This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
In the previous entry we witnessed Garfiel going through a mental breakdown, which is more dangerous than usual when the person in question can transform into a ginormous, unstoppable anthropomorphic tiger. Patrasche ended up allowing the protagonist to keep struggling for a bit longer. That ground dragon is the only innocent character in this tale.
This part is much shorter than the rest, the shortest in fact, because I have already written most of the following one and it turned out to be fucking long and had a different feel.
You are lying on a floor made out of lots of flat stones. You recognize it as the antechamber, but your body knows immediately that something is wrong. When you breathe, the air comes out as a fleeting, misty cloud, and then you feel the cold. It’s as if a winter has descended. Winter has never meant anything good in this new world of yours. The weather in Sanctuary didn’t suggest this cold, so either a lot of time has passed, or Emilia has died.
You sit up and hug yourself. It’s far too cold for your current clothes, and you can’t keep your teeth from chattering. The chamber is illuminated by the shafts of light the descend from the openings in the stone roof, but you notice that snow has amassed on the floor below the openings. Even if Emilia has died, and the world is on its way to another Apocalypse, you must have been out cold for a while.
You hide your face in your hands and try to focus on your situation. With every breath, a few of your ribs hurt. You must have broken some of them when you flew off Patrasche. Garfiel transformed into a gigantic, unstoppable tiger, and he killed Otto, he killed those villagers, he killed your Patrasche… This world needs to end already. It’s another failed run. But at least you will take the opportunity to figure out why the hell would it be snowing suddenly. If Emilia has died, you doubt it would have been by Garfiel’s hands, unless the hick bastard decided to turn around and massacre absolutely everybody else in Sanctuary. Would he have done so?
“Emilia?”, you find yourself calling out, but no reply comes back.
Your eyes are starting to burn, and you’re beginning to feel dizzy. You want to hold the half-elf in your arms and feel for a while that everything is alright. To do so you will need to die again, and you always hate to anticipate that incoming pain and in which form it will come this time. You are far away from that fancy suicide device back at the capital, and it’s not as if you can rely on the safe death that a gun provides.
From the feeling in your chest and the blurry vision in front of you, you can tell your heart is about to give out at any given moment. You stagger up while you grit your teeth. You will return to Ryuzu’s place, that nice Ryuzu that baked you cookies, and find out for sure if your Emilia is dead. When you confirm it, you will procure yourself one of the slow deaths by plunging a knife into your carotid artery.
As you walk slowly out of the antechamber and into the darkness of the stone corridor, you feel again that something isn’t right. Shouldn’t the trial have triggered? You should be experiencing the second trial of the three. Is this part of it? If as they suggested, the second trial represents the present, certainly struggling to deal with Sanctuary’s problems is one of the most pressing issues in your current life. You’ll keep that on the back of your mind.
You exit the witches’ tomb and shuffle up to the edge of the platform. The clearing as far as you can see is blanketed in glittering snow, and judging by how it has amassed against the trees, the snow must be shin-deep. The enclosing forest is topped with white. If you weren’t dreading that you need to kill yourself as soon as possible, and also you weren’t risking hypothermia if you aren’t suffering from it already, you would bask in the beauty of this wintry scene.
You jump off the last stone step to wade into the snow. With every third step you take, the snow rises above your ankle. By the time you’ve taken twenty steps it has swallowed your calves. The world is silent except for some occasional bird calls. All the previous times you ended up at the witches’ tomb you could rely on Otto’s carriage to return to the center of the village, but this time you’ll need to trek there on foot. You hope you’ll remember the way.
It takes you what feels like way too long to reach the first villager homes, farms and barns. You don’t see anybody. The barns and grazing fields are devoid of animals, and the only sign of life are the birds that move in the snowed canopy and that fly over the path. You don’t want to check any of the houses, because you don’t want to deal with any of the villagers if they happen to be huddled inside.
The church is one of the tallest structures in this part of the village, so you know you can head in that direction to find it. Once you spot it, you quicken your pace. Your teeth are chattering bad, your lungs tingle from the cold, your hands and feet are getting numb, snot is coming out of your nose. Living is such a bother. You are already aching for the all too short break of floating in that black bath of love, so you can glare with resentment, even though you won’t have eyes any longer, at that traitorous witch.
Once you reach what passes for the village square in Sanctuary, with both Ryuzu’s home and the church-like building in the background, you would have hurried to check on Emilia if it wasn’t because you see that there’s bunch of clothes strewn about the snow, as if someone had ran around to throw the laundry. As you get closer to one of those sets of clothes, though, it looks different. It’s as if a villager had fallen and his body had disappeared, leaving his clothes lying on the floor. You mess them a bit, to see if there’s a hint of any remains, but you don’t notice anything weird about the clothes beyond them being thrown outside and half-frozen.
The large door of the church is open, and you glimpse lots of either people or clothes gathered on the floor. You shiver in the cold and run towards the church. As you enter you hold your breath. Sets of clothes that had belonged to Roswaal’s villagers are gathered on the floor as if, again, their owners had just fallen and then vanished, leaving the clothes behind. You even spot the idiotic village chief’s wizardly robe.
Your heart stops for a moment. You aren’t going to find Emilia’s dress inside Ryuzu’s home, with the half-elf missing, will you?
You can’t think straight as you exit the church again, but some movement near the center of the square makes you stop on your tracks. A white rabbit seems to have emerged of the snow as if it had been burrowing under it. It looks very similar to the rabbits you knew, except for the solid red eyes and a small horn protruding from its forehead. The animal licks its paws, and when you let out a sigh of relief, it lifts its gaze as if it feared a predator. The white fur that covers most of its body is almost as clean as flour, without a single trace of dirt. The soft hair shuffles on its feet as it moves them on the powdery snow. The rabbit focuses its red gaze on you.
You find yourself smiling. Coming across a beautiful little bunny is the only nice thing that has happened to you recently. You trudge your way through the snow, with more difficulty because of how much your ribcage hurts than because of the depth of snow on this square, and you stop within petting distance of the rabbit. It looks up at you curiously while its ears twitch.
“Look at you, what a cute little fella! I haven’t had good experiences with horned animals in this world of yours, but who am I to judge about horniness?”
The rabbit licks its nose and hops a bit to the side. You crouch down as you prepare yourself to pet it.
“What is a cute little bunny like you doing in a place like this? Do you come here often?”
The rabbit hops a bit to the other side, and your hand hovers just out of reach from it.
“Come on, I promise I wont hurt you. Just let me touch you for a moment.”
The rabbit seems to consider it, and then moves a bit forward. You smile, and you reach with your hand to touch the fur of its head. A chill makes you shiver from head to toe as you feel as if you’ve lost a split second of your life. What just happened? Your right hand feels warm, and it keeps warming as something liquid runs down it towards your wrist. You look at your hand and it takes you a moment to register that the palm is covered in blood, and that both your index and middle finger are missing. You scream and stumble back. The blood from your hand makes it slippery and you fall on the ground.
The rabbit sits there looking at you, blood dripping from its mouth. You notice its teeth are unnaturally long, like fangs, but not normal ones. It hops forward with a grunt and bites on your right forearm with its teeth, piercing the skin through the clothes and sinking them into your flesh.
You push yourself with your heels while at the same time you try to kick at the monstrous rabbit, and when you land a hit on its belly, everything below where the rabbit was chomping on your arm tears off. As you scream, blood pumps out what remains of your right arm. The rabbit devours your detached flesh, including its bones, with a few chomps, and then runs around licking every pool and drop of blood as if cleaning the snow.
You stagger to your feet. You are surrounded by furry balls of white that stand or hop around in every direction of the village square. As gray patches grow on the edges of your vision, your entire world turns into dozens of pairs of red eyes staring at you on a white background.
Your legs wobble. You clench your teeth, fearing to make a single sound, but it’s no use. As if controlled by a single voice, every one of the dozens of rabbits that have emerged out of the snow bare their teeth and charge at you from every direction. You raise your remaining hand as if to beg them to stop, but an uncountable number of rabbits leaps towards you and shove their teeth into your flesh. You fall helplessly to the ground. There’s no popping sound when their teeth puncture your skin, but a slurping sound. It’s as if your body is a block of ice-cream, and the blood that spews out is as pleasurable as the sweet treat. The pain does not come immediately, and you just feel a tingling sensation all over your body, but when the shockwaves of pain do come, it’s along with visions of rabbits tearing off your feet, chomping through your thighs, burrowing into your abdomen, munching through your ribcage, pulling off your genitals. Tiny sharp teeth chew through your skin, shattering your bones. Viscous liquids are mixed together in a blender of sharp claws and jagged teeth grinding against fragile brittle bone that ultimately shatters like glass.
You are unable to scream, the only air that escapes is a stifled wheeze. The grayness you see at the edge of your vision begins to engulf your entire field of view, accompanied by a ringing in your ears. You feel the rabbits feeding on you from the inside, roofed by what remains of your ribcage. Other rabbits are biting your neck and your head, crunching bone.
The soft crunching sound of chewing, the sloshing of liquids being mixed, the disgusting squishing noise of your organs being rearranged. Your brain is fried by the excruciating pain. Your spinal cord is shredded apart, and your nerves are pulled taut like guitar strings. Your heart continues fluttering weakly in an attempt to escape the rigid cage that holds it still. With death approaching, you regret not telling Ram you were sorry. You regret not thanking Emilia for everything she’s done. You regret not being able to say one last goodbye to Rem, who surely…
In the blinding redness that your vision has become you get a glimpse of rabbit faces as they leap onto your head and munch on your face. You feel them plunging their teeth into your eyes and pulling them off, then burrowing further into your eye sockets. The front of your skull is punctured as they bore through. The lobes of your brain are torn as they pull outward, then the jelly-like insides are pulled out, scrambling and destroying the gray mass while they finish chewing through all the soft spots. The blood vessels in your brain and spine explode as you feel yourself falling into an endless pit of darkness.
Blackness all around. I can’t see them. Where are they? They are all over me. Something warm seeps into me. I need to escape. I don’t see the way. There’s nothing but blackness. What’s that shape? A woman. A woman with hazy, glowing purple eyes. She’s coming. She’s reaching towards me, her hands have claws. Stay away! Get away from me! Don’t touch me! No, I don’t want it! Get out of my face! I can’t move! I can’t feel my body! I can’t get away!
“I love you I love you I love you I love y-“
“Aaaggh! Help me! I can feel them, they are all over me!”
“I love you I love you I lo-“
“No! Get away! Leave me alone! They are eating me! They are inside me!”
“I love you I-“
“They are inside of my chest! They are tearing me apart! Get out! I need to escape! I can’t move!”
“No! Get out of my face! My throat! I can’t scream! No, not my eyes! They are tearing my face off! They are clawing crunching eating my skull! They are in my brain!”
You are lying on a stone floor. Your mouth is full of dust. You spit, then break into coughs. Where are they? Where have they gone? They aren’t here. I need to get away. You half crawl half push yourself up the ground to stand up, but there’s a body on the floor. A woman. You trip on the woman and fall on your chest. The pain makes you scream, and you scratch at your clotches so you can pull away those monsters from you. You can’t grab them, they are already inside. Why did they eat you? Why did this happen? I didn’t do anything. I didn’t deserve it. They tore me apart, every limb, every organ. They fed on me until I disappeared.
As your body shakes and you clench your fists against the stone floor, you voice escapes in guttural cries.
“Why!? Why!? Why!?”
Someone speaks in your head, with your own voice. You hear yourself saying a sentence that you hadn’t thought.
“I grant you access to my death-dream.”
Your eyes want to close. Your forearms fail to support your weight, and your cheek hits the cold flat stones. Everything goes dark.