Part 39: Game Master II
So, this study in the world of nonhumans belonged to the master of the game board... and was a place where he could look down upon the humans... Therefore, it was understandable that one might mistake the imposing, robe-clad man in the center of the study for Kinzo, if only for a second.
It wasn't Kinzo. This was Battler, the one who had taken up the position of Game Master and become the new territory lord of this world.
Around Battler was a swirl of glowing Fragments, sparkling like the night sky, and on the floor was what appeared to be a red magic circle. To an outsider, it would have appeared to be nothing more than an incomprehensible geometric shape. But to Battler, who stood at its center, it was the outline for a new tale...
A new line grew across the magic circle, following Battler's gaze. Then, at the instant it connected with a complicated symbol, the entire magic circle flashed brightly.
BGM: Steady Pace
"It is splendid, Master. The 6th game is complete."
As Battler wiped his forehead and finally relaxed, Genji, who was standing behind him and watching over his every move, nodded deeply in response.
"...I always thought being a Game Master meant you could make the tale however you want, but this is seriously harder than I thought it'd be."
"You must write up multiple tales and make the inner and outer sides of the story match. And yet, you have displayed such skill, It is hard to believe that this is your first time... I believe even Erika-sama will be satisfied with this game."
"Well, hopefully it matches that great detective's tastes."
"...Still, I've got to honestly respect Beato now. I can hardly believe that she managed to make tales that complicated and do it so easily."
"...It was not easy. Beatrice-sama also worried and worried, and each time she created a tale, she would then worry over various contradictions. She was constantly battling with logic errors."
"It is the greatest and worst form of error that the witch side can make, and one which must always be avoided."
"So Beato, got close to bumping into those several times in her games...?"
"...She fought with them every time she created a game. I believe it grew even more difficult for her as you became a more effective opponent."
"...So, do you think this game I've made... is good enough to show Beato?"
"...Yes. Of course."
"...Beato, hasn't woken up yet, has she?"
After remaining silent for a while longer, Genji answered.
"...She woke up three days ago. You were concentrating on the construction of the 6th game, so I decided to wait before telling you... My sincere apologies..."
Battler's face broke into a smile. There was no trace in his expression of the hatred he had once felt towards Beato for murdering his family...
BGM: Dead Angle
"Yes. When Battler reached the truth, there was a great change in his impression of Beato."
"So, should we assume that there really was something between Onii-chan and Beato, that he forgot all about it...?"
However, Battler suspected this in the 4th game and asked Beato about it. According to the tale, this was denied by the red truth: 'Six years ago, no person called Beatrice existed for Battler'...
"...We can read this as saying that Beato did not exist six years ago, or it could simply mean that she had no connection to Battler at that time. However, either way, Battler did not visit Rokkenjima at all for the next six years..."
"October 4th, 1986 should have been the first time Beatrice and Onii-chan met. If so, why was there already some kind of antagonism between them? I don't have a clue what it means."
"...That 'Ushiromiya Battler's sin', which Beato questioned Battler about in the 4th game, might give us a clue. The result of that might have been Beatrice herself."
"The result? The result of Onii-chan's sin was... Beato...?"
That almost sounds as though Onii-chan created the witch called Beatrice himself...
"Battler sinned six years ago. Because of that sin, people died. The killer was Beatrice. If you consider the possibility that everything is connected to Battler's sin six years ago, then the one who created Beatrice was Battler himself. I thought it sounded almost as though she was Battler's piece..."
"I don't get it. If Onii-chan sinned in some way, it must have been something much lighter than murder, at the very least. If someone caused this huge massacre in retaliation for that, that's totally out of proportion."
"Beato killed our family. Dad, Mom, Onii-chan, everyone. I can't believe that Onii-chan's sin was anything deserving of that."
"The weight of a sin depends on the person measuring it. Even a sin so light that Battler might have forgotten, could have been so serious to Beato that she hated him enough to massacre his whole family a full six years after the fact. Well, even I think that a bit excessive, and more importantly, if she were a person like that, I would find it hard to accept that Battler would act so friendly towards her after discovering the truth..."
Featherine's observation was extremely interesting. In a past game, Beato clearly said that Onii-chan's sin six years ago was the cause of this two day tragedy. I still don't know what kind of sin that was. However, he figured it out at the end of the 5th game, and he even apologized to Beato. Even though she was the witch who had massacred his entire family in retaliation for his sin of six years previous, Battler apologized to her.
...Of course, it was the player Battler who apologized, not the piece Battler whose family had been murdered over and over again. But even so, Battler must have remembered something at the end of the last game that made him feel like apologizing...
"...I have already formed a theory about it."
"Oh? Let me hear it."
"Heheheheheh, I can't tell you yet. I want to enjoy being the only one who knows the answer for a little while longer..."
"...Well then, I guess I'm done reading for you."
"Hahaha, well, we can't have that, can we? Have some patience and read a bit further. My theory is still nothing more than a guess. Once I'm certain of it, I'll tell you."
"Okay, okay, my master. I actually do want to hear what comes next, after all."
Just what kind of connection do Onii-chan and Beatrice have with each other? Understanding that will probably give me a massive clue towards finding the truth of this world. After all, because he remembered that, he was able to reach the truth.
This place was a villa set aside for Beatrice's use. It was a sacred site for her only, built so that she could spend her days without being affected by the outside world. My heart began to race. I'm so glad that she was able to revive... and that everything's okay...
Beato is a personification of the rules. So, even though she was destroyed once, it is possible for her to be reborn again... Battler had quickly succeeded in reviving Beato's body, but he had had trouble summoning her soul back. However, during the time he had spent immersed in the creation of the 6th game, she had woken up. And this had happened three days ago.
Battler let himself be led into the dining hall. The dining hall had been set up for his and Beato's use. It existed so that they could enjoy some black tea while discussing the truth, now that he had finally reached all of it.
I want to tell Beato that I've found the truth. Battler couldn't hold back his excitement over this miracle he had been granted, that Beato was waiting for him in the dining hall to hear what he had to say...
"How is Beatrice? Same as usual? Is she in high spirits?"
"Oh yes, she is in very high spirits now. She has been waiting for you all this time, Master. Oh yes."
"Is she in the dining hall? Is she eating or something? Ah, that's alright, it doesn't matter either way...!"
"Hohoho, you'll be surprised..."
When he swung open the doors to the dining hall, Battler was greeted by a wonderful sight. Though the food laid out on the table wasn't particularly sensational, it was arranged beautifully, and a champagne bottle stood there waiting.
"You have my sincerest gratitude for giving me this form."
"Ha, hahahaha... Come on, don't worry about that... I'm so glad... Beato..."
Battler rushed up to Beato and hugged her tightly. Just to make sure her body wasn't just mist or an illusion.
"...I am right here... I will not disappear..."
"It's okay, you can stop talking like that. I'm not going to ask you for anything in return. Anyway, I want to apologize. And I want to talk with you. I don't even know where I should start."
"You have done nothing that you need to apologize for, Father. I'm glad just to be of service to you."
"Beatrice was born for your sake, Father. Please, let me support you. And Father. Congratulations on completing the 6th game."
"I told you, stop talking like that. It's totally creepy."
"...Do you find this style of speech displeasing? Please forgive my rudeness..."
"Well, I don't 'find it displeasing', but it's not like you. I guess I like the way you usually talk best."
Beato smiled vaguely. To Battler, it probably looked as though they were both smiling over the same joke. However, Beato's smile was literally vague and uncertain. After all... she didn't know how she was supposed to talk...
"Anyway, Beato. Just what kind of joke is this? Don't tell me that the great Beatrice-sama decided to cook for me...?"
"When I heard that you had completed the 6th game, I wanted to see if I could prepare a modest reward to congratulate you..."
"...Hohoho. Beatrice-sama really worked hard to make this. I didn't even need to lend a hand at all, no I didn't!"
The food set on the table really was modest and inexpertly made. You could tell by looking at it that Beato, who wasn't particularly skilled with cooking, had given it her all when making it... However, signs of discomfort and irritation were beginning to appear on Battler's face...
"Oh yes, as she said, Beatrice-sama decided that she would like to congratulate..."
Sweat was starting to show up on Kumasawa's forehead... She was also feeling uneasy. When he noticed, Battler realized that it wasn't just his imagination. Beato turned her back to Battler and stuck a corkscrew into the champagne bottle. Then, she showed it to Battler.
"Father, congratulations on the completion of the 6th game. In the hopes that you will prove victorious over your longtime rival, Furudo Erika..."
When presented with a champagne bottle and a sound like that, anyone would think that the cork had been pulled out. However, it wasn't the cork... it was the bottom of the bottle. The high-quality champagne that Beato had procured splashed out all over the floor and her dress.
Then, the same sound repeated several more times. Each time, one of the plates of food on the table was knocked into the air.
"F... Father... did you find the food displeasing...?"
"...I, I am Beatrice. I was born for your sake, Father..."
"That's not right..."
"Who is this?! This isn't Beato...!! And anyway, don't call me Father...!! What's going on here?! What is this?! Didn't I revive Beato?! Genji, what's this all about?!!"
"...My apologies, but that is indeed Beatrice-sama."
"Are you kidding me?! ow is this supposed to be Beato?! She's totally wrong, a fake!!"
"No, that is Beatrice-sama. It is, without a doubt, Beatrice-sama, who was born in accordance with the rules of the game board."
"No, this isn't anything like Beato...!! Beato would always talk in this weird way, she'd laugh rudely, and more, and more...!!"
"No, this is most certainly Beatrice-sama herself."
"Then why is she talking like that? Why is she calling me Father?!"
"B, Beatrice-sama was only born a short while ago... It would be far too cruel to expect her to act as she once did so soon..."
"Are you saying that her memory hasn't returned yet?"
"...Master. This person is definitely Beatrice-sama herself. However, she is not the Beatrice-sama you know so well."
"What are you talking about...?! I'm the Game Master, right?! Why can't I revive Beato...?!"
"Oh yes, she most certainly has revived. However, the old Beatrice-sama had lived for a thousand years. This Beatrice-sama, on the other hand, was only born a short while ago...! If she appears to be a different person, well, that just can't be helped...!"
"Then, how can I revive that Beato?! Her body is right here! How can I revive her soul?!"
"...If she lives the same thousand year life again, she should become the same Beatrice-sama she was before."
"So I'm supposed to wait a thousand years...?!"
"A, a person's personality isn't decided solely by their birth. It can change drastically based on how they live and what they experience..."
BGM: Love Examination
"I get it. Even if you had two of the exact same person, they could change enormously depending on their upbringing."
"Even though they might both be the same human to start with, their upbringing could change them so much that they effectively become two completely different people. Usually, we use the term 'person' to refer to a person, not their personality. However, since humans recognize a person by their personality, those two might as well be different people, from a human perspective..."
"...That's so true. If that tragedy 12 years ago hadn't happened, this Lady would be a cute girl who could smile without looking weird."
"That's rude. As if I'm not totally cute as it is."
At the very least... I'm a completely different person than I used to be 12 years ago. And if my family had come home 12 years ago, then the Ange that resulted would surely be a completely different person from me. Even the same human can become different people. In fact, depending on their upbringing and endless possibilities, they can become an endless number of different people.
...So, just because this is the same Beato, that's no guarantee that she'll be the Beato that Onii-chan knows so well.
"And on top of that, Beatrice is a witch who lived a thousand years. Given just three days, people can die or be reborn. A thousand years... is just too long."
"...It seems you're quite a skilled reader. For most of my readers, it would be necessary to spend several hundred pages to explain how a single person, can become different people depending on their upbringing and time."
"Don't underestimate your readers. We aren't just reading. We read... and we think."
"...If I make a hundred people read it, only 90 people will actually be able to. However, only 50 will actually understand what it means. And not even 20 will actually think beyond that. And all I ask is that they think it over a bit. Nothing more than that. *giggle*"
"However, it seems that 'you' are one of those precious 20 readers... That's why I invited you here, child of man..."
It was hard to actually like this Hachijo Toya person. However, though this forgery she had written was still in its first stages, it definitely felt as though it had something very similar to the tales in those message bottles. Speaking metaphorically, one might call it a scent. An indescribable stern atmosphere, like a stuffy library. The 'Beatrice' who wrote the message bottles and Hachijo Toya are different people. And yet, this has the same scent as that tale...
...I see. This is why some of those curious Witch Hunters are so intensely devoted to her... Their keen sense of smell was able to sniff out that familiar scent...
"I guess it's true that writers are always starving for opinions on their works. However, sorry to disappoint you, I don't have time to read all the way through this thick manuscript. More importantly..."
"...And yet, you have plenty of time..."
Both the second hand and the pendulum on the ornate clock behind Hachijo had been moving the whole time. However, absolutely no time had passed for a while now. Only about three minutes had gone by since the time she had entered the room...
"See? Time isn't something you have to worry about. You won't run out of time until after you've finished reading..."
"Next page, Lady, next page."
Amakusa badgered me to turn the page, so I returned to the world of the tale once more.
Is it because... she actually has reached the truth, as she claims? Does this mean that anyone who knows the truth could create an endless number of message bottles? Is that what the cat box world is like...?
I see. I guess she might also be an Endless Witch. In fact, maybe anyone who knows the truth can become an Endless Witch. An endless tale, created by the Endless Witches. The two days starting on October 4th, 1986, where my family is being toyed with endlessly.
...I have to end it. I have to find a hint of the truth from within this story... and end this endless tale.
"Well, you're not the type to give me an honest compliment anyway, are you... You'd probably say something more like 'not bad for an incompetent fool like you'."
"*cackle*cackle* Not bad for an incompetent fool like you."
"Heh. Now that I've seen what it's like to be a Game Master, I understand everything. You really had to work hard during each and every game."
"'Creating a game is not such an easy thing. To think the day would come when we would both congratulate each other like this.'"
BGM: String Trio Short in F Sharp Major
"...All wrong... This... isn't Beato..."
Battler slammed hard on the desk, but the piece Beato showed no reaction. After all, Battler hadn't ordered her to react. It was easy to revive that Beato as a piece. However, it would only move according to Battler's wishes. Having a conversation with it... was no different from talking to himself...
The Game Master could summon any kind of piece. He could move those pieces in any way he wanted, reigning as an absolute god. However, for that very reason, they were just pieces. That made it unbelievably lonely... and sad.
"'But that's wrong.'"
"You were... unbelievably lonely."
"'It must have been such a relief for you to have an opponent in me who could actually go against you. I'm painfully aware of that now.'"
"...That weird, polite Beato... she was you, right? The way you were a thousand years ago."
"'However, she is a separate person.'"
"The way she looks just like you is what I really can't get over...! I can't stand it..."
"'However, she isn't a piece, so she can go against my will.'"
"Unlike the piece you are, that Beato is much more alive. I acknowledge that! But it's all wrong!! That isn't you! She's a completely separate person, like a long-lost little sister or something! And that's why... I just can't accept her...!!"
...As much as he hated this piece Beato... Battler felt an even stronger dislike... for the 'chick' Beato. Even after a whole thousand years... She still wouldn't become the original Beato. Even if she were ordered to act like the original Beato, it would just be an imitation. This was a very similar but separate person, and definitely not Beato herself.
...So, in the previous game, Beato really did disappear for all eternity... Even after becoming the Game Master, there was no way to revive her...
"...Laugh. Laugh at how pathetic I am."
Just give it a rest already...