―Natsuki Subaru’s group continued to head directly towards east upon leaving the city of Pristella.
They headed towards the eastern end of the world—an area that contained the Augria Sand Dunes, which was a plot of land with a rich history of demon beasts that have continued to exist for hundreds of years, rejecting every existence from stepping foot onto their territory.
It contained a miasma that would cause travelers to lose their sense of direction and gnawed at their hearts.
It contained groups of demon beasts as evil vanguards, who would indulge themselves in playing with people’s lives.
And then there was the person who sought for world peace—the person at the watchtower who determined each and every one of the successes and failures made by those who came close. This person was the “Sage”, Shaula.
[Subaru: Just from knowing that, it feels like we’re lining up for suicide.]
Just being reminded of the obstacles that lie ahead was enough to cause dejection.
In reality, the beings that headed towards this place while knowing what lies ahead were perhaps beings like suicidal people, or perhaps witch worshipers. At any rate, it seemed like they were nothing but beings who had brain abnormalities.
However, these people were neither of the above, as they had no intention to die. It was rather the opposite; they intended to live.
They would provide a path of life in response to each and everyone one of the people who lost their lives on another path.
They began this expedition in order to obtain this seed of hope.
[Subaru: ……Nevertheless, it is mysterious.]
Subaru―who was isolated by the members who were sitting up front―whispered these words while continuing to imagine the jolting of the dragon carriage that didn’t actually shake. When the people in the guest room heard his whisper, every single member had their eyes turn towards Subaru.
A total of 4 glances came his way―adding in Subaru to the people who were in this carriage would make a total of 5 passengers. This was what the situation looked like.
[Emilia: Mysterious? Did something happen?]
[Subaru: No, it’s nothing important, Emilia-tan. It’s just wellll, when one of our dragons that we amiably ride with made a face, I just thought to myself, “She has a pretty startling part of her.”]
Subaru responded this way as he brushed off Emilia’s question.
Emilia and Beatrice were located to Subaru’s right and his left as they secured both sides. These were his allies. It was a given that these two would be with Subaru, but still, the question at hand would be the two people up front.
[Julius: Well, it may very well have been normal for you to feel like such. Actually, I too thought it was really startling. It would be natural for Natsuki-kun to feel uncomfortable, huh.]
[Anastasia: Aahh, that’s right.]
The person who let out high-pitched laughter and said this with her kansai dialect―a dialect that was fixed to Kararagi dialect―was Anastasia. After the powerless sadist responded in a kansai dialect, she looked towards him with a meaningful look while feeling her hair.
[Anastasia: Although, you might not be as bad as Julius, if we’re only talking about things like comforting ridicule.]
[Julius: That’s harsh. However, please do not worry. ―I am also a knight at heart. Just a single night is enough for me to adjust my heart. Not to mention, the last few days have already been…I promise to never to show a sight that was similar to yesterday’s shamefulness ever again.]
[Anastasia: How elegant. We shall be expecting as such then, perhaps.]
Julius’ bowed and replied in response to Anastasia’s banter-like way of speaking because of the incident from before.
It was something that would be obvious if you claimed it to be so. He received damage from Gluttony’s authority, but it more specifically had effects on all of his friends, rather than effects on himself; it affected anybody but himself.
Thus, the people that changed their behavior were his friends, rather than himself. He did not conceal his disturbance when he received these reactions, and on top of that, relating to what he had just said before, it seemed like his friends no longer accepted this with ease.
[Subaru: ……. You’re astounding.]
He let out this praise with his voice that wouldn’t acknowledge the significance of things.
The weak part about him was not being able to clearly express great praise. It wasn’t as if Subaru could forget that feeling as well―the feeling of having your own existence being left behind, having nobody around to share the memories of your own.
Natsuki Subaru definitely had recollections of this different world that nobody remembered, as he was one who could go back in time with his ability “Return by Death”.
If he were to recall a single experience where he built up connections only to have them lost, deep down, it would perhaps be the Roswaal mansion’s initial―the repeated days at the Roswaal mansion.
He got summoned into a different world, ran around doing all kinds of things at the King’s capital to help Emilia, and then as a result, he was invited to Roswaal’s mansion. He then experienced 4 iterations of events before stepping foot into the 5th world.
The memories up until the 4th world were held within Subaru and nowhere else.
Even now, it was difficult to forget the shock he felt from being treated as a stranger by the people who he built relations with in those days at the mansion.
That pain and sadness would never fade away.
[Beatrice: …..What is it? Subaru, why have you suddenly started petting Betty’s head?]
[Subaru: Don’t worry about it. They’re just my deep emotions that say, “I seriously got saved that time thanks to you”. Thank you. Thank you.]
[Beatrice: I don’t understand, I suppose. Also, my hair is getting messed up so sto……you don’t have to stop, but pet it just a liiitle softer]
Beatrice gave her head to Subaru as she occupied her half of the seat with her butt. Subaru petted her head just like how she asked for, not allowing her to forget his mind’s condition when he was truly saved.
The only person who didn’t change their feelings towards Subaru during the loop of days at the mansion was Beatrice. They met before the beginning of the “Return by Death”. She remained to be the only person to not change how she’d come in contact with Subaru after that as well.
Moreover, she too would keep the fact that she saved him as an eternal secret.
[Subaru: After that, Emilia-tan saved me, huh.]
Emilia made a curious face in response to Subaru’s reminiscence.
Subaru was right here at this moment, because he was saved by her kindness, voice, attitude, and the warmth of her lap that she gave.
This is how Subaru was able to recognize Julius’ impressiveness of accomplishing things by himself as an actuality. Subaru could do this because of how he gained his triumphs; he got as much help as he could, as time elapsed while he tried to get things right 4 times.
Or maybe it was because a certain someone would be there to lend him his help.
A certain someone that was forgotten by Anastasia; a certain someone that didn’t seek for help from anyone in his own camp; a certain someone who had his ties severed with the spirits whom he contracted with; a certain someone whose blood related brother didn’t remember him either.
If that was the case, then he’d be grateful for him.
[Emilia: Continuing to stare at a people’s faces like that…is something wrong, Subaru?]
[Subaru: It’s nothing. I just thought of letting you know that you’re beautiful and I love the you who smiles with a sense of elegance.]
[Julius: Beautifully elegant….that indeed has a splendid sound to it. I never expected to receive praise from you. I’m surprisingly happy……or well, that may be an exaggeration. Well, isn’t my beautiful elegance a given?]
[Subaru: I didn’t mean to praise you. Though, you do piss me off when you say it like that!]
With his same manner from the past―or rather, with his reaction that made it seem as if he became even more skilled with the slipping of the tongue, Subaru became the one to be annoyed.
It was hard to take in the evident frailness that was on his face when he was at his brother’s hospital room at Pristella. He was spirited in the past, and Subaru had recollections of the times when a lack of satisfaction was evident in his expression. However, all of that is completely forgotten history now.
[Emilia: You and Julius get along well. Umm, umm, like how you guys are right now and just like how you guys were in your talk.]
[Subaru: Emilia-tan, you got it wrong. There’s no way me and this guy get along well. Did you see my face? My eyes had the scariest look ever. Although, that is just my viewpoint.]
[Emilia: Really? I don’t think you’re right, but…..Ah, I’m not talking about the look you had in your eyes. I’m talking about when you said that you two don’t get along well. Subaru’s eyes had the same level of exteeeme scarines as always.]
[Subaru: The same level of extreeeme scariness as always!?]
[Emilia: Well for me, I love Subaru’s eyes. I’m being truthfully truthful.]
[Subaru: Ah, dammit. How I wish that part about my eyes was left out from the audio recording…]
Emilia let out a wry smile as she filled Subaru with regret. She then turned towards Julius with an inquisitive look, causing him to take a glance towards Subaru.
[Emilia: I myself have no room to deny those words. In reality, to say that me and him are close…..wouldn’t be a proper thing to say. Although in my eyes, we are compromising with each other, despite how things may look.]
[Subaru: To put it as compromising, that’s already condescending. Even more deprecating. ……It’ll probably piss him off.]
[Emilia: It’s difficult to put it. I wonder what we should say to him.]
He sought for Emilia’s agreement on his opinion of Julius, but she reacted to their exchanges by brushing up her hair and,
[Subaru: Just as I thought, we are reeeally close, right……?]
[Julius: Come on. That’s already clear.]
[Subaru: Eh? Well, I guess we are close then…..]
Subaru had a disagreement with Emilia, but Subaru and Julius acted as if nothing happened. This made Emilia become more and more baffled. Anastasia tried to hold herself back from laughing, letting out chuckles with a smile.
Anastasia’s reaction caused Julius to suddenly loosen his lips, as if indicating that he calmed down. ―That transient master and servant relationship was hardly suspicious to Subaru, being someone who’s familiar with the opposite situation.
The Anastasia at hand differed from the genuine Anastasia Hoshin, because she was only on the same side of a spectrum for fakes.
Anastasia’s body is a body that the artificial spirit Echidna―nickname being Eridna(Eridona)―is currently using. This so called Eridna had no intentions of capturing her body, but he was unsure of how much he could trust her. Being someone who was aware this situation, the one thing that Subaru did not fail to do was lookout for Emilia and Julius―who both were unaware of the situation―while trying to avoid providing enlightenment at the same time.
[Beatrice: …..Subaru, cut it out.]
Beatrice said these words to Subaru, who was surely in a state of deep thought. This girl’s hair was in a messy state, as Subaru was petting her head all throughout this period of silence. Her cute face had a sour look.
[Subaru: Ohhh!? My bad, Beako! Your cute appearance is a mess…..your hair’s all messed up now.]
[Beatrice: Perhaps you shouldn’t make it sound like Betty’s cuteness is ruined from just her hairdo! Moreover, your face is starting to look scary.]
Subaru lifted his butt off of his half of the seat as Beatrice said these words while frantically fixing her messed up hair with her hands. Subaru let out an “oo”, preventing himself from talking, as Beatrice held a face that made it look like she was indifferent to such incompetence.
[Beatrice: There’s no point in making such an excessively worrisome face, I suppose. ….Betty will take care of it. If there’s something, Betty is much quicker than Subaru when it comes to noticing it.]
Beatrice said these things in response to Subaru’s anxiety. This was Beatrice―the other person who knew about Eridna and how she is occupying Anastasia.
They promised two assertions that would conceal the truth. These two assertions were: first, Subaru would avoid causing any unnecessary commotion about it. And second, make sure that Eridna had no intentions to steal Anastasia’s body away from her. However, Beatrice would be the only one to realize when something would be too late.
These were the two beings that were the same type of artificial spirit who had the same type of relation with the Witch Echidna. If it seemed like Eridna was planning something, Beatrice would surely sense it.
Although, if he were to consider Beatrice’s emotions, he didn’t feel like it would be very advisable for Beatrice to get involved with Echidna, but
[Beatrice: Putting your unnecessary suspicions aside, it’s fine that you acted like yourself and sought help from anybody without caring about who it was, just like you always have. Though, you came to Betty first, I suppose. I’ll give you my praise this time for that.]
she replied with this, so that was that.
[Emilia:―I see it.]
Just when he thought that the dragon carriage went into a state of silence, Emilia suddenly whispered these words.
It seemed that Emilia saw their destination afar in her eyes as she looked out the window of the dragon carriage. Subaru also understood how the view out the window was changing into familiar scenery.
[Subaru: What a nostalgic path. We’ll arrive at Roswaal’s mansion soon, huh.]
He murmured these words, first making sure to restrain his feelings from being near their first checkpoint, remembering their original goal.
This group’s destination, the same destination as the one at the start, was the Augria Sand Dunes―the place where they would seek to speak with the “Sage” Shaula. However, they had already arranged to stop by Roswaal’s mansion on the way as a way to prepare for their trip and to make a stop in their long expedition.
There were many things that they wanted to talk to the camp about, including the incident at Pristella and the occasion of getting to speak with the “Sage”.
[Subaru: It’s not just a simple stop, okay.]
There was meaning behind dropping by Roswaal’s mansion before beginning their expedition to see the “Sage”.
The meaning would be the meagerness of the small world when seen through large eyes, but through Natsuki Subaru’s small human eyes, it would be the meaning of a great possibility.
The Subaru who squinted his eyes to vision the distant mansion that could not yet be seen.
Each of the 4 people on the dragon carriage were looking at Subaru. They had various emotions in the colors of their eyes, but Subaru had no composure to take notice of any of their glances.
※※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
It was later than 1 hour past noon when the dragon carriage arrived at Roswaal’s mansion.
The long migration from Pristella City―which has gone on for only 10 days―went on a temporarily hold.
[Subaru: Ohh, Petra, woahwah!?]
They rode the earth dragons towards Roswaal’s mansion, gave their thanks to the male driver, and then got off. A petite maid ran towards Subaru from the mansion and jumped at him with unrestrained force.
She came into his chest with her might and force, and Subaru somehow managed to catch her while backing up. He then petted the head of the girl who flew into his arms.
[Subaru: Petra, if you do that so suddenly you’ll startle me, you know. I’ve been gone for nearly a month now, but have you been doing well?]
[Petra: I’ve been fine, as you can tell. However, Subaru…..-sama has been having it rough, right? I’ve been worried ever since that letter came in 2 days ago. You were injured so much again, right? Can you handle the pain?]
[Petra: tickle tickle]
Petra touched Subaru’s body to confirm his pain as her brown dyed hair with a tinge of red swung back and forth. Subaru reacted to this with a wry smile, and then everyone else got off the dragon carriage.
[Subaru: Hey, Petra. Do your job as a maid properly. If you don’t, Ram and Frederica will get mad at you.]
[Petra: …….Okay. Tell me about what happened later.]
She returned promptly, but it seemed like Petra’s trust was thoroughly damaged.
Petra’s worry would be inevitable if he told her about how he got involved in what seemed to be an uproar that affected the whole city to try and obtain the stone. Though, it wasn’t an uproar that Subaru intended to cause for the Witch’s Cult. However, that excuse would also be meaningless.
It would be meaningless, considering the truth was that most of the Witch Cult’s purposes were related to Emilia’s camp.
[Petra: Welcome guests. Compliments to your efforts to make this long trip. I am Petra Leyte, a maid of the family. I will be your guide towards the mansion.]
Subaru’s recollections were put aside, and then Petra let out a vocal message that was similar to one that you’d hear upon entering a temple.
Julius took Anastasia’s hand to help her get off the carriage, and they both descended with looks of admiration on their face. Emilia and Beatrice’s somewhat prideful looks on their faces were also visible.
[Anastasia: You’re quite the fit one even though you’re little, huh. You’re being thorough with your training.]
[Julius: It certainly seemed like Subaru was a completely different person with his behavior after she jumped at him, huh.]
[Anastasia: ―An embarrassing sight.]
Julius agreed with the smiling Anastasia, and then Petra’s face started to blush from what they said. Julius looked down at her, and then proceeded to to look at Subaru. Then,
[Julius: I see…..so you are making people more and more fond of praising you as a “little girl user”.]
[Subaru: I’ll have you know, Petra isn’t as small as a little girl, and even if you call me that, the only little girl I use is Beako. Get your facts straight.]
[Beatrice: Betty also isn’t a girl that works hard to be used by Subaru at his convenience, I suppose. Subaru, you should get your facts straight as well.]
Subaru replied to Julius’ banter in a cold way, and then Beatrice rebuked Subaru in an even colder manner.
Subaru’s mouth turned into a frown. He became became silent, and Beatrice let out a sigh. She then looked at the Petra’s lower area. She stood with her, and then made a slight movement to grab onto the edge of her skirt.
[Beatrice: Also, look. Not much has changed throughout Betty and Petra’s time, I suppose……wait a second. Betty feels like Petra has grown a bit. Her hair has grown a bit too, I suppose……!]
[Petra: It’s because one month has passed, and it’s also my growth period right now. My back will grow, and my hair will grow too, if I don’t cut it. Beatrice-chan will stay small though.]
[Beatrice: Wha, what the….!]
Petra hugged Beatrice tightly, who let out a smile as she became astonished. She continued to hug Beatrice―who had an angry face―for a sufficient amount of time, and then walked away as she said, “Well then, allow me to guide you all”.
[Subaru: Alright, we’ll finally be going to the…….mmga]
He sought to follow her, but then someone grabbed onto the back of his neck with her hands. When he raised his voice with a blocked throat and looked back, he surprisingly found out that Emilia was the one who grabbed onto his neck.
The dragon carriage from the back jerked Subaru’s chin while Emilia held onto the back of his neck.
[Emilia: Subaru, Patrasche doesn’t seem to be happy.]
[Anastasia: ……This has become a selfish situation, huh.]
If you were to look at the earth dragons when Emilia made this point, out of the two earth dragons that they traveled with, you’d notice that the beautiful, jet black earth dragon was glaring at Subaru with frightfully harsh eyes.
This was Subaru’s affectionate dragon, Patrasche. When Subaru tried to return her look, she turned away bluntly. She then let out a light but very displeased sound.
[Emilia: You seriously weren’t able to make up with her, even though you had 10 days, huh.]
[Subaru: Yeah I know, but I really don’t think it’s my fault this time…..]
Subaru scratched his head as he thought of what to do about Patrasche, who was leaning onto his belly.
Regarding the troubles that Patrasche helped Subaru with up until now, looking back you’d see that ever since they left Pristella City―or well, let’s move a bit before that. When he went to the earth dragon’s stable after defending off the Witch’s Cult, he was already in a bad mood.
He did not talk to Patrasche, as he didn’t want to leave Otto with his injures. She was understanding, simply because they’ve known each other for a long time. This affectionate dragon also tried to understand Subaru’s anger overtime.
[Subaru: That’s, well I know I neglected her during the uproar, and that I even made her feel lonely, but…..gofooah!?]
Subaru was on the very end of his statement when Patrasche swung her tail at him, causing him to become covered in dirt after taking a direct hit. As expected, Patrasche has no mercy in her attacks. If he were to reply to her in a deceitful way, she would come to strike him without any hesitation.
[Subaru: I would have never expected it…..To think that I’d have too much protection after lacking protection against Regulus’ attack is just…….]
[Emilia: Are you alright? Patrasche decided to suddenly shake her tail again, but doesn’t this mean that you’ll get hit once more if you don’t say the right thing?]
He received assistance from Emilia as she gave him her lap, and then he stood up as he heard Emilia’s terrifying point. He looked at Patrasche, and she certainly was there shaking her long tail. She cut through the air with the end of her tail as if to threaten Subaru. It felt like she was saying that she’d double the power for each mistake he’d make.
He unconsciously lost the ability to speak properly, and his throat became cramped as he realized that he couldn’t afford to reply carelessly.
[Julius: Even if you’re careless like that, your earth dragon has an overwhelming amount of sympathy towards you anyway.]
However, that statement made by Julius―who disheartened the start of his guidance―would cause an undesirable effect to come at Subaru. Subaru pointed at himself and Patrasche in response to Julius argument and
[Subaru: Really? I’m kinda covered in all this dirt, you know? You call this sympathy?]
[Julius: If you ever felt proof of deep affection, you’d understand, wouldn’t you? It’s an emotional and complicated earth dragon. She’s mad that she wasn’t able to help you during that uproar, and she’s mad at you for not seeking for her help. So it might just be a natural emergence of feelings, rather than anger towards you.]
[Subaru: What are you saying? Just how high are you going to make her heroine power? Stop it.]
The level of correctness of Julius’ points was unknown, but at the very least, his words made Patrasche’s tail swinging come to an end. Subaru looked at Patrasche once again, and she turned away, just like always, but―
[Emilia: Looking at her now, it seems like she’s kinda embarrassed after hearing that.]
[Subaru: Emilia-tan, you noticed that too? I also noticed that. It makes my heart flutter, so don’t do that too often please, Patrasche.]
He said these words, reached out nervously with his hand, and then Patrasche finally lowered her head, allowing Subaru to touch her body covered with tough scales. And with this, it seemed like the cold war where he had 10 days to make mends ended on a good note.
[Petra: Isn’t that enough? Is everything fine now?]
Petra was showing her impatience as they continued to stay at the mansion’s front garden without paying attention to the time.
She came out here being instructed to guide them, and yet they still ate up so much time.
[Petra: If we don’t return soon, Ram nee-sama will get mad again and……]
[Ram: ―If you can worry about those things, that means you were just a little bit short on your efforts.]
Petra―who had been making light sounds with her footsteps―let out a shriek and then straightened her back. When she turned back, she saw a pink haired maid from afar coming from the direction of the mansion.
It was Ram, no mistake nor doubt about it. Ram slowly turned her gaze towards Subaru’s group and the guests after Petra became as still as a stone statue from her glare and
[Ram: Even when I thought that you got better at your work, to see this situation when I was just about to recognize your efforts……Ram is really disappointed.]
[Petra: So-sorry Ram-nee sama……about my work, you were about to recognize me?]
[Ram: Yes. Your cooking is better than Ram’s; your cleaning is more sensible than Ram’s; you’re better at doing laundry than Ram; and you wake up earlier than Ram, so I was close to recognizing you.]
[Subaru: You should have more doubt when you point these things out!]
Just how worse was this veteran maid in comparison with this girl who had 1 year of experience as a maid? Even if you were to take Petra’s ability to learn quickly into account, the hurdle was so low that it wasn’t even worth considering.
Ram snorted her nose in a way that Subaru was completely familiar with in response to his shouting and
[Ram: How does one proceed to have doubt about oneself? Ram only holds expectations and self-confidence for herself.]
[Subaru: I always felt like that part about you is the one thing that really deserves respect.]
Subaru responded to Ram’s majestic declaration like this while being astounded.
In reality, there was reason in learning from Ram’s optimism―or rather, there was reason in learning from her fortitude. He just wished that she would be a bit more reflective of herself, but
[Subaru: If you did that, I guess it wouldn’t really feel like you’d be the real Ram, huh.]
[Ram: That’s a scary thought. Moreover, I don’t think it’d be ideal to leave guests out here for so long. Let’s hurry up and enter the mansion.]
Subaru went into agreement in response to Ram’s dismissive words.
They ate up too much time outside the mansion. It wouldn’t be surprising for Frederica and even Roswaal to show up eventually if they ended up wasting any more time.
Candidates of the king’s election and the chief of the territory were gathered, but the question was what were they doing.
[Subaru: Is Roswaal making his way towards the mansion?]
Ram―who began walking to guide the others―tapped Petra’s shoulder to relieve her stiffness. When Emilia tried to call out to Ram from behind, she replied with a “Yes” without taking a look back.
[Ram: Fortunately, he said that you all could stay at the mansion when the letter came in. He left it with that. There was a summary in the letter about Pristella…..and there should be things that are filled with details in there.]
[Subaru: Yeah there should be, considering a lot of things did happen…..]
[Ram: There’s a complete difference in the amount of people here now in comparison to when you first left, huh. ―Did Gaf and Otto die?]
[Subaru: Like hell I’d let them die! They aren’t dead! I was just late in returning to them when they were left with injuries!]
When he sought to ask about what details were in the letter, his comedic retort came out instead. Ram let out a shrug with an indifferent manner in response.
[Ram: I’m all too familiar with the depths of men who lack composure. Barusu’s especially is one that has an open hole where your contents are being poured out, so you should be careful. To have people become aware of your depths and then finding out you’re empty inside is the worst.]
[Subaru: That really hurts, so cut that out! Also, moreover…..]
If the letter that was sent to the mansion from Pristella before their departure―if those details were written in the letter, they should understand that this wasn’t just a simple trip back for Subaru and the others.
Therefore, when Subaru tried to confirm the contents of the second half of the letter, and when he decided on his words, Ram readily raised her finger.
[Ram: I told you, didn’t I? Don’t worry. Roswaal said you’re free to stay……also, preparations have been made for both the Sleeping Beauty and the confinement room. Although―]
She cut off her words towards Subaru at the end and then gently licked her lips.
She wet her lips with the red tip of her tongue with a gesture that had a sense of gracefulness embellished somewhere with it and said this
[Ram: Although, neither of them were Ram’s doings. It was Frederica and Petra’s job.]
[Subaru: Why did you make a prideful face there?]
Anyhow, even if this was a meeting after a whole month, she still remained to be the same like this.