Part 50: A Suspect
October 5th, 1986, 7:30 AM
Battler and George, who had cried, raged, and let their emotions explode after seeing their parents' tragic bodies, returned to the parlor and sat in the sofas, dazed, as though everything up until then had been a lie...
Only Maria was completely unchanged, and looked just like normal. When she wasn't playing pranks, she was basically a kid who played wordlessly by herself, so even if she was dazed, she would probably look as she did. But as she turned on the TV and flipped through the channels, it looked as though nothing about her had changed from normal. Did Rosa think anything in particular about this attitude, which was clearly different from normal people? She stared at Maria's back with a gaze that wasn't quite pleasant.
Eventually, Kumasawa came to say good morning. Her cheerful manner was clearly out of place, and she couldn't help but be bewildered at the strange atmosphere in the room. Then, she heard the details from Gohda, and was really noisy and shocked.
"...Please calm down and listen. It seems that a machine was somehow done in by lightning last night. Because of that, we haven't been able to use the phones..."
"Eeeehhh!! Th, then, until the typhoon passes, we can't even contact the police?!"
Maybe Kumasawa's exaggerated surprise was a little comical. Even in this kind of situation, Rosa giggled. Because of that, the fog of confusion that had covered her head cleared up a little.
"...I've got to stay strong. It's not just Maria. I'm acting as a parent for George-kun and Battler-kun too, so I have to stay strong..."
Rosa had been the youngest sibling, with a large difference in age between her and the others. So she was always treated as a child. Every time she learned something new, it was something obvious to her brothers and sister, and she had grown a complex, thinking that she must be incompetent. So she had formed a passive attitude, asking her brothers and sister for advice every time something happened...
...But she no longer had any brothers or sisters. Now, Rosa was the only one of the four Ushiromiya siblings left. Furthermore, if Kinzo continued to shut himself away even in this extraordinary situation, Rosa had to surpass this crisis as the representative of the head.
"...I'm not a child anymore, not a child..."
...Rosa slapped her knees lightly and stood up. She must not wait for orders now. She had to start moving herself. She picked up the receiver to the extension phone on the side table. Then she immediately remembered that the phones were down.
Genji and Shannon, who she had sent to see Kinzo, hadn't returned yet. She had a general guess. He was probably yelling about something nonsensical again, unable to control himself. His important chapel had been defiled with blood. That was easy to imagine. She had planned on using the extension phone to call the study, but unfortunately, the phones were broken.
Rosa decided to go to the study directly, with her own two feet. Her old self would be so frightened that she wouldn't have been able go to see Kinzo. If she actually met him, she would probably be blamed for something and abused. But now wasn't a time to be frightened. As his true daughter, she had to make him aware of the current situation.
"Yes, yes... That may be true...It is truly pitiable... I shall make them something warm to drink."
Rosa went out into the hallway, and headed towards Kinzo's study. The atmosphere in this mansion, which she had spent her younger days in and should have been full of memories, seemed somehow different... Then she began to climb the stairs in the entrance hall...
...Just then. In the thin darkness down the stairs behind Rosa's back... something glowed.
...Obviously. No one can hear the sound of a butterfly's wings beating.
...And then, it stopped on Rosa's back as she slowly climbed the stairs. Rosa didn't notice. And even if someone who didn't know saw it, they probably wouldn't have seen anything but a single sheet of gold leaf in the shape of a butterfly which had been stuck there.
Without noticing, Rosa continued heading to Kinzo's study...
If there was anything audible other than that, it was the sound of the rain which had continued on and on since last night. Every one of those who had viewed that unearthly and horrible scene stayed silent, as though praying that the events of this morning were all a dream. Because Kumasawa alone hadn't seen that, she acted slightly differently. She thought that this silence was more difficult to bear, and went around trying to encourage everyone. However, it seemed that she was planning to be of some use, even though she had to be careful what she talked to them about...
Normally it would be time for breakfast. However, maybe it was because something like that had happened, but Gohda seemed to have forgotten to prepare a meal. No, maybe everyone was so beaten up that they had forgotten their hunger. Kumasawa wanted to bring up the subject of what they would do for breakfast, but it didn't seem like the right atmosphere, so she really couldn't.
But it was difficult being hungry. So, she casually made a proposal.
"...Hmm, that is a good plan. I agree as well."
"Hoh-hoh-ho. How about some delicious black tea with biscuits and jam? Yes, yes, it seems that it is near Halloween, and there are some delicious-looking pumpkin-shaped cookies on the shelf..."
"...Ah, Kumasawa-san, that's..."
Of course, she had said the wrong thing. Because she had reminded Battler and the rest about that horrible and tragic Halloween party in the chapel... Nanjo hurriedly whispered into Kumasawa's ear.
"...Battler-san, I am truly sorry! I didn't mean anything bad, gracious no..."
"No, don't worry about it. I'll definitely turn this boiling anger back on the culprit."
"...I wonder if that culprit is still on the island."
"Probably. At least, until the typhoon passes, no boat will come."
"Y... yes, that is true! Because the boats don't come even if there is a little wind. They certainly wouldn't come during a typhoon, yes!"
"...It creeps me out."
"You think so too, Aniki? Me too. ...Whether the culprit was that mystery guest or not."
"...When I think of it that way, there's something I just can't understand."
"What... do you mean by that...?"
"It's simple. It's just like Kumasawa baa-chan said a short while ago. Right now, this island is right in the midst of the typhoon, and escape is impossible. The same thing goes for the culprit. In that case, having the crime come to light should have been the thing that the culprit most wanted to avoid."
"...That's right. There was no need to draw that creepy magic circle on the entrance to the chapel, and show off the fact that the corpses were there."
"Right, that's what it means. Furthermore, if they were able to take the time and effort to do something so horrible to those six people, it should have been possible for them to hide the six corpses where they would be impossible to find."
"...The culprit knew that they wouldn't be able to run away from this island for a while. And yet, they acted as though they wanted to make us find the corpses in the middle of this typhoon. Whatdoes this mean? If I was the culprit, I definitely wouldn't play around and make us find the corpses."
"...Beatrice-sama was not in her room. The room did not seem particularly disturbed... Ah, no, Milady did disturb it quite a lot though..."
BGM: Hour of Darkness
"Kanon-san is looking after her. They are probably in Milady's room."
"...That isn't good. The culprit is definitely still on the island. In this situation, I don't believe it's a very good idea to isolate ourselves in small numbers."
"Wh, what do you mean by that...? Y, y, you don't mean to say that the culprit plans to kill all of us...?! Awawawawawawawawa..."
"Let us remain calm... That is not yet certain..."
"But even if it's stressful, we can't deny that the possibility exists. Ihihi. This letter was in the chapel. According to this, the culprit is the witch, and if we don't solve the riddle of Grandfather's epitaph and find the gold, they'll massacre the whole family..., something like that."
"Is that true...! Umm, would you allow me to read it as well...?"
"Hi, hi... hi, hieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee... eeeeeeeeee... hh..."
As they read the witch's letter, Gohda, Kumasawa, and Nanjo's faces grew even paler than they had been... Kumasawa could no longer hide her shaking.
"...If you don't want to die, try finding Grandfather's hidden gold, is it? Screwing around with us. I'll bet you can't solve the riddle, so you're trying to make us solve it...!"
"However, I wonder what the truth is. Madam always stated that the Legend of the Gold was nothing more than an illusion created by the Master. It is doubtful whether that actually existed..."
"True... Supposedly, they thought it would be nice if it existed, and only somewhat believed it. All of the relatives started believing in the Legend of the Gold after Kinzo's health worsened and the inheritance problem came up. I believe there are very few people who believe it very much."
"E... excuse me, please wait. Just now, did you say three gold bars...?"
"...Yeah, there were definitely three of them piled up. So what?"
"Well, umm, I... happened to hear Krauss-sama say something. Yes, I just heard it, right?! It's not like I was trying to listen to secret discussions, yes!"
"Don't worry about that now. So then what? What's wrong with there being three of those gold bars?"
"...Y, yes. According to Krauss-sama, there was only one bar ever found to support the Legend of the Gold."
"...That is correct. I do believe the story goes that Kinzo-san showed the president of Marusoo a mountain of gold, and let him take one bar back with him."
"And that one came to be in Krauss-sama's possession. And, he also said that there was no gold which supported the Master's Legend of the Gold besides that one..."
"You're talking about my uncle here, right? So what does that mean? ...No wait... 3?! Wait, wait, where did they come from, that's too many, right?!"
"Might you not think of it this way? Maybe the other people in the family each found one, and they each brought one of them there..."
"No, I cannot believe that. When all of the relatives came to the mansion, I was entrusted with their luggage. I did not feel a suspicious weight back then."
"...I think those would weigh about 10kg. If that much weight was in their bags, even I would notice. But it didn't seem that way."
"Same here. At the most, there were some changes of clothes, medicine, Kyrie-san's makeup. Stuff like that, I think. Aunt Rosa's luggage also looked pretty light."
"...In that case, those three piled up gold bars were being shown to them... or maybe us. The Legend of the Gold is definitely real. It isn't an illusion. They're trying to force us to uncover the gold."
"Could there be a scheme... to have us solve the epitaph which points to the hidden location, and then try to snatch it away?"
"...That does fit. But there are a couple parts that don't make sense. First, our parents, who should have been the most likely to solve the epitaph, were killed first. I think that suddenly creates a contradiction."
"Maybe the culprit, like uncle Krauss, obtained those three and is therefore certain about the Legend of the Gold, and is trying to make us search for the rest... I think that way fits the best."
"...The pieces on the chessboard aren't lined up at all. We don't have a clue what the culprit is planning, what they want, what they want to make us do. Is it pointless? No matter what we think, at this point in time..."
"...Kihihi. It was written down. What she wanted to do. Couldn't anyone read it, kihihihihihihihihihi."
Maria suddenly laughed in a creepy voice. I'd thought she had been concentrating on the TV, but she was also listening in, apparently. As she remained facing the TV, she very simply told us what we were forgetting.
"...Although I bet she thinks it'll be impossible for you anyway. Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi..."
"...So you're saying you can solve it, Maria?"
"...Do-n't care. After all, she'll take Maria to the Golden Land. Won't get in Beatrice's way."
"In any case, it looks like to understand any more than this, there's nothing we can do except ask Maria. Maria, tell us. Who is this Beatrice? What is she planning?"
"Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihihi! You know, Beatrice is a witch! She can do anything with her strange power. Anything can be done with the power of magic. You can even create gold, even create bread. And of course, you can create sweets, right? You saw, didn't you? Kihihihihihihihihihihihihi hihihihihihihihihihihi!"
At that time, everyone jumped at the sound of a door being closed forcefully.
...Then she rapidly approached Maria, her heels squeaking, and hit her on the cheek.
"...Stop talking about that. Battler-kun and the rest will take it badly."
Without waiting for a response, she hit Maria's cheek once more. Everyone could only stand there, shocked.
"I don't know what uu- means. What about yes?"
She mercilessly hit Maria's cheek again. Maybe she didn't feel like resisting after being hit twice. Maria weakly said yes.
"R, Rosa-san, there was no reason to do something so harsh..."
"...This is my daughter's education. Do not interrupt."
The atmosphere around Rosa, accompanied by Genji and Shannon, was somehow cold, and yet dignified... completely different from how she had seemed before she left.
We saw that Aunt Rosa was holding something that looked like a gun. I couldn't imagine that she would be holding a toy in this situation.
"Aunt Rosa, what is...?"
"...I agree. Rather than trying to figure out what the culprit is planning, it might be better to first think about our own safety."
"Father was alright, but he was slightly distracted by these sudden events. Fortunately, he said that he won't leave his room, so he's probably safe. Now, we should do all we can to gather in the same place."
"...I agree. We don't even know where the culprit is hiding, so... anyways, there's no proof that there's only one of them..."
I said it myself, and shivered. That's right. Could a single person kill six people and create such a horrible scene all alone? Isn't it natural to assume that this crime was carried out by multiple culprits?
"...I agree with Rosa-san. It is probably good for us to gather in one place."
"Yes, yes, I also think that is good, yes, yes!"
"...Maybe it would be good to call Milady and Kanon-san here by now."
"That's right. Let's have them come down."
George-aniki tried to grab the extension phone, but Gohda-san shook his head. That's right, we couldn't use the phones right now.
"...I'll go with a couple people. If George-aniki and Gohda-san also come, that should be enough."
"...'Wolves and Sheep Puzzle'?"
"...Uu-. Maria, has it. Show you."
"Maria, turn off the television. Genji-san. Please tell me where Jessica-chan's room is. Let's all go together."
"...Yes. I will guide you."
"Come on, everyone. We'll move together. Follow my instructions."
We stood up. Maria alone looked like she had some regrets about the TV, but she went along with everyone for now, and got up.
"...Shannon, thank goodness. I was worried when you took so long to get back."
"I am sorry to have worried you. The Master ordered me to copy down something..."
"I... I am sorry, excuse me..."
BGM: At Death's Door
Jessica and Kanon-kun were a boy and a girl of about the same age. That'd sure be a shame if we walked in on them at a bad time, or at least that's what we would be joking about normally. However, Aunt Rosa was on edge, constantly overflowing with a sense of tension. So it really wasn't the kind of atmosphere where we could joke like that.
"Hey, don't fall behind!! Everyone move together! We don't know when or where the culprit might leap out at us, right?!"
...No, maybe Aunt Rosa's attitude was more appropriate. Since Grandfather hadn't come down, Aunt Rosa was the leader. This wasn't a situation where she could smile like she always did. And Aunt Rosa was herself a mother. She probably also thought that, if she didn't get a hold of herself, some harm might befall her beloved daughter.
The culprit had killed six of our parents at once. The method they had used was unknown, but there was a good chance that this opponent could take down a large number of people in an instant. Was that with weapons, or with numbers? Or was it the magic of a witch? In any case, it definitely didn't look like an element we could get careless about... The rest of us should also take much, much greater care, like Aunt Rosa...
Aunt Rosa spoke in a sharp voice. We wondered what it was, and when we peered forwards... we immediately noticed the reason...
"Everyone, get back...!"
Gohda-san and Genji-san approached the door... Beyond the door, was probably Jessica's room.
"This... seems to be the same paint that was scribbled on the door to the chapel."
"...It appears so. It appears that not much time has passed since it was drawn."
"What is that... another... magic circle?!"
"...It's the first magic circle of the moon. It has the power to open unopened doors."
The door to Jessica's room... had that creepy scribble on it which had been drawn on the door to the chapel. That strange pattern definitely had some meaning related to the occult. But it didn't matter what that meaning was. We were worried about whether those two were alright.
"Th, that doesn't matter! Are Jessica-chan and Kanon-kun alright?!"
"...I have a bad premonition... We should quickly take those two downstairs."
"Milady! Milady!! Are you there? Please answer!!"
Gohda-san knocked violently and yelled, but there was no answer.
"...Rosa-sama, it seems to be locked."
"There are no other options. Please open it."
Genji nodded, and Gohda quickly unlocked the door with the master key. In the back of my mind, horrible images floated up and disappeared, one after another. A magic circle had been drawn on the door to the chapel. And six corpses had been behind that. So, if there was a magic circle drawn on the door to Jessica's room, then beyond it...
"Wh, what happened? Is she there?!"
"Jessica!! What happened?!!"
...It was truly heartless. The expression on Gohda-san's face and what he said when he opened the door, prepared us for the brutal fate that Jessica might have met, even without seeing her...
Everyone rushed into Jessica's room at once. That scene told everyone that their worst fears were right on...
"...How... horrible... D... Doctor Nanjo!!"
Inside the room, which seemed elegant for her age, Jessica had fallen over. There was a large pool of blood on the floor. And there was a knife or something sticking deep into her back... Was it a knife? There was a design in the handle that had to have been done in a devil motif. Was it a weapon with some occult meaning? Definitely.
"...This is... horrible. She has passed away. This, probably, reached her lungs... Not much time has passed since she died."
"Jessicaaaaaaaaaaaa!! Damn it, damn iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!!"
"I was naive!! I knew it!! Since they couldn't escape the island, the culprit was definitely close by! Then why didn't I get cautious sooner!! I was naive!! I just assumed that the culprit would commit a crime and then sneak away!"
"...We were stunned then. We thought it was just too bad that Jessica-chan gave in to rage and ran off. But we were naive. We should have stopped her...!"
"...Gohda-san, why did you leave those two alone! If only you had been with them, something like this...!!"
"N, no, th... that is, umm!! I said it was dangerous so we should return! It's just that, Milady said that she wanted to be alone! Kanon-san told me to leave it to him, and...!"
"That's right! What in the world happened to Kanon-kun?!"
"K, Kanon-kun... Where..."
"Kanon-san should have been with Milady... Where in the world...!"
"You don't think, they got him...?!"
"...Quiet. Someone might be hiding in this room. Search under the bed and in the closet."
There was a chance that Kanon-kun's corpse had been pushed away somewhere. At Rosa-san's order, everyone searched throughout the room together. But there wasn't a single human hiding anywhere.
"...He's nowhere!! Could the culprit have taken him out of the room?! Then we have to search for him quickly and save him! If we're slow, something awful might happen!! Aunt Rosa, let's search all over the mansion! Let's search for the culprit! Let's save Kanon-kun!!"
When Aunt Rosa yelled at us with a loud voice, we fell instantly silent. She was probably contemplating something. However, what in the world could that be...?
...Aunt Rosa walked around the room as though looking for something, or as though she was collecting her thoughts. Then, she found something on the side table by the bed, and picked it up.
Aunt Rosa showed everyone a key with a cute mascot attached to it. Judging from its cute appearance, I didn't doubt that it was Jessica's key, but I had no way of knowing what key it was.
"...It is probably the key to this... to Milady's room."
After hearing that, Aunt Rosa made a point of going outside the door and checking. Without a doubt, it was the key to this room.
"...I wonder why it was set in a place like this. Normally, don't you keep an important key in your pocket?"
"...Umm... Milady wasn't in the habit of locking her room. It seems she would only do it when she went to school, because she didn't want Krauss-sama to look inside her room..."
"...I see. She wasn't at school, so it's natural that Jessica-chan would set the key down here. How many keys can open this door?"
"J... just the one Milady had..."
"Can't it be opened with your master keys?"
"...They can open it."
"How many master keys are there? Are all of the servants holding them? Are there extras?"
"Yes. We are all holding them. As for extras... I wonder."
"There used to be several... but Madam strongly scolded us that this was careless, so they should have been dealt with."
"...That is correct. There is only one held by each servant. There are no more."
"Hmm. Well, regarding that. I have noticed that having several master keys whose locations are unknown is quite disadvantageous for me."
"...That's probably right. Since you want to make me believe in magic by using closed rooms, it would be really disadvantageous for you if there were more master keys than we supposed. In any event, every time a trick related to locks shows up, I planned to resist by arguing that the culprit possessed a master key that someone had lost in the past, or a duplicate."
"Yes, that's correct. So I've decided to make a move to defeat that. I'll alter the setup."
"...Messing with me. More importantly. What is this move? What's Aunt Rosa saying."
"*cackle*cackle*. Who knows? You should try listening in."
BGM: Fishy Aroma
"...And I've been able to specify the culprit who assaulted Jessica-chan, or maybe one of their accomplices."
"Wh, what did you say...?! Who is that?!"
"...Huh, eeeeh?! Wh, why Kanon-kun?!"
"...But Jessica-chan's key was closed up in here. Which means it is only possible that one of the master keys locked it."
"...It is as you say."
"O, oh my!! It wasn't me, not me! Yes, I couldn't do something like that!"
"...Kumasawa-san got up late. After we returned from the chapel to the parlor, we did meet you there, but it's impossible to prove where you were and what you were doing until that time. You watched us from the shadows, chased after Jessica-chan and Kanon-kun when they were isolated, and stealthily attacked them."
"A, are you saying that I visited Milady's room, and did something so horrible?! I, I, I did no such thing! Yes, no such thing!!"
"What about Gohda-san? You said that you left Jessica-chan in Kanon-kun's care and returned. But I wonder if that's true? I wonder if you didn't really kill the two of them, hide Kanon-kun's corpse, and then come back with an innocent look on your face?!"
"Nothing of the sort happened! I, Gohda, swear that I did not do anything like that!!"
"...I, it wasn't us...!! We were following the Master's orders..."
"Yes. At least you and Genji-san are alright. That is backed up by what I heard from Father. The two of you were in Father's room the whole time, copying and witnessing for him. Father and I can guarantee that."
"...Thank you very much."
"In that case, I think the argument becomes who is more suspicious, Gohda-san or Kumasawa-san? I even thought that as soon as I entered this room. But still, I thought it was strange. Look at the state of Jessica-chan's body. Doesn't everyone think it's strange?"
"...Strange... you say...?"
"R, Rosa-sama, you couldn't mean... to say that was Kanon-kun...?"
"Yes. We know well what state Jessica-chan was in right before she was killed. After seeing her parents' tragic bodies, Jessica-chan was very panicked. And it's easy to imagine that after she regained her composure, she would be in a horrible slump."
"...Jessica-chan said to leave her alone. Then Kanon-kun, who is of a similar age, and may have some adolescent relationship with her, said to leave it to him. That feeling is also very understandable."
"...So, for that reason, I think Jessica-chan welcomed Kanon-kun into her room. But what if it had been Gohda-san or Kumasawa-san? Would she have let them into her room?"
"...I, I believe that I have gained Milady's trust. But even so, err..."
"Then you are another suspect after all, right, Gohda-san? I thought that you probably weren't liked by Jessica-chan, so I believed she wouldn't have let you into her room. So I thought it was impossible that you were the culprit, but...?"
"No, umm...! I am afraid to say that I may not have been accepted by Milady. Wh, what about you, Kumasawa-san?"
"Ho, hohohohohoho! A senior like me is far too separated by age to understand the feelings of a young person like Milady very well... And perhaps Milady did not open her heart up to me. Right, Gohda-san?!"
"Yes, that's right! She probably did not open her heart to us to a great degree! It would be inconceivable that Milady would let us into her room when she was heartbroken!"
It was a really unpleasant routine.
"Someone who would be permitted to enter Jessica-chan's room when she was heartbroken. Who would have been given access to her defenseless back. And that person had a master key. That only points to one person. It was impossible for anyone except Kanon-kun."
"P, please, wait...! Kanon-kun definitely wouldn't do something like...!"
"Oh, then is there someone else? Is Gohda-san or Kumasawa-san suspicious after all? Who do you think is more suspicious, Shannon-chan...? Come on."
"I... I... something like that..."
"It wasn't me, Shannon-san! Yes, it was not me!"
"Of course, it wasn't me either! The people who had close relationships with Milady were Kanon-san, and then you, Shannon-san, right?!"
"...Yeah, isn't that right? Jessica-chan might also let Shannon-chan into her room. But you should have been with Father. But in reality, were you the culprit...?"
"Sh... Shannon couldn't be the culprit! Didn't you just say that she was doing some important work with Grandfather!"
After being told that, no one could respond... Even if someone did argue back, they would then have to offer the name of a different suspicious person. And no matter whose name that was, that person was here. No one could do something like that.
Aunt Rosa glanced at everyone in turn, fingering the gun like it was a toy... She seemed so different from the Aunt Rosa who was usually kind. No, it's probably because I don't feel the danger we're in. Maybe Aunt Rosa's attitude would seem natural if I really felt how much danger we were in...
"It seems that no one has an opinion. Then I will say mine."
"Of course, I cannot deny that Kanon-kun is a victim without a corpse. But until we find his corpse, I definitely can't deny the possibility that Kanon-kun is a suspect. There's a chance that Kanon-kun was attacked by the culprit and confined somewhere... and with that as an excuse, he may appear unexpectedly."