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—There is a behavior in nature called autotomy.

It’s something generally seen in arthropods and lizards, where the animal removes a piece of itself, like a lizard’s tail, in order to escape a predator.

It is a function seen with crabs removing their pincers, and the scorpion-like demon beast had done something similar.

The scorpion that the demon beast resembled was known for doing that, using the discarded limb as a lure to draw the attention of its enemy.

So it wasn’t strange that autotomy might be used for another reason—even being used as a mine that can sense the approach of its prey and then tear it apart.

—A burning pain assaulted his arms and legs.


Groaning miserably, Subaru was covered in blood as he dragged his legs.

—No, there was something else, too.

“…It’s enough. Leave me and go.”

It was Echidna who was limply being dragged by Subaru even as he dragged his legs behind him. He had his arms wrapped around her sides, pulling her down the passage.

He worked frantically, trying to get as far away as possible from the demon beast that had left them that present.

“—Damn it, damn it, damn it!”

I let my guard down. I was careless. I wasn’t thinking at all.

What Beatrice had said had given him such hope and, in her own way, Echidna had decided to give him a pass, even if only temporarily. That was why he’d let his guard down, only for this to happen.

Pathetic. So pathetic it makes me want to cry.

Why do I have to endure so much adversity? Am I just incapable of growing? Can I not change? Adversity, hardship, trials and tribulations, aren’t those supposed to be opportunities the gods give for people to grow?

Because if adversity only existed in order to pummel people, to make them bleed and break their bones, to crush their souls, and to steal their lives, then why did people have to suffer?


“It’s not enough! It’s not enough at all!”

“…Shouldn’t it be…Beatrice over…me?”

Subaru caught his breath as Echidna slowly spoke, her eyes not opening.

There was a sad logic to what she was saying. If he had to say who was more important to him, Beatrice or Echidna, then sad as it was, he would pick Beatrice.

—But Beatrice was no longer there. She was gone. She’d been lost.

Because in the moment it exploded, Beatrice had been in his arms. She’d instantly shifted into a position that protected his chest and head.

“…I…see. She really was…an unfortunate girl.”

Subaru said nothing when Echidna recognized what his silence meant.

He hadn’t had any chance to say anything to her when she disappeared as if melting away. But he could remember the last look on her face.

It was a look of relief, of affection for Subaru. Nothing more than that.

“ ”

In her final moment, Beatrice wore an expression that was far too convenient for Subaru.

Because she was the last one left by process of elimination, he had dragged Echidna away while cursing Subaru Natsuki. Wishing Subaru Natsuki would disappear from the world without a trace for making Beatrice look like that as she vanished.

As if in atonement, for redemption, like a criminal who wanted punishment.

Echidna stopped him, though, as she struggled to breathe, saying it was pointless. Even though she’d been so worked up about returning Anastasia’s body to her.

But that was only natural. Because both of her legs had been blown off.

“ ”

There was already hardly any blood flowing.

Dragging the body that was even lighter than Beatrice had been, he hadn’t really done any first aid, so what sort of future could possibly await her?

“Oww… Ahh, it hurts. A human body…really does…hurt…”

“Sorry, I’m sorry… No, I didn’t mean to…I was…”

“Don’t apologize…like that Natsuki. Besides…I’m too ashamed to ever see Ana… But this pain is…my only way of repaying her.”


It sounded so out of place, Subaru blinked, struggling to understand it. The corners of Echidna’s lips softened.

“Isn’t it obvious? If I gave her…body back now…she would hurt so bad…she would have to experience…the fear of dying… This is…hell. My feeling it…is enough.”


“I couldn’t get Ana’s body back. I couldn’t help Julius… Slipping into hell like this is…just right for me.”

The scorn and self-reproach she quietly endured mercilessly was heartrending.

Her lifeless eyes made it clear that death was slowly drawing near. Subaru was overwhelmed with the feeling of powerlessness as he watched her life slip away.

Dumb and incompetent, powerless and reckless, he could do nothing but watch the lives lost in payment for that.

Echidna was dying, regretting her powerlessness. Dying and leaving Subaru behind.

“Don’t feel like you…have to…ease it… I’m…yeah… I’m fine with this…”

“ ”

As her consciousness faded, her words made a new possibility take root in Subaru. —Make it easier. That was the only thing he could do for her as death drew near.

“Hey, did you hear that? That’s what you call a godsend, right?”

The girl peeked in at Subaru, who stood beside Echidna as she continued breathing so weakly. She was smiling in rapture at the excuse Subaru had been given.

“ ”

Moving his aching body, Subaru picked up a fragment of rock from the crumbled wall, about the size of his fist. It was unreliably light, but it was enough to crack the skull of a girl who was already on the verge of death.

“This is just putting her out of her misery, mister.”

It was a worthy request, to allow someone an easier death for their sake. Life was precious and irreplaceable. So the only time there was any right to take someone’s life was when that request was genuine.

This was the one and only opportunity for Subaru, who hadn’t been able to do anything, to make amends.

His one chance, and yet…

“ ”

His hands were trembling. There was a pain in the corner of his eyes, and he gasped weakly for air.

Raise his hand, and lower. It was such a simple movement, but he couldn’t do it. His body wouldn’t move, as if he’d forgotten how.


There was a hoarse gasp as the rubble dropped to the floor with a thud.

His legs went weak, and Subaru slumped to the ground.


Can you not even do something that simple, Subaru Natsuki?

It’s just putting her out of her misery when she’s in so much pain. Can you not even do that much?

All that talk about atoning, the expedient feelings of guilt. Or if it isn’t just expedience, then what is this?



“You can’t even…raise a rock…to end the misery…?”

She weakly opened her lifeless eyes, seeing Subaru kneeling there beside her. He held his breath, expecting a rebuke for how pathetic he was.

But as he flinched in anticipation, Echidna’s lips softened.

“…Sorry…for doubting you…”

She apologized with her last breath.

Echidna apologized. She apologized for doubting Subaru Natsuki.

—And before he could ask what she meant, she died.

He’d killed Meili, hidden her body, pretended to not have lost his memories, told lie after lie, betrayed the vow he’d been entrusted with, let the girl who had tried to save his heart die, couldn’t even dirty his hands for the woman who was in her last moments, and was now just pitying himself. And it was Echidna who had apologized to Subaru and then died.

“Do you want to die?”

It went without saying that he wanted to die.

He wanted to die and forget everything that had happened.

He wanted everyone in the world to point at him and say Subaru Natsuki deserved to die. Subaru Natsuki despaired of himself, believing he had committed crimes worthy of that punishment.

He despaired.

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