Subaru felt it clearly, the sound of despair’s slowly approaching footsteps.


 One overhead, one behind him, and one ahead of him – three in total; unbelievable.

 Against just one, they’d poured out all their strength, and take that many losses.  And as soon as it became inconvenient, the beast called two of it’s friends and started the main event?  It was ridiculous.


 Exactly how long was fate going to play games with them until it was satisfied?


 Having been thrown to the ground when Ricardo had protected him, Subaru ground his teeth as he lay in the dirt.  If he didn’t keep grinding his back teeth together, he would probably start complaining, or sobbing.

 For so long, everything ahead had looked dark.  The situation had become too much for his brain to endure the load, and disappointment threatened to rob him of consciousness.


 All-too-familiar despair sneered at him, and put an over-friendly arm around his shoulder.


 — Well now, isn’t it about time for you to give up?


 It’s face nearly unseen, the dim shadow grinned widely, and it’s familiar voice urged him to give up.  At those words, Subaru accepted the weight of the situation before his eyes.


 Around him, Subaru could see that some of the knights had fallen to their knees as well.

 They, too, had come to understand that the situation was impossible.  Their spirit to even begin to fight back had been stolen away, the strength was leaving their eyes, the willpower to hold their weapons was being blown out.


 Suddenly, looking around him, as he sank into the voice of despair standing next to him, he noticed.


 Right next to him, thrown from the ground dragon as he had been, was Rem.  Lying on her side, she was raising her head, her delicate face shadowed with grief.

 Strong cheeks and pale lips, trembling eyelids.  Looking closely like this, her eyelashes are quite long, he noted quietly.

 …I like it way better when she’s smiling, he thought.



 “I don’t ever want to hear from you again.”


 He roughly threw off the familiar arm around his shoulder.

 As the shadow frowned in surprise at his action, he smiled at it, and then hit it with a right straight as hard as he could – the shadow shattered, and at the same time, his body stopped trembling.


 Worthless.  Pathetic.  There was no time to lose his way, no time to slow down.


 So what if there were two more whales?

 His limbs still moved.  He could raise his head, and he could still see.  He could speak, he could make himself heard.  Rem was here.  Rem was still alive.  It was way too soon to be giving up hope on saving everything.


 …Stand up.


 Again and again, over and over, his heart had been shattered.


 …Stand up.


 Fate kept pushing him around unfairly, and leaving him to die in despair every time.


 …Stand up.


 When it all seemed pointless and he’d tried to throw it all away, tried to abandon everything, even that had been denied, and he’d been forced to face his own heart.


 …Stand up.


 What for?


 …Stand up!


 “It was for this moment, wasn’t it!?”


 Striking the ground with his fist, he pushed himself forcefully up off the ground and stood.

 As he shouted and raised his head, Rem turned and looked towards him in surprise.  He looked down to her, extended his hand, and then Subaru glared at the white whale.


 “It’s not over…I won’t let it be over.”




 “Let’s do this, Rem.  It’s time to shine.”


 She extended her hand shyly, and he took it and pulled her up to him.

 Holding her close to him as she stood, he looked into her upturned face.


 “Giving up doesn’t suit us.  No me, not you, not anyone!”