Part 33: ????
...Ironically, it looked just like what he had done to Beato with blue wedges in the 4th game...
Battler had died quite some time ago. No, in this place, the concept of death means nothing except that one has stopped thinking. Therefore, in a sense, Battler was not dead. After being defeated in a fight over the truth and surrendering, he no longer had the strength to think of a way to resist. That's... what made him dead. Dlanor's massive longsword, which had been left in place of a tombstone, fastened Battler to the spot even after his death... This was being lit by a faint light seeping out of a high, high skylight.
Quiet footsteps rang out across this still cathedral... From the darkness behind a pillar, a woman slowly stepped forwards.
BGM: Worldend (solo)
Just like they had been the whole time in the Golden Land, her eyes had no light in them, and were still muddied over with gray. This person was once unable to even drink black tea to her satisfaction by her own will, but though it was slow, and though there was no life in her eyes, she was, surprisingly, walking.
Then, with slow, deliberate steps... she reached Battler, who was still dead and pierced... Then, she slowly... touched Battler. She tugged... on his sleeve. However, Battler showed no reaction...
...When she realized that it wasn't sleep... but death... The witch with the hopeless gaze... let her head hang even lower... Then... she quietly... whispered...
Beato... softly touched Battler... Then, she pressed her forehead against Battler's chest. There was no longer... any heartbeat. It wasn't just because he had surrendered. It was because the witches had chased him from the game board. So from now on... Battler would never... return...
So from now on... The Golden Witch Beatrice... had lost her reason... to exist...
Then, the Golden Witch... completed... her task... and scattered... as a spray of gold.
...There was a faint aroma of good black tea. Beato stared blankly at the surface of the tea. There was Virgilia, continuing her knitting, along with me and... Dlanor, talking to each other.
A recollection of Battler's memory, which Dlanor's sword must have given him as it pierced him... A recollection of that time Dlanor had come to visit the tea party in the Golden Land...
"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 ruthless 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.
"YES. They are commandments conceived by my FATHER."
"Hidden doors must not exist. That's Knox's 3rd, right? That means there's no need for detectives to even look for hidden doors. Sounds pretty ridiculous."
Bernkastel said it herself. She said that, because they were forbidden by Knox's 3rd, even searching for hidden doors was a waste of time. I'd like to counter that by saying it isn't so uncommon for a rich family's mansion to have a hidden door or two built into it. But apparently, that sort of rule works perfectly well in the mystery genre.
By the way, there exist many wonderful mysteries in which hidden doors appear, and where hidden doors are the theme. Of course, this is limited to novels which have the 'premise' that hidden doors exist. If that 'premise' doesn't exist, hidden doors must not exist. So because that 'premise' doesn't exist, there is no need to search for hidden doors. I think that's probably the essence of her ridiculous argument.
I get the feeling that the detective trying to expose the truth and the illusion trying to confuse it with a mixture of truth and lies... are getting blended together, leading to a bizarre form of argument similar to a Devil's Proof.
Making a closed room murder seem to be accomplished by a witch with magic is fantasy. Exposing that it was a human's crime done with tricks is anti-fantasy. Considering all possibilities to expose those tricks is mystery.
Let's say a hidden door is hidden in a way that there would be no clues. Would claiming that a hidden door therefore exists even though a detective couldn't find it... be anti-mystery?
...That's enough of that. This argument is too far of a digression from the riddles I'm actually supposed to be solving. My fight is very simple. I'm only fighting to explain how it was possible for a human to carry out these crimes which were supposedly carried out by a witch. This whole discussion about 'mystery' and 'anti' doesn't serve any purpose. That's why I didn't have any particular interest regarding these rules known as the Knox Decalogue...
"It doesn't work for me. There's something strange about making it possible to deny the existence of all hidden doors without investigating. It's about as dubious as a Devil's Proof. Even though it's supposed to be the exact opposite of fantasy, it somehow feels like it's the same kind of argument."
"...Ah, I shouldn't have said that. Your dad was the one who made them, after all."
"Do not WORRY. After all, there are some who say it is nothing more than a GAME."
"...To be honest, yes. If there was ever a detective who said he didn't need to look for hidden doors because they must not exist, everyone should start looking around on the floor to see if some of his screws had come loose..."
"In that case, Battler, let us say that the 3rd Commandment doesn't exist. In that case, what would happen to closed room mysteries...?"
...What if Knox's 3rd, 'hidden doors are forbidden', didn't exist...?
"...In other words, hidden doors would always work just fine as the standard trick for closed rooms."
"This does not refer to hidden doors with hints or FORESHADOWING. It refers only to doors that even the detective cannot find because, of course, they are HIDDEN."
"Battler-kun, you often fight by using a Devil's Proof to assume an undiscoverable element X. That's what this is about."
"That'd be horrible. The closed room mystery genre wouldn't be worth reading at all."
No one would want to try solving the riddle from the beginning if they knew the answer might just be an unforeseeable hidden door.
"...If you don't have some guarantee that no hidden doors exist, you don't really feel like trying to reason it out. I see. Knox's 3rd is necessary. Without that, it wouldn't be worth reading closed room mysteries."
"If you don't feel like trying to reason it out... what does that mean...?"
"It means you don't even feel like reading it."
"That's IT. Humans are weak creatures, who can't even think unless they have proof that reasoning is POSSIBLE."
"...That reasoning is possible. In other words, they need encouragement that they can solve it if they do their best."
That... might be true. It's the same with exercising. If you're told to run around the campus ten times, you can tough it out. However, if you don't know how many times you're supposed to run around it, you'd probably get tired out before you made it around three times.
The same thing goes for thinking and reasoning. Humans view a problem differently depending on whether or not it's guaranteed to be solvable...
"...Ah. I always thought it was just a classic line, but it did also have that effect."
"To put it harshly, as long as the detective doesn't say that, readers won't feel like trying to solve it no matter how much they love solving mysteries."
"...Weren't you like that yourself in the previous GAMES...?"
Now that I hear it, maybe that really was the case. Maybe my fight against Beato really began in the 2nd game. At first, I didn't seriously try to tackle the closed room riddles Beato threw at me. After all, I knew nothing except that people had died in a closed room, and the windows and doors were all locked from the inside. I had basically no hints. So I refused to argue on the grounds that I couldn't fight because the lack of clues made reasoning impossible.
...After that, Beato sneered at me, didn't she... asking whether I would repeat that over and over forever in an endless repetition of moves... At that time, Beato said this:
Then, she said she'd give me certain information that couldn't be denied, and created the rule called the red truth. Once we reached that point, the curtain finally rose on my battle with Beato...
"Beatrice. She's a strange PERSON. Though riddles are the only holes witches can live within, she began to give you the red truth, a method by which those riddles could be SOLVED."
You could say that the red truth is a hint Beato gives me so that I can compete in this war of reasoning. Like candy. Because I've been given hints, it's like she's saying... try and solve it...
...it can be solved. A enigma which is guaranteed to be solvable... can't be called a true 'enigma'.
"My, my. That does seem logical. She truly is a strange child."
Beato gave no answer. With gray eyes, she did nothing but blankly gaze at the steam rising from her black tea...
"My father created the Decalogue to act as a crutch for the power of THINKING. It most certainly wasn't made as a way to arrogantly decide things."
"...A crutch... for the power of thinking..."
"That's RIGHT. By Knox's 8th, it is forbidden for the case to be resolved with clues that are not PRESENTED. This does not only mean that one is forced to avoid making theories that are not supported by CLUES."
"If you turn it around, it means that the one proposing the riddles is forced to display clues which lead to the solution."
"...So, in other words, if you follow the Decalogue, all riddles must have hints, and therefore, it's guaranteed that finding the solution is possible."
I see... so this is what they mean by a crutch for the power of thinking. If you can believe that it's solvable, you start feeling the desire to have a go at those riddles. If you're capable of believing that hints do exist, you get fired up about rereading the story to search for them...
"You seem to think that the Knox Decalogue is a series of restrictions imposed by the one who made the MYSTERY, but it is also vital for the READERS."
"...By using the Decalogue as a crutch, we are given the courage needed to use reasoning, as well as the willpower to reread the tale several times in search of the clues we know must be hidden THERE."
"...It's like the lid of a jar of jam which is too tight and won't open. Like Mom always used to say, if you think you can't open it, then it really won't open no matter how hard you try."
"...The same thing happens in sports. They say that whether or not you have a strong image of yourself and believe you can win no matter what has a large impact on the records."
In that case. The Knox Decalogue isn't really a set of arrogant and strict restrictions. You can also see it as a way to encourage readers, who are trying to solve the mystery, by telling them to give it their all since it's definitely solvable...
"...That's an interesting way to interpret it. However, I've heard that not all of the detective novels around the world follow the Decalogue all the time, right? When you bump into one of those, won't you feel tricked...?"
"Even the Decalogue is nothing more than a single INTERPRETATION, and it does not apply to all mystery STORIES. Though among fundamentalists of my father's work, it seems there are those who harshly criticize works which violate the Decalogue and call them HERESY..."
There's no end of arguments like this in the mystery world. Was this or that famous detective novel really a fair mystery--in other words, one that followed Knox's Decalogue? That sort of argument is already an eternal theme of the mystery world. In fact, in mystery discussions, arguments like these sometimes become more heated than talk about the actual tricks...
That's right. When fighting with the Decalogue, there's just one thing you want guaranteed from the beginning. In other words, you want a guarantee that this detective novel will adhere to the Decalogue. If a work labels itself as an orthodox mystery, then you have nothing to worry about.
However, the mystery genre contains many unorthodox sub-genres within it. Does that mean that trying to use reasoning in an unorthodox detective novel is a complete waste of time...?
"...Looking at it that way, it really does feel arrogant."
"YES. I also find it extremely sad that my father's Decalogue has been used as such an arrogant weapon."
"...Though you just fought with Beato using the Decalogue as a weapon. Can I take that as proof that this game world of Beato's follows the Knox Decalogue...?"
When I asked that, there was a strange silence. Virgilia, Dlanor, and of course, Beato... all remained silent for a while... Almost as though my question had touched at the core of something...
"This is a game that this child made. A game to decide which of the two of you will win. This child has called it a confrontation between mystery and fantasy. But unfortunately, she has never called it an orthodox mystery. That means you have no guarantee that it follows the Decalogue."
"...But at the same time, <Miss> Beatrice has said that this game is a contest between you and HER. In other words, there is a chance that you could win."
"In other words, you're trying to say that reasoning is possible?"
"...If you asked this child, she would probably say that reasoning is possible."
"...However, just as she is the challenger and you are the challenged, the two of you are different creatures. Something Beato might have proposed thinking it is solvable... may or may not be something that is solvable for you as well."
For example, let's say we propose a simple riddle that any Japanese person would know. However, if the person we're telling this riddle to is a foreigner with a Japanese-English dictionary in their hand, it might be almost impossible to solve. In other words, it's possible to have a one-sided 'solvable problem' which might be easy for the questioner but extremely difficult for the person trying to solve it...
By the way, do you know of the foreign riddle: 'Why do dragons sleep all day?' The answer is 'Because they fight knights'. It's a riddle from the English realm, so it might be a little tough for a Japanese person.
"For that reason, I cannot promise that this tale is something you will absolutely be able to solve. However, I can promise you one thing. I will guarantee it with the red truth."
It was... the one guarantee... that all those who try to use reasoning desire.
"I don't know whether my father's Decalogue will apply to that answer or lead you to IT."
"...However, when you run into a tight spot and want a compass for your reasoning, please try using my Decalogue if you REMEMBER. It might give you renewed courage and possibly even some new DISCOVERY..."
"Thank you. If I'm truly stuck, I'll think about your fighting style. Are you sure it's alright to help out an enemy like this?"
"Pay that no MIND. I came to this tea party without a GIFT. I hope you enjoy this in place of a SNACK. And... if you come face to face with me AGAIN, there probably won't be time to speak of something so CASUALLY."
...Knox's Decalogue... and Virgilia's red truth.
In other words, Beato wants me to be capable of solving it. Isn't that... proof that reasoning is possible...? Of course, that's from Beato's point of view, and it doesn't necessarily mean that reasoning is possible for me... Compared to before now, when I didn't even know whether reasoning was possible or impossible, that one line might give me a great deal of courage... At least it has the power to silence any negative thoughts about it just being useless anyway...
"...Unless the other party assures you that reasoning is possible, you won't do it. It's almost like love between shy, young people."
"Yes. Unless you have proof that the other person loves you first, you don't want to love them back. Right?"
Both boys and girls... want to hear someone else say they love them first. That's their dream. If they're in love, they don't want to love the other person until they're sure this person loves them back. After all, there's nothing as painful as a one-sided love, and the scars of the heart that leaves behind last a long time. Because they are afraid of that pain, they want proof that the other person loves them first more than anything else...
"I SEE, that's an interesting way to explain the relationship between writer and reader in a detective NOVEL."
Yes, maybe you could liken detective novels to that. Both the writer and the reader... first want the other party to say they will solve it (that it can be solved). Until the writer is assured that the reader will certainly have a go at the riddle if they propose it, they don't want to write their story. The same goes for the readers. Until they are assured that they will certainly be able to solve the riddle if they try, they don't want to read the story. Because they don't want to write what they consider a masterpiece and be hurt when no one reads it. Because they don't want to reason about what they consider a masterpiece and be hurt when they realize it was all useless.
"...Even though they really do want it, they don't have the courage to reveal their feelings, so they wait uncomfortably for the other person to confess... and by the time summer ends, nothing's happened. Heheh, sometimes they'll even go out with a different person. That's what my first love was like, ihihi."
Along with these one-sided feelings they can't express, they lament the passage of a summer which will never come again, and the days of their youth end. The writer who wouldn't write until he gained the support of readers... goes for all eternity without releasing his maiden work. The reader who waited for the writer's rise to fame... goes their whole life without knowing the joy of the mystery genre.
"...Battler-kun. When does this 'the chicken or the egg' type of shy love, reach the level where it progresses into mutual love...?"
"Well, that's probably when things start to pile up. It starts as a relationship between friends, they communicate with each other more, and when the two both reach the level where they're sure... They'll think 'I like this person and they surely like me', well, then they probably just naturally become a pair of lovers."
"My impression up until now is that relationships which start with a sudden confession of love tend to break up more often, whereas pairs who never actually confess to each other but realize that they've always been together usually stay together for a surprisingly long time."
"In other words, this happens after the two of them trust each other and a relationship of trust is BORN, is what you're SAYING."
"...Maybe. It's a bit odd. I've always thought the mystery genre was a battle between the writer and the reader, but maybe it actually isn't."
"Yes. It's something which can't go on without a relation built on mutual trust, a relationship with love."
"...*giggle*. Though it doesn't look like anything more than a pair of elementary schoolers bullying each other to me... Heheheheh."
Virgilia joked at us in a middle-aged woman sort of way. Still, though I'm not expecting friendship or a trusting relationship, I can accept her as a rival. Beato is fighting at full force, trying to make me acknowledge that she's a witch. So I'll respond to that and go all out trying to deny that witches exist.
"How do you know that, <Miss> Beato is fighting at full FORCE?"
"I can tell by looking."
"It isn't as though she has proclaimed in red that she was fighting you at full FORCE. And yet, you still have no DOUBTS? You are the one who said you wouldn't believe anything except the red TRUTH."
"*giggle*. I'm sure this is the stage where communication increases and you learn not to doubt your relationship which Battler-kun was mentioning earlier."
Virgilia and Dlanor giggled together. One guy, multiple women. The topic is love. Wait a sec, isn't this the worst formation for getting made fun of?
When I tried to change the subject and bring back a proper mood for a tea party in the rainy Golden Land by clumsily searching for a more noble subject, Virgilia saw right through me and laughed at me...
...Yeah, that's right... Virgilia and Dlanor... have given me so many hints... And yet, I barely thought about it at all... By now, it's all too late...
...'Let me think'. Now that everything is too late already and I have an endless amount of time on my hands, let me think.
With the red truth, Virgilia guaranteed that at the very least, Beato left enough room in this tale for me to achieve victory. That red truth guarantee will once again... give me the power to start my heart beating...
And... there's the crutch of the Decalogue, which Dlanor lent me. Dlanor herself warned me in the beginning that the Decalogue isn't so almighty that it can solve all riddles. However, she had said something about how it could be used as a method to solve... no, to take on riddles.
...Let me try it.