at Todd, who said this with a warrior-like smile. He then quietly responded, "Long live Vollachia," and took in their current exchange. If Todd's words are to be believed, it seems that the Imperial Army wants to avoid attacking the “People of Shudrak". If that's the case, it might be better for Subaru to provide information to avoid unnecessary bloodshed and conflict. However, the information that Subaru has isn't much, and if he wanted to reveal the circumstances of his concealment, he would have to tell them that he had lied about his identity.

Subaru: [Ugh, this is difficult. If you stand up for one side, you can't stand up for another side...]

Rem: [...Somehow, whenever I see you, you have wrinkles between your eyebrows. It's not a very good expression, so shouldn't you at least be smiling?]

Subaru: [Painful point! ... If I always talk to you with a smiling face, will you respond in a more gentle and cheerful manner?]

Rem: [Huh?]

Subaru's heart was quickly broken by Rem's seriously dubious response. Todd laughed at Subaru, who threw away his twitchy smile and slumped his shoulders.

Todd: [Well, you can't start a long road without taking it one step at a time. Don't worry, I'm watching your healthy efforts.]

Subaru: [Thanks, Todd. How do you really feel about not seeing your ... fiancée?]

Todd: [Haha, it's nice, suffering and more suffering.]

Subaru: [Darn it!]

Is he comforting Subaru or teasing him? Either way, it's true that Todd's response like this has saved his life. It was undoubtedly thanks to him that Subaru could be carefree in this emergency situation. That said, Subaru does hope that they can at least achieve their goal sooner rather than later.

Subaru: [How soon are you going to start the actual invasion of the forest?]

Todd: [I'm told we'll start on it all at once, once the other camps have been deployed. The forest is big and deep. There's only so far we can advance over the course of a day, but...]

Subaru: [I see. Well, we can't just crunch through it, can we? We don't know what's in the forest, and there are big demon beasts wandering around.]

There was the masked man Subaru suspected was a Shudrakian. Or maybe the hunter was from Shudrak. And then there's the giant snake demon beast that they ran into during the encounter with the hunter, and the traps that Rem had set in that area. With that in mind, he could only imagine the hardships Todd and the others will face as they enter the forest. Even if Subaru can't tell them what's going on, he should at least tell them about the traps Rem has set, otherwise it might cause unnecessary confusion.

Todd: [...Demon Beasts?]

But next to Subaru, Todd, who was drinking water, opened his eyes. He wiped the water running down the edge of his mouth with his sleeve and stared at Subaru with surprised eyes. Not understanding the meaning of his surprise, Subaru rolled his eyes as well.

Subaru: [What?].

Todd: [Did you just say demon beast? There's a demon beast in that forest?]

Subaru: [No, um, I said that, but ... did I say something weird?]

Todd: [That's right. It's not every day you come across a demon beast unless you're in Lugunica, which is a big country filled with demon beasts, but we are not even on the border of the Kingdom.]

Subaru: [......]

Todd: [You've got to be kidding me. Hey, girl.]

At Todd's increasingly serious words, Subaru was confused and unable to say anything. Then Todd redirected his question to Rem. Rem, having been turned due to the water, answered Todd's question with a resounding [Yes].

Todd: [Answer me. Did you see a demon beast too, young lady? In the Buddheim Forest.]

Rem: [I'm not sure what you mean by demon beast, but if you mean a large, green creature, I have seen it.]

Todd: [Did it have a horn on its head?]

Rem: [A horn? I'm pretty sure ...... it was white and distorted.]

As soon as he heard the answer, Todd stood up on the spot, his cheeks hardening. He looked at Subaru once more.

Todd: [What kind of demon beast was it? What did it look like?]

Subaru: [Hhm, a snake. A big snake. One big one, almost ten meters long.]

Todd: [One snake, one snake... Damn, in this big forest, you can't tell if it's really one. But it doesn't look like he's lying. Things have changed!]

Todd scratched his own head roughly and turned his back on Subaru and the others. On the way, he lets out an "ah" as he realizes something, turns around, and comes back towards Subaru.

Todd: [That is valuable information, without which we might have been in trouble. Thanks for the help.]

Subaru: [Oh.]

Todd roughly patted Subaru’s and Rem’s heads, who were sitting down. Subaru and Rem's reaction was delayed, but he paid no heed and instantly turned away. Then, as he headed toward the people who were sitting around their lunches, he said...

Todd: [Unit commanders, assemble! We're going to the “General”! This is important!]

Todd clapped his hands to gather his friends, and headed towards the tent at the back of the camp, making a lot of noise. Subaru looked away, half-amused at the ferocity of it all.

Rem: [...That was quite a reaction. Is that creature ... a demon beast, so important? Of course, I understand that it's a dangerous creature.]

Subaru: [... No, actually, I might not have realized how important it was.]

Rem: [Huh....]

Subaru's reaction to Rem's question was aptly described as "disturbing," but he hadn't yet been able to fully organize the contents of his mind. That was about the extent of Subaru's unheard-of reaction.

Subaru: [In the Empire, demon beasts are rare...]

It was completely unexpected, or rather, a circumstance that he had never imagined. For Subaru, living in another world and the existence of demon beasts are inseparable. Aside from the first day of the summoning in the royal capital, the existence of demon beasts was a major factor in most of the events that followed.

Meili’s demon beast fiasco was caused by the wolgarms, the battle against the White Whale was necessary for Wilhelm to achieve his long-cherished goal, and the Great Rabbit had tried to devour the "Sanctuary". Although there were no demon beasts in Pristella, the Augurian Dunes and the Watchtower of the Pleiades, where they went to solve the problem, can be said to be the demon beast’s headquarters. Of course, the most memorable demon beast for Subaru was the Red Scorpion.

Subaru: [...I'm a little sad thinking about that, but anyway. I've always been in a situation that made it seem like demon beasts were not rare.]

He had always thought that demon beasts were like the monsters that appear in video game RPGs, appearing anywhere in the world. But apparently, that's not the case. If he thought about it, even in Subaru’s original world, there are not lions and giraffes everywhere in the world, so in a sense, it was probably natural.

Subaru: [I've never even heard of Lugunica being called a demon beast powerhouse before...]

Even if it wasn’t powerful, just the appearance of a single demon beast was enough to make Todd's blood boil. In light of that knowledge, it's no wonder that Lugunica could be called a demon beast powerhouse. Meili would be some kind of fairy tale existence.

Subaru: [So, if she goes to a country or region where there aren't too many demon beasts, will she be able to live like a normal kid?....]

Rem: [Um, excuse me.]

He was thinking about Meili’s future when he heard Rem's voice in his thoughtful profile. Subaru looked over to see what was going on, Rem indicated to the table with her hand. There, he saw Louis, who had emptied her plate of food and was sleeping on the table.

Rem: [It seems she's full and fell asleep. I know you resent her, but can you help me carry her?]

Subaru: [Is it really just resentment?]

Laughing at Rem's remark, Subaru twisted his head in disbelief. After cleaning up the meal for the four of them, including Todd, who forgot to clean up, he reluctantly picked up Louis' . He can tell by the way she sometimes clings to him that she is light. She looks like just a girl. Really, she's just a girl on the outside.

Subaru: [Is Rem okay? My back's taken, but...]

Rem: [Why do you have to be so awkward? I don't need your help. I can at least take care of myself...]

With that, Rem picked up a wooden cane that was propped up on the table. He called it a cane, but it was just a thick branch of a tree that looked like it had been picked up from somewhere. A piece of cloth was wrapped around the handle to keep her hand safe from splinters. It was a simple, improvised walking stick. Rem stood up with its help. Her gait was still a little unsteady, but...

Rem: [I'm fine.]

Subaru: [...Are you sure about that? You don't have to be so stubborn, you can count on me if you're in trouble.]

Rem: [I won't rely on you, I'm fine like this. I don’t want you to drop the kid.]

Subaru: [Huh, okay. But just remember this. The reason I'm holding her up like this is not because I want to, but for you.]

Rem: [Why on Earth would you say that...?]

Subaru, who really doesn't want to be seen as voluntarily being nice to Louis, is taken aback by this statement, and Rem follows him with a cane and a faltering gait. For the time being, Rem and Louis will return to their borrowed tent, and Subaru will continue to clean up the tent. Though, he’s curious to see what Todd and the others will do.

Rem: [... Are you worried about those people?]

Subaru: [...... Eh? Oh, yeah, something like that. No, I'm aware that I'm being unfair to my benefactor. I may have been careless about the story of the demon beast.]

Rem: [Your benefactor, huh?]

Subaru felt like he was a villain who lies all the time, and somehow felt depressed. However, while listening to Subaru's story, Rem muttered something meaningful. It was difficult to read the emotion in the word "benefactor". However, it didn't seem to be a positive feeling.

Subaru: [Rem?]

Rem: [...No, it's nothing. Don't worry about it.]

Subaru: [No, I don't think it's possible to not care with the way things are going right now...]

Rem: [I see. Then please don't talk to me.]

Subaru: [You're getting more distant! If you were about to say something, say it! I'm curious!]

Their progress was slow as he walked in stride with Rem. Rem let out a small sigh, perhaps annoyed that she was being kept in step. Then, feeling Subaru's awareness and that he was not going to back down, she shook her head loosely and said

Rem: [Oh, Todd, is it? ... I don't have a very good impression of him.]

Subaru: [Huh? Why not? He has kept us in their camp, and he has protected us from that nasty "Shoe Feeding" monster. How can you not feel grateful for all that?]

Rem: [I wouldn't say that I don't feel indebted. Of course I'm grateful. Just...]

Subaru: [Just?]

Rem cut off her words there, and showed a slight hesitation to Subaru who urged her to go on. But the silence that arose was only two seconds, and she said, along with a deep exhale.

Rem: [...I think it's hard to trust someone who doesn't want to hear the other person's name.]

Subaru: [....]

That's what Rem said, and Subaru choked back a breath. Then, as he was about to say something back, he suddenly thought back on what he had done so far.

....Rem told him that Todd never asked for their name.

With that in mind, he looked back and realized that this was true. Todd had never called Subaru by his first name before. He's always called him "you". If he didn't know his name, it would make sense. But...

Subaru: [It's just a coincidence, isn't it? Even Rem calls me with...]

Rem: [You're Natsuki Subaru, aren't you? I think there's a difference in meaning between knowing and not calling you by your name, and not trying to know you from the start. It's just that.]

Subaru: [....]

Rem: [That's all I have to say. In any case, I know I'll have to rely on those people.]

As she said this, Rem passed Subaru, who had stopped in his tracks, and went ahead of him. Seeing Rem's back moving forward little by little, Subaru was unable to say anything.

Unfortunately, there was no way for Subaru to unravel Rem's stubborn mind. As the incident with the demon beast had revealed, Subaru was not familiar with the common sense of this world. His knowledge of the Kingdom was not satisfactory, and the Empire was an unknown land. Perhaps, in the Empire, there is a special meaning to not asking someone's name. In other words, It's considered rude to ask someone's name before they say it. But even if there is such a rule, Subaru couldn't talk about it to Rem. His ignorance and illiteracy disgust him to no end.

Rem: [...How long are you going to stand still?]

Subaru: [Oh...]

Suddenly, Subaru looked up towards the voice and saw Rem looking back at him. She was staring at Subaru with her hands on her cane, looking slightly impatient. As soon as Subaru saw how she was waiting for him, he felt a choking sensation in his chest. He almost bent his knees to the spot.

Subaru: [Gu......d.]

Rem: [No ... duh, what's wrong with you! Don't tell me your fingers are...]

Subaru: [No, I thought Rem was waiting for me, so I just ......]

Rem: [I'm not going to say how, but that hurt.]

This time, Rem turned her back on Subaru, making her remark with a blank face and voice. As Subaru hurriedly followed her back, his eyes narrowed as he thought back to his apology to Rem and the words she had spoken to him just before.

I'm sure Rem is just thinking too much, Subaru thinks to himself.


… And so, the question that had been nagging at the back of Subaru's mind was resolved the next day.

After lunch, they parted ways, and Todd went straight to a meeting with the "General" of the camp, where the military discussion went on long into the night. In the end, after sending Rem and Louis back to their tent, Subaru was left with no choice but to do the job he had been assigned, harboring a lot of unsettled feelings, and on top of that, Rem had treated him even more curtly at night than she had the day before, making him feel out of place. However...

???: [Hey, wake up, wake up. How long have you been asleep, man?]

Subaru: [Hmm?]

Someone shook his shoulder and Subaru, who had been asleep, was shaken awake. Waking up is one of Subaru's few virtues, but it's different when you wake up on your own than when someone wakes you up. When Subaru opened his eyes, his thoughts were somewhat dull, and he saw himself reflected in Todd’s face, lying on the ground.

Subaru: [...Todd-san?]

Todd: [Oh, you look tired. I guess it's understandable when you're put to work on something you're not used to. Anyway, thanks to you…]

Subaru: [...Natsuki Subaru.]

Todd: [Hmm?]

Todd speaks quickly to Subaru, who slowly raises himself up. He rolled his eyes at Subaru, who suddenly said his name. ...For a moment, though, he didn't seem to know what it meant.

Subaru: [Natsuki Subaru, that's my name.]

Todd: [Hmm… ah, could it be that you were worried about being called you-san?]

Subaru: [Oh no, it’s not so much that I minded..., but I thought I might have been incredibly rude because I didn’t say my name.]

Todd: [Haha, you're thinking too much. But, Natsuki Subaru, I remember.]

Todd tapped Subaru on the shoulder, who gave a small laugh and looked down awkwardly. Seeing that his tone had not changed, Subaru felt some relief. It seems that Rem’s concerns yesterday were overblown and that Subaru's anxieties were unfounded. Todd seemed to be seriously out of it, muttering [Failure failure] and then,

Todd: [Well, that's important, but I have something more important to tell you. Thanks to your story yesterday, the “Generals” have changed their policy.]

Subaru: [The policy changes… are you all about the attack on the forest?]

Todd: [That’s right. After all, it's a very different story when you're exploring an unknown forest and it's also inhabited by demon beasts. The sacrifices required from our side would be too high. That's why...]

Cutting off his words, Todd smiled broadly. Then he clasped Subaru's face, who had not yet fully awakened to consciousness, between his hands.

Todd: [We've decided to cut the mission short.]

Subaru: [Short? So, Todd-san, does that mean you can go back to your fiancée?]

Todd: [Haha, that's right!]

Subaru shares his joy by exclaiming [Oh-!] to Todd who nodded loudly. Todd's joy must have been overwhelming, as his year-long plan to go to war had been changed and he could return to his hometown. Overjoyed, he and Subaru joined hands and they danced together in the tent. Then, of course--

???: [...Hey, could you please be a little quieter?]

Subaru: [Oh, sorry, Rem.]

He raised himself up from his bunk and the two men stared at the grumpy-looking Rem. It wasn’t as if she was grumpy because she had just woken up. The only reason she was in a bad mood was because her dream was interrupted by the steps of the two men. She then shook her head lightly, muttered [Totally…], and...

Rem: [--? Doesn’t it smell strange?]

Subaru: [An odor?]

Rem: [Yes. Apart from your body odor.]

Rem sniffs and gestures to Subaru like she's waving away something smelly. Subaru is somewhat hurt by the gesture, but Todd quickly apologizes.

Todd: [Sorry, sorry. I thought it was okay because of the distance, but you know how a good nose is. But if you don't do what you're supposed to do, you're not going to get anywhere, are you?]

Subaru: [Todd-san?]

As he said this, Todd opened the entrance to Subaru and the others' tent. He then beckoned for Subaru and the others to come out. So, Subaru looked at Rem, handed her the cane and went to the entrance. Then he lined up beside Todd and looked.

Subaru: [...Huh?]

It was a dense, tremendous plume of black smoke and an intense smell of burning. And as far as the eye could see, the dense forest that seemed to fill up the entirety of their vision-- the “Badheim Forest", was enveloped in red flames and burning.

Rem: [This is…]

Standing next to each other stock still and speechless, he and Rem both saw the same spectacle before their eyes. As they stood, the forest burned red as if they were in a nightmare, watching the world end.

Todd: [If there's a demon beast lurking, there's no telling how much damage it could do to our side. That's what I insisted, and the Second Class General, Zikr, understood.]

Subaru: [....]

Todd: [Thanks to the information you gave us, we were able to avoid any damage to our side. You’ve been a great help.]

Laughing at that, Todd slapped Subaru on the back with his palm. Struck by the cheap shock, Subaru's lips quivered. His lungs shuddered, his throat quivered, his voice quivered. At this unchanging friendly attitude of Todd, Subaru's shaky voice spun--

Subaru: [Why, why…?]

Todd: [Why, what?]

Subaru: [You said that you didn't want to fight the “People of Shudrak” in the forest, right?]

He said a difficult battle would inevitably ensue and that he wanted to negotiate with them to make them swear to obey the Emperor. That's what Todd told Subaru yesterday at the dinner table. Subaru was inwardly relieved that there would be no battle.

Subaru: [This is more than a fight…]

Todd: [Yeah, I didn't want to fight. I didn't know how much it would cost us. I could've died, too. But now that I had something to convince the “General” with, the problem is solved. The “People of Shudrak” will no longer be able to oppose the Emperor.]

Subaru: [...Oh]

Todd: [I'll be able to get back to my fiancée sooner. No, no, no, you're a real find. I've already spoken to the “General”, so I'm sure you'll get your prize.]

After joking that he might get a second dagger, Todd patted Subaru on the back again. Then he muttered [Oops] as if remembering something.

Todd: [I was told to come back after I showed you the results of my battle. I'm sorry, but I might be a little late for breakfast. But you don't have to clean up the tent anymore. After a while, the camp’s going to have to pull out.]

Subaru: [...Oh, what?]

Todd: [Oh, man, get a grip. ...Don't make the little girl nervous.]

The last words were spoken in his ear, and Todd left with a truly benevolent smile on his face. In the end, Subaru couldn't say anything to his distant back, and had to remain silent.

Subaru: [....]

But whether Subaru is silent or tormented by inner turmoil, the sight of the forest burning in the distance and in front of him would never change. The blazing fire will engulf everything and consume everything that lives in that land. The serpent beast, the masked man in the forest, and the hunter who stalked Subaru and the others were no exceptions. ...Everything will be burnt to ashes.

Rem: [...Huh.]

Rem's body wobbled next to Subaru, who gritted his teeth at the impact. He quickly supported her thin body with his hand, and as soon as he touched her, Rem's body stiffened. Then, fear and a sense of rejection flooded Rem's face as she looked up at Subaru.

Subaru: [Oh…]

Rem: [It's not your fault… I know that. But...]

Subaru: [....]

Rem: [Stay away from me, please.]

...Biting back the fear that had almost engulfed her for a moment, Rem slowly pushed Subaru's hand away. She didn't shake it off or break it, but she pushed it away. Subaru knows that Rem didn't mean what she said. However, it brought little comfort. It's too small in the face of what has actually happened--.

Rem: [...It seems that girl has woken up.]

With that, Rem turned his gaze away from Subaru, away from the burning forest, away from what she didn't want to see, and towards Louis in the tent.

With Rem’s back to him, Subaru is unable to call out to her. Even Subaru can't sort out what has happened. The only option that came to Subaru's mind right now was the one that was not the right answer to say. That's why he couldn’t stop Rem from leaving at the speed of a crawling baby. He couldn't stop her--.

Subaru: [--Oh?]

Subaru bites his lip and stares at Rem's small back, rejected. Suddenly, he noticed a small touch on his back and let out a yelp. He turned around to see what had happened, but he didn't see anything or anyone there that had touched him. However, the moment he turned around, he saw something graze the edge of his vision. It was as if it had circled back to meet Subaru as he turned around.

???: [Whoo-!!]

Immediately after, Louis, who was in the tent screamed like a child exploding in a tantrum. As soon as she woke up, the Sin Archbishop was very noisy, but right then, there were more important things that needed to be taken care of than the infant-like Archbishop. But there was nothing he could do about it.

Louis: [Uh, uh-oh!!]

Subaru: [...Hey, shut up! I'm in a lot of trouble right now! I don't have time to worry about you.]

Subaru raised an eyebrow as he was about to shout at Louis, who was screaming for him to stop. As Rem sat on the ground, holding a squirming Louis from behind, her expression changed dramatically again. The look on her face was different from the fear and rejection Subaru had seen earlier, it was pure look of astonished questioning. Her wide open blue eyes were staring at Subaru... no, not at Subaru exactly,

Subaru: [...Back?]

From the subtle angle of her gaze, Subaru discerned the target of her gaze. Twisting his head to follow, Subaru looks at his own back. Then, belatedly, he realizes. --The identity of the object that had just circled Subaru's back.

Subaru: [--An arrow feather.]

That was the true identity of the thing that had been on the edge of Subaru’s vision. And, of course, the arrow feather has an arrow body attached to it, and the fact that it's swaying on Subaru's back means that--,

Subaru: [--Ah]

It means that the arrow has hit Subaru's back.

Subaru: [....]

Subaru's head shook so violently that he couldn't stand, and he turned over on the spot. His hand quickly grabbed the entrance to the tent, and the tent tilted with the force of his fall. However, as his body toppled over, he didn't have time to worry about the tent..

Rem: [Kyaaaaa--!]

Seeing this, Rem let out a high-pitched scream. As his thoughts went around in circles, he thought that he had never heard a normal scream from Rem before, and those useless and out-of-place thoughts flooded his mind and spilled out of his ears.

Louis: [Uh-, ah-!]

Louis crawled on all fours and approached the collapsed Subaru. She continued to violently shake Subaru's body, but he was unable to raise his voice to condemn her, nor did he have the strength to resist. What a way to go, with just one arrow.

Rem: [Somebody! Somebody please come! ...This, this, it will be fine! Because with such a shallow arrow wound...]

Rem, who threw away her cane and approached him as he fell down, called out desperately as she looked at the wound on Subaru's back. Ah, Rem is so kind, he thought. Even if she couldn't believe in Subaru because of the miasma, even if he created a burning world with a careless word, she would still raise her voice to help him like this if Subaru had collapsed in front of her.

Subaru doesn't want to show his weakness in front of this Rem, he thought. Why doesn't Natsuki Subaru stand up and show them that he is not afraid of an arrow wound? When he used to watch Jidaigeki and taiga dramas, he never thought that he lacked guts, that he would never die or be slowed down after being pierced by such a thin arrow. Well, unless he is talking about a big arrow going through his chest or something, but as Rem said, the arrow in the back wasn't very large. In fact, it hit him so softly that he thought he had been patted on the back. So why is it like this--?

TL Note:

  • Jidaigeki (時代劇, lit. ‘period drama’) is a genre of film, television, video game, and theatre in Japan. Literally meaning ‘period dramas’, they are most often set during the Edo period of Japanese history

  • Taiga drama (Japanese: 大河ドラマ, Hepburn: Taiga dorama, ‘Big River Drama’) is the name NHK gives to the annual year-long historical drama television series it broadcasts in Japan.

Subaru: [...Uk, bah, ue]

Rem: [...No way, is it poison?]

Rem came to the same conclusion as Subaru when he felt the burning sensation that was building up. It's not the power of the arrow that's killing him. It was the poison on the arrows that was corroding him.

He couldn't move his arms and legs, and he couldn't think clearly as if he had a fever. Something flooded his eyes, nose and ears, and Subaru's whole body began to shake and shudder. The ringing in his ears started to get louder and louder. He couldn't hear Rem's voice worrying about him. He couldn’t even hear Louis' annoying screaming. He couldn’t hear them.

Poison, poison, poison, who, why, arrows, hunter, forest, burning, burning, burning, Subaru careless, demon beast, Todd, burning, Rem, Rem, Rem--,

His consciousness became confused, and Subaru let out a moan as he buzzed and blubbered bubbles of blood. Then, as he opens his bloodshot eyes and tries to see Rem's face, he notices something.

...It was a small, tiny figure glaring at him from a distance of about thirty meters away from the tent, less than ten seconds if he ran.

Small Figure: [....]

It’s a child. A small child, not so different from Louis. It was a small child with bad eyesight. ...No, no. It's not her eyes that are bad. She was staring at Subaru. With eyes clouded with hatred, she was glaring at Subaru with murderous intent.

She was a girl with soot staining her hair and face, holding what looked to be like a half bow, her eyes clouded with hatred. It must have been that finger, that hand, that will, that shot Subaru with the poisoned arrow.

Small Figure: [....]

It was no wonder why they hated him. It was only natural that they would want to kill him.

The consequences of Subaru's actions had led the girl to a fate that drove her to hatred. Then this was the retribution that had come to Subaru's doorstep...

Rem: [...No! Wait! Please wait. Wait…]

Desperately, he can hear a voice in his ear. He wants to wait. He wants to stop. He wants to pull away and smile at her.

He can't do any of those things. He couldn’t do any of those things now.

Bubbly, bubbling, bubbling blood, twitching, white-eyed, he falls into the darkness, incontinent, vomiting and spitting out his gooey, melted guts.

Rem: [Wait...]

A hapless, dirty, unthinking fool falls into the darkness. He's falling--