Part 21: Reasoning and Inspection
October 5th, 1986, 11:00 AM
In the arbor... sat the sad witch whose eyes had lost their glint... and Battler. Virgilia could also be seen there. She sat next to Beato, knitting quietly.
Lambdadelta's game had passed the climax of the first twilight, and they were taking a short break. Gazing out at the golden rose garden soaked with rain, Battler thought back on the present, what was to come, and what had happened so far...
Even with the game stopped and Beato unable to speak, he could still keep on fighting. Virgilia suddenly stopped her knitting. Battler noticed it too. Because, though none should have been able to visit this rose garden, she had noticed a silhouette approaching.
"...That's unusual. Not many people can reach this place."
That silhouette, which walked amidst the quietly falling rain without so much as an umbrella, was Dlanor.
"Why... are you here?"
"It's been some time, <Mrs> Beatrice. No wait, now it's <Mrs> Virgilia, is it NOT?"
"Long time no see, Dlanor. Come over here. We aren't ones to leave a guest out in the rain."
"Don't worry. She hasn't come to fight."
"...Do you know her?"
"She's one of my old friends from heaven. This really takes me back."
"That it DOES. <Mrs> Virgilia possesses a deep knowledge in Heavenly STUDIES. I have often argued with her over INTERPRETATIONS."
"Ho ho ho... My many intellectual adventures with you were quite enjoyable. I'd like to do it again sometime."
"Yes. Let's do it again SOMETIME. I'd love to fight with you AGAIN."
They used the word 'fight', but it didn't sound like they meant anything unpleasant by it. It sounded like something old chess rivals would say to each other. Unlike Beato, it seems that Virgilia has always acted properly and courteously, so she had many friends in various other worlds, including both heaven and the demon world. Surprisingly, Dlanor was one of them...
Dlanor, who had crossed swords with 'me' just a short while ago, ducked her head as though taking shelter from a sudden rain, and sat in the seat Virgilia pointed out, like a guest.
"...Is there any type of black tea you would prefer?"
"ANYTHING. Any tea you make is SUPERB."
"Then how about some Darjeeling? Battler, Beato, would you like some more?"
"...Yeah. Beato and I would like a refill. Right?"
As usual, Beato didn't answer, but if you quietly gave her a cup, she would sip it from time to time. There was still some black tea left in that cup, but it had already chilled. So Battler asked for a refill for Beato as well...
"She's no longer participating in the game. Lambdadelta is the one controlling the Beato that's on the game board."
"I KNOW. However, she is the original master of this WORLD. And you are the proper guest, invited by that MASTER. That is why I have come to pay my RESPECTS."
On the game board, Beato and I met Dlanor. But those were the game pieces of those witches. They weren't Beato and me ourselves.
"Is that why you went out of your way to greet Battler-kun and Beato here...? I see you're as conscientious as always."
"That is my way of doing THINGS. Greetings, <Mister> Battler. I am Dlanor A. Knox. We play opposing roles, but it is a pleasure to meet YOU."
"...Sure. I'm Ushiromiya Battler. Pleased to meet you."
"Greetings, <Miss> Beatrice. I am Dlanor A. Knox."
"...Beato. She's saying hi. "
"...She says 'welcome'."
"Thank you very MUCH. <Miss> Beatrice."
The witch and the Inquisitor of Heresy whose job it was to hunt witches greeted each other around a tea table surrounded by the aroma of black tea. It was a strange sight.
She was a witch, so it wasn't an incredibly bizarre scene. Though I was a bit concerned about whether Dlanor, an Inquisitor of Heresy, could watch such a spectacle.
"...Do not WORRY. I am not so boorish as to complain about how my tea is SERVED."
"Even though the tea's being made with magic...?"
"...There is a tea set hiding in the shadows, and <Mrs> Virgilia is making us tea with it in SECRET. We interpret and/or judge that it was 'made with MAGIC', and it is written as such in the TALE. That interpretation is allowed by Knox's 9th."
"Oh my... I do believe the interpretation of the 9th is such a delicate problem that it's viewed as a taboo, even in the Great Court... Even though it's just a personal opinion, if it became known that the Head Inquisitor of Heresy said such a thing, you might be sacked."
"No matter how I might interpret it, there is nothing false about the way your tea TASTES. Therefore, I do not worry about how it was PREPARED."
Though she looked cold, she was a surprisingly tactful person. If Dlanor were to deny that the black tea had been prepared with magic, this magic would surely be crushed in a instant. However, since the possibility had been presented that a tea set existed and had been used to make the tea normally, the fact that Virgilia had made tea was, in the end, undisputed.
"I see. The important thing is that you're being welcomed with some tea, so it's just common courtesy to avoid complaining about how it was made."
...That's right. It's common courtesy to be grateful for tea that someone makes for you. There's nothing elegant about pushing your way into the kitchen and poking around through the tea-making process.
"You don't invite your guests into the kitchen. And when you set the table, you should adorn it beautifully in the spirit of hospitality. Here you go. It's hot."
BGM: In the Sun
"*giggle*. You still can't drink it straight?"
"I'm a KID. It must be SWEET."
"The word 'lie' makes it sound bad. The word 'embellishment' is probably more fitting."
"When giving a child candy, you can take a crumpled up one out of your pocket, or use a wonderful bit of sleight of hand to take the candy OUT. The impression you give with each method varies GREATLY."
"That's because it's cooler to take it out with a little magic trick."
"WRONG. It is significant because it embellishes the result--giving them the candy--by making it even more beautiful and FUN."
"...Think of when you give Maria-chan a candy. There's a huge difference between taking it out of your pocket to give to her and slipping it into her pocket saying a fairy gave it to her for being such a good girl."
"In my opinion, it would be boorish to then question everyone about their alibis and pinpoint who it was that slipped it into her POCKET. The important thing is the result: that the girl received the candy and REJOICED. And it is significant that it was embellished in a way that made her REJOICE."
"...That's surprising. When you showed up, I got the feeling you'd deny anything that went by the name of magic."
"That is how I act in my capacity as an Inquisitor of Heresy. It is my JOB. However, when I am away from my job, I don't enjoy being quite so cold-HEARTED."
"So, this is what they call leaving your personal feelings aside when on duty? You do it well."
"As an Inquisitor of Heresy, hunting witches is my JOB. However, I personally find witches pitiable. Despite this, I carry out judgment mercilessly as an INQUISITOR."
"...In the end, that doesn't change the fact that I sentence witches to DEATH. In the end, my pity is nothing more than a useless EMBELLISHMENT. Whether I have it or not, nothing CHANGES. So, it would be better if I DIDN'T..."
"...That's not true. Even if the ends are the same, there's a big difference depending on your heart. Your mother's cookies must have been more delicious than those made by a good pastry shop. That's because you know that they were made with heart."
"That's right. Even if the result appears to be the same, there's a huge difference between whether or not it had a little thing called sincerity..."
"Is that SO...? Whether I have a heart or not is completely MEANINGLESS."
Dlanor's gaze fell to her cup, a little sadly...
"After hearing all that, I've changed the way I look at you. So I'm certain your heart isn't something meaningless."
Virgilia was a little surprised to hear the words she should have said coming from Battler's mouth. After all, understanding the 'heart' is the first step towards finding the essence of magic. By now, perhaps Battler has unconsciously started to understand, bit by bit, the essence of Beato, the essence of witches... and the very first essence of all, magic.
Whether you want to become a witch or vanquish them... The very first step is learning about magic. Virgilia was sure that she felt this faint change within Battler...
"That 'me' wasn't me. Lambdadelta was controlling him."
I joined in on the 5th game partway through. I still haven't participated at 'this point in time'. So until I do join in, the piece 'me' is probably being controlled by Bernkastel or Lambdadelta.
"...Just what kind of whim are they working off? Trying to make it look all cool... They made me look like some kind of knight coming to save Beato."
"Lady Lambdadelta wants both witches and humans to be in balance, resulting in a draw. With Erika's appearance, the scales tipped strongly in the favor of the human side, so she manipulated the tale in a way that supports Beato."
"I am aware of that. However, pieces cannot do things that are impossible for THEM. And they specialize in actions appropriate to their original PERSONALITY. Therefore, that was certainly something that you... that Battler was capable OF. That is why I am grateful to YOU."
"...It feels a bit weird to be praised when I didn't actually do anything. After the game continues a bit more, I'll probably regain control of my piece. Not sure I'll be able to go easy on you then."
"It's the same with ME. The next time we cross swords, I won't hold BACK."
"Bring it on. I'll be your opponent. Come at me with all you've got."
"I PROMISE. With everything I've GOT."
...Dlanor. I'd thought she was an emotionless killer doll without a heart, but maybe she actually is pretty approachable. Though of course, neither of us will show any mercy when fighting over the game board.
For a while, we gazed at the rain-drenched rose garden as we quietly enjoyed our tea.
BGM: Witch in Gold (cembalo)
With a sudden sigh, Dlanor muttered something.
"What is it? If it's about that fight a short while ago, it's already over. We both fought with everything we had. The outcome was just luck of the draw."
"No, it wasn't luck of the DRAW. I couldn't just let it be, so I came here to APOLOGIZE."
"...What are you talking about...?"
Virgilia spoke softly, without hesitating in her knitting.
"...YES. <Mister> Battler."
"That <Mister> really hurts. Just Battler is fine."
"Battler. I APOLOGIZE. We did not give it everything we HAD."
"...I know. 'Kinzo is dead at the starting time for all games'. Beato has already spoken that truth. In that battle, Battler-kun could only have achieved a draw at best. He most certainly had no chance at all of winning."
"...You're right. If you just say that, the whole fight's already over. Why didn't you use that red? Don't tell me it was because of a stalemate or something like that."
"Boom. That's checkmate. Why didn't that girl use that trump card...?"
Though she had fought calmly up until that point, she quickly got flustered when I dashed forwards. I'd thought that she had been frightened by my sudden attack, but the truth was different. Even though she held a trump card which could completely repel me, she suddenly became unable to use it, and hesitated.
"I don't UNDERSTAND. All of a sudden, in that instant, use of that trump card became FORBIDDEN. Once we lost that, your victory was GUARANTEED."
"...The Game Master, Lady Lambdadelta, probably interfered."
"That bastard... So in the end, that whole fight was a farce in the palm of Lambdadelta's hand. She made 'us' play out that entire act according to her script."
"I do not like IT. However, since you told me to fight with everything I had, I had no choice but to let you KNOW. Please forgive ME."
"Still, even though you'd lost your trump card, you kept on fighting all-out with your remaining cards. I don't believe anyone could find fault with what you did."
"...That's right. On the contrary, you should be mad at Lambdadelta for butting in."
"'Kinzo doesn't exist' should already be an established FACT. Lady Lambdadelta and Lady Bernkastel should know this WELL. And yet, they are both leaving room for Kinzo to exist as they continue in this GAME. It's almost as though the two are conspiring to prevent Kinzo's existence from being DENIED."
"YES. They must be after SOMETHING."
"...That is a bit odd. Lady Lambdadelta and Lady Bernkastel should always be in opposition unless the witch side is in a superior position. It's hard to imagine that those two are conspiring together at a time like this..."
"I can't help but think that they have some sort of wicked GOAL. I came here because I wanted you to know THAT."
"...So, you came all the way here to tell us something like that?"
"YES. Which means that my business here is FINISHED. I think I will leave NOW. The game will probably resume SHORTLY. I must aid Erika during the rest of this GAME."
Dlanor gulped down the last of her black tea and stood up.
"...I understand. If I went easy on you, I'd have my own head smashed in."
"On the game board, I am nothing more than Lady Bernkastel's piece and Furudo Erika's SUBORDINATE. In the future, we will probably stand across from each other as opponents many TIMES."
"...However, my heart is always NEUTRAL. No, please forget THAT. That has nothing to do with the relationship between the two of us."
"It does. There's no doubt you're a fearsome opponent, but you don't piss me off anymore. Though that Erika totally pisses me off."
Dlanor's expression finally softened slightly. At the very last moment, it felt as though we finally understood each other.
"Furudo Erika is a very evil CREATURE. She's lost face from her recent defeat and is burning with a desire for REVENGE. Even I don't know what she is PLANNING. However, it can't be anything GOOD. Please take CARE."
"...Just knowing she's Bernkastel's piece means I can't let my guard down."
Dlanor nodded as though satisfied, left the eaves of the arbor and walked out into the rain.
"...Who would have thought that I would work as a subordinate to such EVIL... Why was I called to this WORLD?"
Dlanor let out a small sigh. 'Pieces' can do nothing except fulfill the function they have been given. And that function is given to them by the one who controls them. She probably can't disobey 'her' own player, Bernkastel.
"...<Miss> Beatrice. What is it that you want from ME? I do hope that I can help you in some way, though I may be a subordinate of EVIL..."
She spoke to Beato... but of course, there was no response. After bowing once more in thanks for the black tea, Dlanor disappeared off into the rainy rose garden...
"Yes. This child is the one who called Dlanor here."
"...So, Beato called her here so I could meet with her..."
...However, I know of a person who reached this place despite Beato's wishes.
...In the last game, Ange reached this place by herself... even though she was an uninvited guest. Was that... also something... Beato wished for...?
"I am here, you are here. Beato is here. Dlanor was invited here. All of these things happened because this child wanted them to. Even the bit of time you and Dlanor spent together drinking tea."
"...Beato. What was I... supposed to learn from her...? Does it have something to do with finding your heart... and letting you sleep peacefully...?"
Dlanor A. Knox. The natural enemy of witches. Inquisitor of Heresy. A vanguard of mystery... who denies fantasy.