Part 61: A Small Contradiction II
BGM: Deep Blue Jeer
It was one of those letters sent by the witch... with the seal of the One-Winged Eagle on it. It had been wedged under the outside mat in front of the entrance... as though someone had predicted that Erika would eventually leave for the mansion by this way. It was in the shadows of the large eaves, so it had avoided the rain entirely.
"...So, it's here already. Almost as though it was waiting for me."
She bent over and picked it up. She then tore it open recklessly and pulled the letter inside out of it. A message had been written in neat letters...
"What does it SAY...?"
"It's an advance notice for a crime. No, I should say it's a report after the fact. Apparently, they have taken Ushiromiya Battler's corpse. It says something like 'please try looking for it'."
"...So this isn't the 'tear apart the two who are close' of the second TWILIGHT?"
"Well, disappearing corpses happened a few times in Beato's games too. There's nothing really new about this."
Erika shrugged and scorned the letter. However, this letter was a real attack. All of the survivors were sealed in the rooms on the second floor. And, after Krauss and the others had gone around checking doors and windows, Erika had personally made sure that there was nothing at this spot. So, it was an attack saying 'someone who shouldn't be here placed the letter', and that the someone was a witch. That was also an attack that the old Beato had often used.
"Haah, sheesh. If the way you show it is the same, please tell me that the actual trick isn't the same too. Dlanor. Please call Battler here."
"Got it. Let's have it."
"My apologies. Actually, I don't have a new move to announce."
BGM: Smile-less Soiree
Apologize...? Battler and Beato's eyes went wide. However, though Erika said that she wanted to apologize, she had a confident look on her face, as though even that apology would be a new move. So, Battler glared at her dubiously, without letting his guard down.
"...You already sealed something? In other words, you've already used up all three rooms' worth?"
"Yes. I promised that I'd report on it right away, but I completely forgot until just now. You have my sincere apologies."
"You don't look like someone who's sincerely apologizing... Well, that's fine. I'm the one who gave you that privilege. So? Where did you seal?"
Beato tried not to let it show on her face, but her eyebrows twitched visibly and her gaze flicked over to Battler.
"Normally, I would have liked to seal all of the closed rooms, but I didn't have enough duct tape. Out of respect for the Game Master, I sealed only the room with Battler-san's corpse."
"...So you were kind enough to close the lid on my coffin."
"I remembered a short while ago and was planning to tell you when we reached the mansion and investigated the guest room with your corpse in it. However, when this letter appeared, I figured I should report it right away."
"Wh, why did you think that...?"
"Well, after all, Battler-san has been playing this game not knowing that his corpse was sealed in the guest room. Because of that, I thought, possibly... that it might change things regarding the appearance of this letter."
"...The cousins' room and the next room over are currently SEALED. Sorry for the late report, but the guest room with your corpse in it is also SEALED. And, there are 17 people on the island excluding Lady Erika. The existence of an 18th person has already been denied in a previous GAME."
"In that case, the person who could have placed the letter... and erased your corpse... I thought, maybe... heheheheheheheheheh... I thought maybe things might be different..."
Erika laughed crudely while staring into Battler's eyes to see if he was panicked or
Erika had suspected it since the beginning. It was possible that Battler actually hadn't been killed and was still alive. And, if he was alive, then the letter that had suddenly appeared was easy to explain, even though all of the 'survivors' were sealed up. Judging by Beato's faint agitation, maybe... Erika's guess had been right on the mark. Battler had played dead and somehow misled Erika's examination. And then, when everyone had holed up in the guesthouse, he had snuck out of the guest room. Then, he had placed a letter, which was about how his own corpse had disappeared, in the entrance to the lobby... and hid himself...
If this was the truth, then the seals that had been placed on Battler's guest room at the time of Erika's examination... were now very significant. In other words, if they had used this trick, then Battler would have 'broken the seals' when he left his guest room. The trick would not be workable 'without breaking the seals'. Since the survivors were all sealed in the guesthouse, then if the seals on the guest room were broken, it meant acknowledging that at least one of the victims was actually alive. If Battler had known about the seals earlier, it was likely that he would have advanced the game in a very different way to avoid this. In other words, it was very likely that an announcement about the seals would have had a large effect on the rest of Battler's game.
Erika was saying: 'if Battler, playing the part of the corpse, didn't want to break the seals and remained inside the guest room, the plot would not have included this letter'... If Battler was actually alive and had placed the letter there, then, now that Erika's seals had come into play, there was a chance that he would find a contradiction in his trick somewhere down the line. That sort of contradiction is called a logic error.
"...It's a violation of the rules, the greatest and worst form of error that the witch side must avoid making."
"Yeah, I remember. It was something about the two sides of the tale not matching and creating a contradiction."
"Do you remember the magic for making candy appear inside an overturned cup...?"
"Yeah. Maria onee-chan and Erika were fighting about that. Apparently, that was just a simple trick where someone slipped the candy into the cup while Onee-chan had her eyes closed."
"That's right. Since Maria did not observe the process of the trick and was only given the result, she accepted 'the illusion of magic'--that the candy had appeared by magic inside the cup--and magic was established..."
"...Okay, so a logic error would be...'a trick that has become impossible'."
BGM: A Single Moment
Let's try to remember that exchange. The heartless truth was... that it had all been a trick. Making the candy appear in the cup by magic had been nothing more than Beato's claim. 'Magic can only do things that one can accomplish.' In other words, you can only have a magical result if it was something that could have been done without magic.
Let's be clear. There are two general types of magic. If you summon giants... and make towers grow from the ground... But, when the lid is taken off, nothing has happened in the rose garden, that's one type of magic. That is just an 'illusion'. It's a 'lie' with no observers that takes place where the witch says it did, in a location without any of the anti-magic toxin. Magic that doesn't have to match a result is the most simple kind... a 'lie'. This is the same as a worthless delusion, an illusion, a daydream. Even Battler saw through it partway through the third game.
Then, there is another kind, which we might call true magic: 'magic that matches a result'. The cup trick is an example of 'magic that matches a result', since an observer actually checks to see that the cup's contents were empty before the candy appears, and thus an actual observer is gained. I have noticed that, unlike the magic of illusions, magic that matches a result must follow one big rule. The rule is... that only the unobserved process of what you accomplished can be transformed into magic.
I can speak even more generally and ruthlessly. In short, all forms of magic are tricks. 'Only things that can be accomplished without magic can match the result.' Ironically, this also proves that magic doesn't exist, but out of respect for the witch's game, let's call it making the game solvable and fair for the human player.
"Correct. Since all of the survivors are sealed within the closed room of the guesthouse, it is possible to embellish this suddenly appearing letter and say that it was 'a strange magic, and only a witch could have placed it there'. But even so, it must be a 'possible trick' in the end."
In order to see through the trick with the candy and the cup, Erika had countered with the blue truth saying that the candy had been snuck in there while her eyes were closed. That was the correct answer, so Maria hadn't had any red that she could use.
But what if she had used it?
"The red truth can only be used to refer to the truth, right? If you could lie with it, it'd be a massive violation of the rules."
"True. Denying your own trick with the red truth is a large violation of the rules. However, if you instantly switch over to another trick that doesn't violate that red truth, it may be slightly unfair, but that red truth can be acknowledged."
"...So in this case, the witch side would need to immediately propose another trick that doesn't contradict the red truth saying, 'the closed room inside the cup was preserved'. Like the excuses of a politician when he keeps backtracking as new evidence is shown to him."
"Yes. Well, for a red like this, she might be able to get away with some painful excuse. Maybe there was some device in the table, or maybe it was a trick cup with a fake bottom... But if those possibilities had been denied beforehand, they would not be effective. The more red truths there are, the harder it is to talk your way out."
In actuality, the candy had been put in the cup while Maria's eyes were closed. However, if, when Erika saw through that, Maria had used the red truth to say that the closed room of the cup had been preserved... The witch would have to rush and revise the scenario to a new trick that 'still worked logically' after that new red. Revising the scenario is an unfair move that would never be allowed in mysteries. However, the very act of revising the scenario takes place inside the witch's head, which is an unobservable world. So, if she claims that she'd been using the trick with the fake-bottomed cup 'from the beginning', no one could deny that.
...So, even if it really was a trick done while Onee-chan's eyes were closed... As long as the witch leaves herself a way out, she can even switch between truths (tricks). Rather than calling this an action allowed to witches, we should probably say that it is only allowed for the Game Master, the one who creates and writes.
But even so. The new truth must not contradict any of the previously stated red truths. If the red truth makes it so that 'the trick no longer makes logical sense', then there will be a mismatch between the two sides of the story: the illusion result that the Game Master claims is magic, and the true result that was brought about by a trick. So, when we get a contradiction and it no longer makes logical sense, we call it a logic error...
BGM: Golden Sneer
"This world is a game that is possible to explain with humans. In other words, it must be possible for all magic to have been done 'by tricks as well'. If it's impossible to do with tricks, then the human side has no move and we get a stalemate."
"No, that's wrong. That is where we get the fatal and horrible violation known as a logic error. When the witch side does this, the game is instantly destroyed and they suffer a fatal defeat..."
"Erika has probably seen through to Onii-chan's trick. Without the detective's authority, Erika can't perform a proper examination of the corpses. Because of that, he continued to play dead, snuck out of the guest room, and placed the letter at the entrance to the guesthouse."
"However, because Battler was so overly gracious in giving out those retroactive seals, things went wrong."
"The current situation still does not warrant panic... It still hasn't been specified with red truth that the seals around the guest room are intact. He is free to break the seals. If he doesn't, then he can probably have it so that someone other than Battler was alive, and swap them in as the person who placed the letter..."
"That's right... It's not just Onii-chan. The other corpses haven't been specified as dead by the red yet. So far, there wouldn't be any problem if they were all faking."
"True. This is not a stage to get flustered at. All he has to do is change his move so that Erika's seals and the placement of the letter don't contradict each other."
"...And revising the plot without contradictions is one of the moves available to the Game Master."
"However, taking a scenario one has imagined and revising it partway through can sometimes create flaws in the tale. It would be a very regrettable move to make when the first twilight has only just ended."
"...It would seem that Battler was the one with an enemy piece moved deep behind his lines... This hidden piece will probably cause him pain and discomfort with each step from now on, like a pebble caught in one's shoe... This single pebble might kill Battler..."
BGM: Fishy Aroma
"...Retroactively rewrite the plot...?"
"Hmph, I see. If 'I' placed the letter there, then that would be impossible as soon as 'I' was sealed in that closed room. In which case, this letter shouldn't have appeared here."
"Correct. So, I thought you should have the chance to revise this small inconsistency."
"...We have discovered this letter HERE. We are saying that we do not mind if you want to undo that, or if you want to use a revised SCENARIO."
"Just by the existence of the letter and duct tape, this sort of move is possible for Furudo Erika. What do you think, everyone...?"
...Damn, what a dirty move...
Well, what else should I expect from Erika...? I made a promise with Dlanor too... Well, we're both playing all-out and mercilessly...
However, if I revise the scenario now that my move's been spotted, it'll be the same as admitting that it was spotted. Even if I have to be stubborn about it, I don't want to admit that I was seen through here. I don't want to acknowledge a pathetic plot change where I try to sneak out of the guest room and break the seals.
I want... to change over to a different trick, so that the letter will be placed and my corpse will be hidden... while still preserving the seals on the guest room... It doesn't really have to be me who places that letter. I can still revise the logic without contradictions...
"...I still have time. Let me think until the last second. Dammit..."
With a painful laugh, Battler unconsciously scratched at his head...
"Anyway, we'll leave the letter like this. I can't say oh, sorry about that, having the guest room sealed makes a big contradiction so I'd like to revise my move...! It would mean acknowledging that she caught me. Heheh, I feel like a ninja hiding above the ceiling. Even though I was noticed and stabbed by a spear, I just withstand the pain, wipe up the blood, and act as though nothing happened. False courage works well enough. I can't let her know that this one hurt..."
"Heh, heheheh. Hey, Beato. Do you know what my face looks like now...? I'm sure it's the same expression you had when I managed to hit you where it hurts in the past... Heh... heheheh... Dammit..."
Beato couldn't think of anything to say... Useless words of comfort would only get in the way of Battler's thinking now.
Beato trembled and groaned. The old her had been an expert at closed room tricks. If only that memory... that power... could revive, she would be able to help Battler... There's still time to think... There's still time...