Prelude to Arc 4 Chapter 3
Excerpt from Arc 3 Chapter 71 [The Girl in the Forbidden Library]
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[Subaru: Wha—? This is odd!?]
Even though Subaru had heroically volunteered to find Beatrice and set out full of bravado… it’s not going so well .
Usually, when Subaru wants to call Beatrice to come to dinner, all he has to do is to open the first door he sees and he’d find Beatrice and the Forbidden Library on the other side . One time, he even found her just by opening the door to the dining room .
Beatrice’s magic, “Door Crossing” is a Spatial-Transition Dark-Type magic of a level far beyond Subaru’s comprehension .
A little girl, and an expert user of Dark Magic, Beatrice uses the doors of the mansion to randomly obscure the Forbidden Library’s entrance . Basically, there is only one right choice, and as if to toy with anyone who seeks to find it, the right choice would continually change without warning .
Somehow, Subaru easily breaks this with what he casually calls his “Door Breaking” ability, and it’s unclear exactly why the one person who can always find the door in the first attempt just also happens to be someone who utterly can’t read the mood .
[Subaru: To suddenly stop working at a time like this, it’s a whole new level of disappointment, geez… After bragging like that to Emilia and Ram, if I still can’t find you—— I don’t think I can just play cute and charm my way out of it, so please come out, oy…]
He muttered while opening all the doors in the servant’s quarter one by one, having already opened all the doors in the central building where he first started, he’s wasted quite a lot of time . This is the first time he’s had so much difficulty finding Beatrice, and even if he tries to make light of the situation, it still won’t stop the sweat from forming on his brows .
No matter what, in an empty mansion opening every single door one after the other only to be disappointed again and again, all this must look pretty pitiful to a bystander .
[Subaru: Damnit, I can’t find it! This is bad, I’m running out of time! Should I give up and run off leaving things like this!? My conscience hurts just at the thought of the way Emilia-tan was looking at me with all that faith in her eyes… but maybe I don’t have a choice?! I’ll just have to tell everyone Beatrice has a serious stomachache and couldn’t leave the bathroom——]
[——You can’t think of any better excuses I suppose, you jerk!?]
As Subaru tore at his head, bemoaning his situation, he was met by the abrupt retort the moment he opened the door .
Before his eyes, the room that was supposed to be the bathroom was instead piled with the kind of paper used for something other than wiping one’s butt— In short, it was replaced by a library stuffed full of books . The Forbidden Library, a sight he had grown so used to seeing, yet one he hadn’t seen for a long time . Its guardian, a little girl wearing an extravagant dress, sat in front of him as always .
Entering the room, there was a wooden stepladder straight in front of him, and seated on top of it was a girl with a thick book open in her lap .
[Subaru: Beako, found you in the bathroom safe and sound— My instincts aren’t half bad if I don’t say so myself]
[Beatrice: It’s only that I took pity on you, since you won’t give up I suppose . And for the sake of Betty’s good name, it would be troublesome if you started telling people something strange]
[Subaru: Don’t worry about it! Everyone poops, and in an emergency with an upset stomach, not many people would want to respond when they’re called . But I shouldn’t be saying something so insensitive when you’re here straining yourself, sorry!]
[Beatrice: What you just said is already the most insensitive thing in the world I suppose!]
Standing up from her stool, Beatrice was huffing with outright indignation . Watching her curls thrashing about wildly, Subaru tried to calm her by saying [My bad, my bad], and waving his hands lightly .
[Subaru: Putting that aside, it’s been a while . I was looking all over the mansion for you, it’s like you wouldn’t open up to me at all]
[Beatrice: ……That is how the Door Crossing is supposed to work when I’m paying attention . Even you, if I really tried, you would not be able to enter I suppose]
[Subaru: The fact that you let me in here makes that hard to believe! Tsundere!]
[Beatrice: If I didn’t let you in, you’d have gone around threatening me with that scandal!]
After shouting angrily, Beatrice seemed embarrassed by her outburst and wore an awkward expression on her face . Seeing her change in attitude, the corner of Subaru’s mouth relaxed a little as he walked up to where she was sitting .
[Subaru: That aside, I’m glad I was able to find you . I’m sorry this is so sudden, but could you get ready to leave? It’ll be problematic if you stayed here]
[Beatrice: Betty won’t be leaving]
At those abrupt words rejecting his suggestion, Subaru stopped in his steps .
He looked at her, and, looking back at him, she sighed at his dumbfounded expression .
[Beatrice: ‘Betty won’t be leaving,’ that’s what I said . I have no intention of leaving the Forbidden Library, or the mansion for that matter I suppose . It would be best if you accept that, and just leave]
[Subaru: Wait a second, you just don’t understand the situation right now . You can’t stay here, it’s too dangerous, so let’s go together . I’ll tell you everything!]
[Beatrice: Even without you explaining it, I already understand the gist of it I suppose . Also, stop treating me like a child]
Glaring at Subaru, Beatrice reached out towards one of the bookshelves, taking down a book too large for her hands that looked like an illustrated encyclopedia . She returned to her step ladder hugging the book to her chest as she always did, then, she sat down with the book open in her lap as though nothing had changed, as though she really had no intention of leaving .
[Subaru: Oy, come on, don’t end the conversation like that, shutting me out all of a sudden]
[Beatrice: There’s nothing left for Betty to say I suppose . You are just one-sidedly wanting to continue, and even if you do, my answer won’t change . Like me, you have no time to waste either I suppose?]
[Subaru: Guu……If you know that much, then help me out . I’m taking you with me . You’re coming with me . Okay?]
[Beatrice: No thanks . It’s the same no matter who comes . —Yes, no matter who it is, I won’t let them set one foot inside the Forbidden Library I suppose]
Her eyes dropping down to her book, Beatrice’s quiet reply was strong and firm . Scratching his head at her stubbornness, Subaru let out a sigh,
[Subaru: Look, I didn’t come here this time just to make a fuss, or because Ram has dinner ready . I don’t want to say it, but the Witch Cult is coming . They don’t discriminate in who they attack, and if I leave you here in the mansion……]
[Beatrice: You should be well acquainted with the power of my Door Crossing ability . And even if anyone dares set foot in here……I won’t show them any mercy I suppose]
For a moment, Subaru felt the dangerous presence pouring out of Beatrice as she said those words . An icy shiver ran up his back . Sucking in a sharp breath, he realized these were the aftershocks of the waves of magic radiating from her entire body .
The enormity of the Mana flow was such that even Subaru, who has very little experience with magic, could tell how overwhelming it was .
[Subaru: ——! Even so, I am taking you with me]
[Beatrice: That again……]
[Subaru: Whether you are strong or not, it has nothing to do with that! You’re a girl, you’re little, that’s reason enough! I don’t want to leave you here where it’s dangerous, do I need any other reason?!]
Even being pressured by the might of her aura, Subaru planted his feet firmly on the floor, shouting .
Seeing the man in front of her arguing even more vehemently, Beatrice’s eyes opened wide with astonishment . Then, as though enduring something painful, she closed them again .
Subaru furrowed his brows at her response, but still pushed forward intent on taking her with him . Just then,
[Beatrice: Betty, can’t go with you . Please, don’t confuse things anymore]
[Subaru: I’m not mistaken . You are . ——That’s all I have to say]
[Beatrice: You’re stubborn I suppose . ——You know, I hate stubbornness]
Beatrice murmured something in a whisper . Uncertain what she said, Subaru was about to ask, but before he could, Beatrice stood up from her stool .
[Beatrice: I see, I suppose, you win . I’ll do as you asked, I suppose]
[Subaru: Oh? O-oh, that’s good . You understood, that good . For a moment, after you stood up, I was getting ready to get blown out of here flying you know]
[Beatrice: For Betty, blasting you away so only your shadow remains in this world would be too easy……but I won’t do something so cruel as that]
Saying something so frightening as though it were nothing, Beatrice returned the book she had taken back into its shelf . Curious at her movements, Subaru realized something and raised his brows . Perhaps it was because she had agreed to go with him that he let his guard down . On a whim, he asked,
[Subaru: By the way, there are tons of books in here, but are you familiar with any languages other than the Yi Ro Ha systems?]
[Beatrice: I was wondering what you would ask all of a sudden……By Yi-Ro-Ha I suppose you mean the alphabets like Yi and the others? Using an expression like that, it is bound to anger the professional linguists]
[Subaru: Yeah yeah, my bad my bad, sorry . But, getting down to business……]
Giving Beatrice, who was glaring sharply at him, a nervous smile, Subaru pulled a single book out of his jacket . The book was bound all in black, and its contents——
[Subaru: Well it’s this thing, but all the letters inside are nothing I’ve ever seen before . I was wondering if you might know……]
[Beatrice: ——I should like to know, why you are holding that right now I suppose]
Suddenly, her rigid voice overpowered Subaru’s words, cutting him off . Looking at her, Beatrice’s eyes were stretched wide, staring fixedly at the “Gospel” in his hands .
Subaru was surprised by the intensity of her reaction, having only brought up the subject casually .
[Beatrice: I would like to know why you are holding that right now I suppose . Answer me]
[Subaru: Even if this is trash… I took it from that idiot from the Witch Cult . He was treating it with some crazy religious zeal, so I thought it might have some clues written in it]
[Beatrice: Took it? From the Witch Cult? You, of all people……]
Putting a hand to her forehead, slightly swaying back and forth, Beatrice’s expression changed . The blood drained from her already pale complexion, Subaru was disconcerted by the way her eyes swam, unfocused .
She seemed as if about to fall over at any moment, so without thinking, Subaru reached out a hand to steady her .
[Subaru: Oy, oy oy, are you okay? If you aren’t feeling well, don’t push yourself]
[Beatrice: Betty is… . it’s no good, if that’s how things are . But, leaving it in his care……It’s unthinkable, but maybe Roswaal has been, until now……?]
[Subaru: Hel—lo—? Sorry to interrupt you when you are looking so serious, but can—you—hear—me—?]
[Beatrice: I am only thinking right now I suppose, so you can just wait for a moment]
Beatrice silenced the worried Subaru with a sharp look, and he calmed down quietly . He closed his mouth as he watched Beatrice shut her eyes, changing her expression .
After some time had passed, and she seemed to remain unresponsive, Subaru opened the Gospel in his hands for the first time in a while, flipping through the pages he still couldn’t understand .
Then, he suddenly noticed it .
[Subaru: This book, the latter half is all blank . … But, was this page here before?]
It was written in an unknown alphabet, and the second half was missing pages that seemed to have been ripped out . These two facts hadn’t changed . Only, the last page to have writing on it seemed to have had words added to it .
Though he couldn’t read it anyway . Perhaps he was just imagining it, there was no reason to worry about it that much .
[Beatrice: ——That book, what do you plan to do with it I suppose?]
Beatrice, who had been silent for a long time, asked all of a sudden .
Resting her hand against her lips, as if reaching some conclusion to her own mind, Beatrice threw this question at Subaru . [Even if you ask me……] Subaru responded, affected by her demeanor,
[Subaru: Decipher the contents……though I’m not interested in the teachings of the Witch Cult or anything, it’s just in case there is any kind of useful information here . Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to be carrying around a book that creepy guy cared so much for]
[Beatrice: … . . At the very least, Betty can’t read what’s in there . However, if you don’t want to hold on to it, you could entrust its care to me I suppose]
[Subaru: Entrust it?]
[Beatrice: It is a strange book that was once cherished by a strange owner I suppose . If you have any reservations about carrying around a book like that, I could take it off your hands for you]
Beatrice reached out timidly towards him .
From that gesture, he could tell, at the very least, that this wasn’t a book she longed to have . These were not the words someone would use if they were planning on reselling it for a tidy profit .
They were words filled with good intentions . That, and from the way she had been acting, she obviously understood the book was undoubtedly a Gospel . Thus,
[Subaru: Sorry, but I have to reject your offer]
Subaru said, gently pushing Beatrice’s extended hand down .
At his words, Beatrice’s eyes flickered for only a moment, before her lovely face turned into something stern and heavy .
[Beatrice: Why, I suppose . You instinctively know what an evil thing that is, don’t you? At the very least, you realize that it’s not something good to be fascinated with I suppose . In that case, rather than hold it yourself, Betty……]
[Subaru: I’m like an evil imp that doesn’t want to give something away even if someone wants it so badly, and even if I’ve no use for it . … I guess that’s my stance . Really, that’s it]
This book, called a Gospel, seemed to hold a high significance for the disciples of the Witch Cult . Even more, its owner was Betelgeuse, quite a high ranking member of the Witch Cult . Memories of how attached that man was to this book were still fresh in his mind . Even though he had already been captured and debilitated, Subaru was still wary .
[Subaru: It’s a book some scary old man might come drooling over to get back . There’s no excuse for a guy to give something like that to a little girl just because it’s creepy to hold onto]
[Subaru: If it’s dangerous then I’ll hang onto it . After all, I’m here to get you to someplace safe you know? Putting you in danger on purpose would be flipping that on its head . Don’t treat me like I’m a cold-hearted guy, come on]
Lightly smiling, Subaru placed the book back into his clothes, hiding it from Beatrice’s view . He had no idea what was going through her mind as she saw that .
She blinked just once, her lips parting as if to speak .
But unable to say anything, her mouth closed again, and she turned her face away .
There was something unnatural in her response, but her expression prevented him from asking about it . Instead, he cracked his neck, and proceeded to change the topic .
[Subaru: Ah, well it’s no big deal . For now, since we decided to move I’ll leave the preparations to you . Don’t bring anything too big, but two or three important books shouldn’t be a problem . Maybe two or three sets of clothes as well…]
[Beatrice: ……The library will follow Betty wherever I go . More importantly, you have convinced the other two already I suppose?]
[Subaru: I just heard something really convenient! Yeah, I convinced them alright . You’re the only one left . We’re all going to evacuate to the Sanctuary, where Roswaal is]
[Beatrice: Roswaal, I suppose… Subaru, what happened to the maid’s younger sister that went with you?]
Unexpectedly, Beatrice changed the topic to Rem .
Hearing her suddenly talk about Rem was surprising, and Subaru couldn’t help lifting his brows, looking slightly astonished . Realizing this probably wasn’t the best response, he tried to relax his expression, saying,
[Subaru: If you’re talking about Rem, she’s taking care of things in the capital at the moment . We caught this giant fish on the way here, kind of . It was so big, that she had to go back to prepare a really luxurious feast . Once this is all settled, let’s all go over there and stuff ourselves]
[Beatrice: You look really happy when you talk about her you know . —Did anything happen?]
Hearing Rem’s name, Subaru overreacted a little . He couldn’t deny that he was talking faster than usual . Beatrice’s remark had hit the nail on the head, and Subaru turned his gaze away, whistling nonchalantly .
[Subaru: No, n-nothing happened really]
[Beatrice: Being attended to so tenderly, it would be more strange if no feelings emerged I suppose . Betty won’t say anything about it, so you can do as you like]
[Subaru: I, I’m not trying to hide anything you know? Only, it’s gonna take a lot of courage to face Emilia-tan and her sister about this so soon……so I guess I’m in kind of a tactical retreat]
Fumbling for words, Subaru pressed his index fingers together and, embarrassed, turned his back to Beatrice with his head sunk down .
It was what it was, and there was truth in Subaru needing courage to bring it up . Surely Emilia wouldn’t want to hear him say, all of a sudden, “I will have both you and Rem!” It would be like pouring water in her ears . Though this was his overall plan in the end .
[Subaru: It’s a good thing to raise the goal to work towards . That way motivation and effort comes more easily . I don’t dislike hard work, you know . Only I haven’t really had a plan for the future until now——!]
His excuses puffing him up higher and higher, carried away by his emotions, he was suddenly stopped by an unexpected sensation .
He felt a warmth against his back, followed by arms wrapping around his waist, holding him tightly . They were small, thin arms, and he knew immediately whose they were .
[Subaru: Oh, it’s only Beako . Startled me there . Don’t surprise me like that all of a sudden, come on…]
[Beatrice: That response really irritates me I suppose . ——But, it’s enough]
Just as he tilted his head at her unexpected words, a sudden bright light blinded him .
Before he realized it, the door opened all on its own,
[Subaru: Huh, wh—!?]
The arms that had been holding him let go, and he was pushed forward by an immense pressure from behind . Unable to resist, he began falling forward, sliding towards the door .
This way, as if being sucked through, he flew toward the door—
[Beatrice: Betty……can’t go with you]
Twisting himself around, Subaru looked back into the room just before he was swept through the door . The form of the girl caught in his field of view, had large droplets of tears emerging in her eyes .
Unable to form any words, his vision twisted . Caught in the shifting spatial dimensions, his body moved down a path that shouldn’t exist as the link to the Forbidden Library began to fade .
Just like that, Subaru’s body was flung from the space of the Forbidden Library, disappearing some place far away .
Watching this unfold, Beatrice shut the door that had been left open .
There was a sound of space ripping apart, followed by the deep silence that descended once again upon the Forbidden Library .
In a small voice, as though about to cry, Beatrice called to that name . The large droplets of tears had already disappeared from her eyes, though her expression remained .
[Beatrice: Just…… how much more…… must Betty……]
About to break down crying, Beatrice walked back to her stepladder, laying down all her weight onto it . She reached out her arm behind the ladder—— from a shelf that was usually behind her, she took down a book, and hugged it close .
Like a child, lost, clinging tightly to the book pressed against her chest, Beatrice’s quiet cries resounded through the Forbidden Library .
The book in her embrace, bound all in black, never responded .