This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
In the previous entry we understood that Emilia is infatuated with an idiot who loves someone else, that Frederica wants to wrestle, that the villagers are helpless children, and that Subaru has become impossibly hard after he lost his dick.
GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.
Shortly after lunch, Emilia offered to teach you another lesson, even though you had expected it to come at night. Although the half-elf is doing her best to smile, the edges of her mouth get dragged down. You don’t know to what extent the other inhabitants of this enormous mansion have realized it, but for you Emilia seems consumed by melancholy. It hurts you to see her that way when you had intended to make her happy. Maybe you screwed up by telling her that you loved her although not as much as your comatose girlfriend. You burdened Emilia with the insufferable weight of outright rejection, and Emilia must be experiencing a vortex of emotions that she had never dealt with before. Even though you are worrying about Roswaal and the fact that the clown is unlikely to return by his own means, Emilia’s pain bothers you like an open wound in your own body.
In the afternoon you ended up spending more time than expected with Beatrice, or at least in her vicinity. She had ordered you to visit her every day so she could check on the recovery of your magic gate, and like every previous occasion she warned you against casting your only spell again until she considered the gate healed, although she couldn’t tell you how much it would take. You then got so curious about the hundreds, thousands of books that surrounded you, combined with your sudden ability to understand some of the words and even a few full sentences, that you kept checking out random ones. You failed to learn anything of value. By the time you left the library it was already time for supper.
After every inhabitant of the mansion except for the shut-in librarian finishes eating, the mood suggests you are separating for the remaining hours of the day. However, when you steel yourself for the incoming tide of gloom, you walk to Rem’s room only to find Emilia there. She’s sitting on the bed next to your sleeping demon servant, and the half-elf is stroking Rem’s hair softly and lovingly like a mother who visited her terminally ill daughter in the hospital. You approach Emilia carefully, because you figure that she wouldn’t want you to know she visited her only obstacle in winning your affections, but when she lifts her face to you, her expression doesn’t change. She looks far more calm than her constant stream of tears would suggest.
You stand there, fixed in place. You feel entirely responsible for this apparent full-blown depression, yet no matter how much you’ve ruminated about how to help her, you don’t know what to do.
“Does it bother you that I want to visit Rem as well, Subaru?”, Emilia asks softly. “If you want, I’ll leave you both alone.”
“No, it’s fine. Rem was very fond of you, I’m sure she would appreciate your company.”
Emilia lowers her face to stare at the servant’s features. That the half-elf doesn’t react to her own tears in any way is making you uncomfortable. You sit down next to her in bed, and put a hand on the bed sheet that covers your beloved demon.
“Rem won’t appreciate my company now that she knows I’m trying to steal you away from her”, Emilia says suddenly. “I think about what I would want in her place, if I were the one who enjoyed a loving relationship with you and then after I fell into an endless sleep, some other girl I was fond of intended to take you for herself.”
“You tend to feel guilty by nature, and you feel the need to shoulder other people’s troubles, but you can’t change how you feel, and loving anyone no matter the circumstances doesn’t seem to me like something to feel guilty about.”
Emilia shakes her head.
“I shouldn’t be enjoying our time together as much as I am right now.”
“Those tears don’t suggest that you are enjoying yourself. I intended to make you happy, but it seems I managed to botch that as well.”
“No… I am happy, it’s just… I’m not used to being pulled in two directions at once like this. On one side I feel that I should leave you both alone, allow you to grieve even for the rest of your life if you want to. If I were on this girl’s place, I might have wanted that, even though… But on the other side, I know that your future will be miserable. And I just want us both to be together. In the end it might be as simple as that. My emotions don’t care about any reasoning.”
You sigh, looking down at your hands.
“I’m also holding on to emotions that are contrary to logic. As far as anyone in this fantasy world knows, apparently nobody ever wakes up from Rem’s state, and yet I believe, I hope, that I will somehow be the first one to free someone from that curse. Thinking about it for a moment would tell me that I’m delusional. However, we don’t live for our reasonings, but for what the oldest parts of our brains already decided for us.”
Emilia takes a good look at you as if she hadn’t seen you in a few days, and she finally dries her tears slowly with her knuckles.
“You remind me of sir Wilhelm”, she says.
“There has been a bit of that going around, yeah. We are both holding on to impossible goals while the person we love is no longer available. I’m on a far better position than that murderous old man, even though it doesn’t feel that way.”
Emilia smiles as if she were ashamed.
“The main thing is that sir Wilhelm is closed off to anyone other than his dead wife. He must have had many chances over the years after his beloved was lost forever, but as far as sir Wilhelm is concerned, time stopped when the White Whale took away that woman. It’s so sad… And of course I fear that will be your case. You are so determined as to have defeated an entire branch of the Witch’s Cult, with help or not, so you might never give up on bringing Rem back to you. I wish I was her…” She’s surprised that the words escaped her mouth, but then she holds your gaze even though her eyes are watering again. “I yearn to be loved like that. Life doesn’t truly seem to be worth the effort otherwise, particularly in this world that seems so eager to discard me.”
Your chest tightens. You place your hand on the back of Emilia’s head and pull her closer, so her forehead rests between your clavicles. She hugs you grabbing the back of your shirt, then she sighs deeply.
“Let’s take a walk outside, Emilia”, you murmur. “It’s a beautiful night, likely as full of stars as it gets in the countryside.”
After a few minutes you are both walking side by side along the hedges of the vast yard. You are grateful that you didn’t come across any of the other inhabitants of this mansion. It’s getting chillier than you had expected, even though the night sky is clear of clouds. You are guiding Emilia away from the road that leads to the gate and also from the magical streetlights, because you want to be bathed only by the moonlight and starlight. Emilia has calmed down, and seems to appreciate the silence. You don’t know whether her fingers nudging yours occasionally is casual, but in any case you hold her hand, although you don’t look at her to see her reaction. You end up coming across a few rock planters that you could sit against, which you do, and then pat your knee as an invitation.
“Come, Emilia, let’s watch the stars for a while.”
She smiles and joins you. You hold her by the waist and turn her so she is leaning on your chest. You stretch your legs alongside hers and tilt your head to look at the starry sky. Her hands reach to hold yours, which are crossed over her stomach. You lean your head against her temple. Emilia is smiling sweetly, her eyes still fixed on the starry sky.
A romantic relationship with Emilia would mean plenty of holding hands, lying on different surfaces to hug each other and kiss softly. You would caress each other lovingly, and she would promise you undying love. You would make all kinds of adult plans for a future together. Imagining such a probable path barely stirs you. You grow increasingly disturbed as your heart beats louder, which Emilia must be feeling against her back.
“You can tell me whatever it is, Subaru”, Emilia whispers. “I hope you know that.”
You close your eyes tight and swallow to clear your throat.
“Emilia, I’m going to try to be as open as possible right now. And it’s going to be hard, because I have only the stories I tell myself, the explanations I have pasted on stuff that comes out of my depths without me having any say in it. I don’t know to what extent what I have concluded about how I feel, and what I need, is true, but…”
Emilia holds your hands tighter, as if she knew what was coming. You take a deep breath.
“If you want to love me, your worst mistake would be expecting a romance with a good, honorable man whom you would treat as sweetly and lovingly as possible. I can’t do a fairy tale. Yet you cannot do otherwise, because that’s who you are, that’s what you need.”
You shake your head.
“I’m not done. You can’t break out of the routine of being a good, sweet person, because that’s who you are. And I need to tell you something. I’m not a good person. I have good moments, hell, I can even say I’m nice to people sometimes. But I’m not a good person… Actually, I’m a really shitty person.”
“No you’re not.”
“Let me tell you about Rem. She was as sweet as they come, and yet she held on to a regret related to something that happened in her childhood, something I think involving her sister. She never told even me. She hated herself. She ached for the chance to sacrifice herself to save the one person she had managed to love. She desperately needed such meaning to justify the mistake of having been born. I understood such a need very well.”
Emilia’s grasp on your hands weakens. You continue, although it’s getting harder to breathe and you need to contain the rush of warmth heading for your eyes.
“You know already that Rem is an Oni, same as her sister. She needs to consume blood, a bit of it, to keep living. And although I loved her kisses, I loved feeling her in my arms as well as every second we spent lying next to each other, I mainly remember her hunger. I remember her holding on to me while her eyes glistened with the need to consume me whole. I let her plunge into me, so many times. I have never felt as alive, as loved, as when my beloved Rem tore my flesh apart, crushed my bones, absorbed every last drop of my life. I miss that pain ripping through my body, because only when she devoured me alive I finally felt connected to someone. I need a person who would wound me, who would kill me. I can only love someone who would cause me pain.”
Emilia has turned her face to look you in the eyes as if to certify you are telling the truth. She’s baffled and concerned, in an echo of how Crusch dealt with you whenever you suggested you wanted to die, or had attempted to in the past. Even though Emilia’s body rests on yours, you feel the distance between both of you increasing.
It was a mistake to say it out loud. Whenever you feel in your bones how much you lack that connection that Rem provided for you so readily, struggling through another day seems hopeless.
“So you want to die?”, Emilia says with a hollow voice.
“I need to be killed, by someone who needs me entirely.”
Emilia tries to maintain eye contact, but she can’t. She looks away and nods slowly.
You want to clear your throat, but you also don’t want to break the silence with such a noise.
“If you want the why,” you add, “whatever we could come up with would be the most fantastic story ever imagined. Maybe it has always been this way. Maybe that’s the same for everybody.”
Emilia begins to cry as she nods.
“I think I understand.”
The half-elf turns around and hugs you, taking your mind off guard. She cries softly into your chest, soaking your shirt. Her tears seep through your clothing and onto your skin, burning slightly, almost as if her grief is trying to consume you with the same voracity as Rem’s love did. Maybe that’s what you needed, someone to burn you from the inside out.
After a moment of crying, she pulls away. Her eyes are swollen and red, but her tears have stopped falling.
“I’m sorry,” she sniffles, “I can’t give you what you want.”
“You don’t need to apologize. If anyone should apologize it’s me for putting you through all this.”
She nods silently. You think that Emilia is going to stand up and walk away from you, and that she will never look at you in the same way. In your mind she would even be justified in pushing you from her camp, because you aren’t the person she accepted. However, the half-elf rests her face on your chest and she hugs you tightly. You lie like that for many minutes, maybe as long as half an hour, feeling her heartbeat on your ribcage.
“Roswaal won’t return”, Emilia states softly, her voice a huge contrast with the previous silence. “We could spend our entire lives in his mansion and we would never see him again. This hope he gave me of reaching the throne was a strange dream, one I needed to believe in. I should have faced the truth, that a half-elf would never achieve such an opportunity, regardless of the medallions’ enchantment.”
“Roswaal is alive and waiting for us in Sanctuary, whether he knows it or not.”
“Maybe I should return to the forest, make a little home and live in peace and isolation for the rest of my life. But I would want you there, and we could take Rem with us. We would make sure she’s safe even if she never wakes up.”
The determination in your voice startles her, and she raises her face from your chest to hold your gaze.
“You belong in this world”, you say. “If people hate you for reasons beyond your control, you stare them down and tell them to eat shit. There are things outside of your forest that matter, and people who would miss you if you disappear.”
“Fuck that. You are going to see your wish fulfilled. And you will hold on to that hope up to the moment when it can’t happen anymore.” She starts to say something, but you interrupt her. “Regardless of what happens in the future, right now you are a candidate for the throne of this country. You’re royalty and you can’t give up. If someone tries to hurt you, you better damn well make sure they regret it. And if any cultists attempt to kidnap you again, I will kill them all.”
Emilia lets out a breath, nodding.
“Yes… That’s how it is.”
You caress her cheek gently.
“Some people know where Sanctuary is, and how to reach it. One of them will have to tell us.”
“I grew up in Sanctuary”, Frederica says.
Shortly after breakfast, you and Emilia had called both servants, as well as Otto, over to the living room, one of many anyway, to sit down with you and try to figure out how you could overcome the biggest obstacle in locating Roswaal. You had asked the lioness what she knew about the place, and after she answers, the steely resolve you had woken up with goes soft.
“Well, that was fucking easy.”
“Frederica, you agree that it’s very unlikely that Roswaal will return by himself, right?”, Emilia asks while leaning slightly forward, as if trying to seize the opportunity. “The lord must need help of some kind.”
The lioness looks down at her lap, and nods.
“I think it is getting desperate indeed. He could have gotten a message out in some way.”
“If he’s simply restrained there, would it have been so hard to send a single person out carrying a letter?”, you ask. “Hell, it would be surpris-“
“No it wouldn’t. It’s just that he’s too stubborn.”
“Too stubborn to do the smartest thing? Sounds to me that either our clown is dead, or he’s restrained to the extent that nobody in Sanctuary would want to help him in any way, or he’s waiting for us to come to him. I truly wish it’s not the last case.”
Emilia keeps staring at Frederica as if she senses something is wrong, or that the lioness is withholding some information.
“Let’s be clear about this, please. Will you tell us how to reach Sanctuary?”
Frederica looks at both of you while her expression changes subtly. She must be thinking of whether to open up about a subject that has been treated as a secret by everybody else.
“… I will, because the current situation has become too uncertain.”
Emilia smiles, and you clap once.
“Finally we are getting somewhere”, you say. “If only we had asked you from the beginning! Well, what can you tell us about this place? Why are people so tight-lipped about it?”
Frederica lowers her head and closes her eyes for a moment. You can tell that it’s a difficult, emotional subject for her.
“It sheltered my mother, a long time ago… And we lived there for most of my childhood, until I decided to leave it. As its name suggests, it’s supposed to be a place where people go because the outside world threatens them.”
“And that’s not the case anymore?”
“The world outside has changed. Not enough, maybe, but a lot. Sanctuary hasn’t.”
Frederica narrows her eyes while her pupils move around aimlessly.
“You must understand, Mr. Natsuki, that I work for lord Roswaal. I’m opening up because I believe he must have been delayed against his will, but Sanctuary is supposed to remain a secret even to some members of his household. It’s that important. It has been there for a long, long time. Before the Witch of Envy consumed half of the world.”
“We only intend to help”, Emilia says.
“Which is why I will tell you what you need to know, but not all.”
“What dangers can we expect?”, you ask.
“The path to reach the village isn’t perilous, it’s just easy to get lost if you don’t know the directions. Deep into the lord’s domain, the path ventures through a dense forest that serves to obscure the village’s location. I will detail how to follow the road so you will reach Sanctuary without issues.”
Frederica had looked at Otto, sitting by your side on the sofa, and the merchant takes a deep breath as if he had been dreading getting involved.
“I’m going as well, am I not?”, he says with a pitiful voice. “Of course I am. The carriage won’t drive itself, and I wanted to meet lord Roswaal all along so he can brighten my future! It’s too bad that it sounds as if we are going to enter a lion’s den… Maybe appropriately given our present company! Although not everybody in Sanctuary must be like you, miss Frederica, or otherwise the security of the lord wouldn’t have been compromised.”
Frederica laughs softly, although she’s clearly nervous.
“You shouldn’t prejudge Sanctuary based on what you know of me. I grew too big for that place. It’s just that most of those I left behind didn’t. Maybe because they didn’t want to.”
“You haven’t said much about the dangers, Frederica”, you remind her.
“Yes, you are right. It’s not enough with knowing how to reach the village. The place is surrounded by an ancient magical barrier that… Let’s say that the person who created the barrier so it would keep protecting Sanctuary for hundreds of years was very serious about not getting interrupted.”
Frederica stops herself. She stares at Emilia with a ruminative expression, and a few seconds later she nods to herself.
“I will give you a magic crystal that will assist you when the time comes to pass the barrier. You are strong, lady Emilia, much more than you think. I have thought so ever since I met you.”
“That’s a cryptic thing to say, but thank you for your help.”
You shift your weight on the sofa.
“Now about the people inside. Who can cause us trouble? What should be look out for?”
“Garfiel”, Frederica answers without hesitation. “You should be careful with him. Let’s say that he’s unstable. I don’t believe he will hurt you without cause… But now I can’t anticipate what he would consider cause enough to attack you.”
“How will we recognize this guy?”
“You will surely meet him and will be able to tell it’s him.”
“Well, can you tell me why he’s hostile?”
“I think it’s best if I let him tell you himself when the time comes.”
You don’t know what to say to that.
Petra had been quieter ever since you scolded her for maybe believing that she caught you having sex with your comatose girlfriend, but her hands have been trembling for a while, and she raises her voice.
“It sounds too dangerous! Are you sure this is a good idea?” She gazes at you, worried. “Sir, are you sure you will be okay?”
“Yes, of course. I am as squishy as they come, but Emilia can impale people with ice shards, and likely other stuff I haven’t seen.”
“… I’d rather not rely on killing people”, Emilia says quietly. “That cultist at the village deserved it. All of them did. But from now on I’d rather not go to such extremes.”
“Anyway, Petra, this is grown-up stuff”, you say. “You should be playing with dolls, for God’s sake.”
“I am not a child!”
She shrinks back. You did get quite a loud voice there.
“Then act your age! I know you want to help, but this is something we have to do ourselves.”
Petra tries and fails at holding your gaze.
“… Alright, but please, you two be careful.”
Frederica stands up from the sofa. She seems anxious, a contrast with her usual easy-going attitude.
“I’ll better figure out what supplies you should carry. Please follow me, mister merchant, so I can detail the route to you on a map.”
“I will, but you can just say my name, miss Frederica. You have known me for long enough!”
The lioness turns towards Emilia and you.
“How soon do you want to leave?”
You let Emilia decide, and she nods.
“As soon as you can tell us how to reach the village”, the half-elf says.
Like it’s been the case recently, and you figure it will extend for however long Rem sleeps, your brain doesn’t truly register your beloved demon servant’s facial features anymore, the same way it discards from its subconscious processes the unmoving, unchanging furniture in a room. However, when you kiss her warm lips, while she breathes softly on you, and then you rest your forehead on hers, your tears drip on her eyelids, and the surge of pain demands that you forget about anything but holding her sleeping body for the rest of your life. Still, you swallow that pain.
“I’m going to leave for a while, my love. The more I explore of this world, the closer I’ll get to eventually figuring out how to return you to life, if a way exists anywhere. Staying idle won’t change anything.”
When all of the current inhabitants of Roswaal’s mansion, except for the shut-in librarian, stand near the carriage, which is already prepared to be pulled by both Patrasche and a nameless ground dragon you didn’t bother caring about, and it will only take getting on the carriage and following the road out of the gate to begin a new adventure into the unknown, your increasing nervousness is tightening your chest. You know this is the only way to secure not only your future but also Emilia’s on Roswaal’s camp, because ultimately this camp doesn’t exist without the clown that leads it.
Petra is holding her hands in front of her waist while wringing them, and her twisted facial features evidence her anxiety. Frederica, however, has perked up from her recent descent into the lioness’ version of gloom. Maybe she believes that now that you are going to get involved with Sanctuary, there’s no way Roswaal and Ram will remain restrained there any longer. She has brought the magic crystal that she mentioned would assist you both to pass the barrier. It’s an emerald-colored, generic-looking crystal that reminds you of the one inside Roswaal’s inner sanctum, and that is intended to be worn as a pendant. Frederica herself passes the pendant’s cord over Emilia’s head, and when the crystal rests on the half-elf’s chest, she holds it to study it.
“Don’t take it off, lady Emilia”, Frederica says, sounding like a warning.
“Understood. Thank you, Frederica.”
As you keep going over in your head about anything you might have missed, you think again about the villagers that confronted you when you went down for groceries.
“Please, you two, be careful”, you say with a serious voice to the servants. “Some of the villagers have developed a serious grudge on us in general, and if they are as stupid as they look, they might attempt to take over our place. I don’t want to go through a bunch of likely nightmarish ordeals at Sanctuary only to return and find out that you both have been slaughtered! How annoying that would be.”
Frederica smirks, showing a peek of her predatory teeth through a side of her mouth, and she points at herself with her thumb.
“Are you forgetting how German I am?”
“You don’t even know what that means, Frederica.”
“Explain it then. I was waiting for you to tell me at some point. You can’t read nor write our script, but in turn we don’t know words you brought over from wherever you are from!”
You scratch your head.
“Ah, well… It was supposed to mean blonde, blue-eyed, hard-working, resilient, tough, strong…”
Frederica laughs. She strikes a pose straightening her back and balling her hands into fists at her waist. She looks proud.
“Why, thank you, Mr. Natsuki! You just made my day. A word full of meaning! Except for the color of my eyes, I’d say I’m the most German person there is!”
“You sure are. Listen, I haven’t known you for long, but I already like you, so don’t screw up around here, you damn lioness.”
“Got it! I promise to be the best servant you ever had.”
No way she’ll surpass Rem, but you don’t want to start an argument. And Petra steps towards you. She’s forcing herself to erase the worry from her face with a smile, but her concern remains evident in her eyes.
“Please give me your hand, sir. You saved my life from that cultist, and I will always want to repay the favor.”
Confused, you extend your arm towards the tween, and she ties carefully a white handkerchief around your wrist.
“It will keep you safe during your travels.”
You examine the tied handkerchief, but it just looks like a square of cotton.
“Is it enchanted? Is this some magical artifact that your peasant family has passed down through generations?”
“Well… In our village whenever one of us decides to travel far away, it’s a custom to tie a handkerchief around the traveller’s wrist, because it will bring him or her good luck.”
Your shoulders slump, and you narrow your eyes.
“It’s completely useless!”
Emilia lets out a noise of dismay. She squeezes your shoulder.
“Subaru!” Emilia steps towards the tween and she strokes her reddish-brown hair. “We are grateful, Petra.”
The tween’s look of disappointment, as well as the tears growing in the corners of her eyes, almost elicit some emotion in you.
“I hope you have an uneventful trip, lady wi-… I mean…”
Emilia hugs Petra tightly.
“It’s okay, my dear. I like it when you say it. Take good care of each other, and also of our sleeping resident, alright?”
When Emilia and you finally turn towards the back of the carriage, all four of you wave, even though you are standing at speaking distance with each other. You get on the carriage and sit on the same places of the bench you occupied when you came from the capital. Otto looks over his shoulder from the driver’s seat.
“Everyone ready?” He sighs, and snaps the reins. Patrasche and the other ground dragon begin to pull. “Let’s head into trouble, then.”
Note from December of 2020:
The first act of the fourth arc of this story has ended. Look forward to a whole new place with a whole new way. Lots of new characters, and old ones we will see with different eyes.