This part, like the previous one, covers a small portion of the sixth volume of the original Re:Zero series.
The protagonist’s confrontation with Emilia is one of the biggest moments in this arc of the original series, as well as of the first season of the anime adaptation, particularly how it ends and what comes after that. Given that in this strange AI-fueled roleplaying/retelling thing I’m doing the protagonist can freely tell whomever he damn pleases that he can travel back in time, Satella won’t kill others to shut him up. That necessarily changes this following moment, as well as what comes out of it. Plenty of deviations already, chaos theory stuff. It’s been as long as fourteen parts after all, and I’m having fun, which is what counts.
GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.
As you walk through one of the long corridors of Roswaal’s mansion, a realization sinks in that this is it: you are going to face the one person whose teary face and reproachful words have been running through your mind in the different lives you’ve gone through. Your heart pumps loudly, and before you realize it your hands have converged to shield your testicles. It was an empty threat, you tell yourself. You can take dying horribly, but not that.
You head towards Emilia’s bedroom, except that you only found out back then about her bedroom because you planned on catching a glance of something you shouldn’t. Along the way it seems you have forgotten which of the myriad of doors belongs to her. You knock on different doors shily, until a small figure flies out of one of the paintings.
“Hey, moron. What the hell are you doing?”, Puck asks.
“Shh! Keep your voice down. Emilia’s in one of these rooms, I’m trying to find out which.”
“I know where Emilia is, you idiot. In her study, which is none of these rooms.”
He gives you detailed directions, and you think you’ve understood him.
“Anyway, Puck, has the princess figured out that I’m here?”
“Hah, I doubt that. We both know you’re not an interesting subject for her. And I had no intention of telling.”
“You need to be careful not to trouble her more. Not only she’s dealing with the annoying official stuff of attempting to sit on the throne, but she has barely slept since she left the capital.”
“Understandable, with all the future assassination attempts.”
“Don’t know if you are trying to be funny, asswipe, but thing is, turns out that getting betrayed fucks with your mind.”
You lower your head.
“I’ll need to have a good talk with her.”
“I won’t intercede.”
“Don’t need to, after all. You are her protector, but I’m too powerless to hurt her in any way.”
Puck shoots you a look.
“That’s not true.”
He flies away and vanishes.
You take a deep breath and let your feet carry you through the directions that Puck had given you. You stand in front of the door as you feel your legs getting woozy. You knock.
“You can get in, Ram”, says the tired sounding, clear voice of the half-elf.
It’s been a long time since you heard her. You open the door and see her sitting on a chair behind a big desk as she’s writing something. She lifts her head and her purplish eyes stare at you. First comes surprise, which makes her drop her pen. Second, she turns her face to the side and makes a grimace. Then, she stands up and goes around the desk as anger flares in her eyes.
“Why are you here?”, she asks as she approaches you. Her voice sounds enraged, but you can sense fear in it.
You look at her and realize how much she has changed, but also how much she remains the same. You can’t answer right away as a lump forms in your throat and your eyes start to water. You feel like a little boy again, seeing his mother for the first time after spending months away from home.
“I was clear as can be”, Emilia says. “You aren’t that hard of understanding that there was any possible chance for you to have misunderstood, right?”
The lump finally slides down your throat, and you manage to get a few words out of your mouth.
“I heard you well. That my face was dumb, that I shouldn’t return to the mansion, and that if we were to cross paths paths again, you’d tear my balls off. Not that I want to remind you of that.”
“I was mad, of course I was. You stole something important from me. Not as tangible as the medallion, but that hurts a lot more.”
You aren’t sure what she’s referring to, but you hold her teary gaze without blinking.
“I am sorry, Emilia.”
Emilia’s eyes narrow, but she soon sighs. She raises one hand to her face, rubbing it a bit.
“Sorry doesn’t mean anything coming from some people, because they’ll hurt you again the same way only to attempt to placate you with the same words.”
“I really am sorry, Emilia. I understand if you can’t forgive me, but I want you to know that I made a huge mistake. I was a fool, and I hurt you.”
She turns away and closes her eyes tight, which causes a tear to roll down her cheek.
“I’ve learned at the capital, through a generous amount of bruising and internal bleeding, that I should learn my limits and not get into fights I can’t win. I’m still learning, of course. Will keep learning through several lifetimes. But the fact is, I’ve come back mainly because of a hurt that’s coming, far worse than the one this idiot caused you. I want to prevent it, at all costs.”
You finish with a sigh, and wait for her to react. She sniffles and rubs her eyes.
“Puck said he had learned that the Witch’s Cult is going to attack as soon as in a few hours. You mean he got that from you?”
“Ah… Yes, but it’s the truth. We’ll focus on keeping you safe. You can also throw a few ice spells here and there, I’m not saying that you are unable to help yourself…”
Emilia steps forward and faces you, studying your expression with her wet eyes.
“You needed a story to come back, after all. You must have heard in the capital that the Witch’s Cult would make their moves now that I’ve shown myself to the world, and there it was. Your ticket for me to kneel before you, hug your legs and plead for you to protect me.”
“I’m know that I’m not the most trustworthy person, with the amount of weird stuff that comes out of my mouth, but…”
She closes her eyes again and stands still for a few seconds, then she paces around without looking at you.
“I’ve thought back at the day I met you. I had believed you were involved in stealing my medallion, remember? What a fool I was, thinking you were capable of something like that.”
“You mean because of principles, not ability, I’m guessing…”
She’s staring at the ground and not listening to you.
“I was so wary of you, but then again why wouldn’t I? I am so exhausted of trying to hide who I am, the race I was born as, even this silver hair. There I was dealing with someone who would repudiate me, like everybody else does, because of things that have always been beyond my control.” She clenches her hands. “But you didn’t…”
You approach her and try to think about something more comforting to tell her.
“I still can’t believe how most people in this kingdom want to hate you for just the half-elf thing, and because Satella did this or that. I’m sorry there are so many dickheads around.”
Her gaze stops on the door as she stands still for a moment. She seems to have frozen over again, until she shakes her head.
“Still, when you chose to help me, I had to keep my guard up. You probably were in it to manipulate me along the way and then throw me in the dirt, doing away with my medallion and therefore my only chance in this life. Why wouldn’t you? Why would you care about damaging a half-demon?”
You swallow as you feel a pang in your heart. This girl doesn’t have a clue.
Emilia turns towards you and steps forward. She makes an effort of looking you in the eyes, although new tears follow the wet courses of the previous ones.
“After we got back the medallion from that thief teenager from the slums, we went for a meal. Afterwards, we would have parted ways. You had never met me before but you offered me your help, and when I got back what I needed, we did something as normal as merely sharing a meal in public, even though everybody in the room was likely casting reproachful glances at me and you. They wouldn’t expect anything from me, but they would condemn you for the companies you chose to keep.”
You want to shut your eyes and contradict her. She is wrong, of course. You had appeared in this world as suddenly as can be, and you had no clue that there was anything to fear, anything to hate from half-elves. You had realized due to her somewhat pointy ears and that this world could be more or less described as a generic fantasy that she had to be an elf of some kind, but then again Satella meant nothing to you. What if you had been born here? What if your parents and grandparents and so on had descended from survivors of an apocalyptic event that destroyed half of the world, and that was caused by someone of the same heritage and who probably looked pretty similar to this teary girl you are facing? Would you have hated Emilia as well? Was the appropriate, or even sane thing to do, to hate her and her kind?
“Emilia, maybe I’m so dumb that I didn’t take any of that into account. I have a record of doing dumb things, as you well know.”
She shakes her head, maybe not knowing how to respond.
“Fact is”, you begin to say, “that I truly came because you are in danger. I didn’t make it up, I’m not such a scumbag to come out with a plan like that… I want you to live, I want you to survive and possibly sit on the throne and marry a nobleman and all that kind of fantasy world crap. And we need to act soon, because it seems to me that neither your senior servant nor your spirit of the Apocalypse are competent enough to prevent the assault even if they have the foreknowledge. Ram is a complete asshole as well.”
“Ram is just-“
“Nevermind that. Roswaal gave you specific instructions to counter the Witch’s Cult, right? Or at least for you to avoid them?”
“Y-Yes. Puck said that the inner sanctum wasn’t safe? But Roswaal said…”
You shake your head. You were going to grab Emilia’s shoulders, but you contain yourself.
“Roswaal isn’t here. Roswaal won’t be here when the killing starts. You people seem to respect that guy, I get that. He has a big mansion and money and stuff. But I mean, he goes around painted like a fantasy world clown. At one point you would think, shit, this guy is probably deranged and he’s only going to cause trouble for us? It’s the whole thing that the company you keep reflects on you, or something like that.”
“… So, you’re saying we are fools for trusting lord Roswaal?”
“I’m saying… Actually I don’t know what the hell I’m saying. But I think you need to stop worrying about me and start thinking more about yourself… I mean, you’re beautiful, intelligent and have a great future ahead of you. I’m sure there’s some young guy out there who would love to ride off into the sunset with you.”
She frowns, seemingly confused.
“What does that have to do with anything now?”
“I mean, Emilia, that we need to go somewhere else. Not follow Roswaal’s orders, because they won’t work.”
“Like hell. You don’t know that for sure!”
“Fuck yes I do.”
“Roswaal told me it’s a magically sealed entryway, that only those with a specific spell, one he taught me, could enter it. Otherwise the passageway is invisible even to identifying spells.”
“I keep saying that Roswaal is a damn clown. He clearly has no clue what he’s doing! That Petelgeuse shithead managed… Will manage to sneak in beyond Ram’s defenses and beeline towards the hidden passageway. They will enter it, reach the generic magic crystal thing at the bottom, and end your half-elf life! You are too cute to be killed like that. Hell, this is a gigantic mansion. Why wouldn’t Roswaal hire security of some kind? That Priscilla broad has the one-armed man and a bunch of other guards that dig graves for her. Aren’t there also like small cat-girls who sling explosions around?”
“It was Ram and Frederica up to this point, and we were doing good.”
“Even so! The clown’s a betting man. Couldn’t he, like, I dunno… Buy a bunch of Rottweilers or something?”
“You are not being helpful at all.”
“I’m trying damn it! But you’re too set in your ways, you won’t even listen to me. Either that or you’re taking what I say and twisting it to make it into something I didn’t even mean!”
“Well you have to admit, that’s sort of what you’re doing with me.”
“I am not!”
You groan and cover your face with your palms. Nobody listens to you, nobody wants to hear a single thing you are saying. Maybe the world’s destiny is set. Didn’t Beatrice said something to that effect? And Satella gave you this power as a curse so you had to see the world coming to an end and spend the rest of eternity attempting to prevent it in vain. What the hell did I do to you, Satella, you think. What could I have possibly done that was so fucking bad you had to curse me like this? Do you get some twisted pleasure out of watching me fail over and over again? It’s enough to make anyone suicidal, really.
Emilia waits for a few seconds, and then speaks with a wavering voice.
“To be honest, I’m getting more scared than I already was. I probably should head down to Roswaal’s office and hide.”
“No, you won’t.”
Before you know it, you’ve grabbed her arm, feeling her slender flesh under your palm and fingers. Emilia’s eyes go wide, then she stares at you reproachfully.
“What do you think you are doing?”
“I wasn’t sure at first, but that’s it, I guess. I’m not going to let you follow Roswaal’s orders, because I know how that ends. We are going somewhere else, and I’ll drag you if necessary.”
As Emilia’s face twists into anger and new tears fall from her eyes, she pushes your chest and attempts to free herself. You strengthen your grip.
“Who the hell do you think you are, Subaru!?”, she yells as she clenches her teeth. “Why do you think you can do this to me?”
You don’t say a word and just keep looking at her. There’s no use in opening your mouth, because you know she wouldn’t listen anyway. The best way to deal with her in this situation is showing, not telling.
Emilia tries to free herself again, but you keep a tight grip on her arm, before she eventually gets tired and out of breath. Her breathing increases and ragged sounds leave her throat. Then she extends her free hand in front of both of you, with her palm upwards. You feel a chill going through you. It feels as if the moisture of the air is gathering over her palm and congealing. There’s suddenly a half a meter long, sharp-looking shard of ice hovering over her hand. It turns to target your chest.
“I will skewer your heart”, she says with a thin, angry voice. “It would only be fair.”
For some reason you reach to touch the shard of ice. The cold spreads through you and you feel a numbness in your fingers. It’s a strange feeling, one that you’ve never felt before. You look at the shard of ice Emilia made, which is still pointed at your chest. Her eyes narrow.
Calm in a way that you hadn’t felt for hours, you free her arm and take a few steps back while still facing her. She keeps staring at you, disturbed and afraid, as you kneel in front.
“Go ahead, then.”
Emilia frowns. She opens her mouth, but she fails to produce words.
“I did tell you, and everybody else, in front of those decrepit fools of the council”, you say camly. “Someone who will defend her even if it costs him his life. If she dies, I’ll take my own life. Those were my words, and although they came in a rush along with other wild lies about me travelling through multiple dimensions and battling gods or whatever, I stand for what I said regarding giving my life to you. If you truly believe I should be killed, or even if you just want to kill me, do so. I won’t stop you.”
“I… I don’t want to kill you.”
“You sure? I think you do. Think about it, girl. I almost ruined one of your only chances to rule this kingdom, to go from a despised nobody belonging to a cursed race to the queen above all. I’m a complete shithead who came that close to ruining your life. Remember the pain I caused you, the grief, the sadness. You haven’t been able to sleep properly either. Rolling in bed because someone who should have had your back turned out to be an idiot unworthy of your trust. Isn’t that how it goes? Go ahead and murder me. It will satisfy you.”
“Murder me, Emilia. Dying feels so good, you know. After the pain, the nerve-killing, mind-destroying pain, everything goes dark and you bathe in an endless love. I will visit it again and again, over and over.”
“I won’t murder you, you bastard.”
The ice shard falls to the ground, breaks in half and then dissolves in the air. Emilia lets out a pained noise. She retreats backwards until her back hits her desk, and then she trembles and covers her face.
You sigh and stand up.
“In that case, we should quit wasting your time.”
“I… I’m sorry”, she says, still trembling with her face covered.
You move towards her. You want to embrace this girl, but not to soothe her. Everything feels unreal, like you aren’t even here. What does this world, the one attached to this life of yours that needs to end, matter to you? Why do you keep pressing on?
“Don’t hide. Look at me, you half-elf girl.”
She obeys, but she’s still trembling. Her gaze keeps shifting from your eyes.
“We’ll figure out something else”, you say, “helped partially by that cat familiar of yours that has performed his duty flawlessly so far.”
“I… I don’t… understand…”, she says, her voice trembling along with the rest of her body.
“I’m going to help you ascend to become a goddess.”
“What are you talking about…?”
You grab her shoulders, which causes her to yelp.
“I’ll help you turn into a goddess. A real goddess. Not one of those fake deities that people pray to. You will be the silver-haired, half-elf queen, whose cunt of a familiar can entomb the world in frost.”
Emilia tries to pull away, but you’re stronger. You move her chin so she looks directly into your eyes.
“Even though this world will end for me,” you say, “you need to survive. This life will cease, but I will have done that much. It won’t be a waste.”
“Stop it…” She whimpers.
“But if you don’t want to survive, I’ll respect that decision as well. I’ll personally end your life myself.”
She stares into your eyes, and she must see something there that tells her you’re being serious. She swallows. Her face is reddened from crying.
“Subaru, why do you feel this need…”, she says, lowering her voice. “Even saying that you will die for me. What have I done?”
You loosen your grip on her shoulders. For a few seconds you lower your head, and then the buzzing feeling in your mind turns down a bit.
“I used to live somewhere else, Emilia. I mean like very far away from here. In middle school, back then when… I needed to act out, I suppose. I wasn’t anyone in particular, I didn’t have the talents I should have had. But I could make them laugh, couldn’t I? They liked it, some of them. But over time, they stopped caring, one after the other. I couldn’t… On my way back from school I used to see this stray cat, orange and striped with black. He used to sit on top of a brick wall and look at people. I didn’t get too close because he hissed, swiped at people’s heads if they passed by, shit like that. I didn’t see that cat for a while, and even forgot about him. But last time I saw him he was like a street away from his usual spot. He was standing in the middle of the single-lane road that mostly housewives and schoolchildren used to walk through. The cat’s eyes were half-shut by something like hardened mucus, and he kept bubbling through his nose as he wheezed. I approached him, but he didn’t move. He stood there purring as I pet his head. He just stood there without rubbing his jaw against my hand or anything like the other cats. Then I walked away. I stopped and looked back, and this cat was staring at me through his half-shut eyes. Since then I’ve thought at few times… I could have taken him, brought him home, asked my parents to pay for a veterinarian or something. But I didn’t. That day back then I came home, and the following day I went to school, and then I came back home. I kept living my normal life as if a few days before I couldn’t have changed the course of another’s life. Well, Emilia, you met that cat, you let him follow you for a while, and when he rubbed against your hand, you brought him home and gave him a new life. Is it a wonder that he would remain loyal to you forever?”
Emilia stares through you for a few seconds as she trembles. Then she lowers her head, hiding her features with her long silver hair. You listen to her sob until you’ve had enough. You hug her tight and kiss her dumb head.
“Puck probably knows other hiding spots around these parts. That cunt needs to prove himself useful, after all.”
You glimpse movement at the corner of your eye. With Emilia’s silver-hair pressed against your cheek, you see that Puck is hovering a couple of meters from you both. He’s put his paws on his hip and is looking at you with a cat expression you can’t describe.
“Let’s leave it at that for now and get out of here”, Puck says.
“Yeah, yeah”, you reply.