Part 60: A Small Contradiction
October 5th, 1986, 2:21 PM
BGM: Closed my Heart
"It isn't as though we have any physical evidence, so we can't tie them up and throw them in a closet. So, we need to make sure that they are always within sight of those with guns, and that we keep an eye on them all the time."
"Aniki, we should also gather the master keys. Only the servants could have created those closed rooms. They must have done something with the chain locks using some tool or setup that only the servants know about."
"...They have all served us for a long time. I can hardly imagine that they would commit murder..."
"Kinzo-san's life is nearly over, and I hear that the inheritance problem is still very shaky. Add on that story about ten tons of gold being hidden somewhere. A possible payoff like that might be enough to convince certain people to commit a crime..."
"I don't want to think about it, but there's also a chance that the old bastard is running some bizarre occult ceremony. The servants of the One Wing are his pawns, and they might have been the ones to carry out the murders. How about Dad, anyway? Have we been able to contact him yet?"
"N, no... The extension line isn't working either... The culprits might have broken it. And Father does sometimes leave the receiver off the hook when he's in a bad mood... When I knocked, umm... I only received a grumpy reply... We can't contact him, but that study is well protected. It's probably safer there, so it might be best to have him stay there..."
Flustered, Krauss tried to explain away Kinzo's silence. Battler, the Game Master, hadn't made 'Kinzo's death' a major theme for this game, so the conversation didn't progress any further at this point. They stopped talking about Kinzo without Rudolf thinking anything was particularly suspicious.
"Anyway, we can't let the servants out of our sights. I've already talked with Hideyoshi-san about this, but we've decided to split everyone into two rooms on the second floor and hole up in there."
"Why two rooms? Wouldn't one room be more secure?"
"Well, if we tried to stick 12 people in one room, they'd suffocate. Plus, I want to isolate the people we need to keep the closest eye on. There's Genji-san, the head of the servants, Gohda-san, the largest one there, and though he's just a kid, Kanon-san is a boy."
"I think we need to pay those three special attention, Aniki. This way, we can isolate that group, and you and I can keep a close eye on them. With two guns, the pair of us could cooperate on a moment's notice. If they make even a single suspicious move, *boom*!"
"...I understand. Let's do that. But Rudolf. We can't be certain that they are the culprits. Don't be too pushy."
"...You're telling me not to be pushy? We must be getting old."
"Right now, Hideyoshi-san is upstairs, dividing everyone into the two rooms. We'll gather the ones being isolated in the cousins' room, and the others will go into the next room over."
"Ah right, Aniki, What about Jessica-chan...? She insists on being in the same room as you."
"We were planning to have five people in the cousins' room and seven in the next room over. If Jessica-san wants to go to the cousins' room, it'll be split clean down the middle. If this was a wolves and sheep puzzle, there are now three servant wolves and you two sheep in that room. If you add in Jessica-san, it'll be balanced out."
For a while, Krauss crossed his arms and thought. The cousins' room would surely be more dangerous, so he wanted his daughter to go into the next room over. However, in an emergency like this, he wanted to have his daughter where he could see her.
"...Yes. I am thinking logically now. But I can't guarantee that my sadness at losing my wife won't change to anger..."
Even without any physical evidence, the servants are certainly the most suspicious. During the long wait, the two men's weariness and anger and sadness might make them lose their reason and act out in anger... After thinking deeply, Krauss decided to accept Jessica's request, in part to prevent this from happening...
"...I think that's a good idea. I approve as well."
"I agree. It's enough that only Rosa and I lose children..."
In this way, all of the survivors excepting Kinzo split into two groups and holed up in two rooms on the guesthouse's second floor. One group was in the cousins' room. Krauss, Rudolf, Jessica, Genji, Kanon, Gohda. Six people. One group was in the next room over. Hideyoshi, George, Shannon, Kumasawa, Nanjo, Erika. Six people here too.
Perhaps as the result of the killer's doing, the external phone line had been cut off, and they would have to wait for the ferryboat coming the next day before they could contact the police. However, the weather report said that the typhoon would make the ocean rough all the next day. When that happens, the ferryboat takes the day off. So, it would probably be two days before the boat came. In other words, they would need to spend a full two nights holed up in here...
While Erika and the others held their planning meeting in the lounge, food and blankets had been brought in to prepare for the siege. The sudden tragedy had everyone on edge, but it was already well after 2:00 at night. If they really suspected the servants, then the observers couldn't afford to fall asleep at the same time. Either Krauss or Rudolf should probably take a nap right away...
BGM: Smile-less Soiree
"A man who's lost his cool is no different from an emotional dog. If you treat them properly, it's easy to control them."
One of the benefits of the detective's authority was being able to take charge of the situation. Because of this, Erika, who was both a guest and a young girl, had been able to order a large number of adults around at will. However, she didn't have that power this time. So, Erika had taken charge by making good use of her natural conversation skills and techniques for controlling men...
"The detective's authority is the same as magic. You can't do anything that's impossible for you. So, Erika was only acknowledged as such because she already had that much talent."
"...Magic is not something that is given to lazy or powerless humans."
"Right. On the contrary, people who can hide their great efforts are the ones we call witches."
The absolute nature of the detective's authority can act as magic. However, that convenient power probably hadn't been given to Erika easily. She probably needed her skills to be acknowledged. Even if she isn't given a special power by the witch she serves, she's very competent on her own.
"But Erika, why did you split them into two rooms? I'd thought you were going to gather everyone into one room."
"...I would have if I had the detective's authority. This is a move to preserve my right to investigate at will."
"Ah, is that it? I see. Not bad."
In truth, she wanted to take some time and investigate the victims at the crime scenes at her leisure, without being interrupted by anyone. She had already inspected the scenes once as she ran through the mansion, but that probably wasn't perfect. However, they wouldn't have let a guest into the crime scenes, so she had had no other choice back then. She wanted some time to herself and freedom to investigate more, in part so that she could check the closed rooms and cause of death more closely.
"...How is that related to splitting everyone into two rooms...?"
"That's because she'll be able to trick them with it. Watch."
"Yes. That's the only reason I split them into two rooms."
This room had six people. Krauss, Jessica, and Rudolf. And then the most suspicious ones, the male servants Genji, Kanon, and Gohda, who had been forced to hole up in here. Jessica leaned against Krauss's shoulder, wrapped up in a blanket. She was drowsy, but apparently couldn't get to sleep. It was no surprise. In this bizarre situation, it would probably take some time before she could accept her mother's death...
...Kanon thought that this was the sort of time he should stay by Jessica's side, but that looked like it would be hard to do in front of Rudolf's intimidating glare. Rudolf stayed completely silent, but his inner emotions showed clearly in his eyes. So, Genji, Kanon, and Gohda didn't have to ask to realize that they were suspected. Sometimes, Gohda would ask if he could help in an attempt to correct this misunderstanding, but that seemed to have the opposite effect. The only good option available to him... was to stay quiet so that he didn't aggravate Rudolf... and sit still at the end of the sofa...
BGM: Minute Darkness
The format of the room and the constricted atmosphere were the same as the cousins' room, but even so, it was relatively calm there. George sat holding Shannon, who was darkly hanging her head the whole time. Kumasawa and Nanjo sat nervously as they listened to Hideyoshi explain the situation...
"I'm not talkin' about the Hawaii Shooting Center here! It's been long enough that I can confess, but I once defiantly fired off one of them occupyin' forces pistols...! You see, back then, the black market was controlled by foreign yakuza..."
He probably wanted to make everyone feel secure by convincing them that he could be relied upon. Hideyoshi went into one of his old stories that everyone had heard many times, and that had gotten more extravagant each time they heard it. It didn't make them any more confident in Hideyoshi's abilities, but it did seem to calm things down a little by bringing in a sense of normality.
"...Why has a crime like this happened...? I hope the boat comes tomorrow..."
"That seems unlikely... It looks as though we'll be staying here for two nights. Now is a good time to get some sleep..."
"Haha... My nerves aren't dull enough to let me sleep soundly in a situation like this..."
The pain and anger of losing his mother quietly tormented George. Sleepiness probably wouldn't be coming to him for a while...
Erika suddenly clapped her hands as though she had just remembered something, then whispered in Hideyoshi's ear, interrupting the old story, which he had grown very engrossed with.
"...Sorry, I'm going to go the cousins' room for a second. There's one little thing I just need to check on with the servants over there."
"Can't you use the phone? You just need to dial the room number."
"Oh, have you forgotten? It seems the culprit has broken the phones."
"Wait, you don't mean... you've found some kind of contradiction in their testimonies?"
Up until this point, Erika had spent a lot of time giving the impression that she behaved like a detective. So, Hideyoshi immediately assumed that this was something vital to do with the crime.
"Even though it's the next room over, it's too dangerous to go alone. You sure you don't want to take someone with you?"
"The servants and Nanjo-san are completely untrustworthy. You're in charge of this room. George-san is needed to support you. There's no one left. Don't worry, the detective never gets attacked."
Erika had already worked hard to look like a sharp, clearheaded person. Hideyoshi relaxed and agreed, thinking that it was just next door and wouldn't be a problem...
"After an hour... no... Better not to wander around. I'll stay over there until morning. It'll be better if I wait until it gets light before I come back."
"Good thinkin'. Be careful."
"*giggle* I'm just going to the next room over. Take good care of this room. Please don't let anyone go outside. We've already brought everything we need up here, so there's no reason for anyone to leave."
Food, drinks, blankets, medicine, towels, tissue paper, everything. The women also had their cosmetic pouches. They could spend 48 hours without needing any physical item at all.
"I know. We aren't just here to protect ourselves. We're also on the lookout for the culprit, if he's among us. I understand..."
"...<Good>. Goodbye then."
"Where are you going, Erika-chan...? We promised that no one would go outside."
"Oh, Erika-chan remembered somethin' important she had to do. She's going to the next room over. Don't worry, she'll be fine."
Hideyoshi suspected that Shannon might be one of the culprits. Since he also knew that Shannon and George had a special relationship, he apparently thought it would be prudent to mislead George about Erika's actions and motives. Hideyoshi slowly opened the door and checked both ways down the corridor, his gun raised.
"It's okay. No one's there."
"That's far enough. For all we know, Shannon-san might take George-san hostage as soon as you leave the room, right...? It's careless even just to show your back to them, as you're doing now."
"Y, you're right... Then be careful. Tell me all about it later."
"Sure. Bye then."
Erika closed the door, pushing Hideyoshi back inside. She then waited for the sound of the lock on the inside... and her smiling eyes opened wide. Her expression had become ruthless and intelligent. In this way, Erika was able to gain several hours during which all of the suspects were sealed up and she alone was free...
"Don't use my full name."
"Allow me to confirm the location of all characters present. Repeat it!"
"Of course, I am not obligated to respond, remember...?"
"If you don't, I'll just say that someone sneaked out while I wasn't looking, and that this person was responsible for the bizarre crimes that are sure to follow. If you want to show me an impossible murder, you should first confirm their locations...!"
"...Sure, why not. I'll listen, at least. Let me hear it."
"From now on, let's refer to the room next to the cousins' room as 'the next room over'. Does that work for you?!"
"That's easy to remember. Got it. And?"
"When I check the characters' locations as I am about to, I am not concerned with whether they are alive or dead. Think of it as the location of their body. And of course, I'm referring to the current point in time. Here we go."
"'The six first twilight victims are located at the places where they were discovered. Natsuhi is in her room, Eva is in the VIP room, Kyrie is in Krauss's study, Rosa and Maria are in the parlor, and you are in the guest room!'"
"Don't tell me you're already going to refuse?!"
"...Don't worry. I acknowledge it."
First off, it was acknowledged that the victims' locations were the same as the rooms that had been shown by the witch side's illusion.
"<Good>. I'll continue. 'Hideyoshi, George, Shannon, Kumasawa, and Nanjo are in the next room over!'"
Just now, the humans who were in the room Erika had just left had been specified. It was the role of the human side to check every one of these little details.
BGM: Closed my Heart
The word 'everyone' drew a slight reaction from Battler. The intuition he had built up from all of his previous games told him not to answer this one instantly...
"...I refuse. Acknowledging that would mean that Kinzo's corpse would also have to be in the cousins' room."
"Ah, pardon me. It has already been shown that Kinzo no longer exists, so please remove him from the word 'everyone'."
"...Why are you using the word 'everyone' for the cousins' room alone...? Why are you so vague... when you could just mention the names of Krauss and the other five individually?"
"It'd just be too much of a pain to read out all of their names. Or is there something wrong? Does using the word 'everyone' create a problem with some trick of yours...?"
If Battler had been told to repeat 'Krauss, Rudolf, Jessica, Genji, Gohda, and Kanon are in the cousins' room', he would probably have responded with the red without thinking too much about it. Of course. Normally, Erika would have mentioned the names of everyone inside and had him repeat it precisely. Battler had paused, feeling some kind of unease because of that unexpected demand and the word 'everyone'...
"Excluding Kinzo and me, there are 17 people on this island. Six were killed and are lying in the mansion, and five are in the next room over. And, the remaining six are in the cousins' room. I don't think my reasoning is mistaken here."
"...However, since there are 17 people on the island, if we subtract six, then five, then six again, we're left with zero humans whose location has not been checked... but that sort of idea would be extremely dangerous. I'm pretty sure that this sort of trick involving names and numbers of people caused you a lot of trouble with Nanjo's murder in the third game."
"...Good point. That trick worked because the 18 names given didn't match up with the 18 people who actually existed, leaving room to add in an unknown person."
"Exactly. And so, I can't feel secure just by checking their location by name. That's why I used the word 'everyone'. That word can prevent you from using a new trick that I haven't even thought of."
"...I see. Pretty crafty of you..."
If Battler was planning a new trick where the names and number of people would be used to create false alibis, like the murder of Nanjo in the third game... Even naming off all 17 people and checking their positions left a trace of uncertainty behind. And if he skillfully managed to slip somebody past the names and numbers of people...
"...I see, Even if you list everyone's names and check their locations, this Purupurupiko-Man guy would fall outside the net."
"Precisely. Even hearing 'there are only 17 people on this island, and here are the locations of 17 people' is insufficient. There's already a precedent for this."
"...However, the word 'everyone' is just too broad. Can't you word it a little better...?"
"...No, if we run away from the word 'everyone' here, there's a chance that Erika will be able to use that as a basis for making Purupurupiko-Man the culprit for everything. In my old fights with you, I also nailed several riddles with no basis other than the unknown person X."
"The word 'everyone' is significant. Make sure you think ve~ry carefully first."
Erika wore a full but evil smile, confident that she had made a powerful move.
If I don't crush any chances for this ridiculously-named Purupurupiko-Man right now, he'll be used to explain everything the witch does. That was a move I liked to use in my old games with Beato. Back at the very beginning of the fight, my counterattacks were all based on the unknown person X. Because of that, Beato had restricted the number of people on the island, making it necessary to eliminate any unknown person hiding somewhere.
...In that case, this time is the same. So, just like Beato did, I need to get rid of any leeway in which that X can exist. The number of people on the island has already been announced, but since she's suspecting tricks involving the names and number of people, saying the same thing again won't satisfy her. In that case, I have no choice but to respond to her demand and use the word 'everyone'. That word has a disturbing ring to it... and though I haven't figured it out yet, it feels like there's some kind of demonic killer move hidden within it...
Damn. After insulting Beato so much and saying that the witch side had a huge advantage, I'm getting this pressured just having to deal with a single line to repeat...
"You mean the chess term?"
"Yes. It's a technique of putting pressure on an enemy piece, forcing it to move and making them weaken their own position."
"...I'm threatening you with the broad and powerful piece called 'everyone', pressuring you to move. With this, Battler-san will be able to perfectly guarantee the alibis for all of the survivors, and it'll probably make it possible for him to trap me in the later impossible crimes. What are you afraid of? Shouldn't this be a powerful move for you?"
"But it's a move that you're pressuring me to make. You're trying to make me weaken my own position in some way."
"No matter how good a move seems, it is a bad move when it is what the opponent wants... However, it will be hard to avoid the word 'everyone' here..."
In the past, I feared its ruthlessness. However, I also knew that it could be used as a basis for a counterattack.
"So, the red truth is a trump card. Now I'm painfully aware of how Beato felt."
It can kill with ease, but it's not something to be used unnecessarily. Using it carelessly can corner the witch side instead...
"...What will you do? We can put this on hold if you want?"
BGM: Golden Sneer
"<Good>! Thank you very much, Battler-san. Beautifully done. Oh, I'm in trouble. If a letter from a witch comes in this situation, just who could I suspect?"
She said she was in trouble, but her face didn't look troubled at all. On the contrary, she looked as though she had just succeeded in placing a huge opening move. In the witch's game, even a single mistaken move is fatal...
In both chess and Shogi, you can't take back a move once you've made it. That last exchange had left a bad aftertaste, as though flesh had been torn and bones broken...
"That should be enough of confirming everyone's position. Shall we continue the game?"
"Yes, we shall. Dlanooooooooooor!!"
"Let's get started right away. Let's use the privilege our merciful Game Master has given us...!"
"Yes, UNDERSTOOD. Gertrude, Cornelia. Use two rooms' worth of the three sets of seals we were given...!"
"Let it be known that-"
"Seal the cousins' room and the next room over. This means that everyone other than the victims has been sealed. No matter what happens after this, the humans within the seals won't be a problem!"
For just an instant, a red longsword had returned to Dlanor's hand. She had been given permission to draw it, thanks to red truth that she had finally gained. When the fight concerned these two sealed rooms from now on, Dlanor would be able to use that merciless blade, the 'red key'... This overwhelming power could slice even the Game Master in half.
For a while, Erika and Dlanor grinned at each other, entranced by the ruthless red light that was burned into their eyes...
"...Senior Aide, allow me to ask a question."
"What is it...?"
"The players on the human side are to interpret the questions proposed by the witch as being the work of humans."
"...You are not mistaken."
"Then why are Lady Erika and Commander Dlanor... fighting to lower the number of 'humans who can commit crimes'...?"
...Cornelia's question was very simple. Those two had made this move boldly and treated it like a powerful one, so it almost made it seem as though this move would greatly damage the witch. However, if you thought about it... Erika was just strangling her own neck...
"We still don't know what sort of crime will occur in the future. Would it not be more advantageous to the humans if there are more people whose locations are not specified...?"
"...Know that now is not yet the time for the Lady or the Commander to reveal their thoughts."
"I apologize for my idle chatter..."
Cornelia looked like she wasn't satisfied. In the previous game, Battler had desperately tried to crush the closed room of Kinzo escaping from his study using various methods. As a result, Kinzo had escaped into the darkness of the night, and it had later been possible to treat him like an elusive phantom. In other words, closed rooms were advantageous to witches and disadvantageous to humans.
Witches proposed closed rooms, and humans destroyed and denied them. That should have been the standard tactic of this game... And yet, Erika had created closed rooms herself... and sealed a full 11 humans in them. In other words, this was the same as abandoning the right to use those 11 people when explaining all of the later tricks...
In the past, Battler had confirmed the location of certain people, but that had been to check whether certain pieces existed with which he could break closed rooms, a completely different situation. Why had Erika taken these 11 people, who were also her pieces, and sealed them in a closed room? Cornelia hadn't experienced enough fights to understand this move, which looked as though they were trapping themselves...
"...It isn't necessarily an attack. In chess and Shogi, strengthening the guard around your king is a valid strategy."
"In other words, the seals around those two rooms aren't an attack... but a guard...?"
"That seems likely. Thanks to that, it's hard to lay a hand on the survivors. It'll be tough to carry out the second twilight."
"...Ah, I see. The witch side has an advantage when more riddles are presented..."
"Yeah. After all, if even one riddle goes unsolved, the witch wins. Each new closed room we present increases our advantage."
The riddles that the witch side sets up are equivalent to attacks. The human side must perfectly intercept all of those. It's almost like a penalty kick face-off, where letting a single point slip by means defeat. So, the witch side wants to increase its number of attacks. The human side wants to lower the number of attacks...
When Battler had fought on the human side, he hadn't thought of the survivors holing up in a room as being particularly useful. However, from the witch side's perspective, this strategy was simple but effective. What made Beato incredible was how she had bluffed and sneered at that as though it was useless. On the inside, she must have been very worried about how to break down all of these barricades in each game. Right now, I'm sure of that...
"...However, that's a simple move. That 'great detective' Furudo Erika wouldn't have looked so confident after playing a move like that."
Would Erika be happy after playing a defensive move...? Though this move looks as though she's restraining herself... it's also extremely unlikely that Erika had played a defensive move...
"I'm sure... that this is an attack, not a move made for defense. Though I don't know what kind of attack it is."
"Next is our move... What shall we do?"
"...For the moment, she has, at least apparently, spent her turn on strengthening her guard to stop the second twilight, instead of reasoning about the first twilight. If they push, pull back; if they pull back, push. In that case, it's time for us to attack."
"But how should we attack...? The guesthouse is well guarded."
"Yes, it appears as though the area around the guesthouse is now under Erika's control. However, there are certain pieces, like bishops and knights, whose specialty is cutting behind enemy lines."
BGM: Happy Maria! (instrumental)
It landed without a sound, then transformed into a black piece representing the witch's darkness.
"X-ray. That's also a chess term."
"Yes, it's a high level technique. It's when a square seems to be under an enemy's control, but you've actually spotted that your own pieces have enough influence, so you attack."
"...Erika. If you really believe that you can stop my next attack just by sealing up all the survivors... that's a naive idea."
Battler raised his new black piece high. His target was a single open space deep behind enemy lines.
"You would take a stroll in the middle of the night to an eerie mansion where a killer might be HIDING? You must be very INSANE."
"I am not. It took so long to get this time to myself, didn't it? I feel like it's free time after a swimming lesson."
...Now that Bernkastel was nowhere in sight, Erika was regaining her high spirits. She wasn't exaggerating when she said she could spread her wings. Dlanor knew that she was risking her own destruction in this game. And she was not in a favorable position by any means. Dlanor could do nothing but assist Erika so that she could fight to the best of her abilities...
Before leaving the guesthouse, Erika did a check of the first floor, making sure that nothing was out of place. Then she found a flashlight and umbrella in the servant room next to the entrance.
"Then let us GO."
"Yeah. We at least have to check the cause of death for all six."
She unset the chain, unlocked the door, and opened it. The freezing outside air poured in...
"...It appears to be quite windy STILL."
"Well, this body is just a cage of flesh to me. I don't care if it gets wet or cold. Let's go."
When Erika dropped her gaze to open her umbrella, she noticed something lying at her feet.