We are introduced to the Sanctuary and its trials in Season 2 of Re:Zero (Arc 4 of LN and WN: The Everlasting Contract). When Subaru and Emilia reach the Sanctuary they are confronted by an injured Roswaal, who says that they will remain trapped in the village unless they are able to clear the trials of the sanctuary.
If you have read our previous post, you would know that the Sanctuary is a village which was created by the Witch of Greed Echidna 400 years ago. It is currently her resting place and is under the supervision of the Roswaal family. The inhabitants of the Sanctuary are demi-humans.
They are trapped inside the sanctuary thanks to the barrier that Echidna created. In the past, the demi-humans were a race that was treated unfairly and victimized. Echidna assured them that they would be safe inside the Sanctuary and then used their mana in order to create a barrier that would protect the place.
However, we later find out that Echidna had some personal motivations for doing so too. We revealed this in a post explaining what exactly the sanctuary was.
So now, if the demi-humans inside the Sanctuary need to be able to visit the outside world, someone must clear the trials of the sanctuary and break the barrier. However, what exactly are these trials and how can one clear them?
What are the trials of the sanctuary?
The trials of the sanctuary are basically a series of three tests that take place inside Echidna’s tomb. The witch of greed herself serves as the examiner for these trials. Only the chosen ones are able to take the trials of the Sanctuary, i.e the demi-humans who are trapped inside the sanctuary and after the first witch’s tea party, Subaru too. If a person who is not qualified decides to enter the tomb for the trials, they end up being badly injured, like Roswaal.
The trials begin after the sunset when a challenger enters Echidna’s tomb. There they have to face certain situations and overcome them in order to overcome the trials.
These situations take place in an imaginary world that is constructed by Echidna using the memories, thoughts and emotions of the challengers. If a challenger is able to overcome all three trials, then the barrier that surrounds the sanctuary will be broken and the demi-humans living inside will be set free.
What are the tests in the trials?
As we mentioned, the trials basically take place in the minds of the challengers. Echidna’s spirit lures the people into a dream world where they face certain situations. She mentions that there are three trials, wherein the users will have to face their past, present and their future.
This means that Echidna recreates a certain crucial situation from the challenger’s past, creates a scenario that is related to or happening in their present and shows different outcomes of what the future holds for the challenger based on their decisions.
The result of the trial is decided on how the challenger handles these scenarios. Echidna evaluates whether a person is able to overcome and accept their past, whether they will be able to accept the future borne out of their actions etc.
The first trial of the Sanctuary:
The first trial of the sanctuary involves the user being able to overcome his past. The challenger is shown their past and in order to clear the trial they have to get rid of any regret by either accepting or rejecting their past. The trial usually starts with the statement “First off, face your past“
In the anime, Subaru’s first trial was to face his parents and overcome a bad phase in his life. Seeing that he was able to face his past and let go of his regrets, Echidna declares that Subaru has cleared his test. This was however an imaginary scenario that was created from Subaru’s memories.
In Emilia’s case, she had to face her ACTUAL past. Emilia’s memories about the freeing of the Elior forest and whatever happened surrounding it were supressed and lost. Echidna made her face her actual past to see if she could come to terms with what had happened. The Witch of Greed had hoped to break Emilia by doing so, but the latter bravely overcomes her trials (even though it took multiple attempts initially).
The second trial of the Sanctuary:
In the second trial, the challenger would be put in a scenario that could have happened in the present. The trial taker is shown different scenarios of the present world that is different from the real world. The trial is finished if they choose reality over their dream. The beginning phrase of the second trial is “See the unimaginable present”
Subaru’s second Trial:
In Subaru’s second trial, he first sees the present where people are suffering after witnessing his death. And once he has reached a level of mental exhaustion on witnessing that again and again, he comes across Rem.
However, the Rem that Subaru witnesses in the tomb during the second trial is a fake. She is actually the Witch of Lust Carmilla who was testing him (or even trying to pull him back from the depths of despair). After his second trial, Subaru attends the third witches’ tea party, wherein he meets Satella for the second time!
Emilia’s Second Trial:
In Emilia’s second trial, she witnessed a world that was an idealized version of the present. In this world, Fortuna was still alive and the Elior forest was not frozen. This world was a place apart from Emilia’s actual present, as she, Fortuna and Guese were able to spend some happy moments here.
Here, I, Lady Fortuna, Lord Archibishop and everyone else are living safe and sound. No tragedy will ever befall this place. It is a happy world. Emilia, you could have a good life here too, free of worry and hurt.Archi to Emilia; Re:Zero LN Vol. 15, Pg. 38
However, Emilia soon realises that this was only a false world. Even if she wished for it to be real, this world would only exist in the dream palace that Echidna created. While this was a present that she desperately wanted to witness, Emilia was determined to leave it behind and face the reality.
Emilia decided to find herself and decided to seek and understand her self. She was the only common element in both her dream world and the real world that existed out there. Coming to terms with herself was her way of ending the Second Trial.
The third trial of the Sanctuary:
The third trial begins with the statement “Face the impending doom/disaster”. In this trial the participant turns into consciousness and is able to witness various disastrous outcomes from the future that could happen because of the course of their actions. This trial is cleared when the contender decides to move ahead even after knowing the tragic future that lies in wait for them.
While this part has not been revealed in Re:Zero anime yet, the trial is ultimately taken by Emilia in her bid to liberate the sanctuary.
One can only proceed to the next part of the trial by clearing the current one. There are no limitations to the number of times one can participate in the trials. Emilia is currently not able to clear her first trial and ends up having a traumatic experience.
These trials test a person mentally. Once someone clears the trial, the barrier surrouding the sanctuary is broken, the trials cease to exist.
What do you think about the trials of the sanctuary? Is there any point that you’d like to add, in addition to what we’ve written? Mention them in the comments section!