The Keeper of the Forbidden Library and the Twin Maids
It was a room that basically screamed “library” at you.
The room was twice as large as a 350 square foot room, and there were bookcases set up all over the place, going from one corner of the room to the other. Every bookcase was so tightly packed with books that it was hard to imagine how many books it truly held.
Books took up a lot of space and were heavy, so it was a problem to have so many. In Subaru’s case, his whole family loved to read manga, and there used to be a room on the second floor of his house that was filled to the brim with books, especially manga.
One day, without any warning, the floor fell through, and it was a complete renovation disaster. Fortunately, no one was injured, and Subaru had since put them all in a dedicated book storage room, so they should never experience that kind of catastrophe again.
Even from the perspective of Subaru, who has had such an experience involving books, the number of books in this room exceeded the number of books in his house even with the floors removed. Of course, the structure of the mansion itself was much sturdier than that of his house.
Finding even one book to read—that Subaru could understand—would be a tall order for him considering the enormous amount of books in his view.
“With so many books here…there must be one that I can read, right?”
A quick glance around the library revealed that there were no spine covers written in Japanese. There were no alphabets here as far as he knew, and most of the letters were characters based on what he’d seen on the signboards while walking around the capital. These were the commonly used characters of this world, after all.
If Subaru wanted to live in this world, it was going to be essential to learn it. For him, who had even dropped his language classes in middle school, it already felt like such a drag.
Subaru sighed while envisioning his coming difficulties. Then—
“Gazing at other people’s bookshelves, and even sighing as you do so… So you’re trying to be offensive, I suppose? Shall I respond in kind, I wonder?”
Subaru didn’t have the communication skills necessary to talk to someone he just met without any sort of preparation, so he had no choice but to say, “I’m really not good at talking to people I’ve never met before, so I’m gonna have to head out for a sec, sorry. I’ll be right back for a Take-Two!”
After he raised his hand to the little girl who stared at him with her unmoving eyes, Subaru casually walked out of the room.
Then, after a few moments, he opened the door, re-entered the room, and looked at the little girl who hadn’t moved an inch from where she had been standing.
“Oh, look who’s here. Hi! Nice to meet you! Can I have a word with you?”
“I knew you were making fun of Betty, I suppose. Don’t you think you deserve to be punished for entering my library without an invitation, I suppose?”
The little girl laughed adorably and cruelly at Subaru as he tried to start their encounter over from a better starting point.
How many times had he seen this sight in this other world? —She was a beautiful, sweet girl.
She appeared to be younger than Felt, perhaps eleven or twelve years old. She was wearing an indigo-colored dress with lots of frills and had a lovely face that suited her ornate hairstyle and clothes.
Her hair was closest to the color of cream and was grown long and rolled into curls—it looked like drills.
Adorable came to mind, and the little girl’s appearance seemed to be the embodiment of that word. The cuteness level was so high that one’s heart couldn’t help but melt if she were to smile.
Now she was standing in front of Subaru with a solemn face.
“You’ll ruin your pretty face if you don’t smile. You see, just smile! Smile! Smile!”
“Betty being pretty is simply Betty’s nature. But a better question would be: what should Betty do with you? I suppose.”
“Do what with me? I’m sorry I ignored your intentions. I’m the type of guy who unconsciously pulls out all the correct answers to a question like this, even though the GM would want me to step through all the events he’s prepared for me.”
A talent for pulling off the correct answer in a situation where there were four choices and only a total of four hints were available. People also called it ‘not being able to read the mood’.
In the past, there had been many events that Subaru had subconsciously crushed in that way. The endless loop earlier could be added to the list of those events.
“Trying to do your business in the hallway of someone else’s house, coming here without even crossing the hallway with lots of mana-sensing traps…there’s only one word to describe you, the worst, in fact!”
“I’m the type of guy who doesn’t stop for anything, even RPGs. That’s why I’m so busy collecting sub-events the second week.”
If it was a ‘Visual Novel Game’, he would often go straight for the main heroine, and though he enjoyed collecting special illustrations, he wouldn’t necessarily collect all of them if there were too many side-quests to do.
Leaving those off-topic thoughts aside, Subaru said, “Well,” and then looked at the little girl once again.
From what she said from earlier, it was safe to assume that she was the culprit behind the endless loop in the hallway. After that, it seemed that the hallway was also set up with various surprise events that prevented Subaru from finding a bathroom. However, he managed to skip all of those events in the end.
“I understand that you want to show off your power, but messing with someone’s bodily needs for that purpose is not funny. It almost killed me socially. I shudder just thinking about it.”
“Now that I think about it, I should have just let you run around in circles for a while longer, in fact. That would have saved Betty at least half the humiliation, I suppose.”
“Uh-huh, yeah, Betty. Well, now that I’ve stepped in here, that means I was just better than you. I’m not as much of a sore loser as you, either.”
Subaru felt a sense of urgency due to the toilet-talk, which caused him to start tapping his feet anxiously.
The little girl tiredly put her fingers to her own eyebrows. “I’m growing tired of you, in fact. Roswaal lets that girl do whatever she wants without any consequences… Now Betty has to clean this mess up, I suppose.”
“You’re tired? But you’re so young! Children should play outside in the sun! Wrinkling your eyebrows together is so boring! C’mon, c’mon! Live strong!”
The catchphrase was ‘Live strong’, which Subaru first heard in the slums of the capital. At first, he wasn’t sure about how he felt about it, but the more he said it, the more he grew to like it.
The little girl stared at Subaru with half-lidded eyes as she began to like the phrase soberly. Subaru responded to her gaze with a shy smile and then stuck out his tongue.
“Wait. That reaction is not what I expected, I suppose. You’re creeping me out, in fact.”
“Ow, you just said the whole phrase instead of using the abbreviated version! With that out of the way, can we get to the point? If I get sidetracked too much, my bladder will be in trouble.”
“I don’t know what the second half means, but I have a feeling we’d better get down to business for Betty’s sake, I suppose.”
Subaru was about to ask the question, “So where’s the bathroom?” but he was getting the impression that she would use that to her advantage in order to tease him, so he restrained himself and kept his mouth shut.
No matter how he looked at things, the little girl in front of him had to be a magic user of some sort. It was pretty obvious based on how well the looping hallway trick went, and there was a good chance he wouldn’t be a match for her.
Moreover, Subaru was extremely hungry right now on top of recovering from life-threatening injuries, and his fighting power was declining. Especially after all the sprinting and running he did earlier, he felt a great deal of anxiety about his physical strength. He knew that his wounds were healing, but he was low on blood as well, which was a bit dangerous.
“I want to start with liver! A heaping serving of pork, liver, and garlic chives to replenish my blood! Tonight, it’s not Koetsu, I’m the one who’s bloodthirsty, Hiyaa.”
“This boy… What are you even talking about now, I suppose…?”
“Oh, sorry, sorry, I’m gonna cut to the chase. Let’s see, what’s this place, anyway?”
After all, it was good to gather information while the other party was honestly willing to discuss it. While thanking the girl for her patience and understanding, Subaru decided to ask a few questions.
First of all, Subaru wanted to confirm where he currently was. He didn’t think he had been captured by Elsa now, but he couldn’t necessarily claim that as a fact yet.
He was hoping to get an answer from her concerning that issue. However, she responded with, “It’s Betty’s bedroom, I suppose.”
“…Ah…giving a literal answer right away. I know that youngsters nowadays think that being literal is fun and all, but don’t you know that’s the exact problem with y’all?”
I teased her back a little bit and this is what happened!
That clearly upset the little girl—who called herself Betty—but he wondered if that was her real name. It seemed more like a nickname.
The girl puffed out her cheeks at Subaru, who was struggling with his emotions. She crossed her arms and shook her glittering dress as she approached him. “Betty has had enough, I suppose. I have a feeling I’m going to have to teach you a lesson, in fact.”
“Oh, come onnn, abusing prisoners is barbaric! Don’t do it! I’m just a normal guy who has to endure the urge to pee, and that makes me less dangerous than the average person!”
“That makes you more dangerous due to your desperation, in fact.”
“Damn, that’s clever. Crap, I can’t think of a single thing to do to prove that I’m not a bad guy! Listen, I-I’m not a bad guy!”
She shook her head in small increments, a determined appeal that made her eyes moisten as she shrank to the limit. But the girl’s steps, instead of slackening, increased in speed.
And then she said, “Don’t you dare move, in fact.”
A shiver ran down Subaru’s spine as he heard those words.
Suddenly, the smell of old paper that had dominated the library disappeared, and the pain he felt was as if ice had been thrust into his nose.
Subaru’s skin turned to the color of ash and he could hear a distant high-pitched ringing in his ears. The reason why he couldn’t smell anything was so his other senses could be strengthened. In this case, sight and touch—his five senses had been cut down to those two senses only.
In front of Subaru’s eyes, the little girl was already close to the point where she could reach him. The difference in height was obvious. The little girl was only as tall as Subaru’s chest, and her shallow blue eyes were looking up at him closely.
The pale pink lips formed a smile, and the little girl’s innocence was the only thing that kept Subaru’s alarm bells ringing.
“Do you have something to say, I wonder?” The little girl tilted her head back and asked Subaru, her eyes wide and her lips quivering.
Sweat trickled down his forehead and down his cheeks, and the sensation broke his rigidity for just a few moments, and Subaru searched for the best word to say in the moment he was allowed.
That’s right, the one word that should be uttered right here, the one word that would break the current situation. That was… “Is it gonna hurt?”
“I’m impressed that you can be so light-hearted in this situation, I suppose. —I guess it’s up to you whether it hurts or not, in fact.” Saying that in a seriously impressed tone, the little girl’s hand reached for Subaru’s chest.
A palm met his chest and gently and modestly stroked the surface.
There was a tickly sensation running up his spine, like a chill. “Buhhhh…”
—In the next moment, Subaru felt as if his entire body was on fire.
Something terrible raged inside his body, burning everything from his fingertips to his hair. It was as if her fingertips were wrapped in flames and moving all across his body—it was an extremely painful sensation for him to endure.
Subaru’s vision flickered, and the next thing he knew, he was on his knees with tears running down his face. His breathing was ragged, as if he had been running for miles, and his whole body was as sluggish and achy as the day after he had done a reckless muscle workout.
Most of all, he felt exhausted, with all the mental “stuff” dragged out of him.
“It looks like you didn’t pass out, I suppose. Just like I was told, you’re quite sturdy, in fact.”
“What the hell did you do to me, drill loli…?”
“I simply took out some of the mana inside your body, I suppose. It seems to have a special shape, in fact…even though you’re just an ordinary guy. Your Gate also seems to be closed, in fact.” Muttering to herself, the little girl kneeled down in front of the crumpled Subaru.
Subaru struggled to support his upper body as she poked her fingers at him while he was trying to get up. “Well, it confirms that you aren’t hostile, I suppose. And for all the disrespect from you towards Betty and for all the hard work Betty has done, taking your mana should be a suitable payment, I suppose.” She poked him again, causing him to reach his limit, and his upper body fell to the floor, unable to support himself with his trembling arms.
This was the third time Subaru had kissed the ground in a face-down position. This wasn’t even the first time his lips had kissed the ground… Since he had Returned by Death, he concluded that this was totally his first kiss.
Gathering up all the extra energy in his body between his silly thoughts, Subaru somehow managed to change the angle of his neck on the floor. Slowly, over time, he managed to look up at the little girl’s face.
“Hmm?” As the little girl watched Subaru’s efforts, she loosened the corners of her mouth in amusement.
Subaru peeled his teeth at such a smile and laughed. “You’re not human…are you? —And in this case, I’m not talking about your personality…”
“For all the times you’ve seen Bubby, you’re a little slow on the uptake, I suppose.”
Her words made her sound younger than she appeared, which in turn gave him the impression of a little girl cruelly playing with the wings of a feathered insect.
The fact that she was enjoying watching Subaru crawl along the floor drooling was another point that supported his current impression of her. “One correction…in terms of personality, you’re not even human, either…”
“Don’t measure a noble and sublime being by your standards, human.”
It was a statement said in a far too cruel tone for a little girl to utter.
Somehow, Subaru felt something smoldering in his chest. However, although he felt it, he no longer had enough energy left to act on it. No matter what he did, he was being dragged into the darkness.
—Come on! I just woke up and I’m being rendered unconscious again?!
“I will speak to the others, I suppose. It would be troublesome if you started leaking here, I suppose.”
What if I just let it all out now…no, I don’t have enough guts to say that…
Unable to speak with his unruly mouth, Subaru fell unconscious again.
“Oh, he is awake, Sister.”
“Ah, he is awake, Rem.”
The sensation of waking up from sleep was the same as the sensation of coming out of the water.
The time change and waking up again began with the voices of two girls with the same quality of voice. Based on how well he slept, he assumed he was in the same soft, comfortable bed as before.
What burned Subaru’s eyelids as he woke up from sleep was the slight amount of sunlight streaming in through the curtains. The amount of glare was so soft that one would think it was morning.
Don’t know what time it is when you’re on the road? Then when not try out my handy dandy ‘Stubble Clock’!
He gave a sales pitch to no one in particular and checked the time while waking himself up.
When Subaru touched the stubble clock on his chin, it felt like it had been four or five hours since he’d woken up last. He could still feel some slight sluggishness in his body.
“It is Seven Solartime now, dear guest.”
“It is almost Seven Solartime, dear guest.”
Perhaps it was because Subaru stared at the window and showed the action to check the time, but the voice kindly answered the question.
Seven Solartime—Subaru didn’t even know what it meant, but he guessed it was seven o’clock in the morning, judging by the letters. In the first place, he didn’t even know if the time in this world ran on a 24-hour system.
It was difficult to easily determine that it was seven o’clock in the morning, but if he didn’t count the first time he woke up… “So I pretty much slept through the whole day, huh? Well, that’s not much of a surprise to me as someone who has slept for 52 hours straight.”
“Sister, did you hear that? Truly the words of a lazy man.”
“Yes, I heard that, Rem. Truly the words of a good-for-nothing man.”
“So who are you two people who are always stereotyping me, ladies?” With a thud, Subaru bounced off the covers and got up.
The sudden action surprised the girls, who were standing next to the bed with Subaru between them. The girls jolted away from the bed, moved to the middle of the room, and then looked at him, hand in hand with each other.
Although they had expected this to some extent, the girls looking at Subaru with their fingers intertwined were exactly the same—twins.
They were around five feet tall. They had large eyes and pink lips with shallow faces that made them seem childish and lovely.
The two girls, who looked exactly alike, had their hair cut short, but their hair was different colors—one was pink, and the other was light blue. Furthermore, they covered one eye with their hair, but the pink-haired girl covered her left eye, and the light blue-haired girl covered her right eye.
But such differences were only trivial. At this moment, based on those features, the thing that stirred Subaru’s heart the most was… “No way…are there even maid outfits in this world!?”
A black apron dress with a white prim on top of their heads. The beautiful twin girls were dressed in the orthodox classic style of maid clothing.
—This is the embodiment of the ideal maid.
“Oh no. I’m currently being indecently humiliated in our dear guest’s head, Sister.”
“Oh no. I’m being violated right now in the head of our dear guest, Rem.”
“Don’t underestimate my mental capacity. You’re both fodder for my fantasies, ladies.” Subaru held his arms out and ruffled his fingers in the air. The meaningless movement brought a shiver to the faces of the two maids, and they untied their intertwined fingers and pointed at each other.
“Please forgive me, dear guest. Just let Rem go and go defile Sister.”
“Please don’t do it, dear guest. You can let Ram go and defile Rem instead.”
“What kind of sisterhood is that?! Selling each other out and making me look like some kind of evil villain?!”
So scary! and the twins ran away, holding hands again.
Subaru jumped out of bed and chased after them.
The three of them ran around in circles in the large room, chasing each other. And—
“Couldn’t you have woken up more quietly?” A girl had knocked on the door softly, which opened with a thump, and then looked at the three of them from the doorway.
The beauty of her long silver hair could be seen in full and today it was untied and naturally flowing down her back. Her clothing was not the robed outfit she usually wore, but was designed with noticeably darker colors to suit her white, slender body. The skirt was slightly shorter than knee-length, revealing her slender legs, but that area was hidden by knee socks that reached up to the top of her thighs.
“Wow! Whoever picked this outfit out, I get what they were thinking!”
“Well, I’m not sure what you’re talking about, but it’s so disappointing when I know it’s something meaningless.”
Before he knew what he was doing, Subaru pumped his fist and cheered unintentionally.
The girl—Emilia—looked at him with dumbfounded eyes in the doorway of the room.