This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
In the previous entry we discovered that Otto might be impotent, that Roswaal is a lazy son of a bitch, and that Ram doesn’t want to have sex in a barn.
Someone is touching your thigh. You wake up from your sleep, and although you remain dazed for a few seconds, you see that a delicate hand is resting on your thigh, stroking it slightly. The hand comes from Emilia, who is lying on the guest bed at Ryuzu’s place. Her head is resting on the pillow, and her purple eyes are regarding you so warmly as if there was no better gift than to see you as soon as a new day started. Even right after waking up, with her silver hair messy, Emilia’s face could appear on billboards in your previous world and probably cause some traffic accidents. Still, her traumatic experience with the trial makes her look slightly tired, and now she has the closest thing to eye bags you have ever seen in her delicate face.
Being looked at with such affection makes a warm shiver run through your spine. You swallow. Not only that, but Emilia’s hand is resting quite close to your morning wood, and maybe even contributed to it before you regained consciousness. You shift your weight on the chair to try to disguise the bulge, but Emilia’s glance down lets you know that she’s well aware.
“Ah… Such a glowing smile suggests that at least you’ve had a good night’s sleep”, you say with a voice that you hope doesn’t reveal the tingles you are feeling.
“It was alright. Even if I hadn’t, though, just waking up next to you would have made me smile this way.”
She sounds calm, without a hint of yesterday’s mental breakdown. Given that it was induced by a witch’s spell, or enchantment, or whatever kind of magic the trials represent, maybe you shouldn’t correlate her current mood with those shrieks, which you are quite sure ended up showing up in your dreams. In addition, both her touch and her smile and her sweet words are increasing the tingles, as well as warming your chest. You have a girlfriend, and she’s in a coma.
“You are here with me, Subaru…”, she says as if it wasn’t obvious.
“Of course I’m here, Emilia. You think that I would leave your side after the trouble you went through last night?”
Her smile fades a bit. She must not want to remember any of it, but it’s not as if you can’t bring it up.
“Sleeping in that chair must have been uncomfortable, hasn’t it been?”, she asks.
Emilia doesn’t seem to have any intention of drawing back the hand that she’s resting on your thigh, and it even moves slowly, almost imperceptibly. The crotch of your pants is getting tighter.
“Well… Not particularly, I get backaches when I sleep too long in the same position anyway. And I can just sleep anywhere, anytime. I mean… It’s alright. Sleeping while sitting up doesn’t even make the list of uncomfortable situations I’ve gone through.”
Her smile turns into a playful pout.
“Still, it’s unnecessary. I would prefer you to sleep next to me, keep me warm. You will next time, right…?”
Your heart beats louder and louder, and you feel as if you are about to break in cold sweat.
“It sounds to me that you have woken up quite warm this morning.”
“It’s true… But I would still have preferred to wake up snuggled in your arms, keeping me so warm and safe…”
You close your eyes. You want to go to the bathroom and take care of yourself, but you can’t even move without revealing that Emilia is making you melt.
“Ah… Emilia, I’m glad you feel good, but you know I-“
“It must be so nice, sleeping next to someone you love. You have done it before, for sure. It must take your mind off things.”
“Well, yeah. Of course it does.” You clear your throat softly. “I do have someone for that, actually, as you know.”
Emilia looks away, then retracts her hand that was touching your thigh and hides it under the covers. You shift your weight on the chair.
“You are so lucky to be able to know the warmth of love,” Emilia says, lowering her voice, “and to have experienced your beloved sleeping next to you. You are a very lucky person.”
You shake your head. You can’t look her in the eyes right now.
“I wouldn’t call myself lucky, no. Not at all at the moment, with Rem in a coma. Because there’s that whole thing, you know, of my girlfriend back at the mansion having gone to sleep forever.”
She turns her head on the pillow so her lips are touching the fabric, and she looks down as well.
“I know. And all I want is to forget everything bad in the world and be in your arms and kiss you and discover everything else, Subaru. It’s not just that I want it, I need it. I feel it so close, and not having it hurts. I have never felt this way.”
The pain in your chest starts beating louder than your heart, so you just bring your voice down to whisper at it.
“I wish I could make it stop hurting, Emilia.”
“Do you think we can run away together? Somewhere far away from here?”, she asks, her eyes looking straight into yours now, not hiding anything. “Just get on a carriage, breeze through the barrier as if it wasn’t there, and then find some beautiful place in which we could just be together, be passionate with each other… I just dreamt about something like that. I wish the you that waited for me in this room would treat me like the one in that dream.”
You look at your knees and sigh. When you face Emilia again you see the tear running down her cheek and then moistening the pillow.
This lovely girl believes, and maybe she has it right, that with merely your love she could get rid of her pain. It’s tearing you in two. You doubt you could get to satisfy her like she needs, and yet you know it would make her feel better.
The shame as well as the self-hatred are burning already. Remember your sleeping girl, think of how you would break her heart if you did everything your body demands you to.
“Emilia…”, you begin, but your voice comes out so raspy that you clear your throat. “You think too highly of romance. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but many, if not most of the practical aspects of loving someone won’t show up in your dreams.”
Emilia breathes out roughly. She wipes her tears with a hand, then pulls up the covers, cuddling with her pillow.
“Like what..?”, she says with a soft, teary voice that pierces your heart.
“Well, say there’s someone you really love. What if that person loves someone else? What if you’re not sure if you really love them back, so you push them away? What if there’s someone else who also loves you and your first love is indecisive?”
“What… what if…”, she mutters while hiding her face.
“Imagine you are living together and the both of you eat a big supper. Then as you are having pleasant dreams, you are woken up by a huge fart. Your man is lying there next to you, under the same covers, unconscious but ripping the nastiest farts you can imagine. They horrify you as if you are getting attacked by a chemical weapon. If you covered your head with the sheet, you would vomit and then pass out. The person you love doesn’t even know, because he’s lying there unconscious. How do you deal with it the next morning? Do you tell him? Are you going to smile sweetly to him and inform him that he almost suffocated you with his sulphurous pestilence?”
She lets out a muffled noise, a mix of surprise and disgust.
“That’s not fair. You’re trying to confuse me.”
“Life isn’t fair. I’m just saying, that if you truly love someone, then you need to accept them for who they are, even if that means living with the consequences of their bodily functions.”
Emilia shakes her head against the pillow. You continue talking, softly.
“Or imagine this: you love someone only to realize that you don’t like the books he likes, the music, or the movies. He likes sports, you hate them.”
“Not that they were producing enough decent stuff by the time I left. But yeah, what if a few months in you want children, and he doesn’t ever want to become someone’s father? What if you hate that he doesn’t earn enough at his job? What if you hate his friends, or he hates yours?”
She turns her head enough that you can see her profile. Her eyes have reddened.
“I would have to talk to him about these things first…”
“Yes, you would. But what if you can’t reach an agreement on these issues? What if it turns in to yelling and screaming, tears and frustration? Some problems aren’t solvable, or at least not solvable at that moment.”
She bites her lower lip as her face scrunches up.
You heart hurts. It feels heavier, and you can’t put words as to all the facets of why.
“Imagine you live with your beloved for years only to realize that they have changed so much that you don’t like each other anymore. That being together is just a source of annoyances and arguments, and the best you can hope for is a boring afternoon spent at home, exhausted after work. Or you have children only to find out that you wish you hadn’t, and now you exhaust most of your waking life taking care of the little shits, or worrying about them. Or one day you find texts in his cellphone, conversations he had with some coworker or some dumb broad from the internet. Then everything breaks, and you come out of it as if you have lost years and years of your life, and you have nothing to show for it but regret, bitterness, and new pains that will never go away, not entirely.”
Emilia, still resting on the pillow, stares at you as if she’s trying to read your thoughts. She takes a deep breath.
“What if you loved each other so intensely that even if bad things happened to you both, or risked growing apart, you kept fighting for what you know is worth more than anything else in the world, and you both grow old together, and in the end you can say truthfully that you had a happy life, that you wouldn’t change a thing?”
“Then maybe those people live in a fairy tale.”
Emilia holds your gaze intensely.
“I would love to get married and have children one day. If you don’t have either, you are free to do whatever you want. Travel, or stay at home and knit all day. With your freedom comes a price: being alone. Maybe when you become too old, you’ll long for those days when your family visited, or the quiet evenings with your husband or raising your kids.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Emilia, I want a fairy tale. It’s just that it won’t happen. I just want to enjoy the good parts while they last, and hope that the bad parts don’t kill me inside.”
“Once you spend enough time with someone, you’re supposed to grow old and die with that person. Not everyone gets that chance. You should cherish it.”
You lower your head and smile while staring at your knees.
“You will make someone so happy.”
Emilia sighs as lift your gaze towards her. She is resting her head on her hand, elbow on the pillow.
“Let me make you happy then”, she says with a thin voice. “You told me that you can only love someone who will make you suffer. I believe you deserve to be loved by someone who would never hurt you. That’s what I will do, if you allow me.”
Emilia reaches for your hand, and you grab hers and squeeze it.
“I know, Subaru”, she says. “Rem is there, and will be forever. And yet I want us to be together. It’s just how it is. I can hardly care about anything else.”
You rub your eyes slowly with your free hand. You feel as if filled with lead.
“We are both avoiding reality. None of this matters as long as we can’t leave this place. You haven’t spoken at all about the nightmarish time you had during your first attempt, and you clearly don’t want to bring it up.”
“I…” She swallows, and her eyes dart away from yours quickly. “I don’t want to talk about it, that’s all.”
You keep looking at her with what you hope is a reassuring expression, while you stroke her hand with your thumb.
“I heard a lot of what you shouted. I could almost imagine the people you were pleading to. Something horrible must have happened to you, probably when you were a child, and maybe you will never recover entirely from it. I know some of my own wounds will never get fully cured. And yet, Emilia, I hope you know that whatever you would want to say about any aspect of it, I would love to listen, I would love to help you in any way I can.”
You’re surprised you managed to say something so honest and heartfelt. It seems your time with everyone else has been rubbing off on you, even if you still do have a long way to go.
She sniffs, but smiles. Her face relaxes a bit, even as she squeezes your hand more tightly.
“Thank you, I… The thing is, I can’t remember anything. I just know there’s a hole there, and about the trials, it’s like every detail was wiped out except for what it made me feel. Horror. To an extent that the perspective of attempting it again feels like masochism, and yet I must…”
Your head snaps back without you thinking about it.
“Is that what happens when you fail the trial? No, Garfiel seemed to remember… You mean you don’t even have memories of your childhood?”
She slowly shakes her head.
“I can’t remember anything before I woke up in the frozen woods as a child. Although my memories of that time suggest that I was born then, despite being a grown child already, I feel there’s a span of memories missing, or blocked out…”
You hide half of your face with your free hand.
“You seriously need a psychiatrist, but the profession doesn’t seem to have been invented in this place. What a mess.”
She smiles cautiously.
“I don’t think you’re joking… But I do feel like I should laugh.”
“Well, I’m glad you see humor in the situation. But these trials… What are you going to do, Emilia?”
“I’m going to try again. I don’t know why, but I feel like I have to. No, I must. That’s what I ought to do. I have the chance to become the ruler of this kingdom, don’t I? I can’t be weak.”
“No, you can’t be weak, but you don’t need to put yourself through that torture just for the sake of being strong.”
Your reassuring words fall on deaf ears, as Emilia’s eyes stare into the distance.
“I have to do this. Thanks for your concern, but I must see this through to the end.”
A couple of hours later you find Garfiel sitting on a wooden fence, kicking his feet and throwing bread into a pond, for the weird fishes and fish-like creatures to eat. You are stunned for a moment, because you would have expected this guy to spend his free time punching trees or growling at nothing, and before you realize it he’s eyeing you as if you are about to push him into the water.
“The hell ya come to freak me out with now, evil eyes?”, Garfiel asks.
“None of that going on at the moment. I want to ask you a serious question.”
He narrows his eyes suspiciously.
“Serious, huh? That sounds worse comin’ from ya. Yer bad enough playin’ around.”
“It’s about Emilia, damn it, and the shit she’s gotten herself into regarding the trials. Can we speak about that seriously?”
“Ugh… If ya insist. So, what’s up?”
“I was trying to figure out what happened to her during her attempt, what scared her so bad… Garfiel, I realize that the trial made you see some bad stuff from your past, and I’m not going to ask about the contents, but can you remember the stuff you saw in there?”
Garfiel mulls this question over for a while, as he keeps on staring at the pond.
“As I could forget any of it, half-pint. That’s them trials’ deal, ain’t it. They push it inta yer head so you won’t ever get it out. I wish I hadn’t seen that crap.”
“Garfiel, Emilia told me she doesn’t remember any of it. And she was serious, too. The whole thing is blank. She just remembers the pain and the horror that the experience made her feel, but none of the details.”
He blinks a few times, then looks away to think about it. You figure that this punk needs to squeeze his brain to think about anything, so you give him his time.
“An’ that’s good for her. Trust me, ya don’t wanta remember the stuff from yer past. It only brings ya down an’ gets ya inta trouble.”
“I really want to help her with this. She’s suffering, Garfiel. She’s determined to keep trying, but she can’t learn anything from what she can’t remember!”
“That ain’t good.”
“It isn’t, but it’s the truth. Why would that be? Do you have any clue? Did your so called gran tell you anything about some shit like this?”
He holds your gaze for a couple of seconds while frowning as if he isn’t sure what he can reveal about what he knows.
“Nah, old hag didn’t wanta go through them trials neither. Wasn’t happy ‘bout me sneakin’ in back then. Bunch of warnings notta open the door, but I don’t think she knew what was there, what went on. She’s been around fer a long time, guardin’ our town. It’s a reverence kinda crap, I reckon.” Garfiel takes a deep breath. “Echidna didn’t build the barrier for it to be broken, did she, that old witch? So why screw with it? That was gran’s thinkin’, I reckon.” Garfiel turns his torso to face the pond again, a movement that makes clear that the conversation is about to end. “Ya don’t build a barrier an’ call yer place Sanctuary ‘cause ya want every damn gorfungol of the world ta come an’ go as they please, just like ya. It was supposed to keep our people safe.”
“If this place was so great, people wouldn’t want to break the barrier and leave.”
“Ah well. They’re just greedy. They don’t know what they got ‘till it’s gone. They could be eatin’ the juiciest tarmodanos and the plumpest oyegambos and still fools would be achin’ to hunt fer myrmadapos instead.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll substitute all the nonsense for sexual terms in my mind.”
You shrug, then look around as if the sight of the enclosing forest would help.
“Well, Garfiel, thank you for wasting my time again.”
He shoos you off with one hand, without bothering to turn his head.
“Waste not, want not.”
Emilia didn’t pass the trials at her second attempt. She didn’t pass them at her third, nor fourth, nor fifth. You all witnessed her entering the witches’ tomb with a determined look in her face, and although she exited by herself, she was always crying. The same way you knew, without any tangible proof, that you had passed your first trial, Emilia knew that she had failed it. She never remembered what she faced in the witch’s vision. And with every attempt, her expression as she stood in front of the tomb to enter it looked more and more as if she was heading voluntarily to be tortured, and when she exited the tomb, she looked more weary and crestfallen. She didn’t improve; this was a more sophisticated version of hitting her head against a wall over and over.
Emilia became more withdrawn and sullen. It didn’t take long for your villagers to become dissatisfied. They blamed Emilia for their situation, they claimed that she wasn’t doing enough to get them out of there, that she never would without some ‘supernatural help’.
You asked to meet with the mayor of Sanctuary, Ryuzu, at her house near the church-like building, and Garfiel sat there as well, you aren’t sure if because he needed to know what you wanted or because of his role as the toughest guy in town.
“Here’s the thing, Ryuzu”, you begin. “Emilia cannot leave, and her sense of duty, as well as the guilt she leans towards naturally, make it so she won’t stop herself from trying over and over. I won’t comment on the prospects of her passing the trials at this point, but what I want to ask you is the following: allow Roswaal’s villagers to return home. Their continuing presence here will only cause further conflict, both with Emilia and your local half-beast people, not to mention the resources you must be wasting to take care of people who aren’t tending the farms, your farm animals and such. Sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me.”
“Best idea ya ever had, half-pint”, Garfiel says. “Bastards were gettin’ on my nerves. I’d be happier if we kicked all them ungrateful dicks and let the rest of us enjoy a moment’s peace.”
“I thought you were the one who would raise a fuss about the idea, Garfiel. I’m surprised to find out you were a reasonable guy all along.”
“If it means less ungrateful bastard villagers runnin’ ‘round, then sure.”
Ryuzu is staring at you as if thinking about your proposal. This tween-sized elf who is somehow Garfiel’s grandmother hasn’t reacted to the punk’s answer.
“I do agree that lady Emilia is unlikely to quit her attempts to pass the trials. It’s taking a big enough toll on her mental health already, she doesn’t need the added stress of the villagers’ expectations. Very well then, Young Su, I will allow it. How do you propose they all return home?”
These two are quite reasonable for a couple of blackmailers, you think.
“It seems that Ram had hired a bunch of merchants so they would carry the villagers here on their carriages. I’ll send my own personal merchant Otto to a nearby village so he can hire some others. I guess we can get a caravan ready for tomorrow.”
As both Otto and Ram were herding the villagers and their few belongings to the carriages waiting at the edge of Sanctuary, you remain with Emilia, who is sitting at the table in Ryuzu’s home. You aren’t sure if she would force herself to bid farewell to the villagers, most of whom have given up supporting her, and Emilia has grown so highly strung after her failed attempts that she can hardly bring herself to look you in the eye. You have sat next to her, and are rubbing her back to comfort her.
“I should… face them and tell them that I’m sorry”, she says with a weak voice. “But even if I told them that I believe that I will eventually lift the barrier, it won’t matter to them any longer. They will forget about this place.”
You don’t want to comment on her baseless hope. Given that not only her attempts at passing the trials aren’t improving, her sanity is deteriorating. You can’t imagine it ending any other way than with Emilia having a mental breakdown, and that brings so many horrible memories of your own attempts at preventing Rem from leaving on Crusch caravan, that the knot in your throat makes it hard to speak.
“Emilia, don’t worry about Roswaal’s villagers any longer. When I make sure they reach their homes safely, I’ll come back and we’ll focus entirely on how you can get through this. Just get some sleep in the meantime, alright?”
Emilia, nods slowly, her gaze averted to the side as she sees something else in her mind.
“You will return to me, right?”
“Of course. Don’t doubt it for a moment.”
“Thank you, Subaru…”
You sigh then turn to leave her be, only to see Ram at the doorway. You both leave Ryuzu’s home together.
“Everyone is ready, Barusu.”
Emilia suffering like that turned you increasingly morose. You barely want to address anyone else, but it has made you a bit more sympathetic towards Ram, who most of the time looks as if she’s fed up with everything.
“Do you have any suggestions about the trip home, or something I should check at the mansion?”, you ask.
“Attempt to figure out what Frederica intended by giving you that magic crystal. We need to know the extent of her betrayal. However, try to avoid a physical confrontation with her, because she will crush you like the defenseless bug that you are.”
“Ugh. Thanks for your support, sis.”
After you part ways with the pink-haired senior servant, you meet up with Otto, who is loading some of the villagers’ belongings on other people’s carriages. The tumult of people walking around, hauling stuff or just talking excitedly is threatening to give you a headache.
Suddenly someone approaches you. It’s the male teen, around seventeen years old, that had been helping a group of younger villagers during the Witch’s Cult’s assault. He’s also displaying his bare chest again, even though he doesn’t have much to show off. He must be in some sort of crusade against any clothes that cover the upper half of the body.
“You are coming with us, aren’t you, sir?”, the guy asks. “You can count on me to help with whatever needs to be done.”
“I’m surprised you came to Sanctuary. Beyond that idiotic village chief of yours, it’s mostly children, women and old people.”
“I was worried about the troubles they would encounter here, and I wanted to protect them if I could. It’s just too bad that lady Emilia couldn’t pass the trials, but then again I don’t blame her. Nobody has done so in hundreds of years. Poor lady, she always looks sad when I see her around.”
“… Yeah, she does.”
Otto comes to your side and starts whispering.
“Hey, don’t talk too much about lady Emilia in front of this guy. He’s head over heels for her.”
The teenager’s eyes widen as he blushes.
“Oh?! Wh-where did you hear that lie? I do not have those kind of…! Y-you’re just saying that to tease me, aren’t you? I just can tell that she’s kind and sweet, and when the chief called her a demon at that meeting, it made my blood boil!”
You smile at the teenager’s kind words, and pat him on the shoulder.
“You’re a very loyal person.” You suddenly remember that you threatened to murder a bunch of villagers at that meeting, due to how angry they had made you. “Shit, so you were listening… I kind of went off the rails when they started disrespecting Emilia.”
“No, I felt that anger myself! I have always wanted to stand up against that nasty chief. He really is an asshole. All he ever did since her speech is insult lady Emilia and complain about us supporting her.”
“What an utter dick. Maybe we should just push him off his carriage on the way home, hopefully into a bottomless pit.”
Otto chuckles, but the teenager doesn’t laugh. He frowns instead.
“Talking about murdering people… I don’t find that funny, sir.”
“Ah, well. You can find humor in terrible things, as long as they don’t happen to you. Don’t worry, I doubt bottomless pits exist even in your fantasy world.”
Once every villager is either sitting or standing on a carriage, and every driver’s seat is filled, Garfiel comes by you as you are sitting next to Otto on a driver’s seat. You aren’t sure if the punk has come to bid you farewell or to annoy you for the last time until you return.
“I’m sure that as soon as we pass the barrier I’ll start missing the nonsense that comes out from behind those triangled teeth of yours, Garfiel”, you say.
The punk smirks.
“We’ll just hafta come up with a suitably funny noise that’ll remind me of yer insults when I miss ‘em. Never think I’d miss bein’ insulted, but it’s true that ya’ve been growin’ on me. Same as fungus between the toes, I reckon.”
“Ah, thanks for the lovely comparison. Anyway, I’m sure to check on your lively sister Frederica, whom you love and miss so much that it breaks your heart you haven’t seen her for so long. Do you want me to relay a message to her the next time I get to gawk at her gorgeous form?”
Touched where it bothers him the most, Garfiel’s cheeks twitch, and he makes a face of disgust.
“Eat a dick!”
You give a mischievous grin.
“Just that? ‘Frederica, eat a dick’, then?”
“Yer an asshole.”
“Actually, if you love her so much, maybe I should kiss her on your behalf as well? How sloppily should I do it?”
He tightens his fists. He begin to walk away, but he stops and turns his head slowly, a dark look in his eyes.
“Try it an’ I’ll break yer fucking jaw.”
You give him a smile and nod.
“Right then. Well, off we go.”
The carriage starts rolling, and you tip your index finger at Garfiel, who glares at you for a moment, before flashing a toothy grin and raising his own finger in turn.