This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.
In the previous entry, our protagonist failed to push the button of the magnificent Witch of Greed, Echidna.
Echidna turns to whisper in your ear, and her warm breath makes you tingle.
“When I want to get away, I love to float like this and think about how many wonders out there remain to be discovered.”
You whisper back, not wanting to disturb this moment.
“Echidna, you are more bewitching than any of the stars there.”
She chuckles, but then taps you on the chest as if asking you to stop.
“You need to learn how to focus, Subaru, if you want to overcome your many trials. And I’m certainly not talking about the ones I set up. So think about the troubles you have gone through, and how I could help you.”
You rub your face, but your quickened heartbeat makes it hard to think properly. Not to mention that you want to stop thinking and just turn around and make love to this black-eyed loon. But you end up gasping and lifting your head enough to stare at the witch properly.
“Oh, shit, you know everything! How do I bring Rem out of her coma!?”, you say, your tone becoming desperate, your desperation turning into a childlike hope.
Echidna narrows her eyes. She swallows, then looks around as if disappointed with herself.
“That couldn’t have started worse, but it’s on me. I aspire to know everything, Subaru, but I don’t magically know the facts of this world. I have my means, such as my perfect recollection of every image and thought that has entered my mind, and through the trials I can absorb the memories of the participants. Just imagine if everyone in the world went through my trials… My point is, I do know, or used to anyway, more than any other being in the world. As the affliction that landed your girlfriend, or your first one I guess I should say, into a permanent sleep was a mystery without a solution, back when I was alive I researched the subject and even had a patient to test my theories on. But I never found the cure. I’m… sorry.”
You stand there motionless as you stare at her, but when you realize how ashamed she looks, you kiss her white hair and rest your forehead against her temple.
“Don’t worry. It’s obviously not your fault. It just confirms what I already knew, that bringing Rem back is going to be nearly impossible.”
“I suspect, however, that whoever inflicted this condition should be killed to undo the damage. It smells like a sustained spell. It might be that the culprit has evaded retribution for hundreds of years.”
You perk up, and nod vigorously.
“Killing people solves most problems, as usual. We’ll have to keep working with Crusch’s crew until their spy network finds a lead, because we certainly can’t rely on the intelligence networks of our household.”
“I’m sorry that my mood has turned somber”, Echidna says gravely. “There are few things I hate more than not knowing something, and particularly disappointing someone who needs to know the answer as well.”
“It’s alright, Echidna. I’m the one who is sorry to have soured your mood like that. After all, my whole intention for this meeting was to please you, as I will replay in my mind the next time I go to bed…”
“I know all about that, so I can’t expect anything else. But remember, you need to focus. What else could you ask me?”
You tap on your lips as you stare at the faint glow of distant stars.
“Well, Garfiel we could handle if we avoided misunderstandings… You know Garfiel, don’t you?”
“… Yes, I know all about him. I hold his memories, after all.”
“That’s right, he attempted your trial and failed it catastrophically, I’m guessing!”
“That poor tiger boy wasn’t strong enough to stick around and listen to someone’s last words. He might never find the strength to do so, no matter how much he needs to. After all, he is already the strongest man in the world.”
“You don’t seem to like him much.”
“Garfiel bores me. There are nearly infinite interesting subjects in this world and others, and I must deal with limited time and energies.”
“Very well, the mansion, then. Do you know any of those two contract killers? I’m guessing they were born after you died, right?”
Echidna sighs. You don’t want to keep piling up topics that will reveal holes in her knowledge. You have fallen hard for this dead witch, after all.
“They must have, yes”, Echidna says. “However, that blue-haired girl is clearly a beastmaster. Some talented people were, back in my time. They can command monsters. Simple concept, but very effective. They tend to travel around gathering the most dangerous ones. A child, though… No child should run around collecting weird creatures.”
“I’ve been collecting weird people ever since I came to this world.”
“You are obviously a special case, both in talent and… Hmmm, let’s leave it at that.”
You laugh nervously while Echidna smiles, but as if she just thought of something troublesome, her smile fades and she narrows her eyes.
“That Elsa Granhiert… is interesting.”
“She’s a fucking sexy bitch.”
“That too, but it is interesting how she has potential to be an even bigger bitch. I can see her leading an army of undead troops to lay waste to the kingdom in a fit of rage and vengeance. Maybe even an army of wraiths. Yes, that girl shall certainly rise to power.”
“You’re awful at being reassuring.”
“I’m being realistic. Now then, let’s get on with your next question.”
“I won’t have issues with any of our people left behind in the mansion, I don’t think, except for Beatrice. And she’s a great spirit who doesn’t seem to care much about the world that came to be after the last Apocalypse.”
You don’t want to keep the witch’s delicate face out of your sight, so you catch how she tightens her lips and looks away, as if the kooky librarian was a compromising subject for her.
“She’s a good girl. Never did anything bad, in fact, she actually did nothing at all except exist.”
You turn towards Echidna on your invisible hammock, and put your hand on her opposite cheek so she stares straight into your eyes with her black irises and pussy-like pupils.
“Oh shit, you did know Beatrice from the old world!”
Echidna’s snow white skin blushes as if you touching her cheek and asking about the librarian from up close is an excuse to shove your tongue into her witchy mouth. And maybe it should be.
“I better know about Beatrice”, Echidna says with a voice tinged with regret. “I’m responsible for her being in this world.”
You take your time closing your mouth. That fancy butterfly brooch in Echidna’s witch, the butterfly-shaped irises that Beatrice’s eyes display, that single-minded devotion for this presumably great Mother that the librarian hadn’t interacted with in a long, long time. And Echidna’s rosy lips look so welcoming from up close.
“I want to either point out that you must be that Mother person, or I want to hug you tightly while my tongue plays with yours.”
Echidna shakes her head while deep in thought, but then she smiles warmly at you, looks down at your lips and touches your lower one with her index finger. Your heart skips a beat, and you end up holding her fingertip between your lips and licking it. It tastes like finger.
“I don’t know how much you’ll retain from my words now, Subaru,” Echidna says with a low, alluring voice, “but I am indeed the person whom that great spirit refers to as Mother. I told her not to call me like that, though…”
Echidna doesn’t pull her index finger away from your mouth. Instead of that, she slides her fingertip along your lower lip as if tracing it, while she looks down at your mouth with her glistening black eyes.
You swallow. You shouldn’t want to get another erection, particularly when there’s nothing but blue balls in your immediate future.
“Why didn’t you want Beatrice to call you Mother? She must have been contracted to you, right? Puck, that missing cunt, also developed a made up familial relationship with Emilia.”
“I didn’t think I would be good mother material. I find myself quite flighty, and my tastes are esoteric at best.” She chuckles to herself, and sighs. “But seriously, I was the first person that Beatrice saw when she opened her eyes, so she believed that I was her mother. A foolish child doesn’t distinguish fact from fiction. Even as the years passed, she continued to call me Mother… It got to be quite annoying, to be frank.”
Echidna’s pulls her finger away from your mouth. With that hand she touches your chest, and slowly slides her hand up and down. You shiver pleasantly from head to toe.
“Ah… Beatrice idolizes you, as you have seen in my memories”, you say with a thin voice. “Keeps going Mother this, Mother that.”
“You have met her, Subaru. Would you be comfortable letting people know she’s related to you to such an extent?”
“She does have a tendency of stuffing random people’s hands into her mouth… But you were the one who contracted her to take care of Roswaal’s library, right? After four hundred years living the hikikomori lifestyle while surrounded by moldy books, that would make anyone nuts.”
“Beatrice was already a kooky one when my body wasn’t rotting.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. But the whole business with the corpses in the library…”
“I don’t like that your tone suggests that I’m somehow responsible”, Echidna says casually.
“Well, it was your thing, wasn’t it? She said you were obsessed with dead people, and you were collecting dead half-beast villagers and keeping them for some probably unsavory reason.”
“Your suggestion is that I’m making zombies? Hmmm… It’s true that one of my interests is corpses, but I wouldn’t make zombies. They’re too much of a pain to control, and they’re not fun to be around.”
Despite her playful tone, you lean closer to her face to figure out if she’s joking. Also because you desperately want to make out with her.
“You have learned about zombies from my memories of the previous world, haven’t you? They were all over that place.”
“Now seriously… Beatrice got the wrong idea. I’m not obsessed with dead people, I wanted to become immortal. That’s why I studied those half-beast villagers. The corpses weren’t meant to be stored beyond their use in my research. That child bothered to preserve them for four hundred years because, as usual, she fails to understand things properly.”
“So you’re saying you didn’t make any zombies…?” You freeze, as a horrible realization just popped into your mind. “Wait a second, you keep referring to Beatrice as a child.”
“Yes, she is. Even if her mind has endured hundreds of years of this troublesome world, she’s still a child in terms of life experience. But you did fail to pick up on that.”
Your body goes cold, and you lie in silence for a few seconds. Echidna moves her hand up to your chin and turns your head towards her. You swallow.
“I have said terrible things to that child”, you say quietly.
Echidna chuckles, then tilts her head and combs her long, white hair behind her pretty ear.
“You say terrible things to everybody. That’s your niche.”
Your breath is thickening, and you don’t want to tear your gaze away from Echidna’s moist lips. It’s taking all of your willpower to prevent yourself from pulling this black-eyed witch towards you and tasting her saliva from the source.
“You want to have me so bad”, Echidna says while smiling appreciatively. “And it helps you avoid bringing up what you don’t want to remember.”
“Ah… I don’t deny that I want us to stop talking so I can undress you, kiss that whole pale body of yours, then play with your tongue as I push myself deep inside you. If you know what I mean.”
Echidna lets out a contented sigh, then touches the tip of your nose playfully as if you were an unruly child. She’s hundreds of years old, after all.
“I see that lying under the stars doesn’t have the same relaxing effect when you share it with someone your body wants to possess. Forgive me, I have been detached from people for a long time.”
“Oh, no, it has been magical, I assu-“
As if Echidna had pressed pause on your consciousness and then play again, you are now sitting at the tea table, and the tea you poured for yourself still waits hot in front of you. The Witch of Greed is sitting across from you. When she notices the disappointment on your face, she makes the expression of a mother who doesn’t want her child to cry because he can’t stay up after ten.
“I understand, Subaru, but you yourself know that engaging in sexual pleasures is your more recurrent technique to escape from your troubles. So is Emilia’s, it seems, so you have that in common. But you need to keep living in this world, and for that you’ll have to defeat enemies more dangerous than that ancient ghost you know as Petelgeuse.”
You agree sulkily.
“Right… the trials.”
“… My, that monster has truly done a number on you. You don’t think of my trials as your most difficult obstacle, Subaru. You just want to avoid thinking about your most scarring death.”
You shift your weight on your chair, then rub your eyes.
“Would you want to think about it? I have been disemboweled only for the person who did it to get off on playing with my insides. She even castrated me. That’s a single example of my horrible deaths, but I remember it somewhat fondly. And yet those monsters who ate me… I think you might have helped me more by rescuing me from my resulting mental state than anyone ever has.”
“You have no choice but to be strong to face the troubles that insist on coming your way.”
You take a sip of Echidna’s warm tea. It tastes like regular tea as far as you can tell. Why couldn’t she have masturbated into it instead?
“I suppose I’m not as mentally strong as I thought.”
“Really now? Considering you’ve been able to shoulder the deaths of yourself and those around you, I’d say you’re pretty strong. Anyway, I have a feeling that not everything has gone according your plans, and I think it’s time to give you a new one. That demon beast you came across is called the Great Rabbit.”
“Which of those little monsters is supposed to be the great one?”, you ask with a thin, tired voice. “All of them munched on my flesh and bones pretty competently.”
Echidna is staring at you with the closest thing you’ve seen in her to a professional attitude, like a scientist sharing information. You prefer the Echidna who lies on a rug and opens her legs for you.
“All of them are the Great Rabbit. They share a consciousness, even though it’s divided in many bodies.”
“So it’s like an ant colony, then?”
“Not even. They don’t need to share information through pheromones. They truly are a single brain sending information to different bodies.”
“Where is that brain located?”
“It’s just a figure of speech, Subaru.”
You were about to take another sip when your hand trembles, and you lower your teacup again.
“How could nature produce such a monster…? Your world is a fucking mess.”
Echidna smiles reassuringly.
“Don’t blame my world. One day, when you and I aren’t pressed for time, when we can truly talk in peace, I’d like us to share our thoughts about that previous world of yours. So many ingenious ways to compensate for the shocking lack of magic. It’s too bad that you were never interested in figuring out how to build one of those computers, although I doubt we could even develop the necessary industry to produce them. Nevertheless, I digress. The Great Rabbit isn’t an animal that nature gave birth to. It’s what you would call a legendary monster, created by none other than our Witch of Gluttony, Daphne.”
“What!? She didn’t have enough with bringing the White Whale into this world!?”
“Our poor Daphne doesn’t have enough with anything. She was born with the curse of permanent hunger, and it has twisted her mind in predictable ways. And neither did she stop with the Great Rabbit. I hope you never have to face the Black Serpent.”
You shiver, then hunch over and warm your hands with your warm teacup.
“I feel like I’m going to.”
“You might, but you aren’t right now. We still have a chance to address the root of the problem, head on. You know where the Great Rabbit is going to appear. That monster needs to die.”
“Can’t I just stay here with you and eat you out until my tongue falls off?”
Echidna blushes heavily, but then clears her throat against her fist and holds your gaze with difficulty.
“I’m sorry, I can’t let you do that, or at least I shouldn’t. This is a threat to the entire world, but more importantly for our current purposes, I can’t have it wreaking havoc in Sanctuary.”
“And you stopped me when I was about to play with your button, too… You are an even bigger masochist than me.”
Echidna smiles, then wipes a bit of tea that spilled on her chin.
“I know you quite well, Subaru, which is a benefit of being able to revisit all your memories whenever I want. If you allow yourself to falter, you will push yourself into a self-imposed loop during which you will keep saying that you’ll solve your seemingly insurmountable troubles in a future life. I can’t allow you to do that, I care too much for you. You will have my full support. You are my eyes and ears out there.”
Echidna’s words make you feel guilty. She has been trapped for hundreds of years. Trapped while dead, no less. And you want to avoid facing reality just because you risk getting eaten alive until nothing of you remains. More than that, though, you want to make Echidna proud. You wonder if people who believe in a god, or several, feel like this. You need to earn this impossibly powerful witch’s respect, and any way you could satisfy her would make you happy.
“Alright, Witch of Greed. I will do my best.”
A bright smile comes across her face.
“I knew I could count on you, Subaru. You are a unique person, a silly one who makes mistakes every now and then, but a good one. I’m sure that together we’ll crush our enemies.”
You want to reach for her pale hand, which is resting near her teacup, but you would have to reach over the table. Echidna must have read your intentions, because she tilts her head and smiles warmly at you.
“I have seen all your life”, Echidna says with a sultry voice that makes you tingle. “I could revisit it now if I wanted to. We are almost one, you and I.”
You swallow as your heart beats louder.
“You know that we can become one whenever you want”, you say with a low voice which betrays how much you want her.
Echidna gazes at you intensely. She’s sliding her finger slowly along the rim of her teacup.
“I’m sure us making love would feel wonderful, but I mean beyond that. I wish we would share the same body. We would be entwined as a single soul. I had never wished for that…”
You want to smile, you want to come up with a clever answer, or at least one that would allow you to hear her pretty laugh, but you feel as if you aren’t looking at Echidna right now, but at the Witch of Greed. She desires you in a way that would consume you, and that gushes out of her abyss with a strength that dwarfs her towering intelligence. Although you have accepted yourself as a servant of Emilia and her ambitions, you hadn’t yearned to serve the way you want to be of use to this black-eyed witch.
Your mouth is dry.
“I don’t know how to address such a naked declaration of lifelong love, Echidna.”
She breathes passionately. You feel the air around you grow warmer, more humid. Her eyes don’t blink.
“Love is too small for what I mean, Subaru. Or more appropriately, there isn’t a word big enough for what I want.”
Her expression can’t hide her deep-seated desire. She wants everything that is you, body and mind. And while you have often thought similar things regarding Rem, and Emilia, the difference is that both of them would settle for your heart, but never demand everything.
“I… look forward to knowing you more and more, Echidna”, you say with a voice that seems insufficient for the circumstances.
“Aww, why does that sound so formal? I know you can’t offer me your heart, but would it hurt to be more intimate?”
“If… if I drop my guard for even a second, I would lose myself. You are a lot, Witch of Greed.”
“You won’t. Trust me. You can freely give yourself to me. And I will offer you something now that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. How about you have a chat with the artificer of your most troubling death so far?”
You are feeling light-headed, and for a moment you have no clue what she’s talking about. Then you don’t want to have a clue about what she’s talking about. You swallow and lean towards Echidna, resting your elbows on the table.
“Are you suggesting I speak with Daphne, the Witch of Gluttony?”
“Yes, yes. She’ll be the most entertaining for what you want to know.”
“As… As in she will be sitting there and I will have a face to face talk with the person who created both the White Whale and the Great Rabbit?”
“Daphne doesn’t sit anywhere. But don’t worry about the logistic details, that’s my job. Just relax and let me take care of everything.”
Your breath is thickening. The person who has created such monsters can only be a bigger monster. Are you truly going to attempt this?
“But… can I trust her?”
“Trust is such a strong word. How about hope? You can hope that she will be truthful to an extent that’s beneficial to you.”
You know full well that it’s unlikely that the Witch of Gluttony will tell you how to kill the Great Rabbit, but there’s no harm in asking… Unless the harm comes because she will eat you on sight.
Echidna has placed her hands underneath her chin and keeps staring at you patiently with her black eyes.
“Yes… I think I should take this opportunity”, you say with a raspy voice.
“That’s wonderful, Subaru. I’m very curious about how you will deal with her. Gluttony doesn’t have much on her plate right now, so she should be up for a chat.”
She moves her chair back as a shiver runs through your spine. Your throat tightens.
“Please, don’t use food-related analogies when I have to face someone cursed with permanent hunger!”
Echidna closes her eyes and giggles mischievously as her shoulders tremble. That annoys you. Surely she understands how much facing another witch of old, one who created such monsters, scares you, but maybe she knows that you have nothing to fear.
“Sorry, sorry”, Echidna says, amused. “But you need to know a few things. First of all, although your body rests at the antechamber of our tomb, your mind struggles to keep it together in a death-dream. I am helping you with my magic, but you always risk the possibility that your mind will face such an incomprehensible or non-integrable event that it will shatter. If it gets bad enough, you will never return to your body.”
You are getting colder and colder.
“I don’t know how to even begin to prepare myself for that.”
Echidna waves a hand dismissively.
“Ah, you will be fine. You have survived much worse. Very well, I will relax the defenses and invite Daphne to appear in my place. Alright?”
“Sure thing, Echidna…”
“Try to keep your wits about you. Two things to have in mind: don’t get too close to the Witch of Gluttony, and don’t look into her eyes for any reason. I will return to you later.”
“Wait, why shouldn’t I look Daphne in the eyes!?”
Echidna winks at you, then disappears. You are left with your mouth open, leaning towards the empty chair, and frozen in anticipation for the moment when the mother of the two worst monsters you’ve ever known appears.