This entry begins to cover the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
A whole new arc has begun, the fourth one, and we continue following the adventures of sexual fiend Natsuki Subaru, which will likely leave a wake of gooey destruction in his path. It doesn’t seem like there’s a plot going on at the moment.
This entry turned out to be another one close to seven thousand words. It just happens.
GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.
Otto didn’t want to drive the carriage for two days straight, so you stopped in a midway village that you have stayed at before. It’s a den for merchants and travellers, as well as people down on their luck that never got to where they intended. Those people, as well as plenty of merchants, stumble around drunk in the streets, often because the town tavern is already full. Although your memory has become fuzzy, tangled as it is with weird memories of past lives and horrible deaths, you are pretty sure that you first came here as you were travelling to Roswaal’s mansion with Rem, and she abandoned you here because she realized you were a burden. You also attempted to drown yourself in the river for some reason, and at that time you didn’t even know that you could come back to life. You wish you could have continued on your voyage even if you to stop at the next village. You can die over and over, but you feel you have a limited amount of bad memories you can store without going insane.
After you and Emilia agreed to rent separate rooms, you left your Rem sleeping in your bedroom. Emilia must had assumed that you were going straight to bed, but you took on Otto’s offer to drink at the local tavern. You don’t doubt you are going to end up drinking yourself into oblivion, but if that’s the case then you might as well. If you had drank enough last night you would have woken up in that nasty cat’s bed, and you are pretty sure that despite the regret and shame, it would feel better than the gloom you are harboring right now.
Now you get to regret Otto’s choice of alcohol. The guy must have grown up in some peasant town where they didn’t know any better. Whatever. You feel light-headed and forgetful, which is what you hoped.
“You know, Mr. Natsuki”, Otto begins cautiously, “not to disparage your company, but I would have loved if lady Emilia would have come down with us.”
You take another swig of your piss-poor drink.
“Impressed by the princess, are we? I gather you haven’t seen many silver-haired half-elves, and certainly none as pretty as she is.”
Otto lowers his head slowly, and looks around in case someone that heard those adjectives has turned your way.
“Of course! Like everybody else, I grew up listening to tales of the horrible witch who almost drowned the entire world. Then lord Roswaal presents a royal candidate with the same heritage as that monster, when most people believed that half-elves, particularly silver-haired ones, had been driven into remote forests away from everyone’s gazes. And now I get to talk to one, drive her around on my carriage…! She’s like a character in a fantasy tale.”
“You are one to talk!”
Otto arches his eyebrow, but he’s already tipsy enough not to linger in confusion. He holds his glass forwards.
“I was afraid, I admit, that she would turn out to be so evil that I would fear for our future, and more importantly for my safety! But she’s like this proper, kind, sweet young lady who also looks like she came out of your dreams!”
“You let them corrupt your mind with fantasy stories, that’s the problem. They inject their ideologies in them, they twist the facts so they support their conclusions, and before you know it you come out hating silver-haired half-elves. That Satella was pretty bad, though. She dissolves people inside of her.”
Otto leans forward, and lowers his voice.
“I think Emilia is in danger.”
You lean forward as well.
Otto shakes his head slowly, and speaks in a low voice.
You sit up straight and shrug.
“I see how it is. Either she gets kidnapped and murdered by cultists, or gets creeped on by horny guys who want a piece of her cute half-elf ass.”
“She’s like this sweet young girl, you know? A little too nice. It’s unnerving…I’ve never met someone so willing to trust me. I’ve never had something like that. No girlfriend, left my family far too soon. I’m really scared that…”
Otto trails off, but you already understand what he means.
“You’ve met her after someone has proven to her that she deserves the effort to prevent her from getting horribly murdered. She used to distrust everybody, and now it’s like she’s swung to the opposite side. Neither is healthy.”
“I fear that sweet, beautiful girl will find herself a permanent place in my heart, Mr. Natsuki! It would never come to fruition. Or should a man aspire to dreams way beyond his station in life?”
“I’ve never been know to act according to my station in life, but let me tell you something, Otto. At the end of the day, that silver-haired half-elf that everybody fears and hates because of her heritage and her powers is a lady with lady-like needs, same way at the end of the day a king sits on his ass. You should have seen her before, when we were standing in front of that innkeeper and having to decide how many rooms to rent. That Emilia was eyeing me expecting me to ask for a double bedroom, so she and I could sleep under the same sheets.”
Otto almost chokes on his drink, and after he cleans his mouth, he laughs.
“For sure! The royal half-elf, possible future queen of this kingdom, aching to share a bed with a lord’s underling. I don’t want to disrespect you, Mr. Natsuki, but that’s what I was talking about! Once you let someone like her in your heart, everything else will taste like dirt, and weird ideas will fester in your head!”
“Emilia would never look at a chump like me that way, you mean.”
“Now let me tell you this too, Mr. Natsuki. I don’t care if you were the most loyal person in the kingdom and had protected every lord there ever was with your life, I’d still say what I’m saying right now.”
“I will let you know that the girl in question was standing there burning for me to rent a double bedroom and then hold her in my strong arms through the night. I saw the wild lust in her eyes.”
Otto laughs harder, and slaps the bar top. He waves to a barmaid for more drinks.
“You’re drunk on love already! You did lead that operation to save her, after all. What a man does for the girl of his dreams! If we didn’t, we would still be living in caves.”
You shake your head. You think back at Emilia’s expression when you dismissed her for the night, and you get annoyed. You already know you get meaner the more you drink, but you couldn’t care less about that tonight. It feels beyond wrong to stay at this midway town when you don’t have to rush to prevent an Apocalypse.
“Joke’s on Emilia, though. Even if there was a room left to rent, and we ended up sharing a single bed, I would have laid my comatose girlfriend in between us. I’m above these kinds of will they won’t they bullshit, Otto. If some girl I’m not dating annoys me regarding whether I’m going to share a room with her or not… I have frozen to death, I’ve had all of my blood gushing from my opened carotid arteries, I’ve felt the rush of a guillotine-sharp anti-trespass measure turning me into a temporarily living cannonball. And that girl thinks I’m going to participate in silly games! If I want to sleep alone next to my comatose girlfriend, I don’t care if you go to bed all wet!”
“You are beginning to make zero sense, Mr. Natsuki, but that’s alright. I’ve had some of my best conversations during such periods!”
You realize you’re on the verge of shouting, which would get the tavern’s attention. You continue in a lower tone, but your words become more spiteful.
“I can tell you are impressed by the princess, Otto. She’s hot as hell, she can impale people with ice shards, she has a huge, invisible cunt flying around her at all times. But you should know something, Otto. This one time I was lying in bed while suffering the worst pain a human being can experience, beyond what you would imagine you could tolerate without your mind shattering. I should have gotten a medal because I regained my sanity after I abandoned that reality to its ruin! I was resting on that bed as I just mentioned, lying there without legs… I don’t want to remember the destruction between my abdomen and what remained of my thighs! And you know what the innocent princess did? She clocked me right on the nose. That’s assault!”
“I don’t think I should believe any of your words at this point, Mr. Natsuki, but if even a shred of what’s entering my ears is true, you people at Roswaal’s camp are enjoying riveting lives!”
“You have no idea… Who punches a cripple in the face as hard she can!? Can you blame me for harboring some resentment!?”
Otto puts a finger to his lips, and then makes a downward motion with his hand. You quiet down. He continues the conversation.
“I feel the weight of the turbulent, yet surely magical times you and such a fabled silver-haired half-elf have accrued. I don’t want to get thrown out of the tavern again, because such a reputation would only make my life harder, but you can be sure that I’ll gladly listen to your stories from now on, hopefully without distracting everyone around us from their own drunkenness.”
“You have smelled money, haven’t you? I know that my temporary half-beast pals saved you from getting roasted and possibly eaten by those cultist freaks, but now that you’ve gotten closer to a loaded lord, you’ll get your claws on this opportunity.”
Otto’s pupils narrow and his face pales, and for a moment he looks as if you’ve triggered a war flashback. He then wipes his forehead and takes a swig of his half-empty mug.
“I would rather not remember that sequence of events, Mr. Natsuki, if you will allow me. I still wake up in the middle of the night covered in sweat, and the image of that small half-beast… or demi-human, as they prefer to be called-“
“You can just call them freaks, it’s fine.”
“… Anyway, I see that small furry person opening her mouth so wide and then the air distorting and people exploding like balloons. I would have never thought that such a nightmare could exist.”
A chill runs down your spine, and you gulp down some more alcohol just in case it allows you to forget.
“Yeah, I’m real sorry for bringing it up. But I meant that I’m aware that your main motivation for getting involved with us is because that’ll get you closer to that clown bastard.”
“C-Clown bastard!? I would never expect a lord’s underling to refer to him in such a way, even in such a casual setting. Are you testing me? Should I try berating you?”
“The guy walks around wearing clown makeup, and he’s as bastardly as they come. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you didn’t correct my statement about your intentions. You are hoping that a lot of cash will come your way if you associate with us. I’m pretty sure that merchants have something to do with money, but you probably know more about what goes around in your chosen profession.”
“That’s correct, I am a man who would like to get rich if I can. But don’t make it sound as if I’m just taking advantage of the situation! Not everyone of us is a scoundrel.”
“Well, if you want opulence coming your way, you’ll be satisfied for sure, old pal. You stick around and gold will rain upon you.”
Otto smiles broadly.
“I can’t wait! It would be a welcome change after the relentless misfortune that has pursued me for a while.”
“I can tell you are easily impressed by impressive-seeming people, Otto, but let me tell you about this Roswaal guy. When I first entered his world, I was beyond dazzled. He is an eccentric connoisseur who hired demons as servants and dressed them in skimpy maid outfits, and I couldn’t have been more grateful. I believed I had finally been granted access into heaven. And I met my sweet demon through the clown, so in that regard I must remain forever grateful if only through gritted teeth. But a couple of days in I understood the horror underlying Roswaal’s mansion. The guy had built a private luxurious bathhouse which in a couple of minutes had you stewing as in a magical combination of a sauna and a jacuzzi. God, I can’t believe I haven’t missed it after Emilia exiled me… Wait, I know why I haven’t missed it, and that’s the point I intended to make! I was relaxing there up to my neck in that warm water, and the bliss of that luxury made it almost impossible to believe that me, a middle class kid from a town of a couple dozen thousand people, could have ended up living in a huge fantasy world mansion. Every morning a cute demon served me breakfast! As I said, I was there wrinkling in the water when I heard Roswaal’s lilting voice saying my name from behind me. I look over my shoulder and first thing I see is his dong. The guy had the gall to go into his private bathhouse while a near stranger, a stray that Emilia had adopted, was already using it. And Roswaal came in naked! The guy was still wearing his clown makeup, Otto. I looked up at him while shaking in fear, and Roswaal stared down at me while smiling pleasantly as if asking, ‘do you enjoy this faceful of cock?’. Have you ever wondered what a clown’s dick looks like, Otto?”
The merchant’s face freezes as if he’s barricading his mind to avoid letting such images in.
“No, but now I wish I could have lived the rest of my days without having to contemplate such a question.”
“Well, it was much bigger than I would have thought! I don’t like seeing big dicks, it makes me feel bad about my manhood!”
Otto sighs, but as he was about to comment on your words, a homeless-looking drunk a couple of stools over complains to you.
“Could you keep it down? My head hurts enough without you screaming in it!”
“This is important!” You turn to Otto. “Back when my lovely demon girl was still conscious, a few times I was fucking her in Crusch’s bed I feared that she would open her sweet mouth only for me to have to hear those words. ‘Subaru, love of my life, is this penis of yours bigger than a clown’s’? And I would have had to lie. I can’t forgive that man for putting such images in my mind. Before I entered his mansion, I had never tasted alcohol, but since then I raided his supplies as much as I could get away with! Nobody should have to walk around in this life with a brain damaged by the picture of Roswaal’s dick hanging in front of your face. I even killed myself a couple of times because I couldn’t get it out of my head!”
“Okay, I think I have heard enough about your lord’s penis, Mr. Natsuki!”
“No! I’m going to keep talking about this! I’m going to keep talking about this dick until every person in this shitty village hears about it, and we’ll see just how many of them are as sick to think about this as I am! It’s like I’ve become infected with a plague I feel compelled to propagate!”
You begin tearing up as you finish your sentence. Before you know it you’ve leaned on the bar top and hidden your face behind your forearms. You hear the bartender asking Otto if his friend is alright, and the merchant tells him to refuse serving you more drinks no matter how hard you beg. After a couple of minutes you feel strong enough to look up at Otto’s disturbed face.
“And do you know what’s even worse than having the image of that clown’s dick burned onto my mind?”, you mutter with a hollow voice.
“I definitely do not wish to know!”
“The motherfucker presented Emilia to the world as if saying, ‘hey, here’s a girl who belongs to a despised race that I know at least a very powerful, murderous group intends to kidnap and sacrifice in some ritual or another, and she’s also living in my mansion! You know the address, don’t you? I’m a famous clown! And as soon as I have finished parading her around, I’m going to disappear to some random village nobody knows! I’m the best magician in the kingdom, but I’ll abandon my employees as well as my subjects to the mercy of the worst terrorist group in this fantasy world!'”
You slam your fist on the bar top, splashing a puddle. When you stop trembling, you take a deep breath and chug the rest of your drink. Thankfully you are already seeing double, but it doesn’t stop nearly enough pain from coming in.
Although Otto is staring at you with a somber expression, his inebriation has turned his neck unsteady.
“You have no clue how close it came to ruin, Otto”, you say drily. “When I think about how it all rested on the shoulders of a complete idiot… I don’t know how I manage to find the strength to get out of bed in the morning.”
“I don’t think I follow anything you are saying, Mr. Natsuki”, Otto says, choosing his words carefully. “But I can tell it’s gotten real serious.”
You take another deep breath, but the air feels stagnant and tainted. You find yourself holding the air in your lungs, and are only able to breathe once you force yourself to release it.
“In the end, a man is measured by how well he could protect those who depended on him, and that clown painted a target on us and abandoned us to die. That’s who Roswaal is.”
Shortly before lunch time your carriage ends up reaching what you refer to as Roswaal’s village, the scenario for the final showdown against Petelgeuse. As you have felt consistently through every situation you’ve lived recently, your emotions are conflicted. Seeing those two stories high rural homes in which smoke rises from their chimneys, and you smell the whiffs of the meals they are preparing, makes you feel as if you have finally come home after years spent lost in the wilderness, and yet the half-collapsed houses, even those with just parts of their roof torn off, remind you that not only it will take a lot to return to normal, but that the villagers themselves will present a serious problem. Those who have lost family members will grieve for a long time, and even those who have not lost anyone nor had to rebuild their homes will likely blame Emilia for the Witch’s Cult assault. You wonder if it will come down to them assaulting the mansion itself. Although those pitchfork-wielding morons would get wiped out, possibly by Ram alone, you just want everyone to get along. You have had enough of people murdering each other and of having to prevent the end of the world. You want to rest and hopefully find a way to restore your beloved demon servant’s consciousness, although the first order of things should be clearing up this damn hangover that has squeezed your brain ever since you woke up this morning.
“A bit deserted, is it not?”, Otto says over his shoulder, from the driver’s seat. “I mean, I know many villagers perished during the assault, but I think we should see plenty around between those who stayed behind and those who returned from the capital.”
As the carriage cuts slowly through the village towards the road that leads uphill to Roswaal’s mansion, you come across only a few villagers either heading somewhere or lazing around. A couple of children are running in pursuit of each other while laughing. A few of the windows of the houses your carriage passes in front of open, and the villagers who peek out look wary and haggard, as if they expect anyone coming in to bring more carnage. The general feeling is that only a sixth of the original bustle remains. In addition, a couple of villagers that stood there as your carriage went by glared at you in particular as if holding a grudge. Luckily Emilia remains hidden behind the tarp that covers the back of the carriage.
“Let’s not stick around”, you say nervously. “Beyond that whole Witch’s Cult debacle, I did address the whole bunch as goat fuckers.”
Otto whips the ground dragons into an even faster trot as you pass the last houses of the village and reach the road that goes uphill towards the mansion. About four minutes later the carriage stops in front of the gate. You climb out to open the metallic gate, but also you take a good look at the obscenely huge mansion that extends horizontally in the distance, beyond a vast yard. You had become accustomed to Crusch’s mansion, which was a home many people back in your previous world would have wanted to kill for, and yet it seemed more like a moderately rich person’s vacation home in contrast with Roswaal’s estate. He could probably house a couple hundred people in it. It makes the more ridiculous that he relied exclusively on the demon servant siblings for security purposes. The clown’s funds should be able to pay for a small army to protect his estate permanently.
Otto has taken off his merchant hat and holds it against his chest while he gazes at the mansion with glistening eyes and his mouth hanging open.
“I had expected luxury, but this view vastly broadens the distance I already felt between the lord and a simple commoner like myself. We live in completely different worlds!”
You step aside so Otto can drive the carriage into the yard, and then you close the gate and climb back onto the carriage.
“Things only get stranger when you live in it, but the luxury does rub off on you. Before you know it you’ll be handling small fortunes as pocket change.”
“If that day ever comes, I probably won’t be myself anymore, so my worries would be irrelevant. Let’s go take a closer look!”
Otto drives the carriage through the long path lined with statues, hedges and magical streetlights towards the mansion’s entrance.
Emilia is eyeing you as if judging your expression, but she’s smiling.
“How does it feel to return home, Subaru?”
“Given the sequence of events that led to me being forbidden from returning, I feel like a complete idiot at the moment, but to be fair I feel like it most of the time for whatever reason. However, I’ve been thinking about Ram for a good while. I have no clue how she will react when she finds out that she has a sister that she doesn’t remember, and that has fallen into a perennial sleep.”
“It’ll be fine, I’m sure of it! As far as I remember her due to how the curse has affected our memories, the senior servant was always alone. Now she’ll know that it wasn’t the case, that she was always accompanied by someone who cared for her. It might make even make her less standoffish. She will wish for miss Rem to recover her consciousness as soon as possible.”
You lower your face. If the Ram you used to know, the one for whom her sister was the only person in the world deserving of respect apart from maybe Roswaal, knew about your power to return to the past, and realized that you had failed to use it before Satella locked you out of the time during which you could have prevented Rem from falling into a possibly permanent coma, what would she think, how would she deal with you? Would she resent you as much as you do?
You remember that moment at the village’s plaza when you had hugged a sobbing Emilia after she was confronted by that villager with a prominent wart, who had just lost his entire family. You had wished you were strong enough to kill yourself and suffer through the nightmarish warfare again, and possibly again and again, until nobody died. Satella would have likely sent you back to Crusch’s mansion, and because nobody would have gotten injured, Rem would have had no reason to return to the capital ahead of time. Rem sleeps forever because you are weak.
Otto parks in front of the mansion’s entrance, and once you get out you realize that someone small wearing a servant’s uniform is approaching you while holding a broom. For a moment you wonder if your tiredness from the long trip is confusing you, but that tween with reddish-brown hair is indeed that Petra villager, and she’s dressed as if she works in the mansion. As soon as she realizes you are there she grins warmly, and she walks briskly to greet you.
“Welcome back, sir! We have taken good care of the lord’s home in your absence! Do you require anything of me? Do you want me to carry your luggage? Should I prepare you some tea?”
Her energy and eagerness make you instantly uneasy. You open your mouth to say something, but Emilia walks up to your side and greets the tween. Petra curtsies respectfully.
“Welcome home as well, lady witch!”, Petra says with a kind voice. “You both must be exhausted after such a long trip. I know I was after we got back from the capital a few days ago. No worries, we’ll have your lunch ready in a short while.”
You glance at Emilia in case she’s annoyed by this villager addressing her as a witch, but the half-elf seems fond of this kid.
“Anyway, Petra, what’s your deal?”, you say without disguising your own annoyance. “Did you youngsters raid the lord’s mansion while our crew was away? I’m surprised that Ram didn’t chop you in half with her wind magic.”
Petra looks dismayed, and shakes her hand to dismiss that notion. She ends up dropping her broom.
“No, sir! We would never do such a thing! I swear to the gods and all that is good in this world! No, I’m in training! I wanted to work for the people who saved my life, and who defended the village from those horrible fiends! And I always wished to be close to such a magical place, as well as to the witch.” She turns to Emilia while showering her with admiration. “I wanted to meet you, lady Emilia, ever since I heard that you came to live in the lord’s mansion. A fabled witch that deals with powerful ice magic, it’s like those tales of old. Not to mention that you must be the most beautiful woman in the world!”
Emilia smiles bashfully while you rub your eyes. You have only grown more irritable in recent times, and now it seems you’ll need to handle a fangirl hovering around to get either your or Emilia’s attention.
The half-elf pats the trainee on the head.
“Thank you so much, Petra.”
The tween looks astounded for a moment, as if she would have never imagined that a fabled witch would bridge the gap between them both to touch her with affection.
“Y-You’re welcome! It’s been an honor to meet you. Anyway, I should probably help your driver with the luggage…”
“Aren’t you concerned at all, Petra?”, you ask. “This lady here is a very powerful spirits user that most other people in your very village are wary of, or even hate.”
Emilia turns her head towards you sharply. She seems dismayed that you brought it up.
“Hmmm… well, she’s my idol, sir”, Petra says. “If something were to happen to her, I would be utterly crushed.”
“What about your family? Aren’t they worried about you?”
The girl shrugs.
“My parents are wary of the Witch of Frost, as they call lady Emilia. So are most of the adults. I think that when I asked, begged really, to work at the mansion, my parents expected that I would get rejected, but when shortly after I came back wearing the uniform, they realized I can move up in life! They are now excited for me. Besides, I only needed to glance at the lady to know that you aren’t like they believe you to be! There’s no way you have anything to do with that horrible witch of old, even though you look very similar.”
“What about your friends? Don’t they worry about you?”, you insist.
Petra looks down for a moment, but she redraws her smile.
“Friends… You’re lucky to have such a thing. I don’t. They pick on me, for anything and everything. The only person who seems to be nice to me is Randi, and that’s probably because she’s as dumb as a post.”
Emilia holds her hands in front of her waist and talks to you as if she doesn’t understand what you are doing.
“Subaru, she’s such a sweet girl. Surely there’s no problem with her working at the mansion. I’ll be glad to have her around.”
You sigh, and then you walk in front of Petra.
“Girl, you are like twelve. It’s going to get weird real fast.”
Emilia tilts her head while staring at you.
“I’ve been tending the fields ever since I turned ten, sir”, Petra says as if she fears you might fire her. “I assure you I will do my best! I’m dealing with many new tasks, but I learn fast!”
“You should be in school learning some pointless nonsense that will never help you in life, not wearing such a skimpy outfit to work for a clown that walks around naked. I figure there’s no FBI in this fantasy world, but still, you should stay away until you turn fifteen or so.”
“I… I like the short skirt, it makes it easy to walk, and breezy on my legs. And it’s a beautiful outfit, I think I look pretty good in it. Don’t you think so, sir…?”
“Damn it, girl! You are supposed to dislike getting exploited! Let’s get in the mansion, Emilia. I need to give Ram a piece of my mind. That senior servant must be into some freaky shit. No wonder she’s so guarded all the time!”
Emilia does follow your brisk walk towards the huge front doors, although she does complain.
“Subaru, it’s really fine. What’s gotten into you? They’ve worn those outfits for as long as I’ve been here.”
“Yeah? And how long has that been? A couple months? Years? Should those damn cultists also wear skirts to a battlefield? I’m sure everyone could see Rem’s panties whenever she swung her flail around.”
“… You need some rest, Subaru. It’s been too hard on us. Take a nap, and I’ll bring you your meal in a couple of hours.”
You grab the doorknob and attempt to pull open the door energetically, as if to make a grand entrance, but these doors are made to be handled by demon servants who are far stronger than you. You almost pull something on your back instead. No wonder they used to leave these front doors somewhat open. You end up pulling it open carefully, and when you take a step inside, a servant you’ve never seen before is standing in front. She’s a woman in her early twenties, with long, voluminous light blonde hair that isn’t so much a hairstyle as a mane. Under thick eyebrows, her big green eyes study you with a confident intelligence. The quick glance at the rest of her body, all you can afford when this stranger is staring straight at you, suggests a lean, yet thick body as if she’s been well fed with protein throughout her entire life. You imagine her serving trays full of beers during Oktoberfest without tiring, and when some customers get too rowdy, she casually grabs two at a time under her arms to throw them out.
“Who is this German-looking woman?”
“I’ve never heard that adjective, although it doesn’t sound bad. We’ve never met, Mr. Natsuki.” She curtsies, holding the hem of her skirt. “I’m Frederica, current senior servant of Roswaal’s mansion during Ram’s absence. I’ve been expecting both your and lady Emilia’s return.”
Her adult voice throws you off. She sounds as if she would allow no nonsense, and yet her expression suggests she’s easygoing. You don’t know what to make of this woman.
“Frederica!”, Emilia says. “It’s been so long, hasn’t it?”
“What, you know this German?”, you ask.
“Yes, she was working here when Roswaal offered me to live in his mansion. It used to be her and Ram making sure everything ran smoothly in this place.” She turns towards you with a guilty look. “And… I guess miss Rem as well.”
You don’t see Frederica react to it, because a pang in your heart forces you to look down.
“So, why are you here now?”, you ask to this Frederica broad.
“I had taken a leave of absence, for personal reasons, but even while living away I heard about the trouble with the royal selection. Shortly after I received a letter from miss Ram, demanding I came back to help her make sure this place doesn’t fall into disarray. She also wrote about your troubles in the capital, lady Emilia, and how you had brought a young man with you, who joined the household.”
“Yes, this is Natsuki Subaru”, Emilia says somewhat shily. “I feel like he’s saved my life a few times. In fact… well…”
You and Frederica look at Emilia questioningly.
“I… I want to make him my knight.”
“Really?”, Frederica asks with a smirk.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, ever since he stopped that cult’s attack. He’s already saved my life, and helped me in any way he can. He’s a great guy with a good heart. That’s why…”
Instead of finishing the sentence, she looks away and blushes. You shift your weight uncomfortably. After Frederica eyes you both as if she’s enjoying this, she stands straighter and puts a hand on her waist.
“Ever since I read miss Ram’s words about you, Mr. Natsuki, I’ve been waiting to meet you.”
“Ah!? I’m not sure I want to know what words she would have used to refer to me. My mood has been dark enough already.”
“Well, I’m telling you anyway”, Frederica says teasingly. “I believe her exact words were ‘a bumbling buffoon and a freeloader who inexplicably organized an operation to thwart a murderous assault by an entire branch of the Witch’s Cult’.”
You sigh. Although you hadn’t formed any expectations, you had expected it to be worse. Still, you massage your temple due to how your headache has suddenly worsened.
“Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty accurate. I don’t quite know myself how we pulled that off.”
Frederica grins broadly, presenting a set of healthy teeth belonging to a carnivorous predator. They are triangular as if filed, and they look like they could tear apart a struggling prey of around her own size.
You are stunned for a moment, and your heart beats louder.
“You are a half-beast, aren’t you?”, you ask excitedly. “Should have known, with that hair. Damn, you look so cool!”
Frederica covers her mouth with her hand because she can’t stop herself from smiling, as if she’s been accustomed to doing so, but she closes her eyes and her shoulders tremble for stifling a laugh.
“You are a charming one. Although you aren’t entirely correct in your assumption, I am partly beast.”
“You don’t need to explain. I’m not worried in the least. Half-beast people are fully integrated in society, and make some of the most ruthless murderers. What sort of person would I be if I judged someone on their origins?”
“Well, that’s good!”
“Besides, I won’t complain for getting a pretty new servant!”
Someone giggles to your left. It’s Petra, that tween. She’s so insignificant that you hadn’t noticed her standing by your side all this time. She has closed her eyes and is laughing to herself as if happy for having been complimented. I wasn’t talking about you, you think.
“Oi, why are you following me around?”, you ask, annoyed.
Petra’s mood drops as if she’s been caught doing something wrong, and she straightens her back.
“I’m not! I apologize, sir. I merely intended to do my job.”
“Well, help Otto, the driver, with our luggage, will you? It you want to work as a twelve year old, you better get tougher.”
She turns her head to stare at you, and then twists her body to point toward the carriage.
“I’ll do just that, sir!”
When she walks briskly up to Otto, who is standing next to Patrasche as if forgotten, you shake your head.
“… You alright, Mr. Natsuki?”, Frederica asks.
“Yeah, yeah. Just get it over with. I mean let’s bring all of our stuff in, and most importantly Rem.”
Frederica is confused, and even more so when you finally stand next to the carriage while you hold your comatose, and completely uncooperative, girlfriend as if you are giving her a piggyback ride.
“Did miss Ram hire this servant while I was away? And what’s wrong with her?”, Frederica asks, worried. “She’s not merely sleeping, is she?”
“She ain’t”, you say with a low voice.
Frederica observes Rem’s beautiful, sleeping face up close.
“She looks pretty much like Ram if the senior servant had blue hair. Is she a relative?”
“… You worked with Ram, you said.”
“For quite a few years. I got well-accustomed to our lovely senior servant.”
Her tone reveals she’s well aware of how much of a pain in the ass Ram is.
“Let’s leave it at that for now”, you say, tired. “We’ll explain it in detail. I don’t have your German body to help me support this weight properly, Frederica, so let’s get into the mansion and put my dear Rem onto a bed.”
“I’m liking that adjective more and more. Sounds strong.”
As you head up to the mansion’s front doors, you are followed by Otto and the tween, who are handling your luggage. Frederica leads you all into the parlor, with all its fancy furniture. Plush carpets cover the floor, and there are several paintings of historical figures on the walls, although most of them look suspiciously clownish.
“My goodness, what a beautiful room”, Otto remarks. His eyes are sparkling.
Frederica turns to him.
“I apologize, sir, as I haven’t dealt with you properly given the unusual circumstances of lady Emilia’s return. For much money did they hire your services?”
Otto opens his mouth while looking as if he’s expecting plenty of gold to rain his way, but Emilia waves a hand in front of her.
“Otto is a merchant we met during the operation, as he got in serious trouble, and from then on he’s been helping us eagerly. We promised him we would introduce him to the lord, so he might employ him for our many dealings that involve leaving Roswaal’s domain.”
The gray-haired merchant looks so pleased that Emilia voiced her support for him that Frederica glances at him as if she can sense the fire burning in his heart. She smirks.
“Very well, follow me, mister merchant. I’ll prepare your room right away.”
Otto nods excitedly, and he turns to follow the German servant.
“Thank you! You are all so friendly around here.”
As they walk through a hallway, Petra turns to you as if she wants to say something, but then bows and begins to head towards your room. Frederica must have told her where it was.
“I’ll leave your luggage there, and then I will return for lady Emilia’s.”
You desperately need some peace and quiet. You are already sweating from holding your beloved demon servant’s weight, and your hangover has barely cleared up. You glance at Emilia before you stagger towards your room, but she says your name as if asking you to stop. You turn around. The half-elf is fidgeting, and she forces herself to hold your gaze.
“I don’t… Please, let’s lay miss Rem’s body down in one of the vacant rooms. Otherwise I know what routine you are going to return to. You will sleep and spend so many idle hours next to someone whose terrible curse might not be cleared… for a long time. You are doing nothing but wallow in pain.”
Although the care in her voice doesn’t suggest it, you feel as if she’s scolding you. During the long carriage ride she had caught you staring at Rem as the demon servant slept under the blanket, and you even cried for her. Emilia must have expected you to go back to holding Rem’s unconscious body through the night.
“You know, Emilia,” you begin to mutter, “pain can feel really good if you just let it in and do its thing. It’s a home away from home.”
She must regret the expression her words provoked on you, because she steps close enough that she puts her hand on your chest. Feeling her fingers on you makes you want to shiver.
“Please, Subaru. You will visit her whenever you want, but…”
It doesn’t escape you that Emilia intended to say, ‘I don’t want you to sleep with her or anybody else’. You hate when people disguise how they really feel. However, you agree. It would be so comfortable to return to the routine of holing yourself up and cuddling with your unconscious girlfriend for most of the day, but there’s little else than depression, and possibly madness, waiting on that path.
“Very well, Emilia.”
She smiles, but she erases it as if she’s ashamed of herself.
“We will all take good care of miss Rem. One day she’ll wake up and the rest of us will get to meet her properly.”
“In what room should I let her sleep in, then?”
She quickly guides you to one.