Part 110: Red Truth, Blue Truth II
"Blue... So I'll talk in blue when I tell you to repeat things...?"
"Not quite. When you told me to repeat lines, you were able to do it for any trivial thing. But the blue is a little more restrictive. Unless it by itself denies witches, it will not be valid."
It's starting to get confusing, but it's more or less something like this.
That had been to confirm that there really were 5 master keys, when she claimed there were no more than 5. But since that by itself wouldn't deny witches, I can't say it in blue.
So, in order to speak in blue, I'd need to say something like this...
...Only then would the witch, who claimed that this was a closed room murder made with magic, be responsible for making a counterargument. In other words, I can't demand that she repeat something that merely confirms the premises of my reasoning. That'll probably be a significant disadvantage for me. Crap... It's enough to make the red Beato used to toy with me until now look extremely merciful...
"...Are you gonna surrender before the fight begins again? Calm down. No one said you could only use the blue once for each mystery. Do you know what that means?"
"N-No. What does it mean...?"
"In the pitiful way you've been fighting up until now, you've made a single theory, glanced at the witch's complexion, and if that one didn't work, you'd then start making another theory. You won't corner a witch like that."
"Then how should I fight...? You don't mean..."
"Yeah, that's right. You don't attack her riddles with a point. You assault them with a wall. You said so yourself in an earlier game, that the force of your reasoning should be like that."
Guessing and trying to expose the mystery is like trying to shoot a distant target with an arrow. Until now, I've just been shooting off arrow after arrow, asking the witch if I scored a hit, and then preparing my bow again once I'm told that I've missed. There's no way I'll hit at that rate...
Bullets might be a better example than arrows. If you take one shot after another at a distant target with a handgun, you probably won't hit it easily. So how can you hit it? If a handgun doesn't work, use a shotgun! Instead of a single bullet, beat her down with 'shot' comprised of countless projectiles at once...! Shot scatters, so it impacts a wide area. That makes it optimal for shooting small, fast targets like birds. That's right, there's no rule that says I have to guess like a pistol, shooting one shot off at a time.
...Making a single theory and just hoping that it hits is no better than stopping your own thinking. Blast away with a massive number of bullets, of guesses, and make them impact like a wall, so that only one of them hitting the target is enough.
"I see, so it's an awkward gun that fires many shots. *cackle*cackle*! That sort of crude analogy is just like you."
"The climax of a detective novel is always the same. The famous detective gathers all the suspects at once and displays a single trail of logic that works splendidly. Almost like William Tell spectacularly shooting through an apple with a single arrow. That's why I mistakenly took that to be a virtue."
...It probably would be splendid. If I could shoot through the truth with a single guess. But, that isn't realistic. Look at real wars. Do they really have everyone pull long guns out of the trench, aim reeeally well, and take shots at each other one at a time? They don't, right?! They fire rapidly, they fire all over the place, they pin down the enemy with a barrage!
Reasoning is the same way. Because of that weird virtue, I've been stuck thinking it's better to take one line of reasoning at a time. We humans can fire off countless guesses and possibilities! The bullet is the power of imagination. Suspension of thought is a clogged barrel...!
The pathetic way I've been reasoning up until now is like a peashooter. I've been so lame, weakly firing off shots, getting them denied in red, and then taking the next bullet and reloading. My 'blue truth', which claims that humans and tricks are what's real, will overpower its target, the illusion told by the witch, with its firepower and the force of what I can imagine...!
"...Thanks to you, I've figured out my true fighting style. Thanks, Gretel!!"
"Makes me think of how pathetic I was before."
"...Yeah, it's like Beato said. I've had a handicap up until now. I'll acknowledge that...!! New rule, understood!! I have my own way of fighting! I'll show it to you!!"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!! That willpower is good, I like it! Then, try using it right away, this blue truth of yours...!!"
"...Yeah, I'll use it. With this blue truth, I'll break apart your witch theory, which states that only a witch culprit was possible because everyone had alibis!!"
BGM: At Death's Door
"Th-That is correct, this is worse than ridiculous!! I have never heard such an insult!!"
"It'd even be possible for us to check by force whether he's alive or dead, with the police there to witness it. Isn't that right, Eva nee-san...?"
"...Y-Yes... That's right, Nii-san. There are all sorts of ways we could set you up. We could easily arrange for a situation where you'd have to hold a meeting with Father under the supervision of a third party...!"
"Still, I think that would bring a lot of shame to the Ushiromiya family. That's why I'm making this proposal. Here we have the responsibilities and duties of the caretaker. And a penalty in the worst-case scenario. If you consent to those terms, we'll be able to refrain from doing something like dragging Father outside."
"...Yeah, that's right, Aniki... Didn't you just say it yourself...? You're carrying out your natural duties as Dad's caretaker. Kyrie's conditions shouldn't be anything to worry about, right? Why this overreaction? Are you really that worried about having the position of Successor dragged out from under you if Dad dies something other than a natural death?"
"Or else, what? Do you have some reason to think Father might die something other than a natural death...?"
"How could I? I see, now I too understand how Father feels. How pitiful his later years have been for him, unable even to die as he pleases."
"Yes, his later years truly have been pitiful. And the thought that these 'later years' are already something of the past is exactly what we're suspecting. You could completely clear this suspicion away just by letting us meet with Father. So, even after being humiliated by us this much, you still won't allow us to meet with him, Krauss nii-san...?"
"Father is probably already dead. The corpse may have been disposed of in absolute secrecy. And after taking all of the wealth for yourself as Father's agent, you will make it seem that he 'disappeared' until seven years pass, making Father a corpseless member of the deceased."
"...I'm sorry, but please don't take it badly, okay? I'm just playing detective here."
"...H-How rude can one be?!! You have no right to stay in this mansion!! Leave immediately!! I won't permit you to cross the threshold of this house again!!"
"It worked last year, but you've used up your luck if you thought it'd work this year too. Father is in a bad mood, so he can't meet with us? That was plenty suspicious last year, and yet you're doing it again. If you really wanted to fake being Father's agent and grab up all his assets, you should've done it a little more speedily, making him disappear without waiting for today's family conference. You really are naive, Krauss onii-sama..."
"...I have no idea what you are-"
"However! If it's a fact that Father's in a bad mood, and you're preventing us from meeting him as part of your responsibilities as his caretaker, then it's a very wonderful thing you're doing. In that case, if you just accept our conditions, everything will be settled here and now. After all, you care so greatly for Father, Krauss nii-san. There's no way Father will die in a manner that leads to trouble during the autopsy. Father hates hospitals, so he'll pass away in his study, right? An autopsy will certainly be carried out no matter what happens. The only way to kill him without an autopsy would be for him to disappear."
"...Enough, Kyrie-san. I think you've bullied Nii-san enough."
Eva rebuked Kyrie in an sickeningly kind voice. Considering the situation, that was impossible. Which is why it was sickening...
"...Yes, that's right. She might have made light of Krauss nii-san's pride as the eldest son a little too much. I'd feel bad for him if we were to force him to sign a statement regarding the duties of the caretaker as Kyrie-san has laid them out."
"That's right. You're doing a good job, Aniki. Taking that into account, we might consider avoiding all that about signing strange papers and worst-case penalties... and leave everything to you."
Not just Eva, but Rudolf and Rosa as well, with unnerving smiles on their faces as though they'd planned this beforehand, began closing in on Krauss. They now understood perfectly how Kyrie had cornered Krauss... and exactly where she was prepared to compromise...
"...We were talking about a signed statement regarding the responsibilities of the caretaker. But, even without signing such a thing, you can make it so that we'll never demand a meeting with Father again. If you can prove your fitness as Father's caretaker with a form of guarantee other than a signed statement, that is."
BGM: Fishy Aroma
"The security money will be paid to Eva-san, Rudolf-san, and Rosa-san, 3 billion yen each. As a deposit, you will transfer ten percent of that, 300 million yen, before the year is out."
"9 billion?! I don't have that kind of money!!!"
"After Father passes away, you should be able to work it out. We've managed to investigate at least that far. You should be able to handle the deposit of 900 million yen in your current financial situation."
"And it should even be possible for you to borrow it from Father, right? There's no need for obvious charades anymore."
"...H-How unpleasant. Truly unpleasant...!!"
"I-It is at that!! Even just the discussion of Father's inheritance was far too disrespectful! Father is already dead? My husband is hiding that and keeping all the money for himself?! I have had enough of this!! None of you are qualified to bear the name Ushiromiya any longer!!"
"Calm down, Natsuhi-san...! We've all said all we need to! Why don't we leave it at that for now...?! This is happinin' all of a sudden and on a massive scale. We might even be gettin' agitated ourselves! Why don't we take a break for a while and cool our heads? Krauss nii-san probably needs a little time himself. Right, Krauss nii-san?"
"...Time...? And why would I need something like that?"
"Don't worry, don't worry! We aren't thinkin' of anythin' shady! We're just so eager to see Father that we've started grumblin' a bit...! And Krauss nii-san, I know reeeal well how you're dyin' to get back at us for the things we've said...! If you're willin' to go so far, then you just need to let us meet with him! Right? Isn't that right? You just got a bit stubborn, and it felt awkward to say you'd let us see him after sayin' we couldn't all those times. Isn't that it? Right? Right?"
"...I-It certainly does seem that my husband has lost his composure slightly, just like the rest of you have. We were only refusing stubbornly out of respect for Father's desire not to meet with everyone."
"...Indeed, that's right. It was turning into another sibling fight like the old days, and I started feeling stubborn as well. Let us cool our heads. I understand how much you all want to meet with Father. I will pass that on to him. I'll find some way to convince Father to meet with you. Will that do?"
"...Yeah. I think it'd be okay to give Krauss nii-san some time to persuade Father."
"Yep. We're counting on you, Aniki. Please persuade him to meet with us. After all, you're Dad's caretaker."
"And as for persuading him, let's set a limit on it to sometime tonight, okay? When tomorrow comes, we'll confirm Father's well-being, even if we have to break down the door to his study. You have no problems with that, I take it? Nii-san...?"
"...Do as you like. I see, it seems even the time I've been given to persuade him is short. Let us go, Natsuhi. We shall ask him to join us for dinner at least."
Krauss left the parlor with Natsuhi. Once their footsteps disappeared, Hideyoshi took a deep breath, smirking and flopping onto the sofa...
"Sorry for speaking out of turn. I apologize."
"...No, no. You didn't corner him like we'd originally planned, but in the end, this was even better. Just like always, I've gotta bow my head to you..."
"But...can he really prepare 900 million...? I believe we estimated that 750 million would be the most Krauss nii-san could afford with his current financial situation... Isn't 900 million gouging him too much...?"
"If he can't do it, that's fine too. If we do something like lowering it to 750 million so Krauss nii-san can save face, it'll look like we're compromising and it'll be easier to settle, right? And if he really does come out with 900 million, that's even better."
"Nii-san is probably having a strategy meeting with Natsuhi-san about now. really will be interesting to see what kind of twisted logic our proud Nii-san comes up with as an excuse."
"Convince Father...? There's no way he can."
Krauss and Natsuhi could be seen in Kinzo's dimly lit study. Every once in a while, thunder could be heard, and the dimly lit room flickered with light. It seemed that the island would be closed off by the storm very soon.
"...Father...! Please, just this once, show those disrespectful people the majesty of the Head...!"
BGM: Happiness of Marionette - Bonus
The large shadow of a person standing by the window, his majestic back facing them, answered quietly and forcefully. He hung his head and shook. Eventually, they could hear a mumbling laugh over his shoulder.
...Three months left to live...? An almost finished geezer...? To whom exactly are you referring?
As Kinzo turned and brushed his cape, it flashed forcefully through the room's stale air. That air pressure truly signified Ushiromiya Kinzo's majesty and willpower itself. After being blown back by that wind, it wasn't strange that Krauss landed on his butt. As though showing consideration for Krauss, who looked as though his legs had been swept out from under him, Natsuhi also crouched down.
Then, with a *thunk*, *thunk*, Kinzo's footsteps approached with a heft that signified his dignity.
"Yoou fooooooooool...!! I heard from Kanon. Just how far did you pathetically let your siblings lead you around by the nose?!?!"
"F-Father...! My husband is doing his best to protect your honor..."
Without lending an ear to Natsuhi's words, Kinzo extended his palm to Krauss's collar, as the latter sat on the floor. No, he curled his fingers, leaving only his pointer finger out, then took that finger and... pressed it up against Krauss's collar, twisted it, and slowly, with just one finger, picked Krauss up into the air.
Krauss clawed at the air. Kinzo's brawny finger was choking him. He couldn't even open his mouth, much less talk. However, even if he had been able to open his mouth, as he was now, there was no way he'd be able to think up an excuse that Kinzo would accept... Still, how could this power be described...? No one would call Kinzo an old man after seeing this superhuman strength...
"...Father...!! My husband is fighting in his own way...!! Please, forgive him...!!"
"...Natsuhii. Fighting is a process you go through before winning. The process you go through before losing isn't called fighting."
"Just one word, we call that humiliation!! Wahhahahahahahahaha, you call this my successor? Wahhahahahahahaha, wahhahhahhahahahahahahahhaaaaaaah!!"
As thunder roared, Kinzo laughed heartily as though nothing could be more pleasant. And when he finished laughing, he threw his son away like he was scrap paper, slamming him against the wall...
"Dear, dear...!! Are you okay..."
Krauss slid down the wall, rubbing his throat as though in pain... Natsuhi ran up to him and looked after him... But without showing any interest in the two of them, Kinzo returned to the space near the window, as though he had been there the whole time, and looked up at the thunderclouds of misfortune.
BGM: Fishy Aroma
"...It was promised from the beginning that nothing received from the witch would remain. However, the Ushiromiya name is not the property of the witch. ...Who is fit to succeed that name? It seems that this alone must be resolved by my own hand. Rejoice, Krauss!! I have changed my mind."
"I have no desire to have dinner with you cowards. However, I will attend the family conference afterwards!"
"F-Father... Thank you very much...!"