Part 80: Ushiromiya Kinzo
Kinzo and Genji could be seen in the VIP room. Kinzo was sitting back in a chair, his eyes closed as though in a troubled sleep.
"...Master. The guest has come to see you."
Kinzo slowly opened his eyes. Those eyes were red from crying. They regained their focus and slowly fell on Will.
"I'm Willard. Allow me to express my condolences."
"...So, you've come to visit Beatrice's funeral. Just who are you?"
"I'm no one. I have no connections with anyone. Don't think too deeply about it. You'll just get a headache."
"I ask that you choose your words a little more carefully."
"...Hmph, what a strange guest. So? What business do you have with me?"
"I want to ask about Beatrice."
Kinzo's gaze grew sharp. Lion felt a bit lightheaded and wondered why this guy had to be so direct.
"Why do you ask? I thought you were no one. Why do you want to know about Beatrice? What is your purpose?"
"Because I am no one, I can listen to your tale openly and record it. You will probably leave this world before too long. If you die without telling anything about Beatrice, your children will adorn Beatrice with whatever tale they like, and write that into their memories."
"But that is none of your business. Beatrice is mine alone. No matter what anyone says, no one can defile me and that tale. What they say is of no consequence! No matter how Krauss and the others misconstrue it, it will not be painful or vexing for me."
"...Willard-sama. The Master does not like wills. He is not one to abandon anything while he still lives."
"...Probably true. I thought it sounded a bit unlike you."
"The ability to struggle on as long as we have life is what makes us human! You think I would give up so soon and leave behind a will? How laughably absurd!"
"Yes, that does sound a bit more like you. It's not your style to ask someone to write about the past just because you feel you might die soon."
"...We know how deeply you loved Beatrice-sama. You are the model most worthy of respect that any of us know, and an example for us to follow in every aspect of our lives. Please guide our wandering souls and tell us just how much you loved her, Grandfather. How you were able to live so strongly because of her love. Can I not ask for you to guide us by showing us the strength of that love...?"
"You're pretty good at this."
"It's your fault for being so tactless."
"Boy. What do you know of Beatrice? A truly ignorant person would not hold any interest at all. The mere fact that you know Beatrice's name shows that you are neither ignorant nor unconnected."
"Good point. The Beatrice I know of is the woman you loved, the one you met before the mansion on Rokkenjima was even built. However, she probably departed from this world, leaving behind a daughter. That is the girl who was raised in Kuwadorian."
"Willard-sama. There is no building known as Kuwadorian on Rokkenjima."
"...That name, Kuwadorian... You mentioned it when we were talking with Aunt Rosa too. What in the world does it mean?"
BGM: Witch in Gold (cembalo)
"Interesting. So, you actually know the name of Kuwadorian. Continue. You have sparked my interest."
Kinzo shrugged and grinned...
"The one living in Kuwadorian was probably Beatrice's daughter. However, it seems that you didn't think of her that way."
"Oho. Then how did I think of her?"
"When Ushiromiya Rosa went to Kuwadorian, Beatrice told her a little about herself. In that conversation, she referred to you as Kinzo. It was the same when she spoke to you directly. Though she said that she thought of you as a father, she didn't call you Father. She either didn't call you that, or she wasn't allowed to call you that. That can only mean one thing."
"And what might that be...?"
"...Genji. Once in the past, you spoke in front of Natsuhi and several other family members, stating that there had never been a child between Kinzo and Beatrice."
"...I have no memory of saying this."
Of course, 'this game's' Genji probably wouldn't remember that. However, near the end of the first game, when the survivors had all gathered in Kinzo's study... Genji was asked whether Kinzo and Beatrice ever had a child together, and he denied it, saying 'I have not heard of anything like that'.
"That may have been a lie, but in a way, it was a perfect sort of answer for one of Kinzo's confidants. After all, in Kinzo's eyes, she wasn't a daughter, but Beatrice reborn."
"Will...! I don't know what you're talking about, but I will not let you slander the family head!"
"This isn't slander. It's reasoning. However, I understand the heart. In your eyes, Beatrice was the woman you loved most. She remained that way even after death, for all eternity, and without fading in the slightest. I doubt you thought of her as Beatrice reborn at the moment of her birth."
"However, it would not be strange if you slowly began to wonder whether that child, whose blue eyes and beautiful blonde hair reminded you of a younger Beatrice, might actually be Beatrice reborn."
"...Master. Shall I...?"
Shall I drag this rude child out? Genji asked Kinzo. For a while, Kinzo hung his head in silence, as though remembering something from his own past.
"Your daughter grew to be beautiful, and nearly identical to her mother. You must have been ecstatic. However, it's doubtful that you were fully satisfied by this. After all, though she was Beatrice reborn to you, she didn't feel that way herself."
"...How can you know that?"
"Whenever she was called Beatrice, she got this feeling she couldn't shake away, a feeling like something was out of place. People never feel anything out of place about the name they were given at the time of their birth. However, she did have that feeling. That must mean that she was aware that the name Beatrice was not hers."
In Kuwadorian, she asked both Kinzo and Rosa about who she was.
BGM: My Dear
"...Her memory... would have returned. She must have been Beatrice reborn. Her memory was coming back bit by bit. My magical ceremonies were helping her regain her memories one little bit at a time..."
"There's no need to be surprised. If you line up the information in all the games so far, this is the answer it leads you to. The high-level Beatrice talked about this, by metaphor, she said that Kinzo refused to let the witch's soul escape even after death, and instead caught it and locked it up in a body of flesh, she also said that her power and memory had been sealed. If you match that interpretation of hers to this theory, it all makes sense."
"...Willard-sama. Thanks to a powerful magical ceremony, the Master gained a reborn child of the dead Beatrice-sama. That cannot be denied."
"I won't contradict the stork. And I don't intend to doubt the depths of Kinzo's love for this woman called Beatrice. How a man shows his affection for a child who is the only living reminder of her mother is no one's business. If she grew to look more and more like Beatrice, and Kinzo's love gave rise to a new, special emotion, I find that a very human reaction."
"...You think... you can understand my love...?"
"I'm not qualified to understand it. However, I'm also not qualified to deny it."
Kinzo sobbed quietly for a while, wiping away his tears... Because of love, he believed she was Beatrice reborn, and had raised her that way. However, somewhere in his heart, he might have felt pangs of conscience, telling him that he might be forcing his emotions on someone who wasn't really Beatrice.
Then, the Beatrice of Kuwadorian had an unexpected guest, Rosa. That woman just couldn't believe that she was the Beatrice that Kinzo desired. She couldn't stand the fact that she didn't understand who she was, and she wanted to escape to the outside world.
Then, she fell from the cliff... and died.
"Funerals aren't for the dead. They exist so that those who are alive can sever their ties with the dead. You could never do that. That's why it festered within you."
"You lost your mistress's... no, you lost Beatrice twice. Unable to let that sorrow show on the outside, you kept it locked up in your heart, and it eventually festered and turned to madness. That's what spurred on your abnormally strong interest in the occult in your later years."
"Oooooooooohhhh!! Beatriiiiiiiice, Beatriiiiiiice!! Why?!! Why did you leave me twice?! Your smile, that beautiful hair, those eyes... why did you die in my arms not once, but twice?! Is that how much... how much you... ooooooohhhh, oooooooooooooooooooooooohhhh... oohhh..."
By now, Kinzo wasn't even trying to suppress his sobs. He sometimes scratched at his head in anguish. Sometimes faced the heavens like an opera singer. Kinzo yelled over and over again, repeating Beatrice's name...
At that moment, there was a quiet sound of a door closing. When they turned around, she was already there. Kumasawa had appeared.
BGM: Mystic Forest
"...Though, if they know that much, I don't believe there is anything more to tell..."
"No, we should tell them. As a woman, I've always thought that the heart of Kuwadorian's Beatrice is a story that should be told. And now, someone has appeared who is worthy to hear it. I believe that now is the time to tell all, without holding back."
"Kumasawa-san, do you know something? About Beatrice...?"
"Of course she does. In the fourth game, we have testimony from the ferryboat captain saying that Kumasawa went in and out of Kuwadorian. I'd be willing to bet that Kumasawa had different work shifts at the mansion and Kuwadorian. There was a young girl to be taken care of. Kumasawa, with her long experience in taking care of children, must have been of immense value."
"...That is correct. You might even call me her wet nurse."
"No way... I can't believe it. So, everything Will-san is saying is the truth."
"...Yes. It is a fact. There was a secret mansion constructed on the opposite side of the island for Beatrice-sama. The existence of Kuwadorian is the truth."
"I don't know when Kinzo married his official wife, but back when Kinzo already had an enormous store of wealth and had bought Rokkenjima whole, he built two mansions and set up two separate lives."
Kinzo's children had also been aware of Kinzo's clandestine eccentricities at the time. It probably hadn't been easy to set up two lives. Moreover, Kinzo's wife had been suspicious and had sniffed around all the time...
"The Master stayed in Kuwadorian as much as time allowed. He would sometimes pretend to go on a business trip and stay there for several days, treasuring the time he spent with Beatrice-sama."
"...It was not simply a father-daughter relationship. You could sometimes catch a glimpse of his great love for the dead Beatrice-sama, and it was a heart-warming thing."
"The way you say it makes it sound like he sometimes treated her... as a substitute for Beatrice."
Kumasawa's tone made it sound as though she was scolding Kinzo. As a mother who had raised many kids, Kumasawa had probably spotted that Kinzo's love was often of a mistaken sort. However, the more she grew to look like her mother, the more distorted and twisted Kinzo's heart became... Because of his deep love, it grew very, very... twisted...
"...You are right to scold me, my friend. I understand. My love is eternal and undying. However, I must acknowledge... that I poured that affection onto... the wrong person..."
"...Grandfather... Wait, you don't mean..."
"Lion-sama. All humans in this world are tied to each other. Even if they do not notice, there is always some sort of tie. Those ties... wrap themselves around people and bring them together."
"No way... Grandfather..."
Just as Kinzo had done, Lion also wiped away tears and stared down at the floor. Apparently, the truth had been too much of a shock for the young successor to handle...
"...I see. So, that time has come, my friend."
"Unless you tell us, none of the truth will become clear."
"...Master. I believe they may have the qualifications and the right to know."
"I know. Perhaps on this day of my fickle funeral, Beatrice in heaven has given me a chance to atone... Forgive me for not telling you this before now."
After taking a deep breath, Kinzo finally lowered the hands that had been covering his face, and looked at Will and Lion with those red eyes.
"You listen too, Lion. Guest. Willard, was it?"
"...I thank you for giving me a chance to speak of the truth while I still am able. You must surely be a messenger from heaven sent by Beatrice... You have my gratitude..."
"Beatrice isn't the one you have to thank. It was some witch. Well, I guess they're both witches..."
"Hmph, I do not care who it was. I have been given a chance. That is enough. Thank you, Willard."
Kinzo slowly stood up and held out his right hand. He was offering to shake hands. It must have been Kinzo's way of expressing his gratitude...
Will responded. Then, the two hands gripped each other tightly in silence. When they did, a bright light poured out from the gap between the two hands.
Will felt as though something the size of a grain had burned itself into his palm. It was that power that Bernkastel had given him. The light grew brighter and brighter. However, it seemed that Kinzo and the others could not see it.
BGM: L&D Circulation
"...So, are you Kinzo?"
"It's how Grandfather looked in the past. I've seen photos. Just what on Earth..."
"It's the theatergoing power that Bernkastel gave me. Don't try to understand."
"I'll just get a headache?"
"You're getting the hang of this."
At one time, Genji told Battler that he looked like Kinzo in his youth. Sure enough, though the young Kinzo wasn't exactly the same as Battler, they looked very similar.
Even the voice seemed to resemble Battler's somehow. Clearly, Battler had inherited Kinzo's blood more thickly than any other...
"I did not want to succeed the Ushiromiya family headship. My being chosen as the head was nothing more than a prank of fate."
"...In the Great Kanto Earthquake, those in charge passed away, and you were selected from the branch families."
"That's correct. After all, Grandfather was wise despite his youth, and he already possessed a dignity fitting for the headship."
"Fuhahahahahahahaha... Ridiculous. Those greedy elders kept looking out for their own personal interests and couldn't decide on a new head at all. It was as foolish as arguing about who the new captain should be on a sinking ship."
"So, since you had no connections with anyone in the main family, you were selected right out of the blue."
"It's all because of my toes. If only I'd had one less toe on each foot, my life may have turned out quite differently..."
In the Ushiromiya family, polydactyly was seen as a sign of good fortune. This was because many of the great ones in the family history had had it.
"It was all very pathetic. The elders didn't care whom they dragged in as long as it wouldn't benefit any one of them particularly."
"So, they just happened to hear that someone in one of the branch families had six toes, and decided that would do well enough."
"Precisely. The elders didn't care what sort of novice became the head, as long as they could make him their puppet. In fact, the more this person was ignorant of how to lead, the better it would be for them."
"Lion. It is quite different in your case. You will be the one who inherits everything I have. That is the fate you were granted on the day of your birth. That is why I gave you that silver ring and raised you so strictly. You are quite different from me. You are already a splendid successor, of whom no one could be ashamed..."
"...Y, yes sir..."
"A puppet for a head... I doubt that could've been easy."
As he pondered about where to begin, Kinzo laughed bitterly. It would probably bring back painful memories no matter where he started from...
"It... lasted for so long, that span of gray days. That dizzying stretch of time I spent dead, like moss growing on a rock..."
I became the rope in the tug of war between the elders, who thought of nothing but their own profit, and I probably could have snapped at any moment. However, people are far more resilient than one would think. Though I spent so many days as though I had been killed, I was not killed. So, I was forced to search for death on my own...
That dizzyingly long stretch of gray was left completely empty. It lasted for a full 20 years. In 20 years, a person can be born, find a purpose, and even become their own man with their own place in the world. In short, if one truly becomes a human only when they have become a working adult... Then I spent a time long enough to create a human... by doing nothing except playing the part of those greedy elders' puppet.
Ironically, though that time aged my body, it did not age my mind. My mind alone... was still as young as it had been during those rich, happy days before I had been summoned to Odawara. And yet, my body alone had grown older and older. Eventually, the vast gap between the two grew to almost incomprehensible levels. So, I could hardly believe that the worn out man in the mirror was really me. No, it really wasn't me. The 'Head of the Ushiromiya family' was just a name. It had no power. It didn't require that I have any independence. There was no need for me to get involved with anything. I was just a doll sitting there on the doll rack, gathering dust.
I remember nothing but lazily flipping through Western books I liked, locking myself in my own world, doing nothing but playing with roses and drinking terrible drinks. And it lasted a full 20 years. Before I knew it... I suddenly had a wife I did not know. It wasn't any wife I had chosen. It was the daughter of some noble family that the elders had chosen and forced on me for their own reasons, but that did not matter to me. I did not love my wife, but neither did I dislike her. I just didn't care. I fathered a few children, but that wasn't out of love for my wife. They were just born before I knew it. That's all there was to it. None of it mattered.
No, that's not quite right. Everything was decided by someone other than me, and I simply obeyed. That was the job... of the 'Ushiromiya family head'...
"I can't believe it. To think that you, the one who has been praised for being such a bold and wise ruler, lived life like that for so long..."
"...Lion. There is nothing so long and faint as a life you do not live for yourself. And yet, it slides on by in the blink of an eye. Do not forget this."
"A life... you live for yourself..."
"Living means having your own will. You probably were dead during that time."
"Precisely. I wanted to live. No, I wanted to die. How can a puppet die?"
"...By cutting... the strings."
"Correct. That would be death, and it would also be life, since it would mean being free."
Before I realized it, the world had grown troubled.
Japan had extended their war fronts too far to the East and West, and the tide of war was changing. Thanks to the influence of the elders, I was able to avoid conscription. Of course, this was not out of compassion for me. It was because I was their precious puppet. So, the war never really felt that close to me.
However, when I personally decided to abandon their protection, it was very easy. At that time, the Ushiromiya family had almost completely collapsed, and since the elders had apparently gathered enough of the scraps to last them the rest of their lives, they seemed to care little for what I did, now that they no longer had any use for me. So, I realized that I had finally found my time to die. One by one, I cut the threads I was hanging from, and began to search for a place to end my life.
"So, you searched for death on the battlefield?"
"...I thought that if I was going to die anyway, I should try to be of some use to my country. No, that's a lie. I probably just lacked the willpower to end my own life. War was a suitable excuse for death."
"I heard that Grandfather had knowledge in public works and construction, so he was tasked with setting up facilities for the Navy construction team."
"Hmph, and what a foolish mistake that was. If only I had just said that I had no useful skills, I could have been sent to the dangerous front lines right away..."
"So, you didn't need to go to the front lines?"
"Some of the others were overjoyed at their luck. It was the opposite for me. I had only wanted to get drunk on the liquor known as dying for the sake of one's country. The US planes did nothing but cut across the skies of that forgotten island. They didn't have even a bullet to spare for me, much less a bomb."
"Is this the time you met Beatrice, Grandfather...?"
"Correct. She came to me from the sea..."
"Where did you meet her? You mentioned an island."
"Yes, This island. That's where she arrived."
"...So, you met here, on Rokkenjima?"
"What's going on...? I heard that Rokkenjima was uninhabited until you bought it, Grandfather. I never knew there was a Japanese military base here."
"Pft, hahahahahahahaha... Ah, yes, you could hardly call that a military base. It was just a cave. I was one of the guards of that cave."
BGM: L&D Circulation
Due to the honorable defeats at Saipan and Guam, Japan's Absolute National Defense Zone strategy was in shambles. Where had the gallantry shown at Pearl Harbor gone? The old attackers were now the ones on the defensive.
At that time, it was said that the last trump card for the Japanese military was a type of manned torpedo known as the Kaiten. It was said that these ultimate weapons were packed with 1.55 tons of explosives and capable of sinking any kind of warship with a single blast. To strengthen homeland defense, the Navy drafted a plan to build a string of hidden bases from Hachijo Island to Yokosuka, all to house submarines loaded with Kaiten torpedoes.
"Just what sort of fool decided it would be a good idea to plant a base on this desolate island. To better preserve its secrecy? Hmph, ridiculous. I could never understand what the higher-ups were thinking, and I didn't particularly want to."
The Kaiten, which could finish off a large warship with a single strike, truly was an ultimate weapon. It was hoped that the presence of submarines capable of loading these weapons in the waters just off of Japan would allow for a powerful sea ambush as a final line of defense. So, to aid in the establishment of a base with absolute secrecy, the uninhabited island Rokkenjima was raised as a possible candidate. An investigation of the island resulted in the discovery of a large cave in the cliffs, and this was apparently deemed to be a suitable location for a submarine base.
"So, you were tasked with aiding in the establishment of that base?"
"Establishment? Certainly, if you can call digging out a cave 'establishment'. Not only that, the base was abandoned before its completion."
"Wahahahahaha! Because at that time, Japan no longer had any submarines large enough to transport a Kaiten torpedo. How truly laughable. What's the point in having a submarine base if there aren't any submarines left? If there's one thing that never changes, it's politicians and their meaningless projects."
The base on Hachijo Island was outfitted with Kaiten torpedoes and became a base for direct attacks, but Rokkenjima was never supplied with any. Furthermore, the construction was eventually suspended, and the minimum number of men were stationed on the island, waiting for orders from above that never came. Could it be the fact that it was a hidden base sealed our fate? The higher-ups had already completely forgotten about this useless and pointless cavern. We were nothing more than guards for a mere cave. We spent our days farming, fishing, playing with the dirt, all the while gazing up at the American formations flying past. Some of our group were relieved at the prospects of the war ending before anyone remembered we were here and before any of us had to face a real battle.
Of course, it was the opposite for me. I hoped and hoped for the American troops to advance and kill me as soon as possible. Those days were empty and blank.
Let us go back.