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.