Part 62: Logic Error
October 5th, 1986, 2:34 PM
BGM: The Girl's Witch Hunt
She had gotten Krauss and the others to take the master keys from the servants, and at that time, she had used a little sleight of hand to pilfer one of them...
"Well THEN. Where shall we go FIRST?"
"Why ask? Let's go and hear Battler-san's answer."
Grinning, Erika cut across the entrance hall and passed in front of the dining hall... deeper... deeper. She headed for the guest room Battler had lain dead in. Battler could put off deciding whether the seals would remain whole or not until the moment right before Erika witnessed them. However, once she did witness them, the Game Master would have to show what had happened to them. In the witch's game they were in now, the simple act of going to check the seals around the guest room was an attack.
"Yeah. Or as you would say it, come, step forward."
"<Good>! Then show us your response. Well now, are the seals broken or are they not? Has the closed room been preserved, or hasn't it...?!"
The piece Erika held high in the air... was the white queen, which represented herself. Her target... was Battler's position. She cut in...
Then, she closely examined the seals she had placed retroactively.
"...Heh... heheheheheheheheehehehe heheehheh! Are you sure...? Are you sure, Battler-saaaaaaan...?!"
"...Yeah, I can't back down here. After all, even if I'm sealed in here, there are ways of placing the letter."
"But now, Erika will probably enter the guest room. And then, she will observe your corpse. What are you going to do?! If the corpse is there, then there's no problem. The letter's prediction missed, but it's not as though there's a penalty for that. But still... you intend to fight head on...!"
"There are times... when a man is challenged head on... that he has to respond, no matter who the opponent. I must not... pull back here. I'll take that challenge. I can search for a way out all I want to later...! I managed to do that with Kinzo's study last time...! Don't worry... I can do it...! I can do it!! Come on, Erikaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!"
"I'm breaking the seals!! Rip, tear!! Heh, hehihihihihihihihihihihi!!!"
Erika destroyed the duct tape seal on the door in ecstasy... It looked as though the intellectual rapist had finally laid her true nature bare.
"...Okay, I'm opening it... Please watch... Here's Battler-san's... naked scenario...!! Hehihihahahaahaaaaaaaaahhh!!!"
Like a ruffian pushing down a weak girl, Erika mercilessly and greedily threw the door open. Then, finally, the inside of Battler's guest room was observed by Erika. Battler had to show it. Was there a corpse, or wasn't there?
"<Come ooooooooooooooon>, Battleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer!!"
"Aaaaaaaaaaahhh, here's my respooooooonse!!"
Battler grabbed a black piece from the board and raised it high. Aah, that piece... Beato had no memories of the time she had been an expert at this game. And yet, for some reason, she realized that this was a move that could not be taken back. Once this piece was moved, they couldn't move it back...!! Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!
...The guest room was covered by a silent darkness. It was pitch black, and nothing could be seen. However, there was a light switch just off to the side of the entrance. If she flicked that, the room would be lit up, and she would see whether or not there was a corpse on the bed.
"...Turning them ON."
"Let me hear it."
"I think you already know, but this time around, I am not after a classic sort of victory. My enemy is not the lowly culprit killing the pieces, but my opponent, you yourself."
"...I know. So, you're after a logic error."
"...I'm seriously regretting it now. You were acting so miserable that I fell for it completely, and I gave you a ridiculous privilege."
"...It was your PRIDE. It will cost you DEARLY."
"...So, what is your proposal?"
With a firm voice, Beato urged her to continue. Until just a second ago, she had remained behind Battler's back, a bit flustered. However, she was steady now. She saw that Battler had let his emotions take control and had been lured into making a bad move... and realized that it was time for her to stay cool and support him.
Erika's proposal couldn't be anything good. And on top of that, Erika was sly. She probably wouldn't make a proposal that would be easily rejected...
"I will now turn on the light. The top of the bed will be lit up, and it will be decided whether or not Battler has disappeared as the letter predicted."
"...If he's there, great. There's nothing strange at all. The letter's prediction would just be wrong. Of course, the argument would probably switch over to 'then who put the letter there?', but for the time being, the location of the fight would move outside this closed room."
"...And... if he's missing...?"
Beato already knew. She knew the move that Battler had made a second ago. Battler had... already disappeared from this room... Therefore, they would need to prepare a disappearing trick other than 'he was actually alive and left through the door'.
The situation is simple. First, this room is a closed room. Also, Battler's life or death status has not been confirmed. In other words, there is no problem if he is alive. They had to make Erika think that Battler had vanished from this situation. He just had to escape from the room, or if that wasn't possible, he just had to hide somehow and wait for her to leave, making her think that he had disappeared.
"...Fighting to keep that from happening is our job. What is this proposal of yours?"
"An endgame fought over a logic error should be a bit more precise. Once again, we will fight with the red and blue truths, but we need a referee on the same level as the Game Master to observe and see that he doesn't create any logic errors with the red truth."
"...Th, that seems reasonable."
"There's nothing special about this. Back when the old you was the Game Master, you were under the observation of your guardian, Lady Lambdadelta. In that way, it was judged that all red truths were effective."
"...So, you're telling us to show Lambdadelta our cards?"
"C, can you say that in red...?"
"Yep. I swear that I am impartial in my judgments. I was very impartial in the last game, wasn't I?"
"...Especially for interesting judgments where she doesn't care which way it falls. Accept it, Battler. Erika is going to corner you."
"Understand? She will duel with you and kill you in this room. If you're a man, accept the duel...!"
"S, sure, fine. We won't get anywhere if you suspect every single impossible murder I show of being a logic error. It's true that we need an observer to guarantee that the game is legitimate."
"Then I'll come around to your side. Let me take a look at your hand. Hmmmmm...?"
Lambdadelta understood what Battler had up his sleeve. And she confirmed that Erika's first move had indeed gone straight through his heart. Just as Erika had guessed, Battler was alive, had slipped out of the room after Erika had examined his 'corpse', placed the letter by the guesthouse, and hid himself somewhere. When the duct tape seals had been retroactively placed on the guest room, he would have had to show that they had been torn.
However, if he had done that, it would be the same as admitting that he had been seen through and that he had lost. Unwilling to admit that, Battler had claimed that the seals had been maintained, with false courage, and was now rushing to revise his logic. True, he could still escape for a few more moves. However, Erika was planning to corner and kill him here...
"Cards...? Does this game of chess look like a card game to you?"
"...To me, it looks as though you all are playing a game of poker. So, by moving to this side and looking at the cards you hold, I understand everything."
"That's an awful move. It's a complete waste... And Erika has already seen right through you."
"...Heheh... What would you do?"
"I'm the referee. I can't give you advice. But let me tell you my impressions."
"No, that's okay."
"...It's chilling. You're trying to use this useless move... this baseless bluff... to make Erika back down... She's not going to back down, that girl. After all, you're the one who should be throwing his chips in and folding now..."
"...Thanks for the advice. Battler-san. I agree with her. Let's back down from the fight in this room. We don't have any winning cards..."
"Are you hoping for a card change to turn this into something more useful...? I thought you were playing chess... In the world of chess, if you rely on luck... you die..."
If you enter into the fight... without any trick in mind... you get killed...! Now was the time to back down. When Erika flipped the switch, he just had to be sleeping there on that bed. That's all... he needs!
"...Lambda. I don't know what you're talking about, but you're chatting too much. A referee needs to be impartial."
"True... Then, good luck, Battler. I'm hoping for a precise, chess-like battle. You aren't playing poker, are you...?"
"Are you ready, Battler-san?"
"Yeah, I am... Turn the lights on whenever you want."
"For the rest of the fight in this room, the progression of time will be stopped. This way, all the moves for both players will be made at the same time, and the first move made will be treated no differently than the last move. That might be hard to understand, but that's a rule to protect you... and your logic."
"...From here on out, you can use all the twisted logic you want to rebuild the trick in this room. In other words, it's possible that you might think of a good idea partway through the fight. Normally, it's unfair to revise your plot partway through. In order for that to be acceptable, you need a world stopped in time, where everything happens at once, and where logic that you think of afterwards can counter your opponent's earlier moves."
"Of course, Erika can take advantage of this rule as well. If you revise your trick to be a new one, she can deal with that in a different way."
"...This is pretty complicated..."
"It's simple. It's like a corrupt politician's war of twisted logic. You lie shamelessly. When evidence is shown revealing that lie, you retract those previous lies and say that you just remembered it wrong, then change to a new lie that doesn't have any contradictions. The fight goes between a lie, then evidence exposing it, then another lie, like a fight between two snakes spinning around trying to eat each other's tails."
"<Good>! Just think of it as a world in which you're allowed to use twisted logic based off of your opponents moves as often as you want. I used that myself when sealing this room. So, I thought it was only fair to let you do the same."
"...You have no shame, do you...?"
"OK!! Then let's have both sides begin! Will Erika take the first move? Will she start by checking the bed... by checking to see what he's bet?!"
"Yeah, let's start by checking to see if Battler's on the bed. Erika, begin."
"Leave it to me, my master! <Light>...<on>!"
With a *click*, the sound of the light switch rang out... and the bulb turned on, lighting up the room.
...On Battler's... bed... was...
"...Dlanor. Confirm it with the red."
"YES. Ushiromiya Battler-"
BGM: Scar Sound
"<Good>. I'm glad you didn't run away from the fight. I'm impressed."
"...It's a high-stakes battle, so it'll cost you a lot if you're the one who loses. Are you prepared...?"
"*giggle* No one would raise the stakes unless they felt confident in their advantage."
"...Dlanor. Keep a record."
"As you WISH."
At Dlanor's nod, Cornelia, who was hanging back, started taking a record. She wrote down that Battler's corpse, which should have been on the bed, was not, and also that Battler hadn't backed down from this closed room game...
"...I present the possibility that Ushiromiya Battler is alive and hiding somewhere in this room. I proclaim this with the blue truth."
"Ineffective. If you want to use the blue truth, give me a specific location."
"...Pfft. In the last game, Beato did that in Kinzo's study, and Dlanor made Swiss cheese of her, right...? I guess this is revenge...*giggle*..."
"Before I start searching, I have one blue truth I can use without a search. There is a possibility of a hidden door X that is impossible to discover. He's hidden behind that, so it is impossible for me to find him."
"Knox's 3rd. It is forbidden for hidden passages to exist. That right?"
"...No hidden places that are impossible for Erika-san to find exist inside the guest room."
"Knox's 3rd... EFFECTIVE."
"<Good>. Then let's get started with the search."
...Erika slowly began to walk around the room... Until the endgame had started, Erika had been energetic, jumping about impatiently like a hungry dog. However, now that it had actually begun... This was a stifling battle of wits... where each breath made her tense... Even the quiet sound of the rain... was distracting...
"Now that I've searched the room, what is its layout?"
"...The guest room is divided into two rooms, the bedroom and the BATHROOM. Lady Erika has currently searched the entire bedroom SECTION. There is only one EXCEPTION."
"...I'll leave that one place be for the time being. So, were there any irregularities discovered in the bedroom?"
"...What's this 'except for one location' business? Say it without being annoying."
"There's a reason a face-down card remains face down. I'll turn it over if it's needed, so look forward to it. *giggle*."
After thoroughly checking the bedroom, Erika headed for the bathroom door. Since he wasn't in the bedroom, it was natural to think that he was in the bathroom. And, since the guest room was made up of two rooms, if Battler wasn't in the bathroom either... it would mean that he had managed to vanish from the closed room. Except for that single location which Erika had intentionally left unchecked...
"I'm checking the bathroom."
"...Lady Erika. The sound of water can be heard from INSIDE. Also, there is a faint HEAT."
"Ooh...? Don't tell me he's taking a shower... Is it locked or anything...?"
"No, it isn't locked. Go ahead and open it."
"...Then, if you'll allow me."
Slowly... Erika put her hand on the doorknob on the bathroom door... She tried to push it open, but felt a strange resistance. Of course, it wasn't the resistance of the lock. It felt... as though it had an unnatural load on it... Out from the slightly open crack poured the hot air from the shower. However, it was unlocked, so there probably wasn't anyone taking a shower. After letting a dumbfounded expression rise to her face, Erika slammed into the door with her whole body, knocking it open...
As soon as she opened the door, a hot blast poured out on her. Erika froze, unable to understand what had happened. After falling backwards on her butt, she realized that boiling hot shower water was spewing out at her, and hard.
"Wh... what is this...? What a crazy... prank..."
Cursing, Erika wrapped the blanket from the bed around herself, and tried to enter the bathroom once more. This time, she was able to figure out what was going on.
It was... an elaborate prank. A wire fixed the shower nozzle in place so that it pointed at the entrance. The pressure and heat were turned up to the max, so that anyone who went through the door would be met with a wave of hot water. The pressure was very strong, which probably accounted for the weight she had felt when trying to push the door open.
She tried to make the nozzle point in another direction, but not only was it fixed in place by the wire, it was also fixed in a place high enough that Erika couldn't reach it with her height. She tried to turn off the pressure, but that was also held in place by wires. She couldn't manage anything with her bare hands. She would have to get a tool that could cut the wires. However, when she looked into the bathtub, which was filled with very hot water, she saw a bundle of wires and some nippers that had been used to cut them lying at the bottom. If she used that, she could turn off the pressure...
The blanket she had used to protect herself from the shower was getting more and more drenched with boiling hot water. At this rate, she'd get burns even through the blanket. She needed to turn the water off quickly...! Right next to the bathtub, she saw a hanging long-handled body brush. Perfect...!
Erika used that to skillfully scrape the nippers up off the bottom of the tub. Fortunately, it was a shallow western-style bathtub. If it had been a deep Japanese one, it would probably have burned her badly. Making sure not to touch the hot metal parts, she carefully took the nippers... and cut the wires around the faucet... Take that, and that...!
"*pant*, *pant*! *pant*...*pant*!!"
She finally closed the faucet and the heat from the hot water storm died down. For a while, Erika was forced to cool her almost burnt arms under running water...
"Would you like a bath? I can wash your face with this brush."
"Allow me to PASS."
"Oh. That's a SHAME."
Erika had finally regained enough of her composure to be abusive... She closed the faucet completely, and silence returned to the bathroom. After that, all that remained was Erika's heavy breathing. She turned on the fan to get rid of the hot steam. She had to leave the bathroom until that was finished. It was pleasant, like stepping into an air-conditioned room on a hot summer's day.
"...Now that was a ridiculous trap. However, that wasn't here at the time I examined Battler's 'corpse'. Therefore, the appearance of this trap proves that Ushiromiya Battler was alive. Well, I never thought he was dead anyway."
"...So he decided to openly show a card that had already been EXPOSED."
"Let's check the inside of the bathroom. Was Battler seen?"
BGM: At Death's Door
"<Good>. Now we've confirmed that, except for one location, Battler does not exist in any place inside the guest room."
"...Give that a rest. Just where is this one exception?"
"A coffin. Ushiromiya Battler's coffin, that is."
"...Ashes to ashes, the dead to their COFFINS."
"...You'll try to trap me in this room, right? Okay. Let's have it."
The silence that was complete except for the rain... was suddenly filled with the smell of gunpowder. Though it was extremely quiet, the room was filled with tension... as though you'd be sliced in half if you relaxed for an instant. A cloud of gold butterflies gathered on the room's round table... and turned into a witch's chess board.