Disclaimer: The Saga of Tanya the Evil is written and owned by Carlo Zen and Re:Zero - Starting Life in Another World is written and owned by Tappei Nagatsuki. This is a work of fan fiction and I do not claim any ownership over their characters or worlds. This work of fan fiction is not written for profit.
The masses screamed as the young woman was led to the pyre by her executioner.
At the age of 21, Colonel Tanya von Degurechaff was found guilty of treason. She was a warmonger, an authoritarian, and a harlot for the devil himself. All of her accomplishments in life were overshadowed by the number of lives she had claimed and the lands she had purged. Her rank and her badges of honor would be stripped and melted down while she, under the eyes of God, will be publicly executed as atonement for her crimes against the Fatherland.
Death by fire.
All of this... for the sake of world peace.
A peace that she helped bring into fruition.
"Move it!" barked her executioner.
He pushed her forward and she tripped, falling into mud. The nightgown she was wearing was brown and haggard with unwashed filth, torn at certain seams, and not a spec of pristine white of what it was once before. Now it was covered in fresh mud, much like her face, additions to her already ruined image.
"I said move it!" before she could get it up, which can be a surprisingly difficult thing to do when your hands are bound behind your back and your legs are chained closely together, the executioner grabbed a handful of her blonde hair and pulled. Pulled until she bled from the scalp, pulled until she was forced to use her own strength to stand upright again. The people shouted and jeered at the whole display while she remained stoic throughout the entire humiliating exchange.
She held her head down, while the rest of the world roared in victory.
She approached the pyre, pausing for a moment to look at it. There were handmade steps built so that she could walk up to the lone stake resting on top of the wood-stacked mound. She spotted the small cross nailed at the very top of the stake, noting the implications of it.
She bit her lip in frustration, hard enough to bleed.
As if this whole situation wasn't degrading enough, now she had to die with a damn cross above her head.
She sighed, then she forced her body to move forward.
One step became two, then three, then four. She stopped once she reached the top, having taken a total of nine steps, and she vaguely recognized that they were to be her last. The executioner then cut the ropes that restrained her hands. He pushed her back against the stake, before retying her hands together again so that this time she was also bound to her execution place. She quietly endured all of this while staring back at the massive crowd.
It was a strange thing, seeing all these people, all of them here to see her die.
She couldn't help but remember another familiar death, of young and diligent salaryman who also met his end in front of a crowd. It seems like the universe wanted his downfall to be a thing of speculation, as if he wasn't entitled to any privacy in the least. Well, maybe it's not the universe who should be blamed. Maybe the fault rests with a certain meddlesome being who insists on being called something they are not.
"Burn in hell, devil's bitch," the executioner said, before leaving her to retrieve his torch.
Ah, comforting words before death? How nice of him.
The crowd became so noisy that it was almost impossible for her to hear anything else. She had half a mind to tell them to shut up. But then, as if hearing her thoughts, the noise did stop, and everything became eerily quiet.
She looked around, confused. She could see that the crowd was still animate with their fists raised high and their mouths moving, yet not the faintest sound came through. It was as if someone had hit the mute button on the world. There was only one being she knew who could do this sort of thing, and she grimaced at the thought of their appearance now.
"Come to watch me... die, have you?" her voice was barely a whisper, barely audible.
If she had the energy, she would have shouted those words with anger and scorn. If she had the energy, she would have spat and fought back, done something—anything—to prevent all of this from happening in the first place. If this had been a fair game, she would've survived. But the stage was set up by another, a being full of pride and pettiness. She hadn't been fed in two days. Her loyal soldiers had been scattered and exiled. And any ally she had worth mentioning had vouched for her execution. To say that she had been completely and utterly defeated would be a grave understatement.
Now the only thing she can do was to continue rejecting Being X.
"Quite the opposite."
"Ha," she scoffed, then noticed that the executioner was working to set her pyre on fire. "Forgive me for finding that hard to believe."
"I have a new plan for you."
She frowned, "'A new plan?' What are you talking about? Can't you see that your current plan is still working?" She had been completely defaced and stripped of all of her resources. This entire world had been turned against her. It's nearly impossible for her to recover from this and yet here was Being X, babbling about a new plan? Have they lost their mind?
"I have found a much more suitable world for you."
Fire had begun to settle on her pyre. It will take a few more minutes before it can grow into flames that can ascend to reach her, but rather than be concerned by it, she was well too preoccupied with her conversation with Being X. The chill she now felt in her bones and the sudden urge to vomit had nothing to do with flames growing underneath her feet.
A new plan? A more suitable world? Don't tell me—!
"Wait a minute! You said," panic, she could feel herself panicking, she felt like child trying to reason with an even bigger child, "you said there would be no more reincarnations for me after this. You can't just go back on your word!"
"Of course, you will not be reincarnated again."
"Just—" she coughed. The smoke was beginning to rise from the burning of pyre wood, making it difficult to breathe, but she carried on anyway, "—spit it out. Tell me what the hell you're going to do!"
"You will know soon enough."
With whatever strength still remaining in her, she cursed.
"DAMN... YOU... BEING... X...!"
Then, there was a blinding light.
Tanya didn't stand a chance.