This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
The previous entry was about pushing every one of Ram’s buttons until she loses her fucking mind. Also we got a further example that nobody cares about Otto’s pain.
After the boring Witch of Envy spits you out into reality, the rush of sensations, every minute pain that courses through a human body, floods your brain. You are lying on the flat stones of the antechamber deep into the witches’ tomb. This time you know that as you slept you breathed dust through your mouth, so while you support yourself on your forearms, you spit on the floor for a bit and then swallow enough times to force your mouth to produce saliva. You are so confused, dazed as if everything you’ve lived recently was nothing more than a wild dream, and the blue glow that illuminates this room only contributes to that sensation of unreality.
You sit up and focus your gaze on a point of the cold stone walls in front of you, which are covered with tiny cracks. You feel more than see Emilia’s sleeping body out of the corner of your eyes. As soon as you remember the feeling of holding the half-elf in your arms, the wetness and sweetness of her mouth, the oven-like hotness of her insides, the guilt makes you double over. I abandoned you, you think. I abandoned you both. I let Rem die, and even after I betrayed her, I also abandoned Emilia, who might have been pregnant already, because you couldn’t find the strength to keep going. You saw a chance to die and start over with the hope that maybe the next time you could think clearly, and you wouldn’t have to regret your actions as well as the nonsense you keep spewing out of your mouth. Because Satella loves you, your wish was granted. The least you can do is not waste it.
Set your priorities. Your main goal should be to figure out how to stop everyone at Roswaal’s mansion from getting murdered. That comes above having sex with Emilia, so you’ll need to avoid the half-elf as much as possible. In this reality she still hasn’t felt your tongue licking her clit dry, so she shouldn’t behave too needily.
You pump your fists and clench your teeth to give yourself strength. You can do it, Subaru. There’s no way you will survive meeting that Elsa Granhiert contract killer the second time you come across her, but at least you should be able to glean some more vital information that eventually will allow you to save everyone you like, as well as Petra. You already defeated an entire branch of the Witch’s Cult. You can do anything. Someone who knows what’s going to happen cannot lose.
You walk up to your sweet Emilia’s side, sit on the floor and hold her in your arms, cradling her against your chest. Her facial muscles twitch as she relives childhood traumas that she can’t remember during her waking life. After you kiss her forehead, you pat her cheek repeatedly.
“C’mon, wake up, my sweet Emilia. Open your pretty eyes and return to your man’s side.”
She stirs, then wakes up. She looks at you with a blank expression, and you stare back with a loving smile. Then her expression twists into a grimace of terror and she shrieks so loud that it pierces your eardrums.
After you exit the enormous entrance of the witches’ tomb while carrying the delirious Emilia in your arms, your pals, one of who, a servant with pink hair, murdered you not long ago, run up to help you. In between questions and answers that you barely pay attention to, you all load Emilia on the back of Otto’s carriage, parked deeper into the clearing. As you all would have gotten on the vehicle so you could reach Ryuzu’s home as soon as possible, you walk up to Ram and motion with your head for her to step away from the group for a moment.
“What is it, Barusu?”, the senior servant asks. “What has happened in there?”
Your body expects this meeting to feel as awkward as can be. This is a woman whom you had joked around with every time she participated in a conversation, and you had taken her dismissive, standoffish attitude as that of a very introverted, serious person. But Ram revealed to you that she has shed from her life everything that wasn’t involved with this revenge she didn’t elaborate on, and the trauma likely related to Rem as well, that she never got to explain to you when your beloved was conscious, must have traumatized the senior servant to the extent that she doesn’t recognize her own emotions. No, worse: she hates whenever someone sparks emotions in her, because she can’t deal with them. She can’t afford to deal with the buried feelings if she’s to move forward until she gets her revenge. Even though the senior servant squashed your eyeballs against the back of your eye sockets, you want to hug her slender frame and tell her that everything is going to be okay. Can’t do that, though, because she would kill you.
“Barusu, what’s with that look?”, she insists while frowning a bit. “What do you intend to say?”
“Ram… The trial activated for me, and I passed it.”
Ram opens her eyes wide, and she snaps her head back a bit.
“That’s good news. We are a step closer to freeing Sanctuary and going home.”
You look back towards the carriage. Otto is looking over his shoulder from the driver’s seat to figure out why the hell are you making them all wait, and he motions with his hands for you both to come over.
“It doesn’t change much, no”, you say with a tired voice. You have felt exhausted and wanted to go to sleep every time you returned to this night. “Ryuzu and Garfiel won’t allow me to pass the trials instead of Emilia. More importantly, Ram, I need you to do me a favor.”
Ram eyes you with suspicion.
“I fear what’s going to come out of your mouth, Barusu.”
You sigh, then hold her gaze with sympathy.
“None of that this time, Ram. From now on I’m going to treat you with the respect and care that you deserve. Please, I need to meet the clown as soon as possible, even as soon as we leave Emilia in Ryuzu’s guest room.”
She blinks, confused by your sudden change in tone.
“Emilia is delirious. We should first make sure that this state isn’t permanent, that the witch’s trial hasn’t broken her brain.”
“It hasn’t, the effects will clear out around an hour after she lies on that guest bed. Trust me. Please, Ram, arrange an audience as soon as possible, as I asked.”
She narrows her eyes at you, before nodding.
“Fine. Somehow, that serious expression in your face disturbs me more than your usual tomfoolery.”
As she starts walking towards the carriage, you stop her by placing a hand on her shoulder, making her tense up.
“You are the best of us all, Ram. You are strong, you can keep us safe. We are counting on you.”
She looks at your hand, then at you, while pursing her lips. Without another word she climbs onto the carriage, and you follow.
After you accompany Ryuzu to place Emilia on the guest bed in which you made sweet love to the half-elf, and where you both declared that you belonged to each other forever, you ask them all to make sure Emilia is okay, and reveal that you will return in a short while after you speak with your lord. Ram accompanies you silently towards the discreet house where Roswaal rests, but a couple of minutes before you reach it, the senior servant breaks the silence.
“I can’t imagine how bad it must be that you haven’t blurted out any of your nonsense, Barusu.”
You glance at the senior servant, but it only makes you remember the still frame of her hunched over and standing over you, her face twisted in demonic anger as if she had lost her mind to a seething rage, and those red eyes almost glowing. Even though Ram killed you, you feel guilt because you drove her to that breaking point.
“The situation is bad for sure, but regarding me not bothering you with uncomfortable comments… I have realized how difficult I have made things for you. I know you are a person who doesn’t want others prodding into your life. Still, I felt a deep pain in you, and I wanted to help you. That’s a complex of mine, believing I can save anyone if I push hard enough. But you never asked for anyone’s help. I should have respected that.”
She slows down and holds your gaze as if she figured she must have been speaking to someone else. She then nods and quickens her pace.
“It is an odd habit of yours, Barusu, and I thank you for respecting my privacy.”
When you reach the house, Ram informs you that you should wait outside until she calls you in. The senior servant steps ahead to open the door. Before entering you give one last look at her and nod. She nods back.
A few minutes later you find yourself sitting on the expected chair by Roswaal’s side as the clown lays on the bed. His bandages look ghastly, and you recall that even though you spent around four or five days longer in Sanctuary in a previous run, Roswaal never seemed to improve significantly, or at least enough to leave the bed.
After you both explain Emilia’s failure at passing the trial on her first attempt, you show Roswaal the emerald-colored, generic-looking magic crystal that Frederica gave Emilia, and that teletransported you close enough to the witches’ tomb. You try to remember how you conducted yourself on this conversation during your previous attempt, but you succeeded at it, so you figure that you can just wing it.
“You are the big man here, Roswaal, so I came to ask you for your permission to jump on my loyal ground dragon, travel to your mansion and confront Frederica regarding why she acted so shady with us. I figure I can leave tomorrow at the break of dawn, come back maybe that same night. Otherwise, the following day.”
You feel a bit like spouting nonsense, but you figure that you’ve said something sensible, so you just shut up and wait for his answer. Roswaal stares carefully at you again. You must not have properly noticed it the first time, but it seems as if behind the clown’s smile he’s wondering what you know, or going through notes of what he could tell. It disturbs you.
“It is worrisome that someone as outwardly honest as Frederica Baumann would have risked your life with this underhanded decision”, Roswaal says with his lilting voice. “Have in mind, however, that you are suggesting meeting her in private to interrogate her about a possibly malicious act. You must have the wrong impression about her ability to defend herself, or to attack if she wishes to do so.”
You try to contain a yawn, but your body is acting by itself, and you cover your mouth for a couple of seconds as tears form in your eyes.
“Excuse me. Regarding Frederica, no, obviously she would pulverize me in a fight. However, I interacted with her plenty during my stay at the mansion, before we came to this dreary village to figure out what happened to you. I don’t see her as someone who would try to kill me even if I confronted her for something bad. However, we need to act quick. There are elements involved in Sanctuary that we aren’t fully aware of, and with Emilia having failed to pass the trial for now, we can’t take any risk.”
“But maybe haste makes waste, Subaru. Have in mind that your purpose in Sanctuary is to remain by Emilia’s side to support her like you have been doing, so she knows that someone will fight tirelessly, against monstrous enemies if necessary, so she survives to achieve her goals. And you have been making such efforts when you weren’t sure that you would eventually be accepted back into our camp! Truly, a hero for the ages. That’s why I intend to make it official. You have earned the ti-“
“You want to make me a knight. We’ll have the rite of passage as soon as we return to the mansion, right?”
Roswaal doesn’t close his mouth for a couple of seconds, an eternity for someone with his sense of theatrics. He narrows his eyes and widens his smile as if you are sharing some obscure private joke.
“Oh, that’s right, Subaru”, he says with a lowered voice. “Have I told you before, by chance?”
“Told me what? About knighting me?”
“Indeed. It’s no small gesture. It’s the lowest rank of nobility, but it separates you from the commoners, and a bright young man like yourself could keep ascending. Still, you are as unsurprised as could be. So were you expecting to be knighted?”
You want to shift your weight on the chair. You are a terrible actor, honest to a fault. You have no clue what’s truly going through the clown’s mind, and it’s not as if his makeup reveals much about his true expression.
“Not really”, you answer. “But I knew the chances were there. I mean, I was the only person helping Emilia.”
“Oh, that’s not true at all. We have our own camp, we aren’t nearly as helpless as you seem to believe. Ram herself fought valiantly against the cultist assault, right by the two armies you brought.”
You clear your throat. You stand up, turn towards a startled Ram, who takes a step back, and then you bow towards her.
“Of course, I didn’t want to disparage you, Ram. I know how hard you fought to protect the village, as well as all of us. I praise your strength.”
“You are just trying to get on my good side”, Ram says, annoyed by your fake flattery, not realizing it’s genuine.
You sigh, then sit back down.
“Nobody present was attempting to disrespect anybody else, I’m sure”, Roswaal says calmly. “Well, the matter is settled in that regard. I will indeed knight you. In relation to the point I was going to make, you would be Emilia’s first knight, so your task is to serve her every need, if she so requests, as well as keeping her safe, giving up your life and that of others if necessary.”
You already know that Roswaal will push for you to remain in Sanctuary and not run back to the mansion. However, if you sound firm enough you probably can get him to give up again.
“That’s indeed my duty, and confronting Frederica is part of that. The part beast servant had given this previously unknown magic crystal to Emilia. Even though I snatched it when it seemed as if it was about to explode, the magic crystal would have likely teleported Emilia to the same point of the clearing. She would have wandered into the tomb, and her trial would have started. Presumably she would have failed and we would have found ourselves in pretty much the same situation, but it’s still too suspicious for Frederica to use these crystals when not even you, lord Roswaal, were aware of its existence or purpose. I don’t want to leave matters hanging. We don’t know if a betrayal on Frederica’s part means that further related trouble might pop up in Sanctuary. I like to cover my bases.”
“Hmmm… Yes, a good plan indeed. So be it. Go ahead and confront Frederica about what she did, and make sure she never dares to try such a stunt again.”
You find yourself smiling. The lord is quite reasonable for a shady clown. You relax a bit, but he keeps staring at you.
“You have grown so much, haven’t you, Subaru?”, Roswaal adds, sounding more proud than is comfortable for you.
“Um… well, I try to be a useful servant. Emilia picked me up from the streets. I had nothing to my name, no place to fall dead. She gave me a life, and it belongs to her.”
“And it will always stay that way, yes? You will never leave her.”
“That’s what I like about you, Subaru. You’re not like those idiots who want to gain everything in this world, not caring about anyone else if they have to trample over them to get there. You care about other people, while also striving for something for yourself. That’s the perfect combination of a good heart and being pragmatic about it.”
“I wouldn’t say perfect.”
“It is a perfect balance. That’s why you’re here, and not outside. The world needs more people like you, that’s for sure.”
The lord has an odd look in his eyes when he says this, and it confuses you a bit. You’re unsure how to respond to his words, so you just let them sit there. In a few seconds, Roswaal closes his eyes, holds his hands and seems about to speak, when you open your mouth and allow a question to come out.
“Roswaal, what would you think if I were to fall in love with Emilia?”
His eyes widen, as he seemed not to expect that question, but he lowers his head slightly and shares a complicit smile.
“Weeeell… After the Witch’s Cult almost ruined our camp, I’d say the three of us have been together through thick and thin, so while I don’t encourage you developing feelings for our royal candidate, I would not stop it either. Emilia is a big girl and she can make her own decisions. I would hope though, that you would not hurt her.”
“Of course. I would never want to harm her or Rem… or anyone here for that matter. You are all my new family as far as I’m concerned.”
“Good to hear, Subaru! We will celebrate our triumphant return to the mansion as soon as we leave this ugly business with the barrier behind. So, what brought this on, asking about whether you could love our beautiful half-elf? Did you and Emilia have a fight or something?”
You scratch the back of your head, suddenly embarrassed.
“Would it be so weird? Emilia is one of the loveliest, sweetest, kindest, most passionate girls you could ever meet, isn’t she? Truly a dream come true. Despite being out of most people’s leagues, it’s not rare that such a dream would pop up in the mind of any man who spends enough time near her.”
“Aha! So you do have feelings for her!”
“No! I mean, yeah, but I didn’t want to… You’re twisting my words around! And why are you smiling like that?”
Roswaal chuckles softly, but out of the corner of your left eye you notice Ram shifting her weight.
“I’m just glad you’re here, Natsuki Subaru”, Roswaal says warmly. “That’s why. You have saved us all, and I’m sure you will keep saving lady Emilia again and again. Such will be your official duty from now on.”
“Even if I never became a knight, I would have done so. It’s a matter of loyalty.”
As soon as the word escapes your mouth, Rem’s lovely face appears front and center in your mind, her light blue hair you loved caressing, that beaming smile, the way she used to make you feel as if you were the only two people in the world… You suddenly want to cry so hard that you swallow twice the rush of warmth that was heading for your eyes. You lower your head, and when you hold the lord’s gaze again, his expression reflects that your change in mood must have been obvious.
“Forgive me, I was too careless. I…” You start to tear up a bit, but hold your head high. Your eyes shut for a moment as you struggle to find your voice. “I’ll become a knight. I won’t lose anyone ever again.”
Roswaal nods. His smile doesn’t falter, and at least the clown has the decency not to comment on your sudden display of weakness.
“I’m sure you will fight your hardest, Subaru. And to make sure that such a bright future isn’t cut short, I will not allow you to confront Frederica alone.”
You dry your eyes, then stand up.
“Ah, of course.”
You turn to Ram before Roswaal says anything, and the senior servant, taken aback, alternates between looking at you and at the lord.
“… Indeed, I was going to order Ram to accompany you and make sure that you aren’t taken away from us”, Roswaal says.
The senior servant uncrosses her arms and stares at you as if wondering whether to object.
You bow towards her.
“I’m sure the prospect of accompanying me annoys you, Ram, but I’ll avoid causing you trouble. I’m in your hands. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
Ram sighs, then shrugs.
“You’re right, I would prefer not to go. But his lordship orders it.”
Roswaal claps once.
“Then it’s settled. I pray for your safe return, Barusu. After we figure out what Frederica intended, we will be able to focus on Emilia’s attempts to open up Sanctuary.”
“That’s right”, you say, then turn to Ram. “Meet me at the break of dawn at the stables where my ground dragon is lazing around. We’ll ride quickly back home.”
In front of Ryuzu’s home you lean against a wooden post and look around the dreary town in the moonlight. A few villagers are still walking around, and some of Roswaal’s are chatting amicably with some rough-looking half-wolf and half-cat people. You want to go into Ryuzu’s guest room, where Emilia is waiting for you to show up. And you do want to get in the bed, hug her tight, kiss her, make love to her. But even for Emilia, the passionate sex was a way of forgetting her troubles, her half-broken psyche, the childhood trauma, the fact that she must feel incapable of passing the trials and yet is still bound to try over and over. You want to give her that relief. But if you let yourself succumb to those pleasures, you will lose yourself in them. You already did for more than two hundred periods of two days back at Crusch’s place, what feels like so long ago, with the members of that camp that now seem so far away. You have a disaster to stop, and you are the only one who can do it. That’s your curse. You suffer so nobody else has to.
After you brush your teeth and say goodbye to your pals, as well as the couple of blackmailers, hanging out in Ryuzu’s living room or the kitchen, you find the strength to enter the guest room. You live through a flashback: you open the door to see Emilia lying there with her face towards the door, as if waiting to greet you as soon as you appeared, and as you close the door she opens her eyes. Your heart hurts already.
“That’s you, isn’t it, Subaru?”, she asks softly.
“Yeah, Emilia. It’s me.”
You shuffle to the chair next to Emilia, then sit down heavily. You would be able to stroke the half-elf’s beautiful face by extending your arm a bit. She takes out her slender arm under the covers, and before she moves her hand towards you, you reach to hold it. Her eyes go wide for a moment, but then she smiles sweetly.
“Emilia, tomorrow morning I’m leaving for Roswaal’s mansion”, you say with a thinner voice that you had intended.
Her face falls immediately.
“What’s the matter, are you not feeling well? No, can’t be that… Subaru, I want you to be here with me.”
You want to say everything you wouldn’t have any trouble verbalizing if you intended to live a long life: that you are going to return tomorrow, that as soon as you get here you won’t leave her side again until she passes the trials, and that you’ll support her with everything she needs, but that’s not true. You already know that you won’t survive going to the mansion again. It might take five, ten, fifteen runs to get through this new nightmare, if you don’t lose your mind along the way. When will you become impervious to the current version of Emilia fearing that you will suffer harm, or even die? Is this not the same Emilia whom you made love to, with whom you wanted to spend your time isolated and naked, wishing that the rest of the world faded away? If you offered her to sleep next to her in the bed, you have no doubt that you would have sex shortly after, and this time you wouldn’t hesitate. But an Emilia tied to you by that level of physical love will only be a hindrance now to what you need to do.
“I have to go there, Emilia. I’ll return as soon as I can, but you should probably expect it to take a while.”
You want to say that you don’t mean to hurt her, but your mouth has run dry and you can’t articulate any further words. Emilia scans your face as if trying to find out what more you have to say, but when she sees that nothing is forthcoming she lowers her gaze sadly.
“Subaru, I truly need you by my side. Now that I have failed so disastrously to pass the trial… I can’t truly rely on anyone else. You make me feel strong, and as if I’m worth all the efforts you have made for me.”
You stroke with your thumb her hand you are holding. You must be looking at her so lovingly that she blushes and has trouble holding your gaze.
“Emilia, I need to tell you some things, none of which are easy for me to say particularly now.”
“What is it, Subaru…?”
“I love you. Truly, I do.”
She swallows, then bites her lips as if to prevent herself from crying. She nods slowly as if she’s been expecting to hear these words from you, but also knows that there’s a ‘but’ coming. There isn’t one.
“Emilia, I love you”, you repeat. “I couldn’t possibly put into words how much you mean to me or how important you are to me. If anything happened to you, I wouldn’t continue.”
Emilia’s lips tremble, and she ends up supporting herself on the other arm, because she needs to dry her tears.
“But you’re leaving tomorrow… If I wanted you to never leave my side before, imagine now!”
You lower your head and close your eyes. Although you don’t want to say out loud what you are about to, because you fear you’ll make it real, you need to face reality as it is. You hold Emilia’s gaze again.
“Rem won’t wake up. I will never give up trying to find a way to save her from her perennial sleep, but as far as everyone knows, it can’t happen. I will never abandon her, we will carry her with us wherever we go, and make sure she remains safe.”
Emilia scoots closer to you while still lying on the bed, and she offers you a glowing smile.
“Of course we will, Subaru.”
“So what I want to promise to you now is that if you want me, I am yours. I want to be there with you every step of the way until you satisfy your ambitions, support you whenever you need, hold your hand, kiss you, make love to you, and in the future have our own family and live together forever.”
Emilia sobs while chuckling. The tears fall through the fingers she’s trying to dry her eyes with.
“That’s what I want to say…!”
You kneel on the ground and then you hold Emilia’s hands so she doesn’t hide her face anymore. Despite her tears, she’s smiling as innocently as a child. You cup the back of her head and kiss her soft lips, and as both of you seek the other’s tongue, you get to forget every trouble in the world.
Note from December of 2020:
Every entry creates its own mood, so it depends on the events you need to cover as well as the flow of writing them if they become utterly deranged, as it had been the case during the protagonist’s previous run. But by this time the protagonist truly regrets how he had dealt with Ram up to this point, not only because she crushed his eyes, and he also has serious issues dealing with every version of the people he likes/loves, because he knows he will abandon them to return to the past.