—In complete silence, Subaru’s shoulders trembled, the tiny scorpion that had emerged from beneath the dust in his hands.
He’d wanted to save her. He’d wanted to take her out of this lonely sand tower. He’d promised to help her, but now he couldn’t keep his promise. Natsuki Subaru always made promises he couldn’t keep.
Not a single soul could utter a word to Subaru, squatting in the sand in silence.
Beatrice, who was beside him, and Julius and Meili, who were behind him, could not find the right words to say.
The scorpion, which had been in his cupped hands, crawled up Subaru’s arm and perched itself on his shoulder, brushing against his neck as if it were trying to comfort him, who had even forgotten to shed tears and weep.
Subaru didn’t have a clue as to what the tiny scorpion even was. What did this scorpion, which had emerged from the remains of the Crimson Scorpion, have to do with Shaula? Or was she this scorpion?—
Subaru had exchanged words with Shaula in her last moments. However, it was not clear whether the conversation actually happened or if he was just imagining it all as she was passing away.
However, Subaru harbored a sad conviction that it was indeed the case. Shaula was gone. Her existence was tied to the very rules of the Pleaides Watchtower, and, ultimately, much like Reid or the Monolith of the third floor, was like a stage prop for a Trial.
As a result, once the watchtower had fulfilled its role, she had to leave. She had followed the role of a Stage Prop until the very end, and for her to merely be a Stage Prop opened up a hole in Subaru’s heart.
That frank smile, the annoyance he felt because of her desire to interact with him, and her unfamiliar voice calling him “Master, Master” with deep affection, all of it was gone.
If Shaula were to cry out and scream that she did not want to disappear, then Subaru would do everything in his power to stop it from happening, and would sacrifice himself time and time again in order to save her.
However, that wasn’t what she wanted.
Smiling, she told him she wanted to meet him again someday, but then she disappeared shortly after. He wasn’t sure, but—
“I know... I will meet you again someday. So…”
With a cheerful smile, she fulfilled her wish to tell him she loved him. For that reason—
“—So… Goodbye for now, Shaula.”
Her dreams, which had turned into crimson dust, were stolen away by the sand wind along with her remains. Subaru let out a sigh as he watched. And, as if to brighten the mood, the scorpion, which had crawled up to his neck, was playing with his ears with its pincers.
Feeling a sharp pain, he felt as if he were being urged not to feel down about it. With tears in his eyes because of the pain, Subaru nodded with an “I know, I know” and grabbed the scorpion on his neck and tried to disengage it from his ears. However—
“OUCH! No, I got it already, so you can let me go now...OW! Hey…this…is making my ear bleed...this guy! This guy’s…not letting go...!”
“...What are you doinnnng, mister?”
Subaru’s ear currently in its grasp, he panicked since he couldn’t manage to peel the mini crimson scorpion away from it. When he was about to lose part of his ear, it was Meili who came to the rescue.
Astounded by what was happening, she quickly moved over to where Subaru was and grabbed the mini crimson scorpion with her little hand.
“Just because it’s smallll, it’s stilllll a witchbeast, you know, so if you let it get close to your face, it could start chomping on your eyes or nose before you knew what hit youuu.”
“Eyes and nose!? But…this little guy isn’t like that.”
“It’s a witchbeast, mister. —That…isn’t Naked Lady anymore.”
Saying that, Meili plopped the mini crimson scorpion onto the top of her head. The little thing didn’t do anything naughty to her head, unlike what it did to Subaru earlier. It appeared as if it were under the influence of her Divine Protection of Magic Manipulation, thus hiding its aggression.
Needless to say, this was proof that the mini crimson scorpion was a witchbeast that could be tamed by Meili—as well as proof that the little thing didn’t contain Shaula’s ego.
“Subaru, let me heal your wounds then, I suppose.”
Then, with his eyes still cast downward, Beatrice tugged on his sleeve and tenderly looked his body over. In consideration of her, he bit his lip and nodded strongly. He knew he couldn’t stay in the sea of sand forever.
In the distance, the big door to the watchtower swung open, and Emilia came rushing towards them. It was clear that she hadn’t had an easy time due to how messed up her clothes looked. They would all be able to chat together, including about that as well.
They had too many things to talk about as well as too many farewells to give.
“...Shaula…was someone who always worked reaaaaally hard.”
After she heard the details and found out the reason why Shaula was no longer there, Emilia stared out into the sea of sand where her remains had scattered, mourning her loss in her own ladylike way.
And then she gently patted the mini crimson scorpion on Meili’s head with her white fingers. It was rather accepting of Emilia’s fingers despite being ordered by Meili to behave well, and it seemed to find it quite pleasant even though she could not see a change in its facial expression.
“Lady Emilia, what went on on the first floor? Were you able to safely complete the Trial?”
After hearing about what happened to Shaula, Emilia looked at Subaru, whose face was sunken, with grief painted on her face. However, it was Julius who’d made the first move to change the subject. And after hearing his question, she answered him with an “I think so.”
“Mm, it was reaaaally hard because I didn’t understand it, but I more or less completed it, I think... Oh! Do you completely remember me, Julius?”
“—. That’s…right. I can certainly remember who you are now.”
Emilia asked that question nervously, and Julius replied with a look of surprise on his face. Whilst covering his mouth his hand, Julius said “Lady Emilia” once more, confirming that the Emilia who had previously gone missing had returned, and then nodded.
“Beatrice! Do you remember me? How about you, Meili?”
“...I remember you, so don’t worry, I suppose. It was as if I had completely forgotten you until someone told me I’d forgotten you, in fact. It’s such a scary feeling, I suppose.”
“I also completellly remember youuu. How about you, Big Sis? Do you remember me and all of the promises we made?”
“Absolutely. I’ll never forget them. That’s a relief. I had a feeling everything would be okay since Ram and Patrasche remembered me too...”
After hearing Beatrice’s and Meili’s answers, Emilia gave a sigh of relief. Subaru called out to their response with “Wait.”
And with everyone’s attention drawn to himself, Subaru let out—
“That’s super awesome news, but I wanna properly make sense of it. In short? Everyone…can properly remember everything about Emilia-tan now? That means…uhh...”
“—Miss Ram…has slain Lye Batenkaitos.”
Subaru widened his eyes after Julius interrupted him and made that declaration.
Lye Batenkaitos—one of the three Sin Archbishops of Gluttony, as well one of Subaru and Ram’s mortal enemies. He was also an enemy in this tower who had caused them much hardship with his extreme violence in addition to eating Emilia’s Name.
After being told that he had been slain, Subaru’s throat dried up. If Lye Batenkaitos had been slain, that meant—
“Does that mean the things he stole will be given back...? If that’s true—”
If Emilia’s Name had returned, that means the other effects of Gluttony’s Authority will also come undone.
Batenkaitos, who had pretended to be a Gourmet, must have eaten beyond his fill. If everything that had been stolen had been returned, that would also affect the people in the Watergate City, Priestella—
Thinking about such things, Subaru shook his head. He knew he shouldn’t deceive himself like this. He knew he shouldn’t bottle up his feeling and keep bullshitting himself.
Natsuki Subaru, at this very moment, harbored an excessively selfish and egotistical hope. If Lye Batenkaitos had been slain, and the influence of his Authority had come undone, then—
“—Rem…can anyone remember her?”
She was a girl who had been forgotten by the world, leaving a hole in Subaru’s heart because of her absence. They had gone on this journey to take back what had been stolen—and for Subaru, the purpose of this journey was simply to save Rem.
For the watchtower, where they had gone to obtain wisdom for that purpose, to be attacked by Gluttony, was rather ironic, but it did not matter as long as they got what went there for.
Subaru looked at everyone, fueled by such hopes. In response to his question, however—
“...I’m reaaalllly sorry, Subaru. But I still can’t remember who Rem is.”
“—! Why not?!”
“Betty can’t either, I suppose. I still can’t recall who Ram’s sister is, in fact. Moreover...”
“Moreover? Moreover, what? What else is there?”
Emilia had denied it, and Beatrice followed, leaving Subaru in a state of shock.
His budding hopes had been shot down, so Subaru rushed over to Beatrice, who had yet to continue her words. Desperation in his eyes, she pointed towards Julius behind her with her white chin.
“I still can’t remember Julius, in fact. Perhaps not all of the harm Gluttony caused has been undone, I suppose.”
Emilia agreed with Beatrice’s opinion with a nod of her head. Meili, on the other hand, shrugged since she didn’t even know Julius before his Name was taken, and Emilia had no reason to lie, either.
It was clear that Rem and Julius’ Names had not been returned—
“As far as that is concerned, I have an idea as to why my Name hasn’t been returned.”
Whilst Subaru was still in a state of confusion, it was none other than Julius who uttered that. And then, after looking back at Subaru with narrowed eyes, he continued.
“—The Sin Archbishop of Gluttony, Roy Alphard, was captured alive. To be exact, he was the one who bereaved me of my Name. I suppose that is why my Name has yet to return.”
Passing through the grand entrance to the Pleaides Watchtower was the dragon carriage that had brought Subaru and the others to the sand tower and left on the fifth floor. Next to it was a person waving at them.
“Long time no see, Emilia, Natsuki.”
“...Could that be Lady Anastasia?”
Widening his eyes, Subaru stared intently at the smiling, slowly waving figure.
He confirmed that her movements, attitude, and even her expressions were all natural. Was that the artificial spirit, Echidna, who could reproduce a persons nature and act exactly like the original?—No, it wasn’t a reproduction.
This was her ORIGINAL character. He couldn’t really call it a reproduction now. That is to say—
“Anastasia! Did you wake up?”
“Yep. It seems like I took a really long nap and made you guys worry. Echidna told me about the things that happened these past few months, too.”
“Is Echidna alright, too?”
“How can I put it? For now, other than the thought of blamin’ herself, there are no thoughts like ‘Let me just die.’”
As Anastasia answered Emilia’s question, the scarf around her neck moved, and the white fox lowered her head as if in apology.
“Blamin’ yourself like that. I’ve already told ya before. It was our choice, so there’s no need for ya ta be depressed, Echidna. Ya think so too, don’t’cha, Julius?”
“Me?...Yes. If I am speaking honestly, the decision you made made me quite worried, so I am afraid I cannot give you an answer to that, Lady Anastasia.”
“I feel a bit embarrassed, but I’d still like ta ask: what do ya mean by that?”
“Hearing the reason why you shut yourself within yourself is…all I could ask for as your knight.”
Unraveling his lips, Julius answered gracefully. Hearing his answer, Anastasia covered her mouth with her hand and said “Forget it, I’m not going to force you to say it” with a smile.
It was a very harmonious conversation. If you were to say that these two were like a master and a servant, then there would be none who could say otherwise.
“Did Anastasia really forget about Julius? Because they seem to be getting along pretty well...”
“I really did forget about the relationship we had before... This in itself, for me, is already makin’ me totally angry and is unbearable...! But...!”
“She’s been controlling her feelings, really, so she’s acting like that. Fortunately, after being with Julius for the past two months, I can say a few things about him. It appears that I was born for this very purpose.”
“...You…also seem to be going off in an odd direction, in fact.”
Beatrice spoke a bit gently to Anastasia, whose lips were quivering, and, by extension, Echidna, who was around her neck. Hearing that, Echidna snorted her fox nose and nodded with a “yeah.”
Echidna, the artificial spirit without any history, and who had gone to the watchtower in the place of Anastasia, also had her own thoughts and appeared to have been able to come to a positive conclusion.
It seemed as if Anastasia getting her own body back safely was part of it. The taking care of her many problems, as well as her regret she felt for shutting herself off in her own Od, and so on, had yet to be resolved—
“It’d be insensitive for us to poke around at their affairs, huh.”
The problems between Anastasia and Echidna should be discussed by them alone. Of course, if they asked for his assistance, Subaru would gladly exert himself for their sakes and assist them in solving their problems. It would be safe to say that the time they spent on this two month journey had fostered such a bond.
“—Um, Anastasia. I’m sooooo happy that you got back safely and are suuuper talkative, but...”
“I know. You wanna know what happened to the Sin Archbishop that Julius defeated? He did this and that, and then chucked him into the dragon carriage.”
“Julius did this and that...”
Anastasia shrugged her shoulders and then gestured at the dragon carriage behind her. Subaru silently gazed at the dragon carriage next to Emilia, who was pondering her words. Within it was Roy Alphard, the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony.
Before he entered the dragon carriage, he stroked the neck of the earth dragon—Gyan, who was attached to the carriage. With its thick legs, the earth dragon from the Agaress species played a crucial role in the final battle with Shaula, and had unexpectedly led Subaru and the others to victory.
This wasn’t the absolute best result. Nevertheless, it didn’t undermine his consideration for Gyan. Not to mention that Meili was able to survive thanks to Gyan’s spirit.
“I was totally saved thanks to you... In the future, no matter what happens, please continue to help me out.”
Gyan, whose thick neck was being stroked, flared his nostrils, as if saying that that would be a heavy burden to carry. Subaru smiled bitterly, put on a serious face, and then got on the dragon carriage. Then, after giving a nod to Emilia and the others, he peered inside.
Inside…was the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony—
The atmosphere full of tension, Subaru peered into the dragon carriage, and after seeing what was inside, was shocked by what he saw. Alphard was indeed inside of the dragon carriage. However, the method in which he had been detained was a bit different from what Subaru had imagined.
Roy Alphard, with his eyes rolled back revealing the whites of his eyes, was covered in a black crystalline material, effectively detaining—no, sealing him.
“It’s a Sin Archbishop...so just preventing them from moving wouldn’t be enough, right? That’s why I rigorously solidified it to the best of my ability.”
“This solidification thing...what’s the principle behind it?”
“The principle…is that it is an application of Yin Magic, I suppose. Using Shamak to separate them from their consciousness, it is then solidified like that... It’s a very ruthless way of doing it, in fact.”
“So this black thing is like a chunk of Shamak...?”
After Subaru heard Beatrice’s explanation, he was a bit shocked and then looked at the seal once more. Shamak was arguably Subaru’s most trustworthy magic before he formed a contract with Beatrice, but its effects and the way Julius used it as a means of sealing someone could only be described as amazing.
Seeing the way Subaru reacted, Julius said “Please don’t misunderstand me.”
“It’s nothing…it’s not a technique I invented or anything. This exact technique is used to make the world’s most famous seal. Though there is a huge difference in the scale.”
“The most famous in the world... You mean that one?”
“—The Witch of Envy…right?”
Emilia, who was looking at the sealed Alphard, said that. Julius gave a deep nod, confirming what she’d said. The seal used on Alphard had used the same technique that had sealed the Witch of Envy for the past 400 years nearby, east of the watchtower.
In other words, the words of Julius, who had created the seal using a tried and true method, could be said to be more than reliable enough. But that wasn’t the question that needed to be asked.
“The question is…why do you want to keep this guy alive?”
Emilia, gazing at the sealed Alphard, said that to Subaru whilst lowering her eyebrows. His heart aching due to her gaze, Subaru turned his head and said, “That’s just how it is, right?.”
“When one of the Gluttony’s…when Batenkaitos died, everyone remembered Emilia again. So, if this guy dies, then the rest of the Memories would...”
“There is no solid proof that they would come back. That is the biggest reason why I did not end his life.”
“There is absolutely no doubt that Miss Ram slayed Batenkaitos. However, was Lady Emilia’s Name returned merely because of that? Something else…perhaps he had given it back voluntarily...that possibility cannot be ruled out. If you make a hasty decision, everything could be lost.”
Julius threw out one sound argument after another, as if reprimanding Subaru for his impatience. And his argument was so sound that Subaru could not even offer up a rebuttal. However—
“In that case...in that case, what about his Book of the Dead?”
Subaru proposed using a method that only existed in the watchtower as an alternative. When it came to revealing the true thoughts of a person, there was perhaps nothing more suitable than a Book of the Dead. Whatever the case may be, it was something that allowed one to experience another person’s life.
“Even if you interrogate him, there’s no guarantee that he will spill the beans. If that’s the case, then it would be better to just use his Book of the Dead to reveal this guy’s innermost thoughts.”
“Subaru, that...I don’t think that’s a good idea. This kind of approach is...”
“But, I’m sure it’ll work. If we do it this way...”
“Ya know what? Can I interrupt ya for a sec?”
Emilia’s opinion differed from Subaru’s, who had suggested using his Book of the Dead. Not only that, but Subaru was just about to lay out his argument only for Anastasia to butt in with a raise of her hand.
Anastasia looked at Subaru, who looked embarrassed, and folded her hands on top of her chest—
“I heard from Echidna that there may be things missin’ in ‘em...like that Book of the Dead, so wouldn’t it be dangerous ta rely on it too much?”
“Dangerous?…why do you say so?”
“In any case, that’s somethin’ you’ve vividly experienced yourself, right, Natsuki? I heard that ya lost yourself while I was asleep.”
How many things could she possibly talk about with Echidna in such a short period of time? He wondered. Anastasia had hit him where it hurts.
However, the danger the Book of the Dead held did not necessarily coincide with Subaru’s amnesia. The disappearance of his memories did not come about due to the Book of the Dead. However, that did not completely negate the risk that Books of the Dead posed.
In fact, when he read Meili's Book of the Dead, some parts of Subaru’s mind and emotions were almost painted over by her personality.
What would have become of Subaru, who did not consider himself to be particularly powerful or mentally strong, if he had been a more impressionable person?
Who could say that a new Roy Alphard, who had inherited the soul of the former Roy Alphard, would not be born as a result?
“Then...then are you trying to say that it’s right to let this guy live, Anastasia? Even after everything he’s done up until now?!”
“If you’re talkin’ ‘bout what’s right or wrong, then I don’t think it’s right to keep a Sin Archbishop alive. If I could just kill this guy and get Julius’ Memories back, I think that’d be good. But I have a pet theory ‘bout that.”
“A pet theory...?”
“Whether someone should be alive or not, snatchin’ and robbin’ ‘em of it should only be done as a last resort. —A person who can easily kill another human being will not have a good end. It ain’t one of Hoshin’s Sayings but one of my own.”
Subaru’s eyes widened after hearing Anastasia’s words. In this fantasy world of swords and magic, there was such a rebellious, naïve way of thinking. But at the same time, the moral side of Subaru felt like she was right.
Subaru also believed that the less people died, the better. Not to mention his friends, it would even be better for his enemies to die less. However, that way of thinking was only limited to cases where the other person deserved mercy.
“He has caused so much misfortune for so many people, and has continued to torment everyone until this day... Do you still think we shouldn’t kill a guy like that, Anastasia?”
“When it’s the right time to kill someone, kill them. When I need ta make a decision, and the situation is critical, I will dirty my hands. But it ain’t right ta leave it ta impulse. —I think you’re that kinda guy, Natsuki.”
“That kind of…thing, is...”
“Because of that, you can shed tears for someone else who’s been lost... Rather than a heartless Natsuki who doesn’t shed blood nor tears, I would prefer ta get along with that kind of you forever.”
Anastasia ran her fingers across her cheek and pointed out Subaru’s tears. Instantly, Subaru lowered his gaze, the wound in his heart due to losing Shaula aching. Anastasia’s statement had been mean. But it was, without a doubt, quite effective.
“...Subaru, I also share the same opinion as Anastasia. Taking the sleeping Rem and Julius into account, I reaaaally want to hurry up and resolve things, but...”
“No need to worry about me, at least. Having gotten to this point, doing what is right is far more important than making hasty decisions... This also concerns my younger brother, after all.”
They were on the brink of recovering Joshua’s memories, who had been left in Priestella, and Julius was extremely cautious—but, as has already been mentioned above, that was the correct choice.
In order to make up for their pain and sense of loss, he was eager to get results. That was probably how Subaru felt right now.
“Let’s summarize it then. Ana and Julius’ opinion is that we should move Roy Alphard...the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony, to the royal capital to find a way to save the victims of his Authority. He will not be pardoned after that, either. He shouldn’t be able to escape capital punishment.”
“There’re limits ta how much they can pardon on the grounds of age. That’s how it may end up in the end.”
After seeing Subaru unclenching his fist, Echidna and Anastasia got the story in order.
Emilia had no objections to the treatment of Alphard. He would be taken to the royal capital in a sealed state, so, in a sense, he would be in the same position as Sirius, who had been taken there not too long ago.
“Do ya also think this’ll be alright, Emilia?”
“Yeah. I also reaaally want to properly remember the people who have been forgotten.”
When Anastasia asked her that to confirm her intentions, Emilia lifted her head and answered in a dignified manner.
Subaru couldn’t form a rebuttal to her words, feeling somewhat hopeful and bitter at the same time, and then turned away from the Sin Archbishop in the dragon carriage and suddenly fell to his knees.
“Subaru! Ahh, jeez, I knew you were going too far, in fact! It’s only natural for you to become like this when you’ve been in a bad mood for so long, I suppose!”
Subaru’s head felt heavy, his vision was unclear, and she was supporting his shoulders whilst yelling angrily at him. Her adorable voice rang in his head and he realized he had consuming more energy than he thought. Wouldn’t it be natural for her to say, “it’s a natural result”?
He had died many times when he had amnesia, died many times afterwards, came face-to-face with himself in order to recover his memories, fought against the five obstacles that plagued the tower when he woke up, used his Authority to take on the burdens of his friends in battle, and lost Shaula at the end of it all—
He had exhausted his mind and body well past their limits. He had only been there for a few days but felt like he had spent more than five years in the tower.
“Subaru, relax, everything is going to be alright. Can you be good now and rest for a little while? Let’s talk about it when you wake up. I have a loooot I want to say to you, too.”
Subaru, who was exhausted and unable to move an inch, was being hugged from the front by Emilia. Her soft touch and sweet scent, which would normally cause his body to stiffen, were as effective as a powerful drug for him now, causing his consciousness to quickly descend into darkness.
If I die now in the darkness, would I go back to an earlier point where I was running around the tower trying to find a way to save Shaula? He wondered. But that was impossible. He half-understood it would be impossible, but he couldn’t help but hope for it.
Slowly, Subaru’s consciousness was swallowed up by the darkness.
Lifting up Subaru’s unconscious body, Emilia sighed. Subaru’s eyes were shut tight and was breathing laborious breaths, testaments of how hard he worked to solve the problems in the watchtower.
It showed just how desperate Subaru was to save Emilia and the others. When he rushed to her side when Batenkaitos took her Name and was forgotten by everyone, she was so happy.
She wanted to tell him that. She hoped Subaru would not blame himself too much. He was not responsible for what happened to Shaula. It was Emilia’s and everyone else’s responsibility, but to be more precise—
“—I think her Master, Flugel, was a reaaaally bad person.”
He was the one who pushed the achievements of the Sage onto Shaula, and, binding her to the Pleiades Watchtower, was responsible for putting her to sleep.
Even if he was one of the three heroes who saved the world, since he made Subaru cry and Shaula sad, he was just a villain in Emilia’s mind. Of course, since she would never have a chance to talk to him, there was no one who could relieve her of this feeling of frustration.
“He looks like he’s really fatigued...but it ain’t a big problem. He will recover if he rests. That’s it, why don’t we go to that ‘Green Room’?”
“Yeah. Ram and the others are there too... Weren’t you looking after Rem when she came to help me, Anastasia?”
“That’s an exaggerated story, right? Once I recovered my self, I just saw off Julius, who was goin’ to help Natsuki, and Ram, who was goin’ to help out Emilia... I’m afraid ta say that Rem hasn’t shown any changes at all.”
Thinking of Ram, Rem, and Patrasche waiting in the Green Room, Emilia wrinkled her finely-shaped eyebrows.
The slaying of Batenkaitos was, in a sense, done as revenge for Rem, who had been bereaved of her Name and Memories. However, the only thing that mattered was that she woke up, and since she had not done so, whether they managed to get their revenge or not was unimportant.
That was at least something Ram would say without any sort of hesitation. The only thing that mattered to her was getting Rem back.
“I hope Roy Alphard can tell us something about that, too. There are too many unanswered questions about this watchtower...no, about the Great Library of Pleiades.”
“An all-knowing Great Library...that is the claim Shaula had made, in fact. She was a carefree girl, but because of that, she did not play around with words, I suppose. She said this was the Great Library, so there’s no reason to doubt that, in fact.
Was the function of the Great Library merely the Books of the Dead? Or were there other functions? That is what they needed to find out. Based on that, Emilia had something to say to Beatrice and the others.
“Well, after taking Subaru to the Green Room to rest, there’s a place I want to go with everyone... There is someone I’d like everyone to meet.”
“...Is it related to the first floor, I wonder?”
On the first floor, Emilia had broken through the last Trial. This was something Beatrice and the others already knew about. The problem was that she had yet to reveal everything.
Specifically, what was on the first floor? Who did she meet? What did Emilia do there? Since it was bizarre, out-of-this-world, and difficult to express in words—
“It won’t take long to tell you about it, but it’s suuuper complex, so how about we just meet them in person and talk about it?”
Said Emilia, pointing far above her at the top of the watchtower.
“—Thou, who hath reached the top of the tower. Step forth onto the first floor, almighty petitioner.”
After being guided by Emilia to the highest floor of the Pleiades Watchtower—the first floor—everyone was overwhelmed and rendered speechless by the massive dragon’s greeting.
Seeing the look on everyone’s faces, Emilia said, “Suuuuper surprising, right?” and continued whilst craning her neck—
“When I got to the first floor and saw Volcanica waiting here, I was reaaaally surprised...”
“No-no, hold on, hold on a second, I suppose. Hey, this isn’t a problem that can be solved simply by being surprised, in fact!”
In front of the Divine Dragon covered in azure scales, Beatrice let out a panicky voice unbefitting of her appearance. She was swinging her hands up and down as if she were completely restless. However, she was not the only one who was in a shocked state.
“Wooooow, somethin’ has appeared that not even I could’ve anticipated. What’s goin’ on here? Didn’t ya say that Mr. Divine Dragon was beyond the Great Waterfall?”
“That should be the case. According to the prophecy from the Dragon History Stone, in the same year that the royal selection comes to an end, he will renew the covenant with the one who becomes the ruler of Lugunica, Ana.”
Next to Julius, who had been rendered speechless, the calm Anastasia could barely hide her cold sweat. Around her neck, the sound of Echidna’s voice was also slightly hoarse. However, after being late in reacting to the ladies’ response, Julius fixed his posture and said, “Excuse me—”
“Oh Great Divine Dragon who defends our Kingdom. We deeply apologize for our rudeness in the presence of your esteemed self, Great Volcanica, the bearer of the covenant who has kept it for so long and given us much aid.”
“Although it is like this, it is such an honor to meet you. I am Julius Juukulius, a member of the royal guard of the Kingdom of Lugunica. I’ve made sure to keep many of your treasured tales in mind.”
Julius, who had kneeled down and bowed, removed his sword from his waist and placed it on the ground next to him as a form of the utmost respect.
And so, as a knight who served the Dragon Kingdom, he showed the greatest courtesy to the Divine Dragon. Then, narrowing his golden eyes, Volcanica said—
“—I, am Volcanica. In accordance with the ancient covenant, the will of thee who hath reached the top shall be questioned.”
“My life, my faith, have all been dedicated to Lady Anastasia Hoshin. The one who will be the next ruler…and forge the next covenant…will surely be Lady Anastasia...Kuuu.”
“Ju-Julius, are ya crying?”
Julius, who was on his knees helplessly shedding tears, disturbed Anastasia. Wiping his tears away with the back of his hand, he said, “My apologies—”
“Not only did I become acquainted with one of the Three Heroes—Reid—but I was also able to meet the Divine Dragon, Volcanica. As a knight of the Kingdom of Lugunica, I could not be any more honored... This…tower, what in the world is it?”
Julius’ voice trembled due to experiencing something awe-inspiring.
With a tinge of remorse, as if she were ruining his special moment, Emilia started to say “About that...”
“Julius, I’m reaaally hesitant to tell you this because you’re sooo happy, but...”
“—. My apologies, Lady Emilia. Disregarding you and Lady Anastasia, I attempted to talk with the Divine Dragon without permission...”
“Mmm, don’t worry about it. It’s just that…Volcanica is...”
Trying to explain things to Julius without hurting him, Emilia struggled to find the right words to say. Then, coming from above her head—
“—Thou, who hath reached the top of the tower. Step forth onto the first floor, almighty petitioner.”
“...Wait a second. This line…I feel like I just heard it earlier.”
Hearing him repeat those words, Anastasia was the first to become suspicious. However, that same feeling spread to the others, too. Saying that was a natural thing to do, and everyone immediately noticed the change in Volcanica, who continued to repeat the same words over and over again. And—
“Although that’s Volcanica, he’s been waiting here for soooo long that he became a bit senile. Since his body is still full of energy, he’s a biiit of a rowdy one though...”
Volcanica, who had a pretty bad case of dementia, still had the true power of a dragon, but over the course of a long period his time, his mind became damaged.
Perhaps because of the Trial of the first floor, the Divine Dragon exerted a great amount of energy to stop Emilia from getting up the pillar, but once Emilia had reached the Monolith, he judged that she had passed the Trial and returned to his original position.
Moreover, although the Trial had ended, he still continued to talk about the Trial.
“The Great Divine Dragon is senile...?”
“Ju-Julius, calm down. Come on, you’re a little tired, aren’tcha? Why don’t ya sit down?”
Julius was extremely shocked by Emilia’s words. After Reid, the second legend he encountered also differed from the stories he’d heard about them, causing his knees to tremble.
Emilia also didn’t want to disappoint Julius, whose eyes sparkled, and somehow felt a dull pain in her chest. But—
“Emilia, that’s probably not the case, I suppose. This isn’t some kind of dementia, in fact.”
“Echidna, I’m sure you can feel it, too, I suppose. This isn’t dementia...”
“Ah, yes. I wasn’t sure at first, but I feel it now. This isn’t the wearing down of the mind, but the emptiness of the spirit.”
“Emptiness of the…spirit...?”
Emilia was puzzled by the mutually understandable conversation going on between the artificial spirits Echidna and Beatrice. With surprised expressions on the faces of Julius and Anastasia, Beatrice held out her finger and said, “It’s simple, in fact.”
“His spirit is empty.... That is to say, his spirit is not within him, I suppose. As a result, he is limited in what he can say and respond with, in fact. Just think of it as him being 90 percent asleep, I suppose.”
“90 percent... But he was suuuper strong, though?”
“If his spirit were there, it would have been incomparable.”
Echidna’s tone implied that she had been lucky to survive, making Emilia shudder in response.
Emilia had just barely survived the desperate battle with the help of her ice soldiers. Surprisingly, that had just been akin to fighting with a half-asleep Volcanica. Although being half-asleep and being senile were similar, they were completely different in nature.
“But even if his spirit isn’t there, he still has the body of the Divine Dragon, I suppose. If that’s the case, then there may be a way to help the people of Priestella, in fact.”
“—! A way to help everyone? How can we do that?”
“—I see. We can get the blood of a dragon from the…Divine Dragon.”
Anastasia snapped her fingers, and Beatrice nodded at her words. Also hearing that, Emilia widened her eyes and let out an “Ah.”
The source of all of the tales that had been passed down in the Kingdom of Lugunica was none other than the blood of the Divine Dragon, Volcanica.
It had been said that a dragon’s blood was a miracle elixir that could revive a barren land, ensure a bountiful harvest, and heal all illnesses and injuries. To put it simply, many remarkable effects of it had been recorded.
And, not to mention anything else. Dragon’s blood was an element that Emilia could not ignore—
“If I get the blood from Volcanica...”
The reason why Emilia was participating in the royal selection was to obtain the Dragon’s Blood kept in the Kingdom of Lugunica and use it to thaw the frozen soil of the Great Elior Forest.
Emilia was determined to participle in the royal selection in order to liberate her people, who had been frozen in that forest because of her power going wild.
The realization that her main purpose in participating in it had a possibility of being achieved suddenly hit her. It made Emilia tense up and hold her breath.
If Volcanica’s blood could be obtained here, then Emilia would no longer have a reason to ascend the throne—
“...Emilia, I’m sorry to have confused you, I suppose. The Blood that you are thinking about is not the same blood of this Volcanica, in fact. That’s why you won’t be able to achieve that, I suppose.”
Said Beatrice to Emilia, who was about to lose her reason for participating in the royal selection. Emilia then looked at her with rounded eyes and said “Huh?.”
“What do you mean I won’t be able to achieve that? I’ve…studied reaaallllly hard, you know. In order to melt the ice in the forest, I need the Dragon’s Blood in the royal castle. So...”
“There’s nothing wrong with that idea, I suppose. However, as I stated earlier, the Blood in Lugunica’s royal castle and the blood of this Volcanica are, strictly speaking, not the same... The Dragon’s Blood in the royal castle is the blood that spilled from the last beat of a dying dragon’s heart, I suppose.”
“The last drop of blood from the…heart?”
Hearing things she had never heard before, Emilia frowned, scrunching up her finely-shaped eyebrows. Beatrice gently nodded, and then Julius raised his hand and said, “May I ask a question?.”
Julius, who seemed to have just barely recovered from the shock of hearing about the existence or nonexistence of the Divine Dragon’s spirit, looked up at the Divine Dragon, whose responses remained unchanged—
“Excuse me, Lady Beatrice, but what do you mean by what you just said? I am also a knight belonging to the royal guard of the Kingdom of Lugunica. My ears pick up many things regarding the Kingdom. However, the thing you just said...”
“—As its heart beat one last time, the blood from its heart was poured into a container. That blood, as the true blood of a dragon, was entrusted to the royal castle in order to serve as proof of the covenant between man and dragon.”
“It’s no surprise that you do not know this, in fact. The words I said just now came from a book that had been sealed within the Forbidden Library... There is no longer any trace of its existence in the outside world, for it was an account left by the Witch of Greed, Echidna, I suppose.”
After hearing Beatrice’s response, Julius gasped, his eyes widening. As a knight of the Kingdom, he didn’t even know about that, but if it came from Beatrice, he couldn’t consider it a lie. And if it was the truth—
“Then, which dragon’s blood is the Dragon’s Blood being kept in the royal capital, Lugunica? The last beating of the heart would mean...”
“It’d be strange if the dragon who left the blood didn’t die... In that case, it wouldn’t make sense for it ta have come from the empty-headed Mr. Divine Dragon.”
Julius and Anastasia voiced their doubts, but they were also justified in doing so. If the Dragon’s Blood came from the last beat of its heart, then it would not belong to Volcanica. Also, if it was still the blood of a great power—
“Unfortunately, it wasn’t mentioned in the book, in fact.”
“...That person is always doing things half-heartedly. From what I can tell, that Witch of Greed is the biggest reason why Natsuki is so cold to me, right? Because of that, he doesn’t have a good impression of me, and now that impression is only getting amplified.”
“Don’t speak ill of Mother, I suppose. Mind your words, in fact.”
“Don’t fight like that, you two! But, errmmm, mmm...”
After scolding the two of them who were getting heated with each other because of having a difference of opinion regarding Echidna, Emilia silently lowered her head.
When Emilia first heard that Volcanica’s blood was different from the Dragon’s Blood in the royal castle, she was surprised. And yet, at the same time, she was relieved.
“...Such a thing is…sooooo strange.”
Emilia’s main goal was to help everyone in the forest. This goal remained unchanged even today. Therefore, if she were able to obtain Volcanica’s blood here and use it as a solution, it would be possible to liberate everyone in the Great Elior Forest using it. However, while she wanted to do so, she was hesitant.
—If she used another means to melt the permafrost plaguing the Great Elior Forest, would she step off the stage and stop participating in the royal selection?
“...Emilia’s concerns aside, if Beatrice’s words are true, can anythin’ be done with Mr. Volcanica’s blood? There’s a high possibility of it bein’ a disappointment, right?”
“Whether he’s become useless, senile, or lost his spirit, he is still a Divine Dragon, I suppose. So his blood must be quite powerful as well. It’s just that...”
“It wouldn’t be enough to melt everyone’s ice, right?”
In response to Emilia’s question, Beatrice gave her an apologetic look and nodded her head. Gazing at the appearance of Beatrice who looked more sad than herself, Emilia relaxed her lips, looked up, and said, “It’s okay.”
“That fact is pretty disappointing, but since it was something that happened so suddenly, I was soooo surprised that I didn’t realize it... So, it’s not a big deal.”
“I’m sorry, I suppose. I should have told you about it, in fact... I didn’t expect the Divine Dragon to be in a place like this, I suppose. It’s truly regrettable.”
“Mmm, that’s right, he’s such a troublemaker.”
Beatrice’s face sunk in a way that didn’t suit her, and Emilia puffed up her chest.
To be honest, she really did feel disappointed. However, what she had said to Beatrice was the truth. Rather, it felt as if she had been told she could not take shortcuts or cheat.
“Then, let’s get back to the question at hand. If the blood of the Divine Dragon is used, there is a possibility of restoring those in Priestella who have had their appearances changed due to Lust’s Authority. As Beatrice stated, even if he does not have a spirit, the blood itself should still contain great power.”
“It has been said that a single drop of the castles Dragon’s Blood could revitalize a wasteland. It’s a powerful medicine, ain’t it?”
“Therefore, it would be essential to dilute it thousands of times.”
“But it’s a pretty big improvement compared to having nothing at all. If the stories about it being a miracle medicine are true, then it’s worth giving it a shot.”
After hearing the conversation going on between Echidna, Anastasia, and Julius, Emilia once again felt hopeful. They had crossed the Augria Sand Dunes in order to help those who had suffered misfortune.
If they could find a way to solve the problems caused by Lust and Gluttony, that would be best. Otherwise, there would be no way to reward Subaru for all of the damage he had suffered.
“I’m sooooo selfish like this...”
It was very selfish of her to want to make Shaula’s sacrifice have meaning. She’d spent a long time in this tower following her own thoughts and desires. It had been Shaula herself who’d made it meaningful, not Emilia.
“Mm, I got it. I’ll go and ask Volcanica about it. But he may not understand me at all and go on a rampage if I try to take his blood.”
“Don’t you ever get tired of hearing that, I suppose? Emilia, as the new administrator of the Pleiades Watchtower, you have authority over it now, in fact. Can you do something with it, I wonder?”
“The administrator’s authority...I still don’t have any awareness of that…like at all.”
The mystery of the third floor had been solved, she had broken through Reid on the second floor, and expressed her will to Volcanica on the first floor.
Based on these conditions alone, Emilia had indeed captured the watchtower. However, if she were to say whether or not she could see any obvious changes, the answer would be no.
What she could vaguely perceive now was—
“The sand dunes leading to the watchtower will no longer reject anyone...I think?”
“Is this…the choice you made, Emilia? Isn’t that kind of statement quite risky since Books of the Dead are troublesome things?”
“We may face dangerous situations sometimes, but I think we can handle it if we are careful and use them properly. I think there are still lots of things that can’t be decided on on our own.”
For Emilia and the others, it would be too difficult to draw any conclusions about the tower since they were too few in number. For better or worse, she and the others didn’t have the power to do anything about it. Therefore, it would be best to let more capable people figure it out.
“That’s what I think. Do you not agree with it?”
“...I feel like you’re putting a little too much hope in others, but this is the conclusion you came to. If Ana and Julius don’t object to it, then neither will I.”
“Thank you, Echidna.”
Emilia thanked Echidna, who had been the first to agree with her, like this. Anastasia also spoke up with a “Got it, got it.”
“I don’t object to it, either. Actually, even if we made an effort ta hide it, it would be difficult to make the most of it... If that’s the case, it’d be best ta share what we found after trekkin’ all the way here. There’s the issue of Gluttony and we might be able ta bring the dragon’s blood back, too.”
“We should not be vile, nor expect too much. The most important thing is that it was Lady Emilia who reached the top of the tower. We should respect her wishes.”
“Anastasia, Julius, thank you!”
After receiving the two’s agreement, Emilia thanked them with a smile. Then she finally looked back at Beatrice, who had yet to express her opinion on the matter.
“How about you, Beatrice? Do you think this is too irresponsible?”
“If you are talking about being responsible or irresponsible, abandoning this place without investigating it is the most irresponsible thing we could do, I suppose. Betty does not object, in fact. I am also personally interested in this.”
Emilia placed her hand on her chest, relieved that one of her closest companions did not disagree with her.
“Okay, next up is the issue of the blood... The easiest way to go about it is to take Volcanica with us.”
“I think that’ll cause a lotta problems.”
It was true that Volcanica was rather large, and if they took him back with them, there was a possibility that he would bump into a lot of things. However, since he could fly, he could just fly in the air when they entered a street and not have to worry about him bumping into anything.
“Erm, Volcanica. Can you come with us? Or, if you have to stay here, I’d like for you to share some of your blood with me...”
Half expecting something to happen, half giving up, thinking that Volcanica would only repeat the lines from the Trial, Emilia frowned at his present reaction.
Volcanica, the Divine Dragon, who had returned to his original position on the first floor and was leaning against the central pillar, slowly raised his head and turned his gaze outside of the tower.
He neither responded to Emilia and the others, nor did he show any sort of aggression. Emilia, at least, felt like his behavior was rather peculiar. And at the same time—
Feeling as if a cold finger had traced along the entirety of her back, Emilia quickly turned her gaze in the direction of the cause of that chilly feeling—the direction of Volcanica’s gaze, east of the tower.
East of the tower, past the end of the sea of sand, was the Great Waterfall at the world’s edge—no, what existed there was the Great Waterfall, as well as a special place.
Feeling something rough gently brushing against his face, Subaru opened his eyes whilst groaning. His vision was blurred, and after blinking a few times, a clear outline appeared, and what came into view was the cause of that rough sensation—Patrasche had been licking his face with her red tongue.
“...Is that you, Patrasche…?”
“Sorry for making you worry... You…risked your life again, didn’t you? Sorry for always making things hard for you.”
Relaxing his lips, Subaru gently put his hand on his beloved earth dragon’s worried face and began stroking it. This jet-black earth dragon had always saved him when he was in tough spots. Not to mention her kindness for saving him when he had amnesia, but the things Patrasche had done in this past week were also of great importance. To put it simply—
“If Patrasche hadn’t been here, Rem might have died. Bringing this girl back home is probably the greatest accomplishment of Barusu’s life.”
“Even if it’s true, don’t diss me like that! I took Beako out and got Emilia-tan’s insignia back, too. Although Roswaal was involved with both of those, you know.”
As a matter of fact, Roswaal had nothing to do with Beatrice’s problem, but he dared to say it since it would get under her skin. And, as expected, he heard Ram “Tch” with her tongue in disgust.
Ram was leaning against the wall of the Green Room with her arms wrapped around herself. Subaru painfully narrowed his eyes and looked at her bruised body. It was clear that the battle against Lye Batenkaitos had been an intense one.
Since Meili had been injured in the middle of their battle, the amount of burdens Subaru could shoulder had been reduced, which was one of the reasons why she had to fight such a hard battle in the first place. Not sure of what to say, Subaru opened his mouth to apologize—
“Hey, Ram. It was my fault that you got hurt like this...blughhh!”
“Don’t speak such stupid words. Barusu being responsible for Ram’s injuries? There is no place in Ram’s life where Barusu has any such role. How repulsive.”
“What’s repulsive is talking like that! Stuffing grass into a person’s mouth is even worse!”
Subaru protested as he pulled the lump of ivy that had been shoved into his mouth, his eyes watering due to the grassy odor. Hearing that, Ram responded with an unapologetic “Haaa.”
At the argument going on between Ram and Subaru, the sound of giggling could be heard.
“You two…look like such close friendsss. It’s like watching two siblingsss,” said Meili, who’d spread her legs out on the grass mattress covering the floor, the mini crimson scorpion perched on her head. Ram’s face scowled at her giggling with an easy-to-understand expression—
“Barusu is my little brother...? For argument’s sake, let’s assume it’s true, but even if we weren’t related by blood, the Oni Village would cull a useless little brother like him.”
“Is the Oni Village really so severe? I’m glad I wasn’t born as an Oni...”
“That was just a joke. But, it’s just that Ram could not stand the horror and would have you culled.”
“Don’t make it more complicated by doubling up on your assumptions!”
Spit flying, Subaru shouted that at Ram, who was acting like she usually did. Having said that, he could now see that it was just her roundabout way of showing consideration for him. She’d said that the cause of her injuries was not due to his decision, after all.
It was difficult for him to presume upon that consideration. But if he were stubborn and insisted that he was the one responsible, he would instead incur Ram’s ire.
“You’re…such a troublesome girl, Big Sis...”
“After Meili’s presumptuous remark just now, kindly stop calling Ram ‘Big Sis’. It would be troublesome if someone we met for the first time had a misunderstanding.”
Getting the usual cold reply and the Ram experience, Subaru looked around the room—at everyone in the Green Room. There was Subaru and Patrasche, and Ram and Meili along with the mini crimson scorpion. And at the back of the room was the Sleeping Beauty lying on a bed.
“—Rem…is she not awake?”
“I regret to say this, but…I beheaded that hateful, rude person. Lady Emilia’s stuff seems to have returned because of that...”
“Julius’ stuff hasn’t returned, and neither has Rem’s... Is there anything we’re missing?”
Pressing his fist firmly into his palm, Subaru chewed on his bitter feelings.
He had once again confirmed the matter he had spoken about to Emilia and the others about before losing consciousness. —In the end, they would need talk to those guys directly and wring the information out of them in order to completely eradicate the damage caused by Gluttony.
“Are the ones here…based on the severity of the injuries? Where are Emilia-tan and the others?”
“If it’s Big Sister and Beatrice, they said they were going up there to meet someoneee. Waaay up on the first floor, waaay, waaaay up there... Who might be up there? Big Sister Ram must know, riiight?”
“It’s nothing to be concerned with. However, there is a large, senile old man there.”
“The senile old man at the top of the watchtower…is DEFINITELY an important key character...”
Hearing that there was a new character, Subaru wrinkled his eyebrows. Who was the senile old man that Ram was talking about? Or, if they were an overseer like Reid on the second floor, then—
“—It couldn’t be Flugel, right?”
“If Flugel is the one who is up there, I’ll never forgive him. I have enough to say to that guy to fill a whole mountain. If he isn’t there, then Shaula...”
“Barusu, please calm down.”
“Calm down? Ram…you, that kind of thing, Shaula, she...”
The cheek of the vigorous and rash Subaru was slapped while he was trying to determine the true identity of the old man on the top floor of the tower, causing him to put strength into his knees. The cause…was the palm of Ram, who had moved in on him.
With his face having been slapped, Subaru widened his eyes and looked at Ram with a dumbfounded expression.
“Don’t use Shaula as a crutch because of your own powerlessness.”
“I heard about Shaula. She was obnoxious and unmannered, and the eyes that admired Barusu were rotten...but she wasn’t so bad that she deserved to disappear.”
As she spoke, Ram gently placed her hand on Subaru’s struck cheek. It was hot, but her palm was cold. While absorbing the heat, Ram continued her words to the speechless Subaru.
“If you can’t accept it, then, rather than getting angry, just cry. Shaula would be happier if you cried out “I miss you” rather than using her as a reason for your anger. —Ram is the same way.”
“I still believe you are mixing up someone you should strongly care for with someone else.”
After getting one last word in, Ram flicked Subaru’s forehead with her finger. That painless force made Subaru fall onto his butt, and, as he placed his hand on his forehead, said “My bad...”
If Subaru calmed down, Flugel being on the first floor could just be called his own desire, or even something like paranoia. But for argument’s sake, if Flugel really was there—
“Before Barusu could do anything, Lady Emilia and I would beat him until he was on the cusp of death.”
“...I can see you doing that, but not Emilia-tan.”
When thinking of Shaula, the amount of anger directed at Flugel was by no means small, and everyone in the tower naturally shared that feeling.
With Ram’s affirmation, Subaru let out a long exhale. In that case, he was curious about who the senile old man on the first floor was.
“Let’s put that aside for now. If we assume that the senile old man can be helpful in some way, then we should ask him about the victims of the Sin Archbishop of Lust, not Gluttony.”
“That’s a pretty big thing to talk about...so, uh…”
Ram clearly had her priorities straight at this point. Being able to advocate for such a thing without hesitation was one of Ram’s fine qualities. Subaru could also resonate with her ideas to a certain extent. The prospect of being able to save the victims of Lust was attractive, but…
“But did Big Sister Ram have something else in mind when you said that?”
However, Meili had said that right next to Subaru’s face, who was on guard. She poked the mini crimson scorpion on her head with her finger and said—
“Didn’t you say this before? The effects of Gluttony have something to do with time or something like thattt.”
“—. What a loose-lipped girl. In that case, it will be necessary to discipline you properly once we return home.”
“Ohhh, so scaryyy.”
Meili held her head and stuck out her tiny tongue. Above her head, the mini crimson scorpion aimed its pincers and stinger at Ram, as if trying to protect her. However, under Ram’s icy gaze, it quickly shrunk into a little ball.
He could sense a part of her previous self in that flustered behavior.
“Ram, that hypothesis is? What’s it about?”
“It doesn’t amount to much. However, it’s been said that Gluttony eats other people’s memories, correct? If they are truly treated like food, I believe that time will affect the rate of digestion.”
“Lady Emilia’s came back a few hours after it was taken away. If so, then what about the other victims such as Julius the Knight, the people of Priestella, and Rem?”
After hearing the hypothetical statement of Ram, whose finger was raised, Subaru’s eyes widened due to how uncomplicated it was. Just as she said, the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony had equated the stealing of Names and Memories to eating. If that were more than just a superficial expression, then he could find her hypothesis to be satisfactory.
It took time for the Names and Memories that were stolen away to be digested. Then, the reason why Emilia’s Name came back but nothing else did was because—
“...There’s no way…has everything already been digested?”
“—I’m not sure. There’s a possibility that it might just take time for them to come back. If that’s the case, then there is hope. The Memories of Julius, the other victims...and Rem, will hopefully come back, too.”
Not knowing whether it was good or bad, Ram made the above explanation. Subaru knew what she was thinking as well. This was a question that could not be answered immediately.
However, now that Batenkaitos had been slain and Alphard had been captured, Subaru had another big thing to worry about—no, it was something that had come up once again.
He had come across her, the final Gluttony, in the Corridor of Memories by chance, and then left her there. Was that young girl, who did not possess her own body, and took over the bodies of her two brothers as well as Natsuki Subaru’s in order to commit evil deeds, really the object of a Witch Factor?
Her abilities were not inferior to those of Gluttony. However, if the life of the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony was needed to undo the damage caused by their Authority, how could he defeat Louis, who was in that place? In the first place—
“Does the concept of dying exist in that place or not?”
In that place, a spirit-like body took the place of a physical one. He may be able to emulate an idea from manga and games and apply it to kill a spirit, but would that be enough to release a Witch Factor?
Whether it was that place or Louis who remained there, nothing about them was clear. Moreover, even if an answer could be garnered—
“When Julius defeated Reid, Reid’s role in the Trial was terminated. If that’s the case, then wouldn’t Reid go back into his blank Book of the Dead?”
Subaru had managed to go to the place known as the Corridor of Memories within the cradle of Od Laguna. And the reason why he had managed to do so was because of an empty Book of the Dead that just happened to lead to that place.
Since the soul of Reid Astrea had been used in the Trial, there had been a gap in his Book of the Dead, which was connected to the Corridor of Memories. If that was no longer there—
Natsuki Subaru may have missed the opportunity to defeat Louis Arneb.
Subaru had thought a lot about it, and he needed to confirm the possibility that Reid’s Book of the Dead was still blank. Not only that, but he also had a way to challenge his own Book of the Dead. This was a trump card that connected him to the Corridor of Memories.
Although he would have to go through the hell of watching himself Die again, it was better than closing himself off to other possibilities. He thought it would be much better for him to do so.
Instead of giving up because I’ve made irreversible mistakes—
“—Such a fool.”
“If you have the leisure to worry about such frivolous things, then it would be much better for you to rest your mind and body so you can think properly. —Barusu was not the only one who failed to choose the most excellent answer in this tower.”
Shaking her head, Ram gently touched her forehead. Remaining there where her horn previously came from was a slim scar. After doing so, she stretched out that same finger towards Rem, who was on the bed. She then lovingly caressed her sister’s forehead and said—
“For the purpose of defeating the Sin Archbishop of Gluttony, I borrowed Rem’s power. Though I achieved victory in the end, it came at a cost... This girl must have paid a heavy burden, right?”
“If it were Barusu, and I did the thing where I activated my horn, Barusu’s body would probably explode from the inside out.”
Subaru, who had taken on Ram’s usual burdens before, knew very well that these were not exaggerated words. The simple acts of breathing and moving conservatively made Ram experience the taste of hell.
That kind of her was the real deal. —What sort of recoil would he get from it? It would be no exaggeration to say that had Subaru taken it on, a part of his body would suffer from so much damage that it would never be able to recover.
After Ram told him that she made Rem take on her burdens, she closed her eyes, revealing her long eyelashes. However, she said, “Make sense?” and then continued—
“Because of this, Rem might feel resentment towards me when she wakes up. However, I will not regret it. Ram is Rem’s sister. That fact will never change, even if this girl resents or hates Ram... Then, so that things might get better, we can only rely on each other.”
“—Rem…won’t hate you.”
“Yes, I’m sure you’re right. —She’s a very smart girl, and my amazing little sister.”
Like this, Ram smiled, brimming with confidence, and looked at Subaru with her pale crimson eyes.
Though she had no memories of her little sister except through Subaru, since she came to love her, she no longer doubted her feelings. Instead of lamenting about the past, it was better to forge a better future.
“...Saying these words to me…really hits me where it hurts, you know.”
Unbeknownst to Ram, Subaru had gone through several loops to change the past. For Ram, who was an extremely positive thinker, it wouldn’t be too much to describe Subaru’s using of Return by Death as being an extremely regressive form of thinking. Return by Death, which changed what had already occurred, was always used because of regretting the past.
“In the end, it’s better not to use it, huh...”
Subaru once again loosened his tightly clenched fist, smiling bitterly. He admitted that he used Return by Death in order to seize a better future where everyone could laugh together. Based on that, he also knew he should not indulge himself too much in the use of Return by Death itself.
In this tower, Subaru had seen the shedding of so many tears and heard many voices full of regret.
“Although I’m not sureee, but you look to be a bit betterrr.”
Seeing the change in Subaru’s expression, Meili whispered that whilst sitting on the floor. She was sitting in a P.E. sitting posture, and, while stroking her three-strand braid, said—
“Big Sister (Emilia) and Big Sister Ram can do iiit, but I’d be in trouble if you felt down since I can’t cheer you uppp, so please don’t feel dooown. You promiseddd me you’d show me how much I could depend on you to get things done, riiiight?”
“Oh, there was that promise as well. Uh, well, I’ll definitely keep it…this time.”
Gazing at Meili and the mini crimson scorpion on her head, Subaru nodded his head vigoresly. To the side, Patrasche nuzzled her head against his cheek, as if supporting his determination. Though her scaly body was tough, since he had gotten used to it, he could rub his cheeks against it without feeling uncomfortable.
Subaru returned that show of affection with affection of his own and then stood up. Although he had consumed so much energy before that’d he collapsed earlier, he seemed to have more or less recovered his lost strength. The Spirit of the Green Room had a variety of healing methods at its disposal.
“If I think about it, whether it be Gyan who joined the big battle, or the Spirit in this room, I don’t know how to thank them enough for everything they’ve done.”
Shaula had explained that although the Green Room was used as a recovery room, there was a Spirit here originally that was fond of treating the injuries of those who entered the room.
It did not have a physical form, nor was it possible to converse with the Spirit, but its intention for healing others was crystal clear. Subaru and the others had been healed time after time by this room as they constantly attempted to capture the tower.
It was for that reason that, after arriving at the watchtower, Rem had been left in this room.
“Wellllll, I didn’t let her stay here just ‘cause I wanted her to hang around.”
“The Spirit, then. Barusu...no, it’d be a waste to say it. Why don’t we force it to come out by using Julius’ Divine Protection of Gathering Spirits?”
“I know what you’re trying to say, but it won’t work on me since my strong point is that I can put my life on the line for Beako. Anyways, I wonder if we can talk to it with the added effect of Julius’ Divine Protection...”
The Divine Protection of Gathering Spirits was simply a Divine Protection that made it easier for him to be liked by spirits. Under that effect, he had contracted with his six quasi-spirits—no, La and the others who’d been elevated into spirits. If he could use that effect to converse with the Spirit of the Green Room, it would open up a world of possibilities.
The Spirit has been in the tower for as long as Shaula, if not longer. That nameless being might be able to help solve the mysteries in the watchtower—
While Subaru was immersed in his thoughts, a small breath suddenly flowed into the room.
“Ram? What’s the matter?”
“...I…sensed something strange. This is…”
—Ram uttered an unusual premonition in that moment.
A phenomenon suddenly occurred in the middle of the Green Room—light spilled out, shocking Subaru and the others. In response to that, their bodies suddenly stiffened, and Subaru and Ram gravitated over to where Rem was. Meili and Patrasche also seemed to be wary of it and slowly moved away from the light.
“What-what-what-what, what’s happening!?”
“I don’t know! In any case, do not leave us! No matter what happens... Oh, AH!?”
Subaru shielded the flurried Meili behind him, his warning words having been interrupted. The reason was because the light in the room suddenly became brighter, which captured his attention. Then, while covering his eyes with his hands, he carefully gazed in the direction of the light.
He could see that the light, which was currently strong, was gradually becoming weaker, and then it disappeared. When he wasn’t sure whether or not he should be relieved or cautious, ‘That’ appeared in front of Subaru’s eyes.
Subaru wasn’t sure what it meant when ‘That’ appeared right in front of his eyes in the spot where the light disappeared. He became speechless, then stunned, and then speechless once more.
Next to Subaru, seeing the same thing as him, was Ram, who’d muttered that in surprise. That observation was correct. However, between him and her, she did not have the same knowledge of the Girl that Subaru did.
Subaru…knew the name of that Girl. The name of the Girl lying on the floor of the Green Room was—
Louis Arneb, the girl who appeared in the middle of the room along with the light.
Subaru was speechless when the youngest sister of the Sin Archbishops of Gluttony trio known as Satiation—and was not supposed to have a physical form—appeared in reality like that. However, the nearby Ram did not fail to pick up on his words.
“Louis Arneb...the name of the last Gluttony, isn’t it?”
Subaru had yet to tell Ram the details about his encounter with Louis through the Book of the Dead during this loop. He’d only mentioned that he’d had contact with her. Ram had a very good memory indeed.
Now faced with this question, Subaru was a bit disturbed.
“Ah, ah, that’s right, she’s the last one of the Gluttonies...Louis Arneb. The little sister of Batenkaitos and Alphard...”
“—. It appears that she is unconscious.”
Based on what Ram had said, Subaru calmly observed Louis and determined that she was indeed asleep. Well, he could say that, but he wasn’t exactly sure if that was the case. How in the world could Louis, who didn’t even have a physical body, appear here like this?
He could not imagine that she, who was ever-so terrified of and despaired because of Subaru’s Return by Death ability, would somehow reinvigorate herself within a few hours and come back to challenge him again.
—The thing known as Death was something that left a deep wound in a person’s heart.
“I can’t make any progress even after thinking about it... Meili! Go get Emilia-tan and the others! Ram and I…will watch her!”
“Really, you’re suuuuch a slave driverrr... Don’t let yourself die easily, ‘kay?”
Gradually moving backwards, Meili moved towards the entrance of the Green Room. Subaru heard her admonishments and gave her a thumbs up before she left.
He saw the mini crimson scorpion above her head put up its pincers as if imitating her, before she quickly turned around and went to go get Emilia and the others.
And then, in the room where Subaru and Ram remained—
“I don’t think anything will happen, but in any case, should we tie her up with ivy?”
“I’d rather not provoke them...Barusu, have you noticed it yet?”
When he was trying to discuss the treatment of Louis with her, Ram grabbed his shoulder and asked him that. Not seeming to understand the purpose of her question, he cocked his head.
So, Ram pointed at the ceiling of the Green Room with her chin—no, the entire room.
“—The healing effects of the room have disappeared. The Spirit is gone.”
“Ah... That’s a joke, right?”
“It’s not a joke. Barusu, even you will be able to feel it if you concentrate. There is an emptiness in this place.”
Subaru looked around the room, spurred on by Ram’s statement. Even if he was told to concentrate, the way Subaru felt the presence of a spirit was by picking them up, kissing their face, sleeping together, and so on. He’s not sure about other ways of doing it.
However, just as Ram had said, he could no longer feel the gentle power that had previously wrapped around his entire body. It seemed that something had indeed happened, for the Spirit in the Green Room was no longer there—
“If that is so, then perhaps it has something to do with the Sin Archbishop.”
Subaru could not deny Ram’s conjecture. He also had a similar thought. The Spirit in the Green Room had disappeared and been replaced by Louis Arneb. Then, perhaps—
“—. Anyways, it’s best not to jump to any conclusions. We should wait for Lady Emilia and Lady Beatrice to return. Once Lady Emilia and the others come back—”
—We can continue our discussion on what to do with Louis. He thought that that was what Ram was about to say. However, she did not continue her words. One step ahead of her—the blackness that led to the demise of all…had assaulted the Pleiades Watchtower.
A huge explosion went off at their feet, letting off a bang, causing Subaru and the others to get thrown into the air. Seconds afterwards, his entire body crashed into the ceiling and wall, making him let out a “Guh!.” He then turned his head to figure out what had happened.
—Fear permeated throughout his whole body as that vile presence drew near.
In a state of disbelief, Subaru stood up, denying that foreboding feeling in his gut. But that horrible chill grew stronger and stronger, making his suspicions more and more real.
“Patrasche! Take Ram—!”
As he crawled along the floor, he grabbed Ram’s body and threw her over to Patrasche. Though she was still covered in injuries, Patrasche understood his intentions and flew towards the room’s entrance.
“Barusu, that fool...!”
Ram resented that forceful action, but there was no time to listen to her. Subaru pushed off of the ground and sped towards Rem on the bed made of ivy. Then he carried her towards the door—
—Just before that, the figure of Louis, who was tumbling in the grass, passed by the edge of his vision.
“—Hic! Aaah, shit! Shiiiiiit!!”
While spewing out curses angrily, Subaru exerted as much strength as possible with his worn-out body for this maneuver. With Rem’s body held in the right hand, he used his left hand to grab Louis’ arm by force.
Both of them were rather light. In extraordinary circumstances like this, it was possible for him to ignore the weight as he carried them. Like this, carrying both of them, he was on the verge of leaping out of the Green Room.
A black shadow emerged through the floor of the Green Room, as if trying to cut Subaru off from the entrance—indeed, it was the black shadow. The last of the five obstacles—the black shadow of the Witch who had an obsession with Subaru—had come to the tower at a time like this.
Subaru, who was screaming maniacally, tried to get Rem away from the clutches of the shadow. However, the black shadow swallowed up his vision, leaving not even a gap. Moreover, the black shadow did not stop flowing in, engulfing him from the front, the left, the right, and the back.
“Damn it... Even though…I’ve made it this far...!”
Gazing at the shadow inching closer and closer, Subaru’s heart was filled with regret as he tried to find a way to escape. If he got swallowed up by the black shadow, he would lose his life and have to Return by Death. If he Returned by Death in this tower, and his respawn point had not been updated, then he would have to start over at a point when Louis was still within him.
If that happened, he would be at the mercy of the Sin Archbishop in the shape of a white girl. That fear was what drove him to do his best with the attitude that this loop was his last chance—
“BARUSU! SNAP OUT OF IT! REM WOULD CRY!!”
Coming from beyond the black shadow were the desperate cries of Ram and Patrasche. In response, Subaru took a deep breath, but could not utter a word.
—Long before that, the entirety of Natsuki Subaru had been swallowed up by the black shadow.
—Having been swallowed up by the immense black shadow, Subaru’s consciousness slowly swirled around in the darkness.
He felt as if his hands, feet, blood, flesh, and his very existence had been broken apart and turned into concepts. Consumed by endlessly powerful and vast emotions, his very existence had been overwritten.
“—I love you.”
He heard a murmur in that silent and dark nothingness. That sound was, indeed, very nostalgic for him, causing Natsuki Subaru’s consciousness to smile to itself. Getting used to someone saying “I love you” to him was akin to being the Knight who was loved by his six spirits.
Unfortunately, Subaru didn’t have a strong will like that. Even if he pushed himself to his limits, the love he could give was limited to what he could do with his own two hands and back. So, the whispers of the black shadow just seemed like forced words to him.
“So? It’s way too forced, you know...”
“—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“Sorry, can’t give you an answer to that... That phrase is like a landmine to me right now. I’ve never been able to grab the hand of the person who said that to me...”
“—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“...Is there no way for us to hear each other? Then…hurry up and consume me.”
In this nothingness, there was no hope of escaping from it and living. So, Natsuki Subaru would die a merciless death in the darkness. He would not grieve over it, but would accept it and turn that feeling into anger, pushing himself onwards.
“When I get back, the worst thing may be waiting for me. Louis, who would still have a clear head on her shoulders, might fight me again for my Return by Death ability.”
“—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“But, I’m not gonna lose. I won’t lose. No matter how many times it takes, I’ll keep fighting. This time, I’ll keep my promise.”
“—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“—I’ll fight for tomorrow’s tomorrow, no matter how many times it takes.”
He would no longer be overwhelmed by the repetitive “I love you’s”. He was sorry, but the heart that could be wounded by such words had gotten worn out long ago. This kind of ‘love’ could not chain Natsuki Subaru down any longer.
And yet the words of love that were continuously uttered did not pay any mind to Subaru’s rejection. Indeed, the words of love themselves came pouring in, coating the world in them as Natsuki Subaru was swallowed up by the darkness—
“—I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
“—I, am Volcanica. In accordance with the ancient covenant, the will of thee who hath reached the top shall be questioned.”
In the next instant, a pale blue light poured down from above, striking the darkness that had engulfed the world. That fierce light then swallowed up the darkness, and the color of the world changed—
Subaru groaned as he felt a rough sensation moving against his face and opened his eyes. His consciousness slowly returned. And at the same time, on the other side of his open eyelids, his blurry vision gradually returned to normality, revealing an outline.
Subaru had continued to feel a rough sensation on his cheek during this time.
“Pat…rasche... I…got it. I’m up. I’m awake…already...”
He wasn’t sure just how tired he was, the sound coming from his throat was incredibly thin, and he wasn’t sure if his intentions were being communicated properly. The other person didn’t show any signs of stopping their skinship.
“You’re being such a sweetie... I bet you could win the next heroine contest with that cuteness...”
After swallowing some saliva in his dry mouth, he managed to utter a word and got a response in return.
However, the answer Subaru received was different from what he was expecting, causing his face to stiffen. His cheek was being licked like mad, and, gradually getting his vision back, what appeared in front of him was—
—Louis Arneb, whilst sitting on top of Subaru, was licking his face.
Subaru was startled by that impossible sight and then immediately pushed Louis, who’d been in front of him, away. Due to that action, she let out a anguished cry and rolled around on the grass.
Gazing at that sight, Subaru desperately slid his butt backwards.
“What, what, what, what the hell are you doing!? What are you trying to do?! Coming on to me like this...”
“Woo—, Woo—? Wooah—”
“Waah, what in the! What, what the hell... Did I…die...?”
Subaru stared at Louis in complete shock, his voice trembling with desperation. Right in front of Subaru was Louis, lying on her back in the grass, shaking her arms and legs like a child, whining.
He didn’t understand what she was doing. What was the point—no, before that—
“What, where…is this place...?”
Without taking his eyes off Louis, Subaru observed his surroundings whilst staying vigilant. Then, what came into his view was a lush, green prairie—as if it were a vast grassland, flowers swayed in the wind here and there.
Such a sight would be impossible to see in the Augria Sand Dunes. Well, to be precise, there were also things like flower gardens there where courtesan bears lived, but this was not an artificial place, and the vegetation was definitely real.
A little bit further away, Subaru could see a forest, plunging his mind into confusion. This clearly was not the Augria Sand Dunes. It didn’t seem to be the Corridor of Memories where he’d encountered Louis before, either.
“The grass seems pretty real. And it tastes like...Peh, peh! Grass!”
After pulling up some grass and checking the smell and taste of it, Subaru was certain that it was real. Then, basing it on the injuries he’d incurred and the state of his torn clothing, he confirmed that the traces from the last battle—the battle surrounding the Pleiades Watchtower—had remained.
That is to say, that the battle had taken place, and Subaru had yet to die. He had been swallowed by the massive black shadow that had assaulted the Green Room and survived.
“—That’s right! Rem! Rem is...”
If Louis was right here in front of him, that meant that Rem, who he also had in his grasp at that time, would also be around here.
Based on that idea, Subaru ignored Louis and searched around the grassland for Rem. It did not take long for him to find her soundless figure lying down in the low-cut grass.
“Rem! Ah, this is great... What a relief, you’re safe and sound...”
Rushing over to Rem, Subaru confirmed that she was indeed safe and then fell to the ground in relief. She also appeared to not have any external injuries. Her body temperature and slow breathing were just as they were before. This made Subaru breathe a sigh of relief and wipe away the sweat on his brow.
“Ah, there’s nothing to worry about. Big Sis would kill me if anything happened to Rem, anyways...”
Even if Ram didn’t do anything, Subaru would go ahead and off himself since he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself. While having such thoughts, Subaru uttered “Then again...” and then looked up.
“Where is this place...where’s the tower at? Where are Emilia-tan, Beako, and the others?...”
Looking around, he still could not find the watchtower that was supposed to be visible in the distance. No matter where he looked, the result was the same.
“EMILIA—!! BEAKO!! RAM—!!”
Even if he couldn’t see them, there was a possibility that they would respond, so Subaru called out to Emilia and the others. However, his voice beget hollowness, and the only one who answered was Louis, lying in the grass. Although that fact annoyed him, it was also true that he could not ignore her presence.
With no way of knowing what she was trying to do, nor with a way to deal with whatever it might be, the only one who could protect Rem was himself, so he got up so he could deal with Louis and—
—When he was about to get on his feet, someone gently grabbed onto his arm.
Subaru, currently on one knee and about to stand up, emitted a gruff breath. Though the strength of the arm pulling on his sleeve was not much, he could not move an inch.
Subaru’s knees began to creak and tremble, and his whole body began to sweat. It truly was an incomprehensible urge. The entire being known as Natsuki Subaru began to shake all at once, the phenomenon making him go crazy.
That was…a shock that could not be described in words.
That was…intense emotions that could not be compared to anything else.
That was…of all the great surprises he had savored in this world, it was as big as a massive wave.
Slowly, her eyelids trembled and opened slightly. Beneath those eyelids were her pale blue eyes, as clear as the surface of a lake.
He loved…her happy and cheerful eyes.
He loved…the twinkle in her eyes when she occasionally acted mischievously.
He loved…the eyes that grasped his heart when she pleaded with him.
—He had always, always, always, yearned for that radiance.
His heart thumping, his throat quivering, as if he were choking on something, unable to produce a sound. He’d choked up. That was indeed so. How many thoughts were swirling around in his heart at this moment?
The words he’d wanted to convey to her, the things he’d wanted to talk to her about, the dreams he’d wanted to share with her, all of these had been accumulating.
In pursuit of these very things, Natsuki Subaru—
His lips trembling, he called out her name. Sadly, he had failed countless times trying to do just that. He wondered if he had ever clearly conveyed anything to her. Perhaps it had only been done in his own fantasies, and the most important thing was never conveyed.
Out of fear, Subaru gasped out her name repeatedly.
“Rem, Rem... Remm, Remm... Re…m...REM!”
Each time he called out her name, he could not stop his tears from overflowing like a flood. Each time tears flowed out of his eyes, she became blurred. Whenever she became obscured, he was afraid she would slip through his fingers once more.
And so, with snot falling out like rain and desperately wiping his face with his sleeve, Subaru frantically tried to keep her face in his view.
Rem blinked silently, a light shining in her eyes. Having gotten to this point, Subaru knew this was not simply an illusion being shown due to his desire. He had no doubt that this was her—Rem—and she was here.
Rem appeared to be trying to say something, her lips moving weakly. Hearing only that weak sound, Subaru’s heart was on the brink of breaking. He’d always talked to her sleeping face, and, in order to confirm that she still had life, checked her breathing as she slept.
Ushering in countless mornings and nights, Subaru had vowed to get her back. However, not once had he heard her voice in all this time. Closing his eyes, he recalled how she’d called out his name, and all sorts of other scenes. —But all of that belonged to the past.
Today, tomorrow, he wanted to hear the voice of the new her. Now that wish had finally come true. Subaru had gotten what he’d yearned for.
“Re…m...It’s fine. It’s okay, so take your time...”
She anxiously moved her lips, her mouth still closed. Honestly, he thought he should grab her a glass of water or something for her now. However, there didn’t seem to be a water source available near them, and it was impossible for him to tear his eyes away from her. Just a single word. If she called out to Subaru once more. When he heard that word, he would—
In silence, Rem sped up the movements of her lips, seeking out any ounce of moisture in her mouth. Moistening her tongue with the secreted saliva, Rem finally regained enough strength to open her mouth. Then, with Subaru reflected in her light blue eyes, she opened her mouth and said—
The sound that spun from her lips, tied together with significance, pierced into Subaru’s mind.
—Who are you?
Subaru knelt down, gazing at Rem’s expression, holding his breath. Then, painfully exhaling the accumulated breath in his lungs, he pounded on his chest. Harder and harder, twice, thrice, talking to himself.
He should have expected this possibility. The possibility that Rem might not remember him when she woke up, he had considered it. It was only natural to think of that if he took Gluttony’s Authority into account. There was a high possibility of her waking up without her Name or Memories.
Indeed, it was quite likely. So, it wasn’t like Subaru had never considered that she’d lack memories. And, of course, the shock and pain he was feeling right now wouldn’t be eliminated just because of this, either.
Even if that were the case, no longer would Subaru curse fate and live in despair, no longer would he live in rage, no longer would he pretend to be a tragic hero and feel sorry for himself.
Most important of all, Natsuki Subaru had already been told something by her.
“Please show me how awesome you can be, Subaru.”
“—My name is Natsuki Subaru.”
Gritting his teeth hard, Subaru threw away his anguished expression and pulled his cheeks up. Rubbing his face hard, he did his best to put on an act and give Rem a smile.
“You may not be able to remember it for now. But…I’m...”
In the face of Rem’s question, Subaru made a pause and shut his eyes tightly. Then, his black eyes reflecting in her light blue eyes, he continued—
“I’m…your hero. —I’ve missed you, Rem.”
Saying this, for the sake of the girl he’d made an oath to, Natsuki Subaru once again took on the role of a hero. Bearing the image of a broken hero, the young boy once again gave his name for the sake of the young girl.
—Once again, here, and now, he vowed. To start a story with her, from zero.