Part 109: Red Truth, Blue Truth
"...I-I only spoke of what I could comprehensively determine from his physical condition at the time. As a result, this year too, it just so happens-"
"So, even though it's doubtful whether Dad'll last until the end of the year, he's still totally focused on his occult research. And you still say he has only three months left, Doctor?"
"L-Like I said, Kinzo-san's-"
"Shouldn't you be happy that our respected father is still in high spirits? Out of a sense of parental respect, each one of you is so eager to greet Father. I can see how upset you are that he's unwilling to meet with you."
"...Considering that everyone has started aiming for the inheritance while the sun is still in the sky, I can understand why Father wouldn't want to see you."
"Y-You've got it wrong, Natsuhi nee-san. We just, umm-"
"Dad isn't immortal, and he'll die someday. We aren't telling him to die. We're just saying that he will die sooner or later. We're just talking together about how to prepare for that."
"And that is precisely what is so disrespectful!!"
"Stop it. You'll make your headache worse."
Krauss told Natsuhi, who had risen from her chair in agitation, to sit down. Trying to smooth over the atmosphere, which had suddenly become filled with suspicion, Hideyoshi put on a forced smile and motioned for everyone to calm down.
"Hahaha... That's just like you, Hideyoshi-san. Even though you're saying the same thing, you make it sound so intellectual."
"Yes, that's right. Unlike you, Nii-san."
"Quit it. We aren't getting anywhere. So like we're saying, Aniki, forget all this about the inheritance. I don't even care if Dad hits us. To make a long story short, we wanna meet Dad directly and say hello. Even if he says he doesn't want to. If he's locked up in his study, we don't care if we have to borrow a key from Genji-san. Right, Rosa?"
"...Oh, well, umm... it's not like we're forcing you... It's just... we haven't said hello to Father in such a long time. If his remaining life really is short, then there's a chance we might never be able to see him again... Today might be our final opportunity to exchange words with Father..."
"That's right, just like Rosa says. If he only has three months left, it wouldn't be odd for him to pass away any time now, right? Are you saying that despite that, we don't even have the right to talk with him one last time? Regardless of the circumstances, isn't that just a bit too much...?"
"...If greeting Father were truly what you wished to do, I'm sure he'd happily allow you to meet with him. But Father has already heard about the disrespectful topic you hope to raise! No one would want to meet with you under those conditions. The reason you cannot meet with Father is because of your own doing and nothing else, is it not?"
"Heheh. Exactly. You shouldn't have to rack your brains to understand why Father doesn't wish to see your faces, right? Father has seen through all of your tight financial situations."
"...What are you talking about? I don't have a clue what you're going on about, Nii-san."
"Heheheheh! Did you really think I didn't know about the state you're in...?"
Eva and the rest realized that he had seen through to their current lack of funds, and alternating between bluffing and returning to the point at hand and arguing back, they repeatedly pressed Krauss to let them meet with Kinzo. The sweet smell of the black tea Rosa had gone out of her way to buy had been completely wasted. The only thing she was glad about now was that the children weren't here for this. The fact that they'd gone to play at the beach right after lunch had been their only salvation.
Eva made as though to tackle Krauss, and Hideyoshi and Kyrie cut in between them, trying to calm both sides. Then, Kyrie took a deep breath and spoke.
BGM: Scar Sound
"What is it, Kyrie-san?"
"...First, and this includes my husband as well, for many years, we have belittled the efforts you've made by living with Father and taking care of him. Isn't that right?"
"...That's... well... We've got it easy since we get to go outside, but Aniki's been babysitting Dad for decades now, and that must've been a lot of work. I'll accept that, but what's your point, Kyrie?"
"We must acknowledge that Krauss nii-san is Father's caretaker. Isn't that right? We've always feared Father... and have pushed the task of caring for him onto Krauss nii-san. Everyone should acknowledge his efforts. Isn't that right, Eva nee-san?"
"...And so what? Nii-san is Father's caretaker? Don't decide things on your own, outsider!"
"H-Hey now, calm down. Kyrie-san, what are you talking about?"
"...Kyrie, please continue."
"We should be more grateful towards Krauss nii-san and Natsuhi nee-san. We should thank them for always taking care of Father. It's our lack of gratitude that's to blame for these wasteful conflicts we keep having. Isn't that right, Krauss nii-san?"
"...I'm surprised. I did not think you, Kyrie-san, would be able to understand our efforts, which even my true siblings have not stopped to consider."
"...It's a natural duty for the Successor to the Ushiromiya Family Headship."
"That's right. It's your responsibility as the Successor to the Headship, isn't it? It's because you take care of Father that we must acknowledge you as the Successor."
"Hey!! Why are you bringing this up all by yourself?!! You're just an outsider-"
"Wait, Aneki!! That's right. It's just like Kyrie says. Because you take care of Dad, you're the Successor, Aniki. It's just like you said."
Rosa noticed, and then Eva did. Eva's barking demeanor towards Kyrie for advancing the discussion on her own disappeared in a flash, and she instead stared at Krauss and Natsuhi.
Natsuhi couldn't understand that sudden change and was slightly flustered.
"Of course, we won't demand to be present at his deathbed. We wouldn't even mind being absent at the funeral."
"...Oh? Where are you going with this? But I may as well listen for now. Let's hear your terms."
"First. The term Successor to the Headship refers to the caretaker of the current Head, Ushiromiya Kinzo."
"...Hmm. And then?"
"Second. The duty of the caretaker is to look after Ushiromiya Kinzo for the rest of his life. To make things simple, the caretaker's job is to care for him until his final moments. You were prepared to do that from the beginning, Krauss nii-san, so that won't cause any problems."
"Naturally. I have no objections to either of those terms. I am already carrying them out."
With that sentence, all slack disappeared from Krauss's face. Natsuhi alone was still having trouble figuring out what it meant.
"...Hoh. And just what are these... responsibilities of supervision that the caretaker bears?"
"It means supervision so that Father can live the rest of his life in the best possible health. I'll be more detailed than that. In the case that Father dies anything other than a natural death, the caretaker will be deprived of his rights as caretaker, and his status as the Successor to the Headship will be lost. If that happens, the next highest in rank, Eva nee-san, will be selected as the Successor."
"...Wh-What did you say...? How can you shamelessly speak such nonsense?!!"
"Hohoh. My, my, the caretaker certainly has a heavy responsibility... However, people can die in many ways. For example, senile old people sometimes die when food gets caught in their throats. Normally, this is called death by old age in its broadest sense. But with your argument, that becomes a death by accident, and I bear the responsibility of supervision. This is unjustly disadvantageous to me."
"I have no intention of forcing such an unfair argument on you. I'm referring to the kind of thing that the caretaker could have prevented beforehand by taking good care of and keeping his eyes on Father. It may be the caretaker's job to carry food to Father's mouth, but whether he swallows it or not is clearly outside the caretaker's responsibility. I would have absolutely no problems with the example you raise, Krauss nii-san."
"...Hoh. So, what kind of case are you referring to that might cause the caretaker to be blamed for making a blunder?"
"It seems that right now, Father is in firm control of himself, but dementia might begin to set in. He might wander around when you aren't looking and get into some kind of accident, or he might get lost in the forest and go missing. Wouldn't this type of case clearly be the responsibility of the caretaker...?"
"Father's mind is perfectly healthy! There is no need to bring up dementia...!"
"'One day, suddenly, I saw Father go into the forest. I chased after him, but I couldn't find him. I called the police and searched, but after being unable to find him after seven whole years, I had him declared legally dead.' My point is that we won't accept it if you use a story like that to treat him as dead."
"When Father passes away, an autopsy will certainly be carried out, and we will confirm that he died of old age in the most general meaning, within the bounds of common sense. A death of any other cause will be held as the caretaker's responsibility. See? These are all things you have toiled away at all this time, Krauss nii-san. These aren't strange conditions or anything of the sort, right...?"
"Y-You are mocking us, disgracefully so!! I find it hard to imagine why my husband must be coerced into a rule that disgraces him in this way!!"
"...Actually, I've been suspecting it since last year. No, everyone here probably suspects it as well. Eva nee-san and Hideyoshi nii-san. Rudolf-san and Rosa-san too. Everyone has suspected it the whole time, but it was so frightening to imagine that no one actually said it."
BGM: Closed my Heart
"...You mean the very last bit, the mystery of who killed Doctor Nanjo?"
"That's right. The witch definitely said a lot in red. She mentioned the names of all 18 people and announced whether they were alive or dead, and then she claimed that there were no humans besides them. But with this theory, I can weave my way through that gap...!"
"...I see. So, this is one of the answers that doesn't cause those two to contradict. Makes sense."
"See what I'm saying? You catch on pretty quick. It's nice that I don't have to explain."
"That's it...! The witch mentioned the names of 18 people one after another, and announced whether they were alive or dead. And on top of that, she announced that there were no humans other than the 18. There was a single illusion in there."
It wasn't guaranteed that the 18 names of people = the 18 people on the island.
"When she named off all 18 people and announced who was alive and who was dead, she hid the name of culprit X, and instead mixed in someone who wasn't on this island...! By doing that, even though the culprit was on the island, she was able to leave him out of the list of living or dead people! The person who was mixed in wasn't actually on the island, so he didn't count towards the total number of people on the island."
"By this, even though the culprit counted towards the total of 18 people on the island, it was possible for his name not to be listed! The two statements in red are completely independent, so this theory creates no contradictions...!"
"If someone's name was used to hide the existence of the culprit, that name must satisfy several conditions. First of all, even though this person isn't on the island, they've got to be someone we think is on the island. Otherwise, she wouldn't have been able to trick us."
"And it's best if this person happens to be dead. No alibi is more perfect than death. After all, at that point, the mystery was based on the fact that the crime was impossible for all 18 people. Is it something like that?"
"Yeah, that's it...! And, that person was... Grandfather. Right now, there's only one thing Kyrie-san can be about to say. We thought Grandfather was locked up in his study, saying that he didn't want to meet anyone, but there's a possibility that he's actually dead already, and that Uncle Krauss is lying when he claims that Grandfather's alive...!"
Maybe he was already dead, and Uncle Krauss and the others were conspiring together, trying to trick everyone...!!
"...If Kinzo dies, the distribution of the inheritance occurs. However, if Kinzo doesn't die...no, if he dies, but it isn't announced, the distribution of the inheritance won't take place."
"In other words, Uncle Krauss could have all of Grandfather's wealth to himself...! That's right, he's got more than enough motive!"
Maybe a 19th person X really doesn't exist on this island. But a person X existed. And that person was the 18th person!
"In other words, there were originally 17 people on this island, not 18. Then, an unknown person X snuck in and committed the crime."
"How's that, Beato?! Come out, I've just solved the final, biggest mystery from last time!!"
As Battler claimed that forcefully, the crisp sound of clapping came out of nowhere, and their surroundings turned bright, becoming the usual witch's tea room.
BGM: Organ Short #600 Million in C Minor
"Even a lump of concrete can stop thinking! So, you have now finally evolved into a being with intelligence."
"...You might say you've finally taken a step forward from the crying creature you were before, just licking my shoes and grinding your teeth. *cackle*cackle*!"
"...I can't believe that stupid wordplay threw me for so many loops last time. My lameness pisses even me off!"
"All right, Beato, time for a repetition request!! If you can announce that the 18 people on the island included Grandfather, just try and do iiiiiiiit!! Yeah, you can't. Because he was already dead. This is the end of your deceptiooooooooooon!!"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle* Ahhahahahahahahahahaha...!! Well now, what have we here? ...Shall I slice that in two with the red truth?"
"No, no, it might also be good to hold back for now and let you get all excited. If I'm going to push you off a cliff anyway, it would be more interesting to lure you to a higher place first. *cackle*!"
As Beato sneered obnoxiously, she looked like she was searching for an expression that would tick me off even more. As though she was saying that the answer I'd reached was impossibly ridiculous. Compared to me, annoyed as I was with the witch's attitude, Gretel had a blank and composed expression on her face. Almost as though she'd expected the witch to act that way.
"What's wrong, Beato?! Don't act so tough!! I asked if you can repeat it! Answer!!"
"...Stop it, Battler. The witch won't answer so easily. She won't do it until she thinks it'll benefit her."
"What?! What do you mean...?"
"You've been toyed with by this red truth in the games up until now, so the witch has used it many times. But now, the situation is different. You're trying to draw the red truth out of her... and are instead using it as your weapon. In this situation, there's no way the witch will keep firing off the red without reason. Right?"
"Gretel, or whoever you are. It seems your mind is quite sharp, unlike Battler's. What a fearsome enemy I've welcomed in."
"That is correct! When Battler hopes I'll use the red truth, do I have any responsibility to do so?!"
"No! I don't even have a crumb from that croissant you ate this morning's worth of responsibility to please yooooooou!!"
"Yes yes yes yes, that's the faaaaace! I started playing with the red truth just because I wanted to see that face! I have no reason to play around if it won't give me a chance to see you look like that...!"
"...Heheh. You just don't like losing, right? Just saying whatever you can to trick me because you can't answer my demand won't work!!"
"Don't be so full of yourself!! An answer like that could be cut to pieces without any effort!! But I won't go out of my way to speak in red. I won't say it because that's what you're asking me to do. Do you know why?"
"...You just said it. You want to push him off at the sweetest spot. This ill-natured witch is saying she won't use the red anymore, because that's what you want. In other words, she won't go along with this game of telling her to repeat things anymore."
BGM: Closed my Heart
"That's it. Basically, it's the witch's right to use the red truth as she pleases. She doesn't have to use it at whatever time the human side desires. But even that depends on the sitution."
"...The situation...? What do you mean...?"
"The witch has no responsibility to respond when you tell her to repeat something. But it does become her responsibility if and only if your claim can destroy the witch theory. After all, in this trial court without a judge, that which is not refuted becomes the truth."
"...Just like how the witch theory made by the witch... will instantly become truth if you collapse and stop thinking."
"Then, since she doesn't have a counterargument for my guess, that means it's right?! It's right that the culprit is the mysterious 18th person X, and Grandfather is already dead?!"
"...At least, until the witch argues back. Truth always loses to new truths farther in the future. The tricky part is that even the timing of the counterargument is up to the witch."
"...In other words, maybe your reasoning just now was correct, or maybe the witch is refraining from arguing back even though you're wrong. Or, the witch may be ignoring it because it doesn't shake the basis of the witch theory in the first place, but either way, we can't tell the difference at the current time. Is that more or less it?"
"*cackle*cackle*, *cackle*cackle*cackle*! Damn you, Lady Bernkastel, for throwing in such a troublesome piece. Thanks to that, I'm losing all my lines!"
"The witch has learned that she can respond to your demands to repeat phrases at a later time. Maybe you could even call it a delayed move."
"...Sh-She's messing with me... So, even if I announce some mistaken reasoning, there's a possibility that Beato will intentionally let me flounder about without denying that guess, and at the very end, when I propose an even more massive line of reasoning, she can cut it off at the base, and spin everything around...?!"
But since that bastard Beato learned this strange delay tactic, I can no longer confirm or deny my reasoning. This is like finally finding a staff that'll let me search around in the darkness, only to lose it right away. I'm just stuck now, right...?!!
"Hey, hey, Battler, if you make a despairing face like that, I won't be able to stop drooling, you see♪ From the beginning, that staff was nothing more than something I gave you because you were so worthless."
"All this means is that you can finally challenge me without a handicap, right? Kuhihihihihihihihi!"
"...But that alone doesn't change the fact that demanding that you repeat things is one of Battler's ways to fight back. As I already said, as long as it's something fatal that'll destroy the witch theory, the witch is obligated to argue back, and therefore, to speak with the red truth. While the timing of that counterargument is up to the witch, it must be performed eventually. Isn't that right?"
"Hmm, that may be so. If I cannot deny the 'tricks done by humans' theory Battler lays out by the time the game ends, Battler will use that as a reason to deny me, and it will be possible for him to proclaim his victory."
"...So, should we view this as a restriction on the witch's side...? That the 'trick theory' laid out by the human side, in other words, what he tells you to repeat, must be countered during the game (during the episode)?"
"That is so. Battler's goal is to show that he can explain the entire pleasant game I have laid out on this island with humans and deny me. If Battler succeeds in that, at that time, he will become the victor of this game."
"Let me confirm the rules. Should we view the time the game ends as referring to 24:00 on October 5, 1986, going by the time of the Rokkenjima in the game?"
"I have no problems with that."
"At the time the game ends, the human side must state a theory using tricks for all of the mysteries, and if the witch side cannot argue back, the human side can proclaim its victory. Does that work?"
"...Let us be more specific. When the game ends, the witch side will be given a chance to argue back."
"Let's decide on an amount of time. One minute. If you cannot carry out your counterargument within one minute, victory will be proclaimed."
"Then allow me to impose the same rule on you. At the time the game ends, the human side will be granted one minute to counter the mysteries it has been given. If even a single mystery has not been countered within that time, it becomes the witch's victory, and that game is over. It would be such a killjoy to have the game stopped for lengthy consideration, right?"
"...You asshole. Moving things along without me... But I more or less get what's going on. Even if the lines I demand that you repeat aren't countered instantly, they've gotta be countered eventually."
"Yes, that's right. And that must happen before 00:01 on October 6."
"...But be careful. She only has to cut up one of the things you tell her to repeat. You can't proclaim your victory unless you solve all the puzzles."