Part 79: Rosa's Confession II
BGM: About Face
And he had come here for a little peace and quiet... As soon as he let out a sigh of relief, that voice rang out.
"That's my line."
It was as though she had been sitting there all along. Bernkastel appeared on top of the altar once more. Apparently, Beatrice's altar was extremely comfortable.
"Unlike Ushiromiya Battler's games, I have nothing standing in my way. It's easy."
"That sort of game has already ended. Tales can be enjoyed twice. First you love them. Then you tear out their guts. *giggle*giggle*."
"Tch. You think I'm a butcher?"
"So? Do you think you know who killed Beatrice...?"
"Rosa's confession is something I already know from a previous Fragment. There was no brand new information. We're still at square one."
"Unless Ushiromiya Kinzo tells us what really happened, we won't get any further than this. Don't tell me that arguing with Kinzo and persuading him to spill the beans, is supposed to be part of this game."
"That'd be fatally boring. Kinzo refuses to speak of the truth and is himself the king protected by his castle, but it wouldn't be any fun to have that stand in the way of your game..."
"...I won't torture. It's not my style."
"I know. As the Game Master, I will grant you power. So that you can get the truth from Kinzo, of course."
Still wearing shoes, Bernkastel stepped into the casket, picked up one of the flowers that had been set as offerings, and blew hard, as though scattering fluff from a dandelion. Then, a single petal broke off and drifted down towards Will, no longer gold, but with the shine of a transparent crystal...
"The 'detective's authority'?"
"Hmph, what, that pathetic ability? No. This is an invitation to the grandstands."
"I'm giving it. On my game board. Who's going to stop me...?"
Though the crystal flower petal danced in the wind, it wouldn't fly away anywhere until Will accepted it. Will remembered how useless it was to argue with witches, and he snatched it up. When he did, the petal flashed brightly for an instant, melted into Will's palm, and disappeared...
"Entertain me if you can. And try and enjoy yourself. You must also be interested in seeing what the guts of Beatrice's game board look like, right?"
After Will's rude answer, Bernkastel vanished into thin air, leaving behind an obnoxious laugh...
...When he did, it felt as though his gaze had crossed that of a shadow standing right in front of him, by the door that led outside.
"Who is it?"
BGM: L&D Circulation
"Ah, Shannon. So you're running the reception desk this time...?"
"Yes. I've been taking it in turns with Kanon-kun to run the reception desk..."
"A short while ago, he was ordered by... umm, L, Lion-sama to take a break, so he's resting now."
"...So, you don't know Lion either?"
"Huh? No, of course..."
"Ushiromiya Lion is the successor to the head, the one who wears the silver ring. Why are you stumbling over that name when you've worked here for 10 years?"
"Don't worry. I don't recognize Lion either. Krauss is supposed to be the successor to the head. Jessica is supposed to be his only child. There hasn't been a single Fragment with anyone named Lion in the Ushiromiya family."
When she realized that Will didn't recognize Lion either, Shannon relaxed. Apparently, she was a bit relieved to find that she wasn't going crazy by herself. However, her expression quickly grew uncertain once more.
"Wh, where... is this place...? I think it's the Ushiromiya family chapel. However, something feels different about it. Also, I never knew that someone named L... Lion-sama existed. And yet, Madam, Krauss-sama, the Master, Milady, and all the relatives all talk as though it's perfectly natural... I just... don't understand what's happening..."
"...Lion is a piece placed by Bernkastel. She also said that she'd moved into a larger cat box to place that piece. On top of that, it seems this world isn't a proper world, but one made out of several different Fragments sewn together."
It's as though... this is a special stage set up specifically for this game. I'm sure she's nodding at my thoughts right now, laughing and chomping down popcorn.
"T, ten years."
I see. So it really is a special stage.
After all, right when I entered the chapel, I spotted Kinzo. Since Shannon has worked for 10 years, this is the stage of Beato's game, 1986. In that case, Kinzo shouldn't exist. However, he definitely was here a few minutes ago. Bernkastel promised that all of the information needed for reasoning was gathered here. She must have really packed it together to fit everything in... I see, so it really is a special stage.
"You have served the Ushiromiya family for many years. So, just how much do you know about Beatrice?"
"...I know the Master loved her deeply, but other than that..."
"Is that all?"
"A, and, umm, they say that she's the master of Rokkenjima's night... umm..."
"That's right. The name of the ghost rumored to wander the mansion night after night is also Beatrice."
That brings the number of Beatrices to three. The first is the Beatrice from more than 30 years ago, who is said to have given Kinzo the gold. The second is the Beatrice from 20 years ago, who met Rosa. The third is the Beatrice of the ghost stories, who is rumored to be the master of the night on Rokkenjima.
"...Furudo Erika's reasoning was probably correct. It started out as the legend of the evil spirits on Rokkenjima. Later on, elements such as Kinzo's occult hobbies, the name and portrait of the mysterious woman, Beatrice, and the epitaph got mixed in, and it was all integrated into the legend of the Golden Witch."
"...Then, the darkness of the night gained the personality of a witch. That's the third Beatrice. This became the veil for the serial murders."
Apparently, she didn't understand a word of Will's sudden monologue. Shannon tried to follow along, but she seemed to be having difficulty.
"Don't waste your time trying to understand. You'll just get a headache."
"M, my apologies..."
"...Yes. Kanon-kun was the same as me."
Shannon... and Kanon, is it...
"...Call Kanon over here. I want to talk to the pair of you about something."
When Will said these words, Shannon's face went blank and her eyes went wide.
"My apologies. We aren't allowed to leave the reception desk unmanned, so I can't leave to go get him."
"Then find a replacement and have them take over the reception desk until you get back. You, me, and Kanon. We, the three people who don't know Lion, need to talk."
"...We've been told that one person is enough to run the reception desk."
"But no one told you there was anything wrong with two people manning it, right?"
"We are low on helpers today, so we were told that having two people at the reception desk would be unnecessary."
"Who gave you that order? Kinzo? Krauss? Or was it Lion? I will ask about it."
Video: Blocked Move
BGM: 7 Weights
"Who is this person? I'll negotiate with them."
"You cannot... NEGOTIATE. It iS the oNE who orDERS US."
"Call Kanon over here. I hate theatergoing just as much as I hate torture."
Slowly, Will pulled his right hand out of his pocket. When he slowly opened his fist, a small, bright glow emanated from it. The flower petal Bernkastel had given him had become a glowing birthmark, which sparkled... He held that hand out towards Shannon... and slowly approached her.
"Call Kanon. I want to check something with you two."
"I... C A N N O T CALL HIM. DO YOU S T I L L ... WANT ME TO...?"
"If you don't call him, I'm going to use my authority."
"IF YO U INS IST... I CA N CA LL HIM SPECI ALLY FOR YOU, BUT..."
There was some kind of incomprehensible tension between the two. Will stood there, his left hand still in his pocket and his right palm glowing and stretched out towards her. Shannon just stood there, her hands still folded politely in front of her, her posture beautiful. And yet, it felt oddly as though raindrops were sparking and crackling in midair...
Will's expression had remained unchanged the whole time. Shannon's face was still kind and gentle. And yet, the tension was as icy as a frozen lake...
...Beginners in chess will sometimes move their king into check without noticing it. One might mercilessly capture the king in this situation, but high-level players are supposed to calmly tell their opponent about their mistake. 'If you take one more step, you'll get captured'. This was... similar to that...
...I see. So, after all...
Slowly, Will lowered his hand.
"Thank you for understanding."
The glow slowly vanished from Will's palm. That completely incomprehensible tension melted away like a sugar cube in water. However, nothing had changed since the beginning. Will's expression and Shannon's expression... were the same as they always had been.
BGM: L&D Circulation
Footsteps approached them. It was Lion.
"I'm just standing here, talking. I wanted to ask her something."
"...What could that be? Did you find what you were looking for?"
"I'm honored to have been of service."
"That's a shame. If you were looking for an umbrella, I could have gotten you one right away."
"Did you convince Kinzo?"
"...I told him that a rare guest wanted to greet him. He says he'll meet with you."
"Did you tell him that I wanted to ask about Beatrice?"
"Isn't that your job?"
With a slightly mischievous look, Lion turned away. Will scratched his head and shrugged, looking annoyed.
Will opened his right hand and showed it to Lion. It was just a hand, without anything remotely remarkable about it. Lion's head tilted to the side in bafflement at this strange gesture.
"Good work... Umm, wait, your name was..."
"That's right, Shannon. Please take over the reception desk. Make sure you keep warm."
"Thank you very much, Lion-sama."
Shannon bowed deeply in response to Lion's kind words. There was not even a trace of tension in her manner...
"Let's go, Will. Wouldn't want to miss this chance. The Head's mood changes quicker than the autumn sky."