OUTROS

arc 4 cap 81 -82

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ARC 4: ETERNAL CONTRACT PHASE 4

CHAPTER 81: GLIMMER OF HOPE

Having gotten that pep talk from Otto and Patrasche, Subaru is for the moment saved from his mental turmoil.

There's still lots of things about the events in the dream castle that he hasn't swallowed down yet, but he nevertheless needs to work them out one-by-one and use them as his encouragement.

Subaru: Not gonna be getting any more help from Echidna now...

The WITCH OF GREED Echidna had worn a friendly veneer as she observed Subaru's struggling. Considering their final exchange, Subaru would prefer to doubt that comprised the absolute entirety of it, but a witch is a witch and they don't stray from their principles.

Subaru had keenly realised such by seeing the other five witchesSekhmet, Daphne, Camilla, Typhon, and Minerva. From Subaru's perspective they were assuredly not beings entirely suffused in evil. However, under no circumstance would he call them virtuous creatures.

And that went even for Minerva, whose creed was to heal people. Her attitude as she threw everything into healing another, despite having lost her legs and arm, was really less 'dignified' and more 'horrific'.

And the final witch, SatellaReally, Subaru would prefer to put thinking about her off for later. The incomprehensible emotions which boiled up from inside Subaru in response to Satella. Finding the answer behind these, what with his present crunch-time situation, Subaru instinctively understands as dangerous.

The final words they shared at their parting. And the Satella he saw thenjust by remembering her figure in that moment, crazed emotion rips at his chest from inside, near to destroying it.

Thus while consciously avoiding thinking about Satella, Subaru directs his thoughts to other issues.

Those being, the advice Echidna had given him at the end, and whether or not he should accept what

Satella said wholesale.

Subaru: Treat yourself dearly, I mean it's fine saying it, but...

By meeting with Satella and encountering the first and second TRIALS in the tomb, Subaru learned that the people he desired not to die equally would grieve over Subaru's DEATH. He wound up acknowledging his true feelings that he did not want to die.

But that said, now what to do? Nothing has changed about his weapons on-hand being paltry. Nothing has changed about the over-abundant problems which remain unsolved. Or hell, the number of people he has to rely on for solving these problems has actually decreased.

While his heart has been somewhat renewed, everything else has degraded rather than advanced.

Subaru: Rely on those who think dearly of you... but how am I supposed to do that....

Just be frank with the truth and ask them for help, is probably what it meant.

But the one banning him from doing this is none other than Satellaor actually, going from the flow of the conversation in the dream, the one prohibiting Subaru from talking about RETURN BY DEATH may be the Witch of Envy personality. Satella had different ideas than the split personality,

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maybe. And the meaning of her final call to him was

Subaru: “—I goddamn said this isn't the time to be thinking about this.

Noticing that his thoughts are flowing down into thinking about Satella, Subaru hoists the breaks.

What he needs to do is divine and consider concrete plans for resolving the various problems.

Subaru: Garfiel's scared of the outside world... huh.

This was Echidna's final piece of advice, and likely necessary information for breaking through this entire situation.

Garfiel had already practically confessed that he had taken the first TRIAL, and Echidna's statement backed that up.

The problem is, what did he see in his past that made him scared of the outside world?

That he refrained to leave SANCTUARY alongside Frederica was probably not unrelated to this trauma. Subaru doubts this problem is one Garfiel will openly divulge if asked upfront.

Subaru: Which means all that's left's to get it out of someone who'd know... Frederica and Lewes-san both felt tight-lipped about it before...

If he's to trust Frederica's telling, then she was unable to follow Garfiel into the tomb, and consequently she would not know the details of the TRIAL. On the flipside, being that Lewes had rushed inside to drag Garfiel out, it's probably safe to think that at least one of the doubles has taken the TRIAL. Likely, she would also know the details of Garfiel's TRIAL.

Subaru: And so... don't really wanna do it, but, reliable plan'd be to get the command right from the Lewes Meyer crystal, and ask her to tell me.

Not even the main Lewes personalities can defy someone with the command right. There is coercive potential here.

To take this action has more value than just information gathering, as he would procure over 20 collaborators. Is the logic Subaru uses to try and persuade himself.

Subaru: “—”

What arises in Subaru's mind is SANCTUARY, burning, and a horde of white rabbits. A wretched memory, of urging the Lewes doubles one after another to protect him so that he could escape.

I must run to Emilia. Subaru used this statement as his justifiable duty as mindlessly gave the Lewes orders, and albeit covered in wounds, he managed to sprint into the tomb.

While he hadn't reflected on or regretted his actions, now that he looks back at it with a cool head, the rashness of the deed horrifies even him.

And especially now that he has realised his own piteousness of not wanting to die.

Could he not with more arrogance, with more candour, have made the girls sacrifice themselves? He could not fully trust himself, even though he would prefer not to do such a thing.

Subaru: My head's a mess... I'm going way too far in a negative way, shit. I'm thinking all about

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this and that and this and my brain's gonna exceed capacity. Let's start by one-by-one eliminating the things I can eliminate.

Subaru starts by searching for a problem which seems liable to go in a positive direction.

Subaru: Having finished the first TRIAL, I should be the one to free SANCTUARY. There's no need for Emilia to shoulder any greater load. Or actually, since putting Emilia under too much pressure means her mental state goes something awful it's a no go.

Subaru thinks back on Emilia, drawing near to him sweetly in the snowed-over SANCTUARY.

It's obvious that Emilia turning out like that resulted from her mind snapping as she continuously challenged the TRIAL. Making her continually face the TRIAL would lead to no good result.

Subaru: We'll make clearing the TRIAL my problem, and... next point of bother's the second TRIAL. Held in there a while, but... with all that, does that mean I've already cleared it?

For anyone other that Subaru, the uncomeatable present might just be simple observation of parallel worlds. But for Subaru alone did the TRIAL truly bear its fangs.

With varied regrets, resulting from various tragedies, variable laments had mourned Subaru's death. Experiencing it all with these eyes, this skin, had shattered Subaru's heart and mind to pieces. Remembering it sends chills running through his body, and besets his limbs with unavoidable numbness.

It was just when he squatted down, swallowed by the shrieking of his heart, that he was dragged into the dream castlebut what wound up happening with the actual TRIAL?

He's cleared itis not the situation he is in.

But then what should he do to clear the second TRIAL? Unlike with the first TRIAL, he can't figure it out at all.

Subaru: Mulling over it won't get me anywhere. ...I just have to do the things I can do.

Shaking his head, Subaru forces his indecisive heart back up straight. As he puts his hand to the tomb wall at his back, his glare lands on the entrance to darkness.

Subaru had been alone as he thought matters over, with neither Patrasche nor Otto at his side.

That last exchange had stupid-embarrassed him and he had gotten Otto to take Patrasche back to the stables. Although Patrasche's maintained and concerned gaze was a grace, he wanted some time alone to sort out his thoughts.

Subaru: The issues that need sorting out are SANCTUARY and the mansion. In SANCTUARY is the

TRIAL, Garfiel, and the Sizeable Hare. In the mansion is Beatrice and Elsa... going over the limit for multitasking, here.

Subaru has not a single plan for resolving any one of these ordeals as he falls into dejection. But, he has no time to be depressed. Now is to steadily eliminate these problems one by one. Without thinking about throwaway lives, or other such things.

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Subaru: First is to confirm the status of the TRIAL. If the second TRIAL starts then that's okay, if it's ended and the third TRIAL starts then that's okayer.

If he can speed up the removal of the barrier then that will greatly spur everything to action. Garfiel will have to start thinking about how he'll act as well, and worst case even supposing the Sizeable Hare attacks, they should be capable of escaping outside. It's pretty inconceivable that even Garfiel would persist in stubbornness when faced with the Sizeable Hare.

Removing the barrier would make SANCTUARY's problems start heading toward resolution.

Thinking that far, Subaru sees a faint glimmer of hope arising before him, and so comes relief.

He had mused over the many problems roiling his brain, and now he saw something which seemed a route for reaching the answer.

Subaru: “—”

Standing at the entrance to the tomb, Subaru swallows his breath as he looks through the dim, at the stonework corridor.

If he goes inside and the TRIAL starts, he may be faced with the uncomeatable present again. Subaru would never get used to those scenes, no matter how many times he saw them. But he knew he was not permitted to either ignore or forget them.

And so if he cannot avoid them, then he must challenge.

Subaru takes a deep inhale, holds his breath, and steps forth.

Treading into the tomb, he wills to challenge the TRIAL for the sake of freeing SANC

Subaru: “—!?

The moment he steps inside, a jolt rocks Subaru like a punch to the skull.

The pain is like needles stabbing directly into his brain, his footing falling unsteady, lights scattering about his vision. His upper body sways languorously as he is unable to stand, and he collapses on the spot.

A tremendous nausea seethes up, a churning pain assaults his stomach as he chokes on acid. He coughs, but no matter how he repeats so his body fails to get any more eased.

The alarm bells, the bells, the sirens are ringing.

With his body caught in ongoing discord and disharmony, Subaru pants as he tumbles toward the tomb's exit. And he instinctively senses. Should he step inside, proceed in further, the wickedness tormenting his body would increase in ferocity.

Subaru: Ghb, ghkk, haah, bahgh, uehgh

Tumbled out of the tomb, Subaru puts his hand to the grass as he pukes, pukes, and pukes.

The moment that his body completely exits the tomb, the agony tormenting Subaru fades distant. The headache, the nausea, the numbness in his limbs all thin out. Subaru raises his head with his

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eyes teary.

Subaru: Aeu, uhg, what was, that?

Subaru looks at the tomb entrance. Just as he reaches out to crawl toward it, a primordial rejection festers up from inside him.

This was no great problem such as trauma due to fearing the TRIAL's content. It was that he plainly understood that the tomb was rejecting him.

Subaru: What, is...

Rejecting him. In realising this, Subaru immediately figures what has happened to him.

Patrasche had been wounded as she went inside to pull Subaru out. Roswaal had been wounded as he entered the tomb in an attempt to challenge the TRIAL. The tomb rejects creatures which lack the qualifications to challenge the TRIAL. Supposing that that effect had just activated on Subaru...

Subaru: That shouldn't be... I mean, then that...

Standing up, Subaru challenges the tomb with tottering gait and determination.

But the instant he steps inside the headache and nausea return. Overwhelming ailment keeps Subaru from even standing, crushing him.

Subaru: Haah... haahh... hahh...

Stepping back, Subaru takes ragged breaths as he distances himself from the tomb entrance. This last attempt has forced Subaru to accept the truth that he had already comprehended.

Subaru: That, asshole...

What skims through Subaru's mind is a white-haired witch in a mourning dress.

At their parting, she had indeed asked this of Subaru:

Will you choose to take my hand, or to take Satella's?

Subaru had gone without taking Echidna's hand, instead taking Satella's. If this was her revenge for Subaru's actions, then that was incredibly Subaru: And that glimmer of hope is..!

And it came at the end of the end, just when he had believed she had given him a hint wholly out of goodwill, and accordingly thought kinder of her.

Echidna: <You're not wrong in the least.>

Hearing the mischievous voice of a witch he should not be hearing, Subaru looks up to the night sky.

Subaru: Revoking my qualifications... you said nothing about this, ECHIDNAAA!!

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—Natsuki Subaru had lost the qualifications to challenge the TRIAL to free SANCTUARY.

CHAPTER 82: A CON-VERSATION

Subaru: So no, it wasn't my imagination or any kind of mistake...

Touching his hand to the crystal before him, sensing no signs of anything happening, Subaru presses his forehead to the cold, hard jewel as he gives a lamenting sigh.

The girl sleeping inside the crystalthe original Lewes Meyergives no reaction to Subaru's

laments. While the girl in her eternal sleep ideally would give no reply to Subaru's call, a reaction

which should be coming plainly isn't.

That being,

Subaru: My qualifications've been disqualified, so even if I touch the crystal, the command right for the Lewes-san doubles isn't transferring to me...

The command right for the Lewes Meyer doubles was a privilege that only APOSTLES OF GREED could acquire.

Subaru, who had been rejected by Echidna and had his qualifications revoked, apparently did not deserve to be in that role.

Standing inside the test facility with its dingy air, Subaru finds himself lost on what to do as the glimmer of hope he saw now fades.

Worst case, and truly worst case, the trauma Subaru experienced from witnessing the second TRIAL had made him hesitate to tread inside the tomb. Should this be the case, then the problem here is entirely Subaru's mental state. But should he take drastic measures to challenge the tomb over and over, eventually he would manage to strongarm his weak heart into it.

But if the problem lies outside of Subaru's workable reach, it's nothing going.

That he cannot enter the tomb whenever he wants also means that he cannot speak directly with Echidna for regaining his qualifications.

And before getting to that, would the witches appear before Subaru again, considering their last parting? Probably not, was his instinctive understanding.

That he understands this means that the plan of Subaru conquering the TRIAL has disappeared, and freeing SANCTUARY must be entrusted to someone other than Subaru. Meaning,

Subaru: Saying to put Emilia through it... I think?

Voicing the predicament he was most afraid of, a desire to shower Echidna's insidiousness with curses wells up inside Subaru.

Echidna could read Subaru's memories. Only Echidna could observe these repeating worlds the same way that Subaru did. And so Echidna should know of Emilia, her mind broken from repeated solo challenges of the TRIAL, crushed.

Echidna should have known how he was frantic himself, desperately trying to avoid that outcome.

Regardless, then, the WITCH OF GREED was forcing hardship on Subaru and Emilia.

Subaru: What do I do, what do I do, whatdoidowhatdoIdowhaddaIdowhat...

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Thoughts blazing, Subaru forces his mind to solder as he searches for a plan. But even though he overtaxes his braincells to the point that his synapses scorch, following the loss of his glimmer of hope he finds no plan B.

The situation is on a one-way road to worsening, and the people he has to rely on have only reduced in number.

A character, who knows the situation and thus understands enough to listen pleasantly to Subaru's words.

A somebody, who would accept the information Subaru could not be upfront about, and still participate in conversation.

Mulling over things alone wouldn't result in anything. Echidna could not be relied on anymore.

Meaning that now, there was only one person who Subaru could share his problems with.

※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※

Roswaal: Iiiiiiii certainly didn't expect for you to be visiting so late aaaaaaat night.

Subaru: ...Really, this all-preparations-set vibe feels more like you were waiting. Not like you snuffed the lights to sleep, feels more you just lit the flame.

Roswaal: Ahaaaa, how haaaaaarsh. But, well, yooooooou're not wrong in the slightest.

Leaned against his pillow as he uprights himself in the bed, Roswaal's cheeks relax as he welcomes Subaru. While most of the lights in Roswaal's bedroom have been snuffed, the flame of the candle of his little bedside table has just been changed, its amber light swaying as it illuminates the room.

The shade of the entrancing, wavering fire casts an eerie shadow over Roswaal's pallid face. Subaru swallows his breath as he gets to facing the conversation.

Should Subaru's knowledge be correct, then a conversation with Roswaal would

Roswaal: Aaaaaaand so? You've purposefully come prowling here in the dead of night. Haaaaaave you perhaps come with some flirtation tooooo coax my attentions?

Subaru: ...Coax you, isn't incorrect. Roswaal, is there a way to get through SANCTUARY without doing the TRIAL?

Roswaal: “—”

With that one sentence alone, Roswaal's smile wreathes with a disgusting chill.

The clown's grin stretches wide. He strokes his navy hair as he nods several times, gazing at Subaru with his yellow eye.

Roswaal: Subaru-kun. What attempt are you currently on?

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That question was a conversation-controller, stating that they were both aware of the superficial layer of what the other knew.

It would give Roswaal the truth that Subaru was Returning by Death, and give Subaru the truth that Roswaal was in a position to know this.

Subaru thus must present concessions, while amending Roswaal's information.

With a short sigh, Subaru gives a purposefully emphasized shrug.

Subaru: Sorry, but it's at a point where counting'd be idiotic. I can't remember how many times we've probed each other out like this, either.

Roswaal: I... see. Uuuuuunderstood, uuuuuunderstod. That you're speaking with these rationalizations.... wooooould mean I'm free to think it's that, coooooorrect?

Subaru: Well, who could say.

Subaru averts his gaze, toying cat and mouse with Roswaal.

But he does not overlook how his words have led Roswaal's cheeks to stiffen. Or the fact that he has seized the initiative of the conversation with this opening move.

—While Roswaal may know that Subaru is looping, that does not mean he retains memories of the loops like Subaru does.

Subaru learned that fact in the loop where Roswaal revealed he knew about RETURN BY DEATH. It was also where he learned of Roswaal's incomprehensible tenacity, where while understanding that he himself would end with death, he attempted to use Subaru's RETURN BY DEATH to lead to his desired outcome.

Even now Subaru inevitably feels Roswaal's thinking disgusting and odious, but

Subaru: Right now in the middle of some trial and error. Kinda wanting your cooperation.

Subaru came up with the idea to put on a performance, so that Roswaal would mistakenly believe that Subaru was acting as Roswaal intended.

Presently, Roswaal unmistakably knows more of SANCTUARY's affairs than Subaru. It's unclear how much Roswaal's GOSPEL documents what will happen next, and so it's hard to iron everything out, but considering Roswaal's mutterings when he sighted the Sizeable Hare, it's surmisable that the gospel's writ had not been detailed to that extent.

Meaning, so long as he does not screw up with his word choice, Subaru can definitely extract information from Roswaal while simultaneously deceiving him.

Roswaal: And part of that trial and error is overcoming SANCTUARY without challenging the

TRIAL... is it? Iiiiiiiif so, that is raaaaaaaather faint-hearted. With your authority, consequent to your infinite attempts it should be possible for you to overcome hardships without fail. I don't know how many times you have attempted... but abandoning it aaaaaaand searching for another method would surely suggest an iiiiiinsufficent resolve?

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Subaru: Getting inflexible and picky about everything resting on beating the TRIAL isn't what I'd call a sharp way to do things. If there's a smoother method I'll pick that, that's all. Losing sight of substance 'cause you're fussing over style's idiotic. Point is the necessary stuff's that we escape from this place and the achievements go to Emilia... am I wrong, Roswaal?

While maintaining a calm and indifferent face, Subaru scrutinizes his statements word-by-word in real time to ensure he's making no mistakes. He checks everything the moment before it comes off his tongue, his tale-spinning operations whittling away at his nervesbut this mental fraying is necessary for deceiving Roswaal.

The logic he speaks is heartlessmost likely, this is exactly the Subaru that Roswaal wants to see. There's no doubt that Roswaal wants Emilia to be Ruler, and for Subaru to be helping in that. Subaru reckons that the more callous his methods are, the more Roswaal would deem them desirable.

And, sure enough,

Roswaal: Iiiiiiii see... that is indeed an answer tooooo my liking.

Roswaal smiles in full satisfaction to Subaru's reply.

Subaru bites the inside of his cheek as he sees the foulness of that clown-painted visage intensify, barely managing to preserve his nonchalant expression.

Roswaal's disturbing gaze suggests that he had deemed Subaru of the same breed as him. Meaning that Roswaal had judged Subaru as being in the same standing as his own grade-A incomprehensible self. The visceral disgust inside Subaru festers.

Roswaal: Whiiiiiile I certainly find the changes in your thinking wonderful, aaaaaaaaaanswering your question is rather difficult. There are no precedents. After all, the barrier has never been broken since its establishment. I've never considered whether there may be tears in it, since considering the being who placed it, it would be best to abandon aaaaaaaall optimistic hopes for such oversights.

Subaru: It's Echidna's barrier...

Roswaal: Eeeeeeexactly. SANCTUARY's cemetery is her gravestone, with the barrier being something to prevent the half-bloods she used pre-death in her experiments from escaping.

...Aaaaaaaalthough I'm sure you would have aaaaaaaalready investigated into this much.

Subaru: Well, course. Just saying, I know about the Lewes Meyer facility in the woods, too. And about the doubles, and that Garfiel has the command right.

Roswaal: Aahaaaaaa, that dooooooes speed matters up.

Subaru responds to Roswaal's showing of information by carefully revealing his own cards.

Roswaal closes his eyes, sighing in thought.

Roswaal: The liberation of SANCTUARY is an indispensable achievement for Emilia-sama to be Ruler. Should you stray from proper methods, theeeeeee people of SANCTUARY and the people of Arlam Village will not be apt to consider it one.

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Subaru: So long as we can at least get them outside, we've got lots of ways we can fudge that part over. And besides this isn't the only chance we have to reap achievements. Judging this opportunity as bad and standing by for another one'd be...

Roswaal: Another opportunity? Why are you back tooooooo saying this?

Roswaal's eyes widen in bewilderment as Subaru senses his gaffe.

A Subaru resolved to scour himself away as he completes countless redoswas the Subaru that Subaru was presently preforming.

With that Subaru's bloodthirsty thinking, he would have no reason to pass up the chance to attain the achievements sitting right in front of him.

Before Roswaal's doubts can develop further, and without letting his regret show on his expression, Subaru comes up with words.

Subaru: Just try thinking about it.

Subaru: As you've realised, I can toil in efforts to make Emilia Ruler to any degree I want. Because I can do rehearsals of the future to come back with information. Dunno how this'll sound but, freeing SANCTUARY's a tiny event with few people involved. We should be putting our efforts into things like the White Whale or the Witch Cult, stuff that'll have a greater impact. This isn't a place meriting that I put in that much effort.

Roswaal: ...Noooooo, liberating SANCTUARY is indispensable. Allow me to set that as a point beyond compromise. You see, I still inevitably have my doubts when it cooooooomes to your power.

Subaru: Doubts?

Subaru tilts his head as the conversation flows in an unanticipated direction. Roswaal nods.

Roswaal: Indeed.

Roswaal: Iiiiiiiii cannot with my own eyes affirm your authority to redo. Iiiiiiit's also possible that I'm not coooooonvinced by your wheedling. Though naaaaaaturally, should results come about alongside I'm afraid I wooooooould be forced to acquiesce.

Subaru says nothing.

Roswaal: I will plainly assert that for making Emilia-sama the Ruler, my power... the aid of the Mathers Family is necessary and iiiiiiiiindespensible. Liberating SANCTUARY would be what makes me believe your power to assist Emilia-sama is legitimate, and from there we would be tied in a positive relationship.... iiiiiis about how I would preeeeeeefer you to regard this.

Is Roswaal's sound logic as he narrows his eyes. Subaru is speechless.

Everything Roswaal is saying is valid, and Subaru can think of no real rebuttal.

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Emilia requires a backer for her stand the theatre of the Royal Selection, and there is no one influential around except Roswaal who seems liable to do that.

Following commands so as not to displease your patron is correct. With the soundness of Roswaal's views and the urgency of the situation, it's excessively correct.

But even while jostled by those waves of reason, Subaru feels an unease.

Because Roswaal seems far too fixated on the liberation of SANCTUARY itself.

Subaru: I kinda think this's changing track of the conversation, but...

Roswaal: Hm? Yeeeeees?

Subaru raises his finger to draw attention. Roswaal tilts his head.

Focusing firm on Roswaal's odd-coloured eyes, Subaru speaks.

Subaru: Is there a reason for you to unconditionally want SANCTUARY freed?

Roswaal: “—”

Roswaal responds to the question with simple silence.

Silence, as his grin slowly deepens, and his yellow eye's gaze pierces Subaru.

—Subaru senses on his skin that once again, the situation's mood is changing.