Things got quite hardcore in this one, as the protagonist had to deal with the infamous madman Petelgeuse. However, I was pleased that one of the best sequences in the original (that in which the protagonist has fallen into a catatonic state, Petelgeuse captures him and then he tortures Rem to death), couldn’t happen in this strange AI-fueled version I’m doing, because the protagonist’s mental state is doing quite fine in general. So I roleplayed through a fresh approach at preventing the cultists from bringing forth Puck’s Apocalypse. The events of this new part still fall in the fifth volume of Re:Zero, but this part completes that volume.
As I mentioned in the previous part, I decided that Satella’s choice to forbid the protagonist from speaking about his curse wasn’t my cupe of (Echidna’s) tea, so he can freely blabber about it to whoever he damn pleases. However, that of course means that the way to push “Petelgeuse’s spirit” from the protagonist’s mind won’t work in this version. Maybe Beatrice could put up some magical barriers in his mind or something?
GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.
Shortly after sunset, as you were yawning, you reach the same village you stopped at in your previous life. When you step out of the carriage near some others, your brain can barely handle the strangeness of it all. Rem announces that she’s going to rent a room for the night. You nod and wander a bit. You end up recognizing a carriage as belonging to Otto, and you see the guy handling his inventory on the back of it. You find yourself smiling. You truly did travel back in time. Was it a one time thing? Did Beatrice cause it, wanting to save your life? If so, you should bow to the ground the next time you see her.
You’re broken out of your thoughts by a man in very fancy clothing. You can’t even see his face behind the giant gem on his crown. He glares at you with disgust, and you don’t understand why. You try to smile at him, but he only clutches his staff of ornately carved wood with multiple jewels embedded in it tighter.
“You… Your clothes, they’re so… Common.”
Common? Was he insulting your fashion sense?
“Who did you steal that crown from? No member of the nobility would find himself caught in such a midway village like this. Who are you?” You ask, a little irritated. He didn’t answer your question. The man looked down his nose at you, and, once again, you almost swooned from such a pose. “I am Count Grey. Who are you?”
“I’m Natsuki Subaru. I’m new to the area.”
“Hmm… You don’t look like a bad lot… What brings you here?”
You were caught off guard by the friendly nature of the man.
“What, are you the count of this actual region?”
“Count? No, I’m the count of nothing. I’m a simple merchant. Buying and selling all over the place. Maybe you’ve heard of me?”
You narrow your eyes at him, and look to the side to see if Rem is done.
“Is getting drunk in this midway village a merchant tradition?” You say, as the man looks over at the tavern.
“Not really? The owner is just an old friend of mine, we served in the army together. He likes to see me whenever I come here.”
You step away from the guy.
“I’m sorry. You thought I wanted to talk to you, but I don’t.”
“Hey, what’s wrong with me?!” He says getting upset.
“I don’t know you, and I’m already not liking your attitude. Fuck off.” You say, as the man becomes visibly upset at you.
“Well excuse me for trying to be friendly! I only wanted to ask if you wanted to join my company. It’s not like I’m stealing from you!”
You pause as he says this, so he continues.
“I’m a business man! I’m offering you a job! You think you could make it as a merchant? Then you should join me, and we’ll both make lots of money!”
You know you’re being manipulated by him, but it’s not like you’re doing much now. He seems to want you to come with him, so maybe he’ll lead you to another city, or a more populated area at least. You’d have a chance to start over.
“Listen, buddy, if I had just happened to end up here shortly after coming over from my previous dimension, maybe this offer of yours could become the start of a profitable relationship, as well as maybe a friendship, and plenty of other adventures that could have held some interest. But the truth is that I have a cute little demon servant waiting for me to get into a bedroom with her, so kindly fuck off back to your alcohol.”
Yeah, I would’ve said something like that.
Just fucking with you. I would’ve said yes. If I joined his company he probably would have just hired me as a guard or something mundane like that, so I would have made sure to find out what the company was dealing in first. If it was anything to do with spice, slave-girls, or other drugs, then I would have turned him down immediately.
…Although it would have made a better story if I had said something similar to my response above.
“Quit messing with me, Puck.”
“Fine, fine, you’re too boring anyway. I was just having fun.”
Puck disappears in a small puff of smoke, and you swear you hear the little cunt laughing somewhere far away.
You are shocked that not only Puck’s name came to your mind subconsciously as you were dismissing someone irritating, but that it was actually Puck fucking with you. That Apocalypse-triggering fuckhead has too much free time.
Rem approaches you maneuvering through the citizens and the merchants.
“I got our room. What’s wrong? You are making a strange face.”
“Nothing, let’s go.”
You and Rem enter the tavern. It’s filled with the sounds of people talking over each other and the clanging of mugs on tables. Smoke from pipes and cigarettes fill the room, and alcohol flows freely. Loud laughing comes from a group of dwarves in one corner. A beautiful elf notices you and smiles, making a gesture to ask if you want to sit with her.
“Sorry, elf lady, I already have another one partly belonging to your kind that I’m thinking about. Rem, do you want to waste our time here in the tavern for a bit, or do you want to just go to the room you rented?”
“I don’t mind. What do you want to do, Party Leader?”
“I’d say that getting to a bedroom with your cute demon self sounds like a better idea.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment. Lead the way.”
You take Rem’s hand and head to the room she rented for you. The two of you ascend a large flight of stairs, then down a hallway until you find the room you’re looking for. A quick twist of the door’s handle and you’re in, with the door closed behind you.
“So….” Rem says, leaning against the door as if to make sure nobody else enters. “…What did you want to do?”
As you look back towards her from the center of the bedroom, you notice her bashfulness and her reddening cheeks, and you feel a tightness in your throat. Although you do like Rem very much, it was your instinct to throw jokes around that had landed you in this compromising situation. At the sudden realization that you had Rem in front of you not entirely unwilling to engage in a more personal contact with you, you feel fear. Fear of being rejected, maybe, of not being enough, of disappointing her. Or maybe of getting attached to her too much.
“Anything you want…”
Rem’s voice breaks you out of your chain of thoughts, and those words resonate within your head. Anything you want…
You could approach this in a safe way. You could settle for being friends with benefits. You could also just be satisfied with the fact that Rem trusted you enough to come back here with you, and didn’t find any reason to fear you. Or…
“I want to be yours.”
Rem holds her hands against her chest and her eyes sparkle as she looks up at you. She approaches you softly, step by step. You are caught in the middle of taking a step back.
“I want to be yours…”
“You may do so. I am yours, and you are my master.”
“If you want…”
You close the gap between you and Rem as you softly hold her cheeks, leaning your face against hers in a slow yet eager manner. Her lips part slightly as she closes her eyes in expectation of the kiss. You rub your nose against hers, breathing in the scent of her body’s warmth and closeness.
“Rem, when did you start liking me this way?”
“When we first met. You were so kind to me, even if you had a rather scary face, the type that I’ve never seen before.”
“But why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t know. I thought maybe you wouldn’t like me back. I was also scared that the first time we met, with you being so scary and all…”
You chuckle nervously.
“One would think that you being an Oni at all, used to an extent to burying your fangs on people, and belonging to a long line of demons, wouldn’t have any reason to be scared of a guy as pitiful as me.”
“I’m not. You’re human, but you’re also so much more than that, Natsuki-san.”
You place your hand over Rem’s heart. Something stirs inside of you as you feel the warmth of her body heat.
“It feels disrespectful, somehow. No, not somehow. I wasn’t kidding, nor crazy, when I told you all that the Witch’s Cult is going to assault Roswaal’s mansion. I don’t know if we should be doing something like this now.”
“I agree, Natsuki-san. I respect your wishes.”
The rest of the night until you both get to bed passes in a blur, and you can barely remember anything beyond Rem directing sweet smiles at you and wishing you a good night’s sleep as she shuts the light. Your erection must have been overtly noticeable despite your silly attempts at turning away.
The next day, you and Rem wake up well before the sun. You feel a rush of panic as you realize the task ahead of you, as well as the dangers along the way. You know that the cultists could ambush your carriage on the road leading to the village, and you might find them massacring the innocent villagers as soon as you get there. Will Rem’s demonic strength and her strange flail be enough? Certainly you can’t contribute anything to this victory beyond your foreknowledge.
“You feeling alright?”, Rem asks, dressed already and looking up at you while holding her hands behind her back. “Did you get a good night’s sleep?”
“I slept fine, thank you. What about you?”
“I slept like a baby, sir.”
Once you haul your luggage to your carriage and leave the village towards the still somewhat distant mansion, you look to your left at Rem, who is holding the reins of the ground dragon.
“Please, be on guard at all times. Wilhelm was mostly right in that regard, but during this trip to the mansion, you should be on guard to a hundred percent. You understand, Rem? We might get ambushed by cultists at any point along the way.”
“I share your hatred of cultists, but Subaru, we’ve done this route plenty of times without any issue.”
You shake your head, mostly thinking out loud to yourself.
“They’re probably acting on their own, or maybe one person is leading them, I don’t know. All I know is they’ll be trying to kill us, and we need to be ready to kill them first.”
You stare out into the quiet forest as the individual trees pass in a blur. Some time later, Rem suddenly lets out a small cry and she bends forward while pushing her hand against her chest. The sudden pull on the reins makes the ground dragon veer towards the forest and it nearly crashes into a tree, but it stopped to prevent it. The ground dragon looks back as if demanding an explanation. Rem is breathing fast, her pupils have shrunk, and sweat is beading on her forehead.
“My sister, Ram… She just called me, telepathically. She’s in danger.”
“Fuck! We’re too far from the village, and it has already started!”
Rem thinks deeply for a moment while you try to calm yourself. You don’t know what Ram’s situation is, but you do know that getting angry won’t help anything. Even if you go all out, it’ll still take a few hours before you reach the village again.
“I have so many questions,” says Rem with fear in her voice, “but it doesn’t matter now. We need to be quick.”
She readies the carriage again and you resume your trip, but going faster.
“Subaru, is it really the Witch’s Cult? How could you possibly know?”, Rem asks you, and the suspicion on her voice pricks your skin.
“I kept telling you. I truly lived through this already, and ended up dying at the mansion. I don’t know how, Rem, but I managed to go back in time to Crusch’s place. It was the Witch’s Cult, black-robed, wielding cross-shaped daggers and all!”
Rem says nothing, but you can feel her surprise.
“Yeah… I somehow turned to ice, I think. Beatrice was there.”
Rem continues driving as fast as she can, and you spend the rest of the trip in silence.
At some point, the forest gives way to the familiar sight of the village. On top of the roofs of several houses, you can see people waving weapons around. They must be preparing for the attack.
There’s a group of villagers gathered at the central plaza, and you get glimpses of the children as they look worried through some house’s windows.
You approach the village chief, who despite wearing his usual wizardy robes, this time he’s holding on to a decent-looking sword.
“Hey, chief. If you are gathered to prepare for an attack, someone must have informed you of an incoming threat, right? Please inform me of the situation.”
“Ah, the Hero of Time. Come to grace us with your presence once again?”
“You didn’t answer my question, chief.”
The chief stares at you in the same way a parent would look at their child.
“You really think I would bother informing you of such things? I am no longer in need of a puppet.”
You look around irritated at the other armed villagers, men and women, who look concerned.
“Does any of you have a modicum of sense in your damned villager brains to inform me whether anyone from Roswaal’s mansion has alerted you of an incoming attack?”
“Well, uh, we just found out from a villager that there are suspicious people wandering nearby.”
“Two, possibly three.”
“Damn it!” you mutter under your breath.
Rem approaches you from the side. She’s putting on a tough, warrior face, and seems ready to grasp at her hidden flail at any second.
“Ram must be scouting, or maybe the cultists intended to hit the mansion first.”
“Then we need to move now!”
“We don’t even know how many they are, or where they exactly are!” the chief replies.
You’re put in a stalemate with the villager. You have to figure out what to do next.
“Rem, can we really leave these people to their fates…?”, you say, unwilling to look at the villagers in the eye.
“Either we stay here and the cultists hit the village first, in which case we’ll have serious trouble stemming the tide without Ram and Emilia, or the Witch’s Cult is already hitting the mansion, so we would just be failing them if we were to stay here. I suggest we hurry uphill and make sure that my sister and everybody else is okay.”
Your heart beats quick and you can hardly contain your hands from trembling. These people do not wish to be involved with the Witch’s Cult, they’re just doing their job to defend this area. It’d be downright cowardly to leave them behind. And yet…
At this point, the chief raises his voice and begins to yell.
“People! We’re being attacked by the Witch’s Cult! Gather your weapons and prepare to fight! If they breach the village, fall back to the manor! Don’t die out here!”
The gathered villagers look at each other, given that they are already holding their weapons.
You shake your head.
“Seems like you villagers have this under control. Rem, let’s run to the mansion.”
Although a couple of minutes of running are burning your lungs, Rem looks as if she moonlights as a marathon runner. She keeps glancing at hidding spots and the nearby woods. Suddenly, she stops on her tracks and slightly crouches down. You hear it then, something zipping through the air and lodging itself into a tree trunk. It’s a cross-shaped dagger.
You half run, half crawl closer to Rem, but she shoots you a look with fiery eyes.
“No, find somewhere to hide!”
Three black-robed cultists slide from behind some trees and face Rem in the open. She breathes deeply, suddenly holding her flail. The enormous spiked ball rests on the ground.
“Witch cultists!”, Rem roars. “Come at me, so I can crush your bones under my heel!”
The three cultists seem hesitant to approach, instead throwing their daggers at Rem. She bats them away with her flail and charges the closest one. One of them readies another dagger, but otherwise he makes no effort to move away. A flick of Rem’s flail tears his torso from his legs. The other two cultists slide to her sides and ready their secondary daggers. Silently, from different angles, both cultists thrust forward towards Rem with their daggers.
“Rem!”, you yell in a broken voice.
Rem pivots on herself and smacks the daggers out of their hands with her flail. They’re now helplessly unarmed, but Rem doesn’t even look at them as a threat anymore. Instead, she walks up to one, grabs him by the collar and lifts him into the air.
“Witch cultist!” She growls. “Where is your master?! Tell me!” She squeezes him, causing his eyes to bug out.
As you were stepping forward towards the enraged servant demon, you notice that two cultists have materialized in the path, and are staring at you from the darkness inside their hoods. They are holding their cross-shaped daggers, but if they had intended to kill you they had plenty of opportunity to do so before you noticed their presence.
For a while, they simply stare at you. Then, they both pull their daggers and begin to walk towards you.
Rem, shooting a look back, drops the cultist she was holding to the ground, she steps on his hooded face savagely, and then jumps back towards you as she swings the flail to intercept the two cultists that approach you.
The spiked ball rips through both cultists at once, exploding their upper torsos in a bloody mess that splashes your face. You cough as you stagger to the side. Rem notices that the remaining unarmed witch cultist was sliding towards the forest, and she flicks the stained spiked ball of her flail towards the black-robed figure. The spiked ball flies through the air with a whistling sound, and it hits the cultist in the back of his or her knee. As the person falls forward, they raise their arms to break their fall, but the flail wraps around their arms and pulls them face first into the ground. Their face is embedded into the earth as their arms are pulled backwards at an unnatural angle.
Rem, barely breathing harder, flips the spiked ball towards herself and grabs it with her spare hand. She looks around while frowning.
“That seems to be all for now.”
In a daze, you had bent over and taken one of the cross-shaped daggers, feeling that it would be better for you to be armed.
“Let’s finish this one off”, Rem says.
You both walk over to the one that’s face down in the dirt. Rem pulls his head up by the hair, and after the demon servant looks at you giving you a silent order, you plunge your dagger into the back of the guy’s neck. Afterwards you wipe your dagger off on the person’s robe.
“They must have reached the mansion’s grounds already”, Rem says with a tense voice. “We need to hurry”.
While you run behind the demon servant who you are quickly beginning to look up to as if to a god, you realize that you just murdered someone. If you had thought about it in the past, in your previous world perhaps, you would have thought that it would have tormented your mind, made you drop to your knees in a panic for the entire future of a person that you had stolen. But you feel nothing except the relief that someone who intended to kill the people you cared about is gone. You tighten your grip on the stolen dagger.
“I must say, though, Rem, that you are super hardcore.”
“This is no time for jokes, Natsuki Subaru”, Rem says.
“I’m serious! That… that was beautiful! How did you learn to fight like that?! I don’t even know what half the things you did were!”
“It’s training, instinct, and talent.”
“Even so, you didn’t even think about the moves! It was all muscle memory and instinct! You’re amazing!”
“You already said that.”
“I thought it was true twice!”
You arrive to the bend of the path from which you can see the mansion ground’s gate, as well as the vast yards, with the large building of the mansion itself in the background. You see black-robed figures lying around bloodied near the gate, but more importantly, past the open gate, the familiar figure of the senior servant is jumping around and shooting wind spells out of her hands towards the black-robed figures that are maneuvering around her. You faintly hear some yelling coming from there.
Rem shouts her sister’s name and sprints towards the fight, leaving behind in mere seconds. You pant towards them, although you have no clue how you could help them.
You stop by the side of the gate and watch as the senior servant girl fights the black-robed assailants. She’s extremely skilled with her wind magic. You didn’t even know she could use it in such a way, but then again, she’s not one to open up. Rem launches the spiked ball of her flail towards the cultists that Ram can’t handle. With both sisters combining their forces, the cultists end up being surrounded and annihilated. You trot to reach them. You feel yourself covered in warm sweat, and you need to breathe through your mouth. Ram greets you with a cold gaze.
“Bless your luck that my sister accompanied you back to Roswaal’s domain.”
“Glad to see you too, Ram. Things seem to be going well so far.”
“Not thanks to you, for sure.”
“Ram…”, Rem says.
Ram steps forward, while the latent magic of her wind spells blurs her right hand.
“Is this really the moment for you to act bitchy towards me?”
“Fuck you, I’m not done talking! You were ordered to stay away from this mansion, and now the Witch’s Cult assaults us.”
You briefly step back as you raise your palms towards the angry senior servant.
“Hey, Ram, don’t go suggesting wild connections.”
Rem puts a hand on her sister’s shoulder.
“Subaru is right, sister”, she says with a calming voice.
Ram seems surprised at her sister defending you.
“As far as I know, Subaru didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not his fault the Witch’s Cult is acting out of line. After all, we know that they pursue lady Emilia, and she just showed herself to the wide world.”
Ram keeps her gaze down towards the ground and sighs briefly.
“Ram, is everybody at the mansion alright? Have the cultists breached in?”
“No, they haven’t breached inside. We can’t relax, though, the first line of defense is strong, but I’m not sure how long it will hold.”
Rem nods as well.
“We might have to use the escape tunnels, if…”
You shake your head.
“Where the hell is Roswaal? That bastard knew that the Witch’s Cult was going to make a move towards using Emilia for their resurrection thing, and yet he just pranced away!”
Ram stiffens and casts you a murderous glance.
“That tongue of yours calls for a pair of scalding pliers. Lord Roswaal had business to deal with in Sanctuary. It seems that Garfiel is acting up again.”
You are hesitant to open your mouth, as it sets in that Ram has every right to be angry at you.
“I don’t know what Sanctuary is, nor why would this Garfiel person be so important to distract your precious lord from his duties. Listen, I want to make sure that Emilia and Beatrice are okay. Can I go into the mansion?”
“…Yes. Go make sure they are safe.”
Rem, while frowning, stares at her sister, and then glances at the road that descends towards the village.
“Ram, can you handle defending the gates by yourself, for a while at least?”
Ram briefly opens her mouth only to close it again. Her brow trembles.
“Good. I’ll go with Subaru to make sure everyone in the mansion is safe.”
Rem turns to you, and gives a small bow of her head.
“If you would accompany me, Natsuki-san.”
You nod to her, and begin jogging up the path that leads towards the mansion. After about a minute of running, Rem quickly opens the door, and you find yourselves in the silent, gloomy inside. You lean over to whisper in the nervous Rem’s ear.
“Where would Emilia be? I suppose there must be some protocol if the Witch’s Cult of all people attack the mansion.”
Rem shakes her head as if ashamed.
“I wouldn’t know myself. Emilia receives her orders directly from Roswaal in regards such as those. I suppose she’s ordered to hide somewhere, but I wouldn’t know every secret place in this mansion, which is part of the point.”
“That’s troubling. We have no clue if she’s alive or not”, you stop to think. “Well, we do know. The world hasn’t ended.”
Rem glances at you with a confused look, and tries a smile.
“You must really care for her.”
“Eh? I mean that the world literally ends, or at least starts to end, if Emilia dies. That’s part of the point. You can blame your shitty pal Puck for that.”
Rem looks away in a huff.
“I won’t allow anyone to defame him, even you.”
“He’s a pet cat for you, I guess. He’s the troublesome sort for me, as far as I’m concerned, although other more potent words come to mind. In any case, we must keep moving. We aren’t making sure of anything if we just stay in place.”
After a couple of steps towards the stairs, you stop and feel a chill running through you.
“Oh shit, that corridor. That rocky corridor in Roswaal’s office!”
You run towards Roswaal’s office while Rem follows you, in order to figure out if the rocky passage in which you died the last time is open, but Rem ends up guiding you, given that you only have blurry images of those final moments of your previous life. As soon as you both enter, you see that the passage to the rocky corridor is open, although it doesn’t seem to breathe an icy coldness this time. Rem’s mouth is hanging open, and she shakes her head.
“That must be a secret passage. I had no idea it existed. Why is it still open? How come you even knew it was there?”
“Rem, I keep telling you as well as other people. I literally came here before in this day, the first time I lived this day I mean, and Beatrice guided me to this passage. It was freezing inside though, back then. I died, and then somehow was transported back to the past. But I come from another dimension, so I can’t say that many things can surprise me at this point.”
“Another… dimension? That sounds absolutely crazy. No one can just travel between dimensions.”
“Apparently that’s a vicious lie.”
“So this is the passage that leads to… Where?”, Rem asks with a dubitative tone.
“I don’t know. I entered it, it got too cold, I fell to the ground and died. But it should be fine now, or we would have noticed the cold already.”
“So, what’s in there?”
You gently put your hand on Rem’s shoulder. Rem is looking fearful, which suggests to you that you should be completely terrified.
“I have no idea. If I had to guess… Roswaal’s inner sanctum. The place where he hides his clown porn. Let’s quit stalling, Rem. I want to see how clown porn looks like.”
Rem goes through the passage, ready to take whatever is beyond it. You follow her, although you’re not quite as ready as she is.
You both walk through a cold dark corridor for quite awhile. You start to wonder if you’re even going in the right direction when you see light at the end of the corridor.
“It’s about time something went right”, you mutter.
You walk out the corridor, and into a room filled with bookshelves, a table stacked with books, and two chests. There’s also a single door which is locked tight. The books seem to be organized in a system that you don’t quite understand.
“Seems like that Roswaal bastard didn’t actually need his librarian Beatrice after all.”
“Those are his writings?”, Rem says in amazement, “I didn’t think he was such a scholar.”
“He’s not. The person who wrote these is most definitely not him. If you look at the books, you can tell that they’re not written by the same person.”
“Oh… Then who wrote them?”
“No idea. I barely cared about books before. I was a manga kind of person. Clearly Emilia isn’t here, but maybe we should try that locked door.”
You walk over to the door and try it, but it’s locked. You sigh.
“As expected, locked is locked. Rem, can you try bursting it open with your flail, or something?”
“I can try, but it’s a wooden door, if I do that then there goes our cover.”
“True, but we still haven’t found Emilia, and it’s getting late.”
Rem begins thinking deeply, as you observe the door. It’s not even that strong of a door really. Certainly not for a secret room like this.
“Let’s just break it down!”, you say frustrated.
“Alright”, she replies.
You step aside as she charges in and smashes the door open with her flail. As soon as the dust settles and your ears recover from the burst, you realize that quickened footsteps of several people are rushing towards the small library you are in. You jump away from the doorway, tense, and Rem adopts a fighting stance.
A mass of black-robed cultists push themselves through the doorway into the reduced space of the room. Rem yells and launches her spiked ball against them, while you hit your back against a bookshelf, which slowly falls backwards.
As the books fall all over, you feel yourself getting pushed to the side by some cultist. You can’t tell how Rem is doing, but you take the opportunity to plunge your dagger into a random black-robed back. One of the cultists slides next to you and stabs you in the side.
You yell out in pain, which alerts Rem to the fact you’re in trouble. She turns around, but a few other cultists jump on top of her and start plunging their daggers in her over and over. Rem lets out gasping cries which freeze your blood. As you repeat Rem’s name, you feel yourself lifted by your limbs, and carried through the doorway deeper into the dark corridor Rem had opened. You can barely tell anything except that the cultists are hauling you down a winding, downwards ramp. You hear a distant voice with a crazed tone, like the yells you would hear in a mental institution.
“Welcome, m’boy! I’m sure yer wonderin’ where you are. Ahahahaha! Well, this is tha’ labyrinth of madness I was talkin’ about!”
The cultists drop you in the ground and stop. You are in a room with rough rock walls, and it is lit with a couple of torches. In its center there is a strange, human-sized crystal in which something liquid glows and churns. The crazed voice that had welcomed you belongs to a cultist wearing a black robe like the others, but in his case he has his hood down. He has a bowl cut of dark green hair, and his face is that of a man in his early thirties but emaciated as if he had been kept alive unnaturally for a hundred years. In horror, you realize that somehow the limp body of Emilia is hanging in the air near the big crystal, and Emilia’s arms are bent in strange ways if they belonged to a puppet.
You still hear the faint, painful cries of Rem in the distance, or maybe they just echo through your brain. Hot tears are running through your cheeks, and you want to vomit. You feel dizzy. The world seems to be going dark for you.
“Now, now, there’s no need for anguish,” the man says.
The madman walks over to you and lifts your face by your chin. His eyes are dead, without a hint of sanity in them, and he brandishes a smile that has nothing to do with happiness.
“If my cultists didn’t kill you, then you must be really important. Indeed, I feel it, I see it there. It exudes out of you. You are blessed, aren’t you, kid. What is your name?”
“Fuck off, you crazed cunt. Your shitstains already murdered Rem twice. Who might you be to begin with?” you snarl.
“You may call me Petelgeuse. Tell me, do you know what this place is? This little chamber with the beautiful magic crystal in the middle?”
“As far as it contains any of you, a fucking insane asylum that needs to be shut down by the authorities.”
Petelgeuse laughs. As he does, crinkles form at the corners of his eyes. He was a handsome man at one point, but now you’d have to ignore the whole being pasty and corpse-like thing.
“We’re all a bit mad here. But in here, I’m not only sane, but also omniscient. When you came in here and we made eye contact, didn’t you feel that I saw straight through your very soul? That’s why my cultists and I are so powerful. We share a bond, you could say. They worship me as their god.”
“So they’re crazy too?”
“They have their moments.” He grins.
“Well, I know some things. I know you deranged fucks want to bring back your witch Satella into the world, and that you want to murder an innocent for it.”
“Yes… I can see that you know. Sensational, isn’t it? There are so many things you could tell me. So many secrets you must have kept hidden from others. Why not share them with me? We’re friends now, are we not? I will release you from this prison cell.”
“I don’t think so. You’ve already murdered two people I care about. I’m not eager to get all friendly with you.”
Petelgeuse laughs harder than ever before.
You glare at the madman and speak to him with a hard voice, although you haven’t stopped crying.
“What is it about this Satella witch that is so important for you?”
“Why, she’s my wife!”
“Yes, that’s right. She’s my wife. When we first came up with this plan of bringing her back, it was just going to be me and her. But then I realized that I needed help. So I looked among people who were in love, and who revered love. People who would want to be brought back together forever. And look! I found so many!”
“Satella died four hundred years ago. Unless you are more than four hundred years old, this must be one of those figures of speech, I’m guessing.”
“My, my. You are more clever than the rest. So sharp… I like that. This is not a literal return, of course. But we need her to be in this world, if only to be at peace. Do you have any idea how it feels to be unable to experience peace even in death? The loss of Satella brought a great pain upon me, but I use that pain… Look at me, still talking and talking! More questions?
“I have an important one. How can I kill you and all of your rotten cultists so I can rid this fantasy world of the vomit stain that you represent?”
“Hah! Good question! A very important one! Well, I’d suggest killing me first. Then, kill everyone else. Or perhaps you could find a way to send all of us somewhere else. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
Petelgeuse begins to laugh. He stares straight into your eyes so close that at any point he might do something crazy like biting your nose off. His breath stinks as if he’s truly failed to brush his teeth for four hundred years.
“Why has Satella blessed you, a nobody, a lowly man-boy, you who haven’t received the summons to respond to Her love?”
“Maybe my princess fell in love with me.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. It is so.”
The man furrows his brows at your remark. He slowly shakes his head as if you said something completely preposterous and unbelievable. Then he jerks his back straight, grabs one of his men’s daggers, and stabs you in the face with it. When you recover from the shock, you feel it having pierced the side of your face and having lodged into your mandible. You groan in pain.
“You don’t deserve Her love. How would you? You couldn’t protect the people you cared about. You can do nothing. You kneel on the ground and witness the people you love being murdered, because you can’t, nor will, do anything to prevent it. And yet you smell like Her. The witch’s scent is in you. You possess one of her blessings.”
As the pain reddens your vision, you glance towards Emilia, who keeps hanging like a puppet. You can’t see her expression, but you suppose she’s already dead. No, she can’t be still, because the world hasn’t ended. You should do something to stop this, you should kill all of these madmen and save her. You owe them. It’s time to give them death in return. You roar and jump towards the nearest cultist. You tear the dagger from his hands and slash at his neck, which splashes you with blood, but then you are lifted in the air as if by a giant and thrown to the rock wall. When you hit it, the air escapes your lungs, and you fall to the ground. You roll around over your pierced side, gasping for air.
“A pointless display!”, Petelgeuse cries. “What could you do? The ritual is in process. With the crystal feeding its magic, it’s a matter of time until the vessel of the half-demon gets filled by Her, and then she will spread Her love to us, to all of us, even you undeserving unbelievers.”
The pain is like a fire in your chest. Butcher your way through them. Make their blood spray from the knife holes. Either you win or you lose. You plant your feet on the rough ground and lunge at Petelgeuse with your bare hands, but something grips your arms and pulls you into the air. You look at your stretched arms. They are getting deformed as if a big fist was grabbing them, but you can’t see anything doing it.
“I received a blessing from Her as well”, Petelgeuse says. “I call it Unseen Hands. I chose that name. Dozens of hands that serve me and help me spread Her love. Aren’t they wonderful? This is how much our witch cares.”
Something invisible smashes into your stomach and tosses you to the ground. Then, a heavy stinky foot crushes you into the stone.
You can’t… You can’t even breathe… You cough out blood and groan.
Two strong hands grab you under your armpits and lift you up from the ground.
“Want to see? Want to see the half-demon wake up again and Satella look from your princess’ unworthy eyes?”
You punch the… whatever this thing is, but it doesn’t even seem to feel it. No reaction at all. You feel the grip around your arm getting tighter and tighter, and then something snaps in your arm. You scream in agony.
“Don’t you want to see how beautiful Satella is?”
The hands close around your neck and squeeze tightly.
“In my next life, or the next… I will tear your heart from your chest.”
Petelgeuse tilts his head, closes his eyes and grins.
An enormous hand you can’t see closes itself around your head and crushes your brains in.
Some observations regarding GPT-3’s behavior in this one.
-Right at the beginning, that weird guy in a noble’s clothes that approaches the protagonist as he’s waiting for Rem was entirely made up by GPT-3. I just wanted Rem to come back. It seemed interesting, so I let it in. Then it was Puck playing another one of his practical jokes. The idea of the protagonist finding out that the stranger was Puck, merely because the protagonist associates every annoying person with the magical cat, is hilarious as far as I’m concerned.
-I don’t think there are dwarves in Re:Zero’s universe, but GPT-3 insists on putting them in. Might as well.
-I merely prompted ‘I’d say that getting to a bedroom with your cute demon self sounds like a better idea.’ to the AI, and GPT-3 came up with Rem’s bashfully alluring seduction, including the ‘you are my master’ line. God, it was so hot. I prompted the protagonist’s words to stop the sex scene from going forward for the same reasons he mentions, but I have no issues with GPT-3 producing them in the future if the mood is right.
-When they reached the village, it was GPT-3 that wanted the villagers to be armed and prepared for an assault. In the original Re:Zero, the cultists always massacre the villagers first (which doesn’t make any particular sense). I saw the opportunity to prompt the protagonist to interact with the village chief, a character which was entirely made up by GPT-3 a few of these parts ago, and that seemed so randomly funny that I just wanted more of him. And GPT-3 acted him perfectly; I didn’t touch any of his lines.
-I prompted the Witch’s Cult’s goons attacking along the way to the mansion. Rem’s line ‘Come at me, so I can crush your bones under my heel!’ was verbatim from GPT-3. This whole scene was fascinating for me, because although I had to prompt the protagonist to do most of his actions (he kept getting murdered), the moves Rem does, including stuff like pivoting to sling her flail to kill two cultists coming from opposite sides, are 100% GPT-3. I have no clue how it does it. You might as well just describe a few characters to GPT-3 and prompt them to fight, and it comes up with shit like that.
-I wasn’t sure what to do with Ram. In the original we never see Ram defending the mansion’s grounds; she’s always just dead. And the mansion is truly such a vulnerable location that she might as well just defend any other corner. I had to stretch the logic of narrative there.
-First mention of Sanctuary and Garfiel, which are mejor players of arc four of the original Re:Zero. Curiously, though, that was the sole mention anywhere in this of Garfiel, and then when the protagonist and Rem entered the mansion, GPT-3 produced a moment in which Garfiel was there and speaking like an utter punk, which he does in the original series. No idea.
-Regarding scene where the protagonist and Rem go through the rocky passage, this is entirely new, because I don’t think we ever see anything of it in the original series. I liked GPT-3 creating a little library there, even though Beatrice guards the best library of magical books somewhere else in the mansion. Also, that moment when the mass of cultists bursts through the doorway and gang up on poor Rem is mostly GPT-3.
-GPT-3’s Petelgeuse was a worry of mine. I described him a bit in the hidden backstory that the AI uses to figure out plot points and dialogues, and I made a point of mentioning him as deranged and as believing he was doing things for love and all that. Also that he speaks somewhat incoherently. Most of Petelgeuse’s most convoluted dialogue lines are GPT-3’s doing, usually verbatim; I cannot even begin to approach that. I’m usually the one prompting insults into the protagonist’s mouth.
-The following exchange, ‘Why, she’s my wife!” “W-what?” “Yes, that’s right. She’s my wife. When we first came up with this plan of bringing her back, it was just going to be me and her. But then I realized that I needed help. So I looked among people who were in love, and who revered love. People who would want to be brought back together forever. And look! I found so many!’ is entirely verbatim by GPT-3, and it is so brilliant in regards to the original that I could cry.
-Petelgeuse’s major parting words, ‘Don’t you want to see how beautiful Satella is?’, were GPT-3’s idea.
Note from May of 2021:
A special guest reference to Count Grey, sort of an inside joke in a previous version of the now somewhat infamous AI Dungeon. However they contributed to training the AI from their side, a certain Count Grey character was part of it, and he kept showing up randomly in other people’s stories. It’s since been gone, as it seems they have focused more on GPT-3’s raw model.