Post-mortem for the first season of my “Re:Zero” retelling

All first thirty parts of this strange AI-fueled retelling cover the three first arcs of the original novels, which amount to the entire first season of the anime adaptation. Roll credits while “It’s All Been Done” by Barenaked Ladies plays in the background.


From now on I’ll go over each arc covered, highlighting the differences between the retelling and the original, and possibly the anime adaptation. Do not keep reading if you haven’t read the retelling or if you intend to read it in the future.

Arc 1: this first arc encompasses from the moment that Subaru gets transported to a fantasy world until he gets accepted into Roswaal’s camp. In the original novels, this arc establishes a few vital setups for the rest of the novel, but very few in comparison with the length of the arc. First, the protagonist is from Earth and knows nothing about the fantasy world he has been transported to, except that for some reason he can understand the spoken language. He meets Emilia, whose magical trinket has been stolen. In the original and the adaptation, the trinket is an insignia, but in the retelling I called it medallion. No reason beyond that I prefer the word medallion, and so does the AI, because when I was prompting it for suggestions during the rest of the retelling, GPT-3 keep trying to make the medallion a vital part of the narrative. It really doesn’t matter beyond the first arc. The arc goes further by establishing that Emilia and the protagonist can work together, and that she can trust him; very important for the half-elf given that most other people want to despise her because of her heritage. The most important setup is that Emilia, grateful because the protagonist helped her, accepts him as part of her camp. He either remains in or tries to come back to Roswaal’s camp for the rest of the story so far.

In my retelling, the very first entry (so part 1) develops this entire arc from start to finish. When I started writing this thing, I hadn’t expected to go as far as covering the entire first season, so my philosophy regarding how to use the AI’s input was different. I intended to prompt the AI continuously not for suggestions, but for it to guide the narrative. In the very first sentence that the AI produced for this retelling, the thugs beat the protagonist up and steal his cellphone. The cellphone is a huge deal in the original novels: he first attempts to use it as payment for Emilia’s insignia/medallion, although it ends up failing, and in the third arc the cellphone is the only vital thing that allows them to pinpoint the exact time and location of where the White Whale is going to appear, which allows them to hunt it down. That loss alone changes the narrative significantly.

In the retelling, the protagonist got beaten up so bad that the people taking care of him get him out of the capital. In the originals nothing like that happens: Emilia saves him from the thugs and they start looking for the medallion. Going further, they find the loot house belonging to Old Man Rom, only to realize he has been killed. The killer murders the protagonist as well as Emilia, and the protagonist learns that he can travel back in time whenever he dies. In my retelling he doesn’t die until the beginning of the third arc; by then in the original novels he had died like seven or eight times.

In my retelling, the protagonist ventures into an inn only to get tricked by Puck, and he wakes up to get interrogated by a very guarded, suspicious Emilia, although in the original she’s more easygoing. I kind of prefer my version although she wasn’t very developed at that point. It fits better with her lifelong issue of people hating her and taking advantage of her because of her heritage.

In the retelling for the most part I completely ignored the steps that the protagonists take to handle the theft in the original. The AI suggested asking around in the inn, because the thief was supposed to have visited it or something. I went along with it until the AI gave some answers, and then Emilia and the protagonist got moving. In the retelling I don’t explain how they find this loot house; one supposes they asked around. In the original the best moments of this arc happen after they locate the loot house and a few fights ensue. The protagonist dies a few times and we get introduced to a contract killer called Elsa Granhiert, who is completely absent from the retelling, although she’s prominent in the fourth arc. This video is part of a scene where the negotiations for the insignia/medallion fail in the anime adaptation because of this contract killer.

My retelling doesn’t do any justice to this arc. As I mentioned, instead of using the most prominent plot points of the arc and filling the stuff in between with AI suggestions, I let the AI handle most things. The AI had Felt, the thief, just giving up the medallion because she was annoyed, which made this resolution exceedingly easy. Having helped Emilia (who is very assertive and generally hostile in this part, in contrast with the original), she accepts to bring the protagonist home to Roswaal’s mansion. In the original the protagonist saves Emilia from getting murdered, which gives her a way bigger reason to bring the guy home. Although so much has changed regarding the original, as I mentioned this arc basically just provides three big setups: the protagonist is from another world, the protagonist helps Emilia, Emilia accepts him into her camp. Other setups might be important in later arcs (still not translated), but not currently.

Arc 2: this arc encompasses the early life at Roswaal’s mansion up until the point that the protagonist breaks his promise to stay “home” instead of fuck up the royal summons for Emilia, and the half-elf exiles him from her camp. In the retelling that happens in parts two to four in their entirety.

The most significant thing that happened for me in this part of the retelling is that I found the humorous tone that I wanted for the remainder. However, at this point I hadn’t quite settled on how to play certain characters, Emilia in particular. Her behavior at the final confrontation in part four isn’t consistent with her later anxious, shy persona (which is necessary for the events of the yet unwritten fourth arc). In the original there’s some of that going on; as soon as they are introduced, neither Ram nor Rem behave like they will for the rest of the story a few plot points later.

This arc has two halves, both in the original and the retelling. First they find out there’s a curse going around. After they solve that, the whole stuff with the royal summons happens. Very distinct halves. Regarding the curse, the original novels also introduce the element of Rem wanting (and succeeding) to murder the protagonist because she believes he’s a cultist. Through that subplot the narrative ends up planting a friendly, trust-based dynamic between the Oni servant and the protagonist, and we also discover that she can go berserk. Rem never goes berserk in the retelling, although I had tried to introduce it at a couple of points. Further setups are planted in the original regarding the relationship of the protagonist with the people of the village, and Petra in particular (Petra appears briefly in the last few entries of this retelling). The original novels use that trust for them to bolster Emilia’s confidence when the time to evacuate the village comes. I did nothing of the sort in the retelling; in fact, the protagonist is kind of a dick to the villagers. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

At this point of the retelling I was also going along with the AI’s suggestions more than I would later on. As the protagonist, I was attempting to provoke the AI a bit so it would come up with interesting angles. Puck’s weird behavior in this arc is mainly the AI’s thing, which prompted the protagonist to be annoyed with him for the rest of the retelling (and that dynamic is one I have loved to write). I also was letting the AI come up with the backstory for plenty of stuff. Asking the AI to act as other characters and see what it comes up with is fascinating, and that whole part of Rem explaining her Oni nature is virtually all produced by the AI. In the original, Rem doesn’t have fangs nor needs to consume blood. That ended up setting up one of my favorite moments in this retelling, when Rem murders the protagonist through sucking him dry and crushing his throat during sex.

In this part of the retelling I let the AI produce some rather unexplained stuff, like that whole thing about tsunderes and tsundere-slaps. Tsundere is a term that mainly only those that read manga and/or watch anime know, and the AI used it unprompted. I have no idea how it recognized that this retelling had anything to do with an anime. It also produced, unprompted, that annoying village chief who believes himself to be a wizard. Myself playing as the protagonist, I was mostly focused on annoying people around so the AI would come up with interesting situations.

Beatrice is one of my favorite characters in the original novels and the anime adaptation, but I couldn’t use her that much in this retelling. However, she has a significant role in this part. The AI set a strange tone by having the hundreds of years old girl sucking the protagonist’s hand to cure it; I was so bewildered that I made it canon. The AI also came up with the stuff about her storing and taking care of corpses. No such thing happens in the original. I wove it with Beatrice’s adoration of her as of yet not introduced Mother. Beatrice is far more cooky on the retelling than in the original, although she’s very weird and sheltered to begin with.

Beyond the absence of anything involving Rem attacking the protagonist (which kind of fucks up the setups regarding how their relationship blossoms, to be honest), the biggest changes regarding the original and the adaptation is that dealing with the demonic infestation is much easier in the retelling. In the original there’s not only that demonic puppy, but a whole bunch of demonic dogs in the forests that the protagonist and both servants attempt to hunt down. In terms of setups for incoming arcs, the two necessary points are that there was a demonic infestation present (that plays out in the fourth arc), and that the protagonist and the servants sort of bonded. Ram grows dismissive of the protagonist for being useless, while Rem becomes protective and fond of him.

Regarding the second half of this arc, a prominent setup is how much the world hates Emilia, and the AI presented it almost immediately by having random people berating her as her and the protagonist go for ice cream (sort of a running joke that the AI started). That whole thing about having balls (which prompted nastier testicle-related stuff later on in their relationship dynamic) was something that the AI came up with. It doesn’t fit Emilia at all, I don’t think, but it was surprising and memorable enough, so I made it canon for the narrative.

I needed to present Priscilla Barielle, a very underused character in the original but that I thought had a lot of meat going for her. In the retelling she managed to beat up the thugs without issues almost immediately (the AI’s doing). In the original and the anime adaptation there is further back and forth not only between the protagonist and Priscilla, but also with Old Man Rom, the loot house owner from the first arc, who is looking for the thief. That whole subplot with the thief isn’t present in this retelling; in reality, Felt, the thief, is another royal candidate, and it’s found out in the first arc when the current Sword Saint (not introduced in the retelling) sees the thief holding the medallion. Felt is present during the royal summons, but completely absent from that sequence in the retelling. It hasn’t paid off as far as the first fourteen volumes go, so I don’t worry about it.

In this part of the retelling, the protagonist bonds a bit more with Rem, which I suppose is part of why they become romantically involved later on. Her sister, the pink-haired demon servant Ram, is mostly just guarded and introverted here, but not as dismissive as I played her in the third arc of this retelling. I prefer her having that sharp distinction, because there’s nobody else behaving in such a way in this story. The closest character is maybe Priscilla, but everything else about that noble is different, so they don’t intersect.

Regarding the royal summons, the original novels play Roswaal to be a very hostile lord, even though it’s part of his plan: he had assumed that the protagonist would sneak into the royal summons and then interrupt it, and Roswaal went as far as flinging a fireball at him, knowing that Emilia would stop it with her ice-based spells, which would show the people gathered there how much she cares or something (if she was that close to Satella as they believe her to be, she wouldn’t have cared). For most of the sort of philosophical conversations going on with Emilia and the council leader, as well as some of the other royal candidates’ introductions, I relied on the AI’s suggestions, and it had interesting things to say particularly regarding Emilia’s motives. In the original, Emilia’s motives are as simple and lame as something vague about wanting everybody in the kingdom to be treated equally.

I knew from the beginning that I wanted the protagonist to go nuts after interrupting the royal summons. In the original him embarrassing Emilia and losing her trust is one of the biggest setups of this arc, so I might as well push it as far as possible without breaking the AI or the narrative in general. The AI came up with interesting stuff for the leading council member to say, and also a bit for Julius, who ended up becoming good pals with the protagonist. The AI also decided to cut short the beating that the knight gave to the protagonist. There’s no setup needed there beyond that the protagonist is powerless and that he can’t support with actions his intentions to save or protect people.

I love the verbal fight between Emilia and the protagonist at the end of this arc in the retelling, although Emilia speaks out of character quite a lot. I was going more for a parody than a completely consistent narrative, which changed as I kept writing more and more entries. In reality Emilia would have never insulted the protagonist like she does here, and due to her past she’s so sheltered and anxiety-based that she would have imploded instead of lashing out; in fact, her gaining the ability to lash out instead of implode is a significant part of the fourth arc of this story for her character development. Whatever. I like rereading that conversation from time to time, because I find it quite funny. Funny trumps internally consistent in my book (at least in a ‘book’ I’m not going to publish).

Arc 3: this arc encompasses the moment that the protagonist finds himself exiled from Roswaal camp, up to when they defeat the Sloth branch of the Witch’s cult and Emilia accepts him back. In the retelling that’s from the fifth entry to the thirtieth in their entirety. In the original novels as well as the anime adaptation, this arc is the longest, but it’s far out of proportion in the retelling. By this point I was serious about making something coherent, a proper retelling, instead of just playing around.

I wanted to explore the dynamic of the protagonist finding himself as a guest in another camp, an opponent of Emilia no less. I found Crusch Karsten underused in the original, and I ended up loving her weird dynamic with the protagonist, how the guy’s focus on strange, uncomfortable fetishes molded his characterization. Some of the most serious parts of this retelling involved him dealing with this camp’s characters (I’m thinking for example of his suicide attempt through stabbing himself in the throat, and Crusch trying to stop him). Crusch also gives him the arc goal: to become a man that deserves respect. And it’s through gaining the respect of these strangers from a fantasy world that he gains the power to defeat the previously unbeatable Petelgeuse.

There were major changes in the characters regarding both the original and the adaptation. I wasn’t sure how to play Wilhelm until the AI decided it for me by beating the protagonist savagely during their first “training session”. It fits Wilhelm, who had earned the nickname of Sword Devil, and who is almost single-mindedly focused on killing the beast that slew his wife. He has a black and white mentality regarding success, which is a perfect counter to the protagonist’s at that point uncommitted attitude.

I chose to go as far as changing Ferris’ gender. In the original he’s an almost archetypal “trap boi”. He got introduced in the anime before the royal summons, and he felt so out of place in a camp that includes Wilhelm and Crusch (despite Crusch’s fondness for Ferris), that it took me out of the story. That added to the fact that the beginning of the whole royal summons thing in the anime adaptation (and the original novels) is one of the most boring moments of the story, made me think that “Re:Zero” had already produced as much brilliance as it ever would, and back in 2016-2017, when that aired, I stopped watching it, which was a mistake as it ended up becoming one of my favorite fictional stories. So yeah, in this retelling Ferris is a tough but caring stylish female who is mostly focused on protecting her camp from possible outside threats, and that despite her initial intentions ends up caring for the protagonist. Sometimes her name is translated as Felix for obvious reasons, but I prefer the aforementioned name. I ended up loving her character and that weird sibling dynamic between her and the protagonist, even though in the protagonist’s fucked up mind that familiar relationship also has sexual undertones. She’s, however, much more playful when she’s introduced in this retelling than later on, but I see it as her playing the role of an inoffensive, dumb girl for strategic reasons.

In this arc, the protagonist travels to the mansion and discovers that most everyone has been slaughtered. He experiences his first death (by this point in the original he had died many times) and finds out that he has the superpower to return to the past whenever he dies. He also grows an aversion to the clownish lord Roswaal, who remains absent for the rest of this arc, due to his inability to protect his subjects.

In general there’s much more stuff back at Crusch’s mansion than in the originals or the adaptations. I just liked that dynamic and wanted to explore more of it. The most prominent feelings of this part of the arc in both the original and the adaptation are the frustration and despair because the protagonist, due to his nature, seems completely incapable of convincing people to help him, and the terrible events are destroying his mind. I wanted to push for that as much as possible. We have plenty of instances of him trying to either convince the powerful people he knows, or venturing towards the mansion only to fail to save people with progressively worse damage to his own psyche, to the extent that those two entries of him getting voluntarily stuck in a long, long loop of two days happen. I loved writing that part.

I think the first true point of this retelling when I felt, ‘shit, I owe this thing I’m doing to give it as much weight as I can’ happened at the ninth entry, when the protagonist faces baroness Priscilla Barielle. Writing that negotiation ended up being so surprising and memorable for me (I reread it often), that even if this strange retelling wouldn’t find any audience, I wanted to do a proper job regardless. I ended up liking the dynamic with Priscilla to the extent that if the AI had suggested that she would agree to help the protagonist, I would have had her tagging along for the rest of this arc. The AI never agreed, though, which the original Priscilla also wouldn’t have done.

In general, one of the biggest conceptual changes is that while in the original Satella forbids the protagonist from revealing any detail about his power (she stops time and squeezes his heart if he does so, at one point she even kills someone else to punish the protagonist), and it causes tremendous problems for him, because it leads to misunderstandings of every kind, I consider that it falls into the bad category of conflict: the conflict that would get resolved if people could speak about it. Also, it doesn’t make sense that Satella would prevent the protagonist from revealing it. Why would she care? Although we still don’t fully know why Satella chose the protagonist, she clearly wants him to remain alive, but she doesn’t give a shit about the people in his life. So why prevent him from speaking about it? No clue. For the retelling the protagonist is fully able to explain it, but the extent of how much others will believe him will be a matter of characterization. Thus the protagonist has to learn how much to reveal or conceal. It’s more interesting that way as far as I’m concerned.

Once the White Whale kills Rem and the protagonist fails to save Emilia, to the extent that the half-elf believes that he belongs to the Witch’s Cult and had deceived her all along, the retelling goes through a sort of inflection point in which chaos theory has already affected so much stuff that many brutal changes are necessary. In the original around this time, the protagonist went catatonic as a way to protect his mind from the horrors he was experiencing. Then he gets captured by Petelgeuse and has to witness Rem being tortured to death in front of him. That makes him keep living only fueled by his wrath. Even though none of that was any longer possible for the protagonist in my retelling, he clearly needed to break psychologically in order to find his own way out of his hole, and therefore that self-imposed loop came to be. I love that insane sequence and I reread it fairly often. It allowed me to venture into the psychological depths of self-hate, self-destruction, masochism, etc., that the original narrative allowed, and that are subjects I’ve always been naturally inclined towards.

Thing is, from then on, when the protagonist finds the strength to get out of his hole, I relied on the original narrative as little as possible beyond the points I knew I had to hit: they come across the White Whale (but they can’t kill it here), they kill Petelgeuse first, but they hadn’t learned his ability to jump from body to body first, Ferris discovers a spy that triggers an explosion that signals the final assault of the Sloth branch of the cult on the village, and Petelgeuse ends up attempting to possess the protagonist. Everything else I played according to the setups that the retelling had ended up producing. I preferred Petelgeuse’s end in this retelling to the original version, the details of which I won’t get into. As terrible as that ancient ghost was, he was fueled by a one-sided obsession/love for the only person in this world he believed would want to love him back. In that sense I see him as a sort of tragic character. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve known a bit about obsessive love myself.

I’m not sure how I’m going to play from now on the relationship between the protagonist and Emilia. In the original, the half-elf is the protagonist’s romantic interest from the moment they meet each other, although Emilia doesn’t seem to be into him. The fourth arc deals with Emilia’s character development, because she needs to face head-on a huge problem that she isn’t built to handle. We’ll see how that goes in the retelling, as I’ll hopefully cover it as well.

Anyway, that’s as much as I can come up with to mention in this post-mortem of sorts. I might add some new stuff in the future.

Cast

Natsuki Subaru
Natsuki Subaru

Emilia
Emilia
Emilia

Rem
Rem

Ram
Ram

Puck
Puck

Beatrice
Beatrice
Beatrice

Roswaal
Lord Roswaal

Crusch
Crusch Karsten
Duchess Crusch Karsten

Ferris
Ferris

Wilhelm
Wilhelm

Julius
Julius

Priscilla Barielle
Priscilla Barielle
Priscilla Barielle

Aldebaran
Aldebaran

Anastasia Hoshin
Anastasia Hoshin

Mimi and Tivey Pearlbaton
Mimi and Tivey Pearlbaton

Ricardo Welkin
Ricardo Welkin

Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti
Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti

Satella
Satella (Witch of Envy)

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 30)

This part covers some of the ninth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous part the protagonist finally confronted the Witch of Frost after he fucked up bad at the royal summons in one of the first entries of this retelling. We learn that the world sucks and that it hates the Witch of Frost because she was born. I don’t like the village chief.

This entry is the last one covering all the events that became the first season of the anime adaptation.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


The plume of black smoke raising from the burning corpses widens and dissipates in the afternoon air. All the dead that your people intend to bury with honors are loaded in the carriages, and thankfully the combination of Crusch’s army’s carriages as well as the merchants that stayed behind are enough for everyone to travel back to the capital. However, some of the villagers, particularly those whose loved ones have died, refused to leave, and intend to bury their dead in the local graveyard. Nobody wanted to force those to leave despite that some cultists might remain in the proximities, so Ram just approached you near the entrance of the village to inform you that she’s staying as well.
“Someone needs to make sure that the mansion won’t suffer any harm, and Beatrice isn’t going to move any finger for it.”
“Ram, you have barely recovered from spending all your mana, right? The villagers that won’t come with us are the angriest, and they are grieving. What if they attack you?”
The pink-haired servant snorts as she holds your gaze with a smug expression. However, a faint smile appears on one corner of her mouth.
“In your mind it must be a miracle that we survived until you appeared in our lives.”
“I just don’t want you to die.”
“I accept your concern, but you should worry about your own defenseless self.” She looks towards the gathered carriages, a couple of which are already moving up to the road that leads out of Roswaal’s domains. “Get going. I’m sure you have planned to celebrate that your gamble paid off, and you should. Don’t let my sister drink too much, she can barely handle it.”
A warmth fills your chest, and you want to cry.
“Can I get a hug?”
Ram narrows her eyes and steps back.
“You just love pushing the limits of indecency, Barusu. Any of these carriages must be waiting for you. Farewell.”
After Ram disappears past some house, you move towards the empty carriages and the people gathered nearby. Some of the half-beast mercenaries are talking animatedly with some of Crusch’s soldiers. The mercs’ mounts, a species of big wolf, are either hanging out excitedly or being driven around by the half-beasts that are sitting on them. You haven’t seen neither Ricardo nor Mimi for a while, and you figure that they must be handling things on the nearby road to make sure everybody can leave in an orderly group.
Emilia calls you from behind. She’s standing there with a shy smile and holding Puck with both hands. The magical cat is licking his paws while eyeing you with an amused expression.
“Which carriage should we get on, Subaru?”, Emilia asks.
You both walk around for a few seconds until you spot a familiar face near one of the empty carriages. It’s Otto. That unfortunate bastard has stayed around after all. You approach him while a smile grows on your lips.
“So you survived, Otto, and even waited around for us to finish. That’s very considerate of you. Can we get on your carriage?”
Otto nods, but then looks weirded out.
“Wait a second, I don’t recall ever telling you my name, general. Did I?”
“Of course! How would I know it otherwise?”
Otto shrugs, and then smiles with gratitude.
“I couldn’t abandon you people after you saved me from being roasted alive, could I? Even though I admit that I thought there was no way that we would survive a full-on assault by those crazy cultists. A couple of times I looked out from my tarp, there were pieces of houses hovering in the air and being thrown around! I should have braved the mist last night. I wouldn’t have been caught in such a mess!”
“You certainly wouldn’t have been able to. Well then, old pal, I’m getting on your carriage and sleeping like a half of the way back to the capital.”
Otto is a bit puzzled by your words, but he agrees and climbs into the driver’s seat.
You nod to Emilia and then get on the back of the carriage. It’s empty and in shadows thanks to the tarp covering it. There are two benches on opposite sides. You sit close to the back, and before you realize it Emilia has sat next to you, so close that your thighs almost touch. She looks at you with a smile in her gorgeous face, and your breath thickens. You remind yourself that you have a girlfriend whom you love very much.
Puck walks down from Emilia’s arms onto the bench, next to his protegee.
“What do you think about all this, Puck?”, you ask. “You have remained in the background ever since we arrived. I miss the sound of your cat voice.”
Puck narrows his eyes suspiciously.
“I wanted Emilia to stay hidden until you people killed every last one of those freaks. You would have done so, as you have proved. But I couldn’t stop her from surfacing and then having to deal with people who hate her.”
“Puck…”, Emilia begins.
“It’s all done, can’t change any of it. I just don’t want to expose you to that kind of stuff, Emi. The world is much harsher than you think.”
Emilia lowers her head slightly.
“I knew there are plenty of evil people out there. I just thought I had left it all behind…”
“Nevermind that, Emilia”, you say with a conciliatory tone. “We both need to sleep, and we’ll be able to in a short while. Just imagine it, closing your eyes and feeling the carriage moving through that very long stretch of road while knowing that everything is over. Just like being a child again and sleeping in the back seat of your parents’ car as they drive you to your aunt’s.”
Emilia offers you a calm smile, although she’s arching her eyebrows in confusion.
“What’s a car? A kind of carriage where you come from?”
“Ah, yes. Pretty much.”
“I want you to tell me about your country, Subaru. I’m really curious about how you lived there, and also how you ended up coming to Lugunica.”
You sigh and close your eyes.
“Yeah, a long, confusing tale for another time.”
As you hear how a couple of carriages maneuver towards the road, a bunch of excited voices approach the back of your carriage. You haven’t closed the tarp, so you see a few children, two male teenagers, and a skinny tween with reddish-brown hair down to her shoulders. One of the male teenagers asks whether they can get on the same carriage, but the younger people from their group are already occupying the seats. The skinny tween girl with reddish-brown hair attempts to squeeze herself right next to you, even though the bench can’t hold her entire ass, and both you and Emilia are forced to shift yourselves further down the bench. You suddenly find yourself on the shaded back of a carriage surrounded by excited and loud non-adults. Your body hasn’t technically reached adulthood yet, but around these people you feel like you need to worry about the mortgage payments on your house. Damn it, they won’t let you sleep!
“I saw you got on this one, sir, and Petra decided that we should join you.” You recognize the male teenager as the guy you gave that sword to, shortly before you discovered that Petelgeuse had occupied a blonde teenager’s body. This guy isn’t topless anymore, he’s wearing a worn shirt torn in a couple of places that show that they’ve bandaged his torso. “We will feel safer, I think”, the teenager adds. “They say it’s a long way to the capital, and that road is dangerous.”
You are beginning to feel dizzy, and look to your right to the adoring eyes of the tween looking up at you.
“I must thank you again for saving my life, sir!”, she says excitedly. “I’m Petra. I don’t think I ever told you my name…”
This Petra person reminds you of some archetypal girl next door type that you would have during middle school, a girl that would come up to your room without announcing herself, and that would make you worry about the location of your porn mags.
You must have stared at her in silence for a moment too long, because she looks down and she tries to hide the hurt with a soft smile.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember. I’m sure you have saved many other people in this battle and others.”
“No, I do remember. It’s just… It’s been a long day.”
“That’s for sure”, the male teenager says.
“What’s… that about saving her life?”, Emilia asks softly.
You turn your face towards her to figure out how to explain it, when you stop with your mouth open. Emilia is worried, her pupils are trembling. You would have rather stayed in a carriage that only contained you and Emilia, and of course the driver, but in her case she has found herself surrounded by villagers that at any moment might explode against her for being a half-elf, a witch, or a combination of both. Her anxiety must have skyrocketed. Puck has vanished as well, you guess to avoid getting fondled by these children.
You grab Emilia’s hand and squeeze it.
“I saw them being pursued by a cultist, and I charged into the guy with my dear ground dragon. That poor girl was miserable before because I preferred to get on a carriage and sleep than ride her. My ground dragon, I mean.”
“You are a true hero, Subaru”, Emilia says without a hint of sarcasm.
“I just did what needed to be done.”
Petra leans forward to look at Emilia’s face.
“You are so beautiful! You are the witch that lives at the mansion, right?”
“Y-Yes…”
“That’s so cool! I wish I could do magic too.”
Other children agree. Emilia closes her eyes and squeezes your hand tighter.
Otto turns around from the driver’s seat.
“Everything well back there? We are departing. Hopefully we won’t run into mist on the way to the capital. Fingers crossed!”
You hold your breath for a few seconds as you feel the structure you are sitting on vibrate. The view of the village is receding. You suddenly feel yourself about to melt into the bench. How is it possible to be so tired and yet remain conscious? At least Ferris focused her healing magic on your face for a few seconds and that’s all it took for people to stop asking who beat you up. You just want to be gone for a good while, free from your consciousness, until you feel you can face another full day again.
Maybe fifteen minutes later the caravan is passing through a small village. Its sounds of people living their normal lives feels so incongruous with the carnage that the people almost next door lived through, or died in, for hours. Your gaze falls on the male teenager’s for a moment, and it seems like he was waiting for an opportunity to talk.
“Sir, do you remember that teenage girl, the blonde, pretty one?”
It ruins your mood, and you feel your chest caving in. Please, leave me alone, you want to say.
“She wasn’t from the village, right?”, you ask with a hollow voice.
“No, we had never seen her before. She barely said that she had come yesterday from another village, but she didn’t explain why. We don’t get those kinds of visitors… We also never saw her again after she fled to those woods.”
“She was a cultist.”
The children look at each other, while that male teenager’s expression sours.
“You are sure… I had wondered if that was the case, after such as sudden attack. That’s terrible. What happened?”
“She infiltrated the village, so…”
You can’t deal with talking about it. Your throat is closing. You suddenly realize how shady it looks. For these people you are one of their lord’s employees, and you were the last person who saw alive that beautiful teenager. For all you know this guy suspects you raped her, killed her and buried her in the woods. Certainly the staff of some other lords in this world would have done so. And you have a reason to feel guilty, because you did order Patrasche to kill the girl, although Petelgeuse had already raped the girl’s entire self.
“I am sorry, but… she’s gone.”
The teenager nods, rests his forearms on his knees and hangs his head down.

You must had dozed off for about twenty minutes when a tumult wakes you up. You hear someone shout some instruction, and it evokes the sudden panic that you felt when you first saw that army of half-beast people mounted of huge wolves as they ran towards your caravan.
After this bad nap, you look around confused in that half-conscious state during which you can barely tell what’s real. Some of the children are asleep. Emilia has rested her head on your shoulder and remains asleep, breathing deeply and drooling a bit out of the corner of her mouth.
“Where is the general? Has anybody seen in what carriage he got on?”
You have to think for a couple of seconds to realize that you just heard Ricardo. You pat Emilia’s cheek a couple of times, and she rouses slowly, blinking and drying her lips.
“It seems that the mercs are looking for me, Emilia”, you say. “I’ll come back in a bit.”
“Ah, sure…”
You move aside the opening of the tarp and step down to the road. A couple of mercs who were looking around while mounted on their wolves spot you, and they whistle over their shoulders. You turn around the carriage and spot Ricardo, who heads towards you. Thankfully the two meters tall wolf man doesn’t look troubled. As he approaches you, you look at the scenery. You don’t recall ever seeing this place, but given that towards the horizon in the direction of your caravan the ground goes flat, loses all trees and bushes and a seemingly endless desert of grass begins, you suppose this is the start of Flugel Road. Before the road you are standing on links up with what you suppose is a highway in this world, a couple of signposts and some half-rotten buildings seem to indicate that there’s a different road to follow, and indeed a narrower road heads in perpendicular.
Seemingly all the half-beast mercenaries except for those looking for you have gathered near the crossroads. A few of the carriages that have maneuvered that way are carrying the corpses of half-beast people.
“It looks like you are leaving us, Ricardo”, you say.
The enormous wolf man stands a few meters from you, and you realize that his frame was hiding both Tivey and his psycho sister. When you let your gaze linger on Mimi for a moment, you want to grimace. Her mostly matted, orange fur is dirty with blood, and her mouth is surrounded by dried blood and vomit. Apparently her half-beast friends see no problem with this tiny creature walking around and interacting with people even though she looks as if she’s just gobbled down a bunch of human remains. They might as well hang a board from her neck that reads ‘cannibal’. These people must look at Mimi and think, ‘yeah, this is an acceptable way to live’, while you want to dunk her head into a bucket of water. Don’t look at me, please.
“Yes, it’s time to part ways, general!”, Ricardo says with some regret. “The fighting is over, and now we ride for our headquarters so we can honor our dead brothers and sisters.”
You want to hang your head low, but you force yourself to look up at the guy, even though his huge mouth full of teeth is in the way.
“I am really sorry about every one of them that died. In particular about that half-sloth guy, for some reason. I suppose he was symbolic for this whole operation, you know?”
“I told you it was alright. I told you, didn’t I? I’m not sure. They fight because that’s what we do best, and what we love. And we can change the world for the best, can’t we? It just takes cleaving through enough people. That’s how it’s always been!”
“You know, Ricardo… Despite the constant terror and the waking nightmares that I was about to get ganged up on by a bunch of cultists who would make a pincushion out of me, now that I’ve survived and I can look back at those hours, I enjoyed that whole teaming up to murder people thing. It was a bloody good time!”
Ricardo snaps his head back to laugh loudly. Some of his merc pals laugh as well. You spot both the half-boar mercenary and the fox scout, and you point at them.
“I’ll miss you guys as well, mainly because I talked to you. You did a good job.”
They both thank you. Ricardo offers you his hand to shake. Although you try to, you can’t close your human hand around his. It also feels like it’s made of iron.
“Ricardo,” you say, “I’ve set my goal in life to be able to cleave a guy in half just like you.”
He closes his eyes and grins, and then he grabs you and messes up your hair while he almost bursts your eardrums with more laughter. When he lets you go, it feels as if your scalp has detached.
“You’ll need to eat more meat, general!”
Tivey raises one index finger and takes a step forward.
“G-General, something else…”
“Ah, yes. I’m also glad to have met you, Tivey Pearlbaton. You are the only person I’ve met in this world that I can say with absolutely honesty that I would never want to do your job, under any circumstances, and yet you do a great service for mankind, and I suppose for half-beastkind as well.”
Tivey adjusts his monocle and seems confused about your words.
“Th-thank you, sir. It’s also interesting for me to learn a-about how people different than me d-do things, and think.”
Mimi moves forward so she stands next to her brother. She avoids your gaze, and her tiny psycho eyes are secreting some terrifying, mostly transparent liquid. Ah, those are tears. She’s also sniffling.
“What’s the matter, Mimi?”, you ask nervously. “Does your belly hurt because you ate more people?”
Mimi shakes her head and then she rubs her eyes with her tiny fists. Tivey puts a hand on her shoulder.
“M-Mimi, the general is about to l-leave. You wanted him to do something, d-didn’t you?”
You swallow as Mimi looks down and wrings her hands. Tivey shrugs.
“S-She wanted a hug, general.”
You shiver, but it’s not as if you can afford to disappoint her. You crouch in front of Mimi to lift this little psychopath up to your chest. There are even globs of human meat caught in tangles of her fur. Her stench invades your nostrils and it makes you dizzy and nauseous. She stinks like a wild animal forgotten for weeks in some basement.
She looks at you with teary eyes as her pursed lips tremble, and she opens her arms. Best to get this over over quick, you think. You squeeze Mimi a bit, and against your best judgement you feel sad.
“I guess that if I disregard that you belong to an opposite camp, that you have the hygienic sense of a years-long hikikomori, that your favorite thing in this world is murdering people through supersonic booms coming out of your mouth, that you are a cannibal, and that whenever you are near me I fear for my life, you are pretty sweet.”
Mimi sobs close to your neck.
“I love you too, mister!”
When you lower Mimi to the ground, she runs up to Ricardo and hugs his leg. The wolf man picks her up and sits her on his shoulder. Mimi cries softly.
You clear your throat.
“Well, I guess that’s that.”
You stick around as they mount their differently sized wolves and they organize another caravan. Emilia has also stepped down from the carriage and is observing the whole situation likely feeling out of place. It seems that Wilhelm, Ferris and Julius have already said their goodbyes, because they merely nod or wave a hand as the others leave.
You suddenly remember, and run up to Tivey while he’s shifting on his saddle to get comfortable. You point to his big satchel.
“Shit, Tivey. I completely forgot. You are still holding on to it, aren’t you?”
“W-What…? Ah, yes. Though I don’t know w-why anybody would want to keep this thing…”
He takes out Petelgeuse’s Gospel pinching it with two fingers as if he wants to touch it as little as possible. You grab it confidently.
“We have the best library of magical tomes in the kingdom. If these things should remain in the world, they should be stored in those bookshelves.”
You stand there and wave as the Iron Fang diminishes in the distance. Up to the moment when you could no longer tell the details, Mimi had looked over her shoulder towards you as if she were about to turn back. You pray to Satella that you never cross paths with that little monster again.

You dream that you are walking through a forest under a thick canopy that keeps you in the shadows. You wander for a long time while you smell green. You are looking for something, or trying to find your way back to something. If feels like you have been walking around for an hour, but then you come across a clearing. Maybe twenty meters from you, some worn out stone steps climb to a raised platform on which stands an old ruin, some megalithic temple covered in vines. Its entrance is like a wide open mouth, its insides black. Maybe you will find her if you venture into the ruins.
When you open your eyes, the sunlight is entering through the half-open tarp. Must be a few minutes after sunrise. Everybody else is still asleep. Petra has hugged your right arm and is resting her head on it, Emilia and you have rested your heads on each other’s. You listen to her breathing softly.
For a moment a surprising thought enters your mind, one you would have never expected to feel again: you are home. You belong in this world. You have met far more people that you appreciate here than in your previous world, although you try not to think about your parents. You don’t feel the need to go back. You don’t want to go back. You were lucky that some freak mistake, or Satella’s inscrutable decision, snatched your miserable bones from that dreary world to drop you in this one. You can see yourself enjoying a long romance with Rem, marrying her, having children and then raising them to carry some sort of legacy in this world, not knowing a thing about where you truly came from.
Your chest swells with warmth, and before you know it a few tears are running down your cheeks.
“Subaru, why are you…?”, Emilia begins to ask softly, but she yawns.
You dry your eyes.
“Nothing. I was thinking that it’s alright, you know?”
She rests her heard on your shoulder as she seems to think about it.
“We survived. We see the sun rise again. I suppose that remaining alive is something to celebrate, even though we get used to it.”
You turn your head to look down at her as you feel the weight of her head on your shoulder. She holds your gaze with her beautiful purple eyes that reflect nothing but trust. She separates her wet lips slowly to smile. You realize that you’ve held your breath for a moment, and that not only your heart is beating fast, but you feel your blood concentrating in your crotch. You might as well have woken up next to her in bed. I’m doing this to Rem, you think.
You clear your throat and straighten your back. Emilia seems to sense that you’ve become uncomfortable, because she sits properly as well.
“We… should have never fought, Subaru”, Emilia says as softly as she can, maybe hoping that none of the sleeping children can hear her. “You are the only person I’ve felt truly comfortable with. I should have understood your intentions at the royal summons no matter the shame I felt at the time. We could have argued about it without punching each other verbally. But it’s alright from now on, okay? You will remain by my side, and after this is over we will return to the mansion.”
You swallow. You don’t think you are imagining that characteristic warmth in her tone, and for once you don’t like that your pants feel much tighter.
“Listen, Emilia, ah… After Roswaal decided that Rem should stay in the capital to secure allies, we grew really close to each other, to the extent that we started dating. It’s pretty serious already. We had been harboring thoughts and feelings of that kind for a while…”
Emilia’s brow is trembling, and she looks down at her lap as if thinking. But then she shakes her head and looks at you confused.
“But she didn’t stay behind. And besides, she’s done nothing but berate you, treating you as close to an uninvited guest as she could. Did you really… I mean, I don’t understand what you are talking about.”
“Ah, you thought I said Ram.” You chuckle. “Yeah, that’d be fun. Dating her would imply getting stepped on verbally every time you shared a room with her. Despite the occasional thrill that could provide, in very small doses, I meant Rem, her sweet sister.”
You shake your head while you smile, but when you look back at Emilia, she’s arching an eyebrow.
“What do you mean, Subaru…?”, she asks.
“Well, like Ram put it, her sister loves useless and broken things. We were meant for each other.”
You begin to scratch your head when the confusion in Emilia’s face makes you shiver. You hold your breath until she speaks again.
“Subaru, Ram doesn’t have a sister. Who is this Rem?”


Some observations. With this entry I’ve finished what you could consider the first season of this retelling. I will write a post-mortem regarding how the retelling turned out so far, and how it compares with the original as well as with the anime adaptation. I’ll also reread some of the entries to retouch them a bit, and then I’ll upload them to my more public blog. Although I hardly doubt anybody is reading these words, hanging the retelling for the public at large means that strangers might come across it and enjoy it, instead of the people I have on my friends list on here.

If someone would have told me just on the first of November that thirty days later I would have written a novel-length retelling of the entire first season of one of my favorite fictional series, I would have told that person to quit smoking crack and to lose my contact info. Although I tried my best to publish a couple of books around two years ago, the whole process burned me out, particularly because virtually every writer I met in person made me sick to my stomach in one way or another. I couldn’t connect with any of them. After I uploaded those two books and they barely sold any copy, I drafted the entire first volume of a next novel which due to its complicated plot, or what passed for it, had to be divided in two. After I finished that first draft I realized that I had gotten out of it psychologically as much as I needed, and there was no point in continuing further because there was no audience. I didn’t write any fiction at all afterwards, until this month. At least working on this retelling has made me rediscover the joy of writing fiction for the hell of it, to inhabit those fictional worlds, hang out with cool characters and explore interesting conversations and/or situations. So I call that a success as far as I’m concerned.

Worst part about this is that I’ll likely get recalled back into work next week. While I’m working full time I can barely do anything else but rest when I’m not at the office. I do want to continue and retell “Re:Zero” up to volume fourteen, which is the latest translated, but it will be hard.

In any case, I have posted the following video a bunch of times, but it’s still fun, and summarizes in eight minutes humorously all the events that this retelling has covered so far (with edited footage from the anime adaptation): Re:Zero IN 8 MINUTES. As it becomes obvious, though, some of the stuff has happened so differently in the retelling that although they lead to the same result, more or less, some steps in between are completely different.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 29)

This part covers some of the ninth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous volume, the ancient ghost that called itself Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti finally got to meet his beloved. The protagonist realizes that he can’t delay confronting Emilia, and therefore his regrets, any longer.

The part after this one is the last that covers all the events of the original novels that became the first season of the anime adaptation.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


You turn around and walk back towards the house that Petelgeuse had picked. Once you open the door and step inside, you hope that Emilia has decided to follow you. Feeling your hands tremble like this should be comforting after you nearly lost control of your entire body, but you can only remember Emilia’s face back at that clearing, what feels like so long ago, and how impotent you had felt every time you thought about travelling to Roswaal’s domains and attempting to save the half-elf’s life.
When you clear your throat and turn towards the door, Emilia is inside and closing it. She’s eyeing the shelves you half-broke when you threw yourself against them, and the random stuff that fell out of the shelves. Spatters of your blood have stained the wooden floor all the way from where Emilia is standing to the shelves, as if you paced back and forth while having a nosebleed.
You scrutinize Emilia’s expression, her half-frowned brow, her tense lips, and the pain and worry that glistens in her purple eyes. You are struck by who beautiful this half-elf is, in a way that you had forgotten. Although her anguished face was amongst the last things your brain tortured you with when you tried to sleep back at the duchess’ mansion, when you stand a few steps from Emilia and have to hold her gaze to explain why you came back, her otherworldly beauty makes you feel as if her having invited you to live in the mansion of her absent clown lord was a mistake, a temporary lapse of judgement in the half-elf due to how happy she was that you both retrieved that medallion that she should have never lost. This woman is as close to royalty as it gets in this kingdom, and you are an idiot who has embraced death a few dozen times only because you needed to experience that pain again.
“Did they beat you up?”, Emilia says, worried.
“… What?”
“Your face. When I came to the plaza I noticed you were there, and you hadn’t received those injuries. I see you exit this house while holding on to those two, one of whom is the knight that beat you unconscious back at the royal summons, and your face looks as if one of them held you as the other punched you repeatedly.”
You let out a nervous laugh while you dismiss the notion with a hand gesture. You grin to alleviate her worry, but you realize that you are probably showing your bloodied teeth.
“Nah, I did it to myself! I figured it was about time, you know? Besides, that cat-girl will heal me after she rests, so maybe in around half an hour, or eight.”
Emilia sighs. She covers her eyes with her palm as her shoulders slump.
“It’s all so confusing. I don’t understand, not a bit.”
“That knight, the captain of the Knights of Lugunica, is not that bad of a guy after all. We’ve been helping each other ever since we arrived at your lord’s domains and had to handle the cultists’ units. He even told me I have the qualifications to become a spirits user!”
“I… I asked around and they told me that you organized this whole operation, that you had found out that the Witch’s Cult was going to attack today, and that they would have killed me as well as everyone at the village. You allied with two royal candidates so they would lend her armies to save me.”
“It was both Rem and me. The organization part, I mean. I couldn’t have done it on my own. But still, yeah. And their leader turned out to be far more dangerous than we had imagined. I can hardly believe we managed to kill that guy…”
Emilia lowers her head slightly as regret shows on her face. You want to know what she’s thinking, but like Puck told you, she must have barely slept these past few days, mostly because of the argument you both had and that ended with Emilia exiling you from Roswaal’s camp. Added to such a determined assault on her life, her thoughts must be spinning.
“I don’t know what to say… It doesn’t sound like something that the person I fought with, and told I never wanted to see again, would do. I did… tell you to never come back, that we were never to see each other again.”
You step forward and hope that the dried blood clogging your nasal passages won’t prevent you from speaking.
“Emilia.”
She lifts her face towards you, apparently surprised by your serious tone. She has separated her lips slightly, and her eyes are moistening as if she’s holding back tears.
“You will have a hard time believing some of the things I’m about to tell you, but please have in mind that I’m telling the honest truth. I can’t get into it right now, but that first time we met at the inn, when you thought I was involved in stealing your medallion, I was seeing a half-elf for the first time. I hadn’t either seen a full elf, or any percentage of elf. Furthermore, the name Satella didn’t mean anything to me, except that if I heard it it would have reminded me of a fattening chocolatey treat from back home that I used to enjoy quite a bit. When I first saw you, beyond how remote you felt because of your extreme beauty, you were wary of me beyond that you thought I might have contributed to stealing something so valuable. You were trying to hide who you are, what you are, that you were born a silver-haired half-elf in a world where almost everyone reacts with irrational hate at the very sight of you. You believed that I would repudiate you as well. Why wouldn’t I, from your perspective?”
Emilia’s pupils are trembling as if she’s forcing herself to hold your intense gaze, and her chest is rising and falling faster.
“You didn’t know who Satella was…? You aren’t from Lugunica, but I have a hard time believing that she wouldn’t be known in any part of the world.”
“It’s the truth. After we talked for a bit, I wanted to help you. You seemed to be in serious trouble, and I also was in serious trouble, so I guess we could relate to each other. But you kept your guard up. You constantly expected anyone to damage you, or betray you. You must have thought for a while that I would manipulate you along the way and then throw you in the dirt, stealing your medallion.”
“I-I did think that, yes. I shouldn’t have, because that’s not how you are, but…”
“But then again, that’s what you had to expect. Why wouldn’t I have betrayed you? Why would I care about hurting a half-demon?”
Upon hearing that insult, even though you are making a point, her eyes water. Although she dries them slowly with her clenched hand, she sniffles a bit. You don’t expect her to talk, so you continue.
“We retrieved that medallion from the teenage thief far too easily, particularly in comparison with these nightmares I’ve gone through later on, but in any case we enjoyed a meal together. You must have been thinking that I was some great guy because I let myself be seen in public with you, right? That I didn’t care about the reproachful glances that other patrons likely cast at us.”
Emilia stares at you in silence as if she’s wondering how you can read her mind.
“I’m not as good as you thought back then”, you say with some sadness. “I had found myself having to exist in this world with nothing but the clothes on my back. I brought a few more things, particularly my cellphone, but a bunch of thugs beat me up half to death during my first day in Lugunica, and stole it. I was happy to interact with you, to do something good for someone I felt sympathy for. To reduce even a little the pain of the stream that flows through every dimension. Truth is, you could have bid me farewell that very same day and returned to Roswaal’s mansion as if you had never met me. My life wasn’t your responsibility, I was just someone who had helped you. You could have thrown me away. Most people would have. But you brought me home with you and gave me a new life.”
Emilia opens her mouth and attempts to speak, but she closes it immediately as if she’s afraid that she’s going to let a sob come through. Her lips are twitching.
“During the period I had your trust,” you go on, “before I ruined everything at the royal summons, I met the Emilia that everyone in this world would know you to be if they could look past the conditions of your birth that they can’t tolerate. You are kind, sweet, honorable, sensitive and loyal to those who deserve it. You are someone who doesn’t deserve in any way or form to be hated, let alone by most of the world. And your friendship was what made me able to be a person again. It’s what anchored me in this world. Even for that reason alone I will forever fight for your sake, and help you achieve whatever you set your mind to.”
“Subaru, I…”
She bursts out crying both out of her eyes and her nose. She tries to stop it with her palms, but her back is convulsing and her legs trembling. An aching pain pierces your heart, and you walk up to her and embrace her tightly. Surprised, she stiffens for a moment, even though her tears are dripping on your neck, but then she frees both of her hands, that you had trapped between you both, and she hugs you back.
Although you have more to say, and she must as well, you don’t want to burden her with more words to consider. This poor girl had to suffer you almost ruining her only chance to move up in this world, you angered her even more when she gave you a chance to explain yourself, and after failing to sleep properly for a few days because you had screwed with her emotions, a terrorist group murders a bunch of people because they were trying to get to her, kidnap her and torture her to death. Knowing her, she must feel guilty about all of it. She already hates herself for having been born a half-elf, or at all. You wonder if there’s anybody who deals with mental health in this fantasy world, because Emilia might be headed for a psychiatric institution. If she allows you to remain by her side, you’ll try to make her life easier as she recovers both emotionally and mentally. In comparison you feel that you’ve had it easy.
After some time she ceases to tremble, although her silent tears keep running down your neck. She’s breathing softly against your skin as she lets her body lean on you.
“Emilia,” you begin quietly, “before I came here I regretted stuff, mainly being unable to find the strength to do what I needed to, what everybody else seems to do effortlessly. But I never regretted my actions towards another person. However, ever since I broke that promise to you and not only I attended the royal summons, but I even butted in to insult those old bastards, there hasn’t been a single night that I haven’t wished to go back and respect your decision. I think I believed that above your promise there was another one that I made with myself, that I wouldn’t allow any harm to reach you, that I would stand in between and get hurt so you wouldn’t. But you didn’t need my help. Even if you couldn’t defend yourself, that magical flying cat of yours has your back. Still, when I learned that it wouldn’t be enough, that the Witch’s Cult would launch such an attack that you would almost certainly die, I couldn’t stay put, because above all I couldn’t deal with you dying. I had to become someone else, someone capable of earning the respect of the people who could help me save you.”
“I have heard enough”, she says with a soft, tired voice.
Emilia’s silver hair is tickling your face. She breaks the embrace and steps back. You open your mouth maybe to apologize, because she must have grown sick of hearing your excuses, but she’s breathing softly through her mouth and she looks relieved. She pulls out a tissue from somewhere inside her dress and blows her nose.
You swallow.
“If you still want me to leave, to never see me again…”
“You are a dummy, Subaru.”
That silences you. Emilia lifts her head towards you and smiles. Then she turns towards the house’s main door.
“I already spoke with the injured sir Wilhelm. Maybe the merchants that have stayed will be able to carry all the remaining villagers, as well as the fallen, back towards Crusch Karsten’s mansion. Sir Wilhelm explained that the duchess agreed to take care of the wounded and organize proper burials for her people, and now also for the villagers that the cultists killed to get to me. We better get things moving as soon as possible, because I need some proper sleep.”
Your breath thickens. You catch up to Emilia as she’s stepping into the street.
“Besides,” you say, “why would it bother me that my friend is a half-demon? I’m already in love with a full demon!”
Emilia turns her head sharply towards you.
“What? Who is that person…?”
Rem must be on her way to Crusch’s mansion through the abnormally vast and flat stretch of grassland that Flugel Road cuts through. In less than a day, you figure, you will return to that mansion, and all the fighting and the fear of getting murdered at any moment will have ceased.
“Many things have happened at the capital ever since we last saw each other. Way too many… I’ll try to convince Crusch to let us ransack her wine cellar for a proper party, both to celebrate that we survived and to honor the dead.”

As Emilia and you were returning to the plaza you came across two of Crusch’s soldiers who were hauling the remains of two villagers towards a line of corpses. Everybody seems to have understood that the fighting has ended, because there are already four distinct areas where corpses are either lining up or piling up. In the opposite area of the plaza you spot Ricardo carrying under each arm the limp body of a half-beast comrade. In an area close by shine the armorial bearings of the House of Karsten in the bloodied corpses of the human fighters. The cultists, all identifiable by their black robes, or sometimes just because they are chopped in half, are getting thrown into a pile that you guess someone is going to burn before you leave. It seems that nobody is bothering to gather the lumps and globs of meat and bones that remain of those people, some innocent, that the tiny psycho has blown up. That means she likely won’t be processed for war crimes, which would end up with the half-beast lieutenant blowing up everyone in the court.
As you accompany Emilia, who is trying to avoid looking at the corpses, your gaze falls on two people that are standing near the center of the plaza and chatting amicably: Julius and Wilhelm. The old man is standing by himself without anguish in his aged face, and you can only tell that he got seriously injured because his military uniform is torn horizontally in the abdomen, showing the bandages underneath. You walk towards them until a few seconds later you realize that Emilia either hasn’t noticed or preferred to speak with someone else, because she’s beelining towards Ram. The pink-haired maid, whose servant uniform is also stained with flowers of blood where she got stabbed, is quarrelling with some concerned villagers. You realize there’s a small white figure perched on Emilia’s shoulder and staring back at you. It’s her great spirit guardian, Puck. When he holds your gaze, he nods, turns around and fades away again. What’s with that self-satisfied face?, you think. As usual, you didn’t do shit!
Neither of the knights have realized you are approaching them. Wilhelm should have by this point, so he must be interested in the conversation enough to have lowered his guard.
“Sir Wilhelm!”, you say animatedly, “I should have known you are too tough for something as minor as getting disemboweled to stop you.”
Both Julius and Wilhelm turn to you. Julius offers you a small smile, although Wilhelm looks tired from up close.
“Mr. Natsuki. It seems there’s life left in these old bones of mine. Julius explained your confrontation with the Archbishop. It seems you defeated him as he were taking possession of you. For all the decades I have trained, I don’t believe I would have been able to best the madman in those circumstances.”
“Well, as you saw during the royal summons, maybe my biggest talent is pushing people’s buttons until they’d rather implode than keep pursuing their lifelong goals.”
Wilhelm nods, and in his eyes you sense that his respect for you has grown to the extent that he may consider you close to an equal. You feel like contradicting that impression. If it weren’t for Satella and the power she gave you, you would have never been able to pull off any of this. You would have had to witness the people you came to care about getting killed one by one. No, most likely you would have died even earlier. You are a bystander tangled in events you have no business handling, starting from the day that, for no apparent reason, you were snatched from your own world into this one.
You are startled by a loud cry of sorrow coming from some streets away. When you turn towards the source, even though the nearby houses are blocking the view, you try to focus your hearing so you can tell whether there’s another attack underway. Even above your quickened heartbeat you pick up from what you had discarded as background noise that quite a few people seem to be either arguing with teary voices or even crying somewhere in the village. When your gaze returns to the knights, Wilhelm seemed to be waiting to explain it to you.
“After an assault of this magnitude, the survivors return to their abodes and some, or many, find out that their loved ones haven’t outlived the danger. We will need to deal with it on our way back, given that Ferris believed that enough merchants stayed when the fighting broke out at the plaza.”
“Ah, Ferris has gone to organize the evacuation with the merchants.”
“That is correct.”
You have gone cold, and suddenly you want to sit down, grab your knees and hide your face behind your forearms. Without really wanting to, you gaze at the corpses of villagers lined up nearby. You recognize some of the faces from the people that were guarding the bottlenecks while holding on to their worn swords and pitchforks, but there are also women, and a few teenagers and children. You never cared for these people, not to the extent that you kept them in your thoughts and wished to visit the village, but they didn’t deserve any of this. A fouler thought creeps into you: you could have prevented those deaths. You can prevent those deaths. You just have to grab the nearest dagger lying around, hide in some house, plunge the dagger into your throat and wait for a while. You would have to start the fight from zero, but maybe next time the lines of corpses belonging to your side would be smaller. If you repeated the fight long enough, the accumulated foreknowledge could make it so you wouldn’t lose any. You contemplate pursuing that idea, and your legs tremble and your mouth dries. You want to be alone.
Julius’ serene voice returns you to the present.
“Tell me you have received good news, Subaru. Lady Emilia has embraced you back into her camp, hasn’t she? I can’t imagine she wouldn’t after this operation succeeded.”
“She wasn’t… that clear about it, but after the fight we had back at Crusch’s mansion the last time we saw each other, she’s certainly more receptive to me coming back. Wilhelm… have we truly won this?”
“If you are referring to the amount of soldiers and innocents caught in the way that we have lost, I must say, as callous as it might sound, that there’s hardly any mission or battle that doesn’t end with regrets such as these. I will turn the question around. You had correctly deduced that the Petelgeuse I killed years ago wasn’t the only one, and you are the person he attempted to possess last. Would you say that this time he has been thoroughly vanquished?”
“Ah, you mean that the ancient ghost might have jumped to another one of his Fingers. Maybe the remaining vessels lay on that pile of corpses, but even if any of his Fingers remain out there, I have no doubt that Petelgeuse is finally gone. I saw him inside of me, I mean I witnessed his true inhuman form, and he dissolved into nothingness. Petelgeuse is gone.”
Julius sighs, while Wilhelm nods and narrows his eyes.
“Then the threat is extinguished. We have victory.”
From a corner of the village, a man’s voice screams with a mix of sadness and anger, and you recognize Ram’s voice attempting to placate the source. You turn towards them. Although you can’t tell many details from this distance, a man with long sideburns and a wart under his nose, who is holding a dead child in his arms, is shouting at Emilia even though Ram is attempting to stand in the way. You excuse yourself to Julius and Wilhelm, and walk quickly towards Emilia’s side.
The villager is crying his eyes out even though he’s frowning as much as those muscles allow him to, and veins are bulging on his temples. As he shakes, the male child’s arms swing limply. You dare look at the child’s face. His eyes and his mouth are open, but his skin looks cold, and he must have gotten some mortal wound on the opposite side of his body given how much it has stained the villager’s shirt.
You faintly remember having spoken to this kid back when you lived at Roswaal’s mansion and you came to the village, even though all those memories seem hazy and distant now. Your throat is closing up.
“This is your fault, witch!”, the villager screams at Emilia. “My wife and child! They are dead because of you!”
Emilia is trembling. You can only see her profile, but she has gone even paler, and tears are jumping from the corner of her eye.
“I-I know it’s my fault… I’m sorry…”
“Sorry!? Sorry doesn’t mean anything! If you hadn’t appeared in our lives, Witch of Frost, the cult wouldn’t have attacked us! If you weren’t here, my family would be alive! Your tears don’t mean a thing!” The man throws the dead body of his son at Emilia’s feet. After sobbing for a second, he looks up at her with disdain. “Are you going to run back home to your lord’s mansion now that my family is dead?”, he says, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
Emilia attempts to talk, but she chokes. She presses her trembling fists into her eye sockets.
Ram lifts her palm and addresses the villager with a stern voice.
“Your losses are regrettable, and yet that doesn’t give you the right to berate lady Emilia. She isn’t in charge of the Witch’s Cult. Those fiends are solely responsible for the mayhem. I assure you that all the villagers will receive the appropriate compensation from our lord.”
“Appropriate compensation!? What amount of money is going to solve this!? And where is lord Roswaal!? He chose to present that half-demon as a royal candidate, painting a target on this village!”
“He has left us to die!”, some other villager shouts from behind the bereaved man.
Some of the villagers that were wandering around and even helping the soldiers haul corpses are gathering close by. Amongst them is none other than the shithead chief of this village, whose wizard costume, more appropriate for Halloween than for any corner of this fantasy world, remains unblemished as if he’s hidden himself in a cellar for the entire fight. So many good people have died but this fucker survives unscathed? There’s no justice in this world.
You are about to intercede when you catch the expression on Emilia’s face as she turns away from the man. It’s a close echo of how lost and devastated she looked that day at the clearing, what now feels like so long ago, when she had believed that you had betrayed her, that you belonged to the Witch’s Cult and that you had manipulated her all along to deliver her to the Archbishop so she could be sacrificed. It didn’t take much longer for her mind to break.
As sharp pains pierce your heart, you rest your arm on Emilia’s shoulders and force her to walk away from Ram’s stone wall. After you have separated her enough, you hug her tightly holding the back of her head. She’s drenching your neck in tears.
“T-This is w-what I have done,” Emilia mumbles almost out of breath, “b-because I exist…”
You press your cheek against hers, and her shivers run through you.
“Nobody is at fault for anything just because of their condition of birth. These people don’t feel like they can blame something as faceless and monstrous as the Witch’s Cult for their actions, so they need to pin the blame on whoever they believe provoked the cult. You are the victim in all this, Emilia. The cultists intended to torture you to death. You don’t need to carry this guilt.”
Emilia tries to contain herself from wailing.
“But I feel it… that it is my fault…”
You have made her walk slowly until you reach the a nearby rock formation, which makes you feel that you aren’t as exposed to everyone’s gazes. After a couple of minutes her back has ceased to convulse, and her eyes are like a leaky, silent faucet. You hold Emilia’s beautiful face between your palms, and she looks up at you with her reddened eyes as she sniffles.
“Emilia,” you begin with a shaky voice. “if you could go back in time and you knew that this attack would happen and all these people would die, would you return and do things differently?”
“How does a hypothetical situation matter…”
“Please, Emilia, I’m asking you seriously. Please… Would you return again and again until nobody died?”
She closes her eyes tightly to try to stem her tears, but when she opens her eyes again the tears come back.
“Would I be a goddess in that scenario? Would I be free from my emotions? Maybe I should say that I would return… But I’d have to live through every minute of this nightmare again, fight every step of the way, and accrue every wound in my mind. There’s only so much I can take, Subaru. I feel… like I’m about to break. I feel it down to my bones. Maybe this is the best scenario. Maybe in all others the Witch’s Cult caught me. I can’t… go through something like this ever again. I want to be at peace.”
She leans forward as if she wants to hide her face, and you embrace her again. As her heartbeat pounds against your chest, you remember Roswaal, that clown bastard who you haven’t faced for a long time. You doubt that Emilia would have gotten tangled in this fight for the throne of her own volition. He must have manipulated her somehow. This girl can’t tolerate continuously a world that seems designed to wound her, even kill her if given the chance. Even if she can defend herself with her magic, and her familiar is powerful enough to destroy the entire world, you feel the need to keep Emilia safe, to fight until you secure whatever conditions are necessary so she can be happy.


Cards on the table: I don’t believe that this confrontation with Emilia is a proper payoff for the setups back at part four of this retelling. Back then I felt like writing a sort of wild parody than anything internally coherent. I love their idiotic argument so many parts ago, but that Emilia doesn’t sound like the person who she solidified to in this retelling. Emilia has always risked losing her mind because of all the hate she has to tolerate, added to her terrible past and her sensitive nature, and that’s something that I’d rather explore with her character.

Also, that damnable village chief keeps popping up. The AI made him up entirely maybe as early as in the third part of this retelling; in the original I think the chief or leading elder is some old woman.

I have already written most of the following part. I wished I could have finished this one yesterday, but my entire afternoon was wasted on me nursing a migraine, and today I still have to deal with a residual headache from it.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 28)

This part finishes covering the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

In the previous part, Julius handled the current boss battle mostly by himself, until Emilia came and stole his thunder through blowing Petelgeuse’s head at point-blank range. Then that whole setup of the Archbishop having recognized the protagonist as a Finger comes into play.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


You barely pay attention to where you are running, nor can you focus with how dizzy your mind has gotten. You step on puddles of blood and almost trip on a few of the corpses. The dirt you are leaving behind passes in a blur.
“Where are you fleeing?”, Petelgeuse says in your head. “Where is the ally that will fight this battle for you, undeserving champion? But I understand now Satella’s will, the brilliance of her design. A simple book, no matter the greatness of its predictions, can get lost or stolen. A living Gospel? That’s another matter! With your predictive blessing and both my diligence and my authority, we will scour this world until we find a stable vessel for our witch. You will witness it, you will see it through to the end.”
As you run and red pinpricks cloud your vision, you wonder whether to stop next to any of the weapons, most of them blood-dyed, that lie on the dirt. But Petelgeuse is already inside. What if you die and wake up in Crusch’s bed only to find out that Petelgeuse has returned with you? As a fear you had never felt makes you tremble from head to toe you realize that you might be about to lose all control of your body, and that you will be jailed like any of those Fingers were, doomed to witness this ancient spirit puppeteering you to murder anyone he wants or needs, probably including the people you appreciate, until he resurrects Satella and that witch consumes the entire world.
You can barely feel your legs, as if you had woken up suddenly from a terrible nap in a bad posture. You stop in the middle of the street. No, you haven’t stopped, your body has stopped. Your body turns to the door of an open house, and it calmly opens the door and closes it behind you. You manage to separate and move your lips to let out an anguished shout, and as you recover the feeling in your hands, you pound them against a table. You are in someone’s living room.
“The process is irreversible”, Petelgeuse says calmly. “In a few minutes you will be fully under my control. You, your consciousness, your spirit, will be trapped inside, and I will have to listen to you first complain and plead for a long time, but eventually you, Satella’s champion, will realize the futility of it. I fell out of grace because I shut my ears and my eyes to any but the choices I had already made, and our witch decided to correct it through reorganizing Sloth with a bicephalous leadership. I accept her decision! Misjudging that half-demon was but a minor hindrance in our plans!”
Your back tries to straighten itself. You fight against it not because you want to stay hunched over, but because you need to reassert the control of your own body. Anguished noises escape from your lips, and tears brim from your eyes.
“I’m still here”, you say with a raspy, wavering voice. “You won’t be able to make me disappear while I still fight.”
“You are indeed here, you troublesome believer, and in a way you will remain in this body forever, as I said! No matter, I will listen to your pointless lamentations! Our many interactions up to this point must have prepared me to tolerate, despite your shamelessness and foul demeanour, our impeding living arrangements.”
The door opens forcefully and hits the wall as if someone kicked the door in. You hear labored breathing, the footsteps of two people.
“Subaru! Are you well!?”, Julius asks.
You turn towards them. No, your body turns, and also your mouth moves, forming words and pouring a voice by itself.
“This body isn’t Natsuki Subaru anymore, but the Archbishop of Sloth, Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti. Despite the disgraceful nature of you rotten unbelievers, I am glad to make your acquaintance again, spirits exploiter. You have found me in a good mood!”
You witness the horror in both Julius’ and Ferris’ eyes. The knight unsheathes his sword as his face twists in anger.
“Leave that body immediately, fiend! Subaru, I know you are still in there. Don’t stop resisting!”
Your lips open to talk again, but amongst the points of your body that haven’t gone numb, you find one thread of control in that area of your face and you pull. You manage to close your lips, to purse them so no sound escapes. Your hands move to your mouth and forcefully stretch it open. You regain control of your legs and stumble backwards as if drunk.
“This is… still… my body… you piece of…”, you slur with your mostly numb lips.
Julius is pointing his sword forward as if to charge at any moment. His cheeks are twitching. Your eyes are already failing to obey you, and from the corner you can feel more than see Ferris trembling.
Petelgeuse’s deep, slimy voice talks inside of you, and it feels like being bound, gagged and blindfolded while your kidnapper leans in your ear.
“Never has possessing a Finger felt so difficult! Then again, all the others understood and believed in our plan to resurrect our witch, while you, despite having been blessed, keep struggling against it! Which were the words you used to disparage Satella’s endless love, back at those woods? You said that if Satella embraced you, you wouldn’t be able to do or be anything ever again, didn’t you? Satella, in her everlasting love and comprehension, has designed our bond! As I command your body, you will learn, you will get accustomed to pursuing Satella’s love without hindering yourself with the sloth of what you consider free will, which only serves to increase pain and despair! Don’t you worry, I will work diligently to return our witch back to us, and you will be rewarded for eternity!”
Most of your body that had tingled like numb limbs after a bad nap now you can’t feel anymore, and only some other parts of your body, that you can barely locate, allow you a restricted control. It reminds you of the time you failed at that clearing, when Emilia’s face of betrayal burned inside your eyelids, and after she died, the gargantuan physical form of her great spirit looked down at you as he froze you to death, along with the rest of the world. You don’t know what to do, you’re paralyzed, imprisoned, guided and denied of free will, all at the same time. You can only yell inside your mind to stop this, to no avail. Petelgeuse has accrued hundreds of years of experience in possessing human bodies, and for all you know there’s no way to reverse it. You can’t win.
That sword’s tip, that Julius holds aimed at you, is close enough that maybe you could regain enough control of your legs to drag your body into the weapon. It would only take it piercing a carotid artery, and hopefully Ferris will understand, accept your decision and avoid healing you.
You concentrate all your willpower, while yelling inside your head, until you locate your leg muscles and coordinate them to move as if you were breaking the shell of ice that had fastened them to the ground. One step, another. Julius stares at you with the expression of someone who witnesses a zombified friend lunging towards him. The sharp point of his sword is a few centimeters away.
“You are trying to die!”, Petelgeuse shouts in your head with an amused tone. “Even though Satella has designed this possession, had intended your use as a Finger, you hope that her blessing will send you back to a past where you will regain your free will! My fellow believer, you are ignorant to the end! I assume you picture the safety of whatever point of the past you have returned to every time you fled because you wouldn’t fight, but this time you will bring me along with you, and you will have undone your allies’ diligent efforts to massacre my fellow believers!”
As you keep inching forward with a shambling body, you keep arguing with yourself frantically. If you impale yourself on the sword, will you be playing right into Petelgeuse’s hands? Will you truly wake up back at Crusch’s bed only to find that your body hosts two souls, and only his in control? Petelgeuse can’t know that for sure, he is just interpreting this possession as Satella’s will because he needs to believe that he never lost his witch’s favor. Just a few inches more, and that sharp point will plunge into your carotid. Your vision is getting blurry, but you can sense in Julius’ fearful eyes that he understands, that he won’t retract his weapon.
“You were born in a body that would betray you at the worst times,” Petelgeuse’s deep voice says quietly in the chamber of your mind, “that one day, when you had barely begun to walk in this world, would cease to function, and your spirit, likely failing to remain behind, would disappear into an abyss where nobody would be able to reach you. Give up on this life, on this pointless diligence, you irrational creature. Why hold on to something that only brings you pain? You were meant to give up control here, so has our witch willed it. Accept it. Move on.”
Without realizing it you’ve regained control of your teeth, only to clench them. If you could only lunge forward, that sharp point would impale your neck right through your carotid. You locate some muscles in your back, then you concentrate your willpower in pushing yourself forward. As your body was about to impale itself, Petelgeuse’s retrieves the control from you as if he had been playing around until that moment, and instead of piercing your neck the point slices your cheek open. You feel the burning sensation, as well as the wound bleeding, like hazy memories of a distant injury.
“You intended to die, didn’t you, Subaru?”, Julius asks as both his lips and his brow tremble. “Don’t give up. You are courageous, someone who does what is right no matter how much it will jeopardize the rest of his life. Remain and fight.”
Petelgeuse moves your eyes to glance at Ferris. The cat-girl’s shoulders have slumped, and her arms are dangling. She holds your, or Petelgeuse’s, gaze, but when the tears that had grown in the corners of her eyes fall down her cheeks, Ferris looks away. She has the expression of someone waiting for a veterinary to give her pet the final injection.
“He’s already gone”, Ferris murmurs. “Can’t you see that? It’s not Subaru anymore.”
Thank you for the vote of confidence, Ferris, you think. If you managed to impress a snob like the captain of the Knights of Lugunica with your talent to annoy people until they lose their minds, even if Petelgeuse eventually wins, you will twist his balls to the end.
You locate all the points of your body that can respond to your control to any degree, surrounded by tingling oases of numbness, and you pull those threads as hard as you can. Your body stumbles backwards. When you sense that you are about to hit some shelves, you throw your body into them. A bunch of stuff crashes around you or fall on your head. You wrestle control of your lips, but Petelgeuse steals it and shouts out loud.
“You shameless moron! Do you intend to damage this body? Do you prefer to injure yourself to the extent that we will both be trapped in a broken shell, with only my authority able to move us around while our corpse-like body hangs limp? Is that how you would prefer to keep existing? You lack any common sense! I must have truly disappointed our witch for her to punish me to this extent!”
You find the threads that move the fingers of your left hand, even though you can’t feel it at all. You close your shaking hand into a fist and focus all your willpower into launching it against your nose, hitting it with a loud crack. While Petelgeuse fills the chamber of your mind by yelling something, you launch your fist against different parts of your face over and over. The vision of one of your eyes has narrowed and reddened.
Petelgeuse, who hadn’t ceased to shout at you while you ignored him, seizes the wrist of that hand with your other.
“You won’t stop nor listen to reason no matter how much you inconvenience even yourself!”, the ancient ghost shouts angrily. “You aren’t even a person, you are a wild animal! What a horrible curse I must live through. Blessed be Satella, I must regain her favor as soon as possible!”
You snatch some control of your lips.
“Suck… my balls… you bit-“
Petelgeuse purses your lips and shakes your head.
“Enough with this farce!”, he shouts in your mind. “You shameless beast… I allowed all the other Finger’s souls, my fellow believers in Her love, to remain next to me as I commanded their bodies to further our cause. I listened to their advice, I soothed their concerns. Their loss, having been murdered either by you or the barbarian fools that chose to follow you, fills me with shame! Now, shackled with you, I see the true extent of how those believers had blessed me with their diligence! You cannot be reasoned with like an intelligent being that deserves any modicum of respect, so instead I will punish you and train you like a wild beast! You despise giving up the control of your body, even though I share the eyes and the ears for you to experience along with me? Then you will find out the alternative!”
You feel as if you are falling, or being pulled down, and suddenly everything goes dark. You are plummeting, have been plummeting, for what feels like a few minutes through a thick blackness. You were already panicking, but now you just need to yell out incoherently.
“There’s a chamber inside all of you perishable creatures,” Petelgeuse begins, “a solitary cell that houses the essence of your soul, from which it escapes once its shell finally succumbs to time and decay. Can you imagine how small that place is, how dark, how disconnected from anything you have pointlessly held on to in that painful world outside? There will be nothing but time and your consciousness for you to contemplate the disgraceful decisions that you have pursued up to this point. How long do you think it will take until despair breaks you and you accept what you should have from the beginning, that you are nothing but an agent for our witch to help her return to Her world? But don’t you worry, once you understand, I will allow you to join my side as a fellow believer!”
You cease to fall without hitting anything, as if you had never plummeted to begin with. You are surrounded by an opaque darkness. In your terror you can’t understand nor notice anything else, but in a few seconds you feel it enveloping you, seeping inside of you, filling you. A nurturing, loving warmth as if you floated inside a womb. Have you died? No, you remain alive, at the very abyss of your self. You know this place.
“What… What is this?”, Petelgeuse says with a trembling voice. “My entire self is being caressed, like someone wants to extricate me from all the pain!”
Petelgeuse’s surprised voice comes from your side as if he were standing next to you, and when you turn towards the source, although you don’t feel like you possess a body, you see a shadowy being darker than the surrounding black. It’s a spindly humanoid with knobby joints and an elongated head in which three hazy red eyes glow, one slightly above and in between the regular ones. This guy had never been a human being, he just likes wearing them.
You don’t feel fear any longer. Fearing anything down here feels like an absurd waste.
“What, you don’t recognize it? You can’t feel it down to your ghostly bones? You claim to have worked for it for hundreds of years, to have focused diligently on a plan that would eventually distribute it to everyone, whether they wanted it or not. Weren’t you her favored at one time? So how come you aren’t able to tell?”
The shadowy figure grows closer until all three of its eyes glow like Julius’ minor spirits.
“It cannot be Her. Satella’s essence would have to be woven to…”
He shuts up, so you speak in turn.
“I did tell you that whenever I wanted I could meet our witch. Every time the mind-killing pain of dying had passed, I found myself dunked in her love, and I could speak to her, in what passes for having a conversation with our beloved Satella. I don’t understand it either, Petelgeuse, but there she is.”
Petelgeuse turns his head sharply to your right. Maybe around four meters deeper into that opaque darkness, the tips of claw-like fingers, darker than the surrounding black, emerge slowly as if floating towards you. You see the rest of her elongated hands, and then her arms as she opens them slowly like inviting you to embrace her. First two pale, half-imagined lights in the distance, her hazy, glowing purple eyes show up in the silhouette of her face. Her long black hair floats as if underwater.
“The queen of your fantasy world, in her ghostly flesh”, you announce.
Petelgeuse has stepped towards Satella. His shadowy figure trembles from head to toe, and from his mouth escape weird noises that first sound like some incantation to you, but you realize that he’s crying.
“My beloved, the light of my existence”, he says with a quivering, teary voice. “Even though I have fought for so long so one day I could meet you, to my depths I doubt I believed I would achieve it, that any of the vessels would be worthy of you. I had nothing else but you in my mind, and yet I failed to understand that you didn’t entirely approve! I disappointed you! Forgive me, please, my witch, my beloved! I will do anything, anything in this world to please you!”
As the ancient ghost inches closer, the witch’s extended hands have floated past Petelgeuse’s sides and slowly move to bend until they meet behind his back. If Petelgeuse stepped forward a step and a half, both of their faces would meet.
A bell-like, soft voice floods this dark womb, enveloping you.
“I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I lo-“
Petelgeuse’s mouth emits a moan-like noise of rapture.
“I-I love you too! I knew you would, despite it all! I knew that you would love me! I had kept doubts, I had kept fears, and yet I should have never ceased to believe for a moment! Of course you, my beloved witch, would accept me!”
“I love you I love you I love you I love you I-“
Petelgeuse barely manages to speak between his sobs.
“I had spent so much time waiting for nothing, watching the world pass me by, because I had convinced myself, in my disgraceful sloth, that I wasn’t to interfere, I wasn’t to meet, I wasn’t to touch anybody else! I was never wanted, never needed! I wondered for so many centuries why I came to exist! But you appeared. I watched you as you moved through this rotten world blessing it with your love, and then, in your final act of goodwill, you gave your love to half of the lost, pained creatures that were, unknowingly, asking for you to save them! And you keep loving them, and will love them for the rest of time, even though those left behind will forever hate you! My witch, my love! You see my shame, you see my pain, and yet you love me!”
“I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I lo-“
Satella’s elongated arms have crossed behind Petelgeuse’s back, and is drawing his face near as if to kiss him deeply. Petelgeuse hugs the witch while his legs wobble. He is wailing like a child.
“I love you too, Satella. I have always loved you more than anything in this world, and I always will!”
As if floating in slow motion, the Witch of Envy hugs Petelgeuse tighter. Her face touches his, and her long, suspended hair rests on his shoulders. Petelgeuse’s shadow is seeping into the witch, merging with her. The ancient ghost’s wails cease. Every spindly, knobby limb dissolves into shadowy shreds that are attracted to Satella’s body like water pouring down a drain, until nothing of Petelgeuse’s remains and the witch floats in place, embracing herself with her claw-like hands.

The sudden light blinds you. As you blink, one of your eyes sends pangs of pain, and it shows your hands resting on your lap as if through a red filter. You feel your head, your torso, your arms, your legs, your feet. The sensations return to your body in a shocking flood. Your clogged nose as you try to breathe through it. Your bruised cheeks. The metallic taste in your mouth. A burning area on your lips. Your back aches as if you’ve pulled something. The knuckles on your left hand are bruised and bloodied, maybe broken. Numerous painful scratches in your torso and your forearms assert their presence. There’s a faint pain in your testicles. You are so tired as if you’ve kept conscious through sheer obstinacy. Everything hurts, everything bleeds.
You let your body go limp as you sigh deeply.
“Goodbye, Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti, Archbishop of Sloth”, you say with a thin voice. “What a fucking freak.”
“Subaru!”, Julius shouts.
It startles you. You lift your head to realize that Julius and Ferris are standing a couple of meters away from you, bewildered and scared. You had forgotten. How much time has passed?
“I guess that’s that, guys. If you don’t mind, I’ll rest here for a moment.”
Julius steps towards you, but Ferris crosses an arm in front of him to stop the knight.
“This must be an act. That ancient spirit must be trying to pretend he has left Subaru’s body.”
Julius stares at you with his trembling pupils. Sweat has beaded on his forehead. Even though he’s still wielding his sword, he has lowered it.
“We haven’t known that great spirit to behave in such a way, but still, if that’s you, Subaru, will you allow Ia to enter you? A possessed body should reject her immediately. We would know for sure.”
You swallow the blood in your mouth, and then contain a cough.
“Go ahead, you can put inside me whatever you want.”
“… I will ignore the connotation of your words, and yet they reassure me. That wouldn’t have come out of Petelgeuse’s mouth. Ia, please check if our friend is in the clear.”
The small ball of red light flies out of Julius’ chest and, after an unnecessary dance, it plunges into yours. You don’t feel any different, although at this moment you doubt you can feel anything but terrible.
You cough a couple of times, and when you look back at the knight, he’s staring at you wide-eyed.
“A great spirit was taking possession of you, and you defeated him… with your willpower.”
His voice sounded like he witnessed you picking up a mountain and placing it somewhere else because it obstructed your view. You would rather hear him, or anyone else, scolding you, and that makes you a bit sad.
“Help me up, will you? I’m so fucked I’m surprised I haven’t pissed myself.”
Julius sheathes his sword quickly, and both him and Ferris lift you back to your feet. The knight keeps staring at you as if you are some display in a museum.
“C’mon, it wasn’t as easy as you think”, you say. “While trapped inside myself, I opened a portal to another dimension and I dragged Petelgeuse into it. I had to pursue him through many worlds made possible through different, incomprehensible laws of nature. I fought monsters and met gods who granted me powers capable of destroying whole star systems. After aeons of the same embittered fight, I managed to pull my final move on Petelgeuse, who dissolved into the ether. Then I came back to meet you fine people again after such a long absence.”
Julius shakes his head and laughs softly.
“I see your previous experience has served you well.”
You turn both Julius and Ferris towards the house’s entrance and then put your hands on their shoulders.
“Let’s get out of here and figure out what remains to be done until we can finally sleep. I won’t get up from my next bed for a fucking week.”
“I agree”, Julius says.
As you walk towards the door, you notice Ferris is averting her gaze while drying her eyes and her cheeks with her furry hand.
“Sorry for worrying you, Ferris”, you say softly.
“Shut it.”
The light of the sun falls on you again. You let your pals walk in front of you for a moment as you try to steady your legs. This must be it, then. Petelgeuse is gone, so the Sloth branch of the Witch’s Cult has ceased to operate until someone else occupies that seat, maybe in like a couple of weeks. You found your determination after you had settled for guillotining yourself like a hundred fifty times, you went on a road trip, you bonded with cool fantasy people, you witnessed and partook in a bunch of gruesome murders, your team killed the same person over and over, you almost lost your testicles, one of the leaders of seemingly the worst terrorist group in this fantasy world is dissolving inside a ghost, and half of the village is dead. That worked out pretty well.
“Lady Emilia”, Julius says.
The silver-haired half-elf is standing next to a puddle of blood and the upper half of a cultist’s torso. She’s wringing her hands in front of her waist while staring at you as if she can’t figure out what to say. Julius looks at Emilia and then back at you. He nods, and speaks to Ferris.
“Let’s give them some space.”
As Ferris walks away, she talks over her shoulder.
“Those wounds in your face aren’t life threatening, and I’m squeezed out of mana. I will take a look at you after I rest.”
“Sure! Don’t worry about it.”
As both Ferris and Julius walk slowly towards the plaza, occasionally glancing at the corpses and trying not to step on the bloodied dirt, you clear your throat and step closer to Emilia. Your heart is pounding so hard you feel nauseous.
“Let’s get inside that house over there, and we’ll both say what we need to.”


Some observations. If you have either read the original novels or watched the anime adaptation, you know that’s not how Petelgeuse’s story ends. In fact, that whole continuous life that included convincing two royal candidates to grant him his power, then travelling towards Roswaal’s place and stopping along the way to murder a legendary monster (they manage to slay the White Whale in the original, the motherfuckers), then killing plenty of Petelgeuse’s units and his Fingers, ends when Subaru gets possessed and he, realizing he won’t be able to control it, demands both Julius and Ferris (who is a guy in the original) to kill him. They do, and Subaru goes back to a moment in his past where they had gathered to talk strategy right after they killed the White Whale (thankfully he didn’t have to wake up again back at Crusch’s place). He does nail his second run through, with barely (if any) casualties. I don’t like how they dispatch Petelgeuse in the original, although I won’t mention the details, and I prefer my version. Ending with him meeting his witch, which is all he had genuinely wanted to do, pays off the setups better as far as my tastes go.

This link to a video is a heavily edited compilation of Petelgeuse moments from the anime adaptation. The version of the guy in the original novels is a bit more unhinged than mine (and a lot more at certain points), but the fantastic voice actor really upped the game for the anime adaptation. Plenty of ad-libbed stuff made it to the animation, and he became a very memorable antagonist. Particularly that whole stretch in the cave back in episode fifteen of the first season, I think, is stuff that nightmares are made of.

So goodbye, Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti, you fucking freak.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 27)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

In the previous part, the protagonist finds out that some people he likes remain alive. His future sister-in-law christens him with a new name. Also, Wilhelm should have gone for the head. Another one of Petelgeuse’s Fingers dies, and the following boss battle ensues.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


Before you realize it, you have left Ferris behind and moved further into the plaza to get a handle on the situation. Petelgeuse has a fresh new body, but Wilhelm, the only fighter who could deal with the invisible hands due to his mad skills, is having trouble keeping his guts inside. You get the sense that you have already lost, that none of the previous tricks you pulled on the Archbishop of Sloth are going to work anymore.
Julius is retreating backwards from the house, a street over, that Petelgeuse popped up from. The captain of the knights is wielding his sword, and you suppose that his sense of honor will force him to face the enemy, even one whose numerous weapons Julius cannot see.
You approach Julius from the side to avoid adding to the general panic that the guy is likely containing.
“You intend to face this crazy fellow, I’m guessing”, you say cautiously.
Julius is staring intently at the opening of the street that this new Petelgeuse is likely to come through. Only a slight frown betrays his nervousness.
“Someone has to defend these people and end the threat, and we can’t count on Ricardo or that lieutenant either. However…”
“I forgot to tell you. When Petelgeuse was occupying that teenager’s body before, I interrogated him about his nature, because I had gotten the sense that we weren’t dealing with a human being. He admitted that before he had been occupying human bodies for hundreds of years he was already conscious. He emphasized that he regretted being detached from the world’s affairs, and he suggested that he had seen cultures cease to exist during that period.”
Julius shoots you a knowing look.
“Most likely Petelgeuse is a great spirit, then.”
“Does that help you? I mean, you are a spirits user. Don’t you have some spell to banish the guy to another realm, or trap him in a container?”
Both of you snap your heads towards a loud crash that came from a street over. Petelgeuse’s ghostly arms surface over the roof of the closest houses, and they sway like the grass as the madman, still hidden from view, makes his way calmly to the plaza. Julius repositions himself to keep distances with the madman before he shows up, and you imitate him.
“No such spell exists, I fear”, Julius says. “Subaru, I’m not Wilhelm, but I believe I would be able to best this madman if I could see the invisible arms.”
“We are fucked, then.”
“Not necessarily. I do have a risky spell that would require your help.”
“What can I do?”
“It’s an uncomfortable and intrusive procedure. It consists on connecting our senses. We would feel, hear, and most importantly see what the other sees. In this case I would limit the sight so only I can see through the other’s eyes, meaning that I would fight an enemy whose attacks I can anticipate.”
“You had me at uncomfortable and intrusive. Fire it up.”
Julius exhales in amusement, and offers you a small smile.
“I appreciate your eagerness, Subaru. I hope you will tolerate it. And I will also retrieve Ia, as I will require her help for this fight.”
He makes a gesture with his hand, and the red ball of light exits your chest and flies in an arc into the knight’s own chest. Julius closes his eyes and murmurs some incantation. In a few seconds you feel as if another body had overlapped yours. You feel the striations of a sword’s grip pressing against your hand that is grasping it. You feel yourself wearing a fitted uniform, tighter than the clothes you would prefer to wear, particularly in the crotch area. You feel yourself wearing warm boots. You feel long hair touching your neck. You taste another guy’s saliva. You feel another heart beating next to yours. Julius wasn’t kidding around. It feels like having a stranger’s hands all over you.
“Right there, I see them!”, Julius says. “Focus on those ghostly arms, and try to blink as little as possible. Also, although it’s too late to mention this now, your body feels awful, Subaru. You should have told Ferris to check on you.”
“Thank you for the validation. So I had a reason to whine for feeling like utter shit.”
The ghostly arms move past the last house that was hiding Petelgeuse’s fresh Finger, and she comes into view. It’s a woman maybe in her late thirties or early forties, with long, black hair and already quite wrinkled. She looks more like a librarian than your Beatrice. While she keeps her head turned towards you both, she walks further into the plaza.
“Your most competent ally, despite how quickly he’s approaching the natural end of his perishable container, can no longer fight your battles for you, Satella’s champion!”, Petelgeuse shouts with a voice that sounds as if his Finger was a long-time smoker. “Who else are you going to sacrifice in this pointless effort to stop us from bringing our witch, your own benefactor who has granted you such a blessing, back into the world that belongs to Her?”
You point with your thumb towards Julius. Although the knight has his eyes closed, he sees your gesture from your own eyes, and takes a few steps forward while holding his sword in a fighting stance.
“This guy”, you say. “A kind of stuck up knight slash spirits user who might, fingers crossed, surprise you with his talents he’s trained so many years to hone.”
Petelgeuse snaps his head back.
“A spirits user!?”
Julius murmurs some words you don’t recognize, apparently directed to his spirit groupies, because all six of them multicolored balls of light exit his chest and fly around him like debris in a tornado.
“That’s right”, you say with a snarky tone. “One very well acquainted with dealing with lazy, slothful spirits who have spent longer than the span of human lives watching the world’s affairs pass them by. I figured that you two would have plenty to talk about.”
Petelgeuse clenches his teeth as his ghostly arms wave nervously. He looks like he suddenly regrets having stuck around after giving up on using Emilia’s body as a vessel.
“By the way, Petelgeuse, what was that move you wanted to pull and that you were anxious for me to witness?”, you ask. “You really made me curious there.”
“I already told you we had spoken enough, and that my actions would speak for me! But I assure you, undeserving champion of our beloved witch, that for all your hollow boldness, you will regret that tone!”
Before, you had found Petelgeuse unbelievably annoying and you wanted to yell at him to shut his fucking mouth, and now you just want to poke him until he gets so annoyed that he’ll start talking again. This is bad. You have no clue what he intends to do.
“Hey, you are the one who started talking the moment you showed up in the plaza with your new Finger.”
Petelgeuse takes a deep breath and shakes his head. He opens his mouth as if he is going to launch into another tirade, but he ends up groaning and swings some of his ghostly arms towards Julius. The knight isn’t moving, and for a moment you think of lunging forward and pushing him to safety, but at the last moment he pirouettes out of the way of two incoming arms that were about to slap him away, and as he twists he slices one of those arms at the wrist.
“What!?”, Petelgeuse shouts. “Another one of your allies can sense my authority!?”
“I already told you that Satella is doing all she can to nullify your blessing. You should expect no less.”
“Blessed be our witch for choosing the most pestiferous jester as her new champion”, Petelgeuse says with a scowl. “You make me regret I didn’t pull your head off when I didn’t yet know!”
“Plenty of people have told me something to that effect.”
Petelgeuse hunches his shoulders and focuses on swinging his ghostly arms as quickly as possible, as if he couldn’t wait to dispatch Julius. The knight has managed to jump or pirouette out of the way so far, although in some of the swings way too close to the approaching arms. At one time he had to jump between two of them as if he were in an obstacle course in a television show, but he managed to slice through one of the ghostly arms as he passed in between. The detached smoky arms twitch in the dirt for a couple of seconds before they dissolve. The remaining arms aren’t regrowing faster than Julius can cut them. Your eyes are already getting irritated by how little you are blinking.
A few seconds later, as Julius was twisting to avoid a swinging arm while at the same time slicing through it and closing distances with the madman’s body, you feel something burning across the side of your torso, as if something had scraped your skin. No, not your torso, Julius’. He had cut it too close this time, and the ghostly hand had hit him. You feel his teeth clenching, but he recovers and twists around to slice though that smoky arm as well. Petelgeuse has now fewer intact than usable hands, but it would only take a good swing for Julius to be flung out probably to his death.
“General!”, Ricardo’s loud voice comes from somewhere behind you. “You were here all along? We had been looking for you!”
You were about to turn your head when you remember that under no circumstances you should do so.
“Yeah, we’ve been a bit busy, having to kill different versions of the same ancient spirit and all.”
“You survived, mister!”, Mimi says from a few steps behind you. “If you had died, I couldn’t have dealt with that! I would have exploded every bad person I saw!”
At least if you die you won’t have to see Mimi go on a rampage against whoever she considers a bad person at that moment. Having the lieutenant so close but being unable to pinpoint her exact position makes your body tremble. You hope it doesn’t distract Julius.
“I’m helping the captain of the Knights of Lugunica with this fight, even though it looks like I’m not doing anything. Any chance you guys can try to kill Petelgeuse’s new body as well?”
Out of the corner of your eye you see Ricardo wielding his enormous slab of sharpened iron. His arm looks as big as a construction beam.
“Sure, I’ll chop that woman in half!” After he takes a couple of steps forward, he stops as if he just realized something. “Wait a second, she’s using those invisible weapons, right? That cowardly… That’s no way to wage war! I am sorry, general, but I can’t fight something I can’t see!”
“I understand that much. Well, wait around from a safe distance until we get some sort of opening, I suppose.”
You hear a quiet slithering sound behind you and know that Mimi is moving, but in which direction? As Julius has managed to close distances to the extent that if he found an opening he might manage to sprint to the madman’s body and chop his head off, because you hope he witnessed Wilhelm’s mistake and he isn’t eager to repeat it. Another swinging arm, this time from above as if trying to slap a mosquito against a surface, wounds Julius again. You feel his left shoulder muscles tearing, and you end up having to blink away the surge of pained tears in your eyes.
“Watch me, mister!”, Mimi shouts. “I will take care of this bad woman real good!”
The lieutenant is running almost in parallel to Julius’ position, as the ghostly arms focus on the knight. The half-orange, half died red with blood furry image of the tiny girl, one you can’t focus on, jumps as she opens her mouth wide. The bone-scratching tone she emits distorts the air in a wavering cone towards Petelgeuse, but in less than a second the madman, startled, uses one of his half-sliced arms as a shield. The ghostly arm explodes like a cloud that was punched through.
Mimi has landed and is standing confused.
“What? That didn’t do anything!”
“Mimi, get out of there!”, you shout. “The bad guy has invisible weapons, remember? Despite how terrifying you are, I don’t want to have to see him grabbing you and squeezing you like a lemon!”
The half-beast lieutenant was taking her time to think about it while Petelgeuse, annoyed, diverted one of his regrown arms from Julius towards Mimi, but Ricardo sprinted up to her, grabbed the lieutenant and carried her away.
You were about to yell at the mercenaries to stay further away, when something punches you hard at the height of your kidney. No, not in your body, Julius’. As you fight to steady your breath, you see that the knight has fallen on the dirt and that a ghostly arm is sweeping towards him. Julius reaches for his sword, and in a movement he jumps to his feet and then over the ghostly arm, slicing the already handless arm at the height of the smoky elbow.
That day at the royal summons, even though Julius’ beat you up to a pulp, he was restraining himself. That makes it even worse; given his ability it must have felt for him like fighting a toddler.
“You don’t throw a single ally at me, but two at once!”, Petelgeuse yells at you angrily. “You disrespect our witch with your cowardly actions!”
“You can’t pretend to be that surprised after you’ve repeatedly called me shameless in most of our conversations. If I had an army full of these superpowered pals, you can be sure I’d make them pile up on you.”
While sharp pains run through Julius’ body, the knight keeps inching closer and closer. Only a quarter of the ghostly arms remain, but you hardly call it winning when Julius needs to offset his left shoulder, which isn’t rotating right, and that it would still only take any of the flailing arms grabbing him to lose the knight. You would regret sacrificing this guy to go on with your life.
Some people shout first surprised, and then some angry, from the opposite side of the plaza, from which a couple of streets lead you to the uphill road that ends in Roswaal’s mansion. The shouts increase to become a clamour. Sharing your senses with Julius is making you a bit dizzy, which gets combined with how tired your body was from before, and from the pains that run through Julius’ body as his remaining healthy muscles help him evade the ghostly arms. You want to turn your head towards the clamour. Will you have to deal with a new batch of enemies?
Julius cuts off another limb, and as the detached part dissolves next to him, the knight holds his sword so it points forward as if he were about to charge.
“I’ve had quite enough”, he says with an irritated tone.
An energy surges through you, through Julius’ body, something that feels close to Ferris’ healing magic, but that instead activates your body like a few coffees hitting at once. The multicolored minor spirits that danced around Julius slide towards his front and orbit Julius’ blade quicker and quicker, tracing circles of light. Then Julius jumps forward while shouting something you can’t make out, and the multicolored lights blend and gush into a stream towards Petelgeuse. The madman lets out a noise of surprise, and as he jumps backwards, he folds his ghostly arms to shield himself. However, when the stream crashes against them they all dissolve from the point of impact to the swollen shadow coming out of Petelgeuse, and the madman is thrust backwards. The body he’s occupying rolls on the dirt until it hits the wall of the closest house behind him. However, she quickly stands up.
You end up blinking from confusion. You can’t see the ghostly arms any longer? No, they don’t seem to be there. You have no clue what kind of final move the knight has pulled off, but it must have worked. Still, you doubt it will take long for Petelgeuse’s authority to recharge.
As the clamour from the plaza gets closer, from the sideline appear both Ricardo and Mimi. The wolf man is grinning, and he lunges forward towards the defenseless Petelgeuse while holding his enormous sword at the beginning of a swing.
“There’s my opening!”
Julius is also charging, but Petelgeuse curses, and he shouts some incantation as he kneels and pounds the dirt with his fists. In a rumbling of rocks scraping against each other, the bedrock under the dirt bursts out from around Petelgeuse and closes over him, forming a solid cocoon.
Both Ricardo and Julius stop their charges. Ricardo almost falls forwards. Both fighters as well as you stand confused, trying to think about how to overcome this development.
The clamour only got louder and clearer. Some of the onlookers are yelling, and they sound just like the villagers who you had to argue with before this madness started. Witch, it’s the witch, they shout.
“That I can see!”, Mimi says.
She giggles. After running a few meters towards the rocky hemisphere, she shouts her cone of distortion. The rock explodes in a plume of debris, and the rest of the rock that hadn’t been affected either falls or crumbles. The black-haired woman jumps over the remains of her defensive spell. Mimi’s explosion must have shot rocky debris into the hole, because Petelgeuse’s current Finger looks injured as if she caught half of a shotgun blast. A dozen wounds mostly on her torso but also on one side of her neck are bleeding. Petelgeuse opens his mouth to talk, but he coughs first.
“Despite your unfair assault, I remain blessed by our beloved witch, and I’ve rested as much as I needed!”
The Finger’s body trembles, and her shoulders begins to extrude a churning shadow. Julius lets out a noise of surprise and prepares himself to charge again, when suddenly something crystal-like crashes into Petelgeuse, tearing out his right arm. He stands there surprised, and barely staggers for a moment before he turns to look at whoever injured him. Another projectile, a shard of ice, plunges through his abdomen, impaling it and remaining in place. Petelgeuse groans in pain.
Emilia is walking from the opposite side of the plaza towards the madman. She has extended her arm, with her palm facing forward, and in the blue-white aura emanating from it float ice particles.
“You came and killed all these people because you wanted me”, Emilia’s clear, bell-like voice sounds both angry and teary. “I won’t hide from you any longer, evildoer.”
Seeing Emilia shocks you. That long, silky silver hair. Her otherworldly beautiful face. You hadn’t faced her for so long, ever since Puck froze you to death and then you couldn’t find the strength to reach the mansion again, that the silver-haired half-elf had become a mythical figure in your mind, more like a character in an allegory to illustrate your regret. As you snap out of it, her use of the word evildoer echoes in your head, and you want to facepalm. This girl needs to get out more.
Petelgeuse coughs blood. Only the fingers of his ghostly arms have grown out of the churning shadow over his shoulders. His legs wobble, and he collapses on his knees as he closes his remaining hand around the shard of ice, as solid as a crystal pillar in some cave, that has impaled his body.
“The unfortunate half-demon, the volatile, unworthy vessel that doesn’t deserve to host Satella!”, Petelgeuse slurs mockingly. “You are right, we wanted you, we moved diligently to find you, and added to the pain of the world because you were born for a single reason, one you can’t even fulfill any longer! Worthless creature!”
Emilia’s frown deepens as she gets closer. She shoots another shard through her hand, and it skewers the black-haired woman’s throat.
“That’s true. I’m the half-demon whose existence only causes pain, only arouses hate.”
As blood pumps from Petelgeuse’s throat, he is about to fall on his back when he supports himself on his one hand, and then he searches for you amongst the onlookers. He stares at you intently as a smile grows on his mouth. That’s not the face of someone who has lost. A shiver shakes you.
Tears are running through Emilia’s cheeks and dripping on her fancy white and purple dress as she walks forward. Petelgeuse’s authority is elongating into defined arms that end in long, claw-like hands, but Emilia stops next to the madman and shoots a shard right through the Finger’s skull. The shard flies a few meters above the dirt before it falls and breaks into pieces. Petelgeuse twitches in place for a moment as darkened blood pours from the opened hole in his head, but then falls backwards slowly until he lays on the dirt.
You find yourself retreating step by step. Emilia is standing there looking down at the corpse. Although she just killed someone who would slaughter anyone on his way to kidnap her and torture her to death, she’s crying even more, without letting a noise pass through her pursed lips. Her anguished face is clawing at your heart. It’s your fault, you feel. I’m responsible for that unending pain. Your breath thickens, and suddenly the state of your body, after so much running around, so much fear and a few sustained injuries, is dragging you down as if you are about to pass out at any second. You open your mouth to speak, but at the same time you don’t want to draw her gaze towards you.
Julius sheathes his sword and steps forward.
“Lady Emilia, we-…”, he begins to say, but Ferris reaches him and forces him to turn around. She’s lighting her healing magic on her palm and focusing it on the wound in the knight’s abdomen.
“I’m about to run out of mana,” Ferris says while looking as if she hasn’t slept for a couple of days. “but this wound is serious. Please don’t move until I say so.”
You realize that Julius has deactivated his ability, and you only receive the information that your own senses process. Your mind is a mess. You feel nauseous, and your dizziness is increasing. You feel yourself reeling backwards. Your vision has gone blurry, the hazy figures of your allies grow distant. Suddenly a foul, nauseating feeling overwhelms your body as if you had fallen in a septic tank. As you struggle to breathe, a deep, slimy voice whispers in your ears. No, inside your head.
“Fellow believer in her love, chosen of Satella! I told you, didn’t I? You must have kept it in the back of your head as your allies fought for you, as you witnessed your half-demon friend murdering that Finger of mine. I told you I wouldn’t leave without a Gospel.”
You turn and lift your hands slightly, with your palms to the sky. No, your hands moved by themselves. A tingling sensation is spreading to your limbs as if your body is going numb. You look up and your gaze falls on Julius as he’s waiting for Ferris to cure his wound. He must have seen something in your eyes, some terror, because he snaps his head back and his expression distorts into worry.
Most of these people you have grown to consider your friends. You don’t want them to see you like you fear you will end up in a matter of minutes. You turn away and run.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 26)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

I have felt like shit since I woke up this morning, for some reason, and I didn’t think I was going to get anything done today. Thankfully I’m a masochist, so instead of resting I got to writing.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


As soon as you and Patrasche leave the woods you realize two things. First, Patrasche’s ribcage on one side is bloodied and some of the ribs must have broken. In a couple of parts the skin and the muscles beneath have split, showing the white bone underneath. You regret that you chose to ride her again, after she got flung out by one of Petelgeuse’s ghostly arms. The ground dragon’s breathing is labored and she isn’t running as fast as she has accustomed you to. You try to order her to go slower as you return to the village, but she either doesn’t understand your request or she ignores it. Although you can only guess about the anatomy of ground dragons, you figure that getting their ribs crushed isn’t beneficial for their health. Second, Petelgeuse’s flailing, ghostly hands stick out over the roofs of the houses that hide the view of the village’s plaza. The bastardly ancient ghost must have brought over all his Fingers for the assault, and he had only kept a low profile until he found you. Now that you’ve messed with his head, he might have no qualms about killing whoever he comes across, even if just to spite you.
You guide Patrasche to return to the village from the main entrance instead of jumping a fence again. You don’t want to force a beast this injured to jump. As you pass by the carriages that you were supposed to use for the evacuation you catch sight of someone’s eyes peeking from a slit in the tarp. The merchants must be waiting for the battle to end, at least those that have decided to stay, because you recall having seen more parked. You can’t be sure of much at this point, given how you are pushing your mind and your body beyond the point where you would have supposed you would have passed out.
You ride Patrasche retracing your steps around the corpses and puddles of blood. A loud crash comes from the village center, and you spot a ghostly hand that has grabbed a piece of a house. A moment later, that arm throws the piece somewhere in the plaza. You imagine that only Wilhelm would be skillful enough to deal with an enemy that attacks with unseen weapons, but you don’t know if he remains alive.
As you reach the frontline where you had parted ways with Ricardo before, the corpses of cultists, plenty of them chopped into pieces, form a sort of barricade. At the side of the street, somewhat hidden from the source of the flailing, ghostly arms, you notice Ferris. The cat-girl is standing on her two legs, and next to her, the tiny quartermaster glances anxiously at the mayhem in the plaza. Only when you dismount Patrasche and bring her closer to the cat-girl she realizes you have appeared. Despite her worry she seems relieved to see you.
“Ferris! It seems like your leg works properly.”
Her black tights are cut around the break-off point as if she had used scissors, and the magically created flesh that shows in the gap looks barely better than smooth scar tissue.
“I’ve done all I can for now. If we survive, I’ll have to keep treating it for a few days at home.” She gives you a reproachful look. “I was sure we would have ended up finding you amongst some random corpses, Subaru.”
“You need to trust me a bit more. I’m not that squishy.”
“I stand corrected.”
You realize the absurdity of holding this conversation while ghostly arms flail around, possibly squeezing the guts out of people.
“Is anybody handling Petelgeuse right now?”
“Wilhelm. He’s striking the dirt towards Petelgeuse so he can locate the arms and cut them at the wrist. They don’t seem to regenerate that fast. I doubt anyone but Wilhelm would be able to pull off that move.”
“Yeah, I don’t know what we would have done without that terrifying old man. Listen, Ferris… Could you take a look at my ground dragon? I don’t want to bother you, but she got hit real bad.”
You had expected Ferris to argue, particularly given how exhausted she looks, but she nods. You order Patrasche to lie down resting on her healthy side, and the cat-girl lights up her palm with her magic.
“Thank you”, you say. “I’ll move up to see what I can do.”
“You will do what you want as usual, but your luck is going to run out eventually, Subaru”, Ferris says.
You were about to walk briskly towards the plaza when you realize that Ram is sitting on the dirt and leaning against the wall of the house next to you. She looks at you with her usual self-assured expression, but her servant uniform has been ripped in parts, and the dried blood around the holes suggests she got stabbed. As you crouch next to her, she turns her head towards you slowly.
“Ram, you look as if you are about to pass out. You are going to make it, aren’t you?”
She closes one eye.
“I am finally safe now that my future brother-in-law has made an appearance.”
“Beyond your sarcasm, you really don’t look good.”
“Ferris has taken care of my wounds. I ran out of mana after defending the plaza so valiantly, and in case you haven’t noticed, no regular cultist remains standing.”
“I don’t want to return to the capital and have to tell Rem that you died. Fortunately I didn’t come across your beheaded corpse this time. I’m sick of storing nasty shit in my head.”
Ram narrows her eyes and then shakes her head slowly, as if it takes her too much energy.
“You make no sense as usual, Barusu.”
“Subaru.”
“Barusu suits you better. Embrace your new name.”
You stand up and brush some dirt off your pants.
“I was going to say that you can’t be a terminal case if you keep speaking like that, but you’d probably spend your last energies demeaning people.”
“This senior servant has a reputation to uphold.”
Although you get the feeling that Ram intended that interaction to be reassuring, it just soured your mood. You move up to the plaza until the source of those flailing and swinging arms that a couple of houses are obstructing come into view. Petelgeuse is occupying a man wearing the Witch’s Cult’s uniform this time. From the few details you can make out from your position, the guy is in his early thirties, and his messy hair and his somewhat tanned skin make him look like he lives in some beach town. He’s standing near the opposite end of the plaza, and his ghostly arms, some of which have been sliced at different heights, are targeting the incredibly fast figure of Wilhelm as he maneuvers to strike the ground, showering the air around him in dirt so the way the particles glance off the invisible arms reveal their positions. His speed suggests that he has a supernatural power of some kind, because you can’t imagine that a human being can possess such a speed and coordination no matter how many years he trains, and much less in a man maybe nearing seventy.
Like Ram said, every other black robe you spot covering a body belongs to a corpse of the many strewn about. Their corpses as well as those of both armies’ soldiers you brought with you, and some villagers, paint the previous battlelines in bodies and blood. If it weren’t for Petelgeuse, maybe your people could consider this a victory. Although the madman is grabbing debris or pieces of houses to throw them at Wilhelm, which could bounce and crash into the onlookers, there are plenty of villagers and soldiers staring at the confusing spectacle, and simultaneously guarding the bottlenecks from which new threats could arrive.
“Subaru!”, Julius’ surprised voice reaches you from your right.
The purple-haired knight, who is wielding an expensive-looking sword and whose white uniform of the Knights of Lugunica is splashed with blood, stares at you as if you’ve come back from the dead. You walk towards him, but he snaps out of his surprise and moves to meet up with you.
“I guess you also thought I would have been killed by the first danger that came my way”, you say.
“Ferris mentioned that you had been involved in the blast and almost killed, but that despite her trying to keep you safe you had left to locate others. We asked Ricardo to find you again. Their lieutenant also went along. I guess you came back by another route.”
“By the same one, actually. I don’t know where that wolf man and that tiny psycho must have gone. Nevermind that, I admit that if it weren’t for Ia, that red minor spirit groupie of yours, I would have satisfied your expectations. She saved me a couple of times!”
Julius smiles slightly, although a glance at Petelgeuse still fighting lowers the corners of his mouth.
“Do you feel Ia in you, as if your body’s temperature had risen and it was fighting a foreign object?”
“Not at all. I had to question if Ia was still there.”
“You must be highly compatible with spirits, Subaru. That isn’t a common occurrence. With years of training you could become a spirits user.”
“Well, for now I would be content if talking with the great spirit in Roswaal’s library didn’t take my head for a spin.”
A loud crash startles you both. It seems that Petelgeuse had grabbed a mercenary’s corpse and thrown it against Wilhelm, but after failing to hit him, it had broken a window in one of the houses. The mangled remains of the half-beast are sliding from the window frame to the dirt, leaving a trail of blood.
Julius stares at the ongoing fight while frowning, and widening his nostrils.
“Subaru, I fear we might have failed. With the Witch’s Cult having assaulted the village, and so many people having fallen, maybe Emilia has been slain as well. Nobody seems to know where she is. Failing to save lady Emilia is a regret I would carry for the rest of my life.”
“I already told Crusch about it, but I assure you, Emilia is alive. I suppose I’m being dumb for blabbing about this, given that you back another royal candidate and all, but there’s a safeguard measure in case Emilia dies, and it hasn’t triggered. I cannot tell you any more than that, except that it means with a hundred percent certainty that my friend is alive somewhere around here.”
Julius looks at you inquisitively.
“I have only questions about your explanation, but you seem sure about it. I am glad. We might win yet, to whatever extent such a carnage could be considered winning.”
You look at the crowd of onlookers, at the villagers who had survived this onslaught, some of which you recognize, like one idiot with long sideburns and a wart under his nose. They are holding on to their swords and pitchforks and kitchen knives.
You remember the beautiful teenage girl you decided to kill, and a pang squeezes your heart. Lucius notices your expression and seems about to ask for your well-being when you interrupt him.
“Lucius, that isn’t the first version of Petelgeuse that has appeared in the village. When I was looking around while riding my ground dragon, he revealed himself as occupying a girl’s body, who wasn’t wearing the cultist robe.”
“A girl? You mean a child?”
“A teenager.”
“But she must have died, right? Otherwise he wouldn’t have been transferred to this new body.”
“Yeah… What a waste.”
“Did you slay her? How did you manage to achieve it, if you don’t mind me asking, Subaru?”
“I confused her a bit until my ground dragon took position, and then my mount headbutted her against a tree. My point is that she wasn’t dressed as a cultist. Petelgeuse must have ordered all of his Fingers to come to the village. The moment Wilhelm kills this one, if he manages to, we’ll find ourselves facing another. We might need to figure out if there’s any possible cultist hidden amongst the onlookers.”
Julius nods energetically, and looks around to spot every group of villagers that are witnessing the fight.
“I’ll go around asking if someone doesn’t know any of the present members. I prefer you don’t do it, Subaru. If one of them is a cultist, he might attempt to kill you or someone nearby.”
“Good. I’ll see if I can help Wilhelm in any way. I managed to annoy Petelgeuse to the extent that he cried. Maybe I can distract him enough that Wilhelm will be able to cut off his head.”
You run hugging the side of the plaza towards some spot that will give you a clear look of this version of Petelgeuse. You confuse a bunch of Crusch’s soldiers and half-beast mercenaries you pass in front of, given that you are moving closer to the madman while unarmed. Wilhelm severs one of the ghostly arms at the wrist, but he still doesn’t find an opening that would allow him to behead the madman.
You put your hands at both sides of your mouth and shout.
“You are the most annoying person in the world, Petelgeuse! No wonder Satella doesn’t love you!”
Petelgeuse snaps his head to look at you, and he frowns in disgust. Wilhelm could have taken the opportunity, but you have distracted him for a moment and he looks surprised that you are still kicking. It seems that nobody has any confidence in your ability to stay alive. Wilhelm seems to understand your intent, because he increases his efforts to close distances with the madman’s body.
“Our beloved’s shameless champion makes an appearance!”, Petelgeuse yells mockingly. “Only our witch in her eternal love and acceptance would have granted one of Her blessings upon someone who uses others to slay his foes!”
“Too bad she didn’t give me like a bunch of invisible hands to slap ground dragons with. But it seems that we both wasted our time talking in those woods! You haven’t learned a thing!”
Petelgeuse has fixed his gaze on Wilhelm, who keeps striking dirt towards the ghostly arms. Talking to you at the same time doesn’t seem to be screwing with the madman’s coordination that much. You wouldn’t have guessed this bastard was such a good multitasker.
“You are mistaken about that, yet what a fool I would be if I expected such a hollow man, a production of this broken world, to comprehend without having the truth explained to him! I took heed of your revelations, which belong to our beloved Satella, and I understood that I may have fallen out of favor with our witch due to my single-minded diligence! I would no longer contemplate alternatives, I would have discarded any vessel but that of your half-demon! However, I will regain Satella’s favor by resurrecting her in a vessel and allowing Her to drown this rotten world in her endless love!”
“I told you the ritual will fail if you use Emilia! You just don’t listen!”
“Shameless idiot! Didn’t I just share with you that I accepted your revelations!? There was truth in those words, despite their venom and your naked attempts at hurting another fellow believer, one as diligent in his service of our witch! That half-demon, a spirits user whose past is fraught with despair and destruction, would make an unstable vessel, and I would be foolish to risk the ruin of the world as per your revelations! She shall not host our beloved! The half-demon is not worthy of Satella!”
You let out a noise of surprise. Did you actually manage to convince this guy to quit? And you didn’t even have to lie, beyond Beatrice’s role in calibrating the piece of herself that Satella implanted in you.
“Great! Then why are you wasting your time? Pack up and go home! Leave us alone already!”
As Wilhelm inches closer and most of Petelgeuse’s ghostly arms have been sliced at the wrist or even near the elbow, the madman’s mouth cracks into a devilish grin.
“It would be so easy for you, wouldn’t it, Natsuki Subaru? If I left now with nothing, I would have wasted my diligence! Would you ask me to fall into such sloth? You should have know better! Occupying this new Finger has freshened my mind. I will fight your allies until I can leave with a Gospel!”
For a moment you are tempted to get his greasy book and throw it at him, in case he just picks it up and makes his exit. However, this madman would take the opportunity to slaughter everybody you appreciate, just to assert his power over you.
“I left the Gospel back at that clearing, Petelgeuse! Not only I couldn’t read it, but it had been stained with liquids other than your blood! You got that mad at me suggesting how I prayed with my imaginary Gospel, but what have you been doing with yours?”
Petelgeuse distracts himself to shoot you a self-satisfied look, as if he held a revelation greater than those he had learned from you.
“I believe we have spoken enough, current chosen of our beloved! My actions will speak for me! I am anxious to witness Satella’s champion react t-…!”
Wilhelm had sliced through another ghostly arm, and the madman’s focus on gloating about some trump card had slowed the invisible arms to the extent that Wilhelm had found a unhindered path to Petelgeuse’s body. The old man burst into a charge that skewered the madman’s heart. The onlookers cheer.
“We have suffered too many deaths at the hands of you and your devils”, Wilhelm says with a tired, angry voice. “You will run out of Fingers.”
Although Petelgeuse’s body trembles and blood pours out of his mouth, he smiles.
“You are no longer the king’s dog that terrorized my fellow believers and could have prevented the return of our witch. Your body has decayed on its way to the grave, and so has your wit.”
Petelgeuse grabs Wilhelm’s wrist with his left hand, preventing him from pulling out his sword, and with his right hand the madman produces a cross-shaped dagger and plunges it into Wilhelm’s guts. From your position you see the shock and the anguish contorting his face. Although the old man reaches with his free, trembling hand to prevent the dagger from slicing further, with his last breath Petelgeuse cuts open Wilhelm’s abdomen, disemboweling him.
Petelgeuse’s current body collapses on his knees and falls backwards, resting on the tip of the sword he’s impaled in.
You stand there in shock, as if you couldn’t comprehend what just happened. No way that can happen to Wilhelm van Astrea, the most terrifying old man in the world, someone who would defeat every enemy he faced and eventually, not too many years later, would die a coward’s death on his bed back at any of Crusch’s properties. You shake your head and run towards the old man while yelling his name.
When you crouch next to him your body turns cold. Wilhelm’s bloody intestines have spilled out of the huge horizontal gash, and are now caked in dirt. The old man’s face is beaded with sweat, and he has the look of someone who realizes he’s fought for the last time.
“Mr. Natsuki”, he says with a surprisingly calm voice. “I feared you had perished.”
“I fear you are the one who is going to die, old man. Ferris will have to take a look at you.”
You gather his viscous intestines, brush the dirt off a bit, and try to pile them up over the wound. You move behind the old man’s head and grab the shoulders of his uniform to drag him backwards.
“Please, someone help me! We need to get him to our healer!”
Some of Crusch’s people, who by their shocked expressions know Wilhelm, grab the old man’s legs and you all haul him back towards Ferris.
“That wasn’t the last Finger”, Wilhelm says with a tired voice. Blood is leaking from the corners of his mouth.
“I know, man. We’ll figure something out. The duchess is going to wait for you, so you better not disappoint her.”
As soon as the cat-girl realizes what’s happened, she runs up to you and orders to lower the man to the ground. She motions for Tivey, the Iron Fang’s quartermaster, to approach her.
“Tivey, give me some water to clean the wound.”
You look over her shoulder to see Patrasche looking at the wounded man with a lucid, healthy expression. It doesn’t relieve you enough given that Wilhelm’s life is leaving him by the second.
Tivey pours water on the dirty intestines as Ferris wipes them a bit with some sort of bandage. As she pushes the intestines inside, she focuses her healing magic on his pierced insides. Ferris lifts her head towards you and had opened her mouth to speak when the roof of a house a street over explodes as if a fireless detonation had gone off. Then, a segment of the wall of that second story breaks apart and falls to the dirt below. The smoke clears up around a woman with long, black hair, who is also wearing a black-robe with its hood down. Rising from the swollen shadow above her shoulders, around ten ghostly arms wave nervously, and after a moment they coordinate to lower their owner to the ground.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 25)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

The previous entry was centered around Crusch’s camp’s healer, Ferris, and the protagonist dealing with the aftermath of a blast that almost killed them, and that seemed to signal for the Witch’s Cult to attack. Ferris has ended up significantly injured to the extent that the protagonist needs to save her ass. We also learned that the half-beast lieutenant of the Iron Fang is an automatic turret.

This entry ended up becoming an almost seven thousand words long beast, and one of my favorite ones in this strange retelling I’m doing.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


You have wandered a couple of streets away from Mimi’s kill zone, following the tumult of clashing metal, war cries and pain. They seem to come from the village’s plaza. Even though you clutch the dagger you stole from that cultist you killed, you doubt that it will help you at all if you come across anyone who intends to kill you.
You are leaning around a corner of a street that if you follow it to the end, you’ll get a glimpse of the fighting at the plaza. You are surrounded by plenty of corpses, of black-robed cultists, of Crusch’s crew, a few mercenaries and some villagers. Blood is flowing downhill from numerous puddles. You look around in case you recognize any of the corpses. One of the dead villagers is a meek woman that had asked you a question when you spoke to them; someone had stabbed her in the heart.
After you swallow and try to concentrate on your intention although your fast heartbeats demand that you run away, you choose to exchange your small dagger with one of the dead mercenaries’ swords.
As you were shaking the blood from your new weapon, you hear the noise of big mounts pounding the dirt. You attempt to hide, but three half-beast mercenaries riding their big wolves are coming towards you, in the direction of the village center. When the wolves come close enough they snarl at you, blowing saliva. However, the mercenaries tell them to calm down.
“General”, says a half-boar mercenary you recognize.
You wouldn’t have been surprised if the rank and file of the Iron Fang would have run you over without caring a bit if you survived. You are the person who pushed for this battle to happen, and it has resulted on quite a few of their comrades-in-arms dying.
“Glad to see you well”, you say warily. “Have you seen your captain around, or even the couple of high-ranking humans from Crusch’s camp? I mean that old man with the white hair, and the purple-haired young guy dressed in white.”
The half-boar merc looks towards the center of the village.
“We saw the captain a few minutes ago. He was taking care of some crazies. We can’t find the lieutenant anywhere.”
“Ah, Mimi and her brother are fine. Unharmed. I just talked to them.”
The half-boar’s expression brightens, and he grins.
“That’s great, general. We’ll ride into the fight to see how many we can kill.”
“You do that.”
After they leave, you stand close to the front of a house, unsure of what to do. You recall that you also don’t know if Ram is alive, but you had to focus on recalling the people you know until she popped up in your mind as someone to save. After listening to the horrifying war sounds, you figure that you might as well go where the fight is. At least you will be able to figure out if any of your people are still kicking.
You had forced your trembling legs to lead you towards the plaza when you hear someone approaching from behind. You almost piss yourself. You turn around while wielding your sword, in case you need to thrust it into a body immediately, but a huge, brown and furry hand, half stained with blood, closes around your wrist as if he was grabbing a little branch. You look up towards a big mouth full of teeth, and on top of the wolf head, a dark brown mane that vaguely looks like a mohawk.
“I thought you were food for the scavengers, general!”, Ricardo says cheerfully. “You heard the boom some time ago? I went to see whose head I had to chop, and suddenly a lot of those madmen were running through the streets! They didn’t come from the forest we swept before, that’s for sure.”
Ricardo frees your wrist, which hurts as if the wolf man would have had to squeeze a little bit more to break your bones. The guy wasn’t even fazed that you almost stabbed him; he stopped you by instinct. For a second you think about asking him for a status report, but one look at his face clarifies that he’s happy about being able to kill a new bunch of people.
“Ricardo, have you seen Wilhelm, that old man with the white hair, or Julius, the one with the purple hair?”
“I did see the old man. He was running towards the center of the village, and he asked me for you. I hadn’t found you yet, though.” A sudden worry narrows his mouth. “General, have you seen Mimi anywhere? She’s always running around, and I don’t want to imagine what those fiends would do to her.”
They all seem to love that little psycho. An appropriate mascot for such a mercenary band, you suppose.
“She’s fine! She set up a little kill zone in a dead end street, and she’s been exploding pretty much everyone who comes in, as far as I can tell.”
“Great! Ah, I’m so happy! When I don’t know where people are, it distracts me from fighting.”
“Ricardo,” you say with a serious voice. “I emphasize that she seems to be exploding anyone who comes in. There were pieces of corpses that clearly didn’t belong to cultists.”
You have no clue if this wolf man is going to consider his lieutenant’s behavior a problem, but he furrows his brow and shakes his head slightly.
“That girl… She needs a serious spanking one of these days.”
You take a deep breath.
“Yeah, one of these days. So, where are you going?”
Ricardo perks up and grins. He points with his furry thumb to the enormous blade hung on his back.
“I’ll move up to the first line of enemies and kill as many as I can! Follow me! We’ll have a great time!”
He is already running off. You sigh, but follow him. Although his legs are longer and more powerful, you are content with remaining at an increasingly greater distance. It’s not as if you are going to charge into the line of cultists yourself.
Now that someone else is worrying about the enemies you could run into, not even two minutes after you catch Ricardo cleaving through a fallen cultist’s torso. The enormous greatsword, more a huge slab of sharpened iron than a proper weapon, gets stuck in the dirt and whatever rock lies underneath, and Ricardo has to strain his muscles a bit to pull it out. Beyond him, a few mercenaries mounted on wolves, maybe the same ones from before, are picking off cultists that are trying to retreat from their assault on the village’s plaza. It seems that you inadvertently flanked the enemy. A few of the cultists are turned away from you as they attempt to stab a line of Crusch’s people.
You hear the whoosh of some wind magic coming from further into the plaza. Ram must be alive. You’d say to yourself that such a bitch wouldn’t die easily, but you’ve already known her to die in previous attempts.
A couple of cultists turn the corner, apparently coming from another side of the plaza. When they see Ricardo’s two meters tall frame and the weapon nobody should be able to hold, they stop on their tracks for a moment, but you guess that their hexes have programmed them for suicide attacks. They first throw their daggers at him, which Ricardo deflects with his blade effortlessly, making ding noises. Both cultists each draw another dagger and charge at the wolf man. He twists around and chops through them diagonally, which hurls away the top halves of their bodies as they expel a stream of blood.
Ricardo shouts over his sholder.
“Did you see that!? This time they flew farther than usual!”
“Yeah, if I was as strong as you I’d probably run around just chopping people in half as if I were mowing the lawn.”
Ricardo laughs loudly.
“Ah, what a great day! But come over here, general! Don’t need to stay behind!”
You run up to him. You figure that standing slightly behind Ricardo is the safest place in this battlefield.
The line of Crusch’s soldiers got reinforcements from a few half-beast mercenaries that must have dealt with the cultists assaulting the area from another direction. Two cultists nicked and pushed off by the attacking line tried to charge into the defense again, but for the second of those cultists his own line got closed, and he would have had to jump over his mates. He turns around and notices you both. He clutches his dagger at the side and marches towards you.
You were about to take a few steps backwards when Ricardo puts his huge hand on your back. He’s moved behind you. You look at him in confusion, and you find him staring back with a smile like a father that wants his son to jump in a pool for the first time.
“Ricardo!”, you say with a panicky voice. “This is probably not the time to be fucking around!”
He nods with his head to his sword. He’s rested the edge on the dirt, with the blade at an angle, as if it were a platform.
“Stand on it! Quick, the fiend is coming!”
A glance at the cultist clarifies that it will take a few seconds for him to plunge his dagger into your heart, and you aren’t sure that Ricardo would prevent it. Also, you realize that you were about to argue with a two meters tall wolf man with an entire average man’s weight in muscles alone.
You step back so you stand unsteadily on the blade. When you were about to question Ricardo’s intention, he roars and swings the sword quickly so you find yourself launched in the air towards the cultist. You are clutching your sword as if to a climbing hold in a rock wall. The cultist’s image, centered on the darkness inside his hood, grows as if you are about to crash headfirst into him.
“Aw, shiiiiiit…!”
You get a glimpse of the nose, the lips and the eyes in that darkness. When you are about to collide, you twist your torso to swing the blade and feel the pressure against your hand when the edge of your sword hacks into something solid. You fall on the dirt and roll a couple of times. You don’t wait a second to jump back to your feet, and retreat towards where you must have dropped your weapon.
The cultist lies on his back. The sword’s blade is stuck in his head at the height of his eyes, which must have chopped into his brain. In any case, the guy has dropped his dagger, and the dark blood pouring from the wound tells you he’s dead. You run up to him and pull the sword out.
Ricardo laughs from behind you and pats you on the shoulder, which almost makes you fall onto the cultist’s corpse.
“Your first kill! Our general has grown up! No longer a whelp.”
His smile is sincere. You feel weird electrical pangs in your chest as if you are about to have a heart attack. As you breathe out of your mouth, you blow sweat.
“I feel pretty much the same, though. Similarly terrible.”
Ricardo laughs loudly.
“That’s how it starts. A dozen more and it brings you joy!”
You rest on your knees for a moment, and motion with your head towards the line of cultists attacking your people to overrun the plaza. The backs of your enemies are vulnerable to the merest stabbing, not to mention being cut in half by this barbarian.
“I suppose that as a general I must suggest that you charge at that line’s rear and cut them all down in a couple of seconds. Some of our people might get fatally stabbed if we just play around.”
Ricardo stares at the enemy as if he needed to consider it.
“They are offering their backs and they haven’t noticed me, but I guess that’s their fault.”
He plants his feet and wields his enormous sword properly. You step out of the way.
“And I’m going to run around town to get a general picture of the situation. Have fun, Ricardo.”
“You bet!”
Ricardo roars and charges into the doomed cultists. As you turn and run away from the whole mess, you get a glimpse of startled cultists that a second ago had no clue that such a monster existed in this world.

You are running through streets that you believe will lead you to the area where Crusch had distributed the wounded, before they were evacuated. You feel yourself losing it. You slip on some half-dried blood and roll, getting a mouthful of dirt, before you stand up and run again. You feel as if you took a bath in sweat, you are dirty, your head hurts. As your legs burn, you fantasize that you’ve returned to Crusch’s place and that you have closed the door to your bedroom, where Rem waits for you. Ah, how you wish you were there already. Not pushing your lungs to the limit as you hope to run into Wilhelm or Julius, the only ones who would share your dismay at how this peaceful village has been turned upside down. What kind of life is this? How did you end up having to deal with such madness?
As your thoughts swirled around in your head, you notice some beast running around up ahead, in an area of the village where the gaps between the houses offer you a view of the forest where your crew ambushed through a bunch of crazy people. It’s a black ground dragon, that seems to be looking around frantically like a mother who has lost her child. It’s Patrasche! You call out to her, and she perks up. When she spots you, she sprints towards you. You stop in case the excited beast ends up charging into you. When she reaches you she whines as she nuzzles your face and your shoulders, breathing quickly against your skin.
You let out a tired laugh as you stroke her rough scales.
“What have I done for you to like me this much, Patrasche?”
The ground dragon lowers herself to the ground and looks over her shoulder at you.
You feel safer already. If a bunch of cultists run into you, your ground dragon can help you flee in a moment. You sit on the saddle and pat Patrasche’s neck.
“Can’t say no to you when you are offering yourself so openly. Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle.”
Patrasche either doesn’t comprehend your tone, or doesn’t care, or likes it, because she stands up proudly and then runs in the direction you are suggesting.
Less than a minute later you reach the area where the wounded had rested before, and you see the outside table where Crusch had been enjoying a home-cooked meal. Above the distant racket of battle you hear young people crying and yelling, maybe children. They sound close. You pull on the reins to guide Patrasche towards the source.
You first see two male teenagers, maybe sixteen or seventeen years old, who are moving quickly towards the fence that separates the village from the nearby field where the Iron Fang left their mounts. One of those teenagers is naked from the waist up for some reason, and has a bleeding wound on his back, maybe from having gotten stabbed. They are accompanying a bunch of people. Another teenager is a very pretty blonde girl who wears some Victorian-looking long, white underwear, as if she had been pulled from bed, and the rest are either children or tweens. One of them, a skinny tween with reddish-brown hair down to her shoulders, is crying in fear as she flees from a lone cultist who is power walking towards her like a horror movie villain.
A rage swells in your chest. These pieces of garbage, soiling and ruining everything wherever they go, now pursuing unarmed children. No way, bitch. Not on my watch!
You lean forward and point with the end of your sword at the cultist.
“That one, Patrasche! Fuck him up!”
Patrasche bursts straight into a full-on charge. The cultist hears you coming and turns around. He attempts to raise his dagger, but the ground dragon rams him on the side of the torso, making him spin around wildly, and when he hits the ground he keeps rolling while getting covered with dirt. Patrasche drifts as she maneuvers to return to the fallen cultist without slowing down, and then she sprints and leaps onto the bastard as he was attempting to stand up. Patrasche jumps on him twice, caving his torso in with horrible crunches, and as the ground dragon jumps, your ass leaps off the saddle and then you slam down hard on your balls. When Patrasche steps away from the corpse, you are twisting your toes, clenching your teeth. Your sweat has turned cold, and an electric shiver is propagating from your crotch to the rest of your body.
The two male teens run up to you as they cheer. When they see you suffering, they get concerned.
“What happened, sir? Are you injured?”
You groan.
“I hit… my balls… on the way… down…”
The two teens grimace in sympathy.
“We appreciate your sacrifice, sir.”
They give you a moment, but then they go on.
“Don’t know where that man came from. We were moving from a bad area of the village to a house that we believe is much safer, but we ran into that guy along the way.”
“Glad… to help…”
“You work for the lord, right? I recall seeing you come with those pretty servants.”
You take a deep breath and try to pretend that your balls haven’t been obliterated.
“Yeah, more or less… Listen, are you sure that house you mentioned is safe?”
“It should be”, the topless teenager says while looking around nervously. “It seemed like the fighting at the plaza is dying down. Maybe we just need to hide for a while.”
The guy is patting absent-mindedly a maybe ten year old kid who is crying and holding on to the teenager for protection. The teenager gives off the vibe that he might sacrifice himself to save these kids. You look at each of them to get a feel of the situation, and your gaze stops on the pretty teenage girl, maybe sixteen years old, who is wearing long underwear under the midday sun. Her long, beautiful hair is sunflower blonde, and she has a beautiful, healthy looking face and kind eyes. You imagine her walking through some field as she crouches occasionally to pick up some pretty flower. She’s staring at you expressionless, as if she has no clue how to deal with this situation and is just going through the motions.
Someone approaches you bashfully. It’s the skinny tween that the cultist was pursuing. She has dried her tears, and now looks up at you with adoring eyes.
“Thank you for saving me, sir! And sorry about your testicles!”
“Ah, don’t mention it.” You turn around the sword in your hand so you hold it by the bloodied blade, and you signal the topless teenager. “Use my sword and keep them safe.”
The teenager, surprised and thankful, reaches for your sword, but stops as he was about to grab the grip.
“Are you sure? How will you defend yourself?”
You pat Patrasche’s neck.
“I have this badass dragon. Don’t worry and protect these people.”
He grabs the sword and holds it with renewed determination. He looks up at you almost teary eyed.
“Now get going”, you say. “I’ll run around and figure out if anyone else needs help.”
Both male teenagers guide the mostly crying kids towards another street, but after a few steps, one of them stops and looks around confused.
“Where is that girl?”
That pretty teenager hasn’t followed them. She’s jumped the fence and is walking briskly through the field, amongst the big wolves, who only look at her as a distraction. She seems to be headed to a nearby woods, maybe a hundred meters away from the fence.
“She might think that those woods are safer, but I don’t like that she’s alone… Don’t worry, you go up ahead. I’ll talk to her and figure out what we can do.”
The topless teenager nods and addresses the kids for them to follow him. You turn towards the fence, and Patrasche jumps it effortlessly. The ground dragon walks at a brisk pace amongst the wolves, some of which have stood up and are retreating calmly, but still surprised that a ground dragon passes through their area.
You contain a couple of shivers as you focus on the blonde teenager. She’s halfway across the field. You call out to her, but she doesn’t slow down. You order Patrasche to follow her. The girl has probably panicked and thought that the village isn’t a safe place to remain in, and you can’t blame her. However, you have no clue what’s in those woods. Other cultists might be hiding there for all you know.
When the blonde teenager reaches the edge of the woods, she turns around and stands with her arms at her side. You are stricken again by how beautiful she is; in your previous world she would have seemed at home on a billboard, promoting some beauty products.
“Hey,” you begin to say tentatively, “are you looking to hide in the woods? I don’t live here and I wouldn’t know which place is the safest at this moment, but I want to figure out if you’ll probably be okay.”
You freeze with your mouth open. Your body knows before your mind has realized it. The blonde teenager is smiling at you as if she had never smiled genuinely in her life, and her eyes are dead. You feel like a rat who has figured out way too late that nobody would just leave a piece of cheese on a weird contraption in the middle of the kitchen.
You order Patrasche to turn around and run back towards the fence, but after a moment, the teenager shouts behind you.
“Authority of Sloth, Unseen Hands!”
You hunch over and look over your shoulder, but it feels as if you’ve merely glanced at the ghostly arms elongating in the air towards you when you are picked up from the saddle by the back of your clothes, and a tremendous force throws you backwards towards the trees. You yell and brace yourself. You hit some branches, which scratch your back and hit you in the head, but as you were falling from that treetop, you manage to hold on to a branch. Although it breaks, you fall to the shaded ground on your feet.
The blonde teenager, that you have to remind yourself is actually Petelgeuse, is still standing on the border of the woods, and is currently focused on the field. Your yells as well as seeing you fly through the air seemingly startled the wolves, some of which are snarling towards the teenager. Patrasche is shaking her head and clawing at the grass. When her reptilian gaze finds yours, she runs towards you, but Petelgeuse sweeps the field backwards with one of his ghostly arms and slaps the ground dragon away as if she were a fly, flinging her towards the village.
“No! Patrasche!”, you yell.
You don’t even see the ground dragon land, because you notice that the ghostly arms are coordinating towards the source of your voice. You’re shaking. Your heart beats rapidly. You turn and run deeper into the forest. You can’t think clearly not only because of the headache, but because it’s just been too much. You are too tired, you are freaking out, and for a while you have been restraining an urge to find some isolated house in the village and hide in a corner.
You hear the noise of wood splitting, branches breaking, leaves shaking. The ghostly arms must be passing through the treetops.
“Are you running away, blasphemer!?” The teenager’s voice is incongruous, as if she had been incompentently cast as the villain in a play. “After you shamefully deceived me back at that clearing so that old lackey could murder me!? How can you stand, how can you breathe, when you can’t have any pride!? A lowly thief, stealing the predictions granted by our witch, even though as someone blessed by Her, he should know how important they are for the believer!”
As you hide amongst the trees, avoiding the sound of crunching branches, you shout in a rage.
“Petelgeuse! I swear, if you have killed my ground dragon, I’m going to kick you in the cunt!”
“You will produce my Gospel!”, the teenager shouts, sounding closer. “You will bring me the Gospel you stole, or else I will have you witness every person you know getting crushed as they cry for you to obey me! Tell me, show me where my book is, you rotten unbeliever!”
You rush through the forest, running without any regard to stealth. You figure that these woods can’t be that large, and it isn’t safer to run through whatever field awaits you on the other side, not with Petelgeuse pursuing you. You are breathing hard.
“Every time I meet you I assume you are going to ask for your worthless book. You should assume I won’t say shit about it. Let’s leave it at that.”
You don’t hear any movement in the woods anymore. You lean your back against a trunk, and dare look back towards the shaded trees you’ve left behind. You see the teenager. She’s standing plenty of meters behind you, between two trees and with a fern bush hiding the lower half of her body. Her pretty face is just staring at you, her arms limp at her side. You feel a pang in your heart, as if there was someone else inside that body, another consciousness that is witnessing powerless how the madman, whoever or whatever Petelgeuse actually is, puppeteering her.
“Why are you using that body, Petelgeuse? She must have had a life before. How did you end up possessing her?”
Petelgeuse lowers his head slightly. Is he coordinating his ghostly arms above the treetops towards you, so he can pick you up like the claw in an arcade machine?
“But you know already, blasphemer! Before she became a esteemed, useful Finger, she felt abandoned, untouched, unloved, lost in this cold and hollow world! None of the rotten unbelievers that surrounded her could understand her yearning, her knowledge that the world owed her more! True love! An eternal embrace that would repay her faith and never let her go! Satella, our beloved, heard her prayers, and a Gospel found its way to the abandoned believer. This body wasn’t lonely anymore! The pain, the tears she had endured had a reason for existing! Her goal, her purpose had been revealed! She made her way, against the wishes of the filthy unbelievers, back to us. She understood then that this world, that offers nothing but pain after pain as the perishable bodies decay towards their inevitable ends, is but an illusion, a blindfold put over her eyes so she couldn’t look towards the eternal love that would save her! She had wished for love! She had pleaded for love! Now she had the answer. She merely had to follow what the Gospel predicted, and she found where she belonged. Now she helps us on our way to grant not only believers like her, but the entire world, the love that will free every single being from their loneliness and their pain!”
Some nearby treetops shake, disturbing the leaves. You push yourself off the trunk you were leaning against and run in perpendicular towards another. Along the way you see how Petelgeuse, standing still, follows you with the teenager’s eyes. You rest against another tree. What can you do? Petelgeuse isn’t that eager to kill you, not when that means losing his book forever. You have knowledge that he needs, but you suppose he won’t have issues torturing you again, maybe going as far as tearing limbs off you, as long as you remain alive. What if you lose some piece of yourself? What part of you would you lose and yet decide to continue in this life without resetting? Maybe just a pinky.
“You aren’t a human being, are you, Petelgeuse? Not in the same way that I am.”
“You believe yourself greater than me even in that regard! You contemptible pissant! I have occupied and experienced the lives of many human bodies! I have seen, heard, felt, breathed through these bodies for hundreds of years, far longer than you have existed or will exist! But that still dwarfs the uncountable span of time I experienced before. Years passed by in impotence, unable to affect the course of lives, shackled by the belief that I wasn’t to interfere in the rising and decaying of peoples, of cultures, of civilizations. So much time shackled by such disgraceful, shameful sloth, while yearning to find what I needed and nothing, nobody could provide! But our witch does! Satella always has, always will! And the same way she had embraced in her love half of this rotten world, she would forgive my shameful sloth!”
You keep blinking to keep the sweat from irritating your eyes. Your increasing nervousness is tingling in your legs like white noise.
“Unless every person I’ve met in this world has lied to me, four hundred years ago that Satella didn’t embrace shit. She drowned people in her shadows, as many as half of everybody alive back then. That doesn’t sound like love, Petelgeuse! Those people were murdered!”
“Murdered, you unbelievers repeat! Shameless fools! Those people were saved!”
“Ah, of course!”
“You keep mocking Her, who granted your blessing. Half of the world back then never died. They remain inside of our witch, freed from their perishable carcasses, dissolved into their essences, and to this day they experience the Witch of Envy’s eternal, loving embrace! Is that death? Murder, you said! That was your choice of words, you hollow unbeliever! You talk to me about murder!? What have you done, what have you savages done to my fellow believers in Her love? You ran them through, mutilated them, exploded them, caused them untold pain, and when they writhed on the ground in agony, unable to defend themselves, did you extend your hand to them? Did you soothe their pain? Where was your mercy as you plunged your swords into their hearts, as you crushed the brains out of their skulls? You speak to me of murder, you question our witch’s love, when you do nothing but destroy, when you know nothing but hate!”
You are as tense as a stretched rubber band about to break. Above the birdsongs and the critters and the buzzing insects you imagine the ghostly arms stalking you, waiting for any opening.
“You weave a convenient tale, Petelgeuse. If the armies of this world hadn’t acted against you, you and your followers would have murdered countless innocents. Even if you argue that attacking the village was done as a retribution for our ambushes in the forest, that doesn’t change that if we weren’t here, you would have massacred everybody, killed Emilia and destroyed the world as a consequence. You can and will spin it however you want, but that’s evil stuff.”
You don’t hear a peep from Petelgeuse for a few seconds, and you were about to move to another tree, just in case Petelgeuse is trying to flank you, when he speaks again with the teenager’s voice.
“Our witch desires everyone. She wants, She accepts everyone. No matter your sins, no matter your pains, She will embrace you and pour into you Her eternal love. You have received Her blessing, and yet you doubt this!”
“I don’t need to doubt what I know is true. She does love unconditionally. I am sure that no matter how much time passed in that darkness, she would never tire of offering her love.”
“Then why would you mock and belittle and rebel against Her!?”
“You would feel her love eternally, and yet would be unable to do or be anything else than Satella’s beloved ever again.”
The teenager’s bitter laugh flows between the trees, an aching echo of how she must have sounded before Petelgeuse got anywhere near her.
“What else would you need!? You want despair!? You want pain!? What else awaits you in this world!? Satella’s eternal love is the solution! Not only for your lifetime, but preserved inside her shadow, for the rest of time! You, shameless, rotten unbeliever, were blessed by Satella. She must have had a reason! She must have felt you calling Her, yearning for Her love, and She found Her way to you! Beyond that, She gave you one of Her blessings, as if you were special amongst the believers! Maybe at the core of your hollow self remains a sliver that understands. You must have gone astray!”
Although you don’t want to consider Petelgeuse’s words, you do wonder again, like you have many, many times, and even asked Satella directly, why would she grant you that ability. Why does she care? But maybe you are questioning something that happened by mistake.
“I never received a Gospel. All that stuff about jerking off, I made it up, in case you ended up believing it. So Satella never found her way to me, not how you believe it happens.”
Petelgeuse goes quiet again. You attempt to sneak towards another tree that might allow you to figure out where the teenager is standing. Every dry leaf on the ground betrays you as you step on it. While you hide behind a new tree, you lean towards the shadows and you spot the teenager’s nose and lips, as well as her white underwear, at an angle of around forty five degrees from your position.
“Unbeliever,” Petelgeuse starts with a conciliatory tone. “I need my Gospel back. It contains all the predictions about my role in Her plans. There’s no other copy.”
You laugh, but you only need to remember the recent events to get enraged again.
“More reason not to give it to you then! Why would you try to appeal to my sympathy? But the funniest thing in all this nonsense is that your book actually doesn’t work! I assume that it must have told you you needed to assault the mansion today, and access Roswaal’s inner sanctum to perform the ritual, because that’ll resurrect our witch in my friend’s body! But that doesn’t happen! Emilia dies, and as a result, her great spirit destroys the world!”
“Your words are not going to confuse me, unbeliever! What merit would I give such a rotten tale against the predictions She had put on my hands!?”
You were about to retort with something resembling an insult, and yet a genuine laugh pours from your mouth. Is that it, Satella? Was that your intention? You don’t know if you even believe it, but you want to push it into Petelgeuse’s brain, if only because it will hurt him.
“You know Satella gave me a blessing. That’s undeniable, I believe you said. And yet you failed to predict that I would come here to thwart your plans. Your predictions didn’t warn you, didn’t they? Maybe you aren’t as favored by our witch as you think!”
Petelgeuse produces the sound of anguished pain through the stolen body, which would had made you want to hug that girl until she didn’t feel it anymore. You leave your hiding spot and stand between two trees. You see the front half of the girl behind a tree, and she’s trembling. Petelgeuse turns his head towards you and steps into the narrow corridor of trees, maybe fifteen meters in front of you. From the swollen shadow churning over her shoulders wave arms that lose themselves in the treetops, disturbing the leaves.
“I have done so much for Her, and yet it is as you said! Why would Satella give a blessing to you, even one that allows you to see my Authority!?”
You are pretty sure that being able to see the invisible hands is Beatrice’s doing. Not that you want to correct Petelgeuse’s self-doubt.
“You are clearly a servant of the Witch of Envy. If you haven’t been alerted of my intervention by a book that predicts the future, that means that the presence that writes those predictions, or had written them long ago, doesn’t want you to know. Isn’t that reasonable?”
The teenager is clenching her teeth as she trembles. Tears are growing in the corners of her eyes.
“It is! You undeserving, rotten unbeliever, it is just as you said! The predictions should have alerted me, and they didn’t! Why would that be!?”
“Because you fell out of favor, of course. Satella gave me a blessing that allows me to see your Authority, which is your most powerful weapon. That means that she intended me to stop you. If you don’t quit your plans, you would be working against Satella’s wishes.”
Petelgeuse groans in pain as tears jump from his eyes.
“Damn you, rotten vermin! There’s no way that Satella wouldn’t want to return, and that’s my only goal by performing the ritual!”
“Maybe it’s not that she doesn’t want to return, but that the ritual performed on Emilia will fail, as I told you, and that will destroy the world. If the world is destroyed, our witch cannot return. Wouldn’t it make sense for her to want me, her new champion, to stop you?”
“Stop lying! You’re trying to confuse me, unbeliever! I know Satella’s will better than anyone else, even if She changed it! You said that you never received your Gospel, that means you couldn’t have received that prediction! You shameful, lying refuse of this hollow world…!”
You go quiet for a moment. The teenager has finished talking, and although she’s breathing heavily and tears run down through her face, she returns her gaze to your eyes, waiting for you to certify that you were selling nothing but lies, that she doesn’t have to doubt herself again.
“Petelgeuse,” you begin calmly, “do you want to know what blessing Satella bestowed upon me? Every time I die, I return to the past, which means that I get to relive the same events but with the foreknowledge. I don’t need a Gospel, Petelgeuse. I am the Gospel.”
The teenager snaps her head back, and she narrows her eyes at you.
“That can’t be true! That’s the only…!”
“The only explanation.” You advance step by step while staring at her. Over her shoulder, the arms are waving nervously, and yet there’s fear in her lovely eyes, as if you could crush her in an instant. “I can meet Satella whenever I want and bathe in her endless love. I have done so over and over. Her ghostly presence, with those hazy purple eyes, embraces me as her bell-like voice pledges her love to me. Have you ever seen her ghost, Petelgeuse? Have you heard her beautiful voice?”
You stand a couple of meters from the wide-eyed teenager, whose expression has frozen as her tears drip off her chin.
“I am now Satella’s lover”, you say, “You have disgraced her with your actions, and she doesn’t accept you any longer.”
The teenager shakes her head. She lets out an anguished cry as she retreats.
You hear the crunching leaves again, something stalking in the shadows. A deep breathing you recognize.
“You know, Petelgeuse, I might be useless myself beyond the ability to know the future. My witch could have given me some physical ability that would allow me to put you down like she intended, but turns out that in this world there are many powerful people who want to help me. And even the animals around here are more clever, resourceful and stronger than me.” You turn your head towards the shaded trees to Petelgeuse’s left. “Now!”
Patrasche bursts out of the shadows and charges in a rage against the teenager, crashing into her like a truck. The teenager smashes her shoulder and her head against a tree, imprinting a bloody splodge on the trunk, and bounces to the grass a few meters away. You can see the damage from where you are standing. Half of her face is gone. Her crushed, bloodied eye stares at you as in shock, and her burst head has belched her brain.
You walk towards the teenager and kneel besides her. You tilt your head and shut your eyes, listening to the world as it keeps turning. You stand up and swallow the painful mass that had closed your throat.
Patrasche approaches you and rubs her muzzle against your tears. You stroke her black, rough scales.
“It’s okay, girl. It’s okay.”


Petelgeuse had always been the most difficult character to write in the previous 24 parts, but he flowed perfectly here. This conversation ended up becoming one of my favorites due to its depth, the couple of gotchas that I hadn’t even anticipated as I started writing it, and the reversal of power as the conversation deepens.

One of my main interests in spending my time in this retelling of one of my favorite fictional series is that the AI suggesting stuff would end up, I hoped, changing the events to an extent that very few things, beyond the really big plot points you just have to add, would remain of the original. And that has been the case. Very little since the protagonist left Crusch’s place in the capital towards Roswaal’s domain has happened like in the original novels. Maybe the biggest of those deviations in that stretch is that the White Whale was never killed, while in the originals it’s a huge success that reverberates through what I know of the following arcs.

Also, I like to imagine that this video is what Patrasche aspires to become.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 24)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

Ferris, Crusch Karsten’s camp’s main healer, had pushed for her lady to evacuate the village along with every wounded soldier, both from her own camp and from the Iron Fang mercenary group. Ferris feared that the Witch’s Cult was waiting for a sign to attack, and she makes a move to figure out if they have a man inside. It doesn’t end well.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


In the sudden light of the day, the contours of a room come to you as if they were getting drawn slowly. Dried meats, as well as garlic and onions, hang from the ceiling close to a big rack of spices. On a counter rest in disarray a bunch of forks and knives. There are overturned chairs thrown around on the floor, and in the center of the room, a table has broken in half. Someone is lying on it as if that person had broken the table by jumping onto it and then had fallen unconscious.
As you blink, you realize you can hear nothing at all. You are witnessing a silent picture without the hint of any sound coming from it, as if it were happening far away from you. You stand up slowly. Your body is eager to communicate to you that your back hurts as if you’ve hit something hard with it, and you need to make an extra effort to breathe. When you look back for a moment you realize you were resting against a cauldron. Your head hurts like in the aftermath of a migraine, and your ear ducts burn. When you attempt to figure out if you still have ears, you wet your fingers with something coming out of them. Blood.
As you stagger around confused, you realize that on the opposite wall a window has burst inwards as if something had hit it hard from the street. Your shoes crunch broken glass. You suddenly step on something tender. As you crouch to figure out what it is, you blink a few times until you understand you are staring at a detached leg torn from slightly above a knee. It’s still wearing a boot, and it’s covered in a black, form-fitting cloth.
How did you come here? You remember light, and a huge noise that enveloped you. Did someone attack you?
There was a person lying on the table, you remember. You push aside the overturned chairs until you can see the person who is lying on their back. It’s a cat-girl. Ferris. Her left thigh ends in mangled meat with a cross-cut of bone sticking out of it. You realize that Ferris is awake, and that she’s illuminating her maimed limb with a magical light coming out of her palm.
She’s staring at you with a pained expression, but her facial muscles twitch as she tries to contain it. She opens her mouth and moves her lips like she was speaking, but you can’t hear anything. You open your mouth and order your vocal cords to project sound. You don’t hear anything. Ferris motions for you to come over. When she can reach you with her hands, she grabs you by the back of the neck and warms first your right ear with her healing magic, and then your left one. After a couple of seconds, the sounds come back as if you had taken out of your ears a couple of tremendously competent earplugs.
Ferris stares at you in anguish, with sweat dripping on her face.
“Ferris,” you say with a raspy voice. “your left leg is missing.”
“Thank you for that”, Ferris replies with restrained pain. “I would have never figured it out on my own.”
“I almost stepped on your detached leg. It’s around there, near some broken glass.”
“Ah, you found it. Please bring it over, Subaru.”
You figure that she might want to keep the torn limb on ice until she can get to a hospital, except that in this fantasy world you’d probably need a magician able to produce ice through spells, and that there’s nothing remotely similar to a hospital in this village nor in its surroundings. You return quickly to where you abandoned the detached leg, which is leaking blood. After picking it up you come back to Ferris. Without thinking, you press the torn, bloodied end against the stump until Ferris yells in pain and attempts to push you off.
“Ah… Sorry, Ferris. I don’t…”
“Subaru, snap out of it. Look at me.”
Ferris is pointing at her anguished face. Despite the pain she must be experiencing, she seems fully lucid.
“See? Not crying”, she says.
“Ferris, I’m holding your detached leg. It’s as good a moment to cry as any!”
Ferris swallows and cleans her lips with her tongue as she breathes hard.
“Please, Subaru. I need you to help me. Will you?”
“Of course. What can I do?”
Ferris seems surprised, but then points at the detached limb.
“Align it properly against the bone, as if you were to connect both parts. With the foot pointed upwards, obviously.”
“Fine, but didn’t you just yell at me for doing that?”
“I wasn’t ready, nor were you doing it right. Go ahead, Subaru.”
As you hunch over to handle the task as if you were dealing with an action figure with detachable parts, you figure out Ferris’ intent.
“Wait a second. Can you actually reattach it?”
Ferris nods while biting her lower lip. One of her cheeks is twitching.
She reaches with both of her hands and she envelops the broken off part with her healing magic. Something like less gross scar tissue is growing from the meat and connecting the muscles and tendons and whatever there’s actually inside of a leg. The bone has already connected, although it looks like a white branch that had snapped and someone glued together.
“That’s not medicine,” you mumble. “that’s magic.”
“Of course it’s magic. You seriously need to snap out of it, Subaru. We have no clue what’s going on in the village.”
You turn your head for a moment towards the broken window. You can see the opposite house across the narrow street. Its front is damaged as if it had suffered some blast. That’s right, the carriage exploded. How did you two survive?
Above Ferris’ labored breathing you hear faint cries as well as the clashing of metal. Someone must be fighting out there, a bunch of people.
Her leg has been reattached almost entirely, except for a few disgusting holes where filaments are growing like little worms. The band of skin that has connected both sides of her leg barely looks better than smooth scar tissue.
“Is your leg going to work?”, you ask.
She shakes her head.
“I will need to keep applying magic continously for a while to regrow and reconnect the nerves. Otherwise I risk losing the ability to feel it and move it properly, forever.”
“That means you can’t stand on it. But we can’t stay here, Ferris. If the cultists took the opportunity to attack as it sounds like, they might come across us at any moment, and you know damn well I can’t protect you.”
“Yes… You will need to drag me out of here until we find someone who can handle a sword. Hey.” She waits until you turn your head to stare at her. There’s fear in her eyes, even though she’s trying to push it down. “You will try to keep me alive, right?”
“Don’t be silly, Ferris. I’ve known you for a long time, I see you as my half-sister whose father must have been your average housecat, and our mother a shameless freak.”
Ferris frowns and twists her mouth.
“As your sister!? For so long!? You get attached to people too quickly! But yeah, as your sister!? You keep staring at my ass!”
You stand up while holding her leg in place. Only a couple of spots keep growing meat and skin under the magic light. You clear your throat and face Ferris’ gaze.
“Ah… We must focus on saving your life, Ferris.”
When half a minute later Ferris has given you the okay to lower her cat-girl body to the ground while she keeps healing herself, you move around her while trying to figure out how to best approach the maneuver. Your headache makes your brain throb.
Ferris eyes your hands suspiciously.
“I wonder if it would be better to die than to allow you to touch me again.”
“It would be a waste to lose our healer.”
“I knew you only cared because I can do that much for you lot.”
“I’d also mourn that ass of yours.”
“Oh, you dickhead.”
You also have no choice, or so you say yourself, to grab the cat-girl’s ass when lifting her from the broken table and putting her on the ground. After all, it’s not as if you can pass your arm under the cat-girl’s knees. You try to avoid thinking about that ass’ consistency still lingering on your palm and fingers. She’s now lying with the back of her head to the exit door, so you can grab the back of her robe with one hand and arduously drag Ferris’ ass through the streets’ dirt.
You lean through the doorway. The remains of the blown up carriage are two houses away from your current one, and on the opposite side of the street. You must have been expelled at an angle, and the location of the broken window on the front of your current shelter suggests so. The houses surrounding the explosion have mostly collapsed. You hope nobody was hiding inside.
There are no corpses strewn about this street, although the tumult of ongoing killings coming from some nearby streets is now louder.
You have no idea which direction to drag Ferris towards. It sounds like a bad idea to head for the village’s plaza. You focus on recalling the route towards a couple of dead end streets you saw back when you visited this place with Roswaal’s servants, even though you barely paid any attention.
As you turn a corner and a similarly narrow street opens, which is crossed by a couple of other streets, you see a young, well-built villager struggling with a cultist that is attempting to stab the villager with an usual cross-shaped dagger. The villager is armed with a kitchen knife. Although the villager does stab the cultist in the gut a couple of times, which doesn’t bring a cry out of the cultist, the bad guy knocks the villager back by punching him in the mouth with an open palm, and then lunges forward and plunges the dagger into the guy’s throat. The cultist twists the blade. After he pulls out the dagger, he lifts his head to look for his next target, and the darkness inside of that hood focuses on you.
“Oh, fuck. A cultist is coming”, you mutter loud enough so Ferris hears while she heals herself on the ground behind you.
“What!?”
The cultist is running towards you while holding his dagger upside down, to stab you from above. Your heart is jumping in your chest. You don’t have a weapon, you don’t have any ability that doesn’t involve dying. What would any person who knew how handle an assailant do? And you can’t move out of the way, or this guy might murder the cat-girl.
Ferris’ last words before the carriage blew up come to your mind.
The blood-dyed knife is glistening in the morning sun. It’s closer. No way you’ll avoid getting cut, but that’s alright. The kingdom’s best healer is behind you. Don’t let him stab your vital areas. Which areas of your body are vital? You can’t remember.
You bend your knees a little and raise your arms, preparing to catch the bad guy’s wrist. It’s a small target, especially when you are scared and your headache hardly allows you to concentrate. Pretend you are wearing plate gauntlets, like the duchess. The vital veins or arteries or whatever must be on the underside.
As the cultist lunges forward, you move your arms against the fast blade, and you feel it cutting across the side of your forearm. It burns. With your other hand you grasp the cultist’s wrist, immobilizing the blade. However, the guy plunges his free thumb against your throat, which almost makes you release him.
“Ia,” you yell with a hoarse voice, “burn this fucker’s face!”
The minor spirit, a ball of light the size of a finger’s phalanx, jumps out of your chest and arcs towards the darkness inside of the hood. When Ia reaches her target, the darkness ignites with the sound of a match lighting. The cultist pulls out the thumb from your throat to hit himself in the face, but you throw yourself to the ground dragging the guy with you. Ferris, who is lying right next, reaches for the guys’ hand and after she touches his bare skin, the guy shuts off as if he fell asleep. He lies on the ground while flames grow in his head, melting his hood.
You tear the dagger from his hand to use it yourself, and drag your saviour away from the dying cultist. You keep coughing.
Ferris tells you to get down for a moment. While with one hand she keeps healing her leg, with the other she fills the inside of your forearm as well as your throat with her warm, balm-like magic.
“Did Ia get stuck in that fucker?”, you ask while recovering your breath.
“No, I saw her fly inside you from your back. Good job, Subaru.”
“The only reason you can judge my performance is because we survived. That’s how fucked we are now. I better be more careful.”
In the next street you see that around four houses from your corner, a bunch of Crusch’s soldiers are cutting down or getting stabbed by quite a few cultists. There are way too many. No way either your ambushes in the forest, or Crusch’s team’s for that matter, left so many alive. Petelgeuse must have had backup waiting, even though apparently he had brought all of his Fingers with him.
“You better not get killed, Ferris”, you say while panting. “It would be a nightmare to repeat everything all over again.”
“Hey, don’t start losing it now!”
You’ve reached an area of the village that you consider the outskirts. There’s a defensible dead end in which you could hide Ferris if necessary. Near the corner to that street you slip on something sticky and you almost fall, which makes you tremble all over. The dirt is muddied with blood, and there are lumps and bone chunks thrown around as if someone, more than one person, exploded. As you stagger into that dead end street, feeling dizzy and out of breath, you notice that some of the pieces of dead people are covered in shreds of black cloth, but others in different colors.
You lift your head and realize that close to the end of that street, in front of a hut-like building, two tiny half-beast people wearing white, orange-lined robes are staring at you. The orange fur of one of them is begrimed with blood and vomit. Mimi is looking around like an automatic turret, but then she notices you. When you open your mouth to greet Mimi, the lieutenant plants her feet, hunches while keeping her face forward, and her jaw opens wider than it should be naturally possible, sliding her lips beyond the gums.
All the heat in your body escapes as you stare at the lieutenant, but Tivey lunges forward and pushes his sister’s head down before she vocalizes her ability.
“M-Mimi, no! That’s our general!”
As the life returns to your body with a tingling sensation, you begin to drag Ferris again towards these two mercenaries, although your legs are giving you a hard time. You feel Ferris’ body trembling through her robe you are holding on to. When you were passing Mimi by, you feel her moving to get your attention, but you can’t look her in the face, nor do you want to.
“Sorree, mister!”, Mimi says with a pitiful voice. “Didn’t mean to blow you up, honest! Mimi’s eyes don’t work that well.”
“It’s okay, Mimi”, you mutter.
You do lift your face towards the Iron Fang’s quartermaster, who despite tending to remain in the background, his orange fur is spattered with blood. He’s wringing his tiny hands while holding your gaze with an apologetic look.
“Tivey,” you say, “thank you for literally saving both our lives.”
“I-I am glad I was able to. That’s the healer, isn’t she?”
“Good to see you again, Tivey”, Ferris says from behind you.
“She’s gotten injured it seems. D-Did you bring her over so we could protect her?”
“That was the plan, yes”, you say.
“She’s kin, too. We’ll take care of you. W-We don’t have much of a clue of what’s going on nearby, though.”
As the quartermaster keeps glancing to his sister, who has returned to her guard post from where she likely blew up anyone indiscriminately, you realize that this tiny man has one of the hardest jobs in the world, making sure that his sister doesn’t go on a rampage that’ll make every nation around put a million gold coins bounty on their asses.
“Everything is so confusing,” Mimi comments, “but explosions make Mimi’s head clear!”
You shiver.
“I’ll drag Ferris into the hut, Tivey. To make sure that she’s comfortable.”
“O-Okay!”
You leave the cat-girl, who remains busy healing her leg with both hands, leaning against a cupboard in the darkened hut. Her face is beaded with sweat, and her eyes glisten with a fear that the rest of her expression doesn’t let through. She looks up at you pleadingly.
“I don’t want you to leave me with that monster.”
“There are many things I don’t want, Ferris, but this is as far as I can deal with dragging your ass through the dirt while my heart expects anyone to jump in front of me and murder me at any second. You’ll be safe here. I can’t say the same of anyone, literally anyone who shows his or her face in this street.”
As you turn towards the door to leave, she raises her voice.
“Hey, wait!”
You look over your shoulder while standing near the doorway.
“Mimi’s mouth is aimed the other way”, you say. “That’s all you need to think about. You’ll stay alive if you stay here, Ferris. I can’t do anything for you out there. I’ll come back in a second.”
You step into the morning light and approach Tivey, who barely keeps his eyes off his sister.
“Hey, neither Julius, the human dressed in white and who has purple hair, nor Wilhelm, another human who is old and has white hair, came through this street in front of Mimi, right?”
Tivey looks at you gravely.
“No, sir. I-I haven’t seen them since the explosion.”
“Since the carriage’s explosion, you mean.”
“It was a carriage? T-There was a huge blast in the village. While people were moving around to find the source, a-a lot of cultists started coming down from the road that leads to the lord’s mansion. I had been following M-Mimi around that time because she wanted to t-take a walk, and I’m not s-sure if we should risk trying to join our brothers and sisters. Most of those people are m-much taller.”
“I can see how that would be scary despite you having the most terrifying sister in the world.”
You want to ask about the remains strewn about that are covered in clothes that clearly didn’t belong to cultists. You need these two half-beasts to survive, and you don’t want under any circumstance to make an enemy out of Mimi. You allow Tivey his plausible deniability.
“Ah… I’ll go inside for a moment and check on Ferris again”, you say nervously.
“Y-Yes, general.”
Ferris turns her head quickly when she hears someone enter. Then she relaxes again.
“You are so dumb, Subaru.”
“What does that have to do with anything now!?”
“We are enemies, you and I. We belong to opposite camps. One day it might mean an open war. Don’t you know that?”
“It’s not so much that I don’t know, but that I don’t care.”
Ferris holds your gaze with her brow slightly furrowed, but stays silent as she breathes through her mouth.
“If I like someone, I like them”, you continue. “I couldn’t care less about anything else.”
“I can tell, and yet you should. That’s what adults do.”
“Yeah, I don’t care about that either.”
A pained look comes over Ferris’ face. You move to leave, but Ferris attempts to reach your arm. She fails, because she doesn’t want to disturb her position and her continuous healing of her recently reattached leg, but you stop.
“What is it?”
“Where are you going, Subaru?”, she asks with a lowered voice. “You will die. You can’t do anything out there.”
“I was out there, and so were you, and we didn’t die as far as I can tell. I’ll continue walking around and doing nothing. I need to make sure that other people that matter to me are still alive.”
You leave the hut and close the door behind you. After you take a deep breath, you tell Tivey that you are going to look around for your pals. You make sure to approach Mimi from an angle, but still glancing at her blood and vomit stained figure as little as possible.
“Mimi, I’ll run down the street to figure out what’s going on. Please, don’t blow me up, okay?”
Mimi giggles.
“I wouldn’t blow you up, mister! You are our friend!”
“That’s right. We don’t blow up our friends! Later, Mimi.”
You sprint through the narrow street while avoiding the puddles of blood and the lumps of corpses.


I had expected this entry to contain a couple of scenes more, but the first one ended up being so long that the entire entry would have probably pushed seven thousand words. There’s no intrinsic problem with shorter entries if the scenes are mostly self-contained.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 23)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

In the previous part, plenty of soldiers got injured or killed when Petelgeuse jumped to a new body and he faced duchess Crusch’s unsuspecting bunch. Both crews have retreated to the village and regrouped. Everyone is uneasy because they get the sense that the Witch’s Cult is not going to pack their things and go home for the day.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


Even though the duchess belongs amongst the wounded, she had organized which of the hired merchant carriages should park near the entrance of the village to serve in the evacuation, and then she had been directing her men and a few half-beast mercenaries to load up the corpses. You hung out close around that time, although you closed your mouth when it became obvious to everyone that you weren’t needed. However, you helped some of the wounded get on the carriages. Afterwards Crusch decided that other merchants should position themselves near the central plaza in a way that doesn’t block the defense, so later on the villagers can be carted off quickly if possible.
You walk around the entrance to the village’s plaza and point out to a couple of maneuvering carriages where to park, while some villagers standing guard move out of the way. When you turn back and walk away to massage your headache and distract yourself for a while, you find yourself staring at Ram, who was standing a few meters away from you, and then you realize that a mob-like crowd of villagers, some armed with their worn swords or pitchforks, but also unarmed people who were until recently hiding in their houses, is approaching you. Leading them is none other than the village chief, who seems to believe that dressing weird makes him a wizard.
“You!” The village chief points at your face while glaring. “You led the mercenary scum that raided our village! Confess your wrongdoings so that we may judge you accordingly and the spirits may rain their retributive justice upon you.”
“The Iron Fang? They didn’t raid shit! They even brought their own disgusting rations. What’s going on here?”
“What’s going on here? Perhaps you’re unaware that the village was raided, and all the adults were killed?”
You look behind him at the crowd of adults, who as usual only stare at each other in confusion instead of mutinying against the chief and hanging him by his wizardly balls.
“I never had any intention of going along with your delusions, chief, but today I’m inclined to order some of the half-beast crew to spank some sense into you. What’s the real issue here? Why have you gathered these good people?”
The village chief frowns in both disappointment and anger, but he doesn’t seem surprised by your lack of willingness to go along with his attempt at making himself seem like a hero.
“We haven’t been properly informed of the reason for the impending transfer of our beings to the capital. Don’t we, as the lord’s subjects, deserve an explanation? Any excuse?”
As you always remember when it’s convenient, it comes to your mind that you don’t technically belong to Roswaal’s camp any longer.
“Why are you asking me? Why do you come to me for explanations?”
The chief shakes his head.
“You went around the village telling people, particularly the children, that you were employed by the lord and that they owed you respect.”
You want to sigh. Your own words, coming back to betray you. You look around for support and your gaze falls on the pink-haired senior servant, who is standing a few meters behind you, arms crossed and eyeing you as if you were a stain on her favorite dress.
“Wait for one minute, guys”, you ask the mob.
You approach Ram.
“You were in charge of defense as soon as Puck told you what was coming, right? Didn’t you tell these people that we were planning on evacuating them?”
Ram’s expression clarifies that she doesn’t intend to forgive you for wanting to become part of her family.
“I told the chief that the lord intended to evacuate them, and that as his subjects they should obey. That is all they need to know.”
“Didn’t it cross your mind that they might get mad because they are treated like sheep?”
“I don’t have to explain myself to you.”
You sigh. You look over your shoulder at the concerned group, led by a lunatic who is waiting for you to come back to them and explain every little detail about why they should abandon their possessions.
“You are welcome to elaborate on the situation for them if you so please”, Ram says mockingly. “Doing so you would also be relieving your future sister of a little pebble in her shoe.”
Your shoulders slump. You have signed into a lifetime of performing hard work that the senior servant wants to free herself from. You steel yourself and return to the chief.
You take a good look at the crowd. Most of the armed men, and a few women, look rough after years of tending to the fields and livestock, or whatever the fuck these people do. An old woman stares at you with a perverted glint in her eyes. A couple of unsupervised kids look up at you, and one of them has snot hanging out of his nose.
“So, you want an explanation of why you need to be evacuated, right?”, you ask slowly.
The people begin to shout inarticulate things at you. The old pervert raises her hand to ask you a question. You notice that she’s missing a few teeth, and her breath could kill flies at five meters.
“Are you our new lord?”
You are tempted to say yes.
“No, your beloved clown is fucking around somewhere else. That doesn’t answer my question, though.”
“We want to know why we’re being kicked out of our homes!”, a woman holding a baby yells from the back.
“That’s a reasonable thing to want to know. Let’s put it this way, would you rather be told a comfortable lie, or a horrifying truth?”
The crowd is unsure of how to react. In a couple of seconds, most of them begin to murmur to whoever is standing close.
“I like to feel comfortable!”, says a man in his forties with long sideburns and a wart under his nose.
“Me too!”, some woman adds.
“My back hurts”, the old pervert says.
You take a deep breath.
“Well, the thing is that we spotted quite a few demonic looking dogs in the forest. It’s well known that if we didn’t handle the infestation quickly, the dogs are bound to multiply in a matter of days, let’s say, and we risk them overrunning the village, biting people, stealing children and the like. We asked the duchess of Karsten as well as some nice mercenaries to help us take care of the dogs.”
The people are unsure of what to make of your explanation.
“We haven’t seen any of these demonic dogs, and we move through the forest fairly often!”, says some guy armed with a worn sword.
“Didn’t the servants already take care of the demonic dog like a week ago?”, a woman asks.
“I saw you sitting on your own pee when the demonic dog attacked!”
You narrow your eyes and clench your fists.
“Who said that? That never happened.”
The village chief raises a hand to shut his people up. The sleeve of his ridiculous wizardly robe slides to his elbow, revealing a pale, hairy arm.
“Where did these dangerous demonic dogs infesting the forests come from?”
You want to shake your head and roll your eyes.
“We don’t know. Hell, probably.”
“Why did the duchess of Karsten and some mercenaries agree to help you without knowing this?”
“Because we asked them politely.”
“Did you tell them that the demonic dogs were from hell?”
“No. They just looked like regular demonic dogs to us. Your everyday variety. Pretty much like that puppy we handled, but just the size of a regular grown dog. Very demonic though. Bad stuff if you want to keep your children unstolen.”
The chief is silent for a moment.
“Alright. We’ll organize a hunting team to go out in the forests and look for these demonic dogs.”
You contain yourself from stepping forward and grabbing his robe to yell in his face.
“No! You lot are to grab a few of your vital possessions, get on the carriages when we tell you to, and enjoy a scenic route through Flugel Road that will lead you to the capital. Along the way there’s a huge tree that’ll blow your minds, even though it plays no role in anything else.”
“Why would these dogs come to attack us? We haven’t done anything to them!”, says a woman in her mid twenties.
“You can’t be that naive in this fantasy world”, you say with a serious tone. “Anyway, that’s why you villagers need to shut up and allow yourselves to be evacuated to safety. You’ll return eventually, and your stuff will likely still be there.”
“Hey, but what about my….”, a young man says before you interrupt.
“There are more important things in life than a small hut and some potatoes, friend. Now, if there are no more questions, we have an evacuation plan to set up. Plenty of Crusch Karsten’s soldiers will escort you all safely through the dangerous road.”
“I have a question”, the chief says as he raises his hand.
“What’s the problem now?”, you ask without disguising your annoyance.
“You said our stuff will likely still be there. What do you mean by that?”
“I mean, you should expect that large demonic dogs with three heads will probably intrude in your homes when you aren’t there to cause chaos and mess. Look, I really can’t go into detail right now, I have to organize twenty carriages along with the soldiers…”
“I think you aren’t telling us the whole truth here”, the village chief says while glaring at you.
While you try to control your breathing, you look around to calm your nerves and your gaze falls on Ram’s smug smile. She must be loving to see you struggle with these morons.
“It’s not fair to lie to us! I pay my taxes!”, the village chief shouts angrily.
You groan and snap at the crowd.
“You bunch of sheep!”
The chief’s anger explodes. He tries to grab at you, but his movements are halted by his fellow villagers holding him back.
“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You shut the hell up!”
Ram raises her voice.
“If you resort to violence, the lord’s employees will handle you, and it won’t please you.”
You rub your eyes as your heartbeat calms down.
“Listen, folks, I’m going to tell you the whole truth. You won’t like it a bit.”
Silence takes over the crowd, as everyone is eager to hear what you’ll say next. The village chief keeps glaring at you while clenching his teeth.
“The Witch’s Cult was camped in that forest over there”, you say calmly. “We learned that they were about to massacre everyone in the village and to attack the mansion as well. We relied on the duchess of Karsten’s army as well as that friendly bunch of half-beasts in order to destroy the menace.”
“The Witch’s Cult? Why would they want to kill us? What have we done to them?”, says the same young woman who asked a similar question before.
“Because these people are evil and want to destroy the world. That’s about as much as you need to know. They might still be hanging around, which is why we need to get you defenseless people out of the area as soon as possible.”
The crowd gets restless.
“It’s because of that witch, isn’t it!?”, the man with the wart asks warily.
“Yeah, they worship the Witch of Envy…”, you say.
“Lord Roswaal is hosting the Witch of Envy!?”, the same man yells.
“What!? The fuck are you on about!? I meant to say that the Witch’s Cult worship that dead witch who killed half of the world hundreds of years ago. What does that have to do with Roswaal?”
“You’re lying! Our lord would never associate with witches!”, the woman holding a baby yells at you while pointing.
Your head is spinning.
“I wasn’t the one who suggested that!”, you say.
“Why would you protect that witch!? You’re a part of the Witch’s Cult and working with Satella!”, the village chief says.
Ram steps forward until she stands next to you.
“As expected, my fellow employee Mr. Natsuki hasn’t explained himself properly. He doesn’t belong to the Witch’s Cult, and I assure you that lord Roswaal has no relation to the Witch of Envy. You all need to calm down. We will evacuate you to the capital to ensure your safety.”
The man with a wart on his face starts laughing bitterly.
“I knew only trouble awaited us when I saw that a silver-haired half-demon was living in Roswaal’s mansion. No wonder the Witch’s Cult is trying to kill us all!”
“Yeah!”, some young guy armed with a sword says. “She’s the Witch of Frost, isn’t she? And lord Roswaal presented her as a royal candidate!”
“No, she isn’t! That’s slander!”, you yell, but the crowd starts getting unruly.
“Kill the demon!”, some voice cries.
The village chief, veins bulging on his temples, points at you with fire in his eyes.
“He’s a part of the Witch’s Cult and the government! Burn everything down!”
You opened your mouth to speak when you realize, due to the distortions dancing over Ram’s palm, that she’s ready to hurt some motherfuckers with her wind magic. You raise your hands.
“Please, listen to me. The half-elf living in the mansion is not a witch.” You stop for a moment, because you don’t actually know what qualifies a magic user to be a witch around these parts. That’s beside the point, though. “She’s a kind, honorable, generous young woman who has been declared a qualified candidate for the throne by those medallion things. Don’t get mad at her, she’s not at fault for this situation.”
“But the Witch’s Cult is attacking us because they want to kill lady Emilia, right?”, a meek young woman asks.
“Well, yes.”
“So it’s her fault that the cultists are attacking us!”, the man with the wart yells while spitting.
“I’m not saying it isn’t, but-“
“Then, we need to kill her! She’s a demon, and will destroy our world!”, he continues.
You realize why the notion of having to evacuate these villagers had never popped up in your mind. There’s no helping some people.
“Listen, you goat fuckers. I know you’ll always hate Emilia because she’s a half-elf, and for you that’s not normal. Your lord is a clown. What the fuck do you know about normalcy? It boils down to whether you want to stay and possibly get horribly murdered by cultists, or get on a damn carriage when we order you to, and live to waste everybody’s time. So what will it be?”
There’s a brief silence.
“I’ll take that as you all being scared, so you’ll be getting on the carriages”, you say angrily.
Ram intercedes.
“You heard Mr. Natsuki. Now please return to your posts or to your houses. We’ll call you when we ready the evacuation.”
The villagers go away. You don’t wait around to find out if they are glaring at you or muttering something malicious. You had walked away a few steps when you realize that Ram is following you.
“What do you want?”, you ask with a tired voice.
Ram takes something out from the pocket of her servant outfit and pushes it into your mouth. You have already bitten a piece when, surprised, you take a look at what remains. It’s a cookie.
“What am I, a child?”, you ask.
“I thought you might like it”, she says with a deadpan expression.
Ram turns around and walks towards her post in the plaza.

You are walking towards the entrance of the village while trying to push down your sour mood. None of the wounded from both armies, that were either lying around near a fence or eating meals on outside tables, are hanging around anymore. They must be waiting on the queue of carriages ready to leave through the main road. Crusch and Rem are speaking with each other a few meters from the back of the last carriage, and Ferris, who is standing further away from the pair, notices that you are coming and walks up to you quickly. She has looked tense since she returned from the forest.
“Please, convince Rem to leave with my lady. The duchess isn’t as healthy as she pretends, and if she stays, she’ll run into trouble and possibly get killed. I trust miss Rem. She’ll take care of the lady.”
Rem is staring at you with concern, but she offers you one of her bewitching smiles. It seems that she has noticed that Ferris would rather speak in private with you for now.
“I don’t know, Ferris”, you say, your head still spinning from dealing with the villagers.
“You have something going on with that servant, right?”
“Why would you want to know?”
“You’ll also feel better if she leaves a battlefield, even though she’s actually able to fight.”
You shake your head while trying to weave the facts together.
“Wait a second, Ferris. Are you staying?”
She sighs.
“Do I really need to spell it out for you? Crusch likes you, and she’s fond of Emilia despite of it all. The only way I convinced her to leave was if you people had the best possible healer in the kingdom in case something went horribly wrong. I assure you, I’d rather leave. The Witch’s Cult must be waiting around for a sign to attack.”
By instinct, you look towards the forest that borders the road up to the village. Everything seems as quiet as the last time you looked at it.
“We haven’t finished, huh, Ferris?”
“Of course we haven’t, you dolt.”
“Fine. I’ll feel better with Rem out of danger.”
Ferris nods and walks away towards her duchess. Rem holds his hands in front of her waist and walks at a leisurely step towards you, but you move up to meet her. As you stand close to each other, you can tell that she doesn’t want to act like a couple in case that causes trouble of any kind with the onlookers, which include some of Crusch’s soldiers and some nasty looking half-beast mercenaries. Maybe Rem also contains herself out of modesty, despite the whole plunging her fangs into you and sucking all of your blood while eagerly fucking you thing.
“I suppose they have already asked you,” you say softly, “but what do you think about leaving this dangerous place to accompany the wounded, mainly Crusch, so you can all rest and recover at her place in the capital?”
Rem’s head lowers down a bit, perhaps contemplating on her options. She looks back up at you.
“Okay.”
“Just that?”
“I will go with them to the capital.”
“Really?”
“You want me to. I want to stay and make sure that you are safe, of course, but I know you will return to me. You promised me that we would marry one day and have a huge family.”
Every time you look at her beautiful face or speak to her, you are overwhelmed with affection, and you want to hug her tightly and for every other person to go away. If Petelgeuse hasn’t given up on performing the ritual tonight, Rem is the main person you’d need to focus on keeping alive, or else you’ll kill yourself with the nearest dagger and start all over again. What an annoyance that would be.
“Flugel Road is clear, right? No White Whale nonsense?”
Rem smiles softly.
“That whale always leaves after a couple of hours. She’s never been known to stick around for so long that it would cause us trouble now. It will be a somewhat long, yet straight route back to safety.”
You caress Rem’s beautiful light blue hair, and she lowers her head slightly as she puts her hands on your waist.
“You’ll come back soon, won’t you?”, she asks without disguising her concern.
“I will.”
You lift Rem’s chin and kiss her in her soft, warm lips. You hear a couple of men comment something about it with a merry tone. You couldn’t care less about who is looking.
When Rem opens her eyes again, they are moist.
“When you come back I want a whole day just for the two of us. And plenty of it will involve us holding each other in bed.”
Your heart hurts, and not in an entirely good way.
“I wish I was there already.”
Shortly after, you bid each other farewell and Rem walks slowly towards the carriage that will take her to the capital. Your gaze waits for hers when she inevitably looks over her shoulder to glance at you.
An uncomfortable warmth rises to your throat, and you feel lonely. When you lift your head again, Ferris is passing you by on the way to the village’s plaza, and to your surprise, Crusch is approaching you with a soft smile. She’s wearing her breastplate again, and the bandages around her torso show up through the holes in her military uniform.
“Can we speak for a moment, Subaru?”, she asks.
You feel honored that someone like her would want to, despite having known her for far longer than she has in her lifetime.
“Of course, m-… We can speak whenever you wish, lady duchess.”
She looks down at the dirt for a moment.
“I have no doubt that Emilia is going to embrace you back into her camp after you have risked this much for her.”
“I wouldn’t be that sure, to be honest…”
“She will. And it’s sad for me. I have grown fond of you, in a similar way I’m fond of my Ferris.”
“I like you a lot, Crusch, although I suppose that much is obvious, with the whole mother thing.”
She lets out air through her nose, but her amusement remains mixed with notorious sadness.
“I don’t like that we belong to different camps. Make no mistake, I will push my hardest to become the ruler of this kingdom, as I believe that amongst the candidates I’m the most experienced and suitable. And one of the candidates would be an utter disaster.”
“Yeah, you are certainly the most suitable person to sit on that throne.”
When you return your gaze from the wolves playing in a nearby field back to Crusch’s face, she’s stunned, with her mouth open and her eyebrows unevenly arched.
“What’s with that face?”, you ask, confused.
“Did I hear you say that I’m the most suitable to become the ruler of this kingdom?”
“Of course! You were governing as a duchess even before you became an adult, you come from a long line of competent rulers, you have that cool superpower that cuts into spacetime, you are fair, good, honorable, tough when you need to… Not to mention, a total smokeshow! The kingdom would be in great hands with you.”
Crusch blushes, and she makes an effort to hold your gaze while a smile grows on her lips.
“But… you serve lord Roswaal, who backs Emilia.”
“Ah, I see. I never said that Emilia would be the greatest ruler, or even a better than average one. As far as I understand she might be gunning for it due to some personal trauma she wants to overcome, and becoming the queen could make her feel that a lifetime of being despised for reasons beyond her control might have been worth it. It would be good for her, you know? It’s not like she can go to a therapist. Although if Emilia rules, then probably Roswaal rules, which might be the point for all I know. If somehow Emilia wins, as unlikely as it probably is, I’ll try to contain her from going all Satella on everybody. You know, fingers crossed. She’s probably not Satella.”
Crusch lowers her head and her gaze goes vacant. Then she lifts her head again and stares at you with determination.
“Subaru, after all this is over, why don’t you join my household? I’d love to bring you in. I’d gladly smooth things out with Roswaal if you agree.”
Your mind goes blank for a second. Warm tingles are building up in your limbs and in your gut. Feeling yourself losing it, you try to imitate Wilhelm’s poker face, but the moment you close your eyes, your mind offers you a picture of Crusch touched by lamp light in the dark, wearing only a nightgown and leaning against the headboard of her four-poster bed. Her beautiful green hair falls on the pillows and her right breast bulges in her generous cleavage. She’s lifting the sheets and the fluffy comforter to show you the place that awaits you next to her warm body. She’s fixing on you her glistening eyes as she tells you to come in. You follow her order and slip under the sheets, and she covers you with them. After she leans over to shut the lamp off, in the darkness she presses her soft, warm bosom against you and entangles your legs with hers, as she caresses your hair.
When you open your eyes, your heart beats so loud and your mouth is so dry that you feel as if you are going to pass out. Your legs are trembling. Oh, no. Calm down.
“I, ah… When I came here, I had nothing at all, duchess. My clothes weren’t even from this world. I came across Emilia, who was dealing with a problem that honestly if she were more intelligent she would have prevented, but in any case, I chose to help her.” It’s not stopping. Please, Crusch, don’t look down. “Ah… In the end we didn’t have that much trouble solving her problem, and she was so glad that I didn’t treat her poorly for being a half-elf, that I was honestly on her side, that she agreed to bring me to Roswaal’s place.” It shouldn’t be able to get that hard. How is this possible? “S-Since then I’ve realized how much she’s hurting, how delicate she is despite her powers, due to having been rejected and forced into isolation for so long, and I just want to be there for her, you know?”
Crusch sighs.
“I can’t disagree with your honorable motives. I just wish I had come across you first.”
You feel your cheeks getting hotter and hotter.
“If we… get separated like you say, I will miss you. I will miss your bed, I will miss seeing you girls eating breakfast in the morning. I know it was a short time for you, but for me… you became a family.”
Everything burns behind your eyes. You want to cry. Oh, no, you are actually tearing up.
Tears leak from Crusch’s eyes. She takes a step forward and hugs you, and as she does, your diamond-hard erection bends against the duchess’ waist. She freezes, and you stop breathing. Then Crusch leans towards your ear. Her warm breath sounds like wind against your eardrum, and her lips make a wet sound as she separates them to whisper in.
“You naughty boy.”
When the whiteness that had overwhelmed you clears up, the line of carriages carrying the wounded is leaving through the road that borders the forest. Your legs wobble, and shivers ripple through you. You fall to your knees and support yourself on the dirt with your fists. Your underwear is as wet as if you had pissed yourself.
As you attempt to control your breathing and produce saliva again, someone pats you on the head.
“What the hell are you doing, Subaru? Stand up”, Ferris says.
Before you know it, Ferris is dragging you by the hand towards the village’s plaza. You don’t recognize what street you are passing through, nor can you focus on anything. You need to sleep.
Ferris stops near a covered carriage parked in front of a two-story house, maybe a couple of minutes away from the plaza. Before the cat-girl turns around, you realize that her literal tail’s hairs stick out. She hugs you tightly, pressing her small tits against your chest, and rubs her jaw against your neck.
“W-What is it with you, Ferris?”, you ask, confused. “Even if I intended to do something with you, you’d need to let me rest first!”
“Shut up and get on the carriage”, she says sharply, straight into your ear.
You barely react, so she pushes you up. Once you are standing in the shadows of the carriage, Ferris jumps in and slides the tarp as if for privacy. When you open your mouth to complain or at least ask her about her actions, she walks up to you and presses herself against your body while crossing her arms over your back. Her flax-colored, perfumed fur tickles your cheek.
For a moment you are tempted to grab her ass.
“H-Hey, if I had known some time ago, I would have loved to bend you over and test drive a half-pussy’s pussy while squeezing that bubbly butt, but I’m in love with a demon, and something’s going on with my mother…”
Ferris gasps and punches you on the back with one of the hands she’s hugging you with.
“Just shut it. Shut your nasty mouth and pretend.”
You get the feeling that something weird is going on. You lower your hands to her slim waist. Shortly after, the tarp slides open forcefully, and a tall, rough looking merchant in his forties gets on the back of the carriage. He’s frowning, and clenching his right hand.
“Did you take my carriage for a brothel?”, the man says with a stern tone. “Get out of here, go screw on the grass.”
Ferris lifts her hands and steps back. Then she prances to the merchant’s side while narrowing her eyes and deploying a smile in a seductive expression.
“Couldn’t help myself!”, she says cheerfully, “I’m just a silly cat-girl in heat, tee-hee!”
When the merchant moves his gaze to you and opens his mouth, Ferris drops her fake expression and grabs the bare skin on the back of the merchant’s neck. The guy goes unconscious as if a switch had been flipped, and falls forward until he faceplants on the floorboards.
You let out a surprised noise.
“Hey, Ferris, don’t go around assaulting random people!”
“He is not a random person. Besides, I’ve just switched his consciousness off.”
“Is that a thing that people do in this fantasy world?”
Ferris frowns and blinks a few times as if wanting to interrogate you about your words, but at the same time not wanting to.
“As long as I have touched them, yes.”
“If people knew, they wouldn’t let you heal them!”
Ferris smiles on one side of her mouth and takes a step towards you.
“But you will shut up about it, won’t you.”
“I don’t want my blood to boil.”
Ferris rolls her eyes and then pushes the unconscious guy’s torso with her foot.
“This guy is a cultist spy, you clown.”
“What!? How do you figure?”
Ferris crouches and searches through the guy’s pockets.
“He has some sort of weird spell embedded in him, I noticed it when I was checking on the merchants as they were hired.”
“That’s it? Isn’t your world filled with spells? What if the spell embedded is related to virtually anything else?”
She glares at you.
“The type of spell checks out! The rank and file of the Witch’s Cult are known to have allowed themselves to be hexed with spells that reduce their independent will and their fear. This is well known. Weren’t you aware?”
“It didn’t come up in conversations, nor did I live through anything that featured that notion.”
“Subaru, you need to read up on the subjects you are dealing with.”
“I’d like to read anything at all!”
As Ferris shakes her head, she takes out a small trinket that looks like a makeup mirror. The cat-girl is surprised for a moment, then she furrows her brow.
“This bastard. I knew it.”
She throws the trinket at you.
“No, don’t open it”, she says. “It’s a metia.”
“A makeup term, I’m guessing.”
“No! It’s a magical artifact that allows long distance communications with whoever has the other half of the pair!”
“How was I to know?”
Ferris shuts her eyes and takes a deep breath.
“Please,” she says with a tired voice, “help me turn this guy around.”
The supposed spy now lies on his back. His nose is busted, and is leaking blood all over his mouth and cheeks.
“Clearly I cannot leave gathering intelligence to the Iron Fang…”, Ferris says.
“C’mon, Ferris. They are pretty cool murderers.”
“… And neither can I expect it from you. You didn’t even notice Julius messing with you when I was healing you earlier.”
“Messing with me? What did he do?”
Ferris blatantly ignores you.
“I’m going to wake this guy up, but just enough so for the most part he’ll just be able to talk and speak. If he moves at all, he’ll do it slowly. You punch him hard if he attempts something.”
You shift your weight. Your heart beats fast. You crouch on the other side of the guy and prepare your fist.
Ferris touches the guy’s forehead, and a second later he opens his eyes.
“What are you…?”, the guy says with an aggravated tone.
“You will feel your blood warming more and more”, Ferris says with a steely voice. “Where is your leader, cultist? Where is Petelgeuse?”
“I don’t know any…”
He shuts his eyes. His skin is getting redder, and sweat is beading as if he were in a sauna.
“You either tell us what that madman intends to do, and when, or I’ll vaporize your insides”, Ferris says.
With a deep grunt, the merchant spits blood. It’s dripping from his nose and his mouth. He opens his eyes again, eyes as red as blood. He grins.
“Satella will return and drown the world in eternal love.”
The man has extended his hand over a floorboard next to his body, and from his palm glows a yellowish magic. Through the slits in the floorboards you realize that a reddish light is increasing under them, like a growing fire.
Ferris gasps.
Although you punch the merchant in the balls as hard as you can, the man doesn’t even flinch. Ferris leaps onto you, and as you fall on your back, she yells.
“Ia, shield us!”
A burst of light and thunder envelops you.


I think I mentioned it in a previous part, but in the original novels, the crew waits around for the White Whale to appear, they fight it, and through plenty of hardship and some bullshit they end up killing it. However, there are plenty of casualties. Rem herself has gotten badly injured. Around half of the entire crew gets on enough carriages, turn around and head back to Crusch’s place. Amongst them was the duchess herself, as well as Rem. They never got even close to Roswaal’s domains. That’s the last we see of them for the remainder of this arc, which in the anime adaptation fills the rest of the first season.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 22)

This part covers a bit of the eight volume of the original Re:Zero novels.

In the most recent parts, the protagonist’s crew, composed of a few main people from duchess Crusch Karsten’s camp as well as the Iron Fang’s mercenaries, intended to decapitate the branch of the Witch’s Cult they were attacking, but they end up figuring out that their leader’s consciousness can jump from body to body whenever he dies. They decided to regroup with Crusch’ team, which was handling the other half of the forest where the fight takes place.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.


Your group has run towards the border of the forest with such haste that a few branches and thorny plants have scratched your arms and legs, and the wounds bleed slowly. But eventually your team bursts out of the forest into the open, and you are bathed by the full morning sun again. You appeared on the side of the wide road that leads towards the village.
You force yourself to keep your legs from buckling. You are sweating, your head hurts, your body feels tender like a bruised fruit, and you are running on adrenaline.
Some people are walking as fast as they can through the road towards the village. Someone from your group says something, but your ears are ringing. As you stride towards the strangers, you notice they are wearing the armorial bearings that identify them as belonging to the House of Karsten. Some have bandages around their heads, their legs or their arms, and those who can walk entirely by themselves are carrying fellow soldiers on their shoulders, or hauling them like deadweight between two.
When they realize your group is approaching, a couple of them unsheathe their swords and almost panic, but when they realize you are friendly, they are relieved.
You approach a young guy, maybe twenty two years old, who wears a bandage that covers his right eye. He’s carrying an unconscious soldier who has lost half an arm.
“The duchess, is she alive? Have you also seen a blue-haired maid?”, you ask with a nervous voice.
“The duchess was covering our retreat, and that blue-haired maid has massacred a good bunch of cultists with an enormous flail! She’s a demon!”
“That she is. Where-…?”
A female voice you recognize calls out your name. Your heart jumps, and warmth rises to your throat. Rem is running towards you along the road, while behind her a few other soldiers are exiting the forest. Your beloved demon is holding on to the grip of her flail with her right hand, and to the enormous, blood-dyed spiked ball with her left. Her servant outfit is also heavily stained.
While you run towards her you trip on the uneven stones that pave the road, and when you manage to stand up again with your trembling legs, Rem has already reached you. She smiles widely and her eyes are warm.
“Subaru, you are unharmed!”
You stroke her pretty face.
“I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m certainly alive. Rem, my lovely girl, I want to hug you, kiss you, and do other things with you right this instant, but there’s also the matter of you holding that enormous spiked ball that is dripping blood and brain matter. That’s a good sign in any case. What happened? Is Crusch alive?”
Rem looks behind her towards the spot of the forest’s border where the soldiers were coming from.
“Last I saw her. The duchess volunteered to stay and fight against a superpowered cultist. I think he has the Unseen Hands ability we spoke about. We had ambushed two units without issue, but then we came across a third one as they were traversing the forest. It’s like someone alerted them that we were coming, even though our ambushes were flawless. And around fifteen minutes ago, a tall man with his hood down, speaking like a madman, appeared out of nowhere and killed a bunch of soldiers. There were plenty of casualties, Subaru…”
“That’s around the time we killed our last Petelgeuse”, Wilhelm says from some steps behind you.
“Yeah, his consciousness must have transferred to a Finger on that side of the forest”, you say with urgency. “We need to help her, Wilhelm!”
“I absolutely agree.”
You get close to Rem and put your dirty hand on her mostly clean shoulder.
“Rem, make sure the wounded reach the village, and then protect the place. Your sister must be handling things already, but if some of the cultists have already decided to begin the assault, they might either massacre people at the village or hit straight for the mansion. Someone should probably locate Emilia as well.”
Rem’s eyes glisten with worry.
“Can’t you come with me?”
You open your mouth to speak, but Wilhelm gets ahead.
“Mr. Natsuki has already faced and survived worse threats than what we are going to handle now. Please, miss Rem, hurry. Time is of the essence.”
Rem nods and begins to run towards the injured soldiers. You both exchange nods that don’t properly communicate how relieved you are that she’s doing well.
Your group, including Wilhelm, Julius, Ferris, and a bunch of mercenaries, run towards the spot in the forest that the soldiers had used to leave it. You look over your shoulder at Ferris.
“The apparently numerous wounded soldiers need you more than us, Ferris. You should go to the village.”
You hadn’t focused on Ferris’ expression of distress, nor the fear obvious in her eyes.
“Like hell! I will first make sure that Crusch comes out alive!”
You don’t want to argue. You dislike that you’ve had to shade yourself with the tree tops again when you had just escaped this place, but you can’t imagine how you will feel if you find out that Crusch has been killed. Even though the duchess isn’t Rem, nor Emilia, you care for her to the extent that you’ll want to kill yourself to avoid continuing a life where you have abandoned her to die.
The sounds of crunching leaves, along with a few scattering critters, alert your group that some people are coming in fast. You hide strategically behind some trunks. When three cultists appear with their daggers drawn, Wilhelm lunges forward and decapitates one. Julius impales another cultist’s heart with his sword, and Wilhelm murders the last one so fast you can’t see where he hit him. You leave the corpses behind and keep running.
Shortly after you hear a crazed, unintelligible male voice with a cadence you recognize
“We’re almost there!”, you shout almost out of breath.
Your group comes out into a clearing similar to the ones the cultists had cleared in your half of the forest. Closest to you, the duchess of Karsten is standing while wielding her fancy sword. She’s facing away from you, and her waving red cape is splashed with darker blood. On the opposite side of the clearing stands a tall man, maybe around a hundred and eighty five centimeters, in his forties, with a full beard, and who in general looks like a lumberjack despite the black robe. Around him there are dead soldiers strewn, most dismembered, some crushed. From the cultist’s back, his shadow has swollen into the elongated, ghostly arms that you recognize, but so far he’d need to take a few strides before he could reach Crusch.
This version of Petelgeuse was yelling something likely annoying at the duchess, but when he saw you emerge, he trembled and pointed at you angrily.
“Blasphemer! Rotten, hollow vermin of this broken world! Produce my stolen Gospel before I tear the limbs off everyone you know!”
“Again with that book! Fuck off, Petelgeuse!”
“You are unworthy of Her blessing!”
Crusch looks back just enough to identify those who had come up to her from behind, and then she focuses again on the madman.
“Ferris, Subaru, everyone, I’m so glad you are alive”, she says with a tired voice.
You were going to reply that you are also happy that she’s unharmed, but that’s not the case. Long, half-dried filaments of blood hang from her stained blade, and there are at least two dagger wounds on the side of her torso, under her breastplate. Those areas of her uniform are still wet. You wonder how many of the dead cultists lying around she has killed.
You look for a brief moment at Ferris, who is tightening her lips maybe wanting to avoid distracting her lady. You open your mouth to speak, but the madman’s deep voice floods the clearing.
“The duchess of Karsten, a famous unbeliever whose pawns have resisted, have fought, have murdered my fellow believers in Her love. A royal candidate as well, to fulfill your meaningless role in a passing nation which will fall to oblivion like so many have before! In the end, despite how carefully your ancestors have engineered their line to stand against the putrefaction of time, you are merely a perishable human being who takes a few steps in this world and disappears! You are nothing but a dot against the endless book of Her love!”
“Shut it, idiot!”, you yell.
That annoys Petelgeuse, who narrows his eyes, but while staring at you he pays attention to your companions.
“Is that you, Wilhelm, the king’s dog? Wilhelm van Astrea, another temporarily powerful unbeliever, now ravaged by the unstoppable passage of time! When the worms make a feast out of you, me and my legion of fellow believers will keep fighting to bring Her eternal love back into this world!”
“I have killed you three times,” Wilhelm says with a grave voice that betrays his disdain. “If necessary I will kill you a thousand.”
“Subaru,” Crusch says with a soft voice, barely turning her head. “did you meet my wounded soldiers along the way?”
“Yeah, Rem is escorting them to the village! It seems they are in the clear.”
“That friend of yours is something else. I am glad.”
Crusch clears her throat, steels herself and takes a few steps forward while wielding her sword with two hands, but holding it at her right side, as at the beginning of a wide swing.
Julius speaks softly to his groupies, who are dancing over his palm. The lights fly in an arc until they hover behind Crusch’s head without her noticing.
Petelgeuse advances a little, and his ghostly arms bend in parallel on both sides of the madman, then lock in place like a spider’s legs when it’s ready to pounce.
“Now witness! I will close my Unseen Hands around your duchess, and then squeeze slowly until this pompous unbeliever pleads for a mercy that won’t come.”
You clench your fists hard enough to puncture your flesh with your nails. You are so enraged you want to vomit. You son of a bitch, you think, how dare you say that to my mother!? You take a step forward, but Wilhelm grabs your arm. He’s staring at the duchess with a serious but otherwise calm expression.
Crusch plants her feet firmly on the grass as she turns her torso to her right.
“I’m going to disappoint you, fiend, because I don’t need to get that close to erase your stain from the world.”
Crusch shivers for a moment, and a soft blue flame envelops her sword’s blade. She swings her sword sharply from the lower right to the upper left, slicing the air, and then holds the pose. Petelgeuse’s ghostly arms twitch as if confused. Then you see a slash opened in your view of Petelgeuse as if the blade had cut space itself. In a second, the diagonal break in the view slides towards the madman, entering his torso at the height of his heart, and behind him into the line of trees. Petelgeuse had begun to yell when part of his torso slips off the rest of it while what seems like liters of blood spill out. Behind him, a tree, half chopped, slumps backwards into other trees, but a fully detached trunk falls over the madman’s remains, crushing his lower half as well as other strewn corpses.
Nobody says anything as Crusch shakes her sword to remove part of the blood, and then she sheathes it.
The madman’s upper half trembles on the ground. He attempts to support himself on the bloody stumps of his arms, and lifts his face towards your group to speak, even though blood keeps leaking from his mouth.
“How many Fingers are you going to ruin!?”, he slurs as loud as he can. “No matter, I have some more. I know where you are, unbelievers, and what you are guarding.”
Once Petelgeuse lies still, Ferris runs to her lady, holds her waist with one hand and with the other Ferris hangs her healing magic over the wounds on her torso.
“I thank you, Ferris,” Crusch says, “but miss Rem provided first aid soon after I got stabbed.”
You feel giddy, and you approach the tired looking duchess with a smile on your face.
“What the hell was that awesome thing you just did? A magic spell?”
Crusch drops her war face for a moment to smile back warmly.
“Subaru. Nothing as complicated as magic. The Karsten have passed down this blessing for many generations. Not everybody gets it, but those who do hold the responsibility to use it for good.”
Wilhelm looks around for threats.
“We should get back as soon as possible. Petelgeuse is going to possess another body, whose location we have no clue about.”
Your team walks briskly towards the road right out of the forest.
“What about the healthy soldiers, Crusch?”, you ask. “Nobody stayed behind for you?”
“I ordered them to carry the wounded to safety. Apart from them, when we realized that at least one of the units of cultists was on the move, I split my team into two, so the other half could scout and ambush other possible units in the forest before the cultists joined up and assaulted either the village or the mansion.”
“Standing alone in the open in front of that insane… thing”, Ferris says, barely disguising her anger. “What if you had fallen? What about your household, or the kingdom?”
“He didn’t know what I can do, Ferris. Everything is fine.”
“In any case,” you say, “the rest of your guys in the forest are likely to run into Ricardo, his supersonic cannibal, and the rest of his half-beasts. I feel a bit sorry about whoever they target.”

As you and Rem walk through the dirt path that, once you pass a villager’s two-story home, opens up to the village’s plaza, you see Ram standing guard with a full view of the surrounding forest, as well as the wider path that goes uphill and eventually reaches Roswaal’s mansion. Distributed through the bottlenecks produced by houses or natural rock formations, villagers armed with worn swords and pitchforks pretend like they aren’t going to either fall dead or run away the moment a cultist appears. You spot the lunatic that passes for a village chief around these parts, and he’s wearing his wizardly robe that actual magicians would rather burn than even look at. That guy also has something going on with ducks, but you never got around to caring about it.
Anyway, Ram spots you two as you approach her. Rem had already greeted her once she came with the wounded, but Rem’s bitchy sister hadn’t seen you since Emilia exiled you for acting like an idiot. Ram holds your gaze with the dismissive expression that she reserves almost exclusively for you, and you discover that you really hadn’t missed this woman at all during the confusingly long succession of two days at the capital that you wasted so many energies in. It’s hard to comprehend how this Ram could show to the world such a close copy of your beloved’s face, except for Rem’s light blue hair on top, and yet use it mostly for souring everyone’s mood. You fear you might grow an aversion towards your girlfriend just because she reminds you of the senior servant.
“Ram, I’m so glad to see you again”, you say.
“You’ve disappointed lord Roswaal’s camp twice, Mr. Natsuki. Do you know how?”
You take a deep breath.
“By showing my dumb face again?”
“That’s one, when Emilia was very clear that you weren’t to return. Do you have any idea of how much pain and turmoil you have caused her, when she needs to concentrate on the fight for the throne?”
“I kinda got all that the first time. What is my second failure?”
Ram lowers her head slightly and narrows her eyes, but Rem’s presence right next to you softens the senior servant.
“You are so lucky that my sweet sister has taken pity on you. She always cared for broken and useless things. And I suppose that your buffoonery can confuse the feeble-minded into accepting your company, which is why you seem to have earned quite a bit of following in opposite camps.”
“You still haven’t stated what’s the second way I’ve disappointed you.”
She opens her mouth slightly and furrows her brow, while letting a half-vocalized noise escape from her mouth, as if she can’t believe you are treating her with such disrespect.
“Mr. Natsuki, once the average citizen of this kingdom learns that duchess Karsten’s as well as Anastasia Hoshin’s camps have defended lord Roswaal’s domain instead of the lord himself, what do you think that will mean for Emilia’s prospects as the future ruler?”
“It gives points to them instead of to Emilia’s candidacy, you mean?”
“That much you did understand.”
Ram was about to continue, but you interrupt her.
“Would you rather let Emilia die?”
Ram snorts, and shifts her weight.
“What would we do if the exiled buffoon weren’t here to save us poor defenseless yokels?”
Hey, cool it with the buffoon stuff, you want to say. You work for a clown!
“You would have died, Ram, and so would have pretty much everybody else in Roswaal’s camp. I guess that every single person would have eventually.”
Ram narrows an eye so much she almost closes it, and advances one step towards you.
“The same way Emilia needed to be defended, protected, at the royal summons? You have some obsession, Mr. Natsuki, that the world won’t turn unless you are there to spin it.”
Rem speaks up with her sweet voice.
“… What Subaru said is true, sis.”
Rem’s words stun the senior servant, and her expression takes a few seconds to unthaw. She looks at her sister as if Ram couldn’t have heard those words.
“What are you saying, Rem?”
“The Witch’s Cult’s forces truly would have overwhelmed the village as well as lord Roswaal’s mansion, and given that the cultists had learned the means to access Roswaal’s inner sanctum, where Emilia was likely told to hide if her life was seriously threatened, the Witch’s Cult would have succeded with virtually a hundred percent certainty.”
Ram steps back while she shakes her head lightly. She holds her sister’s calm gaze with a look of betrayal.
“My own dear sister.”
You sigh.
“Ram, if circumstances were different, my nature paired with your constant need to belittle me, humiliate me, question my usefulness and intelligence along with my intrinsic value as a living being, could have turned our relationship into a lifelong love story. I assume that demeaning those in lower positions to yours gets you off, which is fine. God knows there are few things more important in this life than satisfying one’s fetishes.”
“How… indecent…”
“However, we need to start treating each other better, because if there’s such a thing as a sister-in-law in this fantasy world of yours, you are going to be it. You are going to become part of my family, and me of yours. So I look forward to our decades long relationship, sis.”
Ram snorts mockingly, but when her gaze slides to her sister, Rem blushes, lowers her head and hugs your arm, cuddling up to you.
“We are in love, Ram! And one day we’ll have a huge family of half-demons!”
Ram goes pale as her face freezes. Her legs tremble, and the senior servant staggers away. A few steps later, she crouches as if to hug her knees, her back convulses, she retches and vomits copiously into a growing puddle.
Around fifteen seconds later, the senior servant is still going.
“You never break character, do you”, you say with a low voice.

The villagers had set up a zone for the wounded, as well as to line up the sheet covered corpses that are also going to travel to the capital. Ferris and Rem are checking on the progress of the numerous soldiers, and fewer half-beast people, who have found out how it feels to get a cultist dagger stuck in their body, or to be hurled towards trees by an invisible hand, or to have their limbs crushed or torn off by an invisible hand. Whenever the kingdom’s best healer finishes her round of checking up of everybody who isn’t Crusch, Ferris returns to her lady and concentrates on making sure there’s no chance the duchess will die mid-sentence.
Crusch has taken off her breastplate for the treatment, and had sat down on an outside table to eat a home-cooked meal that some impressed family of villagers wanted to serve the duchess of Karsten. Crusch looks tired, and when her mask drops for a couple of seconds, she becomes mournful.
You want to apologize to her the same way you did to Ricardo. Under every sheet from which usually feet stick out, there’s a life that was cut short because you wanted to save Emilia, and the entire world for that matter. Despite that likely most inhabitants of this world would have died in the subsequent, cunt-induced Apocalypse, you wait for anyone to come and blame you for every death, because you feel the guilt in your bones.
You were checking the surroundings, the distant figures of Wilhelm and Julius coordinating the defense at the entrance of the village, when you look back at Crusch to find out that she had been staring at you with an inquisitive, concerned expression.
“How are you doing with all of this, Subaru? We are soldiers, but until a few days ago you didn’t seem to have picked up a sword in your life.”
Thank you for reminding me about that public beating, mom, you think.
“I can’t say I like being on the defensive, nor on the offensive for that matter. I had also expected us to come out clean after a series of ambushes.”
Crusch glances for a moment at the numerous wounded and the line of corpses.
“It would be so nice if plans could work out without any obstacles, but this is war. Has your camp made sure that Emilia is alright? I haven’t been able to move much since I entered the village, but people are quite tight-lipped about it.”
“Emilia is alive.”
Crusch looks at you with a flash of sadness in her lovely eyes.
“You too, Subaru? How do you know?”
“Because if Emilia had died, an impossible, flesh-freezing winter would have descended upon us.”
Crusch looks confused, and seems to wait for you to explain yourself.
“I really cannot say more than that, Crusch, even to you. Puck knows that the inner sanctum isn’t safe, so unless he’s a complete idiot he wouldn’t have hidden her there. They must be holed up in some other place that likely only them both know. I don’t mind that they don’t show up as long as they remain safe.”
“And the lord? It is, after all, his responsibility to defend his own domain.”
When you picture Roswall and his fantasy clown makeup, you feel your blood heating up.
“That’s what I kept saying. Roswaal should have been here and made sure everyone he supposedly cares about survived. But it seems that he’s stuck in some other town to handle some troublemaker, and you can’t send the guy an e-mail. Still, that bastard knew that presenting the Witch of Frost to the world meant that the Witch’s Cult was going to attempt to kidnap my friend, but the lord concerned himself with other necessarily less urgent matters. I tell you, this long, confusing series of repeating events has made me not want to deal with clowns ever again.”
Ferris clears her throat. You are surprised by how tense and angry she looks, as if she’s about to berate you. However, she’s looking at her lady as well.
“My lady and Subaru, I urge you to speed up the evacuation. I know that we haven’t finished the fight, but this is no place to handle the recovery of the fallen. Especially yours, duchess.”
“But we haven’t finished it, Ferris”, Crusch says.
“You have. You will risk your life unnecessarily for other people’s sake, when you have the future of many, many citizens to account for.”
“They explained Petelgeuse’s nature clearly. He must have transferred his consciousness to some other body, and he’s unlikely to have given up on performing the ritual today.”
Ferris’ cat ears twitch, and she rubs one eye. She was about to speak to Crusch again but she looks up at you.
“Please, Subaru, give us some privacy. Camp matters.”
You shrug, excuse yourself an wander away. These people are Emilia’s opponents no matter how you feel about them.

After Ram found you walking around and staring at how the Iron Fang’s big wolves either slept, ate or played around in a nearby field, she urged you to do something useful, and even blackmailed you with the notion that you had to remain in good terms with your future sister-in-law. You took guard duty in a somewhat elevated position, armed with a worn sword and staring constantly at the sea of trees in case some black-robed figure popped out.
You first heard a tumult coming from the entrance of the village, and then a couple of Crusch’s soldiers came up to the village’s plaza to announce that the half-beast people had returned. Ricardo is walking up the dirt road that leads to the village. He’s followed by a good bunch of his white-robed crew, including his monocled quartermaster and Mimi, who is walking briskly with her tiny legs, and who despite having accrued new blood stains in her matted fur and her white, orange-lined robe, she’s showing a carefree smile.
You run up to meet the Iron Fang’s captain.
“How did it go, Ricardo? Did you kill a new bunch of those creepy bastards?”
Ricardo laughs loudly.
“You know it! We didn’t come across that madman either, don’t know where he could be. So we didn’t lose any people. We swept the area for a while, but the forest is now clear as far as our senses go. And they are pretty good ones!”
You hadn’t realized that Wilhelm is standing next to you.
“Mr. Welkin, did you notice by chance if any of the cultist units lacked any of its members?”
Ricardo looks bewildered as if nobody had asked him to count before. He shrugs and scratches the back of his furry head.
“All I can say is that everyone we met we killed. Some we found on the way as they were moving through the trees.”
“I see. Thank you for your work, Mr. Welkin.”
Ricardo grins.
“Our pleasure. Ah, I forgot! We got a captive!”
You snap back your head in surprise.
“A captive? Why would you want to capture one of those bastards alive?”
Ricardo didn’t hear you, because he had turned to address a few of his men. Those half-beast soldiers don’t seem to be the right ones. Ricardo walks away for a moment, only to return with a half-boar guy who is carrying a human being whose ankles are bound with a rope.
“It’s something of a miracle that this little guy survived”, Ricardo says excitedly, “If the lieutenant had aimed a bit to the right, he would have blown up as well. He was in one of the cultist camps, hanging from a spit over a pile of kindling. Didn’t know you humans ate each other!”
You don’t know why Ricardo is surprised about that, given that his lieutenant is half-human and she still eats people.
“I doubt they were going to burn alive one of their own, for sure…”, you say, and wait for the half-boar guy to let the captive down.
The half-boar guy throws the captive on the ground casually, and the bound captive groans. You can’t see his face, but the captive seems young, has a messy head of hair and wears a merchant outfit. When he turns to look around, you recognize Otto Suwen, who looks tired and confused and is squinting at the morning light.
Before you know it you have crouched, you are resting your hands on your knees, and have burst out laughing. Ricardo also laughs for some reason.
Otto sits up. As he takes deep breaths, he’s looking up at the spectators as if they might decide to hang him over another campfire.
“I-I am grateful that this army of half-beast people rescued me, with such explicit methods, from impending doom, and yet I cannot but feel troubled that their general has burst out laughing upon my misfortune.”
You wipe your eyes and contain your laughter. You feel relieved, as if someone had told a very good joke after a tense meeting.
“Sorry, man. I’m just happy that we got you before those cultist fucks did to you whatever crazy shit they were intending. Please, someone free him.”
A fox man scout you recognize crouches next to the merchant and cuts his ropes with a dagger. When he’s finished, you offer a hand to Otto and haul him to his feet. He brushes himself off. He’s frowning and narrowing his eyes as if he has a headache.
“Ah, just my luck”, Otto says. “I couldn’t get through Flugel Road last night because of some mist, and then the Witch’s Cult captures me. I can’t even be surprised at this point! But I thank you again, all of you, for allowing me to suffer my misfortune for a while longer.”
“How the hell were you captured by the cultists when nobody else was? Didn’t you travel along with a group of merchants and travellers?”
“All I remember, sir general, is having drunk too much, getting off my carriage and venturing into the forest.”
“Why would you do that?”, you ask while chuckling.
“I-I like to talk with the animals and then take a nap in peace, but…”
Talk with the animals, huh, you think. Poor bastard.
You pat Otto on the back, but then grab his opposite shoulder and squeeze the merchant against you. Although you are feeling silly and want to joke around for a while, this guy has also almost died. You lean towards the bunch of half-beast mercenaries behind your group.
“Yo, Tivey!”
The tiny quartermaster leaves his sister’s side and comes over to you while adjusting his monocle.
“General!”
“Quartermaster, please seat this guy somewhere comfortable and prepare him a ration of dried slime, will you?”
“Y-Yes, sir.” He tugs on the merchant’s pants. “Please follow me, mister merchant. You are in good hands.”
As Tivey leads him towards the outside tables where some wounded soldiers are eating meals, Otto staggers behind him, but he looks at you over his shoulder as if asking for help.
“Dried slime!? I guess I can’t complain under the circumstances, and yet I feel compelled to…!”


As a minor observation, I love how Mimi being a cannibal, at least regarding half of nature, keeps popping up in the narrative, and it’s something that the AI came up with entirely by itself. It’s just a fun thing for me to throw around, I guess.