He wavered for a few seconds, deciding on whether he should go in the direction of the voices or not.
Even Subaru himself wasn’t sure what his deciding factor was. It could have been that after being lost for such a long time he longed for human contact, maybe he was just drawn to the scene out of morbid curiosity. Or perhaps, it was because a certain silver haired girl did the same for him during his first loop.
Getting a bad feeling about this Subaru grimaced and pushed forward, rounding the corner.
“Don’t mess with us, woman! Should we ruin that pretty face of yours?!”
“Stop making such a racket, you louts. Such an uncultured group, even your method of coercing lacks class.”
Facing these disheveled men whose spit was flying in anger, her crystal-clear voice sounded cold and carried a hint of poison.
Quietly, he peeked his head out from around the corner, timidly checking to see what was happening.
In the narrow alleyway stood a single girl, three men surrounded her trying to cut off all means of escape. He couldn’t help but sigh at the start of such a stereotypical ‘petty-criminal’ event, but what drew his attention more was the girl’s appearance that didn’t seem to fit in with this place’s atmosphere.
Vivid orange-colored haired that sparkled like it was catching light from the sun, tied together with a barrette into a single bunch as it streamed down her back. A florid vermilion dress, one that’s beauty would best be used for a ball or tea with the aristocracy, certainly inappropriate for this cluttered and dirty alleyway. The many ornaments adorning her neck, ears, and fingers, even an amateur could tell these were inlaid with first-class gems. From top-to-bottom, the coordination of her outfit just screamed ‘I have money’ to Subaru.
And the girl herself despite being clad in dozens of dazzling jewels, her noble appearance still stuck out, not inferior to her possessions in the slightest. Her red almond-shaped eyes glinted defiance. Thin peach-colored lips, and skin shining white as fresh snow. Such perfection would make any painter snap their brush in frustration, seeing this in person Subaru once again confirmed how irregular this world was.
Surrounding this girl, the men savagely revealed their violent nature, shouting at her openly. The girl calmly looked back at them. This attitude didn’t appear to just be her acting strong, but no matter how he looked at it her delicate body didn’t appear to contain the power to extract herself from this situation. Or even if she did have the ability to take care of this herself, he had no way to confirm it. Crossing her arms, she puffed up her abundant chest with an air of composure. From his outsider’s perspective, he could tell the men had interpreted this as her looking down on them and gotten even more riled up.
“–H-hey! Sorry to keep you waiting, honey!”
Promptly waving his hands, Subaru nimbly made his way into the middle of the altercation. Four people, the three hoodlums and the girl all stared at him; for the time being, he lifted a hand out to the three-hoodlums as if trying to apologize.
“It looks like there’s been some sort of misgivings between you all, but could you overlook this one for me. You can probably tell from looking, but she’s not all there in the head. You get me?”
The public order in this city’s underbelly definitely couldn’t be called good. Walking around celebrity-style was just begging to have all your possessions stolen. Wasn’t this exactly what you’d refer to as someone with mental issues? Shelving his own indiscretions at having temporarily lost his sanity chasing a fluff-ball therianthrope and wandering off, Subaru faced the group of awkwardly staring men.
“Well, that’s how it is. Bye!” he said energetically. Grabbing the girl’s hand behind him.
“Look, let’s get going and not bother these nice young men any more. Remember we have that promise today… the one where we’ll be eating sweets together, feeding each other with a spoon “aaaan”, that promise you know…”
Making a cast substitution in the dream schedule he’d planned out for Emilia, Subaru took the girl by the arm and started quickly moving to depart. However,
Grabbing the hand he touched her with, the angle of Subaru’s body was forcibly changed with a great twisting motion. Made to lean forward, his waist turned as his body made a full revolution.
“Don’t touch me so casually”
Releasing the wrist he’d grabbed, he felt his other hand brace the back of his head before a strong impact run out as he struck against the side of a wall like a rag doll.
“Oh my, I go outside and immediately this happens. Men see my body and are drawn in like flies. Truly, I can’t let my guard down at all.”
Almost like looking at some garbage on the side of the road, the girl ignored Subaru rolling around in pain on the ground clutching his injured face. Subaru looked up from below, still half-crying from the pain of having his nose scrape against the stone wall. He stood up, anger welling.
“You! Go with the flow! That was definitely pattern A: Save the thankful woman from hoodlums. If you don’t go along with it how are we supposed to go by the template!”
“I don’t know what you’re saying. I do whatever I want.”
“Smashing someone you just met against a wall, that’s way beyond the level of being free-spirited!”
He tried to help her out, but far from having his intentions understood, he actually got treated like some pervert. To make things worse she actually took expensing justice into her own hands.
TL: removed a pop-culture reference, since it just doesn’t translate. 必殺仕置き人 is an old Samurai drama, she dispatched Subaru like they dealt with the villains in the show.
If he wasn’t so resistant to nosebleeds, or if his teeth protruded out more than an ordinary person this would have ended in tragedy.
Subaru’s face bent with pain and disgrace. It took him a while to realize the men silently standing around were looking at him. Subaru had put on such a spectacularly pitiful display. He collected the appa that had spilled out everywhere, setting them against the wall.
“Go ahead and laugh. I tried to act cool and help someone, and ended up eating a wall to the face for it. I’m lame so just go ahead and laugh. Do it!”
“Err, that’s… laughing would be a bit too much…”
The men’s words were colored with sympathy. Subaru dropped his shoulders, he would have been much more comfortable with being laughed at. Letting out a long sigh he settled his feelings. Taking control again,
“Take two! Come, you scoundrels! Now that I’m here, things won’t be so easy! If you want to pass here, you’ll have to go through me first. Hehe, once this battle’s over I’m going to go open a bakery in my hometown. I promised my childhood sweetheart I’d marry her too!”
Declaring his words assertively in good spirit, Subaru spoke sharply to the men. Protecting the girl behind him, he observed how the men would move. It’s 3-on-1, so if I take the initiative I might have a chance of winning ―― as he thought that,
“Uh, you guys kind of seem familiar”
Wracking his brain, he looked at the men in front of him, comparing their faces to his memory. With a sudden realization, he clapped his hands.
“Ah, the stooges. No way, this can’t be. Are there really no other goons in the capital besides you three?”
It was only natural he remembered these three, this was the idiotic 3-man gang he dubbed the ‘three-stooges’ after they harassed him on his first day in the capital. A slight feeling of tension seized Subaru, they did take his life once after all,
“Any more of this and I’m going to start losing my energy… what the hell are you guys, do you do this every single day? Every day? One day? Summer vacation?”
“He came in, bumped his head, now he’s spouting this gibberish”
“Oi, I don’t really want to deal with him right now, you go.”
“I don’t want to either! If we harass him a little do you think he’ll leave?”
He didn’t know if they were being cautious, or if their tension had dropped; facing the idiotic Subaru they couldn’t get their fighting spirit up and were now consulting each other in a low voice, deciding who should have to deal with him. With the three losing their will to fight and the mood on the verge of settling, the girl who had been observing silently spoke up,
“I grow bored. Talking amongst yourselves so indecisively, nothing’s ever going to happen. What are you, women? If that’s it, then I think you should dress like it. With all that muscle and hair, you’d look quite funny.”
Putting a finger to her mouth, the girl threw out abuses; laying on ridicule and contempt. In that instant the other four (3 stooges + Subaru) had no idea what she’d just said. It took them a while to process what had just happened, but once it got through they all exploded at the same time.
“Don’t mess with me, you shitty woman!”
“Who you calling a girl? messin’ with me!”
“Who do you think you are, talking down to us like that! Huh!?”
“You, you’re so full of yourself! Whether we’re women or not, should we teach your sexy body the difference!?”
The 4-man gang of hoodlums spouted out vulgar objections. Among all of them the last one was especially inappropriate for public discourse. The one who shouted such a comment was Subaru, his shoulders swaying as he breathed heavily.
“Damn. What the hell am I doing joining up with the stooges…”
Even I’m surprised by my own impulsiveness sometimes. Honestly, the hoodlums were justified to be angry at her attitude. Then again, just because she was foul mouthed didn’t mean it was OK for her to be threatened by these guys.
“I sympathize with you guys, but I won’t yield from my original intentions. You may have reasons of your own, but if you want someone to blame, blame yourselves for making an enemy of me on first day we met.”
“That stuck-up woman is one thing, but what the hell’s your problem? You damn brat.”
Scratching his head, one of the stooges spat out angrily at Subaru, seemingly troubled. It appears they had absolutely no recollection of him. Getting beaten black and blue by Emilia, getting beaten up by Subaru even when they were 3 on 1, stabbing him when he was passing by, they went through a lot together. How heartless to forget him.
“Well, I guess all those events didn’t happen on this particular world-line. In reality, the one these guys should remember… is a certain pretty-boy’s valiant entrance.”
It was settled in the most peaceable manner, but you could also say it was the one that left the shallowest connection between Subaru and them. Because he didn’t deal with them directly, there was no helping that Subaru didn’t leave much of an impression on them. Subaru felt a few pangs of loneliness,
“Hey, I remember now. A few days back in the business district’s back alley…”
“――！He’s that crazy brat! He hasn’t changed a bit!”
“It’s really him. I didn’t notice because his clothes were different.”
A lightbulb lit up in one of the stooge’s minds; he yelled out, snapping his fingers. Like a chain reaction the stooges searched their memory, one after the other. Subaru’s sensitive ears picked up an inexcusable word mixed in, but that was water under the bridge. He clapped his hands in delight that they remembered him.
“Yep, since that’s the case, we’re not really strangers anymore right? So could you do me a favor this time and let us go?”
“Are you an idiot? Instead of strangers, we’re more like enemies now. The only thing that’s changed is instead of 3-vs-1 it’s 3-vs-2.”
“With just one more person it’d be evenly matched. Neither of us wants to make any painful memories, right?”
“I have a revision. It’s not 3 vs 2, it’s 3 vs 1 vs 1”
“You! Could you not talk for a while!?”
Even though he was trying to throw out a random bluff to somehow resolve this peacefully, the self-absorbed woman was completely ignoring his intentions. If only he could time-leap 5 minutes back, he wanted to tap himself on the shoulder and call out, “seriously, it’s not worth it.” It was way too late for that now though.
In the first place, he knew first-hand that these guys didn’t have much patience. Increasingly, what he felt from these guys wasn’t anger, but a certain cold and sharp emotion mixed in. This was something he’d gotten very familiar with since coming to this world, this thing called killing intent. Putting their hands in their breast pockets, it was only a matter of time before they took out some item to exact their bloodthirst with.
“… I guess there’s no helping it. I really didn’t want to do this.”
Having judged that there was now no avoiding a confrontation, Subaru shook his head at his own lack of ability. Unable to overcome this through conversation, he had to resort to his trump card as usual. He hoped he’d be able to take it easy one day.
“Stop right there, you three. Any more and this won’t end well for you.”
Turning a palm out towards the three, Subaru blocked the men who were now on the verge of violence. Listening to Subaru’s words, a vein popped up on one of the easier to anger stooge’s forehead.
“Ha? Aren’t you misunderstanding something here? We’re on top here, not you. Don’t be giving out orders.”
Not hiding his killing-intent, the stooge reached for the knife in chest pocket. Subaru was a moment quicker, stepping towards the stooge, declaring clearly in the most intimidating voice he could muster.
“Those words, don’t regret it.”
“Just between me and you, I know Reinhard you know. We’re best buds. If I give him a call, he’ll come here flying.”
Hearing what Subaru said, the stooge shrunk back in fright. Begin operation ‘fox hiding behind a tiger’: they’re already shaking in their boots!
Having invoked Reinhard’s name, tremors ran between Subaru and the stooge. They probably wanted to call it a bluff, unfortunately, the stooges had actually witnessed Reinhard himself backing Subaru up before.
That ridiculous swordsman with a few screws loose up there, there was no way they didn’t know about him.
“What’ll it be, with just one shout I can take you guys out. I’ll do it.”
No sooner than he said that, the effects were apparent. Subaru cupped his hands around his mouth like he was going to yell, putting his acting skills to max in an attempt to threaten them. Honestly, if Reinhard wasn’t the type of character that’d conveniently appear out of nowhere like a hero to help citizens in need, Subaru would be getting the shit beat out of him right now. That’s why this was a rather desperate charade.
Not seeing through Subaru sweating bullets on the inside, the men grit their teeth in frustration.
“We’ll let you off this time.”
“But, it’s not like we lost, remember this.”
“And it’s not like we’re scared of Reinhard either!”
And here comes the loser’s excuses as expected, their unnecessary explanations made them look even more like kids. Leaving behind some foul words, the men shuffled down an alleyway.
Watching until their backs completely disappeared behind the street corner, he finally let out all the tension he had been keeping in with a sigh. Placing his hands on his knees he crouched down.
“Aaah, totally worn out. I’m seriously sweating. In a small child vs small child fight, it seems my small-child battle tactics were superior… it’s a small world!”
TL: it’s a small world = Disney song, Subaru being strange again.
Telling a small joke he managed to get back some of his composure, turning to face the girl behind him. Trying to rationalize it all in his head: he had been bluffing towards those guys, so maybe she was doing something similar and that haughty attitude of hers was actually all an act for self-protection――
“What, looking at me with those eyes like a beggar. I have nothing to give to the likes of ye!”
“Nope, this is authentic. Can you at least say some words of gratitude towards the person who saved you?”
She turned her head inquisitively. Closing her eyes in thought for a brief moment, letting out an ‘ah’, as if she’d come to some sort of understanding.
“What ye were chirping about earlier was all in order to save me. Hmm, I didn’t notice.”
“After all that, saying something like ‘I didn’t notice’, isn’t that exactly the same as no reward!?”
He twisted his legs, befuddled. The shock he received was so great he had to express it with his body. Even so, the girl looked at him with bored eyes, not commenting on it at all.
“Good grief, what a waste of time. Stealing my unlimited time, what a sinful story.”
“So you’re not going to say thanks after all…”
Gratitude and some words of thanks were all he sought, unintentionally Rem’s image came to mind. That blue-haired girl was probably on a shopping tour right around now, they’d only been apart for a few hours but how much he missed her. I want to be healed by Rem!
From Subaru’s voice she realized she may have been a little patronizing, with a ‘hmph’ she turned only her head back towards him.
“Don’t misunderstand me. Even if you weren’t there I would have been perfectly fine. It wasn’t even a problem in the first place, and you were the one who went out of their way to get involved. For you to boast of it as an achievement, it’s nothing but comical.”
“I don’t really get it, what do you mean? Is your ladyship so incredibly strong that you’d actually be fine on your own?! …Or something like that?”
“No, it’s even simpler than that. ――This world is made for my convenience. Therefore, I’ll never be in a disadvantageous position. Being saved by you was only thanks to me. Snatching my achievement and acting like it’s your own, have you no shame?!”
Like it was completely natural, like she was completely right, like it was just common sense, this young lady puffed up her abundant chest and proclaimed it as universal law.
Such a lively and refreshing declaration. All possible situations are her ally, and everything that happens is only because of her actions.
On top of that, Subaru’s act of coming in to help was struck down as ‘trying to take away her glory’. Simply refreshing.
As she was sparkling like the sun in front of him, Subaru came to a definite realization.
――Getting involved with this… I’ve made a huge mistake.
“Uh… is t-that right? I’m sorry for doing something unnecessary.”
To avoid provoking this fellow too much, he needed to just go along with everything she said. Nodding his head exaggeratedly in agreement, he quickly picked up the sack of Appa he had left leaning against the wall. They spilled everywhere when he face-crashed into the wall, luckily, there didn’t appear to be any signs of bruising or damage. He felt a bit of relief knowing that the grocer uncle’s goodwill wasn’t damaged.
“Well then, that’s that. May we walk again in a place with more sunlight!”
Waving his hand, he made an about-face and turned his back to the girl. Right now I need to put some distance between us without making her angry, once I turn the corner let’s all-out sprint to get away.
Like this he’d decided on a course of action, counting the steps until he reached the corner…
A low voice called out to him from behind, he stopped walking unintentionally, cursing himself.
He should have just pretended he didn’t hear anything and kept walking, now that he’s stopped walking that excuse wouldn’t work anymore. With a little hesitation, without turning around Subaru spoke up.
“W-whatever could it be?”
Delicately trying to avoid angering her and deprecating himself, unknowingly a superior-inferior relationship had already established itself in his mind. The mentally weak Subaru tried with all his might to not turn around, against such a mentally strong girl his petty resistance was futile.
“What’s in the bag? Show me.”
He turned around slowly, the girl was indicating with her finger to put down the sack he was holding to his chest. He didn’t have any particular obligation to obey meekly, but wanting to avoid dragging out the conversation by defying her, he reluctantly opened the sack for her, showing her the contents. Seeing the mountain of bright red fruit, her red eyes sparkled many times.
“Even after seeing it I don’t know. This fruit… what is it?”
“Even if you ask me that… it’s an appa. Have you really never seen one?”
Since they had always had them on the table for breakfast at the Roswaal mansion he had assumed they were a popular fruit. In a certain way, the standard of meals at the Roswaal mansion was fairly high, there was the possibility that appa’s themselves were quite an expensive food item. That is to say, each one cost him 2 copper coins. Which means… a genuine question mark floated up.
In front of Subaru frowning with skepticism, the one with an even more remarkable reaction was the girl. She peeked once more into the sack, then back at Subaru like he was making a fool of her.
“You liar. Don’t make me laugh. Understand me? Appa are a white fruit. Definitely not a fruit with a red appearance like this.”
“Well, if you peel them the insides are white.”
Not knowing what he should say, he blurted out something obvious, replying dejectedly. However, the one whose color drained from their face was the girl’s. Uncomfortable from her reaction, he asked timidly,
“Um, it couldn’t be, have you never seen an appa that wasn’t peeled?”
“Hmm, now that you mention it I’ve only seen what’s lined up on the dinner table. ――Alright. Give it here.”
Giving a single nod in assent, the girl thrust one hand out towards Subaru, requesting he hand over an appa. From the sheer audacity of her attitude Subaru wanted to try objecting, but, looking at her other hand he could tell that was a bad idea.
Opposite the left hand she presented out towards him, her right hand was tucked between her breasts, pulling out from her extravagant dress her palm gripped onto a short dagger the size of a kitchen knife.
The workmanship of the handle was inlaid with precious gems that he could tell were expensive just from one look. From the way the blade glinted, shining even in a back-alley like this with poor lighting, he definitely didn’t want to have the pleasure of tasting its cutting edge himself.
He tried helping out a girl who looked like she was getting extorted, now he had the extraordinary experience of getting extorted by that same girl. Subaru felt his head getting dizzy.
Towards Subaru whose brain had overworked and shut down, the girl once again demanded “give it” with short instruction.
“I’m going to cut it in two and look at the inside. That’s how I’ll check whether or not thy mouth is only capable of spouting out lies like an spout.”
“It’s quite unpleasant to have a knife pointed at you in a back-alley…”
“Hurry it up.”
His resistance in vain, the appa was snatched away as she split the appa in two in her hand. She handled the dagger in a manner that was unexpectedly skilled, gripping it in reverse. Confirming that the insides of the split appa were indeed white, she licked the little bit of juice that spilled onto her hand.
“It’s sour and sweet… this is definitely the same taste as an appa.”
“Are you satisfied with this?”
Towards the girl who finally looked like she approved, Subaru put on his business smile like he was serving a customer. If you’d like I’ll give you one, so please let me go, were his true feelings. How much time had passed since he split up with Emilia, even though he didn’t have a wristwatch so he couldn’t check, he was still afraid of knowing.
However the girl’s heartlessness knew no bounds, with no sign of consideration or empathy to Subaru’s plea,
“Interesting. Hand over all of the rest. I’ll split them all to make sure.”
She was well past audacious, from her words one could only call tyrannical, even Subaru would erupt. His body clattering with temper, he approached the girl
“If you didn’t get it from cutting just one appa, why do I have to give you all of them. Absolutely NO! These appa, these appa… they’re a symbol of my bond with a certain man. They’re not ordinary appa, they’re the fruit of my friendship!!”
“Enough nonsense, how about this then.”
Brushing off his fervent speech disinterestedly, she continued the conversation one-sidedly. Pointing at the bag of appa he was carrying, her lips peeled apart, revealing a sweet smile
“How about we make a bet?”
“Yes, a simple bet. That’s right, something simple like betting on what side a coin lands on is fine. Each time we’ll wager an appa. How about it?”
She proposed a cointoss, Subaru laughed scornfully at her proclamation. She acted like this was a compromise, but the premise itself was strange.
“Your idea is absurd. In the first place, I have no merit taking this bet. If I don’t want to have the appa taken, wouldn’t me just dashing out of here have the same effect?”
“Naturally, I’ll prepare collateral for you. That’s right…”
She touched her lips in thought. Finally she sent Subaru a charming, flirtatious glance. Lifting up and displaying her abundant chest with her arms crossed under.
“If you win, I’ll let you touch my chest. How about it?”
She bet her body as a chip like it was natural; Subaru let out a long sigh, shaking his head. Presenting herself so easily in a bet, she clearly didn’t understand the implications of what she was saying, that line of thinking was destructive. People who ruined themselves through gambling always had that personality.
And with such a good looking girl in front of them, what man wouldn’t fall for her charms. What a wretched tale, such a sad way of thinking.
Wondering why his reply was so slow, she looked at Subaru with suspicion. Completely overlooking her stares, he scolded her clearly.
“You need to treasure yourself more. Talking stupid like this… as if I’d fall for your charms!”
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
–A short while later.
“And this makes 7 consecutive wins for me, you only have 3 appas left you know.”
“Impossible! You took everything!”
In this backalley was Subaru’s figure after consecutive losses, ruined through gambling.