Part 45: Halloween II
"The servants' room and the kitchen are both empty. What the hell happened?"
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Mama-!! Whe-re's Mama-!! Maria's letter! The letter Maria got from Beato! Give it back! Give it baaaack!! Waaauau-!!"
"Perplexing. Battler-kun, are you sure it was aunt Rosa?"
"...Well, I was half-asleep so I'm not too confident, but I get the feeling that, at dawn, aunt Rosa came in and fished around in Maria's handbag."
"...I was just half-asleep, and assumed that there was a tube of toothpaste or something in Maria's handbag."
"Why would there be a tube of toothpaste in Maria's handbag? Looks like you were a little more than half-asleep."
Battler vaguely remembered Rosa entering the cousins' room. And Maria, who had woken up first, had started rampaging around, saying that someone had opened an envelope that she had been keeping safe. And then they had decided that Rosa had come and opened the envelope.
"I don't know... But that envelope was for Grandfather's personal use, and it had the Ushiromiya family crest on it. It's hard to believe that what was in there doesn't have anything to do with the family conference."
She hadn't let anyone touch it, but yesterday, Maria had bragged a lot about the envelope to Battler and the rest. So they remembered it well.
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Mama, give it back! Mama, give it back!! Uu-uu-uu-! Waauuuuuuuuuuuuu!!"
"...If you're right, George-aniki, it looks pretty important. However, if it was so important, why did the witch give it to Maria? I don't have a clue."
Every once in a while, the refreshing morning atmosphere was completely wiped out by the sound of thunder. It was only natural. Since the time they had woken up, they hadn't met anyone other than themselves. It felt like only they were left and the mansion had become an empty husk.
"...Heeeeey! Anyone the-re?! Answer me-!"
After Jessica called out into the hallway, eventually, an answer came back. It was from the entrance hall.
"It's Doctor Nanjo. Great. It looks like everyone but us hasn't disappeared from this island."
"Docter Nanjo, good morning. Umm, sorry, but do you know where our parents went...?"
"Dear me. I have just woken up. I could not know, let me see."
It was only natural. Nanjo was a guest like the rest of them. He had just now come to pass the time in the parlor until breakfast.
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Doctor Nanjo, Mama took it, Mama took Maria's letter!! Give it back, give it back, uu-uu-uu-!!!"
Maria buried her face in Nanjo's well-built stomach, sobbing and crying. Nanjo could do nothing but be bewildered at what was going on so early in the morning.
"...Nn. Someone's running. Jessica! Someone's coming!"
When they looked, they saw that it was Gohda and Kanon. Running inside the mansion should have been immodest for a servant. And yet, Battler and the rest didn't even think to question that now. Maria's sobbing had become so unmanageable, they wanted to ask someone, anyone, where Rosa was.
But the two servants ignored Jessica as she waved her hand. Gohda flew into the servants' room, and after Kanon noticed that Nanjo was there, he bowed and approached Nanjo at a quick pace, whispering something into his ear.
"...What did you say? Rosa-san did?"
"Yes. I will guide you, so please accompany me."
Without saying anything more than that, Kanon finally noticed Jessica and bowed to her. But he wasn't calm. He dashed back down the corridor by which he had come, followed by Nanjo. By looking at how hurried they were, Battler and the rest realized that yes, something bad really had happened.
They saw Gohda through the door to the servants' room, which had been flung open. He was holding the receiver and violently pressing the hook. From that, they realized that he was trying to call a hospital or the police. In any event, he was trying to call someone because a serious emergency had occurred.
"Let's have a look...!"
"Mama-, give it ba-ck!! Give back Maria's le-tter!! It's an invitation to the Golden Land!!"
They didn't know what, but something was happening. Battler and the rest chased after Kanon and Nanjo...
Aaah, then we realized. Kanon-kun had called Doctor Nanjo, but he hadn't called us. So we shouldn't have gone with them. I wonder if Alice didn't regret her excess curiosity when she chased after the rabbit holding a clock...
Video: Beatrice's Generosity
BGM: Golden Slaughterer
"Mother, Father!! What, what happened!! Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!"
"Going to all the trouble after they died of sitting them on chairs, slicing their stomachs and pulling their entrails out!! You went to all the trouble of stuffing their stomachs full of sweets?!! Why, why the hell would you do something so gross?!! Damn it, damn it! Nice job, bastard, just great, just great!! Uwoooooooooooooohhh!!"
"...It would be better if everyone went outside! There is no way they would want everyone to see them this way..."
Nanjo told the children to go outside, but no one listened.
"Rosa-san, please tell everyone. If they keep looking at something like this... it will do nothing but harm...!"
Rosa regretted her own rashness. She should have realized that the children would eventually come here. She should have quickly locked it instead of standing around. So the children had come. They had seen it...! Surely, in this very moment, they were having a sight burned into their eyes, which was far more grotesque than the shocking meal Rosa had seen in her youth...
While she hugged Maria as though she had forgotten her shock at the horrible scene, Rosa cried for them and their parents. The four groaning and crying voices, their sadness, continued to echo in a place which should have known God's love...
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*. I was hoping I'd hear words of thanks rather than grief from you."
"Thanks!! Did you say thanks, you old bitch?! Damn it, if there's something wrong with your ears, I'll cut them both off so you can hear better!! Why should I have to say oh, thank you very much Beatrice-sama, about that insane way of killing, I'll beat you to death!!!"
"Take a good long look and see, that without a doubt, your father and the others have been killed!!"
"R...eally, that's a great service, I'm so happy!!"
"I swore that if I choked the life out of you, I'd plow your face, but I'll take that back, I'll drag out your guts!!!"
"Don't give in to emotion and stop thinking. My game has already begun, right? *cackle*cackle*cackle*. I decided to leave the corpses clean this time."
"Do you know why? When you denied my existence in the last game, you thought in a certain way.
"What did you saaaaaay...!!"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*kikikikikikikikikikikikikikikikikikikiki!! So, Battler, is it alright to leave the autopsy to Nanjo? Isn't it traditional in mystery novels for the doctor who performs the autopsy to be an accomplice?"
"Then don't leave the autopsy to Nanjo, you should do it yourself. Make completely sure that without a doubt, the six corpses are those six people, that they aren't pretending to be dead, that they really, really are dead!!"
"To make sure that your Father and Mother really have been killed by having their stomachs cut open and their entrails pulled out, you should stick your hand inside their stomachs and feel around inside!! Kuhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha, ki-hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!"
Battler suddenly yelled. His tears were still dripping down, but as though scolding himself for being girly, he slapped his face hard several times with both hands. Even so, the tears still wouldn't stop. However, he felt a hot blaze on both his eyes.
"That bastard who did this, I'll make him pay back his debt completely!! So this isn't the time to cry, think about what you're gonna do!!"
"Aaaah, it's no good, it's no goddamn good at all!! If you have enough spare time to cry, then think! This is no time to be working your lacrimal glands!!"
Rather than genuine hatred, maybe it was more of an evasive hatred to blot out his sadness. However, it gave a little courage to George and Jessica, who had been crushed by sadness.
"Damn it... damn it damn it damn it, damn it damn it damn it!! Well, then what should we do?! What should I do, for Mom and Dad's sakes?!!"
"...Rosa-sama... I have returned..."
"Gohda-san, what happened with the police? What did they say to do? Did they say when they think they'll be able to get here?"
"...That is... it seems the phones have broken down... I also tried the emergency wireless, but... umm, maybe it's the weather, that isn't working either..."
"What did you say...! So, we can't contact the police?!"
"It's that person! They did something to the phone line, and made it so we can't contact the police!!"
When she heard that the phones had broken down, Jessica immediately decided that it was the work of that mysterious guest. Her eyes were bright-red after so much crying, and they began to grow even more red with rage.
"...Aaahh, there's no need to talk about it, right?! I understand everything, that's right, I get it! Who killed Dad and Mom?!"
"Jessica-chan...! Wait! Gohda-san, Kanon-kun, go!"
Covering her sadness that had nowhere to go with anger, Jessica ran outside, torn apart by emotion. Thinking about it hastily, maybe the mystery guest, Beatrice, who had arrived yesterday, was suspicious. However, at the current time, there was absolutely no proof that she was the culprit. At this moment, she was nothing more than a simple guest. So Rosa made an adult decision, and had to stop Jessica in her hasty rampage.
Gohda and Kanon realized that immediately, and chased after her.
"...Could the guest that no one invited, Beatrice, be the culprit...?"
"I understand how Jessica feels. I also want to make myself think that. It doesn't matter who, I want to have them be the culprit and bash them right in the face!! But before that, we have to understand things clearly. Who is this Beatrice? I haven't even seen her face!!"
"...Come on, Maria. What's so funny in a situation like this?!"
"Beatrice is a witch. And the ceremony to open the door to the Golden Land has finally begun. Those six people are sacrifices. Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi! Come, let us begin the witch's banquet. Tonight is Halloween, now the witches will gather to celebrate. Ki-hihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi!!"
"Maria, don't I always tell you not to laugh with that creepy voice!"
The crisp sound of Rosa slapping Maria's cheek echoed through the high-ceilinged chapel...
It kinda felt like, since it had started raining yesterday... No, since the island had been wrapped up in the typhoon, something had gone crazy. I had arrived in Rokkenjima while it was clear, and taken a nap because I had gotten up early. When I woke up, it had already started raining.
And since that time...
Had something happened while I was asleep? During that time, had this island been cut off, trapped in a different world where common sense didn't apply...?! Who is this person called Beatrice? Was some unknown person trying to involve themselves with the inheritance problem, like our parents were freaking out about at dinner last night? Or was this witch from the Legend of the Gold the culprit, like Maria said?!
Even if Jessica hadn't let her short temper get the better of her, in this situation, the visitor was probably the most suspicious. However, we couldn't decide just like that. Aaah, it's no good, it's no good, it's no goddamn good at all...!!
I smacked my face with both hands again, cooling off my brains before they got too hot. Even though it might have been a wasted effort.
On a tray piled up with sweets that decorated the table, George-aniki found a western envelope which had the Ushiromiya family crest on it in gold leaf. And it was unopened.
"So, doesn't this mean it was sent to us? If it was something Dad and the rest read, it should be open."
"...It seems your reasoning is correct. It's written here. Someone wrote, 'To those that remain'."
"Is that, a letter the culprit left...?! Wh, what's inside...?"
"Aniki, let's open it...!"
After nodding silently, George-aniki opened it. A folded letter came out.
That letter really was a joke. This Beatrice, who called herself an Alchemy counsellor, had proclaimed that she was collecting the gold she had lent Grandfather with interest. And that interest was everything that Grandfather had given birth to. Since this tragedy was right before our eyes as this paragraph was read aloud, it wasn't only referring to all of the wealth that Grandfather had created. It was literal. Everything that Grandfather had given birth to... in other words, all of Grandfather's descendants were included in the interest!
"You bastard!! What a screwed up contract! Lives as interest on gold, you say?! That's almost like a contract with the devil. isn't it?! Is that how you pretend to be a witch?! Ha, you make me laugh!!"
"...Special clause. However, should someone discover the afore-mentioned gold, Beatrice shall renounce all rights to its recovery for all time. Hmmmmmmm... As for the cache of the gold, Kinzo-sama has already edicted it in the epitaph beneath my portrait..."
"...In other words, it's something like this. If the motive for these murders was collection of the interest, the condition for stopping it, is to try and find the hidden gold she gave to Grandfather... that's what it's saying. And it also says that this secret is hidden in the epitaph from that portrait."
"In other words, this is a letter of challenge from the witch? If anyone thinks they can solve the coded paragraph where the location of the hidden gold is written, then try to do it?! And if we can't, it's saying that the collection of the interest will continue as planned?"
"I'll beat you to death, no problem!!!"
"...B, Battler-kun! Look... here!!!"
The table had been full of sweets, so even though it had been right in the open, we had assumed it was a sweet. I mean, come on, you find stuff like this a lot, right? Come on, it might have been a box shaped like a golden ingot, filled with chocolate...!
"...It's inscribed with the crest of the One-winged Eagle... I heard Mother talking about it earlier. This is a gold bar from Granfather's Legend of the Gold...!!"
A gold ingot weighing a full 10 kilograms... wait, three of them, were piled up in the very center of the table! It was where a cake would be placed if it was a birthday party. In other words, this was without a doubt the birthday cake of the party known as the family conference!
"If these are really four nines quality ingots...nn, *gulp*. I, it's worth about 60 million yen!"
"Dumbaaaaaaaaaaasss!!! That's too cheap!!! Our parents have been killed, and all the gold you've piled up is only worth 60 million yen?! Don't take us for fools, damn iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!!"
"...Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi. So, it has begun, Beatrice. It's not like anyone can solve this riddle anyway. So Beato will definitely win."