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.
“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.
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.”
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.
“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.