Part 107: Tea Party II
BGM: Dead Angle
"<Quadrillion>. This is the only place you'll find that number written on this island."
"One tenth of a '京'... How suspicious."
"If our idea is right, there should be some sort of device embedded in that relief."
"We just need to check. Who's going up?"
"I'll go. Hold that ladder down, okay?"
"Be careful. It is fairly high..."
Rudolf climbed up the propped up ladder. Step by step, as the rain poured down on him...
"Look at the 'q'. See anything? Some sort of device?"
"Nnn... Ladder's a bit shaky. Hmm? Crap..."
"What is it?! Did something happen?!"
"...Heheh... Bingo. Take a look at this."
"This is... the key!"
"What does it mean?! Rudolf-kun! Can you take out the other letters too?!"
"...Yeah, looks like it. Guess our crazy theories weren't far off after all! What's the next letter to take out?!"
"U, ummm, 'i'! And then 'l'!"
Following her instructions, Rudolf removed the six letters of the first twilight... Now that they'd gotten this far, nothing stood in the way of them solving the riddle. By trial and error, they finally reached the final stage.
"It says to gouge starting from the head, which must mean going from left to right."
"Rudolf-san! Starting from the left, turn the keys before taking them out!"
"Now we've massacred all of the letters. So, none survive on the ninth twilight."
"So?! Did something happen?"
"It felt like something clicked, but nothing's different. Did a hidden door open up somewhere?"
"H, hey! Look at that! It moved, I'm sure it did!!"
"...?! Everyone, look! The lion statue's facing the other way...!"
"Wh, what is going on? Is there some secret inside the lion statue...?!"
"...That's not it. It's probably telling us to look where the lion's pointing. See? Look that way."
"That lion's facing a different way too...! What does it mean?!"
"It's guiding us, stupid! We have to go in the direction the lions face...!"
Eva dashed forward. The others all chased after her. The gold was right in front of them.
"It makes sense now. Father didn't like people going near the chapel..."
"...I wonder how long that device has been there. Judging by the feel of this underground passage, probably for quite a long time..."
"I imagine it was nearly the same time that the mansion itself was built. The riddle of the epitaph was probably also planned many decades ago."
"Well, this is Dad we're talking about. I try not to let the things he does surprise me, but this..."
"Just how far does this stairway go...?"
"Hey, maybe that old rumor was true. You know, the story about him having a mistress in a hidden mansion somewhere in the forest."
"I see. It's likely that this underground passage goes all the way there."
"...I wonder if it connects to the mansion from that day..."
"I think we've found the goal. Look at that filthy door. Something's written on it."
"...Whoo. This is it."
Something was written on the door in red paint. On the tenth twilight, the journey shall end, and you shall reach the capital where the gold dwells...
"Does it open...?"
"It does. Ready? I'm going to open it."
"So, we've finally reached the gold..."
"At least, I wish such a convenient story could be true."
"Let's open it, Nee-san."
"Right. I'm opening it."
The heavy door... opened slowly... Then, the gold-filled, underground VIP room showed itself...
BGM: Happiness of Marionette - Omake
As soon as the mountain of gold next to the canopy bed came into sight, they all froze, stunned. After a second, the stunned silence faded and was replaced by cries of astonishment and wild joy...
"I, I can't believe it... It's 20 billion yen in gold...!! It really... really exists!!"
"What a shining mountain. It almost blinds the eyes..."
"Uhhahahahahahahaha!! We did it! We did it!! We win this game!!"
"...Y, you mustn't touch it without permission! This is Father's gold!!"
"Oh, really?! Then why don't you call Father down here now! Right away!! Your farce is already over!!"
"Natsuhi nee-san. Let's put an end to the obvious lies, shall we? We have a real mountain of gold right here! Shouldn't we all be honest with each other?"
"Fortunately, we're all in a good mood and feeling very gracious now. Just give it up already!"
A pile of gold this massive carries magical power within it. That power draws out the most honest feelings within people. The light from the chandelier glinted off the golden mountain, lighting them up with the golden sparkle. It was as though the sparkle manipulated them. For some time, they forgot their age, and howled and laughed, running about and rolling around like a bunch of excited kindergartners at a park...
"Before the crimes occurred, the epitaph has been solved... and by all of the siblings together..."
"That hasn't happened in any of the games before now."
"...Supposedly, Beatrice decided not to commit the crime if the epitaph was solved..."
"Yeah, supposedly. Hmm. I wonder."
Ange snorted, but I believed. This is what Clair decided. She entrusted everything to the roulette of fate, so she would obey the result. She let the roulette decide her own fate specifically because 'they' couldn't decide on their own. So, she'll do what it says. She'll follow her own rule. She'll definitely keep her promise.
"I don't think... the crime will occur."
"...Are you sure about that?"
"Yes. Her roulette has already made its decision. This is the end of her game."
"If it's the end, what happens next? Do they all become happy rich people and leave the family conference unharmed? Does my family get an ingot that isn't chocolate as a parting gift before coming back to me? Will it be a happy end for everyone? You think those witches would chain us to chairs to show us a naive dream like that?!"
When she showed off the chain on her wrist with a clank, I was unable to counter her with confidence. But I want to believe. Though this might be the least exciting ending, it is one way for Clair's game to end. Perhaps, just once at the end, she wanted to show us a world where no crime occurs. Now that she has disappeared with no regrets, is she leaving us a parting gift in the form of a game where no crime occurs, in a sense, the most peaceful sort of game?
I want to believe. If only these heavy, cold chains weren't holding us in place in this theater.
Rosa's shrill cry brought the celebrating to an immediate stop. Rosa knew she'd seen it. The curtain against the wall had fluttered, and a shadow had been there behind it.
"...None of that, if you don't mind. You're just imagining things..."
"Is someone there?! If you are, come out...!"
When Eva yelled, the curtain shook. And then, a witch wearing a black dress appeared from the other side... In an instant, everyone realized that the dress was the same as the one worn by the witch of the portrait, and they realized one more thing. This person... was the owner of this room.
Her face and her voice were expressionless, blank. The others all looked at each other, wondering who should respond. Rudolf was the first to speak.
"...So, you are Beatrice."
"A, and you're the one who gave Maria that letter...?!"
"...Is Father behind this?"
"No. This is my... game."
"If that's so, then we've won. We've solved the epitaph's riddle and found the gold...!"
"We've accepted your challenge and won...! That means this gold belongs to us, right?!"
"Indeed, it is as you say. You have solved the epitaph splendidly and discovered the hidden gold. This game ends in your victory. This gold no longer belongs to me, but to all of you..."
"...It seems you're a good loser."
"Hey, you. If we hadn't solved the epitaph's riddle, what were you planning to do?"
"The letter said that you'd take 'everything of the Ushiromiya family'."
"Yes. I planned to take all of your wealth... and all of your lives. I planned to do as I pleased with everything that exists on this island."
...The witch walked towards the table next to the bed. Then, for the first time, the others realized what sat on that table. They were... four rifles. There was also a case filled with bullets...
The witch picked up one of the lead bullets lying on the table and played with it, her face still expressionless, as she spoke.
"Wh, what did you say...?"
"...That's what I thought when I first saw that epitaph. It almost looks like something you'd find in a serial murder mystery novel. That's right. If you had killed 13 people to match the epitaph, that would have made for quite a mysterious crime..."
"Th, there's no way you could do that all by yourself...! No matter how many guns you had, killing 13 people... that would just be...!!"
"...I formed my plan with great care and constructed several alternatives. I envisioned all of the actions you might take from tonight and through tomorrow... and prepared a mystery to deal with each of those. I'm afraid I cannot reveal those at this point, but it really was a tightly-knit set of pleasant closed room murders."
"If there were just a few of us, you could've gunned us down in our sleep. But there's no way that would've let you kill 13 of us...! After all, we aren't that stupid."
"...It would seem so. At any rate, I predicted that the epitaph being solved before the first twilight was the most unlikely result."
"So, the fact that we've reached this place seems to show that you've miscalculated."
If no one could solve the riddle, she planned to take a gun and commit a serial murder. Everyone gulped as they watched the witch emotionlessly make her confession...
"...If your confession is the truth, that means you were trying to kill us."
"Yes. That is true."
"The hell... How can she just say it like that?"
"You couldn't possibly expect us to treat you favorably after revealing that much to us, right...?"
"I am prepared. You may do as you will with me. If you hadn't solved the epitaph, I would have done the same to you, so it is only fair."
"...This girl's got guts."
"I planned this game because I was prepared to bet my life. I am satisfied with the result. If you wish to kill me now, I am prepared."
By now, she didn't even treasure her life. As the witch spoke and walked near the others, they automatically stepped back...
"The gold belongs to all of you. I planned to give everything to the one who discovered it first, but I didn't expect there to be seven of you. I leave the decision of how to split the gold to the seven of you. I will not involve myself. And..."
The witch walked even closer. The group parted, and she walked up to the antique clock behind them. The clock was large and had a dignified feel to it. The witch patted it and spoke.
"What... do you mean by that?"
"...If you read it like a murder case up until the eighth twilight, then there are only 13 people killed. But for the ninth twilight, it clearly says that none are to be left alive."
"What does that mean? In other words, she was planning to massacre all of us?"
"...Don't tell me, that clock..."
"Are you the one who set that up? Or was that Ushiromiya Kinzo?"
"Kinzo is the one who set up the device. This device is the source of his mad magical power..."
"...I, I don't have a clue what you're talking about."
"In other words, Dad set up this bomb, and if he ever went broke, he was prepared to wipe away everything, including himself, and die...?"
"On this island, Ushiromiya Kinzo made a contract with the Golden Witch and obtained the gold. However, that was not all he gained."
"...Wh, what are you talking about...?"
"Wait, don't tell me..."
"There is that rumor about the remains of an old Japanese military base existing on Rokkenjima... Could it be..."
"Your guess is correct. Beneath this island sleep the remains of an underground Japanese military base from the time of the war. Along with 900 tons of explosives."
"N, 900 tons?! Th, that's unbelievable! If that exploded, the result would be unimaginable! Forget just the mansion blowing up... it'd leave a massive crater!!"
"I believe an expert's estimate measured it as a hole several dozen meters deep and a kilometer across."
"...There wouldn't be... even a trace left..."
"Those explosives will detonate in response to a special device. And that is connected to the activation switch I just flipped."
The witch toyed with a switch on the top part of the antique clock.
"B, but it's almost 24:00 now..."
"In other words, it won't explode X hours after you flip it. It's a time limit bomb that only explodes at midnight.
"Indeed. It is almost 24:00 now. If an explosion is what you desire, you can just leave it like this."
"Who would want that...?!! Turn it off!"
By this time, Kinzo was probably the only one who knew. The secret base on Rokkenjima had started out as a submarine base. However, when that plan reached a standstill, it was redefined as a top secret base for homeland defense. A huge plan had been drawn up to have the army and navy perform a pincer attack on American forces if the latter decided to land on Kujuukuri Beach and press towards Tokyo. As a trump card for this massive defensive maneuver, the navy started stockpiling large quantities of explosives and fuel in absolute secrecy. And Rokkenjima base was the location those were stockpiled at. The total weight of the buried explosives was 900 tons. Also, fearing that the Americans might find out the island's secrets and seize the explosives, they set up a system for the self-destruction of the entire island...
Kinzo, who knew all of this, decided not to remove this device, but to tie it in with this strange clock that could cause the explosion any night at midnight. Kinzo is famous for building up his funds using a vast store of gold, and then using those funds in several sink-or-swim gambles, one after another. Just what did his stockpile of gold... and the 900 tons of sleeping explosives mean to him? At this point, we can only guess. Perhaps the true source of Kinzo's mad power... wasn't the gold after all. If he lost a big gamble and all that he owned, he could erase this entire island from existence with this device. His whole life, he must have put the gold and everything else he had on the line...
Whenever things got tough and he got stuck, he would hide in here... and flip the switch... Maybe he decided to blow everything away if he didn't think of a brilliant plan before 24:00 came. He would gaze at the mountain of gold, listening to the clock tick towards his death as he searched for an idea... Perhaps Ushiromiya Kinzo's real study wasn't the one in the mansion, but this place instead...
BGM: Dead Angle
"For our Father, it wouldn't be unthinkable..."
"This device now belongs to all of you. If you want a massive explosion, use it whenever you please."
"A, are you crazy...?! Who'd want a big explosion...?!!"
"...These explosives are half a century old, right? Would they really go off?"
"Yes, of course. The explosives and the fuses are still working. I tested them myself."
"You tested them...?"
"...Could it be... that?"
"Yes, now I finally understand. So that's why the shrine disappeared without a trace..."
This summer, the shrine had disappeared without a trace, along with the reef under it. It felt strange that the waves could have destroyed it without a trace like that, but no one had paid it much mind. And now, this piece perfectly fit into the hole left by that strange feeling...
"The little bit I used was enough to make that entire reef vanish. It's easy to see how 900 tons of that would cause an explosion large enough to rewrite the map..."
"...If an explosion like that happened, all of us would most certainly die. But what about you? I somehow doubt that you were willing to commit suicide with the rest of us..."
"This underground VIP room is connected to an underground passage from the remnants of the military base. If you go straight along that, you'll come out at the hidden mansion on the opposite side of the island, Kuwadorian. It's about two kilometers away. If you make it all the way there, you should be able to escape the blast."
"...I see. So, you planned to escape to there just before the blast."
"I have only said that such a thing is possible. You may not believe this, but if the ninth twilight ended before any of you could solve the riddle, I planned to die along with everything else."
"...There's something seriously wrong with this girl..."
"She's insane... There's no point thinking about it! If we hadn't solved the epitaph, she would have used those guns, or else that switch, to massacre all of us, right?! There can be no doubting that now!!"
"You are correct. You have ended this game in the best possible way, without there being even a single victim. I wish to convey my respect and admiration. Though there were seven of you, you solved the riddle, which I spent so much time on, in a single night. That is worthy of praise."
"I also admire you for your graciousness and honesty in defeat. We haven't decided how you will be dealt with, but I hope to do all I can to reach a gentlemanly agreement."
"...Pay me no mind any longer. I am already one of the dead, who was already prepared to kill everyone and die myself."
The Golden Witch Beatrice solved the epitaph, reached this room, and revived. And now. New people had solved the riddle and reached this room, so her role was finished. When the epitaph's riddle was solved, Beatrice's illusion of the witch ended. Most likely, no one in this room was capable of understanding her tragic determination. She herself was probably the only one who understood. As long as the many selves inside of her understood, that was enough.
...I am one yet many. I abandoned myself to the magical roulette of endless possibilities. The result... the answer... is this. This is what the tarot cards known as the epitaph ceremony have shown me.
...Beatrice is already dead.
The witch stared up at the ceiling without speaking for a while, then looked as though she'd suddenly remembered something. She grabbed at the sleeves of her dress and took out some sort of card.
"Oh, yes. I forgot. I have no need for money after death. I will give this to all of you as well."
"...A cash card?"
"I have converted a portion of the gold to cash. This is for the account that the money is in."
"I see. So this is the magical energy of the Golden Witch."
"I've forgotten the details. However, there is more than a billion yen."
"A billion...! Now that would be magic!"
"True. There's nothing you couldn't do with that much money."
"Very true. The strongest magic to counter the humans' anti-magic toxin is this magic of gold. It may be that this card holds greater power than the ingots."
"Certainly. Cash would be much more agreeable than ingots."
"Here you go. I have no need of this anymore."
The card she held out... was not taken by any of them. Who would ever just hand over a card with a billion yen in it? The mountain of gold, the device for blowing up the island, the card with a billion yen... All of these surpassed their understanding. So, no one could bring themselves to take it.
"...What don't you like?"
"Here you go, here's a mountain of gold. And I'll turn off the explosives and give you a card worth a billion yen while we're at it. It sounds far too good to be true. You're trying to trick us somehow, aren't you?"
"I have no desire to trick you, but I won't try and force you to believe. I have offered you everything, revealed everything. What you believe and what you do is now for you, the new masters of the gold, to decide. You are even free to disbelieve all I say and leave this place."
"Eva. I can't imagine that she's lying."
"And how could you know that?! I don't like how relaxed she's acting! It's as though she thinks she's already won! ...I just had an idea, a second ago!! What if she's lying about which is the 'off' side of the switch?!"
"Wh, what do you mean, Nee-san...?"
"Just a second ago, this girl flipped the switch to the side she said would turn off the bomb! But what if that actually armed the bomb?! We solved the riddle, so you turned the bomb's switch to 'on', trying to blow us and everything else up, right?!"
"...If that is what you think, then please feel free to flip the switch on this clock. It will be 24:00 in one minute. The clock will show you the truth."
"Wh, what did you say...?"
"H, hey, what're we supposed to do...? Is the bomb set to 'on' now? Or 'off'?!"
"I don't think she could be lying...! It's inactive now. We shouldn't flip it...!"
"But I don't like it!! Why is she so resigned to her fate?! Why's she offering us things one after another?! She's tricking us to buy time!! She wants to buy time until 24:00 so that she can go down in flames along with us!!"
"Wh, what about the switch itself? Is there some way to tell if it's on or off...?"
On the upper part of the antique clock was a metal switch that could slide right or left. Right now, it was set to the left. However, there were no marks in particular on either side to tell one which was 'off' and which was 'on'.
"...Left. It's off now."
"You idiot! You really expect an honest answer from her?! It's the opposite... It has to be!! The right side must be 'off'!!"
"W, we don't have any more time, Nee-san...!!"
"Quit it, Eva!! Don't touch the switch! It's set to 'off' now!!"
"Eva-san, take your hand off it!!"
"I agree. It's 'off' now. If she wanted to kill us with a bomb, she wouldn't have told us about it."
"...!!! B, Beatriiiiiiiice...!! Don't think you can trick me...!!!"
"...5. 4... 3."
"Nng, aah... aaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghh!!!"
BGM: 7 Weights
The second hand of the clock... ticked past 24:00.
October 4th ended... and the curtain rose on October 5th, 1986...
The switch was still pointing to the left. The witch's words had been proven correct.
"Y, you bitch!"
With a hideous, sweat-covered expression, Eva snatched the cash card away from the witch's hand.
"...How about a bankbook and seal? We can't withdraw anything with just a card!"
"All you need is the PIN. It's eight digits long."
"W, wait a second!! I'm writing it down...!!"
Eva and Kyrie both took out a pen and notepad and began writing the eight digit number the witch told them.
"...That is everything I have to tell you and give you. I will say nothing more. All of my tasks have been completed."
After saying this, the witch spun around... and sat down on the bed. She wasn't even looking at the others anymore. She sat there like an empty husk which had, just as she had said, finished everything it existed to do... For a while, everyone watched the witch to see if she would remember something else and start talking. However, she said nothing else. The witch who had called herself one of the dead was now little more than a large French doll wearing a black dress...