Part 129: Dungeon II
However, just as Krauss had worried, there was nothing that could be done about the beautiful wide window in the first floor lounge. If someone broke that, it would be easy to get inside. It wouldn't be hard for someone like Kinzo, who hadn't hesitated at committing murder, to invade the first floor.
"I-I have heard that the Master has a collection of working guns. That's right, guns, that was a gun... If so, it must have been a horribly powerful gun...! W-We can't contend with that at all...!"
"...It takes a lot of force to smash someone's head open, right? So it might be a magnum bullet or something like that. That'd probably go through a flimsy door like it was nothing."
"If so, then that's even more of a reason to hold out in our room... Let's slide a bed in place, and block the window too. If we do that much, then no matter how many guns they've got, they shouldn't be able to raid us."
"Crap, all we can do is this passive, one-sided defense. Dammit, dealing a finishing blow to Dad, and even capturing Kyrie, that's gonna cost you, you damn geezer...!"
"I-I-I-Impossible, there's no way we can compete with them...!! Besides, it's not just the Master, he has his underlings too! Th-There might even be more of them...! Just what... are they...?"
Battler was filled to the brim with the urge to get revenge for Rudolf... and to rush out of here to save Kyrie. But just by looking at how terrified Gohda was, there was no doubt in him that this would be reckless...
"Of course, I'm torn up about it too. It's not like I can remain calm with both of my parents murdered. But specifically because of that, I have to remain calm! Do you think our dead parents would want us to die in vain? There's no way they would! They'd want for at least their children to escape. So I will survive. And I'll report this to the police and uncover everything. I'll leave my enemies to the courts. That is my revenge. There's no way our parents would want us to die taking revenge for them. Right...?"
"...You're right... It's just as you say..."
"...Dammit, you old bastard, what's this about a ceremony...?! If we're supposed to be sacrifices for something like that, then we'll escape no matter what it takes, ruining this precious ritual of yours..."
"That's right. Besides, you still have Kyrie-san, Battler-kun. And I still have Shannon. Anyway, let's be cautious and wait for our chance. Any careless actions on our part might just end up causing harm to those who have been captured."
"...Hostages, huh? But Grandfather captured them so he could use them as sacrifices, right?! If we don't go and save them, then are we just waiting for them to get killed?!"
"We don't even know where the dungeon they're being held in is...! Shannon and Kanon-kun didn't know about it, and of course Gohda-san and Kumasawa-san didn't know either. The possibility that they're in a secret location that only Grandfather knows of is incredibly high. Under these circumstances, aimlessly wandering about would be practically suicidal!"
"...I-I understand... But still, dammit, are you saying the only thing we can do is stay confined here until something happens...?"
"Grandfather has a number of subordinates, and they're all armed, correct...?"
"...Y-Yes, he does. And they're probably... all armed..."
Gohda had been able to say that Kinzo had comrades with him, but he hadn't been able to mention that they were mostly young women, like witches, who had used strange magic to murder. If he had said that, it would only have cast doubt on his sanity... No, not only that, he himself still couldn't understand what he had seen, and was doubting his own sanity. But, regardless of sex or appearance, regardless of whether it was done with magic or a gun. The fact that those girls had followed Kinzo's orders... and killed six people in an instant... was an unshakable truth...
If that group came to attack the guesthouse as well, what would happen? Just closing the doors and windows like this was surely meaningless... Gohda... and Kumasawa... The only thing left for those two, who had witnessed that massacre in the dining hall, was to cradle their heads without knowing how to interpret what they had seen...
"H-Hohohohohoh... Thank you very much, thank you... I'm sorry, but may I be left with my thoughts for a little while...?"
Maria tried to be nice, but it seemed that Kumasawa still hadn't been able to clear away her confusion.
"...Maria, thanks for being so considerate. Let's let Kumasawa-san rest for now."
Jessica was also worried about the shock those two must have received after witnessing such a tragedy, but her wildest dreams couldn't even come close to the unbelievable scene Kumasawa had witnessed... Nevertheless, with her mother murdered and her father captured, it wasn't as though Jessica could stay calm either. She sealed her anxiety and sadness using her anger towards Kinzo... and walked irritatedly around the room.
"...Y-Yes... I've never seen such a... horrible way to die before..."
"Is it possible that she's still alive... and that if we fix her up, we could save her...?"
"...I-It's not possible for a person to have something like that done to their head... and live..."
"...Yeah, you're right... There's no need for first aid... once your head's smashed, usually..."
When Gohda had come flying into the guesthouse, he had, overcome with agitation, told about the massacre in the dining hall without concealing anything... Except for the part about witches and magic, which they themselves still couldn't believe. In other words, he hadn't even sugarcoated the cold-blooded way in which Natushi and the others had died. It was too late now, but Kumasawa regretted the fact that they'd obviously said too much...
However, while lightly shaking her head and with a slightly painful laugh, Jessica spoke.
"...Actually, thanks to what you told us, I was able to stay level-headed. If you'd avoided mentioning the part about her head being smashed, I would've thought she might still be alive. Then I would've run off towards the mansion, met Grandfather, and I might've gotten killed. That sliver of hope could've been fatal in the end... So I'm grateful."
"...I'm truly sorry... I'm so sorry we didn't choose our words more carefully..."
"Don't worry about that now. There's nothing we can do for Mom, but Dad's still alive. Kanon-kun and Shannon, and Aunt Kyrie and Doctor Nanjo too. I want to save them somehow, so we shouldn't do anything unnecessary that might make things worse for them. The most helpful thing we can do right now might be to wait by the phone."
They might receive a phone call asking them to create a diversion while the others escaped. Or, the others might discover their location and call for rescue. Jessica understood that in order to act promptly when that time came, the only thing they could do for the time being was to wait in this room...
BGM: Dead Angle
Each was holding various objects. George had things like drinks, canned food, crackers, and other types of snacks he had found in the lounge and a storage room, as well as a first aid kit. They were all consumables that would be essential during a seige. Gohda had a large folding ladder and carpentry tools. Those were to seal the door from the inside, just in case. If it came to it, the ladder was for escaping out the window.
Battler had brought up objects that could be used as edged weapons or poles. In addition to the obvious kitchen knife, there was a dissembled table leg that could be used as a club... and a pole roughly the size of a person, which he'd apparently made by taking apart a hat stand. Even though the pole had no point, it could surely be used like a spear.
There was a good chance that their enemies had guns, so it was dubious whether these would be of any use. But it was still better than not having them, and if having these could give them at least a little peace of mind, then they'd be useful for their calming effect. Then, the bed and sofa were placed up against the door, barricading it. They didn't go so far as to seal it up with nails. There was still a chance that Krauss and the others would escape and come to meet up with them.
They had apparently set up a barricade at top of the stairs as well. It had been set up in a way that would create a racket, so it would serve as a warning alarm as well. That had apparently been Battler's idea. For that reason, they turned the TV off. This way, if the first floor window were to be broken, they would hear. Once the switch had been turned, all that was left was an eerie silence.
The boat would come tomorrow morning. However, judging by the weather report, most of tomorrow was going to be covered in the typhoon, and the boat probably wouldn't come. The typhoon was set to pass by in the morning of the day after tomorrow. In other words, the boat would be arriving in the morning after next, the morning of October 6th. And right now, it was late at night on October 4th. They would have to spend more than 30 hours on this island, with Kinzo turned cold-blooded murderer and his weird companions prowling about...
Even with the shutters closed, there would definitely be a little bit of light seeping out. It might let the enemy know that they were hiding here. Battler suggested that it might be best to turn off the lights. But they had already been overwhelmed by a ghastly feeling just from turning the TV off. There wasn't anyone who directly challenged his proposal, but then again, there wasn't a single other person who agreed with it...
"Yeah, sorry, but you'll have to bear with it. We can't just let the sound of the enemy breaking in slip by."
Even though she had been told of her mother's death, Maria alone didn't feel an approaching sense of danger. She just seemed to be upset that the TV had been turned off. Even though she's in such a bizarre situation, can she not share in our sense of danger? Is it because she's so young? To Battler, even this faintly unsettling feeling from such a young girl made him sense that there was something very eerie about Maria...
"...Unfortunately, they're tougher than expected. I don't know when these were made, but there's no problem with their lifetime guarantee. These truly were built rather well."
Kyrie chuckled softly. They had no moves they could make, but she had calmed just a little.
"...This place is just like the capture pile of a chess game. So, are there no remaining moves left to us...?"
"Not yet. It's still too early to give up. If we stop thinking, we might as well stop breathing, right?"
"Exactly. Chess pieces in the capture pile may serve no purpose, but in shogi, they can be quite significant. Just one captured pawn should be able to put pressure on the opponent."
"I see... But still, there's nothing that can be done about these bars..."
"For us, maybe. But, if we can figure out where this is and contact Gohda-san, he might be able to come and save us."
"I see... But that would mean putting Gohda-san in danger... And if that happens, I would also be worried about the children in the guesthouse, alone without a full-grown adult male..."
"When you're afraid of risk, it's all right to bide your time until the price starts to go up. However, if you're too afraid to cut your losses, you might end up with just a scrap of paper. Though in this case, that represents our lives."
"And our dignity as parents, right? After talking big like that during the telephone call, telling them that they should behave because we'll manage something on our own, we can't just start asking for help right away. That would be very uncool. *giggle*."
"By this point, I've long since thrown out such useless pride. Why don't we put our heads together? Where is this? Is it really underneath the dining hall? Or else, is it a different place, separate from the mansion...?"
Krauss, Kyrie, and Nanjo began to discuss this further. Kanon was squatting by the bars, silently trying to sense anyone's presence. Just as he had been ordered. Shannon came close to him, and they both squatted down together.
"...Yes. They haven't focused their attention in this direction, but there's somebody relatively close by."
"Is it Human...?"
"...I think it's the goats. Their breathing is rather noisy."
Kanon's ability to sense the presence of others was several levels above that of a Human. He said that their breathing was noisy, but Krauss and the rest couldn't even pick up the slightest hint of it. Therefore, if he had obediently reported it, they would have merely doubted Kanon's ears.
"...They got us, didn't they?"
"...It's rare. To think that they captured us without killing us."
"This time, Beatrice-sama didn't make an appearance. And the Master left his study. I don't have a clue what's going on..."
"I know. Whatever happens or changes, it's all for that witch's fickle entertainment. In the end, nothing will change."
"I wonder if we'll be able to...go to the Golden Land this time."
"Who knows. We have a high rate of losing."
"That may be. But even that's just for the witch's entertainment, I'll bet. I can't think of it as anything other than her letting us live just a little longer to ridicule us, since we usually drop out right in the beginning."
"I wonder... if we'll be unable to reach the Golden Land again."
"I'm sure we won't make it there. If we hold onto any foolish hope, we'll get taken advantage of again."
"*giggle* That's right. Last time, you got taken advantage of, didn't you?"
"...I'm an idiot."
Kanon made a sour look and turned his head. Shannon laughed softly and apologetically leaned towards his shoulder.
"But... I'm glad Milady is safe."
"...She's only escaped from the first twilight. She might just be waiting for an even crueler death later on. What about you, Nee-san? Aren't you glad George-sama's safe? It'd be nice if you two could reach the Golden Land together."
"...Thank you. I wish the same for you and Milady as well."
"I-I wasn't hoping for anything like that. It's just as you say. That witch is only having fun, dangling prizes in front of people and watching them vainly try to get them. I'm sure no one will be able to go to the Golden Land. If I wish to reach the Golden Land with Milady, then that person will find it funny... and will certainly never let us reach that place."
"...You're right. Beatrice-sama is thinking about which order of sacrifices will be the most interesting."
"The whole thing about them being chosen at random is just a blatant lie. That swindling witch... All that about having any wish you want granted in the Golden Land is probably just a lie too."
"...That's not true. The Golden Land is... a wonderful place."
"Have you been there?"
"...Only for a little bit. Though, even that was probably just a joke of Beatrice-sama's."
"...What's it like there?"
"A paradise-like place, with roses blooming all over and beautiful butterflies dancing about, or something like that?"
"...It's not a place with a tangible image like that. It's really like the inside of a dream. When you're there, it's very gentle, very peaceful, and you're allowed to sleep as long as you want, like when you wake up early on a day off, lying on a futon. Sunlight comes in through the cracks in the curtains, and you think you'll have to wake up soon, but then you realize it's your day off, and you can go back to sleep... It's a place where you can feel like that."
"I think it'd be wasted on me. Waking up on accident even though it's your day off is something only you would do, Nee-san. Go on?"
"Well, when I was there, it was very satisfying and very calm. When I returned to this world, even though I had just been there a second ago, I couldn't remember it well. It's like when you can't remember a dream you were just having. But I still remember that it was a very calm and quiet world."
"...That's it? What the heck, that Golden Land she's always bragging about isn't anything great at all. I thought it was a place where all your wishes come true."
"That's right. It's a place where all your wishes will be granted. Well, maybe that's not quite it. It might be better to say it's a place where you won't wish for anything. For example, Kanon-kun, if you were cold and wished you had a jacket, you'd be happy to be given one, but if you were in a warm room to begin with, there wouldn't even be a reason to want a jacket, right? That's what the Golden Land is like. There's no need to even wish for most wishes. It's a world where everything is calm."
"You could even say it's a place that transcends the concept that having your wishes granted will bring happiness, a world released from everything."
"...It sounds somewhat like a religious world."
"And there, everything is equal. Anything that can think is equal. There are no Humans, furniture, nor witches. There, I was equal to everyone. There was no longer any need to feel ashamed that I was furniture. It was honestly a happy world where all Humans, and even witches, were equal. I can't really remember it well, but I have the feeling that when I was there, I was equal even to Beatrice-sama, and we were good friends."
"...If that witch is there, it can't be much of a paradise. So, you want to go to that Golden Land with George-sama. How strange. The Golden Land is a utopia where you can be pleased with everything, right? Wouldn't you be content even if George-sama wasn't there?"
"It isn't a happy world?"
"Of course, just by being peaceful, calm, and equal, it's an incredibly happy world. But I guess you could say that it's a world of zero, where you're released from all negative worries. The human world is filled with negatives, so of course a zero world is incredibly happy, but it's still zero. *giggle* What a luxurious problem to have."
"...It's something like this. When you're nodding off on your quiet holiday morning, if the person you love the most is next to you and holding your hand, then it can become an even greater, more wonderful happiness, something like that. Sorry, your Nee-san is too dumb to be any good at analogies."
"...In other words, to you, the greatest happiness would be reaching that world together with George-sama."
"Yes. And surely, for you, it would be reaching that world together with Milady."
"We'll be released from our worries in a fair world...? It's like some kind of strange religion. I'm more worldly-minded. I imagined a world where we would be given some magic medicine, and we could be reborn as Humans, or something more like that."
"...If you go, you'll understand. If Beatrice-sama really is a fickle person, then surely some day, she'll let you get a glimpse of it too. If so, then you'll be able to understand my analogy."
"...Well, I'm not holding my breath. At any rate, it seems like game over for us this time already. I'll hope for another chance."
"...You're right. If we cling to any overambitious hopes, Beatrice-sama will take advantage of us. It might be best to just stop thinking... and let fate take care of us."
"...We can just be simple chess pieces. No matter what we think or don't think, we can't escape from the witch's chessboard. Our role is now just to wait and see how we'll be tortured to death. For us, the dream of the Golden Land is too empty."
"...You're... right. Sorry..."
Kanon shrugged his shoulders, then told Shannon to leave him alone because she was in the way of his duty, distancing himself from her. Realizing her thoughtlessness in bringing up such an inappropriate topic and instead hurting Kanon, Shannon bit her lower lip and stared at the ground... Shannon wouldn't bother him any more. She went off and crouched down in a corner by herself.
At that moment, Kanon perked up. It was like the ears of a cat when it reacts to a strange sound.
BGM: Witch of the Painting
They ended their conversation and strained their ears. For a while, they couldn't hear anything, but eventually, they were able to hear the shuffling sounds of a large group of people walking...
"...So they've come."
"Time to pay the piper, or perhaps this is our first and last chance."
"...I shall talk to Kinzo-san. I will try to somehow find out where this place is."
"We're counting on you."
During the last phone call, Kyrie had asked what the time over at the guesthouse was.By doing that, Kyrie had learned that it was the same as her watch, and she had learned that their watches hadn't been set back. It wasn't just the clocks on the walls in the guesthouse. Several people's watches, including George's and Gohda's, had matched.
...If that was the case, then it had only been a few minutes between the time of the massacre in the dining hall and the time they had been transported to the dungeon. Not enough time had passed for them to be knocked out and carried away. Then were those really pitfalls, meaning that this was the area directly under the dining hall...? All that they could do was pray that Nanjo could find out where this was...
"...They're coming. There's probably... four people. The Master... and three of those who appeared in the dining hall."
"That's enough. You come back here as well. We'll deal with the rest."
"Shannon-chan, sorry, but can I have you sit by the phone? Hide it with your skirt."
The shuffling came close, and there was the sound of a large door being opened in the hallway. The light they were apparently carrying illuminated the hall, stroking the walls with sharp, razor-like shadows. And then, the light from the lantern they held illuminated the prisoners through the bars.
...The bars' sharp shadows divided them up lengthwise. There were four silhouettes. It was Kinzo, Ronove, Virgilia, and Gaap.
"It's Father's pen name. It seems he always signs with it when writing those bizarre grimoires."
"'Kinzo' made English-style? Shouldn't that be Gold Warehouse?"
BGM: The Candles Dance
"...True enough. I apologize for butting in."
"Kinzo-san, just what is going on? Where in the world is this...?"
"Oh, my friend, can't you remember? True, you may have never entered the prison, but you should remember walking through this corridor."
"...Huh... huh? Y-You don't mean..."
"...Do you have an idea?"
"But, well, it is unthinkable. Firstly, we fell through a pitfall and were locked up in here after only a few minutes... Not only is the distance too great, that's physically impossible..."
"Father, is this the mansion? To think that the mansion had a basement like this..."
"Krauuss, wasn't there a place whose existence you all whispered of, and which you followed after me several times trying to find? This is that place. No, to be correct, this is its basement. *cackle*cackle*...!"
"Could this place be... the basement... of Kuwadorian...?!"
"Kuwadorian... You don't mean... Father's rumored hidden mansion...? It really exists...?"
"This mansion was constructed for the sole use of my beloved witch, Beatrice. It's truly a shame that I cannot guide you to the above-ground sections, as it is such a beautiful and elegant mansion."
"...How lovely, just the two of them alone in a mansion with a prison like this. I guess Father's tastes are a bit more than I can stomach."
"*giggle* But I agree. If a mansion I was given had this kind of dungeon in it, that'd shake me out of even a century-long love, and I'd take anything of value and run."
"Pu ku ku. Oh my, so you don't have an interest in this kind of thing? And here I was thinking you went head over heels for it."
"Heheh. Of course I go head over heels. Like if I get a collar or something for a birthday present. But only if he's hot."
"Pu ku ku ku ku!"
"Silence! Perhaps you could use a gag more than a collar right now."
"Oh, you have an interest in that too? You sure aren't picky, Lia. *giggle*..."
"D-Don't just go around shortening people's names on your own...!"
"Enough, you noisy women! Are you telling me you'd like to be locked up in the same cell?"
"I-I apologize, Master... This old body of mine would not be able to stand such a cold prison..."
Virgilia quickly apologized, but Gaap and Ronove merely laughed together. It was like they thought they alone couldn't be imprisoned, or else, that even if someone tried to imprison them, it would be pointless...
"A woman who makes you so insane that you don't want to let her escape, to the point of binding her in chains... Because she was worthy of that, she was a love worth sacrificing my life for. I will not ask you to understand."
"...No one can bind me, I will not be bound. I don't want to be loved, I want to love. I feel the same as Goldsmith. That's why I understand the madness of your love."
"Love and madness are two sides of the same coin, or so they say. How bothersome."
"...But learning where we are so easily was a big step. We'll ask the details later, but it seems you know about this place, right, Doctor Nanjo?"
"Y-Yes... If that hallway is the underground passage beneath Kuwadorian, then if we go straight down it, it will become a long tunnel, and if we stay on that, we should be able to return to the mansion."
"...Then if we could just do something about these bars, we could go home."
"Father... What are you planning to do with us?"
"As I have already declared, you will become sacrifices for the later twilights. There are conveniently five people here. Exactly enough hostages for the five gougings."
"...I see. Then it's time for us to pay the piper?"
"Eventually. That's not why I've come to visit you this time, so relax. Besides, I believe I have said it already. If one of my grandchildren is deemed suitable to inherent everything from me, then the ceremony will be called off. In other words, your lives will be spared."
"...Wh-What are you planning to do to the children?"
"...And if there isn't anyone suitable, what are you planning on doing with the children?"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*! There's no need to worry about that. After all, you all will be sacrificed first. How could anything that happens after that concern you? Entrust your fates to your own children. Your children, the embodiment of what you've born, taught and raised. They should be the most suitable ones for you to entrust with your fate...! *cackle*cackle*! Don't look so worried, Kraaauss... Believe in the daughter that you brag is worth ten billion yen. Hehheheh, hehhahahahahaha...!!"
"...Exactly. Children are the embodiment of their parents. It's fitting that we put our fates in their hands. That applies even to you, Father, right?"
"...Hmph, hahhahahaha! This girl has guts, what a waste on Rudolf! Wahhahahahaha...!!"
"...Kyrie-san, it would be best not to aggravate him too much."
"I agree. Let's bear with it for now..."
"That's right... After all, we're just fish on the chopping board. There's nothing we can do now."
"Hah, though you can insult me with such vigor. I don't dislike that kind of woman, see? Beatrice was like that too, in the beginning. *cackle*cackle*cackle*!!"
"Ah yes, there was that. Sorry, sorry, my friend. Well then, back to the main event. For that, I've prepared a phone. Shannon, how clever of you. You don't have to hide it any longer. That's something I arranged for. *cackle*cackle*...!"
Shannon quickly withdrew herself, and the telephone was revealed...
"Krauss, call the grandchildren in the guesthouse. Tell them of the test... and of the start of my trial."
Ronove motioned for Krauss to pick up the receiver.
"...And if I say no?"
"You'd be lucky to become sacrifices right away. Don't you think it'd be more painful to watch the children get sacrificed first, before your very eyes...?"
"...Ga...ap. The Master is the one who decides the sacrifice order. Don't say things on your own."
"Lia, you just tried to shorten my name, didn't you?"
"I-I did not! And I told you not to shorten other people's names on your own...!"
"...Women truly are..."
"...Noisy. Pu ku ku!"