Part 16: Morning of Tragedy II
BGM: Totem Blume
"It's impossible to make use of the external li~ne! Looks like you can use the internal line! It's impossible to use a boat inside the typhoon! I guess the closed circle is complete now! Congrats, you're now a full detective, Bern!"
When the police intervene, they sometimes steal some of the detective's authority. However, with the construction of the closed circle, the existence of police had been denied for all eternity. From now on, the authority of the detective piece would be totally guaranteed.
"Yeah, yeah, thanks a bunch. Then I guess it's time to get this game started."
Erika, you're the main character. Now, begin...!
"Y, yes. And it was so... horrible...!"
"It was exactly the same as the four in the guesthouse... The neck... was sliced open... with a terribly sharp blade..."
"...T, to think that even though I had the midnight shift, I didn't notice anyone suspicious..."
"Don't blame yourself. If you'd bumped into the culprit, you might be the one dead right now."
"On top of that, the phones aren't even connecting...! I doubt any boats will come in this weather. This is serious...!"
"...And that means it's very likely that the culprit is still nearby."
"E, eeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk...! Then what? Does that mean we'll be trapped here with a murderer until the typhoon passes and the boat comes...?!"
"...I, it'll be alright. If we all stay together like this, even the culprit won't be able to lay a finger on us...!"
"E, even Jessica... I can't believe it..."
"W, we won't let ourselves be killed...!! I'll avenge George!! I won't let them get away! No matter who the culprit is or what their reason was, I won't let the one who killed George get away!! I'll kill them, I'll kill them!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh...!!"
"...We've been calling him for a while, but he hasn't answered..."
"Could the receiver be off the hook...?"
"No, we could hear it ringing. There's no way he didn't hear it..."
"Wh, what does it mean...? You don't think... Uncle Krauss too...?!"
"...Thought so. I hate to say it at a time like this, but there were four in the guesthouse plus Genji to make five. I figured there would be one more."
"Why?! How could you know that?! Are you the culprit?! Did you kill George?!"
"S, stop it, Eva-san...! Now is not the time...!"
Eva got agitated and grabbed at Kyrie. Nanjo stepped in between them, and it grew into a bit of a scuffle...
Watching this, Erika smiled condescendingly and shrugged.
"Probably. It's natural that you'd guess there were six victims after seeing the crime scene in the guesthouse. There were only four corpses, so it'd make you wonder who the other two were."
"How could you know such a thing?!! You killed them?! You killed Geoooooorge!!"
"Qu, quit it, Eva! Erika-chan, Kyrie-san...! How can you know that?! Can't you think before you talk...?!"
"...It's a simple connection to make. The scribble drawn at the scene of the crime in the guesthouse was a magic circle. I just thought of things that are connected to both magic and murders."
"I see... the epitaph..."
"...I see... It's... the first twilight."
"Huh? Huh? What's going on...?!"
"W, well, I don't have a clue either...!!"
"...Is that how it is...? That damn witch..."
"So is this really... Beatrice-sama's doing...?"
"Why do you all keep talking as if you know something?!! I don't have a clue!! Someone, explain!!"
"I told you, Eva...! Calm down a bit...!!"
"...That's how it is. Since I saw the magic circle at that crime scene. I imagined this might be a plotline murder following the epitaph's first twilight, which would mean there are six victims."
"...So, Uncle Krauss was also... killed...?"
"We can't be sure of that. Krauss-san isn't the only person who hasn't come here, right? There's one more."
For just an instant, Natsuhi's brow furrowed... So, she hadn't been able to avoid the topic of the study after all...
"You don't mean, Dad?! Hey, someone must have contacted the study, right?!"
"O, of course we called and even knocked on the door... But, umm, there was no answer..."
"F, Father is immersing himself in his research... H, he sometimes leaves the receiver off the hook because he doesn't want to be called and even ignores knocking...!"
"...B, but the phone was ringing..."
"A, anyway...! Let's first check to see that my husband's alright!! Let's go to his room!!"
Natsuhi stood up in a flurry and dashed out into the corridor. Rudolf and the others immediately chased after her, telling her to wait.
"...Come on, let's all go together. In both third-rate mystery and third-rate horror, people who act alone tend to die first."
"...Yeah, this game is just the same. Beato really is third-rate. *giggle*giggle*giggle*...!"
Oh, but in third-rate disaster movies and third-rate action movies, people who act alone do survive, right? Weird. *giggle*giggle*!
BGM: Organ Short #600 Million in C Minor
"It might be the work of this man from 19 years ago, who is thought to be Lady Lambdadelta's piece. Ah yes, that can't be true."
"...In the games up until now, Beato has already stated that Kinzo has vanished, meaning that no more than 17 people exist and no 18th person exists. Now that Erika has been added, it's been stated that no 19th person exists. There's no room for this man from 19 years ago to appear on the island."
"Then, the man from 19 years ago is disguised as one of the existing humans, or else..."
"*cackle*cackle*! Even if a 19th person isn't permitted by the red, slipping in a 19th person is no trouble for me, no trouble for witches...! Now it's getting interesting. Why don't we watch this a little longer?"
"Still, those two witches... they've finally started doing whatever they like with my game board...!"
"...Didn't you know that would happen when you invited them?"
"Hmph. As a witch, I have the same dislike for boredom as they do. Even the unexpected brings the kind of joy a witch expects."
"Very well, bring it on...!"
"It's great that you're so eager, but things have taken a nasty turn. Get it?"
"...Indeed. Perhaps this isn't the best time to wait and see what happens next."
"I know that. At this rate, Kinzo's existence will become a problem once again. And the barrier around the study won't last long."
"That isn't all. Things are going to get even worse. See? Move one, move two. Move three. Cornered, Natsuhi."
Gaap whispered something into Beato's ear. Beato's mouth... slowly widened into a grin.
"Natsuhi is the king. She can't move far, but we cannot allow her to be taken! Let's take the initiative. If we slip up here, Natsuhi will be cornered...! Gaap, can I count on you?!"
"Of course! I'll blow a hole through closed room tricks, alibis, and mysteries alike. Leave it to me. I'll deal with it."
Gaap was swallowed up, along with the chair she sat in, into a pitch black hole which opened on the floor and disappeared. Then, a hole opened on the ceiling and spat just the chair back out, returning the place to the way it had been...
"...Things are becoming troublesome."
"Heh, heheheheheheheh. I see. So, against Lady Lambdadelta, even I am nothing more than a mere piece. So in the early game, I must worry more about expansion than losing or taking pieces."
"...*cackle*cackle*! I'm just no match for that person! I won't let her do that. Natsuhi is the final master I will serve! Know that this is a piece you'll never be allowed to take as long as she has a contract with me, Beatrice!!"
BGM: Deep Blue Jeer
"But there was no corpse."
"Then he isn't dead."
"Maybe not. Eheheheheheheheh...!!"
"Judging by this blood-stained bed... I don't like to think about it, but we should probably assume that he was killed and had his neck cut open, just like the people in the guesthouse..."
"...Probably... Judging by the amount of blood lost, it's hard to imagine that he's alright..."
"B, but... Where did Krauss-sama go...?"
Large amounts of blood stained the top of the bed, but there were no similar marks on the floor of the room. Whether Krauss had been seriously wounded and wandered off somewhere... or killed and carried somewhere, they had no clue where this 'somewhere' was.
...Natsuhi knew. Though Krauss had been sounding far from his best over the phone, he at least hadn't sounded like he was on the brink of death. In other words, these blood stains had to be a setup. That might not even be blood...
...However, just what was that man thinking? What's this supposed to be...?!
"...Was Krauss nii-san in the habit of locking his door? We just came in without unlocking it."
"...Yes, Krauss-sama did have a habit of locking up."
"A, at this house, Madam has ordered that all non-public areas be locked."
"How many keys can unlock Uncle Krauss's room?"
"In addition to the one key Krauss-sama held, the master keys..."
"...How boring. In other words, no closed room murders have existed or will exist in this mansion. Sheesh. This is getting to be a pretty boring mystery."
Erika laughed off this murder in disappointment, as though it was something she was watching on TV. I can't understand it. Why is 'her world' so different from ours? It's almost like she's in a separate dimension from us...
"...W, was Jessica also... like this, in a bed?"
"...Yes, that's right. Just like George, her neck... was cut..."
"...Jessica... Let me be with Jessica... I haven't even seen Jessica's face yet...! Jessica, Jessicaaaaaaaa!!"
"W, wait up, Natsuhi-san...!!"
"The culprit might still be hiding nearby! It would be dangerous to let her be alone..."
Natsuhi flew out of the room and dashed towards the guesthouse this time. It was only natural. Natsuhi still hadn't even seen Jessica's dying face. Everyone probably thought that... Of course, even Natsuhi was half thinking that. The other half... was her desire to shift everyone else's attention away from the study. Strange crimes had occurred, the gold had been discovered, and some relatives had even recommended Battler to be the next head. Even in these twisted circumstances, she had to protect Kinzo's secret.
...Aahh, if my head... is going to be wracked by this suffering anyway... Please just let my head explode right now. That way, I won't have to suffer any longer...
"So, everyone. For Natsuhi-san's sake, let's return to the guesthouse for the time being. Though it's not as though seeing their dead faces is going to lead to any developments."
"...Do you even have a heart?"
Just seeing her daughter's dying face wouldn't bring Jessica back to life, nor would it heal Natsuhi's anguish. On the contrary, she would probably wail, wasting a considerable amount of time before being able to think properly again. This probably sums up Erika's screwed up argument...
...Just seeing their dying faces won't lead to any developments...?
Natsuhi flew into the cousins' room on the second floor of the guesthouse, and was struck dumb by the blood-stained beds and the eerie magic circle which looked like it might have been drawn with the victims' blood...
"...Where is Jessica...? Where is Jessica...?! Jessicaaa!!"
"In that... bed..."
"Huh? George...? Wh, where is he...?!"
BGM: Dead Angle
"...This room was locked tight when we left. We can now be certain that the culprit has a master key. Once again, my reasoning was correct."
"Who cares about that...?! Where did they go...? Wh, where did everyone's corpses go...?!"
"Hey, look, look, it's magic, ri~ght? That Gaap who's with Beato hid the corpses somewhere with magic...!"
"...All of us moved together. So you're trying to say that everyone had alibis?"
"Your reasoning goes like this, right? The four of them weren't actually dead, they were just playing dead. Then, when no one else was around, they hid somewhere. Am I right?"
"You don't intend to proclaim any of their deaths in red now, do you?"
"Of course I won't. Unlike that dolt Beato, I don't give red out for free!"
"In that case, I'll be glad to use the blue truth. I can think of many ways to work around something of this level."
"*giggle*. Sure, go ahe~ad! Blue truth time!"
"Ahhaha! Even if you've been shown their gaping wounds, you're still trying that one on principle as long as there's no red, right?! But don't get your hopes up. I'm not giving you a freebie red truth! After all, I just have to deny it all at once at the end of the game, at 24:00 on October 5th!"
"Ah, the witch's side has such a big advantage! It'd all be over now if that stupid Battler was my opponent, but you aren't like that, right, Bern?!"
"Of course. Anyone could have thought of that silly move. I have more. Second one. Krauss carried the corpses off and hid them. You've acted it out so that it looks like you've kidnapped Krauss and locked him up somewhere, but he might actually be free. Krauss has no alibi. Krauss hid their corpses."
"Yeah, that's right. It's not like I proclaimed that Krauss was being confined with the red truth. *giggle*giggle*! You know how they say you've got to confuse your friends before you can confuse your enemies! So he lied to Natsuhi, making it seem like he'd been captured! Eheheheheheheh!! Any others?!"
"Third one. The corpses were different people in the first place. They were substitute corpses just like the victims. George and the others were hiding from the beginning, and later cleared up those substitute corpses. These corpses were dead from the very beginning, so they don't count towards the number of people on the island."
"Ahhahhahhahahahahahahahaha!! That's messed up!! So even though all those people gathered around and saw their dead faces, none of them realized that they were substitute corpses?"
"Since you haven't used the red truth, there's a possibility that everyone misidentified all of the corpses. Though if you feel like repeating 'no one would misidentify a person', I'll withdraw that claim immediately, okay...?"
"No wa~y♪ I'm not falling for that provocation! The red truth is only useful if you use it with flash, right? I'll take a single truth out of a large pile of blue and smash it with the red! Then, the rest of the blue truths will be swallowed up by darkness before you can find out whether they were right or wrong!"
"That darkness is the world of witches! You won't be given any truth at all! Ehheheheheheheheheh!!"
Looks like she understands this darkness of magic even better than the true Game Master, Beato. And apparently, Gaap also understood that well. That move of hiding the corpses. It was pretty effective for both Lambda and Beato.
In any event, I've thought up a full three theories about the disappearing corpses. Three blue wedges for a single riddle. That doesn't mean she can just deny one of those three. Unless she eliminates all three wedges, this riddle has been defeated. That is the ironclad rule of witch hunting. A single wedge isn't nearly enough. Only vampires die from a single stake. Compared to witches, vampires are weak. True witches won't die unless you stab them all over with stakes, right? It's the same with assassins, isn't it? Assassins only kill their targets with a single perfect shot in Japanese manga. Real assassins will empty out an entire clip of bullets. That's how you do things, right? Of course, it's the same for me.
But it's this girl we're talking about, so she might slice it all in two with a single swipe of the red. By simply letting off a few quick lines confirming their deaths and Krauss's innocence with the red, she can remove all three of my wedges. Well, that's okay. When the red truth does come out, I just need to follow along with it and stab her full of blue wedges again.
...*giggle*giggle*. This is how a game of witches plays out. *giggle*, ah, it's so fun...! Battler's sluggish battles always pissed me off, so I'm loving this...!!
Yeah, I understand, Lambda. This first twilight is just the beginning of the beginning. It's just a skirmish, right...? *giggle*...Wouldn't have it any other way... I'll make you lose pathetically and cry out in regret as you crawl and scratch at the floor! I've almost forgotten the pleasure of grabbing that cute hair of yours and wiping the floor with it as I roll around laughing...!!
In the ceiling of this cramped room, a pitch black hole appeared, captivating legs sprouted out... and Gaap floated downwards.
"Please disappear from this place so that you may serve Natsuhi, the final head of the Ushiromiya family, even after death."
Gaap stripped off the blanket as she said this to Genji, who was sleeping peacefully... Then she stared at the deep wound in his neck...
BGM: At Death's Door
It goes without saying, but witches are capable of summoning beings with a strength proportional to their own talent. The great Lady Lambdadelta called that being here as a trump card 19th person. Even optimistically speaking, this is on par with Ronove and me...
A pitch black hole opened on the bed, and Genji disappeared as though the bed had swallowed him up. Just like the four in the guesthouse, Genji's corpse was also hidden in some unknown place... It was a place that no one could find, located within neither this world nor the next...
No longer would anyone be able to find their corpses. No longer would anyone be able to confirm their deaths. She carried Genji's corpse to this place of endless silence, where it would never be disturbed...
"...The darkness inside of cat boxes which will never be opened is the place where we demons and witches reside...! You were a bit too slow, Miss Great Detective. Heheheheh..."
Gaap licked her lips and gulped...
"...I wonder why Gaap-sama is going around hiding corpses."
"I don't know. But Gaap-sama is pretty cool. She's just so... awesome."
"Don't be stupid, what happened to standing guard?! The humans are returning from the guesthouse!! Gaap-sama...!"
"Yes, let's disperse. This should be enough to give Natsuhi a way out..."
Gaap jumped into a pitch black hole which had opened near her feet. Mammon said 'I'm going in too!' and jumped in, followed by Asmo, who said 'Me too, me too!' and hopped in, giggling. As Satan hesitated over what to do, the hole closed.
"A, and you call yourselves members of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory... h, how childish. So stupid...!"
Satan went bright red and got angry all by herself, then turned into gold butterflies and disappeared...
BGM: Organ Short #200 Million in C Minor
"Well done. However, the next part is tricky."
"They will probably be somewhat surprised at the disappearance of Genji's corpse, but their interest will most likely swing back to Kinzo's study after that."
"...There are two keys to the study. It's fortunate that Natsuhi is in possession of both. If she had left one with Genji, it would probably have fallen into Lady Lambdadelta's hands by now."
"It seems that Lady Lambdadelta has no intention of hiding Kinzo's death. Apparently, she plans to fight while ignoring the moat, towers, and ramparts that you have created."
"Heh, heheheh. This has become a strange triangular confrontation. We are all each other's enemies, but we sometimes join forces without notice. In a three-way fight, just when you think it's two against one, it suddenly becomes one against two."
"...That's what it's like. The Chinese battle royal! Don't you think it's like that 'Records of the Three Kingdoms' thing?"
"Oh, the Longzhong Plan. That's quite a sophisticated analogy to hear coming from you, pu ku ku...!"
"There were three empires in Records of the Three Kingdoms, weren't there? Wei, Wu, and Shu, right? That sounds just like us. So, which empire won out in the end?"
"Hoh. I didn't know that. I thought one of the three empires won. Did the Wei have an overwhelming advantage...?"
"They had the position of emperor stolen from them, and their empire was subjugated and destroyed."
...The Sima clan, a noble family that Cao Cao invited in as advisors, eventually gained central control in a power struggle and took over the country.
"...So, they were invited in as advisors, and they seized control."
"...*cackle*, very interesting. That Lady Lambdadelta...! *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!!"
"Pardon me. The humans have confirmed the disappearance of Genji's corpse in the servant waiting room. They have started moving towards Lord Goldsmith's study."
"Riiche. They're coming."
"Hmph, let them come. The humans... and the Witches of Certainty and Miracles..."
If this is a three way fight with humans and witches... then what should we be called...? If the thing we're protecting for the time being... is Kinzo's phantom...