Part 138: Bern's Puzzle
BGM: Waltz Op. 34
Gohda, who had woken up to get breakfast ready, went to check on the adult siblings, who had remained in the dining hall since the previous night because of the family conference.
"Talk about when you discovered the crime."
Oh dear, it looks like we've run into another text color.
From now on, purple text will be represented by bold, italic Courier, because purple is the midpoint between red and blue.
"That's when I arrived. I recommended that he try unlocking the door, just in case."
"When I unlocked the door with a master key, a terrifying sight awaited me inside..."
"Eva-sama, Hideyoshi-sama, Rudolf-sama, Kyrie-sama, Rosa-sama, and Genji-san, six people in all, were lying there, covered in blood..."
"A great tumult followed. Everyone gathered in the dining hall."
"I don't want to remember it... The sight of all the sobbing children crouched over the corpses of their own parents..."
"There was a chance they might've been alive still. Everyone was shaking them desperately."
"But it was no use... The death of each parent was confirmed by their own child..."
"Doctor Nanjo and I confirmed that Genji-sama was dead."
"It was such a terrible way to be killed... No one will mistakenly confirm a death, even those other than myself."
"Looks like all of the victims died instantly... Kihihihihi."
"After inspecting the interior of the dining hall, we determined that all of the doors and windows had been locked, making it a closed room."
"And nothing suspicious was found inside the dining hall."
"Of course, there was no one hiding in the dining hall either."
"Naturally. All of us are here right now. It's clear that no one is hiding."
"But Dad, if that's true, it doesn't make sense... Six people were killed, and the dining hall's a closed room! How could someone have killed them and escaped?!"
"...I'd rather not think of it, but perhaps the servants with their master keys are the most suspicious."
"They killed the six, then left and locked the door with their master keys. It is a logical theory."
"E, eeek! Th, that's absurd!"
Since there was no chance of the culprit hiding inside the dining hall, it made sense to assume that the culprit had locked the door after committing the murder and exiting the room. It was only natural that the servants, with their master keys, would fall under suspicion. And, sadly enough, none of the servants had an alibi. Then again, it wasn't only the servants. Everyone else lacked an alibi as well.
"No, there isn't. Hmm, that's not enough. I'll say it with the red truth."
"There you have it. Any other questions?"
"Shouldn't there be keys to each individual room in addition to the master keys?"
"...Normally, those would exist. However, they'd make the game more complicated, so I've eliminated them. Red truth. In this game, we'll consider master keys to be the only keys that exist."
"In other words, all of the locks that appear in this game can only be locked or unlocked by master keys."
"That's how it is. It really is a simple game."
"In that case, we should now check the number of master keys and who holds them."
"There are five master keys total. One is held by each of the five servants. The keys'll be managed by a particular method. The servants keep the master keys on their person at all times, so it is impossible for them to be stolen, handed over, or used by any human other than themselves."
"What the heck. Now they're sounding less like keys and more like a fingerprinting system."
"That's an interesting metaphor. In other words, in the world of this game, it isn't the master keys, but the five servants themselves that can lock or unlock doors."
"To prevent trouble later on, we destroyed Genji's master key."
This was the crime of the first twilight. The scene was the locked closed room of the dining hall. None of the servants holding master keys have alibis. Then again, no one else has an alibi either...
BGM: Deep Blue Jeer
The phones were out, so they couldn't contact the police. Was the mysterious culprit hiding away somewhere, planning to attack their next victim at this very moment? Or was the culprit in here with them, mentally sticking out their tongue and tasting their next prey? None of them had alibis, and it was possible for any one of them to be a culprit...
However, that tense feeling didn't last long. By midday, everyone got tired of arguing, and they decided to take a break. Krauss and Natsuhi announced that they wanted to talk with each other alone and went up to the second floor. That was the beginning, and after that, everyone went their separate ways now and then, such as to head to the bathroom or gaze at the endless rain. However, no matter how much time passed, Krauss and Natsuhi were the only ones who didn't return.
Calls were sent to both Krauss and Natsuhi's rooms using the extension phone line, but there was no answer. Something might have happened.
"After getting everyone's permission, I unlocked the door..."
"Krauss-sama and Natsuhi-sama lay sprawled on the floor inside the room."
"Doctor Nanjo checked their pulse. Then, he announced that the two of them had died instantly."
"Correct. I confirmed both of their deaths. There can be no doubt that they died instantly."
"I searched all over the room, looking for a clue...! In the end, I found that the windows and doors were all locked, making it a closed room."
"Another closed room! And yet again, we servants who have master keys will be suspected...!"
"B, but have no fear...! After Madam began to suspect us, we started keeping an eye on each other!"
"All of us servants were together the whole time."
"All of us servants can prove an alibi for all of the other servants."
"...In the case of the first closed room, no one had an alibi. So, for this closed room, all of them have alibis."
"In this world, the servants themselves become living master keys. Since those servants have perfect alibis, it was impossible to lock Natsuhi's room..."
"We put duct tape all over the outside of the doors and windows, sealing them!"
"I'm sure the culprit left some sort of clue in this room! We made sure that no one would be able to enter or leave until the police arrived!"
"Then, we did the same to the dining hall. We also sealed the dining hall in the same way."
"We reached the conclusion that the entire mansion itself should be preserved. We also sealed the mansion itself, and all of us took refuge in the guesthouse."
"...The game would get complicated otherwise, so I've simplified it. All of the windows had steel bars on them, so it is impossible to enter or leave by them. Therefore, we'll say that they can seal the whole mansion by sealing the two doors, the front one and the back one."
"Got it. That makes it easy."
"What do you think?"
"Actually killing the two people in Aunt Natsuhi's room would be easy. Someone just had to knock and get them to open the door. However, they couldn't lock it afterwards."
"Only the servants can lock doors, but all of the servants have alibis."
"Unless the servants are all in it together. More importantly, the first twilight has me suspicious."
"You think that one of the six who died in the dining hall was actually alive and committed the crime?"
"It's because of Erika. I can't help but be suspicious when people are examining corpses."
"So, you think that one of the first six victims was alive?"
"Yeah. And afterwards, they killed Krauss and Natsuhi. Then, they locked the door from the inside, hid inside the room, and found a good chance to escape."
"Hmm, that theory does make logical sense."
"Then I'll take a shot with the blue truth. Here is the true nature of this closed room. The culprit locked the door from the inside, then hid in Natsuhi's room. Then, after everyone left, they found an opportunity to escape."
"...Sure, I'll deny that in red. The group sealed the room at the same time they left. No culprit joined the group as they left. Also, all of the seals on Natsuhi's room, the dining hall, and the mansion itself will not be broken."
"Heheheheheh. In other words, you can't use that trick where they hide under the bed and slip out later."
"...Interesting. Nice going, Bernkastel."
This was the crime of the second twilight. The scene was Natsuhi's room, a locked closed room. This time, all of the servants with master keys have alibis. The whole group, realizing the dangers of being inside the mansion, took shelter in the guesthouse...
BGM: Happy Maria! (instrumental)
There, if everyone watched everyone else, they should be able to prevent further crimes both from inside and outside. However, they couldn't do that without any breaks until the typhoon passed. Once again, their actions left a weak point open, and they were faced with yet another tragedy.
"George nii-san got upset, so we all went outside to look for them."
"We found Shannon-chan lying there in the rose garden. Oh, poor, poor Shannon-chan..."
"I prayed she was still alive. However, I was forced to acknowledge that she was dead..."
"Of course, I also examined her and confirmed her death."
"When the two of them left, we were busy checking the locks around the guesthouse. So, not one of us has an alibi...!"
"Me, kill her?! How could I have killed her?!!"
"That's right. George onii-chan couldn't kill her, uu-."
"Later on, we learned that George nii-san alone had an alibi. At least regarding Shannon's death, it was impossible for George nii-san to be the murderer."
"To turn it around, anyone could have killed her besides George-aniki."
"To prevent the culprit from using it for any mischief, we destroyed the master key Shannon-san had held on the spot."
"Well, I thought it'd be rude, so I kept quiet about it, but that's what happens when Shannon dies."
"In other words, we can say that Shannon and Kanon were killed at the same time, even though we're missing a corpse?"
"...Hmm. Looks like the crimes are moving along."
This was the crime of the fourth twilight. The scene was the rose garden. There are no locks or doors. It isn't a closed room. So, the master keys no longer have anything to do with this. Then, the pace of the crimes began to accelerate...
BGM: Waltz Op. 34
They carefully sealed all doors and windows, locking themselves in a closed room. However, several closed room murders had already occurred. Could locking themselves in a closed room do anything more than invite another tragedy? After arguing fiercely in the cousins' room about finding the culprit, they decided that they should double-check Nanjo, Kumasawa, and Gohda's testimony. And there, they learned that a tragedy had occurred once more.
"Like hell they could survive after this...! Gohda-san and Kumasawa-san are both dead!"
"Well, we have been busy, keeping a lookout and locking up and all that. Once again, none of us has an alibi."
"That's not true. Look. Considering the way they were killed, the culprit would definitely get blood spatter on themselves."
"But Doctor Nanjo and all of the cousins have no blood on them."
"All of us... in other words, the four cousins and Doctor Nanjo couldn't have killed Gohda-san and Kumasawa-san."
"In that case, it's clear that the culprit is someone other than us."
"I guessed that someone might have snuck in, so I checked around, but the guesthouse was still completely locked up."
"Perhaps the culprit has a master key after all..."
"That's impossible. No master keys exist anymore except the two keys on the two people who lie dead here."
"Since the two master keys that exist are here inside the guesthouse, that makes this guesthouse a perfect closed room...!"
"Well, since someone's dead, it obviously wasn't perfect. Kihihihihihihihihi..."
This was the crime of the fifth and sixth twilights. The scene was the closed room known as the guesthouse. Gohda's and Kumasawa's master keys were also destroyed, meaning that all master keys have now been lost. Now, no one can break into this closed room guesthouse.
At least, that should have been true...
BGM: Kina no Kaori
His body was found in the entrance hall of the guesthouse. It was far too foolish of him to come here alone to check that everything was locked.
"Even I... can say for sure that this was an instant death..."
"Everything is locked up perfectly. How did it happen, if this is a closed room?"
"Then that means the culprit is one of us...!"
"Impossible! Judging by the circumstances, Maria, Battler, George nii-san and I all couldn't have killed Doctor Nanjo!"
"In the first place, no one could kill Doctor Nanjo inside the guesthouse!"
"And look at this. Simply put, this is proof that Doctor Nanjo didn't leave the guesthouse...!"
"Then that means no one could kill Doctor Nanjo, right? So why was he killed?"
No one could answer that innocent question.
This was the seventh twilight. Once again, the crime scene was the closed room known as the guesthouse. Various bits of evidence made this crime seem even more impossible. Then, the tragedy reached the eighth twilight, the final one.
Jessica might have chosen anger as a way to numb her fear. She flew out of the guesthouse in a rage, searching for the culprit that she was sure hid somewhere outside. George, Battler, and Maria hurriedly chased after her. Then, outside the building, they found Jessica lying on the ground. It was, as anyone could tell by looking, a gruesome corpse...
"There's no way she could live through this. Kihihihihi."
"The three of us were together the whole time! George-aniki, Maria and I couldn't have killed Jessica!"
"Yeah. The three of us couldn't have killed Jessica."
"As if Maria-chan could kill someone. Maria-chan couldn't kill anyone."
"Kihihi, thanks. George onii-chan couldn't kill an adult. He could kill a kid though. Kihihihihihi."
"Ah, I don't understand it at all...!! What the hell is going on here...?!!"
This was the eighth twilight. The crime scene was... outside. However, the three who chased after Jessica have alibis. George, Battler, and Maria couldn't have killed Jessica. So, is there really someone hiding on this island apart from the Ushiromiya family...? The curtain is lowered on this tale, for now...
"It's pretty well-made. If you had a full-on Reader, it'd stand up well against Beato's games."
"I agree there. You did a good job."
"Well, the real work comes from taking this, Reading it and making it worthy of proper theatergoing."
"Still, I'm stumped. On the face of it, the culprit has to be some mysterious person outside the Ushiromiya family."
"And that would be the same as acknowledging the existence of a witch. We can also suspect the existence of some accomplices aiding the culprit."
"By the way, what was that purple text all about? A new rule?"
"Oho... Well, that's nice of you."
"Then, are the purple statements as reliable as red truth?"
"Yes. You can think of the purple statements as having the same power as red truth. However, there's one exception. The culprit can tell lies with purple statements."
"...I see. To turn it around, anyone who isn't a culprit can't tell lies."
"Purple statements. These seem to be the key to Lady Bernkastel's game."
"Yeah, that's right. I'll explain the rules for my game."
"The definition of 'culprit' is 'one who murders'... Makes sense."
"It is possible for a culprit to lie. That seems reasonable enough too."
"It is possible for a culprit to lie even before committing murder. Well, no surprises there."
"Characters who are not culprits only speak the truth. Wouldn't that be nice!"
"Characters who are not culprits may not cooperate with a culprit, right?"
"So, the culprit can't use any accomplices to create an alibi."
"Damn. My guess was that someone had manufactured an alibi to cover for the culprit, but..."
"...Aw, too bad."
"A culprit must carry out all murders directly, by their own hands. In other words, there are no remote or indirect methods of murder, like traps."
"A culprit must not die. In other words, they can't commit murder, form a closed room, then commit suicide inside it."
"And doesn't it also mean that dead people can't be culprits?"
"...Hmm. This is a fairly vital piece of information."
"A culprit must be among the characters appearing in the story. So, no mysterious strangers sneaking onto the island."
"The appearing characters are the same old 17 people after Kinzo is removed. No one else appears in the story, so no one else matters."
"Purple statements are as absolute as red truths. However, the culprit alone may lie with purple statements. Now here's a troublesome one."
"This could be the heart of this game. Is that all for the game's premises?"
"So, you willingly abandon a witch's privileges. You seem quite confident."
"She probably plans to win despite that."
"That's all from me. I don't intend to give you any more hints or answer any more questions."
"As the observer, I'll proclaim this once again. I guarantee that it is possible to pinpoint the culprit with this information."
"Okay. Got it."
"I can't wait to get started. I can't believe the two of us are going to take on the same mystery together once more...!"
"Yeah. I'm looking forward to it...!"