Part 19: Ten Wedges to Pierce Witches III
Video: Beatrice VS Dlanor
"Ahhahahahahahaha!! I thought so, I was certain you'd bring that piece in sooner or later...!! The ten wedges with which to hunt witches, the archbishop of witch hunting, Dlanor!!"
"There's no more fitting piece in a battle against demons. I have my double, Erika, and the greatest natural enemy of witches, Dlanor. I've now taken control of the seventh rank with my two rooks. Let me show you, Lambdadelta. And you too, Beatrice. Now you'll see how useless your struggling is. *giggle*, ahahahahahaahahaa hahahahahahahaha!!"
The air shone brightly, and the piece Erika had guided there showed its form...
Even though this space was like a bomb just waiting to go off, she introduced herself in a neat and frank manner. Her out-of-place appearance, completely different from those of the demons and witches, felt blatantly odd and had a kind of severity to it.
"...This is the first time I've met you, but I've heard all the rumors. Therefore, this truly doesn't feel like a first meeting."
"The same goes for me, <Miss> Beatrice. The detailed materials about you in Eiserne Jungfrau are summarized in 600 PAGES. I always read those, so this doesn't feel like a first meeting to me EITHER."
"The secretary of hell could summarize those 600 pages into 6 letters."
"Allow me to ASK."
"That's a good SUMMARY. When I get back, out of respect to you, I will summarize the materials related to you with only 2 more letters than that, a total of eight LETTERS."
"...So I'm <cute> now, *cackle*! You're too polite, my guest...!"
"Then let us CONTINUE. <Miss> Beatrice. I, Dlanor, the Head Inquisitor of Heresy, do humbly accept my role as your OPPONENT."
"My first move is over. If you can't remove the blue wedge from that Furudo Erika over there, then you might as well totter back up to heaven and get back to your usual boring job of stamping things!"
"...I ask that you take care of this wedge or whatever it is. It looks like Beatrice-san thinks she's already achieved checkmate with just this."
After making a show of tapping the blue wedge that pierced her with her finger, Erika shrugged as though taunting Beatrice.
"It's alright. I'm just toying with her a bit. After all, if things get bad, I can grab Kinzo and run out of here whenever I want. I can leave this room at any time and go anywhere."
"Now that you've met up with me, this is your DEMISE. Escape will not be PERMITTED. No one can ESCAPE."
"H, how could I know...?! Are you trying to say that you stood outside this door all night, watching to make sure the head didn't take a step outside...?!"
"Yes, someone was watching. This kid right here!!"
The doors to heaven opened with a strong, unrelenting radiance like the sun's, announcing the arrival of Dlanor's underlings. Those words were clad in the red truth and cut off the witch's method of escape.
"We've formed a precision blockade on the study door nyeh. I think it's best if you stay away from the door, nyeh? Kihihi!"
"It's a completely ordinary receipt. But even so, this mere scrap of paper proves that you lied."
"Last night, when you came out of the study, Eva saw her chance and wedged a receipt into the crack of the door to the study...! And that fell down just now when Rudolf-kun opened the door for us...!!"
"Know what that means? In other words, from 23:00 last night until now, it's impossible that Father opened this door!!"
"...Wh, what'd you say...?"
"Rudolf. The window was locked, right?"
"...Yeah. That's why I smashed the glass."
"The other windows are all locked as well. They're built so that you can't lock them from the outside...!"
"By the name of Eiserne Jungfrau, I give the palace guards permission to make use of forbidden weapons."
"Understood. Entire force, Permission Granted for Use of Forbidden Weapon: Red Warhead. Begin Transmitting Activation Code!"
"Unya? The password doesn't work nyeh."
"410, turn caps lock off and try again...!"
"Chiester Squad, Precision Blockade for Study Door and All Windows Complete. We warn the Great Lady Beatrice that if anything is caught passing through these physically, conceptually, or by any other method, we will shoot without warning...!"
"Data Link from Archangel Satellite 4. Homing Format, Verdict-Model Conceptual Guidance...!"
"And on top of that, we've got Red Warheads nyeh. Impossible to shoot down, impossible to avoid, impossible to survive when hit. It'd smash even Lady Beatrice into little bits nyeh♪"
The Chiester Squad had laid down a pinpoint blockade over the door and all of the windows. Escape would no longer be permitted through any of these...!
"Allow me to inform you that your paths of retreat have been cut off! Commander Dlanor, let us now remove the sin and purify...!!"
"You've done WELL. <Miss> Beatrice. I've had your paths of retreat TERMINATED. You cannot leave through the door, nor can you leave through the WINDOWS. Therefore, escape will now be PROHIBITED."
"...You think you've shut me in with this alone? *cackle*cackle*..."
The Inquisitor of Heresy in Heaven and her subordinates surrounded the witch. The subordinates used a powerful barrier to cut off Beato's methods of escape.
...Demons fight, and as a result, they sometimes escape. However, angels block off passages of escape, and as a result, they eradicate their targets without fail...!
"In that case, Father would have to be here. But there's not even a trace of him...!! Come on, what the hell is going on...?!!"
"Yes. I would not regret losing this life of mine, but for Natsuhi's sake, I cannot die yet."
Beato waved her pipe and the air was split vertically. Then, a pitch black gate appeared there and slowly opened. It was a warp portal, the same as the pitch-black holes that Gaap used.
"I believe this was written on my files. An elusive phantom. Can appear from anywhere and disappear to anywhere...! As long as Kinzo has me, it will be impossible to capture him...!"
The pitch black gate opened. That gate led from everywhere and to nowhere. Both Beato and Kinzo would be sent to a place where no one could catch them, a place where no one could set foot in, much less chase after them...!
"...Y, yes, that's correct...! There would be nothing strange about the Master having a hidden door...!"
"A hidden door?! Heh, and where would that be...?!"
"It's a hidden door, so I don't know. There are several devices and hidden doors in this mansion that only Father knows of. No one has seen them directly, but everyone in this mansion knows about them vaguely. Correct...?"
"Uh, ah, yes...!"
"...It's true that there have been always been rumors about hidden passages only the Master knows of..."
"I, it's true that Kinzo-san would probably like devices such as that..."
"Hohohoho... And they are hidden doors, after all... No matter how much people such as ourselves might search, it's only natural that we won't find them."
"...I see. It's a Devil's Proof. You're saying we can't deny the possibility that a hidden door exists in this room."
"That's nonsense, a farce...!! Even considering that your lie about concealing Father's death is about to be revealed, how dare you...!!"
"That's right!! Just where in this study is there a hidden door...?!! Try and prove that it exists!!"
Beato's blue wedge, which had been fired off as a farewell gift, was crushed with a flash of Dlanor's longsword, and the pitch black gate was crushed as well...! And it wasn't just crushed visibly and physically. From that moment onwards, the warp portal which conceptualized hidden doors had been destroyed.
"Wh, why can someone like you, who is neither the owner of the study nor the Game Master, use the red truth...?! And what was that?! What do you mean you 'will not allow' hidden doors to exist?!"
"In this world, there are no other gods except our god, and no hidden doors EXIST. They must not EXIST, we won't let them EXIST. It is blasphemy against our GOD."
"...Enough pride in you to shock a witch... Hah, it's a pleasure greater than shock...!"
"What a fool. The Devil's Proof might have been vague enough to let you escape from everything until now, but now that you're up against Dlanor, that move won't work anymore, Beatrice!"
"...Beato. It seems this isn't an opponent we'll be able to escape from easily after all."
"Please do entertain me, Beatrice-san. You should at least serve some tea for your guests. It doesn't even matter if it's third-rate!"
"Come on, please use the blue truth, and tell me how Kinzo-san escaped from the closed room study...!!"
"...Very well. Make sure you don't cry!!"
BGM: Death (from Stupefafction)
"Denial of that with the red has already been FINISHED. After 23:00, the door to the study was not opened even ONCE."
"Kinzo might have been a marvelous magician and an inventor, right?! He might have invented a drug that turns his body to mist and slipped out through the keyhole!!"
"No such drug EXISTS. It must not EXIST."
"Or maybe he invented a teleport device, right?! That possibility is impossible to deny because of the Devil's Proof!!"
"Such a machine does not EXIST. I will not allow it to EXIST."
"Oh, so you can examine every drug in the world? You can deny the existence of unknown scientific devices?! There's no way you can, it's a Devil's Proof! You cannot deny that they might exist!"
"The future, too?! Oho, so you think you can even deny something into the future of the human race?!"
"It's Knox's 4th. It is forbidden for unknown drugs or hard to understand scientific devices to be used."
"The progression of humanity, as well as techniques and knowledge that might be obtainable in the future, are decided upon by our GOD. And the denial of their existence has been proclaimed for ETERNITY. Therefore, I will not allow for such a technique to exist for all ETERNITY. It is not PERMITTED."
Beato and Dlanor had supposedly just gone through a massive exchange of red and blue. However, not only did Dlanor not take any damage, she also showed no signs of fatigue. Beato might have been a fearsome witch, but blood flowed through her veins and she did breathe. She felt both pain and fatigue.
But Dlanor... was like a doll made of marble. She felt no fatigue, no pain, no hesitation. Even if Beato's sharp wedges had aimed right for Dlanor's eyes, she wouldn't have shut them. No, it's doubtful that she ever even blinks in the first place...
"B, Beatrice, hang in there..."
"...I've heard the rumors, but we really do share the worst compatibility. To think that dreams, hopes and even future possibilities are forbidden. The pride of the gods is overwhelming. I'd expect no less from a witch hunt executioner. It seems we'll never be able to drink together."
Even the strikes which had made Battler surrender over and over had absolutely no effect on Dlanor. Well, I knew that already more or less, but to think that I would be repelled so easily...
"Quite a formidable opponent..."
"Oh my, so even the great Goldsmith has gotten old and decrepit. Hearing those words come out of your mouth is rarer than seeing two comets in the night sky...!"
"Hmph. I'm not decrepit, I'm already dead."
"Hah, that's true. Sorry, but I won't let you be for just a little longer."
Beato experienced something she'd only rarely felt during her entire life. It was probably what we'd call 'hardship'.
"Is that ALL? There was no need for me to come HERE. I'm DISAPPOINTED."
"I'm not done yet. I was just testing a few moves just now. I was only trying to measure your abilities."
"How foolish. Know your place, Golden Witch."
Beato's expression became tense once again. No longer was there any trace of mischief. The mood changed.
BGM: Proud Dust
"Let it be known that Beatrice has changed her pattern of attack."
Beatrice, who had until then thoroughly resisted the idea that a closed room existed, did an about face. She proclaimed that she accepted that proposition. Of course, this didn't mean that she'd surrendered. This was a new attack of Beato's. Dlanor noticed this and readied herself.
"What's going on? Why did Lady Beatrice acknowledge the closed room when she's trying to destroy it nyeh?"
"...Sh, she's probably trying to claim that Kinzo existed outside of this room. Confirmation that the Great Lady Beatrice's warp portal has reactivated!"
After bouncing at an erratic angle, the witch's stake pierced the top of Dlanor's foot.
"You sure are slow. Heheheheh, top of the foot, all mi~ne!"
"Natsuhi used the internal phone line in this study to speak with Kinzo, who was in another place! There's nothing strange about Kinzo, who hates the relatives, predicting that they would enter his study and leaving to go elsewhere. He might have gone to the hidden mansion, Kuwadorian!"
Asmodeus's stake, which contained the power of Beato's blue truth and pierced Dlanor's foot, changed into a blue wedge.
"Not bad, that makes sense nyeh...!"
"...Blue truth, effective."
A cyclone of gold butterflies swept up with Beato at its center. The magical power of the pitch black gate that had been smashed was once again refilled.
If I can hold Dlanor off here somehow, this time, I'll be able to warp Kinzo out of the study, all the way to Kuwadorian...!
Dlanor moved clumsily, trying to pull the blue wedge out of her foot, but it didn't even budge. Of course, Beato didn't miss this chance. No witch would!
"I've got more, so get ready."
"Perhaps Natsuhi called this room 'Father', and by contemplating inside of it, she felt as though she had received some sort of revelation from Kinzo!!"
"We've stopped you from moving. You've already lost!"
Beelzebub's blue wedge pierced the base of Dlanor's neck! Of course, even this didn't cause her to flinch, but her movements were restricted even further.
"...Interesting. Is that ALL?"
"You don't call it a full course dinner if you stop at the soups and hors d'oeuvres! I'll hit you with the main dish and the dessert at once, so watch your stomach explode and die!!!"
"Even if, as you say, this is a closed room and impossible to escape from, you can't deny the possibility that he is still hiding in this room. I'm not talking about a hidden door! He might be under the bed or above the ceiling! He might be hiding in a truly unobtrusive blind spot that only demons could know of, right?!"
"Or, it might be that Natsuhi, who was ordered to speak specially on Kinzo's behalf, considered herself both his representative and another Kinzo! In other words, it's possible that Natsuhi was also Kinzo!"
"I've got plenty more!! At 23:00 last night, Kinzo escaped out the window! Natsuhi watched him go, then locked the window!! This doesn't lead to any problems. In fact, it might be the most beautiful blue truth yet!"
"How's that?! Dlanor A. Knox?! Hyahhahahahaaaaahhhh!! There are many ways to escape from this closed room!!"
"Know your foolishness in trying to oppose my master!"
"There's no need for you to argue back."
"Just lose and sleep for all eternity...!"
The Seven Sisters appeared from Beato's golden tornado one after another, and they pierced Dlanor with blue wedges. Four blue wedges were buried into her neck, her chest, her gut, and her thigh. Including the one buried into the top of her foot, she was pincushioned by five stakes.
"Aaaah, Beatrice-sama! What about my turn?!"
"I'll use you if I think of any more. Be quiet for now!!"
"*cackle*cackle*, how's that, Dlanor the witch hunter?!! After skewering and burning so many witches in the past, how does it feel to be skewered by a witch this time?!! Hehhihhahhaaahhhahahaha!!"
They were all ridiculous arguments, but they came fiercely one after another. Though a total of five wedges pierced Dlanor, her expression didn't change in the slightest. However, her movements had indeed been limited...
"They don't violate the Knox Decalogue... Effective...!"
"...W, well done, Beatrice...! Even if there was no one in this study and even if it was a closed room, that alone isn't enough to deny Father's existence...!"
"Against a normal opponent, I'd think the matter settled by now. But this is Dlanor. Head Inquisitor of Heresy! This ruthless woman killed even her father when he violated the Decalogue...! Kinzo, now!"
Now that Dlanor had been pinned down, this was their last chance to recover their magical power and escape. Once again, a pitch black gate began to rise slowly in front of Beato and Kinzo... Though the gate had once been opened by simply drawing in the air, it wasn't so easy in the study now, filled as it was with the power of denial.
"Wh, what do you think, everyone?! No matter how much you question the state of this study, you can't question whether or not Father is in good health...!!"
BGM: Totem Blume
Erika grinned at Natsuhi with a smile more demonic than a real demon's.
"Y, yes. I have said repeatedly that I came to deliver a report for the day and to say good night...!"
"This may be a strange thing to ask, but since it's needed to prove your innocence, please answer me straightforwardly. Is this Kinzo-san you speak of the Ushiromiya Kinzo-san we all know of? It isn't a different person or thing with the same name, is it?"
"I, I'm not really sure what you mean...!"
"...It's like this. You didn't, for instance, start calling this room itself 'Father' after Father's death, right? That's what she's asking. You said you gave a daily report to Father before he went to sleep, right? That doesn't mean you gave a daily report to the wall here inside the study called 'Father' all by yourself, right...?"
"H, how rude!! Nothing of the sort happened...! Father is Father!! He is in good health! And I most certainly gave him a report and said good night to him last night...!! I'm not trying to trick you or talk my way out of anything!"
"I see. In that case, can you repeat what I tell you to? If you aren't tricking or deceiving us in any way, you should be able to repeat my words."
"F, fine. I'll repeat whatever you want...!"
"I, I, 'Ushiromiya Natsuhi did, at 23:00 last night, speak with Ushiromiya Kinzo in the same room as him, which was this room'!!"
"<Good>! Then I'll ask one last thing. Seriously now, Natsuhi-san, you didn't do anything such as throwing Kinzo-san out the window after your conversation and locking the window behind him, right? Because everything still makes sense if you did."
"Wh, why would I want to chase Father out the window?!! This is intolerable! This mockery is intolerable!!"
"Please, allow me to speak! Natsuhi claims to have met face to face with Kinzo in the study at 23:00!"
Natsuhi let out a cry, but it was too late... She had been totally suckered in by their provocation...!
The blue wedge to the foot representing a telephone discussion.
The blue wedge to the neck representing the study itself being called Kinzo.
The blue wedge to the gut representing Natsuhi herself being called Kinzo.
The blue wedge to the thigh representing Natsuhi letting Kinzo escape out the window and locking it afterwards.
The four of them were smashed up with a thin sound...! Because Natsuhi, 'the one who knew the truth', had denied them, those denials had gained the power of the red truth...! Despite Kinzo's absence in this closed room, Beato had introduced five ways that Kinzo could still exist. Natsuhi had carelessly crushed the premises behind four of those herself...!!
Only one wedge remained. In other words, this was the last blue truth which could bury the contradiction of Kinzo existing in the study at 23:00 but not existing there later, after it had become a closed room.
With this theory, even if Kinzo didn't exist in this closed room of a study, he could 'exist' there...! If this wedge of Satan's were to be crushed, their chances of escaping this room would become hopelessly dim...!
"Gghhh, ack...!! B, Beatrice-sama...! Quickly... escape while you still can...!! Ggh, gyah..."
Dlanor slowly grasped the final wedge, which still pierced her chest. Apparently, that vice-like grip was hurting Satan as though all the bones in her body were being broken.
"All that remains... is this one WEDGE. It was about Kinzo hiding somewhere in this room, CORRECT?"
"As the detective, I've searched all of those places. If I didn't find him, just where could he be hiding? *giggle*giggle*giggle*!!"
With the final wedge still sticking out of her chest, Dlanor slowly approached Beato... If this wedge was taken out, then...!
"Allow me to ASK. Just where in this study is Kinzo HIDING?"
"A check of that place has been FINISHED."
"Maybe he's in the bathtub!!"
"A check of that place has been FINISHED."
"Inside the closet! Under the desk! Behind the curtains!!"
"A check of that place has been FINISHED. Check FINISHED. Check FINISHED."
No locations would work against Dlanor by this point. Dlanor took Beato's final desperate onslaught head on, turning everything back with a far stronger power of denial! Beat them up! Knock them down with overwhelming force!! No longer does any place exist in this study for Kinzo to escape to...!!
Beato was blown back like a leaf dancing in the wind, knocked around over and over again like an empty can lying on a road. By now, no matter how many times Beato used the blue truth, it wouldn't be able to defeat Dlanor's red truth...
"Hahahahaha, ahhahahahahahahaha...!! Witches are so pathetic. You just try to talk your way out of things endlessly, trying to confuse the truth. Let me borrow Dlanor's words. I'm disappointed, Beatrice-san. *giggle*giggle* *giggle*giggle*!"
Erika coldly delivered these decisive words to Beato, who was crawling on the ground.
"Detective's authority. The detective has the right to inspect all crime scenes. I have exercised this right. Therefore, I can say this."
"Kinzo-san is not inside this room. Furthermore, this room is a perfect closed room. From the above two points, I can state this fact: this room was empty the whole time. Natsuhi-san lied about having met Kinzo-san here last night! That makes this checkmate. Beatrice-san...!"
At these words, the final wedge shattered, and at the same time, the pitch black gate which was about to open shattered once again. This time, the warp portal had been completely destroyed... No longer would Kinzo be permitted to exist in this room... or escape from it...
Beato struggled to her feet... but that was the best she could do. She no longer had the energy to fight. She had taken all of the denying red head on from close range. It was all she could do to withstand a pain so strong it felt like she'd vomit up all her insides... Even Beato, who had aimed for the title of strongest and most evil witch all this time, couldn't do a thing against a witch hunter. No matter how sturdy a sandcastle you build on the beach, it can never win against the rising tide...
"Beatrice, I thank you. You've done so much for me despite your remaining grudge."
"I guess it's true that your life flashes by when you see death coming. I've remembered how you once looked when you were young. You were annoyingly like Battler."
"I now pass on everything, my soul and the qualifications of the head, to Battler. I no longer have any regrets...!"
To Beato, it seemed as though Battler had met her gaze. There was no way he could have. This Battler was the piece Battler. There was no way he could see Beato in this higher-level world. However, his eyes really did meet hers. Even though they couldn't have, Beato was sure they did.
As Erika, Eva and the others closed in on Natsuhi, questioning her over and over, only Battler stood apart from that tumult. His expression held none of the enthusiasm and excitement that the other humans had. It just piercingly and coldly surveyed the scene. And the expression on his face... was a quiet displeasure. Anger. He wasn't feeling compassion for Natsuhi because her lie was about to be exposed. However, he couldn't excuse Erika, who called herself an intellectual rapist and was simply enjoying cornering Natsuhi and those who sympathized with her.
Then, he whispered softly.
Beato and the others definitely heard that...
"You don't think... Battler might... turn things around from this weakened position...?"
"...I probably could have done it, back in the day. And Battler can probably do it."
"Battler... If you are indeed the man who will inherit everything from me, now is the time to prove it...! Don't let the Legend of the Golden Witch end here...!"
"Your lie has already been exposed, Natsuhi-san. We already know that you were alone in this room last night."
"Isn't it about time to give up and confess? Culprits who are bad at giving up tend to go with bad mystery novels. At least in the end, please prove that this is a slightly better third-rate mystery than that."
"...Aah, it's useless. It's all useless."
Battler, who had been silent off by himself up until then, spoke. At first, it sounded as though he was attacking Natsuhi. However, when Erika realized he was glaring directly at her, her expression visibly clouded with displeasure.
"And just what... is useless?"