Part 78: Rosa's Confession
BGM: Le 4 Octobre
A light buffet-style meal had been set up, but it was a bit stale, and not particularly appealing. Even so, those voracious kids seemed to find it intensely interesting. The cousins had set up camp around it, with Maria at the center. The adult siblings had also formed a group in a different corner. Perhaps because of Kinzo's absence, everyone seemed to be a little more relaxed.
"Mother, I was entertaining this guest of ours. Will, this is my mother, Natsuhi."
"No introductions needed. Just let me hear what you have to say."
"Huh? Did you say something?"
"No, he said nothing. This is Will-san. It seems he knew the deceased."
With a smile, Lion casually smoothed over Will's words.
"He wants to know more about Beatrice. Do you know anything about her, Mother?"
"...Lion. The deceased is a woman to whom the Head owed a great debt. Nothing more, nothing less. This funeral is a ceremony for the Head to repay the debts he made to her while she was alive. That is what I have heard, so there is nothing more to it than that."
"...Thanks, Mother. Will, that's all my mother knows."
Natsuhi completely denied the scandal about Beatrice being Kinzo's mistress. However, she also had enough sense to realize that the scandal was probably the truth. Picking up that Natsuhi was in a bad mood and didn't want to talk about this anymore, Lion brought an end to that conversation before Will could say something rude again.
"So you're telling me to follow the family's rules?"
"Speak in a manner appropriate for a guest of the family. Let me be the medium for all of your conversations. I ask that you follow those two rules."
"I'll work on that."
"...This mess the witch Bernkastel or whatever has dragged us into is a real pain. Because of that, I am willing to help you. However, both of us stand on an even footing, so make sure you don't forget it."
"And I thought you were just some well-bred rich kid. You've got guts."
"I must be prepared to shoulder the Ushiromiya family's future, after all."
"...Got it. Let's solve this crime together, Watson."
"I'm glad I can help. I wouldn't want to keep your dear cat Diana waiting. Don't you need to feed her soon?"
"I gave her extra food today, so she should be good for a while. I'm surprised you realized Diana was a cat."
"I figured a woman who scratches the sofas when you keep her waiting would be a bit too eccentric."
"So? Who will you talk to first?"
"Anyone. Everyone. Those ones over there are Krauss's siblings, right?"
"From right to left, there's Aunt Eva, Uncle Hideyoshi. Over there is Uncle Rudolf, Aunt Kyrie. And over there is-"
"Ushiromiya Rosa. When she was a girl, she once got lost in the forest and bumped into a woman calling herself Beatrice in a hidden mansion."
"...I know I shouldn't be surprised anymore, but you really do know everything, don't you?"
"So, you know about that story too?"
"I managed to overhear her saying that today. It looked as though it was bothering her, so I pretended not to hear."
"Real model student, you are. Introduce me. I want to ask about it."
"You're asking this of the model student who pretended not to hear because it just might be a painful topic?"
Even this outrageous arrogance is nothing compared to Kinzo. After muttering this several times mentally, Lion shrugged and nodded at Will.
"Oh, Aunt Eva. This is Will-san, He came to offer flowers for the departed."
"But who cares about that. Tell me everything you know about-"
"He says he wants to know what sort of relationship the Ushiromiya family has had with the deceased."
Will silently protested, as though saying 'maybe it was a gag, but that hurt', but Lion just played dumb and smiled at Eva like a model student.
"Well, even if you say 'relationship with the Ushiromiya family'..."
"It's probably more accurate to say 'her relationship with Father'."
"We can be honest here. She was Father's mistress."
"If you call her that, Natsuhi nee-san will yell at you again. He's 'indebted' to her, right? *giggle*"
"Yes, of course. Wahahahaha."
"...Well, there you have it."
"I have no interest in anyone but Rosa,"
"I do believe... that you said you met with Beatrice, Aunt Rosa."
This whole time, Rosa had been hanging her head. Lion's words made her shoulders quiver.
"She just suddenly came out with it today. It's a bit hard to believe."
"It's the truth...! I killed Beatrice!"
"Great, our work here is finished."
"Don't get ahead of yourself."
Rosa broke down crying and laid her head on the table. Kyrie and Hideyoshi tried to console her...
"Since ages ago, there've been stories about how Dad built a hidden mansion somewhere in the vast forest that no one knew about, and that he had his mistress living there."
"Rosa-san probably came upon that hidden mansion by chance..."
"However, what does this have to do with Aunt Rosa killing Beatrice...?"
"If I hadn't taken her out, she never would have died...! She was so innocent, like a chick. I took her out, so she just followed along obediently! She stayed right behind me, trusting me completely...! And because I made her take such a dangerous path...!!"
"Did you make her walk that way because you were hoping she'd slip and fall from the cliff?"
"I never meant to do that! I just thought she'd like to see the ocean...! No, it just looked like the path would be hard to walk, and I thought it would be easier going if we went down the cliff first...!!"
"That's not what killing someone means. It was an accident."
"It's an accident she never would have had if I hadn't brought her with me, right?! It's my fault!! And then, I abandoned her when she was covered in blood and ran home!!"
"It isn't your fault. Beatrice had never seen the ocean before. You showed her that for the first time ever. She was probably so excited that she just happened to take a bad step."
"...H, how can you...?"
"Beatrice is grateful to you for what you did. Of course she doesn't hate you for it."
"...Really? Is that... really true...?"
"If I were Beatrice, I would thank you for that short bit of time. If she knew that you've been suffering all this time for it, she'd probably feel sorry for you."
"...Beatrice is grateful for what you did. You're the one who taught her that the sea is blue."
"...Is that... true...?"
"I guarantee it."
Will made that statement openly and boldly. No one knew how Rosa took those words. However, it had apparently been enough to remind Rosa to take a handkerchief out of her pocket and wipe her eyes with it.
"Even now, Beatrice is whispering those words to you."
Rosa wiped her eyes with the handkerchief one more time and hung her head. It no longer looked like a fit of sobbing, but more as though she was speaking with the Beatrice of that day within her heart... one last time.
"Back up? Is that really necessary to comfort a woman?"
"...It seems I underestimated you."
How many years had it tormented Rosa? Now, for the first time, Rosa would probably be able to face that innocently smiling Beatrice who had seen the ocean for the first time in her life. She was the only one who could forgive Rosa. Now, the two of them could finally speak together...
"...I don't know who you are, but thank you. I wonder if she'll forgive me."
"You've worried about it for nearly 20 years. That's far too long. She'd tell you that you've suffered more than enough already."
"...That's right, Aunt Rosa. The sadder you are, the sadder Beatrice would be."
"...You too... Thank you. I don't know if I will be forgiven, but I'll keep on speaking to my heart to see whether she'll forgive me or not. Thanks, you two. Sorry for showing you such an embarrassing side of me."
"And I'm sorry to say this right after saying something so pretty, but I want you to talk to me. Tell me what happened back then."
"Thanks, but it's alright. I'll talk. Hiding this and keeping quiet about it for so long might have been my greatest sin."
"Exactly when was it that you met Beatrice?"
Upon hearing this question, Rosa closed her eyes lightly, reaching back to a past she didn't want to remember...
"It should have been 1967."
Ronove had guaranteed that with the red truth in the 3rd game.
"Th, that's right... It was probably about 1967. I can remember what happened as clearly as a picture... I'll never forget..."
"If it's tough for you, don't feel like you have to tell us."
"Yes, clear as a picture, if you don't mind-"
"...Ngah! Dammit, that hurts, Lion."
This tale has also been told in a previous Fragment. Back when Rosa was just a kid, she had gone deep into the forest, found a hidden mansion, and met with a mysterious woman who called herself Beatrice...
"...But that forest is so thick it's hard just to move around in it."
"I even surprised myself... To think that I made it so far into such a dense forest. I was tormented by twigs and sharp leaves over and over again."
"However, that wasn't enough to bother me on that day. After all, I wanted to disappear into the forest and vanish forever. If, by some chance, there really was a witch's mansion in the depths of the forest, I hoped that she might take me to the land of happiness, or else turn me into a frog and make me a resident of the forest."
"So, you then reached the hidden mansion, Kuwadorian, and met a woman who called herself Beatrice."
"...Yes. I met her."
"Was that Beatrice the same as the one in the portrait?"
"...Yes. They were the same person. Beautiful blue eyes. Golden hair. A black dress. It truly was the subject of that portrait. When Father first had it hung, I realized that the 20 years I had spent trying to forget must have seemed just as long for Father, if not even longer, and I became even more fearful of my sin..."
Immediately, Kyrie spoke the question that Will had been thinking of. It would be too rash to assume that the Beatrice Kinzo met and the one Rosa met were the same person. The time and generation were different for each.
"Beatrice is supposed to be that lady of leisure who lent Dad all that gold shortly after the war, right?"
"By using Beatrice's gold as a foundation, Father revived the Ushiromiya family and got super rich. Then he bought Rokkenjima and moved over. Rosa-san's meeting must have been at least 10 years after that."
"A woman who could do as she pleased with 10 tons of gold could hardly be some little girl. And 10 more years passed before she met Rosa... Rosa. About how old did the Beatrice you met look?"
"...She looked older than I was at the time, but even so, it looked as though she might just be reaching adulthood. Yes, exactly the sort of age of the Beatrice in the portrait."
"Did she look middle-aged or past her prime?"
"If I had to call her an adult or a child, she was clearly closer to being a child. There's no way she was middle-aged."
"And isn't that strange? We have the Beatrice you met, and the Beatrice who gave Father the gold, but their ages don't match."
"In other words, they're different people."
"Different people... who look very similar and have the same name..."
"It might have been her daughter. It makes sense for them to look alike if they were mother and child."
"His mistress's daughter... It is possible. Perhaps Father had an illegitimate child with the Beatrice who gave him the gold."
"And then, Rosa bumped into Beatrice the Second. Makes those ages work out nicely."
"I see... In other words, there are two people who can be called Beatrice."
Kinzo secretly raised his mistress's child in a hidden mansion. That would make logical sense. Everyone nodded, agreeing. However, Will's expression was slightly unsatisfied, and he scratched at his head...
"So, it would seem that, this funeral exists for the two Beatrices he couldn't mourn because they were hidden..."
"Rosa. I know you probably don't want to remember, but tell me about that accident. After Beatrice fell, was she still breathing?"
"Was it the sort of wound that clearly showed that she was dead?"
"Yes. I saw the insides of her cracked head! It had caved in deep enough to fit your fist inside it...! No one could be naive enough to see that and still hope she was alive!"
"...Will. Do you really need to ask anything more?"
"That's enough for the time of the accident. What did you do afterwards?"
"I dashed away at full speed. I wasn't even thinking about calling for help. I wanted to escape from that place as fast as I could. Half-crazed, sobbing, and out of breath, I kept on running about at random. Eventually, I came across a familiar lion statue."
"Oh, the one in front of the chapel?"
"No, the one behind it. Anyway, I made it back to the mansion. I couldn't tell anyone, and I didn't want to. I stayed quiet until nightfall. It was so horrible of me. If I had hurried and told someone, they might have brought her a first aid kit, and she might have been saved..."
"How is a first aid kit going to help with a crushed cranium? You didn't kill her. Don't worry about that anymore."
"Then, what did you do next?"
"...That night, I turned over in my bed so many times. I couldn't sleep. Late that night, I quietly... called Genji-san on the phone and told him..."
"...What did he say?"
"He told me to let him handle everything, and to speak of this to no one. I spent the next several days terrified that Father would call for me and scold me brutally."
"At the very least, none of us ever heard about it."
"...Genji-san probably managed to clean everything up nicely."
"After all, they couldn't let knowledge of that child go public..."
"Hmmmmm... Since she was an illegitimate child, she must have been his daughter by blood. It must have been tough for Father, not bein' able to hold a real funeral for her..."
"...I guess that's why we're having this funeral."
"That's all I know."
"...And that's all I know too."
"I'm not hiding anything else. I've told you everything. I swear it."
Will scratched at his head, letting his gaze wander. It had taken Rosa a lot of determination to make this confession, but it was nothing particularly special for Will. It had been little more than a review of information he already knew...
"Thanks, Aunt Rosa. Is that enough for you, Will? Are you satisfied?"
"That's enough. It was a nice review."
This was the first time he'd heard all that about her running back to the mansion after Beatrice fell to her death, but none of it was particularly surprising. Apparently, Rosa really didn't know any more than this... If he wanted to learn something more than what the Fragments given to him by Bernkastel contained, he would need to find new testimony.
"Lion. Tell Kinzo that I want to talk to him. It looks like we won't get anywhere without asking the man himself."
"Where are you going?"
"...Off to cool my head and organize my thoughts. Don't follow."
"Well then, pardon me. Please take your time."
After giving an elegant bow, Lion made a face, tongue sticking out.