Part 36: Chessboard Preparations II
"I'm here 'cause I don't want to be found. At any rate, I'm sure she only wants to scold me, like 'is your appearance alright?' and 'watch your language'."
"Hoh-hoh-ho... Without a doubt."
"...You know. When the day of the family conference comes, for some reason, I feel uneasy about this witch."
"Hoh... Why do you say that again...?"
"...Hohoh. Could a relative like that exist...?"
"It's Beatrice-sama. Nobody knows her background. Could she be Grandfather's mistress from long ago? Maybe her descendants will unexpectedly appear and tell us to return the gold we were granted or something, right?"
"Hoh-hoh-hoh-ho... Krauss-sama and the others will probably have a discussion about the Master's inheritance problem this year too. So, if they get excited with that talk of the witch's gold, it would be just natural if the witch who gave out the gold came soon herself, right?"
"Kumasawa-san, you know, you're very busy with retiring and your work and all, but you've been here as long as Genji-san, right? You know more, about Beatrice, don't you?"
"...Well, I wonder. Hoh-hoh-ho... Even if I try to remember, this old woman here can't even recall what she had for breakfast this morning..."
"Kumasawa-san, you're always escaping with those excuses, but you know something, right? Sometimes you feel kinda devious, like you know something and you're laughing behind our backs, right?"
"Hoh-hoh-ho, how harsh. I don't have any secrets. The only thing I can say is that Beatrice-sama is the Golden Witch, and that she is the other master who controls the night of this island."
"That's second-hand talk from Grandfather. It must be a pain to go along Grandfather's tales, even though you get paid."
"...But, I can say this much."
"I've also heard that. It's that story about, since there are lots of sunken rocks and shipwrecks around here, the fishermen got afraid and unreasonably didn't approach here, right?"
"...Evil spirits settled down in Akujikishima and continued to eat the souls of people since ancient times. There were lots of people related to this island who were dispossessed of their lives."
"And then, a traveling mountaineering ascetic or someone built that shrine, reposed the souls and settled them there, wasn't it? What a shady story."
"That shrine for the repose of souls was destroyed by an eerie violet thunderbolt this summer, which tore up the darkness of the night..."
"Kumasawa-san, you really like those stories. I'll admit that it'd be pretty eerie for a shrine for the repose of souls to disappear with a thunderbolt. But, well, it was all worn out from the start. I wonder if it wasn't just carried away by some large wave. Hahahahaha."
"The evil spirits of Akujikishima woke up from their sleep, and summoned Beatrice-sama. If Beatrice-sama happened to come for the family conference..."
"If she happened to come...?"
When Kumasawa realized she was scaring Jessica with her silence, she grinned broadly.
"Well now, I wonder what would happen. Hoh-hoh-hoh-hoh-ho..."
"Isn't it? Isn't it useful for your work to enrich your heart and have an elegant time every once in a while...?"
"I think so. The heart and the wallet must be rich. Got it, I'll keep that day open. Please, make the reservations."
"Yeah, I'm counting on you. I love you, Kyrie."
After kissing the receiver, Rudolf hung up.
"I'm sorry for making you wait. Did the contact from America come?"
"Yes. It's from the lawyer Dale Watanabe on the external line. I'll transfer it."
"...Overall, how do you feel about the situation?"
"That is, well... it seems one thing is not favorable. It seems the other party doesn't plan to withdraw from the trial at all."
"...Looks like we can't fool 'em after all. Ahaha... Please, transfer it here."
The executive ordered that the external line be transferred to the secretarial office.
It's more clear with the voice acting, but any text in angle brackets is being spoken in English instead of Japanese.
"<Hello, President Ushiromiya>. Let's skip the greetings and go right into the main question. I have good news and bad news, which one shall we start with?"
"...The bad news can go first. I can't fight if there's no dessert."
"Understood. The bad news is that the other party has started preparations to prosecute our party. Just a few days ago, a similar trial resulted in a judicial decision where the plaintiff won. The defendants were also arguing with roughly the same arguments we'll allege, but they were rejected in everything. I'm afraid to say it, but if we face the courtroom as we are now, the probability that our allegations will be rejected is extremely high."
"...So that other trial was a disaster. Even though I was thinking that their conditions were more favorable than ours. That's tough, huh. Then, what about the good news?"
"I managed to get in contact with the executives of the other party. I explained to the other party the situation we are in, explained that we have no intentions of violating the other party's brand image, and I managed to get their understanding. The other party will offer us conditions in a few days, and if these are carried out, they promised to withdraw from the prosecution. This is their proposal according to the number 2 man on their board of directors."
"Honestly, I expect the conditions will be extremely severe. We assume that changing the company name and the brand name will be inevitable. Where we do have margin in the negotiations is the amount of settlement money, the appearance of a public apology on a major newspaper, and the amount of time needed to carry out those things."
"These guys are simply and indirectly telling us to go bankrupt."
"The other party, in the recent years, just changed to their second president and the groundwork is not finished yet over there. If we resist until the bitter end, they fear that the forces who want to go against the current president wouldn't hesitate to do some work in favor of the enemy. Hence, it seems the big shots of the other party want to settle this matter as fast as possible too. Hence, for the sake of a quick settlement, maybe we still have enough leeway to pull for some mitigation of the conditions."
"At any rate, will an absurd amount of money be necessary?"
"You need to be prepared for that. And even so, it would be much cheaper than disciplinary compensation."
"Thank you very much. If there's any more progress, please contact me. You have a high salary, so no idle gossiping around. Hahahaha. <Thank you, thank you, goodbye>."
Rudolf hung up the phone. It seemed that the executives sitting at the reception seats could guess about the contents of that discussion.
"But, President. The supposed sum for the settlement that Mr. Watanabe indicated is too much. We don't have that much of a margin...!"
"When we knew it would become like this, we started the diversifying, didn't we...!"
"The calculations were that we could escape the capital crisis if we were able to endure for three years. It can't be, to be stabbed here... really, we're in no position for that...!"
"I guess we fell at the 'step' of the 'hop, step, jump'. I could cry."
"We have no choice but to draw the money from the main bank."
"Banks are no good. They only bet their money on winning horses. The situation is getting better, but we can't show weakness to the banks."
"...President. Do we have any funds which are unaccounted for? Funds that are out of our grip?"
"Stop that. Do I look like that kind of man? The contents of my wallet are all exposed to you guys, alright? The account books over there show all that our company has."
"In that case, we need to raise money. We need a sponsor who can draw in several million for us as soon as possible."
"...President! Couldn't something be worked out with one of your associates...?!"
"...Aaaah, calm down, you bastards. I'll find a way to raise the money. You guys maintain the business without making too much noise. The other side is saying that they will forgive us as long as we gather the money. We already have thick pipelines in Asia. Things'll probably be shaky, but we'll be able to maintain transactions. In short, the point is that if we gather the money, we'll be able to settle everything."
"Look, I'll settle everything. I won't let you out in the cold. Start feeling like you've gotten on a big boat! When I settle things safely, I'll be rewarding all of you guys with a champagne tower. I promise. So, shut up and come with me. Alright?!!"
Rudolf woke up because of that shaking. Since he had woken up early that morning, he had ended up drifting off to sleep while resting in his seat.
"...Are you alright? You're still very drowsy, aren't you? Lately, it seems you've been very busy at your work."
"Being busy at work is great, isn't it? If I start wasting time, we'll all be out in the cold starting tomorrow."
"You're right. Since Battler-kun's come back, it would be a problem if the two of us had to go around begging."
When he looked outside the window, he saw that the airplane was already starting to drop in altitude considerably. The fishing boats, which had only looked like black grains until a short while ago had started to become clearly visible.
"...If I could borrow ten million at once by prostrating myself before Father, I'd do it a dozen times, but... If I can't, I better hurry and start to hide myself. I've always depended severily on his financial support, and now I'm going for the inheritance. I'm going to hell. I guess Father won't want to meet me like this..."
BGM: Witch in Gold
Nanjo looked at Kinzo's face, sighing. Kinzo's eyes were rooted to those strange magic books.
"I don't want to join in on the argument of those vultures. They can discuss how they will suck my bones as they wish. They really are foolish."
"...My, my. How troublesome..."
Nanjo shook his head slightly. To him, children and grandchildren were lovely things. And he believed that their growth was the only enjoyment for old men. To him, Kinzo's words were a very sad thing.
"If the time I must leave this room comes, I will show myself. Just as that one does not show itself."
When Kinzo raised his face, in the direction of his gaze was the portrait of the witch, which was respectfully displayed on the wall...
There was only the face of the witch in the oil painting, who didn't smile except inside the portrait... Everybody knew that when Kinzo talked about Beatrice, unnecessarily cutting in would instigate his wrath...
"Today, I will... hold a certain ceremony."
"Hoh. And what would that be?"
"...It would be more accurate to call it a gamble... Because miracles do not dwell in magic that doesn't bear risks."
Nanjo already heard that story many times over. You could call it Kinzo's favorite phrase. It seemed that Kinzo believed that magic and miracles could happen by betting your own fate with certain kind of risk and triumphing...
"So, Kinzo-san, you who were once called the Golden Gambler, that old man who could go to the other world at any time, I wonder what kind of gamble you will seek... I guess this will be worth seeing..."
"Hmph... I see. If the secret ritual I devoted my research to hits you who is not proficient at magic as well, would you call it a gamble? Whatever."
"...I believe in miracles and if I win, you will be able to understand clearly that all my research, which probably only appears as vagary in your eyes, did bear fruits in this day. If you win, it will all end as nothing more than the vagary of the old man who can go to the other world at any time, in accordance to what you saw."
"Hoh... I wonder what on earth is this gamble you will start... As your friend, in that bet... no, was it a ceremony? I only pray from the bottom of my heart that you can win in that ceremony."
"Hmm... I thank you."
"...Speaking of that, Kinzo-san. You heard that a longed-for guest will be present at the family meeting this year?"
Kinzo reacted in a unusual way to Nanjo's words and turned around.
"Right, Battler-kun from Rudolf-san's family. I hear he will be coming after six years. I'm sure he has became a splendid boy."
"...Oh, Battler? I wouldn't call him 'longed for', a guest who doesn't show up for six years."
After hearing Battler's name and showing an ill-humored expression, as though saying that was a let-down, Kinzo turned his back again.
"I guess these six years went by in a blink of an eye to you since you began immersing yourself in your research in this room..."
"Hmph. Possibly, a truly longed-for guest... will pay us a visit. Everything depends on the results of the roulette. The roulette is already starting to revolve. Rouge, or Noir?"
"Tonight, let us enjoy ourselves as we see what kind of miracle the roulette will show us. The payoffs are large. And I don't feel like losing... Beatrice, you can accept my bet..."
It seemed that the piercing sound didn't please Kinzo, and he picked up the receiver in order to preserve the silence as much as he could.
"...What is it? I'm busy."
"Genji speaking. Everyone has arrived."
"And what's wrong with that? You can serve them some tea or something."
"...Certainly. I'll do that."
Kinzo hung up the phone rudely. Looking at that, Nanjo sighed yet again and shifted his attention outside the window. As he is now, Kinzo is probably not interested in any kind of guest. Did a guest exist who would make Kinzo come out when the time came, as he had said? He had someone in mind, but that guest couldn't appear...
Nanjo stared at the witch of the portrait, who held a candid facial expression, unable to decide whether she was smiling or sad, and he gazed up at the lead-colored sky...
Video: Endless Torture
"Do you have a problem...?"
The witch looked at him in challenge while elegantly smoking her pipe. And Battler? He just slovenly shrugged his shoulders as though he didn't really feel like being her opponent. He just couldn't make his eyes meet hers.
But that didn't mean he wasn't a match for her. It signified his plain determination to never be taken in by the artifices of this bastard. It was an expression of his powerful determination to fight.
"Don't you tell me you don't have a plan...?"
"Since I don't know your moves, I don't have any plan. Feel free to take the initiative."
"Hmph... Naturally, I intend to. In what way shall I destroy your defense? With how many moves will I checkmate you? It's an opportunity to display my skills."
"...Whatever moves you come at me with, I won't believe you! As long as I stand my ground on that point, I won't lose. And what that means is this. The way this game is made, you cannot win...!"
"Maybe you're right. However, you know what? I'll decide how many times we'll repeat this game. It will be repeated over and over again, until I win and you recognize your defeat, okay...?"
"In other words, this is torture. It's eternal torture that will continue until you surrender to me...! It will continue eternally, until you recognize me and the existence of the witch!"
"...In that case, I'll go along with you endlessly, any number of times, until you run out of patience. I've never lost in such a battle of wills."
"Did a witch from somewhere suggest that to you...? *cackle*cackle*, that's just fine!"
"I'm tired of listening to your rambling. C'mon, get this started!"
"Come, let us begin! I already know your moves far too well. A defense doesn't amount to much if the plan behind it is known! Don't think you'll be able to defy me with the same moves!!"
"...Beatrice. I have only one thing to tell you before we start."
"What is it...?"
"You're free to say anything. However, whether I'll believe you or not, is something・I'll decide・for myself...! No matter how much of this magic you have! My soul won't yield to you. You think this is torture for me? You're wrong!!"
"Then, what are you talking about...!"
"This is torture for you!!"