Part 56: About the Crime Scene
October 5th, 1986, 1:10 AM
Erika was dozing off on the bed, so when a knock sounded on the door, it took some time before she noticed. She looked at the clock and saw that not much time had passed since she had lain down.
"...Yes, who is it? I hope you have a good reason for knocking on the detective's door at an hour like this..."
BGM: Smile-less Soiree
"Oh, that detective proclamation thing. Do as you wish."
"No, I mean the opposite. I say we raise the stakes."
"...Raise... the stakes...?"
"What's this? Now that sounds interesting. What do you mean?"
"...It's simple. Battler got a shot off at us in the last game. So, if Erika does the same in this game, we're only even."
"Wasn't the last game a tie...?"
"We threw a game we should have won easily, right? If that isn't a loss, I don't know what is. Right, Erika...?"
"Y, yes, my master. If I hadn't failed so miserably, we would have won that game by default..."
"Y, you intend to challenge the game Battler-san poured his heart and soul into with a foolish handicap like that...? That is not only presumptuous, it's quite rude...!"
"...Sure is. It sounds more like an excuse just in case they lose."
"True, you could also look at it that way. If they win, it's a great victory, but if they lose, Erika's side has a nice little excuse. Isn't that a bit unsporting?"
"Don't worry, this bet is balanced on both sides. If we win as a human without the detective proclamation this game, it will be impossible for Battler and the others to pick up the pieces of the Illusion of the Witch. But on the other hand, if Erika loses, that detective trash will be sent into the depths of oblivion along with the worst possible Fragment."
"...See? That's balanced, isn't it? An ultimate victory with a mere human, not a superman detective, destroying the Illusion of the Witch. She's putting her own destruction on the line to make that bet. I've gotten bored with these sluggish repeating games that you and the former Beato made. So we're raising the stakes and settling it all at once."
"...Well, that is true. If Battler makes it through this game, it will mean that Battler has 'won' Beato's game, and the game will end. In a sense, it's a showdown you can't escape, right...?"
"...I see your position. Are you okay with that, Erika?"
"...Y, yes, of course. In order to regain my master's trust in me, which was lost by my previous defeat, I... I will risk even my own destruction..."
"Is that of your own will...?"
"...What's wrong, Erika? Answer him, okay...?"
"O, obviously. This is my own will. I certainly will not lose... Even without the detective proclamation, I... I will defeat you no matter what...!!"
"...Sure, that's fine. If that's what you want, I'll accept that challenge."
"...Th, thank you very much. I'll make sure you don't regret it."
"After all, when Battler played for the human side, he never had anything as convenient as the detective's authority. All he was allowed to do was use the blue truth and ask Beato to repeat what he said."
"Exactly. In a way, the last game was unfair. We failed to win despite that, which is why it was no different from a loss."
"Do what you want. If you feel like making a detective proclamation, do it whenever you like. I understand that you're holding it in reserve at the moment."
"You really think... I would use it...? Against an opponent like you...?"
"Then get started, you two. I'm already starting to get bored."
"...Leave it to me, my master...!! I will destroy the Illusion of the Witch for you without fail...!"
"A good while ago, they went downstairs, saying they wanted to get something to drink. We thought they might have come to your room..."
"Of course they didn't. Are you sure they didn't go to the mansion?"
"We called the servant room and dining hall of the mansion, but no one picked up..."
"Please stay here, you two. I'm going to go check the mansion."
"H, hey, it's dangerous to go out this late."
"How could a stranger sneak into this sealed-off island? Stay in that cousins' room of yours. I'll contact you if anything happens. Also, tell the servants in the guesthouse servant room not to leave the building. Bye."
"W, wait a second, Erika-san...?!!"
"...She is a strange kid."
After speaking her mind and not listening to anything else, Erika had dashed down the stairs and rushed outside.
BGM: Fishy Aroma
Though she had an umbrella up, Erika got drenched as she sprinted. She brashly licked the raindrops that dripped down her face... Erika was at her most energetic...
According to her memory from the previous game, the entrance hall to the mansion would be locked after the start of the family conference. However, the lock was undone this time. Had someone unlocked it, or had the lock not been set, or had it not been possible to set the lock?
"Well, no point thinking about it now. After all, that might just be a whim of the Game Master's."
As soon as she entered the entrance hall, the door to the parlor opened violently. Out of it flew Gohda's large body.
"Ah, good evening, Gohda-san. Is something the matter?"
That expression really is wonderfully pathetic. Just fitting for the first one to discover the crime.
"Please calm down. How could the police or an ambulance get to an isolated island inside a typhoon? I'm sure the phones are out anyway, so please calm yourself."
Krauss and Rudolf's yells could be heard from the parlor. Their shaken appearance perfectly signified the coming of the first twilight...
BGM: Deep Blue Jeer
"...Those who left to take a break didn't come back, so the adults went to the parlor. When they did, the door was sealed from the inside, and they couldn't open it. You'll see later, but the hat stand in the parlor had been used to bar the double doors from the inside."
"So you're trying to say that the door was blocked from the inside, and the windows were also locked from the inside...?"
"That's it. When they went around and looked into the parlor through the window, they saw Rosa lying on the sofa in an unnatural position, with blood pouring from her forehead. They then smashed the glass, entered the parlor, and discovered that Maria was also there, lying by the wall and covered in blood."
"...Got it. That would make them yell. And the other crime scenes?"
"The entrance wasn't locked when you came into the mansion... because they had gone out through it to check the parlor from the outside. Since it had been locked before they went out of it, and there was a chance that the other people who had gone missing were lying elsewhere within the mansion, the adults are now searching the entire building..."
"So does it match the places where the victims died in that long, crazy delusion of yours that you showed earlier?"
"Rosa and Maria were in the parlor. Also, Natsuhi was in her own room, and Kyrie was in Krauss's study. Eva was in the rose garden... no, wait, she was moved to the VIP room, wasn't she?"
"Yes. Eva's corpse was found in the VIP room."
"That makes five victims. Ah, that's one short for the first twilight. Who's the sixth person, and where?"
"Cut it!! The culprit might be hiding in there!!"
"Gohda, do it!"
Rudolf and Krauss had brought Winchesters from Kinzo's prized collection. They yelled at Gohda, who was carrying the wire cutters, to cut the chain. The victims had been found one after another at several locations inside the mansion. The men who had lost their wives searched through the mansion in a rage, looking for the culprit. This was... a guest room. It had previously been a room where the relatives would stay, but it hadn't been used much since the construction of the guesthouse. This forgotten room was locked from the inside by the chain...
As soon as the chain was cut, Rudolf pushed Gohda aside and flew into the room.
"Is anyone there?! Get out here...!!"
"There's someone on the bed...!"
"Let's get some light, Aniki...!"
When Krauss pushed a switch on the wall, the guest room lit up, and the figure lying on the bed came into view...
Rudolf fell over Battler's corpse as though his knees had crumbled. No words could console him as he cried with a mad sorrow... In a single night, he had lost both his wife and his son. During this time, Krauss had checked the window and the bathroom and searched the closet to find if anyone was hiding there, but he had found no one...
"Battleeer... Battleeeeeeer... dammiiiiit... aaaaaaahhhhh..."
"H, how sad..."
"...I can't believe it, but this room is also... a closed room."
"Wh, what, again...?!"
"Yes... My study, where Kyrie-san was, Natsuhi's room, the VIP room with Eva, the parlor with Rosa and her daughter... And now Battler-kun in this guest room. They're all closed rooms, aren't they...? I don't... understand... It couldn't be suicide, could it...?!"
"That's impossible...!! How could this be a suicide?! Aaaaggggghhh... Battleeeeeeer..."
BGM: Scar Sound
"It's more interesting to kill yourself off every now and then."
"And all of the crime scenes are closed rooms. It's a murder that could not have been performed without magic."
"Hmph, isn't seeing through that the point of this game? In other words, it must be a murder that could have been performed without magic. After all, if it really could be done only with magic, this wouldn't be a game."
"...That's an interesting thought. Yes, that is the sort of game we have been playing."
This game is fair. The goal is to explain without magic the strange crimes that are claimed to be caused with magic. If that couldn't be done, it wouldn't be a game. In other words, as Erika had said, they must be murders that could have been performed without magic... To turn it around, the witch side had a certain responsibility. They had to make a crime that could be reproduced with tricks and not magic. As long as the human side couldn't see through to those tricks, the witch side could use all kinds of magic and illusions.
In other words, in order to carry out a closed room murder with magic... It was necessary to create a crime that would be possible by human hands.
BGM: Look Back
"'Magic can only do what you can accomplish by your own hands', was it?"
At that time, if I had possessed the determination to kill my classmates, no, that's not it. At that time, if I had been capable of killing my classmates... Capable of pulling it off... Then the Seven Sisters of Purgatory would probably have pulled it off for me. They could only accomplish what I could do myself... No, that's not it either. They could take what I had accomplished and turn it into 'magic'.
However, because there had been a great number of witnesses in that classroom, it would probably have been impossible. It would have been burned by that anti-magic toxin Maria onee-chan and the others always talk about. However, if I had called those classmates out somewhere without witnesses, and if I had succeeded in murder... At that point, 'the Seven Sisters of Purgatory would be capable of carrying out a magical murder'...
"...Even with magic, witches cannot do things that they cannot accomplish by themselves. They can only 'adorn' the things they can do with magic."
"...Interesting. And that is because those who accomplish something without using magic... later claim that there was magic and call themselves witches."
"This Erika person has understood that since the beginning. That's why she will never surrender to witches. She is confident that it must be explainable with tricks. The old Battler was toyed with so frequently because he did not possess that confidence..."
"...If this rule is seen through, the witch loses any chance at victory. That's why they have to make their opponent surrender before they see the truth of this rule. The longer the match is drawn out, and the more hints are given, the greater the witch's overwhelming disadvantage becomes..."
Once again, this reasoning keeps spinning around in circles.
Hideyoshi's group seemed to have gone to the guesthouse, worrying about the safety of the kids there. Krauss and Rudolf were in the hall, talking about what should be done next...
During a short gap in this chaos, Erika dashed all about the mansion. She was checking the crime scenes. Normally, with the detective's authority, Erika had the right to openly investigate the crime scenes to her heart's content. However, this time, she hadn't yet made use of that authority. Because of that, and with her being a guest and an outsider, there was little to no chance that she would be allowed to investigate. So, she was forced to quickly check all of the crime scenes now, while she could still run about as she pleased.
In the servant room, there had been a clear folder containing a sketch of the mansion's interior. Because she had borrowed that, she knew the location of all rooms in the mansion... Erika skillfully made her way through the mansion, dashing into each crime scene in turn...
BGM: Golden Sneer
"Yes? What is it?"
"It is true that you have an incredible photographic memory, Lady Erika. By combining that with the detective's proclamation, it is impossible for you to be fooled by ANYTHING."
"Yeah, I get it. Since no detective proclamation has been made about me, even my photographic memory doesn't count as foolproof evidence. Of course, I understand that. Still, that doesn't mean I can afford to miss viewing the crime scenes directly."
"...After all, in the last game, my pride in that regard led me to a truly miserable failure."
"For example, by this argument, no matter how well you examine a person's corpse, you could not even guarantee that they were not faking their death with absolute CERTAINTY. Most probably, features of this situation must be individually confirmed by telling Battler to repeat them in red."
"And I'll need to use the blue truth liberally in order to make him. I understand. Let's start with the basics. The lack of the detective's authority is no handicap. It simply means that I'm fighting under the same conditions Battler once was."
I have no conveniences such as the detective's authority. I just have to truly fight the same way the old Battler fought. Thinking of it this way, it may be true that I was in a very blessed, unfair position last game, just as my master has said...
It may be difficult without the detective's authority, which also holds my honor as a detective. But I won't let that be a handicap. I know what magic is, and I'm fully aware of how to fight with the red and blue truths. I know the way to fight in this game many times better than the old Battler did... I quickly visited the VIP room, Krauss's study, and Natsuhi's room on the second floor, as well as the parlor and the guest room on the first floor, this time checking with my own eyes, as I had failed to do in the last game...
First off, all of the scenes were made to look like closed rooms. Probably of special note was the fact that the master keys had no relation to the tricks this time. The closed rooms were all made without relying on any elements that could be locked or unlocked from the outside by a master key or something else. The windows were locked from the inside, and the doors were all locked and chained. The master key could get around all of the locks on the doors, but not the window locks or the chain locks. I haven't yet had Battler confirm that it's impossible to manipulate those from the outside, but I'm sure he'll be able to say it in red. It'd be stupid otherwise.
"...I understand. Right now, I am a mere human. I can't even properly confirm the death of the corpses."
...Last time I neglected to check the corpses, and let a massive bit of 'magic' get by me. I won't fail like that again... If I did, I wouldn't be able to face the master I am so indebted to...
"First, all of the rooms form closed rooms with the window locks and chain locks, so that 'interference from the outside would be DIFFICULT'. The only exception is the parlor, where Rosa and Maria lay DEAD."
"Please, allow me to speak. Let it be known that the door was barred with a hat stand."
"It is thought to be substantially the same as a chain lock, in that it can only be set from the inside."
"It is probably their goal to construct closed rooms where explanations using master keys are made completely INEFFECTIVE. The parlor has no chain lock due to its very nature, so it is natural that something else would be used in the chain's PLACE."
"...In that case, the interesting question becomes why one of the other rooms that have chain locks wasn't chosen to be a closed room. There were several other guest rooms other than the one Battler lay dead in, all with a similar construction, correct?"
"Yes, that is CORRECT."
"In that case, even though it should have been more beautiful to throw them in there, so that everyone would be inside a chain lock closed room, they did not."
"...This hat stand door bar in the parlor seems very suspicious. I should probably pursue this when demanding red truths. Also, we have corpses, but are they the same absolute deaths with their necks sliced open like in the last game, which could be confirmed even without the detective's authority?"
Of course, she had checked all of the corpses in all of the crime scenes this time. However, without the detective's authority, she had no guarantee that she would be able to see through any faked deaths 'with certainty'... The old Battler had also started fighting by doubting whether the victims were truly dead. It was the same for Erika...
"Please, allow me to speak. Know that there were no corpses that could have been confirmed dead with certainty by physical means."
"Please, allow me to speak. We cannot deny the possibility that any one of these corpses might be a faked death."
"...Well, I doubt Battler will easily confirm their deaths in red even if I tell him to. Sheesh..."
BGM: Black Lilliana
"...There are two general ways of breaking closed rooms that Battler might be after. An illusion of a closed room, or an illusion of a crime. It'll be one of those."
"I get the first one. That's when something looks like a closed room, but it actually isn't, right? What do you mean by an illusion of a crime?"
"...An illusion that makes it seem as though a crime has occurred. In other words, are they really dead?"
"Come on, are you kidding me? If the people inside are alive, handling any kind of closed room is like pissing in a toilet. Still, with this closed room... It's pretty hard to think of any other answer."
"What about the endless possibilities of manipulating the chain lock from the outside? We don't know if there are secret doors, ways to kill from a distance, chances of suicide, or even whether these are complete closed rooms in the first place."
"...I already know, since I'm looking at Battler's game board from the underside, but these are perfect closed rooms. They can only be constructed from the inside, and there exists no method by which to construct, deconstruct, or interfere with them from the outside."
"Can you say that in red?"
"That'd be a little too rude to Battler, so no. If you do love me, you must see my words as red truth, right...?"
"...Then the closed rooms are perfect. In other words, this is an illusion of a crime."
"Unfortunately, this isn't a fake. The victims really have been killed."
"Huh?! You don't mean by 24:00 on the second day, right?"
"No detective proclamation has been made, but she is very accurate when examining corpses. I could almost even give her examinations the red truth."
"So? Does that mean that they were definitely dead when Erika examined their corpses?"
"Yes, that's right. Totally."
"But you won't say it in red for her, ri-ght? *giggle*, and that poor Erika must want it so ba-d."
"Well, she isn't the detective this time around. I won't give her any red. *giggle*giggle*."
"However, that makes it incredible. This time, Battler's really made a perfect closed room!"
"...Oh, is that so?"
"Will Erika be alright? It looks like an ordinary closed room murder at a glance, but this one is pretty nasty. Won't this load be a bit too heavy for Erika without her detective's authority...?"
"She is a self-proclaimed detective. I'm sure she'll pull through. If Battler and Beato are defeated by a mere human who isn't even a detective, they'd fall apart in the most exquisite way, don't you think?"
"...And even if Erika loses, you get to play by throwing her into the worst Fragment and knocking her into the depths of oblivion?"
"Exactly. No matter how we fall, it won't be boring."
"You really are heartless, aren't you? Well, wringing out this black cat like a towel and licking up every last drop is my only bliss!"
"Beato's game board did entertain me for quite some time, but we've already wrung everything we can from it."
"...Sheesh. And I wanted to play with you forever in this game. What a shame."
"Come now. I've spent plenty of time with you already. Go find me another interesting game. If you do, I'll play with you again..."
"Ah, yes, you really don't let me get bored. That's alright, Bernkastel. Seeing your face twist with anguish is the one forbidden honey I've found for myself."
Lambdadelta had guaranteed that it was a perfect closed room. Bernkastel had guaranteed that it was a perfect murder. A perfect 'closed room' and 'murder'.
The witches hate a killjoy, so they haven't said anything with the red truth yet.