This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.
After supper you rushed to the bedroom that Emilia chose for your sleeping beauty. After you close the door behind you, the atmosphere of the room, with the moonlight bathing Rem’s deadpan face, takes you back to those nights you spent at Crusch’s place lying next to your girl, caressing her beautiful skin and wallowing in many painful thoughts. Your lungs have already refused to work properly, and your heart is getting squeezed. You sit next to Rem and lower your head to kiss her forehead. You listen to her breathing softly.
That nerdy doctor had told you that this curse or whatever it is doesn’t cause any decay on the body of the victim and neither do they need to eat, which obliterates the laws of thermodynamics, but you are trusting him blindly. You recall watching on television how people in a coma or who had to spend a lot of time in bed for whatever illness, ended up not only atrophying their limbs, but also producing bedsores unless someone took care of them. What did they do? You faintly remember images of nurses stretching and compressing the bedridden person’s limbs. That seems doable, you’ll gladly tend to her like that every day.
As usual, the limp feeling of her arms when you move them, this time lifting them and testing the limits of their joints, makes your vision go all misty. You feel as if that’s never going to change, that if you end up becoming a fifty or sixty year old not remotely as resilient as Wilhelm, you’ll keep returning to Rem’s side even though she remains expressionless and forever young.
After you pull down the sheets to uncover your beloved demon servant, you grab her legs and lift them to your shoulders so you can kneel properly in front of her waist. You then fold her legs and push yourself forward to compress them against her body. You’ve done this a few times when you hear a gasp coming from the door. Petra is standing there looking flabbergasted while she holds her palm against her mouth.
You get instantly mad, and wish to shout at the tween to get the fuck out. You were about to jump from the bed, but you first put down Rem’s legs carefully so she lies normally on her back. When you stand up at the foot of the bed, you are clenching your teeth, and you refuse to look at the tween in the eyes.
“Damn it, girl! Can’t you knock or something? Didn’t Frederica tell you not to bother the residents in their bedrooms?”
Petra is alternating between eyeing you and Rem. She likely thinks she’s seen something she shouldn’t.
“I-I knocked! But nobody answered, so I used my judgment and came in anyway. And I can’t stay away, sir! Frederica told me to check on her a few times a day. What if she vomits, or chokes somehow…?”
“Well, I didn’t hear anything. Why don’t people install bolts on their mansion’s doors? Are all of the rich people in this fantasy world voyeurs who want that excuse if they decide to walk into someone’s bedroom?”
“There are bolts on the doors of this mansion, sir…” She turns, points at it and then slides it back and forth.
You sigh. You sit on the edge of the bed and hold your head for a moment.
“What do you think you’ve just seen, Petra?”
“You were pushing her folded legs against her torso while you stared at the sleeping servant with hungry eyes, sir.”
“Hungry eyes!? I wasn’t… Well, I would be entitled to! She’s my beloved girl, even though she’s in a coma! And it’s not as if I was doing anything I shouldn’t!”
Petra looks worried and confused. She doesn’t know why you aren’t talking to her that way.
“Do you need any help, sir? I could keep the girl company for you while you go do your business.”
“This demon servant is my girlfriend. It’s not a chore to be with her. And I wasn’t doing anything wrong, as I said, so erase whatever nonsense you just made up in your tween brain. I was trying to help Rem.”
“I don’t… Does that mean you’ll accept my help, sir?”
You stand up and pace to the window and back while shaking your head.
“This is what I told that lioness. These things just happen. And worse! It’s not my fault. Listen, Petra, I wasn’t doing her, alright? I won’t go as low as having sex with my unconscious girlfriend! That’s a scumbag move. What if she gets pregnant? I wouldn’t be able to explain that to the child when he or she grows up. My spawn would turn into a fucked up adult! There’s no way he or she would grow up right with such an origin story.”
“I don’t understand what the problem is, sir. I know enough that sex isn’t as bad as everyone seems to make it out to be.”
You step towards Petra, who looks up at you with her brows arched as if she has no clue what you are doing.
“That’s not a thing that should have come out of your mouth! I wasn’t having sex with my Rem, I was trying to prevent her body from atrophying, or from getting bedsores, or something. I saw it on television! Get your mind out of the gutter. Damn kids these days…”
“I’m not a kid, sir! I’m a grown woman! I already went through my first period and everything, and I’m working as a servant, so I have to get into the rooms…”
Your left eye has begun to twitch.
“You people in this fantasy world are out of your minds. Your whole set of values is ass-backwards. A grown woman, you say! I’d like to see you take a dick and then rep-… No, I wouldn’t want to see that!”
You sit down hard on the bed, which makes Rem bounce, and after you turn your torso sharply towards her to make sure she won’t fall off the bed, you hide your face with your hands.
“I want to cry, Petra”, you mutter with a hollow voice. “That’s what you’ve done. Now I just want to start crying. That’s what you do to people when you walk into their bedrooms unannounced.”
You peek from between your fingers to see the girl’s worried face.
“I am sorry I caused you trouble. You saved my life and everything during the attack, and I’ll always remain in debt with you for that…”
“Consider the debt rescinded! No more weirdness!”
“… O-Okay. Again, I apologize. I’ll make sure to knock harder and wait longer for a response next time, even to enter a bedroom where the resident is unconscious…”
You take a deep breath and stand up again while you avoid looking at the tween straight in the face. Your stomach is churning.
“The lesson you need to learn about this encounter is that you should always be careful when entering people’s bedrooms, unless you want to see a guy balls-deep into someone else. Do you understand?”
“Okay, then leave me alone. There’s nothing else that needs to be said. Except that, please, don’t tell anybody about this disastrous encounter.”
The girl nods.
“I won’t, sir, although I’m not sure what happened…”
She leaves the room with her body turned sideways, looking awkward.
You sit back on the edge of the bed while your heart beats loudly. Your mood has curdled, and when you look back at Rem, you feel a pang of guilt. Even if you killed yourself, as you suddenly wish to, it wouldn’t change that if you considered handling Rem’s body the same way, nothing would erase in your mind the notion that you might be doing something wrong, or that other people would think you are. Now that Rem is gone, you can’t accrue more more positive memories with her, only an increasing number of sad or regretful ones.
You get up and leave your beloved’s room. The hallway is empty, and eerily silent. Your steps make no noise on the carpet as your legs keep carrying you even though you haven’t decided on a destination. Before your mood soured, you had already thought of visiting Beatrice, but you aren’t so sure anymore. You haven’t seen the ancient spirit for so long, as the last time happened before your self-imposed loop at Crusch’s mansion, that you have gone way out of synch with how she expects you to be. That conversation would demand plenty of maneuvering on your part. However, you want to thank the librarian for saving you: if she hadn’t messed with your essence so you could both face Satella whenever you died and also see Petelgeuse’s Unseen Hands, you doubt you could have ever defeated that ancient ghost. As you keep walking and remembering that kooky, irritable, hundreds of years old librarian, and how she had helped you so much even though you had only bothered her, you don’t care anymore that Petra has ruined your day: you want to see Beatrice again.
You pass by your bedroom to grab Beatrice’s gift, and then you begin the search for the door that opens to the magical library. Beatrice hides its location through a Passage spell that makes it so you will never find it unless you are extremely lucky, or Beatrice wants you to find it, or your name is Natsuki Subaru, because it only takes you four attempts, guided by your instincts, until you open a door and get a good whiff of centuries old books. Maybe you can find Beatrice easily thanks to your high compatibility with spirits that Julius mentioned, or because your only natural talent is foiling people’s carefully laid plans.
Beatrice is sitting on her favorite chair as usual, in the corridor between two bookshelves. She lifts her child face towards you from the book she was reading, but her expression doesn’t change. Your memories of this hundreds of years old child spirit had diverged a bit from the person who sits in front of you. She has her blonde hair in two long hair tails, and although her irises are weird enough, because they have the faint shape of butterflies, what you always found jarring is her outfit: she’s wearing a red and white plush-like dress, which makes her look as if she died on stage while she was performing a Christmas play in school. You wonder if this great spirit was ever alive to begin with, because you doubt that Puck was.
“You took your time”, Beatrice says. “After you people dealt with the Witch’s Cult, I had expected that you and the silly girl would have returned to the mansion right away. Did you get yourselves distracted in the capital, I wonder…?”
Hearing this girl’s voice tickles your mood. You feel like joking around with her, teasing her so she will get fake mad. You always got the sense that although she can’t bring herself to admit it, she enjoys getting interrupted from her tiring duty to protect the library even though seemingly nobody wants to threaten it.
“Plenty of sights to see and alcohol to drink, for sure.” A smile grows on your lips. “But then we thought that there was no way we could leave Beatrice alone. Doing little else than read books and mess with corpses for hundreds of years would get on anyone’s nerves.”
A frown grows on her face.
“Don’t I always seem perfectly content, I wonder…? Like I look forward to your visits! They take me out of this place even in my mind, which otherwise I wouldn’t leave unless it was completely necessary, I suppose.”
“It’s perfectly fine if your dreams consist of nothing but reading books and fiddling with corpses. It just happens that I need to indulge in far more debauchery to find my contentment. These perishable shells demand it, but you wouldn’t know about it.”
One of Beatrice’s eyebrows twitches.
“Would any spirit want to burden itself with the demands of your transitory forms, I wonder? Besides, I’m far too busy fulfilling my contract, I suppose.”
She’s trying to hide it from you, but great spirit or not, she remains a person. She’s been here for far too long. Anyone would want a break, but you don’t know how you could help beyond distracting her from time to time.
“You know the whole deal about the Witch’s Cult assaulting the village, wanting to kill Emilia and all that, right?”, you ask. “A big thing that happened. I missed you during those perilous hours. I’m sure someone considered a great spirit would have been able to help in some way, if only because we would get to see your cute face.”
Beatrice pouts playfully.
“Cute is it, I wonder…? I suppose my face would be the only part of me that wouldn’t frighten children. But should you get to scold me about my actions during the Witch’s Cult attack on the silly girl, I wonder? I am tasked to fulfill my contract, which involves protecting the library and securing the integrity of the mansion. And have you noticed that the mansion and the library stand in one piece, I wonder?”
You are pretty sure that Beatrice did nothing whatsoever. And by now you know that spirits have a hard time understanding how terrifying it is to face impending doom, as well as anticipating the mind-shattering pain that might come. However, even if Beatrice didn’t move a finger to defend the mansion physically, she did contribute to your victory by messing with your insides.
“Yes, you’ve certainly done a great job in that regard. But let me get to my main point. I’ve been aching to thank you for how much you have helped me, even if you don’t remember it.”
Beatrice raises an eyebrow in confusion.
“I have never helped you beyond lifting that demon dog’s curse, I suppose, and any healer with enough ability would have done so. Should I have helped more someone who keeps bothering me, I wonder…?”
“Oh, certainly. You’ve been my lucky charm ever since I met you. I would have been content with that alone, but you messed with my magical insides, calibrated some essence, and thanks to that I could see horrifying stuff like ghostly arms and a stalkerish dead witch. I wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for your irritable self, for sure.”
Beatrice looks annoyed.
“Are you making any sense, I wonder? I have never done anything like calibrating some essence in you. I would have never used such a vague expression, I suppose.”
You have been growing increasingly giddy just by talking to her, and you can tell that Beatrice is disturbed about the smile pasted on your face.
“Yeah, you did some magical shit on me, you kooky girl!”
After you let out an excited noise, you grab Beatrice’s waist and lift her from the chair as if she were a toddler. She weights even less than a child. As you turn in circles while laughing, Beatrice shakes her arms and yells.
“What are you doing, I wonder!? Put me down, you buffoon! I didn’t do anything to you, I swear on Mother!”
You hadn’t considered obeying her until you notice the distress in her child face, including her moistening eyes, but Beatrice extends her right arm towards you and shouts some arcane term. You find yourself thrown back as by a gigantic bouncer, and your back hits one of the bookshelves. You fall on the ground with a loud thud. A bunch of books that had jumped from the shelves hit you along the back and in the head. You rest on your forearms for a few seconds as you try to recover your breath. Your back hurts bad, as if you had been hit with a baseball bat, but it doesn’t hurt as much as knowing that Beatrice has done that to you deliberately.
Beatrice is huddled on the floor next to her chair, hugging her knees while eyeing you as if she fears what else you could do to her. She looks disturbed as if you had burst deliberately into the bathroom where she was taking a shower. A couple of tears roll down her cheeks.
A cold chill runs through your body, and even when it stops, you still feel ill. You have hurt Beatrice even though you hadn’t intended it for a moment. You don’t know her at all, then, because you wouldn’t have expected her to react this way. Even though the sudden pain in your back increases when you fill your lungs, the way the hundreds of years old child glares at you with her teary eyes hurts a thousand times more.
“You take too many liberties with me, I suppose!”, Beatrice shouts with a shaky voice. “I am a great spirit, and you are merely a human! You take a few steps in this world and then disappear!”
Beatrice looks more scared of you than angry. Even though you are useless and mostly powerless, burdened with an ability that only allows you to help people after you die, this powerful spirit fears you. You remember the numerous occasions in which that nasty Ferris had lectured you about consent, and maybe you should have listened to any of it. You feel horrible.
You prostrate yourself towards Beatrice until your nose touches the floor.
“Please, forgive me, Beatrice. I didn’t know it would bother you so much! I was just excited because I hadn’t seen you in a long time and I like you very much. Don’t cry anymore because I’m a complete idiot!”
After a few seconds you hear Beatrice walking towards you, and then she steps on your back with all of her might. It hurts, but you don’t dare move. Despite her lightness, you feel her leaving a footprint on your back with her heel. You wince and grunt in pain.
“You should learn to read the mood, I suppose! If you’re too dense to know when to contain yourself, how do you survive in this world?”
“I don’t know, Beatrice”, you say with a hollow voice. “Mostly by pure luck, I guess, and by confusing people with my idiocy.”
“It’s just like when we first met, I suppose. You can’t take a hint and you come across as very creepy sometimes.”
“I’m sorry, Beatrice.”
The librarian gives you another shot with her heel.
“Apologies don’t fix everything. It takes a lot of work to rebuild trust, I suppose.”
“I know that.”
“Do you really, I wonder? You’re very dense, I suppose.”
“I’m really, really sorry, Beatrice.”
“Stop saying you’re sorry and get up!”
After Beatrice steps away, you recline your back until you are kneeling. She puts her hands on her hips and looks down at you. Beatrice has stopped crying, and has calmed down almost entirely. You stare at each other for a few seconds as the silence consumes the room, but then she sighs.
“Fine! I forgive you, I suppose.”
“Thank you, great librarian and also great spirit who is way greater than lowly humans. I mean it. I will make sure not to lift you like a child ever again.”
You force yourself to smile, even though you still feel cold and your back hurts like hell. She notices you grimacing, and then she walks to your side and illuminates her palm with a dark, purplish light. You hold your breath in case she intends to murder you, but you recognize the balm-like warmth of a healing spell, and your pain goes away. When you fill your lungs again, it’s as if she never threw you violently against a bookshelf.
“You do care about me after all, Beatrice”, you say with a thin voice.
She looks to the side and her cheeks redden a bit.
“Don’t push it, I suppose. I care enough that I won’t let you die without healing you.”
“I would have died from that hit!? Nevermind, thank you, kind Beatrice.”
“Anyway, you stink, I suppose.”
“An old-timey insult. I’ll take it. Ah, you mean that I smell like Satella.”
Beatrice snaps her head back in surprise.
“How did you know I meant like the witch, I wonder…?”
You stand up and pick up the nearest book that had fallen on you, to return it to its shelf.
“It’s a long story with many unbelievable details, but please, sit down and wait for a moment until I tidy up this mess.”
After you have finished returning every book to its approximate place of origin, you brush the dust off your clothes and sigh. Beatrice is staring at you while frowning.
“I’m not sure how to broach the topic, to be honest,” you begin, “but you already knew-… Ah, I completely forgot! I had brought you a gift that I picked up during the cult’s assault.”
“You smelling like Satella is too significant for a change of subject, I suppose!”
“It’s alright, it can wait. But where have I left it…?”
You look around and you notice that you must have dropped Petelgeuse’s Gospel near the opposite bookshelf, as you were about to do something as reckless as grabbing and lifting a great spirit, regardless of her looking like a child. You pick the Gospel up. It’s too stained with blood and unknown fluids to be considered a gift under any circumstance, but you figure that someone like Beatrice would appreciate it. You offer the book to her, and she eyes it dubitatively while parting her lips.
“Is that what I think it is, I wonder?”
Beatrice takes it with much more care than you ever did, almost as if she’s afraid the pages might turn to ash. She opens it, and you watch as her eyes scan the pages.
“You know what it is, I’m guessing”, you say.
She stares at you while narrowing her eyes.
“Is this your Gospel?”
“Mine!?”, you raise your palms. “I’m not a cultist! And me smelling like that looped witch doesn’t have anything to do with it! We looted this Gospel from the Archbishop’s corpse. From one of his corpses anyway.”
“What was that Archbishop’s name, I wonder…?”, she asks cautiously, as if she doesn’t want to hear the answer.
“It belonged to none other than the previously unkillable Archbishop of Sloth, Petelgeuse Romanee-Conti, madman extraordinaire, that I nevertheless defeated with my own two hands, sort of.”
Beatrice’s eyebrows rise for a moment, and then the sadness that overwhelms her expression erases the smile from your own face. Her shoulders slump, and she holds the book against her chest.
“I suppose you have left me as well, Geuse…”
The quiet sadness of her voice paralyzes you. It’s as if she has just lost someone dear to her. You swallow.
“Beatrice… How come you knew Petelgeuse?”
She shakes her head slowly. Her gaze is fixed on the carpet.
“Do the great spirits of this fantasy world belong to some sort of club, go to meetings, shit like that?”, you insist, and chuckle nervously. “Or is it that the older a spirit is, the more likely she knows everybody in whatever passes for an afterlife around here? Please tell me, Beako.”
“I’m not that old, I suppose! And that’s not my name. Don’t I have a perfectly good name already, I wonder?”
“Please tell me, Beatrice! How do you know that horrible bastard!?”
Beatrice leaves the Gospel carefully on a piece of furniture to her side, that looks like a nightstand. She narrows her eyes at you.
“What business is it of yours, I wonder?”
“I kind of deserve to know! Everything nearly ended because he fucked with us.”
“I can’t tell you anything about that man, I suppose. It’s not my place to speak anymore about what went on in the old world. You would not understand even if I told you, I suppose.”
You sigh in exasperation. You can tell it would be a waste to keep asking her about it. She has no intention of bothering to explain. Your heart is beating loudly, and as you stare at the child-looking spirit, you have no choice but to face in your mind that you know very little about her, even if you are very fond of this kooky girl.
“Beatrice… Can I trust you?”
She looks at you confused, and tilts her head.
“What gave you the idea that I wasn’t trustworthy in the first place, I wonder? Am I not the one who has been there for you through thick and thin? Have I ever lied to you?”
“Well, that whole thing about you knowing Petelgeuse bothers me. And I’m not sure what you mean about being here for me through thick and thin! You don’t even know what you did in that previous lifetime of mine!”
Beatrice shakes her head at your outburst.
“You know that we come with but a single purpose. You don’t threaten the library and you belong to Roswaal’s people, so I’m on your side, as I have been from the beginning, I suppose.”
You turn away for a moment to rub your eyes, and when you face the librarian again, you feel deflated. She looks annoyed.
“Will you tell me about your connection with Satella, I wonder?”, she asks prickly. “Are you an Archbishop of the cult?”
“How can you ask that so casually!? I’m not a cultist, I already told you!”
“Why would you smell like the witch if that wasn’t the case, I wonder?”
“We have already gone through this, with you and with many other people, but I guess I’ll need to do it again. I have a blessing, or curse, granted to me by Satella herself. You already told me that she left part of her essence inside of me.”
Beatrice seems to be listening intently, so you continue.
“Whenever I die I meet Satella again. She has filled the deepest part of myself, the abyss if you will, with her endless love, and every time I die, usually after horrifying pain, that old witch slash bitch is sure to repeat to me how much she loves my bones. Then she sends me to the past. You already know this, Beatrice, because we spoke about it in a different timeline. I froze to death in that one, I think.”
Beatrice looks aside as if to think about your words.
“If you’re immortal and only sent to the past, then why call it a curse, I wonder? It seems logical that you are in fact not cursed but blessed by her.”
“You wouldn’t say the same after you lost your dick like I have. But then again you wouldn’t know how it feels to have a dick, or a real body for that matter.”
Beatrice frowns in disgust.
“It’s not like I wanted this to happen,” you mutter, “or asked for it in the first place. I didn’t want to lose my family either… But I guess Satella needs me more than my parents did, so I can’t be selfish.”
Beatrice narrows her eyes and holds your gaze through your silence. Her lips make a wet sound when she finally opens her mouth to speak.
“I will need to see for myself, I suppose. Follow me.”
After she climbs down from her chair and turns away without waiting for you to follow her, you catch up to the child spirit.
“You intend for me to lie in the place of one of your corpses as you check something in me with your magic tricks, don’t you?”
She shoots you a look over her shoulder. She’s both surprised and disturbed.
“I wasn’t lying to you, Beatrice”, you add. “I can travel back in time whenever I die. If there’s anyone in this world who would properly understand that I’m not fucking around, it should be you. That’s part of why I like you so much.”
You follow Beatrice up the expected set of stairs, and when you reach the corpses, you don’t wait for her input to push off the same half-koala’s corpse, if only for the sake of repetition. When you lie down, you sigh deeply.
“I can’t believe you just made me lie down without foreplay of any kind, Beatrice.”
Beatrice ignores you, as she’s too busy concentrating on producing a dark, purplish light from the tips of her fingers. They converge in a churning ball over your heart. You already know it won’t hurt, so you just stare at it mesmerized.
“Your magic is so damn cool, Beatrice. I wish I was a spirit too instead of having to command a body with body parts easy to lose.”
Beatrice keeps a straight face. She has no idea what to do with your obvious attempt at levity. After the purplish light goes out, she steps away. You sit up.
“You have indeed Witch Factors embedded in you.”
“I could have told you that already.” You smile while Beatrice scrutinizes your expression, but then you suddenly realize that she used the plural. “Wait a second! What the hell do you mean by Witch Factors? More than one?”
The blonde-haired spirit tilts her head. “Couldn’t you have told me that, I wonder?”
“No, I fucking couldn’t! I only had the one! What does it mean that I have two?”
“Your body hosts not one but two Witch Factors. Wasn’t it obvious from the wording, I wonder? It means you have two powers, I suppose.”
“No, I don’t! I only have the one!”
Beatrice frowns and stomps on the ground with one foot.
“Am I not telling you you have two, I wonder!? Do you suppose I’m playing with you? You play around enough for everybody in this mansion!”
You stare at the spirit while she pretends to be offended.
“Beatrice, current love of my life as long as you hold the secrets of the universe, I have only experienced one power, and the last time we went through this calibrating nonsense, you didn’t suggest I had two. Shouldn’t I know if I have two superpowers?”
She narrows one eye.
“You should sense it, in the same way you feel the mana coursing your body, or how to use your magic gate.”
“That makes sense then, because I can’t do magic at all! Not everybody in the world is like you, Beatrice. In fact, nobody is like you anywhere else in this fantasy world, as far as I can tell! The other great spirits are either useless cunts or obsessive stalkers, and neither of them have your cute face, particularly the one who dissolved inside Satella!”
Beatrice’s mood sours. Her frown morphs into a pout, and she puts her hands on her hips.
“And how do you know my face is cute? Have you seen it?”
You are about to consider her words, but you merely sigh and shake your head.
“Yes, Beatrice, I’ve seen it. Several times while you’re talking to me.”
“I don’t care, I suppose! How come you don’t sense your mana, I wonder? Even children figure out how to do that.”
“Because I’m dumber than a child. Let’s leave it at that. But I’m not a magician, Beatrice. You should know that already. Although that Julius fellow suggested I could become a spirits user…”
“Shut up and take my hand, I suppose.”
You are about to hold her little hand she’s offering, but you remember that she almost broke your back for touching her a relatively short time ago.
“Are you sure? Aren’t you going to freak out and throw me to the library below?”
“Only if you keep on mocking me, I suppose.”
You hold her hand. For a second, you feel nothing special. Then you feel a rush of sadness, and an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. You also feel like you’re drowning as your mind screams for air. Your link with Beatrice is kicking in. Beatrice seems to be her own miserable world. The maelstrom of feelings is mixed with remorse, sadness, fear and pain. Every moment of her existence is torture. Even the few happy memories she has are spoilt by the fact that she’s alone. She’s been waiting four hundred years for someone to reach out to her. While her words may have come off as those of a spoiled brat, she truly does want someone to reach out and be friends with her. She wants to have fun. And most of all, she wants someone to love her. But she can’t, because she’s trapped in the magic circle of the library.
You yank your hand away by instinct. Whatever magic bullshit had linked you to the great spirit breaks, and only a faint echo of sadness remains. Cold sweat is beading on your neck, and you shiver.
“Beatrice… What the fuck was that…?”, you ask with a raspy voice.
“I checked your magic category, I suppose. Do you want to know which is it, I wonder?”
You are about to speak when you cough, and keep coughing for a few seconds. The tsunami of emotions that just ravaged your insides made you want to lie down until you can think properly.
“Will you answer me, I wonder?”, Beatrice insists, annoyed. “I did go through the effort of exploring your magic potential, I suppose!”
You swallow, and when you feel the saliva returning to your mouth, you lower your head and look at Beatrice as if she offered you some dessert after assaulting you.
“There was way more than exploring in that interaction. I don’t know what the fuck just happened, but I guess I want to discover my magical potential, sure! What category or whatever am I, or have I?”
“Do you know which are the four categories of magic, I wonder?”
“I don’t know anything, as I keep telling everyone. I still haven’t started learning how to read. You are talking to a toddler here.”
The whole time you were answering her, Beatrice was rolling her eyes.
“In magic there are four categories, I suppose. Fire, Water, Wind and Earth.”
You nod. Thankfully your heartbeat is calming down after whatever the fuck Beatrice transmitted into your insides.
“Generic stuff, but convenient. If you had an element for every fundamental particle that seems to exist, that quantum stuff, magic would turn into complete nonsense. Hell, that whole quantum physics shit seems like pure nonsense most of the time.”
“Don’t confuse me with your delusions, I suppose. Do you want to know your category or not, I wonder?”
“Isn’t it obvious from our interaction, and my words, that I do want to know? I’m pretty sure that I actually stated as much, although my head is spinning at the moment.”
You rub your temples, trying to ignore the creepy stare that Beatrice is doing. While she might be a child, her stare feels far from being a child’s.
“Your category is very rare. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone like you before, I suppose. Your element is Shadow.”
“That’s not any of the categories you mentioned!”
“Of course it is, I just gave them all silly names to fit the theme of my library. Your element is obviously Shadow, but you’re also a Doomer, a Depressive and an occasional Dreamer. Basically, you’re a whiner, I suppose.”
“I don’t want to hear jokes coming out of your mouth!”
Beatrice tilts her head, and crosses her arms as if she was a student being told off by the teacher.
“Should I not tell jokes in my own library whenever I want, I wonder? But your magic category is indeed Shadow.”
You rub your eyes and sigh deeply.
“Okay then. I suppose that’s fitting for someone in love with a demon. What does Shadow magic entail? Can I summon succubi or something?”
“Why would it have to be a succubus, I wonder? Never mind that, you can’t anyway. Shadow magic involves spells that hinder your enemies’ abilities, or that keep you out of their sights. Mainly illusion spells, in practice.”
“That sucks ass, and yet I must admit it does fit me. My main natural ability has always been confusing people so they can’t do the one thing they are supposed to. It’s Shadow all the way down, I’m afraid.”
Beatrice was staring at you with a deadpan expression, and when you stop talking, she follows up immediately.
“Do you want to try casting a spell?”
You perk up, and let out a noise of astonishment.
“Oh, shit! Will I really be able to do magic? Me? If you teach me how to do magic, I will love you forever, Beatrice!”
Beatrice sighs, and shakes her head.
“You better promise that you won’t love me if I help you, I suppose!”
The librarian takes a deep breath.
“Then follow me downstairs, I suppose.”
You hadn’t even taken two steps on the staircase when you remember that you hadn’t brought up the main topic that was bothering everybody else at the mansion.
“Ah… By the way, mighty Beatrice, do you know anything about that Sanctuary place, by chance?”
Beatrice suddenly stops as if paused, and you nearly crash into her. The librarian’s shoulders tense up and she slowly starts turning around. For a moment you see bewilderment in her face, but she seems to realize something, and she regains her indifferent stare.
“Because Roswaal went there”, she says.
“That’s right, that’s why I’m asking. Ram followed him, and neither has returned.”
She continues descending the stairs. You follow her steps.
“I know everything there is to know about Sanctuary, I suppose.”
“Even how to reach it, if necessary?”
She glares at you over her shoulder.
“Are its location and the path to reach it from the mansion included in the word ‘everything’ that I clearly used, I wonder…?”
You get down to the floor of the library, and its guardian keeps walking towards her chair without waiting for your reply.
“Listen, Beatrice, we might need to get there. Not that I want to, but Emilia is real worried.”
“Sanctuary is no business of yours”, Beatrice says with a sudden seriousness. “Nor does it accept the help of strangers.”
Beatrice stops in front of her chair. You keep walking until a couple or meters separate you from the librarian, and you turn to face her. She’s eyeing you expectantly as if she intends for you to quit talking about this clearly secret place, and focus on the offer to learn magic.
You need to insist, though.
“Sorry, Beatrice, but if Roswaal doesn’t come back, and it feels as if there’s a good chance he won’t, then we are screwed, aren’t we?”
Beatrice frowns, closes her eyes and turns her head slightly as if dismissing your worries.
“Roswaal informed me that he intended to leave for Sanctuary. That implied he would return. But if he won’t return, then that’s that, I suppose.”
The librarian gives you the harshest glare she can muster, one that would break most men into a jittery mess.
“Will you make me waste more time, I wonder? Do you want me to teach you how to cast a spell or you don’t? Either is fine with me, I suppose.”
You lower your face sheepishly.
“Please teach me how to cast spells, great spirit.”
Beatrice sighs, but then she closes her eyes and her face relaxes. She raises her right hand, and from her extended fingers wobbly threads of purple light converge in a churning ball in front of her palm.
“I will guide you, I suppose, with my magic. For you it will be like using a muscle you have never moved before. Close your eyes and in the theater of your mind imagine a darkness. In its center picture a solid ring. Trace its contour with your mind’s eye. That’s your magic gate, I suppose, through which you must push your magical essence. Now picture a swirly, thick, liquid-like substance building up in you and then entering the scene from the side closest to you. Focus so this swirling essence keeps congealing into a malleable, paste-like form. Mold enough of it with your mind-hands so you can hold it in front of that solid ring. Then concentrate and push the congealed mass through at the same time as you pronounce the arcane word of power that identifies the chosen spell. The spell’s name for today is…”
You had been staring at Beatrice with your eyes narrowed for a while.
“Are you fucking kidding me, Beatrice?”
The great spirit snaps her head back as she opens her eyes wide, and then she frowns at you in stupefied confusion. When she manages to close her mouth, she opens it again to berate you.
“Should you spoil the sanctity of my library with such foul words, I wonder!? And your sudden outburst makes no sense, I suppose!”
“You are making fun of me because I don’t know anything about this magic world, aren’t you?”
“I never make jokes, I suppose. I don’t know what you are talking about!”
“You were making jokes just a couple of minutes ago. So to cast a spell I must imagine myself building up a thick liquid and then shooting it through a hole? In that case I have practiced so much that by now I should have become this fantasy world’s Grand Archwizard!”
Beatrice closes her eyes tight, clenches her fists and trembles.
“Do I want to know what you are referring to, I wonder…!?”
“You definitely shouldn’t. Doesn’t change the fact that-…”
Beatrice opens her eyes suddenly and then glares at you as she shouts.
A darkness envelops you in less than a millisecond as if all the light in the universe had shut off. The blackness is so opaque that you are transported immediately into the abyss of yourself. You look down towards your hands, and you feel them moving, but you can’t see any hint of them. You bring them to your face and even touch your eyelids with your fingertips, but there’s no change in the blackness. Your heartbeat is battering your ribcage. Your throat closes, and you break out in sweat from head to toe. In absence of visual stimuli, your hearing has sharpened to the extent that you hear loudly your labored breathing. Are you dead? You must be. Beatrice has gotten so tired of you that she decided to swat the annoying fly. That’s all you represent.
You have gone dizzy, and you aren’t sure if you are still standing up. You extend your arms and try to wander around, and a moment later your hands hit something. You feel it, you are prodding the spines of books. The world remains here.
“Beatrice! If you are still here, please stop whatever this is! It’s not funny anymore!”
The light returns as suddenly as it had switched off. Your heartbeat pulsates in your throat, and you are holding on to the tops of a couple of books as if you feared getting dragged by some current. Beads of sweat roll down your temples. When you turn towards the librarian’s favorite chair, Beatrice is standing in front with a soft smile that doesn’t in any way represent happiness.
“That’s Shamac, one of the most basic Shadow spells. It plunges everyone near the caster in blackness.”
You swallow, and when you manage to speak, you sound almost breathless.
“One of the most basic, huh…? I could find a few uses for it.”
“As long as you target beasts and stupid people, I suppose. Any person with decent enough magical abilities will dispel it in a couple of seconds. Which is why I called it ‘one of the most basic Shadow spells’, I suppose! Now stand in front of me and picture what I told you! Will you trust and obey me now, I wonder…?”
“Yes, my hundreds of years old child master.”
As you face the small, increasingly annoyed librarian, you relax your shoulders and close your eyes. As you do your best to concentrate, you feel yourself falling into a strange state of semi-consciousness. You hear the librarian’s voice as if coming from far away.
“Concentrate, I suppose! Don’t daydream!”
A tingling feeling starts spreading throughout your body. You fill your mind’s theater with blackness, and in its center you draw a solid, pink, somewhat hairy ring. As you trace its contours lovingly, you feel a hot, swelling liquid building up close to you, as if coming from your navel. It spreads enough that it pours into the blackness and begins filling its closest half. You gather it with your mind-hands, you mold the swirling essence into a thick, gooey paste until not a single shred of it swims around in the darkness. Then you align it in front of the hole, aim, and thrust it forward.
“What are you doing!?”, Beatrice shouts. “Not that m-…!”
You are deafened by blast as if someone had popped a huge balloon you were floating inside of. Your legs fail you, and you collapse to the ground. When the whiteness that had blinded you for a few seconds clears up, you blink a few more times, because something must be wrong with your vision: everything around you, from the bookshelves to the carpet and the floor and more importantly Beatrice herself, is covered with a dusty cobweb-like black substance.
As far as you can distinguish of the librarian’s features, she has shut both her eyes and her lips tight, and after a couple of seconds she blows air out through her nose, which disturbs the black cobweb things that have covered her face. She begins trembling and then shaking as if she’s about to explode.
“I did this…?”, your vocal cords barely collaborate to let you speak, and your elbows become wobbly as if they are about to cease supporting you at any moment. “What the hell happened, Beatrice…?”
The librarian turns her hand in front of her to orient the palm upward. A purple ball of light grows to the size of an apple, and then it pops. The cobwebs covering the librarian are swept away as if someone had hosed her with water, except that she remains dry. She then opens her eyes to glare at you furiously.
“You spent all your mana at once, I suppose! How could you have been so irresponsible!? Don’t you have any control at all of your magic gate, I wonder, or any common sense!?”
Your elbows finally give out. You resist the fall enough so the back of your head doesn’t hit the floor hard, but when it rests there, you realize you can barely move a muscle. It’s as if your body suddenly feels the effects of running a few marathons one after the other.
“I can’t move, Beatrice”, you mutter with a thin voice. “I have never felt this weak.”
Beatrice walks up to you until she appears in your field of view. She glares at you from above.
“You are supposed to build up your magical essence carefully, and pace yourself, focusing on pushing the molded essence towards the ring as if threading a needle! You need to handle it with care, but you just shot everything through in a burst!”
A warmth surges to the space behind your eyes.
“It was my first time, Beatrice. I didn’t know what I was doing. I-I’ll take responsibility…”
Beatrice looks around while frowning. She shakes her head over and over.
“My precious library! You won’t go to sleep tonight until you wipe every shred, I suppose, of your congealed magical essence from my books! And the carpet as well! What a disaster, I suppose!”
Hot tears jump from the corners of your eyes, run down your temples and get in your ear holes.
“I feel so naked, and vulnerable, and empty”, you say with a teary voice. “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Beatrice. I’m just a little kid, that’s all I can be…”
Beatrice hides half of her face with her palm as she holds her breath, and then turns away and leaves your frame of view, probably to have a cigarette and question her life choices.
Note from December of 2020:
This entry was my longest so far, to the extent that I had to remove the links to the parts of the first season.
Last time we saw Beatrice in this retelling happened back in part 13, so ages ago. The kooky librarian is one of my favorite characters in both the original novels and the anime adaptation, and she’s tremendously fun to write to the extent that she probably would warrant some spin-off with her as the main sidekick.
Those of you who have either read the novels or watched the anime adaptation know that the protagonist finding out about his magical abilities happens very early, I think as soon as the second arc starts, but I hate adding setups when they won’t pay off relatively soon, or at least in the same arc, and I already knew back then that Subaru wouldn’t handle his problems with his limited magical abilities. However, some payoffs in this arc involving magic are inescapable, so I had to introduce that scene of discovery. In the original, Puck is the one who explains everything and that shows him how to use his magical essence (with similarly disastrous effects), but I don’t think that the protagonist and Puck have that kind of relationship in this retelling, and also I chose to have Puck around only when necessary; in the original he’s constantly hanging around Emilia.
I feel I’m going to reread this scene plenty of times over the days, weeks, etc.