Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 52)

This entry covers part of the eleventh volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry the protagonist got seriously annoyed with the people in his life, because they don’t hold memories of realities they haven’t lived through. Then the protagonist discarded his comatose girlfriend in favor of some delicious half-elf pussy.

It must be around seven in a chilly morning, and the sun rays are crashing against the canopy of the enveloping forest without warming the village properly. You are leaning on a wooden fence and staring down at the pond you saw Garfiel throwing bread into. You concentrate on observing those fish-like creatures swimming under the fern-colored surface of the water. Anything, really, that will take you away from the burning guilt in your chest that makes it harder for you to breathe. You feel as if there was something important you were holding onto but that you have lost, and even if you die and return to the past a million times, you won’t ever recover it.
“Ah, so you are here, Mr. Natsuki”, Otto’s lively voice sounds from the path behind you. “Enjoying an early morning walk? I guess there’s no real trouble with it, given that these people won’t attack us even though they restrain us in their village. Still, I’m sure it’s better to know where every one of us is!”
Your mood worsens, even though you know that Otto doesn’t have ill intentions towards you. You barely turn your head towards the side from where he’s approaching you.
“Did you come across me casually, Otto? Did you want to enjoy a morning walk as well?”
Otto puts his hands on the wooden fence a meter and a half away from you. Despite the merchant’s congenial voice, even before he got to look at your face he must have realized that something was wrong, although not in the way a physical attack on the people he likes is wrong.
“No, I usually avoid getting up early in the morning!”, Otto says with a smile and closing his eyes. “Often because I don’t want to handle the usual hangover. I’m feeling it a bit from last night… However, I’m not that comfortable in Sanctuary, so I suspect I’ll end up becoming a light sleeper if this continues.”
Noticing that you choose not to answer, and that your skin color probably looks as if you are a couple of minutes away from puking, he puts on a serious face and holds your gaze.
“Mr. Natsuki, you seem troubled. If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine. I’ll just leave you alone. But if you feel like opening your heart, please allow me to hear it. Everyone has something they can’t bear within themselves.”
“That’s awfully nice for a merchant. Did someone put you up to this, finding me I mean?”
Otto chuckles dryly.
“I’m afraid so. Our lovely lady Emilia was asking for you. She seemed worried in a way that suggests unfinished business instead of fearing you would be found lying dead in a ditch, and because she has already blessed me with her trust, she asked me to please find you and make sure you aren’t acting wildly. Such a request coming from our princess herself, I could never refuse!”
You hang your head low. You don’t feel as if you deserve to hold even Otto’s gaze.
“Otto, I have fucked up real bad”, you say with a low voice.
“We all could tell you were troubled by something last night. Can you tell me what happened?”
“I’m the lowest of the low, Otto. Truly, I’m the worst scum in this dimension, as well of any dimension I’m aware. I hurt the most important person in my life, someone who can’t even defend herself, someone who relies on me to even remember she exists, and I betrayed her like this.”
“Can… can you tell me what happened?”
You turn towards Otto. You aren’t sure what face you are making, but he looks concerned. You swallow, then put your hands on the merchant’s shoulders.
“I did something to Emilia that I should have never done. A bunch of things, in fact. None of which should have happened.”
“It’s okay. Just take a deep breath and tell me.”
“No, it isn’t fucking okay, Otto…”, you say with a serious voice. “Emilia and I snuggled in bed, we kissed, I ate out her delicious pussy, and then I creamed inside of her.”
Otto’s eyes widen in shock. Then he forces a smile out of a corner of his mouth as if you are making a weird, tasteless joke.
“Surely you must be jesting! Lady Emilia is such a pure, proper princess, and the future ruler of this kingdom no doubt! Please, tell me what really happened!”
You squeeze Otto’s shoulders and shake him a bit. He goes paler.
“I wish I could, Otto. I would love to break into laughter and announce that I just made one of my many tasteless comments, but I can’t. I still feel the welcoming warmth of her pussy, that overwhelming, surprisingly sweet smell, and that warm nectar in my mouth that I would gladly drink instead of every other liquid for the rest of my life. I woke up this morning with the feeling of her pussy lips against the sides of my chin, and I almost took care of myself right then only to remember that it wasn’t another wet dream! I was lying in the dark next to the very Emilia whose delicious pussy I ate out hours before. I didn’t even brush my teeth, so I can still taste her in my mouth! I drank so much of it, too…”
“Stop! Stop! You are scaring me, Mr. Natsuki!”
You let go of his shoulders and hunch over to look at the grass.
“Sorry, I got carried away. But I got even more carried away last night is what I meant. I truly ravaged Emilia’s clit with my tongue, and she was overjoyed about it. After she came in my mouth, I broke through her hymen with my erect penis and then pumped into her until I filled her with my cum. She might be already pregnant for all I know.”
“Whaaaaa!? You can’t be serious!”
“But I am. She was a virgin. I was shocked too when she told me. A half-elf that hot. She was also very happy that she gave her virginity to me.”
Otto shakes his head. He’s breaking in sweat.
“No, Mr. Natsuki! It’s a misunderstanding!”
You frown.
“A misunderstanding? Then you’re saying that I didn’t ravish our princess in Ryuzu’s guest bed last night? When I licked Emilia’s little button as the warmth of her pussy drenched my mouth and chin, was I eating some random fruit that had been lying around? When Emilia wrapped her arms and her legs around me, preventing me from escaping even as I was about to shoot a huge load of semen inside of her welcoming uterus, was I balls-deep into a barn animal instead? I assure you, there was no misunderstanding: I utterly fucked our half-elf last night, and her body might be already working on figuring out how it can build something resembling a human being from my rotten DNA!”
The merchant covers his face and takes a deep breath, terrified by your brutal and vivid words. He then speaks to you in a firm but calm tone.
“No… None of that happened.”
You lean forward and look at him.
“What? The fuck are you talking about, Otto?”
“I’m talking about the fact that you didn’t desecrate lady Emilia last night.”
You slowly lean back, as you attempt to process what he just said.
“What are you talking about then? I was there! I didn’t see it, because it was pitch black, but I felt every moment of it!”
“Well, you only felt what they wanted you to feel.”
You shake your head as you try to find the words. You couldn’t think straight already when you woke up, and now you fear you will start going along with whatever Otto means.
“Who is this ‘they’, Otto!? Who creates completely realistic simulations of me eating out Emilia’s pussy and then fucking her until I inseminate her!?”
Otto, wide-eyed, waves his hands in front of his face as if attempting to grasp something invisible.
“I don’t know. It’s magic, Echidna’s magic. Something to do with the barrier that surrounds the village.”
“What, there’s magic involved? So that Witch of Greed decided to mess with me and create this… this very realistic dream?”
“Ah… Well, Mr. Natsuki, the dream only encompassed those horrible acts you spoke to me about and that involved the pure lady Emilia! Everything else has been real.”
You smack your face with your palm.
“Of course it fucking was! Fuck, man. I have been so confused recently. Of course I didn’t lick Emilia’s delicious pussy until she filled my mouth with her warm juices, and later on I shoved my nasty penis inside her god-tier, tight pussy! That couldn’t have happened even in this fantasy world!” You fall to your knees, then lean forward slowly until you support yourself on the grass with your hands. “I never betrayed Rem, my lovely Rem, the love of my life, my blessed demon servant! I wouldn’t abandon you like that, my love. This all was a witch-created nightmare. I’m sorry for being such a horny scumbag.”
Otto pats you on the back.
“I’m not sure apologies will erase the images you pushed into my mind, Mr. Natsuki. And quite frankly… I don’t think any of us are worthy of lady Emilia’s love, even though I know I will forever dream of holding her smooth, delicate hand and walking with the princess through flower fields under the sun.”
You stand back up, and start walking towards the path. You are getting way too dizzy. Even if you don’t feel nauseous, you want to be, to throw up everything that hurts inside.
“Where are you going?”, Otto asks cautiously. “Shouldn’t we return to Ryuzu’s home? Lady Emilia wanted to know if you are okay!”
“I really need to piss right now. And I can’t hold it.”
“Well, just go behind a tree or something. Is there any other sort of public bathroom in that area of the village?”
“I tried pissing behind a tree. I really had to go, so I squatted down and my dick fell off. It’s still back there, behind that tree.”
Otto stares at you in confusion for a moment. You try to laugh, but you start crying. You fall to your knees again and sob to your heart’s content.
“My dick just goes away! It keeps leaving me. I didn’t deserve to have you, and now you have realized it as well. I wasn’t worth it.”
Otto awkwardly pats you on the back.
“I can’t imagine how much you must be hurting because your beloved is sleeping for… a long time. You should be thankful you had her. I think you should find someone new, like a pretty girl in this village. I believe anyone could get over the half-beast part quick. If there’s someone out there that loves you, even with all your problems, well, then that’s something worth being happy about.”
The tears are running down your wrists of the hands you are hiding your face with. You speak in between sobs.
“Back when my Rem was conscious, I should have cut my dick off and hidden it inside of her. That way my brain wouldn’t imagine me betraying her with almost every other female I come across! I wish I wasn’t a person, Otto. If I had been born a tree, life would have been so easy.”
“Do you really hate yourself that much? Even though I don’t know you that well, I don’t think you’re that sort of person. You seem like a realist to me. You just described to me the life of an average man in this world. Not everyone is blessed with gifts and abilities, and even if you have them, it doesn’t mean they’ll help you in the long run. I myself can speak to animals, and even insects! I was born with that blessing, or curse. But I can’t stop myself from hearing them! It made my childhood so hard! I ended up running away from home for issues related to such a condition.”
You stop crying and look up at him to figure out if he’s pulling your leg, but he holds your gaze with sympathy.
“You can’t hear animals, Otto. That’s pure nonsense. It’s a simulation that the Witch of Greed created to confuse you.”
“No, I swear I can hear bees buzzing right now! Maybe they’re trying to warn us about something…”
“Maybe you are just insane. Take a deep breath and relax.”
He breathes deeply in and out.
“I’m not insane.”
You nod slowly.
“Yes, I’m sure you are… Okay then, let’s go back to Emilia, so she knows she has no reason to worry.”

As you open the door to Ryuzu’s living room, Emilia alone is standing there with her hand resting on the back of a chair. She’s wearing her gorgeous, expensive-looking white dress lined with purple. She looks worried for a split second, but when she sees it’s you, she welcomes you with a glowing smile and walks up to you.
“Sorry to get worried, but… Well, let’s speak in private.”
As Otto, who was looking at Emilia with his usual smile that reveals his infatuation, opens his mouth to speak, Emilia strokes your cheek lovingly and then stands on her tiptoes to press her warm lips against yours. A noise of dismay escapes through Otto’s open mouth, but then she pushes a hand against it to shut himself up. He’s gone white and looks appalled, as if someone had stabbed him in the heart and he had wandered through the empty streets leaving a trail of blood, and now he sat against a wall waiting to die. He lowers his head and turns around.
“I-I’ll make myself scarce, lady Emilia.”
“Thank you for your understanding, Otto.” Emilia holds your hand. “Let’s go to the guest room.”
You nod and follow her. When the door is closed behind you, she sits on the bed and pats on it, expecting you to sit next to her. You do so, and with a hand she moves your face towards her to kiss you deeply. As her tongue plays with yours, the barriers that had protected you against the onslaught that the guilt was subjecting your sanity to break down, so the guilt comes flooding in like water through an emergency exit. Holy shit, you actually had sex with Emilia last night, and you truly drank the nectar pouring from the half-elf’s heavenly pussy. So you did spit on Rem’s comatose face. Even if she ends up waking up, you will never be able to take this back.
You are a horrible person. You are an evil, rotten piece of shit that deserves nothing but damnation, and that’s exactly what you’ll get for your sins.
Emilia has pulled away and is staring at your crying face. She’s dismayed. She hugs you tighly and strokes your head. Her warmth soothes you, and her remaining saliva in your mouth tastes so good you would have taken shots of it without even knowing her.
“I’m aware, Subaru. I can’t properly understand how bad you must feel about your relationship with Rem now, but it’s okay to feel guilty. You are so loyal and you love so deeply, that you would have ruined your entire life being the partner of someone who can’t even think about you anymore. Don’t worry, we will keep taking care of her. We’ll bring her along with us wherever we go, make sure she remains safe.”
You sniffle. You embrace Emilia again, pressing your cheek against hers, and you wait to speak until you are sure your voice won’t break.
“I loved so much eating you out, Emilia. Your pussy tasted so good, I thought I was in heaven. I wanted nothing more than to keep licking you for the rest of my life. And having you hugging me tightly like that, not wanting to push me away as I was about to fill you with cum… I fear falling so hard in love with you that I will forget about everyone else I’ve ever met.”
She caresses your head, and you feel her mouth smile against your cheek.
You pull back, surprised by her response.
“What do you mean ‘good’?”
She smiles more, now showing all her teeth.
“Because I feel the same way.”
You look down at her beautiful mouth, those moist, rosy lips. You hold her head with both hands and shove your tongue into her mouth. You both lick each other’s tongues slowly as your hands caress her graceful neck and her silky hair. The blood rushes to your head as you begin to breathe heavily. You push Emilia down and get on top of her, careful to not crush her with your weight. Emilia wraps her legs around you, and you can feel your bulge rubbing against her warm crotch through the fabric.
“I want so bad to be inside you right now”, you say with a dry voice.
Her gorgeous, flushed face looks a bit disappointed.
“We can’t now, Ryuzu was coming over to speak about the trials. I want it bad as well, but don’t worry, regardless of how I do at the trial tonight, us making love again will erase every pain.”
You take a deep breath, and wonder how you will get through that meeting while blue balled.
“Alright, but you better get that pussy ready, Emilia, because tonight I’m going to lick you dry.”
“I bet you will, Subaru.”
You get off of her and sit on the bed. She sighs pleasantly, then stands up and walks towards the door to leave the room first. You stare at her ass as it moves left and right with each step.

Despite the whole blackmailing thing, you can’t find fault in how this Ryuzu elf is taking care of your needs. After all of you gather in her living room, she prepares some delicious tea and cinnamon cookies. You get now why Garfiel refers to her as gran. You would end up calling grandma any person who treated you like Ryuzu, regardless of her age or gender. Otto is present, but he looks as if she wishes he could disappear. He’s hunched over while holding his teacup with both hands, and his unfocused gaze looks through the table. At some points you could swear he was about to drool.
Emilia, who is holding your hand on her thigh, explains that despite her failure at passing the first trial, she’s determined to try over and over until she succeeds. Ryuzu looks concerned, having heard Emilia’s cries and having witnessed her delusional state.
You clear your throat.
“Emilia, everyone, I’d like to suggest an alternative. I will pass the trials so Emilia doesn’t suffer.”
The half-elf turns her head towards you sharply. You are surprised by the dismay in her face, as if she hadn’t expected those words coming from you.
“What do you mean, Subaru? Don’t you risk yourself for me, not anymore!”
“As if I will stop doing that. Are you kidding me? Now more than ever!”
“How are you so sure you would be able to pass them anyway?”
Garfiel tsks, then takes a sip of his tea like a gentleman.
“Evil eyes passed the first trial when he ran inta that tomb to rescue ya, princess. Half-pint got ta visit his parents an’ all! Nice, smooth ride, ain’t it? So yeah, he thinks the rest of them trials will turn out to be that easy.”
Emilia looks at both of you, confused.
“It’s true, lady Emilia”, Ryuzu says calmly. “Your knight rushed into the tomb caring nothing about his own safety, and he carried you out so we could return back home and place you on the guest bed. Of course, at the moment he entered the antechamber, because the magic traps didn’t kill him for some unknown reason, his trial began. He already surmised that maybe our lady of Sanctuary wouldn’t accept his efforts if she considers him too boring, though. I have my doubts that she would reject him.”
“Forget ’bout that. Ya ain’t gonna pass the trials, half-pint”, Garfiel says, annoyed.
“What do you mean?”, you ask.
Emilia shakes her head and intercedes. Her voice sounds troubled.
“No, I’ll do it. I promised I would do this!”
You turn your torso on the chair to stare into her eyes properly, and you hold her hand with both of yours.
“I love you, Emilia. I don’t want you to suffer any longer. That trial will force you to face your past, and in other circumstances it would be valuable to work slowly through everything that went wrong in your cute life. But for now the past is the past, and we need to cherish the present and future.”
You realize that both Ryuzu and Garfiel are looking at you confounded.
“Ya love the shy princess, huh?”, the punk asks, between embarrassed and amused. “Poor bastard, that escaped yer mouth! Can’t take that back now!”
Emilia blushes, but she clears her throat and smiles at the blackmailers.
“He said it freely because there’s no need to hide it. I love him as well. We are a couple.”
The room falls silent. Hearing someone as great as Emilia, so elegant and beautiful, royalty no less, declare her love for you… This must truly be one of Echidna’s simulations.
Garfiel snaps his head back, wide-eyed, and his hand drops into his tea the cookie he was holding. Ryuzu chuckles and claps once.
“That’s great”, Ryuzu says with a smile. “I hope that true love helps you get through the trials, lady Emilia. I figure it must improve your chances quite a bit.”
“But I said I wanted to pass them in her place, though”, you remind them, then turn to Emilia. “My dear Emilia, you don’t remember any of the contents of the trial you went through, right?”
She’s surprised, and observes your expression with her trembling purple pupils as if she had missed something along the way. Then she gets sad.
“That’s true… I can’t remember any of it.”
“Then you will face the trial over and over without learning anything about the previous attempt! That’s a recipe for utter disaster, Emilia! I can’t have my lovely woman going through that nightmare.”
Emilia frowns slightly, looking like a rebellious child, but as she opens her mouth to speak, Garfiel speaks loudly and seriously, startling you both.
“Nah, ya ain’t gonna attempt to pass them trials again, half-pint.”
“Garfiel, you don’t tell her what to do”, you say while washing down your cookie with a gulp of tea, “Apologize to the princess.”
He grimaces in annoyed confusion, then shakes his head and flashes his sharp, triangular teeth.
“Haah!? Ain’t gonna confuse me! Yer the half-pint, evil eyes! I’ll repeat meself again, ’cause now I ain’t even sure if I said it right! Hot princess will try to pass them trials, not ya!”
“Hey, she’s my hot princess. Have some respect.”
Garfiel narrows his eyes and tilts his head.
“I’ll say whatever I damn want, half-pint! Ya ain’t even addressin’ whut I just said! Don’t tryna pretend ya didn’t hear me!”
Emilia had lowered her head and closed her eyes, but she straightens her back again to speak up.
“Please, don’t fight anymore.” She turns towards you and raises her hand to her chest. “Subaru, I understand and appreciate how worried you are about me, but I don’t want you to coddle me. I can’t give up just because the trial will be hard, just because it will hurt me. So many trials await me in the future, on the path to sitting on that throne… You can’t keep saving me from struggling by myself.”
Although she had said it sweetly, with an understanding voice, your heart hurts because she took your concern that way.
“Emilia… What if you never pass the trials?”
“Then I’ll try again. And again. And again. And again, until I do.”
“That’s not the point…”
You sigh, and scratch your head. As you look up at her beautiful purple eyes again, for a split second you recognize a look in her eyes, a strength you could say, that she must have gotten from her adoptive father Puck. A determination to get over the past and become stronger, to achieve greater things than she ever has before. Unfortunately regarding her attempts at passing the trials, she also inherited Puck’s uselessness.

The meeting finishes shortly after. Garfiel and Ryuzu leave the house and walk further into the dreary village with a destination only the both of them know. You excuse yourself from Emilia and Otto, although the merchant hasn’t opened his mouth nor reacted to anything, and you run up to the couple of blackmailers as they turn a corner on the path and disappear past a farmhouse. When both of them hear your quickened footsteps, Ryuzu turns calmly, but Garfiel gets startled and glares at you as if you are about to stab him.
“Haah!? Ya followin’ us now, half-pint?”
“Young Garf, please don’t be rude”, Ryuzu says calmly, looking up at the punk. “I’m sure he just wants to bring up the topic again, but without the lovely lady Emilia having to hear it.”
“That’s right, Ryuzu. I want to know why you find it unreasonable. Listen, you know I passed my trial without any significant damage to my psyche, but Emilia got traumatized from her attempt, and due to not being able to remember the details, she can’t learn anything! So why would you be against me taking her place?”
Ryuzu looks down inside of her coat to consider your words, and the neck of her coat hides even her nose. She then holds your gaze again with an incongruously intelligent expression for a twelve year old looking girl.
“How powerful do you believe me to be, Young Su?”
“I dunno, but I’m sure you’re more powerful than you look, which is very little. Not to disparage you or anything. Garfiel did say that you have been around for a long time, and I suppose that magical abilities could be hidden easily. That staff you hold most of the time also looks wizardly, but real wizardly, not like our retarded village chief. Still, I’m not sure where you are getting at.”
“It’s a simple answer. I am powerful in Sanctuary, but our little village is contained within a much larger domain that belongs to someone far more powerful than myself.”
“Then that someone is so powerful he can easily crush you whenever he wants, correct?”
“Well, yes, but we are not fearing that kind of retribution at the moment, nor should we for the forseeable future. My point is, Young Su, that Emilia has been chosen to pass the trials because Roswaal needs her to prove herself. It will add clout to her ambition to sit on the throne of a larger domain that contains others of the size of Roswaal’s. So although I believe you are acting out of love and I was personally moved by it, we cannot let you take this chance from her.”
“And yer doin’ this behind that clown bastard’s back”, Garfiel says while pointing at you. “We let ya, them consequences will splash us. We got enough crap ta deal with! Too much of a mess.”
You want to say that Roswaal himself proposed that you passed the trials and credit Emilia, but what if these two blackmailers learn of the lord’s plot and they end up revealing it to third parties? The whole attempt to credit Emilia would turn against her. Or maybe any of these two are informants of some kind. You hide your face with your hands for a moment. You want nothing of this political crap.
“Whenever Sanctuary ceases to be a cage, Young Su,” Ryuzu says, “it will be reabsorbed entirely into our lord’s domain. We need to remain in the best of terms with lord Roswaal. It’s just in everybody’s best interests. Please, trust a bit more in your beloved’s strengths.”

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 50)

This entry finishes the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry we learned that Emilia is horny and wants romance with the least appropriate man in the world, that she can’t remember anything about her attempts at passing the trial, that Garfiel loves wasting people’s time, that blackmailers can be reasonable, and that Frederica should eat a dick.

This is one of the shortest entries in a long while, but also one of the thiccest. And we reached part fifty. I’ve done fifty entries of this shit. I must be bored out of my mind.

Your caravan goes through the gate at Roswaal’s mansion grounds shortly before sunset. The slanting rays of the setting sun are tinting the mansion in bronze, as well as elongating the shadows of the many statues and streetlights that line the path to the front doors. The carriages start parking around fifty meters away from the entrance, because you want to enter the mansion as soon as possible. You had internalized that you were trapped in Sanctuary along with Emilia, but of course you could come and go as you pleased as long as Garfiel wouldn’t grab you and hurl you back into their dingy village.
“Otto, please deal with making sure that every villager gets his belongings, and figure out if they have some urgent need that they would like to fill, so I can ask Frederica. We don’t want for them to return to their homes only to immediately start riling up those who stayed behind.”
“Understood, Mr. Natsuki. It’s good to be back, isn’t it? Too bad we haven’t gotten lady Emilia out of that village yet…”
“Well, we’ll get her out eventually.” You look around the vast yard, but you don’t see any sign of the servants. Although you want to see behind the windows, the rays of the setting sun have turned them all into mirrors. “It’s strange that Frederica hasn’t come out to greet us. She should have noticed a caravan entering the mansion’s grounds.”
Otto grabs one of the travel sacks from the back of his carriage.
“Maybe she’s busy dealing with some problem?”
“I wonder if she’s worried about us… After all, she must know that we will confront her regarding the magic crystal she gave us. I wonder what she will say when she realizes I would have gotten ripped apart at the witches’ tomb if the traps had worked on me.” You frown. “In any case, I’ll return with her in a while.”
You walk towards the front doors. You open them carefully, given they are built for much stronger people to handle. After you enter the large foyer and close the door behind you, you are first surprised by the lack of noise. You would have thought that either of the servants would have been moving around in this floor, but what shocks you the most is that every single door you can see is open. It’s as if someone opened one enough to check whether there was something inside that room, then left that door open and moved to the next one. Your body knows how wrong this is. Someone other than the rightful inhabitants of this mansion has been here, and if any of the servants had seen this unsettling chaos of opened doors, they would have corrected it.
You move further into the foyer.
“Frederica!? Are you there, lioness!? Petra, even! Do any of you hear me!?”
No one answers. The quietness feels creepy. Worse, it brings back memories from back when you didn’t know you would return to the past if you died for any reason. You recall entering this same foyer hoping to find your people, those who had welcomed you into their lives, only to find Ram’s beheaded corpse. You had frozen to death shortly after.
Rem. She’s as defenseless as any living being could be. Any stranger who wandered in here could murder your beloved demon servant just by cupping her nose and mouth with his or her hand. Your chest feels hollow as you run towards the room that Emilia chose for Rem. You no longer shout for the servants, because it’s clear they won’t come, if they remain in the mansion at all.
When you can already see the door to Rem’s room further into your current hallway, you see that there’s a woman standing on the carpet, and looking at you. In less than a second your body registers that she’s one of the sexiest women you have ever seen. She must be in her late twenties or early thirties. She has long, soot-colored hair that frames a mature, gorgeous face. She’s wearing a cape with a feathery hood, although she isn’t covering her head with it, and the cape barely conceals her black dress, which has a cleavage that exhibits her smooth skin down past her navel to slightly above where her pubic hair should be. The outer half of her big, firm breasts somehow remains hidden even though it would take the fabric slipping a few centimeters to reveal her nipples. Under the tail of her dress, her shapely legs are covered in blood-colored tights.
Everything about this woman screams sex and danger. You haven’t managed to move a muscle when she steps forward and wields a smile that while pretty in her face, makes you feel like a rat watching helplessly how a bird of prey descends towards it with the claws drawn.
“Hello, boy. You are lovelier than I had imagined.”
The woman’s voice sounded pleased and relaxed as if she had an orgasm mere minutes ago.
Your throat feels clogged with dryness, and your spine has gone cold.
“Holy shit. Who are you? What are you doing in our mansion?”
She lets out a chuckle that in different circumstances would have seemed seductive.
“Why, I’m not doing anything here, darling, except for my job.”
Her hips sway from left to right and back as she comes a bit closer. Your throat gets tighter.
“What job would that be?”, you ask with a thin voice.
The woman stops and holds her hands in front of her waist. She leans forward a bit, which displays more of her big, impossibly firm breasts that you are trying very hard not to stare at.
“If I tell you how they call me, you will have all you need”, she says with a low, sensual voice. “I’m known as the Bowel Hunter.”
The inside of your mouth has turned to papery mush.
“Never heard of you, and I don’t know who is this ‘they’ you refer to”, you say with a parched voice. “Kind of an unflattering nickname, though. I would have given you one related to those delicious-looking breasts of yours, but to be fair I can hardly think of anything else at the moment.”
She giggles, and you can smell a light scent of flowers coming from her. Her eyes shine playfully with mischief.
“I’m honored you think my twins are delicious, but if that doesn’t convince you who I am, how about I tell you my modus operandi?”
You swallow, then force yourself to look up at her purple eyes.
“Sorry, what did you say? Man, how do you keep those glorious mounds of flesh from popping out of your risky dress? Do you glue them to the fabric with some sort of fantasy world adhesive tape? Still, it must be some industrial grade stuff. And they are so firm, like carved in marble…”
The woman narrows her eyes and widens her smile as if humoring you. Her white teeth are on full display.
“You’ll just have to find out my strengths for yourself. How unfortunate for you, darling.”
She parts her lips, although a thread of saliva keeps them connected, and her eyes glisten as she stares at your clothed abdomen. You can feel the warmth building up in her body and emanating like an aura. She desires something of you, so intensely that it burns.
With a swift movement she crosses and uncrosses her arms in front of her waist, and now she’s holding two exotic looking gutting knives that glint in the setting sun.
You take a couple of steps back.
“Ah… You aren’t a nice one.”
“On the contrary, my lovely boy. Let’s see how beautiful you are.”
She lunges forward while wielding the knives. She moves so fast that you can only sense a blur as you try to jump out of her way, but you feel a burning slash across your abdomen. You stagger for a moment, and when you trembling legs decide to support your weight properly, you realize that the woman is standing calmly a few meters away from you, holding the knives at the sides of her legs. One of the blades is dripping blood.
Although you had intended to press the wound in your abdomen with your hands in order to stem the bleeding, it’s not so much a wound as wide open gash from one side of your torso to the other. The pink-colored, long, sausage-like flesh bulging out the gash are your intestines. More than that, you feel like you are about to evacuate all of your internal organs through that hole.
As if your legs couldn’t handle the shock of you getting disemboweled, they buckle and you fall on your back. The pain shooting through your body is new, and whitens your vision. Beads of sweat are rolling down your face. Your arms have moved instinctively to keep your intestines from spilling out further, but your abdomen is ripped open like a pocket. No way you can survive this. Wilhelm’s wound when Petelgeuse gutted him wasn’t so huge, and that old man is far tougher than you. Ferris isn’t here to save you.
As you lie there, struggling for breath with blood trickling down your mouth and pooling around you, Elsa calmly walks up to your side. Those big, firm mounds of flesh frame her beautiful, flushed face as she smiles down at you. A fire burns in her purple eyes while she licks her lips slowly with her red tongue.
“I knew as soon as I met you that your guts would have a lovely color. My beautiful boy…”
You wheeze and cough up blood, splattering it on your face. She bends over, her long, soot-colored hair falling forward onto your face, and offers you an affectionate smile.
“How does it feel to have your insides leaving your body like that? Tell me in your words, darling”, she says with a low, deeper voice.
You struggle to focus on the question. The initial pain has subsided somewhat, and all there is left is a lingering ache. Even that begins to fade as your life force dwindles away.
“Well… It’s a new type of pain, but it could be much worse. It isn’t mind-shattering, at least.”
The woman’s eyes narrow for a moment, taken aback by your answer, even though it doesn’t alter her smile.
“Is that so?”
She grabs your arms by your wrists and puts them at the side of your body. They are trembling and already weakened. And it’s not like defending yourself at this point would change anything. It probably wouldn’t have changed anything even before this woman gutted you. She clearly knows what she’s doing.
The woman tilts her head and parts her lips as she touches first and then kneads your mass of intestines. Under her loving attention, those nerves in your flesh send you confusing information that registers as noisy pain. You feel the shit the intestines contain getting squeezed through the tract.
The woman then shoves her hands deeper into the gash, widening it, which causes you to groan in pain and tears to jump from your eyes. The woman takes out of your body as much as she can of your intestinal tract, and possibly other nearby organs as well. Despite the blinding pain that trembles through your bones, a weird relief surprises you, as if holding your organs inside had been an effort all along.
Your intestines make soggy sounds while the woman plays gently with them. Her eyes are glossy and her lips wet, as if she will start drooling at any moment. She notices you staring at her, and she holds your gaze with affection.
“I’ll stay with you, boy, as you die. Slowly, slowly, slowly… I will watch the light go out in your eyes.”
Her alluring smell, that warm gaze, the loving smile, the way she’s stroking and kneading your organs, have made you uncomfortably hard. You are getting so weak, your vision is blurrying, you are getting colder. Yeah, there’s no surviving this one. You will pay a visit to that traitorous, looped witch soon.
“Ah… Tell me, so called Bowel Hunter,” you say with a trembling, thin voice, “what is your name?”
The woman is taken aback by your question, but then she smiles. Her saliva drips down onto your innards.
“You want to know… my name?”
“For your sake, you may call me whatever you wish.”
“But I want to know how to properly address such a lovely woman. I’m Natsuki Subaru.”
The woman’s smile widens.
“Well then, my lovely Natsuki, I am Elsa Granhiert. I’m very glad to meet you.”
“And I’m glad to meet you, too”, you say, making an effort to keep your voice from shaking. “Nobody had played with my insides like that before. Why are you here, Bowel Hunter? Just in the neighborhood?”
She laughs softly, closing her eyes, and then she rewards you with a glowing smile. Sweat is beading on her flushed face.
“I came for you, Natsuki.”
“You’re here for me?”
The woman touches her lips with her bloodied index finger in a coy gesture, leaving a print.
“Shh… It’s a secret.”
As if she couldn’t keep away from your guts, the hand she had pulled from them goes back to playing with your innards. She licks the blood on her lips in a way that makes your erection pulsate.
You swallow to be able to push your voice out.
“C’mon, Elsa. Surely you can reveal this secret to me, right?”
She chuckles.
“You truly didn’t know me at all. I’m the best contract killer in the kingdom, they say. In the whole world, I’d argue.”
Frederica, Petra, and most importantly Rem are dead. That sudden realization makes your heart, which was already having trouble pumping correctly, stop for a moment. You swallow some of the blood that is reaching your mouth from somewhere else in your body.
“Who hired you then?”
“Nu-huh”, she answers playfully.
“C’mon, Elsa. You know I’m going to die here. No way I could survive the best contract killer in the world, when she’s already playing with my intestines no less. Tell me, who paid so we could have such a lovely encounter?”
“Your insides have such a lovely color, boy, that I want to give you anything you wish for during these last precious moments you will spend with me. But you don’t get to where I am by breaking the rules. I never reveal information about the client, it’s a naughty thing to do. I wouldn’t tell even such a lovely boy.”
You try to reply but only a gargling sound comes out of your throat. Elsa looks at you as if wishing to please you.
“I will share, though, that the targets were a part beast servant, a very young trainee, and a shut-in spirit, as well as yourself, whenever you arrived. However, they did specify to kill everybody at the mansion, so I gutted a pretty, unknown girl as she slept. She never opened her eyes, the poor thing. She must have been seriously ill.”
You cough blood. Your vision already looks as if you are seeing the world through a thin layer of water. The waves of pain prevent you from focusing on facts that otherwise would have you crying. But you are about to die, and none of this matters.
Elsa’s hard nipples are bulging out of her fancy, black dress, as if she had rubbed them with ice cubes. Despite the whole you getting murdered thing, it does make you proud that fondling your intestines is satisfying her freaky fetish. You know just how she must be feeling.
You aren’t sure if you passed out for a brief moment, but you find yourself holding Elsa’s gaze as she looks down at you with some disappointment.
“You are so well behaved that you don’t scream nor plead for your life. Please, show some fear. It feels so much better when they struggle to survive even with their last ounce of strength.”
You spit blood in her face. She wipes it with her forearm and smiles with satisfaction.
“A half-assed attempt, but it feels better. Thank you.”
Your heart is pounding. You’ll end up having an orgasm if this keeps going. You feel the need to vomit, but your body has no such luck.
“Sorry, Elsa. It’s just that death hasn’t frightened me for a long time, and it’s going to go dark for me no doubt. Nobody will heal that mess in my abdomen.”
She stops playing with you for a moment as she observes you with the closest thing you’ve seen to confusion in her beautiful face.
“How did you get so calm with the way I’m enjoying your innards? You are an intriguing boy.”
You can’t help but laugh, but it makes her frown slightly and pout.
“Then I’ll make you feel a fear engraved in the bones of all of you. Please, lose your mind for me and scream.”
She attempts to pulls down your pants and underwear enough, and after she struggles for a bit longer than she had intended, your rock-hard penis pops out. Elsa gives a pleased sigh, as if you had complimented her.
“Ah, you are enjoying my touch so much. What a lovely boy… I will keep you for myself.”
She grabs one of her gutting knives from the ground. Her free hand holds the head of your dick with the index finger and thumb, which makes your back tremble warmly and almost causes you to cum, and it only takes a flick of the wrist of her other hand to reap your penis near the base. She holds it on her hand to show it to you. It begins to shrivel while leaking blood all over her palm, then dripping from her hand in tiny, viscuous courtains.
You would have expected it to not only hurt enormously, but also make your mind shatter, as a primal fear got triggered. Maybe you’ve gone too weak already, or that pain didn’t register in the tide that is already coursing through your body. In comparison with how you felt back when a huge ground dragon turned your genitals into mush, you now don’t have to handle the horror of fighting everyone in your life so you can die and wake up in Satella’s bath of vaginal juices again. It’s a huge whatever.
Elsa smiles briefly before bending down and giving the tip of your cut off dick a kiss. She puts it in some pocket of her cloak, but when the woman turns to focus on your expression, she gets stunned.
“You don’t even care…”
She sounded disappointed and annoyed as if she were about to cum to the best part of a porn video, only for that scene to end before she could stop herself. She continues to look at you with a questionable gaze, waiting for some sort of tears or anger, but she doesn’t get either.
“I can put on a sad face if you want”, you say with a threadbare voice, “Sorry, I lost my dick once before, and in worse circumstances. The shock wears out surprisingly quick.”
“You have lost it before…? You are the oddest boy in the world.”
That annoys you. You want to shout, but you are barely holding onto life.
“I’m odd? Does that fetish of yours run in your family or something? Couldn’t you get off to incest porn like a normal person?”
Elsa is bewildered into silence, with her hands shoved into the mass of your intestines.
You shake your head slightly. Your body doesn’t want to obey you much. The pain rises and falls as your breath shortens.
“I can’t believe you just went straight for my guts. No innuendo, no foreplay… Not even a bit of tongue play.”
Elsa smiles warmly, then nods.
“Ah, you are right. That would be lovely, and you have earned it.”
Elsa pulls out her hands from your guts. She crouches next to your shoulder, cups the back of your head with one hand and lifts it enough so she can cover your open mouth with hers. Her tongue licks yours, and her lips suck on your flesh, possessing you like you would never imagine you could feel. You moan in her mouth, and she chuckles softly. Your blood rushes to your crotch and spurts out of the hole where the rest of your dick ought to be. You will die from blood loss that much quicker.
Even though your consciousness comes and goes, you feel her holding your tongue with her teeth around the middle part. She then bites harder and harder and harder, gnawing at it, and suddenly retracting her head, she rips off the lower half of your tongue.
Elsa straightens her back. She’s shivering in a pleasured daze while blood runs down from her dyed mouth. She chews a bit and swallows.
You want to ask what kind of benefit she got from eating your tongue, but then again you don’t want to retain the memory of how it feels to say something when most of your tongue is gone. You are already choking on the blood pooled in your mouth. Blackness is encroaching your vision.
You concentrate what remains of your strength on lifting your arm closest to Elsa towards her breasts. You slide your trembling hand under the dress and cup that glorious mound of flesh. You feel the hard nipple between your index and middle finger. You rub it with your palm, you squeeze it. Elsa shivers. She caresses your trembling arm with her own hand. Shortly after she lifts her face up and moans as her body convulses.
A breast fit for a god. Priscilla Barielle, you have been outranked.

As the black bath of vaginal juices seeps into your very soul, the Witch of Envy embraces you with her elongated arms. Her hazy, purple eyes regard you as warmly as an automaton’s.
“I love you I love you I love yo-“
“It’s been a while, Satella. How are things going with you?”
“I love you I love you I love you I lov-“
“Ah, that’s wonderful. Well, let me tell you. I just met a lovely woman, very passionate. Kind of love at first sight.”
“I love you I lov-“
“She was so into me, she even bit off my tongue. But in the end it was worth it, because she got me hot enough that I just creamed all over her tits.”
“I love you I love you I lov-“
“Just kidding. I didn’t even have a dick at that moment.”
“I love you I love you I love you I love y-“
“You know, I gave Emilia shit for being retarded enough to allow that teenage thief to steal her medallion, but I’m one to talk, right? I keep losing my most important body part. How can I look at anyone in the face if I’m not even capable of keeping my dick intact?”
“I love you I love you I love you I love you I lov-“
“Sorry to disappoint you by getting sexually involved, somehow, with virtually every other woman I come across. That’s why I wanted to keep that Petra out of the mansion! Nobody listens to me.”
“I love you I love you I lov-“
“Not to disparage you or anything, Tella. Do you prefer that diminutive? I could also just keep saying your full name like a normal person. I guess it’s the old sloth in me.”
“I love you I lo-“
“It’s a reference to that Petelgeuse, the ancient ghost you swallowed. Remember that whole thing we did…?”
“I love you I love you I lov-“
“Anyway, it was good to talk again, you fucking traitor.”

Note from December of 2020:

Finally I can play with the lovely Elsa Granhiert. Anyone who has read the original novels or watched the anime adaptation knows that she appears as early as the first volume, or the first episode or the second. But I completely botched that arc in this strange, AI-fueled retelling that I’m doing. Whatever. Most people who went through the original story constantly wondered what the fuck happened with Elsa to have disappeared from the narrative. Now she’s back where she belongs.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 49)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry we discovered that Otto might be impotent, that Roswaal is a lazy son of a bitch, and that Ram doesn’t want to have sex in a barn.

Someone is touching your thigh. You wake up from your sleep, and although you remain dazed for a few seconds, you see that a delicate hand is resting on your thigh, stroking it slightly. The hand comes from Emilia, who is lying on the guest bed at Ryuzu’s place. Her head is resting on the pillow, and her purple eyes are regarding you so warmly as if there was no better gift than to see you as soon as a new day started. Even right after waking up, with her silver hair messy, Emilia’s face could appear on billboards in your previous world and probably cause some traffic accidents. Still, her traumatic experience with the trial makes her look slightly tired, and now she has the closest thing to eye bags you have ever seen in her delicate face.
Being looked at with such affection makes a warm shiver run through your spine. You swallow. Not only that, but Emilia’s hand is resting quite close to your morning wood, and maybe even contributed to it before you regained consciousness. You shift your weight on the chair to try to disguise the bulge, but Emilia’s glance down lets you know that she’s well aware.
“Ah… Such a glowing smile suggests that at least you’ve had a good night’s sleep”, you say with a voice that you hope doesn’t reveal the tingles you are feeling.
“It was alright. Even if I hadn’t, though, just waking up next to you would have made me smile this way.”
She sounds calm, without a hint of yesterday’s mental breakdown. Given that it was induced by a witch’s spell, or enchantment, or whatever kind of magic the trials represent, maybe you shouldn’t correlate her current mood with those shrieks, which you are quite sure ended up showing up in your dreams. In addition, both her touch and her smile and her sweet words are increasing the tingles, as well as warming your chest. You have a girlfriend, and she’s in a coma.
“You are here with me, Subaru…”, she says as if it wasn’t obvious.
“Of course I’m here, Emilia. You think that I would leave your side after the trouble you went through last night?”
Her smile fades a bit. She must not want to remember any of it, but it’s not as if you can’t bring it up.
“Sleeping in that chair must have been uncomfortable, hasn’t it been?”, she asks.
Emilia doesn’t seem to have any intention of drawing back the hand that she’s resting on your thigh, and it even moves slowly, almost imperceptibly. The crotch of your pants is getting tighter.
“Well… Not particularly, I get backaches when I sleep too long in the same position anyway. And I can just sleep anywhere, anytime. I mean… It’s alright. Sleeping while sitting up doesn’t even make the list of uncomfortable situations I’ve gone through.”
Her smile turns into a playful pout.
“Still, it’s unnecessary. I would prefer you to sleep next to me, keep me warm. You will next time, right…?”
Your heart beats louder and louder, and you feel as if you are about to break in cold sweat.
“It sounds to me that you have woken up quite warm this morning.”
She chuckles.
“It’s true… But I would still have preferred to wake up snuggled in your arms, keeping me so warm and safe…”
You close your eyes. You want to go to the bathroom and take care of yourself, but you can’t even move without revealing that Emilia is making you melt.
“Ah… Emilia, I’m glad you feel good, but you know I-“
“It must be so nice, sleeping next to someone you love. You have done it before, for sure. It must take your mind off things.”
“Well, yeah. Of course it does.” You clear your throat softly. “I do have someone for that, actually, as you know.”
Emilia looks away, then retracts her hand that was touching your thigh and hides it under the covers. You shift your weight on the chair.
“You are so lucky to be able to know the warmth of love,” Emilia says, lowering her voice, “and to have experienced your beloved sleeping next to you. You are a very lucky person.”
You shake your head. You can’t look her in the eyes right now.
“I wouldn’t call myself lucky, no. Not at all at the moment, with Rem in a coma. Because there’s that whole thing, you know, of my girlfriend back at the mansion having gone to sleep forever.”
She turns her head on the pillow so her lips are touching the fabric, and she looks down as well.
“I know. And all I want is to forget everything bad in the world and be in your arms and kiss you and discover everything else, Subaru. It’s not just that I want it, I need it. I feel it so close, and not having it hurts. I have never felt this way.”
The pain in your chest starts beating louder than your heart, so you just bring your voice down to whisper at it.
“I wish I could make it stop hurting, Emilia.”
“Do you think we can run away together? Somewhere far away from here?”, she asks, her eyes looking straight into yours now, not hiding anything. “Just get on a carriage, breeze through the barrier as if it wasn’t there, and then find some beautiful place in which we could just be together, be passionate with each other… I just dreamt about something like that. I wish the you that waited for me in this room would treat me like the one in that dream.”
You look at your knees and sigh. When you face Emilia again you see the tear running down her cheek and then moistening the pillow.
This lovely girl believes, and maybe she has it right, that with merely your love she could get rid of her pain. It’s tearing you in two. You doubt you could get to satisfy her like she needs, and yet you know it would make her feel better.
The shame as well as the self-hatred are burning already. Remember your sleeping girl, think of how you would break her heart if you did everything your body demands you to.
“Emilia…”, you begin, but your voice comes out so raspy that you clear your throat. “You think too highly of romance. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but many, if not most of the practical aspects of loving someone won’t show up in your dreams.”
Emilia breathes out roughly. She wipes her tears with a hand, then pulls up the covers, cuddling with her pillow.
“Like what..?”, she says with a soft, teary voice that pierces your heart.
“Well, say there’s someone you really love. What if that person loves someone else? What if you’re not sure if you really love them back, so you push them away? What if there’s someone else who also loves you and your first love is indecisive?”
“What… what if…”, she mutters while hiding her face.
“Imagine you are living together and the both of you eat a big supper. Then as you are having pleasant dreams, you are woken up by a huge fart. Your man is lying there next to you, under the same covers, unconscious but ripping the nastiest farts you can imagine. They horrify you as if you are getting attacked by a chemical weapon. If you covered your head with the sheet, you would vomit and then pass out. The person you love doesn’t even know, because he’s lying there unconscious. How do you deal with it the next morning? Do you tell him? Are you going to smile sweetly to him and inform him that he almost suffocated you with his sulphurous pestilence?”
She lets out a muffled noise, a mix of surprise and disgust.
“That’s not fair. You’re trying to confuse me.”
“Life isn’t fair. I’m just saying, that if you truly love someone, then you need to accept them for who they are, even if that means living with the consequences of their bodily functions.”
Emilia shakes her head against the pillow. You continue talking, softly.
“Or imagine this: you love someone only to realize that you don’t like the books he likes, the music, or the movies. He likes sports, you hate them.”
“Not that they were producing enough decent stuff by the time I left. But yeah, what if a few months in you want children, and he doesn’t ever want to become someone’s father? What if you hate that he doesn’t earn enough at his job? What if you hate his friends, or he hates yours?”
She turns her head enough that you can see her profile. Her eyes have reddened.
“I would have to talk to him about these things first…”
“Yes, you would. But what if you can’t reach an agreement on these issues? What if it turns in to yelling and screaming, tears and frustration? Some problems aren’t solvable, or at least not solvable at that moment.”
She bites her lower lip as her face scrunches up.
You heart hurts. It feels heavier, and you can’t put words as to all the facets of why.
“Imagine you live with your beloved for years only to realize that they have changed so much that you don’t like each other anymore. That being together is just a source of annoyances and arguments, and the best you can hope for is a boring afternoon spent at home, exhausted after work. Or you have children only to find out that you wish you hadn’t, and now you exhaust most of your waking life taking care of the little shits, or worrying about them. Or one day you find texts in his cellphone, conversations he had with some coworker or some dumb broad from the internet. Then everything breaks, and you come out of it as if you have lost years and years of your life, and you have nothing to show for it but regret, bitterness, and new pains that will never go away, not entirely.”
Emilia, still resting on the pillow, stares at you as if she’s trying to read your thoughts. She takes a deep breath.
“What if you loved each other so intensely that even if bad things happened to you both, or risked growing apart, you kept fighting for what you know is worth more than anything else in the world, and you both grow old together, and in the end you can say truthfully that you had a happy life, that you wouldn’t change a thing?”
You swallow.
“Then maybe those people live in a fairy tale.”
Emilia holds your gaze intensely.
“I would love to get married and have children one day. If you don’t have either, you are free to do whatever you want. Travel, or stay at home and knit all day. With your freedom comes a price: being alone. Maybe when you become too old, you’ll long for those days when your family visited, or the quiet evenings with your husband or raising your kids.”
“Don’t get me wrong, Emilia, I want a fairy tale. It’s just that it won’t happen. I just want to enjoy the good parts while they last, and hope that the bad parts don’t kill me inside.”
“Once you spend enough time with someone, you’re supposed to grow old and die with that person. Not everyone gets that chance. You should cherish it.”
You lower your head and smile while staring at your knees.
“You will make someone so happy.”
Emilia sighs as lift your gaze towards her. She is resting her head on her hand, elbow on the pillow.
“Let me make you happy then”, she says with a thin voice. “You told me that you can only love someone who will make you suffer. I believe you deserve to be loved by someone who would never hurt you. That’s what I will do, if you allow me.”
Emilia reaches for your hand, and you grab hers and squeeze it.
“I know, Subaru”, she says. “Rem is there, and will be forever. And yet I want us to be together. It’s just how it is. I can hardly care about anything else.”
You rub your eyes slowly with your free hand. You feel as if filled with lead.
“We are both avoiding reality. None of this matters as long as we can’t leave this place. You haven’t spoken at all about the nightmarish time you had during your first attempt, and you clearly don’t want to bring it up.”
“I…” She swallows, and her eyes dart away from yours quickly. “I don’t want to talk about it, that’s all.”
You keep looking at her with what you hope is a reassuring expression, while you stroke her hand with your thumb.
“I heard a lot of what you shouted. I could almost imagine the people you were pleading to. Something horrible must have happened to you, probably when you were a child, and maybe you will never recover entirely from it. I know some of my own wounds will never get fully cured. And yet, Emilia, I hope you know that whatever you would want to say about any aspect of it, I would love to listen, I would love to help you in any way I can.”
You’re surprised you managed to say something so honest and heartfelt. It seems your time with everyone else has been rubbing off on you, even if you still do have a long way to go.
She sniffs, but smiles. Her face relaxes a bit, even as she squeezes your hand more tightly.
“Thank you, I… The thing is, I can’t remember anything. I just know there’s a hole there, and about the trials, it’s like every detail was wiped out except for what it made me feel. Horror. To an extent that the perspective of attempting it again feels like masochism, and yet I must…”
Your head snaps back without you thinking about it.
“Is that what happens when you fail the trial? No, Garfiel seemed to remember… You mean you don’t even have memories of your childhood?”
She slowly shakes her head.
“I can’t remember anything before I woke up in the frozen woods as a child. Although my memories of that time suggest that I was born then, despite being a grown child already, I feel there’s a span of memories missing, or blocked out…”
You hide half of your face with your free hand.
“You seriously need a psychiatrist, but the profession doesn’t seem to have been invented in this place. What a mess.”
She smiles cautiously.
“I don’t think you’re joking… But I do feel like I should laugh.”
“Well, I’m glad you see humor in the situation. But these trials… What are you going to do, Emilia?”
“I’m going to try again. I don’t know why, but I feel like I have to. No, I must. That’s what I ought to do. I have the chance to become the ruler of this kingdom, don’t I? I can’t be weak.”
“No, you can’t be weak, but you don’t need to put yourself through that torture just for the sake of being strong.”
Your reassuring words fall on deaf ears, as Emilia’s eyes stare into the distance.
“I have to do this. Thanks for your concern, but I must see this through to the end.”

A couple of hours later you find Garfiel sitting on a wooden fence, kicking his feet and throwing bread into a pond, for the weird fishes and fish-like creatures to eat. You are stunned for a moment, because you would have expected this guy to spend his free time punching trees or growling at nothing, and before you realize it he’s eyeing you as if you are about to push him into the water.
“The hell ya come to freak me out with now, evil eyes?”, Garfiel asks.
You sigh.
“None of that going on at the moment. I want to ask you a serious question.”
He narrows his eyes suspiciously.
“Serious, huh? That sounds worse comin’ from ya. Yer bad enough playin’ around.”
“It’s about Emilia, damn it, and the shit she’s gotten herself into regarding the trials. Can we speak about that seriously?”
“Ugh… If ya insist. So, what’s up?”
“I was trying to figure out what happened to her during her attempt, what scared her so bad… Garfiel, I realize that the trial made you see some bad stuff from your past, and I’m not going to ask about the contents, but can you remember the stuff you saw in there?”
Garfiel mulls this question over for a while, as he keeps on staring at the pond.
“As I could forget any of it, half-pint. That’s them trials’ deal, ain’t it. They push it inta yer head so you won’t ever get it out. I wish I hadn’t seen that crap.”
“Garfiel, Emilia told me she doesn’t remember any of it. And she was serious, too. The whole thing is blank. She just remembers the pain and the horror that the experience made her feel, but none of the details.”
He blinks a few times, then looks away to think about it. You figure that this punk needs to squeeze his brain to think about anything, so you give him his time.
“An’ that’s good for her. Trust me, ya don’t wanta remember the stuff from yer past. It only brings ya down an’ gets ya inta trouble.”
“I really want to help her with this. She’s suffering, Garfiel. She’s determined to keep trying, but she can’t learn anything from what she can’t remember!”
“That ain’t good.”
“It isn’t, but it’s the truth. Why would that be? Do you have any clue? Did your so called gran tell you anything about some shit like this?”
He holds your gaze for a couple of seconds while frowning as if he isn’t sure what he can reveal about what he knows.
“Nah, old hag didn’t wanta go through them trials neither. Wasn’t happy ’bout me sneakin’ in back then. Bunch of warnings notta open the door, but I don’t think she knew what was there, what went on. She’s been around fer a long time, guardin’ our town. It’s a reverence kinda crap, I reckon.” Garfiel takes a deep breath. “Echidna didn’t build the barrier for it to be broken, did she, that old witch? So why screw with it? That was gran’s thinkin’, I reckon.” Garfiel turns his torso to face the pond again, a movement that makes clear that the conversation is about to end. “Ya don’t build a barrier an’ call yer place Sanctuary ’cause ya want every damn gorfungol of the world ta come an’ go as they please, just like ya. It was supposed to keep our people safe.”
“If this place was so great, people wouldn’t want to break the barrier and leave.”
“Ah well. They’re just greedy. They don’t know what they got ’till it’s gone. They could be eatin’ the juiciest tarmodanos and the plumpest oyegambos and still fools would be achin’ to hunt fer myrmadapos instead.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll substitute all the nonsense for sexual terms in my mind.”
You shrug, then look around as if the sight of the enclosing forest would help.
“Well, Garfiel, thank you for wasting my time again.”
He shoos you off with one hand, without bothering to turn his head.
“Waste not, want not.”

Emilia didn’t pass the trials at her second attempt. She didn’t pass them at her third, nor fourth, nor fifth. You all witnessed her entering the witches’ tomb with a determined look in her face, and although she exited by herself, she was always crying. The same way you knew, without any tangible proof, that you had passed your first trial, Emilia knew that she had failed it. She never remembered what she faced in the witch’s vision. And with every attempt, her expression as she stood in front of the tomb to enter it looked more and more as if she was heading voluntarily to be tortured, and when she exited the tomb, she looked more weary and crestfallen. She didn’t improve; this was a more sophisticated version of hitting her head against a wall over and over.
Emilia became more withdrawn and sullen. It didn’t take long for your villagers to become dissatisfied. They blamed Emilia for their situation, they claimed that she wasn’t doing enough to get them out of there, that she never would without some ‘supernatural help’.
You asked to meet with the mayor of Sanctuary, Ryuzu, at her house near the church-like building, and Garfiel sat there as well, you aren’t sure if because he needed to know what you wanted or because of his role as the toughest guy in town.
“Here’s the thing, Ryuzu”, you begin. “Emilia cannot leave, and her sense of duty, as well as the guilt she leans towards naturally, make it so she won’t stop herself from trying over and over. I won’t comment on the prospects of her passing the trials at this point, but what I want to ask you is the following: allow Roswaal’s villagers to return home. Their continuing presence here will only cause further conflict, both with Emilia and your local half-beast people, not to mention the resources you must be wasting to take care of people who aren’t tending the farms, your farm animals and such. Sounds like a reasonable suggestion to me.”
“Best idea ya ever had, half-pint”, Garfiel says. “Bastards were gettin’ on my nerves. I’d be happier if we kicked all them ungrateful dicks and let the rest of us enjoy a moment’s peace.”
“I thought you were the one who would raise a fuss about the idea, Garfiel. I’m surprised to find out you were a reasonable guy all along.”
Garfiel shrugs.
“If it means less ungrateful bastard villagers runnin’ ’round, then sure.”
Ryuzu is staring at you as if thinking about your proposal. This tween-sized elf who is somehow Garfiel’s grandmother hasn’t reacted to the punk’s answer.
“I do agree that lady Emilia is unlikely to quit her attempts to pass the trials. It’s taking a big enough toll on her mental health already, she doesn’t need the added stress of the villagers’ expectations. Very well then, Young Su, I will allow it. How do you propose they all return home?”
These two are quite reasonable for a couple of blackmailers, you think.
“It seems that Ram had hired a bunch of merchants so they would carry the villagers here on their carriages. I’ll send my own personal merchant Otto to a nearby village so he can hire some others. I guess we can get a caravan ready for tomorrow.”

As both Otto and Ram were herding the villagers and their few belongings to the carriages waiting at the edge of Sanctuary, you remain with Emilia, who is sitting at the table in Ryuzu’s home. You aren’t sure if she would force herself to bid farewell to the villagers, most of whom have given up supporting her, and Emilia has grown so highly strung after her failed attempts that she can hardly bring herself to look you in the eye. You have sat next to her, and are rubbing her back to comfort her.
“I should… face them and tell them that I’m sorry”, she says with a weak voice. “But even if I told them that I believe that I will eventually lift the barrier, it won’t matter to them any longer. They will forget about this place.”
You don’t want to comment on her baseless hope. Given that not only her attempts at passing the trials aren’t improving, her sanity is deteriorating. You can’t imagine it ending any other way than with Emilia having a mental breakdown, and that brings so many horrible memories of your own attempts at preventing Rem from leaving on Crusch caravan, that the knot in your throat makes it hard to speak.
“Emilia, don’t worry about Roswaal’s villagers any longer. When I make sure they reach their homes safely, I’ll come back and we’ll focus entirely on how you can get through this. Just get some sleep in the meantime, alright?”
Emilia, nods slowly, her gaze averted to the side as she sees something else in her mind.
“You will return to me, right?”
“Of course. Don’t doubt it for a moment.”
“Thank you, Subaru…”
You sigh then turn to leave her be, only to see Ram at the doorway. You both leave Ryuzu’s home together.
“Everyone is ready, Barusu.”
Emilia suffering like that turned you increasingly morose. You barely want to address anyone else, but it has made you a bit more sympathetic towards Ram, who most of the time looks as if she’s fed up with everything.
“Do you have any suggestions about the trip home, or something I should check at the mansion?”, you ask.
“Attempt to figure out what Frederica intended by giving you that magic crystal. We need to know the extent of her betrayal. However, try to avoid a physical confrontation with her, because she will crush you like the defenseless bug that you are.”
“Ugh. Thanks for your support, sis.”
After you part ways with the pink-haired senior servant, you meet up with Otto, who is loading some of the villagers’ belongings on other people’s carriages. The tumult of people walking around, hauling stuff or just talking excitedly is threatening to give you a headache.
Suddenly someone approaches you. It’s the male teen, around seventeen years old, that had been helping a group of younger villagers during the Witch’s Cult’s assault. He’s also displaying his bare chest again, even though he doesn’t have much to show off. He must be in some sort of crusade against any clothes that cover the upper half of the body.
“You are coming with us, aren’t you, sir?”, the guy asks. “You can count on me to help with whatever needs to be done.”
“I’m surprised you came to Sanctuary. Beyond that idiotic village chief of yours, it’s mostly children, women and old people.”
“I was worried about the troubles they would encounter here, and I wanted to protect them if I could. It’s just too bad that lady Emilia couldn’t pass the trials, but then again I don’t blame her. Nobody has done so in hundreds of years. Poor lady, she always looks sad when I see her around.”
“… Yeah, she does.”
Otto comes to your side and starts whispering.
“Hey, don’t talk too much about lady Emilia in front of this guy. He’s head over heels for her.”
The teenager’s eyes widen as he blushes.
“Oh?! Wh-where did you hear that lie? I do not have those kind of…! Y-you’re just saying that to tease me, aren’t you? I just can tell that she’s kind and sweet, and when the chief called her a demon at that meeting, it made my blood boil!”
You smile at the teenager’s kind words, and pat him on the shoulder.
“You’re a very loyal person.” You suddenly remember that you threatened to murder a bunch of villagers at that meeting, due to how angry they had made you. “Shit, so you were listening… I kind of went off the rails when they started disrespecting Emilia.”
“No, I felt that anger myself! I have always wanted to stand up against that nasty chief. He really is an asshole. All he ever did since her speech is insult lady Emilia and complain about us supporting her.”
“What an utter dick. Maybe we should just push him off his carriage on the way home, hopefully into a bottomless pit.”
Otto chuckles, but the teenager doesn’t laugh. He frowns instead.
“Talking about murdering people… I don’t find that funny, sir.”
You shrug.
“Ah, well. You can find humor in terrible things, as long as they don’t happen to you. Don’t worry, I doubt bottomless pits exist even in your fantasy world.”
Once every villager is either sitting or standing on a carriage, and every driver’s seat is filled, Garfiel comes by you as you are sitting next to Otto on a driver’s seat. You aren’t sure if the punk has come to bid you farewell or to annoy you for the last time until you return.
“I’m sure that as soon as we pass the barrier I’ll start missing the nonsense that comes out from behind those triangled teeth of yours, Garfiel”, you say.
The punk smirks.
“We’ll just hafta come up with a suitably funny noise that’ll remind me of yer insults when I miss ’em. Never think I’d miss bein’ insulted, but it’s true that ya’ve been growin’ on me. Same as fungus between the toes, I reckon.”
“Ah, thanks for the lovely comparison. Anyway, I’m sure to check on your lively sister Frederica, whom you love and miss so much that it breaks your heart you haven’t seen her for so long. Do you want me to relay a message to her the next time I get to gawk at her gorgeous form?”
Touched where it bothers him the most, Garfiel’s cheeks twitch, and he makes a face of disgust.
“Eat a dick!”
You give a mischievous grin.
“Just that? ‘Frederica, eat a dick’, then?”
Garfiel groans.
“Yer an asshole.”
You chuckle.
“Actually, if you love her so much, maybe I should kiss her on your behalf as well? How sloppily should I do it?”
He tightens his fists. He begin to walk away, but he stops and turns his head slowly, a dark look in his eyes.
“Try it an’ I’ll break yer fucking jaw.”
You give him a smile and nod.
“Right then. Well, off we go.”
The carriage starts rolling, and you tip your index finger at Garfiel, who glares at you for a moment, before flashing a toothy grin and raising his own finger in turn.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 48)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry, the protagonist made his fake mom cry, and then he told a dead witch that he looked forward to drinking her spit.

After you carried the unconscious Emilia out of the witches’ tomb, everyone who had gathered in the clearing makes sure that she returns safe in Otto’s carriage back to Ryuzu’s home at the center of Sanctuary. You put the half-elf in a guest bed. Although she woke up shortly after, she had a hard time understanding where she was, or that she had failed to succeed at the trials. She looked terrified and was incoherent like during a high fever, even though there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with her body. You feared that the trials had genuinely broken her mind, snapped her sanity, but after a while she began to calm down. Both you and Ryuzu carried on a normal conversation with her, explaining how she ended up in one of Ryuzu’s beds. Emilia was beyond exhausted, so you agreed to let her sleep.
Everyone’s mood is down, but the mayor of Sanctuary offers you all some snacks and drinks, even though it’s close to midnight. Shortly after you are all sitting around the table in Ryuzu’s cozy living room, and you in particular are chewing on some cookies.
Otto has convinced the elf grandmother to serve him some alcoholic drinks, and he’s drowning his worry the best way he knows.
“I can’t handle lady Emilia looking so broken, so pained! I wish the trials had a face so I could break it!”
Garfiel is slumped on a chair as he munches on fried potatoes. Ever since he heard Emilia’s screams in the guest room, his gaze has been unfocused, and from time to time he scratches the nasty scar on his forehead.
“As if a lightweight like ya could break any face. Don’t put on airs, ya damn merchant. Ya hit somethin’ and yer arm would shatter.”
“I-It’s the intention that counts!”
You have been observing Garfiel’s expressions. He had attempted the trials, but failed to break the barrier. The punk seems distraught about Emilia’s mental state, at this point possibly only because she’s hot, but he doesn’t seem disappointed.
“You didn’t believe for a second that Emilia would have passed the trials, did you, Garfiel?”
He shoots you a glance as if trying to figure out if you are accusing him of something. His light blonde hairline is glistening with sweat.
“I said so, I reckon. Didn’t I, half-pint? Can’t pass those damn trials. They’re made so everybody will fail. That’s how that old witch wanted it. It hits right were it hurts. Princess’ too shy, no way she’d stand whut them trials want to show her.”
You sigh, and then let out a long yawn. You’re ready to collapse face-first into your bed, but a previous glance to Ram reminded you that you’ll need to deal with Roswaal’s clownish crap in some minutes.
“Now it will depend on what she decides to do when she wakes up. I was with her, I heard what she said to the villagers. She was determined to attempt the trials over and over until she succeeded. She would feel horribly guilty if she just gives up now, despite whatever traumatized her so much.”
Garfiel narrows his eyes and shakes his head.
“Shy princess should give up, I reckon. Would be better for her. People’s minds are like the great bridge of Ehurradan: a tad too much weight and they collapse, sendin’ them carriages to the rocks below. It’s all a big mess.”
“What kind of ruler would she be if she just gave up after one try?”
“She’s damaged, everybody can see that! She needs to give up on this foolishness and move on. She will only get hurt more. Hearin’ a pretty girl screamin’ like that, damn torture.”
“And all we can do is support her from a distance?”, Otto whines, then downs the rest of his drink. “I can’t deal with such impotence!”
“I reckon ya should be used to impotence with how quickly ya empty those bottles, small-timer”, Garfiel says, sounding a bit proud that he could make that point.
“Not that I would ever confirm such a suggestion…”
You feel Ram’s gaze burning the side of your face. She has sat opposite you, and like the spartan, ferocious servant that she is, she hasn’t reached for any of the snacks or drinks. You want to stuff some cookies in her mouth, but she would likely bite your fingers off.
“Barusu, do you intend on addressing it at any point?”
The senior servant is staring at you as if she could read your mind the harder she focused.
“We’ll go see our lord whenever you want”, you say. “I just wanted to figure out everyone’s thoughts about what happened to Emilia.”
Ram sighs.
“I don’t know if you are avoiding the issue or if you are that dense. No, I suppose that I know. The witches’ tomb didn’t kill you, and you entered the chamber of the trials. So you did go through the trial, didn’t you?”
By how Garfiel and Otto look at you, they must have forgotten it, worried as they were with the half-elf. However, Ryuzu, sitting at the head of the table, only narrows her eyes.
“Yes, I did go through the trial”, you admit, and to your surprise you sound guilty.
Garfiel straightens his back and grimaces at you.
“Haah!? It doesn’t show on yer face at all! Crap, ya passed the first trial, didn’t ya?” He looks down at the table for a moment, as if he can’t believe it, but then he glares at you. “First part shows the past! Yer past must’ve been an easy ride then! No worries at all, justa great time! Must’ve been frolickin’ around with them gheltofens, drinkin’ milk straight from their teats. Damn half-pint…”
“Did you actually clear the trial, Barusu?”, Ram asks.
“Yes, I did. I never got any confirmation, but it ended as if I had succeeded, and for some reason I knew clearly that I had passed it, as if I had been told.”
“What did the trial show you?”, Ram asks as if it is any of her business.
Garfiel groans, and quickly intercedes in the conversation.
“Ya go through the trial, ya don’t wanna talk ’bout it! Ya’d know if ya tried it, Ram! It’s like the unwritten code of the Yeguhal assassins!”
“No unwritten code, then”, Ram says. “Barusu, if you can help lady Emilia succeed-“
“It showed my parents”, you say soberly. “They are… gone. I’ll never see them again. I dealt with some unfinished business, I told those visions of them what I hadn’t got the chance to say.”
You notice that the two of them look at each other for a moment, and then at you. Ram’s gaze softens.
“I suppose we can safely assume you have passed.”
Garfiel gives a nasty snort. He seemed about to speak, but he closes his mouth seemingly having given up on sharing whatever thought he had.
“I can guess what was going to come out of your mouth, Garfiel”, you say. “No, my past wasn’t that terrible, not in comparison with all the shit that goes on in this world, and certainly not with the garbage we had to handle to defend ourselves against the cult. Just unfinished business with my family.”
Ryuzu, who after preparing the snacks and drinks had sat down but had contributed very little to the conversation, because she seemed exhausted like an old person, finally speaks up with her incongruously young voice.
“I’m afraid it’s not enough to pass the trials, Young Su, or at least not in the sense that you understand what passing implies.”
“You can just call me Subaru. You aren’t saving any time by addressing me like that.”
“Oh, please allow an old woman’s habits to go unchallenged, dear.”
“An old woman’s, sure, but you don’t look older than twelve!”
“Never mind that. What I meant to say is that the trials are considered fully passed if the spirit of our lady of Sanctuary, that one guesses is witnessing each attempt, considers the contestant interesting enough. And like the gods, I don’t believe she would lift a hundreds of years old barrier just because she watched an untroubled person breeze through different stages of his or her life. For beings that powerful, one guesses there’s nothing worse than boring.”
“That’s disturbing. Well, for the purposes of opening your dreary village, I’m sorry my parents weren’t torn apart by monsters as my baby self watched. But you heard Emilia’s cries. She should be able to entertain that sadistic witch.”

Shortly after midnight, even though the rest of the group wanted to stay together for a bit longer, Ram orders you to follow her through the dark paths of Sanctuary. The village doesn’t have streetlights, and the sky has gotten too cloudy for the moonlight to illuminate the houses properly, but Ram could probably reach her destination with her eyes closed. It seems that the clown is resting in an isolated, one-story house partially reclaimed by nature. You wouldn’t think of anyone as important as the supposedly most powerful magician of the kingdom to be recovering from his injuries there, and maybe that’s part of the point.
“Wait outside, Barusu. I’ll make sure that the lord is ready.”
She expected you to answer, but from the moment you accepted that you were about to meet with Roswaal, your mood had gone dour. The clown had already proved himself to be unreliable by abandoning his people against the Witch’s Cult, and now he got himself injured to this degree for what seemed like pure theatrics. Constantly making trouble for everybody. In the end, Ram narrows her eyes at you, then pushes the door. You get a glimpse of the foot of a bed bathed in flickering candlelight. The door closes.
A groan escapes your mouth. You don’t want to talk to Roswaal. Not for a second, not in the way that two people have a conversation. You remember clearly the moment many lives ago in which you had travelled to the mansion only to find Ram’s beheaded corpse. You recall looking up at one of the many portraits of Roswaal in a variety of fantasy clown makeups, and feeling a cold disgust lodge itself into your heart. A king who cannot protect his people is no king, but what would you think of a king who sees trouble coming and prances away?
In your mind, Roswaal isn’t even a person anymore. He’s a reflection of most of what’s wrong not only with this world but with your previous one. You find yourself shaking your head as a rage burns in your chest. Wait outside, Roswaal’s dog told you. You have waited for far too long for this clown bastard to show his face.
You take a deep breath, clench your teeth, walk up to the door and push it in as hard as you can.
The door slams against the wall with a loud bang, then it creaks as it trembles slowly towards you. Ram is frozen a couple of steps away from you as if she was about to exit the house, and she’s glaring at you in disbelief, her mouth slightly open. Roswaal is resting his back against the headboard of the bed he’s lying on. Your gaze fixes by itself on the bloody bandages that cover Roswaal’s entire torso, and that begin under his chin. Everything below his abdomen remains under the covers, but you guess that the rest of his body is bandaged as well. His shoulder-length, indigo hair glistens in the candlelight. Despite his conspicuous injuries, the clown is wearing his war paint: over the powder white foundation, he has painted purple triangles upwards from his eyes, and his black lipstick extends out of the corners of his mouth and curves in thin lines to connect with the also black eye shadow. He’s smiling at you.
You truly must have been wandering around in a daze when you first started living in his mansion, back when seeing his dick traumatized you, because that smile creeps the fuck out of you now. It looks as if he isn’t sure if he knows you but still he would be able to predict anything you could throw at him, hours before the intention crossed your mind. Damn it, Emilia, why didn’t you join Crusch’s camp instead? You all would be having such great, pseudo-incestual times back at the capital.
“Hello, Subaru. Long time no see”, Roswaal says with his lilting voice.
As the rage that had overwhelmed you subsides, your breath stabilizes, and you no longer feel your heartbeat in your throat, you feel like an idiot. You avoid glancing Ram’s way, you don’t want to know what face she’s making.
There’s an empty chair facing the side of the bed, intended for guests. You sit down slowly, and you finally lift your gaze to hold Roswaal’s.
“I told you clearly to wait outside, Barusu”, Ram tells you sternly from your left. “You heard me.”
“Uh… I’m sorry I ignored you back there, Ram.”
“Apology not accepted.”
You lower your head because you feel a headache coming, but Roswaal clears his throat theatrically.
“First of all, Subaru, congratulations are in order, are they not? Ram has detailed your heroic actions. Single-handedly, you secured an alliance with two of the other royal candidates so they would lend you their strength, and together you defeated an entire branch of the Witch’s Cult! Unheard of, truly. You defended your lady Emilia saving her life, to the extent that she’s truly grateful to you I’m sure, and prevented the nearby village from getting destroyed. All that from a young man that most of the kingdom would only know before from his juvenile, very public desplay of defiance at the royal summons!”
He waits with his mouth half-open for you to answer, but you can’t figure out anything decent to say. Everything that comes to your mind regarding your lord isn’t appropriate for the circumstances.
“I did all that, I guess…”
Roswaal closes his eyes, and his smile broadens. Clown makeup doesn’t look better in the candlelight.
“Anyway,” Roswaal continues while raising an eyebrow, “since you have proven yourself worthy, I think we need to come up with a new title for yourself.”
“A title?”
“Yes, a title! In front of everyone who mattered in this kingdom, you claimed to be a knight. You have now proven that you deserve such a title, have you not? It’s the lowest rank of nobility, but I have no doubt that such a promising man like yourself will only ascend. What do you think, Subaru? We will perform the rite of passage when we return home.”
You stare at him with confusion. Although you had planned to be at least angry during this meeting, and possibly even grab your lord and punch him repeatedly, which you are pretty sure you promised to someone, you can’t believe this turn of events. Shitty you, a fucking knight? Not even that Priscilla broad would be able to call you a commoner anymore, or at least you would be able to correct her. In your face, Priscilla. And all over those tits…
“It… would be an honor, lord Roswaal. Being a knight sounds pretty fucking cool.”
“I’m glad you approve of the idea, I was a bit worried that you wouldn’t.”
You narrow one eye, trying to figure out what he means.
“I mean, I am a servant of Emilia, of course I would side with her and support her. If anything, being an official knight makes it easier.”
You continue to stare at him. He sighs, and clasps his hands together.
“Very well, now to the regretful part of our story. Ram has explained to me that Emilia hasn’t managed to pass the trial, has she? And it seems that the experience left her in a troubling state.”
“Troubling is a mild way of putting it, lord. She’s, uh…”
“I see that the both of you are holding back on what you truly want to say. Very well, I shall hear it all. I’m sure it can’t get any worse than my expectations.”
You and Ram hesitantly tell him all the details of what transpired in the tomb. Roswaal clicks his tongue and shakes his head slowly, but he doesn’t seem surprised. You can’t tell very much about his expression under all that makeup, though.
You repeat his words in your head.
“Wait, you didn’t expect her to pass the trial?”
“Should I? I would want nothing more than for our dear half-elf, the future ruler of this kingdom, to march into the tomb and vanquish every obstacle, but is that truly our lady Emilia?”
“No, but…”
“She is a kind being with a loving personality. That is not the personality of a ruler. While she has grown in certain ways ever since I met her in our fateful day, I knew it wouldn’t be enough for this trial. Much tougher people have tried and failed to pass the Witch of Greed’s unsporting trials.”
You feel a dull ache in your chest. You look down for a moment.
“You suggest that Emilia is too weak to succeed at the task she is determined to persevere at?”
Roswaal smiles as if waiting calmly for you to understand what he knows to be true.
“She is too weak to pass the trials, as well as to be the ruler over this land. I’m saying she isn’t fit for the duty that’s been forced on her. And I’m saying those things not to be cruel, but because it is the truth.”
You want to look away from his face. Even though you barely respect anyone, or at least enough that you would force yourself to measure your words, in front of Roswaal you feel like an insect. Had it always been this way? You can’t look to the right, because you are too close to the uneven paint of the wall, and if you looked to your left you would be staring at your sister-in-law’s slender, stockinged legs.
Roswaal briefly closes his eyes and lets out a silent breath.
“Whether she admits it to herself or not, Emilia wants to give up. Not many are meant to go on. So many are doomed to fall. Even the strongest of people, in the end, meet the same fate as their lowest of servants. It is an inescapable decree.” Roswaal’s voice takes on a whimsical sense of fatalism. “Even I am not above this law. Emilia’s failure will be inevitable. Even now, it is so obvious. She wishes to fail. Perhaps… Perhaps even before she took her vows to become a queen.”
You run your fingers through your hair. Your thoughts are spinning. The way the clown speaks makes it difficult to think properly.
“Roswaal… Why did you attempt to pass the trials even though you must have known that the Witch of Greed’s magical traps at the tomb were stronger than what you can handle?”
Roswaal lowers his head and stares at you intently.
“But you know already, Subaru. You are very familiar with it.”
A bead of sweat drips down your face as you feel the clown’s eyes pierce your head. There was something… fishy about that question.
“I don’t know what you mean, Roswaal.”
The clown’s eyes narrow to a squint.
“Sacrifice. It’s sacrifice, of course. Our villagers, as well as anyone who might be watching without us noticing, should know that where lord Roswaal failed, lady Emilia triumphed.”
“Except she didn’t…”
“No. She did not pass the trials. But she tried, did she not? And isn’t merit earned by the attempt rather than the success?”
You frown at the smiling clown.
“Enough playing around”, you say, hardening your voice. “You suggested that Emilia is too weak for her to ever pass the trials. You never expected her to succeed. I disagree, but letting that aside, what’s your plan here?”
“That’s where you come in, Subaru. You passed the first part of the trial, did you not?”
Your breath thickens, and you find yourself having to widen your nostrils.
“Was that part of your plan? You already believed that Emilia would be traumatized by the trials, but that I would run in to help her, triggering my own trial?”
“Would that be a mistake, a miscalculation? Are you agonizing over what the trial forced you to face, the same way Emilia or Garfiel agonized?”
“No. I’m just wondering what your end game is.”
“You pass the trials, Emilia gets the credit. That’s your job as her servant. As her knight, which you will be in a short while. Am I wrong?”
You grit your teeth. It seems to be the only motion you can do right now.
“What’s the problem, Subaru?”, the clown asks. “A true knight serves their master, not themselves. That’s what a knight does.”
“Emilia isn’t helpless, Roswaal. She’s burdened with trauma from her past, that she never spoke to me in depth about, and she isn’t tough enough yet. But she was determined to grow, to face her troubles. Do you intend to keep holding her hand if she ever gets to sit on the throne?”
“Of course not. A ruler must strive to become a better person, and Emilia has the capacity for that.”
“Then doesn’t that mean she also has the capacity to overcome her own trials? It would be very irresponsible of you to just give up on her like this. You must have been guiding her from some time now, and to some extent as a parental role. She needs our support, now more than ever.”
The clown sighs, looking disappointed.
“My, you’re quite the idealist. I suppose that’s why Emilia is so fond of you… Sadly, not everyone is worthy of such ideals.”
You are getting angrier, and you should. Although there are many things you need to say to this man, you feel Ram very close. You always had to be on guard to a certain extent to deflect all the disrespect she threw against you, but now you have no doubt that if the clown orders her to hit you, or to torture you, she would. You aren’t Ram’s friend, and not even her brother-in-law in her eyes. Still, you need to bring up the truth of Roswaal failings both as a lord and as a man.
“Roswaal… I need to speak to you.”
“I was under the impression that we were having a conversation.”
“I mean I need to speak to you, not to the clown.”
The clown’s eyes widen, but then he sighs and turns his head to face forward.
“As you wish.”
He passes his hand in front of his face, and as if his makeup was an illusion, in a moment you find yourself staring at a man’s face. Roswaal’s chiseled features, no doubt built over generations of wealthy people attracting beautiful women, could belong to either a man of thirty or up to fifty, but you wouldn’t be surprised if he did other weird things to his appearance with magic. When he turns to look at you and he smiles softly, he gives the impression of being some aging playboy that keeps wondering why the pussy isn’t coming around as often.
“Do you prefer this form, Subaru?”, he asks with his usual theatric voice.
“It’s far less nightmare-inducing, for sure.”
“I see… Even with my natural looks, I can’t convince you to trust me. You’ve always been a difficult boy.”
You look up at Ram. She is standing around a meter and a half away from you, staring at you intently as if measuring every one of your movements. There’s nothing resembling sympathy in her red eyes.
You face Roswaal again.
“Let me get to the point, lord Roswaal. When you presented Emilia to the world, you knew that the Witch’s Cult would plan an attack, that they would attempt to kidnap Emilia and murder her in their ritual to resurrect their precious witch.”
“Yes, that was expected. I mean, that is what they do, isn’t it?”
“That’s not the point! The point is, you never prepared us for any of it. When did you think they were going to attack? In months, in years?”
“My friend, I could predict the weather for you, and even then it would be wrong nine times out of ten. The weather, and anything else, is always changing.”
You tighten your hand resting on your thigh into a fist. Roswaal lowers his gaze to it for a moment.
“Are you that angry with me, Subaru?”, he asks calmly. “What is it that you really want to tell me?”
“I want you to fix everything. All the deaths, all the damage, just make everything like it was before the attacks. But I know that’s impossible at this point. So I’ll ask you exactly what I need to know: when you left for Sanctuary, did you know the Witch’s Cult would attack us while you were away?”
“Yes, I did.”
The bluntness of his answer surprises you as your eyes widen slightly. You notice that Ram has turned her head towards her lord, and although you only shoot her a glance, you see her trying to contain her shock.
“Roswaal…”, you begin with a thin voice. “Did you deliberately abandon us to die?”
Your lord sustains his smile as if he intends for you to come to your senses and agree with his position, but you keep glaring at him. His eyes narrow slightly.
“When a king lets his army defend his castle, but he isn’t there physically, has he abandoned his people to die?”
Your face twists in a grimace of disbelief. Your guts hurt as well, as if speaking with this guy has ruined your digestion.
“Do you mean our fierce Ram?”, you say as you point to your left with your thumb. “Do you seriously suggest that she would have been able to stem the tide of cultists, as well as defeating that stalkerish ancient ghost, by her damn pink-haired self? Because I know for a fact that’s false.”
Roswaal now looks at you with open affection.
“Subaru… I meant you, of course.”
Out of the corner of your eye you see Ram shifting her weight. You close your mouth, and you end up having to blink a few times because a bead of sweat has rolled into your right eye. You haven’t heard Roswaal right, have you? This must be his version of a joke, appropriately tasteless for such a shady clown.
“Are you seriously saying that you considered that a young man whose body hasn’t yet reached adulthood, and who Emilia brought home mostly out of pity after we retrieved her medallion almost efortlessly, and who made an ass of himself and of your entire camp at the royal summons in front of the current rulers of this kingdom, and who was exiled from your camp by its lady and told to never return, and whom for all you knew you would never see again, was the one who would defend your domain from the onslaught of the worst terrorist group in this world?”
“You think too little of yourself, Subaru”, Roswaal says with an amused tone.
When he smiles again, you feel nauseous. You fear you will throw up at any moment. You didn’t think it was possible to dislike your lord more than you already did, but your whole chest feels sick.
“But yes, I see you want me to be more straightforward”, Roswaal adds with his lilting voice. “I expected you, Natsuki Subaru, to do everything in your power to regain your lady’s favor, fighting everyone who would stand in your way. And you did! If you feel bad because you couldn’t save all the villagers, you don’t have to worry. Nobody expects a war to be won without casualties, that’s wholly unreasonable.”
You have a lump in your throat and you can’t swallow it away, no matter how hard you try. Your eyes are starting to burn and your vision is turning blurry.
“Things had to happen this way”, Roswaal continues. “If you have any complaints, take them up with me, by all means. Your lady was the only person who showed you compassion, and for that, you will worship her. Isn’t that right?”
A flash of rage runs through your body, making you tremble, and before you know it you have stood up and are launching your fist toward your lord’s face. However, something soft, or at least softer than a wall, catches it and holds it in place. The force of the impact still hurts your hand. You find yourself staring at Ram’s impavid expression, at her red eyes, who glare at you as if you are just making her life harder. Your heart is beating hard.
“Let go, Ram”, you say with a raspy voice, while trying to yank your fist back.
“Not until you calm down.”
You feel her strength. You doubt the demon servant would have any trouble picking you up and throwing you out, as if she were a heavyweight bouncer who boxes professionally on the side.
“It’s alright, my dear Ram”, Roswaal says calmly. “We have all been stressed lately, and our Subaru more than anyone else, I’m sure. I don’t blame him for being angry.”
“Shut up!”
You shout this at your lord as you try to pull your fist back with all your strength, but it doesn’t move even an inch.
“I really should thank you, though I know that at this moment it won’t mean much coming from me”, Roswaal says. “If it weren’t for you, Emilia would have never made it this far. You did what was necessary, and without you being there for her, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Furious, you close your eyes and grit your teeth.
“Let… go…”, you say through them while trying to pull your fist back.
“It’s alright, Ram”, Roswaal says quietly. “He’ll calm down soon.”
The demon servant lets go of your hand, and you almost fall on your ass. However, you end up sitting down slowly on the chair, then you rest your arms on your thighs and focus on regaining your breath.
“Do not attack the lord again”, Ram says sternly.
“I won’t”, you reply softly.
Soon your heart rate is back to normal and your head is clear. You wipe your forehead with a sleeve. Roswaal waits until you lift your gaze towards him again, and he receives it with a warm smile.
You manage to speak, although your voice is thin.
“Roswaal, back when I lived somewhere else, I read some arguments about why life existed at all in our planet. Because life seemed to not exist anywhere else as far as we knew, and because the rest of the solar system seemed so unwelcoming to life, many people believed that life in our planet was created, that we were put there by some deity who made us in his image. Are you with me so far?”
“It is an interesting conversation”, he says while watching you curiously. “Please, do continue.”
You take a deep breath.
“And it looked as if it had some merits. I mean, our planet seemed to have been designed for life. It was orbiting in the Goldilocks zone of our sun, which might not mean anything to you, but it refers to an area of our solar system in which the planets located there would have the proper temperature to contain liquid water on the surface. Therefore it would be far more likely for life to develop. If your species comes to life in a place where it doesn’t get too hot or too cold, at least most of the time, it does seem too much of a coincidence that it would all have occurred casually.”
“You have given this some thought before”, Roswaal says with a nod.
“However, we as intelligent species would have only been able to think through these mysteries because we existed in the first place, and life wouldn’t have had a chance to develop in a planet that wasn’t suitable for life, so by default, any planet in which intelligent life could arise would be one that would seem as if it had been designed for life to appear. You know what I mean?”
“That does make perfect sense to me, yes.”
You take a deep breath, and then glare at the fucker.
“What I mean with all this, Roswaal, is that you are the laziest son of a bitch I have ever met. Suggesting that what came out of your mouth was easy for you to say doesn’t even begin to cover it. You literally wouldn’t have been able to say it in any other timeline. From your perspective it must have been a complete miracle that I came out of nowhere to prevent Emilia from getting horribly murdered by those cultist bastards, and if you believe for a second that what ended up happening was a probable course of events, you are either insane or a bloody liar.”
“Now, now, Subaru”, Roswaal says while closing his eyes and laughing softly, “I am sure even if it wasn’t probable, it was destined to happen. This is a world where anything can happen after all.”
“Fuck your vague answers, asshole! Damn big-dicked clown! Tell me the truth!”
“My, my, someone is on edge today”, he says, still smiling warmly. “In any case, I shall be vague once more and tell you that yes, I had no doubt that you would come through for us, and especially for your beloved Emilia.”
“My beloved, huh? The hell do you know…?” You hide your face in your hands. “I can’t believe any of this.”
“It’s okay, Subaru. I took a gamble on you. It’s just nice to hear that the gamble paid off. I also understand if you are feeling a bit of regret for your actions, but you will eventually be proud of everything you have achieved.”
You swallow. You want to leave this house and be alone for a good while. You feel as if you have been hollowed out, but you find some strength to face your lord again.
“You know, due to your stunt of making me do your job while you fucked around in Hicksville, I had to pull off some crazy shit that will have consequences down the line. You know Wilhelm, from Crusch’s camp, right? Wilhelm van Astrea?”
“Yes, I know him. He’s a very famous hero, and somewhat of an idol to many of the young knights. Why?”
“As I negotiated for them to lend me their strength,” you continue with some regret, “I sort of ended up suggesting that you had figured out a way to know when the White Whale is going to appear next. You know, that horrible monster that has roamed this world for centuries destroying shit and erasing people from existence? None other than the Sword Devil himself is pissed because you didn’t share those predictions with him. So you better make up to him. I doubt you have seen how quickly that old man can detach people’s heads as well as all their limbs.”
Roswaal laughs softly, closing his eyes.
“I guess we will need to figure out how to deal with him, don’t we?”, he says amusedly. “I look forward to it. I will do my best to calm him down, but I can’t promise anything.”
You feel like you are losing your mind. You don’t want to be in the same room as this clown any longer. You stand up and bow towards Roswaal.
“I will support my lady Emilia in her determination to pass the trials, no matter how many tries it takes her. She’s a great gal, her beauty is out of this world, she has a rocking body despite her small tits, and her mouth tastes sweet. I will now take my leave.”
As you turn your back to him, you hear a small chuckle.
“You are quite the dedicated man. Your dedication has not gone unnoticed, I assure you.”
When you have finally exited the house and the door has closed behind you, you feel as if you can finally breathe. You are glad that the cloudy night doesn’t allow you to see much. Ram passes you by, and then turns to look at you.
“You have to stop acting so crazy, Barusu”, she says calmly. “It will only cause trouble for everyone.”
“I’m the one acting crazy, huh…?”
“I can’t call it anything else.”
You both walk in the direction of Ryuzu’s house. You are heading there because you want to check on Emilia, but you don’t know where Ram intends to go.
“Ram… I’m despondent all of a sudden. Let’s find a barn and have sex.”
Ram stiffens, and she looks at you with a mixture of surprise, disgust and anger in her face.
“I don’t have the energy to deal with this right now, Barusu, nor do I want you to involve me in your indecent games.”
She walks away from you while you stand in place. You lower your head for a moment, and then call out to Ram.
“You were also shocked by Roswaal’s actions, I could see it in your face. It must seem to you as insane-“
Ram has turned her head enough to speak over her shoulder.
“No, I won’t have a conversation with you after you made sexual advances towards me, regardless of whether that was your idea of a joke. Go to bed.”
You stand there in the dark as Ram gets smaller and smaller. You rub your eyes and sigh deeply.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 47)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous part, Emilia attempts the trials for the first time, the protagonist riles up Garfiel for no good reason, we learn that the protagonist has parents and that his father in particular doesn’t know what a headbutt is.

As you walk your way home, the sights of your hometown you have left behind make your heart ache. It looks subtly different, as if you were travelling as an adult through the neighborhood you lived at as a child, but you know it’s due to how you’ve changed ever since you were kidnapped into a fantasy world. In this fake reality, every person you come across gives you the impression that you have seen them before, as if every single detail is built from your memories. Such power is almost unimaginable, as not even the most powerful supercomputers of your previous world would have been able to reproduce reality to such an extent. This is the ability of one of the witches of old, from before the last Apocalypse. But should you be surprised? You already came across the Witch of Gluttony’s power, able to devour the memories of a person from every other person in the world, as well as rewriting reality to the extent that the actions of the missing person were assigned to someone else.
You finally reach the front gate of your parent’s two-story house. It took your dad so much effort and time in order to procure a nest for his family, but it now feels so small, so squeezed between the adjacent houses. The entire thing wouldn’t make even the fortieth part of Roswaal’s place. And yet, such a house was a pinnacle of middle class success in your country.
You step inside, and mom is where you would expect her. She’s reading a paperback that she holds with her left hand while she stirs a pot absentmindedly with the other. As you look at her, you feel that you hadn’t done so for a long time. She has tied back her long, brown hair in a ponytail, and her eyes are too similar to the ones that stare back when you look in the mirror. You know this isn’t your mother, but a construct made from your memories. Still, you feel for this version the same as you did for the real one.
“Subaru, you came back without your father?”, mom asks.
You realize that you must have stood near the doorway of the kitchen as in a daze, and it takes you a moment to return to this reality.
“Yeah, he’s gone to do some errands. More importantly, mom, I’m getting my backpack and going to school, to catch the remaining classes.”
Mom stands there confused, and contemplates your expression as if she doesn’t know if this is your idea of a prank. You guess she didn’t believe for a second that you would snap out of your state. But then she smiles softly.
“I told you those peas would give you energy.”
You exhale, then shrug.
“I’ll prepare my backpack then. I suppose every book is where I remember having left it.”
When you enter your room and look around at your shelves full of books, manga and music cds, you realize that the only thing you would miss more than your parents is all the stories you came across, that many artists from your previous world shared with others. You would never be able to get into a series that you had been interested in but never checked out, nor finish ongoing ones that hadn’t ended. You promise to yourself that you are going to learn how to read your new language properly, and figure out what interesting stories from your new home world you remain ignorant about.
After you clean your face in the bathroom and it doesn’t look anymore as if you had been crying, you walk down the steps to the front door only to find your mom waiting for you. She has dressed up and is holding her purse.
“I figure that I could accompany you for a bit. I have some shopping to do. It’s not too weird to walk out there with your mother, right?”
“Even if it’s weird, I’m fine with it.”
You walk to school next to mom. For five minutes she hasn’t mentioned you having decided to return to school after a long absence, nor the fact that you could barely leave your room for a long time. She goes on about stuff she saw on television, some bits of local news that you don’t even remember. It all turns into a droning sound in your ears, and you can barely bring yourself up to nod or reply with single words, even though it doesn’t seem to distract her from her thoughts.
“Where were you heading, mom?”, you ask with a thin voice.
“Oh, I need to go the mall to buy some groceries, but also a new dress for your cousin’s wedding. It’s in two weeks, you know”, your mother says with a smile.
Your mouth is dry, and your heartbeat is quickening. You swallow.
“Then we’ll part ways in front of the railway crossing, right?”
After she takes a good look at your face, she frowns slightly.
“Are you sure you are feeling well, Subaru? You seem a bit off. Maybe it’s not a good idea to go out if you’re feeling sick.”
“Never felt better.”
Your mother smiles weakly.
You realize that you’ve slowed your pace the closer you both get to the railway crossing, which you can already see at the end of the street. The barrier is down, and the sound is alerting of an incoming train. You have both reached the point of the street in which you would part ways. She turns towards you and smiles.
“Well then, have fun at school. I’ll prepare you some curry rice for when you come back.”
She had begun to turn, but you speak up. Your voice comes out thin.
“Mom, aren’t you going to say anything else about me returning to school?”
Her eyes widen, and her face shows surprise.
“Do you want me to say something?”
“Yeah, of course I do. Don’t you have plenty you would have liked to tell me during this period of my life? About the fact that I refused to go to school, that I went through such a depression and anxiety attacks that I could barely leave the house? Isn’t the fact that I have found the strength to return something to comment on?”
“… Yes. You’re right. I had not thought about that until now, as I was too occupied with being happy that you were returning to school. But yes, you are correct. You are behind in all subjects, so returning to normal will involve studying extra hard. It might be too difficult for you to do it on your own, but if you find out that’s the case, we can pay for some private classes.”
As she says this, the train rushes past. The sound is shrill and loud. The crossing barrier lifts up.
You swallow the knot in your throat.
“What about my classmates, my teachers…? Everybody there seemed to consider me a freak who made them all uncomfortable. The atmosphere already solidified, so for all those remaining years I would have needed to deal with classmates who considered me an outcast to reject and to mock. What do you think about that?”
The pleasant look on her face hardens as she looks away from you.
“That I always feared would happen.”
She clenches her hands around the fabric of her dress.
“Then what should I do, mom?”, you ask, barely preventing your voice from breaking. “How do I deal with this life, with the future that expects me in this world?”
She looks fragile. It feels as if you haven’t visited her for ages, and despite being in her early forties, she seems like an old lady to you.
“You know it already. Look around you, notice what people expect from you, and act accordingly. If you act normal, it will eventually become second nature.”
You lower your head. You feel hollow, as if something that should have filled you ever since you were born had never been there, and you suddenly noticed it’s absence. Even though you don’t want to, you hold your mother’s gaze.
“Mom, for the longest time, I despised you.”
She flinches as if you slapped her.
“All I remember of you teaching me how to survive in this world involved pushing me to be someone I’m not”, you say with a voice drained of emotion. “Everything that seemed weird or uncomfortable to you, you either didn’t address it, or you wanted for me to drown it deep inside of myself. It just happens that those things you always rejected from me are most of your son. You always made me feel as if I wasn’t worth anything unless I fit the image you were interacting with.”
She speaks with a shuddering breath.
“Your father and I always wanted the best for-“
“You know what your only principle you imbued in me does to a person? For as long as I can remember, most of my life consisted of wondering whether I was making a weird face, whether I was standing incorrectly, whether I was saying something I shouldn’t, or speaking at the right time. Every thought of mine was directed to anticipating what others would want of me, and everything that didn’t match that image was a monster that should be restrained and locked up in a basement. And because I started integrating that when I was a child, a few years later it wasn’t a conscious process any longer. Under the parts of my brain I had access to, other parts were dedicated to suppressing every thought and every feeling that didn’t fit what you would have called ‘normal’. For most of my life I didn’t know who I was, and I had failed to identify with my impulses to such an extent that I didn’t register my own emotions. I didn’t believe I had any. There was the conscious part of me, the one that should maneuver the world, and the despicable beast under it, which should be disciplined into obeying in silence, and otherwise stay out of sight. I only begun to live in middle school because I rejected everything you pressed into me, but by then I already felt so damaged that I don’t believe I can ever be fully fixed.”
Her eyes are watering, and she’s tightening her lips. She can’t hold your gaze. You wouldn’t be surprised if she simply shut off and walked away.
“But I don’t understand, you could become anything”, she says almost breathless. “You have the potential to be anyone.”
“Potential is nothing more than an expectation placed upon you by others. I could have only been one person: myself. And that’s the person you didn’t want me to be.”
She looks back at you, and you try to read her eyes. There’s a part of you that wants to see hate, or disgust. She doesn’t even allow herself to feel her sadness or regret.
“Mom, I don’t know you at all”, you say. “And I don’t think you ever allowed yourself to find out who you are. I don’t know who put in your head such a ridiculous principle, but you wasted your life. You almost wasted mine. The most I can do now is to struggle as well as I can with the pieces that remain.”
She looks away from you, and although she must be trying as hard as she can to prevent it, a tear rolls down her cheek. She wipes it quickly. You can’t imagine her saying anything. In any other circumstance, having to handle far less hurtful comments, she would have tried to excuse herself and walk away.
“I’m an idiot, mom”, you say quietly. “So are you, and so is every other person I have ever come across. We have no clue what we are doing, and we keep hurting others without meaning to.”
Mom has lowered her head, and seems frozen. Having to deal with any of what you are making her feel right now would involve rejecting everything she has built her life on. It’s far too late to turn back.
You dry your eyes and sniffle. You decide the last words you will ever say to this person for the rest of your life.
“That day I disappeared forever, right as I was about to leave our home I saw you sitting in the living room’s sofa as you were reading a book. I didn’t say anything to you, because I didn’t want to handle you looking at me with disappointment, nor have to face my own resentment.”
You walk up to her, hold the back of her head and kiss her on the forehead.
“Goodbye”, you say.
You turn around and walk without looking back. It takes a couple of minutes for your throat to loosen up, for your lungs to hold the air properly, and for the tears to stop dripping from your chin.

The closer you get to your high school, the fewer people you come across. In your real life you never returned to this place, you never faced all those people who turned their backs on you. As you stand in front of the fence that surrounds the school grounds, you don’t spot a single soul moving behind the windows, nor can you hear anything but the wind and the distant traffic. After you enter the high school you walk by the lockers, then your steps echo down the hallway. You walk up the stairs to the second floor and go down the current hallway towards your class, although you need to follow the signboards that show the class numbers.
You stand in front of the door to what used to be your high school classroom. You hold the handle and close your eyes. You can’t hear a thing beyond your breathing. Maybe this witch-created simulation is hiding that whenever you decide to open the door you will face all of the half-remembered classmates that you never got to know properly beyond how they rejected you. You picture them all around you, the same way you did in the previous world whenever you couldn’t force yourself to return to your classes. Those faces and so many others in your life that regarded you the same way. In the theater of your mind you see them glaring at you, laughing at you, criticizing you, questioning your very existence, and everything else that in the past used to make you wish you could run to a dark room, crouch against a corner and see nothing but the enclosed space in front of you. Now you let the tide of foul emotions wash over you as you hold on tight, and when you open your eyes again you find yourself standing on your own two feet.
You open the door. Leaning against one of the tables close to the windows is a girl of around twenty years old. Her skin is strikingly white, close to the color of snow, but her long hair, which comes down to her waist, is even whiter. She’s wearing the female uniform: a short sleeved shirt with a navy blue bowtie, a blue plaid skirt that hugs her slender waist and that exposes half of her white thighs, and knee-high black socks. When you hold her gaze, her eyes smite you: the irises are black, and the pupils are white, vertical slits.
The girl smiles as if she couldn’t wait to welcome you. She speaks with a self-assured, intelligent voice.
“Congratulations, Subaru. You passed the first trial.”
When your bewilderment clears out, you take a step forward.
“Who are–“
The girl narrows her eyes, and as if she had just shot you in the head, you feel something open in it. A flood of moments spreads through the confines of your mind as if demanding you to revisit them. You stood at the base of a hillock as you looked up at this girl. You drank her tea mixed with her saliva. You annoyed the hell out of her until you made her cry. She granted you the qualification to participate in the trials.
“Echidna”, you say.
She smiles.
“Yes, that’s the one. The devious witch who prepared these trials a long, long time ago. What did you think of your experience, Subaru?”
You are trying hard not to look below Echidna’s eyes at the way her clothes complement that beautiful, pale body.
“First, let me tell you that you look fucking amazing in that high school outfit, Echidna. I mean, I don’t think I have retained half of the words you just said to me.”
She wields a charming smile that her intense, black gaze doesn’t blunt. Echidna steps forward and then spins around a couple of times, making her skirt twirl. You feel the tingles, and you swallow to recover yourself.
“Echidna, you old witch… That simulation was something else. I knew you were powerful, but shit, that was some god-level stuff.”
“I’m glad you appreciate it. I will let you in on a secret, Subaru. It just happens that every contestant unknowingly grants me access to all of their memories, from their first recollections as a baby to the moment when they entered the antechamber at our tomb and passed out. So I know plenty of things now. Starting with the fact that you are a very interesting man, Natsuki Subaru. The most fascinating news in hundreds of years, in fact.”
She’s breathing deeply while staring at you as if you are a scientific breakthrough. It makes you shudder, but not entirely uncomfortable. It feels as if she wants you, your entire being, without discarding a single atom.
“I just realized the obvious”, you say, startled. “You have built this very room, and I doubt there’s any school resembling my old one in your fantasy world, so that means…”
“I will correct you, Subaru, on behalf of the people of this world. You keep referring to it as a ‘fantasy’ world, but it only serves to regard its inhabitants as mere characters in a play. I agree that this reality resembles to a significant extent the imaginings of artists from your previous world, but that’s one of the miracles of the multiverse. You need to give us some credit. We have been surviving in this reality of ours, which is now and for the foreseeable future yours as well, for a long time.”
You must have stood there with your mouth hanging open for a while, merely staring into this witch’s black eyes. You have tried for as long as you’ve wandered around in this kingdom to get through people’s heads that you came from a completely different world, and here is a person to whom you don’t have to explain anything. She has seen every memory of yours, she says. You swallow.
“You mean you know that I have died, and that when that happens…”
Echidna tilts her head and slightly raises an eyebrow as if amused because you are using a wildly imprecise euphemism.
“That you have died? How many times did you jump from that roof so that weirdly shaped fence could behead you? Do you want me to tell you the exact number? All because you wanted to repeat those two days again, sometimes just to get drunk with the same wines you had stolen in the previous iteration. Or to have sex again and again with your beloved. You have some wild ways of putting a witch’s blessing to use.”
Echidna has seen every moment of your life like you did through your eyes. She has witnessed all the deranged shit you have done, and she doesn’t just stay there, leaning against that table, she’s staring at you as if she accepts it all. No, as if she wants it all.
Overwhelmed, you rub your eyes for a moment, trying to digest the news at breakneck pace.
“You know, Echidna, other people must freak out when you tell them that you know everything about their lives, far beyond the extent than any other regular being would be able to. But I’m relieved. It’s been so hard to get people to understand. Like that one time I had to argue with what seemed like everybody in my new life because I needed to kill myself, and they wouldn’t leave me the fuck alone. But you get it, don’t you?”
“I do. You are a god-like being’s mortal favorite, and you have unlimited lives to spend.”
Your mouth is dry, and it’s getting hard to get a handle on the vortex of thoughts swirling in your mind. You can’t possibly grasp all the consequences of this unimaginably powerful dead witch knowing every single detail of your life. Still, the relief is making you want to choke up.
“You know, if I had imagined this moment, when I would face someone who would properly understand the shit I have gone through, I would have thought it would be more climactic.”
“Yes, I know what you mean. But that’s life, isn’t it? It rarely lives up to our expectations.” She gives you a smile that would make any man shiver. “You hold an unimaginable power that has gone relatively untapped. You can do anything, have everything. You escaped death in so many occasions, you may as well be considered immortal.”
“Well, what do you, a super powerful dead witch from the pre-Apocalyptic world, think about this whole shit? Is it as wild for you as it is for me?”
Echidna looks to the side to think about it. From your previous interaction with this witch you remember her almost putting on airs, or desperately trying to prove herself, as a self-described repository of knowledge of the world, after four hundred years of isolation had stolen her access to pretty much anything else but her dream-like grass world. Now she seems relaxed.
“During our first interaction you were as rude and disrespectful as nobody had been to me in my long existence. Worse yet, you touched me right where it hurts the most. But you were right, I didn’t have a clue. For starters, I now understand that you are as rude and disrespectful to everyone you come across, so I can’t feel special about that.”
“I’m not sure if I can deny that characterization of myself, but I had to figure out if Emilia was fine, and you were trying to delay me by involving me in your fetishes. You know, that whole making a stranger drink your saliva stuff. Which is fine, I mean. It’s just that it felt I was short on time at the moment. I’m okay with you now, you seem pretty cool.”
Echidna puts her hand on her mouth and laughs softly.
“Why, thank you. And now you understand me as well, what I am capable of, so we are even.”
“What’s your deal, Echidna? That Witch of Envy traitor just repeats ‘I love you’ over and over and sends me to the past, but you seem much more put together for a four hundred years old dead lady.”
She holds your gaze intensely, as if pleased that you want to know.
“It’s simple. I’m the Witch of Greed, and I want everything. Predictable, isn’t it?”
“Is it because you have to live up to that moniker?”
Echidna laughs, sounding as if she’s having the time of her life.
“Amusing a dead witch who has been trapped for hundreds of years… You are one peculiar man. Of course, I know that you aren’t aware, but in this world of ours when people are born there is a chance that they will be blessed or cursed, depending on how you see it, with certain incarnations of concepts. It just happened that I was granted the maximum exponent of greed. I don’t have to force myself to live up to anything, the same as Daphne, the Witch of Gluttony, cannot help but feel an all-consuming hunger every moment of her life. Such are the burdens we bear.”
“I see… But you didn’t want the clown’s money when I offered it.”
She dismisses the suggestion by waving a hand.
“There’s nothing more dull and empty than money. No, I want a taste of every fact of this world, or I guess now of every world, as well as of all the experiences and emotions. Every single possible one. I feel a curiosity that cannot be quenched, I cannot help but needing more and more. And I also want all the time in the world to be able to achieve this impossible goal.”
“That’s nuts, but surprisingly reasonable. Someone did mention to me that you were working on becoming immortal.”
Echidna lowers her head and sighs.
“I was researching a way to live forever, but I ended up dying. That’s like the opposite result of what I intended.”
“Because that Satella bitch killed you, didn’t she?”
She looks up at you again. She tightens her lips and nods slowly.
“The Witch of Envy, more appropriately. But yes, she ruined everything. She caused us to be thrown into this prison that we might never be able to escape. Can you imagine how hard it is to remain sane in such circumstances, no matter how powerful we are?”
“You seem… pretty sane, despite the whole drooling into people’s tea thing.”
“I’m really not, but I’ve had a long time to come to terms with my madness. However, I believe we have that in common, don’t we, Subaru?”
“Yeah, I suppose we do.”
You are feeling it bad. You hate that this person who knows everything about you, and whose words you are interested in hearing, has been jailed as a ghost in this ruin for hundreds of years. You want to save her. But she’s a witch of old, considered one of the most dangerous people to ever exist, and she herself said that she wants everything. You have no clue what means she would use to satisfy such a relentless need. Are you now like those stupid women who write to serial killers in prison and then they want to figure out a way to break them out?
“We got so derailed from my original question”, Echidna says. “I want to know how you feel about your experience with the first part of my trials. That’s the whole point of all this.”
“Ah, yes!”
You walk up to Echidna and put your hands on the dead witch’s shoulders. She’s surprised for a brief moment, but then she looks up at you with her black eyes as if this is just the kind of stuff you do.
“You should patent this shit, Echidna, or set up a clinic or something”, you say excitedly. “You must have learned about therapists and psychiatrists from my memories of my previous world, right? You could make a killing. Wait, you aren’t interested in money. But you would be able to get the memories of everyone you helped, and in turn they would make psychological breakthroughs, work through their traumas. It would help a lot of people.”
Echidna’s eyes widen a bit. She looks as if she hasn’t been taken seriously by anyone for quite some time.
“That… does sound nice. But I’m dead, Subaru. My range of operations is seriously constrained.”
“Yeah… I keep forgetting that you are a ghost.”
You feel sad. Then you stop resting your hands on the witch’s shoulders to instead hug her tightly, lifting her off the ground and spinning for a bit. Echidna lets out a few weird noises between incredulity and amusement. The old witch’s smell reminds you of an antique shop, but the slender body pressed against your own feels as young and solid as they come. When you finally lower her to the floor and you pull away from her, she has blushed, and is having trouble holding your gaze. You stare at her intently.
“My lovely yet terrifying Echidna, even though those weren’t my real parents, and that you had ulterior motives for putting me through that simulation, I managed to say to those two past owners of mine everything I would have never been able to otherwise. I got closure. I feel cleansed, a weight lifted off my shoulders and all that. And it’s thanks to you, old broad. I could kiss you.”
“Now now, calm down!”, Echidna shoots back, her cheeks puffed and red. “The trial was supposed to be difficult, it should require a significant change in your perspective, but you cleared it almost immediately. Also, you are still holding my waist. You are being too inconsiderate with a maiden trapped for hundreds of years.”
You stop touching the witch, and step back.
“I would apologize, but not only I don’t feel like doing so, you don’t look as if you disliked it.”
“A maiden’s body is still a maiden’s body, no matter how long it has been trapped. It responds to stimulus. You are a stimulus.”
“Well, I’m glad I got to stimulate that dried up body of yours. Regarding your comment, though, that test came way too late for me. I have already gone through so much shit in this current world that I had to figure those things out on my own to keep pushing forward. So for me it was mostly a nice way to see my parents for the last time.”
Echidna swallows and tidies up her clothes.
“You are right, I vastly underestimated you. It just means I’ll need to make a more interesting maze for the next segment of your trial.”
You smile.
“A maze, huh? And I’m the rat that would run through it? Is that your perspective?”
“That is one way to describe it, yes. Every interaction with the world and its inhabitants is an experiment, and I’m eager to see the results. It just happens that when you push people to the limits, they produce the most interesting results.”
“I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I’m afraid I won’t see your next maze, dear old witch.”
She frowns slightly, and her smile drops.
“Your people are trapped in Sanctuary. You need to break the barrier. I wouldn’t be able to lift it if I wanted to make things that easy, because in my current circumstances I don’t have the means to undo what I set up those hundreds of years ago.”
“Someone needs to break the barrier, for sure. But Emilia should be the one to do it. You saw her in my memories. She needs this for her aspirations, and to feel better about herself. A bit of therapy would help. Don’t worry, I will visit you again for sure, you old bones.”
Echidna seems frustrated.
“You are way too casual about how often you will be able to meet me.”
“What, you don’t want to?”
“The requirements for a living being to access the death-dream get more and more harsher. It might easily come to a point in which you won’t be able to do so again.”
Your mood sours. It seems you really want to keep seeing this black eyed loon, no matter how much she drools in your beverages.
“Your mind could become seriously unstable”, she continues. “As a practical immortal, Subaru, it all goes to waste if your mind breaks. I will do my best to keep you stable, but even I can’t promise anything.”
“Then I’ll look forward to drinking more of your spit.”
Echidna blushes even harder, a huge contrast with her snow white skin, and looks around as if trying to compose herself. She clears her throat.
“You have unsettled this maiden a bit too much for the moment, Subaru. I will bid you farewell until the next time. I hope you decide to attempt the next segment of the trial, though.”
The edges of the classroom are fraying quickly, and the surrounding furniture is vanishing.
“Probably not, Witch of Greed”, you say with a smile. “Emilia needs this, I think. I have always sensed that she has some tough shit to work through regarding whatever happened in her childhood. This might be her only opportunity, and I certainly cannot help her at all. So she’ll be the one to lift the barrier.”
The world has already gone white. You are both floating in nothingness, and even the witch herself begins to fade away. She gives you a look between frustration and apprehension.
“I wouldn’t count on it. Until next time, Natsuki Subaru.”

You are lying on the flat stones of the antechamber, resting on your forearms, and when you try to sit up and breathe, you cough for a while as if you had been breathing dust. Your mouth is dry, and you swallow to produce enough saliva again.
You are dazed as if you just woke up from a nap that ended suddenly. While you rub your eyes, you try to gather your thoughts. You went through the trial, you remember that well. You met a simulation of your parents, and although you get the sense that it should have traumatized you, you feel lighter, calmer. For a nasty trial set up by some witch of old, it was oddly beneficial to your mental health. How did it end, though? You recall standing in front of the door to your old classroom. You grabbed the handle, opened the door, and… nothing, you returned to reality. For some reason you are sure that you have passed the first trial, even though nothing in the simulation confirmed it.
Emilia! You remember that she must be here as well. She’s lying where you last saw her, near the center of the antechamber, lying face down as if she almost avoided faceplanting. You call out her name and run to her side. You hold her in your arms to sit her up. Her face still twitches as if she’s suffering through a nightmare, but that twelve year old elf who is somehow a grandmother had said that Emilia’s trial must have ended. Should your risk waking her up?
You can’t deal with the idea that she’s experiencing a nightmare and yet you will just wait for her to snap out of it. You shake her while repeating her name, and she finally opens her eyes. She stares at you with a blank expression. Midway through saying your name, it’s as if some horrible image flashed in her mind. Emilia grimaces, her cheeks twitch, and she shrieks so loud that it makes you hunch over and clench your teeth.
“Emilia, it’s alright! You are awake now! You don’t–…”
The half-elf holds her head with both hands as if she fears it would burst otherwise. She tries to roll around in your arms, but you hold her tight.
“I-I didn’t want to!”, she says with a panicked voice. “It wasn’t me! P-Please don’t leave me! No! Don’t leave me alone! I didn’t mean it!”
Your heart is pumping hard, and the warmth has escaped your body. Emilia doesn’t seem to understand that you are there, or that she’s awake. You hold her tighter, resting her face on your cheek, and she keeps pleading to some unseen ghost for a minute and a half until she passes out.

Note from December 2020:

Another emotionally taxing scene. Damn you Echidna, who is going through the trials here? Also, I just want to have that old witch around at all times.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 46)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry, Emilia kissed the protagonist without his consent, and he went on to threaten a bunch of people with murder.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.

Most of the people who matter in Sanctuary have gathered in the clearing right in front of the ancient witches’ tomb. Ryuzu repeated a few times that they consider each attempt to pass the trials a ceremony, so they brought some torches to line the path to the stone steps. The wavering light of the fire, under the chilly breeze, isn’t enough to light up the enormous entrance on the raised platform, and the combination of moonlight and starlight doesn’t make that stone mouth any less black.
You are standing next to Emilia at the base of the worn steps. Garfiel and his conspicuously young grandma are hanging out on one side of the path to the tomb’s entrance, and Ram and Otto on the opposite. Now it depends on when Emilia will decide to finally ascend the stone steps and venture into the cold darkness of a tomb that hosts the spirits of the worst witches to ever exist.
You want to put your hands on Emilia’s shoulders, and even hug her to make her feel better, but you realize that the presence of Roswaal’s dog, Ram, as well as Otto, who wants a piece of the half-elf, and Garfiel, who might at least mock you for displaying tenderness, make you contain yourself. This lovely girl who can shoot ice shards has already declared her love to you, and her sweet tongue caressed yours. You want nothing but the best for her.
Emilia turns to Garfiel, who was examining his long nails.
“Garfiel, don’t I need a torch to walk into the tomb?”
“Nah, the corridor will light up green. Just keep walkin’ straight and ya’ll hit the door of the chamber of trials. Could do it with yer eyes closed. The chamber is always lighted at night too, some magical blue glow or somethin’. Detail from that Echidna I reckon.”
Emilia turns her attention towards Ryuzu, who is standing there in her appropriately comfortable coat up to her mouth, and holding her staff-like cane.
“Have I forgotten anything, miss Ryuzu? Can I go in?”
“Yes, yes. You’re all set, dear. Good luck.”
Emilia tries to smile, but she’s too nervous even to pretend. She turns to you. You nod while corresponding her gaze with a calm one, although you are distraught that you won’t be able to help her inside of whatever kind of dream a four hundred year old witch has set up for the contestants.
“The traps won’t trigger for you, you know that already”, you say quietly. “You can do anything you set your mind to, Emilia. Quit stalling.”
She swallows, then nods.
She begins to walk up the stone stairs. Otto cheers her loudly, but he stops when Ram, standing close, shoots him a look of annoyance. Before Emilia ventures into the blackness of the enormous entrance, she looks back at all of you. You hold your hand up and she imitates you, but she looks somewhat gloomy. A few seconds after she enters the tomb, when your heart was beating louder, a bright, emerald-like glow escapes from the tomb’s entrance as if someone had turned on the lights.
“She did it!”, Otto says, “She solved it! Miss Emilia is the smartest and prettiest girl in the whole world!”
“Haah!? Ya get louder and dumber the more excited, small-timer”, Garfiel says, more amused than annoyed. “The green light is the tomb’s way of sayin’ that the hot princess is qualified, that’s all. She hasn’t had time to reach the chamber even!”
“You can relax for now”, Ryuzu says. “We already knew that the tomb wouldn’t reject her as violently as it did lord Roswaal, but now that we have the definitive confirmation, we can only wait for lady Emilia to finish, regardless of whether she passes the trials or not.”
You nod, and sit down on a stone step. It’s been a long day. You have wanted to sleep for a couple of hours. However, even if Emilia fails, you’ll go straight to meet with the clown. You can’t imagine how that conversation is going to play out. You haven’t seen him in so long that the lord must have turned into a sort of absent god for your deranged mind. You need to clear your thoughts.
A few minutes later, while Ram is speaking with Ryuzu far enough that you can’t hear their conversation, you notice that Garfiel, sitting on the grass but leaning against the lowest stone step, is stealing glances at the senior servant’s slender legs. Under the skirt of her outfit, her white stockings hug her flesh in a very appetizing way. Ram, as well as your girlfriend, have longer legs than their torso, which doesn’t hurt when them legs look so good. No, stop looking, you think. That’s your sister-in-law. Besides, you only need to remember Ram’s personality for her body to lose most of its sex-appeal.
You approach Garfiel from the side knowing that it will startle him, as concentrated as he is imagining himself fondling Ram. When you sit on the stone step that he’s leaning against, he turns his head towards you as if you were about to knife him, but he finds you smiling mischievously. Garfiel shifts his weight and shakes his head.
“Damn it, evil eyes! Sneakier than Yagomir Hurui at the siege of Turmedaf fortress! The hell ya want now!?”
“Be quieter. You are going to distract our senior servant, and she’ll stop offering that tasty view.”
“Hah! I’d say that’s a full time job for our eyes! But seriously, wut do ya want?”
“Just that. What, don’t you want to think and talk about Ram?”
After he responds so quickly without any hesitation, you know that you must be onto something.
“Is that so? Weren’t you licking those thighs of hers in your mind? She’s a pretty, fiery one, our senior servant.”
“Shut it! Damn half-pint. That Ram must be a master when it comes ta cookin’ and servin’. That’s it. And probably the sexiest one in the whole damn world, but her personality sucks!”
“Just your type, though.”
You smile, because Garfiel’s cheeks blush a bit. He then looks away from you as he crosses his arms.
“Ya schemin’ fool. Same as yer lord ain’t ya? Makin’ people feel weird all the time. So what if I like that Ram? Just says I got good taste.”
“Maybe you should tell her then. I mean, she seems so distant. Maybe she just needs a little attention.”
Garfiel’s expression darkens as he turns away from you. He clenches his fists and grits his teeth.
“She’s a servant fer a lord! Look at that pretty outfit. She’s livin’ the royal lifestyle while we’re stuck usin’ the shit leftovers! Are ya here justa make me feel bad, damn half-pint?”
“No harm in dreaming, though”, you say, barely containing yourself from chuckling. “Ram lying next to you on the grass, you stroking that soft pink hair, feeling her fit servant body against you, and as you come closer to her pretty mouth, she whispers the usual sweet nothings. ‘Consider yourself the luckiest man in the world because I agreed to lie next to you for a moment’. ‘You should clean your face more often, your pores are open’. ‘Your mouth smells like rotten meat. Do you ever brush your teeth?’ ‘You should do more exercise. Your body is all flabby’. ‘You call that a dick? I’d have more fun with the handle of a duster’. Thinking about it makes my blood run real hot.”
You stay silent as Garfiel makes a sour face. His expression then turns to one of gloominess.
“Ya damn lightweights must’ve so much fun out there with all them pretty gals, huh? Two girls come in from the world outside and they’re the hottest ever. Them Twelve Brides of Yseld makin’ everyone envious. Ya laugh at us because we must look like barn animals to ya damn noble-born, or noble-born look-alikes.”
You rest your face on your palm.
“You think too low of yourself, Garfiel. You are the strongest man alive. You just have to work on your approach. But I assure you that both Ram and Emilia are exceptions. If most girls out there were as hot as these two, we wouldn’t get anything done. Most men would lack enough blood in their brains. Truth is, the clown we have for a lord is a shady bastard, but he knows how to choose his servants. All of them gorgeous and dangerous.”
“Huh, not just ladies, but dangerous men as well”, Garfiel mutters. “Yer as weird and troublesome as they come.”
“You didn’t let me finish my point, though. Frederica is one of Roswaal’s chosen servants as well. I don’t know when was the last time you saw her, but man, she’s grown into one sexy lioness. When she offered me to wrestle for a bit, I almost fainted. Just imagining that blonde vixen pinning me down, pressing her chest against me… Shit, I think I’m getting hard. Don’t look.”
“… Ya know, yer breakin’ my damn brain. Things that come out of yer mouth, talkin’ about ‘Rica like that. If ya don’t want ta die, I don’t know what yer doin’.”
“What? I thought you didn’t care about that broad. Or did you pretend not to care but you actually hope Frederica was here squeezing you tight? Maybe I should return to the mansion and tell her to come over. I’ll reveal how much her bro misses her.”
Garfiel’s nostrils widen, and he snarls at you.
“Go eat a dick or something, will ya? Damn half-pint, things ya do make no sense! Craziest fool I ever met.”
You sigh.
“You know, when you called Roswaal a clown bastard, I thought that you were actually a cool guy. You can tell how much of a shady son of a bitch that lord of mine is.”
“Yer lord’s a fuckin’ creep, just like ya.”
“Yeah, well. We’re both stuck with him. You know, that damn bastard understood that a bad bunch of cultists were working on killing our hot princess, but Roswaal came to your hick town instead of staying home to figure out how to defend our lives. I had to break my back, rent a couple of armies and fight a real creep with multiple invisible arms. Plenty of our villagers were killed while our lord fucked around in your Sanctuary, mainly it seems because you didn’t let him leave.”
“Yeah? An’ what if I didn’t? Ya know, yer a moron fer ‘ssociatin’ with that clown in the first place. Ain’t that the truth? It is, I reckon. Clown’s as bad as they come, I can smell it.”
“As I said, I’m stuck with him.”
“More fool ya. I suggest ya off him an’ take his place, or leave.”
“Leave? Where would I go?”
“Dunno, about as far away as ya can, seems.”
“And leave Emilia, Ram, and all these people who matter? What kind of guy are you, Garfiel, to suggest such a thing? Maybe you are the one who betrayed Frederica, if you don’t understand something that simple.”
He holds his breath, but then shakes his head as if getting angry would play into your hands.
“Ain’t sayin’ I ain’t got regrets of my own, but whut I’m sayin’ is yer on a whole ‘nother level of regret. I’m just glad I ain’t in yer shoes. Sanctuary’s a small world, but it’s just how some like it. Big world out there. Too big, I reckon.”
You sigh and continue staring at the stars. You had expected Garfiel to sock you a couple of times during your conversation, but even after he didn’t, you were sure that he would have stood up and left, probably to return to his so called gran. However, he stays leaning against the rock step, not even bothering anymore to look over his shoulder in case you are about to stab him or whatever crazy shit he was imagining you were going to do. This damn idiot has spent his whole life in this dreary place. If there’s something beyond pity, it must be what you are feeling now.
Maybe an hour later the green glow shuts off. Ryuzu walks closer to the line of torches, and all of you imitate her. This must be the point in which the contestant appears at the mouth of the tomb, looking dejected probably, because nobody ever passed the trials. But a couple of minutes later, when Emilia should have been able to walk the distance from the chamber to the exit, nobody has showed up, nor can you hear anyone inside.
“This isn’t good, is it?”, Otto says, nervous. “I mean, I don’t know much about this ceremony or what the trials entail, but my gut tells me this isn’t right!”
“… It isn’t. Whether lady Emilia has passed the trial or not, she should have come out”, Ryuzu, despite her grandmother-like calmness, sounds uncertain. “There isn’t any point in lingering inside. But the trials are known to be emotionally taxing. Maybe we should give her a few more minutes.”
But when five more minutes pass with no sign of her, Ryuzu stares at Garfiel as if urging him to act. The punk stiffens, and looks as if she just ordered him to push his face into a spike.
“Ya kiddin’ me, old hag!? I ain’t gonna run in there! I ain’t gonna step into that place ever again!”
You take a deep breath.
“Well then. Cover me, Otto. I’m going in.”
Otto stutters as you walk by him.
“What are you talking about, Mr. Natsuki!? Cover you with what!? I know you managed to walk into that scary place full of traps once, but you don’t know if it’s going to work again! Maybe the spirit of that Echidna witch got confused the first time!”
“I guess I’m about to find out.”
Someone grabs your arm, which stops you. You had expected it to be Garfiel, because he didn’t want you to ruin the sanctity of the tomb or something, but you find yourself staring at Ram’s determined expression. She narrows her eyes.
“Mr. Suwen is right. You might walk a few steps into the tomb only for the traps to rip you apart. You don’t know what you are doing.”
You shrug and shoot her a look that you hope asks very clearly, ‘what do you care?’.
“In that case, Ram, I hope you stand over my mangled corpse, point at it and laugh.”
Ram is so stunned that despite her frown and the strength of her grasp, she lets you go when you yank your arm from her. You walk past, and she calls out to you.
“You better not die, Barusu. I don’t want to explain to lord Roswaal that I wasn’t able to protect you.”
You wave at her without looking back. You attempt to run up the stone steps only for your quickened breath to explain to you in no uncertain terms that you haven’t trained for this type of activity.
As soon as you find yourself shrouded by the darkness of the entrance, you extend your arms forward to run as far as possible but avoiding hitting your head on the door of the antechamber you are heading towards. A few meters in, the whole passageway lights up with the emerald-like glow that welcomed Emilia, that makes the stone passage look like a jungle exhibit in a zoo. You realize you have stopped in your path, and because you are holding your breath, you hear someone outside, maybe Otto given how loud he’s speaking, saying, ‘it recognized him as qualified’. You stop holding your hands in front of you, because the closed door to the antechamber waits a few dozen meters in front of you, and a slit of water-blue light escapes from under the closed stone door. You figure that this Echidna witch, who apparently set up these trials, had the means to create an automatic door that closes behind the contestant once he or she enters the antechamber. No wonder there’s so little technology in this world, in comparison with your previous home.
You sprint to the antechamber’s door and push it open. Emilia is lying on the flat stones, close to the center of the chamber, and she’s lying as if she suddenly fainted, barely avoided to faceplant, and as soon as she touched the flat stones she fell asleep. Her facial features are twitching like she’s suffering through a nightmare.
You were walking up to her to shake her, but someone speaks in your head. It’s your own voice, saying words you hadn’t thought.
“Behold the ungraspable past.”
You are overwhelmed with a sudden exhaustion that wins against your attempts to keep your eyes open. Your legs wobble, then fail to hold your weight. You find yourself falling to the flat stones, and only manage to break your fall with your forearms. A darkness envelops you.

Someone pulls your sheets, and both the sudden movement as well as the loss of your bed’s warmth wake you up. Then you feel two powerful legs tangling yours in a wrestling hold, and the pain of the twisted tendons and muscles in your legs makes you want to groan and tap out.
Dad stares down at you as he smirks, holding you immobile seemingly without effort.
“Time to wake up!”
“You should respect clock alarms!”, you shout with a raspy voice. “They do their job well enough! I don’t need this pain in my lower half to start a whole new day!”
“Huh. Yeah, right. You’re just lazy!”
“How? I’m already awake, aren’t I?”
He chuckles as he releases his hold on your legs. You fling your limbs to a more comfortable position. You glance at the window: must be around seven in the morning. They usually just left you alone until you chose to walk down to the kitchen.
Dad stands near your bed while holding his hands on his waist. As usual at this time of the morning, he’s naked from the waist up, showing off the athletic torso of someone who was already a star athlete in high school.
“C’mon, son! Your mother has prepared your breakfast already. It’s a whole new day full of opportunities!”
You rub your eyes and drag yourself to the edge of the bed. You don’t even want to rest your feet on the ground. You just want to lie down again, and for the mercy of another series of dreams to save you from starting yet again. But these people won’t let you, as usual.
“You should put on a shirt when you enter people’s bedrooms, dad! How many times do I need to tell you? Do you want to put weird, uncomfortable ideas in my head?”
Dad laughs, taking you as seriously as he’s always done. You are his little boy, and he is the omnipotent man who can do no wrong. Without needing to repeat that your breakfast is ready, he moonwalks out of your room. You hear him walking down fast the steps to the first floor.
You sigh, then rest your forearms on your thighs. Another day, huh? Gotta struggle through another twenty four hours of this life, of people expecting things from you, of a whole world waiting outside when you can barely step out of your parents’ front door without your chest tightening and your lungs making it harder for you to breathe. It would have been far better to remain unconscious, to have slept for some hours more. For days. For your entire life.
You walk down the steps towards the kitchen. Before you turn the corner you know you are going to find your dad and your mom sitting at the table, and your breakfast waiting in front of your seat. You take a deep breath. As usual, you’ll need to keep your head down. You can’t look at either of them in the face. You are not worthy of doing so, and you don’t want to see how they regard you, whether it is with pity or with disappointment. You don’t want to face any human being.
As you shuffle to your seat you realize that a mountain of peas awaits you instead of rice and fermented soybeans. The day just keeps getting worse. You sit down.
“I told you I can’t stand peas, mom. Hell, dad’s gotten his usual rice! What’s the deal?”
Mom is looking down at her bowl, idly stirring the rice with her spoon.
“Peas are good for you, a good source of nutrients”, she says matter-of-factly. “They prevent diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.”
“Am I not a bit too young to worry about any of those diseases!? At the moment it’s far worse that my stomach churns at the thought of filling it with these nasty green pellets of vegetable crap.”
“Excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate and potassium, Subaru”, mom adds. “Part of a balanced diet. Will give you energy.”
“It’s because he’s been playing too much, isn’t it?”, dad interjects. “All that running around and falling and whatnot. He needs more energy!”
You feel yourself going red as you hear your dad chuckling beside you.
“Yeah, I need a whole lot of energy to spend another day in my room reading manga and playing videogames”, you say with a somber voice.
Mom looks at you and frowns with disapproval. You only manage to hold her gaze for a moment, before you look down again. You feel unworthy of looking at anyone in the face, of occupying any space. You are just bothering everybody, making them question why you would be there to begin with.
“You should expend the extra energy going to school, then”, mom says calmly. “Otherwise you’ll go to bed in the middle of the night, as usual.”
“I’m not a kid anymore, I don’t need to go to school.”
You regret your words as soon as they come out of your mouth.
“You are too much of a grown up for high school, but not to work. Something isn’t right there, is it?”, mom asks. “A whole life of work will await you after these three years of high school, dear.”
You feel the usual burn in your chest. You want to grumble, you want to argue, you want to yell at them to leave you the fuck alone. Did I ask for any of this?, you think. I was so happy not being alive before you dragged me into this world. No, I wasn’t happy, I didn’t feel anything, I didn’t exist. It was so great. Now I’m thrown into this slavery in which I need to attend classes full of people who will look at me like I’m a complete idiot, a crazy person, someone to look away from because I keep embarrassing and annoying everybody. It’s torture. Is this truly what life ought to be? And then what, find a job in some office in which people will behave like in school, but just with older bodies. More responsibilities that I can’t deal with, more stress, more cliques that will never accept me, just so I can pay for a tiny apartment that will house my tired bones when I come back from work at night. This is the life you both condemned me to, mom and dad. Thank you so much.
You don’t look up at either of them again. You gobble down the disgusting peas trying to avoid tasting them, and once you finish enough of the bowl so mom won’t complain, you drink your tea in one gulp. You stand up.
“I’m going to my room”, you say with a hollow voice.
As you walk away from the kitchen towards the stairs, you can feel mom and dad’s gazes burning your back. Although they know that you won’t go to school today either, you don’t know if they’ll attempt to convince you or drag you somehow. You’ll need to be on guard, but it’s not like you can even avoid them entering your bedroom after they took the bolt out. Thinking you could hurt yourself, they said. That you were looking way too gloomy.
When you reach your bedroom and close the door behind your back, you take a deep breath and feel your anxiety lessening, although you know it won’t go away entirely. Never does. You sit on the edge of your bed and rub your eyes.
Hurt yourself, they said. And if you did, so what? It’s your life, they don’t own it. And you are a coward for not hurting yourself further. Those were cries for help. They shouldn’t have even had the chance to stop you, and if you were serious you would have done so. You should have ventured into that wide world out there, found some tall cliff and jumped headfirst. Just the thought of it is exhilarating. The moment that approaching ground crushed your brains, all this pain would cease. No more anxiety, no more dreading the future, no more living as if you are at the mouth of a long, darkened corridor that only leads to more blackness and loneliness and pain. Who would want any of it? Why should I want to struggle through it? There’s nothing out there waiting for me, nobody who would care. They all laugh at me, and I can’t understand them at all. I try to make them like me, but they just turn their backs. It wasn’t meant to be from the beginning. I’m just defective. I wasn’t built right. And it’s those two idiots’ fault. If they hadn’t thought, ‘hey, let’s bring an innocent soul into this horrible world so he can suffer through decades of this shit’, I wouldn’t have to feel this pain rotting me inside.
You end up as always at this hour: sitting on the floor while leaning against your bed and looking up at the clock that hangs on the opposite wall. One of those classical round clocks, cheap ones made in China. You are supposed to take a shower, dress yourself, grab your backpack and leave for school. The hands of the clock move from seven and a half forwards, second by second, minute by minute, as they approach eight, the moment you need to be in class. Your heart beats so loud it squeezes your throat. You feel light-headed, and the edges of your vision get filled with noise as if not enough blood is reaching your brain. You are looking at yourself from above. This isn’t your body anymore. You aren’t here, you are somewhere without anxiety, without pain, without this neverending dread. You feel dead, because you are supposed to be dead. This isn’t real, none of this is real.
Today wasn’t going to be it. Despite the piercing pain in your heart, you know you won’t find the strength. And it’s so hard to find the strength for something you have no wish to do. Why expose yourself voluntarily to shame, to ridicule, to anxiety? I can just stay here, can’t I? Is it so bad to spend your days in your bedroom, where nobody can bother you? There’s always more manga to read, and those wonderful stories will take you away from this miserable life. While they last, they will make you feel that things could be better if you were someone else, if you hadn’t been born to fail.
The hands on the clock move until you only have ten minutes to grab your shit and run like a madman to school. C’mon, Subaru. You can make it. Just dress yourself with some pants and a shirt, put on your shoes, grab your backback and run like hell. You just have to sit in your assigned seat in class. Maybe they won’t ask you questions. You don’t even have to look at the people that surround you. If they talk to you, you can ignore them. Just run there. It should get easier, mom says. Just pretend to be normal, and it will eventually become second nature. Reject all those defective parts of yourself that make you different from everyone around you. Whenever those impulses reach your brain, yell at them, push them down, lock them up in the abyss of yourself like the monsters that they are. But you are filled with those impulses, you can’t keep up. It’s a constant struggle. It’s so exhausting. Everything you feel is wrong. You should be like those people around you. You should be normal.
The hands of the clock move past eight. It’s too late. You can’t come late in your first day back, that would be ridiculous! You can’t go to school today either. It can’t be helped.
You let yourself fall to the carpeted floor and lay there. Your heart rate is lowering. Your lungs want to hold the air. You can rest for a bit. A few minutes later you’ll put on your earbuds, lie in bed and listen to music for a good while. You won’t have to think about your life, just feel that beautiful music made by people who have talent.
But they don’t want to leave you alone. It must be around nine and a half when you hear someone’s muffled voice over the music pouring into your ears. You lift your forearm from your eyes and look towards the door. Dad is standing there, and his mouth is moving. At least he’s put on a shirt.
You take a deep breath and clench your teeth, and when you feel that you will be able to speak without shouting, you yank the earbuds out.
“The hell you want, dad?”
He frowns at you.
“What did you say?”
“I said what the hell do you want, dad?”
“Shouldn’t it be something like, ‘did you want something from me, dear dad’? You don’t need to sound like a punk, do you?”
“Why are you saying that like it’s a bad thing? I’d think you, of all people, wouldn’t want me to start sounding like some stuck up rich kid.”
He sighs at that remark, but then motions for you to follow him.
“C’mon, get up, get dressed. We are going out for a walk.”
Your nostrils widen. Why don’t they leave you alone? Does everyone need to make your life harder, make everything more painful? Just leave me the fuck alone! Is it so hard, truly? Can’t you just forget that I exist?
“I don’t want to go out anywhere, dad”, you say with a thin voice.
“Yeah, some news. I’m not asking, Subaru. Get up. We’ll get some fresh air, talk for a bit.”
You obey, of course. It’s his house, and you know that if you refuse they’ll just keep giving you shit. You just need to give up a bit so they end up thinking they can’t possibly bother again you until some time has passed.
A few minutes later you are walking around the neighborhood. Dad is guiding you somewhere, and although you want to walk a few steps behind him, he makes a point of waiting until you both end up walking side by side. You walk through the path that runs along the riverbank, and at this hour you only come across people on their bikes, or older people walking their dogs. People your age are wasting their youth in school.
Quite a few people recognize your dad and greet him cheerfully. Maybe they know him from when he used to play sports, or from his job as a salesman. You don’t care who these people are, you just try to stand far enough from your dad that they aren’t so inclined to mention you or bring up your presence. Just ignore me, you think. Pretend I’m invisible.
One of the people that stop dad doesn’t get the hint. It’s an older guy in his late fifties, balding and with a carefree smile pasted on his face.
“Is this your son, Kenichi?”, he asks to your dad while pointing at you. “He’s grown so much, hasn’t he? I remember him from when he was a kid, running around with his friends, causing all kinds of mischief.”
“Yeah, that’s our Subaru. Always the joker.”
The guy keeps looking at you even though you are avoiding his gaze. Get the hint, old man!
“Ah, but at this hour, shouldn’t you be at school?”, the guy asks. “High school at this age, right?”
Dad scratches the back of his head, although he’s smiling.
“He’s at that age, that’s right, at which he doesn’t feel like going to school. We are working on that.”
“I’m going to be a big shot and not need to go through that hassle”, you attempt to reply camly, but it comes out whiny.
“Oh, of course! You have your dad’s genes, so you’ll probably win some competitions. Are you playing at any of the local teams?”
Although you want nothing more than to yell at the old guy to leave you the fuck alone, you stare at him.
“No, it seems that dad’s genes were wasted on me. I don’t have any talent, like at all. I’m completely worthless.”
The old guy’s face falls, but in a couple of seconds he just nods and smiles amicably as if you are bothering him for failing to respond in the way he had expected you to.
“Ah, you are joking. You are Kenichi’s son after all.”
You snort, and although you intended to seem defiant, you end up hanging your head low, shoving your hands on your pockets and walking further in the direction you were following before this old man bothered you. You hear your dad excusing you and then bidding the guy farewell.
You both end up in a large public park. Dad tells you to sit on a bench. The closest person is a housewife-looking woman walking her dog almost a hundred meters away. Dad comes with a couple of sodas, and after he sits down next to you, at least you enjoy the drink’s taste in peace for a minute or so, until dad brings himself to start bothering you.
“I wanted to have a serious conversation with you away from your mom. You know, talking man to man, or man to sort of man.”
“Very funny, dad”, you answer, annoyed. “Talk about what?”
“I know things have been stressful for you lately. So, you don’t have to say anything, but I’m just going to say a few things. I’m not telling you this because I’m your father, but as your friend.”
“Ah, we are doing the whole thing of you pretending to be my buddy instead of someone I have to obey because you produced my existence, and I live under your roof?”
Dad laughs.
“Well, you can see it that way if it pleases you.” He clears his throat and continues. “But listen, you know that you are stuck. I can’t push you to attend all of your classes all the time, because I would be a huge hypocrite. I used to ditch some classes to go have fun or train, or go after some girls other than your mom. Because I didn’t know your mom then, that is.”
“I don’t want to hear about you pursuing girls, dad! That’s horrifying.”
Dad puts on a silly grin.
“Well, those girls didn’t find it horrifying. I used to have so much action back in the day. You don’t want to go through life without having scored with high school girls!”
“I’m not listening.”
Dad takes a deep breath, and he suddenly sounds serious.
“Anyway, what I’m saying is that there comes a time in everyone’s life where they just need to choose a path for themselves. You are at that crossroad right now. But you don’t want to choose. Staying at home and refusing to even leave the house most of the days isn’t a choice. It’s refusing to face reality.”
“I’m facing reality. I know I’m talentless and weak, and annoying-“
“Stop right there.” Dad cuts you off. “You aren’t either of those things. You are a smart kid, you always were. You just gotta find out what you are good at. It doesn’t need to be what other people want you to do.”
You take a few seconds until you can loosen your throat.
“Maybe I don’t want to do anything anymore, dad. What’s the point?”
He looks at you with worry, even though he tries to smile as if there’s no problem.
“The point is to meet interesting people, to have great experiences, to find some great girl and romance the heck out of her. That’s the good stuff, isn’t it? That’s the whole point of all of this.”
“You don’t have a clue, dad.”
“This is just a bump on the road, pal. Once you start going to school again, you’ll get used to it. You don’t have to like it. I wouldn’t ask that. It’s society pushing these things on us. But getting through high school is what allows you to go to college, to find a good job-“
“And to wake up at six in the morning so I can work at some pointless nonsense and then return home, to the tiny apartment I should call a home, when it’s already dark outside? And romance a girl, huh? Let me tell you, dad, I don’t-…”
An image flashes in front of your eyes, blurrying and whitening the rest of the world. A beautiful girl maybe around eighteen or nineteen years old, with light blue hair, piercing blue eyes and a beautiful smile that lights up your heart. She’s wearing a black and white servant outfit that leaves her slender arms bare, as well as show a generous amount of cleavage. You can feel how much this girl loves you, and that you have loved her as well. No, you still do. More than anyone else in the entire world. You want to be there for her, embrace her, make her happy, spend the rest of your life caring for her, and one day marry her and have lots of children that you both will love so much. But you have never seen her before.
You tremble from head to toe. You hunch over and hide your face in your hands. This isn’t right. This world isn’t right.
“Subaru, what’s wrong?”, dad asks, worried, and he puts his hand on your shoulder. “You went pale all of a sudden.”
The image has already disappeared, but you can’t deny to yourself having seen it. You know her. You know that girl, that one person who loves you more than anything else. Where do you know her from? What’s her name?
You look at your dad’s face as if he could answer your questions. He is frowning with concern and his lips are moving, but you can’t hear him. A sweet female voice full of love sounds on your head instead.
“To be honest, I’m just happy we can be like this, just the two of us.”
Rem. That’s her name, you think. You exist out there. In another world. The world that ended up becoming my home.
You look around the park, at the couple of people walking their dogs. You hear the nearby cars, as well as a traffic light’s sound urging people to cross. Somewhere, someone is laughing. You turn towards your dad. He’s there, yet he isn’t. Your real parents must have seen your last moments in some security camera. There must have been some pointing at that spot of the street in front of the convenience store, where you suddenly popped out of existence. The police must have searched for you, even though they couldn’t have found you anywhere in the world. Your parents must have looked and looked for you. Maybe they are doing so still. You could hardly be any further away.
“Subaru, what are you thinking?”, dad asks cautiously.
You swallow, then you rest your forearms on your thighs.
“Dad… I wanted to be like you.”
He is stunned, as if he had only expected further dejection from you.
“What do you mean…?”
“Everything you did, it seemed as if it came easily. You were great at sports, everyone loved you, could get girls easily… You were living the life, weren’t you? You got married, you bought a nice two-story house, and had a solid job.”
Dad’s eyes cast downward as he starts playing with his wedding ring.
“I had a really happy childhood”, you admitted. “Even though I was a bit of a daydreamer, and didn’t keep the best of friends… I had something to look forward to. That’s what kept pushing me through the days. But as I got into middle school, when I had to push myself, I realized that I couldn’t cut it. I was barely average at sports, and in some sports even below average. Couldn’t run fast. Worse yet, people around me thought I was weird. The stuff that came out of my mouth… It came naturally. It was just the way I am. But it wasn’t normal, that’s what I kept hearing. I realized that I could find friends some other way. I didn’t have any talents, but I could make them laugh. I could bring them amazing adventures. So I kept pushing myself more and more. That one time that I left in the middle of the night so we could bike through town. That other time we broke into the school’s pool. Even stealing. You never found that one out, but plenty of the mangas and stuff I shared with my pals I never paid for. And every time, the stunt had to be bigger, wilder. One day I realized that some of the people I considered my friends weren’t finding it funny anymore. Then some others didn’t either. One day I found myself having to go out into the world, struggle through another day, and when I looked back I was alone. From then on, it never changed. The first days of high school were such an unmitigated disaster. I tried to interact with people the only way I knew how, but I guess I came off as a complete weirdo. The way they looked at me… I heard some girls calling me a creep. And one day I looked up from my desk only to realize that everybody had changed seats to be away from me. Then I understood that I was a pest. I would keep bothering or even hurting whoever I touched. I had tried, but I wasn’t made for it. I didn’t have anything to do in this life. It was a mistake, my whole being alive shouldn’t have happened.”
Dad is looking at the ground, but after a few seconds he stands up and stares at you with an intense expression. He raises one leg as if stretching.
“Dad headbutt!”
He suddenly lowers his leg to knock you on the head with the heel. You fall from the bench. As you try to stand up, you rub the sudden pain in your scalp.
“That’s not even a headbutt! At least learn the proper names of your moves!”
Dad is smiling as if he’s made a breakthrough.
“You were acting out because you couldn’t be as awesome as your dad? You idiot! You don’t have to be like anyone else, you just gotta be you. Was grandpa any good at sports? Do you think that it’s passed down like a family legacy? I just found out I was good at it and, more importantly, I liked it! You just gotta find something you are good at and you enjoy, no matter what it is. And those assholes at school, well, you were a bit of a weirdo, and that’s alright. Once you come back and don’t feel like acting out, you’ll find people who will like you for who you are. And if nobody does, it doesn’t matter. High school will end and you’ll move on to bigger adventures.”
You look at your hand in case there’s blood on it.
“Damn, I’m going to get a headache. Don’t worry, dad, I already found that out by myself. You come a bit too late.”
As you stand there and look at your dad, your throat closes up. He’s truly here, in this park. All of your senses tell you this is real, and yet it’s a temporary world that will cease. You used to have so much trouble even staring at him. You didn’t feel like you deserved to hold anyone’s gaze.
“You don’t have to worry about me. I can go to school, no problem. I’ll return as soon as possible.”
“Even today? You’ll have classes for a few more hours.”
“Sure. I’ll go home and get my backpack.”
Dad looks both happy and stunned, as if he can’t believe the sudden change he sees in you, and yet can’t doubt your sincerity.
“That’s great. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough. And believe me, once high school passes, you’ll feel like a fool for worrying so much about the stuff that went on there, even though any problem felt like the end of the world.”
You give him the thumbs up.
“Besides, I have already done all that stuff about girls and friends. I met some of the coolest people in any world, and most importantly I found the love of my life. She’s gorgeous, sweet, kind, she would let a flying whale eat her to save me, and she loves crushing people’s heads with a customized flail! I would love to introduce her to you both. She’s feeling a bit under the weather at the moment, but I’ll get that sorted out too!”
Dad is confused for a moment, but he pumps his fist and smiles triumphantly.
“She sounds fierce! Are you serious with this girl?”
“Oh yeah, I’ll marry her, have an irresponsible amount of children and everything.”
“Wonderful! Then I look forward to me and your mom living in your house when we get old! After all, you are our only son.”
Your throat closes up, your chest tightens, and a rush of warmth fills your head, blurrying your vision. You try to hold it by clenching your teeth, but you shiver from head to toe, and the tears fall from your eyes and your nose like from open faucets.
“I can’t… I won’t be able to do that, because I won’t see you guys ever again. I’m sorry…”
As you sob noisily and your back convulses, your dad approaches you carefully and pats you on the head.
“You are always a handful.”
A couple of minutes later you have calmed down. Dad is worried, but your genuine smile convinces him that you have left behind whatever came over you.
“I need to go run some errands”, he says. “You are getting your things and going to school then?”
“That’s right”, you say with a smile. “You don’t need to worry about that, I’m telling you. And regarding what we were speaking about, I know damn well I don’t need to be you, or anybody else. I’m Natsuki Subaru, and I’m the only one who can be me. You’d be so proud, dad. I’ll become a knight, confuse people with some magic spells, defeat some more fools, and return my love to life. I’ll be the founder of the Natsuki dynasty, which will become a legend in my new world. I am a bit sad for you, dad, getting stuck in this hick dimension. I’ve grown too large for it.”
Dad closes his eyes and grins.
“That’s a whole load of nonsense, son. I’m glad.”
With that, dad walks away for the last time.

Note from December of 2020:

Credit where credit is due, both the ‘dad headbutt’ as well as Subaru tearing up are moments from the original novel (as well as the anime adaptation), but they were too perfect not to use them in this weird, AI-fueled retelling. And man, this was one emotionally taxing scene to write.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 45)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry we learned that some blackmailing kidnappers can be quite nice, that the shy princess is the only one who can pass some psychologically scarring trials, and that the protagonist freaks Garfiel up.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.

During the meal, that had already started when you managed to find your pals, Ram told you that Roswaal had congratulated you for your enormous effort in defending the village from the Witch’s Cult, but that he wasn’t ready to meet with you until tonight, around midnight. Ram didn’t seem to know why, but you figure that she’s simply following orders. When you all finish eating and people start getting up, Emilia, concerned, tells you that she’s going to speak with someone by herself. You end up hanging out with Otto and checking out a couple of local taverns, or what passes for them in Sanctuary. Your efforts at regaining some normality by lounging in a tavern turn into a bunch of half-beast people asking you loads of questions about the outside world. Fortunately they seem curious instead of hostile, and word has gotten around that you are here to help, so you didn’t even have to pay for your drinks.
You try to avoid getting drunk, although you are a bit light-headed by the time you exit the last tavern. You both head back to what looks like the center of the village, that church-like building with the big clock which you can see often in the distance, despite the tall trees of the enclosing forest. Once you spot Otto’s carriage as well as both ground dragons, who are curled up and sleeping in a nearby, mostly open barn, you see that Emilia is leaning against the carriage as if waiting. When she sees you she looks relieved, although the underlying worry is obvious. She runs up to you.
“Subaru, can we speak? I’m sorry, Otto, but I mean to speak with him in private.”
Otto’s pleased smile, one that lights up his face whenever the beautiful half-elf is around, fades a bit. You guess the merchant dreams with being in your shoes, but then again he doesn’t actually know what’s like to be in your head. In he did, he likely wouldn’t associate with you.
“That’s alright!”, Otto says. “I hope you are doing well. You have certainly regained the color since the meeting… Anyway, I’ll go check out the church and see how the villagers are holding up!”
Once Otto leaves, Emilia gets closer to you and looks up at your eyes as if she wishes you both were sitting against that rock planter in Roswaal’s yard, when the rest of the world seemed to have disappeared.
“How are you feeling, Emilia?”, you ask softly. “I’ve been wanting to ask you ever since Ram told you about being trapped here.”
She looks towards the forest that starts behind the line of villager houses.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m well at all, but at least I’m moving on to figuring out what to do about this. Please, let’s venture further into the forest for a bit of quiet.”
You both start walking towards the dense treeline.
“Are you sure that it’s fine? Aren’t we going to come across monsters or something?”
“I’ve been walking along the treeline, and nothing’s happened. Besides, we’re in the daylight and I’m with you. I should be fine.”
You are content enough that the half-elf is making a joke. As if you could protect her at all. However, if there were monster nests around, Sanctuary would have probably ceased to exist hundreds of years ago.
“Well, if you say so.”
The two of you walk into the forest for a good five minutes. You find yourselves in a secluded part where the fallen trunks of a few long dead trees make the closest thing to a clearing here. You are surrounded by trees and silence. Not even the birds chirp. It’s like the world forgot about this place.
“This is nice change, I admit”, Emilia says with a tired voice. “As we were travelling here, the forest didn’t suggest it would contain safe, quiet places like this. And all the forests near our home are the homes of monsters and bandits.”
“One would think that Roswaal would do something about that. But then again, I guess I know better.”
You sit down on one of the fallen tree trunks while Emilia leans against it, her eyes closed and taking in the silence.
“Why do you put up with him? He’s using you.” You realize that you have spoken without realizing it. Apparently you have reached that point in your relationship with Emilia in which your brain lets your mouth verbalize some thoughts unimpeded. “Sorry, it just came out. I know that even if you didn’t like him, you need him for the royal candidacy.”
You were a little worried that your verbal jab would bother her, but instead she opens her eyes and sighs.
“Yes, I know he’s using me. And I’m using him. I prefer to interact with people with which I can just be myself, as it is the case with you. But I’d be dead without lord Roswaal’s help. The Witch’s Cult would have gotten me. For that alone I owe him my loyalty, and I guess royalty.”
You chuckle nervously. You can barely believe what you are hearing.
“Emilia, I don’t want to brag or anything, or maybe I do, but Rem and me organized the defense. We were the ones who convinced Crusch’s as well as Hoshin’s armies to rush to Roswaal’s mansion. And even if Roswaal got injured here, it still doesn’t explain why the hell he came to Sanctuary when he knew that the cult would attempt something, after he presented you at the royal summons.”
The half-elf smiles gratefully at you.
“I meant beyond what you have done. Believe me, I have integrated how you defended me. I only meant that I call Roswaal’s mansion my home, and that the other camps wouldn’t have helped you if I were some random half-elf milling about, instead of someone under the care of lord Roswaal.”
You shrug.
“Yeah, you have a point there. Not that I like it.”
Emilia slides her foot back and forth for a while, and you enjoy the silence until she speaks again.
“I met with lord Roswaal a while ago.”
“What? I had asked Ram if I could speak to him, and she told me that he would only see me around midnight.”
“… That would be after I attempt to pass the trials. It seems he wants to speak to you after he learns the result, or maybe so you could tell him.”
You stand up and walk up to her side, so you can stare at Emilia from up close. She smiles, but she lowers her face.
“You will enter the witches’ tomb tonight?”, you ask slowly. “Already?”
“Of course, Subaru. I want to leave this behind as soon as possible. And it’s what Roswaal recommended as well.”
“But you don’t even know if you’re going to pass. And that’s a really dangerous thing, Emilia.”
“Well, you’ll be there, so it should be fine.”
You wince a little as she says this. Emilia means it. Your heart hurts partially because someone you like has managed to care for you this much, but mainly because you know that you can’t help Emilia pass the trials at all. Support won’t be enough.
You put a hand on her bare shoulder.
“Listen, Emilia… If you don’t pass the trials tonight, don’t lose hope, alright? It seems you can try over and over. Even the hardest, most painful thing can be tolerated if you get closer to success each time. And of course I’ll be there for whatever you need.”
She looks up at you with watery eyes and swallows air as if to hold back tears. She sniffles a bit and then smiles as she touches your hand on her shoulder.
“Thank you, Subaru.”
You let her have a moment, but then you ask about what’s been burning on your mind.
“What did Roswaal say, Emilia? How did he justify his actions until this point, or what course of action he suggested for getting out of here in one piece?”
Emilia looks to the side as if putting her thoughts in order.
“First I was shocked by how injured he seemed. I mean, his face didn’t suggest any pain, but I don’t think you could ever tell with our lord. I have never seen him look any other way than like someone who knew what was going to happen, smiling as if could have said for you the sentences that would come out of your mouth.”
“Yeah… That’s terrifying.”
“He was bandaged from the neck down. Most of the bandages were bloody as well, although the blood seemed dry. When I managed to focus on our conversation, Roswaal suggested that my presence in Sanctuary was an opportunity, that by passing the trials not only I would gain the favor of the villagers, and I mean our villagers, but also gain points for my candidacy for the throne.”
You frown and shake your head.
“I’m not surprised that he sees everything from that angle, but still, how is breaking a barrier in a secret village deep into the lord’s territory going to help your candidacy?”
“Apparently Sanctuary is a secret for regular people, and even for some members of the most important households, but not for the higher-ups, and certainly not for the council of elders. Spies everywhere, I guess. So they would know I managed to solve a problem that nobody had for hundreds of years. And they believe me to be related to Satella, so helping a town instead of, I don’t know, drowning it in shadows, might make them lean towards leaving me alone with such accusations.”
“Must be so exhausting constantly having to think in those terms. But then again, I wouldn’t know what to do if I were a royal candidate. What a disaster that would be.”
Emilia nods, then sighs.
“I’m sorry, the meeting ended with Roswaal suggesting that I attempted to pass the trials, or at least the first one, tonight. I was so dazed, as I have been since I woke up from whatever the barrier did to me, that I didn’t think of bringing up anything else, such as the Witch’s Cult assault on the village and my life.”
“It’s alright. I’ll speak with him around midnight, regardless of what happens with your trial. I will force him to explain himself. I haven’t fought so hard to return to your side to let the guy pretend that he didn’t shirk his duties. Roswaal should have been there, fighting alongside us.”
A small tear escapes from her right eye, and she gives a sad smile.
“I’ll try my best, I promise.”
Emilia hugs you tightly. You embrace her as well. A few seconds later, as you feel her heart beating against your chest and her breath warming your neck, she speaks as if she wished she didn’t have to.
“Frederica betrayed us, Subaru.”
You pull away from the hug and look into her eyes, which are now watery.
“… Yeah, what she did was shady as hell. I had been thinking about her words, how she approached you when she gave you that magic crystal. She knew what would happen.”
Emilia closes her eyes tight. It squeezes a tear, which runs down her cheek.
“You grabbed the pendant because you thought it would hurt me, even kill me, and as a result you were sent close enough to the witches’ tomb. I think I would also have wandered in, which would have started the trials, but in your case it should have killed you due to the traps. It’s a complete mystery why it didn’t affect you. Frederica’s negligence almost killed you, Subaru. I don’t think I will be able to forgive her for that.”
“It’s my damn habit of putting myself in danger so others don’t have to suffer. I’m more annoyed because Frederica should have said that if you came you wouldn’t have been able to leave. It means that she intended you to go through the trials, which will fuck with your mind. We are getting used left and right.”
“Mind fuck is an understatement.”
You chuckle softly.
“I hadn’t heard you say that word or a variation in too long.”
“You were the one who taught me it. I was a proper lady when you met me.”
Even though Emilia is joking around, you feel guilty, as if you wiped your ass with a painting.
“… Sorry about that.”
“It’s fine, I’m just messing with you. But Subaru, even though it’s probably not a good idea to bring it up now, you said that you have a habit of putting yourself in danger so others don’t have to suffer. And it’s true, of course. You have done it for me, you intended to do it at the royal summons, and after what you explained of your relationship with Rem, it’s obvious that you want to die for people you care about. You need to value your life more.”
You avoid her gaze. Beyond the fact that you can’t make her understand that you can save people through dying, horribly even, you want to disagree.
“Maybe the value of my life is that I can sacrifice it for the people I love, or even like to a significant extent. Is that a truly a bad thing? I’m okay with it. It’s not like I’m some awesome person that can do great things otherwise, or has some special talents.”
“That’s not true. You have so much potential, Subaru…”
You hold the back of her head to hug her again, and like she was waiting for it, she leans against you and lets out a soft noise of satisfaction, as if she wants nothing else than to stay like this for the rest of the day.
“Love makes people say some wild things”, you reply. “I can do important stuff now, but I remember clearly that for most of my life I couldn’t do shit. I would have lived an unimportant life, probably working at some office or shop, and after I died I would have been forgotten by history. Buried to become one with the dirt. I hold some regrets from who I was before I met all of you, particularly things I never got to say, but right now the fact is that because I sacrificed myself, risked everything, I can hold on to you now, Emilia, and for that I’m as happy as can be.”
Emilia puts her hand on the side of your face and stands on her tiptoes, and before you know it you feel her warm lips on yours. Her wet, hot tongue enters your mouth and licks yours slowly and lovingly, as if you both were lying in bed and holding each other under the covers while draped in darkness. Emilia keeps her eyes open the entire time, staring into your own.
Your mind had gone blank, and when you snap out of it, you feel the blood accumulating in your crotch like a red tinge in your senses, and Emilia’s waist is pressing your hard dick against your abdomen.
You two separate from each other’s lips, and the half-elf exhales a warm sigh. You feel yourself blush profusely, and look away. You would have thought that after the shit you’ve gone through or even done of your own volition, you wouldn’t feel this embarrassment, but you have enough reasons to feel the burn of shame.
With one finger, Emilia moves your head back to look at her. Her face shows a mix of guilt and joy.
“That was on me, Subaru”, she says softly. “My first time, for my knight.”
You swallow, and hope that your dick starts going down soon, even though Emilia keeps leaning her weight against you knowingly. You suppose that in comparison with the prospect of having to pass some trials that nobody has succeeded at for hundreds of years, or else she will get stuck here, Emilia must have been searching for a moment of heaven. But the guilt is already burning in your chest. Emilia’s saliva tastes good, the way a girl you’d take for yourself should, without a hint of snot and blood like back during Emilia’s true first time. You hate yourself for liking it, and you hate that your body reacted without your consent.
The two of you separate, and Emilia turns away from you to hide her burning red face, like the proper lady that she is. You catch a glance at her eyes, which show pools of despair and regret.
Neither of you, or anyone as it seems, really knows what you are doing. Feels right one moment, wrong the next. There are far worse things a person could have done to you than make you feel guilt because your girlfriend is in a coma. You put your hand on Emilia’s upper back, and slide it up until you are touching the warm skin of her nape.
“It’s fine, Emilia. Tell me, what needs to happen now? When are we heading for the trials?”
She looks at you over her shoulder before turning. She seems to understand that you won’t berate her, nor bring up your Rem. She smiles shily, but then her expression darkens and she glances towards the village, even though the dense forest obscures any view of civilization.
“I’m going to do something very uncomfortable and that I’d prefer not to do, but I understand it’s for the best: I’m going to address our villagers. Roswaal suggested it, because they should know and understand the kind of sacrifice I’m making for their sake, as well as for all of us. I will expose myself again to people for whom my very birth was a mistake.”
It only takes recalling the crowd of villagers every time you have faced them for you to get annoyed, but you understand what Emilia won’t bring herself to say.
“If you want to do it as soon as possible, meaning now, let’s go. I’ll stand by your side.”

You are standing next to Emilia inside the church-like building. It looks older than the surrounding village, yet the masonry is made out of huge stones piled without cement, and cut into complicated shapes without apparent fault. The vaulted ceilings are a thing of beauty, closer to a cathedral’s, and in the large footprint there’s more than enough space to house all of your villagers comfortably. The mayor of Sanctuary, or maybe some of the locals, have prepared makeshift beds as well as some courtains, and a few people of the crowd that has gathered to listen to you are still eating from the bowls they are holding. The children, mothers and the elderly that you had missed when you went down to the village for groceries came here. There are very few able-bodied men, and the most prominent from that group, although he’s not able-minded, is the village chief, who is wearing his wizard costume. No, a different one. Motherfucker must keep a collection of them, and probably no other type of clothing. Why is this man alive?
Emilia and you stand side by side waiting for the people to settle down. You are surprised that the shouts of ‘witch, let’s kill the witch’ haven’t started yet, but you figure that they must feel so out of place and confused by their circumstances that they are taking things as they come. After around half a minute, when there is relative silence, you begin to speak.
“Thank you all for gathering. As you know, we are currently trapped in Sanctuary. We are working on the known solution, which involves passing some witch-created trials, and for that-…”
The village chief puts his hand on his chest, which makes the loose sleeve of his wizardly robe slide down to his elbow.
“I welcome you both to our humble village. I’m the mayor of Sanctuary.”
Your left eye twitches, and you clench your teeth.
“No, you are not! Why are you so resilient!”
The mayor remains surprisingly calm after your outburst.
“If not yet, I will be eventually. We have been stranded in this village for centuries, and nobody tells us when we will be able to leave.”
You take a deep breath, then try to look as professional and reliable as possible. You realize that both you and Emilia have fucked up. You don’t recall any instance in which you haven’t addressed the villagers without Ram being present, so she could threaten to murder whoever got too annoying.
You hold Emilia’s gaze for a moment. She has deflated a bit from her resolve to face the villagers. She must be remembering how terribly they have been treating her all along. Now she must be waiting for you to introduce her properly. You are in no way or form the appropriate person for this task.
You turn to the crowd again and clear your throat.
“Listen, if there’s anything we’ve learned from the cult’s attack on our village back home is that we need to be as clear and truthful as possible, even though it might hurt or cause panic. We are in this predicament together. As it stands, we are trapped in Sanctuary because the locals who hold power want us to break the barrier that has kept them trapped in this isolated forest for hundreds of years. You are all hostages, I’m afraid, although they are going to treat you as kindly as possible otherwise. However, we know the solution to our problem: we need to pass some witch-created trials in a nearby tomb, because that’s what will break the spell holding the barrier.”
The villagers whisper to each other for a while, before a man in his sixties, with a balding head and old-fashioned clothing, steps forward.
“The lord attempted to pass the trials to liberate us, but that damned tomb almost killed him! What would you be able to do when you don’t have remotely as much power as him?”
“I don’t know if you people are aware of this, but the tomb has magical traps set up that trigger if someone who is fully human goes in. Our lord was stupid enough, or possibly brave, to venture into the ruins, because he wanted that hard to free you all. However, our beautiful lady over here,” you extend your arm towards Emilia, who holds her hands in front of her waist and bows slightly, “is half-human as you all are aware. She’s Emilia, our lady and royal candidate for the throne of Lugunica. She will face the trials so all of us can be liberated.”
The old man eyes the half-elf with suspicion and fear, as if at any moment she would decide to transform him into a toad.
“Oh, great! So not only are we trapped here, but also at risk of being subjected to whatever tyranny this young demon-worshipper imposes upon us!”
Your nostrils widen. Here we go. You aren’t sure how to maneuver through these people’s prejudices, and you can’t do what you would want to: walk up to every one of them and clock them as hard as Emilia did to you that one time you lost your legs.
“If you think she’d do something like that, then why the hell are you standing around calmly?”
“We are just scared!”, a woman holding a baby shouts from the back. “I was there, in the village’s plaza, when the witch walked up to that horrible cultist woman and killed her with ice magic. She could kill us all whenever she wanted!”
“And whenever you wanted you could strangle your baby, and that creature couldn’t do anything to defend itself. Isn’t that right? Then why don’t you do it? Same reason that Emilia doesn’t attack any of you.”
The baby’s mother looks down to her child, as it innocently blows a spit bubble. His eyes don’t know enough to be afraid of someone like you.
“Because… because we’re good people!”
“No. You’re not.”
You feel someone touching you in the forearm, and you realize it’s Emilia. She has walked up to you and looks worried, although understanding, as if she knows you are trying to defend her and yet will end up causing more trouble for her. You look at the crowd again.
“Emilia wants me to stop talking, but I can’t. This lady here has done nothing wrong to you all. She was born a silver-haired half-elf, and that’s all any of you seem to need to despise her for stuff Emilia has nothing to do with, and that happened hundreds of years ago. She’s as sweet, and kind, and lovely as they come, and yet she’s afraid of leaving her home because any of you might attack her.”
The village chief points at Emilia with a trembling hand, although his face evidences that at the moment he fears her more than hates her.
“Be.. because she’s a witch!”
Emilia steps towards the crowd, and although she straightens her back, the anxiety glistens in her eyes.
“I can do magic, it’s true. I’m a spirits user. But I would only use it to help all of us”, she says softly.
The village chief barely glances at her, as if holding her gaze would contaminate him.
“Shut it, demon.”
“No, I won’t shut it. Please, just listen to me. I only want to help you-“
“I said shut it!”, the village chief barks loudly.
Emilia’s eyes then widen, and she ever so slightly shakes her head. You know that look.
You lower your head and scowl at the village chief, while you concentrate your anger on your clenched fists. Is there a point in being polite with these people, with most of them anyway? Maybe there are a few decent ones, or maybe even most of them, but they stay quiet. They allow the others to keep spouting garbage, and somehow they keep this lunatic in charge of them. Roswaal should tear their village down and build a new one with entirely different people.
Your voice comes out so angry that it disturbs you.
“You are misunderstanding both your position as well as who you are speaking to that way. Lady Emilia is a candidate for the throne of this kingdom, and you are a worthless lunatic who believes himself to be a wizard because he dresses with a ridiculous costume. You have berated an innocent that in a second could push an ice shard through your rotten brain, but she doesn’t do it because she’s too good-natured for that, and will just take the abuse. Rest assured, if I had her power I would cull your numbers so you understood your place.”
The whole room is silent. Emilia’s eyes widen as she tries not to look at you, while the chief just furrows his brows and stares at you in an attempt to intimidate you. It doesn’t work.
“You dare threaten me with death?”
“I’m not threatening, I’m promising. You will respect lady Emilia, not only because she’s the lady of our house, but because she’s the only one who can move a finger to pass the trials and risk her health, or her sanity, or whatever it implies for her to risk, so you ungrateful scum will be able to return home. Did my words pass through your rotten brain?”
The village chief shakes with anger. The rest of the crowd stands around aghast, not even whispering to whoever is close.
“You fool, I’ve lived long before you were even conceived. I have no doubt in my mind that you are vastly underestimating my capabilities.”
“Then go to the witches’ tomb and try to pass the trials yourself. The local head of security will bother himself picking up your bloody remains to feed the pigs.”
“I’ll do it, and you will do nothing to stop me, because if you try, I will kill you. Do I make myself clear?”
You stare at the chief, your face twisting into a cold malicious grin.
Emilia lets out a noise of surprise and puts a hand on your shoulder.
“Please, Subaru!”, she turns to the crowd. “No, if any of you attempts to pass the trials, you will die! The traps will kill you! I’m the only one who can risk it, and I will! And if I fail, I will try again and again until the barrier is broken. Please, nobody needs to get hurt.”
The crowd stays silent, but the tension can be cut with a knife. Then a woman in her early twenties raises her hand timidly while looking at Emilia with caution.
“Lady witch, why would you want to help us? The people in the village have been terrible to you.”
Emilia lowers her head. Everybody in the crowd must be able to tell how anxious and timid the half-elf is whenever she faces them, and yet they keep harassing her. You are having trouble staying silent as well as controlling your breathing.
“Ever since I remember,” Emilia begins with a quiet voice, “I have only wanted to live in peace. I wanted to get along with everybody, to meet interesting people and have a good time with them. Eventually I wished to get married and have a family of my own. Yet I feared that my children would face what I’ve had to go through. I wouldn’t want that suffering and fear on anybody. I can’t change how you think about me, I’m beginning to understand, so maybe I shouldn’t care, and yet I think that behind the hate and fear of some of you, there are others who don’t understand any of this either, who just want to return home and live in peace as well.”
There’s a silence after her words, followed by some whispers. The young woman who questioned Emilia walks towards her cautiously. She’s short and a bit plump, her blonde hair tied into a pony tail. She looks like the kind of girl you’d see at a market, selling vegetables.
“You’re right about some of us. I’m sorry for ever hating you. We were just confused and angry. We want to return home as well.”
You find yourself smiling at the girl’s words. The atmosphere has improved already, most people seem to be agreeing with her.
Emilia holds her hands in front of her waist again, and bows towards the girl.
“I will face the trials. As soon as I succeed, we can all leave Sanctuary and return to our homes. Please, lend me your support.”
The girl nods, then goes as far as reaching for Emilia’s hands and holding them in hers. Her eyes are watering while she stares pleadingly at the half-elf.
“My brother has stayed behind at the village. I know we can’t do anything to leave if the locals won’t let us. Please fight for us, lady Emilia, even if we don’t deserve it. I will pray for your success.”
Emilia swallows, and blinks to dry her eyes. The girl stops holding the half-elf’s hand, and walks back slowly towards her place in the crowd. Emilia sniffs, then turns to address the rest of the group.
“I will do everything in my power to ensure our safe departure from this place, and back to our homes. I will attempt the trial this very night.”
The mood of the crowd has improved. A few isolated voices thank Emilia, even though they address her as witch.
Emilia has lowered her head, and she looks as if she will tear up the moment she opens her mouth. You step forward, clear you throat and address the crowd while trying to avoid looking at the village chief.
“Any questions before we leave?”
Your statement is met by silence, you don’t know if because nobody has anything to say or because they hate your guts. The villagers slowly begin to melt away. However, after most of them have left, the village chief is still standing there glaring at you as if he would lunge for your neck if he could get away with.
“I am not going to forget your malicious and disrespectful words towards my being”, he says with a raspy voice. “The gods won’t condone such affront.”
You walk up to him to speak in a low voice right to his face. You hope the way you are holding his gaze clarifies how much you wish you’d meet alone in some secluded place, and not precisely for sex.
“You don’t understand, chief. I’m the one who has a grudge on you.”
He seems taken aback by your words, probably expecting you to be cowed by whatever authority he believes he has. You turn your back on him and head towards Emilia. You hear this idiot’s voice behind you.
“Remember what I said! None of you are safe! The gods will protect me from your malice!”
You wave him off without turning around, then put your hand on Emilia’s shoulder.
“Let’s get out of here. A bit of fresh air will do us good.”
You both step out of the village, and after walking aimlessly down the road for a while, you decide to break the silence.
“That could have gone much worse. At least they got the message that you would be the one to free them from this situation.”
She smiles at your remark, but it quickly fades and is replaced by a worried look.
“Subaru, you scared me back there. I don’t think I have ever seen you so angry.”
You don’t like one bit how Emilia is looking at you, as if you have done something wrong and need to be handled with gloves. She’s too good-natured, which is part of the problem for you. Rem would have gotten her flail from her bullshit magical pocket and threatened the bastards in the crowd with more practical ferocity. Your throat closes, and you want to be alone. As you have faced often since your beloved demon servant fell to that curse, you can only keep walking when your brain allows you to forget for a while that you have lost the most important person in your life.
You take a deep breath and smile at Emilia.
“We needed a bit of a good cop, bad cop routine. And it worked, I think. They got the message. Now they’ll know who to thank when you lift the barrier.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that word, ‘cop’, but I think I understand. Still, did you mean that about culling their numbers so they would understand their place…?”
You want to ease her concern, suggest that you were only riling them up so they would be mad at you instead of her, that you wouldn’t kill anyone, but you prefer to be honest.
“… I don’t know, Emilia. It just came out. You don’t understand how angry it makes me when they mistreat you like that. I see red. I want to protect you, to make sure you are safe, that you can get to feel happy and free, but those people keep making everything worse. They are like a bunch of wild children.”
“You don’t need to keep protecting me. I want to protect you…!”
“Well, I appreciate that. It’s not as if I wouldn’t need it, and you are far more useful when it comes to protecting people than me. I mostly just have my relentless determination to push myself to the brink for the people I care about.”
She hugs you tightly. You feel her warmth and her breathing.
“You can absolutely trust me on that one, I love you. I really do.”
That makes you blush a bit, and the way she washes over you with her sincerity lessens the remains of the anger that were tingling on your hands.
“Emi, speaking of protecting people as well as of hindrances, where the fuck is Puck? I haven’t seen him ever since we left for Sanctuary.”
Emilia goes silent as if she had been dreading anyone bringing it up.
“I have no idea”, she says with a thin voice. “I have called out to him, and he usually ends up appearing. But he’s gone.”
You put your hands on her shoulders to separate her a bit, because you want to look at her worried face.
“Has this happened before?”
She nods slowly.
“Yes, once. Back when we were traveling through a forest, a few years ago. He disappeared during the night, shortly after he told me we would speak in a while, and didn’t show up for days. It was really scary… I thought something bad had happened to him.”
“Well, what explanation did he give?”
She gives you a timid smile.
“None… Which is why I’m worried about him now. Is he playing a joke on me? Has he gotten himself into trouble?”
You shake your head, and thinking about how much Puck has annoyed you ever since you met him, even involuntarily through the way he can’t care properly for how much human beings hurt, makes you want to insult the cunt out loud.
“Emilia… I don’t want to say this to you, given that you have been close to Puck for many years, ever since you were a child, and that he’s called himself your adoptive father. I don’t want to dredge up whatever horrible stuff happened in your childhood. But the fact is that Puck has the unique talent to not be there to protect you whenever you need it the most, whether or not he has a convenient excuse.”
She looks away from you. It seems she doesn’t want to say anything bad about the little cunt.
“We have a contract. He promised me he would always be there for me.”
You sigh. You pat her head gently.
“Contracts can be broken, and promises can be forgotten. I don’t know what Puck’s deal is this time, but I do know that this world is shit. Every world is shit, as far as I can tell. You need to be strong.”
She nods.
“I will, then.”
You kiss her forehead, then hold her head against your cheek for a moment.
“We better rest a bit, particularly yourself, before we head for the witches’ tomb. I can’t even anticipate what’s going to happen in that bleak ruin.”

Note from December of 2020:

In the original the villagers are far more willing to accept Emilia at this point, because the protagonist had managed to repeat the Witch’s Cult’s assault until nobody died (in his second run, actually). But in this strange, AI-fueled retelling, they have the justification to hold on to a permanent grudge on the sweet gal, because plenty of people did get killed. I went into the scene not having any plan for it, not even if the villagers would end up accepting her as their lady and savior, and the unexpected result is one of the joys of writing this stuff.

Also, I have mentioned before, that idiotic village chief was made up entirely by the AI many, many parts ago. I thought he would be some comic relief, but the hate the protagonist has developed towards the crazy bastard is as real as can be.

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 44)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry we met tigerman himself, strongest man in the damn world. We also came across Ram, who is as dutiful and competent as she’s a complete bitch. She also mentions that Emilia is trapped in Sanctuary or something.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.

The two-story house that is the closest thing to a normal village abode in Sanctuary, of those you’ve seen so far anyway, belongs to someone named Ryuzu. This Ryuzu person, however, hasn’t made an appearance yet. You all sit around a wooden table in a cozy living room where you can smell the dried meats and hanging vegetables from the kitchen next door. Ram, dutiful servant that she is even away from home, has prepared tea for everybody. Emilia, sitting next to you, looks more worried than anyone, but nobody could blame her when she’s been told that she’s trapped in the village.

Ram finally sits down, takes a sip of her tea and goes straight into the main issue.

“The magical barrier set up hundreds of years ago prevents half-humans from leaving. I suppose that the original intent was to protect people with mixed blood from persecution, particularly during those times in the past when wars were waged between humans and demi-humans. However, the barrier has never been lifted, and as a result generations of half-beasts and half-humans of other types have been born and have died inside Sanctuary without ever seeing the outside world. As things stand now, lady Emilia, you cannot leave either.”

The half-elf stares at Ram in dismay, failing to find any words. You rub your eyes.

“You know, Ram, although I’m about to reprimand you, I understand that this is Roswaal’s doing. However, you are his representative at the moment, so I’ll say it to you: you should have told the other members of the household, particularly Emilia, that if she came to this secret town she wouldn’t be able to leave it.”

Ram glares at you. She doesn’t need to repeat another variety of ‘I’ll do whatever I want whenever I want’ for you to understand her expression. However, you doubt she could deny your point.

“For lady Emilia to leave,” Ram goes on with a steely voice, this time looking at the half-elf, “the barrier will need to be lifted. There seems to be a single way of achieving that: passing the trials set up at the witches’ tomb.”

You turn your head towards Garfiel. The guy is snacking on some homemade cookies, and he either doesn’t seem to notice the amount of crumbs that have fallen on his lap, or he doesn’t care. The punk seems completely unconcerned about this barrier business, but you figure that he doesn’t know anything else than Sanctuary. The outside world might as well be a myth for him.

“Garfiel, you mentioning this witches’ tomb was one of the first things you said to me, right before you hurled me through the air proficiently enough to break world records. How does that tomb relate to witches exactly, and what witches are we talking about?”

“Them witches, everybody knows those! Witches of old, most powerful people before that Witch of Envy swallowed half of the world! It’s a tomb because people were buried there, it’s the witches’ tomb because them witches were buried there.”

“Are you telling me that Satella herself is buried in Sanctuary, in that very same tomb I entered?”, you ask with a thin voice.

Garfiel shoots you a look as if he wants to say something to you but he can’t, maybe because of your company.

“What are you talking about, Barusu?”, Ram says irritated, as if you are spouting nonsense again. “You cannot have entered the witches’ tomb, because otherwise you wouldn’t have survived the magical traps.”
Before you can answer, Garfiel clicks his tongue.

“Don’t want to correct ya of all people, Ram. Hurts my heart. But it just happens that this bastard entered that damn tomb. I saw him leavin’ it in one piece, before I grabbed him and tossed him.”

You aren’t used to that look of uncertainty in Ram’s face, nor do you like it. Your current circumstances seem more grim if Ram wavers. Both Ram and Garfiel are staring at you as if you should explain yourself.

“I don’t know what you expect me to tell you”, you say, and shrug. “I saw some ruins, I ventured into them, I fell unconscious in some chamber inside, and then I came back out.”

Ram frowns as she considers your words seriously for once.

“Why did you faint?”

“Dunno. I just suddenly felt like I was going to pass out, and I barely avoided hitting my head.”

Garfiel is shaking his head while snarling.

“Lyin’ bastard. I already told, all ya noble-born are a bunch of liars. Ya ain’t tellin’ about what ya saw between goin’ to sleep an’ wakin’ up.”

“Subaru isn’t noble-born, I assure you”, Ram says.

“Haah?”, Garfiel answers, taken aback.

“Regardless of my condition of birth,” you say, “please let’s go back to the suggestion that I’m withholding some information. I passed out and I don’t remember a single thing. It wasn’t like dreaming, that when you wake up and you get the sense that you’ve spent hours imagining some crazy shit. There was no sense that any time had passed. It was like waking up from an operation. I truly don’t remember shit, if anything happened at all.”

You would have expected Garfiel to accuse you again, but he holds your gaze almost with sympathy.

“Yer sure? I mean, it’s possible yer blockin’ it out or somethin’.”

“What would I be blocking? Some nightmare?”

“That chamber inside, the one with the pillars of light, that fancy floor an’ all, is where the trials take place. You were there, you fell asleep, and then the trial must have happened. But I can see in yer eyes you ain’t lyin’. If you went through the trial, it would show on yer face. I don’t think ya half-pint would keep that all inside.”

“It really doesn’t seem like Subaru, you know?”, Otto says. He sounds shy about contributing to the conversation. “I can’t see him keeping quiet about something like this, if it happened.”

“Shut it, ya peddler”, Garfiel says casually, then looks at you again. “Ya didn’t go through the trial, so somethin’ else must have happened. Somethin’ new. No clue what. And them traps were set up by number one witch herself, lady of Sanctuary. Dunno how you avoided gettin’ torn to pieces. Don’t like it one bit.”

You drink some more of your tea if only because it will give you a few seconds to think. Your head is already spinning, even though your group has barely begun to unravel this situation.

“Can any of you clarify for me, please, if the witches’ tomb truly holds the remains of the witches associated with the Apocalypse that everyone keeps referring to? And if so, how many of those witches?”

Garfiel shrugs dismissively.

“Them great witches were mentioned a lot in those fairy tales, and people here believe that all of them are buried in that tomb, but who knows? The trials are real though, and they were setup by the Witch of Greed, so Echidna is for sure restin’ there, if she’s even restin’ at all. Wouldn’t think so for what I’ve heard of the lady. About them other Witches of Sin, who knows, who cares.”

“And what do you know about the Witch of Envy, Garfiel? You reckon she might be actually rotting in that tomb?”

He frowns at you, but he chews and swallows part of a cookie before answering.

“Didn’t I say that I don’t care? It’s folk tales, lotsa stupid bedtime stories that mostly gran told us to scare us children into bein’ good. Truth is almost never as scary as people think, an’ those stories are ridiculous.”

Ram sighs deeply and speaks with a tone that suggests she doesn’t want to bother uttering the words.

“The Mathers family has been tending to Sanctuary for many generations, as you all should be well aware of. The witches’ tomb does indeed hold the remains of all the Witches of Sin. So Greed, Pride, Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth, Lust and, yes, even Envy herself, who drowned all the others.”

Even though you try to contain a shiver, you still tremble. For some reason, although facing Satella in the black space between your lives doesn’t bother you any longer, knowing that the remains of her body, and maybe even her restless spirit itself, are hanging out so close to your current location makes you want to jump on Patrasche’s back and ride away from here as fast as possible.

“Beatrice told me that those witches were too powerful even for death, and now they are all trapped in the same place, with the one who murdered the others no less. I don’t think I would wish such a fate on anybody.”

“Are you a fan of the witches of old, Barusu?”, Ram asks with a hint of disdain.

As you hold her red-eyed gaze, you want to make some joke to alleviate the mood, but you remember that being a fan of witches has caused terrible troubles in this world, and is usually incarnated in the Witch’s Cult’s attempts to return Satella to life. You clear your throat.

“I know that the Witch of Envy is as troublesome as they come, with the whole dissolving half of the world inside of her and all. I can’t say anything about the others. Satella killed them, so maybe they don’t like the looped witch any more than we do.”

Ram arches her eyebrows and looks away.

“I don’t think it matters whether they like her or not. They’re all stuck in her company, forever.”

You place a hand on your chin and sigh before speaking again.

“It doesn’t make any sense. Even if the Witch of Envy managed to drown the rest of the other witches, how did she drown herself as well?”

Garfiel laughs, then slaps the table next to his plate of cookies.

“Damn half-pint, didn’t ya even pay attention to the fairy tales? That old Satella got sealed by some group of heroes or another. The Five Corcomisants of Tullidor joined forces to vanquish evil and all. Damn old bitch didn’t drown herself! Foolish thing to say.”

“Can’t say I’ve paid much attention to fairy tales, nor to this group of Five Corcomisants of Tullidor or whatever you just said.”

“Nobody has heard of such a group, Barusu”, Ram says, then sighs. “I suggest you don’t listen closely to Garfiel’s words.”

“Hey now!”, Garfiel complains with some embarrassment, particularly you guess because it came from Ram. “Ya gotta listen if ya wanna learn somethin’! Wouldn’t spout stuff for no reason. We are all tryna figure things out here.”

“I’m sure. But we’re also wasting our energies discussing the background of the tomb, so can we please stop this topic?”

You nod silently. You don’t like that the three of you are monopolizing the conversation. When you look around, your gaze first falls on Otto, who looks back concerned. Even though Emilia healed his facial bruises, as well as the pain in your ribcage for that matter, his posture suggests he wants to be as small as possible so people, particularly one violent hick, won’t notice he’s there. When you look at Emilia, your blood goes cold. The half-elf is hunched over with her gaze fixed on the table. No, way beyond, because she isn’t focusing her eyes. She has paled, and her mouth has frozen depicting her desolation. The newly learned fact that she won’t be able to leave this secret town until these trials have passed must have sunk in, and you can’t even pretend that you understand how she’s feeling, because you aren’t half-human. Nothing would stop you, you guess, from leaving Sanctuary and returning to the mansion. But the half-elf needs a hundreds of years old barrier to be lifted.

“H-Hey,” you begin, and although you had been staring at Emilia without her noticing, you turn towards Garfiel. “Has anyone lifted the barrier in these last four hundred years or so?”

“Haah!? Didn’t ya see yer princess friend fall asleep for a while because she passed through the barrier? It’s there for sure! It was already protectin’ Sanctuary as far back as I can remember.”

Ram closes her eyes for a moment, then she addresses you with a voice drained of emotion.

“It’s not a physical barrier, Barusu. It cannot be forced open, nor literally grabbed and lifted so someone can pass under it. Lifting the barrier that prevents half-humans from leaving Sanctuary means breaking the spell, so making the barrier disappear. It has never been achieved.”

“One of the toughest jobs there must be, I reckon”, Garfiel adds solemnly. “Barrier was made by the lady herself, who knew everythin’. Every damn fact of the world, Echidna knew. Could tell you where to find some vossalios’ nest and what color were the eggs safe to eat. She told damn kings and queens whether they were actin’ like fools an’ all, even though Echidna wasn’t noble-born herself. Musta been some strikin’ lady.”

Ram sighs, then lowers her head.

“It seems she spent her last years researching how to live forever. In a way, she succeeded.”

“Haah!? Didn’t live forever at all, our lady!”, Garfiel says, both confused and amused. “She must be a skeleton now. Not a lotta life in some buried bones.”

Ram closes her eyes, holds her breath and clenches her teeth behind her tightened lips.

You had intended to rely on the past experiences of people who had dealt with lifting the barrier before, which must have happened quite a few times in four hundred years. However, the situation feels more grim now. Emilia has barely moved, and it seems that she hasn’t looked up once. It reminds you of yourself, but from when? You breath thickens as you realize it. You must have looked like that many lifetimes ago, back in your old world, when you were expected to return to your regular life, attending your high school classes, even though you couldn’t find the strength to even leave your bedroom most of the days. It’s the impossible weight of having to succeed at a task for which you were born to fail.

You hear a door closing somewhere else in the house, and you realize that someone must have entered through a back door. Ram stands up calmly and passes you by to stand in front of the teapot, which is still steaming on the other, smaller table where she had left it.

“Must be gran”, Garfiel says, and turns his head towards the kitchen.

The supposed grandmother appears in the doorway. It’s a girl of around Petra’s size, and she doesn’t look older than twelve as well. She’s holding a cane-looking staff almost as tall as herself. She has long, straight, pale red hair that curves upwards at its tips. She’s wearing a ship grey, worn coat that covers most of her mouth. Her long, pointy ears are striking, much more pronounced than Emilia’s, but most importantly, this is the girl who had stared at you back at the clearing, when something, maybe Frederica’s magic crystal, teletransported you there.

Is this elf person truly the same girl you saw back then? The eyes of this elf seem intelligent, wise even, while those of the elf you chased had looked as if she hosted the soul of a deer. And also, she’s way too young to be anybody’s grandmother.

“Good day to you all”, she says.

Her voice had sounded kind and welcoming but somewhat tired, like an old person who has been taking care of her grandchildren even though she should have gone to take a nap by now.

Garfiel finishes swallowing the rest of another cookie. He lifts the plate towards the elf.

“Ya outdid yerself with these ones, gran! Love the new recipe.”

The corners of the elf’s smile peek out from under the neck of her coat. She sits carefully on the empty chair at the head of the table.

“I am glad. I will make lots of them. But you didn’t offer any to our guests, did you, Young Garf? They must have been hungry after their trip.”

Garfiel puts the plate down, then shifts his own weight on his chair. He looks apologetic.

“Yeah, forgot about that… But they ain’t guests, because they weren’t invited! Buncha weirdoes! Don’t have any problem with the shy princess and all, but that one with the evil eyes gives me the creeps.”

“Oh dear, you’re being rude again.”

Now both of the elf’s cheeks are smiling as she turns to face her guests. Before she speaks, though, you lean towards the plate of cookies and grab one. Garfiel is startled for a moment because your hand appeared in front of him.

“I guess I’ll take a couple of them”, you say. “And me being so evil and all, I don’t even have to ask.”

The elf places her hands over the top of her cane and smiles as she looks at the three new people.

“I assure you, you are more than welcome in Sanctuary. You have come to help.”

You sink your teeth into the cookie and chew slowly, then swallow. After all the bullshit you’ve gone through, this cinnamon flavored, homemade cookie tastes like heaven.

“I don’t know you at all, Garfiel’s grandmother, but you must have truly outdone yourself with these cookies. They taste amazing.”

“They’re nothing special, I’m afraid.” She says. “You must have special taste, dear.”

You point at her with the hand that holds what’s left of your cookie.

“More importantly, though, haven’t we seen each other bef-…?”

Something burns your cheek. It almost makes you jump from your seat. You lean away from whatever burned you, and you find yourself staring at Ram’s unconcerned eyes looking down at you. She’s holding a steaming teacup as if offering it to you, even though you have an empty one on the table.

“Ram, what the hell!?”

She leaves the teacup next to the empty one, and pushes the previous one a bit.

“Some more tea will go well with the cookie you stole.” She leans into your ear, and her whisper alone makes you shiver before you understand her words. “Refrain from making unnecessary comments.”

Ram then leaves the teapot back on the other table, and sits gracefully at her chair while folding the skirt of her servant outfit.

You want to stare at the senior servant, but you realize she’s not going to clarify her words. Why did she suddenly give you an impossible task?

This young grandma looks at both of you, but seems to decide that she shouldn’t comment on what just happened.

“Let me introduce myself. I’m Ryuzu Bilma, something like the mayor of our little community. Will you tell me your names?”

Otto clears his throat and speaks way too loudly.

“W-Well, I’m someone unimportant, and who has nothing to do with the comings and goings of this place, but my name is Otto Suwen! I’m a completely harmless merchant, I assure you.”

“Good to know, Young Otto. We are always in need of goods. And you over there?”

“I’m Natsuki Subaru, I can… Uh, I’m not really good with social situations, nor do I have any particular skills, but I can travel through dimensions, save people with some heroics, and stuff like that.” This Ryuzu elf seems amused. For some reason, you continue. “I’m an honorary knight, a wanderer without a purpose, a flirter without much success and…” You look at Ram, who is trying to murder you with her gaze. “…and nothing more.”

Ryuzu Bilma nods agreeably.

“Huh! That’s a rare ability you have there, Young Su. Most humans can’t just u-turn like that without preparation.”

You shrug, trying not to look as uncomfortable as you feel.

“It’s nothing really.”

Ryuzu turns her head to address Emilia, but the full elf ends up arching her brows.

“Are you okay, my dear? You look pale as a ghost. Are you troubled because of the barrier?”

Emilia tries to correct her posture, although everybody must realize how uncomfortable she feels. The half-elf combs her long, silver hair with her hand and forces herself to smile at the elf mayor.

“Ah… Well, to be honest, I’m a little afraid of the barrier. I’m trying to process the news that it has trapped me in your village.”

“I understand. We have brought it up with Young Ros over the years, that it was time for the barrier to be lifted, but the world always produces troubles more pressing than solving a situation that has remained frozen for hundreds of years. It’s understandable. However, now that Young Ros visited us again, and that miss Ram brought over plenty of villagers who would want to return to their homes, we finally had an opportunity to apply some pressure. Suddenly all you three have joined us as well, and lady Emilia is qualified to pass the trials herself. The stars are finally smiling at us.”

Emilia’s expression darkens at that idea.

“But… what if I fail your trials? What then?”

“Well, you wouldn’t be the first. But that means you would remain trapped here for the rest of your life.”

A silence falls over the room as all eyes turn to regard the mayor of Sanctuary.

“Isn’t there any other way?”, Emilia asks with a thin voice.

“Not that I’m aware of. But don’t worry! We’re all behind you, and we’ll be supporting you through this ordeal. You’ll have all the resources of Sanctuary at your disposal.”

Although Emilia’s distress is making it hard for you to think of anything else, this situation doesn’t sit well with you.

“You said apply some pressure. What do you mean? What do the villagers that Ram brought over have to do with anything? They aren’t half-beasts, or half-human, or whatever. They should be able to pass through the barrier and return to their lives. Roswaal as well. Being such a powerful wizard as he’s supposed to be, he probably could just have flown out of here before Ram even came to his rescue, or we did for that matter.”

“That clown bastard came in alone first”, Garfiel says with a voice that suggests that thinking about the lord annoys him. “We asked him again, that people wanted to leave, that it wasn’t fair. Same old shit. Young people ’round here want to see the wide world, don’t know what to tell ya. Ain’t fair and all. This time the clown decided to stick around, even though it didn’t seem to me he was doin’ anything. Other than schemin’, I reckon. That’s all that damn clown does. Then his hot as hell senior servant came in to rescue the clown, and she had brought over a good bunch of small fries, lightweight full humans, because they were afraid of some cult outside or some shit. Guess there are the tides of fumanbos to account for, roamin’ the wastes and all. Makin’ a mess of the place, shittin’ every damn where. Anyways, so them villagers, the fully human I mean, were here, and we could tell the clown, we figured, or gran did mostly, hey, ya damn clown, how ’bout ye finally do somethin’ to lift this barrier of ours. Ya know, that damn thing the bastard and his clown ancestors had heard over an’ over. Then the schemin’ bastard said, ‘well, sure’. Figure he had somethin’ to prove to those small-timer subjects of his. Lord has responsibilities or somethin’, he said. I don’t listen to that clown’s words too much, makes my head hurt an’ all. So we gathered there at night in front of the witches’ tomb, all ceremonial like, and bastard goes in and we heard the noises of them traps triggerin’. I had heard them before when some fools wanted to loot the dirt inside that tomb, but this time I had thought that the damn clown, being so powerful an’ all, well, he would have been able to stop them from firin’ or somethin’. But he didn’t, couldn’t or whatever. To the clown’s credit, he did drag himself out, even though he looked slashed all over as if he had kicked a bambolabe while it was hibernatin’. Damn fool!” He laughs heartily, but a mere look at Ram’s cold scorn makes him stop himself so quickly that he almost coughs. He clears his throat. “Anyway, he’s been restin’ at one of gran’s places ever since, and we thought, damn, it’s all meat for the rodamunos now! But then ya bunch of half-pints, and the hot princess, who is royalty an’ all, came in, so we can do somethin’ more about this barrier business, can’t we? I reckon that’s the case.”

“Yes, indeed”, Ryuzu says.

You rest your elbows on the table and hide your face with your hands. When you have managed to coalesce this punk’s words into something resembling information, you take a deep breath and look at Ryuzu.

“What would happen if we gathered the villagers and walked them out of your Sanctuary?”

Ryuzu, whose face hasn’t shown anything else than calmness, seemed about to answer when Garfiel raises his hand to stop her.

“Let me, gran. What would happen, half-pint, is that I would stand there in front of the barrier and I would grab all of ya and push ya back, or maybe even grab ya and toss ya so ya land on some pigsty. Know what I mean? Ya want yer people to leave now? Then either ya lift the barrier or ya kill me. And if yer thinkin’ of killin’ the beast, I’ll tell ya that nobody has managed to do that, not once.”

That sentence would have held some weight if you had said it. Although you frown in disbelief at the punk, he must be seriously strong, maybe the strongest in the world as he said, if Roswaal, supposedly the most powerful magician in the kingdom, can’t force Garfiel to stand aside as every outsider leaves. You have to admit, you are a little afraid of him.

“You put so much faith in your abilities, yet you’re stuck here in Sanctuary acting as security? Can’t you pass the trials yourself?”

Garfiel’s mood sours, and he glares at you as if you are picking on a wound of his.

“I ain’t stuck here, half-pint. I do this because I wanted to. My reasons are maybe not the cleverest ones, but it’s what’s right.”

This fucking hick is responsible for your current troubles, or at least partially so. And Emilia’s distress has made you despise this village already.

“Right? All I hear from you is a bunch of mindless babble about strength and being the best.”

“It’s maybe all I have, half-pint. If I’m strong, it means I’m good at somethin’. It’s who I am.”

“But are you content with being stuck guarding the prettiest invisible door in the world with no chance to go out there and prove yourself?”

“Of course! Why wouldn’t I want to guard the beauty of ma’ybara? If she sets me apart from others, then it’s a great honor.”

You shake your head. After you take a deep breath, you look at Ram, who now glares at you as if to remind you that you are making plenty of unnecessary comments.

“Ram, have we seriously met with the very people who are blackmailing us into remaining in Sanctuary? Could you, I don’t know, have given me a heads-up or something?”

“I didn’t think it was necessary, I thought you had figured it out for yourself. However, I keep making the mistake of believing you hold some intellectual capabilities.”

“Please, Young Su, if you will allow me”, Ryuzu says with a conciliatory tone. “You are in trouble, and so are we. You can help. We are desperate to solve this quandary, we have been for a long time. We are well aware that if you all left back to your lives, Sanctuary would remain as it always has, maybe for another four hundred years. We have a good chance of breaking the barrier once and for all.”

Otto raises his index finger, and clears his throat.

“Wait a second. I don’t want to draw the ire of such a strong man by making a bold suggestion, but the idea that came into my mind doesn’t sound half bad. If only half-humans are forbidden from passing through the barrier, and they can physically pass, because lady Emilia did, why not use our full human bodies to carry you out of Sanctuary?”

“I… I actually think that might work”, Emilia says, perking up a little. “We would have no issues carrying any of you out.”

Garfiel shakes his head and sucks air through his predatory teeth.

“‘Fraid not. Good idea though, particularly for a follower, but the old witch already thought of it. I told ya she knows everythin’ in the world. Even what buttons to push for the puzzle at the palace of Gromblelidan. The barrier repeals half-human souls. If ya carried us out, our souls would get sucked out and maybe keep flyin’ or somethin’, and you’d be carryin’ empty shells. They would keep breathin’, but ya can’t go through life when yer just a husk. Ain’t no fun in it.” Garfiel crosses his arms, and lowers his head. “This damn barrier business… I wish it was a huge wall, stone-like, that went up straight into the heavens. Them villagers wouldn’t see a path going out, so they wouldn’t dream of leavin’. But there’s lots of noble-born and wombalimbos to gape at out here I guess.”

Emilia rubs her eyes slowly while a silence falls over the room. She then opens her tired eyes to stare at Ryuzu.

“What do the trials consist of?”

“Our lady of Sanctuary wishes to peer into the contestant’s past, present and future”, she says with a weighty tone. “Her woven dreams force you to face them.”

“That’s… vague,” you say.

Emilia has shrunk as if she had gone to the hospital for a headache only to discover she has a brain tumor. Garfiel has hunched over, and is scratching absent-mindedly the leathery skin of the horrible scar between his eyebrows. He genuinely seems to pity the half-elf.

“Wouldn’t wanna be in yer shoes, princess, let me tell ya…”, he says quietly. “The trials are impossible to pass. Echidna was one devious bitch. Her dream forces ya to face the past, an’ against the past ya cannot win. Nobody can. Ya better get comfortable in our little town, ’cause ya ain’t gettin’ out any time soon.”

The meeting ends shortly after, and Ryuzu announces that she will gather a few local cooks to prepare a meal for you that will, you guess, offset being blackmailed into staying in Hick Town. Ram is about to accompany Ryuzu and help, maybe because the senior servant just can’t break character, but after you get out of the two-story house and everybody is scattering, you manage to pull Ram her aside and use the cover of a big tree to talk in a semblance of privacy.

“Ram, is our lord unconscious?”

“I thought you would have wanted to brag about your deeds, as well as explain how you managed to score points for two opposite camps through your operation. Roswaal is awake. I will ask him if he wants to see you, and I will inform you of his response.”

With that, Ram turns on her heel and follows the small, elf leader of Sanctuary. You are left alone with your thoughts under the big tree. After a few seconds you resolve to approach Garfiel like you had intended. Frederica’s blood runs through his veins, so he can’t be entirely worthless. You end up having to run around for a bit, because the guy has diverged from everybody else in the meeting to head towards some area of the village where the ancient buildings become sparse. When Garfiel realizes you are walking behind him, he gets first startled and then annoyed. He eyes you suspiciously.

“Ya followin’ me now?”

“I figured we could talk for a bit without everybody else in the way. I’ve grown fond of your Frederica. You haven’t seen her for a long time, right? She told me that she had left Sanctuary behind, but you have stayed here.”

Garfiel puts his hands on his waist and grimaces at you.

“Yeah, I’ve stayed. What’s it ta ya? And did I look like I wanted to talk about damn ‘Rica? Called ya a buncha fools for ‘ssociatin’ with her and everythin’.”

“I just thought it was odd that you would have separated. She said that her mother came to Sanctuary for shelter, right? You must have grown up here, then Frederica left for the big world outside. It’s odd that you didn’t follow her. With the lioness being so easy-going, she would likely keep going on about you, how proud she is of your strength or some shit like that.”

Garfiel’s nostrils widen, and his grimace opens a side of his mouth, displaying his menacing teeth. Any sane person would have stayed away from this punk, but then again you only learn things by prodding people.

“Well if ya know so damn much, then why’d ya ask?”

“I don’t know, I just wanted to hear it from you.”

Garfiel steps towards you to glare from up close.

“I had enough of ol’ freakin’ furryburglar when she turned her back on us, ya hear!? She’s a damn traitor, that’s what she is. Some sister… Never came back. Never cared about us.”

“That’s not the Frederica I met. She takes good care of Roswaal’s place, she’s very kind to the useless trainee who shouldn’t be there in the first place, and is always sure to make us feel welcome and lighten the mood. She’s a great gal as far as I can tell. And she revealed to us Sanctuary’s secrets, at least regarding how to reach it from the mansion, so we could help you all. I wish she would have mentioned the stuff about the barrier and half-beasts, though…”

Garfiel looks away and narrows his eyes. You look down towards some movement, and realize that his fists are trembling.

“Listen here, small-timer. Yer friends with a traitor, but ya don’t know nothin’. Yer a damn fool. Damn Frederica is only concerned with herself. Always has been.”

“Well, I don’t know about all that, but whatever happened between you both clearly hurts still.”

Garfiel growls, and he narrows one eye further while staring at you. He must not be used to people either asking or caring about a personal relationship of his like this.

“The hell ya think ya are, evil eyes? First noble-born, then not noble-born. We pals now? Whaddya want? It’s not like ya can do a damn thing.”

“It’s just that after meeting Frederica and her being so different from what you are telling me, I want to correct you. It must annoy the hell out of you, holding on to the twisted image of someone you cared about so much. I don’t know why Frederica hasn’t returned, but she certainly cared, and does still.”

Garfiel growls like a wild animal, then steps forward, grabs you by the shirt and raises that fist until you stand on your tiptoes. You are surprised by how little you care, even though you feel Garfiel trembling through his fist.

“Ya know, yer pretty damn brave sayin’ all that to my face. Don’t know what ta make of ya, and it makes my skin crawl. But whatever went on between me and that bitch ain’t any of your business. Besides…”

“You know,” you begin to say calmly, “one of the first moments with your sister in which I thought that she was a real good gal happened when we were speaking about some other horrible troubles, unrelated to you of whom I didn’t know anything at the time, and Frederica started crying. She tolds us something to the effect that the bonds of family anchor us to the world, that we only got one, and that the fact that the memories and feelings associated with a sibling could be taken away was unimaginably awful. Didn’t mean anything in particular to me at the time, but it sure does now.”

Garfiel lowers his head and closes his eyes tight.

“Ya really are a fuckin’ asshole…”

With those words, Garfiel releases you, and you have to take a few steps back to regain your balance.

“We will help you lift the barrier, or break the barrier, or whatever”, you say. “Even though nobody in four hundred years has managed to achieve it. I tend to hold on to delusional hopes.”

The guy is breathing faster, and when he manages to hold your gaze, he’s gone wide-eyed.

“Ya went inta them witches’ tomb although yer just a full human. I should have bothered meself pickin’ up yer bloody remains to feed the pigs. There’s somethin’ wrong wit’cha.” He begins to walk away, even though he refuses to turn entirely in the direction he’s heading. “I’ll be keepin’ an eye on ya, small-timer. I don’t like weird people hangin’ around, messin’ my place. Makes me all nervous.”

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 43)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry we finally met the dried up best girl of this arc, good ol’ Witch of Greed. I’ll always look forward to writing her scenes. We’ll keep meeting plenty of new characters in the following parts.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.

You are lying on the flat, cold stones that make up the floor of this ancient antechamber illuminated by four pillars of light. As you support yourself on your forearms, you attempt to breathe, but you end up coughing for a while. You must have breathed plenty of dust. What the hell happened? You remember entering this room because you had felt someone here, and after taking a few steps in you just passed out. You must have breathed some noxious gases accumulated here over the centuries. If you had died from it, you would have been embarrassed. After so many brutal deaths, dying from breathing bad shit would feel like beginner stuff.
Emilia! You had attempted to save her cute half-elf ass from getting blown to bits, but you ended up getting teletransported somewhere else. Did both her and Otto end up passing through the invisible barrier? You can’t imagine that if they saw you disappear, they wouldn’t have attempted to find you. You need to search for them.
You exit the antechamber and venture through the darkness of the passageway towards the gargantuan lighted entrance that shows the canopy of the enclosing forest. No need to run your hand through the cold, damp stone wall when you can see where to go.
Once you finally stand on the raised platform outside and the morning light, despite the grey, cloudy sky, forces you to squint, your tingling hands relay to you how anxious you had felt inside this centuries or maybe millennia old ruin. If you had a modicum of common sense you would have understood that wandering into random ruins in a fantasy world would have been suicidal, even if they just contained a few animated skeletons, but fortunately you don’t feel as if whatever made you pass out has produced lasting consequences to your body.
You sigh and advance towards the descending stone steps, only to stop in your tracks. Otto’s carriage is parked in the clearing below, maybe around twenty meters away, as if it came this way. Both ground dragons are standing around the carriage; they must have been detached from their duty. Patrasche raises her head to gaze at you. Your merchant pal is sitting on the driver’s seat, but although you would have expected him to look relieved for having found you, he waves at you as if alerting you of some threat. The couple of bruises on his face, including a swollen eye, suggest that someone has punched him hard.
You tense up and follow Otto’s gaze to the surroundings, scouting for anything peculiar that might be a potential threat to you. The sky has no anomaly, the trees are swaying gently, the wind is quiet, and…
“Went right into the witches’ tomb, didn’t ya! Damn invaders gettin’ bolder these days. Heads up, half-pint!”
When you turn around towards the voice, you get a glimpse of a blonde set of messy hair, and in particular an arresting scar, as if from a wound never allowed to heal, that spans most of the space between two blonde eyebrows. This guy grabs you like a bouncer would and he hurls you over the stone stairs towards the carriage. You are flying as if launched by a catapult. As the air blows on your skin and the sight of the carriage below, as well as both ground dragons, gets larger and larger, you can only wonder how a human being could have such strength.
Patrasche whines. She runs up to where you are going to hit the ground, and she breaks your fall with her own back. However, the strong impact squeezes the air out of your lungs. You hold on to what you can grab of the saddle so you won’t fall over. Your vision is blurry, your ears are ringing.
You gaze up towards where Patrasche is growling. At the top of the stone steps, the man who threw you is crouched in a slav squat while grinning at you maliciously. He doesn’t look older than eighteen. His light blonde hair is messy and uneven as if he doesn’t know what a hair comb is, and whenever his hair felt to long he just chopped it here and there. He’s wearing some worn pants, and on the upper half of his body an open vest covers part of his athletic physique, as if he’s used to running around and throwing fools.
You want to sit up on the saddle, but stumble about and slip to the ground. Patrasche moves next to you and nuzzles your face with her snout.
“Never ride a dragon, small-timer!”, the blonde guy shouts. “They’ll only betray yer trust an’ send yer flyin’ inta somethin’!”
You manage to raise your voice despite how much your lungs are bothering you.
“Can’t speak for the remainder of the ground dragon race, but my Patrasche here is as loyal as they come. She once killed an Archbishop and everything.”
“Watch yerself, small-timer. I don’t take threats lightly.”
You manage to stand up. Your sides ache from the impact you suffered, and you’re not sure if a rib is broken or not. Your vision is still blurry, so you rub your eyes.
Your Patrasche is snarling at the blonde guy like she wants to attack him, but stays put. It takes two jumps for the guy to stand on the grass at the base of the stone steps. His legs are unhurt as if he leaps from trees regularly for fun.
As you were about to speak, Patrasche launches into a charge. The blonde guy stands there with his hands on his hips while smirking, and at the last moment he leaps out of the way. Patrasche attempts to brake, but she hits the stone steps. The blonde guy laughs while he retreats strategically, which only infuriates Patrasche, who jumps back to her feet and charges again. This time the guy hunches over and extends his arms at his sides.
“No! Don’t kill my ground dragon!”, you shout, even though your legs refuse to move. “She’s just trying to defend me!”
“As if! This ain’t a monster, just an oversized lizard! Best kinda dragons!”
In a sudden move he leaps onto Patrasche’s head and wraps his legs around her neck, forcing her to the ground. She now has an arm around her throat. The ground dragon struggles to reach for his leg with her claws, but he keeps pulling it away.
“This girl just needs to know who’s boss!”, the blonde guy says. “See? She’s already under control!”
He lets go of her and jumps to his feet. Patrasche quickly gets up and retreats to your side, while keeping a watchful eye on the blonde guy.
You need to leave this clearing. You have a carriage and Otto is already sitting on the driver’s seat, but it will take too long to attach both Patrasche and the other ground dragon, who is standing further away dumbfounded.
You suddenly remember Emilia. She should have at least witnessed the scene. You gasp and run towards the driver’s seat, climb it and, while Otto tries to talk to you, you jump onto the back of the carriage. Emilia is lying face up on the floorboards, and looks unconscious.
You freeze, but you snap out of it and crouch next to her. You shake her shoulders. Emilia doesn’t react. She’s reminding you of Rem so much right now that you feel a warmth rushing to your eyes.
“Emilia! C’mon, get up!”
You shake her harder, then you just pick her up to a sitting position. While holding her you look for wounds, but she looks unharmed.
Otto speaks from the driver’s seat.
“She’s been like this every since we passed the barrier, or at least that mark on the map! I have no id-…”
The punk pops up next to Otto, who snaps his head back and stares in fear. The guy however is focusing on you, as if Otto didn’t pose any threat.
“What the fuck happened to Emilia, you unnaturally strong bastard!?”, you yell.
The guy smirks. You notice the sharp, triangled tips of his teeth, and your lips separate although you remain too dumbstruck to speak.
“Damn right!”, the punk says. “Strongest man in the world. Even the invaders know it! Obvious for all.” He glances at the unconscious Emilia and raises an eyebrow. “Didn’t do nothin’ to the hot gal, not my style. That’s the barrier’s doin’. All the half-breeds who enter it go beddy-bye for a while. She’ll wake up in a bit, I reckon.”
This guy seems too straightforward to have lied about Emilia’s situation, so your shoulders relax a bit. However, you are fixated on the huge scar slightly above the root of his nose. It’s like he had hit his head hard against something, and he kept picking the wound until no healing magic would help anymore. The patch of scar tissue is distracting you, as well as suggesting beyond the guy’s actions that he’s seriously unstable, possibly crazy.
“You are Garfiel, aren’t you”, you say with a thin voice.
This punk lifts his upper lip in a somewhat menacing smile, although he seems pleased that you’ve recognized him. More importantly, you’ve seen those teeth before. Pointy, triangled as if filed. A carnivorous smile.
“The beast himself! Known throughout the world it seems. Legend travels far. Polisarus the Sage breezin’ through town after town to sing of my deeds an’ all!”
“And you are related to Frederica. You must be.”
Garfiel’s upper lip twitches. His smile slowly fades, until he grimaces and turns his head to groan.
“Why ya gotta ruin my mood like that. Ya know her, huh? I ain’t surprised then, ya bein’ a buncha fools an’ all. But I guess ya ain’t invaders then.”
“That’s what I tried to tell you immediately before you spoke with your fists!”, Otto whines from the driver’s seat.
Garfiel barely turns towards the merchant.
“Shut it, small-timer. Barely grazed yer mug. Ya breached the peace of our home, an’ for what? Whaddya all want? Frederica told ya to come?”
You sigh. You have to maneuver around this punk’s unpredictably violent nature, but he’s not going to kill you anymore.
“Your possible sister or cousin or whatever decided to reveal your secret village’s location because shit had gotten too real for us. We belong to the same household. I personally consider myself Frederica’s best friend.”
Garfiel snorts.
“Ya, yer also noble-born. So, a liar. House of Fobinstania brought the nation to its knees. Frederica ain’t the type to have friends. Too rough and rowdy like.”
You blink twice, but you already know that listening to this guy closely is only going to give you headaches.
“I hear she likes to wrestle.”
Garfiel snaps his head back and frowns as if you had been prodding him repeatedly.
“Haah!? Ya know the gal enough then. Bruises would last for days. Damn bitch…” He tightens his lips, and then shakes his head. “Enough talkin’ about her! I asked ya whaddya wanted! Ain’t confusin’ me with all these zoobizangos in my ears!”
“Subaru…?”, Emilia says behind you, sounding confused. “What happened…?”
The half-elf is supporting herself on one arm to stand up, while rubbing her temple with the free hand. She has narrowed her eyes as if her head hurts. When she notices Garfiel, a rough-looking stranger standing between you and Otto, and then she sees the merchant’s bruised face, Emilia straightens her back and frowns.
“Lady Emilia, you are alright!”, Otto says, pleased. “Goodness, I had been so worried! And I couldn’t help at all!”
“I told ya”, Garfiel says as he holds his hand in front of him with the palm turned towards the carriage’s roof. “Nothin’ we ain’t seen before.”
Emilia is glaring at Garfiel as if he’s about to leap onto you both and tear you apart. She extends her left arm at her side, urging you to hide behind her, and you obey. Might as well. Emilia extends her right hand towards the menacing punk, as if she’s going to produce an ice shard and impale the guy.
“Who are you?”, Emilia asks seriously with her bell-like voice. “Why have you attacked us?”
Garfiel is too busy guffawing. He points at you.
“Hidin’ behind the hot lady! What a coward!”
“Hey, this hot lady is a half human ice gun”, you answer. “No shame in hiding behind someone stronger.”
Otto raises his voice while shaking his hands to stop the confrontation from escalating.
“We already realized that this is a huge misunderstanding! Mister Garfiel over here is just a bit too carefree with his fists, and he thought we were invading Sanctuary. But we are all friends!”
“Yer too loud. Damn lightweight… Nothin’ wrong with throwin’ a few punches to people who annoy ya. I was enjoyin’ myself before you chose today to visit our home.”
Emilia seems too dazed from having just woken up. You put your hand on her extended arm to lower it gently. She looks at you with worry, but you nod.
“It seems we are okay, Emilia. Let’s calm down.”
Emilia turns her attention back to Garfiel.
“So you are the person they warned us about…”
The punk looks proud.
“Ha! I’m Garfiel, head of the village security for this here place. Ya know, bruise a few troublemakers, throw invaders out, rip some to shreds. Usual business. But I think I heard about ya. That fancy face, all hot like, with those big purply eyes, and yer a half-breed, ain’t ya? Must be that silver-haired witch they chose for the throne of this kingdom or whatever. Is like, you stay in Fergul’s Marsh only for the trankasors to come pay ya a visit!”
You realize you must be staring at this punk as if you had come across a gruesome car crash and you can’t look away from the carnage. Is this how I sound like to others?, you think.
“What’s your deal, Garfiel? Do you belong to a bike gang in the eighties?”
“Haah!? The hell’s this bike thing, an’ what eighties ya mean? Eighty what? Ya speak lot of nonsense even for a noble! It’s like ya hide behind the karropazoos in yer teeth.”
“You know, lotta rich people have veneers to cover up their bad teeth. I suggest you do something like that. Predatory teeth look good in Frederica, but in a guy like you, it just freaks people out.”
Otto gasps and goes wide-eyed as if you have just punched a lion in the balls. Garfiel looks taken aback, but he laughs.
“Yer mocking me, huh? These teeth are strong, so were ‘Rica’s back then. Playin’ around is fine an’ all, but this tiger here can have really bad days! Even gran wants to handle me with gloves then, not that I’d to anythin’ to the old hag.”
“Yes, well, some of us do not have strong teeth and cannot flatten metal poles with them, so we use them for civilized conversation!”
“Bah! Civilized… It’s all a load of durangos anyway.”
Emilia steps forward. She’s wringing her hands. You can’t imagine how she must feel having to deal with an unstable punk like this.
“We aren’t enemies, then, and you know now that we didn’t intend to invade your village. We came looking for our lord, Roswaal Mathers. He’s been missing for days, far too long now, and we are really worried thinking that something must had happened to him.”
Garfiel’s facial features twist as if he had bitten into an apple only to discover a worm. He spits on the floorboards. Otto opens his mouth to say something, but he realizes the kind of guy he was going to tell off.
“Missin’?”, the punk says with a mocking tone. “Wouldn’t call lyin’ in bed for days missin’! He tried to pass the trials at the witches’ restin’ place and almost got torn into pieces. Serves him right.”
“Shit, so he was actually injured”, you say out loud.
Garfiel shrugs.
“Traps got him good. Gotta have traps. Never know how many looters might try to take somethin’ from yer places. Fools all. Only dirt to take in them witches’ tomb, and tryin’ will kill ya. If you ain’t a half-breed that is.”
“Will you guide us to lord Roswaal?”, Emilia says calmly as if trying to focus the guy’s thoughts.
Garfiel rolls his eyes and shifts his weight.
“Sure, I’ll take ya to the hot gal who guards that clown bastard. Ram’s the name. Guess you know her, bein’ from the same household an’ all. Damn, that Ram gets me all fired up…”
It takes you a moment to realize that the words ‘clown bastard’ hadn’t come out of your own mouth for once. You walk up to Garfiel and extend your hand towards him so he can shake it.
“You must be an okay guy, Garfiel. Nice meeting you.”
Garfiel looks down at your hand as if you had smeared it with shit. He looks to the side and tsks.
He just tsked me, you think. This motherfucker.

As your carriage travels slowly through what passes for a road in the village of Sanctuary, you could hardly be more disappointed. This secret village isn’t a Soviet nuclear town, but something like a community of squatters. Most of the buildings were clearly built hundreds of years ago, and have been partly claimed by the surrounding forest even though people are living in them. You pass by small orchards and vegetable gardens. A bunch of pigs run across the road, and the ground dragons almost trample them.
Every single person you’ve spotted, whether they were peeking out confused from the unglazed windows, standing nearby and looking up at the carriage’s passengers, working on the gardens, or just playing around, is some variety of half-beast. Their partially human nature is either combined with dog, cat, bear, fox, deer, boar, and a few others you couldn’t identify. And there are quite a few children gazing at you travellers with curiosity, as well as old folks, so plenty of isolated generations must have been born and died here. A hidden village of outcasts and refugees, possibly from wars of persecution and genocide won long before you were even thought of. Despite what some documents would say, this place doesn’t belong to the surrounding kingdom, and possibly neither to Roswaal’s domains.
Garfiel guides Otto to a huge building that looks suspiciously like a church. It’s not exactly the same as any church you’ve ever seen before though. Its round tower has a large clock, and is topped with a spire that’s wider than it is high. It must have been built long ago as well and merely maintained, because you can’t imagine that any of these people nor their recent ancestors managed to put together the machinery of such a clock. It reminds you of plenty you saw in the capital.
Garfiel jumps out of the carriage, and the rest of you get off warily. As you rub your neck and look around at the somewhat claustrophobic community, enclosed as it is by a dense forest that threatens to encroach it, you spot a few full humans chatting with each other near the church-like building. They are drinking from mugs, and look untroubled. When you point them out at Emilia, she’s also curious. You have taken a few steps towards the guys when a confident female voice calls out to you.
Once you understood that Ram had survived, you were dreading the moment when you would see Rem’s sister again. She won’t remember anything about the precious sister she lost, or that you are his future brother-in-law, but when you swallow and turn towards the pink-haired servant, a pang of pain hits your chest. Ram’s face is so close to her sister’s, and she’s conscious, she’s looking at you, she can talk to you. You take a deep breath as the pink-haired servant approaches both you and your half-elf friend.
“Lady Emilia as well. Someone broke the secrecy about this place, but it’s for the best given the circumstances.”
You look down for a moment. You can’t wipe Rem from your mind at the moment, even though it will prevent you from dealing with this troubling situation in a village you had never seen before. You take a deep breath and hold the pink-haired senior servant’s gaze.
“First of all, I’m happy to see you. I always worry that the next time we come across you will be missing your head.”
She narrows her eyes.
“Always a way with words, Barusu, if by way I meant having the uncanny ability to spew sentences that don’t make sense probably even to you. You said something similar at the village, when I was resting from my valiant efforts against the cultists. What is this obsession with having me beheaded?”
You sigh.
“You know, I did miss your constant disapproval, the same way you would miss your mother’s cooking even though it gives you diarrhea. Never mind the whole getting beheaded thing, I’m just happy you are alive, that’s all. For all we knew, you and our peculiar lord had gotten mauled by manticores or something.”
Ram’s stern gaze falls on a two-story house close to the church. It’s bigger and better maintained than the rest of the village, as if it belongs to a local important person.
“I would have taken a few manticores instead of our current troubles. What do you know about why the lord and I hadn’t returned to the mansion?”
“That Garfiel punk told us that Roswaal tried to loot the witches’ tomb but couldn’t handle some lousy traps.”
Emilia, who had been standing next to you silently, looking guarded, speaks up.
“Subaru, what are you saying? That troublesome man did say that some traps did injure the lord, but he had ventured into those ruins to… pass some trials?”
You scratch the back of your head.
“Sorry, I guess I got confused.”
Ram rolls her eyes at you.
“We will need to sit down and speak about this matter carefully, lady Emilia. I’m afraid we are trapped in Sanctuary. Particularly yourself.”
Emilia snaps her head back and looks worried, but before she can speak, Garfiel addresses you all with his loud, brash voice while he approaches your group.
“I brought yer friends to ya, Ram. Wasn’t that nice of me? Must have made ya a bit happy.”
Ram’s nostrils widen. She glances at Garfiel as if giving him the time of the day hurts her.
“You’ll need far greater deeds to gain points with me, Garfiel.”
“Haah!? I guess I’m just outta luck with you then, ain’t I?”
“Yes. Quite.”
“Fine then. I’ll leave ya to it. Heard there are some idiots mess’n about near the north road. I’ll go give ’em a thrashin’.”
Garfiel turns around to leave, but Ram says his name to stop him.
“No. We need to gather in Ryuzu’s house to speak about the barrier. Now that my friends have joined us, we could improve all of our circumstances.”
Garfiel smirks.
“Y’know Ram, that’s really good thinkin’. Hot as fire an’ a whip-smart brain. You must have been born under the sign of the Hegiledes, as I keep sayin’.” He nods at Emilia, who lowers her head. “Princess, follow me. Ain’t gonna hurt ya. Ah, we also need to get that small-timer. Where is he? Still at the carriage?”
When both Garfiel and Emilia walk away, after she shoots you a look of disquiet over her shoulder, you notice that Ram isn’t moving. The senior servant then sighs, but when she was taking a step forward, you put a hand on her shoulder. She looks at it and then at you as if she hardly believes you dared touch her.
“Are we really okay with this Garfiel guy?”, you ask in a low voice.
Ram looks away.
“We have a better chance of getting back to our old lives if we work with the people who hold power around here.”
“Apart from that, Ram, me and my merchant pal, to whom I might have offered to join our household, had gone down to the village to buy some groceries. The place is a bit of a powder keg now. A few are thinking of taking over the mansion. Don’t know how serious they might be, but… How come you chose to come to Sanctuary with quite a few of our villagers? Did they ask you to?”
Ram snorts.
“I don’t know what makes you think I have to justify my decisions to you. I brought some villagers to Sanctuary, and that’s as much as you need to know.”
Her disrespect barely fazes you anymore, and you enjoy talking to her anyway.
“Well, I’m surprised they didn’t cause you more trouble! Some of the worst ones must have been there. That crazy village chief who believes himself to be a wizard, the wart guy who lost his entire family and berated Emilia for it… I missed quite a few unpleasant faces when Otto and I visited the village.”
“The village is caught up in superstition and ignorance. It’s no place for a half-elf or anyone with a shred of empathy.”
“I don’t know how I feel about you bringing up empathy. More often than not whenever people keep bringing up the lack of empathy in others, they tend to lack it themselves.”
Ram turns her whole body to face you, and glares at you intensely.
“What do you mean by that? I have as much empathy as anyone else.”
You smile and raise your hands.
“Then you wouldn’t keep hurting my heart. I just want to be the best brother-in-law you could have.”
She squints.
“You constantly dismiss serious topics, some that even you yourself bring up, by spouting nonsense. And yet you want people to respect you, Barusu? If you want to know, that man you called ‘wart guy’ hanged himself back at the village.”
The news surprises you. You had expected that man to be broken, but it felt he had more fight in him.
“That’s fucked, Ram.”
She shrugs.
“He left a note blaming the half-elf for his family’s death, as if he hadn’t made it obvious enough. His choice. Everybody is in charge of his own life, and it’s their right to end it if they do not wish to struggle anymore.”
“Although I don’t disagree, I’m still inclined to do so because that opinion came from your mouth.”
“I understand that feeling. But look at it this way: if any female were stupid enough and had such terrible taste as to partner herself with you, to the extent that she even agreed to create life made out of half of your deficient essence…”
“C’mon, Ram. Chill.”
“… Would you want to keep living if your wife and child were murdered?”
Your chest has gotten tighter during these last couple of minutes. It feels so wrong for Ram to behave this way towards you, without the hint that one day you would become part of the same dysfunctional family, although with her having forgotten her beloved sister it can’t be any other way. What kind of memories does Ram hold of you in her brain? How did the memories that involved both you and your girlfriend change? Did your beloved demon servant’s deeds become yours?
And you can’t help but return to that moment of the Witch’s Cult assault when you were holding an unconsolable Emilia and realized that you could choose to run away, find a knife and kill yourself so you would try again and again if necessary. You would fend off Petelgeuse’s assault until maybe you managed to save every single villager, and of course your friends. But you chose not to, because you didn’t feel strong enough. Maybe you truly aren’t strong enough to withstand the inevitable trauma that would mount up. You wonder if anyone would be. And still, you can’t lie to yourself and pretend that you hadn’t chosen.
“This is my fault”, you blurt out. Ram blinks and frowns at you, but you lower your head. Doesn’t matter if she doesn’t understand, because none of them do. “At that point, I would have returned… I would have woken up at Crusch’s place.”
Ram seems to wait for you to raise your gaze and face hers again, but she ends up taking a deep breath.
“You aren’t the center of the universe, Barusu. You clearly have a complex involving such thoughts. That disagreeable villager’s misery was the fault of the cultist fiends who murdered his family members.”
If Emilia finds out, you think, she would be seriously distraught on top of how jumpy she’s been ever since she met that punk. You stare at Ram’s red eyes. The senior servant always looks as self-assured as if she would be able to stop a train by standing in its way and demanding that it turned around.
“Please, don’t tell Emilia”, you ask.
“I will tell the lady whatever I consider necessary, whenever I wish to. However, I do agree that revealing such details would only serve to upset her during these circumstances.”
“You can just say, ‘you are right, I won’t tell her, Subaru. Thank you for your invaluable input’.”
Ram snorts.
“Perhaps you believe others to be as submissive and easily pliable as yourself, Barusu.”
She begins to walk away. You stand there while clenching your teeth. Rem was balancing the universe by being as sweet as Ram is a bitch. However, you realize that she’s been calling you Barusu. Why would she address you that way? She had begun doing so because she must have felt closer to you after you declared yourself her future brother-in-law. She had asked you to please make sure her sister didn’t drink too much during the celebrations at the capital.
You swallow to clear your throat.
“Wait, Ram!”
The senior servant stops, and even though you can only see her back, you imagine her closing her eyes tightly and steeling herself to deal with your idiotic ass for some seconds longer. She turns around with a stern look in her face.
“What is it now, Barusu?”
You walk up to her.
“That’s exactly my point. Why would you call me Barusu? Think about it. When did you start calling me that way?”
She shakes her head while blinking as if you are just wasting her time, but then her face darkens and her facial expression loosens. Disturbed, she looks to the side, but it only lasts a moment.
“I don’t recall now. I’m sure I had my reasons. Probably wanted to remind you that you aren’t important enough that people should remember your actual name.”
You nod, and hold her dismissive gaze as if that way you could watch her manipulated memories like a movie.
“We tell ourselves such stories, huh? Just so it all makes sense and we can keep walking.”
She clenches her hands, and then turns around again.
“I don’t know what’s going through your head at the moment, Barusu, nor do I want to. Follow me. We all need to face how both your and Emilia’s intervention has changed our predicament.”

Roleplaying through “Re:Zero” with the GPT-3 story generator (Part 42)

This entry covers part of the tenth volume of the original “Re:Zero” novels.

In the previous entry the protagonist revealed that he is only in love with pain. We also discovered that the German lioness grew up in Sanctuary, which allows this damn arc to move into its second act.

GPT-3 is a cutting-edge language processing algorithm used in the premium version of the online site AI Dungeon.

A couple or hours into a regular trip cutting through villages similar to the one you’ve become acquainted with, Otto followed a path leading to a forest much denser than the one in which you fought the Witch’s Cult’s units. The thick canopy covers in shadows most of the road, which would only allow a carriage at a time to pass, and you feel that you should have brought warmer clothing. Even though your merchant pal seems confident that he won’t get lost following the path traced on the map that Frederica gave him, you sit next to him on the driver’s seat and help as much as you can.
“It’s really dark”, Otto says while he glances nervously at the darkness between the trees. “We won’t see anything coming.”
“The darkness is just the natural state of things”, you say. “It seems that the lioness didn’t screw with us. Just follow her indications and we’ll eventually reach the barrier.”
You examine again the line that Frederica had drawn across the road near the diagram of a bunch of buildings. You wonder if this famous magical barrier can be seen.
Otto slows the carriage the closer you all get to that mark on the map where your carriage is supposed to hit the barrier. You keep an eye on anything resembling a dome or a wall of some kind up ahead, even though you realize you are holding on to a false hope. The magician who built an enchantment, or whatever other kind of permanent spell, that still lasts and serves its purpose hundreds of years later didn’t screw up by making the barrier visible.
A couple of minutes later Otto speaks up about what you three must have been thinking.
“We are about to pass the mark.”
“Do you think it’ll just turn on suddenly?”, Otto asks with a shaky voice, while staring straight ahead.
“Who knows?”
“Should we slow down a bit more?”
“Why ask me? I’m not the most informed when it comes to all this stuff.”
You all get quiet again and stare nervously ahead, as you look into the shadows for the barrier that would stop you from continuing. Otto slows the carriage down even more so that you are at a walking pace. You look over your shoulder towards Emilia, and the consternation in her eyes, and how she’s squeezing the emerald-colored pendant hanging from her neck, makes you jump onto the back of the carriage and stand next to her.
“I actually thought you would have been calmer surrounded by such dense forests”, you say attempting to soothe her.
“This forest isn’t welcoming. It screams that anyone who doesn’t belong here should stay away. Roswaal’s ancestors agreed to hide this place for hundreds of years, generation after generation. I can’t imagine what we are going to find inside.”
You can only suspect that it has something to do with skimpily-dressed half-humans, possibly some that didn’t agree to dress that way or stay around for that matter.
“Mere seconds now!”, Otto raises his voice from the driver’s seat.
You didn’t have to think to turn your head towards Emilia. She has ceased to squeeze the magic crystal, because it’s glowing white and its shine is increasing as if to blind you all. When you avert your gaze, the image of Emilia looking down at the pendant, her eyes wide and her mouth open with bewilderment, brings up a memory. You were crouching on the back of another carriage, next to that cultist spy as the bastard activated some magical explosives he had hidden under the floorboards. You almost lost that nasty Ferris back then.
You push Emilia’s head down so the pendant’s cord doesn’t get stuck in the half-elf’s neck when you snatch it. Once you are holding it, you are surprised that it doesn’t burn, even though its brightness has already half-blinded you. You jump out of the carriage through the open tarp while Emilia shouts your name behind you. Once you land and roll a couple of times, you stand up and twist your body to throw the pendant away, but before you can finish that movement you are engulfed in whiteness.
Next thing you know you are lying on grass, and it takes you a few seconds to realize that you had just tried to save Emilia from an explosion. Shocked, you realize that you are still holding on to that magic crystal, but it has ceased to glow as if it never did.
You stand up and look around. You are in a clearing enclosed by the wall-like forest. Its trees have reached the height of a four-story house. You stop breathing to listen carefully, but you only hear insects and birdsongs.
What the hell happened? Did you fall unconscious and someone dragged you here? But if Emilia and Otto did it, why wouldn’t have they stuck around?
The sky is gray and cloudy, although not full of rain. You turn around, but you stop walking after a single step. A chill runs down your spine. There’s a small person staring at you maybe six meters in front of you, next to the treeline. It’s a girl of Petra’s size and a similar age. She has long, pale red hair, and she’s wearing a thick coat buttoned up to her mouth. What strikes you the most are two details: her ears are pointy, much pointier than Emilia’s, and her eyes look at you like a deer’s, with only enough intelligence to worry about whether she should run away from a threat or keep wandering around.
You take a deep breath.
“Who are you?”
The girl stares at you, and then turns and runs away as gracefully as an animal.
“Hey! Wait, please! Where are my friends!?”
You run in pursuit, although along the way you wonder whether you should clarify that you want information, not hurt this stranger, but at the same time the way she held your gaze hadn’t suggested that she would understand you.
This girl is increasing the distance without effort. She disappears behind a bend on the treeline, and the next time you catch a glimpse of her she had stopped to look back at you, but after that last glance she disappears into the trees, where the light barely reaches.
However, you no longer want to pursue this elf-like person, because the clearing has broadened to the size of a football field. Maybe around twenty meters from you, some worn out stone steps climb to a raised platform on which stands an old ruin, some megalithic temple covered in vines. Its entrance is like a wide open mouth, its insides black.
The temple, or whatever it is, calls to you. You walk towards it before you can think about it. Did Emilia approach that huge entrance as well? After you reach the top of the steps, you spot between the vines that the huge stone labs are decorated with faded carvings of symbols and figures, but you can’t make anything out other than that the ruin must be far older than the last Apocalypse four hundred years ago.
You enter a tunnel so dark that you can’t see anything. You follow the rough stone wall with your hand. After a minute of walking you are able to see the faint outline of another entryway at the end of the passageway. Light seeps in from under the door. You feel a presence beyond the obstacle, but after you push the door open and step inside, you find yourself alone in what looks like the antechamber of an ancient tomb. Dust motes drift through four pillars of light that fall from holes in the ceiling. The floor is made up of countless flat stones, all different shapes and sizes, and it seems designed to map the night sky.
As you are about to shout in case Emilia and Otto might have wandered inside, someone speaks in your head. It’s yourself. You hear your own voice saying words you hadn’t thought.
“I grant you access to my death-dream.”
Your body fails you as if you had resisted falling asleep for hours. You only manage to avoid hitting your head, but once you lie on the cold stones, you pass out.

You are standing in a sea of grass as far as the eye can see, featureless beyond some raised hillocks. The sky is piercingly blue to the extent that you narrow your eyes. However, you can’t see a sun anywhere, and the speed of the few sliding clouds suggests a wind that you don’t feel.
Are you dreaming? It feels as real as that opaque blackness in the abyss of yourself, whenever you found yourself engulfed by Satella’s unasked love. You crouch and squeeze some blades of grass between your thumbs, and they break and moisten your skin. You smell the surrounding green.
“I’m not dead then,” you say to yourself, “unless this is a whole new way of dying.”
The next time you turn around you find yourself at the base of a new hillock, at the top of which, maybe ten meters away, are placed two white chairs in front of a white round table. A garden umbrella shades the furniture. Sitting on one of the chairs is a young woman, maybe around twenty years old, whose snow white skin is almost as pale as the pure white of her long, silky hair down to her waist. She’s wearing an ink black funeral dress that only exposes her skin from the neck up, as well as her hands. Both the skirt of her dress as well as her sleeves are decorated with thin, white vertical stripes. The young woman is staring down at you, and despite her delicate features, her self-assured smile suggests that she had expected you to come, that she knew everything about you as well as every way you could react to her presence, as if your brain was as unsophisticated and predictable as an insect’s.
“I am Echidna, the Witch of Greed”, the woman says with a bright voice. “Welcome to my tomb.”
Your heart beats quicker. This woman has already declared herself to be a witch, and despite her currently harmless demeanour, you feel the weight of ages of experiences in her gaze. She is one of the witches of old, who drowned along with half of the world when Satella couldn’t contain herself any longer. You recall Beatrice saying that these witches were too powerful even for death.
“What’s the matter?”, she asks without apparent malice. “Come up here. I’ve prepared some tea for the occasion. I know I’m an impressive sight, but there’s no need for you to freeze in place.”
Echidna waves to you with her hand, encouraging you to walk up the hillock.
You take a deep breath while you collect your thoughts, trying to calm yourself.
“What do you want, witch?”, you ask with a serious tone.
“Me? I was resting in my tomb, as I have done for centuries. What did you want? You came in here.”
“I was brought here somehow. I mean, I don’t know the exact location of these ruins, or tomb, or whatever. I saw it and I felt like entering it.”
“You felt like entering it? That’s the first time anyone said that to me. I’ve always attracted travellers with a purpose, but you felt like just entering my tomb without any reason.” The Witch of Greed’s eyes are fixated on you with a mixture of curiosity and childlike joy. “Most importantly, though, you shouldn’t be here.”
“Can’t say I have felt welcome in most of the places I’ve wandered into ever since I came to your fantasy world, but you might be the first one who states it outright.”
“No, I don’t mean that you aren’t welcome. You are fully human, so the magical traps I filled this tomb with should have ripped you to shreds.”
Your heart skips a beat. You clench your fists.
“That’s as unwelcoming as it gets!”
“No, no. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not hostile towards you. I’m just saying that it’s alarming that my magic didn’t work on you.”
“So what does that mean?”
Echidna’s eyes glisten. She rests her chin on her palm and smiles as if contemplating a fascinating mystery.
“I don’t know yet. Please, come and let’s chat. The tea is warm.”
You lower your head. Hanging out with one of the witches of old, considered by most of humanity and even those who are only part human as some of the most dangerous people to ever exist, is so clearly a terrible idea that it tempts you. You shrug and walk up the hillock at a normal pace while this witch stares at you with curiosity. You sit in front of her. Steam rises from the cup of tea that she has prepared for you, and it smells like they did in your past world. Even though you need to swallow first, you hold Echidna’s gaze. She’s so pale that your mind draws pictures of maidens locked for their entire youth in towers, without ever feeling the warmth of the sun. She’s beautiful as well, despite her thick, white eyebrows. A colourful, butterfly-shaped brooch in her hair attracts your gaze.
“It smells good, doesn’t it?”, Echidna says softly. “Go ahead, sip it. It’s delicious.”
Her voice is calm and peaceful. However, her irises are the color of ebony, and her pupils are vertical, white slits. The intensity of her gaze would ruin most attempts at soothing.
You warm your hands with the cup that this witch has prepared for you.
“Nice brooch. A butterfly clashes with your name, though. Conflicting symbols.”
The witch touches her hair brooch as if she had forgotten it was there, but then she smiles at you warmly, narrowing her eyes.
“It is nice, isn’t it? But I like to think of how those two symbols fight each other and then soar beyond what they are, or were, or might be. Butterflies have their life cycles, their battles to surpass their forms, but then they transcend them. Beautiful and free.”
You take a deep breath.
“Do you even know what an echidna is supposed to be?”
The witch touches her fingers to her lips.
“Yes, a sort of prehistoric hedgehog. I’m sure there must be some interesting stories behind why I was named that way.”
“I’m surprised you actually have those in your fantasy world. Is the combined symbology supposed to mean something, as in you might look graceful and delicate as a butterfly, but anyone getting close risks meeting the spines?”
The witch shrugs while sipping her tea.
“Maybe. Now, that’s an interesting choice of words on your part. ‘Your fantasy world’. What could you possibly have meant? As opposed to what world?”
“Ah, that was a sort of joke. I meant your world, as in this world we’re both in right now.”
The witch hums and taps her chin.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Taste your tea. It’s getting colder. Don’t you want to drink some of it? You will like it, I assure you.”
You lower your head, but you still look up towards her black eyes.
“Yeah, I’m not missing how much you are insisting on me taking this liquid into my body.”
“Oh, what’s the worst that could happen? I put a spell on it, and you end up ambushing a caravan? But I assure you, I won’t do such a thing.”
That reference to ambushing caravans reminds you of Rem, and for a moment, apart from having to deal with your suddenly soured mood, you wonder whether the witch had intended to bring up that event. Her expression doesn’t suggest it.
“Okay, what’s the best that could happen? My life gets… magically enhanced?”
Echidna leans forward onto the table, and she offers you a smile of affectionate condescension.
“That’s certainly a big question. I suppose it all depends on how open your eyes are to see it. Most likely scenario, you enjoy a rich, buttery tea that improves your day.”
“But you’re not certain?”
“Oh, I’m the person everyone comes to for certainty. I will say though, I am rather confident that you’ll enjoy the tea, and I’ll enjoy you enjoying it.”
The way she is gawking at you fills you with an intense discomfort. However, you’re not one to back down from a challenge.
“Alright then, Witch of Greed, I hope you tried your best.”
You pick up the cup and take a sip. After a few seconds the robust taste still lingers. You look into the cup while you swirl its contents. A brown sludge remains at the bottom of the cup, but there’s definitely some substance to it.
Echidna’s eyes are glistening. She leans her face on her hands and smiles at you.
“How do you like it?”
“I’ll say this much: it certainly tastes better than it smells.”
Echidna’s smile broadens as she gives a nod of assent. You notice how dreadfully quiet it is in this grassy field. You can’t hear the wind outside; the only sound is your breathing and the clinking of the cup against the table.
“I have a basic question, witch”, you begin. “What the hell is this place? We aren’t in the real world anymore, for sure.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. But yes, you are partially correct. We are currently in a space between spaces. It’s an art that has long since been lost to the world, but one I perfected long ago.”
You hold and move your teacup slightly, so its liquid swirls.
“To what extent is this stuff I just put into my body real?”
“It’s quite real. The cup is fake, though. I only have those because their colours and patterns are so pretty.”
“A sense of humor in a witch that has been dead for four hundred years. Kind of a waste.”
“Do I seem dead to you, nameless young man? Are you not speaking to me, are we not exchanging thoughts?”
You did not expect her to retort like that, and mentally respond with a shrug.
“I suppose not.”
“Then let me say that while my physical form may be dead, my soul has never died. And it is my soul that continues on in this grassy reality.”
“So are you saying your soul just happened to land in a tea set?”
“No, I am saying that my soul has inhabited this space for so long that it had formed it into a likeness of the place I loved the most. You could say this place is my brain, and the grass is my nerves, and love is my heart.”
You frown at that odd explanation.
“What are you, a poet?”
“More like a gardener. Back when my body allowed me to move around in that wide world outside, I focused on planting seeds I was fascinated by, and then I tended to the sprouts so I could find out what they grew into.”
“That’s cute and all, but I really don’t see the point. You’ll have to forgive my lack of appreciation for the arts. And you glossed over my concerns about this reality you are presenting to me, and in particular about the stuff I let pass through a segment of my digestive system.”
“Ah, yes. My apologies. It’s a perfectly normal tea, except for the special ingredient that I add only for my most fascinating guests. And I assure you I haven’t gotten nearly enough interesting guests during these last hundreds of years.”
Echidna’s response doesn’t put you at ease, but then maybe that’s the point. You turn your head slightly while narrowing your eyes at the witch.
“So what is this ingredient you are so unforthcoming about?”
“Ah, that would be telling. And it’s really not as vile as you are imagining. If anything, it’s a magical ingredient, so it probably tastes like nothing at all.”
Without another word, you quickly finish the remainder of the tea in one gulp. Echidna lets out a noise of delight, and she bites her lower lip while you dry yours.
“I could only vomit it at this point, witch”, you say as if challenging her. “What did you put in there?”
“Oh, just a bit of my bodily fluids. All perfectly clean, I assure you.”
Echidna gives a creepy smile as the tea sets in. You slap your lips together and move your tongue around, but there’s really nothing to be felt or tasted. When you hold the witch’s gaze again, you understand that glimmer in her eyes, as well as her slightly smug tone when admitting to her deed, like a middle-schooler revealing to a friend that she smokes.
“Uh-huh. Bodily fluids from where?”, you ask calmly. “Not from your corpse, right? It must be little else than dessicated bones at this point.”
Her grin drops, and she shakes her head.
“No, I don’t have access to my corpse.”
“So from where, then? These bodily fluids you mention were tangible, they had some level of physical reality. So what did you do?”
She avoids your gaze for a moment, but then she shrugs and closes one eye while staring at you smugly with her open one.
“A witch doesn’t reveal the specifics of her arts. Not to an outsider anyway.”
“Did you run around for half an hour until you got all sweaty, then you smeared your fingers with the hot, deliciously musky sweat from your armpits before you dunked those fingers into my tea? Did you take your panties off and diddled your little button while remembering the numerous orgies with demonic beasts you enjoyed in the old world, until you secreted your witchy cum into the cup? While I gulped it down, you must have been touching yourself under the table, weren’t you, little freak?”
Echidna’s sudden blush is like a skin irritation in her almost pure white, maidenly face. She shakes her head slowly while failing to hold your gaze.
“It’s just saliva”, she says with a thin voice. “A couple of drops.”
You clench your fists against the table.
“That’s it!? What kind of pussy ass shit is that!? Aren’t you a witch!?” You stand up forcefully, shaking the table. Echidna’s tea spills from her own cup. “I’m leaving.”
The witch snaps her head back and lets out a noise of surprise.
“What!? Already!?”
You turn around and throw a dirty look at her, which she fails to notice as she stares at the spilled tea on her dress. You sigh, roll your eyes and turn back around.
“Yeah. I’ve drank your stupid tea, so now we’re even.”
She looks up at you with confusion written all over her face, with just a hint of anger at the edge.
“You truly don’t realize who you are speaking to, do you.”
“Do you plan on holding me hostage in this death-dream of yours forever, witch? You can open a door to the outside or something, right? Then c’mon.”
Echidna stutters, and after she shakes her head, she lifts her ass from the chair and props her hands on the table to glare at you properly.
“Alright. You think you’re quite the clever one, don’t you?”
“Not really. I’m just a regular fuck-up.”
“That’s nice. Most people are terrified when they see me. Yet, you must not understand how powerful us witches of old are.”
“What, you can kill me whenever you want, right?”
“Of course. I have all the power here.”
You shrug.
“If you want to kill me, I can’t do anything about it, so it doesn’t bother me. Saves me from having to figure out how to defend myself.”
Echidna squints at you, as if you said something she didn’t expect to hear.
“I could prolong your final moments with excruciating pain.”
You stare at Echidna until her menacing smile loses its luster.
“Witch,” you begin, “you don’t have a clue.”
“I don’t… have a clue…?” Echidna sighs, then sits back down. “You’re right. I don’t. I don’t know how you can be so calm. Most people would either be scared out of their wits, or try to escape even though it would be impossible without my help.”
You pity her. It’s been four hundred years, after all.
“I’ve already had to deal with witches,” you say, “or more accurately with one, every time my world goes pitch black, and for the most part that personal witch of mine is boring as shit. Repeats ‘I love you’ over and over. And she’s also a fucking traitor, claiming to love me only to fuck me over without giving me any explanation. ‘I love you I love you I love you’. Gah! Every time I remember that bitch her three words keep repeating in my head like one of those catchy summer songs!”
Echidna frowns.
“So that’s why you’re not afraid of me? You’ve had it far worse? And that witch you refer to must be the Witch of Envy. But how?”
“It’s a long story. I’m sick of the whole thing, and I don’t have time to waste on amateurs.”
She grimaces and goes wide-eyed.
“A-Amateur!? You intrude upon my tomb, you don’t even tell me your name, and you call me, the Witch of Greed, an amateur. Me, an amateur! I’m the repository of knowledge of the world!”
“Sure, with a few more holes in it than anyone else. You haven’t even heard of my world. I mean, you don’t even know who I am. I’m guessing your information is also at least four hundred years old?”
She gasps, then trembles as a film of tears builds up on her lower eyelids. She stands up and passes by the table to stop a couple of meters from you.
“Why, you…” she says with a raspy voice. “I can tell you all the known details of the lives of every ruler of every nation that came to exist. I can list and describe all the creatures that have roamed this world. I know the words that the dragon Volcanica uttered during the covenant that sealed the Witch of Envy and tied the Divine Dragon forever to the kingdom of Lugunica.”
You groan.
“This fantasy world also has regular flying dragons!? I don’t give a shit about dragons, except for my Patrasche, and the flying variety cheapens every story! Nor do I care about any detail of this world that doesn’t affect me directly.”
Her right eye is twitching. She steps closer.
“I can’t believe it. You’re not even interested in the world that you live in… I am Echidna, the Witch of Greed!”
“Stop spitting! I am already digesting your previous saliva! Should I repeat my name over and over too!?”
“You could say it once to begin with!”
“I’m not here to make friends! I did not come here to ask questions and gain knowledge. I didn’t know what I was doing! You are just a talking, craw… fly… a talking fly that is wasting my time!”
“I am the Witch of Greed. You cannot possibly comprehend the knowledge I possess.”
“I’m Natsuki Subaru, mighty planeswalker. I murder great spirits with my willpower. You are quite hot despite the whole goth thing, but you are annoying the fuck out of me right now.”
She looks at your unenthusiastic face and shuts her eyes.
“My knowledge is vast! If you want to gain rightful claim to this world, then you need my help! Some of the most powerful people in the world spent years trying to get an audience with me, or even to get the chance to look at my face and receive a single answer to questions that burned in them for most of their lives!”
“It’s a pretty face, I’ll give you that, in a ‘princess that never left her tower nor felt true love warm her heart’ kind of way. Still, you people are all nuts. You can go to hell.”
Echidna lowers her head, closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
“You want to leave? Fine. But not before I get my payment.”
You don’t like where this is going.
“What payment? It didn’t say anything about payment anywhere in that old tomb of yours.”
“Well, it wouldn’t, would it? That’s hardly the most honorable way to go about things.”
“Damn it. You witches are all assholes.”
“Unlike some people, we follow through with our word! Now you will give me the payment I asked for. It’s only fair.”
“I agreed to nothing of the sort! I didn’t even know you existed!”
“Yes, and that’s why you ended up here. Lacking knowledge is a horrible thing.”
You facepalm, and after a few seconds you speak slowly.
“Let me out and I’ll go grab some of our clown’s mounds of coins. He doesn’t need his money anyway.”
“What would I do with money in here? It didn’t move me even back when I was alive. No, I will need something else. First, your memory.”
You stand still, pondering what she meant. She takes a step forward.
“I will block the memory of this meeting. You will wake up at the tomb as if from a deep sleep. You won’t remember me at all, so you won’t be able to tell anybody else.”
You narrow your eyes at Echidna. Why would you want to tell anybody about this shitty witch anyway?
“What’s the catch?”
“I imagine you’d want to forget all this, so it would be an empty trade anyway. I will also qualify you for the trials.”
“Is that an extreme mountain bike thing?”
“The trials I set up long ago. Sanctuary won’t open up until I’m satisfied that someone is worthy.”
“Worthy of what?”
“Worthy of my interest.”
You give this black-eyed loon a good, hard look.
“Well, if that doesn’t scream ‘it’s probably really dangerous and shit’, then I don’t know what does. Whatever, Echidna. Let me out, I have a half-elf to find.”
“Very well. But remember, you must visit me soon, or else the deal is off!”
Echidna motions with her hands. A dark portal opens up a few meters behind you, with a red haze pulsating inside. When you turn your head towards Echidna, she’s licking her index finger slowly, leaving a trail of saliva, while holding your gaze.
“… You have been here for far too long, haven’t you, witch”, you say.
“You have no idea how long four hundred years in this place feel like”, she answers dryly.
She pushes the wet end of her index finger between your eyebrows, and you suddenly feel weightless. You float backwards towards the dark portal. The last thing you see before darkness takes you is the witch’s weary face as she bids you farewell.
“Sleep tight, Natsuki Subaru.”

Note from December of 2020:

I finally get to play with my own version of the Witch of Greed, Echidna, one of my favorite characters from both the original novels and the anime adaptation. I don’t know how her personality will vary from the source, but that has also been the case with all the other characters, and the whole thing turned out alright as far as I’m concerned. I’m going with the flow. Also, I love scenes in which characters I like just argue with each other. I don’t know what to tell you.

As a weird moment from this session, I refused to add to the story maybe the most savage line that the AI ever made this version of Subaru say: “I’ll impregnate your mouth so every time you try to spit knowledge you will instead let fly a brood of dicks.” Jesus fucking Christ.