Part 64: Logic Error III
BGM: Engage of Marionette
"I judge it to be effective. He's presented logic that doesn't violate any of the red truths, and I've finished checking it."
"...The move by the player on the witch side, along with that final red truth he repeated, is effective. Battler. For the first time, I have to say I think you're incredible..."
"...See? In your game, a miracle will always occur if you believe."
"B, Battler... san...!! I... I'm sorry...!! If only I had believed more strongly, you wouldn't have been cornered like this...!! Waaaaaaaahh!!"
Beato flew onto Battler's chest, sobbing... Erika staggered backwards, shaking her head back and forth dizzily. And Bernkastel...? Her face was like an expressionless mask.
Then, slowly... it became a smile... And for some reason, it seemed the sign of some horrible emotion...
"Well... DONE... To think... that you escaped the room... without removing the chain... simply SPLENDID..."
With her small hands, Dlanor slowly started to applaud quietly. She was followed by Gertrude, and then Cornelia. And then by Beato and Lambdadelta too. Applause... filled the room...
"...I see. Yes, a move that cannot be seen by one whose thoughts are trapped within the closed room..."
As Lambdadelta watched Erika, who was breathing hard, shocked and dizzy with a despair she couldn't accept, she had to take her hat off to the strength of Battler's heart and intelligence at this critical moment... and to the power of this miracle.
...Incredible, Ushiromiya Battler. It's my complete loss for thinking that your power and Beato's would cancel each other out and bring an eternal draw. And, Bern, who thought she could do as she pleased even though she had seen through to your true strength, has also suffered a complete loss. Bern is the witch who waits for miracles. You are the witch who summons miracles. You... are not Bern's piece. Just now, without a doubt... you have surpassed Bern... You really did... in this one moment... think up a trick by which to escape from this closed room...!
As Erika had predicted, Battler had been hiding in the closet. Then, during the disturbance in the bathroom, he had snuck out of the door. Erika had guessed this much. That's why they retroactively set the chain lock and sealed it to prevent Battler from doing this very thing. The chain lock cannot be reset from the outside. So, it should have been impossible to escape from the closed room. However, Battler didn't let his thinking get trapped inside this closed room, and so, he broke through.
Just like Battler, the life or death status of the rest of the first twilight victims has not been specified by the red truth. In other words, just like Battler, the others... and specifically, Kyrie, can still move. And their closed rooms were not sealed, so they can go out as they please. Kyrie... had come to save him. Kyrie followed behind Erika, and had waited in the hallway while the latter had entered the guest room and sealed the door from the inside. Then, after Battler undid the chain lock and escaped, she entered the room in his place... Then, Kyrie reset the chain lock from the inside, and hid in the closet, just like Battler had done...
Yes. Battler truly isn't inside this guest room right now. However, that doesn't mean that no one else is inside it. Kyrie took Battler's place in the closet, the one exception that Erika had left, and is there still...
Kyrie... saved Battler...
Video: No Escape
BGM: Golden Slaughterer
"Wh, what do you mean...?"
"...Wh, why not? There's no red saying that Kyrie can't save Battler! Wait a second, how are you using the red truth?!"
"Effective. Dlanor's red truth is effective."
"Requesting permission to unsheathe red key."
"...Permission granted. Please do it, Dlanor."
"H, how...? How... can you give that permission?!?!"
"Effective. As part of an impartial judgment, I guarantee this red truth."
"...Without telling us your reason?!"
"We'll tell you that soon. Very soon."
"...B, Battler hasn't proclaimed Kyrie dead with the red truth yet...! It is allowed for Kyrie to be playing dead! And the duct tape has already been used on three rooms, making it impossible for you to seal Kyrie's room...!"
"So how can you use the red truth to say that Kyrie can't save Battler?! That red truth has no basis!!"
"We'll tell you its basis soon. But more importantly, Lambda...? The logic with Kyrie has ceased to function. You should probably find another piece to switch places with Battler, don't you think...?"
"...Nn, y... yes. There are still pieces that can save Battler."
Reconstruct the logic. All we need is someone who can switch places with Battler. It doesn't have to be Kyrie.
"Then let's switch it to Natsuhi. Ushiromiya Natsuhi switched places with Battler...!"
"Dlanor. Do it."
"As you WISH."
Dlanor's red longsword... smashed Natsuhi's piece into little bits... How...?! How... can Erika deny this logic... without the detective's authority?!
"Th, then Eva! Ushiromiya Eva!!"
"Ushiromiya Eva cannot save Battler."
"Then Rosa! Maria!!"
"O, objection! Erika-san doesn't have the detective's authority! How can she use any red except for the duct tape seals...?!"
"Objection overruled. Not having the detective's authority does not imply that one cannot use any red at all. There's something she can use. Right?"
"Yes, there is. There are several exceptions that even humans without the detective's authority can use."
"...Insane... There's no way."
"YES, there is NONE. However, there is a certain action permissible only to humans without the detective's authority, and it can become a truth of such overwhelming credibility that, witches can easily raise it to the level of red TRUTH."
"A certain action... permissible only to humans who aren't the detective...?"
"...I... I've got it. Yes, if I'm right... this red truth is effective..."
"I... I don't understand! Was there some power that could only be used without the detective's authority...?!"
"...There is. There is just one."
"So, you've finally noticed. That's right. That's the only reason... I abandoned the detective's authority this time around. You told me I could make the detective proclamation whenever I wanted, right? Well, unfortunately, I am no longer capable of making that proclamation."
"Knox... which rule was it...?"
"Y, you mean... wh, whaaat?!"
...Finally, Beato realized everything. Yes, the detective's authority bestows several powers that are useful for reasoning, but it eliminates one single privilege. That is Knox's 7th. It is forbidden for the detective to be the culprit...
"...In this game, it is impossible for humans without the detective's authority to examine corpses perfectly. So, there have been several tricks where the dead have all been faking and walking around where they please. You probably thought you could use that logic to create several impossible crimes after this. When I said that I wouldn't make the detective proclamation, somewhere on the inside, you must have said 'I've won'."
"...You're pretty sly yourself. You gave me the duct tape seals, seemingly out of mercy, but that was because you planned to have all of the first twilight victims survive, band together, and carry out the crimes. So, you gave me only three rooms' worth, which wouldn't cover all six people."
"No matter which rooms I sealed, at least one of your underlings could move freely. You must have been plotting to use that to corner me. But too bad. Your naivety really pisses me off. Stupid man!"
"...I admit it. I admit that I fell for your monkey show... and that in my pride, I tried to show you some mercy. That's right. Even without the detective's authority, there is a way. A way to make sure that a corpse examination cannot fail."
Is the human lying in front of you alive or dead? You can answer that question by examining the corpse. With just a quick glance, your chances of being right are 50-50 either way. Various bits of knowledge and experience can be used to obtain a more precise result. However, no matter how much you do that, while you can reach up to 99%, you can never reach 100% accuracy.
...That's what most people would think. However, there is one way. One way to conduct a perfect examination.
"Without the detective's authority, I can't tell whether the victims are dead or faking. So, I needed a way to be sure. And, if possible, it would be preferable if they were removed from the game board, so that they couldn't make a mess of things later on."
"Wh... what on... earth..."
"...Of course, she couldn't just kill them however she liked. It had to be a perfect way of killing, good enough that their deaths could be determined with the red truth. Erika made sure of that."
"...E, effective. No human could survive... after having their head sliced off...!"
"C, could you have severed all of those heads without getting any blood on you?!"
"For example, you could take a large trash bag from the kitchen and grab the knife through it. Then, if you covered the entire corpse with the trash bag as you did your work, you'd block nearly all of the blood spatter."
"Of course, I didn't humiliate myself by walking around with them, leaving blood in the hallways and dirtying my clothes."
"There will probably be trash bags left at the crime scene with my fingerprints on them, but since this game ends before the police come, that can't be used as evidence, so there was no problem with leaving them there."
"...Are you insane? What kind of... mystery would... ever allow something like that...?"
"I can't believe I'm hearing this from a witch on the fantasy side. Oh, and don't worry. I didn't kill you. I didn't have time to sever the head of the last one found, so I just sealed your whole room with the duct tape you gave me."
"...Then again, that might've been because I knew this would happen and wanted to watch you struggle. *giggle*, *giggle* *giggle* *giggle* *giggle* *giggle*! Oh, that's right. Just like I can say that I killed them in red, I can say one more thing."
At that point, Erika stopped for a second, and still, aaah, can she really be wearing an even uglier expression than everything before now...? With that... highest quality face, she spoke.
"...Maria-san was quite the little trouper. After all, even though her mother had already been killed in the same room, she kept on playing dead without even noticing... *giggle*, *giggle*giggle*... Hahahahaha, ahhahahahahahahahahaha... hehahyahhahahahaahahaaahaaaah!!"
They're demons. Up until now, many witches and demons have appeared in this tale, but for the first time... here are true... demons...
This time, Beato understood the entire plot of this tale. This tale... was just the story of a prank. Surely, someone had thought of playing a slightly harsh trick on this inconsiderate guest, who loved to show off her intelligence and act the part of a great detective... and several people had agreed to go along with it. Then, the ones who would play the victims would go into their assigned rooms, set the chain and the lock from the inside, and play dead... to create a fake closed room murder... If you think about it that way, the rooms chosen for the corpses seem to make more sense. It was only natural for Natsuhi to 'die' in her own room.
...If you're going to play dead, it's only natural that you'd want to lie down on your own bed. Eva's vanity is strong, so she must have asked to 'die' in the VIP room. Kyrie was in Krauss's study. That was probably well air-conditioned and comfortable. Rosa and Maria were in the parlor. A soft sofa should have been a great place to play dead. Maria had done her best and had impressively acted the part of lying dead alongside the wall. Battler was in a guest room. The temperature here was also nice. The bed must also have been fairly pleasant. Yes... The victims for this first twilight had all died in comfortable rooms. In the past games, the corpses had often been found exposed in the courtyard or under the rose garden arbor. In the cold gardening shed or in the boiler room... This time, there were no victims in any such inhospitable environments.
This... is probably the truth. This is the story of a prank, with no one dead since it started... And then... this... demon... had turned it into a real murder case...!
"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Corpses to corpses...! Hey, Battler-san? Let's continue the game!! Please present a different human to switch places with you. If you don't, your trick... will become a logic error..."
There's now... no one who can come to the rescue. Erika's killed all of them!!
"D, dammit... dammit, dammit, dammiiiiiiiiit!!"
"...Battler-san, please, calm yourself...! Now's the time to wipe our tears away and fight...! Even if you've lost five pieces who can save you, there's still the 11 people in the guesthouse!"
"Y, you're right... Krauss, Hideyoshi, Rudolf, George, Jessica, Shannon, Kanon! Genji, Gohda, Kumasawa, Nanjo!! It doesn't matter who, as long as someone comes here!! Somebody, somebody, heeeeeeeeelp!!"
""Let it be known that we are here and ready.""
"Bwaattleeer-shwaaaaaann!! Pweease, look at thiiiiiiiiiisss!! Whhhaaaaat arrrre theeeesse?!"
Erika, who was now so excited that her pronunciation was tumbling all over the place, pointed at two doors. It was the hallway on the second floor of the guesthouse... They were in front of the cousins' room and the next room over.
"...Know that it is the duct tape seal of the cousins' room."
"<Oh, yeeeeeeeeaah>!! <Very goooooooooooood>!! <One more>!! What about this dooooooooooooooor?!?!"
"Know that it is the duct tape seal of the next room over."
"<Oh, very GOOD>!! Okay, you two! Why don't you show everyone watching at home on their TVs?!! Please have a look at the duct tape seals on both doors!! So, what do you think of them...?! Are they broken, or aren't they...? Please, let us have the red truth!!"
"Know that an unbroken seal proves that there are still none who have entered or exited."
"It needs no second telling, but know that entry or exit without breaking the seal is impossible!!"
The victims of the first twilight have all been killed! And the guesthouse is still sealed!! No one can come to the rescue...!!
"Uu... ku... gghh...!"
Erika had guessed this moment might happen so long ago, and that was why she had made the strategic move of suddenly sealing these two rooms. This accounted for the doubts Cornelia had felt at the time. Wondering why the human side player wouldn't want as many free humans as possible was a natural, simple reaction to that move. However, if you sealed up all humans, there would be no room for magic to intervene. Why is magic magic? Because the people who saw it say that it was magic. Then, is it possible for magic to exist in a place with no people? Is there no problem with that because there's no anti-magic toxin...?
Wrong! Magic in a place that isn't being witnessed is no different from a delusion, a daydream! Magic that matches a result must be carried out by human hands. If all humans are sealed off, then magic cannot be created. This was Erika's strategy for this game... and her beautiful... checkmate!!
"...Okay, Battler...? Your logic has been interrupted. Who could have come to save you? You are now in the middle of a logic error."
"Uu... w, wait... I'm still... thinking...!"
"...Battler, you have two options and one obligation. The first option is to build a new thread of logic to reconstruct your closed room trick. The second is to come clean and admit to your logic error. And your obligation is to choose one of these options."
"It is merciful. There's no restriction on the amount of time you have to make that choice. *giggle*, that's right, your time is endless, eternal."
"I... I'm sure there's still some way... some twisted logic that can get you out of this... Anyway, I'm sure there's still some way...!"
"I'm thinking about it! What about you, Beato?! Let me know if you find anything... I'm sure the old Beato... could have managed something... She built up several closed rooms like this...!!"
Beato felt awful... Why was she Beato, and yet not?! Surely, the old her would have thought up a trick under these restrictions. If only she could do that, she could guide Battler to victory... but she couldn't do it as her current self!
"*giggle*. Yeah, I'm sure you'll think of a good trick. Eventually, surely, probably, maybe. Pretty sure it's impossible though. *giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*!!"
"...So then, Battler. Let's go back to the guest room. From now on, that will be your world."
Once again, they returned to the slightly chilly guest room. It was the same room as before, of course, but it felt as though an unsettling darkness had crept in...
"...However, there are conditions. As I believe you know, these were all things you forced on yourself."
"...First, this room is a closed room created from the inside. The seals on the windows are intact, so there can be no escape from there. Of course, there is no way to escape by leaving through the bathroom. I'll make it simple. There is no exit to escape from except for this door. However, the chain lock on this door is set. You can unset and reset it all you want, but you can only do so from the inside. Furthermore, you are free to go out through the door, but you cannot leave or escape while the chain lock is unset. You have to show that you can escape from this room with the chain lock still connected...!!"
"...But... he couldn't possibly..."
"He couldn't possibly do it? He made this closed room himself...!!"
"We have set up... just one exit other than the door. That one's in the bathroom."
"My merciful master has arranged for a last way out if you fail to think of any trick to escape. Please listen up!!"
Bernkastel guided Battler to the bathroom. It was just a normal bathroom. The setup that had surprised Erika to buy time was no longer working.
"Are you saying... that I can use these to escape...?"
"Yes, please feel free. It's a present."
"...However, no matter what you use, you can't lock the room from the outside. And you can't fool the seals either, okay? These tools aren't here to help you pull some trick with the chain lock. They're here to let you escape from this room in a more direct way..."
"...H... how am I supposed to use these...?"
"...Not bad, Bern. I see... that your mind's as grotesque as ever..."
"There is an exit that leads directly outside from this bathroom. Can you find it?"
"...Y... you don't mean..."
"D, did you figure it out, Beato...?! Please, tell me...!!"
"That's... i... impossible..."
"Please, where is it?! Tell me!! We can't let the game end like this!!"
"Huh? Where...? Under... the bathtub...?"
"Can't you see it? There's a round hole that leads straight out of this room."
"...It's a bit small though..."
"Y, you... you... aahh... nngggyaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh..."
"It's the drain right there at the bottom of the bathtub. You can get out of there without touching the chain lock. But your body is a bit too big to get through this exit. That's why I decided to lend you those tools there."
You can escape... through the drain...? How...? She couldn't mean using those nippers for a hundred years to widen that hole, right...?
Battler and Beato... had already realized. They had figured out this demonic way out that the demons were proposing...
"...crunch, crunch. Might as well sit back in the tub under a hot shower... as you start from your feet going up... chip then wash, chip then wash... Just keep doing that and, oh, what do you know, you've suddenly managed to escape from the closed room."
"'Oh, what do you know' is right, my master...! Looks like both siblings are gonna end up the same way...! Heheh... heheheheheheheheheeheheheh!!"
"But Bern...? At that rate, just the hand holding the nippers will be left."
"That's why we have the wire... Beforehand, Battler will have to wrap the wire around his wrist, then stretch the other end out into the corridor through the crack in the door. You should be able to fit just a wrist through the crack left by the chain lock."
"...If you're willing to do that, I'd be happy to pull that wire from the hallway and save you."
"My master, if you do that, I want it!! Battler's wrist... eheheheheheheheheeheheheheheheh!!"
"And what would you use that for...? But no, I've already decided to use it as a back scratcher. When the time comes, I'll scratch your back with it. What do you say?"
"Y, yeees, my master... Master's going to scratch my back... with Battler's handhahahaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaahhh!!"
"...Finding them annoying? Irritating? Obnoxious? Don't worry, it'll get quiet really soon. All noise to disturb your thoughts... will now disappear for all eternity, until you can escape from this room."
"Th, that's a relief... I'll be glad of the quiet...!"
...Do you hate Bern and Erika? Then that's their parting gift to you. As long as you have hatred, you will be able to avoid giving up. Giving up has a completely different meaning here, okay...? Prepare yourself while you can... for the eternity of the hell you'll be in when you've given up... but still cannot escape.
"Did you just call yourself a survivor...? Then, you also..."
"...You know, every once in a while, that terror comes back to me. I wonder... whether I really have escaped from that hell. What if... I actually lost my mind a long time ago... and I'm still in there... just seeing a delusion of us all chatting happily like this...?"
There was something in Lambdadelta's pleading expression that sent shivers down the spine. It was probably more terrifying than any threatening words she could have used with even the most vile expression on her face...
It's time for Battler to realize. A logic error isn't so sympathetic that you can just stick out your tongue, ask for forgiveness, and say you'll be more careful next time... It is never worth risking one by leaving things up to chance, even if you feel that you can't back down at this point in the fight... It's time for him to pay up and understand the true risk and terror implied by the words 'betting one's life on a fight', which must sound so exciting for a man...
"B... Beato... Uuu... uuuwwaaaaaaaaaahhhh... I'll definitely think of something... just waaaaaaaaaatch..."
"Well, regretfully, it's time for us to leave. We mustn't get in the way of his job any longer."
"See you later, Battler-san. Or, like you'd say it, <see you again>, right? <Have a nice day>... *giggle*giggle*giggle*giggle*!"
"...Later, Battler. Good luck."
"Battler-san, don't give up...! You will certainly think of a trick! I'll think as well, and I'll come to save you!!"
Before he could finish saying Beato's name, they had all disappeared. They hadn't disappeared in a golden spray, or turned into butterflies and flown away... Just as though there had never been anyone in this room since the beginning, everyone but him had vanished in an instant. Nothing remained... not their voices, their presence, their warmth, nor even the faint perfume Beato had worn. The frigid air of the room was wrapped only in the lonely sound of the wind and rain... With that overpowering feeling of isolation... I finally began to realize... how horrible a punishment this would be...
BGM: Dead Angle
How pointless... It's easy to undo the lock and chain from the inside. Dammit... For some reason, I've always been clumsy... and undoing chain locks always gives me trouble.
Oh, it's off. Heheh, heh... how pointless. Look, I can already open the door whenever I want...
What the hell is this...? Why is there suddenly this iron collar around my neck... that's attached to a chain? Dammit, who would do something like that...
...Wh, when I reset the chain lock, it disappears. And when I take it off, it appears. The chain is pretty long, so I can make it pretty far out into the hallway. But it won't let go of the door... Then if I close the door, stand on the outside and stick my hand through the crack... maybe I can figure out how to set the chain...
"...Battler-san, Battler-san!! Hang in there... hang in there...!!"
Beato called out to Battler repeatedly, shaking his shoulders hard, but by now, Battler's eyes were blank. The words didn't reach him...
Bernkastel and Erika had already left. The game was officially suspended until Battler could think of a new trick, but it was doubtful that it would be resumed even after a thousand years... or more...
"Th, there's no need to say 'so long'...! We'll... we'll think of a trick right away, and the game will resume! We won't take up your time...! So stay here a little longer...! Please...!!"
"...We've heard those same words from many witches in the past. And I've heard of hardly any who've actually managed to resume their games. As far as I know, the only two are me... and Bern."
"Why... why would a person who knows about that hell throw another person into it?! Just because you're bored? Is that all?!"
"...Yeah, that's all. It's to escape from boredom. Because when we get bored, we remember. We remember that hell. And, you know, by throwing someone else down into that hell, we realize that, oh, we're the ones on the throwing side, and that means we aren't in that hell ourselves. If we don't keep doing that, then the fear of that hell will overwhelm us..."
"...If you two managed to get out of it, then he certainly will! I will save him...!! I can say it with certainty...!!!"
"With 'certainty'...? You swear with certainty before me, Lambdadelta, the Witch of Certainty...?"
"Yes, with certainty...!!"
"...Very well. I was the guardian for the former you anyway. Though the current you is different, I'll take care of you one last time. I'll give you a parting gift."
"And what... is that...?"
"Hope. As long as you hold on to your 'certainty', your wishes will definitely come true."
"Yep. The old you was an avid reader. You loved detective novels, loved closed room murders... and were a super expert on impossible crimes."
"You searched for and found several closed room tricks, found the single most basic element to all of the tricks, and used that to form the core of your magical compendium."
"...Didn't Battler tell you? He said that the old you would definitely have thought of a way out of this predicament. I agree with that. I guarantee it by the name of the Witch of Certainty, Lambdadelta. The old you would definitely have cleared up this closed room trick..."
"...That's my parting gift to you. Goodbye. You've sworn to the Witch of Certainty that you will act with certainty. So I won't say farewell. 'I'll see you again soon'."
"Y, yes. We'll see you again... soon...!"
Then, in the smoking room of the witch... the two who had held the title of Endless Witch... were left behind. One had empty eyes. The other supported the first by his side.
...Ironically, it was the exact opposite... of how their relationship had been in the previous game...