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The Melancholic Path

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It was dark, sensationless, empty.

 

His head ached, like someone had bored a hole right through his brain.

 

And as far as he could see, there was nothing but an empty, unending void.

 

Natsuki Subaru stood alone, not a single thought playing through his head, not a single emotion emanating from his heart.

 

Yet there was one call he heard, it came from somewhere deep within him, too far for him to reach, too close for him to ignore.

 

Its cry was hallow, its tone meaningless, and its pitch, pointless.

 

But before long, it too fell silent, consumed by the void that surrounded him.

 

He looked blankly forward, like an empty vessel waiting to be filled as a dark black mist wafted off him. It was only barely distinguishable from the emptiness that filled up the space where nothing else existed, however to his eyes it was vivid and full of life.

 

He watched as it billowed in front of him, forming a dark, blank cloud that radiated with colour as it flowed in and out of itself.

 

Amongst the mist was a girl, a blue haired girl dressed in the uniform of a maid. She looked to be kneeling on the ground, staring up at someone standing before her.

 

Her brilliant blue eyes shimmered yet were stained red by the tears that poured forth from them, streaking down her face as it grew puffy and red.

 

“Subaru-kun….. this isn’t you….this isn’t the Subaru-kun Rem knows… JUST TELL REM WHATS WRONG, REM WILL DO ANYTHING TO FIX IT!” She cried out and pleaded to the person before her, her chest heaving as her voice hitched. She appeared nothing but desperate as she withered a bombardment which jammed a stake into her heart and drove it deeper and deeper with every strike.

 

When nothing but sobbing filled the girls voice, she raised her hand and weakly reached out to grab hold of the empty space itself, her fingers grasping around something and holding it for a moment, only to weakly fall away as it slipped out between them.

 

The girl looked straight ahead as every bit of light drained out of her brilliant eyes, rolling down her face like driblets of water before falling off the edge of her chin. They plummeted down before becoming suspended in the air, collecting in a ball right above her heart.

 

They stayed there, floating alone until there was nothing left in her eyes to flow, at which point they began to glow. It was a brilliant blue radiance that shone brighter and brighter, growing so strong that not even the sun could be compared to it, at which point it flashed a mesmerizing pink before disappearing altogether.

 

It was like it had not even been there to begin with, had it not been for the girl’s body then there would have been no proof of it having ever existed at all.

 

She still knelt there, albeit now lifeless.

 

Her two hands hung aimlessly at her sides, as lifeless as the mouth that hung open without the strength to remain closed. Her eyes looked diligently forth, although devoid of the colour necessary to see the world as anything but grey.

 

She was a statue, a relic of the past that no longer held a connection to the present.

 

And like a statue she soon turned grey as all the colours were stripped off her, before her shape too was lost as it withered away into dust, indistinguishable from the mist that consumed the space where she once stood.

 

He watched, observed this spectacle, as if it were nothing.

 

Yet just as the past is an integral part of the person whom we become in the future, the girl who was integral to what Natsuki Subaru had been, and what he could have become, could not be shaken off so easily.

 

A thin horizontal slit appeared in the midst of mist, and from it extended long rays of dazzling white light. The slit was easily twice as long as his shoulders were wide, and wherever one of its rays touched, the mist recoiled like a monster of the abyss to the touch of fire. And like a beast of the abyss, the mist that was unable to find shelter in the shadow cast by the voids sole inhabitant was purified by the white light, simply ceasing to exist.

 

The mist recoiled into the shadows cast by the growing slit of light, which relentlessly expanded outwards as it took the shape of an oblong oval, continuing to radiate the area with its angelic light.

 

For a brief moment the entire expanse seemed to come to a pause, the oval of light stopped expanding and the mist stopped churning in the shadows.

 

 “Subaru-kun, Rem’s sorry……” Subaru felt two hands grab onto his shirt as a girl’s forehead nestled its way into his back, her voice sullen and sombre as she spoke.

 

There was a brief pause as if she was waiting for Subaru to give a response that would never come, and when it did not arrive, he could feel the saddest of smiles cross her face.

 

The girl then placed both of her hands flat against his back and gave him a gentle push forward into the radiating light.

 

He sailed across the empty expanse, his body slowly spinning and rotating as if he was floating across the depths of space.

 

It took until he reached the cusp of the ovular source of light for him to face the direction he had come, and for him to see what had become of the girl who had broken the stagnation that had held him frozen in time.

 

With her last act to start time for him once again, she had destroyed the very shadows that had granted refuge to the mist that made up her body.

 

Subaru then passed into the eye of the radiating light, leaving the void once again empty and desolate as the eye of light blinked shut behind him.

 


 

“REM!” Subaru’s body tried to shoot upright as he shouted out in desperation, only to feel a scraping sensation against his wrists. Which was accompanied by a jolt of pain as his arms felt like they were being yanked out of his sockets.

 

“Calm down you fucking meat head, making a racket the second you wake up, fucking annoying. And Elsa, I thought I told you to tie this piece of meat down tightly.” Subaru felt a pair of hands grab his shoulders from behind and forcibly pull him to the ground, all the while the presumable owner of the hands spat her words out angrily.

 

“Sorry Mama.” While both of the voices he had heard had clearly belonged to women, the first had been shrill and resounded with such a deep-seated rage that she sounded almost unhinged. In contrast the second woman’s voice sounded rich and decadent, like how the wife of a rich multimillionaire would sound like in a movie.

 

He did not know where he was or how he got here, the last thing he could remember was that he left the convenience store and then he was here. He could not help but feel terrified and confused in this situation. He was feeling exactly like a normal person would.

 

The only thing he understood about his surroundings was that they were moving, he could feel the noticeable bumps of wheels rolling over something other then a paved road. However no matter how hard he searched, there was no hum of an engine, either from whatever contraption he was in, or other vehicles that should have been travelling down the same road. But alas for Natsuki Subaru, his focus was rather quickly pulled elsewhere.

 

He could feel his heart rate quicken as one of the women walked into vision to stand in front of him. However, this was not due to him simply gawking at her beauty, but instead a product of the sheer terror building inside him. Her cold murderous aura was nearly unbearable.

 

She was clad in a skin tight body suit that was nearly completely black albeit a few chosen purple highlights. The neckline of the bodysuit plunged all the way to her hips and was wide enough that perhaps the term neckline was not quite a fitting way to describe it. Finally, in what seemed like an effort to cover her rather provocative state of dress, she had a long and loose cape tied around her neck that looked capable of being wrapped around her body like a robe.

 

Her skin was a porcelain white that contrasted sharply against her the deep darkness of her hair and eyes. With her womanly curves it was almost certain that if the blood in Subaru’s teenage body was not being sent to his muscles that it would currently all be travelling somewhere far more embarrassing.

 

“W-Why am I here, w-where are you taking me?” Subaru was scared to the point that it took every bit of willpower to sputter out his question, unable to control his stuttering as his mind raced hopelessly and aimlessly.

 

Elsa looked directly at him before her eyes briefly flicked behind him, as if seeking approval from the other woman, the one she had called “Mama” before. Once her eyes had returned to rest on his, she knelt down with a leg on either side of his body, straddling him. She leaned forward, bringing her face closer and closer to his until they were separated by only the smallest of distances. He could feel her abundant chest pressed up against his own, her sleek fingers tracing the length of his arms as they made their way towards his wrist.

 

Yet Natsuki Subaru did not blush, nor did he feel flustered even in the slightest; instead all the blood drained from his face as it turned a sickly, pale white. Fear all but consumed his sense of reason as his eyes desperately darted around in a vain attempt to escape the gaze of Elsa. But it was no use, there was nowhere he could look to avoid her hallow and empty stare. He could not see any sparkle in her eyes, any warmth, any sense that she took joy in the world that she looked upon. Instead her eyes looked cold and dead, like they were painted marbles instead of the gateways to ones soul.

 

“My, now isn’t that the question we all want to know, how about you answer my question first and then I’ll answer yours?” Something akin to playfulness seeped into her rich voice as she spoke, yet her cold eyes did not waver from his for a second, she had not even blinked once since taking his gaze.

 

“Hrrrrgh” Subaru grit his teeth as she pulled the ropes taut around his wrist, the course bundle of fibres scraping away some of his soft skin, leaving behind a painful burning sensation.

 

Elsa drew her face even closer, to the point that Subaru could feel her warm breath against his cold face as she softly whispered, “Tell me about the girl you screamed out for when you awoke, tell me, who’s Rem?”

 

The name resounded through Subaru’s mind, echoing down the corridors of the vaults of memories in his brain.

 

“Who’s Rem?”

 

The name brought forth a surge of emotion, all jumbled together to the point of being nearly indecipherable.

 

Pain

 

Fear

 

Happiness

 

Terror

 

All from a single name, yet there was no face, no voice, no identity to match up to it.

 

He racked his brain harder and harder, probing each and every recess of his mind in search of some clue as to who this person might be.

 

He did not only do this in a hope that Elsa would let him go if he did, he had to know why his body felt this way about one that his mind could not recall.

 

He focussed harder and harder.

 

Until he found something floating alone in oblivion.

 

Blue.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH”

 

Suddenly his entire brain seemed to be wracked by an electrifying pain, like an immense amount of current was being forced down each of his neurons simultaneously, searing and cooking them as it travelled along.

 

His entire body tried to arch up involuntarily, doing its best to push both against Elsa and the restraints in what seemed to be a convulsion.

 

The shear intensity of the pain completely burned away any ability for his mind to focus on the present moment, shattering any hold over this “blue” as it fell back away into the darkness.

 

It did not take long after this for the involuntary and insurmountable urge to struggle to leave his body alongside the sharpness of the pain in his head. This left him laying on the ground panting in a desperation as he tried to catch his breath while a duller burning sensation remained scorching across his brain, dissuading him from trying to think about Rem again.

 

“So there’s nothing to worry about, this meat bag was no match for Pandora-sama’s authority after all.” The woman Subaru had yet to see almost sighed as if she had just witnessed the letdown of the century as she continued to remain outside of Subaru’s vision.

 

All of a sudden Subaru’s vision lurched to one side as the floor underneath him tilted to a rather extreme angle. Perhaps almost thankfully for Subaru, between the ropes that restrained him and Elsa, his body barely shifted.

 

“MEILI, KEEP THE CART ON THE FUCKING PATH YOU IMBECILE, YOU WILL BE PUNISHED FOR THIS!” The woman Subaru had yet to see screamed out from behind him, her voice suddenly descending into a frothing rage as Subaru felt and saw the floor right itself.

 

“Yes Mama, I’m sorry….” A third voice called back from outside of Subaru’s vision, from the slightly higher pitch he could tell it was that of a young girl. There was an utter lack of depth to the voice that called back, like the girl speaking was trying to put up a façade in order to sound apologetic. Yet, there was an unevenness to the last syllable that left her mouth. It was as if deep down she was truly afraid of what was to come, but knew she had to hide the feeling with everything she could muster.

 

“Elsa, prepare this maggot for delivery while I see why Meili can’t keep the fucking cart on the road.” She sounded legitimately pissed off as Subaru heard her stand up, but it was the fact that it was a mix of disappointment and annoyance rather then outright anger that left him confused.

 

This woman had referred to him as nothing other then synonyms for trash since he had woken up, yet now that she was leaving to see this young girl, she was disappointed. Did she dislike her even more then him?

 

“……………Thank you Mama, I am sincerely grateful for this treat.” Elsa was speechless at first, like she could not quite believe what she had heard, yet one could almost glimpse inside her by watching her react as she took in this information.

 

At first, she looked towards this other woman as her eyes changed, a faint shimmer beginning to appear as emotion entered the previously cold and glasslike orbs. Then she began to feel a sense of anticipation as Subaru could feel her grip on him begin to shift as she struggled to stay perfectly still like she had before. Finally it was like she suddenly remembered to speak as she rushed out a reply with a voice that dripped with excitement. Overall this behaviour from a grown woman who called a seemingly younger woman “Mama” was eerily similar to how a kid would behave in a candy store.

 

“W-Where are you taking me, what do you mean by deliv…” With each word Subaru spoke he could feel his heart thumping away in his throat at the rate of a machine gun. He had a really bad feeling about this, every fibre of his being was telling him that he had to do everything he could to run away right now.

 

At least that was what he felt until she turned to face him again.

 

The second he heard cloth rustle as the other woman left the two of them alone, Elsa’s head immediately snapped back around, and the look on her face silenced any notion of escape within him. Every tiny hair across his entire body stood up on end as a bead of cold sweat rolled down his forehead, all the while his eyes could not help but quiver as they remained glued to the person before him.

 

Her breathing had grown heavy, and with it her breath had become thick and hot, to the point that her whole body seemed to shudder with each breath she took, her eyes fixated longingly on his abdomen.

 

“Oh how much I’m going to regret having to give you to that half-elf witch, your guts looked so lovely last time…” Even while Elsa spoke to him she did not divert her eyes from his midsection once. Nor did she when she began to reach back into her cloak with one hand, the other beginning to caress his midsection.

 

“YOUVESEENMYGUTS?WAITWHATREYOUDOINGPLEASEJUSTLETMEGOIHAVENTDONEANYTHINGWRONG!” A torrent of words spewed out of Subaru’s mouth as his mind hyper focused on part of Elsa had said, and the knife she held in her hand.

 

It was rather large for a knife, the blade alone being nearly half the length of his forearm. But what stood out about this knife was not its size, instead it was the design. It was mostly black with purple highlights around the edges, and the blade curved forwards slightly about halfway down its length to produce a concave cutting edge. It gave the weapon a feel that it was for savage hacking and cleaving at close range rather then the more delicate art of stabs and thrusts.

 

“Will they look different after being exposed to the air, will they still make the same pattern when they slide out of your body? There’re so many questions about such an experience. My, I’ve never sliced the same belly open twice before, I don’t even know if they give off the same warmth as the last time…. Ah, I cannot allow you to ruin this experience for me.” Elsa spoke of his guts with the same passion as a sommelier would when trying a fine wine for the first time, it was this very persona that had reduced Subaru to nothing more then a hyper ventilating mess.

 

“HM HM HM HM HM HM HM HM” Subaru was struggling to suck in air as Elsa placed her free hand overtop of his mouth.

 

Subaru struggled as hard as he could against Elsa and the ropes that were tying him down, exerting ever last drop of strength in and effort to break free, but it was all unfortunately in vain.

 

“HMHMHMHMHMHMHMHM HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” Subaru’s pupils shrunk to the size of pin heads as he watched Elsa cleanly cut away the lower portion of his shirt to reveal his stomach. He could see that it was covered in scars and marks that he had never seen before nor remembered getting. Alas however these were the least of his concerns as he let out a muffled scream while watching in horror as Elsa lowered her blade towards his belly.

 

He struggled and struggled as he tried his best to squirm away from Elsa, but between her strength and the ropes there was nothing he could do but watch as the knife pierced into his flesh.

 

“HHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” Subaru’s muffled screams filled his ears as a sharp pain radiated out from his stomach. He both watched and felt as the knife sliced through the skin, abdominal muscle, and fat that protected his intestines.

 

The knife may have looked sharp but as Elsa slowly dragged it across his midsection it might as well have been the rough edge of paper. He felt as his skin split apart at the edge of the blade, how each fibre of muscle was tugged just a bit by the knife before snapping, and how something dark and meaty almost oozed out of the cut the knife made.

 

Pain radiated out from the wound like light from a flame, wrapping his entire torso in a dull soreness while the slice itself produced an electrifyingly sharp surge that travelled directly down his nerves, right to his brain.

 

His vision quickly became distorted as tears filled his eyes before pouring down his face to mix with the blood seeping out from his stomach wound, and it was at precisely this moment that the smell hit him.

 

It made the air thick and heavy, and it smelled like a mixture of earth and raw meat, similar to how a giant pot of day old, raw meat would. He squinted his eyes and forced them to focus on the bloody incision that Elsa had finished making in him.

 

She was staring at it as well, the long blood-soaked tendrils that formed his bowels. The eyes glimmered as she gazed at them, her mouth hanging agape as if she was staring at the most beautiful thing to ever exist in a world that had been so horrible to her.

 

Subaru’s reaction to the sight was quite different however, while the sight was certainly shocking, it was the smell that really got to him. It seemed like it filled every pore of his nostrils with its wretchedness, it caused a sickening warmness to overtake his face as the muscles in his throat and stomach began to twitch.

 

Natsuki Subaru realized he was going to be sick.

 

As his lips began to tremble he turned his head to the side, something which Elsa surprisingly allowed, albeit she did keep her hand clamped tightly over his mouth.

 

And it was not a moment too soon for the second he managed to turn his head far enough to the side in order to face the wooden walls of the carriage, he began to violently vomit out the entire contents of his stomach.

 

With each heave a putrid, acidic and nearly clear liquid was expelled from his body between his lips, burning all the way up and simultaneously managing to overpower the horrid smell of his guts. The liquid pooled against Elsa’s hand before slowly dripping through her fingers and onto the floor, however the chunks of partially digested food that had come up were too large for such a feat. This led to them getting trapped between her fingers and Subaru’s face, where they gave off a stench so intense that it was almost nauseating in its own right.

 

Once he was done vomiting, he felt Elsa’s grip on his face tighten, he could feels the bits of vomit that had remained get smooshed against his face as the gaps for the fluid were closed. Elsa then used her immense strength to forcibly turn his head back the way it had been facing before, towards the cut on his belly.

 

“My…. The colour is so beautiful, to have the opportunity to witness the exposed bowels of someone still alive a second time is truly a rare treat….” Just like it had previously, Elsa’s voice was almost singing as she spoke of the bowels before her, however this time she did not stop at mere words.

 

She hastily returned the knife to its place within her cloak before taking her hand and slowly reaching towards Subaru’s exposed intestines.

 

“hmmmm hmmmmmmmmm hhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!” Subaru tried his best to get out a muffled scream in the vain hope that she would stop, only to go silent when he tried to brace himself for the pain that was to come.

 

“HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHMMMMMMMMMMGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Subaru cried out in agony as Elsa’s hand gingerly dug into the wound on his belly and scooped up a handful of intestines.

 

He felt the soft and sticky organs come into contact with her skin, a burning sensation similar to that of touching hot metal exploding out from all points of contact. His eyes started to roll back up as far as they could go as his body arced off the floor involuntarily in response to this unimaginable torment.

 

He felt himself start to sweat as he grew lightheaded, streaks of white and black beginning to cross his vision as she painfully caressed his bowels. With the gentle massaging she gave them he questioned what he had done to deserve this, the way she gingerly played with the blood vessels made him wish for the torture to end.

 

“Elsa.” Their session was interrupted by the return of the woman with the shrill voice, the wooden floor that was now well soaked with a mixture of body fluids creaking as she entered the carriage.

 

“Yes Mama?” Subaru felt a very slight sense of relief as the intensity of the pain dipped when Elsa finally stopped playing with his exposed and now strung out intestines to speak to the woman.

 

“Meili’s been disciplined but go up to the front with her and make sure the carriage is not stopped no matter what. I still have to give that girl a more thorough reminder on competence once we are done with this task.” The woman almost spat out her words as she spoke, yet when it came to her vague threats of punishment the tone of her voice changed. It shifted into something resembling a twisted glee, like she was looking forward to it.

 

“As you wish Mama.” Elsa’s reply was short and curt as the previous fantastical sparkle drained out of her eyes before they returned to their empty glasslike appearance. Every bit of joy and vibrancy that had filled her expression, brought emotion to her voice, was gone in the blink of an eye.

 

Subaru could only watch as she fully opened her hand and let a bundle of his intestines roll off her fingers before falling back into the mangled crevice that was his gut. He grit his teeth and contorted his face as a wave of pain washed over him, brought on by the feeling of his squishy internal organs compacting as a result of the fall.

 

As Elsa stood up she removed her other hand from overtop of Subaru’s mouth and walked out of his vision, rustling cloth as she departed through the same divide that the other woman had both left and entered from.

 

With his mouth now completely free from obstruction, Subaru began to greedily suck in air. He allowed his eyelids to shut as he took deep yet painful breaths. Each time his chest rose he could feel a strain on the edges of the cut on his stomach, and with it the slight yet painful sensation of his flesh tearing just a tiny bit.

 

He was not in a good state, his face felt sickeningly warm and moist with sweat. His mind had long abandoned the sense of terror that had previously held a firm grasp over it. He felt completely empty, anything he had held onto before being completely eroded away by the pain he had just been put through.

 

With the departure of Elsa he was given enough of a reprieve to realize how the rest of this situation would probably play out.

 

In a few hours they would dump his dead body in a ditch somewhere.

 

Maybe he would be found before his corpse rotted away into something unrecognizable.

 

He could imagine his parents’ faces when they were brought into identify the mangled mess of his remains.

 

He could just imagine how his dad would try to remains stoic for his mom while she collapsed to the floor, crying her heart out.

 

And the worst part of all, he was doing this to them after being such a terrible son. He had once been something they could take pride in, but then he had given up on everything and secluded himself away.

 

How many years would they have to look back to remember something good about him….

 

“OPEN YOUR FUCKING EYES YOU MAGGOT!” The shrill voice of the still unknown woman blasted right into his ear as his eyes flew right open to see her standing over him. She was brutally ripping away every last shred of clothing that had previously clad his body, not even offering him the decency of keeping his underwear.

 

Yet Natsuki Subaru did not feel embarrassed over this state of exposure, his mind had been hit hard enough that he was stuck in a warm haze, incapable of really focussing on anything of the sort.

 

“If you’re acting all dazed and out of it because you think you’ve reached the end of this, then oh boy do I have a surprise for you meat bag. My name is Capella Emerada Lugunica, Witch’s Cult Sin Archbishop of Lust, and our fun today has not even begun yet, shitbag!” Capella looked down on him with a grin that stretched from one ear to the other adorning her face. Her red eyes bearing down on him as his own half-heartedly tried to get a good look at her.

 

She did not wear much more then a bathing suit, and a single horn seemed to be growing out of the part in her golden blond hair.

 

“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TO OOGLE ME YOU DISGUSTING MEATBAG!” Cappella almost shrieked as she suddenly drove both her hands into the open wound in Subaru’s belly and yanked out nearly all of his intestines, barely letting either end of them remain connected.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Subaru let out a blood curdling scream as the sin archbishop clamped down on his intestines and began to wring out their contents like how one would get the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.

 

She stretched his soft intestines to their limit; he could feel the flesh stretch and begin to tear as she drove its contents towards his anal sphincter. He was subconsciously clenching every single muscle that remained intact as his entire body was racked by waves and waves of unimaginable pain.

 

Yet when Capella saw that a blockage had formed, causing the end of intestine to begin expanding like a balloon, a streak of pure rage flashed across her face. An even greater sense of wickedness surged into her eyes as she yanked the top of his bowels out like a ripcord while keeping one hand tightly clamped on, completely surpassing any meager resistance Subaru’s body could still muster.

 

An almost liquid brown-green mush tore through the muscle and skin of his anal sphincter, spilling out onto the floor and mixing with blood before filling the room with the disgusting smell of feces.

 

“PLEASE STOP, I DIDN’T MEAN IT, I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING” Tears poured out of Subaru’s eyes as his voice hitched as it tried to speak through his uncontrollable sobbing. Even if the rapid rising and falling action of his chest caused his wounds to ache like they were having red hot metal jammed into them, he could not help but cry.

 

He was a swirling mass of uncontrollable emotion and this display of screaming and crying was the only way for him to get it out; even if it was a sight so sad that even the most stoic person could not help but turn away. The sight of this boy falling apart while laying in a pool of his own shit, blood, and tears was truly a horrible one.

 

“HAH, SO NOW YOUR JUST A LITTLE BABY BEGGING FOR HELP. LYING HELPLESSLY IN YOUR OWN EXCREMENT WAITING FOR MOMMY TO COME AND CLEAN YOU UP. WELL GUESS WHAT YOU WORTHLESS SACK OF SHIT, IF YOUR NOT A MAN THEN YOU DON’T NEED THESE!” Capella simultaneously chided and screamed at him as she raised up her foot.

 

He thought it was a human foot at least, because before his very eyes it seemed to twist and dissolve into itself, like it was made of a thick and soupy liquid instead of flesh. Yet before he could even blink this incomprehensible phenomenon ceased, leaving behind something that was certainly inhuman.

 

Where the Sin Archbishop’s foot had once been now existed a black hoof. From the general structure of the appendage, it looked like to would be more fitting on a horse or cow, except it had been shrunk down in size to fit perfectly onto Capella’s body.

 

She held it aloft above him for not more then a second, for that was all the time it took for her to see yet another new glimmer of fear enter his eyes. Only once she saw how Subaru desperately tried to pull his hands against the ropes in order to shield a certain part of his body did she let her hoof fall. Torture is only truly enjoyable while the tortured reacts to it after all.

 

Her now hair covered and hoof adorned leg rocketed down towards Natsuki Subaru’s exposed penis and testicles, crushing them with the same force that one could expect from a horse’s kick.

 

Subaru felt the hoof come down on his testicles, briefly pushing them towards the wooden floor before they made contact and their descent ceased. Then they were compacted vertically whilst expanding horizontally, becoming almost circular for a brief instant before popping like grapes, then crunching like a cracker as their remains were pancaked against the floor.

 

“Hrrkkk…….Agh………A……………A…………………………………………………………………………………….” A white hot pain rocketed up through Subaru’s body from his loins as he lurched upwards as far as his restraints would allow him to. The sensation of his balls bursting lingered long after the gore covered hoof that had crushed them was removed, yet Subaru still desperately struggled against the ropes in an effort to curl around and protect their remains. The pain had burned blinding stars into his vision as he was incapable of even screaming out, nothing more then short, staccato, high-pitched sounds escaped his lips as his face froze in agony.

 

“Oh is twe wittle bwaby reaching for mommy?” Capella brought her face right in front of Subaru’s as she mocked him with the closest thing to baby talk that she could achieve. Her face was twisted into a sadistic smile as she reached over and grabbed a hold of one of his outstretched arms that still struggled against its restraint.

 

She grasped his forearm firmly with both hands before pursing her lips and closing her eyes like she was going to kiss him right on the forehead.

 

“WHILE MOMMY ISN’T COMING TO FUCKING SAVE YOU SHITHEAD!” Capella suddenly screamed, flinging spittle directly into Subaru’s face as she wrenched his forearm with both of her hands.

 

His arm bowed out briefly before suddenly snapping right in the middle as the sharp edges of the bone pushed and tore their way through his skin. They felt like oversized needles when they initially pierced their way into the open air, producing an incredibly sharp yet not particularly potent pain, at least in comparison to what he had just endured.

 

However, Capella did not stop with just that as she violently yanked and manhandled his arm around like it was a play thing, using the edges of his now broken arm as dull knife blades in order to further cut and rend the flesh.

 

Muscle ripped, fat was stretched until it snapped, skin was twisted until it tore apart, nerves and blood vessels were pulled right out.

 

Capella Emerada Lugunica did not stop until she held Subaru’s severed forearm in her hand, warm blood draining out of it as ragged flaps of skin hung off from the end of it.

 

“……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..” Subaru’s mouth and eyes were wide open as if to scream, but nothing more then a muted squeak came out. Air may have been passing through Natsuki Subaru’s throat but his mind was far too flooded in pain to shape it into sound.

 

Subaru’s body fell back to the floor from the risen position it had held since his testicles were flattened, the only sounds to be heard when he finally hit the wood was the splash from the greyish brown puddle that covered the floor.

 

Capella walked around his crippled body whilst dragging a finger along his exposed body in an almost playful manner. Her touch felt cold against his warm, sweat covered skin, but Natsuki Subaru did not pay this much mind for he existed in a state that was half detached from the world around him.

 

She sat herself down in the Seiza position right behind his head before lifting his body up in an uncharacteristically gentle manner. Her touch made Subaru’s muscles tense up almost automatically, like he was trying to brace himself for the next barrage of pain and injury. It was an effort akin to beginning to build a sandbag wall on the beach only once all the water has begun to rush out to the ocean.

 

Once she had raised him far enough off the ground, she shuffled her legs forward a bit before placing his head down on top of her thighs.

 

At first the short coarse hairs of her hoofed leg felt prickly and uncomfortable, but the sensation soon disappointed as he felt the hairs melt away into her leg, leaving nothing but the smooth feeling of bare skin underneath.

 

“Ah that’s not quite right is it…. perhaps this is better.” Capella’s voice was soft, smooth, and unusually quiet, flowing from her mouth like a smooth strand of silk rather then the coarse burlap of earlier. In the midst of her speaking Subaru felt his head rise just a bit as the flesh beneath his head became just a bit more tender.

 

It almost felt like he was resting on a pillow.

 

Perhaps it was due to how cloudy his mind felt due to the pain and trauma, perhaps it was because he fundamentally did not understand the person that was Capella Emerada Lugunica, but he could not help but feel confused at her actions.

 

“Ya’know, you’re actually pretty tough. Watching you endure all of that and survive, it really pulled on my heartstrings, I think you might be the one for me.” The pitch of Capella’s voice had risen as her pronunciation of certain words became more exaggerated, almost as if she was trying to sound more ‘cute’.

 

“Huh” A small gasp of air left Subaru’s mouth as he struggled to process what was happening. He was watching Capella go through a near instantaneous and almost bipolar personality shift.

 

“When I saw how your heart just kept ticking away despite all the trauma, I couldn’t help but realize that mine was beating just a bit harder. It was almost like I realized in the midst of torturing you that I wasn’t enjoying how much pain I was putting you through, but instead how I was getting to see your determination and will to make it through everything.” Capella gently tapped Subaru’s forehead with her finger before stroking his bare skin on the way to his chest. She then tapped right above his heart before lifting up her finger and placing the same hand just underneath his chin.

 

She tilted his head just enough so that their eyes met. His heterochromatic eyes that had grown red and puffy from the tears he had shed locked with her sparkling naturally crimson ones.

 

“I know that its pretty hard to believe what I’m saying given what I just did to you, but I’ll change if it means that I can keep feeling this sensation in my heart, if I can keep being with you. I really don’t know what it means but I want to learn, to find out, to explore it.” Capella closed her glimmering eyes and beamed the purest smile Subaru had ever seen.

 

“So Subaru, I’ll patch you up no matter what you say, but will you give me the chance to be by your side? Can you find it in your heart to give me the opportunity to make it all up to you, to redeem myself both in your eyes and those of this world?” Capella reached out towards Subaru’s remaining hand and held it in her own.

 

She curled her fingers firmly around his as she waited for his response.

 

And Natsuki Subaru returned the gesture and closed his hand around hers.

 

“Thank goodness, I’m so glad.” Capella sung the words as a genuine looking smile graced her face, a few tears of happiness leaking out of the corners of her eyes.

 

Subaru closed his eyes as well before he began to sob, just these tears he shed now were different then before.

 

This change of heart of hers was incomprehensible to him, he could not understand it even if he tried. He knew that he would not have been able to keep going, to keep enduring the torture that she dispelled onto him.

 

But now he was free.

 

This new Capella had saved him from her old self, and even if she shared the same body as the one who had been his tormentor mere moments ago, he would accept her nonetheless.

 

He owed her that much at least.

 

As he lay on the wooden floor, letting his feelings of relief pour out through his tears, gripping the hand of his saviour with every bit of strength that remained in his wrecked body, he felt her lean forward. She leaned down until her mouth was beside his ear, and as her warm breath tickled his skin, she spoke in the same soft and soothing voice from before.

 

“You didn’t really believe that, did you?”

 

“Huh” Subaru exclaimed out loud for the second time as felt as if time had just come to a screeching halt.

 

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, YOU REALLY ARE ONE DISGUSTING FUCKING MEATBAG AREN’T YOU. YOU LAY ON THE GROUND GETTING TORN APART AND THEN YOU THINK THAT YOUR WIMPERING AND CRYING WOULD MOVE MY HEART? YOU FUCKING SHIT ALL OVER YOURSELF AND THE FLOOR, JUST HOW DELUSIONAL ARE YOU? THE ONLY THING I COULD HONESTLY LIKE ABOUT YOU IS HOW NICE IT IS TO MAKE YOU SCREAM AND WRITHE IN PAIN!” Capella screamed out loud as every bit of maliciousness and vitriol from earlier returned to her voice. The look in her eyes was so crazed and rotten that it may as well have belonged to the devil himself.

 

Subaru felt Capella clamp both of her hands to the sides of his head before he felt something akin to bolts of electricity fire out of them and course all throughout his body. That was before he felt sharp pains erupt across the entirety of his chest.

 

It was like he was being stabbed by millions of needles simultaneously, except they were poking their way out from inside him.

 

“Hrrrggggggh, urrrrrrrrggggggghhhhh, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” The pain in Subaru’s chest grew as he watched the skin on his chest get pushed away from the flesh beneath it before tiny bone needles broke the skin and began to protrude out. There were more then he could count, and they just grew taller and taller, wider and wider with each passing second.

 

While they may have had vaguely pointy tips to break through the skin, the sides of the bone needles looked to be and felt perfectly smooth. This meant that as they expanded they did not cut the skin, instead preferring to stretch out the existing holes to accommodate their larger diameter.

 

It produced a sensation akin to pinching, albeit a thousand times worse as he watched his entire chest discolour before his eyes. There was no way that this compromise between the bone needles and the rest of his body could last, something had to give.

 

Either the bone needles would have to stop growing or his skin would have to tear.

 

And tear is exactly what it did.

 

The skin that was right at the base of the expanding needles, already discoloured a pale white and detached from the flesh below suddenly snapped like a cold elastic band. Fault lines suddenly criss-crossed his chest like a spiders web as blood began to seep out from below.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Natsuki Subaru had been screaming with all of his might the entire time this had been going on. His vision had become obscured by a web of white lines as the pain soared to new heights that easily smashed through any tolerance he still held for pain.

 

He had been turned into a porcupine like creature as he laid on the floor with blood pouring out of his chest alongside his existing wounds, yet this did not phase Elsa in the slightest when she stuck her head back in and spoke to Capella.

 

“Mama, we’re here, we’ve just entered the Elior Forest.” Her voice was calm, collected and cool, she did not even raise her volume to compete with Subaru’s screams of agony, yet Capella seemed to hear her perfectly.

 

The only response that the sadistic Sin Archbishop of Lust gave as a dismissive nod as she removed one of her hands from Subaru’s head.

 

“It seems our fun has to finally come to an end meat bag, but don’t worry, I’ll leave you a parting gift to remember.” Capella held her hand right in front of Subaru face before moving it towards his wrist, using her other hand to turn his head and force him to watch.

 

She placed her fingers on the underside of his wrist before suddenly digging them right into the flesh and grabbing a handful of tissue as blood spewed out of the crudely made holes.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Subaru let out a blood curdling scream as he was forced to watch Capella rip away the flesh on the underside of his remaining arm. He flailed his severed stump around while his back arced off the floor, meanwhile Capella demonstrated her rather refined flesh peeling technique.

 

Even though she brutally tore it right off the bone, she made sure to apply her rather obscene strength to make sure that it tore off in one large piece rather then chunks. This made sure that Subaru would feel each piece of skin, muscle, and fat stretch to its absolute maximum before finally snapping apart.

 

It was horrible to watch and felt even worse, seeing his tissue stretch to the point that all of the bodily fluids were squeezed out as it turned a dead white. It felt like each flap of skin, strand of muscle, and piece of fat was being power sanded from all sides simultaneously before it broke apart. The breaking itself felt like the flesh was being cut by a red hot pair of blunt scissors, an incredibly sharp pain followed by an unbearable burning sensation that lingered long after the tear.

 

His vision was about to turn completely white as his head grew light and hot, before the electrical sensation returned from Capella’s remaining hand.

 

“Can’t have you dozing off until we’re done, can we now.” Capella’s sadistic voice chimed into his ear as his head filled with an icy numbness. This new feeling pushed away the heat and light-headedness, even eliminating the white fog that obscured his vision, however it did not dull the pain in the slightest.

 

For the next few moments Subaru continued to scream as loudly as he could, all the while he was forced to watch as Capella continued to tear of the flesh along the underside of his arm in one long strip. But she went so slowly it felt like his torment was being dragged on for years, like the experience would go on for eternity.

 

He screamed as blood spilled from the destroyed blood vessels in his forearm.

 

He cried as she exposed his elbow joint.

 

Blood sputtered out of his mouth from his vocal cords as she pulled his bicep off of the bone beneath.

 

By the time she finally decided to detach the strip of gore from his body when it reached his shoulder, his voice had long gone silent, his vocal cords reduced to nothing but gore themselves.

 

“It seems our rather intimate time has finally come to an end, how unfortunate.” Capella’s voice grew cold as she let the strip of gore fall from her hand to land in the now massive puddle of blood, shit, and tears with a sickening splat.

 

“………………………..hhhhhhhhhhhhh…………………….hhhhhhhhh…………….” A nearly soundless gasp of air escaped Subaru’s mouth as Capella removed her other hand from his head before delicately plucking something that looked like a string from the massive wound across Subaru’s arm.

 

The second that her fingers made contact with it his head filled with nothing but pain. It was nothing like what he had previously experienced, it was like his entire mind was now nothing but this seething, burning, unbearable pain.

 

She had grabbed an exposed nerve in his arm and was now squeezing it.

 

“hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggggggggggggggggg” Subaru desperately flung his stump of an arm around, spraying blood everywhere as he desperately hissed and chocked on the blood pouring into his throat from his vocal cords.

 

His vision grew whiter and whiter, first from the edges before it snaked across his eyes like a spider web had been placed right in front of them.

 

All sensation in his body began to fade, growing duller as the hot light-headedness from earlier returned to replace them.

 

This continued until both his vision and the pain were completely gone.

 

“Disappointing” was the last word he heard before everything suddenly went completely black.

 


 

There were only two sounds that rang through the forest, as it had been all but forsaken by humanity out of the fear induced by the Frozen Witch’s return.

 

The quieter of the two was a rhythmic crunching, the rise and fall of Emilia’s feet as she trudged her way down a once well trodden path that had long fallen into disuse. With each step she raised her foot as high as she could, before moving it forward and letting it fall atop the icy crust that covered the deep snow that filled the path. However as soon as she shifted any weight to her foot, it would break through the frozen top layer and sink into the snow until it reached the top of her thigh high boots.

 

She was still adorned in the tattered, blood soaked and dirt caked remains of the same dress she had worn to the capital on her camps first, and last outing. The short skirt, exposed shoulders, and overall thin fabric used in its make were all suited towards the warm summer months, or in Emilia’s case, the immunity to the cold brought on by Puck. Yet as she desperately marched through the hellscape of the Forest of Eternal Winter without the Great Spirit of Fire’s protection, her attire only exacerbated the problem brought on by the louder of the two sounds.

 

The wind howled at her with vigour and violence as if the forest itself was screaming at her, demanding that she be cast out as the cancer that had brought this affliction upon it. It nipped at every bit of exposed skin it could find, be it her shoulders, thighs, tears in her clothing, her hands, or even her face. It felt like a million tiny stinging needles that were endlessly pricking her skin, making it feel sore as it grew swollen and red.

 

She could feel as all the heat was slowly sucked out of her weakened and withered body, leaving it to feel cold and hollow as she struggled through her daily task, her repentance.

 

Despite her right hand appearing painfully disfigured, her once delicate fingers painfully swollen with a streak of purple slowly grew across her knuckles, it remained tightly clasped around a tiny piece of cloth.

 

Her destination stood directly before her, a clearing in the ice encrusted trees where a frozen statue stood. Whilst it was still too far away for her to make out the intricacies in its detailing, what stood out from the bleak whiteness of her surroundings was the brilliant blue of its ice.

 

It sparkled and shone in the as the suns rays gleaned down on it, dazzling its surroundings as these same rays bent within its crystal structure of pure ice before radiating out. It was a sight so unnatural yet so stunning that it should have captivated her and caused her eyes fill with wonder.

 

Yet all seeing this did was drive a knife right into her heart as a torrent of guilt surged out of the sea that dwelt within her, something that happened every day she came here.

 

She remembered what she had seen in the trial, how she had ignored her mother’s warnings and brought death and destruction upon the village, how Mother Fortuna died right infront of her while fighting in vain to protect her. It would have been better if she had died instead that day, for she only ended up spreading more misery and ruining more dreams after leaving the forest.

 

She would have liked to say that she was cursed to do so, but such a statement would be far too soft a judgement for her. Everything that she had done, everything that had happened to those around her, it was all a product of her own decisions.

 

It made the answer simple yet painful, Emilia was just a truly horrible person.

 

Should took a step towards the brilliant display of colours before her, then another one. With each bit closer that she got the whiter her vision seemed to get, like the snow was creeping up onto her face and trying to cover her eyes.

 

It crept further and further forward until she could barely even see, all the while what little strength seemed to remain in her body felt like it was draining away.

 

Her head even began to feel so light that she was not even sure that it remained on her shoulders.

 

Even the painful burning of the cold wind against her skin was gone.

 

The only thing she could feel was herself falling.

 

For a brief moment she felt almost nothing at all, no pain, no guilt, not even sadness.

 

It could have been a blissful experience, but Emilia caught herself on a tree.

 

She stayed leaning against it for a few moments as she took deep, ragged breaths, all the while the whiteness that had encroached upon her vision slowly cleared and sensation returned to her body and heart.

 

“I….really am pathetic…..aren’t I?” Emilia mumbled out loud to herself while panting against the tree. While she had felt a general sense of lethargy for a long time, the product of neither eating nor sleeping well, she was suddenly overcome by a feeling of overwhelming exhaustion. It was like the brief spell of light-headedness had burdened her body to the same extent as running a lap around the entire forest would.

 

She wanted nothing more then to lie down right where she stood and fall asleep, even in the biting cold.

 

But she knew she could not give up like that, she had already caused so much pain and misfortune for the Elves of Elior, she still had to repent for all of it.

 

And if through that repentance she was granted the gift of death, then it would be gladly accepted.

 

She gathered her strength and pushed off the tree and continued her task in the waning hours of the day.

 

It only took her a few more steps to close the distance to the frozen visage that she had sought out, the second last of the dozens that she had visited today.

 

While she did close the distance, she did not entirely eliminate it as she came to a stop by a tree about three paces from where it stood, half buried in snow. Emilia leaned up against the tree as she exhaled, the warm breath leaving her body as the wind rushed its way down her throat, making her lungs feel like they were full of icy needles as she rested. She always took a break like this before each of the statues, not just because the process of walking to them was simply exhausting, but because they sometimes got angry if she interrupted.

 

The statue depicted a massive elven man that was easily two or three heads taller than Emilia and its detailing was more akin to a sculpture then a mere statue. He was clad in skin-tight clothing that flaunted his well toned and developed muscles. One could even make out every individual strand of hair that were frozen in the midst of flying through the air behind his head all the while being bundled into a long pony tail.

 

His shirt was open at the top, revealing the rippling muscles of his upper chest as he stood poised to swing a massive flaming hammer down on the absent victim in front of him. His face holding an expression of pure rage as he fought without the slightest bit of mercy for his adversary.

 

Suddenly the raging wind of the constant storm that plagued the forest was drowned out by an ear-piercing grinding sound.

 

The statues head was slowly turning around, away from its unseen adversary and towards Emilia.

 

Yet she did not run, nor did her heart fill with fear.

 

Instead, she continued to lean against the tree and wait for the statue to give her permission to atone.

 

The icy wind continued to buffet her as she waited for his frozen face and empty, yet rage filled eyes to stare straight towards her. It was a long process, and she was so exhausted that she could have just let herself fall over and sleep, but the grinding did eventually stop and was instead replaced by the sounds of a voice.

 

It was one she could only remember hearing a handful of times as a child, it had belonged to a gentle and kind man that had carried her back to Mother Fortuna after she tripped and scrapped her knee. Emilia could still remember how he had smiled at her like a gentle giant before putting her up on his broad shoulders.

 

He had run and jumped while carrying her back, replacing the tears from her soar knee with laughter to the point that she was sad to see him go when they reached Mother Fortuna. He had promised to play with her again before beaming her with such a big smile that her face grew soar from her vain attempt to reciprocate.

 

But the promise that he had made was one that never ended up being kept, because it had only been made days before she had snuck out to meet Pandora for the first time.

 

“You’re late girl, but I shouldn’t be surprised for even the simplest things were always too hard for you.” The same voice she remembered boomed right back to her, as if it had originated from within her very mind. However, unlike her memories it did not sound kind nor playful, instead it snarled at her like she was some loathsome, disgusting abomination.

 

“I’m sorry, I can’t move as fast as I used too… I’m so exhausted that I can barely stand up in the morning….” Emilia forced herself to look the man in the eye while she meekly replied to him no matter how much she wanted to let her eyes drift towards the ground. The statues snarling hate filled face stared right back at her, its lips not moving in the slightest as it spoke. The contrast between it and the man in her memories, the thought that she had done something that hade made him hate her drove an icy dagger right into her heart.

 

“EXCUSES!” Emilia shuddered as she heard the voice bellow out a response with such intensity that it felt like it shook the whole forest.

 

“I know, I’m sorry… I don’t even deserve the chance to do all of this for you…. Just like you didn’t deserve what I did to you back then….” Guilt constantly wracked her as she apologized once again, something she would continue to do for the rest of her days. In her mind her actions were so unforgivable that no matter what she did, she should never be forgiven.

 

“….” He did not react to her apology, neither accepting nor refuting it, and with his frozen expression there was no ability to gain even the smallest insight as to his feelings on the matter.

 

The two remained in this state for a few moments until once again the ear-piercing grinding sound returned, and the statues head began to rotate back to its original position. Emilia remained still as she watched this phenomenon as if it were something completely normal, clutching the ragged cloth in her hand as she waited.

 

Only once the sound faded and he returned to his previous state with even the snow that had settled atop his icy frame being the same as before, did Emilia approach.

 

She slowly waded through the deep snow towards the statue, and once she got close enough to touch it, she began to clean the snow off of it with the help of the cloth. Her frozen fingers stung and ached as she did her best to get clean every nook and cranny, but no matter what, she did not allow her skin to touch the ice itself.

 

She had made the mistake once, discovering how the top layer of skin instantly stuck to the ice as every morsel of heat in her body rapidly drained into the statue like it was trying to petrify her. No matter what she had tried to do to separate herself from the it, nothing had worked. In the end she had been forced to roughly yank her hand free, tearing off the pads of her fingers in the process.

 

While the cloth did not stop the sensation of having the heat sucked out of her, it did at least prevent her skin from sticking to the ice, and it was probably more respectful to the statues as well.

 

Emilia did her best to work diligently and quickly, but she simply lacked the energy to go at anything that could be described as a decent rate. She had to really stretch her body to reach the top of the statues head, and it was quite hard to do so while keeping her balance as she stood on the tips of her numb toes. She could not hold onto the statue itself for that would be disrespectful, they had supported her in life and should not be expected to do so once again in death.

 

Once the snow had been cleaned off its exposed body, Emilia set the cloth aside and began to clear away the snow that buried its lower half. She had no shovel nor scoop, and so was forced to resort to using her bare hands. Her fingers were so cold at this point that she could barely move them, and they were already painfully red and swollen, but this was something that she had to do.

 

The rather double-edged sword of this whole operation was the fact that with each handful of snow she scooped away, her hands grew number and number. By the time she had uncovered the lower half of the statue her hands may as well have been made of wood, she could no longer move nor even feel them.

 

She did her best to clamp the cloth between her hands, her face wincing in pain as she tried to force her fingers to pinch a piece of it. Emilia was now really struggling to maneuver the cloth around the statues lower body without any sensation in her hands. She could only watch as new streaks of purple began to appear on the tips of her fingers, because stopping was simply not an option.

 

By the time she finished cleaning the last of the snow from the statue, the sun had fallen well below the horizon and the forest had grown dark.

 

“It normally doesn’t take me this long….” Emilia almost lamented to herself as she began to wade away from the statue of the large elf and towards the last one on her route.

 

This one was quite a bit farther from all the other ones, located all the way on the edge of the forest that bordered onto a barren and empty grassland. It would mean a long walk both there and an even longer one back to her dwelling, all the while the temperature around her dropped further and further towards the nightly low.

 

This was the first time that it had taken her so long as to get dark before she returned, but it almost certainly would not be the last as she did not see herself growing any stronger in the near future.

 

The long walk was accompanied by an almost morbid bliss. It was too dark to see anything beyond the patch of snow right in front of her, leaving nothing but her own memory to guide her. But this also meant that there was nothing to see that would remind her of the past, no tree that she remembered climbing nor stones that she used to jump around on.

 

Alongside this freedom from mental anguish, she was also free from anymore physical pain. The numbness had spread from her arms to her entire body ending the stinging pain form the wind and the endless shivering.

 

Not even her teeth chattered anymore.

 

The only uncomfortable thing was that she could only feel the emptiness in her stomach, she had only gotten to eat a small handful of tree nuts back when she first woke.

 

There was no longer enough time in the day to spend seeking out crystals to trade with the village, so she had to get by on the little bit that remained in the bag she had. Maybe one day she would have the energy to get her work done faster, she could get a handful of crystals and then go and buy more food. But until that day came she would have to endure.

 

“Mommy…..Daddy……Anyone……please help……” The voice that cried out was shrill, panicked, pained, yet youthful. The way that it seemed to pierce right out of her head and into the world around her forced Emilia to focus on it, instead of her own circumstances.

 

While she knew that it meant that she would soon be finished her final task for the day, she could not take any joy in this.

 

How could someone possibly take joy in the fact that they had murdered a young child.

 

As the voice came from the other side of a nearby tree, Emilia began to circle it, giving it a wide berth.

 

The instant that she made her way around, the air became filled with the same grinding sound that she had heard earlier. A small icy figure sat slouched in the well of the tree, its back to the tree’s trunk as it clutched its midsection.

 

While it was made of the same crystal blue ice as all the other statues, its midsection was a deeper, almost royal blue arrayed in a patchy and irregular pattern. With the way that this pattern seeped into the ice that made up the statues small fingers that clutched it, it was almost like it was mirroring blood.

 

With the grinding sound still ringing true the little statues coughed with such ferocity that its entire icy frame seemed to shudder before its little head turned to face Emilia.

 

“Can you….help me?” The statues eyes almost seemed to sparkle with the light of the moon above as it spoke to Emilia.

 

“I’m sorry…. I can’t help you……….” Emilia felt horrible as she gave her reply, no matter how many times she had seen it, she struggled to watch its little head turn to face the snow in front of it.

 

“Why’d you kill me….” While its face was incapable of showing emotion, its voice was dripping with it. The statue in the shape of an elven child did not sound angry, instead it just sounded sad, as if it had already given up on life.

 

“Because I’m a terrible person, I end up doing this to everyone around me…. I’m sorry” Emilia’s reply was nothing more then the truth in her heart. The depression and self loathing in her voice being a small reflection of the corrupted soul of the girl who had once been likened to a pure angel.

 

“I see………MOMMY! DADDY! THERE YOU ARE!” The small statues voice instantly changed as its head jerked up, like it had spotted something far off in the distance. Its arm left its stained midsection as it tried to reach out whatever it had seen.

 

Yet there was nothing in front of the icy statue, not even trees for they were on the outermost edge of Elior, the only thing before them was a barren plain.

 

Yet the icy statue continued to reach for and stare out at something, yet it did not take long for its tiny arm to begin to waver.

 

The strength seemed to flow out of the little one’s body as its arm slowly but steadily fell towards the ground, eventually coming to a rest and ceasing to move.

 

Its head remained hopeful for a bit longer, staring off into the distance before beginning to nod forward until it hung lifelessly.

 

At this point that statue had become completely still, and Emilia could begin.

 

Compared to the other statue, this one was far more difficult to clean. Trying to get the cloth into the tiny gaps between its fingers was normally difficult, but with how stiff her own had become it was all but impossible.

 

Emilia could have given up, done the easy part, and then said it was good enough before calling it a day. She was so tired that she would probably fall asleep the second she closed her eyes. The empty ache in her stomach tugged at her attention, it would not be too much of stretch to say that it could take her mind off her failure, it would provide relief.

 

But she did not deserve relief, she deserved to drown in guilt and suffer until she died in agony.

 

She had killed this young girl, stolen her away from her parents, snuffed out the long and bright future that had laid ahead of her.

 

And here she was allowing the fleeting thought of giving up early to enter her mind, even if it was only for the briefest of moments.

 

“I’m such a terrible person…” The torrent of guilt that surged up within her caused her to pause for a second, she clamped her eyes shut as a raging storm of self hatred rose up within her.

 

Before Emilia even realized it, she was raising her other hand up and began to bring it down, towards the statues head.

 

If her bare skin touched the ice for more then a few seconds it would freeze solid. It would not become ice like the statues, instead it would be more akin to leaving a piece of meat outside during a winter storm.

 

It would turn black before beginning to crack as her various bodily fluids froze solid and split open her blood vessels. The tissue beneath her skin would take longer, but it too would slowly turn stiff as stone as life left it. The whole ordeal would be agonizingly painful as she would be alive up until the very end, watching and feeling as her own body slowly died around her.

 

But she deserved to experience agony, she deserved to suffer, she did not deserve the opportunity to atone, and she definitely did not deserve to be ever freed from her sins.

 

Her bare flesh neared ever closer to the frozen girl’s scalp, she just needed to bring it down a little further, she just needed to take action and not hesitate for once in her life.

 

“Emilia, you don’t deserve death, a release like that is something way too good for you. What you deserve is to spend the rest of your oh so enviably long life right in that forest, so that every day you can wake up and be reminded of just what you did. So that everyday you feel these very same emotions that are coursing through your veins, driving you to end the miserable pittance that you call life, and be forced to simply endure them. The only fitting punishment for a monster like you is to suffer for near eternity in your own little, personal piece of hell until all that’s left of you is a broken, lifeless husk, a walking corpse just like your mother here.” A voice flashed through her head, a memory of the past, from when she had learned about just how fitting the comparison of herself and the Witch of Envy was.

 

Emilia withdrew her hand from above the statue and held it with her other hand in front of her own face. She looked at the black specks of frostbite that dotted her painfully red flesh as she muttered out loud to herself.

 

“Echidna’s right, killing myself would just be the easy way out… I deserve this hell… I deserve to suffer forever…” Emilia took a deep breath, filling her lungs with air that was so cold that it stung and burned all the way down. She held it and remained completely still, focussing on the feeling of the vicious wind lashing and buffeting her body.

 

And when she finally let the breath out, she took up her cloth again and went back to cleaning the statue.

 

It was incredibly arduous work to clean the slumped child’s body, but at the very least the tree above shielded it from the majority of the snow.

 

While Emilia had not way of keeping track of time in the forest, she was almost certain that this statue took the longest to clean.

 

She had never shown this much diligence to a task before, not even with her studies for the royal selection. She would read books for a few hours a day, then Puck would spend an hour flipping through the same pages and quizzing her on some of the passages.

 

Puck.

 

The little furry spirit who had adopted her, taken care of her, and made her happy. He had showered her with love and told her everything that needed to be said for her to feel like she had a place in this world. He had stayed by her side as she grew up in the forest, protected her, and gone with her to the mansion after Roswaal came.

 

Even when her mistakes began to pile up, and the bodies with them he had told her that she had done nothing wrong and that she should not be so hard on herself.

 

But in the end even he could not endure to stay by her side as she continued to cascade out of control and cause disaster after disaster.

 

Emilia had become too unbearable for even her own father, and so he too had left.

 

Her vision began to distort a bit as wiped the last fleck of snow off the statue, a few small tears leaked out of her eyes as she stood up and began to walk on the path home. Yet while her body left the place it had once been, her mind certainly did not.

 

There had only been one other person that managed to look past the fact that she was a silver haired half-elf, in fact he had seemed to struggle with even understanding what it meant to be one. He had appeared out of nowhere and come to her aid in the capital, hurting himself and only asking for her name as a reward.

 

And due to her own uselessness, he only continued to hurt himself, whether it be getting cursed to the brink of death or torn to shreds by mabeasts in a dark forest.

 

All because she did not think to go with him, nor take any measure to properly aid him when he had already done so much for her.

 

Then when he humiliated himself in a duel he would never win, shattering whatever bit of pride he held, she had selfishly pushed him away for the sake of her own feelings. It may have made her heart ache to see how he would routinely put himself in harms way while saying it was for her sake, but it should have been obvious to her then why he had lashed out so blindly. Subaru was a lost child who tried desperately to fit in, working himself until he literally was falling apart at the seams, all to keep hold of a place where he felt he belonged.

 

The residents of the mansion were his friends, and his job there put a roof over his head and food in his stomach.

 

Yet she had stolen all of that away from him, she had quite literally kicked her one and only friend to the curb in a city that was more foreign to him then it was to her.

 

She was responsible for what he had become, the words of hatred that spilled forth from his mouth at her had been sown by her own actions. The wreck of a person that had stumbled past her in the sanctuary had been forged by her decisions.

 

The boy who had occasionally caused funny feelings in her chest, the one who Carmilla had told her was important to her, had become something that now haunted her.

 

Her memories of him that had once stood out in vivid happiness were now corrupted into horror reels that played back as nightmares. Antics that made had once made her laugh now made her heart feel like it was being ripped apart. The only nickname that she had ever been given was now a brand of the false idol he had seen in her place.

 

While it in no way compared to the guilt of what she had done to the Elves of Elior, the way she had broken her first friend was a close second on the long list of sins that hung from her heart.

 

“I’m sorr….huh?” Emilia opened her mouth to speak and began to mumble an apology when she was stopped by something falling on her face. It was a single drop of liquid, but it felt warm against her cold skin. She raised her hand to her face and wiped it off with her bare finger before brining it in front her eyes, which opened in shock when they saw what it was.

 

A singular crimson red drop of blood.

 

While prior to this moment her mind had been trapped beneath a dreary sea, the shock of fresh blood pulled it up and into the open air like a fish on a hook. The environment around her, the snow beneath her hand suddenly came into focus, and only then did she notice that it was all red.

 

She only now realized that she was standing on a patch of snow that was soaked, drenched in blood. It was like a pig had been brutally gutted here.

 

And as she stood in the midst of a murder scene, her eyes frozen on the blood that soaked the ground around her, she felt another drop strike the back of her head.

 

While Emilia did not see herself as a smart person, and her mind had been made hazy by both exhaustion and starvation, it only took until a third drop struck her for her to piece things together.

 

The blood had to be coming from somewhere.

 

She slowly tilted her eyes up as she looked to the sky, and when she saw what hung there her entire body froze up. Not even a breath left her lips.

 

She felt what little strength that remained in her legs leave as she fell to her knees, her mind going blank as a crackling static filled her head.

 

And the site that reduced someone who was forced to face the results of her own sins on a daily basis, was the broken body of her first friend, Natsuki Subaru.

 

He was hung above her in a massive bag that was inundated with the blood that leaked from his body, the only part of him that was visible was his head, which hung limply from the bag’s only opening. Long and thick ropes were wrapped around this large bundle in order to cradle it before extending out to the nearby tree’s branches.

 

He was suspended high enough up in the air that even if Emilia stood up he would still be just barely out of reach. But this was an if for Emilia did not stand up, she could not stand up. She was feeling something akin to what she had felt when she had gazed upon Mother Fortuna’s broken body.

 

The violent winds that had filled the forest ever since her arrival suddenly ceased, leaving her and Subaru in an eery calm amidst the shadows of the night.

 

Time seemed to pass her by as she remained motionless, watching his body hanging from the trees as the moon slowly crept its way across the sky behind it.

 

“Why…” Was the only word that eventually made its way through her trembling lips in a voice so quiet that even she could barely hear it. Was it an exclamation, a question, or an accusation? This was something that she herself was not even sure about.

 

Why did you come here?

 

Why would you come back to me?

 

Why are you hanging there, dying?

 

Were all valid things that she could have meant when she said “why”, did Subaru have some reason to come to the Elior forest, separate from her being here? Did he for some reason want to specifically come here because she was here? What could he have possibly gone through to brutalize him into his current state?

 

But saying this one word, however quiet it may have been seemed to have broken the deadlock within her, and with it her current will to understand “why”. The muscles in her chest all seemed to tighten up as if the boy himself was reaching down in an effort to wrench her heart from her body.

 

“I pushed you away because I thought it would be better for you….so why why why why are you here now like this! You’re going to bleed to death Subaru…. Why weren’t you able to find a happy life after I pushed you away….” Emilia’s pupils became as small as pinheads as she stared up at Subaru, what little life remained in him slowly flowing out before her very eyes.

 

There had been a slight bit of mania when she had initially started to speak, like she was having trouble believing what she was seeing. However, with each word that left her mouth her voice slowly grew weaker as her eyes began to shimmer and grow damp.

 

“I was hurting you….I was the problem…. I thought that if I removed myself from your life that things would be better for you… But each time I saw you since then, you were less and less like the Subaru I knew. From what I heard from Rem you became angry at me in the blink of an eye, and I know I deserve that… but you also blamed Rem and the Subaru I knew would never do that…. When I saw you in the capital, when you ended up saving me again even though you didn’t want to… it seemed like the boy I had first met had died. You were acting like a completely different person, and one of your eyes had become a different colour, andandand you sounded so sad….” Tears were pouring out of Emilia’s eyes while her voice started to catch on her now unsteady breathing all the while she struggled to get out the myriad of feelings that were beyond her comprehension.

 

“Even though it was only a few days later, when I saw you in the Sanctuary it was like you didn’t even know what was going on around you anymore. And now you’re here, back with me, and you’re even more hurt then all the other times we’ve seen each other since I abandoned you… but I think that this is the last time we’re going to meet, Subaru. You’re going to bleed to death because I’m too useless to help you….” Emilia’s head tilted towards the ground as the tears now pouring out of her eyes fell to the snow to join her friend’s blood.

 

“You shouldn’t have had to go through all this, its all because of me. You were forced to suffer in my place and as a reward, I killed you…..” Emilia’s entire mind was being flooded with guilt, sadness, and regret as she finished speaking, or more correctly as she tried to finish speaking. She tried to close her mouth but all the muscles in her face were involuntarily contracting, including her lips which were stretching to the point that they looked like they would snap.

 

“I’m sorry Subaru, I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’m sorry I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY.”

Emilia dug her fingernails into the side of her head until they drew blood while her entire body shook as she desperately screamed out apologies all the while sobbing harder than she ever had before. Her head soon began to feel light as she rapidly sucked in air only to force it out as a pained cry before it could be used to sustain her body.

 

Her head was a complete and utter mess as various and unintelligible emotions ran rampant and completely unchecked. Even though her eyes were clamped shut she still saw him hanging there in the bloody bag.

 

She did not know what to do or how to handle anything at this point, all she could do was scream and cry that she was sorry while shredding the sides of her head with her fingernails.

 

It was a nightmare, a horrible nightmare that would not go away whether her eyes were open or not. She could not apologize, atone, repent, or help him, her past actions had sentenced him to death and her inability to act now was his executioner.

 

Her body heaved up and down as she knelt collapsed on the ground, it seemed to move both endlessly and rapidly with no discernable pattern.

 

Up and down.

 

Up, up and down.

 

Down and up.

 

Down, up, down, down, up.

 

“I’MSOR… URGH!” Whilst Emilia was in the midst of crying out of the umpteenth time, she suddenly found her face shoved right into the blood soaked snow as she felt a large object strike her right in the back.

 

Her mind had already been left racing to the point of being completely incoherent, even though her open mouth was now filled with the taste of bloody snow she still tried to continue screaming out her apologies.

 

“HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM HM’HMHHM….. BLEEEH!” Emilia lay flattened on the ground as she with her face buried in the snow until she wasted away every last bit of oxygen in her lungs. It was not until the onset of suffocation triggered the mangled remnants of her instinct for self-preservation, forcing her to turn her head and spew out a stream of what was now bloody slush.

 

Emilia then laid completely still, still pinned by the heavy object on her back as she did nothing but slowly breath in and out as her surroundings came back to her.

 

“Why am I like this… you’re bleeding all over the ground and I’m breaking down instead of even trying to help… even you’d probably call me weak, useless, and selfish Subaru… Subaru?” Emilia grabbed handfuls of the red snow with her hands as she balled them into fists, all the while decrying herself with self deprecation. However just as the boy’s name escaped her blood soaked lips, she finally clued into the sensation currently emanating from the back of her head.

 

She felt a warm liquid trickling through her once lustrous hair before reaching the skin that covered the back of her head. Right where the liquid seemed to reach her scalp, she felt something hard poking into her, and a tiny bit of hot air rhythmically blew out of it to warm a tiny patch of her skin.

 

She ever so slowly tried to turn her head as far as it would go until she could confirm with her own eyes what had landed on her. And by forcing her neck to turn as far as it could, she saw that it was in fact an unconscious Subaru laying on her, pinning her to the ground.

 

Emilia could not see anything other then his neck or head as the bag had miraculously stayed in place throughout his fall. His skin was pale to the point of being grey and his nose was bent out of shape and crooked, the impact from the fall had obviously broken it. As well she could feel a warm liquid seeping through the bag and into the clothes on her back.

 

Her eyes followed the shallow and infrequent breaths that left his mouth while she felt the warmth of his body against her own. He felt weak, and even she knew that he would likely die unless he got help immediately.

 

“But there’s no one else here to help you Subaru…. And I’m too useless to help you… I’m sorry, I’m realllly sorry…” Emilia sniffled a bit as she looked straight ahead with her watery eyes, towards the empty forest as she felt the life quite literally flow out of Natsuki Subaru.

 

“All of this stuff happened because I abandoned you back in the capital… I was upset over what you’d done, and how you acted since I came into your life… and for the first time in my own life I decided to do something instead of just watching events happen around me… but because of how dumb I am, I just ended up hurting everyone. I deserve what’s happened to me, I’m a monster after all, but Ram didn’t deserve to get so hurt, Roswaal didn’t deserve to die, and you don’t deserve to die either… So Subaru, I know you hate me now, and if you’d rather die then take my help you can take everything out on me later, but I’m going to try to help you. I have to repay my debt after you saved me again in the capital …” Emilia’s voice sounded incredibly meek but within it there was the tiniest seed of resolve, something that had not been seen in her since she failed to save the knight in the capital so long ago.

 

“I just need to get up, then I can figure out how to help him. I may be dumb and helpless, but even I should be able to get up off the ground, right?” Emilia mumbled as she gave herself what was probably the most self-deprecating pep talk ever known. Then she closed her eyes before placing her frozen hands flat against the frigid ground beneath the snow, roughly shoulder width apart.

 

She took a deep breath before trying to push her body away from the ground with every little bit of strength that remained in her atrophied arms. For someone of her race it should have been an easy task, he had felt as light as a feather to her after he had been injured in the capital, but right now he felt as heavy as a house.

 

Her arms were already burning as they grew weaker with each passing second, but she had to keep going if she wanted to get her knees underneath her.

 

“Hnnnnghhhhhhhfffffff” Emilia sputtered as she felt blood pounding through her face, she was nowhere near far enough off the ground but her progress had all but stalled. It was taking everything she had to just hold herself and him up. She needed to keep going, to push herself and her body even further, she wanted to succeed.

 

Emilia was struggling not only against the weight of Natsuki Subaru, but she was also pulling against the chains of doubt that held her down. She was the only hope of the boy she had broken, the one she so desperately wanted to save after hurting so many others. But in a battle between a tiny, malnourished and neglected seed, and well-oiled chains, it was clear which would win.

 

“HHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Emilia grunted through clenched teeth as she desperately struggled against gravity, all the while her body began to slowly descend to the ground against her own will. She tried to keep fighting with the vain hope of rallying her own strength, but her arms trembled before beginning to shake as her strength warned before completely collapsing.

 

She fell to the ground and remained completely still as she panted for the air that her burning lungs clambered for. And for the next few moments she did nothing else, her body was far too tired. But in this time more guilt managed to find its way to her overflowing heart, for a new example of just how useless and incompetent she was added itself to her long list.

 

Had she been more diligent to eat more, to sleep more, to take better care of herself then maybe enough of her strength would have remained, maybe she could have saved the weak boy who had saved her so many times, maybe she could have redeemed herself.

 

“I’m so sorry Subaru… I’m so sorry….” Emilia slammed into the realization that she had just failed to save Subaru head on, she did not know if she wanted to cry out in pain, or scream out in frustration, but in the end, she managed neither.

 

“You’re going to die because I failed to save you, because I’m too weak to even get up off the ground… the only thing I can do is stay with you until you die… I’m sorry that you ever met me…” And with those words Emilia resigned herself and gave up, she would not be saving Subaru from the fate she had condemned him to. She was truly a useless, hopeless, and horrible half-devil.

 

The very instant she finished speaking however the wind that had once blown through the forest roared back to life with a ferocity Emilia had never experienced before. Deadfall was sent spiralling into the air as even the mighty frozen tree’s of Elior began to creak in the face of this tremendous assault. It was like the forest had decided that it was now willing to destroy itself if it meant ridding itself of the blight that was Emilia.

 

“Wait, Subaru!” Emilia shouted out as she felt the body of the boy that pinned her down roll off her back and onto the snow where it began to pick up speed.

 

While she may have been mostly protected from the torrent wind by the simple fact that she had been pressed into the snow, Subaru certainly was not. Emilia watched in horror as the dying boy’s body tumbled over itself as it careened away from her into the depths of the forest, the bag that contained it acting as a rather impressive sail in the strong wind.

 

She knew he was going to die, with the amount of blood that had already left his body, and the thick trail of red that he was leaving behind as he was being blown across the ground there was simply no way he should be able to live. But she had told him that she would not leave him again, that she would at least be with him when he died, and now she was not even going to do that.

 

“…” Emilia did not even consider running after him, her body was so spent that it felt like a block of lead so there was no way she would catch up to him. All that was left to do was stew in the guilt that he would die alone, and that she would probably run into his frozen corpse in the coming days.

 

Emilia turned her head and buried her face in the snow so that she could no longer see the bloody trail that Subaru had left behind. She was a hypocrite who could not keep her own word after only a few moments, she gave up the instant things got difficult, and she was beyond useless.

 

She absolutely loathed herself for each and every bit of it.

 

The forest was absolutely enraged by this as the wind attacked her with even greater ferocity, its roar became so intense that she could not even hear herself think anymore. The only sound that managed to pierce this cacophony of rage was the snapping of wood as all the trees around her simultaneously began to fall.

 

There was no doubt in her mind that one of them would hit her on the way down, but she did not have even the slightest intention of trying to move.

 

It would mean that she would be giving up on ever repenting for all the elves that she had killed, but there was nothing left in her to keep fighting. She simply could no longer endure putting up with her own existence. Emilia could only hope that she would be her own final victim.

 

“Emilia.” A voice called out to her, it was familiar yet felt so distant, it sounded so disappointed in her yet managed to bring so much comfort to her broken soul. It was like this voice had singlehandedly managed to drag her up from the depths of her own abyss by simply saying her name.

 

It was a voice that Emilia well and truly could not believe that she was hearing again, it was one she thought she had lost forever.

 

The body of the girl that was supposed to be too exhausted to move managed to rise as its eyes went wide, fully enraptured by the visage of the one that stood before her.

 

She was exactly like Emilia remembered, down to the smallest hair on her head and the tiniest crease in her clothes. While she stood still with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face, Emilia simply could not believe that she was seeing her again, after all she had killed Mother Fortuna over a century ago.

 

Her short, reddish tinged silver hair was exactly like Emilia had seen as a child and during the trial. Her mean looking amethyst eyes with their distinctive reddish tinge perfectly resemble every memory that Emilia could recall. And the reddish-white and reddish-purple of her clothes, perfectly resembled the colour scheme that Emilia had mirrored her own style after.

 

She perfectly mirrored every memory that Emilia had of her, down to the smallest detail. This was without a doubt Mother Fortuna, it was simply impossible for her to be anyone else.

 

Emilia’s body moved on its own, staggering over the reddish-tinged snow which crunched under her own feet to produce the only sound that could be heard in the perfectly, ever-calm forest.

 

“Mother Fortuna….is that really you?” Emilia could not believe the sight before her eyes as she desperately tried to close the distance. Mother Fortuna was back, everything would be alright, she would be taken care of once again.

 

“I’ve reallllly missed you, so sooooo much!” Emilia wrapped her arms around the still unmoving figure of Mother Fortuna, hugging her despite the aura of complete disdain and disappointment that the elf exuded. Afterall was it not normal for a daughter to wish hug her mother?

 

“What’re you doing? You’re not my daughter.” Mother Fortuna spat these words out like she was speaking to a disgusting piece of trash.

 

“Huh?” Emilia gasped as she was struck by the words that pierced her heart like hot iron spikes, all before she felt a pair of strong hands on her shoulders. The next thing Emilia knew, she was rolling across the ground before sliding to a stop as a heap in the snow.

 

Any ordinary girl would struggle to believe that their own mother would disown them before throwing them onto the ground, but not Emilia. She was a monster undeserving of love from someone like Mother Fortuna, undeserving of the title of daughter. It was because of this that she could not blame her in the slightest for anything, Emilia knew she deserved it all.

 

“I cannot believe that the girl I raised would grow into such a useless waste. I mean look at yourself, you give up the second things get even slightly hard. You make all these grand declarations of things that you’re going to do, and then you just throw your hands up before lying down to die. ‘I’m going to spend the rest of my days atoning for how I killed the Elves of Elior’, or ‘I’m going to save you Subaru’… I mean come on, at least put a little effort behind your own words.” Fortuna railed at Emilia as she struggled to stand up. Her whole body ached from being thrown into the ground, and this was just the newest affront to it atop all the other things that it had already been forced to endure. And so by the time that Fortuna had walked over to her, Emilia was still on her hands and knee’s trying her hardest to get to her feet.

 

“I don’t even want to think about what my brother and sister-in-law would think seeing you like this, they were both really strong and capable, yet you’re so useless and weak. A complete disgrace to your heritage.” Emilia was trying her absolute hardest to get back onto her foot while Fortuna spat insult after insult at her.

 

It hurt all the more that they were coming from a face that had once filled her heart with joy, but she could not help the fact that everything that Mother Fortuna was saying was in fact true. She could not help but feel a certain catharsis with finally being called out by another on all your shortcomings, it was a silver lining to a situation that was overall horrible.

 

“Ughhh…..” A foot suddenly swung up and struck her right in the stomach with enough force to lift her body slightly off the ground before she fell back and went completely limp in the cold snow.

 

There was a brief moment where she did not move, completely frozen in disbelief that Mother Fortuna of all people had kicked her when she was down. Yet as she gasped for air to replace that which had been knocked out of her she realized that she deserved to be kicked. Everyone she had been surrounded by for her entire life had always faced their challenges head on and kept swinging the entire way down. Be it Subaru, Roswaal, Rem, Ram, or Mother Fortuna, none of them had just laid down and hoped for death like she had.

 

But Emilia was nowhere near as strong as any of them, and that’s why she could not just get up like any of them. Her whole body was screaming out in pain as she clutched her stomach, and her mind could not think about anything besides just how horrible everything was.

 

So instead of getting up, Emilia chose to curl up into a ball on the ground and cry.

 

“I can’t do it anymore, I really can’t. I’m so, so terrible, I want to make up for everything I’ve done, I know I deserve to suffer like this… but I just can’t take it anymore….” Emilia sputtered out her honest feelings as she sobbed like a little girl, but this was obviously the wrong path to take with Fortuna.

 

“…” Emilia felt a hand grasp her throat and hoist her into the air, its grip was so strong that she could hardly breathe.

 

Emilia’s desperately tried to loosen the ironclad grip around her neck as her legs dangled desperately in the air, and all Mother Fortuna did was to press her thumb down right on Emilia’s airway, closing it.

 

She felt her body’s primal cry for oxygen as she tried to claw away the hands that were strangling her, every single fibre of her being had become devoted to the struggle as her previous exhaustion had seemingly become a non-factor.

 

“So when it comes to others you’re too tired and weak to do anything, but all of that just seems to fade away when you need to do something for yourself. Hardship reveals ones true colours, truly a wonderful tool.” Emilia looked right into Mother Fortuna’s reddish-purple eyes as she felt her body begin to surrender to the lack of oxygen. Her legs and arms went limp as they hung towards the ground below, her vision began to grow black around the edges as she became completely unable to see the red tinged forest behind Mother Fortuna.

 

“HUH, URHGH” Emilia desperately sucked in huge amounts of air as Mother Fortuna lifted her thumb off of Emilia’s windpipe, only to immediately punch her right in the face with her free hand.

 

Emilia felt as Fortuna’s hard knuckles slammed right into the bridge of her nose as the bone cracked beneath it, a splintering pain spreading like absolute wildfire right across her entire face.

 

She could not handle the pain, she felt herself begin to grow lightheaded and woozy, but Mother Fortuna did not intend to give her any respite as she pummeled her with another strike.

 

This one hit her right in the mouth as some teeth were ripped right out of their gums and sent flying down her throat while others shattered into millions of tiny pieces.

 

Emilia’s mouth opened wide as she felt herself choaking on all the teeth tumbling down her esophagus, only to see them all spew out in a torrent as she was struck again in the stomach. It was the strongest of the three hits and it made her insides feel like they were being compacted into a pancake as burning stomach acid suddenly coated the entirety of her throat.

 

It was at this point that Mother Fortuna chose to release Emilia from her grasp as she fell to the forest floor and doubled over. She spewed a mixture of blood, gastric juices, and broken teeth from her mouth as even more of the crimson substance ran down from her mangled nose and across her face.

 

“Do one thing right you dumb half-elf, go and save that boy before I drag him back her and torture him to death right in front of your very eyes. You already treat him like a toy, so take care of him before I do.” Mother Fortuna blankly spoke right into Emilia’s ear before lifting her up onto her feet and pushing her in the direction which Subaru had gone.

 

Emilia staggered at the pace of a slow jog as she moved on legs that were both so tired and cold that she could no longer feel them. Her path was the farthest thing from straight possible as she constantly careened and swayed from side to side, sometimes catching herself on a tree, sometimes falling to the ground only to frantically force herself back to her feet.

 

Her face was rapidly swelling and turning purple beneath all the blood that poured out of her nose, however underneath all of that was a look of pure mania. Even though she had been beaten up, strangled, and disowned by her own mother, Emilia knew that she had deserved every last bit of it. But throughout all of it she had been reminded of one thing and learned another. Atop ever sin she had also committed; she had learned she was also a dishonest liar who could not keep her own word. But she also now knew that despite what she had thought previously, Subaru was still alive, and she could even still save him.

 

Mother Fortuna had always told her the truth after all.

 

However, Emilia could not even see the trail of blood she was supposed to follow, she had long stumbled away from the path Subaru had left and was now wandering blindly through the forest. she was a ball of desperate mania fueled by the same torrent of emotions that had nearly broken her when she had first seen Subaru’s hanging body. The only thing in her mind was that she had to find him, she could not stop, she had to keep going.

 

Even though she was alternating between coughing up blood and gasping for air, she kept going.

 

Even though white spots were growing in her vision as her body was ready to collapse to the ground at any moment, she kept going.

 

Even though she had no idea where she was even going, she kept going.

 

Tears rolled out of her crazed eyes as stumbled and staggered her way through the depths of the woods, tripping over rocks buried in the and slicing up her legs.

 

But Emilia absolutely, positively, had to do what Mother Fortuna said, after all last time she disobeyed her so many people died, not to mention she had already told Subaru she would save him.

 

But with each moment that past where she did not see him her anxiety grew, what if she was just too dumb to find him?

 

Emilia tripped over another rock and fell face first into the snow, the biting cold almost felt soothing to her swollen face, but as she was forcing herself to her feet once again, she momentarily froze. There not more then a few paces away from her was Natsuki Subaru, his head hanging limply out of the opening of the blood-soaked bag.

 

She felt a blistering sense of anxiety as she stood there, watching him as her heart seemed to climb its way into her throat. It was like some sort of invisible ice had crept up to cover her body the second she saw him, preventing her from moving or even thinking as she just stared there watching him.

 

But then she saw it, a single wispy trail of breath creeping out from between his lips to form a small cloud in front of his face.

 

He was still breathing.

 

Somehow, against all odds, Natsuki Subaru was still alive.

 

“Subaru… SUBARU!” Emilia first said his name almost hesitantly before crying it out as she rushed towards the bloody bag, the figurative ice that had encased her melting from the warmth of his breath.

 

Once she reached him, she rapped her arms around his broken body and squeezed him as tight as what remained of her strength would allow. She looked into his pale red face that barely stood out from the pale reddish-white snow behind it. She felt his weak heartbeat against her body, she had thrown him away once, and nearly lost him a second time, there would be no third chance.

 

“You can be mad at me all you want, you can hurt me if you feel like it, but I’m not letting you go ever again… I’ll die before I let anything happen to you…” Tears continued to flow from Emilia’s manic eyes as she continued to embrace him, holding him as if he would disappear the very second, she let go.

 

But with each second, she held him, she felt his body grow a little colder, a little bit closer towards death. She was being selfish again, choosing the comfort of holding onto someone because it made her feel just a tiny bit better, all at there expense. Mother Fortuna was right, she was truly a disgrace.

 

“I have to get you out of this cold…” Emilia thought out loud as she loosened her grip before leaning back a bit, all to get a better look at the bag that held him. It was made up of a rough and loosely woven, reddish-brown in fabric that was completely soaked through by Subaru’s crimson blood.

 

Nothing adorned it except for two short rope straps that led to it strongly resembling a backpack, except it was far too large to be practically carried on a normal person back. But with how loose the ropes were, they looked like they would get caught up in any kind of netting, making storing the bag very impractical.

 

Emilia turned around as she knelt down and slid her arms into the rope straps, she would have to carry Subaru home on her back. When she was there she could look at his wounds and maybe even figure out how to start a fire, but getting him inside had to be her absolute priority.

 

With her manic eyes staring straight ahead she took a deep breath before pushing off the frozen ground with every iota of strength in her body.

 

But even as her heart rate surged to try and fuel her muscles, she did not even manage to budge Subaru in the slightest. Her legs were simply far too weak.

 

“Hrrrrrrrgh!” Emilia grunted as she continued to try and force her body to fight, to struggle, to save the boy that she had to save. But alas, her body simply had nothing more to give.

 

Once Emilia realized this, she stopped struggling and stared at the pristine and perfectly white snow in complete disbelief.

 

“I’m too weak…I can’t save you Subaru…you’re going to die because I’m to useless….” Emilia choked out her words as a torrent of tears flowed out of her completely and thoroughly depressed eyes. Eyes that were incapable of holding any other emotion and were so dull as they looked towards the ground that one would be certain that they had never held any other emotion then melancholy.

 

SNAP

 

However, the second that Emilia finished speaking her attention was drawn upwards by the sound of a branch breaking underneath someone’s foot. She looked forward, across the reddish-white snow with her manic eyes as she saw Mother Fortuna approach from far away.

 

She walked slowly but directly towards them. Even though she looked to be really far away, Emilia could make out the same grim, disappointed expression as she approached with crossed arms.

 

“It’s okay Mother Fortuna….I was mistaken, I can save him, I can save Subaru. I just need a little rest, that’s all!” Emilia frantically hurled words across the reddish-snow, her face crazed and desperate as she pleaded with her mother, but Fortuna did not stop or even react in the slightest.

 

“I just need to adjust the straps a bit, that’s all, you realllly don’t need to come, Subaru will be just fine!” Emilia looked down at the two rope straps as she hurriedly fiddled with them, all the while watching her approaching Mother out of the corner of her eye. She absolutely could not let her get to Subaru, she would hurt him if she got to him, just to punish Emilia for what she had become. She could not let Subaru suffer anymore because of her, he was a boy that was completely innocent yet had gotten caught up in a mess and hurt because of her.

 

He had not even said a single thing to her that could be construed as even slightly mean.

 

She had to try again, she had to get up and take him away from her mother, she was going to hurt him. But Subaru would be safe in her home, he would be safe in the princess room, because when she was locked in the princess room nobody had ever gotten hurt because of her. If a room like that could keep the world safe from her, then it could keep him safe from anything.

 

Emilia exhaled before looking straight ahead at Mother Fortuna before taking a deep breath. She pushed off the ground with every last bit of strength in her body.

 

“Hrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!” She grunted and sputtered as she fought, as she demanded her body continue to fight, as she failed to budge Natsuki Subaru even by the tiniest bit.

 

Emilia kept struggling as Mother Fortuna continued to close the distance to the point that she was not more then two dozen paces away. She felt her anxiety rise as her heart climbed into her throat, Subaru was not going to be safe, he was going to be killed to punish her.

 

“HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER. HE’S GOING TO SUFFER, I’M THE REASON HE’S GOING TO SUFFER.” These two thoughts blared through Emilia’s mind as she continued to try to stand with him on her back, her lips beginning to mumble the words as her eyes widened to their absolute limits.

 

The veins in her already bloodshot eyes grew even wider as those very same eyes bulged to the point that they looked like they would pop out. Her heart was beating so hard and fast that it drowned out any noise that were not the two thoughts playing on repeat in her head.

 

She would destroy herself to keep him safe, if she had to push herself to the point that she could never walk again then that was fine.

 

As long as Subaru was safe, then nothing else mattered.

 

Her legs began to violently tremble and buckle, burning to the point that she wanted to howl out in pain, but she was beginning to stand, Emilia was getting back on her feet.

 

“HHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH” Spit flew from her mouth as she staggered forward, taking her first arduous step away from Mother Fortuna. While Subaru remained unconscious on her back, Emilia could feel her own body heating up like a roaring fire as everything was put into carrying Subaru.

 

Even though her knees were buckling she could not stop, she had to get him to safety, that was the only thing that mattered. Droplets of sweat began to emerge from every crevice in her body as she took agonizing step after agonizing step. It soon drenched every single fiber of her clothes that was not already inundated with blood.

 

It felt like she was being slowly crushed by the weight on her back, like each vertebrate in her spin was slowly being compacted together with each step she took across the reddish-white snow.

 

But Emilia would not stop, could not stop until she was back in the princess room, back where she lived.

 

 

“Huh…hah…We’re here Subaru…..hah…we’re….hah….home…..” Emilia spoke with an utterly exhausted voice that was broken up only by her ragged breathing. Beads of sweat ran down her beaten and bruised face to mix with the blood that poured from her nose. Any patch of skin that was not already purpled from bruising or black from frost bite had turned bright red from exertion.

 

While she stood in the midst of a decaying and decrepit room with little in the way of amenities, she felt something stir in her chest besides the pounding of her heart. For the first time she had managed to do something right, she had gotten Subaru out of the elements, she had cleared the first hurdle that stood in the way of saving him.

 

Only two more remained, see to his injuries, and find a way to warm up his frozen body.

 

“BLEEEEHHH” Emilia fell to her knees as she vomited up a clear stream of gastric juices onto the brown, dirt floor below. Her body heaved and heaved as more and more of it came out, the never ending flow painfully burning her esophagus as her stomach emptied itself.

 

It was like whatever torrent of willpower that allowed her to push herself to carry him on her back was expended by this expulsion as her head grew light. Emilia watched as the clear puddle on the ground shifted in and out of focus as her vision was overtaken by a growing white cloud.

 

As her sense of sight went, she heard an incomprehensible ringing in her ears, all the while she begin to teeter to the side. She was going to fall over and drop him; she should have been trying really hard to stabilize herself.

 

But her body just ignored her commands.

 

The last thing Emilia felt was the sensation of falling before everything just disappeared.

 


 

 

Her eyes slowly blinked.

 

In front of her was a red door, beneath her was a reddish-brown dirt floor.

 

She was still in her room, the princess room, and it was exactly like she remembered it.

 

Not a single thing was different.

 

But she could hear something coming from outside. The slow and methodical crunching of snow as someone tread across it.

 

It had to be Mother Fortuna, it absolutely had to be.

 

There was no one else in this forest besides them after all.

 

But she could not get to Subaru here, he was safe in the Princess Room because Mother Fortuna had told Emilia that herself, and she absolutely would never lie.

 

“Don’t worry Subaru, you’ll be okay. I’ll take a look at your injuries after I rest a bit, I’m just reallllly tired right now. Too tired to get up….” Emilia’s voice sounded happy, almost chirpy as she spoke. Except once she mentioned her own fatigue it seemed to trail off into melancholy. The melancholy almost seemed to ooze up from within her, like it was being restrained, held back by some kind of barrier placed overtop of her very soul.

 

CRASH

 

The door was suddenly ripped from its handles and launched into the room with enough force to shatter against the back wall, dousing the room in a shower of splinters.

 

“I thought I told you to save him, but here you are lying on the floor as he continues to bleed. Worthless.” Mother Fortuna glared down at Emilia with a pair of empty eyes as she insulted her with an utterly disgusted voice.

 

“I’m going to help him, I’m just realllly tired and needed to rest a bit. But Subaru’s going to be okay, I can heal him with the Spirit Arts!” Emilia cried out her declaration as she hurriedly removed her arms from the bags straps and began trying to get up.

 

However much like before, a task that should have been so straightforward and simple was nowhere near as easy as it should have seemed to be. Her arms quivered and muscles burned as she struggled to remove her weak body from the floor. The elven strength that had once allowed her svelte body to heave massive weights was but a thing of the past. Yet for reasons that were incomprehensible to most, the girl who had only know suffering for but the briefest of moments continued to try.

 

“Hrrrrrk!” However her valiant yet fruitless attempt was ended by a swift and decisive kick to the rib cage.

 

“Huhhh….Huhhhh….Huhhhh….” A sharp pain radiated out form Emilia side as she fell to the ground, gasping for air after feeling a sickening crack from the site of Mother Fortuna’s kick.

 

“I did tell you that if you couldn’t take care of him that I would torture him to death right in front of your eyes. The fact that you’re too weak to even get up will only make it easier. I hope you’re happy with the results of your inaction Emilia.” Mother Fortuna spoke in a voice completely devoid of any emotion as she stepped over Emilia’s collapsed figure and towards the still unconscious Subaru.

 

“You can’t … hurt him… you said the…. Princess Room… was safe….” Emilia’s speech was punctuated by uneven, unsteady, and oh so very laboured breaths as blood trickled into her throat. While she was still sprawled out on the floor with one hand clutching her injured side, she managed to force Mother Fortuna’s attention to turn back to her by weakly grabbing the elf’s ankle with her free hand.

 

“When did I say that? Putting words in my mouth would mean that you’re a liar, you know?” Mother Fortuna stopped walking and turned her head around to look back at Emilia.

 

“You… definitely did…I’m…sure of it….” Emilia meekly cried out as a tiny bit of blood dribbled out of the corner of her mouth.

 

“Well, whether its my hands or your inaction that ends him, the result is the same. Watching him slowly bleed out while being unable to do a single thing about it would be torture enough for you.” Mother Fortuna replied once again with a completely empty voice as she easily shook of Emilia’s hand. Once freed from the not so sufficient restraint, she crossed the small room in a single step and leaned against the wall, watching the two intently.

 

“You told me to… save him… Mother Fortuna… so…. I… have to… save him…” The same strange defiance that had existed in Emilia’s voice when she had carried Subaru once again reared its head as she turned her manic eyes towards the boy.

 

She knew that she had to save him.

 

She was too weak to stand, so instead she crawled across the floor with one arm cradling her now mushy side. The pain was so excruciating that it was nearly indescribable, but she knew that this was a far cry to what she had put everyone else around her through, so she had no other choice but to grit her teeth and deal with it.

 

She only had to cover just under single pace’s distance, but her progress felt painfully slow as she half dragged, half scooted her way over the dirt. Once she was beside him, she slowly pushed herself to rest on her hip while her sole arm shook horrendously as it struggled to support her.

 

Her body was completely drained of energy and exhausted, leaving it feeling empty and hollow as she caught her breath beside the still unmoving, red tinted Subaru. Emilia knew she did not have time to stop and rest, so she began to pull the loose cloth bag away from Subaru.

 

It would have been impossible to completely remove him from the bag with only one arm, and even if she had two she would likely have been far too weak. However, she was able to reveal his upper torso, and just seeing that was enough to make her completely freeze up.

 

She could feel the heat of flames licking her face as the smells of ash and death wafted their way up into her nose. He was clad in the dirtied white robes of a lugunican Royal Knight, and he had just been mortally wounded in battle fighting desperately to defend her and the citizens of the capital from the Witch’s Cult.

 

Emilia violently shook her head as she tried to push those images away, she had to remember her sins, but not at the expense of Subaru.

 

He was sprawled out before her, his clothes and body caked in blood from the many wounds that covered him. His right arm looked like it had been ripped off right at the elbow, leaving chunks of flesh and flaps of skin hanging with a few sharp pieces of bone protruding out. Meanwhile Emilia could see most of his chest through the massive rip in his black shirt, and his skin looked odd to say the least.

 

It was not smooth or natural looking, instead appearing like it had been badly burned or scarred before being mixed up and patched back together. However a near uncountable number of puncture wounds also adorned his chest, but there was something wrong with them. The tissue surrounding them was protruding outwards rather then appearing to be pushed in. Almost as if they had been made by something pushing its way out and bursting through the skin.

 

She could see how the blood slowly flowed out of him, how he had been bled so dry that his skin was beginning to resemble the pure white of the outside snow. Her whole attempt to save him had already dragged on so long, and he had sustained these injuries an unknown amount of time prior to that. She had to be decisive right now in order to have any chance of helping him.

 

But when she raised her palm to him, it shook uncontrollably.

 

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked at the mortally wounded Subaru lying on the brown dirt, but when she blinked all she saw was the bleeding knight that she failed to save back in the capital. The one who had been forced to spend his final moments looking at her half-witch face.

 

“Please help him….please” Emilia tried to focus and call out to the spirits that had once lurked in the forest. However, her mouth did not move for instead she called out in her mind, hoping that her ability as a Spirit Arts user would carry her plea to the spirits that had once so gladly been at her beck and call.

 

But no balls of light came flying into the room, nor did a glow of mana appear around her hand. Why would a free willed spirit listen to her of all people, a girl with no self confidence that was flipping between mania and depression faster then one could possibly follow. Why believe in someone who does not truly believe in themselves?

 

Emilia slowly lowered her hand to Subaru’s chest as tears rolled down her face before falling to the ground, and with them any delusional hope she had to save the boy was shattered.

 

“So all it took for you to give up was a single half-hearted attempt, and to think that you were once noted for your affinity with the Spirit Arts. You are a wonderful example of what it means to be a disgrace to your own kind.” Mother Fortuna just looked at Emilia as she spoke, not a single hint of emotion reflected in either her expressions or her tone.

 

Emilia wanted to refute everything she said, to claim that she would save Subaru, but it was pointless. Mother Fortuna was right, she was the kind of person who gave up too easily, she was a living insult to all the elves that had died fighting the Witch’s Cult.

 

There was only the slightest hint of mania left in her eyes as they became more and more depressed at just how horrible a situation she had put this poor boy into. Perhaps if things had just been a little worse and she had felt just a tiny bit less manic, Emilia would have noticed that the only thing that remained tinted in red was Mother Fortuna herself.

 

But Emilia did not notice this, instead she had decided to do the one thing that she could still do to try and save Subaru, the only thing she had ever succeeded at in life besides hurting others.

 

She would ask someone else to do it for her.

 

“Mother Fortuna… can you save Subaru… I’ll do anything if you would…” Emilia looked up at Mother Fortuna to plead with her teary eyes as her final hope, just like a helpless child would.

 

But to Emilia’s surprise, she saw that Mother Fortuna had raised her eyebrows in shock upon hearing this.

 

“You know, you’re a bigger disappointment then anyone could possibly imagine. I can’t imagine your birth parents would even want to see you at this point…” Mother Fortuna muttered under her breath before standing up and moving towards Subaru. Emilia was apprehensive as she was not sure if she was about to watch Subaru be put out of his misery, or saved from it.

 

She watched as the red-tinted elf stood above Subaru and raised out a palm just as she had done. The main difference however was that a huge swarm of glowing blue lights, water spirits emerged the very second that she did.

 

They may not have flown gracefully in huge arcs like Emilia was used to, instead choosing to fly in straight lines that were so rigid that they seemed unnatural for any living thing. However a glow still materialized around her mother’s hand as all the wounds on Subaru’s body slowly began to close.

 

Emilia watched in amazement as all the flesh and tissue that appeared to be missing across his body slowly seemed to regenerate as the wounds quite simply disappeared. His arm however was a bit of a different case, as instead of regrowing completely, tissue just reformed on the jagged end of his arm to create a stump.

 

It would be gone forever because she had not thought to go looking for it before brining him here.

 

Subaru would live now, but he was going to be permanently maimed because of her.

 

She could only imagine how much he would hate her when she tells him after he wakes.

 

“You got what you wanted, and I’m going to get when I want when the time is right, but this was not the way that this was supposed to play out. You did not save him Emilia, you wrangled yourself out of the responsibility because you were too weak, and I want you to remember that. I want you to remember that you were too weak to even think yourself anything like the one you resemble.” The glow around Mother Fortuna’s hands disappeared as she turned away from the now healed boy to reach for Emilia.

 

Her hands did not settle on Emilia’s shoulders like before, nor did they go for her neck.

 

Instead she felt them grasp her ears.

 

“This is not how you will pay your debt to me, you will fulfill your end of that bargain later.” Mother Fortuna muttered before she ripped Emilia’s ears off.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” Emilia screamed as she felt her own skin rip and tear as hot streams of blood poured out of the sides of her head. It was a hot, brutal pain that easily eclipsed any of the kicks, punches, or frostbite she had endured.

 

Even the pain from bashing her own face to pieces with the mirror had not been this bad.

 

She fell on top of Subaru, writhing and screaming as she clutched the sides of her head, completely ignoring the pain that roared form the now mushy portion of her ribcage.

 

But this all came to and end when Mother Fortuna placed a finger on her forehead and uttered one single phrase, “Sleep, just as you should have been.”

 

Because after that, everything simply went black.

 


 

His whole body felt sore, like each and every fibre that comprised it had been torn in half only to be glued back together. Furthermore, he could feel his back ache as he lay at an awkward and uncomfortable angle. But the ground beneath him did not feel like wood, it was neither smooth nor even. Instead, it was rough, bumpy, and cold. It felt so frigid against his body that he could have sworn that every little bit of heat within him was slowly being sucked out.

 

Yet Subaru could not focus in on the details, all he knew was that he was not in the carriage that he had been in before. The two psychopaths who had tortured him had definitely taken him somewhere else.

 

 Was he locked in their basement cellar?

 

Were they going to torture him more?

 

Was he ever going to be released?

 

Would he ever see his parents again?

 

All of these questions flew through his mind in a torrent as confusion, anxiety, and fear bubbled up from within him.

 

Subaru did his best to stay as still as he could, only taking the shallowest of breaths as he tried to pass for still being unconscious. Elsa or Capella may still be in the room, waiting for him to wake up to begin a second round. He did not really know what he could do, they were both so strong, and he had been so badly injured that there was no way he could possibly fight them. But if he just laid here then he would have no agency over what happened next.

 

Did he truly have control over his immediate future if he tried anything though? Elsa or Capella alone could probably kill him pretty easily, and there was also the third one he had not met, Meili.

 

But he really did not want to have to go through anything like that again, he could still feel his skin ripping and flesh tearing as Capella had her way with him.

 

There was something on his chest.

 

Subaru suddenly clued into the fact that there was a weight pressing down on his body, the very second he realized it he could feel his heart jump into his throat.

 

Should he open his eyes to see what it was?

 

THUMP THUMP

 

All he could hear was the beating of his own heart in his ears, all he could really feel was the pure terror that coursed through his blood.

 

What if Capella or Elsa were waiting for him to wake up, what if they already knew that he was awake?

 

Should he open his eyes to see?

 

Subaru did not know what to do, he really could not think of what the correct path would be. If he did not move and they were there, they might leave him alone a bit longer. But Capella would certainly be angry if she found out he was faking it.

 

He could almost picture her screaming “WAKE UP YOU STUPID MEATBAG!” before she ripped away another chunk of his body.

 

However, there was also a chance that nobody was there, and he could try to escape, stagger outside and scream desperately for help. It would be his only real chance to survive this hellish situation since they have certainly moved him far from the convenience store.

 

If the police were looking for him then they were almost certainly not looking in the right place, and if he stayed here there may not be anything left to find by the time they got to him.

 

It was terrifying, but he absolutely had to do it, he had to at least open his eyes and see.

 

The first thing he saw was blinding white light as his eyes adjusted, but once they did, they were met with a truly depressing sight.

 

He was in a room that looked like it had been carved into the ground. Its walls were made up of packed dirt, punctuated by the occasional rock or tree root that descended down from the ceiling. The ground beneath him was much and the same, the only difference being the occasional piece of garbage strewn across the floor.

 

He could see various metal items scattered near the base of the walls, horribly rusted cups, pots, pans, and utensils. The looked to be so badly worn, and so horrendously weathered that they belonged in the trash, not even someone who was homeless should even dare to cook or eat from them.

 

There was also a wooden door at one end of the room, a small round thing that looked like it had once been quite impressive. But he could see that bits around the edges of it were chipped away, letting in cold and frigid air from the outside. Beside it was a rather small burlap sack, barely bigger than the plastic bag from a grocery store.

 

However, while Subaru had initially been scanning the tiny room that he was in, his eyes rather quickly made their way back to his own chest. They did not notice the fact that his injuries appeared to have been miraculously healed, with the exception of his arm, or the fact that his pants appeared to have been woven back together.

 

His eyes were instead staring wide in terror at the girl who appeared to be sleeping there.

 

Was this Meili?

 

Was she here to guard him and accidently fell asleep?

 

This was bad, really bad, he had to be very careful to not wake her and let her sleep as long as possible. But he could feel his heart beating so quickly, and he was beginning to hyperventilate. Meili was going to wake up, then Elsa and Capella would come back, and he would get tortured again.

 

He was going to feel his guts spill out onto the floor as his skin was torn up, his organs would get mushed as he screamed and cried out in pain. It would not stop until he was dead, dying after experiencing the true limits of suffering.

 

He did not want it to happen, he would not be able to take it again. This was so horrible, really horrible.

 

“Subaru? Thank goodness… you’re…. alright!” Subaru’s entire body froze when he heard a voice ring out, one that sounded like a scratched and dented windchime, broken by the pained gasping of its owner.

 

His mind brought his eyes back to reality and he saw her amethyst eyes looking down into his own. He could see the red veins that streaked through them, the patches of porcelain white skin on her swollen, bruised, and frostbitten face. He could see a small, once delicate nose that was now smashed beyond recognition, dried blood stuck to her face leaving a trail to a smiling mouth, full of broken and missing teeth.

 

Her face was really close to his, and when his eyes shifted downwards, he could see that her body, clad in tattered clothes was almost straddling him.

 

It was just like what Elsa had done before she had sliced his gut open, Meili was going to hurt him, she was going to torture him.

 

Subaru’s eyes instantly shrunk to the size of pinpricks as he tried to squirm away from the girl with the help of his one remaining arm, but the room was too small, there was nowhere to go.

 

“It’s okay… Subaru… you’re safe…now…” She spoke again, a faint almost joyous glimmer in her eyes as she looked at him. But each word that left her mouth seemed to rack her body in pain as she clutched her side and took breath after breath with incredible difficulty.

 

“S-Stay a-away f-from m-me!” Subaru sputtered as he watched a look of confusion come over the silver haired girls face.

 

“I’m sorry Subaru… my mom… ripped my ears… off… I can’t hear… too well…” The girl turned her head to reveal a gory patch on the side of her head, right where one of her ears should have been. She leaned in closer and cupped a hand to the side of her head as if to try to magnify the sound.

 

Subaru’s mind completely lost it after hearing her though as it rapidly grabbed pieces of information and hurriedly tried to connect them together.

 

Elsa had called Cappella “Mama”, so it would make sense if Meili called her something similar, and Capella had said that she would punish Meili, that punishment had been to rip her ears off.

 

Subaru swung his arm as hard as he could and punched Meili in the side of the head, sandwiching two of her smaller fingers between his fist and her skull, he could feel the tiny bones crunch under the force of his strike.

 

He absolutely had to get out of here, there was sunlight and frigid air coming from the other side of the door, he could escape.

 

But he had to make sure Meili did not stop him.

 

So as Meili fell off him into a heap on the floor, he forced his sore and aching body to chase after her and reverse their positions, pinning her to the ground with the weight of his body behind his legs. Subaru then began to rain down strike after strike onto the girls already badly beaten face. As each of his punches collided with the girl’s soft facial features he could feel how her skin caved until it was pressed up against bone, before splitting as he retracted his fist.

 

Each strike of his fist had enough force behind it to hammer her head into the frozen ground below and almost bounce it back up into his next punch. To an observe it would probably look a bit like a jackhammer obliterating a piece of concrete.

 

But Subaru was not a bully, he hated having to fight someone like this. He was hurting Meili because she was associated with Capella, not because she had herself wronged him. And she already looked to have suffered so much at the hands of her mother, he could not help but feel bad about what he was doing.

 

“STAY DOWN, LET ME LEAVE MEILI AND YOU WON’T HAVE TO GET HURT ANYMORE!” Adrenaline may have been coursing through his body as he shouted out, but he still felt absolutely terrified, and it showed in his voice. It trembled as he continued to try and mash this girl’s face into a pulp, but oddly enough she did not seem to be trying to stop him, she was just laying there and letting him hit her.

 

If she was not able to defend herself, then this had to be his chance to get away.

 

He hit her one last time, as hard as he could before springing to his feet and turning towards the door. The room was so tiny that he could probably cross it in a pace or two if he tried.

 

Subaru took one step forward, but when tried to step forward with his other foot, he felt a hand holding onto his ankle. It was not grasping him with enough strength that he could not have easily shaken it off, but it was exactly because of this that he stopped when a voice called out to him.

 

“My… names… not… Meili….” Subaru slowly turned his head to face the girl he had just been beating. Her entire face was black and blue, her lips were all split open and her eyes were rapidly swelling shut. However her voice was not angry but instead almost happy as she looked at the one who had just hurt her so badly.

 

A chill went down Subaru’s spine as his entire body froze up in fear.

 

Was this girl actually Capella?

 

She had somehow turned one of her legs into a hoof, had she completely changed her appearance?

 

Was this just the second of her tricks, like when she had professed her love to him before breaking his body?

 

Subaru slumped back to the dirt floor below as all the strength left his legs.

 

He had just punched Capella Emerada Lugunica.

 

He was going to die; she was going to rip and tear until he died the most excruciatingly painful death possible.

 

He tried to shuffle back, farther away from the Sin Archbishop, but his back was already against the wooden door, there was nowhere else to go.

 

“You can keep… hitting me… if you want to… just please… don’t go…” The girl spit out a piece of tooth before turning to face him with desperate eyes. She sounded like she was almost pleading with him to stay, why would Capella do something like that. Subaru was certain that if the Sin Archbishop wanted him to remain here, he would not have a choice, so why would she let him beat her if it meant he would remain? And besides all of that, what kind of twisted person would let someone beat them for any reason?

 

“W-Who are you?” Subaru stuttered out loudly as he pressed his back flat against the wall, half expecting her sick smile to come back as she declared that her name was Capella Emerada Lugunica.

 

At first it seemed like she did not hear what he had said, so he was going to repeat himself, but then he saw the range of emotion that the girls face began to go through. At first her swollen face changed just a bit to seem almost happy at the fact that he did not know her name, only to then grow sad. Yet she did not seem to be sad in the sense of crying over it, instead it looked like she was thinking about something, and whatever she thought over seemed to be what made her sad.

 

“My name’s…Emilia….just Emilia….don’t you remember me… Subaru?” Her previously transitory emotions began to blend together so that she sounded both happy and sad as she spoke.

 

“I’ve never met you before…” Subaru answered her question while still being unsure if he could trust her, Capella had lied to him after all, what is to say that she was not just lying again.

 

Subaru watched a sad smile appear on Emilia’s face as she just shook her head from side to side, refuting his statement. She then clutched her side a bit tighter and took a few breaths before looking him right in the eye.

 

“Part of me would like to pretend that we never met before, but we did. It feels like a realllly long time ago but I guess it actually was not that long ago, but you saved me back in the capital.” Emilia paused for a moment as she took a few extremely laboured breaths as her gaze fell to the ground, before she once again resumed speaking.

 

“You even came back with me to Roswaal’s mansion and lived there with Ram, Rem, Beatrice, Puck, and I. We had lots of fun together and each day was always new and exciting, but then I messed everything up.” Emilia then looked up as her eyes began to grow glassy as her voice became weaker, like she was verging on crying.

 

“But then I messed up Subaru, I hurt you, I hurt you really badly and took everything that you had away from you, all because I couldn’t handle what was going on.” Emilia had to stop to take a few more laboured breaths as her already poor breathing seemed to be getting aggravated by how sad her story was making her.

 

“I don’t really know what’s happened to you since then, but I found you hanging from a tree, bleeding to death. I know that happened because of what I did to you, I know you really must hate me to the point that you want to run away, but please don’t leave. I’m here all alone, I don’t have anyone anymore after Puck left me, and I’m not sure I can take it much longer even if I deserve to. I’m a monster and this is really selfish of me to ask, but can you please, please stay here? You should be really angry at me, you should hate me to the ends of the world and back. You can shout at me for what I’ve done to you, you can hit me for what I’ve done to you….just…. please don’t….leave me alone…...” Emilia started to completely breakdown as she revealed just how messed up her mind and heart were. Her face was contorting in pain as her chest heaved in an effort to take in enough air. Tears were barely managing to squeeze there way through the tiny slits in her eyes that were now almost completely swollen shut.

 

This girl was alone and suffering, she had been so glad to see his face again when first woke up, and what had he done? Subaru had pushed her to the ground and beaten her to a pulp without even trying to figure out who she was. Emilia was calling herself a horrible person, but he in fact was the horrible person.

 

He felt so guilty and sick to his stomach from his own actions that he thought he was going to be puke.

 

The silver lining to this however was that Subaru could not believe that this girl could be a twisted monster like Elsa or Capella, at least she seemed to be twisted in a far different way.

 

“I’m sorry…. for hitting you.” Subaru did his best to look her in the eyes as he apologized, but the guilt of doing what he did to her made it hard. He honestly wished that he could just vomit away the pit in his stomach, but he knew that was not how things worked.

 

“It’s not something….you should apologize for…I’m a monster….I deserve the pain….honestly it feels…cathartic” Emilia gave every indication to show that she did truly meant what she was saying. Just by being around her he could feel his anxiety and fear subside at the expense of his heart being wrenched out of his chest listening to this girl.

 

“I hurt you because I thought you were with Capella and Elsa, I just attacked you out of nowhere. It was the wrong thing to do, so I need to apologize for that.” He absolutely hated how much this girl seemed to believe she deserved to suffer, what could possibly have happened to her to make her think this way.

 

“If you knew…what I’ve done…then you wouldn’t want…to even be in this….room with me, and…did you just say Elsa?” Subaru’s anxiety and fear returned the second he heard her say Elsa, the way it rolled off her tongue with such familiarity, it was clear she knew her.

 

He could feel his teeth begin to chatter as the sound of his own heartbeat became louder and louder, he should have left this place without talking to Emilia. Since she knew Elsa, she could still be associated with Capella even if she was not Meili. Why had he not asked this earlier?

 

Emilia seemed to clue into Subaru suddenly becoming afraid again even though it was hared to believe that she could see anything through her eyes anymore. Subaru could see and hear her try to catch back up on her breathing as she struggled to get air into her lungs. It was a few moments that he could have used to leave if he was not so afraid, but it was an opportunity he did not take.

 

“I know Elsa because you saved me from her when we first met. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you this afraid of anything Subaru, did something happen, or are you afraid of me?” A sense of relief washed over Subaru when he heard that Emilia was not an ally of Elsa because at this point he had come to the realization that he had little choice but to trust her know. He had no idea where he was and everything he was hearing was pointing to the fact that he was not back in Tokyo, but somewhere else without his memories of having got there. Emilia may be the only one who could tell him what exactly had happened to him.

 

Subaru should respond to her, to reassure her that she was not what he was afraid of, but when it came time to put what exactly had happened to him into words, he just could not. His mouth was open and waiting for sound to come out, yet nothing did. The most he could manage was to look down at the stump of the arm Capella took and hope that got the message across.

 

“She was the one who hurt you this badly?” Emilia sounded sad, and when Subaru responded with a nod, she only hung her head, clearly blaming herself once again.

 

A silence settled over the two for a bit as the desire to speak seemed to have left both of them, albeit for different reasons. Subaru pulled his legs in close as his mind began to drift back to his past encounter with Elsa. Emilia on the other hand just kind of sat and kept moving her gaze between him and the ground. It was clear that she still wanted to talk more, but between her very laboured breathing and her guilt over getting Subaru hurt, she did not want to interrupt him.

 

However Subaru was guilty of hurting this girl, even if she did not blame him for it, and even if she almost seemed to want to be hurt. If she wanted the conversation to continue, and if she had already requested something from him, it was his obligation to respond.

 

He raised his head and looked right at her, and almost in sync she seemed to look right back at him; her black, blue and purple face pursed in anticipation.

 

“Emilia, you seem to know about a lot of stuff I don’t remember happening. Would you be able to fill in the holes in my memory, like the parts of it that you know?” Only now was the realization that he had likely lost his memories beginning to sink in. It was a scary thought that whole years of his life could have just disappeared. Subaru also knew that he probably would not make it far in a place that he knew nothing about, especially if there were more people like Elsa running around.

 

Emilia sat across from him with her shoulders rising up and down as she tried to breathe in enough air in order to speak. She almost seemed to be desperately doing it, like there was something she really wanted to say, but after a few moments she gave up and just nodded in response.

 

“Then I will be in your care for now, Emilia.” Subaru bowed his head slightly as he gave his answer to her request. It was certainly odd to go from punching someone in the face one moment, to relying on them in the next.

 

“…Really, YOU’RE REALLY GOING TO STAY!” The girl’s eyes seemed to perk up much like they had when he had first awoken. It made Subaru feel just the tiniest bit better that he had managed to make Emilia happier after what he had done earlier.

 

However, the girl’s expression quickly faded as it turned towards something akin to listless depression, her eyes stared right down into the dirt in front as she mumbled something barely audible.

 

“I can’t forget about what I did…” Emilia sounded completely melancholic as she mumbled aloud to herself, like the entire world had turned against her all of a sudden.

 

Subaru was left speechless, was Emilia like this because of what he had done, or was it something else? Should he even try to do anything, or was it better to leave her be for now?

 

However, he was not left to stew in his own indecisiveness for long because Emilia soon lifted her head a began to speak in a voice that was just a little bit cheerier, albeit forced sounding. “I’m really sorry about this Subaru… Some people are still expecting me to do something for them today… I probably won’t be back until it’s dark… There’s a little bit of food in the bag if you get… hungry.”

 

Subaru watched as Emilia slowly tried to stand up, how she had to place her hands against the dirt wall of the room as her legs shook horrendously underneath her. She looked even weaker than she had when she was sprawled out on the ground. It was very clear to Subaru that this girl was not just superficially a wreck, her health in general was clearly very poor.

 

And it was because of this observation that when Emilia’s legs gave out underneath her as she tried to take her first step, Subaru was already prepared to catch her.

 

However, since he only had one arm the only thing he could do to stop her from falling was to roughly push her against the wall as he tried to hold her up by the waist.

 

“I’m… fine…. Just let me… go….” Her voice sounded weaker than he had ever heard it as her body went nearly completely limp, if Subaru let go now she would certainly fall to the ground.

 

“I’m going to slowly try to lay you down now, do you think you can hold onto me?” Subaru’s voice was laced with concern as he looked at Emilia’s face. She barely seemed conscious right now as her neck seemed to be struggling to hold her head up.

 

“I’m sorry…but I really have to do this…” Emilia sounded apologetically as she gingerly raised her left hand and held onto a root protruding from the wall. Her grasp did not look to be very strong or sturdy, making it seem like more of a symbolic gesture then anything else.

 

“What could be so important that you need to do it right this instant, you need to rest for a bit!” Subaru watched as Emilia switched from panting to biting down on her swollen lip, her face beginning to grow more and more sad.

 

“……sick” Emilia only got a single word out before taking a long pause, the word “sick” only reached Subaru’s ears about a half second prior to Emilia tilting her head all the way forward as she parted her lips.

 

A stream of clear, almost water like vomit passed between her lips as Subaru felt her body struggle to heave the liquid out.

 

When she finished spawning out the vile liquid, Subaru withdrew just a tiny bit of his strength and let gravity slowly bring the girl to the ground as he held her steady.

 

“You’re not even going to make it to your own front door like this. Just tell me how you’re feeling so I can try to do something, I owe you after all.” Subaru tried to look into the girls swollen eyelids as she sat against the wall, desperately panting beside a pool of her own vomit.

 

Emilia did not seem to want to say anything, but then all of a sudden her shoulders seemed to quiver as a few tears squeezed their way out of her eyes.

 

“I can’t… be this useless…you just came back…and you were so hurt… I can’t ask you to help me…not after everything…that’s happened…not after…everything I … did to you…” Emilia spoke of more things that he did not understand once again. He had been the one to hurt her, yet she acted as if she had committed an unforgivable act. She spoke of relying on him when he had only relied on her so far. She was clearly in a horrendous condition, and it was truly hard for him to watch.

 

“Please Emilia, just think of it as my apology for punching you. I did a number on your face so I really want to make it up to you…” Subaru spoke honestly as he knelt down in front of the crying girl, he felt absolutely horrible for what he did and it only got worse the more he witnessed of Emilia’s horrible state.

 

“I deserved to be hit…you should beat me…into an… absolute pulp…” He was not getting through to her as she seemed to regress further and further into her shell, he would have to play her own game if he wanted her to let him help.

 

“I can’t stand to sit on my butt all day and see a pretty girl run herself ragged in front of me, Emilia. If you let me do you a favour now, then you can pay me back when you’re feeling better, is that okay?” He looked at the Emilia as he hoped with everything he had that she would accept. Of course Subaru had no intention of ever calling in the favour and prayed that it would slip her mind, but it was the only way he could think of that would lead to Emilia letting him help her.

 

“I’m not pretty…I’m a disgusting…filthy…vile… silver haired… half-elf…” Emilia proceeded to insult herself in response to Subaru’s offer and he decided to take it as an acceptance on the grounds that it was not an outright refusal.

 

“Just so you know, I am willing to stay here arguing that you are pretty the whole day. So if you want to get anything done then I suggest that you just accept the compliment.” Subaru watched with joy as a tiny smile crept its way onto the girl’s mouth as she heard him.

 

“You realllly are… still Subaru…”Even Emilia’s voice seemed to return from the precipice it had existed on as it began to sound just a little happier.

 

“I may know nothing right now, but as far as I am aware, I am the one and only Natsuki Subaru!” Subaru made his dumb yet triumphant declaration as he watched Emilia smile just a little more hearing it, he was happy he could help her.

 

“So Emilia, can we start with how you feel right now?” Subaru asked his question with a caring voice as he watched Emilia let out a tiny sigh before taking a few breaths in order to be capable of even responding.

 

“I feel really weak and nauseous…when I stood up my head started to spin before I puked…I’m so tired that I think…I could fall asleep…right here…and its getting…realllly….hard to…breathe…” Emilia raised her hand to clutch her side in the same place as before as her breathing grew more and more laboured. It looked like it was taking everything she had just to exist, there was absolutely no way she would even be able to get up again.

 

“You’re still absolutely set on going out though?” Subaru thoroughly believed that this girl had to be taken to a hospital, but since he had no idea where he was there was zero chance that he could bring her there against her own will. So when she nodded her head in the affirmative, he realized that he would have to bargain with her to do that as well, after they had done whatever she had wanted to in the first place.

 

“Do you think you can hold onto me if I carry you on my back? I’m pretty sure that I can balance you, but since I can’t really hold you, I want to be sure that you won’t just slide off.” Subaru’s voice was still laced with concern as he looked at what might be a dying girl. However he was fairly certain that he could easily carry her with how light she had felt earlier. It may be slightly more difficult if she was too weak to hold herself up, but even then it was probably still doable.

 

So when Emilia weakly nodded her head, Subaru turned around and squatted down as low to the ground as he could. He felt her bony arms wrap their way around his neck before he used his singular arm to help lift her so her legs could wrap around his waist.

 

Her skin was cold to the touch, and with how weak her heartbeat felt, he was absolutely certain that she would not last much longer in this hovel. He would have to try and convince her to let him bring her to the hospital today, if not he would need to just walk in one direction until she gave up on arguing and told him.

 

Of course, there was always the chance that they would run into Capella or Elsa again, but that was a risk he would have to take. There was no way he would just leave Emilia alone to run herself into the grave like she seemed to adamant to do, if he had to suffer again because of it, then so be it.

 

“Are you alright up there?” Subaru turned his head as far as he could to see the face that rested on his shoulder. She looked just as bad as she had when on the ground, and possibly even a bit worse, but this was almost surely better for her then walking under her own power.

 

So when he saw Emilia slightly nod her head, he slowly raised himself to a standing position and began to walk forward, towards the door. Subaru did his best to lean as much as possible so that Emilia did not have to try to hold her own body weight with her arms and legs. It certainly was not comfortable for his back, but he was really concerned that she would just fall off if he walked anywhere near normally.

 

Subaru’s good arm was positioned under one of Emilia’s thighs to try and keep her in place, but when he removed it to push the door open, he felt her shift a tiny bit. He instantly felt a tiny bit of pressure around his neck and waist as Emilia used what little strength she had to try and stay in place. But it was almost sad with how weak she was, she only had to hold a tiny fraction of her own meagre weight with all four of her limbs combined, yet even that was too much for her.

 

Thankfully she did not fall in the time it took for Subaru’s arm to return, and when he pulled her back up he felt her arms and legs relax a bit as her panting increased from the exertion.

 

“If you tell me the directions ahead of time, you can sleep a bit and I’ll wake you up whe…” Subaru stepped outside while asking Emilia if she would prefer to sleep on the way there, only to be interrupted by a perfectly calm voice.

 

“It’s truly wonderful to see that you two still get along so well after all that’s happened. Such true, pure, and innocent care for one another is honestly a wonderful thing to see in this horribly vain world.”

 

She stood right in front of Subaru and Emilia, a platinum haired girl clad in nothing more then a white sheet. A single blue ribbon was threaded through the top of her sheet, seemingly to prevent it from slipping off her shoulders while another was tied into her hair as an ornament.

 

However, what stood out to Subaru was her eyes, the two sapphire orbs that seemed to gaze right into his very soul. They sparkled and shimmer as if a thousand stars were reflecting in their glimmering surface, but with the intensity of their stare, it was clear they only focused on one thing.

 

Their North Star.

 

“Mother…Fortuna…” Emilia weakly sputtered as she struggled to pull her body higher onto Subaru’s back as if she was trying to get a better look at this girl.

 

It only took Subaru one look at this unknown person to see that there was no way she could possibly be Emilia’s mother. The girl infront of them was both small, dainty, and young looking, it was impossible to imagine that she was young enough to have a child Emilia’s age, or even a child in general.

 

The only thing that Subaru could think of was that Emilia must be confused and mistaking her for someone else.

 

He craned his neck and looked at Emilia’s face, only to freeze up when he saw her eyes. He could not see much more then a sliver thanks to the swelling, but the parts he could see were covered in a red hue.

 

It was not like they were bleeding, but more like a translucent red film had suddenly formed overtop and covered them, almost like she had managed to put coloured contacts on.

 

“Emilia, are you okay? Hey, this girl really needs to see a doctor, can you tell me where the closest one is?” Subaru first called to Emilia, but when she did not even react to what he was saying he instead cried out to the mysterious girl for help.

 

“The way that you two always seem so concerned for the other is perfect, but I’m afraid that Emilia cannot be brought to a doctor right now, she is needed here.” The girl that Emilia called Mother Fortuna responded with the same calm voice as before, completely ignorant of the fact that Emilia could be on the verge of death.

 

“If you’re the one that she was pushing herself to help today, then I’m sorry but there isn’t time for that now. Emilia is really unwell right now; she really needs medical attention. If you can’t tell me where to find a doctor, then I’m going to have to find someone who can!” Subaru proclaimed almost defiantly as he adjusted Emilia on his back before he started to walk past the girl.

 

“If Emilia not being responsive is the reason that you feel so compelled to leave then I can fix that, Sensei Flügel. Emilia, look at the world just the way it should be seen.” The second that the last of her words directed at Emilia left her lips, Subaru felt Emilia’s whole body stiffen slightly as he swung his head around to take another look at her.

 

Her eyes were still focused completely on the mysterious girl, but now her teeth were chattering like she was absolutely terrified at the sight before her eyes.

 

“Pan…dora….” Was the only word to leave Emilia’s lips.

 

“It’s wonderful that you still remember me after all this time Emilia. I would ask if you want to play hide and seek again, but you don’t look up to it right now. Would you like a candy though? I have your favourite kind from Kararagi, the exact same ones the Sensei Flügel once gave you.” Pandora raised one of her hands and opened her palm to reveal a singular pearl white orb in it, but all Emilia did in response was shift her head so her mouth was right beside Subaru’s ear.

 

“Run, drop me and run. You can’t fight her and she’s here for me, so please leave.” Emilia whispered in order to conserve her breath, but she may as well have been screaming at him. For each word of hers felt like it was setting his heart on fire with rage. He could not stand what he was hearing, why would he even consider leaving her here with this girl that made her so scared. Even if it was true and they had no chance of beating Pandora, even if Pandora was on Capella’s level, there was no way he would leave Emilia behind. Such a thing would be just like dropping a bleeding goat into shark infested waters, it would be certain death for her.

 

“LIKE HELL I’D LEAVE YOU, WE’RE BOTH GETTING OUT OF HERE!” Subaru roared out loud as he stared straight at Pandora, who seemed content to let the two talk while she simply stood by and waited.

 

Subaru braced himself to sprint, it would be hard to hold onto Emilia while he ran, and it would probably be quite uncomfortable for her, but it would be their only chance of getting out of here.

 

However just before he kicked off, he felt a weak hand grasp his chin and try to his head to the side. The hand was not strong enough to do this on its own, but he obliged it and looked back to Emilia anyways.

 

“You’re still Subaru after all, you don’t even remember me but you’re willing to put yourself in danger on my behalf. It makes me really, reallllly happy Subaru, I don’t even know how to describe this feeling, but its like my hearts excited that your around. I would do so, soooo much to get to keep being around you; I wished that things didn’t turn out the way they did. So that’s why I can’t let you get hurt anymore for my sake, goodbye Subaru.” Subaru heard Emilia speak in a cheerful, bell like voice that was so loud and clear that it managed to pierce right into his heart. He saw her swollen, black and blue face flash him an almost toothless smile as a handful of tears rolled down her frostbitten cheeks. But while this happened, he felt her arms unwrap themselves from around his neck, and her legs unlock themselves from around his waist.

 

The next thing he knew, her weak and frail body was falling off his back, and he had no way to stop it.

 

“It’s perfect that you realize that there is no point in delaying the continuation of our conversation any longer.” Pandora exclaimed before she began to slowly walk towards Emilia.

 

“STAY AWAY FROM HER!” Subaru shouted as he took a step forward and swung his fist as hard as he could towards the bridge of Pandora’s nose. He felt it connect and expected to see Pandora get knocked down onto the snowy ground in front of him, but Pandora was no longer in front of him.

 

“Now where were we last time, ah yes, the seal.” Subaru spun around to see that Pandora had somehow gotten behind him and was continuing to walk towards Emilia as if nothing had happened.

 

Emilia just laid in the snow, clutching her side with both her hands as a few beads of blood trickled out of the corner of her mouth. However her eyes were not focussed on Pandora, but instead on Subaru.

 

They were pleading with him, but not to save her. Instead her beautiful amethyst coloured eyes were clamouring for him to run, to listen to her and run so far away that she would not have to see him get hurt again.

 

And so Natsuki Subaru ran, even if it irked him to do so.

 


 

“Now that Sensei Flügel is gone, I want you to open the seal.” Pandora knelt down in front of Emilia so that their eyes were level, Emilia’s amethyst ones and Pandora’s sapphire eyes stared right into each other.

 

“I…promised…Mother….Fortuna….” Emilia sputtered out as more and more blood began to leak out of the corners of her mouth. She was propped up on a snowbank with her hands holding onto the side of her ribcage that now burned with an electrifyingly sharp pain. She had unfortunately landed on the same place that Mother Fortuna had kicked her when she had slid off Subaru’s back, and now she could a horrid sucking sensation in her chest.

 

“I thought we discussed this last time, your mother is gone, your promise no longer has any meaning to it.” Pandora argued the fact as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, but Emilia just shook her head from side to side.

 

“You’ve been all alone in this forest for a long time, suffering for every moment of it. Your dedication and endurance is truly a wonderful quality, but don’t you want it to stop? If you open the seal for me I can make all the pain go away, I can bring back all the elves that once lived here, I can give you your family back. You could have everyone you ever loved, ever cared for back; Mother Fortuna, Bishop Romanée-Conti, Sensei Flügel. You could all be one wonderful family, living in ignorance of the false world you had experienced up until now, wouldn’t it be marvelous, splendid even?” Pandora’s voice abandoned its normally flat and calm demeanor as it became energetic and grand sounding, her arms waving in the air as she declared that she would give Emilia the world in exchange for one singular key.

 

Emilia could almost imagine it, sitting on a blanket by the lake, eating a picnic with Geuse, Mother Fortuna, and Subaru. Geuse would say something that would make Mother Fortuna blush before she would get mad at him. Subaru would say something dumb as he tried to egg Geuse on, but they would both stop bickering to each other to chastise him. Meanwhile she would be watching it all from the sideline and laughing so hard that she would need to stop to catch her breath.

 

Afterwards they would all go back home and enjoy the rest of their day before heading to bed to enjoy a peaceful nights rest before doing the same thing the next day. They would get to live out the rest of their long, content lives with smiles on their faces and without having to suffer.

 

She would get to live the dream, but that’s exactly why she could not possibly accept it.

 

A monster like her does not deserve to live such a dream.

 

“N…o…” Emilia’s ability to articulate words was all but gone as she simply could not take in enough air to manage both breathing and talking anymore.

 

“That is most unfortunate, you wouldn’t be willing to reconsider if I changed the other side of the coin just a bit would you? Say if I were to have The Bowel Hunter, Elsa Granhiert slowly gut him in front of you if you say no. I know that when our plan eventually works out that Sensei Flügel will forgive me, but could you live with yourself knowing that you forced him to experience the worst death imaginable? It would be all your fault, every last moment of it. So Emilia, will you give me the key knowing what I’ll do if you say no again?” Pandora straddled Emilia’s lower body as she leaned in so that their foreheads touched. The only thing that Emilia could see while she heard Pandora’s threats were the almost boundless expanses of her eyes.

 

She felt sick to her stomach, she knew what she wanted to say, and what she should say as the smallest cracks of doubt formed in her resolve. No matter what she did someone would suffer besides her, either she would be betraying her mother, or she would be forced to make Subaru suffer even more.

 

She felt her stomach twist itself into knots as tears streamed down from her eyes. She wanted to break down and bawl herself silly from what she was going to have to say. She was a truly terrible, untrustworthy monster for what her words would do to other people. She absolutely hated herself.

 

There was only a single thing she could offer instead in the vain hope that it would be enough, otherwise the choice she had to make was clear, even if it would break her to say it.

 

“M…..” She could not make the sounds she wanted to make, her body was simply too weak.

 

Pandora turned her head and cupped a hand around her ear as she leaned in close to try and hear Emilia better.

 

“M….e………..inst….ea….d” Emilia’s voice was barely more then a whisper as she struggled to say the two words she needed to. But when Pandora heard her she just looked back at Emilia with a rather surprised look on her face.

 

“That’s rather greedy of you, and even though the option to open the seal without you now exists, I can’t risk losing all access to the key should it fail. Now should you have been strong enough to pose a threat to me, then things might have been different. But look at yourself, you’re in no shape to fight anyone, you can barely even breathe. Isn’t time a truly wonderful thing.” Pandora flashed Emilia the most devilish and smug smile she had ever seen as the Witch of Vanity’s body slowly froze solid before shattering into powdered ice.

 

The Frozen Witch may be but a shell of her former self, but she certainly was not going to let someone else suffer a horrible end because of her, not while she could help it.

 


 

“WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING!” Subaru shouted out loud as he suddenly came to a screeching halt in the middle of some long-overgrown trail in the forest.

 

“That girl’s heads really screwed up, of course she would say something dumb like telling me to run. Why, why, why, did I listen to her!” Subaru hit himself on the forehead as he groaned in agony over just how stupid he had been. He already left her and that dumb mistake had easioly more then halved his chances of actually helping her.

 

“MOM, DAD, I’M SORRY. I MAY NOT BE COMING HOME BECAUSE TODAY NATSUKI SUBARU EITHER BECOMES A HERO OR DIES TRYING!” Subaru wheeled around and sprinted back down the path he had come with his sole hand raised high above his head, pointing off into the sky as he made his declaration.

 

He had not run too far down the trail, but each and every step he had taken had been one too many. Emilia seemed to care about him a lot, even after he had hurt her, she had even told him to run despite the fact that it would surely be the end of her.

 

“Wonderful, this determination is truly wonderful, this intense desire to protect, it is just perfect.” He could hear Pandora speaking to Emilia in the near distance. He felt a slight sense of joy enter his heart, it meant he was not too late, he could still fix his mistake.

 

He rounded a bend a returned back to the scene outside the little hovel that he had woken up in. He could not see Emilia, but he could see Pandora’s back as she walked directly away from him. That meant that Emilia was likely right on the other side of the mysterious girl. All he had to do was push her out of the way and snatch Emilia up before running like hell.

 

He only had one arm to try and scoop her up with, and his body was already starting to feel slightly fatigued from all the sprinting around. But he had a lot of gas left in the tank and he would push himself as far as he had to go in order to save her. When the going got tough the hero always found a way to push past their limits to beat the villain, and he would do the same here. Emilia did not think that he had a chance against Pandora, but he would find a way, he had to for things to work out.

 

“If only your health was a little better, maybe then you would have had a chance to protect the last one you hold so dear. But alas, even in this mockery of a world, time must flow, true joy must past by, and stubborn mistakes must be repeated.” Pandora first spoke to Emilia in a voice that sounded regretful, yet before she finished she turned to look over her shoulder towards Subaru, directing the last of her words towards him as his hand settled on her shoulder, ready to push her away.

 

She knew he would come back.

 

But there was no time for him to alter his plans, no opportunity to pivot. The only option for him was to grit his teeth and bare through whatever she had in store for him while figuring the rest out when he went.

 

He shoved Pandora to the side and took a step forward, Emilia was right in front of him.

 

She lay in the snowbank beside the door, blood running out the corner of her mouth as well as her nose. In the few minutes that he had been gone she had somehow grown even weaker looking then he remembered.

 

Her head rested against the snowbank as almost every last bit of her body seemed devoid of colour, even the bruises that covered her face looked muted. The only colour he saw was in her eyes, they were the same amethyst ones he had woken up to, but the reddish film was back, just like when she had thought Pandora was her mother.

 

“D…i….e” He saw her lips weakly croak out the word, producing a sound that was so faint as to be nigh inaudible. However, as she spoke a series of icy spears formed above her head and floated there, seemingly out of nowhere.

 

It was so thoroughly amazing, yet perplexing that time almost seemed to stop as he stared up at these icicles that seemed to have been conjured out of thin air so unexpectedly, and unpredictably that it was almost magical.

 

But time did not actually freeze, and as such it must continue its eternal march forward.

 

The icicles rocketed towards Subaru at such a high speed that he had no hope of possibly avoiding them, nor did he even really realize what was happening until the first of them pierced his chest.

 

It spun as it bored deep into his flesh, easily spreading his ribs as it drilled through his chest cavity before piercing its way to the other side.

 

The next one struck him in the abdomen, mashing and gnashing through his intestines in a manner that was much rougher then both Elsa and Capella.

 

The final one struck him directly in his right knee, splitting his leg that was in the middle of a forward step in two.

 

Oddly enough, he did not really feel any pain even with injuries this severe. All that he could feel was the warmth that flowed out of his body into his icy wounds.

 

There was not even that much for Natsuki Subaru to think about as his momentum carried him forward and into the snow back in front of him, right beside Emilia.

 

He landed face first beside her, the icy spears that impaled him holding his body aloft and out of the snow.

 

His first attempt at being a hero had ended so abruptly, he had simply pushed Pandora out of the way of what seemed like Emilia’s attack, only to end up taking it himself.

 

Life truly was not fair.

 

He turned his head to the side to see Emilia looking right at him, her face in a state of shock and eyes full of disbelief. Her lips were moving but it was hard for him to focus on exactly what she was saying, his mind was growing far too cloudy, far to quickly.

 

“I…..m……*……o…..r…..*…..y………………….s……*……b……*………r……..u” He could see that she was upset, but why was she upset? He had come here to save her after all, he just needed to reassure her that things would be alright, that he just needed her to believe in him and he would get her out of this mess.

 

He only needed a bit more time.

 


 

“WHATHAVEIDONEWHATHAVEIDONEWHATHAVEIDONEWHATHAVEIDONEWHATHAVEIDONE” Emilia screamed in her head as she watched Subaru collapse into the snow beside her with spears of ice created by her magic sticking out of his chest.

 

After everything that had happened, after all the pain and suffering she had put him through, after he had somehow come back to her, she had killed him.

 

What kind of absolute monster does something like that?

 

He was staring straight at her with his heterochromatic eyes as the blood from his chest turned the snow bank a deep crimson. She was too weak to do anything to stop him from dying, she could not even move anymore. She was going to have to watch the moment that the light faded from his eyes, the moment in which his soul would leave his body to be recycled. It would be the moment that the only trace of Natsuki Subaru left behind would be a corpse.

 

“Huh?” Emilia tried to gasp as her tired and swollen eyes opened as wide as they could. She saw and felt a hand grasp her own, Subaru’s only remaining hand grasped hers.

 

“I…will…definitely…save…you….” Subaru mumbled as blood flowed out of his mouth in a small stream.

 

Why would he say something like that? She did not deserve to be saved, she was the horrible monster that put him through hell, and then killed him. She should have been the last person on the list of people he should save.

 

“That was wonderful timing Sensei Flügel, truly wonderful.” Emilia heard the sound of clapping as Pandora approached whilst speaking in a voice full of joy and happiness. However Emilia did not look away from the dying Subaru, instead focussing on trying to wrap her fingers around the boys hand that so desperately clutched onto her own.

 

The least she could do was to try and comfort him in his final moments, even if she was a disgusting half-elf.

 

Emilia felt a soft face press itself against her cheek as a delicate hand placed itself against the other side of her head. She did not need to look, she already knew that they both belonged to Pandora.

 

“You can still save him you know, just tell me those few wonderful words that I want to hear. Tell me that you will open the seal and I will give you the reality you want. Whoever you want back, whichever way you want them to feel, wherever you want them to be, you can decide it all.” Pandora whispered right into Emilia’s ear as she held Emilia’s head steady, forcing her to watch Subaru as he died, even if she already intended to do exactly that.

 

She looked right at him, if their positions had been switched before she had hurt him then he would almost certainly have broken his promise to save her. Subaru never was good with promises, he always wanted to enjoy the present moment and do whatever it took to put a smile on everyone’s face. He may have even broken a promise to save her right now, after all the Subaru she had found in the blood soaked bag was the same Subaru she had met in the loot house.

 

But she was not Subaru, she was Emilia, and just Emilia. She could not live with herself in any world born out of a broken promise. It would destroy her to see everyone’s happy faces, smiling, all the while knowing that they were only smiling because she gave this bad woman access to whatever was behind the seal. Mother Fortuna had died to try and prevent Pandora from opening it, and she had promised to never give the key to anyone.

 

She simply could not do it, and realizing that broke her heart into a thousand tiny pieces.

 

She had to say the words, she had to condemn the Elves of Elior, Mother Fortuna, and Geuse to the deaths that they had suffered long ago, she had to sentence Subaru to die beside her,

 

“N…o…..” She could barely keep her eyes open as she said the words, but she herself to keep looking at him as she did, even if it was excruciating to do so.

 

“I see, then say goodbye to this visage of Sensei Flügel forever.” Pandora sounded almost regretful as she let go of Emilia and placed her hand on Subaru’s forehead. The very second that the two made contact she saw the last of the light disappear from his eyes.

 

Subaru was gone.

 

“Tell me Pandora, where you the one that let Capella torture me?” Emilia did not know what she was hearing, nor what she was seeing. Subaru’s mouth was moving, but the voice that left his lips was almost completely unfamiliar to her. He sounded so sad, depressed, and hurt, there was no trace of the over enthusiastic and happy boy that she had known left in it. It was nothing but pure melancholy.

 

He stood up straight, all the signs of the wounds she had inflicted on him had completely disappeared, it looked like they had never been there to begin with.

 

But the way that he held himself was not right either, he did not stand with his normal pride or confidence, instead leaning forward slightly with a bit of a hunch to his back. And his eyes, his eyes hurt her to look at. They were lifeless and empty, they were like glass orbs that had just been jammed into his head so he could see the word around him without a single spark of life in them. If they were to be the gateway to his soul, then the only conclusion one could come to was that his soul had drowned and died long ago.

 

He stood directly in front of Pandora, looking down at the girl who barely came up to his shoulder. His empty eyes looked down into her joyous ones, his depressed face looked down on her excited one.

 

“Yes Sensei Flügel, I did that so you could be used to manipulate the half-elf into unlocking the seal. I think it was a wonderful plan that just did not end up paying off in the end, I didn’t think that she would be as resilient as she was. She looked so broken after meeting Echidna that I thought a little more pressure would snap her….wait, why didn’t your other arm come back, I thought I fixed th….” Pandora reached out her hand to touch Subaru’s stump, but before she could he grabbed her by the neck and lifted her off the ground.

 

“You made me endure something so depressing, you made me feel things so horrible that I can only wish that they disappear from my mind. Do you think I would just sit here and let you continue to fuck with me Witch?” Subaru squeezed Pandora’s airway shut as he spoke slowly and methodically. Each word that left his mouth was dripping with melancholy, each word causing the newfound and panicked expression on Pandora’s face to grow.

 

Pandora opened her mouth to speak, but the second she did so a loud ripping sound filled the air.

 

Right before her eyes Emilia saw Pandora’s entire body twist in on itself as it was reduced to a fine red mist, all of which was splayed across the surroundings like a spice filled bubble had suddenly been burst.

 

Everywhere Emilia looked was now painted red with Pandora’s blood, even her own body was now coated in it.

 

“Please Sensei Flügel, something is not right, let me help you, LET PANDORA HELP YOU!” Pandora reappeared in front of Subaru as she pleaded with him like a child would to a parent. Her eyes were desperate looking as she reached for him, but Subaru, or this person in Subaru’s body seemed to want nothing to do with her.

 

“Your voice is grating against my ears, it somehow makes me even more depressed to have to hear it. Why do all of you seem to think that I don’t deserve to feel anything other then melancholy…I really don’t get it….” Subaru’s voice trailed off as Pandora was suddenly hit in the stomach by something invisible.

 

Emilia watched as Pandora’s body sailed across the air before striking the trunk of a massive, frozen tree. The Witch of Vanity’s neck disintegrated before sending her head careening off somewhere deep into the forest at a speed that left little chance of it ever being found intact.

 

Pandora then reappeared above Subaru’s head, but he did not seem to notice her as he stood stock still, staring off into the direction that her body had travelled.

 

She was going to get him this time, Emilia needed to help him, to repay a tiny fraction of the debts she owed him.

 

She gathered her mana and formed a singular ice spear above her broken body, doing her best to aim it carefully so that it would hit Pandora square in the back before she could reach Subaru.

 

“STAY OUT OF THIS YOU HALF-WITCH, I WON’T LET YOU MANIPULATE ME ANYMORE!” Subaru’s body suddenly snapped towards her at a speed faster then she had ever seen from him. She saw how his singular hand was outstretched as she heard her spear of ice get crushed into a fine powder right above her head.

 

Pandora reach down for Subaru’s scalp as she fell, but all of a sudden her wrists were compacted into strings not much bigger then a single thread as something launched her into the snow between Emilia and Subaru.

 

“Your persistence is irritating.” Subaru muttered as he a massive force slammed into Pandora’s body, crushing her ribcage as the ground cratered around her.

 

“It makes me depressed having to deal with it over and over again.” Another strike slammed into Pandora’s abdomen as her innards were sprayed in all directions.

 

“Why can’t you just give up on me like everyone else I’ve met in this world….” A final strike slammed into Pandora’s head, splattering her brain matter across the entirety of the newly formed crater.

 

Subaru began to walk towards Emilia as he tread across the remains of Pandora’s corpse, his dead eyes fixed on her.

 

She knew that he was going to kill her, he would either flatten her body into a paste, or make it twist into itself until it burst, just like he had done to Pandora.

 

But she did not feel afraid, instead she felt a morbid sense of excitement, for the end was nigh.

 

The unbearable weight of all the sins that she carried on her shoulders would finally be cleared by the vengeful hands of someone she had wronged. The list of all the things she had to atone for was so long that it could not possibly be cleared in her lifetime. The best she could do would be to apologize one last time when she to all the faces she would pass by as she walked down the dark corridor and into the light.

 

She could tell Mother Fortuna and Puck how sorry she was for being a bad daughter.

 

She could apologize to Rem for what she did to Subaru.

 

She could apologize to Subaru for ruining his life.

 

Maybe, just maybe, she could see her birth parents and apologize for not living a life that they could be proud of.

 

There were so many more people that she had to say sorry to before her soul was stripped of everything that made her Emilia. It would probably take a reallllly long time, so she should spend her last few seconds taking in the last bits of this world, before she forgets it entirely.

 

So Emilia did her best to tilt her head up to look at the body of her first friend, she looked at his depressed face and sad eyes before doing the only thing that came to mind. She flashed him the biggest, and happiest smile she could manage, because he was about to close the book that contained the sad story that was her life.

 

All of a sudden two thin arms wrapped themselves around Subaru’s waist as the very world around them seemed to quiver and shake. Jagged white cracks that spewed a violent yet dazzling white light appeared out of nowhere, surrounding Subaru.

 

They cut across the air, trees, and ground almost indiscriminately. It was like something had decided to make the very existence of the world itself its enemy, and it was winning.

 

However, before Emilia could even process what was going on they suddenly disappeared.

 

But they had disappeared along with Subaru, leaving Pandora in front of Emilia, seemingly just hugging the empty air.

 

Pandora did not look well as what little colour was normally in her face drained away. Two thin trails of crimson blood began to flow out of her nose and across her perfect skin as she began to sway from side to side.

 

“I can… still break her… I can’t let you kill her… in case the other method… doesn’t work…” Pandora collapsed to the ground as she mumbled incoherently to nobody in particular.

 

The two stayed like this, both splayed out on the ground with blood dripping down their faces for a few moments. The only sounds to grace the now calm forest were those of Emilia’s continued struggle to breathe, and those of Pandora’s exhausted panting as she struggled to catch her breath.

 

But alas, eventually Pandora’s senses seemed to return to the world around her as she blinked her sapphire eyes a few times.

 

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”

 

She then rolled from her side and onto her back as she let out one of the most chilling laughs that Emilia had ever heard in her life. It was creepy enough to send a chill down one’s spine and haunt them in their nightmares for lifetimes to come.

 

“I remember when Echidna bartered for a man’s soul. She bet him that he could not turn his life around if she told him everything that he could ever dream of knowing. He lived for three more weeks before he became so depressed that he tried to hang himself, but just before he did, his soul was sucked away into a crystal for housing spirits. Sister Satella and her argued about it for days, saying that Echidna knew the man would not possibly win, that she should not have tricked him. But Echidna said that the man should not have taken the bet if he wasn’t supposed to lose. I witnessed it all but I didn’t learn a thing, I wasn’t willing to let one plan go to ensure the success of the other, and now both of them may fail…” Pandora monologue to herself as she reminisced in some far off memory like she was reliving it right in front of her very eyes.

 

Pandora then slowly got up and walked towards Emilia on what looked like unsteady legs as blood still dripped from her nose and onto the white sheet she wore.

 

“If you had just been willing to open the seal then none of this would have had to happen, you could have been happy, Sensei Flügel could have been happy, I could have been happy. But instead of that you decided to make us all suffer, and there is absolutely nothing wonderful about that. So many people are going to suffer and die because you don’t value anyone’s happiness, not even your own. Even if this world is fake, isn’t that not a horrible thing to do? Its one thing when its for the greater good, when its to free all these poor souls from the vanity that is this horrible place. But I think you do it simply because you don’t want to be happy yourself….and I simply can’t understand something like that…its just beyond me….” Pandora stopped speaking for a few seconds as she held onto her forehead as if she was suffering from a horrible migraine. Her face was all scrunched up as the amount of blood that poured from her nose suddenly began to increase.

 

“In a few days I’m going to slaughter every last person in the capital city, I’ll burn it to the ground and make a mountain of corpses so tall that it will take days to climb to the top of it. I won’t do it because I want to, but because I have to. Its necessary for the only other way I can even hope to open the seal. And its all required because of you, so I want you to know Emilia, I want you to know that all their blood will be on your hands. I’ll even come back and bring you there to see when I’m done, so for now I need to make sure that you stay right here, alive and suffering. All of this because you would keep a promise made with a dead woman.” Pandora opened her eyes just enough so that she could see Emilia as she took one hand off her head and placed it over the girl’s heart.

 

In that very instant Emilia felt her mana being forcibly sucked through her Od and out into the world around them.

 

She felt a sensation that she had only experienced once before, that of her own ice encasing her as she looked forward at Pandora as she seemed to be hurting herself to do this.

 

But Emilia did not struggle or try to resist what was being done to her.

 

This was quite simply the only punishment fitting for someone who had been willing to sentence their friend to death, and so she truly believed she deserved it.

 

She had even managed to condemn an entire city, a place that had more people than she could even count, to die at the hands of Pandora.

 

If she still retained even the tiniest sliver of her old self, then she would undoubtedly be undergoing the most traumatic breakdown imaginable. But there was now truly nothing left of that Emilia, she was nothing more then a dead and empty husk that clung to life by the thinnest thread.

 

The last thing she felt was the ice creeping over her face as her entire world went red.

 


 

“Lord Miklotov, I don’t think we can afford to wait much longer for Felt-sama or Priscilla-sama to arrive.” Lord Bordeaux walked away from the rest of the Sage Council to stand just behind its head, Lord Miklotov. He spoke to him in a voice that was relatively quiet, but certainly loud enough to be heard by those standing towards the front of the audience arrayed before them in the Royal Castle.

 

“I suppose it is that time then, Bordeaux-dono.” Lord Miklotov replied in a voice of similar volume before raising his head and stepping towards the edge of the podium used by the Sage council.

 

Before him were arrayed the majority of the dragon kingdom’s nobility, having been summoned from every corner of the realm after the news arrived of the attack on the water gate city Priestella. Standing among the first row of this crowd was the sole candidate in attendance, Crusch Karsten.

 

“I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, but not long ago the city of Priestella, on our border with the Kararagi City States was destroyed in an attack by an unknown force. Amongst those present was the candidate Anastasia Hoshin, her knight Julius Juuklius, and the entirety of their camp. As well we have on good information that the self declared Warlock of Melancholy, Natsuki Subaru had accompanied them there at Anastasia-sama’s request after leaving this city. Prior to this point we had assumed that everyone residing in the city at the time of the attack had perished as there had been no reports of refugee’s or survivors entering nearby towns, or fleeing to Kararagi. However, two recent details have come to light regarding this situation, and although you had all initially been summoned here to discuss the tragedy of Priestella, we on the Sage Council decided this meeting was better spent on those two points instead.” Lord Miklotov stopped speaking as the entire room burst into a torrent of whispers and murmuring as rumours began to spread like wildfire across the room.

 

“Do you think Julius-kun managed to escape with Anastasia-sama, Crusch-sama?” Felix whispered into Crusch’s ear as she turned her head just far enough to catch a glimpse of his face.

 

They had heard of the tragedy at Priestella several days before they received an official report from the capital thanks to the Karsten family estate being located between the two, and the news had hit Felix hard. Possessing demi-human blood meant that he never made many friends, especially among those that belonged to the conservative and tradition steeped Royal Knights.

 

This meant that besides Crusch, the only two others that he really considered to be friends were Julius and Reinhard, and of the two he was by far closer to Julius.

 

While the healer had already devoted many a night mourning the loss of his friend, the thin sliver of hope being presented by the head of the Sage Council had wormed its way into his head and was currently budding into desperation.

 

Crusch could tell that he wanted nothing more then to here or even see Julius walk into the room, and she wanted nothing more then to tell him that Julius would, but she couldn’t bring herself to bring his hopes up too high.

 

“If anyone were to survive that mess it would be Julius, Ferris.” Crusch did her best to give her knight a tiny smile, hoping that her reassurance would help calm his anxiety.

 

However both their attentions were soon drawn back forward by Lord Bordeaux raising his hand, signalling that the meeting would continue.

 

It did not take more then a brief moment for the room to fall back into an uneasy silence, the tension was so thick that it felt like one could slice it with a knife.

 

“At the onset of fire time today, a rider arrived here from the small hamlet of Fleur. He reported that a single man had arrived halfway through water time and attacked the town without warning. The small garrison was instantly annihilated and the town all but destroyed with not even the innocent being spared. From his description of both the man’s appearance, and of the power in which he used to fight, the only conclusion that we can come to is that it was Natsuki Subaru… Warlock of Melancholy.” Everyone in the room found themselves knocked into a stunned silence by the revelation, before Subaru had just been someone who had called himself by the same title as the Witch.

 

He had defended the capital against one of the kingdoms enemies, defeated a terrible beast that had plagued the land for centuries, and killed a margrave in what seemed like a personal dispute, but this was different. His prior actions had ranged from righteous to indeterminate, there had been nothing distinctively evil about them. And so his title had been seen as just that, a title. But slaughtering a small village, that was something horrible, that was something someone evil would do, it was something expected from a witch or warlock.

 

The room did not roar to life, there were no calls that they should sally out and put an end to this monster, nor were there any cries of regret about not killing him sooner. Nobody, not even the duchess or her knight could find the strength to even speak because for the first time in generations, the strongest of lugunica were all simultaneously, terrified.

 

“A-As we speak, Captain Marcos is arraying our forces on the eastern wall to repulse the Warlock as soon as he arrives. As well, once The Sword Saint has returned with Felt-sama, he will be dispatched to stop the Warlock of Melancholy before he reaches this city.” Lord Miklotov stopped to speak in order to take a moment to steady his nerves, but this ended up being a mistake as the crowd caught onto his fear and erupted into almost incoherent, panicked hollering.

 

“Forget the slum rat, send Reinhard now!” One nobleman shouted out from within the crowd.

 

“We should take this time to evacuate, the west should be clear, we don’t have to stay in the city while the military dukes it out with him!” Another noble cried out before everyone in the room was drowned out.

 

“QQQQQQQQQQQQQQUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTTTTTT” Lord Bordeaux’s voice alone overrode all others and filled the room as the entirety of the lugunican nobility shrank down into their boots.

 

“Thank you, Bordeaux-dono. Now onto the second revelation, there was another survivor of Priestella besides Melancholy. A maid named Sylphie, and she worked at the hotel that Anastasia-sama resided in at the time of the attack. She has graciously agreed to come before you all to tell you her tale and to answer any questions you may have regarding what occurred. So without further adieu, please step forward, Sylphie-san.” As Lord Miklotov finished speaking he stepped to the side and motioned for someone to come and stand beside him, and a young girl emerged from within the rest of the Sage Council.

 

She wore baggy clothes that covered the majority of her body besides her head and face. From what Crusch could tell, the girl did not look to be much older than a young teenager and appeared human, unless something was hidden beneath her form concealing clothing.

 

But while they waited for the girl to speak, Crusch turned her focus towards the knight at her side.

 

Felix’s gaze had fallen towards the base of the stage as he just blankly stared forward with empty eyes. He had only just started to get over Julius’ death but in only a handful of moments and a few words, Lord Miklotov had given him hope and immediately crushed it. Right now Felix had almost completely regressed to how he was just after getting the news.

 

Crusch did her best to subtly bump the outside of her hand against his, causing his head to turn towards her as she looked towards him with concerned eyes. She wanted to help her friend, but since this was not something that they could just walk out of, she wanted him to know at least that she would be there for him.

 

And the message seemed to get through because Felix eventually did look back towards the people standing on the stage, and he did look just a tiny bit less depressed.

 

“U-Uhm, hi, my name is Sylphie and I-I…” Sylphie immediately started to stutter over her words but stopped when she noticed that Lord Miklotov had placed a hand on her tiny shoulder. The old man managing to find a caring and supportive smile to give the young girl, even after speaking of what might be the Second Great Calamity.

 

Sylphie took a deep breath before shifting her gaze up from Miklotov’s face and back towards the crowd arrayed infront of her.

 

“Hi, my name is Sylphie and I came here to tell you that the Witch’s Cult is going to kill each and every last one of you!” The girl declared in her cute and cheerful voice as everyone in the room was stunned into silence before devolving into a combination of frothing rage and abject fear.

 

“SHE’S A CULTIST, KILL HER!” Some screamed out in anger.

 

“THE CULT HAS INFILTRATED THE CITY, WE HAVE TO LOCK DOWN THE PALACE!” Another person cried out with such fear in their voice that it was surprising that they could even speak.

 

However, the entire room suddenly fell silent when they saw Sylphie’s skin begin to swirl as her body began to change shape. She grew slightly taller as a tail sprouted from her rear while wings sprouted from her back, a pair of small horns protruding out of her now blond hair.

 

She looked out across the crowd with her now blood red eyes and sneered as she placed a hand on each of Miklotov’s and Bordeaux’s shoulders. Every single member of the nobility and the handful of guards stationed in the room froze; some out of fear for the two Sage Council member’s safety, others out of fear for their own.

 

“You meat bags are just like I remember, stupid, worthless, and spineless. You’ll let someone into your Royal Palace because they can tell a nice story and look like a little girl. You’ll cry war and bloody murder but then cower in fear when it comes time to get your hands dirty. I think you would all fit this world better as worms; blind, senseless, and spineless, a perfect match. But tell you what, because the lovely and ever merciful Sin Archbishop of Lust, Capella-sama is in a good mood today, she’ll tell you a story before she takes away your ability to hear. It’s time for the tale of how the Witch’s Cult slaughtered all of Priestella in a single afternoon, it’ll help you understand what’s going to happen to this place. You can give me your eternal love as thanks later, as I’m sure you’d all be too stupid to understand what you were watching otherwise!” Capella cried and sneered to the crowd that quivered in fright before her, only to look out the window in confusion when the sky suddenly went black.

 

Everyone else in the room soon followed suit as they wondered why it had suddenly grown as dark as the deepest depths of night during the middle of fire time.

 

Suddenly a knight burst through the doors to the audience room and shouted out his message whilst being completely oblivious to the current state of things. “LORD MIKLOTOV, LORD BORDEAUX, FORGIVE MY INTERRUPTION BUT EMILIA-SAMA IS BACK!”

 

Yet once the knight finished speaking and saw the abomination that stood on stage, he completely froze up and became incapable of moving as his eyes became fixed on Capella.

 

However, a look of irritation crossed the previously confused face of Capella as her eyes bore down on the intruder who had dared to interrupt her.

 

“Emilia you say, now why don’t you send her in? Pandora-sama did always say that she was an awfully pretty girl.” Everyone’s eyes in the room turned towards the open door as Capella spoke, and while the knight could not find the courage to rely her message, it seemed as if those waiting outside had heard it, for they immediately entered on their own.

 

Two women clad in black walked in and strode past the knight as the crowd parted to let them reach the centre of the room. Unlike everyone else present, neither of them showed even the slightest bit of fear, and with the chilling aura that they exuded it was easy to say that everyone present was soon more afraid of them then they were of the Sin Archbishop.

 

One of them wore a long, form fitting black dress that reached all the way to the ground and swept around her feet, only a single slit existing to allow for her legs to move in order to walk. Her skin was so pale that it looked like it had never even been exposed to the sun before today, but it appeared dark in contrast with her pure white hair that hung down below her knees. To top it all off she wore a strange obsidian and emerald hair pin in the shape of a butterfly.

 

While Emilia was dressed in a similar outfit, it was a significant departure from the bright colours she had always been known to wear. Beneath a pitch black cloak she wore a short black dress with orange highlights that showed off her slender, almost porcelain like legs. With her cloak’s hood up the vast majority of her face was hidden, with only her mouth and a bit of her silver hair being visible.

 

“You match Emilia’s description, but who are you? You’re a bit prettier than the average meat bag, so I’d like to call you by the right name after I twist your body into a disgusting fly.” Capella almost laughed as she stared at the white-haired woman, who only seemed to chuckle a bit in response.

 

“Well, I can’t say that I’ve ever met someone who’s introduced themselves to me like that before. But sadly I cannot say that you’re not the bravest or stupidest person I’ve ever met, after a certain point the two become almost interchangeable. Now for my name, I’ve been called a bunch of things over the past 400 years but to make things simple I think you should just know that I’m a very evil magic user. However, I’m only present to help my friend here so I think that you all should give her your attention before she starts to get a little bit envious, she is the Witch of Envy after all.” A devilish grin crossed the face of the very evil magic user as everyone’s hearts seemed to collectively stop as “Emilia” removed her hood.

 

She had the same flawless skin, glowing amethyst eyes, and shimmering silver hair as almost all of them had seen before, however one thing was different.

 

She looked very, very upset.

 

Her jaw was clenched in rage as her eyes seemed poised to bore a hole straight through the Sin Archbishop in front of her.

 

“S-Satella….” Was the only word to leave Capella’s lips as she quite literally quivered in fear before the Witch of Envy.