THE EVERLASTING COVENANT
Chapter 8 [The Long-Awaited Reunion]
Even traveling on an unpaved road, there was hardly any turbulence within the dragon carriage. No matter how many times he experiences it, he’d always find the effects of this “Divine Protection” incredible.
If all this was just the effects of the Divine Protection of “Wind Evasion”, he wondered what if he could unwind the effects of all the other Divine Protections, and whether he would be using some other word besides “incredible” to describe them then.
[Subaru: …or something, but this isn’t the time to be running away from reality, is it]
Subaru poked his head out into the driver’s area beside Otto, looking forward―― with the “Sanctuary” ahead, he focused his eyes on the sight.
Finally treading on earthen road that was no longer covered by gra.s.s, about a hundred something meters away, the forest was opening up. Some wooden rooftops were now visible in the distance, for they must have been the many surrounding residences the “Sanctuary”. From far away, it looked rather like a run-down village, and there seemed to be nothing about it particularly worth noting.
And if one had to make a remark, perhaps it would be,
[Subaru: There’s a dreary atmosphere about the place……]
Standing in the entryway to the “Sanctuary” was a tremendously old gate made of stone that only served to emphasize that desolate imagery, and the short wooden fences surrounding the village gave off an impression of a locked cell.
Inadvertently, Subaru allowed his thoughts to slip through his lips, and Garfiel, listening, smacked himself in the knee,
[Garfiel: Pret’much! Dreary place, yeah? I’ll say this first, the insides’re even more dreary y’know? No matter who it is, there’s no liveliness inside, they’re all alive but might as well be dead]
[Subaru: Sounds pretty c.r.a.ppy the way you described it. But the more I listen the less it sounds like a “Sanctuary”. That’s just…….]
Seeing Garfiel enthusiastically affirm his ironic comment, Subaru sighed, and thought back on his previous words. To Subaru and the others who were calling this place “Sanctuary”, Garfiel did not hide a sense of self-deprecation as he spoke. So then――
[Emilia: “The Witch of Greed’s Gravesite”… what does that mean?]
The same question that came into Subaru’s mind seemed to have also arrived in Emilia’s.
As she suddenly voiced this question her eyes became resolute, but down below, she was gently tugging on the hem of Subaru’s clothing with her fingertips. The fact that she was relying on him gave him a small sense of contentment, but Subaru’s feelings were complicated as he sensed the source of her anxiety.
[Subaru: The Witch――So basically, as the existence referred to by the name of “Witch”, the Witch of Envy is known to everyone. But the Witches bearing the names of the other Sins, there’s almost nothing known about them, right?]
[Emilia: Eh, really? But, weren’t they a bunch of really famous people from 400 years ago?]
[Garfiel: Emilia-sama’s not’ntirely mistaken. But yeah, Subaru’s got it. The Witch of Envy’s just way too famous, there’s no confusion‘bout that. But of th’records of the other Witches eaten by the Witch of Envy, there’s barely a whiff left of’em. Though there are exceptions]
[Emilia: Just like here… right?]
After answering Subaru, Garfiel pulled in his jaw at Emilia’s question, smirking. As if quite affected by this, Emilia’s eyes widened, but Subaru, not well-informed on the matters surrounding the Witch, only let out an [Is that so…] as if understanding.
But a sudden notion surged in his mind that blew away that casual air. Because, if there are multiple Witches…
[Subaru: T, that doesn’t mean there’s a Witch Cult for every Witch, does it? Just beating down one Sin Archbishop was tough enough, come on give me a break]
It was a chilling thought, and one he couldn’t overlook.
Reading into the details Petelgeuse’s words, he imagined they must all have been wors.h.i.+ppers of the Witch of Envy. Likewise, “Gluttony” and “Greed” who Subaru must one day defeat, and their followers too, must all be in the same category as well.
Yet, if there are sects that wors.h.i.+p the other Witches――
[Otto: It’s a scary thing to be saying, but there’s no need to worry about that, Natsuki-san]
But the one who banished the chill running up Subaru’s spine, was the one holding the reins in front, Otto. In the end, compared to Emilia, who knows almost nothing about the Witch Cult, and unlike Garfiel, who was just not quite trustworthy, Otto actually held some kind of credibility, and could provide some insight into the common understanding of things. Because the extent of Otto’s knowledge… was probably exactly what an average person would know.
[Otto: The Witch Cult…… even though I don’t like to say it out loud, only wors.h.i.+ps the Witch of Envy. To revere another Witch above the Witch of Envy, only a lunatic would do that]
[Subaru: Above the Witch of Envy……? What do you mean? Are they even worse than the Witch of Envy?]
[Otto: When they hear the name of another Witch other than the Witch they wors.h.i.+p, the Witch Cultists will do some very frightening things. You heard of the city that was destroyed in the Southern Empire of Volakia, right?]
As Otto suddenly brought up the new topic, Subaru remembered having heard it before. After the battle against Petelgeuse, Wilhelm had mentioned it as he laid out the horrors of the Witch Cult. Certainly it was,
[Subaru: It was the Sin Archbishop of “Greed” who single-handedly destroyed that city in the what’s-its-name Empire, wasn’t it? I heard that even the nation’s Champion couldn’t do anything to stop him]
[Otto: I don’t recall anything so fantastic, but the reason the Witch Cult did it in the first place was even more frightening. In the isolationist Volakian Empire, that was the only city where trade was prospering…… at the time there were rumors of a Witch-related artifact being unearthed there]
[Subaru: Related to the Witch, huh]
[Otto: What it was is unclear even now. Only, there were lots of collectors out there who were after it. It’d be fine if it was just for some sick sense of humor, wanting to collect something belonging to the Witch of Envy…… but in the end, the entire city perished because of it]
Perhaps it was to obtain that artifact, or to destroy it, that “Greed” made his move. The Volakian Empire had mistakenly roused the Witch Cult and received this catastrophic retribution as a result.
[Otto: After that, even things unrelated to the Witch of Envy, anything that might possibly provoke the Witch Cult is prohibited by decree…… but even so, it still didn’t stop these items from circulating in shameless behind-the-scenes dealings]
[Subaru: It’s rare to hear that kind of spite from you. It almost sounds you were involved?]
[Otto: ……It’s nothing worth mentioning. Just back then, some of my relatives were caught up in the city when it happened. It’s been more than 15 years now, I was just a child back then so it didn’t have much to do with me]
After that, Otto closed his mouth and refused to go any further on the topic. Seeing his att.i.tude, Subaru stopped asking, and turned his gaze and attention back into the carriage.
In any case, Garfiel was waiting for Subaru to finish processing everything he’s learned, saying [Satisfied now?] while holding his chin in his hand.
[Garfiel: I don’know the finer points either. But th’gramps an’grans keep goin on and on about how it’s the “Witch of Greed’s Gravesite”, like how “Peromeo rots jus’from th’listenin”, repeated s’many times, t’can’t be wrong]
[Subaru: All you know is what the rot-guy told you? So you don’t really know the details either, huh]
[Garfiel: Only thing I care’bout is me being th’strongest. If y’want to know the specifics go grab Roswaal by th’collar and ask’im yerself. N’sure if y’can do it now, though]
[Subaru: ――? What’s that supposed to mea……]
[Otto: Um sorry. It seems we’ve arrived, do we just go in like this?]
Before he could sort out Garfiel’s seemingly loaded words, Otto’s voice hailed from the coachman’s stand in front. Against Otto’s call, Garfiel grumbled [Welp], and nimbly hopped off the carriage.
[Garfiel: If y’go in w’thout sayin’anything, they’ll take ya for outside intruders an’coord’nate a ma.s.s’a.s.sault on ya, it’ll be all like’a “laughin Magmarin full o’holes”. I’ll go in an’tell’em first, y’guys wait here]
[Subaru: Ah, we’ll leave it to you then. Hey, come to think of it, I get the feeling like you’re the patrol for the Sanctuary or something. Considering the way we ran into each other at first…]
On the other hand, the way he seemed to have abandoned his post in the end didn’t quite fit that idea. And the fact that he was patrolling alone, too. But then again, with strength like his, perhaps moving alone was more efficient.
But to Subaru’s last question, Garfiel only lightly waved his hand without answering. Unable to see through him, Subaru’s brows furrowed, and, almost at the same time, Emilia let out an [Ah] in a slightly elevated voice.
Turning his eyes to Emilia, who had cried out involuntarily, he saw her pointing ahead. And, following her finger, Subaru immediately understood her surprise as he saw what she had seen. Because standing there, was,
[――You’re back, Garfiel. Pretty early, isn’t it]
[Garfiel: ‘Cus there’s no need t’circle in th’forest anymore. It’s gotta be rare t’see you leave Roswaal’s side though. He fin’lly dropped dead?]
[Ram: If that is so, this place, Ram will already have burned it down with her own hands in self-abandon. You have Roswaal-sama to thank that this is not the case]
[Garfiel: That’some incredible logics, I can’t understand it at all!]
Dressed in the familiar maid’s uniform, the girl’s peach-colored hair was swaying as she faced Garfiel. Unlike Garfiel, who was happily smiling, her expression seemed cold and without emotion. Taking a long time to confirm this, Subaru’s shoulders dropped as if relieved.
[Otto: Haaa, so that’s the older sister I heard so much about. I see… Of course this is only natural, but she looks exactly like the young miss who’s sleeping]
And having seen her for the first time, Otto let out this remark. In front of their eyes, she looked like a perfect replica of the Rem Otto had seen, but only, inside, it was a completely different person.
For this, was the long-awaited reunion with the good-for-nothing maid of the Roswaal Mansion, Ram.
Sticking his body out of the dragon carriage, Subaru waved to Ram. Her eyes slightly squinted as she saw him, and, quite understandably, she shrugged and shook her head.
[Ram: I humbly do not know where Barusu popped out from, but your late arrival is certainly disappointing. You should have noticed sooner that something had gone wrong and…… ah, but that’s too much for Barusu’s abilities, after all]
[Subaru: If you’re going to use a phrase like “I humbly do not know”, stick with that tone all the way and don’t change it all of a sudden! And Roswaal too, I can’t understand what you guys are thinking, but I’ll definitely have something to say when I get a hold of him!]
Objecting, Subaru pointed a finger at the girl whose att.i.tude had not changed at all. Seeing this reaction from Subaru, Ram dropped her shoulders, before turning to Emilia, who was standing beside him.
Relieved to see that Emilia, same as Subaru, was safe, Ram’s face relaxed. And for a brief moment, in her eyes, Subaru thought there was a fleeting, almost dreamlike glimpse of sorrow. Yet, in that same instant, it had already vanished.
[Ram: Emilia-sama too, welcome. Roswaal-sama is waiting, so please come with me to the inner building. Garfiel, go find a suitable place for the dragon carriage and the driver]
[Garfiel: What’s with that treatment, oy! Can’t y’ask for help in a way that inspires more enthusiasm?]
[Ram: If you want to eat Ram’s hand-made meal, please strive to do your best. But if you want to throw away this valuable opportunity because of your careless words, Ram won’t say anything more]
[Garfiel: Alright! Alright already! Can’t grab’a hold o’her at’all, though it’s good like that. Oy, a.s.shole driver. Park the ground dragons an’the carriage at the end there an’come wit me]
[Otto: It’s about time I introduced myself right!? Could you please not call me with that insulting name!? Also, isn’t it a bit dangerous for me to be left alone with this guy!]
As Otto voiced his objection at Garfiel, who had just been vanquished by Ram, Subaru, seeing this, shot him a thumbs-up with teeth sparkling,
[Subaru: I’ll recover your bones!]
[Otto: That was definitely something said with good intentions but carries the completely wrong implications isn’t it!? Really, if anything happens to me I’m going to claim for compensation!]
Leaving behind these words, Otto, having let Subaru and Emilia off of the dragon carriage, followed after Garfiel. Seeing them start off toward the interior of the village, Subaru rubbed Patrasche in the nose in a reluctant goodbye. Then, turning with a snap of his neck, saying [Now then],
[Subaru: There’s a whole array of things I want to ask and talk to you about, now that we’re here can we finally talk?]
[Ram: ……Ram hasn’t been granted permission to convey anything to you. You can ask Roswaal-sama directly when you meet him. Though I don’t know how much Garf had let slip already]
[Subaru: Garf…… ah, you mean Garfiel. That guy turned out to be a whole lot different from the impression I got from just hearing his name. Come to think of it, there’s something that’s been bothering me]
[Ram: What is it?]
Sharply, Ram furrowed her brows. Imagining it might be information Roswaal had given express instructions not to reveal, her gaze became serious, but, seeing this, Subaru let out a [Naah it’s just], as he folded his arms,
[Subaru: That guy, does he have a crush on you? I got that feeling from the way he was talking]
[Ram: ……And here I was wondering what you were going to say]
Unable to hide her genuine astonishment, Ram sighed. Only, seeing how she didn’t deny it, Subaru couldn’t help but let out an out-of-place grin.
[Subaru: Well I’m not saying he has strange tastes but. You look cute…… but the fact that he still likes you after being around you for so long, I think he must have some serious resolve]
[Ram: Being gifted with both intelligence and beauty, males will inevitably be attracted to Ram, there’s nothing I can do about that. But, Ram has already devoted her all to someone who she shall always stay devoted to, so I have no wish for such things]
With a sway of her shoulders, Ram responded to Subaru’s sarcastic words, and, in a single stroke, she had cut down all of Garfiel’s hopes with her response. Then, turning her back to Subaru and Emilia, she left the words [Come with me], as she immediately took her step forward.
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