Part 102: Journey to the Golden Land III
They swayed, blew like the wind, and coiled themselves around the archive. Eventually, the cloud of butterflies selected a single book. It seems that this is the one.
"Well done. Hmm, a world atlas, Asia volume. Perfect."
It was a grand, thick illustrated encyclopedia of maps, several volumes long. There was even a thick section on Taiwan. This should be plenty useful.
"...Taiwan. 394 kilometers north to south, 144 kilometers east to west. An area of roughly 36,000 square kilometers. Hohoh, that's pretty large."
By area, that's about the same size as Kyushu in Japan. This led Beato to a very natural question.
"Just where on this massive island did Kinzo live? Genji mentioned Taiwan, but that's all. How careless I've been..."
Beato had had the vague idea that the riddle would be solved in a flash if she only could look at a map of Taiwan. However, Taiwan is no small place. Just which part of this large island did Kinzo call his beloved hometown? I kept looking through books in this dusty archive, sometimes having to cough, and I was not happy with being stuck in a place like this.
"So, the largest city is Taipei. It says here that Japanese people used to live in a spot called Taishou. So, is that where Kinzo lived? No, it's too early to be sure of that without proof."
I'll skip to the next part before I settle on anything more specific than just Taiwan itself. A sweetfish river running through the hometown. What's this...? There are 129 rivers in Taiwan?
"Gah... 129 rivers...! And how many of those have sweetfish swimming in them...?! Just thinking about it is dizzying!"
This was quickly becoming ridiculous. Genji must have been muttering nonsense to himself after all. I only thought he was giving a hint about the epitaph...
I tossed the book aside, used magic to turn a bookshelf into a sofa, and plopped down on top of it. For a while, I grumbled about getting tricked and looked up at the ceiling. I was annoyed, so I felt like gathering all this room's dust, packing it into a ball, and tossing it into Genji's teacup, so I glanced down at the floor. The book I had thrown away lay open on the ground. A gold butterfly was resting on that open page. Tossing a book at random and reading an oracle from the page it happens to open to is one kind of charm. I see, so that page might have some sort of hint. Not entirely convinced, I picked the book up...
The opened page was probably very near the one I had been reading. Apparently, it was a page explaining Taiwan's geography. Oddly enough, it was a page about rivers and lakes...
"...I already know that there are 129 rivers. Is there something else you're trying to tell me?"
There were six major rivers listed. Zhuoshui River. Kaoping River. Danshui River. Dajia River. Zengwun River. Dadu River.
"Hoh. Now then, which of these rivers might have sweetfish in them?"
An idea came to me then. Sweetfish are freshwater fish. And you don't find ocean water in rivers. Unless it's extremely dirty or blocked by a dam, any river might have sweetfish in it.
"How foolish. All rivers have freshwater in them. What's stopping sweetfish from living in any river? Come to think of it, what a foolish name this Danshui River has."
"Freshwater River? What sort of river isn't a freshwater river? A thing with freshwater flowing down it is practically the definition of 'river'."
Danshui River flows from Taipei to the harbor town of Danshui. I see, it isn't called that because of the water in it, but because of the town at its mouth. As you travel down the river, you will see a village. In that village, look for the shore the two will tell you of.
I realize that this is stupid. And yet, something about this town seems off.
Behold the sweetfish river running through my beloved hometown. That line should be talking about one of the 129 rivers. Sweetfish... are freshwater fish. And here's this 'Freshwater River', flowing down to a town called 'Freshwater'. It's like a strange, trivial word game. Or could it be some kind of code...? I've been looking for books here so long that the dust is piling up on me. If I give up now, it will all have been a waste of time.
...Very well. Why don't I test my luck, and see if the random page the book opened to contains an oracle. I turned to the next page, trying to search in even greater detail...
BGM: 7 Weights
"I was just trying to be one of that group. I had lost all books that I could become enthusiastic about and was very bored. So, I took that book back with me to my own room... and looked through it every night."
"...There's a hint for the epitaph's riddle in an atlas?"
"In the third game, Eva solved the riddle after reading a book in the book archive. Then, in the fifth game, Furudo Erika looked for an atlas in the book archive before solving the riddle herself."
"Then there really is some secret in a map of Taiwan..."
"...I believed that the sweetfish river part was a code for Danshui River. Every day, I researched the surrounding geography in detail. Of course, I also looked up several small streams that might have sweetfish in them. However, that didn't get me anywhere."
"According to some information from a previous game, we aren't looking for an actual river. But it was something that flowed. That's how Eva interpreted it."
"Not a river...?"
"Yes. In the end, Danshui River had nothing to do with it. However, now that I think about it, it must have been an oracle after all. The river itself was unrelated, but it was still a great hint."
"The river was unrelated, but it was still a hint?"
"Calm down and think. Think of something that flows but isn't a river."
"...So, something other than water that flows...?"
"What can you think of? Try to think out of the box."
"...Will, I'm tired of all this puzzle-solving. Stop being annoying and give us the answer. You solved the epitaph, right?"
"...Something other than water that flows... Something... Some... thing...? Methods of transportation...? Like a road or a highway?"
"Correct. It took me so long to realize that the sweetfish river did not refer to water itself..."
"That's right. There's something other than a river with the name Danshui. Something that both people and things flow up and down."
"...Up... and down...? You mean..."
The Danshui Line. It's a railway that goes from Taipei to Danshui Harbor. It was constructed in 1901 while Taiwan was under Japanese rule. Afterwards, the number of stations continued to grow, and it became a major artery into Taipei. This railroad was used after the war as well and is still in common use as the Danshui Line of the Taipei Rapid Transit System.
Its route begins at Taipei Station and continues on until the town of Danshui...
"...What did the epitaph say you'd see if you went down the river?"
"A, a village."
"There's only one station on the Danshui Line with 里, the character for village, in its name and it's this 石碑 Station."
"The Japanese pronounce it 'Kirigan'. Its name was changed to Sekihai Station after the war, but when Kinzo lived there, it was Kirigan Station."
"As you travel down the river, you will see a village... a '里'... In that village, look for the shore the two will tell you of..."
"...*giggle*. 里 isn't the only one, you can also see a 岸, the character for shore..."
"In the end, it took me quite a long time to work out that this station was the one referred to. It has the character for village and the character for shore. It felt like a kids' riddle, playing with letters..."
The three characters of Kirigan can be split into a mouth (口), a 'that' (其), a village (里), and a shore (岸). Those are all words that appear in the epitaph.
'In *that* *village*, look for the *shore* the two will *tell* you of'. You can read it as a code for the name of the station. However, I don't understand the part about 'the two'...
"...I was also stuck on that part. However, by then, I had a strong belief that this station was what the epitaph referred to."
"If the station had an old name, then could some local spot also have an old name?"
"That's right. From the start, Kirigan Station was named after a place. And the name of that place, which was also Kirigan, is written differently."
"It didn't take long to figure out once I saw it. The epitaph must have been referring to this place called Kirigan."
"Then is this where the key to the Golden Land rests...?"
"That would be the obvious answer. However, I couldn't have made the long trip to Taiwan to check. And, of course, the place known as Kirigan is quite large itself. If a tiny key was hidden somewhere there, I'd never find it. I was at a loss..."
"But you didn't give up."
"I was certain that I had found the answer, at least to the first five lines of the epitaph. In my eyes, it was truly an entertaining game... no, a mystery."
I almost gave up then. However, I really did have the key in my hand. I then decided to travel to the Golden Land in accordance with the epitaph.
"We can tell by this line that the key refers to six things. That makes it possible to reason it out and see that this doesn't refer to a physical key."
"Yes. Six things. I was merely a thick-headed human. I decided to look through books for anything related to the number six. Six. Six, six, six. The location of the key called Kirigan was hidden by a word game. That meant the six things were surely related to some sort of word game. Six. Six, six, six. I kept searching for six."
"...Is there some way to split up the characters in Kirigan to get six...?"
"A good idea. Still, no matter how much you stare at those three characters, you won't get an answer. The problem here is that 'Kirigan' is just the Japanese reading of the name."
"Then how did they pronounce it there?"
"Six letters...! Then it is a word game after all...!"
"This is what it means by 'the six chosen by the key'."
"...I, I get it..."
Talking about it like this, it sounds like a line of reasoning that can be reached in a second. However, it took a long, long time before I reached this spot on my own. A dizzying number of nights passed from the time Genji uttered that single word to the time I got this far.
"So, what does it mean to offer these six letters as sacrifices?"
"On the second twilight, we start hearing about 'those who remain'. You can reason it out and guess that the six letters of the key are being removed from an even larger set of letters."
"However, what could the six letters be removed from? That puzzle worried me for a long time. It's like the start of an entirely new riddle. This time, I would have to solve it all by myself, without any assistance."
"...In a previous game, I'm pretty sure Aunt Rosa formed some sort of theory about the first twilight."
"That theory focused on the 'capital' in the tenth twilight. The epitaph talks about the Golden Land several times, but that's the only time it mentions a capital."
"Why is a capital mentioned only at the tenth twilight? It took me so long to find the answer."
"Since our journey to the Golden Land ends on the tenth twilight, this is either the capital of the place called the Golden Land... or the Golden Land itself. Rosa guessed that it might be the latter."
Rosa searched for a link between the two words... and found one. If you write the name out in Japanese... and then check the pronunciation, you get Ougon Kyou.
Then, just find a way to write it that gives you Golden Capital. There are several words that can mean capital in Japanese and several words pronounced 'kyou'. But... There's only one character that fits in here.
"So, the letters are 'sacrificed' from the first twilight, or the spot one tenth of way to Kyoto. It was a good theory, but not quite right. 京 has yet another meaning."
"...京 can mean something other than Kyoto or capital...? Hmmm..."
"Don't think too hard on it. Just look it up."
"...京 can also mean another word. It's pronounced 'kei', not 'kyou', but it means a number. One kei is equal to ten quadrillion."
"So it's a number...!"
"...Here, I had a home-field advantage, since I lived on Rokkenjima. There was a hint there that made it easier to think of the number 'kei'. In fact, you might say that I actually found the answer before I knew what the question was."
"If you keep making it so complicated, Lion's gonna get a headache. Let's get back to the point. If you reach ten quadrillion on the tenth twilight, how far have you gotten by the first twilight?"
"Well, that's just one tenth of ten quadrillion. So, one quadrillion."
"Exactly. And that's where we remove the six letters chosen by the key."
"Since Qilian was written with Roman characters, I immediately realized that quadrillion, in English, was the answer."
"Quadrillion. As Battler guessed in the fifth game, it has 11 letters. Or should I say as you guessed?"
"Strangely enough, both words begin with 'q'. I felt that this just had to be right."
Lion took a notepad from a pocket and spelled out Quadrillion and Qilian. The two words even looked similar at a glance.
After all, in the next part of the epitaph, the word 'kill' appears five times, and then, on the ninth twilight, 'none shall be left alive'. In other words, there should be five letters left.
"On top of that, just as Battler-san guessed in the fifth game, two of these letters are close to each other. The 'd' and the 'r'! Those must be the two who are close!"
"...Once you reach this spot, the riddle has been practically solved."
"Or, put another way, this is as far as you can go with the epitaph alone. You might be able to figure out the answer with a little more word play, but you won't be able to activate the device."
"That's right. Once you know this much, all that remains is to gouge and kill."
"You had a good idea of where the place was, even before you got this far, right?"
"Yes. I suspected that the gold was hidden there even before the epitaph appeared. And, because of the mysterious phrase that appeared there, it's only natural that I thought the place concealed some secret..."
"...What do you mean by 'the place'...?"
"The place with the device that opens the door to the Golden Land. A quick-witted person should be able to figure out where 'the first twilight' is by now."
"Huh? I thought the first twilight was 'quadrillion', not a place..."
"It's the place where 'quadrillion' is written. You should know it. Or did you blindly follow Kinzo's orders and never go near it...?"