Part 125: Ushiromiya Kinzo III
When 410 scratched the air with her finger, a golden bow appeared in empty space, and she pulled its string.
BGM: Golden Slaughterer
Flesh and deep-red blood scattered around, leaving massive red spatter marks on the relatives' faces and the pure white tablecloth.
Silence fell. Despite the massive number of deep-red spots left on the tablecloth, no one could understand why Natsuhi's head was half smashed, nor why she was hanging her head as though dozing while still sitting, and they watched on in silence. Those sitting on Natsuhi's right-hand side were silent for a relatively long time, but those sitting to her left were not. Because the people sitting on that side had been shown how her head had been smashed open like a watermelon or a pomegranate... and could even see inside her...
"...One down. Natsuhi, is it? A luckless woman to the end. Next!"
After scratching the empty air in the same way and readying her bow, 00 fired as well.
This time, everyone managed to avoid freezing up mentally. They realized that a fearsome murder had started playing out right in front of them, just as Kinzo had said. And they realized that Kinzo would probably kill even more...!
Shrill screams burst out. Even so, they didn't know what to do. So they could only keep screaming and flapping their wide-open mouths like goldfish...
"...F-Father, what do you think you're doing...?"
"...Y-You fool!! Run now!!"
As Eva asked Kinzo that in total shock, Hideyoshi, who had come to his senses faster than anyone else and risen to his feet, pulled at her arm from behind.
Just like the two before him, half of Hideyoshi's head was neatly smashed, and the right side of his head, which had happened to be facing that direction at the time, had been blown away with its contents exposed like a watermelon or a pomegranate. So, still holding Eva, Hideyoshi slumped backwards and fell down. Still held by her beloved husband, Eva fell over backwards with him.
"Dear...? Dear...?! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk!!!"
Eva screamed. It was only natural. The face she had been looking for... had been half lost, and the crushed skull, the mashed brains, and the crushed jaw all lay bare...
"45, Impact, it's a hit...!"
"Spectacular. Fire again. Three more remain."
"F-Father...!! Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-What... what... is this supposed to be?!?!"
When Krauss stood up forcefully and was about to rush Kinzo, 00 blocked him. With her slender-looking body, she held back Krauss with just the palm of her right hand. He still tried to resist and attack Kinzo, so 00 lifted Krauss by the nape of the neck and twisted into his Adam's apple with her thumb. It seemed to be very painful, and Krauss was overcome with agony.
"Gghh, oooooooohhhh...!!! Everyone, run...!! Get the police...! An ambulance...!! Quickly...!!"
"Everyone, let's escape!! Escape!!"
Nanjo's sharp words finally dissolved the spell that had been holding them down in their chairs. When Gohda and Kumasawa each tried to escape from the dining hall first, 410 moved in an instant and appeared there, blocking the way.
Even though Gohda didn't understand, he crouched when he heard Kyrie's sharp voice. Then, a burst of air rushed above his head. Kyrie had taken a big swing with a chair to mow 410 down. But 410, still with a mocking expression, easily caught that widely swung chair with a single hand.
"What a scary woman nyeh. You really wanna go the same way as your husband that muuch?"
From the cuff of her arm where she had caught the chair, something like a shining golden snake appeared, wrapped itself around the chair, and burst open. It was a fearsome power, like a vice. When Kyrie realized that the being in front of her, which looked like a girl, was actually something that surpassed Human knowledge and that a Human could not even begin to oppose, her head was filled with a fierce alarm bell that welled up from deep inside her...
Genji, Shannon, and Kanon, all of the servants permitted to wear the One-Winged Eagle, continued to stand calmly at attention by the wall, even with a scene like this before their eyes, making them look very bizarre and eerie. For an instant, Kyrie thought that they'd managed to stay calm because they were with the enemy... and had been given a guarantee that they wouldn't be killed.
"45, Impact, it's a hit...!"
"...Hohoh, Genji, how unfortunate. Rest in peace, my friend. *cackle*cackle*cackle* Your death will not be wasted. You will become one of the 13 keys essential to the resurrection of my beloved witch. Fuhhahahahahahahaha..."
The half of Genji's expression that remained... was as indifferent as ever. He tilted, fell over, and sent a blood-red splatter out across the floor...
"...We're nothing more... than the witch's pieces. Nothing more, nothing more..."
From the meek and frustrated... no, resigned expressions on Shannon and Kanon's faces, one couldn't sense any naive hopes that they'd be rescued. That's right. Kinzo was, in the truest sense, carrying out these murders at random. In the truest sense, he was killing like it was a game to see who would be saved and who would be killed.
"Weeell then, whoo'll we go for next nyeh? Nihhihi!!"
410 looked at Kyrie for a second. In that second, Kyrie was prepared for her own death. But when she readied her golden bow in midair, 410 was looking at someone else over Kyrie's shoulder. So, as imprudent as it was, Kyrie felt as though she had been saved...
Again, an ugly, exploding, popping sound rang throughout the room. Who was it this time?
When Kyrie turned to face the direction of the sound...
Of course, her face had been half smashed just like her husband's... 410 had mercilessly targeted Eva as she'd clung to her husband's corpse, sobbing.
"L-Let go of Nii-san...!! Let go of Nii-san...!! Just stop it, Father!! Just stop this brutality!!"
"...Run away, Rosa... Ggh, ack...!"
Rosa's objection didn't reach Kinzo as he continued to laugh loudly in the blood-spattered dining hall, and she wasn't able to lessen Krauss's pain at being lifted up by the nape of the neck by 00. So, Rosa had no choice but to use force. She lifted up a chair beside her and gave a warning.
"Father...!! Order her to let go of Nii-san! Just stop them from doing this!!"
"I cannot. If that is what you desire, then prevent it using your own power. Cut a path through to your own fate with your own hands. You who have always hid behind the backs of others in fear, let me see you overcome your weakness one last time in your life...!! Fuhhahahahahahahahaha!!!"
It was the greatest... and final... act of bravery and self-control in Rosa's life. What Kinzo had said might have been true. If she had grasped that courage much sooner, her life might have become more free, unrestrained by anyone else.
Then, there was a bursting sound. The sound of Rosa's chair fiercely hitting Kinzo... could not have been this.
Still holding Krauss up with one hand, 00 had stuck her other hand out towards Rosa. The golden snake released from that arm... had constricted Rosa in a helix... and had smashed into her head.
"...Defensive Firing. I apologize for the discourtesy of shooting so close to you, sir."
"I care not. Hmm, so this makes six people."
"Yes, Lord Goldsmith. This makes six people."
When she indifferently communicated that, 00 let go of Krauss, whom she had been lifting up this whole time.
"Indeed. So, the sacrifices of the first twilight were Eva, Rudolf, Rosa, Natsuhi, Hideyoshi, and Genji. *cackle*cackle*cackle*!!"
It was a massacre that happened in an instant. The interior of the dining hall had been dirtied by blood spatter, and the six unlucky victims lay with their heads brutally exposed. In a way that was fitting for that abnormal space, Kinzo's abnormal laugh alone echoed out...
"Hahhahahahahaha, wahhahahahahahahahahahahaha!! The curtain has finally risen! The ceremony to revive Beatrice has begun...!!"
"You lucky ones who have managed to escape the first twilight, allow me to introduce you to my friends. Arise, my friend! Ronove...!!"
When Kinzo called Ronove's name, the demon butler showed himself in midair, bowing respectfully...
BGM: Happiness or Marionette
"Pay it no mind. It takes a stimulant of this level to wake me from my daydream-like days. Allow me to introduce my friend, a reliable butler and one of the 72 Great Demons, Ronove."
"I am pleased to make your acquaintance."
Just who was he making that introduction to? Krauss and Kyrie, who were still down on their backsides, and Nanjo, Gohda and Kumasawa... could only look up at this middle-aged gentlemen they didn't know in shock... Only Shannon and Kanon seemed to recognize him, and they bowed deeply...
"...So, I wasn't able to greet Genji. I hope he was at least able to fulfill his purpose painlessly."
"It was an instant death from a direct hit to the head...! He didn't have time to feel the pain."
"Is that so? Very well."
"Allow me to introduce another friend. Arise, my friend, Virgilia...!!"
Once again, a silhouette of someone the relatives didn't know appeared from empty space. She appeared in a refined dress while making an elegant greeting.
"Allow me to introduce her too. This is both my friend and a reliable counselor, Virgilia. I desire to borrow your great power as the Witch of the Finite. Lend it to me!"
"...Even if I tried to refuse, such a thing wouldn't be permitted for one subordinated by the power of your summonings. As you wish, Master."
"...Still, what a fearsome fellow. To think he summoned three of the Chiester Sisters Corps, then me, and even Virgilia... Even though it's only in the area of summoning, to think that he surpasses Milady so thoroughly... How frightening. I can't help but shudder at the Ushiromiya blood."
"In order to carry out Beatrice's resurrection ceremony, I shall give it my all as a summoner. This still isn't enough. In order to perfectly succeed in the ceremony this time, I shall summon more."
"The Pendragon Memorial Troops and Ronove and Virgilia... I can still call more... With my magical power, I can still call many more...!!"
"Gaap...? You can even materialize her...?"
"It probably means that the corrosion has advanced even more on this island. It had already proceeded far enough to materialize us. By now, we shouldn't be surprised no matter how great a demon he summons."
"Has Rokkenjima already been completely sucked into a parallel world then? I hope he does not surrender."
"...He learned a lot last time, correct? After all this time, he won't surrender over this much. Probably, I should say. Pu ku ku! Well then, shall we enjoy the stage we now stand upon? It seems the main character is the Master this time. Let us expect a script of a different flavor than Milady's."
And with a sound like glass breaking, a new demon could be seen there.
"...You did well to answer to my call. Gaap, one of the 72 Great Demons...!"
BGM: Happy Maria! (instrumental)
The literally devilish woman, wrapped in a venomous, ominous costume, looked at the scene which should have made her cover her eyes, and twisted her mouth in a grin...
"To summon you for such a reason... would be like using a cashmere muffler to mop the floor."
"It's been a long time, Gaap. To think that a Great Demon such as yourself has finally appeared on this island. Perhaps this island is finally submerging completely into fantasy."
"This all-star cast is even more surprising than the gruesome state of the room. A full three Chiester Sisters, the Great Demon Ronove, the Great Witch Virgilia, and even me."
"What's going on? Is this Pandemonium? Are you trying to start a concert from hell or something? I see, as a conductor for that, I couldn't think of anyone better than you, Goldsmith."
"I will have your assistance as facilitator in the completion of my ceremony to resurrect Beatrice. You have no objections to my summoning contract, correct...?"
"Of course not. There's no way I could resist the subordinating power of the legendary Great Summoner, Lord Goldsmith, who forced the famous Great Witch Beatrice to do his bidding."
"...I'll assist you. Although I will of course ask a fitting price. So? What's my first job?"
"Capture the cowards who made it through the first twilight. Fortunately, there are still seven here, aren't there? Nanjo, Shannon, Kanon, Gohda, Kumasawa, Kyrie, and Krauss...!"
"Hoh, if these seven are all offered as sacrifices, that's exactly 13 people! Until it's time for the second and later twilights to be carried out, throw them into the cage of sacrifices, *cackle*!!"
"...A cashmere mop, huh? Understood."
As Gaap shrugged her shoulders, she looked at Krauss, who was still down on his butt. She glared.
There was no hole in the floor. But it had certainly looked as though Krauss had been swallowed up by a hole and disappeared...
Searching for her next prey, Gaap's gaze crossed Kyrie's. She snapped her fingers. Kyrie jumped back as though repelled. Her instincts had been right. After all, in the place where she'd been until a second ago, a round, jet-black hole had appeared, the same kind that had swallowed up Krauss.
Even Kyrie had no way of eluding Gaap's capture.
When she snapped her fingers again, a shocked Nanjo was swallowed up by the floor and disappeared. When she did it again, 410 let out a short yell and jumped back. This time, a slightly larger pitfall had opened, swallowing both Shannon and Kanon, who had been standing in a line by the door.
But because 410 had jumped away from the door, the way was no longer blocked. Instinctively aware that he would be next, Gohda dashed out through that door. Of course, Kumasawa also escaped with lightning speed, chasing after Gohda. As Gaap snapped her fingers over and over, round, jet-black pitfalls opened one after another behind them, chasing them. However, they did nothing but drive the recklessly fleeing pair away... and couldn't swallow them up.
Gohda and Kumasawa had escaped in a matter of seconds...
"Don't worry, we are currently locking onto the escapee targets."
"Data Link ready. Nihi! Shall we snipe?"
"No, I cannot authorize that. They are precious sacrifices. Wait for the Master's authorization."
"Great Lord Goldsmith...! We await your orders...!"
"It is still too soon for the coming of the second twilight... is what the source of my magical power is whispering to me. It must not be now. Let them do as they please. It isn't as though they can escape from this island."
"The source of the Master's magical power is noise and risk and tests of luck. Hohohoh, in other words, it means being fickle, it would seem."
"*cackle* Perhaps you could also put it that way. Good work, Gaap. Let us steadily advance the ceremony from here on."
"...Well then, that is that. Next are my grandchildren. I will test them to see whether they are qualified to become my successor. Let's see, how shall I test their qualifications? *cackle*cackle*...!!"
"If you decide that they're qualified, do you intend to abandon Beato's resurrection?"
"Of course. And despite that, I will test them. Hmph, perhaps a woman cannot understand that contradiction, nor my madness. *cackle*cackle*..."
"...Well apparently, men are as weird as ever. I don't get the very concept of playing around with risk."
"Oh my, and I thought you loved that sort of thing."
"Of course. If a man whispers to me about dangerous risks and love, I go head over heels. But only if he's hot!"
"Pu ku ku ku ku ku...!"
"Be quiet. Try to refrain from whispering."
"Hmph, truly noisy women. But at least they aren't boring. This is what makes summoning so pleasant. All of you will bear one side of the scales of noise and risk in my ceremony. That is the work I expect of you...!"
Six brutally murdered corpses lay in the dining hall, and it was contaminated with red, gruesome decorations... It was now unimaginable that, until just a second ago, 13 humans had been arranged here in a well-organized manner. Kinzo lined up the famous demons and their subordinates, loudly declared the beginning of a night of overwhelming mass murders, and swore to himself that he would certainly revive Beatrice and open the door to the Golden Land...
BGM: Golden Slaughterer
"Damn... Always killing in a grotesque way, as usual... Smashing half of their heads?! The bad taste you witches and demons have always pisses me off...!"
"Smashing half of their heads... I see. So, she's realized that, in the games up until now, that's been the most ideal method of killing."
"Ideal? How is such a grotesque way of killing ideal?!"
"You...! So, you're that new demon or whatever that just appeared... Damn, so does this mean that the witch's corrosion continued, and there are now even more creeps wandering around...?!"
...The more the witch's corrosion advances, the more Rokkenjima tilts towards the spirit world. That's why strange, insane people keep appearing one by one. This island has been closed off by the typhoon, so no Human can leave it, much less appear as a new character to increase their numbers. But the more the corrosion advances, the more witches and demons can appear, without limit. Increasing one by one. By now, there might be more demons than Humans among the characters appearing in this insane tale. Their numbers might be the thing that represents this mad corrosion.
Yeah, I'm sure that's true. And the corrosion hasn't just affected the number of people, but apparently their fashion sense as well. If the corrosion advances any further and even more weird people appear, just what in the world will they be wearing? It's so scary I can't imagine...
...Aaaah, seriously, give me a break... Don't make these weird guys increase in number anymore...!!
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*! I can't do that, they'll keep increasing more and more!! I'll defile the foolish 'closed circle' rule Humans speak of, over and over again...!"
"Welcome to my elegant game, Gaap!"
"...It's been a long time, Riiche. Have you been well?"
"...Why do I ask, you look great! Have you gotten younger? You look two or three hundred years younger than when I last saw you... Ah, I see."
The demon Grandfather had summoned and introduced as Gaap... took a glance at me, and then grinned as though she'd figured something out on her own. That smile felt openly obscene.
"I guess she's Beato's friend. Which means she's gotta be a creep among creeps."
"By the way, they were saying something about a closed circle or whatever, but what does that mean?"
"Serial murder mystery novels that occur in places isolated from the outside world, like Rokkenjima is now, are sometimes called closed circles. Since such a place is isolated from the outside, it's like a circle that's closed. Therefore, in general, the characters and suspects are limited in number."
"Having new suspect candidates added on one after another from outside the circle goes against the etiquette of mystery novels. In other words, the witch is probably trying to desecrate Humans and the mystery genre itself."
"...You're Gretel? I see, you look like a wise kid. *giggle* I love kids like you. You taste so sweet and tantalizing."
"Gross. Keep the jokes to your clothing."
"It's <Devilish Pretty>'s newest, <Jack the Ripper, Christmas Blood>. Sorry for having a style that a country bumpkin from the Human world couldn't understand, okay?"
"...At least we know it's well-ventilated. Why don't you add a gap to the head part as well? Let a little air into your brain."
"Gaap is always sensitive to the fashions of the spirit world! But this year's fad truly is bold. I think I'll order one sometime...!"
"For you, Riiche, I'd recommend Ali-Gray, <Alice and the Graveyard>. Let's go to 666 sometime soon to look at the clothes. You really should drop by the spirit world every now and then."
"When this game is over, I'll be sure to do that. *cackle*cackle*!"
"...Still, your two opponents are pretty cute, Riiche. It looks like this kid has figured out the meaning of the corpses with their heads half smashed. Know what that is, girl...?"
"...Just now, she told me to remember the first game. What did that mean...?"
"Just what it sounds like. Remember the first twilight of the very first game. When the adults' corpses were found in the gardening shed with the magic circle drawn on it. Remember?"
Krauss, Rudolf, Kyrie, Rosa, Shannon, and Gohda... All six of them had their heads pulverized and died...
"At that time, there were two types of corpses. Some had their faces pulverized, and some had half of their faces pulverized."
"That's right. The ones with their faces smashed were Rudolf, Kyrie, Rosa, and Gohda. The ones with the sides of their heads smashed were Krauss and Shannon. At the time, I fickly created two types of corpses, but I realized that the former, more atrocious type was actually disadvantageous for me."
"...Disadvantageous for you...? I see. So that's what this is."
That's right. The smashed faces might look atrocious. But that made it hard to confirm the identity of each person.
That alone was atrocious enough, but because half of their faces remained, it was easy to confirm their identities. But Dad and the other three were different. Because his face had been completely destroyed, even I, as his son, could only guess by inference that it had to be Dad because of his clothes and the like. In short, it remained vague until the end whether that really had been Dad's corpse.
"If this reasoning battle had taken place during the first game as well, I would probably have claimed that, since the identities of Dad and the rests' bodies were impossible to confirm, there was a possibility that one was a fake corpse. After all, Beato didn't state anything in red during that game."
"Well done. Correct. A faked death is one of the basics of the mystery genre. Even if you make a doctor examine the corpse, you can't trust the results if you suspect him of being the culprit's accomplice. Therefore, corpses that can't guarantee a death for certain are always disadvantageous for the witch's side."
"You can suspect faked deaths for all corpses, hypothesizing that one or more of them is the culprit for the crimes that follow. It's a move Battler doesn't like, but it's the most elementary move to use against a witch."
"Yeah, that's right. That's why Beato started using the red. With the red truth, she can carry out a perfect autopsy."
"*cackle*cackle*! That's how it is. Normally, for the first twilight, I would use the red truth right away, confirming the deaths of these six. However, as you know, my battle strategy this time is the complete opposite of previous games, and I'll now use red truth starvation tactics...!"
"Since you use it as a grounding from which to counterattack, I will not use the red easily. I'll make you come apart at the seams by using red in just a single place, as rarely as possible! In the end, it means I will permit all rants regarding your guesswork for all the closed rooms, and I only have to smash one of those once with the red truth."
"Ihihi! Even though you've always teased me, once I start counterattacking, you now hole up back inside your shell. Quit kidding around."
"At any rate, I do not want to use the red, I want to be stingy! I want to bully Battleeer!! But how could I guarantee a death for certain without using red? I worried and worried over it. Then, Gaap gave me an idea! It truly is a simple method. *cackle*cackle*!"
"...I just pointed out something obvious and you hit upon the idea, Riiche. I simply said that you only had to create corpses whose identity could be distinguished and whose complete death would be understood."
"Kuhhihihihi! In short, I put those two things together! The face, which is necessary to distinguish their identity, and the pulverization of the head, the vessel for the soul, which is the perfect symbol of death! When I put those two parts neatly together, aah, wonderful! I came up with the perfect answer of corpses with their heads half-smashed!"
"I'll bet you love two-colored bread and two-colored ice cream. You're just like a greedy kid..."
"...At any rate, even if half of their heads are smashed, we shouldn't assume that they're dead at this point in time."
"I get it. Since Beato is trying to act tough and is refusing to say anything in red, we've gotta suspect everything. Of course, I'm definitely not gonna swallow the theory of magical mass murder by the sexy-assed Chiester babes."
"*giggle* You sure have gotten prudent. If this were the first game, you would've swallowed everything."
"*cackle*cackle*! I wouldn't have anything less from a rival. Since there is fortunately no red now, he can imagine whatever he wants and reason over and over again as he likes. At the very end, at the very sweetest spot, I'll cut him down at once with the red truth...!"