Update on Project Gender Bender
Hello! This’ll be my first actual post regarding a Re:Zero update in a long while. Anyway, you can go read the translated tweets below.
Stay tuned for other stuff, and feel free to look around!
Translator Note: Stuff in the brackets are my comments/additions.
Phew, that was close, I just made it in time.
Now then, let’s take care of this week’s… eh? There’s none?
To end a habit so suddenly which has continued for half a year, it would make a person lose his/her calm judgement.
If we were to do Ep 26, I think animating the mayonnaise would be appropriate. We flew to Alaska in search for Ep 26.
As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until last week that the anime ended. For accompanying me for the past half a year, thank you everyone.
Immediately after it ended last week, I was quite filled with emotions and couldn’t comment. But after one week of organizing myself, I want to talk a little bit.
Let me say this first, but I thought the Re:Zero anime was immensely blessed with a few anime original scenes.
Every week, I wondered if we were able to portray many of the messages the same way.
However, the main reason the anime was interesting was all thanks to the staffs involved in it. I felt that the contributions of the original author were insignificant. After all, the author can’t write [the script], voice act, compose music, or sing.
The only thing the author can be part of, is the story. Even that part, when it has to be animated, is better left in the hands of experts. That stupidly long ep 25 (originally 1 hour which would require a 26th episode) was nicely summarized.
Well, it was difficult to put a word in here as the author.
Therefore, the anime was ultimately blessed with [the right] people.
Not to mention the 2 cour without a split [referring to no break between seasons], and making it as long as possible by cutting the OP [opening], ED [ending], and CM [commercial messages]. Naturally, it was at the inconvenience of the artists since they don’t get more time to draw.
Adding only a few seconds will increase the burden of those who draw. I did say ep 26 a while ago, but I would probably end up wasting their time. Truly, I’m grateful [for them].
The preparations for the Re: Zero anime was, well, a lot. It took at least 2 years for this anime to air.
Back when the staff members met each other, yes, it was way back then. After that [after they met], everyone would be brought to the screenplay conference each week for “blah blah blah” talk.
During the time the screenplay conference and dubbing didn’t overlap, I went to Tokyo twice a week for the anime. I wasn’t tired though, because it was fun. Rather, since the screenplay meetings are over, the dubbing is over, and the things for animation to be in order are done, it’s a bit lonely.
I remember every week at the studio, director Watanabe would say “lower the hurdle, lower the hurdle”, and “no, it’s a hurdle I gave myself,” and the likes.
Director Watanabe is really humble. After doing that much every week, I think it would be fine to be a bit like “Nagatsuki-san, I did it!”
He would always go “it’s not enough, still not enough…” He had a stoic mental capacity. As a person of the same trade, I respect him.
That said, it wasn’t just director Watanabe, everyone around here were such people. It was amazing. Everyone did their best.
When the White Whale returned in ep 19 as well, even though the cellphone ringtone was for a short while. That was just the beginning of many episodes [incidents] to come. Of course, since I can’t often talk [contribute], I just suggest things. I always thought… is it okay for me to have this much fun?
Even so, the anime is that, you know?
It’s the kind of talk where even if there are complaints, it’s fine. Since we review it every week, and I’m the one that looks forward to it the most. I’m the one who’s most proud of it.
“See, this is what I’m talking about” kind of bragging is something only I can do.
To tell you the truth, I’ve got a mountain full of stuff that I want to talk more about, like how director Watanabe is cool for his “creators on the board should not have to worry” [attitude]. But I also feel a bit embarrassed for beating around the bush. I just want to say he’s just an amazing person.
Such amazing people. To be able to get an anime made by those amazing people, as the author I am nothing but thankful for them making the anime.
I’m terribly sorry for my poor vocabulary usage, but for this kind of talk, I don’t think it’s necessary – is how I feel.
It’s an amazing thing.
That means, since such an amazing anime was made, the original work will be pressured, or rather, I have to work hard or else.
Right now, I am desperately fixing arc four, the special book for the anime disc, and quite a few other things I was asked to do. It’s tough to rebuild the entire plot of the arc.
After all, arc three began in June 2014. I’ve rebuilding the plot of the LN ever since. I mean, I was doing arc three all this time.
“Eh? How do I introduce it?” was the kind of extremely puzzled feeling I had. But anyway, vol. 10 of this will be released next month! (Advertisement)
Well, in reality, even after the anime ends the original work must continue. And, even during the anime, since the author [I] had written Re:Zero all this time, I plan to continue writing until it finishes, because the beginning was interesting, so I want continue making it fun in the future.
Well, this is what I think probably a lot of people want to hear about the web novel version. After all, I have not been able to update it once during the anime. Yes. Sorry.
I received a lot of messages that said “will you no longer update?”
To be honest, during the anime period, I could not afford to update even once. I say that, but there was time for me to put one together and update. So I don’t mean to say I don’t have a single moment of free time.
But it’s difficult to write the web novel with such a tight [rushed] feeling.
That’s because, when the light novel was made, the first three volumes were consecutive publications with the contents written in around half a year. At the same time, I was also proceeding with arc 4. It was difficult for my brain to switch between the start and arc 4, but during that time I did have free time to update.
And when I have time to update, I would sadly go “I forgot the contents of my previous update.” As a result, I would write the same kind of thing. I would forget what I was trying to say. When that issue arises, the quality/crispness of the story is gone. I thought arc 4 was quite interesting, but had a lot of waste [pointless content?].
I think that was the biggest reason that [regarding arc 4 issues] happened.
So, many updates were not made because I decided not to update at all during the anime period. There’s probably some people that thought “once the anime finishes, he would continuously update because of the surge [of people].”
Sorry! I haven’t written a single word!
Since the last update for arc 6, I haven’t written a single word for it. Sorry.
In the first place, I’m not the type to write and withhold it. Once I write up to one chapter, I publish it. Plus, often times I can’t finish a chapter in a day, and I don’t like it, but I go “done.” I don’t want to brave such risks.
It’s not like I go “well, let’s play truant,” probably. This year, at least four hours a day without rest, I’ve been working on things for the sake of Re:Zero. Today as well, but I’m in the middle of a break right now.
Speaking of being tired, well… it is tiring, but I don’t particularly think about resting. Since writing is basically breathing for me, the feeling I get when writing is like relaxation writing.
Even so, putting my writing as the priority is something I don’t do.
It’s obvious, but work comes first.
Sorry for only talking about this. Basically, my priority is given to something when it has a lot of people involved. When the web contents are boring, they die [affect negatively] with only me involved, but when it comes to the light novel, when I don’t know if I can meet the deadline, I cause a lot of trouble for many people.
It can’t be helped that this is all I talk about, sorry. Please forgive me, it’s because it was animated amazingly.
Now, the main question is somewhere along the lines of “when will I resume the web novel?” but even I don’t really know.
Since writing is the only thing I always do, it’s simply: once I finish writing things that I must do, even if I’m not told “you didn’t write anything, write something for the web,” I’ll do it.
“Then, is it impossible as long as you’re continuing the light novels?” is what some people might also be thinking, but it’s not like I stopped at arc 4 or 5 after the books came out.
That’s why, once again, I’ll start writing arbitrarily at the pace of arc 5. As long as I take down each necessary work one by one, it’ll work out.
When the web novel resumes updating, please assume “oh, Neko [Tappei’s pen name] ran out of stuff to do.” And, like before, it’ll be updated at 1 o’clock [AM], as his [Tappei referring to himself] “should you sleep, or should you not” harassment begins.
Well, with this and that said, my own talk is nearing 1 hour. What I wanted to say in the first half was Nagatsuki Tappei’s [referring to himself] sincerest thanks, and the latter half is the insincere, truanting Nezumiiro Neko [Tappei’s full pen name]; please don’t pay attention to that.
とにかく、半年間アニメお付き合いありがとう！ ウェブからいる人たちはリゼロに四年以上ありがとう！ 書籍からでもすでに二年半以上だ、ありがとう！ 四年前から言ってるけど、あと四年ぐらいで終わらすわ！！！
Anyway, thank you for the acquaintances throughout this half a year! Thank you to the people from the web who have been with Re:Zero for over four years! It’s already been over two years and a half for the light novel, thanks! I said this four years ago, but it’ll be about another four years before it ends!!!
Now then, I have volume 11, the two volume special, the alive short, and store special to do.
P.S. I heard Miyata-kun from “Kis-My” [A Japanese boy band, thanks to those who figured it out for me] was [seen] holding an Emilia-tan T-shirt. I thought it was amazing that the anime had this effect.
As usual, I would appreciate any fixes to the translation mistakes that I”ve made!
Here you will find extra content translated by me that isn’t Light Novel content but is related to Re:Zero. Enjoy!
[J-Art Professor 16] “Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-” Nagatsuki Tappei has Come to Taiwan – He Looks for Inspiration from Butchering Meat
Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-’s author, Nagatsuki Tappei, was invited by Chingwin Publishing Group (青文出版社) to come to Taiwan today to hold an autograph session at the 2016, 17th Comic Fair. Coinciding with Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-’s anime adaption climax, as well as the author being unable to forget the Taiwanese reader’s enthusiasm, the publisher promised to invite him again to Taiwan.
“Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-” tells the story of Natsuki Subaru, who had just left a convenience store and was heading home when he was suddenly summoned to another world. Could this be the popular otherworld summoning?! He could accept not meeting his summoner, but worse greeted him as he was thrown into a life threatening situation after bumping into robbers. At this moment, a mysterious silver-haired beauty and cat spirit saved him from the hopeless situation. To return the favor, Subaru volunteered to help the girl find her item. They managed to find some clues, but Subaru and the girl were attacked and killed by an unknown person… or so it should have happened. When he regained his consciousness, Subaru found himself in the place where he was first summoned to. “Return by Death” – the only ability this powerless teenager was given, reverses time to the start after he dies. Challenging the countless desperations, he tries to save the girl from the fate of death!
“Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-” was originally published by the author online as a web novel on “Become a Novelist” (小説家になろう). After its popularity as a fictional light novel, the anime adaption was launched in 2016. During the author’s first visit to Taiwan to participate in events, he was worried about his popularity and was nervous. But after receiving his Taiwanese fans’ warm welcoming, he was moved greatly. That’s why he was extremely happy to be able to return to Taiwan again for these events. Before today’s media interviews, Chingwin received an enthusiastic reader’s hand drawn portrait. Nagatsuki Tappei was so happy that he had brought the portrait with him to the interview.
While he was receiving the gift, Nagatsuki was asked by the reader a couple simple questions. One of them was: why did the author have to abuse Natsuki Subaru so much in the work? Nagatsuki replied with a smile, “That’s because it’s more fun this way!” He then went on to explain that he believed a protagonist that has grown stronger by facing adversity is the best kind of character. Therefore, in order for his protagonist to continue growing, he would insert such abuses in the story. Because he likes Subaru, he also wishes Subaru could work hard. But at the same time, he also thinks he has been a bit too nice to Subaru, and may make the future a bit tougher for Subaru.
The talk moved onto his volume 8, and when the author modified his head portrait to a mango ice cream, he stated Taiwanese foods are very delicious. Whether it be the dumplings he ate yesterday, or the beef noodles he tasted during his last visit, they were all tasty. However, stinky tofu had to strong of a smell, so he was unable to try it.
When it came to talking about the light novel, Nagatsuki explained that “Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-” began as a web serialization, so as long as he was given some inspiration, he could expand on it. However, when publishing a light novel, due to space limitations, he had to express his thoughts, characters, and mood to readers within a word limit. The author believes this was a relatively difficult task for the adaptation.
In regards to this part, he would sometimes debate with his editor because the author wants his personal preferences reflected on the text, while the editor wants to modify the author’s work into a presentable product. As a result, the editor’s opinions are also very important.
Still, Nagatsuki Tappei is not a full-time writer. On weekdays, he would work at a butcher shop in charge of chopping meat, and occasionally as a cashier. Therefore, while he is “handling” those meat products, he would think about the development of the plot. While he shared his experience at work, Nagatsuki grinned and said: “sometimes, while I’m chopping meat, I would shout ‘Natsuki Subaru!’” Aside from writing, he also enjoys watching movies and playing board games.
Why did he decided to embark on the road of an author? He explained that he began his light novel creation journey ever since he was in Japan. Even after he entered society, he continued working on it. When he began working, “Re: Zero -Starting Life in Another World-” was not yet a light novel; even after it became a light novel, he was maintaining his work at the butcher shop while writing. He continued on with: “But if I was given the chance, I would love for it to become a full-time job. Though I don’t hate my job at the butcher shop, as moments of inspirations emerge while I’m chopping meat. If the chance arises, I hope to become a professional writer.”
When talking about when the protagonist dies, and where the protagonist revives, the author remarked: “Basically when Subaru is filled with regret and despair, I would think up of a scenario that is most fitting for him to die. After all, it’s not that easy for one to face death. As for where the protagonist revives, because it’ll reveal some spoilers, I can only say… if Subaru can change something at that fitting moment, then he will revive at that point.”
When it came to the anime adaption’s performance, the author stated that the animation production has been given to relevant professionals, and because the focus of the story is relatively the same as the source material, he won’t interfere with the animation company’s approach.
A reporter had asked the author how had conceptualized episode 18’s dialogues, and whether he himself had experienced a similar conversation. Nagatsuki replied by saying he would not have had such negative thoughts. Rather, he described his thought process as: “I went along the lines of ‘if Subaru had had these things happen before.’ By following this train of thought, these ideas will naturally form in my mind.”
In regards to episode 18’s pre-launch advertisement set up in the Japanese subway stations, the editor explained that this episode was very important for the work, therefore they wanted more people to watch this episode and specially set up the subway ads.
In addition, Subaru’s “special” ringtone in episode 19 is based on the protagonist’s character and personality. In the original work, the ground dragon he rode was called “Patrash,” therefore the author used “A Dog of Flanders” music as the ringtone for when the White Whale arrived.
When it came to his favorite seiyuu (voice actor), the author, while smiling, claimed it would have to be Felix’s seiyuu, Hori Yui, based on personal preferences. But if he really had to say, the seiyuu responsible for Natsuki Subaru, Kobayashi Yusuke, has been superb. Because of Kobayashi’s relationship, the protagonist’s personality has been faithfully reproduced in anime.
Who is Nagatsuki Tappei’s favorite character from the source material? The author stated he would not deliberately rank the characters he created, but if he were to say who would be first, it would definitely be the main heroine “EMT!” But if he were to choose a person selected by the King’s Election, it would be Crusch. Although the author is in the EMT cult, because Crusch’s personality is the strongest, he thinks letting her become king would not be a bad choice.
At the end of Nagatsuki Tappei’s event, he declared that he was extremely happy that the people from Taiwan were able to enjoy his work. Because he is happy about being able to create this work, if he is able to share this joy, as well as the interesting places and their charms in this work, he would be even happier.
“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.
“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.
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.
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…
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, ******!”
“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?”
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.”
“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.
“—Bro, don’t go dazing now. Appa, you eating one?”
The instant he awoke to consciousness, Subaru had a red, ripe fruit before his eyes.
Looking at the apple look-alike, the words “Fruit of Knowledge” suddenly sprung to mind.
It was the forbidden fruit that expelled one from Eden for eating it.
If I bite this now, will I be saved from this incomprehensible situation?
A middle-aged man with a frown called out to Subaru, who did not reciprocate any reaction.
Slowly returning from the edge of his uncertain consciousness, his head snapped upwards. Gazing at his surroundings, he was aware of his ragged breathing and pounding heart.
It was afternoon, and he was in front of the fruit stall on the main street from before. Colorful vegetables and fruits were lined up, and in front of those goods stood the conspicuous and tough-looking stall owner with a white scar.
It was a familiar sight, this suffocation-inducing crowd. Subaru was tearing his hair out and mumbled, “I can’t understand what’s going on anymore…”
At the mercy of the dizziness and nausea that had accumulated, Subaru collapsed on the spot.
Shaking his head that was splashed with cold water, Subaru managed to reorganize his muddled consciousness.
An empty pitcher. It was something handed to him by the worried fruit stall owner while he was being taken care of after collapsing at the storefront.
Subaru was thankful for the owner’s thoughtful concern, but that kindness which in turn did not ask him about Satella, who should have been with him, struck a deep wound in Subaru’s heart.
Sitting on the floor and wiping the dripping water from his forelock with his hand, Subaru clenched his trembling teeth. The blade’s glint replayed in his mind, together with the glossy smile dancing across the stench of blood.
“Hiie……” twitched the back of Subaru’s throat as he hugged his knees and trembled nonstop.
That level of fear. That level of despair. Having lived a mundane life, it was something Subaru had never tasted.
I don’t want to think about anything anymore. I don’t even want to remember anything. I just want to hole myself up and forget it all.
The glistening of a blade. A thick arm blown away. A scream. The silver hair which sank into a pool of blood.
That which he tried so hard not to think of reestablished itself clearly in Subaru’s mind. He wanted to discharge his unbearable emotions through his mouth – to let out a scream that will echo through the main street. —Just before that,
The voice that should have been raised took on a doubtful tone as Subaru caught sight of something which stunned him.
Among those he saw in his field of view, there was a tall figure with reptile skin, a beastman whose height went up to Subaru’s waist, a young dancer with pink hair, a swordsman with six swords hung, and…
— wearing a white robe, the girl with her swaying silver hair was there.
The girl glanced at the sunken down Subaru with her bluish purple eyes but soon looked away in disinterest.
Like amethysts, which symbolize strong will, her eyes only looked straight ahead towards her path. Her dignified appearance and her beauty which would make others tremble, the figure which he continued to search for was unchanged.
Unable to immediately use his voice, Subaru dragged his feet after her with ragged breaths.
The girl weaved through the crowd smoothly as she continued walking. Bewildered and confused by the silver-haired girl that was running away, Subaru called out in a tearful voice while he was chasing her with his thoughts in chaos.
“Hold up…… wait up…… please, wait……”
For a split second, the girl reacted to Subaru’s voice with a glance. Her gaze was cold, as if she was looking at a stranger.
The girl’s sharp, cold stare pierced his heart. Unable to keep his promise, he had hurt her. He had yet to say a word of apology. There was no reason for him to be forgiven. Even so, Subaru chased after the girl. He did not know what she felt. So at the very least, he wanted to know what she was thinking.
If he were to be hurt, rather than by his imagination, it would be far better to feel it in the painful reality.
“Wait for me — Satella!”
After I stop Satella, what do I say?
The moment he had given himself a clear answer, Subaru shouted her name, Satella, as if he had just remembered it.
Did my cry reach her?
The figure that was leaving him immediately stopped.
Wading through the crowd, Subaru stopped in front of the girl and placed his hands on Satella’s slender shoulders.
“Please don’t ignore me. It’s my fault for suddenly disappearing and not listening to you. But I was desperate too. After that I went to the stolen goods storehouse, but I couldn’t find you……”
Looking at Subaru, who held her shoulders, Satella had a surprised expression on her face.
Just by opening his mouth, self-justifying-like excuses poured out towards Satella, who had turned around.
Subaru realized this because of her blank gaze. Her eyes were emotionless, but Subaru felt a sense of relief from it. After all, at first glance Satella had no noticeable injuries. He was relieved.
“Sorry for only talking about my own stuff…… still, I’m glad you’re unharmed.”
And for the two to be able to meet like this once again made him happy.
There were too many things he wanted to talk about, as well as things he needed to confirm. But before that, Subaru had felt his work paid off. At the very least, he should be able to enjoy this relief—
“You…… what are you doing?”
But as Subaru found relief, Satella directed an extraordinarily angry look at him.
Her white cheeks slightly flushed, Satella lightly twisted her body to shake off Subaru’s hands that were touching her shoulders. Her eyes were shining with strong hostility as she looked at Subaru while taking a step back, distancing herself from him.
This unexpectedly severe reaction led Subaru to gulp involuntarily.
Still, this was a natural reaction. In Satella’s point of view, I probably have no rights to meet her.
Therefore, it is only natural for me to be bombarded with whatever insult——
“I don’t know who you are, but to call someone by the name of ‘the Jealous Witch,’ what are you planning?!”
Her anger exceeded his imagination, shattering Subaru’s resolution into pieces. Those unexpected words gave Subaru the illusion that time had stopped.
The sounds from the crowd disappeared. All he could hear were his own violent heartbeats and the breathing of the girl who squared her shoulders. It was as if all other sounds had disappeared from his hallucination… no, it was not a hallucination.
Subaru had noticed it after choppily turning his neck.
All around them, the pedestrians and merchants that overflowed the street were watching them closely. A deep disturbance seems to have blanketed everyone as they stayed motionless and silent, appearing like all actions were forbidden.
It was as though the conversation between Subaru and Satella had dominated this place.
With her harsh gaze, Satella awaited for Subaru’s answer. However, Subaru had no impression of wrongdoing and could not reply. For the two, the key issue was different.
“I’ll ask once again. — Why do you call me by the name of ‘the Jealous Witch’?”
“No, I mean. I was told……”
“…… I don’t know who told you this, but that’s in extremely bad taste. The same goes for you too for going along with it. — ‘The Jealous Witch’ is the representation of everything taboo. Most people would hesitate to even say it, yet you chose to call me by it?!”
Satella— the silver-haired girl, revealed her disgust, pushing Subaru into a sea of confusion.
At the girl’s words, the surrounding crowd all nodded. In other words, they proved that the girl’s words were correct, throwing Subaru further into confusion.
I can’t understand what she’s saying.
Subaru had only called out her name.
Nevertheless, she denunciated it, and the crowd agreed it was correct.
“—— If you have nothing else to say, I’ll be leaving. I don’t have time to spare.”
With those words, she broke off from Subaru, who hung his head low, and began to walk away with her silver hair fluttering. He tried to call after her, but his mouth promptly froze at her name.
If I call her by that name, it would be the second time I make this mistake. But then, what do I call her?
That hesitation blunted Subaru’s judgement.
He let out a small gasp as, one head above his height — the canopy roof of a street vendor, stood it.
Leaping, the petite body, pulled down by gravity, fell lightly on the ground and accelerated along with the wind.
The gust wore dirty clothes, and had fluttering gold hair. It slipped through the crowd with god-like nimbleness and slipped its outstretched arm into a hawk-embroidered robe.
The contact was only a moment, but that brief encounter was enough for it.
The wind made the robe flap, and left the squirming girl by flying off.
“It can’t be— !”
The silver-haired girl raised her voice in surprise and stuck her hand inside her robe.
Unable to find what she was looking for, the girl, with wide eyes, tracked the speedily fleeing wind.
In the wind’s hand held a dragon-modeled insignia. Seeing its figure, Subaru immediately yelped, “Felt?!”
From his call, the wind swayed as if in puzzlement, but its speed did not lessen as it flew into the narrow alleyway from the main street in a flash. It was an amazing show of agility. Though I only saw a split second of it, that figure was probably—
“I’ve been had! For this reason I was stopped…… are you a group?!”
The girl growled in frustration at Subaru, who stood there.
She suddenly directed her palm at him, but, as if thinking better of it, quickly ran down the alleyway which the wind disappeared into.
“Oi, wait! It’s a misunderstanding! I……”
Trying to resolve the misunderstanding, Subaru chased after those two into the alleyway. While running, his head was filled with many unanswered questions.
There was too much information rushing inside, his head was unable to process it. Even without that, he had already experienced death twice today and was in confusion.
“Anyone will do, just please be more gentle with me! For what reason was I summoned to this other world!”
He complained at the unreasonableness as he ran, staggering into the dim alleyway.
He had no confidence in his stamina, but if it was a short distance sprint, he wouldn’t be outdone by those two girls. I’ll catch up quickly and resolve their misconceptions. — Was his intention as he ran, but…
“****! A wall!” spat Subaru, as the dead end of the blind alley greeted him before his eyes.
Those two were nowhere to be seen. With Felt’s agility, she could probably climb over such a wall easily; If Satella uses magic, this shouldn’t be unmanageable.
“I could climb it…… but I don’t think I would catch up.”
I can’t afford to waste time here. In an unfamiliar capital, it would be impossible for Subaru to chase down another party if he loses them once.
“If here is no good, then it’s the Stolen Goods Storehouse? Since Satella and Felt are alive, then Rom-ji should……”
While he muttered, a jumbled up mass of uncomfortable feelings grazed Subaru’s mind.
Felt, cut down in a clean sweep; Rom-ji, his neck sliced open; Satella, who sank into the sea of blood.
And above all, twice, Subaru had his stomach torn open. —Why am I still alive?
“No, what. Now’s not the time for that. Stop, don’t think. Anyway, right now—”
I should hurry and return to meet up with Rom-ji. The thinking can be postponed for later.
After exiting the blind alleyway, going to the slums should be my highest priority. As such, Subaru turned around.
“…… You’ve got to be kidding, oi!”
In front of his line of sight, the entrance of the alleyway was blocked by some figures.
They were three dingily dressed people that exuded a savage and barbaric atmosphere.
Today, it was the third time he encountered this group of three thugs who used the alleyway as their hunting ground.
“Enough is enough! How can you be so impenitent to this extent?!”
Sick of seeing those three faces, Subaru furiously stomped the ground.
It was the third encounter, and each time it was a three versus one situation in an alleyway. Even after their first and second time ended in such fruitlessness, their tenacity to still choose Subaru as their prey was admirable.
“I can’t afford to waste time dealing with you guys. Let me through right now!”
The urgent situation robbed Subaru of his composure. Even so, he figured because of their last brawl, they would be daunted by his strong threat.
“’Through’, he says. What an unlikeable attitude. Doesn’t look like you know who should be giving the commands.”
“After ungainly losing a three versus one, what dignity do you guys have to say that…… Even a loser would howl a little more apologetically.”
However, the men retorted without fearing Subaru. He chewed his lips at their unanticipated reactions. Even a minor villain has a minor villain’s pride, huh.
He wanted to avoid wasting time here and further lose sight of Satella and Felt. There was also the risk of the situation becoming a scuffle, so Subaru decided to accommodate them amicably in this situation.
“Got it. I won’t resist. I’ll leave all my belongings. Is this fine now?”
Bearing with his irritation, Subaru raised both his hands to appear without hostility. His conceding attitude led the men to look at each other, then all burst out laughing on the spot.
“What, if you were scared from the beginning then say so, stupid.”
“******. Don’t open your big mouth if you’re intimidated.”
“Ain’t it fine. Didn’t he say he won’t resist and will listen? What a coward.”
“Ha ha ha,” he endured those offending words with a dry laugh. He secretly found gratification by naming the group of three who never learn as Ton, Qin and Kan, and muttered, “Once I reunite with Satella safely, with the help of Puck I’ll counter… attack?”
(TL Note: Subaru named the three thugs Ton, Qin, and Kan [pronounced: toh-nn, chi-nn, ka-nn] as such because 頓珍漢 means absurdity)
As to not provoke the men, Subaru was about to lay out his items on hand when he suddenly froze.
Since arriving to another world, this was the greatest sense of incongruity that Subaru was struck with.
“Why…?” groaned Subaru in a low voice. His fingertips had touched the snack food that was in his plastic bag. It was his favorite corn potage flavor, which he had grabbed from the convenience store instead of supper.
And then, at Rom-ji’s drinking bout place, he had flaunted it as a top-notch midnight snack – an action he regretted.
—That snack, in a state where its contents were full, was jammed inside the convenience bag.
“It should’ve been empty. When Rom-ji ate it all, I was complaining… I shouldn’t have left any. For sure.”
Why did the contents of the bag return? There was no evidence it was opened. This is an abnormal situation.
His thoughts were deadlocked. But in his blocked thoughts, Subaru had found a certain conclusion to this phenomenon. While he came to a conclusion, he did not accept the development because he thought the possibility of it was too absurd, so he denied it, reasoning it was impossible.
“Oi there! What are you doing?!”
Suddenly called out from nearby, Subaru responded in a daze.
Before he knew it, one of those men, Kan, the smallest one, was standing beside him with a hand on his shoulder. He twisted his shoulder and rolled off that hand.
“In many ways, I don’t have any more free time deal with you guys. If I don’t confirm…”
“Are you ******* with us?”
Subaru pushed aside Kan to leave the alleyway, but the remaining two people with murderous air stood in the way.
“You’re in the way! I’ve got somewhere I have to be!”
Too ridiculous. This is for the sake of denying my stupid thoughts that lack common sense.
The men were faintly daunted by Subaru’s bellow. If I dash through that gap in the alley and reach the main street, then I’ll be rid of this predicament. Concluding such, Subaru firmly stepped on the ground.
The leg he extended shook, and he stumbled as the strength from his knee disappeared. With a hand plunged forward, he scolded his own stupidity for falling at this timing.
“Huh, that’s strange…”
He put his back into to getting up, but his straightened arms trembled, hardly lifting himself. In fact, he couldn’t even raise his upper body.
“Aah, you’ve gone and done it…”
Subaru turned towards the voice that was tinged with anxiety, and then noticed.
—Piercing his fallen body, in the back of his waist, was a knife.
The moment he was made aware, an intolerable pain clogged his throat. It was an extremely pure and primitive impulse to the pain.
— I’ve been stabbed! Stabbedstabbedstabbedstabbedstabbedstabbed!
Qin, who had the knife, acted first. Unaware that Qin had pulled the weapon out earlier, Subaru was apparently stabbed when he tried to push them aside by force.
In these last few hours, he had tasted too many of these kinds of intense pain. However, no matter how many times I experience it, getting accustomed to this pain is impossible, even in the future.
“Oi! You actually stabbed ‘em?!”
“It couldn’t be helped! He tried to escape. If that happens, won’t it spell trouble?!”
“Stop, you idiot! Ah, it’s no good. Oi, his innards have been damaged so he’s dead.”
The large thug, Ton, moved Subaru’s body, and the knife stuck in the upturned body sank deeper inside.
Another pain overlapped on top of the already excruciating pain, canceling even his death throe cries.
Calling out for help, shouting in anger – Subaru had none of that left.
Drawing raspy breaths, he felt like he was drowning in the blood that gushed up. He gradually lost his limbs’ sensations; his thoughts flickered feebly, as if it would cut off at any moment.
Once again, his vision faded into darkness. Like last time, this was also the end.
— This time, what is it?
It was an absurd thought that he should’ve disregarded, yet he clung to it pitifully.
If he was going to cling to such a pathetic idea, he would rather cling to it until the bitter end.
—— Deflect my thoughts from death. Before I die, let’s focus on this world.
My eyes are dead. My limbs are also finished. All that remains are my nose and ears. No matter what kind of lingering scent I smell, or insults I hear, let’s abuse them both till the very bitter end. The smell of mud from the alleyway. The smell of metal from my gushing blood. Now, my nose is gone. Dead. Doubt my ears would work for long either.
“…nything valuable… grab…”
“…hit! The guards are… let’s… n!”
“…ail! Not good! …then there’ll be…!”
He could only pick up very little of the conversation. It’s great that he caught it, but the part of his brain used for understanding what it meant was already dead. Since it was dead, he only listened. Whether he would remember what he heard, he did not know. Why remember? Why do I want to remember? What is ‘want’? What—
Following after the brain that had died, his other functions stopped one after another. Lastly, like something was being pulled out of him, he exhaled a croak; Natsuki Subaru, for the third time, had lost his life.
When he regained consciousness, Subaru was in darkness.
Noticing that the darkness was his own doing, he gently opened his closed eyes. The dazzling sun burned his eyes, causing Subaru to groan a little as he made a shade with his hand.
“Bro, an appa?”
The familiar voice had casted a familiar question towards Subaru.
His ears were normal. The unchanging noisiness of the main street bustle was a far cry from the silence from his life on the verge of ending.
Looking at the difference in distance, he had only entered an alleyway just down the street, one turn away.
“I can’t even handle one alleyway, pretty pathetic.”
The fruit stall owner scowled at not receiving an answer to his question. Subaru saw the man’s white scar lengthen, giving him a downright heinous appearance. However, Subaru knew that he was actually a surprisingly meddlesome and fond person.
—Though Subaru believed that man wouldn’t remember any of that.
Thinking along those lines, Subaru faced the scarred shopkeeper.
“How many times have you seen my face?”
“What are you talking about ‘how many’? You’re a new face. Your conspicuous appearance and stare are hard to forget.”
“That thing about my stare was unnecessary. By the way, what is today’s month and date?”
“Tammuz month the 14th. Looking at the calendar, this year is already halfway through.”
“Oh, thanks. —I see. Tammuz month, huh.”
Even if he heard it, he didn’t understand. In the first place, I wonder how this world records its calendar. It’s probably unreasonable to expect them to use a solar calendar.
“Well, bro? How about the appa?”
For the shopkeeper who patiently accompanied Subaru, who lapsed into silence, his amiability towards Subaru lingering on a single apple was wearing thin. His cheeks began to twitch.
Even his smile did not suit his looks. His best attempts at a smile might instead have an adverse effect of keeping the customers away. God seemed to have given the shopkeeper a cruel destiny.
In response to the man, Subaru stuck his hands to his waist, and puffed his chest out, “Sorry, but I’ll be penniless till the end of time!”
Falling backwards from the angry shout, Subaru scrambled to flee.
I don’t think I’ll be able to visit that shop for a while, thought Subaru with two meanings in mind.
“What’s the matter, bro? You suddenly had a blank look.”
Called out by a stern-faced man with a conspicuous white scar, he unintentionally reacted foolishly. His reply caused the man’s scar to distort greatly.
“Like. I. Said. What is your decision? Appa, will you buy it or not?”
“Appa! You want to eat it, right? You said so yourself, then suddenly your eyes became scared……Well, what is it?”
The muscular, scar-faced man held up a pretty looking red fruit, which closely resembled an apple. He stared at the fruit, and looked back at the man.
“No, after all, I’m genuinely penniless, like I said.”
“What! Aren’t you just an ordinary window shopper? Then go away, go away. I don’t have time to deal with window shoppers.”
Driven away by the perfunctory hand gesture, he staggered across to the next shop. And then he, Subaru, looked around.
“Eh? Eh—? What is going on?”
Bewildered, he asked this question. It was not directed towards anyone since it took all his effort to utter it.
The main street, per usual, was crowded with people. With the exception of the occasional lizard carriage passing by, the entire street was crammed full of pedestrians.
The sun was still bright at this time. It could not be said that the temperature was high, but looking at the fur of the werewolf-like races pass by, an idle thought like “Uwah, it looks hot” would surface.
“Speaking of which, right now is not the time to be wasting my time dazing around like a bumpkin!”
Holding his head and twisting his body backwards, Subaru had a pose that displayed all of his distress on the spot. Because of his strangeness, he drew the curious gaze of those around him. But he could not afford to pay attention to that right now.
“I mean…… it was night just a moment ago, right?”
The sun was high up. At the very least, Subaru believed he should have been greeted with the night sky. The night becoming day in an instant — for Subaru, it served to remind him that he was summoned to another world. However, this time clearly had different conditions from last time.
“The wound on my stomach……gone.”
Rolling up the hem of his jersey, Subaru confirmed the state of his abdomen.
He should have been cut by a large knife of sort, and bled a large enough quantity that it would be difficult to avoid death. But there was no trace of blood on his abdomen, let alone a scar.
In fact, none of the dust and mud from earlier was found on his favorite jersey.
The convenience store’s bag in his hand was in good shape, and his cellphone and wallet placed in the pockets of his pants were unaffected. He had completely returned to his original state in every possible way.
I think I’m going crazy.
Aware of his fuzzy memory, Subaru tried his best to recall what happened just before he lost consciousness.
Right, my stomach was cut and I was just about to be killed. I think that voice came from a woman.
After discovering the corpse in the storehouse, Subaru was attacked by a person who was supposedly the opponent of this dead person. And when he was about to face death—
“…That’s right, Satella!”
Satella, who was worried about Subaru and thus had entered the storehouse, also fell prey to the assassin’s knife. The moment he recalled that, Subaru felt a squeezing pain overwhelm his body. Compared to being aware of his own wounds, this was much worse when he realized it was his fault.
“Take care of Satella… wasn’t I entrusted with this task, me.”
Subaru said while recalling Puck’s figure telling him that before disappearing.
The promise he made with the cat, it was definitely not an exchange of light words. Yet Subaru, despite repeated advice, failed because of a simple oversight.
Satella’s words — to call out if there was anything. He even neglected to follow these instructions.
“Aren’t I a fool? … No, I am a fool. I don’t have the time to be feeling dejected right now. Anyways, if I don’t look for Satella and Puck…”
The two of them might be dead. Subaru shook his head and dismissed such thoughts.
Without any merit, he was not useful in the least. In other words, his life was that of a background character in charge of enlivening everything.
(TL Note: In Japanese, they use the term ‘mob chara,’ but we don’t use the term mob the same way they do. For more info use Google Translate on this Wikipedia Page.)
If it’s that person, who can use magic, who is a good-natured busybody, who is a beauty that cannot be honest with herself but is very upright, it is unimaginable for her and that easygoing, illusory oddball of a spirit to die.
… No, it’s that I don’t want them to die.
“Anyway, if I don’t go to the warehouse right now…”
That place was where his consciousness ended. He felt that there would be a hint there.
He immediately acted on his thoughts, the speed at which Subaru set his determination shone here. In his original world, it was exclusively used for the decision “let’s not go to school today,” and giving up, but right now it was important for Subaru in the sense that it allowed him to break free of his hesitation.
While Subaru was riding the momentum of his decision—
“Yo, bro. Come play with us for a bit.”
He was met with misfortune as three men obstructed him by standing in the way and blocking up the alleyway. Looking at the person who spoke, Subaru was stunned as he unintentionally let his jaw drop.
“Oi oi, what’s with the dumbfounded look?”
“You probably don’t understand the situation. How about we explain it to you?”
The three men ridiculed Subaru while flashing vulgar smiles. Watching their figures steadily, Subaru was in a state of mind where he was shown an almost comical play.
The men were numbered at three. Even as a compliment it could not be said that they were well-dressed; their typical thug looks exuded their nefarious upbringing and personality.
Towards all of this, Subaru felt a familiar feeling of helplessness.
“You guys… don’t tell me you went somewhere I didn’t know and got hit in the head.”
They were the people who, just several hours ago, created the opportunity for Subaru to meet Satella and Puck.
These guys haven’t mistaken their small-fry positions, have they? But no matter how you look at it, having another group of three people with similar appearances performing the same crime is difficult to imagine.
“That means, you saw I was alone and wanted revenge from before… right? I understand your feeling of wanting to aim for the weak, but your timing is so bad it’s like you’re possessed by a demon. You guys…”
(TL Note: 鬼がかって is used here, which is a play on the term 神がかって which means “Divine Possession from a god”)
“What are you saying? You sure your head doesn’t feel funny somewhere?”
The men spoke in a friendly tone to mock Subaru. Their attitude was something that even Subaru was infuriated by. He wanted to finish this nicely because he was in a situation that required him to hurry, but Subaru was first a considerably short-tempered person.
“That’s right, bro. For the time being, leave all your belongings. Then we’ll let you go.”
“Ah, alright, alright. All of my belongings, right? I’m in a hurry so this is fine, really.”
“Afterwards imitate a dog! You should be on all fours when you imitate a dog, and make sure to call out ‘please help me!’”
“Hey, don’t get carried away—!”
Because the men got too carried away and threw out such remarks, his patience soon wore out.
Subaru, who suddenly became berserk, shocked the men with his movements. He aimed at the skinny man among the stunned gang, as that man was the cause of Subaru’s defeat in the strife a while ago. That man was in possession of a knife.
“You’re first! A guy who doesn’t understand the importance of life can drop dead!”
Springing forward, Subaru used all his strength to palm that thug’s jaw, and followed it up by driving a fist into the thug’s wide-open abdomen. The thug was flung into the wall and sank to the ground. Subaru then immediately swept his legs towards the next one.
The one who received the kick fell down as he was unable to react to the sudden change in situation. During that opening, Subaru rushed towards the last person. He tackled the man from below with his shoulders, and shoved the body against the wall. As the man groaned, Subaru delivered a kick to his back — a coup de grâce.
Subaru turned around and, in a provoking manner, beckoned the man who fell.
“Now, let’s fight man-to-man! Bring it on fair and square!”
“After pulling that kind of surprise ****, you still expect us to be fair and square?! You little ****!”
The man’s face reddened with anger, he grabbed Subaru’s collar, who was strengthened by his adrenaline-induced state. Just when he was about to force Subaru into the wall—
Gripping the wrists of the man who held his shoulders, Subaru overpowered the man through brute strength, peeling him off.
Seeing the man’s blatant shock, Subaru’s vicious face distorted heinously.
“Don’t look down on a truant with extra time! Every day, for no reason, I would swing a wooden sword, which trained my grip strength to be over seventy kilos! I can also bench press up to eighty kilos!”
Having his wrist crushed, the man cried out from the pain. The moment the man lost his balance, Subaru kneed him. The thug fainted in agony. Subaru then quickly wrapped around the rear and placed his hands on his opponent’s waist.
“Don’t curse me if you die, alright? I always wanted to try this once, German suplex!”
(TL Note: The actual term he used was ‘back on the ground throw’)
Lifting the other party in the manner of a back-drop, Subaru threw him away in the middle of the back-drop. The thug’s head helplessly collided with the wall and fell onto the ground, motionless.
Confirming the other two men were silenced, Subaru finally walked towards the man with the knife who tried to kill him the first time.
Greasy from sweat, the knife-man had taken relatively little damage and was going to pull a knife at the approaching Subaru. Since he tried to overpower Subaru, Subaru mercilessly kicked his face. K.O.
“—and, easy victory! I will never let evil attempt to thrive in this world!”
Having decided his gutsy pose, Natsuki Subaru celebrated his victory on the spot alone.
Making sure the three men were not dead, Subaru hastily left the alleyway.
“It doesn’t seem like the situation has changed at all. Anyway, I need to hurry to the storehouse.”
Coming out of the alley unscathed, Subaru heard a subtle “oh” coming from passersby which sounded as if it was unexpected. If you noticed the bandits then report it! is what he wanted to preach.
Of course, right now time was precious and he could only flee the scene with a jog.
After achieving his revenge in the back alley, Subaru arrived at the innermost area of the slums — in front of the Stolen Goods Storehouse. It was already evening, the sun was large and on the horizon.
“F-finally, I found it… It took a seriously long time, dammit!”
Wiping away the sweat off his brows, Subaru finally reached his destination and slumped to the ground.
It seems that I somehow wasted two hours running around in circles before coming here.
“Because I came here only a while ago, I thought I could get here without getting lost…”
After all, being unable to read the words on signs was a major obstacle for Subaru, nor could he openly state the storehouse’s name outside of the slums. Subaru had to rely on his memories to reach this point.
“I was too engrossed in talking with Satella last time. Well, that’s probably why I only have faint memories of the road,” Subaru joked while sweating.
But right now, in front of Subaru was the scene of his biggest crime, which he could not avert his eyes from. Even if he could deceive himself with his frivolous monologues, he could not possibly deceive his heart. Heart pounding, Subaru’s hands grew heavier as his heartbeat increased. His tongue tingled from parchedness, and the terrible ringing in his ears seemed to strike his head over and over again.
Inside this storehouse was the answer Subaru sought.
For a brief moment, the scene which he saw flashed in front of his eyelids. The corpse of an old man, his torn up abdomen, and the dreadful figure of Satella who was dragged into this because of himself.
“Don’t be scared, don’t be scared, don’t be scared me. Am I an idiot? No, I am an idiot. I came all this way and I’m about to go home without looking for answers.”
To begin with, there was no place to return to. There was only one thing he could rely on.
Making up his mind, Subaru looked ahead. As he was about to walk, he noticed his knees were trembling. Subaru thumped his quivering legs to calm them, took a deep breath, and pushed forward.
Under the orange sunlight, the storehouse’s rustic door seemed to silently refuse Subaru.
“Is anyone there?”
Suppressing thoughts about himself being weak, Subaru spoke while knocking on the door.
A dull sound echoed, but there was no response. The returned silence made Subaru unable to stay put; the quietness frightened him, which made him knock on the door faster.
“Someone… someone’s in there, right?! Please, answer me… please!”
He clung onto his vain hope and wanted to believe the scene he saw was a mistake.
Unable to handle Subaru’s passion, the door creaked and the hinges began to turn. Then—
“—Yer annoying! You don’t even know the signal or password, are you tryin’ to bust my door!”
The door before his eyes swung open. Subaru, who couldn’t move due to fatigue, was blown away.
Blown five meters away from the storehouse entrance, Subaru rolled awkwardly on the ground and looked up, his eyes spinning in bewilderment. A startling sight lay before him, there stood a bald, old man with a flushed face. The muscular, gigantic figure was wrapped in dingy rags, and had a polished, bald-head that reflected the sunset’s red glow. In short, a huge, bald old man who seemed absolutely fine was standing there.
“What’s with you?! I don’t even know you! Who do you think you are! How did you learn of this place?! Or get here?! Who introduced you?!”
The old man closed the distance at furious speed and effortlessly lifted Subaru by the scruff of his neck.
Feeling his two legs dangling, Subaru learned to know his place. He originally thought he would not lose as long as it was not an outstanding opponent, but this was an outstanding opponent among opponents.
Carried by the old man who was over two meters tall, Subaru completely lost the will to resist.
“……My name is Natsuki Subaru, an extremely busy vagabond… For the time being, could you let me down?”
I want my feet to touch the ground before talking.
He used his utmost effort to request this indirectly.
It was an encounter that began with an extremely bad impression, but Subaru was successfully invited into the storehouse. This was thanks to Subaru explaining that the introduction came from the man who offered the information to get to the storehouse, and describing that man’s appearance.
After entering, they immediately went towards the counter. There, Subaru sat on the fixed chairs fitted there for visitors. Because part of the seat was frayed, it was uncomfortable. He could only correct the position of his buttocks, but each time he would feel a sharp sting. If it happened when he relaxed his anus, it would trigger something dangerous.
“What’re you fidgeting around since a while ago? Are your balls chafin’ you that much?”
“I’m not concerned about my son’s position! Rather, don’t start talking about my privates!”
Rather than tall, describing the old man as large would be more fitting. The old man, with his waist bent in the tight space, took out a bottle of liquor from under the counter, poured the content into a cup, and brought it to his lips.
“My evening drinking was disturbed by a noisy person. If it’s about something boring, then I’ll do something terrible to you.”
“Drinking even though the sun only just began to sink, you’ll die early, you know.”
While criticizing with harsh words, Subaru rested his cheek on his hand and briefly looked around the inside of the storehouse.
The evening of the storehouse — traces of the tragedy that Subaru experienced were not found at all. He was unable to distinguish whether the stolen goods were in disarray or crudely arranged.
Noticing Subaru’s line of sight, the old man narrowed his eyes and smiled.
“What is it, boy?… You interested in stolen goods?”
Thus, the conversation was brought to the point.
Surprisingly, the negotiation advanced smoothly with the bulky old man——Rom-ji, he introduced himself as. It looked like Subaru’s decision to introduce himself first had paid off.
(TL Note: Rom-ji means “Old Man Rom” in Japanese)
On the other side of the counter, Rom-ji laughed a little while pouring more liquor in the moderately dirty glass.
“Well, the people who come here only have one of two purposes. Bringing in stolen goods, or finding a use for the stolen good. Which are you?”
“… Indeed, one of my goals is the latter.”
“One of them, huh. Well then, what is the other business you came here for?”
Wanting to confirm Subaru’s demand, Rom-ji raised his eyebrows. Subaru nodded, then hesitantly asked it at the risk of being made a fool.
“This is a ridiculous question, but… old man, have you died recently?”
Your neck and right arm were chopped, was what he wanted to add, but decided against it.
Rom-ji opened his greyish eyes wide for a while, before time seemed to move again as he broke into a smile.
“Gahahaha! And here I was, wondering what you were about to say. I’ll admit, it’s true that I’m an old man near death’s door, but unfortunately I haven’t had the experience of being dead. Though at my age, I don’t think that’ll be far off.”
Laughing as if he heard delightful joke, Rom-ji offered the glass to Subaru and said “Want a drink?”
Refusing the drink with his hand gestures, Subaru dryly apologized “Sorry.”
Even though he apologized, Subaru’s sense of discomfort did nothing but grow. The corpse he found in the storehouse — it was without a doubt the old man in front of him.
It was in the dark, and he was surprised at seeing a dead body for the first time, so it could not be said that Subaru was calm. Still, it is difficult to mistake the old man’s characteristics. Yet, this old man was still very lively. Conversely, the same could also be said for Subaru. He was mortally wounded, but was now the same.
Wondering if what he saw was from daydreaming or not, Subaru couldn’t trust the contents in his head.
“Those feelings were all from a dream…? Then when and up until what point was a dream? Why am I in this world?”
The burning pain, the warmth from the girl’s slight touch, even the guilty conscience which made him want to die of regret. If they were only remnants of his dream, then why was he here?
If that’s the case, it’s best to just consider everything starting from being summoned to another world as a dream.
“Rom-ji, did you happen to see a silver-haired girl here?”
“Silver hair…? Nah, haven’t seen one. Something like silver hair has a bad meaning which makes that feature stand out. Even for me, with how degenerated my brain might be, it’s something not easily forgotten.”
“Gahaha,” Rom-ji laughed it off dauntlessly, but Subaru’s expression was not well after hearing that.
Noticing Subaru’s serious attitude, Rom-ji stopped his laughter suddenly.
The glass was pushed before Subaru again.
The bottle of liquor was tilted towards the empty glass, an amber liquid poured out and filled the glass to the brim. Towards Subaru, who watched it in silence, Rom-ji uttered the word “drink” once again.
“Sorry, but I’m not in that kind of mood. Besides, I’m not the kind of kid that would act evil after drinking alcohol.”
“Fool. Who said brats would have to act evil after drinking. Gulp it down and try having it burn your stomach. If you can’t stand the heat, then just spill out whatever is inside. So, drink,” insisted Rom-ji for the third time as he pushed the glass towards Subaru.
Overwhelmed by the hard line attitude, Subaru took the glass in his hand and brought the amber liquid close to his nose. An alcohol-rich odor struck his nose sharply, and Subaru grimaced as he nearly choked involuntarily. Though he was against it, Subaru was also driven by the urge to follow Rom-ji’s words. Escaping reality through drinking, what a representation of an uncool adult, thought Subaru.
“Right…down it goes!”
Tilting the glass, Subaru poured the liquor down his throat in one go.
“Puhaa! Gah! Bad! Hot! Ridiculously bad! Hey, it’s bad!”
“How many times are you going to say it, you’ll get cursed! People who don’t understand the taste of liquor are wasting half their lives!”
Subaru vented the welling heat, during which Rom-ji angrily shouted while consuming more liquor— he daringly flipped the liquor bottle upside down and drank from it.
Drinking more than three times the amount Subaru had, the old man belched coarsely and laughed.
“But you took it well! Feel like yer gonna puke yet?”
“…Ah! Just a tiny bit! Old man, I want to take care of my other objective.”
Returning the old man’s smile with a poor one, Subaru pointed at the depths of the storehouse while using his sleeve to wipe the spilled liquor from his mouth. Goods with some form of value seemed to be gathered in the back of the storehouse.
Looking at the serious expression on Rom-ji’s face, Subaru asked frankly.
“I’m looking for an insignia with a jewel embedded in it… I want you to hand it over.”
His original objective — apart from confirming Satella’s safety, was the initial reason they came here. Satella’s insignia that had a gem in it was stolen. Though he did not hear the details of the circumstance, it was something she needed to recover even at her own risk. Although her safety remains unclear, at least the insignia’s existence was certainly a clue.
Towards Subaru’s hopeful request, Rom-ji had a difficult look on his face.
“An insignia with an emblem in it… No, sorry but there ain’t any goods like that brought in.”
“…Really? Think carefully. Don’t tell me you’ve gone senile at your age.”
“If I ain’t recalling it when I’m at my top form from consuming alcohol, then I can only say ‘I dunno,’ though.”
When it looked like Subaru’s last hope was going to be severed, Rom-ji grinned meaningfully.
“Later today, there’s still an appointment for bringing in goods. Plus, I was told about the object beforehand… The chances of it being the thing yer looking for is pretty likely.”
“Is the person bringing it in possibly……that kid, Felt?”
“That’s right, but…hey. You already knew the thief’s name.”
The path he followed which he thought was a complete dead end seemed to have pulled him through. It seems the girl that stole the insignia was Felt, as her name was confirmed here. And naturally, this also proved the existence of the girl named Satella who had her insignia stolen.
At the very least, it’s good that it is no longer possible for that silver-haired girl to be a convenient event character produced from my delusions.
“I got worried because I thought my love towards silver-haired heroines was reflected onto her……”
“Sorry to disturb you while you’re relieved about something strange, but whether you can afford the item brought in is another story, yeah? If the item comes with a jewel, then its value is quite high.”
“Ha! It’s useless no matter how you try to play it up. After all, I’m as broke as they come.”
“Ain’t no reason to talk about it then,” the disappointed Rom-ji bellowed.
There, Subaru put up his finger for Rom-ji and wagged his finger left and right.
“Tsk tsk tsk. It’s certainly true that I don’t have money. B-U-T! There are means of getting things without using money in this world. The primitive ways of bartering work, right?”
There was no objection from Rom-ji, he responded silently with a nod to continue. Subaru fumbled around in his pant’s pocket, and what was held in the pulled out hand was…
“Whuzzat? This is the first time I’ve seen this.”
“This thing I’ve taken out here, it’s a magic item that can freeze the time of all things, called ‘cell phone’!”
A compact size, white, flat-screen mobile phone.
Towards Rom-ji, whose eyes were wide open in bewilderment from seeing this mysterious object for the first time, Subaru quickly input an operation——Immediately after, the inside of the dim store was lit up by white light.
Ka-ching, rang the photo capturing sound. Rom-ji, surprised by the chain of light and sound, rolled over on the other side of the counter. At his exaggerated reaction, Subaru couldn’t help but laugh. Rom-ji, on the other hand, was quite angry.
“What’s that just now?! You tryin’ ta kill me?! Making such a strange move, don’t you look down on an old man!”
“Hold on, hold on. Calm down, take a deep breath, and make a hop. Then come take a look.”
Because of the alcohol, Rom-ji’s face on the cellphone screen was reddened. Then, the old man’s suspicious eyes widened after seeing it.
“This is……my face, yeah? What kinda trick is this?”
“I told you before. This is a mysterious item that captures and freezes time. I used this tool and captured your time just now, that’s why it’s trapped in here.”
While saying that, Subaru changed the camera angle, and this time took a photo of himself. Once again, he showed the screen to Rom-ji. A still image of Subaru with a peace sign was displayed.
“Capturing time like this. What do you think? Unusual, right?”
“Though the way your face and posture appears is very lame, that is certainly…mhmm…”
While Subaru was dissed for posing, Rom-ji’s gaze and interest were glued on the mobile phone.
Because the bait was taken more strongly than expected, Subaru clenched his fist right there.
“It’s my first time seeing it, but……this must be the rumored 『Meteor』, or so they call it.”
No, it’s just a Galapagos phone, Subaru wanted to reply, as Rom-ji nodded with an “Mhm.”
(TL Note: Galapagos phones are called ガラケー, or Garake which is short for Galapagos Keitaidenwa. More info here.)
“It’s the generic term for tools that makes it possible for you to use magic without opening your gate like a magician. Originally, it seems to mean a gift that fell from the sky.”
Magic-based items are called 『Meteor』. Hearing those strange yet familiar words, Subaru nodded. Rom-ji, after scrutinizing the mobile phone in his hands, placed it back on the counter.
“This thing’s value is certainly immense. Even for me, who has worked in the stolen goods business, this is the first time I’ve negotiated anything related to a 『Meteor』……There’s no doubt it’ll fetch a high price.”
The urge to get involved in handling rare commodities, it seems it was the same in the black market business. Rom-ji, who spoke quickly from excitement, placed a hand on his chin while observing Subaru.
“If that’s the case, even if that item contains a jewel, exchanging yers for a mere ornament is quite a big loss. If it’s this, it could be worth much more. No, you won’t even have to get involved with the likes of these stolen goods businesses.”
For a rogue who exchanges stolen goods for money, it was strangely caring advice to put forth.
Before the old man’s charming advice, Subaru smiled wryly. Certainly, if you looked from afar, Subaru’s actions would no doubt look ridiculous. But he didn’t care.
“Ah, that’s fine. I’ll use this 『Meteor』 to exchange for the insignia Felt is bringing.”
“Why would you go to that extent? Isn’t this 『Meteor』 much more expensive? Or do you intend to say its value does not lie in its worth?”
Rom-ji’s words indicated his amazement. As for Subaru, he also agreed that if he was a third party, he would have also had the same judgement as the old man’s.
“Well… to be honest, I haven’t actually seen the item in question. And in terms of worth, it is not something that is more than this cellphone, so I will definitely take a big loss.”
“If you already understood it to that extent, why would you do such a thing?”
“I already decided —— I wanted to take a loss.”
Rom-ji blinked three times at Subaru, who followed up with a forthright response.
That’s right, that’s my answer.
“I want to repay a favor. I’m just returning what I borrowed. After all, I’m a highly strung modern kid. If I don’t do this, I won’t be able to sleep feeling good about myself. —— That’s why, even if I am to lose big, I have to take back the insignia.”
“Hm… I heard what you just said. Do you mean to say the insignia is not originally yers?”
“It belongs to a beautiful, silver-haired girl who helped me. I don’t know the reason why, but I’m told it’s something important.”
“And yer benefactor? Ain’t you together?”
“Currently in the middle of searching for her! Or rather, the existence of that beautiful girl who helped me might not be a delusion born from my lonesomeness!”
Clenching his fist, Subaru denied the uneasiness he muttered from earlier by laughing it off.
Once I get the insignia in my hand, I’m sure, once more, that I’ll meet that girl. I want to see her smile.
“——Yer quite the fool aren’t cha?”
Watching Subaru solidify his resolve, Rom-ji laughed merrily.
Before the serious negotiations came, Subaru spent a while pleasantly talking with Rom-ji. Especially in regard to the 『Meteor』, which Rom-ji was interested in.
Even in another world, the feeling of high-tech stuff being a man’s romance is something we share, thought Subaru.
“Not just your clothes, the stuff you’re carrying are also very strange. This as well, delish delish.”
“It’s tasty right? … Hey, you’re eating too much! My Konpota! You should be holding back a bit!”
(TL Note: Konpota is the abbreviated nickname they use for Corn Potage flavor snack. Example here)
“Leave the complaining fer later. Hoarding such a delish treat for yourself, you’ll go to hell you know.”
“And the old man who eats the delish treat without the owner’s permissions doesn’t go to hell? Complaining while you turn a blind eyes to your own misdeeds, this is a bad habit from the baby boomers……Stop eating!”
(TL Note: Baby boomers is referring to the baby boom of post-WWII where boomers “tended to think of themselves as a special generation, very different from those that had come before.” Source from Wikipedia)
In an act of displaying compassion, he showed off his snack food. The result, which led to it being mostly eaten, caused his eyes to water in regret as he put the emptied confectionery bag away in his convenience store bag.
—And then, the storehouse’s door was knocked on. It was at a time where the sun was at a considerably low incline.
Subaru, whose body was lying on the counter and was dozing off, lifted his head, while Rom-ji’s giant body nimbly headed towards the door in response to the knock. The old man, with a serious look, placed his ear on the door.
“For a large rat…”
“For a white whale…”
“To the noble Dragon-sama, we are…”
Rom-ji’s short questions were all answered in a flash.
What a peculiar argot. That’s probably their signal and password, I think.
Satisfied, Rom-ji removed the lock on the door. Staring from behind his back was Subaru, who swallowed as the time had come.
“—Sorry ta keep ya waitin’, Rom-ji. My opponent was surprisingly persistent. I had to waste quite a bit of time.”
Intimately triumphing over her spoils, a girl walked past Rom-ji’s side and entered the storehouse. She was a girl with disorderly, semi-long hair. Her pupils were red like a rabbit’s, and from her mouth protruded a mischievous fang. Her small, seemingly dextrous body was, frankly speaking, wrapped in worn-out clothes.
Subaru stood up unintentionally. Clatter. Noticing Subaru and the noise he made, the girl unexpectedly lost her smile.
“Ah? Oi, who are ya? Rom-ji, I told ya I was bringing in something big, shouldn’t ya have cleared out the room?”
“I understand your feelings very well, but that kid is here for you, Felt. Though, the reason he’s here isn’t unrelated to that big thing.”
Felt’s face increasingly contorted in suspicion from Rom-ji’s answer.
Subaru looked at the place she unconsciously placed her hand on — her pocket, it seems like the insignia is there. Felt then gave Subaru a vigilant look.
“What is it with that Nii-chan? No way, I wasn’t sold was I?”
(TL Note: Felt calls Subaru the same way other thugs call him, using “bro.” But I thought it would be more fitting to keep it as “Nii-chan” for just her.)
“My acquaintance with you is not that dishonorable. Besides, I let ’em in because I thought it wouldn’t be bad deal for you.”
“Aye?” Rom-ji said while winking at Subaru for an agreement.
Experiencing this rare and disgusting feeling of being winked by an old man, Subaru disguised his nervousness by putting on a light act. While under Rom-ji’s withering gaze, Subaru turned towards the girl.
“Don’t put on such a scary face. First, since you rushed here, how about a cup of milk?”
“Every part of ya reeks of idiocy……Though I don’t care about whatever yer planning, anything ya talk about aside from money, I have no interest in. Main topic, it’s fine for ya to start it,” reacted Felt coldly.
While shrugging off the bad first impression he received, Subaru replied.
“I know I made an unreasonable demand to the old man to give me some time, but……in short, I have a use for that insignia with a jewel in it which is stored in that pocket.”
Twitch. The girl raised her eyebrows. Subaru’s knowledge about the theft, as well as the details of the stolen object seem to have increased her caution by a level. He held up his hands in order to relieve her vigilance.
“I won’t use my hands or legs, only my mouth. In other words, let’s negotiate.”
With his two raised hands’ fingers, Subaru pointed at a small table besides the counter.
“You and I both won’t suffer a loss. Let’s aim for a Win Win resolution, ‘kay?”
(TL Note: Subaru uses English here for “Win Win”)
Felt soon agreed at Subaru’s desire towards a discussion. From there, they sat across from each other at the designated table. The tactful Rom-ji poured a glass of milk and set it before the two.
“I provided the place and the milk, but yer on your own for negotiations. Ain’t my business.”
“I’ve prepared myself to get robbed in this negotiation. Just watch my negotiations as I get ripped-off.”
His palm sounding as he punched it, Subaru spoke with confidence about something he should not be proud of. Rom-ji snorted at Subaru, while Felt, on the other hand, tilted back the glass of milk and grimaced.
“Oi, Rom-ji. This milk, it’s been diluted with water, right? Tastes horrible.”
“Why does everyone respond to the goodwill I put out with ‘it’s bad, it’s bad’……”
Rom-ji, accepting the rude words, stroked the foul mood Felt’s head with his large palm. It was a scene which looked like Felt’s neck would come off, but one look at the old man’s soft expression as he patted her and it was clear that Rom-ji bore no malicious intent. Felt, as well, seemed accustomed as she accepted it.
“You two are much closer than I thought. I feel kind of lonely being left out.”
“Your heinous face is comparable to that of Rom-ji’s, don’t talk like a sissy.”
“I’ve been told many things until now, but you’re saying I can compete with this old man!?”
Appalled by Felt’s words, Subaru, in devastation, looked up at the balding old man.
Although it was true that my eyes were slightly scary, and could cause a misunderstanding, I couldn’t imagine being on the same comparable level as the two meter tall, giant old man.
“Ah, what I just said really was too much. Sorry, Nii-chan.”
“Though I want to settle this by having you call me ‘Onii-chan’ in cute manner, for the moment I’ll forgive you. In the future, heartless words that hurt people are……What’s wrong, Rom-ji?”
“You guys, you two aren’t conspiring to anger me, are you?”
Though he was smiling, Rom-ji had a blue vein pop appear on his forehead. To which Subaru and Felt looked at each other, and shrugged. In response to their synchronized action, Rom-ji sighed deeply.
“Good grief……now that I think about it, Felt’s acquaintances of her age are all ruffians, aren’t they.”
“……Rom-ji, I’m begging ya, so could the embarrassing talk about when I was little stop now?”
“As for being the same age……Well, that’s because I’m an old man so everyone looks the same.”
Subaru glanced at Felt once again in observation. Taking into account her poor stature, her age looked to be twelve or thirteen. Even if she was looked at in the best possible light, she would be, at most, fourteen. Getting along as her friend or acquaintance, their age-gap made him embarrassed.
While Subaru was analyzing such, Felt sulked, still arguing with Rom-ji.
“What are you going to do, keeping up that lone wolf attitude of yours? Someday my body won’t hold up, and when the time comes, I can’t keep you company. If that happens, are you gonna live alone?”
“How many years ago have ya started saying that? Aside from thinking about saying the same thing over and over again, ya don’t come across as senile at all, Rom-ji. Before that happens…”
Having her fading words picked up by Subaru, Felt gave him a childish look.
Feeling like he should not have been listening based on the unwelcoming mood, Subaru cleared his throat. Including the part which deviated from the main subject considerably, it’s about time I corrected it.
“Well then, let’s once again move to starting negotiations. Um, Felt. You have the insignia, yeah?”
“……Y-yeah, I got it.”
Felt tersely affirmed in a frank manner as Subaru cut to the main subject in a single stroke. She stuck her hand in her pocket, extracted the content, and quietly placed it on top of the table.
—The insignia Subaru has been searching for, it had a design that modelled a dragon. A distinctive badge.
The insignia was about a size that it would fit in one’s palm. He couldn’t speak for its material, but the design, which modeled a wyvern, was quite elaborate. A red jewel in the dragon’s open mouth, it had quite the unique appearance.
(TL Note: In Asian culture, wyvern and the likes are all considered subspecies of dragons. Though it is less accepted in Western culture, it is also the case in literature. Quote from Wikipedia – The wyvern is regarded, moreover, as the distant, lesser cousin to the dragon)
Falling silent, Subaru was pulled back into reality by Felt’s call. As if to show the insignia to him, whose mind had just returned, Felt pushed it to the end of the table.
“It’s your turn to let me see your cards. This insignia is not an ordinary thing, plus, I had a hard time getting my hands on it. If your card can match that, then we’ll both be happy, right?”
“Sorry to disappoint your evil, testing smile, but I’ve only got one card to take out. After all, I am, regardless of my ups and downs in life, penniless!”
Felt made a bitter face as Subaru stuck his chest out.
As per usual, as soon as everyone hears “penniless,” they would have unpleasant looks on their faces, thought Subaru.
Setting aside those feelings in his chest, he acted according to his declaration and took out his strongest card. Looking at the cellphone that was slammed onto the table, Felt was, as expected, puzzled. While pleased at the reaction, Subaru activated the cellphone’s camera feature.
“Take this! Nine shots per second: Burst Mode!”
(TL Note: He actually says 連続撮影 which means Continuous Shooting, but it’s commonly called Burst Mode in English)
“Wah, wawawawawawa! Oi, what’s that sound and eye glarin’ thing!”
Flashes of white light and mechanical shutter sounds continuously occurred at tremendous speed.
Felt had a look that wanted to object to Subaru’s breach of manners, but before her mouth opened, the screen he held was thrust at her. She widened her eyes at her own figure on display.
“Yeah, you were copied! This can capture time and give it a form, a 『Meteor』. I propose to barter for that insignia, with this 『Meteor』.”
Playing your best card on the opening move, and advancing negotiations with your dominant momentum. It’s one of the standard tactics of negotiation. In some cases, that assertive action tends to determine an outcome with just that.
However, this method is the same as declaring to the opponent that one does not have a more powerful card. In reality, Subaru was going to use his verbal skills to make it through.
“I see, that’s great then. Well, Rom-ji? How much would sellin’ this 『Meteor』 earn?”
Peeking at the screen, Felt reacted with a nod and “uh-huh” which stunned Subaru due to her terrible indifference. Her eyes were not sparkling; she didn’t even take the mobile phone in her hand. Her interest was not in the mobile phone’s functions or rarity. Fittingly, her only concern was how much money it would fetch.
“Even high-tech romance is only limited to males in another world! It feels lonely!”
“Yer noisy, don’t chirp excitedly. As for me, this 『Meteor』? If it can be sold for more than this insignia, then ten thousand cheers to that. But I only trust Rom-ji around here.”
(TL Note: Felt actually says ‘Banbanzai’ or ‘万々歳.’ It is also known as 万万歳. They all mean ‘ten thousand cheers.’ You probably hear the term ‘Banzai’ more often, this is the same except the 万 means adding ten thousand to it.)
“Well, I don’t know the exact worth. But from the conclusion, they ain’t comparable. Though I’m sure that insignia is worth quite a bit…it’s inferior to a 『Meteor』. In other words, I concluded that this negotiation, Felt, will be quite lucrative for you.”
“I see, I see. Well then, isn’t that fine then.”
Rom-ji’s vouching brought Felt into a good mood.
Although the plan was slightly changed because of the unexpected reaction, Subaru was delighted with joy as he seemed to have achieved his goal. However, just as Subaru was about to extend his hand to take care of things immediately, Felt stopped him with a “wait”.
“We finished showing each other’s hand, but I’m still not done price gouging yet?”
“… Don’t go declaring that you’ll be price gouging. Besides, even if you tell me to raise it further, it’s impossible. After all, I’m uniquely penniless.”
“Even I’m not as cruel as that. Rom-ji did say this much. Rather than this insignia’s value, that 『Meteor』‘s value is higher. That, I admit. —Though, ya having no more cards to play is probably a lie.”
Felt stood up and looked down at Subaru, who sat on a chair.
Being stared at by those pair of red eyes with an appraisal-like gleam, Subaru had cold sweat running down his back. The strongest card for negotiating, the mobile phone, was already played. But Subaru still had some things at hand. What remained were things that would have some value in this world. At worst, aside from the offered phone, he had plans to show some—
“Don’t worry, didn’t I say? I don’t intend to take anymore from ya. I’m satisfied as long as I can exchange this for money.”
Smiling at Subaru’s anxiousness, Felt lightly clapped her hands. Her reaction caused Subaru to hold his breath before he looked away and took deep breaths to avoid showing his composure lost.
“Then, what do you mean by price gouging?”
“Hm? Ah, simple. It means my negotiating partner is not just ya, Nii-chan.”
Subaru had a question mark on his face.
To answer that question, Felt raised her finger.
“To begin with, I nicked this insignia because it was asked of me. I was told, with one of these I could exchange it for ten holy coins.”
“You had a prior arrangement with the theft requester! Ten gold coins, huh, I don’t know the market that well though…”
Subaru glanced at Rom-ji, who grasped his intentions and nodded.
“This insignia, for me if all goes well, it’ll go four, five gold coins. There is also the possibility it is beaten down to three gold coins.”
“Then, it’s a simple buyback for double the price?”
“No, didn’t she say holy gold coins? Unlike gold coins that flow in the market, because holy gold coins’ materials are made of rare holy gold, ten holy gold coins’ worth would be near twenty gold coins.”
“Whaddaya so surprised about. The 『Meteor』 you brought, at worst is worth twenty holy gold coins. In some cases, a connoisseur would bring out more. They ain’t the same level of talk.”
It’s a world where he had difficulty understanding the valuation of things. When a currency above gold coins, which he thought was the highest, popped up, and he was told his item was worth twenty of those coins, Subaru was surprised.
“If this 『Meteor』 is so valuable, just tell your theft requester something to refuse.”
“That’s why I said price gouging.”
Felt’s cheeky look on her face distorted further into an evil smile.
“Since Nii-chan issued such a stupidly high offer, if they want the insignia they may or may not add some rewards too.”
“…In other words, it’s that? If the other party offers up more than twenty holy gold coins.”
“If Nii-chan doesn’t show me the rest of your cards, we can’t have a match.”
She is an evil-looking… correction, she straight up is a demon.
Since arriving, the worse turn of events caused Subaru’s complexion to begin to be clouded.
“Well then, where is that requester? When is the meeting scheduled at? You’ll allow us all to negotiate on the table together, right?”
“Of course. It’ll only be a one-sided disadvantage for Nii-chan. Though my profit may also be reduced. Also, don’t worry about the negotiation location — it’s right here.”
Tapping the edge of the table with her finger, Felt looked up at Rom-ji while leaning back on the backrest.
“If Rom-ji is here, most other parties would cancel the option to use violence after all. To have a quarrel with an old man with this kind of appearance, just the thought of it would discourage them.”
Felt sought for Subaru’s agreement. With a glance at Rom-ji, Subaru agreed with a “yep, yep.”
On the other hand, Rom-ji didn’t seem bothered by the two’s poor evaluation.
“Without me around, nothin’ can get done, huh. Truly, pitiful. Want more milk? It’ll be slightly sweeter.”
It looked as if Rom-ji was a stupid old man treating his granddaughter like a cute kitten.
In high spirits, Rom-ji poured the milk to the brim for Felt. While watching her, Subaru noticed she spilled an exasperated sigh.
“Still, if you called them here in the first place, even if I wasn’t here you fully planned to negotiate the price didn’t you.”
“Naturally so. How hard do ya think I had to work to steal this? Plus, what should I do if a weak person like me were to meet them and was bilked on. I’ll lose my honor, right?”
Felt had a delicate and petite appearance, judging by that, it was not a wrong description at all, but after a taste of her stubborn and bold spirit, Subaru had a considerable resistance towards describing her as ‘weak.’ In addition, thinking back, when she was in the process of struggling to steal this insignia, she deserted Subaru, who was in a pinch with his life about to end. Remembering that brought out his anger, so much so that he wanted to say at least one word of dissatisfaction.
“Rather, could you have possibly forgotten about me?”
“——? Where’d we meet? Though it has to be quite a shocking encounter, or I won’t remember it, since I don’t have the free time to do so. In the first place, Nii-chan is considerably plain looking. Only your hair color and clothes are conspicuous,” Felt laughed aloud mockingly.
Her attitude didn’t seem like she was lying, and at the same time, discovering how ordinary his appearance was appalled Subaru. Perhaps the word empathy is completely obsolete in this other world. Her mental strength to easily forget an (attempted) robbery and murder was evidence. On the other hand, there was Satella, who helped Subaru in a situation where she would gain nothing, and Rom-ji, who, in spite of being a rogue, he could not bring himself to hate. Therefore, he didn’t know what to think. Even in another world, the individual people are still different. To only evaluate based on the bad ones is not proper.
“Well, it’s fine if Felt’s memory is terrible. So, when is the other party coming?”
“That’s some irritating way of speakin’. I said my work would end by sunset, so we agreed to meet after sunset……The sun is about to set, should be about time they came?”
This conversation might have set off a flag.
A sharp knocking suddenly resounded from the door. The three looked at each other.
“Ah, I didn’t tell them. It’s probably my guest, I’ll go check.”
Felt stuck her tongue out at Rom-ji’s words, then leaped up towards the entrance of the storehouse. Subaru got the feeling of Felt behaving selfishly in another person’s home.
“Is that fine? Letting her act so freely.”
“Eh, not like we’re strangers. Our acquaintance ain’t short either… and she’s relyin’ on me to take care of things.”
Subaru thought the old man seemed happy to be relied upon, as the old man brought out a club from the back of the storehouse. It was the length of a bamboo sword, and was probably made of wood. But the tip had some spikes sticking out here and there. Looking at it, it’s something that would cause a fatal wound if hit.
“A nail bat or something. As expected of another world, a club is the standard equipment……”
The macho old man’s equipment was more than two meters. Subaru thought the figure met his expectations, but it would be perfect if the old man was in a half-naked state with torn rags and a loincloth.
“Upon seeing this uncivilized person’s figure, even for me, Subaru, I can only return a bitter smile.”
“You sure like to blab yer mouth. I wonder who was it thanks to that got you this far?” lamented Rom-ji as he shook his head.
Subaru lowered his gaze at the old man’s attitude.
“Well, truly, I’m thankful. The talk is still not over yet, but for it to have gotten to this point, it is definitely thanks to you, old man. Thank you.”
“……Suddenly becoming so gentle, have you gone crazy?”
Rom-ji scratched his bald head with his finger at Subaru’s gratitude, and then took a deep breath.
“It was a situation where you found this place, and ya offered goods that belonged to you. There’s nothing I’ve done that deserves thanking.”
“What’re you talking about? After all, Rom-ji, didn’t you already know Felt had an appointment here to trade the insignia? If that’s the case, I’m sure you had the choice to throw me out without listening to me in the first place.”
“Without a doubt, it was you, old man, who gave me a chance to speak. Though, after taking the chance, it was all my accomplishments. My! Accomplishments! Right!”
Because it was important, Subaru repeated himself and declared it twice.
Subaru’s remark while pointing his thumb at himself caused Rom-ji to keep silent with a difficult expression. It seems Subaru was disgusted with, as he regretted the remarks he just spouted out.
“Thanks… this is a bit wrong, if someone were to be told it, shouldn’t I be the one to receive it?”
Subaru was reflecting on his actions when Rom-ji suddenly grumbled at him. The old man’s wrinkled face distorted as he laughed and deepened the wrinkles on his face further, “You got a 『Meteor』 with you, and the look of yer clothes and appearance as well… Yer actually from a pretty nice background, right?”
“No, I wouldn’t say that…”
“It’s fine to hide it. The fact that the insignia was stolen by Felt, it’s something ya don’t want to publicize, right? I’m just thankful that you attempted to recover it amicably.”
Towards Subaru, who he was unable to discern his disposition, Rom-ji seem to have formed his own impression of Subaru one way or another. In the old man’s mind, Subaru seemed to be a pretty attentive gentleman.
“Felt and I, since the time as far as she could remember, we have formed this relationship.”
“Ah, it felt like that from your conversations……Have you two lived here all this time?”
Subaru lifted his chin, implying he was indicating the slums.
Rom-ji nodded. “A place like this, no matter who, everyone is desperate to survive. To live, children of similar circumstances usually form cliques, but……Felt is not suited for it.”
“If she had that attitude towards everyone, I can see that kind of thing happening.”
It’s fine to be call it strong-willed, but Felt’s attitude is that of selfishness. If relationships are connected based on interests, that way of life cannot be seen as favorable, thought Subaru.
“But, if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be an issue of your approach? How should I say, I think it’s because there’s a pampering Rom-ji here that she grew so impudent.”
“……I have nothing to retort with. Because it’s true that I am partial towards that child.”
Rom-ji calmly muttered while rubbing his bald head. Looking at the side of the old man’s face that had downcast eyes, Subaru perceived that Rom-ji held Felt as dear as family. Even if they were not related by blood, at least Rom-ji held a bond with her.
“As long as it’s not a one-sided love, it would be fine.”
“Even if that’s the case, I don’t mind…… No, it would be better that way, ” hearing Subaru’s muttering that had no subject, Rom-ji responded softly.
Subaru was about to continue the conversation on another subject due to Rom-ji’s demeanor, but it seems like their time was up.
“Dun ya two guys talk in a low voice, feels disgusting.”
Felt, who returned, criticized Subaru and Rom-ji with abusive words while they were holding a conversation.
Behind Felt, who had a clumsy fake smile on, stood another figure.
“It was, as I thought, my guest. Here, take a seat.”
Subaru was motioned to move aside by Felt as she amicably turned back towards the other party. Subaru tensely raised his line of sight towards the other party, and was slightly surprised.
That’s because the person Felt invited was… a beautiful woman.
She was a tall woman, about the same height as Subaru, and she seemed to be around her early twenties. She was a beauty with eyes that had their edges mellowed. Her morbidly white skin stood out terribly in the dim storehouse. She wore a black cloak, yet her front, which was open, showed her attire was of the same color and tightly fitted to her skin. Though she was slender, she had a nice body that stuck out where it should.
(TL Note: Subaru used English when he said ‘nice body’ to describe her)
And, like Subaru, she had black hair which was rare in this world. With a long, braided hair that reached past her back and to her waist, she was playing with its ends using her fingers.
She was a mature Onee-san with a vaguely bewitching appearance. For Subaru, who had no experience with females, the presence of an unknown existence couldn’t help but lose his composure.
(TL Note: The term Onee-san in Japanese refers to any female older than you, but not so old that she could be your bloody grandmother.)
Losing his collectedness, Subaru obediently ceded his seat. Felt sat in the empty seat, with Rom-ji holding a club to her left, and Subaru, who could not hide his nervousness, standing on her right. Receiving such a heavy welcoming, the woman did not seem to show displeasure as she tilted her head.
“I feel like there are quite a few outsiders.”
“I’ll be troubled if ya bilked after all. It’s the wisdom of the weak. Also, Nii-chan get us somethin’ to drink.”
Unable to refute Felt’s bossy hand gesture, Subaru chose some relatively clean glasses from the shelf, brought them over, and poured milk for the two.
After saying “thank you” to the serving Subaru, the woman then spoke appraisingly, “I know the old fellow over there, but this young man is?”
From his behavior and demeanor, she probably noticed Subaru was not accustomed to his role. Rather than out of caution, it was purely an innocent question; to which Felt smiled a villainous smile.
“This Nii-chan is your rival. My other negotiator, ya see.”
Thus, her declaration started the price gouging.
“I see. I understand the situation now.”
After tilting the glass for a drink, the woman licked the thin, white trace on her lips.
Elsa, as she identified herself, was erotic in her every gesture. Even while Felt was briefing her, she would often cast flirtatious glances which left Subaru embarrassed.
“Well, this is why this is a price raisin’ negotiation. After all, I dun really care who gets the insignia, so I’ll sell it to the highest bidder.”
“That’s a nice personality, I don’t hate it. —And so, how much did the young man over there offer?”
Ten holy gold coins — that was the amount Elsa previously offered.
Naturally, because he was able to compete with it, the other side must have thought he had offered a larger amount of money.
Deciding it would be unwise to take a wait-and-see attitude, Subaru, for the third time, activated the mobile phone’s photographing feature.
A bright flash tore through the storehouse, capturing Elsa’s figure on the screen.
Elsa raised her eyebrows at the sudden action, to which Subaru showed off his phone’s screen.
“What I offered is this 『Meteor』. This is probably a one of a kind rare item in this world. According to that muscular old man’s appraisal, its bottom of the barrel price is at least twenty holy gold coins.”
Looking at her own figure reflected on the screen, Elsa gave an assenting nod.
Subaru’s approach was bartering, and his conveyance did not seem like a bluff.
Elsa took out a small leather pouch from her pocket, inside was most likely – the reward of holy gold coins.
The leather pouch was placed on the table, and a solid clanging noise of metals impacting resonated.
Felt’s pupils contracted like that of a cat as Rom-ji silently reprimanded her. Elsa then folded her white hands on the table.
“In fact, I was handed some extra money to an extent by my client. Should the other party be hesitant, then it was meant to be a little addition for you to rethink things.”
“Client… that means Elsa-san was just asked to receive the insignia?”
(TL Note: In Japanese, people use –san as a way of politely calling them. Think “Mr.” or “Ms.”)
“This is the case. My client is the one who wants it…… You, might you be in the same trade?”
“Being in the same trade as me means they’re unemployed!”
“So, this unemployed Nii-chan offered an exorbitant amount. What’s the price yer owner is willin’ to pay?”
In response to Felt’s provocative words, Elsa opened her pouch in silence.
The leather pouch was turned upside down, and out came holy gold coins that emitted dazzling silver shines.
Felt’s eyes brightened at the overlapping metallic clank; even Rom-ji’s throat faintly let out some noise. On the other hand, Subaru’s eyes were not occupied by their luster. If there’s no mistaking it, then the count is—
“Twenty coins, just.”
“This is all of the holy gold coins my employer provided. It seems the offer from higher-up is the same as your appraisal……Is it a bit of an issue?”
The question was directed to the person next to Felt, Rom-ji.
After Rom-ji counted the number of holy gold coins, he looked down at the anxious Subaru and smiled.
“Dun put on that childish face. A man shouldn’t look undignified after all… Twenty holy gold coins is certainly an outrageous reward, but I did say the bottom of the barrel value is twenty holy gold coins for it.”
A huge, rugged palm violently ruffled Subaru’s short, black hair.
“How I see it, this negotiation leans towards the boy. I apologize to you and yer employer, but you better bag up these holy gold coins and return.”
With those words, Rom-ji pushed the holy gold coins back with his rugged palm and Subaru shouted in delight.
Felt, without any objection, threw her hands up, while Elsa also didn’t seem disappointed at all as she shrugged. Because Subaru spontaneously decided pumped his fist in the air, his surroundings reacted by giving him some attention.
“W-what! Isn’t it fine?! I’m happy after all! In some sense, it’s my first time achieving a goal here! I can at least have a victory pose, right?!”
“I didn’t really say anythin’ though. Celebrate as ya wish. Since I’m fine as long as I profit.”
“Same goes for my employer. Because it is not necessary for them to have the insignia, there is no need to continue.”
Towards the blushing Subaru, Felt and Elsa took a matter-of-fact stance.
Though he did not have such a bad personality that he was expecting words of defeat, Elsa’s attitude was that of not minding that she could not fulfill her request.
“Ah, sorry Elsa-san. It looks like you might get yelled at.”
“It can’t be helped. If it was my fault, it would be different, but in this case it was my employer’s blunder for thinking they could get away with paying so little.”
“Havin’ twenty holy gold coins ain’t little, I’d lose a bit of pride.”
“Well, my luck is at its peak today! Has my time finally come?”
Contrary to the man who was sympathetic towards Elsa, Felt’s attitude was that of truly being unable to read the mood.
Anyhow, Subaru was able to realize his objective by coming to this place. In doing so, a seed of hope was planted for him to be able to return his gratitude to Satella.
By all rights, he should report Felt, who stole the insignia, and Elsa, who requested the theft, to Satella, but Subaru did not have the mental toughness to throw them into jail.
He decided to be opportunistic here.
“Now then, although the results of the negotiation were regrettable, I shall excuse myself.”
The now standing Elsa drank the remaining milk. She licked the drops of milk in an erotic way again, and suddenly looked at Subaru.
——Her black pupils fastened upon him, and Subaru felt as if he was entangled.
“—By the way, once that insignia is in your hand, what will you do with it?”
It somehow felt like a dark, cold-blooded question was asked.
Its sound euphoniously reverberated through Subaru’s eardrums, giving him the illusion that he was forbidden from perjury.
“… Oh, I was gonna find and return it to the original owner.”
Once he said it, Subaru noticed his obvious faux pas.
He declared he was going to return it to its owner in front of the thief girl and the theft client. Those words,
“—Oh, so you have ties with them.”
held enough meaning to cause Elsa to release her cold murderous intent.
Subaru received a sudden impact on his flank.
His body slid sideways from the impact, and Subaru, unable to brace himself, rolled on the floor. Pained and shocked, his eyes swam as he slammed onto the ground. Raising his head, he noticed Felt clinging to his waist.
“What are —”
“Ya an idiot!? Dodge it! Ya want to die!?”
“you doing!?” His outburst was drowned out by a louder shout.
Subaru was startled. From his low position he could visibly see Elsa facing him.
“Ara, it was avoided,” noted Elsa wonderingly as she tilted her head.
Elsa’s hand held a disproportionate weapon which emitted a dull shine.
——Kukri knife, was this weapon’s name as Subaru’s knowledge of it surfaced. The knife neared thirty centimeters long, and its blade is bent in the shape of the character く, which is why it’s a bladed weapon commonly known as the inwardly curved blade. It’s a weapon that is heavy on the front end and can be used like an axe to chop apart its prey. It’s easy to imagine its power and savagery.
Brandishing her knife, Elsa’s smile from before was unchanged.
Judging by her posture, the knife was used once. If that’s the case, that means I was saved by being sent into orbit when Felt leaped to protect me.
His fear, finally catching up with him, caused his arms and legs to tremble, and filled him with nausea. But the situation did not wait for him.
Roaring, Rom-ji charged at the assassin knife wielding Elsa.
Swinging the club that he did not let go of even during the negotiations, Rom-ji aimed the spiked part of the weapon at Elsa’s skull. Ten kilos were being lifted effortlessly like a twig as it tore through the wind and hit the storehouse floor.
The floor reverberated from the impact, giving the impression that the entire building was shaking. The scattered stolen goods around the two were blown away after the first move, and so the fight began in front of Subaru, who had sunk onto the floor.
“This is my first time battling a giant to the death.”
“Go ahead an’ keep talkin’ little girl. — I’ll make you into minced meat and feed you to large rats!”
Rom-ji’s club sped up considerably as he shouted insults. Up against such power, a clumsy defense would be worse than a paper shield. With so little footing in the middle of the storehouse, to be cornered by the club’s attacks was a fatal threat. However, his opponent was Elsa, whose ability was abnormal.
Swaying the kukri that hung upon her hand, Elsa’s shadow slid around the lethal tempest. In the truest sense, she was walking on a fine line between life and death; yet Rom-ji was the one dancing in Elsa’s palm.
This is bad, Subaru instinctively thought. —Something was setting off his alarm bells.
“It’s all right. Rom-ji won’t get done in! Ever since I was old enough ta talk, I ain’t seen Rom-ji ever lose a fight!”
In accord with Subaru, whose lips were trembling from uneasiness, Felt hollered her confidence as if to encourage herself.
There was a trust that could not be overthrown behind Felt’s words which was formed over the years. Subaru believed in it without needing to be told as their bickering showed the two’s intimate relationship. But unlike the girl shouting her trust, Subaru was pessimistic. Though, he didn’t know the reason why.
A change had occurred in the direction of the battle before Subaru’s anxiety had taken shape.
With a roar, Rom-ji had kicked up a table. The wooden table, which up until a moment ago had been the stage of the negotiation, splintered and scattered. Backed against a wall, Elsa had her sight blocked by the debris.
The club was brought down with all of its wielder’s force. If it was a direct hit, death was inevitable. However,
Felt’s heartbroken cry shook the storehouse’s air.
And then Subaru saw the results of the cry.
Something flew away while spinning round and round.
It was Rom-ji’s right arm, which still grasped the club.
The arm which had been cut from its shoulder danced in the air and was flung against the wall while scattering blood. It rained blood inside the room – both Subaru and Felt’s heads were showered by it.
“At the very least, I’ll take you with me—”
With his right shoulder’s arm cut off, blood spewed out like water from a hose. Instead of pressing the wound, Rom-ji leaped forward with his giant body and aimed at Elsa with his remaining arm.
The pulverized table fell to the floor, with Elsa on the other side still in her through-swing’s posture.
Before the kukri blade could be flipped around, Rom-ji moved quickly to crush the slender body with his large frame.
In the midst of Rom-ji’s fleeting, life-risking shout,
“I forgot to tell you, but… thank you, the milk was delicious.”
Elsa’s other hand held a broken glass, and in a flash, ended it.
Drops of blood appeared on the sharp tip of the glass as it ended up in Rom-ji’s throat. With an arm lost, and his throat torn, the old man spewed large amounts of blood from his mouth and fell to the floor as his grey irises lost their luster. The convulsing body already seemed to have lost all its strength as his life faded away like a fog lifting.
Towards the fallen giant, Elsa bowed gracefully as if paying tribute.
She gently placed her last murder weapon, the glass, next to the still faintly twitching feet of Rom-ji.
“I’ll return this, as I have no need for it anymore,” Elsa remarked in cold-bloodedness while turning the kukri in her hand. The blood stained blade was once again turned towards Subaru, but he was still paralyzed, unable to speak.
He had simply drawn a blank at the brutal murder that took place in front of his eyes.
Someone he had been exchanging words with until just a few minutes ago was now dead. Not by an accident or a disease, but rather by a clear malicious intent from another person.
“—Ara, it seems you’re the one with the courage.”
Subaru, immobile, raised his head after hearing Elsa’s impressed voice.
In front of the Subaru in a stupor stood Felt’s figure patting her trembling knees to motivate herself. She then smoothed her blond hair that was stuck together with blood.
“How dare ya. Ya really done it now…”
Though Subaru could not see Felt’s expression from behind, her voice was definitely not tearful.
“You may get hurt if you resist unnecessarily.”
“Even if we dun fight back yer gonna kill us, ya crazy *****…!”
“If you move around, my hands might slip. I’m quite rough at handling cutleries, you see.”
Elsa, who spun the knife skillfully in her hand, imitated the cutting of ingredients.
(TL Note: The ingredients referred here was actually a specific dish called “Kuai” which consists of finely cut strips of raw fish or meat. More on it here)
With both of her hands empty, Felt didn’t seem like she had any chance of winning.
Subaru’s brain concluded that he should say something. Even if it’s a little bit, he needed to draw Elsa’s attention to earn some time for Felt to escape. He had to make time for Felt to call for help, or at least let Felt get away.
Even though he was cognizant of his conclusion, Subaru’s body could only tremble and rattle.
“…Sorry for dragging you in this.”
Felt casted a softly spoken apology at Subaru, who could not move.
Hearing those words, Subaru’s head snapped upwards. He even forgot the words he had to shout and could only let out a begging for forgiveness-like choke.
Thus, leaving behind Subaru’s sentiment forever, Felt bolted forth.
A loud sound was produced as she took off, and a gust of wind swept through the storehouse immediately after. The moment the speeding figure of Felt seemed to have disappeared from Subaru’s sight, Elsa twisted her body.
A high-pitched sound resonated as Felt appeared beside Elsa while clicking her tongue. Without Subaru noticing when, Felt’s hand now held a knife. Elsa had narrowly dodged the surprise attack with her extraordinary reaction.
Retreating, Felt’s body acted as if she was riding the wind. Inside this storehouse’s limited space, for the walls to be traversable to her is abnormal. Even Elsa marveled at her acrobatic skills.
“Blessing of the Wind. Ah, how nice. You must be loved by the world. — I’m envious.”
The smile that was fraught with ecstasy suddenly changed. With dark hatred harbored in her eyes, Elsa bent her arm and growled.
—Her shoulder cut in mid-air, Felt had no chance to protect herself as she somersaulted onto the floor and went rolling.
The wound extended from her left shoulder to her right flank and ran deep past her bones into her organs.
Falling onto her back, blood began spurting like a fountain in accordance with her heartbeat. Felt had probably already lost consciousness from the shock of the slash’s pain. She did not move even an inch.
Just like that, after a few seconds the blood lost its force; the end of her life was clearly indicated by the silence.
His body would not move.
I want to go beside where Felt fell and hold her wound.
If it’s too late, I want to at least close her open eyelids.
Still, Subaru’s limbs refused as they displayed their unsightly trembles without accomplishing anything.
“The old man and little girl have fallen, yet you do not move. Have you given up?”
Elsa spoke in a sympathetic tone as she looked at Subaru with disinterest.
She only had to close in with the knife and everything would end in a flash. Probably because she could already see the outcome, Elsa’s behavior did not have a shred of tension. Rather, her attitude was that of trying to suppress a yawn.
Her demeanor caused Subaru to feel an irrepressible anger.
He had only met those two recently and interacted for about an hour. But they had conversed. They had shared their sentiments. To take those two away from Subaru effortlessly through murder, and to feel no guilt, that attitude was in no way excusable.
And above all, to watch those two die at the hands of this vile person without helping, he could not forgive himself.
“Ah, you finally stood up. You were slow, so it’s boring, but not bad.”
His slow to come feelings of anger had become the driving force for Subaru’s limbs to move.
His limbs trembling on the ground, he somehow managed to stand up in a beast-like posture. He wondered whether the reason for his trembling body was out of fear or anger. Or was it both? —No matter.
Towards the kukri readied Elsa, Subaru bared his teeth and attacked with all his might.
Pounce and use the strength that surpasses my own limits to defeat her. With that momentum he bellowed.
“Sadly you’re no good.”
His attack was stopped dead in its tracks as Elsa crushed his nose with her elbow.
With minimal movement, she rotated her body – slamming her elbow into Subaru while arcing her slim leg to directly hit while he was thrown off balance. Subaru was easily blown away as he crashed into the shelves of pottery, tipping them over.
In just one exchange, his nose and front teeth were broken. His flank, which received a direct hit from her kick, was also in rather extraordinary pain. It was a feeling that pierced all the way to his bones.
Still, he struck his fist against the ground and stood up immediately. The endorphins from his brain had already flowed through his body, making him unable to perceive the unprecedented pain.
In his excited state filled with rough breaths, Subaru performed a suicidal attack without a second thought – but he was repelled.
His flailing arms failed reach Elsa; arching her arm, she used the back edge of her knife to break Subaru’s shoulder.
As if annoyed by his pained screams, Elsa forcibly interrupted a cry by kicking right below his chin. His broken teeth spilled out, and Elsa looked at the now collapsed Subaru.
“You are entirely no good. I can see you’re an amateur from your rough moments. You have no blessings, nor skill. I thought you could at least squeeze out your wisdom, but you lacked that too. Why would you challenge me?”
“Shuss uff… ish ma desermination… how mush oo you sink I’ve been through?!”
Because his nose was broken, he could not even return a decent insult.
His arm had been done in by the counter just now, and his left shoulder had been swaying without strength from earlier. Though he could not feel pain, his ears rang severely. An intense nausea threatened to escape with his fury from the corner of his mouth.
Subaru was covered in wounds. His chances at winning were zero. Even the odds of getting a hit in were one in a million.
“I will acknowledge your remarkable resolve. If you had done that earlier, things might have gone a bit different for these two.”
Lowering the knife she held, Elsa showed him the corpses of the two that were cut down.
Following Elsa’s movements, Subaru eyed the corpse and was suddenly struck by a strange feeling.
I wonder why. I feel like I remember this scene.
The Stolen Goods Storehouse which had become a sea of blood. The corpse of a giant figure who had lost an arm. The dull sheen of a coppery blade.
Like lightning, a thought shot through Subaru’s mind. It was—
“Let us end this. I shall let you meet the angels.”
Elsa licked her crimson lips with her tongue and melted into the darkness with an alluring smile.
With her unbelievable footwork, she looked like she had sank into the shadows. Losing sight of the danger, Subaru looked left and right vigilantly.
“W-weh ah you……!?”
He restlessly scanned his surroundings, keeping a nervous eye out for any sound or movement.
He looked exactly like that of a prey waiting to be hunted by a beast in this situation.
In Elsa’s perspective, this shameful sight is enough to make her lose interest. Therefore, in a quick, linear slash…
Subaru had concluded she would aim at his abdomen and narrowly managed to avoid it in the nick of time.
Leaping a short distance back, he pulled his body back and retracted his stomach, letting the side sweeping blade only graze him. He grit his teeth as he endured the sharp pain of his stomach’s skin being lightly torn.
And then he performed a roundhouse kick, hitting Elsa’s upper body from the side.
The satisfaction of landing a blow with the twisting of his waist convinced Subaru that he had returned a blow. However,
“Ah~, I certainly felt that just now.”
Elsa had pulled out a second kukri from her waist and sliced seventy percent of his torso, causing his blood and organs to splatter about.
One step. Two steps. While tottering and staggering, he hit a wall and collapsed, sliding down on his shoulder. Looking down below, blood continuously streamed forth from his abdomen as the floor was gradually dyed by the fresh blood.
With a quivering hand, he attempted to return his outflowing blood back to his abdomen but was intercepted by the blood clots surging out.
“Surprised? I opened up your stomach when we passed each other. This is my specialty after all,” explained Elsa with a smile as she walked through the sea of blood, creating the sound of dripping water.
Without a word, she came beside Subaru, who could only spit out screams of pain, and dreamily stared on in love at the contents of the stomach that spilled onto the dark red blood.
“Ah~, it was as I thought… Your guts have such a lovely color.”
This woman is abnormal. She’s crazy.
Even the endorphins from his brain could not mask the excruciating pain, his consciousness blurred as Subaru’s body made its way onto the floor without him realizing. Remaining in that position, his trembling fingers feebly touched Elsa’s foot.
“Does it hurt? Is it agonizing? Painful? Sad? Do you want to die?”
Her ankle remained held, Elsa crouched down and matched Subaru’s gaze. Her eyes were desolate and did not hold the slightest emotions for claiming a human’s life. No, she certainly had a deep emotion.
—She was extremely blissful.
“Slowly, slowly, slowly, slowly, you will slowly lose your body heat and grow colder.”
Teasingly, savouringly, mourningly, pamperingly, and cherishingly, Elsa’s soothing voice caressed Subaru’s ears.
When he realized it, his vision had already been lost. He was bleeding profusely, his body dying little by little.
I can’t hear any sound. I can’t sense taste or smell. Nor can my eyes see. However, my body growing colder, and myself dying, I can at least feel that much. Fear had nestled itself onto Subaru.
He did not know when his candle of life would blow out in this world, and could not depart from the dread of death’s attack.
When will I die? When’ll I die? Am I still alive? Am I still not dead?
What is considered alive? Can this state that is worse than an insect be considered alive? What’s life and death? Why is dying scary? Is there a need to live? Is there not?
I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared I’mscared.
His instincts rejected the oncoming, absolute death.
Struggling until the end, Subaru’s vision was finally dyed white.
—Ah. I died.
At his last moments among such strong feelings, Natsuki Subaru’s life blew out.
…This has become a bad situation.
Lost and penniless, his heart felt heavy under the weight of those words.
Technically, he wasn’t broke. The wallet in his pocket held all of his fortune, which, in theory, should be able to buy some things. Even so, the situation he was in would only consider him as “penniless.”
“Their currency really is different, huh…”
The boy let out a deep sigh as he played with a ten yen coin – a “10 Giza,” in his palm.
(TL Note: It’s a Japanese serrated coin that is really rare)
He was an ordinary young man without any distinctive features – short black hair, and average in height. His slightly toned body made one wonder if he had worked out. He wore a cheap, yet fitting, grey jersey set. His only noteworthy characteristic was his hawk-like eyes, but even that had lost its intensity, as his gaze lacked ambition.
(TL Note: His eyes were actually described as 三白, or sanpaku, which is when a person has smaller than usual irises, causing the white part of your eyes to be visible above or below them)
With such an ordinary appearance, one would easily expect to lose interest in him among the crowd. Yet that was not the case, as the people around him stared as if he was a strange object.
This was to be expected, because no one else had black hair, not to mention the jersey. Their hair colors ranged among blond to red, brown to green, and blue. The clothes they wore were even more outrageous, with heavy armor, dancer-like outfits, and black robes in the mix. Exposed to the unfamiliar sight, the boy came to a realization.
“That means, this has to be it,” snapping his finger, he pointed at the onlooking crowd and said, “the so called other-world summoning.”
Just as he finished his thoughts, a cart being pulled by a large lizard passed by.
Natsuki Subaru was a Japanese boy born on Earth, and his family could only be considered normal.
If one were to describe his seventeen years since birth in a simplified manner, the previous sentence would suffice. If there was something to elaborate on, then it would be his decision to refuse to attend high school as a third-year student.
“Go to college or get a job.” When faced with this crossroad in life, people are forced to make a decision. Everyone accepts this as a part of life; he was a little better than others at running away from what he detests. This resulted in him excusing himself from school more and more. Eventually, he became a splendid truant that made his parents cry.
“To top it off, I was summoned to another world when I should have become a dropout… I really can’t understand what is going on.”
It felt like a horrible dream. No matter how hard he pulled his cheeks or banged his head against the wall, he wouldn’t wake up. Subaru could only groan as he left the main street that was now filled with curious gazes. He walked into a back alley, and sat down on the slated surface.
“Assuming I’m in a fantasy world, this civilization should be similar to the medieval era. The stone pavements here are pretty even, but I can’t see any machine-like equipment, which means there must be a certain technique…Naturally, my money is also useless.”
Subaru figured the only way forward was to confirm whether he could communicate with the locals and learn the value of goods. Fortunately, he was able to converse without an issue, and the currency used was simply gold, silver, and copper coins. Subaru learned this from his first contact with the locals, a fruit stall’s owner, but at the price of displeasing the owner.
Looking at the situation, Subaru felt blessed. His ability to grasp the situation was thanks to the current generation’s addiction to anime and games, and being summoned into another world was like a teenager’s dream come true. But…
“For a clueless guy like me, if I don’t get any entitlements to start off with, it’s difficult for me to survive!” Subaru complained.
A cellphone (with almost no battery left), a wallet (filled with DVD rental membership cards), a cup of instant noodle (tonkotsu and soy sauce flavor) and a bag of snack (corn potage flavor) from the convenience store, the grey jersey he enjoys wearing (still unwashed), and his old sneakers (two years old). His starting equipment was too meager and shabby.
“At least give me an Excalibur. It’s all over, what am I supposed to do?”
After all, he was summoned to this other world on his way back from the convenience store, so he couldn’t help it. Especially when it happened in a blink of an eye. The only item useful in this world was his snack, which was half-eaten when he had gotten hungry before. Realizing the importance of food, he immediately regretted his decision.
All of this has to be a joke, Subaru thought, but the lizard-drawn carriages and pedestrians’ gaze betrayed his hopes.
“Nobody seems to be reacting to the human-like creatures walking around.”
Watching the bustling crowd filled with colorful hair and oddly clothed people, Subaru finally accepted the reality of his trans-world summoning with the existence of demi-humans. Looking around, he saw many dog and cat ears; even some lizard man looking mutants. Come to think of it, they weren’t that different from human beings.
“Seeing how many demi-humans there are, wars and adventures must happen very often. Aside from the fact that I don’t recognize any of the animals, using a lizard to pull a cart is quite innovative.”
After organizing his thoughts, Subaru was able to breathe a sigh of relief. If the plot development is like the fantasy stories he read, then he should be successful with his modern knowledge in this other world. But he still couldn’t understand.
“Why am I in such a desperate situation without knowing why I was summoned? I don’t recall walking through a mirror, or falling into a pond. Come to think of it, where’s the beautiful girl that summoned me?”
The main heroine, who determines the worth of a fantasy world, is missing. If this was a game, this would be unacceptable. You can’t just summon the main character and leave him without a goal, that’s like making him a disposable character. Subaru, after ascertaining the situation, had nothing else to do besides escape reality.
“If I really had to say…this is no different from my life before, where I would stay my room.”
His parents’ figure crossed his mind, but he could not afford to be homesick. Right now, Subaru had to find a way out of this situation. Just as he was heading towards the main street…
“Oof, sorry,” Subaru bumped into another person and hurriedly apologized as he stepped out of the way.
“—ugh, that hurts!”
His shoulders were grabbed suddenly, and he was dragged back into the alley.
Turning around, he saw the burly man who had easily thrown him back. Behind that man stood his two companions, as the three blocked the alleyway exit. Subaru had a bad feeling about this, as he was all too familiar with their actions.
“Excuse me…could you explain to me what you are doing?”
“It seems like you don’t understand your position right now. Whatever, just hand over everything of value and you won’t get hurt.”
“Ah… it really did come down to this. Ha ha, this is not good.”
These men looked to be in their twenties; their inner vileness showing from the gaze of contempt they gave to Subaru. They may not be demi-humans, but they certainly aren’t kind. Meeting these cliché punks could only mean one thing…
“****, I triggered a mandatory event.”
Facing the group of men smirking at him, Subaru put on a fake smile as he began thinking.
He was in a pinch, but stories since ancient times involving people summoned to another world always have them obtain a superpower. Since Subaru was summoned under the same conditions seen in many other trans-world stories, he surmised it is likely that he had also been given special abilities. Thinking about it, he felt his body become lighter.
“It feels like the gravity here is one-tenth of that in my world. I can do it, I can do this! I’ll beat them down and pave the way for my future with their experience points.”
“What is this guy muttering about?”
“I don’t understand what he’s talking about, but I know he’s making a fool out of us. Kill ’em.”
“That’s my line! I’ll make you regret this!” shouted Subaru, as he threw his all into a right straight at the large man in the front. The fist landed perfectly on his opponent’s nose, but was grazed after hitting the front teeth.
This is my first time hitting someone! It hurts more than I had imagined. Despite having simulated these situations before, this was Subaru’s first time actually fighting.
Taking advantage of the situation, he leaped at the next man who was still shocked. Arcing his foot forward, Subaru slammed the second man’s head into the wall, knocking him out. With an unexpectedly great start, Subaru gained confidence in the idea that he was “unparalleled in this other world.”
“As I thought, this world’s setting is that I am the strongest! I can feel the adrenalin pumping.”
Whirling around, Subaru crouched and prepared himself to take down the last person…
Until a gleam of light caught his attention, in his opponent’s hand was a knife.
From there, Subaru slid across the pavement with his knees and cleanly folded his body, pressing his forehead against the ground.
“I’m sorry! It’s all my fault, please forgive me! Please just spare my life!”
Prostration. It’s the most extreme action one can take to show submission, to the point of degrading oneself.
The flow of the situation from before was all gone now. Subaru could feel the blood draining from his face as he desperately apologized multiple times. After all, it’s impossible to go up against a blade. Once you’re stabbed, everything is over. In addition, the two people that should have been taken care of rose up. One held his face as his nose was bleeding, the other was shaking his head, but otherwise they looked healthy.
“What!? My one-hit sure kill move is only effective to this extent!? What about the ‘promised power from being summoned’!?”
“You keep talking about things I can’t understand. Now you’ve done it!”
Subaru was mistaken about being promised special powers for being summoned to another world. In particular, he did not become any stronger.
Still prostrated on the pavement, his face was trampled on, causing blood to flow from the impacts of his forehead hitting the ground. One after another, Subaru received countless kicks to the face as he desperately tried to curl his body in defense. He was the one who started the fight, so Subaru was given no mercy by the men.
—Crap, this really hurts. I might even die from this. Seriously.
Because this was not the world Subaru came from, there was no guarantee the thugs wouldn’t take his life. Better to make a final attempt to counterattack before getting beaten to death—
“I told you not to move you idiot!”
“OW! ARGH, it hurts, it hurts, it seriously hurts!”
Subaru tried to get up, but was stopped when his hands were stepped on by the man holding the knife.
“We’ll beat you until you can’t move, then strip you clean of your belongings. That’ll teach you to look down on us…”
“I-If money is what you’re looking for, then this is pointless. After all, I’m penniless…!”
“Then your unusual clothes and shoes will have do. Go become food for the alley rats.”
Oh, this world has rats too. Please don’t let them be as big as monsters.
Looking at the knife about to plunge into him, Subaru tried to escape reality by pretending he was not involved in this.
He didn’t see any revolving doors, or observe the slowing down of time. He could only feel the end approaching like a string about to snap. —It was at this moment.
“Move it, move it! You over there, you’re blocking the way!” shouted a desperate voice, as a person charged into the alley.
The thugs raised their heads in surprise, while Subaru, incapacitated, could only lift his gaze.
A young girl with blonde hair to her shoulders ran before his eyes. Her red irises exerted a strong will, and she had a cute fang protruding from her mouth.
(TL Note: The term for the cute fang is ‘yaeba’)
Though his first impression of her was that of a cheeky girl, he felt that if she were to smile, many would be charmed by her.
The timing of this situation relighted Subaru’s hopes.
I was waiting for this kind of development!
A girl dressed in worn clothes had unexpectedly came across a robbery scene. By convention, this girl has a chivalrous heart, and she will save Subaru, whose life is about to be expunged…
“It looks like I stumbled across something serious, sorry! I’m busy right now! Stay strong!”
“Wha—, hey! Are you serious!?”
His hopes were shattered as quickly as it came.
The girl raised her hand apologetically towards Subaru, and ran through the alleyway. Without any signs of stopping, she rushed past the men towards a dead end. Or so it should have been, as she used a plank leaning on the wall as a platform and kicked herself up. She nimbly grabbed hold of the ledge, and instantly disappeared on top of the building.
With her gone, the surrounding fell into silence. The young girl stunned everybody, as she blew across them like a typhoon. But Subaru’s situation still has not changed.
“By any chance, what just happened didn’t lessen your hostility, did it?”
“More like it worsened our mood. Don’t think you can get off that easily.”
Subaru was still unable to move his body due to being trampled by these men. The man’s knife shone as Subaru’s eminent death neared reality.
—No, no way, this is a lie. This can’t be happening.
He let out a tense smile as he desperately prayed for someone to stop this situation. However, such a convenient event did not happen, and tip of the blade drew closer and closer.
Subaru resigned himself to death, as he felt tears well up in his eyes. It was not because he was afraid, but rather because it was such an empty end which felt unbearable.
Just when he had thrown everything away, and had given up hope—
“—That’s as far as you will go, you ruffians.”
That voice overpowered the bustling crowd, the vulgar shouts from men, and Subaru’s own breathing; it was as if the world shook under those words.
Time felt like it had stopped.
Standing in the alleyway entrance was a young girl. Not to mention, a beautiful girl.
She had braided silver hair that reached her waist, and bluish purple irises that seemed to exert an air of intellect as she gazed at the scene. Her delicate features had a mix of brightness and childish charm, creating a dangerous noble-like loveliness.
She was a head shorter than Subaru, her height averaging around 160 cm. Although her clothes used white as the base color, she did not wear any ornaments or decorations. Rather, its simplicity accentuated her presence. The only thing that was striking was her white robe, which had been embroidered with a ‘hawk-like bird’ to give a solemn feel. Even so, those clothes were simply accessories for exemplifying her dazzling existence.
“I cannot overlook this violence any longer. — This ends here.”
Her silvery voice resounded pleasantly in Subaru’s ears, making him forget about his current situation. He was overwhelmed by the silver-haired girl’s presence, and that feeling spread to the other men as well.
“Uh…who are you, exactly?”
“I’ll forgive you right now, since it was my carelessness’s fault. So, graciously return the things you stole.”
“Hey, her clothes look really expensive. Is she a noble…? Huh? Stole?”
“Please, that’s very important to me. I can give you anything else, just not that. Please. Be good and hand it over.”
The girl was making this seem like a trade. There was a sense of confusion growing, as something difficult to express in words was happening before us.
“Wa-wait! I don’t think we are on the same page here.”
“…What do you mean?”
The men pointed at Subaru, who was under their feet.
“Y-you didn’t come here… to save this guy, right?”
“That person is wearing some odd clothes. Are you guys in the middle of a falling-out? 3 versus 1 isn’t something worth praising…but if you are asking my relationship with him, I can only say he is unrelated to me.”
Did the conversation get dragged too far off-topic? The girl’s voice had faint hints of her irritation. The men, realizing her impatience from her attitude, hurriedly tried to explain themselves.
“Wait a moment! If your goal isn’t this guy then we have nothing to do with it. It’s probably that brat from before!”
“You were talking about something stolen, right? The wall! That kid wall kicked up the roof and ran away!”
“Over there, on the other side! Based on that speed, she should be three streets away by now.”
Under the stream of words from the men, the girl turned her sight towards Subaru. Her gaze was that of confirming the truth in their words, which Subaru couldn’t help but nod in agreement.
“Hm…It doesn’t look like they’re lying. Then it seems the thief is on the other side of the alley. I have to hurry.”
Turning her back on Subaru, the young girl began walking out of the alley. The men were obviously relieved.
Just as Subaru was stunned by the reality of being abandoned…
“Regardless of that matter, this is a situation I cannot overlook.”
The girl looked back and stretched her palm towards them — a bright glowing light was seen before it was shot out of her hand. A sound similar to that of a hard ball hitting flesh was heard as the men cried out after being blown away. Afterwards, a high-pitched sound could be heard as fist-sized pieces of ice fell beside Subaru. The blocks of ice seemed to defy the seasons and the laws of physics as they dissipated quickly, as if the atmosphere swallowed it whole.
His mouth immediately leaked out the most appropriate word to describe the phenomenon. There was no chant, but that was definitely launched from her palm. Like that, he was able to witness magic first hand.
“It’s a lot less fantasy like than I expected…Somehow it’s more of a disappointingly realistic feel.”
He expected the ball of light to scatter, or create a burst of energy; in reality, rugged pieces of ice would appear, deal damage, and then disappear. Where’s the excitement in that?
“You… had to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.”
Subaru placed his impressions on magic aside as the men hit by ice blocks rose back up. Only two people were able to shakily stand on their feet, as one had fainted from the severity of the hit. But it seemed to only anger them more, seeing their companion get taken out. The man holding the knife handed the other person a club-like blunt weapon and readied themselves for battle.
“Since it has come to this, I don’t care if you’re a magic user or a noble, don’t think you’ll settle this easily. Surround and kill her! Did you think you can win 2 versus 1, HUH!?” shouted the knife wielder as he held his bleeding nose.
In response, the girl closed one eye, “You’re right. 2 versus 1 might be difficult.”
“—Then, how about we make it 2 versus 2 to even the field?”
Continuing after the girl, a gender neutral, high-pitched voice pierced through the alley’s air.
Surprised, Subaru looked around. The men also looked around hastily, but they couldn’t find a figure from both ends of the alleyway that could have originated that voice.
As if to show the confused people something, the girl stretched out her left hand. With her palm facing up, “it” stood on top of her white fingertips.
“Watching you guys look for me with such expectations, how should I say…I’m embarrassed,” it said as it covered its face with its paws. Standing there was a palm sized cat. It had grey fur and droopy ears. From Subaru’s knowledge, it resembled the American Shorthair breed of cats aside from having a pink nose and a tail the length of its body.
At the sight of the palm-sized cat, the man holding the knife shouted in horror, “Y-you’re a spirit user!”
“Correct. If you withdraw now, I won’t chase you. Hurry up and decide, we’re in a hurry.”
Hearing the girl’s words, the men scrambled to pick up their fallen companion and rushed out the alleyway. On their way out, a loud tsk could be heard near the girl.
“I’ve memorized your face, you *******. You won’t get away that easily next time.”
“If you do anything to this girl I’ll haunt you and your future kin. Although you probably won’t make it to that point if I did that.”
Up against the final threat the thugs could muster up to say, the kitty retorted sharply with ease.
Though the kitty said it in a casual manner, their faces turned pale white. This time, they fled into the crowd in silence.
The thugs soon disappeared, leaving Subaru, the girl, and her companion in the alley.
Anyway, I have to give her a word of thanks, Subaru thought. Forgetting the pain in his body, he tried to get up—
“Don’t move,” stated the silver haired girl in a cold manner.
Her eyes were that of vigilance. Even though she knew Subaru was not with those men, it was not enough for her to let her guard down. Such was her conclusion.
Although he was being looked in this way, Subaru had an unnatural reaction to it. Under the gaze of those bluish purple pair of irises, he could not help but be attracted to its charm. Unaccustomed to beautiful girls, Subaru couldn’t help but blush and involuntarily avert his sight under her scrutiny.
Noting Subaru’s actions, the silver haired laughed boldly.
“Look, he has a guilty conscious so he looked away. My judgement wasn’t wrong.”
“I’m not so sure. That seemed like a male’s reaction, as I couldn’t sense any ill will from it.”
“Be quiet, Puck… You, you know about the girl who stole the insignia from me, don’t you?” she interrogated, after silencing the cat.
Even her face when brimming with confidence is cute. But…
‘Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t know a single clue about this.”
“Eh? Wait, really!?”
With the girl’s confidence stripped from her face, he was able to catch a glimpse of her natural expression. Her imposing attitude from before was nowhere to be seen, as she looked at the cat in her palm in panic.
“W-w-what should I do? Don’t tell me that I took a detour…”
“Looking at the situation, I think it’s best if we hurry. Escaping at such an amazing speed, the culprit must have some strange blessing.”
“Hmph. You’re making it sound like it’s not your problem, Puck.”
“Even though you’re the one saying I’m useless. Anyway, what should we do about that kid?”
Looks like they finally remembered. As the conversation subject shifted back to Subaru, he leaked a bitter smile. It was as if the girl went “Oh,” and realized Subaru’s presence and situation.
For her, Subaru put up a bravado and stood up.
“It’s more than enough for saving me. You’re in a hurry, right? It’s best to go as soon as possible,” … How about I give you a hand, young lady? Was what he wanted to say while brushing his hair aside and giving her a dazzling smile, but—
His head suddenly felt very heavy. He stuck his hand out towards the wall to stabilize himself, but missed. Just like that, he fell face first onto the ground.
“Hey, don’t force yourself to get up… Looks like I was too late.”
The little cat’s warning was one step too late. Without being able to brace for the fall, Subaru experienced a sharp pain that knocked him unconscious.
“Well, what should we do?”
“It’s none of our business. He won’t die, just leave him.”
As his conscious faded, he could faintly hear some of their conversation.
As expected of an otherworldly fantasy world, its view of sympathy is a lot harsher. Am I going to be left in the back alley like this? He thought negatively.
On the plus side, moments ago he was about to die, but now he was able to continue living on. After coming to these two conclusions, Subaru’s consciousness slowly faded.
In between his moments of consciousness, he saw the silver haired girl look back with a flushed face.
“… Absolutely not. I won’t do something like save him!”
… Her angry face also looks super cute, as expected of a fantasy world.
After forming his last impression, Subaru’s conscious fell into the darkness.
Awaking from his slumber, Subaru felt refreshed. It was comparable to the feeling of emerging from a body of water. He opened his eyes only to be burned by the sun. Under its glare, he rubbed his eyes with a frown.
There are people who can regain their consciousness immediately after they wake up, and Subaru was one of those with such a constitution.
“Ah, you’re awake?”
The voice came from above, to be more specific, it came overhead from where Subaru slept. He tried turning his head towards the voice, and realized he was lying down on the ground, with something soft under him as a pillow.
“Don’t move yet. Your head was hit, so you shouldn’t be careless.”
The voice showing concern was gentle.
As Subaru recalled the events before he passed out, it struck him that he was experiencing an extremely fortunate development for boys.
Lap pillow — following heaven’s will, Subaru turned over as a pretense to indulge in it.
“Fuu. I didn’t know cute girls were so hairy…Wai-, that can’t be true!”
While playing the straight man (TL Note: tsukkomi), he looked upwards as his vision cleared and returned the world to normal. In front of Subaru’s eyes, with his upside down field of view, was a tremendous cat face.
“It was an arrangement we made so that you would feel happy, at least until you woke up.”
“First of all, stop talking in that falsetto. There’s no way I can mistake the cat for the heroine.”
Getting a lap pillow from a human-sized cat is an unprecedented situation. However, since it was a rare opportunity, Subaru decided to enjoy the fluffy fur with his cheeks.
“This is too blissful. What is this sense of joy? I can understand why people would want to love a cat till it goes bald.”
“Well~, if you’re so pleased by it, then enlarging myself was worth it. Right?”
While scratching its head in embarrassment, the large cat winked at someone for approval. Along its line of sight, down the entrance of the alleyway, stood the silver haired girl with her arms crossed and a composed expression. There was no doubt it was her, because Subaru engraved it deeply in his memories before he lost consciousness.
Witnessing Subaru waking up and her companion’s wink, the girl let out a soft breath and walked towards them.
“Um, sorry about that. In the end, you had to stay until I woke up…”
“Don’t get the wrong idea, we couldn’t help it because we had something to ask you. Otherwise, we would’ve already left you behind. Got it? Then don’t misunderstand.” The girl emphasized with a strong tone.
Since Subaru had no resistance towards beautiful girls, he could not handle her forcefulness. As a result, he could only nod while neglecting the words spoken.
“I healed the wounds on your body and let Puck give you a lap pillow until you woke up for my own sake. Therefore, you’ll be repaying me in kind.”
“You’re acting like it’s a big deal…but isn’t it just a simple request?”
One good turn deserves another, it is reasonable to think that way.
In response to Subaru’s reply, the girl looked at him sternly and shook her head.
“No such thing. This is a one-sided order… You have an idea of where my stolen insignia is, right?” The girl asked while softening her tone.
Because the question sounded familiar, Subaru couldn’t help but tilt his head in perplexity. Before he fainted, they should have had the same conversation. Speaking of insignia, isn’t it a badge for lawyers and prosecutors to show their identity? Subaru had no impression of one.
“While I was unconscious, did someone hit my head?”
“It was only ten minutes, nothing like that happened. Leaving that aside, what is your answer?”
“Well, if that’s the case I really don’t have a single clue.”
If he didn’t know it, he would answer he didn’t know. Subaru’s answer did not change from before. However, hearing Subaru’s answer, the girl didn’t seem to act disappointed.
“I see. It can’t be helped then. But you’ve told me the information that you know nothing, so that makes us even for healing your wounds.”
Her reasoning was such that even a swindler would have been surprised. Unable to follow the conversation, Subaru was left dumbfounded.
In an act to dismiss what happened, the girl clapped her hands together.
“Well, I’m in a rush, so I will be leaving now. Your wounds have been healed, and those people shouldn’t come looking for you anymore after that harsh threat. It’s dangerous to go into a deserted alleyway by yourself. Ah, this isn’t because I’m worried, it’s advice. Next time you come across a similar situation, I won’t help you because there’s no merit in it. So don’t count on it.”
The girl rattled on like a machine gun, then took Subaru’s silence as an affirmation. She nodded in satisfaction as she said “good!” then turned around. Her long silver hair swayed with her movements, under the dim alleyway it gave off an ethereal glitter.
While being fascinated, Subaru had the fur under his head disappear, forcing him to sit up in a hurry.
“Sorry about that. My girl just can’t be honest with herself. Don’t think weirdly of her.”
The cat said with a smile, before returning to its original size to ride the girl’s shoulder. The girl stroked its back, and it disappeared into her silver hair.
Without glancing back, the girl quickly began walking.
Looking at her back, Subaru thought back to what the cat said. How she was not forthright, and the intent behind her words and actions. Even though she was in a hurry because her things were stolen, she saved Subaru. And after treating his wounds, she clumsily said those words so he would not feel indebted to her. That’s not simply at the level of not being honest, it’s self-sacrificial to the extent that Subaru couldn’t bear to look. The girl could have blamed Subaru for getting in the way of her goal. Nevertheless, she didn’t complain once, nor ask of him an apology or thanks. Because for her, saving Subaru was of her own accords.
“That way of living only leads to unreasonable losses, is she a fool.”
Subaru got up as he said that, patted the dirt off his jersey, and took off. Although the dirt on his favorite jersey was apparent after taking such a beating, his body underneath hardly felt any pain, making him realize once again how absurd magic was. And to the girl who offered him kindness without demanding compensation…
“—Hey, wait for me!” He called out.
Standing at the entrance of the alley, facing the main street, she was at a loss for where to go when the voice came from behind. She placed a hand on her silver hair as she looked back with a slightly troubled expression.
“What is it? I’ll say this first, but I can only afford to spend a little more time with you.”
“You’re still being nice about it though!? Putting this aside, it’s an important item, right? Let me help.”
Hearing Subaru’s offer, the girl blinked in surprise.
“But…you said you didn’t know anything about it…”
“True, I don’t know the name of the thief who stole your things, or where her location is, but I remember what she looks like! She has a fang poking out of her mouth and conspicuous gold hair, like a kitten! Her height is below yours, her chest is flat, and she looks around 2 to 3 years younger than you. How was that?”
Subaru’s fast-talk was a bad habit of his which led even himself unable to understand what was spoken. This time it was in full force, causing himself to be embarrassed about his speech.
The silence was painful. He broke out in a cold sweat — his armpit and palms became clammy. His palpitations and shortness of breath caused him to feel anemic, and his stuffy nose resulted in a hay-fever-like migraine, making him feel embattled. Then—
“—You’re a strange person.”
Placing her hand over her mouth, she tilted her head and gave him a stare like he was an exotic animal. With her fingers pressed on her lips, she stared at Subaru in evaluation.
“I’ll say this again, I have nothing to thank you with. Despite my appearance, I am penniless.”
“Don’t worry, I’m practically penniless myself.”
“Incidentally, I am also broke. We sure are a pitiful bunch.”
Ignoring the voice from the silver hair that interrupted the conversation, Subaru thumped his chest.
“Besides, I don’t want a reward. I want to return the favor, so let me help.”
“I haven’t done anything to deserve your thanks. If it’s about treating your wound, then I already got my compensation.”
An adamant girl until the end.
Faced with such a stubborn girl, Subaru gave a bitter laugh. “Then,” he began, “I am also helping you for my own sake. My purpose is, hm… Yeah, one good deed a day!”
“One good deed a day?”
“Yep, I will perform an act of good will every day, so I will go to heaven when I die. Over there, my life dream of only eating and sleeping awaits me. Therefore I will help you for my self-interest.”
Although he could not understand what he said himself, at least he said what he wanted to talk about.
Subaru’s determination caused the girl to fall deep in thought. However, the cat riding on her shoulder poked her cheek with its paw.
“I can’t sense any malice, so why not be honest and take his offer? Besides, to search without a clue in a castle town is reckless.”
“But, if he were to be dragged into this situation…”
“Though I find your obstinance cute, losing sight of your purpose because of it is absurd. I don’t want to think of my daughter as an idiot.”
Even with the cat supporting Subaru, the girl didn’t change her stance. However, the cat deadened his expression and spoke in a serious tone.
“Furthermore, the sun is about to set. When it’s night, I won’t be able to lend a hand. If your opponents are ruffians then there’s nothing to worry about…but having a shield is always good.”
“It feels like I’ve been thrown into a dangerous role! Wait, what? From what you just said, is there a condition that prevents you from coming out at night?”
Taking a step closer, Subaru posed the question to the cat. It gently flicked its whisker with a front paw and replied.
“I cannot come out because I’m a spirit, despite my cute looks. Even just appearing requires a lot of mana. Therefore I stay in the summoning crystal at night, and come out when the sun rises. Well, the ideal time frame would be around 9 o’clock to 5 o’clock.”
(TL Note: The crystal doesn’t actually summon the spirit, it’s actually supposed to be a yorishiro — an object for spirits to occupy)
“Nine to five, you sound just like a civil servant… A spirit’s contract is unexpectedly strict…!”
His ability to talk naturally with spirits was thanks to modern otaku poisoned by anime and games. There are times where a nation known for its perverted nature can be helpful.
The girl besides Subaru and the cat continued to worry as they established a conversation. However, she seemed swayed by the talk just now, as she mumbled “Au—”, “no”, “but” in a troubled voice.
“… I really don’t have anything to thank you with.”
Thus, Subaru’s offer was accepted.
The first friendly exchange in this other world — a heartwarming interaction, took an hour to happen.
“—Hold on, what is this situation?”
The investigation was easily brought to a halt.
Under the girl’s piercing, cold gaze, Subaru scratched his head to avoid embarrassment.
“I did not expect to encounter such a difficult matter, even my eyes could not see through it…”
“You seem to evaluate yourself reeeally highly, even though there are no results to show. Seriously, no matter how you look at it, we’re in a tight fix.”
“You don’t hear ‘in a tight fix’ these days…”
Feeling the girl’s eyes sharpen from having her wording pointed out, Subaru shrunk away.
Despite searching for nearly an hour, they remained in the alleyway for some reason. Of course, there’s a firm reason for this. They discovered some problems which made the situation difficult.
First, they were not familiar with the area.
In this regard, Subaru could be forgiven because he was just summoned to another world. However, it seems the girl was also unfamiliar with the surrounding, resulting in this funny story where both parties presumed the other understood where to go, causing them to waste roughly 10 minutes. Except when Subaru looked at the girl, her eyes did not indicate any hint of laughter.
And second, the words written around the place – he could not read them at all.
Since he was able to converse, he became careless, but looking at the surroundings again, there were definitely handwritten hieroglyphics here. Unless they’re ‘talismans for warding off evil that are popular among locals’, then they are most likely this world’s standard language. For Subaru, he could not even read a sign.
In other words, the promise of ‘for some reason I can understand their language’ only applies to speech. Given how he would have been doomed if he could not even speak with others, it can only be seen as unfortunate or put into a bad spot.
“Having said that, the difficulty meaninglessly skyrocketed… this world sure isn’t kind.”
Far from perfect, his surroundings seemed sloppy and lacking.
“Ha ha…ha…” Subaru laughed in self-deprecation. Retracing his footsteps, he realized nothing good has happened, and became discouraged.
As for the person accompanying him, he noticed she was standing alongside a wall with her eyes closed. Seeing her small lips muttering something, Subaru tilted his head in puzzlement.
“What is she doing…”
“That’s her talking to lesser spirits over there.”
A grey cat suddenly appeared in front of him and spoke, shocking Subaru to raise his brows.
“I thought I didn’t see you. I assumed you went back, but you were here the whole time, huh.”
“That’s because there is still a bit of time until the scheduled time. Unlike those lesser spirits, I do my work properly.”
“You sure view your occupation highly…Those lesser spirits, what are they?”
Judging by its name, it should be one rank below spirits.
As if to confirm Subaru’s thoughts, the floating cat shook its tail and said, “Lesser spirits are existences that have not gained the wisdom to become a spirit. After some time, they gain power and self-awareness, and become a spirit like me.”
Nodding his head while listening to the explanation, he noticed faint, floating lights emerge around the silver haired girl. The ephemeral lights resembling fireflies’ glow began surrounding her.
It was a scene which one would hesitate to say could be experienced by a person. Only those allowed under the existence of supernatural would enter this sanctuary. Under this scenery, Subaru—
“This is amazing. All these floating things are spirits?”
Intruded bluntly. Subaru ruined the illusion by striking up a conversation with the girl.
Letting out a voice in surprise, the girl’s eyes glistened from her drops of tears. Then, the lights surrounding her were affected by the disturbance.
“Oh… they’re panicking, they’re panicking.”
A great number of lights were alarmed as they moved erratically to escape in puzzlement, melting into the atmosphere quickly as they disperse.
The two were open-mouthed as they searched for the lesser spirits that have disappeared. But when the panicking girl went through the same procedure as before, there was no response to her calling.
“Ah—! They’re all gone now! What do we do!?”
“Uwah, sorry! You see, this was my first time seeing a spirit, so I got a bit over excited. I felt like it didn’t seem dangerous.”
“They were under my control, so it was fine. It would have been terrible if you had done that to an inexperienced spirit user. Worst case scenario, the rampant spirits would go… boom.”
The girl reprimanded Subaru for his careless actions, but the only words he heard from her was “boom.”
“You must be exaggerating. Those sparkling things are dangerous? Is that even possible?”
“It is so. For example, even as cute as I am…two seconds is all I need to turn you into dust.”
“Spirits are scary—!!”
The girl’s idyllic extermination statement caused Subaru to shudder as he looked at her.
“Don’t tell me when you’re really angry, you’ll make the cat…”
“I won’t use Puck for such things. I will do it myself if I have to resort to violence… It’s no good. As I thought, they aren’t answering me anymore.”
Failing to re-contact the lesser spirits, the girl shook her head dejectedly.
“I meant to ask after those spirits disappeared, what were you doing?”
“I wanted to ask for clues on the item I was looking for, but they disappeared before I could ask.”
Subaru suddenly became speechless as he learned he was at fault more so than expected, and seeing this, the girl let out an “ah” sound.
“B-but you see, some time has already passed, and lesser spirits are not as keen in awareness compared to normal spirits, so I wasn’t expecting much……saying that would be a lie.”
The girl’s honest personality obstructed her intentions, causing her to hesitate on following through. Her distress made Subaru conscious, once again, of his stupidity. At this rate, he’ll just be a burden for the girl from start to finish.
“Being indebted to the girl, and given the precious chance to a parallel world, my situation should not be this bad. This relationship, I need to somehow cling onto it so it does not escape…!”
“Though your face tells me you thought of something wicked, what did you come up with? Um…”
In front of Subaru, who steeled his selfish resolve, the girl was hesitating. Her slight frown in her brows confused Subaru, but the grey cat understood its meaning.
“Ah, speaking of which, we haven’t heard your name yet. Let’s introduce ourselves, shall we?”
“Oh, yeah, you’re right. Then let me start by giving you my name!”
Subaru put on a false bravado to cover up his blunders, and decided on posing with his finger pointed towards the sky.
“My name is Natsuki Subaru! I am clueless and broke beyond compare! Pleased to meet you!”
“Hearing that is enough to tell you are in a desperate situation. Yep, as for me, I’m Puck. Nice to meet you~”
Subaru extended his hand out in a friendly gesture, which Puck proceeded to fly his body into to give a dynamic handshake. Such that from an outsider’s point of view, it looked like Subaru was crushing Puck. His bold behavior caused the girl to stare at them while blinking repeatedly.
“It’s unusual to see a person interact with a spirit so casually…… Your name is also unusual, as well as your black hair and eyes. Where did you come from?”
“Fuu, I thought you were about to ask that. Well, following the pattern, I come from a small country in the east!”
This is a trope that has been used to death for parallel world stories: to the east of this world, there is a hidden Japanese island.
(TL Note: ジパング or Zipangu, was actually used instead of ‘Japanese island’. It’s a term Marco Polo used which people believed was describing Japan)
Because communications between countries are rare, saying you wandered from there would make them accept it. And the conversation would conveniently end there, just like magic. But…
“Lugunica is the easternmost country on the continental map…There’s no nation east of here.”
“No way, seriously!? This is the east end!? Then this is the admired hidden land!?”
“You don’t know where you are, you have no money, you can’t read, and you have no one to rely on. This person might be in a more precarious position than I am…”
The unexpected development stunned Subaru, causing the girl to become restless with unease.
Her actions exuded her busybody nature. Subaru’s laid-back…no, defenseless nature caused her to worry incessantly.
She stared at Subaru again, studying his figure from top to bottom carefully.
“Looking at you now, your body seems pretty well-built. Um…Subaru, was it?”
“Oh? O-oh yes, that’s my name.”
(TL Note: YES here was spoken in English)
Hearing his named called hesitantly, Subaru had an unusual feeling which caused his response to quaver. He coughed to hide his nervousness before lightly flexing his biceps.
“I work out my muscles every day. After all, I’m a half shut-in, so I have to at least do this much.”
“Um, I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘shut-in’, but you must come from a pretty respectable family, right? Didn’t you learn martial arts before?”
“No, I’m seriously born from an ordinary middle-class family…Where did you get information that said I was from a noble family? Did I give off a noble family’s aura of elegance?”
“You do give off a slight curious feeling.”
Something nice was said! Joked Subaru, as he threw his hands in the air.
The girl then quickly grasped both of Subaru’s raised hands.
Not expecting his fingers to be touched by a girl, Subaru froze while he let out “Au.”
“Your fingers were also the case, but the main reason was because of how your skin and hair looked. Compared to commoners who labor every day, your hands are not the same. Your muscles also don’t seem to have developed from working either.”
Squeeze, squish. His hand was being played with, which Subaru accepted while blushing.
She pointed out he was not an ordinary foreigner based on his sorry appearance, and Subaru admired her for her perceptiveness.
Meanwhile, the girl continued “Black hair and black eyes. Those features are common among Southern refugees, but in Lugunica it would be proof that you could live in luxury. These clothes which I’ve never seen before are also well made… How was it, was I right?”
Seeing Subaru’s silence, the girl smiled triumphantly.
Intrigued by her beautiful appearance which was comparable to a bewitching aura, Subaru examined her theory and frowned.
“Between right or wrong, you’re completely wrong, but how should I say this without hurting you?”
“If it’s wrong then say I was wrong clearly, I won’t feel ashamed!”
The girl who was filled with confidence until a little while ago now had her face dyed red with embarrassment. Looking at her depressed state, Subaru troubled over how to explain where he came from.
He could be honest and say “I am a good-for-nothing who was summoned to another world,” but making this kind of remark would only create a gateway to being acknowledged as “a person with a screw loose.”
Looking at his past comments, Subaru troubled over the risk of telling the truth.
“You don’t have to think so much about it, I won’t pry if you can’t say it.”
For the hesitant Subaru, she took the initiative and convinced herself to loosen the investigation. Once again, Subaru reacted to his shameful display with a frown.
The girl said a “but” before murmuring, “as expected, it must be something quite serious.”
She had an unprecedented feeble voice and clouded eyes.
Seeing her unable to hide her complaint, Subaru had an unreliable fire lit in his heart.
“Am I an idiot? No, I am an idiot. Seriously, what am I doing…”
In front of his eyes was a girl who he was indebted to for saving his life. Didn’t he offer help to return the favor? Then what is with this situation up until this point.
Spotting Subaru’s change in expression as he became quiet, the girl tilted her head questioningly. Noticing her silver hair brushing down her shoulders from the movement in the corner of his eyes, Subaru brainstormed in a hurry till his head was spinning.
He recalled when he was in the back alley getting kicked, he had looked up and saw the thief’s figure. Capturing that moment, any reliable clue in the scene at least…
“There are some things I want to confirm with you, is that okay?”
“Eh, sure, um… go ahead.”
“Thanks. I heard it several times before, but this is the imperial capital…called something right? It’s a super huge place where the King’s castle resides inside the town.” Subaru asked disjointedly using what he remembered the girl said.
(TL Note: Thanks here was spoken in English as “Thank you”)
Though the content of the question was strange, the girl did not inquire and responded “yes” with a nod.
“In such a big city, there’s a girl that pickpockets for a living. Judging by her clothes she isn’t well off… naturally, there should be a place where such people live in.”
“Is there a place with poor public security, something like the slums…? Exchanging stolen goods for money without an intermediary is difficult, therefore this is a likely possibility.”
Analyzing the girl thief, whose figure was imprinted in his memory, from head to toe, Subaru used all his fantasy knowledge to come up with a theory.
“That’s why, I think there’s a better chance there than searching randomly… How about it?”
“I’m a bit surprised. Subaru, your mind thinks pretty quickly.”
“Nah, you could say it’s a logical conclusion, or a trope of medieval fantasies. Though, looking back, it is far from rectifying my blunders…”
Despite that, Subaru accepted the words of the admiring girl, and thought it was not altogether bad.
Putting aside Subaru’s attempt at hiding his embarrassment by scratching his head, the girl nodded multiple times.
“Let’s think along those lines then. We should go ask people who are familiar with this.”
“It’s only a slight detour. Let’s make haste.”
They looked at each other as they came to an agreement. First, they would leave the alley to go to the main street, then head towards places that are crowded. But before that, Subaru realized.
“Come to think of it, I heard your pet cat’s name, but I haven’t gotten to know yours, I think.” Remarked Subaru in a dispirited tone.
The girl was slightly surprised as her eyes widened. She then closed her eyes, and after a few seconds of silence…
Silently cursing himself for his careless remark, Subaru was delayed in his reaction to the quiet murmur.
“I have no family name. It’s fine to call me Satella.”
In an emotionless voice, she gave her name with an attitude of rejecting being called it.
Satella — as the girl called herself, made him feel distant. It was unlike anything before.
If possible, Subaru wanted her to tell him an easy to call family name, but he kept silent as he could not say her name clearly. For the time being, he made a weak-willed decision to call her in second person.
While watching the two interact, Puck, concealed under the silver hair, incidentally said “… you have bad taste.”
The mutter did not even reach the foolish girl, much less Subaru.
Relying on the bustle, the two left the unpopular alley and arrived at the main street after ten minutes or so.
Subaru’s gaze wandered restlessly as he hesitated at first on who to call out to. Suddenly, his sleeve was pulled by Satella, who stood beside him.
“Hey, Subaru”, called Satella, who sent her gaze across the street.
Following her line of sight, Subaru also noticed what she was looking at.
… I have a bad feeling about this.
As if to support his premonition, Satella asked with a serious look.
“—that kid, doesn’t she look lost?”
There were some problems, but the last one appeared unexpectedly.
He already knew before it came to this point. This pretty girl with silver hair standing next to Subaru was already a hopelessly good-natured person. But it was a curse she stubbornly refused to admit. Subaru spilled a large sigh.
“While we’re having this conversation, what should we do if that girl goes off somewhere? I have to hurry and call out to her…”
“Your gentleness is a serious virtue, and I don’t want to say too much because you saved me, but do you understand our current situation?”
Ahead of them, beside the building across the street, stood a girl. She was around ten years old, with lovely brown hair cut to her shoulders. Her looks were enough to spread joy to those around her should she laugh, but it was spoiled by her uneasy look that seemed like she would burst into tears at any moment. In all likelihood, Satella’s judgement was correct. Its right, but…
“My blunders included, the gap between you and the thief that stole your belonging has only gotten wider. If you spend more time here, it will get sold off and you might not be able to recover it.”
“That may be so… but—”
That child is certainly pitiful, but with so many people here it is likely one will lend a helping hand. On the other hand, they had an urgent circumstance that required them to search for something.
No matter how one looked at it, this issue took precedence over the little girl. Nevertheless,
“But that girl is crying right now. Right, Subaru?”
“It’s fine if you cannot go along with me. Thank you for everything up until now, Subaru. I’ll figure something out later…I have to do something to help that kid after all.”
Seeing Subaru keep his mouth shut, Satella seemed to have solidified her intention to part ways from here. Rather than being dissatisfied with Subaru’s obstinacy, she didn’t want to drag him along with her selfishness, was the impression Subaru got from how she spoke.
With her silver hair flowing, Satella hurried across the street to the girl’s location. The little girl, who seemed like she was about to cry with a downturned face, raised her head as she suddenly noticed someone standing in front of her. Her eyes were filled with hope, as she thought the person she was searching for had found her.
“Sorry I’m not the person you were looking for,” Satella said as she kneeled down.
The little girl opened her eyes wide in shock. Rather than showing relief, her eyes indicated fear. From an outsider’s perspective, one could tell her heart shriveled because she was called out by a stranger.
“I might be meddlesome, but where are your father and mother? Are they not with you?”
Noticing the little girl was frightened, Satella used a gentler voice than before. However, her concern went unnoticed as the girl trembled in fear after having lost sight of her guardian.
“Uhm, er…Please don’t cry? Big sister won’t do anything to you.”
She tried to understand the little girl who closed her heart off, but the results were not enough as the girl shook her head. Gradually, tears began to accumulate in the girl’s eyes, and they were about to overflow any moment—
“What I have taken out here is a 10 Giza.”
This sudden interruption left Satella dumbfounded as she was unable to speak. Raising her line of sight, there stood a boy wearing a grey jersey.
Subaru responded to Satella’s reaction with a wry smile, and then directed a smile, not to her, but the little girl. Like Satella, the girl was surprised by the sudden intruder.
Unexpectedly extending his right hand towards the child, Subaru said.
“Now then, can you see that there is a coin in my right hand? You can see it, right. Alright, I will then squeeze this tightly with my hand. Squeeeeeeeze.”
“Wai-, Subaru…what are you doing?”
Disregarding Satella’s call, Subaru opened his fist that held the 10 Giza for the two to see. Then, the coin that should have held there disappeared.
“Somehow, the coin I held has vanished. Where could it have gone?”
The little girl blinked and carefully examined Subaru’s right hand, but it did not appear whether she looked at his palm or the back of his hand. Nodding at the girl’s happy reaction, Subaru stretched out his left hand this time and gently patted her brown hair.
“Look, the coin was hiding here all this time.”
Seeing the coin appear in his left hand fingers after brushing her hair, the little girl was awestruck. Satella, it seems, also did not understand the trick as she stared in bewilderment.
Elegantly bowing in front of the two, Subaru dropped the 10 Giza into the little girl’s hands.
“I’ll give this to you as a present. It’s valuable, so take good care of it.”
The little girl nodding earnestly while protectively holding the coin created a heartwarming scene for Subaru to see.
Suddenly, Subaru’s ribs were poked from the side.
“Hold on, Subaru…”
“Wait, wait. Don’t look at me with such stern eyes. Although, I do admit my words from before were my bad…”
“Just now, how did you do that?”
“Ah, that? You weren’t asking about the intentions behind my action, but rather the magic trick itself?”
After promising to explain the trick later to the interested Satella, Subaru once again turned towards the little girl. She was looking at the 10-yen coin curiously. It seems that her uneasy feeling was calmed down by the super magic trick as she answered the kneeling Subaru clearly.
“I see, so you really did get separated from your mother. Well, don’t worry. Leave it to big brother and big sister here. We will find her in a flash.”
Once again, he patted the little girl’s head and held his hand out, which she grasped onto timidly.
Upon seeing this sight, Satella’s eyes opened wide.
“You seem very accustomed to that performance. Do you happen to work with appeasing children, Subaru?”
“Saying that out of context really hurts my reputation! Plus, I’m jobless.”
To be honest, his occupation as a student is only out of convenience. Especially when considering his suspicious lack of attendance recently. Thus, it is best to think of that status as annulled after being summoned to this other world.
Well, that aside…
“Why don’t you take the lonely little girl’s hand, big sister?”
Subaru said in an unnatural tone while winking.
The little girl held out her opposite hand that was not connected with Subaru towards Satella. For an instant, Satella had a surprised expression that caused her to stop breathing, but she soon let out a small sigh and grasped the small palm.
“Yep, leave it to big sister. We will definitely find your mother.”
The little girl smiled, silently nodded, and began walking to lead the two people. The three were walking with the child in the middle. They advanced through the crowded main street.
“Something like this, from an outsider’s perspective, wouldn’t we look like a young couple with a child? How embarrassing!”
“…? No matter how I look at it, I cannot imagine you (Subaru) and this child as anything other than siblings.”
“I can’t tell if that was a dry opinion or an honest one!”
Caught in the middle of this exchange, the little girl of whom both hands were held let out a laugh.
Fortunately, due to the two’s conspicuous appearances, the lost girl’s guardian was found quickly. In this case, Subaru was not the only one who stood out, it was the same for Satella who had extraordinarily beautiful silver hair.
“I am really thankful to you.”
After the mother rejoiced at reuniting with her child safely, she thanked them multiple times. Subaru, while laughing, responded with ‘it’s not a big deal.’
On parting, Subaru reciprocated the little girl’s waving until they were no longer visible. He then turned to Satella, who had a bright expression as she saw the parent and child off.
“Well? I think we took a considerably big detour, may I ask this big sister what kind of merit we gained?!”
Snapping his finger, Subaru teased her extremely good-natured personality. Rather than being a sarcastic remark, it was more of a joking tone. After all, Satella made such a roundabout excuse when she helped Subaru, so he was certain that her response would meet his expectations.
To Subaru, whose ulterior motive was to tease her, Satella put on a soft expression and replied,
“This way we can continue searching with a pleasant feeling, right?”
“If I abandoned that child to retrieve my insignia, I will surely regret it. Helping that child, and then regaining my insignia, isn’t that the best way?”
Without putting on a front, Satella asserted with a refreshing look.
That being said, Subaru was already in a deadlock. He had to change his way of thinking.
This girl is not only a good-natured person who always puts herself at a disadvantage, but also a ridiculously greedy person.
“Yes, you’re right. Thanks to this fine play it won’t end with us saying ‘although we abandoned the little girl who was lost and crying out of uneasiness and loneliness, we safely recovered the insignia so all is well.’ Right?”
“That was somehow a terribly unpleasant way of saying it.”
Subaru’s extremity caused Satella to twist her lips. Then, as if she remembered something, she turned to stare at him.
“That aside…why did you help? You were opposed to it.”
“It’s because I wanted to show off my magic trick…just kidding. I told you didn’t I? I’m helping you search for your insignia because I want to go to heaven by doing a good deed a day.”
“But you already helped that girl, so wouldn’t that be your good deed?”
“Let me counter that overly logical argument! Well, you see, isn’t it fine to do several good things a day? It’ll take care of tomorrow’s portion! I intend to finish this week’s quota earlier!”
Though he felt like it deviated from the original meaning of ‘one good deed a day’, Subaru forcefully tried to make it coherent. In response, Satella looked dumbfounded.
“Subaru…your personality is reeeeally self-harming.”
“Anyone else is fine, but I don’t want to hear those words from you!”
He intended to return those words in its entirety by raising his voice, but Satella simply tilted her head with a blank look. It seems like she seriously has no self-awareness.
“You’re not a bad child…”
“What’s with how you’re treating me like a younger person? Though there have been many instances where easterners get treated as such because of their baby face, I don’t think my age is that far off from yours?”
At a glance, Subaru estimated Satella’s age to be around 17 or 18. For the 17 year old Subaru, who was born in the first quarter of the year, there was the possibility that he was younger.
But in response to Subaru’s words, Satella narrowed her bluish-purple eyes slightly.
“I don’t think that kind of thinking is reliable…because I’m a half-elf.”
Unexpectedly, Subaru was at a loss for words and fell silent. Seeing that, Satella had complicated feelings. In her eyes, a mysterious mix of resignation and disappointment surfaced.
“I see, no wonder I thought you were cute. After all, elves are beauties according to the promise.”
(TL Note: The promise Subaru is referring to is the setting or norm of all fantasy stories)
Subaru immediately nodded as if he understood, which caused Satella to have a ‘that’s not what I mean’ face while blinking.
“Hm? What’s wrong?”
“’What’s wrong’ you ask…… um, you know, I’m a half-elf……”
“I heard you?”
Satella was unable to convey the issue clearly, so Subaru could only answer as such. However, hearing Subaru’s answer, Satella reacted dramatically.
While Subaru wondered if Satella had something stuck in her throat, she turned her face away from him. Crouching besides the wall, Satella stuck her hand through her silver hair and held her head.
Watching her strange actions, Subaru was at a loss for words.
“Ow! Hey, what was that suddenly for!?”
Out of nowhere, the cat struck Subaru on the cheek fancily with his paw.
With the paw it used to hit Subaru, Puck stroked its whisker and began with “Mm—”
“I just had to express this unbearable feeling somehow.”
“I can’t accept this kind of reason for getting hit, but it was soft, so I’ll forgive you.”
“I didn’t hit you in particular because I was angry. If I were to choose, it would be the opposite.”
“Opposite?” Subaru asked while raising his eyebrows.
“Yes, opposite”, confirmed Puck.
Before he was able to ask the meaning behind those words, Satella returned and interrupted their conversation.
Twirling the tip of her long silver hair around her finger, Satella glared at Subaru.
“……Really, Subaru you dummy.”
“You don’t really hear ‘dummy’ that often. Also why am I getting yelled at?”
“Hmph, who knows? That aside, we need to resume our search for the insignia.”
Subaru was dissatisfied after having been dismissed for his unreasonable treatment, but it immediately evaporated before Satella’s more intimate attitude. Though he couldn’t pinpoint the reason why her attitude changed.
“Still…I was aware of it during the lost child incident a while ago, but isn’t this town too big to be searching for something?”
“It’s Lugunica’s imperial capital after all. Not only is it the biggest place, it also has the largest population. Erm, if I recall correctly, the population size is……around three hundred thousand. The human traffic entering and leaving is also very intense.”
Satella answered Subaru’s question smoothly with a boastful look.
“I see, three hundred thousand. It’s pretty large huh……and thanks for presenting the information like you took it from a book.”
Putting aside the girl that was seen through, Subaru used the information he was told to envision Lugunica’s city. Three hundred thousand people. It is a considerably large scale for a city’s population in a medieval fantasy world. Naturally, this number only accounts for people living in the city. If you include adventurers and merchants going in and out, the number will swell up.
Standing on the road watching people come and go, Subaru felt suffocated from being so close to such diversity. Beastmen, demi-humans, and humans mingling made this place unquestionably a melting pot.
(TL Note: ‘salad of different human races’ was used, but I thought melting pot was more fitting)
Getting lost in the back alleys for an hour should not be dismissed as a simple, funny story either. It was too big and too complicated, causing them to lose sight of the road to the main street.
“In other words, we cannot afford to fail anymore. We have already been given a considerable advantage. The next time we get lost, I think we are out. Need to choose carefully.”
“Choose carefully……you say?”
“Good results will not come about by moving without a plan. For example, would there be more detailed information available if we return to the place where the insignia was stolen? Were there people there watching?”
“Ah… there were people there, maybe.”
As if something came to mind, Satella spoke her mind with a hand over her mouth.
According to Satella, she seemed to have met the pickpocketer in broad daylight, right in the middle of the main street. It’s a bold crime, but looking at the traffic congestion on the street now, it wasn’t the wrong decision.
If there are a lot of people, that alone will allow for many places to disappear in.
“Can you remember where it was stolen?”
“Nn, hm… Probably this way… I think.”
Guided through the streets according to Satella, Subaru felt his sense of direction and distance as a human taken away because the many different races crowding the streets were no less confusing than the maze-like back alleys.
He fell into this feeling of not knowing where he was heading.
Even though he should not know this location, he had this inexplicable, clinging feeling of having walked here and leaving before…
“No, this is a place I’ve seen before.”
Looking at the place Satella was guiding him to, Subaru gave a half-laugh while scratching his cheeks.
The place Satella’s insignia was stolen Subaru was informed of — It was no other than the corner of the street where Subaru was summoned to.
“I was at a loss here, so I entered this unpopular place to cool my head. But I ended up encountering your fight with thugs A, B, and C.”
Recalling the event approximately two hours ago, Subaru was deeply impressed by the sheer coincidence.
Anyways, it’ll be quick to take care of if the incident occurred here. As luck would have it, there was someone here they could call out to that would have an idea.
“That’s why I can boldly declare ‘leave this to me.’ The fruit shop.”
Turning his body around in a storefront, Subaru used his hand to point towards a fruit store set up in the main street. Colorful fruits were displayed on its shelves, looking at its freshness would make one salivate. And speaking of the shopkeeper handling them…
“…What, and here I thought it was a customer. It’s you again, Penniless.”
(TL Note: The shopkeeper gave Subaru the nickname ‘Penniless’)
With a cold gaze that made it hard to believe he was in the entertainment business, the shopkeeper spoke harshly towards Subaru.
The owner was a muscular man who wore a bandana. He had a stern look and deep voice. The left side of his face was marked by a white, knife scar that ran vertically. No matter how you look at it, he could not be an honest human being.
Rather than acting as if something was wrong, Subaru stood at the fruit shop counter as if he belonged there.
“Don’t be so cold mister. Weren’t you kind to me in various ways before?”
“That was when I thought you were a customer. If I knew you were broke from the start, I obviously would’ve chased you off. Like now.”
Towards the overly friendly Subaru, the shopkeeper remained cold.
In response to the shopkeeper’s action that was as if he was keeping an insect away with his hand, Subaru shrugged his shoulder and said “Oi oi, are you sure this attitude is fine? I’m different from before, haven’t you notice?”
Subaru triumphantly flared his nostrils, which perplexed the shopkeeper.
Taking a step to the side for the shopkeeper to see, Subaru presented Satella with both hands.
“How’s that? I brought a companion, a companion! Though your attitude flipped around after discovering I was penniless, now that I brought a potential regular customer, how about it?”
“Um, Subaru… You seem to have some strange expectation of me, but I also didn’t bring any money?”
“Eh, what, seriously!? Then what, a pauper and a penniless person have been walking together in a big city!?”
Looking at the two broke fellows, the shopkeeper sighed.
“Well? Now there are two penniless people. What do you have to say, bro?”
“Actually we were looking for something. I wanted you to hear us out a bit, could you?”
“I was being ironic when I was going along with you, Penniless! Don’t you understand?!”
Bombarded by the angry yelling, Subaru’s eardrums suffered severe damage.
“A-as expected, it was no good huh.”
Shrinking behind Subaru, Satella tugged on his sleeve while pulling back.
It’s true, asking questions without buying goods is quite a selfish action. Speaking of which, the reality of having no money does not change. So, they should give up on collecting information.
“Ara? You two are……from before?”
Suddenly called out from the side, Subaru and Satella looked back.
In front of their eyes stood a woman with long, brown hair, whom they recognized. After all, her hand held a small palm which belonged to a little girl happily looking at the two.
“I was wondering why Miss was here as well. There’s only a narrow-minded and tough looking person here?”
“Hehe, I decided to drop by because this is my husband’s shop.”
Subaru and Satella looked at each other due to the unexpected answer. The two slowly looked back towards the shop to confirm with the scar-faced man leaning back with his arms crossed.
“Pops……don’t tell me you killed this Miss’ husband and took this store as your own.”
“What are you saying with that serious face of yours. I am genuine, this is my store and my wife!”
Turning around, Subaru was astonished to find the lady smiling with a troubled look on her face.
This tough-looking man is the husband of such a delicate and gentle beauty? Isn’t there some kind of mistake?
Don’t tell me they’re being threatened, thought Subaru worriedly.
Letting go of her mother’s hand, the little girl rushed to the side of Subaru, who was being rude, towards the scarred-face man —— her father then lifted her.
“Oh, there, there. You sure are energetic…… Well, that aside, do you know these two penniless fellas?”
“Dear, please don’t use such a disrespectful term as ‘penniless’ to call them.”
In response to the shopkeeper’s thorny words, his wife raised her eyebrows and stated her frank advice.
After that, she explained Subaru and co.’s relationship with her daughter.
Once the shopkeeper heard the story up to now, he placed her daughter down and spoke.
“I’m terribly sorry. For me to have said such harsh words to my benefactor, please forgive me.”
“Nah, it’s fine. After all, it’s true that we don’t have any money with us……”
“That’s right, oi! If you don’t reflect on yourself even for a bit, I’ll be troubled……Eh, wait, your cute face suddenly became scary.”
Satella silenced Subaru, who was about to get ahead of himself.
Afterwards, the little girl who was let down by her father stretched her hand out towards Satella. In that small hand was a red, flower shaped ornament.
Satella held her breath as she looked between the little girl and the floral ornament, seemingly confused.
“Please accept it. It seems my daughter wants to show her thanks.” The lady said to give the puzzled Satella a push from the back.
Hearing that, Satella pulled her small chin back, and received the floral ornament from the little girl’s fingers. Satella then fastened it to her left chest, on top of her white coat, and kneeled down for the little girl to see it easier while looking at each other.
“Thank you. I’m extreeeemely happy.”
Satella’s brightest smile left Subaru, who unintentionally caught a glimpse of it, entranced. In front of that smile, the little girl also looked away embarrassingly.
The shopkeeper then coughed once towards Satella.
“You’re my daughter’s savior. As thanks, I’ll listen to anything.”
Nodding strongly, the tough-looking shopkeeper said so while giving his friendliest smile.
After having been surprised by those words, Satella then looked at Subaru with a smile that was different from before, it was as if she was smiling in triumph.
“See, our detours have resulted in our favor.”
Indeed, as she boasted about the strange coincidence as if it was her doing.
Despite being only one street away, the place had an awfully gloomy air about it.
The alleyway was quiet, and the presence of humans, or any signs of life were far away.
Though there wasn’t much distance from the main street, which was crowded with many people, the bustle felt like a faraway dream.
“If you were to handle stolen goods, it would be in the slums. But…”
Muttered Subaru as he poked his head through the alleyway connected to the main street which was rumored to lead to the slums.
“The air, atmosphere, and probably the people’s personality living here are terrible. Are you sure you want to go?”
“Were you not the one who said it would be here, Subaru? Besides, the owner of the shop from before said that it would be here as well…”
“Afterwards, he also suggested to give up if possible. Don’t forget.”
Recalling the conversation at the fruit shop, Subaru frowned.
It’s been roughly 30 minutes since the coincidental reunion and turn of luck from their predicament — the two have now arrived at the entrance of the rumored slums that most of the imperial capital’s stolen goods are brought to.
Meeting his beloved daughter’s savior, the tough-looking shopkeeper kindly listened to two’s story. Although they were able to obtain information on the slums as a result, the two were hesitant.
“It’s a bit late, but isn’t it better to have called someone over? Police…they should be called guards here? If you request them to search for it, using human wave attack should take care of it in one go.”
(TL Note: human wave attack)
However, Subaru’s suggestion was immediately discarded. Her assertion bewildered him.
“I’m really sorry, but you can’t. I don’t think the guards would act for such a small robbery… In the first place, I can’t rely on the guards because of some circumstances.”
With her lips closed tightly, Satella looked at Subaru expectantly with a face that said ‘I cannot say the reason’.
She doesn’t wish to be questioned. Under that gaze, Subaru raised his hand in compliance.
“Well then, what should we do now? Perform the human wave attack with the two of us?”
“Make it two people and an animal.”
The cat followed up with Subaru in a light-hearted tone as to prevent discouragement.
Puck, who appeared on Satella’s shoulder, looked at the two while rubbing his face.
“That being said, there isn’t much time for idle talking. If we are to use the human wave attack with two people and an animal, then I’ll only have around one hour left.”
Looking up where Puck was looking towards, one would notice the space in-between the buildings was mostly dyed orange. It was not due to the dim environment, or the damp smell, but rather the sun was about to set, indicating Puck’s time limit.
“Advance forward or return, hurry up with a decision okay?”
“I do not know what ‘human wave attack’ is, but we will obviously advance forward. Regardless, if we miss this, it might be taken somewhere we cannot retrieve it from.”
Answering Puck’s request, the girl then turned towards Subaru.
“Then, let’s go…but you need to be more cautious than before about the alley ahead. After all, people who are used to fighting live there. If you’re scared, it’s fine to stay and wait for me here.”
“How much of a chicken do I have to be to wait here?! Let’s go! I’ll stick close to your back like a haunting spirit.”
“There’s no option for you to step forward huh, even though it would help a lot.”
Hearing those forced, cold feet words, Satella had already lost count of how many times she sighed.
Ever since we met, Satella has had a gloomy expression most of the time, thought Subaru. Even her occasional smile was caused by something other than me. She’s already this cute with her negative expressions, if she would smile towards me, then that would be the best.
“Alright, let’s show off one of my good points then.”
“What wrong? You suddenly exhaled roughly from your noise.”
(TL Note: No idea how to phrase this, it’s the action one would take when bragging and such)
“Thanks for ruining my scene of determination!”
Though his spirit was dashed, Subaru quickened his pace to keep up.
He kept waving his hand after the girl who was moving towards her target so that he would not be left behind.
Now that the search has continued onto the next stage, in the slums, there would be difficulties ahead — or so they thought, as there were unexpected people to help.
“Who were they helping? That’s right, me! For some odd reason, the slum residents were friendly… don’t tell me, based on the timing, my charm level was readjusted?! Last it was during kindergarten!”
When Subaru was small, he had very cute features. If he had long hair, he could have easily been mistaken as a girl.
… More than ten years had passed since, and it has been cruel.
“What changed since a moment ago? Is something on my face?”
“A pair of terrible looking eyes, short ears, and a flat nose is there…”
“I didn’t need the comment about my eyes and nose!?”
While Subaru hung his head, Satella was troubled as she placed her finger over her lips and made the sound “Hmm.”
“It’s probably because of your appearance? After all, you’re covered with dust. There’s also some traces of blood. The people here are all struggling, so they couldn’t overlook the pitiful Subaru…”
“Right now the most pitiful thing is my pierced heart! But I understand, dammit!”
They’re people who can relate with others in the same circumstance. For Subaru, he gained an unexpectedly high favorability in the slums; conversely, Satella’s favorability dropped unexpectedly low. The reason for that is probably her appearance as well.
“Those hooligans are probably thinking that. After all, you’re clothes are pretty, and you look beautiful.”
“You really think it stands out…?”
Pulling on her own white coat’s sleeves, Satella asked Subaru uneasily.
She seems to only think of it as a clothing issue, and is unaware of her perfect figure.
“Um, I have something I would like to ask…”
“Hah?! Don’t hang around here if you’re going to wear pretty clothes.”
Once again, Satella’s voice was cut off. Her success rate was low because her appearance plus clothes reduced it by two times squared. Still, he can’t suggest to wear slightly dirty clothes.
(TL Note: No idea how to phrase this, so… 2x2 where x is percent which reduces her success rate)
“At least take off that coat of yours and it might be different…”
“…Okay, I understand.”
Satella held her coat’s shoulder with her hands, but did not take it off. While he could not understand her actions, Subaru didn’t dare ask why.
Under Satella’s fingers, pinned on her left chest, was the floral ornament which seemed to calm her down as she touched it. At the heartwarming sight of her being relieved from touching the ornament, Subaru was filled with motivation.
For there to be a place where she could not take action, Subaru’s slight dirtiness being helpful was like a dream come true. Getting ganged up in the back alley by thugs was worth it.
“Well then, why don’t you leave this to me? It’s more important that, through my accomplishments, we find the culprit’s whereabouts and gradually corner him. My accomplishments, corner the culprit, here I go!”
“I understand that, while you’re happy about being useful, emphasizing it as hard as possible is really awkward.”
Subaru, originally planning to pose for each word, became a showoff braggart.
Having been seen through, Subaru could only return a wry smile towards Satella. It’s only been approximately two hours, and two’s exchanges have become really familiar; however, the end was different this time.
“Sorry, I’m at my limit” said Puck as it leaned against Satella’s neck feebly. Its grey fur emitted dim lights, and its body dimmed as if it could disappear at any moment.
“The way you fade out looks like you’re dying.”
“It’s because I overworked myself in order to protect my only daughter from the eyes of bad men. If I force myself to the limit, when I disappear I’ll disperse.”
“What the heck. Alright, after you disappear just leave it to me. I won’t let any dangerous men near.”
“Then, before I go could I make you disappear?”
“That’s not good!?”
“Just kidding,” Puck responded in a small voice towards Subaru, who hugged his own body. Exchanging glances with Puck, Satella then took out a green, shining crystal from her chest.
“Sorry for making you overdo it, Puck. I’ll do my best afterwards, so take your time to rest.”
The green crystal on Satella’s palm began to glow.
There are some nuances that make it different from a jewel. Based on Subaru’s knowledge, it is best to call it a ‘crystal’.
(TL Note: Subaru was using ‘結晶’ which means crystal in Japanese, but from this line onwards he uses English)
Puck reached the crystal by going along Satella’s shoulder and arm, and stretched its body out to hug the crystal tightly. It then gave Satella one last look back and said “I think you know already, but don’t act too rashly. When the time comes, even if you have to use your Odo, summon me.”
“I understand. I’m not a kid after all, I can at least properly take care of my own things.”
“I wonder about that. My daughter is kind of strange there. I’m trusting you, Subaru.”
Puck had a look of affection that was like parents watching their child. Towards that look, Satella was embarrassed while being dissatisfied.
As the conversation directs towards himself, Subaru hit his chest powerfully.
“Leave it to me! Look forward to my sixth sense. If my judgement says ‘the danger level is critical, DANGER!’ then we will immediately back off.”
“I couldn’t understand half of what you were saying, but I’ll leave it in your care… Well then, good night. Be careful.”
Giving Satella a final glance, Puck’s figure then disappeared from this world.
Puck’s small body became particles of light and vanished as if it melted into the world. Aside from the talking cat part, having met a fantasy spirit-like thing, Subaru couldn’t help but feel his emotions well up.
While Subaru was secretly being impressed, Satella gently stroked the crystal as though she cherished it deeply, and put it away in her chest securely.
Judging by the flow of the story, something like Puck’s mind should be in there right now.
“We’re now down to two people, but… don’t think about something strange. I can use magic after all.”
It seems that Satella took Puck’s previous remark seriously and was cautious of Subaru.
“Oi oi, I haven’t had a situation where I was alone with a girl since I was an elementary student. It’s very unlikely, but I haven’t done anything. Didn’t you see my actions up until now?”
“That sounded very meaningless and very unconvincing… Yeah, Okay. Let’s proceed. However, Puck is gone so we should be more careful.”
Was she shocked by the cowardly Subaru, who threw his chest out in pride? Satella tightened her front robe and moved forward.
“I’ll take the forefront. Subaru, you be vigilant of the back. If anything happens, call me immediately. Don’t try and take care of it on your own. I don’t particularly want you getting hurt… Subaru is weak after all.”
“You prefaced it so I can’t hate you…”
If he was going to be ditched, she would not have said the part before ‘Subaru is weak after all.’
Unable to hide her true intentions, she really is sweet, enough to melt your heart.
Urged by Satella, who still seemed to have something to say, the two resumed their search.
That being said, what they had to do did not change. It was to steadily find the slums’ residents and describe the characteristics of the thief to see if the residents had any clues.
Subaru, the asker, handled as many as he could and began having a good feel for the tempo.
“It might possibly be that person, Felt. A quick, young girl with blond hair, right?”
The two finally came across some useable information after inquiring for an hour.
The person was an overly friendly man who said “Hey, bro. How are you holding up?” towards Subaru.
“If it’s Felt, then the stolen stuff would be in the Stolen Goods Storehouse. It’ll be tagged and left there for the old man, the warehouse owner, to gather up and sell to some other market.”
“That’s a strange system… Aren’t you worried that the warehouse owner would take it all and run away?”
“It’s because we trust he won’t do it that he became the warehouse owner. Well, even if you say ‘yes, that item was stolen from me,’ he can’t return it to you. You have to negotiate well to buy it back.”
The man laughed as if it was natural for the person whose stuff was stolen to be foolish.
Since they learned of the location of the warehouse, arriving there should be quick.
But, another problem arose instead. That was, the reality that the two were penniless.
“He said we had to buy it. What do we do? It’s looking more like we will have to negotiate for it.”
“Even though a stolen item should be returned, why must I pay money for it…?”
When the problem leans towards financial issues, Satella suddenly let out a troubled expression.
What Satella muttered is nothing less than correct, but it is too self-indulgent to think they would understand. To easily, and more importantly, surely solve the problem, it would be wise to heed the man’s advice. That said,
“I have another question, but does the insignia look like it’ll fetch a high price? Even if we are negotiating, it’ll be an issue if we don’t know the market price.”
“…Although small, inside the middle is a jewel. I don’t know how much it is worth, but I think it isn’t something cheap.”
“Jewel huh… that’s difficult.”
Even without knowledge, one would know a jewel is a convenient item that can be sold for a large sum. The techniques for making imitations shouldn’t exist in this world, therefore all objects that look like jewels must be jewels. In other words, they naturally fetch a high price.
While there was nothing to be optimistic about, Subaru felt something odd about Satella’s remark. She said she didn’t know the worth of her insignia.
It’s possible it was a gift, but to some extent, she would more or less learn of its cost.
“For now, let’s think about it after we go to the storehouse. It might be possible for us to secure a decent price through negotiation……”
Worst case scenario, there was a means to do something about funds, but it was extremely damaging for Subaru. Unless that became their last means, he didn’t want Satella to know.
While they discussed how to recover the insignia, the two walked nonstop for ten minutes.
… Having arrived in front of the building referred to as ‘the Stolen Goods Storehouse,’ the two looked at each other.
“It’s a lot bigger than I expected. There are some quite bold thieves out there.”
“Now I know the reason why it wasn’t called a hut, but rather a storehouse. If the inside is all filled with stolen goods, then… no matter what we do, it’s hopeless.”
Of course, it shouldn’t be crowded with stolen goods because they were regularly disposed of.
The Stolen Goods Storehouse’s vulgar name was fitting of its majestic and sturdy looks. Though only one-story, the building’s floor space was comparable to that of an apartment complex. A high wall at its back, it was set up in the deepest parts of the slums.
“That high wall I can see over there is…?”
“I think that is the imperial capital’s bulwark. It seems we have unknowingly came from the center of the town to the corner.”
Having heard Satella’s words, Subaru hazily visualized a map of the town.
All four sides are most likely surrounded by this kind of bulwark, creating a square. Inside, the castle is either in the center or the northernmost part of it, and the places far away would be where these slums are located.
Since three or four hours had passed since their search began, the imperial capital seemed a bit larger than what Subaru had assumed.
“Now then, according to the rumors I think the owner of the Stolen Goods Storehouse would be inside… What kind of attitude should we take when going in?”
“Go in honestly, because the stolen item is in there. And if we find it, ask them to return it.”
Subaru insisted that kind of just argument would not work, but Satella refused to listen.
Fundamentally, her character was simply too upright, forbidding any crookedness. Precisely because Satella was such, she saved Subaru in that situation.
“Ok, I got it. Then leave this to me.”
The possibility of this becoming complicated was too high, therefore Subaru couldn’t help it and volunteered himself.
The last resort — use it too early and it won’t be like a trump card, but miss the timing and the situation becomes troublesome. Subaru did not hesitate for this kind of situation.
(TL Note: This is talking about how Subaru didn’t hesitate to be in charge so he gets the timing right for when he uses his trump card)
Subaru’s proposal caused Satella to look at him in surprise. While thinking her straightforward expression was cute, Subaru immediately prepared an excuse for when Satella would voice her concern—
“Okay. I’ll try and leave it to you.”
“Naturally, I don’t expect you to agree easily. After all, I’m not so stupid as to think that I’ve gained your trust after what has happened. But I have a plan so trust me… EEEEHH!?”
“W-why are you so surprised?”
“I mean, isn’t this a completely different pattern from the usual? ‘Entrust this useless carbon dioxide generator with this? That’s so ridiculous, I’m laughing my head off. A dog is much better than you,’ is the sort of remark I imagined you would say which would hurt me while renewing my determination though!?”
“I wouldn’t say such a horrible thing!”
Subaru’s exaggerated paranoia angered Satella; however, she cleared her throat and steadily stared at Subaru with her two amethyst eyes.
“It would certainly be a lie to say Subaru wasn’t holding me back. Just when I thought you were serious, you immediately said something crestfallen.”
“You don’t really hear ‘crestfallen’ these days.”
Though he interrupted her, Subaru could not help but droop his shoulders as he could not argue with it.
“But, even though you’re mischievous, it was thanks to Subaru that the little girl was prevented from crying. That’s why I can’t think of you as a person who would tell a lie without giving it any thought.”
In retrospect, she was speaking in a roundabout way. “Therefore,” she continued, “I will try and believe in Subaru…If all goes well, then you have earned this feeling.”
“If you change the latter half to something like ‘please do your best for me,’ then I would work harder though?”
“I can’t force myself to say something like that. But, do your best.”
In every meaning possible, she was a girl who cannot tell a lie.
“… Nn, I’ll do my best.”
Subaru replied to Satella with a grin and walked towards the storehouse.
His trump card which he could not talk to Satella about was an item Subaru brought from the modern world. It was the only thing he could call his property. If it does not exist in this world, then it is possible to establish a barter for it.
It would be damaging for Subaru because it is hard to imagine Satella’s stolen insignia being worth more than a cellphone in this world. This kind of amazing opportunity was one that only existed in this world.
“Um, is anyone home?… Wait, the door’s open.”
The entrance of the storehouse had a rotten smell drifting about. When he attempted to knock on the wooden door, Subaru noticed the fact that it was slightly open. He peered inside and noted it was extremely dark.
“Not having streetlamps is quite inconvenient… Though it is natural considering the reason this building was built, why is the inside of the storehouse darker than outside?”
Even though he stuck his head inside, this place was the innermost area of the slums where the moonlight doesn’t even reach, so he couldn’t see anything beyond an inch of him.
Subaru strengthened his resolve to enter. But before that, he looked back at Satella.
“There’s no answer, but I’ll go ahead and enter. So could you act as the lookout?”
“Are you sure? Wouldn’t it be better if I entered…?”
“If, by any chance, a surprise attack occurs and you get taken out from the start, then we’ll be annihilated. If I get jumped, then you are free to decide whether to heal or counterattack. This should be the proper role assignment. I ask that you hear my request, please!”
(TL Note: Subaru uses ‘please’ in English here)
Satella was deep in thought from Subaru’s words. After contemplating briefly, she stuck her hand in a pocket, took out a white crystal, and hit it against a wall. Suddenly, it began overflowing with white light.
“At least take this light. Regardless whether or not someone is there, make sure to call me.”
“I know. Puck said to be careful as well. This is quite a convenient stone, huh.”
“Even though something like Ragmite ore is available everywhere. Subaru, you’re reeeeally not knowledgeable are you.”
Satella said in a stunned voice, before handing the Ragmite ore over to Subaru. The dimly glowing crystal released some faint heat, and was about as bright as a candle’s light.
“Okay. Then I’m gonna go take a look. Though I won’t return late, it’s fine for you to eat first.”
(TL Note: Subaru is joking about how this is a normal conversation between a couple)
“Don’t say such stupid things. Be careful alright?”
“Kay, ‘kay. Satella as well, until you hear my voice you must not enter, ok?”
With the courage mustered for entering, Subaru used some to call out her name. Up until this point, he was unable to say it because he would become too embarrassed that he would walk in circles. Having been able to do it smoothly, Subaru clenched his fist and glanced at Satella’s face.
Contrary to his imagination, Subaru’s calling caused Satella to stiffen with wide eyes. This unexpected reaction puzzled Subaru, while Satella shook her head after a moment.
“No… it’s nothing. If we recover the insignia, I’ll properly apologize.”
“I don’t know what you are apologizing for, but rather than ‘sorry,’ wouldn’t ‘thank you’ make me happier? Furthermore, it would be the best if it came with a smile!”
Those two words that came from Satella’s mouth were followed by a smile that was deeply imprinted into his mind. Even though it was a dull joke from Subaru, he was able to make her laugh in this way.
(TL Note: ‘Baka’ is two characters in Japanese, so…)
After the negotiations are over, I want to see that smile more in a brighter place, he thought.
“Well then, will a demon or a snake come out? Though neither can be considered a joke because this is a fantasy.”
(TL Note: 鬼が出るか蛇が出るか was used here, which means ‘you never know what might happen’)
After criticizing his own joke, he held the Ragmite in one hand and fearfully stepped inside.
In the darkness, the first thing he saw in front of himself after entering was a counter. This was probably originally a post station or something. The first floor of the building seemed to be used as a tavern after all.
(TL Note: Post station)
On the counter that seemed to be used as a receptionist area, and behind it, were crowded with various items on display.
There were a variety of boxes, pots, different swords, and even cheap precious metals. They were all stolen goods, because Subaru had noticed they each had a wooden plaque.
“If I collect these plaques and hand them to a guard, it looks like it might be possible to have a mass-arrest.”
In fact, this kind of occupation being connected with the darkness and corruption of the country was a must happen trope. From here, where the stolen goods get sold off to was also suspicious.
While thinking such things, Subaru continued searching for the object of interest — it was then…
Subaru stopped at the sudden feeling of unnaturalness beneath his shoes.
It was not the feeling of unnaturalness felt from stepping on something hard, rather it was the opposite. The floor he stepped on pulled at his feet — it felt like something adhesive was stuck under his shoes.
Lifting his foot, he touched the bottom of the sneaker with his finger. A sticky liquid was on there. Lightly touching the strangely sticky liquid with his finger, an immediate instinctive discomfort arose.
“What? What is this?”
He brought his finger up to his nose to smell it, but in the first place the air inside was stagnant, so he could not smell it clearly. And naturally, he did not have the courage to check with his tongue.
Smearing the unpleasant-feeling thing on the wall, Subaru was prompted by the discomfort to bring the Ragmite ore forward. It was then, when he was about to move forward, that Subaru found the reason ahead.
Unintentionally letting out a stupid sound, Subaru finally recognized “it”.
Under the pale light, the first thing he saw on the ground was a slovenly rolling ‘arm.’ Its finger were open, as if asking for something, but strangely enough, the body that should be connected to the elbow did not exist.
Searching for where it is connected to, he moved the lights and found an outstretched foot further back. The foot was properly attached to the body, and the body was accompanied by the parts that should be there.
—With a large cut in its neck, and missing an arm, the corpse of a big old man was there.
The moment he noticed the dead body, Subaru silently screamed, exhaling air rapidly.
At this moment, Subaru’s mind went completely blank. His ability to think was blown away, and his hands and feet, as if frozen, were unable to move. His only thought was an endless white space. Then…
“Ahh~, it was seen. Well then, it can’t be helped. Yeah~, it can’t be helped.”
A woman’s… voice, I think.
She had a low and cold, but somewhat pleasant voice.
There was no time to look back.
The moment he tried to turn towards the sound, Subaru’s body was blown away by an impact. His back was slammed into a wall, and his view fell into darkness as the Ragmite left his hand and bounced on the floor.
But Subaru’s conscious was not paying attention to such things. His conscious was focused on…
—His body was overwhelmed by “heat,” scorching Natsuki Subaru.
…This is seriously bad.
Feeling the hard ground with his face, he realized he had fallen prone. He was unable to muster any strength from his body, and had lost all sensations from his fingers. He could only feel heat spreading across his body.
—Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!
He kept coughing violently, gurgling even as his life source welled up in his throat, forming foams of blood across his mouth. Through hazy eyes, he saw the floor had been stained scarlet.
—Ah… is all of this… my blood?
As he had mistakenly thought he spilled all of his blood, he stretched a trembling hand towards the burning source of heat. When his fingers felt the torn abdomen, he came to a realization. No wonder he felt a burning sensation, he had mistaken pain for heat. He had a severe laceration — his body was nearly split in half, with only a layer of skin left connecting the two parts.
In other words, he was meeting his “end.”
Acknowledging this, his conscious began to fade quickly.
Suddenly, a black leather shoe rippled the pool of blood that laid before his eyes. Someone was here, and this person was presumably his killer.
But he couldn’t care less about looking at this person’s face.
…His only desire was that she would be safe.
He thought he heard a silvery, bell-like voice. To hear that voice… to be able to hear that voice… it was his salvation. Then…
A terse cry was heard before the carpet of blood welcomed another person. The body fell beside him, with an arm loosely stretched towards him.
He weakly held onto her limp, snow-white hand with his blood-soaked hand and felt a finger move, as if to return his gesture.
“…ait for me.”
Even at the brink of his conscious, he fought to stay awake.
“I will surely…”
The next moment, Natsuki Subaru died.
…This is seriously bad.
Feeling the hard ground with his face, he realized he had fallen prone. He was unable to muster any strength from his body, and had lost all sensations from his fingers. He could only feel heat spreading across his body.
—Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!
He kept coughing violently, gurgling even as his life source welled up in his throat, forming foams of blood across his mouth. Through hazy eyes, he saw the floor had been stained scarlet.
—Ah… is all of this… my blood?
As he had mistakenly thought he spilled all of his blood, he stretched a trembling hand towards the burning source of heat. When his fingers felt the torn abdomen, he came to a realization. No wonder he felt a burning sensation, he had mistaken pain for heat. He had a severe laceration — his body was nearly split in half, with only a layer of skin left connecting the two parts.
In other words, he was meeting his “end.”
Acknowledging this, his conscious began to fade quickly.
Suddenly, a black leather shoe rippled the pool of blood that laid before his eyes. Someone was here, and this person was presumably his killer.
But he couldn’t care less about looking at this person’s face.
…His only desire was that she would be safe.
He thought he heard a silvery, bell-like voice. To hear that voice… to be able to hear that voice… it was his salvation. Then…
A terse cry was heard before the carpet of blood welcomed another person. The body fell beside him, with an arm loosely stretched towards him.
He weakly held onto her limp, snow-white hand with his blood-soaked hand and felt a finger move, as if to return his gesture.
“…ait for me.”
Even at the brink of his conscious, he fought to stay awake.
“I will surely…”
The next moment, Natsuki Subaru died.