Chapter 4 – Fourth Time’s the Charm



4-1

“Wallet, here.  Cellphone, here.  Corn potage and cup noodle also have no problem.  Nothing has ripped my jersey or sneakers.  And of course…”

Lifting up the hem of his jersey, he turned his head around to check all over his back.

The front side of his abdomens, the back side of his waist, he could not see any traces of wounds anywhere.  Naturally, there was also no abnormal occurrence like a knife sticking out of him.

“Phew.  That’s good, since a back wound is a swordsman’s greatest shame.  As someone who has practiced kendo in middle school, even if I wander off the road called life, I won’t stray from the path of a swordsman.”

The sun was high up, and the soft breeze tickled his skin.  The main street was crowded with people passing by, and once again, a lizard-drawn carriage ran by.

“Now then, with this much circumstantial evidence here, I can only accept it, can’t I?  Though it’s a little hard to believe…”

All his injuries have disappeared from his body, with no fraying or traces of blood to be found on his jersey.  Inside the plastic bag he held, the unopened snack was waiting to quell Subaru’s stomach.

“In other words, it’s that.”

Moving his hand that had touched his chin forwards, Subaru snapped his fingers towards the people on the streets to gather attention.

“—Every time I die, I return to my initial state.  Or so it seems.”

Even though it was deemed ridiculous, after such thinking, this was the conclusion he had came to.


4-2

“I’ll call it, 『Return by Death』…  An ability that assumes you’re a loser, are you saying it’s very fitting for me?”

It was an ability that activates the first time the user dies.  If the hero’s path was to make a comeback from inevitable defeat, then getting another chance after failure was surely the path of a villain.

“Seriously though… wouldn’t this be considered time reversal?”

It was a loop phenomenon that occurred under certain circumstances.  If one were to consider this a game, then the auto-save point that brought him back after death was set without regards to his intentions, or so Subaru thought.

“It’s a loop or time leap, huh.  I’m familiar with it through manga and such, but I remember seeing somewhere that it was theoretically difficult to do… It looks like recreating an entire world is easy.”

If he were to rely on his knowledge from surfing the web, which was broad but shallow, then turning back time would be a pipe dream’s fantasy among dreams.  In fact, it was too late now to be using common sense after being summoned to another world.

“And if I consider 『Return by Death』, then all the oddities so far make perfect sense.”

Looking back, Subaru had already lost his life three times in this other world.

The first time, he had visited the Stolen Goods Storehouse with Satella; the second time, he had fallen prey to Elsa’s assassin knife along with Rom-ji and Felt; and the third time, which felt like several dozen minutes ago, he died in vain.

Unlike the first and second time, his third death was inexcusably the worst.  Who could have thought that he would be finished off by the earliest small fry mobs.

“I mean, dying three times in half a day is a bit too fast paced.”

When you think about how you normally only live life once, dying three times in just half a day can be described as something that overturns common sense.  These seventeen years, I had thought I lived a fairly peaceful life, but when you think about how I lived 17 times 365 days multiplied by three escapes from dead or alive situations, it’s quite impressive.

“Or perhaps I’m just hopelessly terrible at living.”

The difficulty between living in his original world and this world was too big.  There were too many scenes that threatened to endanger Subaru’s life wherever he went.

“Looking at the similarities of the first and second time… the first time was probably Elsa as well.”

In the first world, the one lurking in the shadows of the Stolen Goods Storehouse would probably be Elsa.  The corpse of the giant old man was Rom-ji.  Satella and I had arrived after their negotiations. 

“I’m just guessing, but that was probably the result of Felt’s greed breaking down the negotiations…”

At the scene where Elsa had finished her silencing, Subaru and Satella had unfortunately stumbled across it.

“The second time was even simpler.  I was at the scene of the silencing…  To be killed by the same person twice, doesn’t that mean Elsa is a landmine character where meeting her means a sure death.”
(TL Note: 地雷キャラ, what happens when you come in contact with a landmine?  Boom.)

Using a joking tone, Subaru tried to deceive himself about his fear of Elsa.

To begin with, to take into consideration the possibility of meeting Elsa is a stupid thing.  The only chance of encountering Elsa was at the Stolen Goods Storehouse. 

And what brought Subaru to the storehouse was to recover the insignia stolen from Satella.  His original purpose being “I want to repay Satella for saving me.”  But for Subaru, who was brought back in time because of 『Return by Death』, his debt to Satella should have disappeared along with the first world.

In the third world, their reunion — Satella’s cold response to their contact — was testament to it.  Satella didn’t know Subaru.  And the debt he was supposed to return, it disappeared off somewhere.

Then I should forget all about Satella, and focus my attention on avoiding that threat.  I don’t know why Return by Death was prepared, but at least I gained the ability to know the future.  Avoid avoidable mines.  That is for certain. 

“That being the case, I should act quick.  Luckily, since I already know my cellphone can be exchanged for money, I can sell this to fill my war chest and live a wonderful life.  My dream is just getting better!  Right, old man?”

“Was wondering what you were mumbling about, and you suddenly ask me this?  Even if you ask me, I don’t know.”

Subaru, who sought the agreement of the street vendor next to him, was replied with an annoyed look.  That cold reaction hurt Subaru’s feelings a little.  The attitude of a human meeting another stranger — no matter which world, it did not change much.

“Still, there are good-natured people who would help others even if it puts themselves into a desperate situation.”

Having had an important thing stolen, and in the middle of chasing the thief, she chose to help a useless stranger, spend time healing him, and tried to leave without receiving any thanks.  She even kept the self-satisfied useless one company.  She was a kindhearted person who was given a terrible end.

“Looking at my three repeats, I’ve come to realize various things.  No, rather, if you still don’t understand it after that, that’s a pitiful brain to have.  Mine isn’t up there yet.  It’s only slightly pitiful.”

“What’re you talking about now?”

“There’s probably a pattern here, or something inevitable — no matter how many times, this development will always take place — this kind of strong force.  For example…”

The first, second, and even third time, Satella’s insignia was stolen by Felt.  And at the Stolen Goods Storehouse, Elsa’s brutal murdering occurred in the first and second world; in the third world as well, the same tragedy would have occurred regardless of Subaru’s vain death.

“I don’t know whether I can win against Elsa.  I don’t know right now.  But there’s one thing I know.”

If this fourth time I leave the situation as is, Felt and Rom-ji will, without a doubt, be killed by Elsa.  Satella as well, will inevitably fight Elsa.

So what if those two died?  One’s a petty villain who deals in selling stolen goods, and the other’s an obstinate girl who shamelessly overprices the stolen goods she sells.  Both are criminals.  If they’re gone, wouldn’t it be a relief?  Yet…

“Aah, I’m definitely a modern age kid.  Even though I make fun of this attitude when I was in front of a computer.”

Sympathy and compassion, they were things Subaru thought of as stupid.  At least, Subaru himself didn’t believe he feigned it.  He always thought of himself as emotionally detached.  That’s why, no matter what situation he found himself in, he was convinced he would accept it indifferently without much emotion.  He believed no matter how many acquaintances died, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

“Nevertheless, I hate it.  It feels terrible.  Those two are far from good, but… knowing those people will be killed, it’s impossible to overlook it.”

In the end, it was probably just him acting as such.  Such talks were all in the virtual sense.  When actually dealing with the realistic weight behind it, it was as shallow as one easily replacing their own morals.

“Plus, Satella… that girl, I can’t really abandon her.”

Having called her that name, Subaru believed it was probably a fake name.

Thinking back to the first world, she didn’t really want to be called by that name.  To top it off, during their exchange in the third world, it was made painfully clear: in short, he didn’t gain enough trust.  Because I lacked the intimacy points, I failed the progression of the name acquisition event.

“In that case, I’ll do my best to make sure she tells me her name this time!”

Stretching his body, Subaru fired himself up as his joints cracked.  His eccentric actions surprised the stall owner, to which Subaru held out his palm as he explained, “there are times where a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.  Right, old man?”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly right.  That’s why you should just go already.”

Subaru thought he had blurted out some excellent lines, but the bland reaction made him feel as if his cheeks would twitch.  He was given a perfunctory push, and hurriedly left the place.

He continued pushing through the crowd for about two hundred meters before coming to a stop.

“Now…”

Pushing his fringes back, Subaru, acting in a pointlessly cool manner, gazed around.  Placing his hand onto a wall to lean on, he said, “Wonder where I have to go to meet fake Satella?”

Thus, he got started after his remark at his unease of the future.


4-3

Come to think of it, I seem to have relied on luck a lot when it came to meeting fake Satella.  I had encountered fake Satella the first and third time, but the only point in common was that they occurred not far from this main street.  At the very least, I should know when Felt’s robbery occurs, but…

“At the time, how long was I stuck in depression mode next to the fruit stall?”

He felt it was only a few minutes, but he thought it could have also been an hour or so.

“Guess I’ll properly wander around and leave it up to fate.  I’m looking forward to the red string of fate bringing me and her together!”

Sticking his two pinkies out in front of his head, Subaru was given curious stares by his surroundings as he went “myon myon.”  As he continued the search this way, he gradually realized the scenery was somewhat familiar to him.
(TL Note: Subaru is sticking his pinkies out as antennas, and the “myon myon” is like a radar scanner’s ping.  Why does he do this?  I have no idea why.)

“Unexpectedly, my fate has not abandoned me yet?!” he said conceitedly… until he suddenly noticed he had deviated from the streets.  Before he knew it, he wandered into an alleyway.

“This was where I first met fake Satella…?”

It felt similar to him, but he wasn’t confident.  Even if it was the same alleyway, the question remained whether she would run through here.

“Well, it’s a completely different place from the third time’s blind alley which I was killed in.”

Even if the event of fake Satella having her insignia stolen by Felt was set in stone, Felt’s escape route varied based on the situation.  The first and second time might have been the same alleyway, but because Subaru had interfered the third time, fate could have slightly changed.

Realizing this, Subaru was made aware of the shallowness of his thoughts.

If he entered the familiar alleyway, he thought he might be able to encounter fake Satella and Felt.  However, in another sense, it also meant another kind of reunion.  In other words…

“That’s enough, I’m sick of seeing your faces.  Ton, Chin, Kan!”

Looking back wearily, Subaru saw three people blocking the alleyway.

Both their clothes and looks were the same; their objective and equipment were no different.  It was only natural since he had stepped foot into the same place.

“Even though it’s been so difficult to find fake Satella and Felt…”

He was probably unable to meet them because of the influence of random elements aside from Subaru.  On the other hand, Subaru’s encounters with Ton, Chin, and Kan each time seemed to be because they had set Subaru as their target of extortion from the beginning.  That’s why each and every time, even if a different alleyway was chosen, he couldn’t avoid that event.

“I’ve come to a speculation that makes me completely unhappy.  By the way, what are you guys doing?”

“That guy’s been babbling since a while ago, what is he talking about?”

“He probably doesn’t understand his situation.  Why not teach him?”

Ton and Chin’s conversation was like it followed a script, further ruining Subaru’s mood; but even while being bored to death, he couldn’t be careless.

Though the clear conditions for the encounter with Ton, Chin, and Kan were loose, it didn’t mean he had a one hundred percent chance of breaking through.  In fact, his third death was caused by them.

With that in mind, Subaru was suddenly reminded of his memories from just before his third world’s death.  Under that situation, the situation of dying, Subaru had continued to desperately to pick up sounds.

Remember the contents of Ton, Chin, and Kan’s last words at the time.  What were they afraid of?  The words they blurted, I should be able to understand them now.  It should be…

“GUAAAARDS!!”

Shattering the alleyway’s silence, it was at a volume that definitely reached the main street.  Caught off guard by his distress call without warning, Ton, Chin, and Kan jumped involuntarily at the surprise attack.

Having practiced enough kendo, he had already lost his sense of shame at screaming out loud.  For Subaru, who was aware of his loser status life, shouting for someone to help did not hurt his pride in the slightest.

“Someoooone!  I need an adult!”
(TL Note: Original words were “Someone!  Call a man!” implying a woman was being forced upon.  I couldn’t think of anything else similar in English that has the same implications.)

“You… are you messing with us?!  Would a normal person suddenly shout here?!”

“Based on this situation, aren’t you suppose to listen to us to avoid getting hurt?!  You’re not gonna hear us out and just call for help?!  That ain’t normal!”

“Huh?!  In what kind of world is that normal?!  Or rather, doesn’t that mean you’re going to do something where it’ll be troubling if I make too much noise?  Oh my.”

“Shut up, alright?!  Don’t mess around!”

“No!  I can’t hear you!  It’s not sincere enough so I’m not listening!  Cops!!”  Subaru shouted even louder to toy with them, but on the inside, he broke into a cold sweat.

During his last moments in the third world, just before he lost consciousness, they had blurted out “guards” and “run.”  In other words, a police-like organization existed in this world.

His calling for help was prompted by this, though Subaru admitted it was a very shabby strategy.  Unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any reactions from the people crowding the main street.

“That failed after all…”

“Trying to threaten us… even though it worked a little bit, it’s not like I was scared.”

“It’s only just a little bit!”

“Seriously, it was just a tiny bit!”

In sync, Ton, Chin, and Kan denied their small fry status while acting like small fries.

To regain control of the situation which Subaru held, the men looked at each other, nodded, and took out their weapons.  A knife, a rusty machete, and…

“Why are you the only one unarmed?  Did you not have the money to buy a weapon?”

“Shaddap!  I’m stronger without a weapon!  I’ll beat you to death, fucker!”

“Wish I could show what happened to you guys in the second world.”

Thinking back to his clean back throw, Subaru couldn’t help but praise himself.  On the other hand, the situation had worsened to extent that his mind shouted, this is quite dangerous.  It became quite difficult to break through.

“Please spare me… I’m not a fan of pain.”

After having died three times, he realized death, no matter how many times, was something he could not get used to.  Not to mention, Subaru’s death causes up until this point were all from knives.  The scathing pain always felt fresh, it was a shocking sensation with his end feeling like his nerves were being scraped away.  He didn’t want to experience that kind of death again.  Most importantly…

“Just because I’ve been able to 『Return by Death』 up until this point doesn’t mean it’ll work this time…”

Why would he think his 『Return by Death』 ability had an unlimited amount of uses?

Although there are no signs of numbers engraved on my body, the saying goes, “even Buddha will be upset if his face is hit three times.”  If this was the Buddha’s benevolent gift, then Subaru had already used up all his continues.
(TL Note: 仏の顔も三度 was the Japanese proverb used here.  More info on it here)

“If I die, my otherworldly life will end… Even if I get hurt, fleeing is the correct option here.”

The most lethal weapon is, naturally, the tried and true knife.  The machete has a surprising amount of rust, if I use my plastic bag as a shield, it’ll probably soften the impact.  Then the fist fighter can be safely skipped.

Watching Ton, Chin, and Kan as they neared, Subaru made up his mind.

I only need to be cautious of Chin, he thought, while counting down in his mind.  Three… two…

“That’s as far as you’ll go.”

The voice was abrupt but clear as it cut through the tense air in the alleyway.

It was a dignified voice that did not have a shred of hesitation or mercy.  Hearing those words alone was enough for one to feel an overwhelming presence, which was perfect for the speaking person’s intentions.

Subaru raised his head, while Ton, Chin, and Kan turned around.  Up ahead stood a young man.

What stood out more than anything was his flame-like, blazing red hair.  Underneath shone a pair of incomparably brave blue eyes.  His extraordinary facial features magnified his gallantry.  One glance was enough to know he was a person of some reputation.

Slender and tall, he was fitted in well-tailored black clothes; on his waist were simple decorations, except for the knight’s sword which gave off an inordinately intimidating feeling.

“No matter what the circumstances are, I won’t allow you to be violent to him anymore.  That’s enough.”

Saying that, the young man walked past Ton, Chin, and Kan with ease, putting himself between them and Subaru.  Such an upright attitude left Subaru speechless, but the thugs’ reactions were different.

Their faces were pale as they pointed at the young man with quivering lips.

“B-blazing red hair, blue eyes… and a knightly sword’s scabbard engraved like a dragon claw.  Don’t tell me…”

Staring at the young man in disbelief, they spoke in unison, “Reinhard… is it the Sword Saint Reinhard?!”

“It looks like a self-introduction will be unnecessary.  Though… that second name is still a bit too heavy for me,” the young man called Reinhard muttered in self-mockery, but the light in his eyes did not let up.

Overwhelmed by his piercing stare, the thugs took a step back, looking at each other as if they were waiting for the timing to escape.

“If you plan on running, I’ll let you off this time.  Just head back towards the streets.  However, if you insist on extreme actions, I shall be your opponent.”

Placing a hand on his scabbard, Reinhard directed his chin at Subaru, who stood behind.

“This’ll be a three versus two with the number advantage on your side.  I don’t know how much my minor strength will be of help to him, but I will contribute my all as a knight.”

“A-are you kidding?!  This ain’t worth it!”

Reinhard’s assertion caused the thugs to panic.  They scattered in all directions as they ran towards the main street, forgetting to even hide their weapons.  They didn’t even leave parting words like the first world as they fled.  This alone was enough for Subaru to know the young man standing in front of him was an out of the ordinary, prominent person.

“I’m glad we were both unharmed.  Are you injured anywhere?”  After waiting until the thugs completely disappeared, the young man then looked back with a smile.

The pressure that dominated the alleyway soon vanished.  Sensing that the young man had done this consciously, Subaru was more than flabbergasted.  More than anything…

“After doing all that and still stay cool… it’s as if we’re not from the same species.”

His face, voice, figure, and behavior are all at an extremely high level of human purity.  If his personality and pedigree are good as well, and if he had not committed any evil deeds, then this is quite the imbalance. 

Putting his bared jealousy aside, Subaru prostrated on the spot.

“To have saved my life here, you have my heartfelt gratitude.  I, Natsuki Subaru, admire your heart of integrity…”

“You don’t have to be so formal.  It was because it became a three versus two for them, so they weren’t able to secure an advantage anymore.  If I was alone, this wouldn’t have worked.”

“No, from how scared they were, rather than three-to-one, it could be ten-to-one.  No, even if it was a hundred-to-one, they would flee…  But what’s with your heroism stats?!  You’re like a saint in body and mind.  It’s so dazzling, my eyes will go blind!”

In all honesty, the gap between our looks is so wide, I don’t want to stand next to him.

Subaru examined Reinhard once again, but the longer he looked the more he thought this handsome young man must have been chosen by god.  But that appearance didn’t make the young man seem like a guard.

“Ummm, is it alright to call you… Mr. Reinhard?”

“I don’t mind dropping the honorifics, Subaru.”

“Got friendlier, huh.  Well, thank you once again, Reinhard.  You were the only one who heard my cry and rushed over here.  Sure feels lonely.”

With that many people on the street, it was impossible for only Reinhard to have heard it.  While Subaru lamented the bystander apathy of human nature, Reinhard replied with slightly downcast eyes.

“Though I don’t wish to say it, it is excusable in some ways.  For many, making an enemy of those types of people is extremely risky.  In that respect, your judgement to call a guard was correct.”

“From the way you say it, you’re a guard, Reinhard?  I couldn’t tell at all.”

“I’m told quite often.  I’m off-duty today so I’m not wearing my uniform; and, as you can see, I’m aware that I lack the ruggedness.”

Reinhard shrugged with a wry smile, while Subaru objected in his mind.

The biggest reason why Reinhard doesn’t seem like a guard is because his atmosphere is far from the unrefined image they should be.

“Come to think of it, I think they referred to you as ‘Sword Saint’…”

“My family’s a bit special, you see.  So every day feels like I’ll collapse under the weight of my expectations,” shrugged Reinhard casually.

It seems he also has a sense of humor.

There was no longer any doubt that Reinhard was a perfect superhuman, both physically and mentally.  Subaru skipped lamenting at the unfair god and went straight to being impressed.

“I was thinking, your hair, clothes, and also name are quite unusual… Subaru, where are you from?  Why did you come to the capital of Lugunica?”

Reinhard raised the question after looking down on Subaru’s getup.  Dealing with an opponent of suspicious origin, a guard would naturally have such a reaction.

“You ask where I come from, but it’s difficult to answer.  Since a small country to the east is no good… then further east.  Yes, I come from the edge of the world where no one has ever been.” Subaru finished his nonsense by flashing his teeth.

He reflected on it and thought it was a safe reply, but Subaru’s answer caused Reinhard’s eyebrows to raise in surprise.

“Further east of Lugunica… Surely not beyond the Great Cascade, is this a joke?”

“Great Cascade?”

Subaru tilted his head at the unfamiliar words.

Cascade, I think that’s a waterfall or something.  Rather than being ignorant of this area’s geographic information, the completely clueless Subaru was unable to follow the other person’s thoughts.  For Subaru, the geography of this world was only the main street, the alleyway, the slums, and the Stolen Goods Storehouse.

“It doesn’t look like you were trying to deceive me… I’ll put that aside for now.  Anyway, it seems you’re not from this capital, so there must some reason to be here?  Right now, Lugunica’s less peaceful than usual.  If you are willing, let me assist you.”

“No, no.  Isn’t it your break?  There’s no need for you to offer further help, you’ve helped plenty already… Though, incidentally, I have something to ask about.”

Subaru shook his head at Reinhard’s offer, but suddenly raised a finger as if he remembered something.

“Ask any questions you have.  I’m not too familiar with the state of society though, so I don’t know whether I’m able to answer.”

“It’s fine since I wanted to ask about a person.  So, what I wanted to know is if you had seen a silver-haired girl with a white robe around here?”

Fake Satella’s appearance was quite eye-catching.  Among them, her hair color and hawk-embroidered robe combination were most conspicuous.  Walking around the capital dressed like that, there’s the possibility that Reinhard, the city’s guard, had noticed her.

“Wearing a white robe, and silver hair…”

“To add on, she’s an extremely beautiful girl.  Plus, her cat… it’s something she wouldn’t flaunt, but I know she has it.”

If the person is carrying a cat spirit, and matched my description of her, then there’s no doubt it’s her.  But that’s being ambitious as Pack normally hides in her silver hair. 

“…Once you find that girl, what do you plan to do?”

“Something she lost… or in this case, something she’s searching for?  I just want to give that back.”

That said, the insignia was still not in Subaru’s hands, and it was possible that she didn’t lose it yet.

Reinhard narrowed his sky-blue eyes at Subaru’s answer, and replied after a moment of contemplation.

“Hm, apologies.  I don’t have any clues, but if you’d like, I can help you search.”

“I can’t trouble you to that extent.  It’s alright, I’ll do something about the search after this.”

Raising his hand towards Reinhard’s offer to help, Subaru decided to return to the main street for the time being.  If things go well, he might see them on the street like the third time.

If it’s at the place where the robbery occurred, then it would be good to catch Felt and prevent the insignia from being stolen.  Thinking about what happens afterwards, I think it should be taken care of quickly, so I need to hurry.

“The problem is how I’ll catch Felt when she moves so fast.  Worst case scenario, I could bring guards to visit the Stolen Goods Storehouse for arresting.  This is more realistic, but…”

“Stolen Goods Storehouse?”

“Ah, nothing, nothing at all.  Forget about that.  It’s just the name of an old man’s secret hideout.”

While using an appropriate ruse towards Reinhard’s reaction, Subaru dismissed the plan he came up with.  To begin with, it was very likely that bringing in guards as opponents for Elsa would only increase the victims.  That was how superhuman the murderer’s skills were.

“Unless all the guards in this world are superhuman… In any case, I guess I should check the main street.”

“You’re going?”

“Ah, yep.  Thank you for the help, Reinhard.  I’ll return the favor one day.  …Will I be able to find you if I go to the guard’s station?”

“Yeah.  If my name is mentioned I think they’ll know.  If it’s you, you’re welcome any time for any reason.  I’m looking forward to meeting you again.”

“Have I done or said something to raise your favorability?  …Well, when I’m unable to make a living, or when I get lost on the roadside, or when I decide to go into extortion, I’ll come,” responded Subaru jokingly while waving his hand.

Reinhard, in a cool manner, saw him off with a “be careful.”

Pushing onwards from those words, Subaru escaped the alleyway intact with zero damage.

…He was unaware of the pair of blue eyes that were evaluating him.



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