This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
In the previous entry, the protagonist decides to treat the unhinged senior servant with respect from now on. They’ll leave for Roswaal’s mansion the following morning. The protagonist also promises a lifelong love affair to Emilia, even though his girlfriend is in a coma.
You are walking through what passes for streets in the dreary village of Sanctuary, heading towards the stables where you should meet with the senior servant Ram. Although it is technically the break of dawn, the tall forest that encloses the village prevents the light from reaching the ground. Your main problem with waking up this early is that you have barely managed to rest, worried partially about the nightmare you will face at Roswaal’s mansion. You will spend the long hours ahead of you wishing you could take a nap.
As soon as what passes for stables in this isolated, miserable village comes into view, you spot Ram’s slender body standing next to your beloved ground dragon Patrasche, already ready to be mounted. However, you hadn’t expected to see Garfiel also standing around, clearly waiting for you to come. As you approach them you keep eyeing the punk, trying to discern why he would have appeared here right as you and Ram were about to leave.
“Yer late, half-pint!”, Garfiel tells you, more teasing than menacing. “Makin’ Ram wait like that. Ya don’t do that to a lady!”
You stop in front of the two of them. Ram’s look suggests that she has been tolerating Garfiel’s presence for a while.
“It’s a bit too early in the morning to use me as an excuse to score points with our dear senior servant, Garfiel”, you say.
The punk shares a look with Ram, then he recoils at the senior servant’s obvious lack of interest. This poor bastard has no clue the kind of woman he’s trying to court.
“I just said yer late and she agreed, dat’s all”, Garfiel replies in a slightly hurt tone.
“More importantly, Garfiel, did you appear here so early in the morning to bid us farewell? If it had been Ryuzu, it wouldn’t have surprised me, but I wouldn’t take you for such a gracious host.”
He smirks mockingly.
“Aight, I ain’t here ta make a fuss. I’m here ta make sure yer safe! Yer gonna confront ol’ furryburglar ain’t ya, ‘bout her givin’ the princess that magic crystal an’ all.”
You raise your eyebrows at Garfiel, and then you address Ram while pointing at the punk.
“Did you share our problems with the locals to such a degree?”
“Not that I’m aware of, Barusu”, Ram answers, annoyed.
Garfiel puts a hand on his waist and looks proud of having shown some degree of cunning.
“Ya take us fer yokels, and maybe we are fer ya fancy noble-born lookalikes from ta outside, but we’ve been guardin’ our Sanctuary fer a long time.”
“You mean Ryuzu has, right?”, you ask.
“Sure, old hag has been around fer a long, long time. Anyways, we got eyes every damn where! So don’t ya worry ‘bout us knowin’ stuff. Matter is, ya intend ta get violent with ‘Rica?”
“I assure you I don’t want to hurt Frederica in any way. I quite like that lioness sister of yours. We just want to clarify what she intended with the whole magic crystal thing, and doing it in an underhanded way. I don’t even care that I could have gotten killed due to the tomb’s magic traps, to be honest. Besides, I just have to get to Roswaal’s mansion for reasons.”
“As if ya would hurt that nasty bitch! Damn old Frederica would wipe the floor with yer half-pint ass. Do ya doubt it or anythin’? I haven’t seen old ‘Rica in a good while, but if she got any stronger, ya better make sure ya don’t try anythin’ with the gal.”
“I wouldn’t be able to hurt probably even your fantasy world flies. But I bring Ram along with me as security, and she’s as tough as they come.”
“Ya, yer real lucky, half-pint, gettin’ ta travel with Ram. But better not to fight ‘Rica anyway, as nice as it sounds to see both gals dukin’ it out.”
“Is this why you are delaying us, Garfiel?”, you ask, increasingly annoyed. “To tell us not to hurt your beloved sister that you miss so much it makes you lose sleep?”
Garfiel snarls, and shifts his weight as uncomfortable as he tends to get when you suggest that he cares for his sibling.
“Ya fightin’ each other don’t help nobody. So I wanna make sure that damn ‘Rica won’t get feisty an’ cause some trouble.”
He takes out something from his vest, and he shows it to you both. It’s an identical pendant to the one Frederica gave to Emilia, to the extent that you check your pocket to make sure it’s still there. Apparently two of them exist.
“Show it ta Frederica”, Garfiel adds. “Ol’ furryburglar will know what’s up.”
You reach for the crystal, but the punk retracts his hand.
“As if!”, Garfiel says. “I ain’t want ya ta have it! I do this for Ram.”
The senior servant sighs and takes the crystal. She puts it in the pocket of her servant outfit.
“Despite the disrespect, that’s awfully nice of you, Garfiel,” you say, “even though you are one of the least nice people I’ve ever met.”
“An’ what tha hell does that mean?”
“It means you are really rude to just about everyone. Even I, someone who annoys people for a living, have fewer issues with assholianess.”
“Justa damn small-timers who annoy ta hell outta me.”
“See what I mean?”
“Whatever. I’m still keepin’ an eye on ya.”
Ram bows slightly towards Garfiel, clearly wanting to thank him as impersonally as possible.
“I appreciate that you intend to prevent our confrontation from becoming bloody, and yet I hope you didn’t do this as an attempt to court me, Garfiel.”
The punk looks down for a moment. He has trouble holding Rem’s gaze.
“Every damn thing’s ‘bout courtin’ for red-blooded men, Ram, and my blood is as red as they come.”
“And I’m sure that your blood is very pure, but I am not interested in you. I don’t change my mind.”
Garfiel hangs his head down and seems to be sulking.
“Ah… Thank you for your help, Garfiel”, you say. “We’ll return relatively soon, and your sister will likely remain in Roswaal’s mansion fully alive. She needs to take care of the place, after all.”
“Yeah, not sure why she does tha’. Can’t we just let that place collapse? No loss, really.”
“It’s still her home.”
“So is our Sanctuary and y’know how much she cares ‘bout this place.”
“Barusu, we better get going”, Ram says.
“Yeah, sure”, you say.
As usual, you have some trouble climbing to Patrasche’s saddle, but Ram jumps gracefully and effortlessly to sit behind you. She puts her hands on your waist, which makes Garfiel frown with obvious envy.
“See you later, you damn punk”, you say to Garfiel.
“Sure. This place’s gonna be quiet fer a while then.”
As you start riding Patrasche and she leaves Garfiel behind while heading towards the barrier, you realize that she’s been trotting faster than usual.
“Why is your ground dragon going so fast?”, Ram asks.
“My beloved girl is eager to go back home, as I am. I sure wish we could get this whole barrier business sorted…”
You don’t want to bother Ram with small talk or your usual nonsense, so you stay quiet. The senior servant seems to appreciate it, because the couple of times you looked over your shoulder at her she looked as laid back as it must be possible for someone as fucked up as Ram. At times, particularly when Patrasche accelerates despite the curviness of the path, Ram grasps your waist suggesting such strength that if the senior servant scooted closer on the saddle, you wouldn’t be surprised if a dick poked your butt.
The silence ends up bothering you too much, used as you are to spewing nonsense that annoys everybody. You are already speaking before you can stop yourself.
“You didn’t bring any snacks, Ram?”
“I’m sure you have brought your own, Barusu.”
“I’m curious about your Oni nature. I have rarely seen you eat anything. Is it because of the whole feeding on people’s blood thing? Does a bit of it keep you going for a long time?”
Ram gasps almost inaudibly, and after she hasn’t answered for a couple of seconds, you look over your shoulder. She’s eyeing you as if she suspects you have read her diary.
“What’s wrong, Ram?”
“I would interrogate you to figure out who blabbered about it, but I do not wish to get angry at the moment.”
“Wait, was it supposed to be a secret?”
You try to remember when you learned about it. You faintly recall walking downhill towards Roswaal’s village. Rem, your beloved Rem, spoke at length about her Oni nature without any restraint. You aren’t sure if Ram commented on it. You guess that with Rem gone from her memory, Ram would have kept those details to herself.
“It’s not something commonly known,” Ram says, “which makes it all the more puzzling that someone like you, who often displays his ignorance as if boasting, would know it.”
“I found out through someone that I’ll need to speak to you about in a while, when I find the strength… Anyway, what I meant to say is that if you want to feed on my blood, go ahead. I’d be honored.”
“What a degenerate. Do you expect me to take your offer as a kind gesture? You are seeking something else from it.”
“Not at all. I’m just happy to help.”
“You must be underestimating my self-restraint. I can easily go without blood for a few days, unlike the lies some fools spread.”
“It must be perfectly natural for your kind. I don’t see any problem with it, and besides, it probably feels pretty good for the people you feed on as well.”
“You say that as if you know from experience.”
“Yeah, I do, Ram, and you have no clue how much I miss it. Honestly, those were some of the best moments of my life. One of them in particular still tops everything else that ever happened to me. So I’d say I’m quite knowledgeable on your kind.”
“Is that right? I highly doubt it, given that your blood must be as dirty as they come.”
“Dirty!? I have been told that I taste delicious. Your loss, I guess! Here you have a healthy, grown male who doesn’t do drugs, except for some occasional excessive alcohol intake, whom you can feed on whenever you want, but still you refuse.”
“Because I’m not a whore that gives it out for free!”
“Is that how it goes for your kind? Feeding on people is like having sex with them or something? I can’t imagine what a mess human society would be if we needed to treat our food like that.”
“It’s not the same thing!”
“Your comment makes little sense, then. You shouldn’t be so prideful. Not to mention it’s pretty counterintuitive to your survival. You must be able to secure some source of blood from time to time, after all.”
“I don’t need a lecture on how to live, not from you. It’s still a mystery how you have managed to survive so far.”
“I just do what’s necessary, Ram, no matter the pain. That’s my motto. Hell, that’s likely to become my dynasty’s motto. ‘We do what’s necessary, no matter the pain’. We’ll write it on the coat of arms.”
“You’re being obnoxious. I don’t understand why you keep pushing me, and I don’t think I can give you a straight answer as to why I keep talking to you.”
You attempt to give her a mollifying look over your shoulder, but when you see her frowning, you feel guilty.
“Sorry, Ram. I guess I’m blabbing as usual. I didn’t mean to bother you, it’s just that not saying nonsense is for me as hard as for a spider not to weave its web, you know? It’s in my blood.”
She shakes her head.
“Spiders don’t have blood.”
“They don’t…? Well, you know what I mean. In any case, this whole thing with me hoping you would bite me and drink my blood segues into the topic I dread bringing up, but now that you are going to the mansion with me, you simply need to know. Although I’m terrified of how you will react when I tell you.”
“Whatever it is, just spit it out, will you?”
“Okay. Ram… In the mansion you will get to meet again the most important person in the world for you.”
“I have no clue what you mean, Barusu”, Ram says, irritated. “The only person in the world who matters any longer is lord Roswaal.”
Her answer surprises you. Obviously Roswaal allows her to live at his enormous mansion, and Ram will be able to work as a servant for the rest of her life if she wants to, but you can’t imagine the private details of the long relationship between the two. You don’t want to get sidetracked, as you already fear Ram cutting the conversation short.
“No, there was another”, you say firmly. “You will see her at the mansion.”
“I can’t begin to guess what you mean, but I can tell you aren’t joking.”
“That’s right, I’m not mindlessly annoying people for once. This person I’m talking about fought the cultists on our side, but she left with Crusch’s caravan back towards the capital so she could tend to the wounded. It was Crusch’s condition to leave Ferris behind, because they needed a competent healer on the caravan. However, the person I’m referring to got seriously injured during the ambush. Seriously injured is even an euphemism in her case.”
“Why are you telling me this?”, Ram demands to know. “How close do you believe me to be to members of Crusch Karsten’s household, nevermind to the extent that I would consider them the most important person in the world? You are getting on my nerves, Barusu.”
You take a deep breath.
“No, the person who left not only belongs to our own household, but she’s your sister. Her name is Rem. During the ambush she was attacked by some superpowered person with a similar ability to that of the White Whale itself. The memories of your sister got stolen from everybody else’s mind, although her body remains in the world. She’s in a really bad coma, though…”
You let the words sink in for a moment. Ram tightens her grip on your waist.
“Even though your tone doesn’t suggest it, Barusu, you better deny you are messing around.”
“I’m not. Listen to me, Ram: you have a sister who loves you very much, and every memory of her was taken away from you. This person, Rem, is resting in a coma back at Roswaal’s mansion. You will meet her there, you will realize I’m telling the truth.”
Ram falls into a deep silence that makes you break into sweat. You can’t imagine what’s going through her mind. Ram speaks slowly, and with a firm voice.
“What you just told me is so blatantly false and ridiculous that I’m inclined to believe that someone has infiltrated our household and deceived you into believing such a lie. You are dumb enough to fall for it.”
You shake your head.
“Well, you could have taken it much worse. You will see the resemblance as soon as you look at our lovely Rem. She looks pretty much like you but with light blue hair.”
“I cannot doubt it more. I have the means to figure out if that person is deceiving you, and in that likely case she will pay for it. A person trying to pass herself as a family member of mine… I can hardly think of something so loathsome. I’m an only child.”
“You aren’t, though, but it won’t change anything just telling you. Of course you believe yourself to be an only child, your memories of Rem got stolen.”
“You made your point, Barusu. I don’t want to speak until we get to the mansion.”
“Alright. If it turns out that I’m so deranged that my mind has made Rem up, please, feel free to murder me ag-… I mean, murder me for the first time. I wouldn’t want to keep going if that was the case.”
“It would be like squashing a bug, Barusu. It’s beneath me.”
You shrug, take a deep breath and steel yourself for the rest of what will become a very long trip.
When you finally reach the village at the base of the uphill road that leads to Roswaal’s impossibly huge mansion, you would have thought it would have made you feel relieved because the trip ended, because you had returned home. However, that horrifying contract killer must be around, or if she isn’t, because the last time you met her four or five days later, she will be here again. As you ride Patrasche as fast as possible through the streets, you expect to recognize the woman’s face behind every window, and in the people you walk around the village and who are very curious about their very well known senior servant having returned. Some even call out to her, but she replies that you are both quite busy.
Once you cross the gate into the mansion’s grounds you spot the small figure of a servant trimming a hedge taller than her. Given how vast the yard is, the person looks like a lost child, with emphasis on the child part. Ram herself cranes her neck towards the servant as Patrasche approaches her. Petra hasn’t even turned around, even though the sound of a ground dragon walking towards her should have startled her.
You jump off the saddle. Your heartbeat is calming down. Petra is alive, which means that Frederica, Rem and Beatrice are alive. You can save them all if you figure out how to stop that serial killer.
“Hey, Petra”, you say to the girl. “You need to work on your sixth sense!”
Petra turns around after hearing her name, and then she jumps in surprise.
“Mr. Natsuki! When did you, I mean…”, she says before you interrupt.
“Nevermind all that. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up on things later, but for now you need to walk around the mansion, ignoring the people inside and counting how many times you step on the ground or on carpets.”
“Huh? What for?”
Ram steps forward.
“Don’t listen to him. You are one of the villagers, aren’t you? Did Frederica take you in as a trainee?”
Petra smiles adoringly at Ram, who hasn’t changed her deadpan expression. The tween curtsies elegantly, holding the hem of her skirt.
“That’s right, miss Ram. I have seen you many times from when you came down to our village. I always admired your grace. I look forward to working for you! I’m still learning, but I believe you will be satisfied with my abilities.”
“Very polite manners. I see that Frederica has chosen right.”
You are dismayed that Ram of all people has approved of this tween working in the mansion.
“Ram, don’t you think that this Petra is way too young, and that her outfit, which is the same for all of you, is way too skimpy?”
“Her age isn’t an issue. I was younger than her when I started working for lord Roswaal”, Ram answers calmly.
“Younger!? That damned Roswaal, what the hell is he doing!? I guess when you live in a huge fantasy world mansion, you don’t need to worry about the FBI stopping your fun!”
“The FBI?”, Petra asks cautiously.
“Yes, Petra, a famous organization that would have a problem with you parading that young body of yours in such a revealing outfit, and also because you work even though you should be in school!”
“I’m sure this is all a misunderstanding! I don’t want to cause lord Roswaal any trouble!”
“Misunderstanding? You wear a skimpy outfit while talking provocatively to the male members of this household!”
“Talking provocatively!? I just speak normally, even to the men… And I’m just dressing the way I’m required to! The people at the village told me I looked like a proper lady.”
You groan loudly, but Ram frowns at you.
“Barusu, stop teasing the trainee. She’s under our care, and clearly she isn’t experienced enough in how she should handle you.”
Under Ram’s gaze, which you are well aware that it can end up turning beyond murderous, you lower your head a bit.
“Yes, yes… But still, the point remains. She skirts the edges of legality and common sense.”
“So does this entire household”, Ram says. “Petra, is miss Frederica around?”
“Yes, last time I saw her she was dusting around the living room.”
“We better notify her that we have returned.”
You both leave Petra behind and walk up to the big front doors. Ram grabs the handle, but she turns to you with a serious expression.
“Barusu, we should take care of the impostor first.”
Startled, you motion with your hands for her to calm down.
“There’s no impostoring going on, Ram, I’m telling you! That Rem is truly your dear sister, who is in a coma! And don’t even think about attacking someone who is unconscious!”
“I am not concerned about her condition. If the same blood doesn’t run through our veins, then this girl has infiltrated our household, and her affiliations are with the enemy.”
You shake your head.
“Thankfully for everyone, the properties of her blood should satisfy you. I hope it doesn’t involve exsanguinating my beloved Rem to death!”
“Your beloved? I’m telling you, Barusu, if it turns out that you have allowed an impostor in our household, don’t believe for a second that you will come out of it unscathed.”
“Hell, Ram, I no longer believe that I will come out of any interaction with you unscathed.”
She stares at you for a bit, before shrugging it off.
“Let’s just get in.”
She opens the big, heavy door as effortlessly as a the one in a bathroom stall. You walk in, and the vision of the luxurious foyer with all of its antique furniture should have made you feel at home, and yet you have the feeling of having wandered into a predator’s den. One of these incoming days, that Bowel Hunter woman is going to murder everyone here, and you don’t even know when she arrives.
“Stop looking around like an idiot and guide me to this Rem’s room, Barusu”, Ram says, annoyed.
You both sneak towards the room that Emilia had chosen for your comatose first girlfriend. You are wary of every little noise and movement you sense from somewhere else in the mansion, while Ram glares at you like you are wasting her time. Once you reach the room, your heart is beating fast, and not only because you have no clue how Ram is going to react, but because the burn of guilt that you getting used to is enveloping and squeezing your heart. You haven’t seen Rem ever since you betrayed her. You never saw her corpse, you just had the words of that terrifying contract killer to go by.
“What are you waiting for, Barusu?”, Ram asks quietly. “Why be careful? Didn’t you say she’s comatose? Or do you suspect now that she was faking?”
“No… No, she’s in a coma”, you mutter quietly, “But still, she’s Rem.”
You slowly open the door, and there she is. Or her body is, at least. Covered from the neck down by a blanket, she lays in bed with her eyes closed. Your mind half-expected her, wished her, to open her blue eyes when you both entered the room. The light of the sun, filtered by the curtains, illuminates Rem’s expressionless face, and you observe for a while how her chest rises and falls.
As an uncomfortable warmth fills your chest, you suddenly remember that you had come to introduce your beloved Rem to her sister. You turn towards the senior servant. She’s staring at her sister with a intense expression between a scowl and bewilderment.
“Almost like looking in a mirror, isn’t it?”, you say cautiously.
The senior servant’s eyes dart towards you. She stares a moment as if she is looking at the wall behind you, but then her eyes focus.
“Barusu, leave the room.”
You tense up.
“H-Hey, don’t do anything bad to her. She’s completely innocent, as well as your sister, for real.”
“Get out of here, Barusu. I won’t say it twice.”
“Thrice, I guess you mean. Yeah, I’m leaving. Don’t murder Rem, though.”
The senior servant stands a few steps from Rem, staring down at her while completely immobile. You can’t imagine what truly goes in Ram’s terrifying mind, and this is a situation she has never had to face. When you close the door behind you, you hold your breath and try to discern any sound above your loud heartbeats. You catch a couple of footsteps, but then nothing.
You had expected Ram to come out in a couple of minutes, or at least invite you to come in to talk about it, but you don’t hear anything. You feel bad, as if she must have realized that Rem is truly her sister, and by standing right next to the door you are robbing her of the appropriate release, as if you were waiting outside of a bathroom stall while someone was trying to take a shit inside. You wander off towards the living room.
You are worrying about Ram, what that unhinged senior servant might be doing to your precious Rem even though she’s sleeping forever, when you spot a figure arranging a bouquet of flowers in a vase as tall as the tween trainee. That voluminous, wild light blonde hair, closer to a beast’s than a person’s, as well as that lean figure in which the muscles stand out without appearing bulky, brightens your mood. You recall Frederica’s big smile full of pointy teeth, how she managed to make everything seem fun and straightforward.
“Yo, Frederica!”, you say cheerfully.
The lioness turns around, and when she realizes it’s you, she straightens her back and raises her eyebrows. Then she smiles welcomingly, with the smallest hint of hesitancy. She turns towards you and holds her hands in front of her waist.
“Mr. Natsuki, you have returned quickly.”
“Yeah, I’m back. So, how’s it going? What are you up to?”
She relaxes her pose, and smiles a bit sadly.
“I am arranging these pretty flowers that the duchess of Karsten gave us, in this very ancient vase, apparently a family legacy from a few hundred years ago.”
“Really now? They’re quite beautiful. Ah, Crusch… I miss that woman. Leaving her house was like becoming emancipated, but I know that from time to time I will want to return to her warm, safe womb…” You gasp, then point at Frederica, who was staring at you puzzled. “Wait a second, I shouldn’t be happy to see you! You deceived us!”
Frederica lowers her thick, blonde eyebrows slightly, but still tries to smile.
“Is lady Emilia doing well?”
You rub your eyes. What the hell are you doing? You left Ram dealing with the sister she didn’t know she had, and now you are confronting your target. You are supposed to stop the most accomplished contract killer?
“Well, let me think about it… Emilia is a bit distraught with the whole thing about getting trapped in a dreary village full of yokels, particularly one who can’t stop inventing words, and she almost had a mental breakdown because she couldn’t deal with whatever the spirit of that Echidna witch made our lovely Emilia face during the trial. So I’d say Emilia isn’t doing too well. I mean, she’s still gorgeous, sweet, kind, passionate, and tastes like heaven, let me tell you, but she kind of developed a grudge on you due to your shady actions.”
Frederica looks down at the floor and breathes deeply as if contemplating her decisions, or the consequences.
“I thought that of all people she would have passed those trials…”, she says softly.
“Are you kidding me? You never noticed that our Emilia is unstable, and that she mostly keeps going because she can avoid dealing with her likely horrible childhood? What the hell made you think that a trial designed to make her face her past, at least the first one of the three, would be something Emilia would be suited to? You damn deceitful German! If you weren’t so beautiful and attractive in general, and fun to be around, I would be really mad at you.”
Frederica puts a hand to her chest. Her contrite expression doesn’t match those predatory teeth that peek out whenever she speaks.
“You do have a right to be mad, Mr. Natsuki. I accept the blame. But consider this, if we do succeed in breaking the barrier, not only lady Emilia will be free, but also everyone else.”
“Yeah, that’s the thing. If. Emilia won’t break that damn witch-created barrier unless she changes significantly, and I am not allowed to pass them because of political garbage!” You shake your head while glaring at the German. “I can’t believe you let us go to Sanctuary without explaining the situation. What happened to you, Frederica? You used to be cool.”
Frederica avoids your gaze, focusing on a nearby painting of some ancestor of the clown instead. She swallows.
“After so many years, Mr. Natsuki, I was desperate. You had gone as far as defeating an entire branch of the Witch’s Cult for Emilia, and I have always believed that she’s far stronger than even herself believes. I still think she will realize it in the end. Only people as resourceful as other esteemed members of this household can solve the quandary of my hometown. I’ve lived for many years hoping that the only one inside who could pass those trials would finally find the strength to do it, but… he never has. I don’t think he wants to leave anymore.”
“Yeah, it’s funny how screwing with people gets glossed over because someone was desperate. Now I’m the one desperate about my situation. Who the fuck do I ask for help?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry, Mr. Natsuki.” She holds your gaze, even though her green irises are trembling, and she steps towards you. “How is Garfiel doing? Would you tell me?”
“Your punk of a little brother is one of the most obnoxious, unstable, randomly violent hicks I have ever met. Cool scar, though, as in he would likely win one of the main prizes in some contest for the most nasty, disturbing and distracting scars. He also keeps making up words for some reason. He must have a lot to compensate for, I suppose. You probably have a bigger dick than him.”
“Mr. Natsuki! Don’t say such things!” She slaps your shoulder as in trying to lighten the mood, but you keep glaring at her. “Shut up! Hah…” Frederica hugs your arm, hiding her face. “I haven’t seen him in far too long. And now he hates me, doesn’t he?”
“Yeah. He, the rest of the villagers and everyone else in that dead-end village hate you. I’m not sure if you ever cared for anyone there besides your brother, but you probably should never come back, or they’ll make an spectacle of spanking you in public.”
“That’s awful. I’m sorry, again.”
“Yeah, well, we all have our place in society. To be honest, I don’t know, nor care, what everyone else at that dreary village thinks about you, but I suddenly remembered that your brother had asked me to relay a message to you.”
“What’s that?”, she asks cautiously.
“I believe his exact words were ‘eat a dick’.”
Frederica’s eyes widen, and a tear falls from her eyes as she punches your arm. You are startled by how much it hurt, and you start rubbing it. No doubt it’s going to leave a bruise.
“How could he say that to me?”, Frederica says. “Is he really that angry? The last time we spoke to each other he promised that he would pass the trials and join me in the outside world. Why did he end up hating me?”
“The past is the past. He’s just… Look, forget about Garfiel, he’s an idiot, and he’ll continue to be.”
“He’s my little brother, and I love him! I don’t want him to waste his life in that horrible village without a future. Would you want such a fate for anyone you cared about? But he can’t leave unless the barrier is lifted.”
“It seems that your love for that punk of a brother of yours, whom you haven’t seen in apparently many years, is enough for you to risk the lives of other household members of yours”, you say seriously.
Frederica is shocked. She fails to answer. You step forward and grab her shoulders, which feel firm under your fingers.
“Frederica, what was your intention with that whole magic crystal thing? Did you want Emilia to get teleported to the clearing close to the witches’ tomb, so she would wander into it and trigger her trials? Did you hope that Emilia would pass them immediately?”
She stares at you disconcerted.
“Mr. Natsuki, what do you mean with ‘teleported’? Why would my magic crystal be related to teleportation?”
Damn, she’s good at feigning ignorance.
“Don’t pretend. That magic crystal had some sort of enchantment that reacted with the barrier, teleporting to that clearing whoever it was touching. You know, I grabbed the damn thing because I thought it was going to explode, and I got teleported instead. If the witches’ tomb’s traps worked on me like they were supposed to, my digested remains would have been shat by the village’s pigs already. Did you consider for a moment that by giving us that fucking magic crystal you could be condemning one of us to become pig food?”
“No! I would never wish that on anyone!”
“Bullshit. You know, Frederica, I thought you were so great. You always made me feel good when you were around, and you are sexy as hell with that blonde hair and thicc body, as well as those threats of pinning me down under your strong self. But now I don’t know what I think about you. I will still masturbate to you, for sure, but I won’t be so enthusiastic.”
“Mr. Natsuki, please don’t! I’m sorry for whatever I did, but I swear to the gods I didn’t know that the magic crystal would do that!”
“Then what is that damn crystal for? Was that some new age shit? Did you want to improve our vibrations? You should use those vibrations in your own private parts!”
Frederica closes her eyes as if deep in thought. When she opens her eyes again, her previously apologetic expression turns determined.
“Mr. Natsuki, if you still haven’t discovered the truth about Sanctuary, then I won’t speak about it. But you need to hold on to that crystal.”
“You fucking serious, lioness? After all this bullshit, having to listen to your little brother struggle through dozens of sentences, you still withhold information?”
Frederica was about to speak when her gets stunned, then she cranes her head towards the main door of the living room. You hear someone clear her throat. Ram.
“It seems you want to die, Barusu”, Ram says calmly.
You turn towards her. The senior servant is standing with her arms crossed in front of the doorway, narrowing her eyes at both Frederica and you.
“Why do you want to kill me now, Ram? What the hell have I done?”
Ram closes her eyes and sighs deeply. She then uncrosses her arms, walks to the sofas in the center of the room, which face a coffee table, and sits down calmly.
“You complete idiot, I meant that we came to confront Frederica for her deceitful behavior, and Roswaal sent me along so you wouldn’t get killed, and yet you run up ahead to face a competent fighter like Ms. Baumann. Do you understand now what I meant, Barusu?”
You scratch your head.
“Yes, Ram. I’ll remember that next time.”
“No, you won’t. Frederica, please, serve us some tea, will you? Let’s chat like civilized people.”
Frederica snaps out of her surprise, and then bows.
“Sure thing, senior servant.”
While Frederica heads to the kitchen to get some tea, you take a deep breath, shaken after your confrontation, and sit next to Ram. She looks at you with an uncharacteristically relaxed expression.
You lean towards her to speak quietly.
“Ram, how did it go with your sister?”
“Oh, it was horrible, Barusu. I used blood magic to check for consanguinity, and to my utmost surprise I discovered that I have a sister I don’t remember.”
“I’m simultaneously relieved and saddened to hear you say that. That’s great news, isn’t it?”
“No. It isn’t.” Ram looks at the big windows, which allow the midday light to bathe the room. “Everyone I knew from my childhood is dead, and I have always been alone. That’s who I am. That’s an indelible part of my identity as far as my brain is concerned. And yet it must be true that this sister of mine, who remains alive despite her comatose state, was stolen from me by a different enemy. I must have seen her, interacted with her, for the last time during the cultist attack, is that right? A lifetime of memories that someone has erased in me. I am infuriated, Barusu.”
“Yeah…”, you murmur. “You are always angry, it seems, but this time I’m with you a hundred percent.”
“I feel a rage so powerful that it makes me want to destroy everything around me.”
“Please don’t murder me. I haven’t figured out enough new stuff in this reality.”
“Because I am not angry at you. You couldn’t have known that this would happen. It’s those accursed cultists that did this, the damned shadows. That superpowered person who took my sister away from me must belong to the cult. A higher-up.”
“Ram, anything I can do to help you catch the son of a bitch who did this, I’m at your service.”
The senior servant holds your gaze with a deadpan expression, then nods.
“I accept your sentiment. It’s a shame that you are completely useless in that regard.”
“At least I have improved in your eyes, given that you felt the need to add ‘in that regard’. And I only had to take down an entire branch of the worst terrorist group for it.”
Frederica returns with a tray holding three tea cups and a steaming teapot. The lioness seems intimidated by the original senior servant, and as soon as she places the tray, she takes a step back and holds her hands in front of her waist. Ram serves herself some red tea that smells like herbs. She holds her teacup with her pinky out, and takes a sip.
“Not strong enough, but I can’t be bothered to prepare a fresh brew.”
Frederica tilts her head and grimaces at the senior servant, displaying her triangular teeth.
“Preparing tea was always my specialty. What an unlovable girl you are.”
“On the contrary”, Ram answers calmly. “If I were more lovable, the world would be at risk.”
You clear your throat.
“Please, take a seat, Frederica.”
The lioness looks hurt, maybe due to your confrontation as well as to Ram’s dismissive attitude. She sits down heavily on the opposite sofa, and crosses her powerful legs. She serves herself some of her tea, then holds her teacup with both hands and places it on her knee.
“To be honest, Ram, I already figured out everything”, you say with some pride. “The deceitful, yet lovable lioness here wanted Emilia to lift the barrier because she, meaning Frederica, wants to free her yokel brother from a dreary lifetime at that horrid village full of freaks. However, it seems that the teleport thing that triggered when the magic crystal reacted to the barrier has nothing to do with her. So we have a mystery in our hands, I guess. Not sure that I care. I have more important things to worry about right now!”
Frederica holds her teacup in one hand and combs her hair with the other.
“Like Emilia and her attempts to pass the trials at the witches’ tomb. That’s a thing I can tell you, at least.”
Ram drinks a mouthful of her tea, she dries her lips, then stands up and turns her palm to face upwards. A sudden breeze coming from the senior servant startles you, and you see space itself getting distorted above her palm as in a mini tornado.
“I didn’t just come to make you talk, Frederica. You will return with us to Sanctuary so you can face lord Roswaal for your deception. I will fight you if necessary.”
Frederica lowers her head, closes her eyes and smiles softly.
“Hm. And how do you intend to do that, exactly? I am not an opponent you can beat easily. You might stand a chance if you had your abilities back.”
“I will pour this whole cup of hot tea in your lap, then.”
Frederica chuckles, and you realize how much you miss the easy-going attitude you used to know her for.
“It’s alright, Ram”, Frederica says calmly. “If you want me to accompany you to Sanctuary so I can face Roswaal, I will do so. No violence is necessary. When I tangled both Emilia and Mr. Natsuki in my hope that Sanctuary would finally open up, I was ready to accept the consequences.”
With a hint of reluctance, Ram stops distorting space, and the wind stops blowing. She sits back down and the three of you drink your tea in awkward silence for a while. You realize that the twin magic crystal that Garfiel had given Ram must remain in her pocket, and yet you never thought of using it at all. Talking with the punk this morning was a complete waste of time.
You would have loved to eat a meal with these two girls and then travel back to Sanctuary. But the three of you hear Petra whimpering from one of the side doors of the living room. She is standing there, trembling and crying as she looks pleadingly towards the three of you. Behind the tween stands Elsa Granhiert, who is holding one of her gutting knives to the tween’s neck. The blade has cut enough already so that a few drops of blood are sliding down towards the handle. The contract killer offers you three a welcoming smile.
Note from December of 2020:
Credit where credit is due, that small interaction between Frederica and Ram in which Ram disses the lioness’ tea, only for Frederica to get so annoyed that she grimaces and calls her unlovable, is one that came straight from both the original and the anime adaptation. I thought it was a nice character moment.