The Let's Play Archive

Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru

by ProfessorProf

Part 18: Ten Wedges to Pierce Witches II

BGM: Witch of the Painting

"Sorry, but it isn't Dad. I'm the one who opened it."
"...Was Kinzo-san there?"
"Nope. It looks like someone slipped out of the bed, but you can't tell when that happened."
"And Natsuhi nee-san was the last person to meet him, right...? Around 11:00 last night. I wonder if that means he slipped out of the study sometime after that and went somewhere else..."
"Th, that's... B, but Father is a fickle person... He used to sometimes say that he had a revelation in a dream all of a sudden, wake up in the middle of the night, and walk around the mansion. Isn't that right, Doctor Nanjo...?"
"Nn, y, yes, such a thing has happened before... Anyway, umm, he is a fickle person. R, right, Kumasawa-san...?"
"...Hoh, hohoho. That's true... He might have had some sort of strange dream and slipped out of bed... That happens a lot, yes..."
"Then where did he slip off to...?! Does this mean... that there's a good chance Father's been caught up in this crime?!"
"...See? We should have checked to make sure Father was safe from the beginning, right?"
"We can't be sure he isn't in this room. Maybe the culprit tied him up and locked him in the closet or something like that."
"...Good point. Let's search."
"Th, this is the head's precious study... You mustn't touch things without reason...!"

BGM: None

When Natsuhi heard this said from right in front of her, her heart froze.

...But Erika had only just happened to be standing right in front of Natsuhi when she said it. She had directed her words to the room at large. She hadn't been speaking to Natsuhi in particular... Natsuhi turned her back on Erika, trying to make it so that her faltering expression wasn't noticed...

BGM: Smile-less Soiree

"...I, I don't understand what you're saying, but try to refrain from incautious remarks. Father, are you there...?! Please answer me...!"

Natsuhi started walking around and calling out in a loud voice, refusing to let Erika say any more. There was a knock. Kyrie and the others who had gone down to the courtyard had returned.

"So Father isn't here after all?"
"He might be tied up and shut away somewhere around here. We were just searching for him."
"...I'm surprised he managed to shut himself away in a place like this for all that time."
"...Give it up, Nee-san. We can't change anything now."
"I wonder... what Madam plans to do..."
"...Get paid back for all the lies she's told up until now."
"...Shh. Let's leave fate in God's hands."
"Y, yes..."

Inside the closet and in the bathtub. Even in the refrigerator and under the study desk. They looked everywhere, almost as though they were 'it' in a game of hide-and-seek. However, not only were they unable to spot Kinzo, they couldn't even find a single suspicious mark...

"I, it seems clear that Father isn't here. That's enough. Please don't disturb Father's precious study any further."
"That's right, that's right... There's nothing the Master hates more than having things moved around without his permission..."
"Father's nowhere to be found. Maybe he really was caught up in the crime...?"
"...Th, though we can't be sure of that..."

Natsuhi averted her gaze once more.

"...We truly do have our backs against the wall... On the off-chance that someone entered the study, I had planned to trick them by saying that he had probably gone for a walk somewhere. However..."
"Hmph. No one would believe that I'd get dressed up for a casual midnight stroll in a mansion where a murder has occurred and many people have been killed. Though I wouldn't put it past myself to do such a thing."
"Come now, Kinzo. Be a good boy and hide under the bed. It's alright, Natsuhi. You may remain calm. You can prove that someone exists, but you can't prove that someone doesn't exist. In other words, the human world is one in which regardless of whether something exists or not, you can make it so that they 'exist'. And the shadows which can make those things 'exist' form the world of us witches, the world of demons."
"...You mean... a Devil's Proof."
"Yes. So don't worry. The power of demons will most certainly protect you."
"...If it could protect the honor of Father and my husband, I wouldn't mind sacrificing this body of mine to demons."
"Your resolve is good. Don't be anxious. I most certainly won't let Kinzo be killed."

At that time, a dry sound suddenly rang out twice. Erika had clapped her hands, seeking everyone's attention. Though such an action should have been above a guest's place, for some reason, it already felt like a natural right of hers. After all, she was the 'detective'.

BGM: Suspicion

"Yeah, we've searched all the places where he could have been hiding. Dad's nowhere to be seen."
"Furthermore, we've found nothing that looks suspicious."
"Yes, we didn't find anything at all."

Erika said it again. They hadn't been able to discover anything...

"In that case, we mustn't loiter around this room. Do you understand how angry Father would be if he learned that so many people were looking through his study...?!"
"Eva-san, you said that you were prepared to take responsibility, didn't you? Are you prepared for him to break off relations with you for the rest of your life...?!"
"Th, that's for Father to decide...!! Not you!!"
"Silence, please. I'd like to lay out the situation. At 23:00 last night, the last person to meet Kinzo-san in this room was Natsuhi-san, right? Can anyone confirm that?"

"...So you're saying that alibis are the foundation of a mystery?"
"Yes, that's right. Alibis are important. Of course, they're almost useless when it comes to the actual theory-making, but it's common courtesy to poke around those boxes."
"Heh. Even though you didn't ask for alibis regarding last night's murder, you are doing it for Grandfather's disappearance. You really are a fickle person."
"Oh, don't worry. Have no fear that I will fully examine everyone's alibis regarding the murders of the first twilight later."
"...So, can anyone confirm that Natsuhi-san visited here at 23:00? If no one can, we'll be forced to doubt whether Natsuhi-san really was the last person to spot him."
"...A, are you saying that I can't be trusted?"

"...Natsuhi-san... is suspicious? W, wait a second. How can you say that...?!"
"He's right...! Calling Madam suspicious is the height of discourtesy...!!"
"Be quiet!! Doctor Nanjo, Gohda, thank you. Erika-san. Do you have enough proof to justify such a rude outburst...?"
"...Yes. Though it's so simple that it annoys me. Sorry to bother you with this TV drama-quality evidence, but if you don't mind..."
"...Why don't you just let us hear it?"

When Battler glared at her, a cold expression rose to Erika's face for an instant. But it was only for an instant. After smiling peacefully and gazing around at everyone, she started to talk. She looked almost like the main character in a play who had come out onto the stage, bathed in a spotlight...

"...W, well, I wonder..."

Keenly noticing that people were starting to doubt Kinzo's existence, Kanon mumbled his words...

"...Who was the last person to meet Father...? And when?"
"I, it was me. Last night, up until the time of the uproar from when Battler found the gold, I was in Father's study, giving the daily report."
"...So around 23:00 last night. Heheh."

Erika chuckled significantly.

"I think Kyrie-san probably did that intentionally. Am I right?"
"Wh, what do you mean... by that...?"

BGM: Mind

"I see. Thanks, Kyrie-san. Actually, I was planning to say the same thing if you didn't."
"...I, is it really that important who saw the Master last...?"
"Yes. If we take the circumstances into account, then in response to the question 'Who met him last?', it was very odd for Natsuhi-san to instantly answer 'me'."
"Wh, why?! Madam told the truth without hiding anything...!"
"Be quiet!! Why do you think that was odd...?"

"W, well, that's I watched as he went to bed. It's only natural to assume that he would then sleep until morning and not meet with anyone..."
"In light of the circumstances, it was easy to suspect that the last person to spot him had some kind of involvement with this case. If a normal person was in Natsuhi-san's position, they wouldn't say 'I was the last person to meet him. I met him at 23:00'. Right, Kyrie-san...?"
"...Yes, that's right. A normal person would say 'I met him at 23:00. However, I'm not sure that I was the last person to meet him'. Something like that."

"...In third-rate mysteries, the last one to spot the victim is often the culprit. They killed the victim themselves, so they knew that no one else could have met the culprit later on... is how the argument goes."
"Hohoh, hohohoho... Couldn't that be nothing more than a minor misspeak...? It's not important enough to be picked up out of the blue and focused on..."
"Yes, yes, that's nothing more than nitpicking... Isn't it a little too early to suspect Natsuhi-san because of a little slip of the tongue like that...?"
"Furthermore, you mentioned needing a reason to be sure that no one else spotted the person in question... but of course, she had such a reason...! She left the room after seeing the Master go to bed! Following common sense, it's perfectly natural to assume that he probably wouldn't meet anyone else until the next morning...!"
"...No. That isn't natural at all. After all, Natsuhi-san, Doctor Nanjo, and Kumasawa-san all made this claim a short while ago. Please, try to remember."

"Th, that's... B, but Father is a fickle person... He used to sometimes say that he had a revelation in a dream all of a sudden, wake up in the middle of the night, and walk around the mansion. Isn't that right, Doctor Nanjo...?"
"Nn, y, yes, such a thing has happened before... Anyway, umm, he is a fickle person. R, right, Kumasawa-san...?"
"...Hoh, hohoho. That's true... He might have had some sort of strange dream and slipped out of bed... That happens a lot, yes..."

"<Good>. Your memory is pretty good, Battler-san. In other words, it's well known amongst the people at the Ushiromiya head house, Natsuhi-san included, that there's a chance Kinzo-san might wake up in the middle of any given night on a whim and wander around. On top of that, they were aware that this happened quite often."
"...Isn't that odd? If you knew that Father often wanders around at night, there's no way you could be certain that he'd stay in his bed until morning. Right?"
"It really is... like a third-rate mystery. A lot of those have this part in the last 5 minutes where the culprit asks 'When did you figure out it was me?' and the detective answers..."
"Seriously... That's why I feel let down. If it turns out that Natsuhi-san really is the culprit, this'll be worse than a TV mystery. That's why I want to clear away the suspicion surrounding Natsuhi-san as soon as I can. I want to make sure that this mystery isn't third-rate before I do anything else."
"...uu, gah..."

"In the court of hell, all of the demon jurors will declare you innocent. So calm down and don't get flustered..."
"...It may be true that Aunt Natsuhi looks suspicious when you say it like that. Still, it sounds like you're just nitpicking to me."
"But it is suspicious. Isn't this more than enough reason to suspect that Natsuhi nee-san is hiding something...?"
"Th, that accusation is entirely false...! And that's not fair, Eva-san...!! Aren't you the sole person who can confirm that I really was here at 23:00...?!"
"...Is this true, Eva-san?"
"...Oh, did that happen? Heheheh, I'm sorry. At the time, I was losing my head because the gold had just been found, so I forgot all about meeting Natsuhi nee-san until just a second ago."
"So, Eva-san, you can confirm that Natsuhi-san was a witness at 23:00?"
"Yes, unfortunately. I'm able to acknowledge that one part of Natsuhi nee-san's story. But only that she came out of this room."
"...Wh, what are you implying?"
"Let me tell you what I'm implying. No, I've wanted to say this for a long time now. I really did feel like saying this in the middle of such a tragic murder case would be improper, but the timing now is just too perfect. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Natsuhi nee-san...?"

The servants gulped and held their breaths... It seemed that they hadn't been able to hide it... after all...

In the middle of this heavy silence, Eva fingered her trump card, and Natsuhi pretended to be calm. Both space and time grew as heavy as lead... and swallowed up everything...

BGM: Deep Blue Jeer

Erika's words, spoken almost casually, tore that atmosphere to pieces like shattering glass...

"...Simply put, we haven't met him once at the family conferences this year or last."
"That's right... We've suspected it since last year. Seeing as how my son and the others have just been killed, this may not be the time or place to pursue this. But there's a chance that this has something to do with the crime, so we will do just that..."
"It's possible that you have a motive for hiding Father's death. We can suspect that you're embezzling Father's assets."
"If Father were to die, an investigation would be conducted for the distribution of the assets and your embezzlement would be exposed. That's why you hid the fact that Father is already dead!!"
"...I see. That's more than enough for the 'why dunnit'. This keeps getting more and more third-rate. Aaah, boring."
"I, I don't know what you're talking about...!! You say I'm hiding the head's death?! I most certainly won't forgive... such a reckless accusation!!"
"That's right...!! In addition to Madam, the other servants take care of the Master on a daily basis, and they see him all the time...!! Genji-san, Shannon-san, and Kanon-kun...! Even Doctor Nanjo and Kumasawa-san meet with him often...! P, perhaps because he doesn't trust me, I haven't seen him even once since last year, but..."
"Be quiet, Gohda!!!"
"Eek!! M, my apologies...!"
"Aren't all of the witnesses besides Natsuhi-san servants employed by her? So you used money to make them follow your story... ah man, this is really third-rate. Pitiful, pitiful. I'm disappointed, Natsuhi-san. So I guess I'll have to finish this now."
"F, finish what...?!"

"...What is it, uninvited guest?"
"You don't exist, do you? You're a ghost whose death was concealed by those humans who didn't want it known because of the inheritance problem."
"...Hmph. Heheheheheheheh."

So close to Erika's face that you might just barely have been able to wedge a single sheet of paper between them, Beato's pipe stopped suddenly.

"And a good day to you too. I'm the Ushiromiya family alchemist, Beatrice the Golden. I'll be your opponent in this fight from here on out."
"Glad to meet you, I'm the detective of this game, Furudo Erika. I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. And now, goodbye."

BGM: Death (from Stupefaction)

"...My master is almighty and all-powerful. A fool like you couldn't even begin to compare with her. I accept your challenge."
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*. You really are calm. Even though a witch has appeared before you and is about to fight with magic and fantasy. If you were Battler, you'd be lying on the ground, screaming that this can't be a mystery anymore."
"Yeah, even in the mystery genre, parallel universes like this have gotten popular lately. You know about Pure Reasoning Space and all that?"
"Ayatsuji Yukito doesn't make his debut until next year."
"You sure are picky for a witch."
"Hahha!! You think you're on the same level as a witch? Don't be so full of yourself, you mere human!!"

When Beato snapped her fingers, something bounced around the room at terrifying speeds...!! It was the witch's stake. The witch's wedge which contained the power of the blue truth within it...! Of course, a mere human like Erika couldn't follow that terrible speed with her eyes. Erika understood this, so she didn't attempt to look every which-way stupidly trying to spot it.

With a terrible sound, Lucifer's blue stake buried itself into Erika's right collarbone. It pierced all the way through her back. Lucifer rotated and rebounded, landed in front of Beato, and disappeared, laughing shrilly.

Erika wasn't blown back. She had just been run through deeply by the blue wedge.

"...So, this is that so-called blue truth. Well then, let me hear your opinion."

Beato announced that with an expression worthy of her title as witch. Erika was silent. Was she too shocked to speak?

There was no anguish in her expression. She was just quietly listening to Beato's blue truth. No, judging by her disdainful expression, it's probably more appropriate to say that Beato's words went in one ear and out the other.

"...<Good>. Let's start with the classic moves. By the way, this thing really is stuck good. I can't take it out."

She tried pulling from the front and the back of the blue wedge that pierced her, but it didn't budge an inch. However, her indifferent, relaxed expression didn't budge an inch either.

"You can't take it out! The blue truth can only be defeated by the red truth. For one such as yourself, a guest who came to this island at most a day ago, there is no truth that you could possibly know! That means there exists no red that you can use...! In other words, this is checkmate!!"

BGM: None

"...I'm the detective. My position is to be an opponent for the human culprit. You are a witch. There does exist a fitting piece to use against witches and demons."