Part 51: A Suspect II
"I, I can't believe it... for Kanon-kun to do that... to Milady... that's too much!!"
"I feel the same as Shannon. I oppose labeling Kanon-kun as the culprit."
""I I I, It wasn't us!!""
"If it wasn't Kanon-kun, then who could have opened this door? Shannon-chan. George-kun. Right? Right right right...?"
Aunt Rosa closed in on Shannon-chan and George-aniki, laughing unpleasantly. Of course, they couldn't say anything back. They wanted to believe in Kanon-kun. But if they did, they would have to suspect the other servants.
The simplest culprit was the mystery guest Beatrice. But she was nothing more than a guest, and didn't have a master key.
Then if Beatrice was the culprit without a master key... Do we have to accept the argument that she really is a witch, and locked the door with the power of magic...?
"What are you worried about? Make it my fault. You can just make it the fault of the 19th person, the mystery guest, right? If you do, you won't have to watch this ugly battle of humans pressing each other, right...? *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
"So then what. The culprit is the 19th person, the guest Beatrice. She's a witch, so she could lock the door without a key using magic. Are you telling me to accept that? Damn it...! Damn it, damn it...!!"
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*. In the last game, I learned all of your weak points. So, what will you do, what will you do...? You definitely weren't going to accept me, right? Then, you can use Kanon as a perfect sacrifice."
"Kanon killed Jessica! If you support Rosa's theory, everything is settled here, right? Kanon is already dead. There should be no need to show concern for the dead. And, you won't have to doubt anyone here! *cackle*hahahahahahahahahahaha!"
"Damn it!! I won't accept you!!! But, Kanon-kun being the culprit... that's impossible!!"
"D, Doctor Nanjo... What do you mean by that...?"
"...Umm, please do not misunderstand. I do not wish to label Kanon-san as the culprit. However, until we understand the situation, there is the possibility that Kanon-san is the culprit, and I believe thinking that way is safer."
"Ho, hoh-hoh-ho... Yes, that's right... you cannot be too cautious."
It didn't seem as though anyone blamed Nanjo. In reality, no one thought that Kanon was the culprit. But if they did not suspect him, they would have to suspect one of the servants here. We didn't want to do that. We didn't want to suspect. We didn't want to be suspected.
"That is correct. We cannot be too vigilant. Is there anyone who objects to that?"
"Listen. There is a very high likelihood that this murder case is related to Father's Legend of the Gold. In that case, it's certainly the crime of someone plotting to keep a vast amount of gold worth several ten billion yen all for themselves. With that amount of money, you could play around for the rest of your life in any country. It may be possible that they would massacre us for this reason."
"Because she wasn't holding a master key, the 19th person, the guest Beatrice, is removed from suspicion only for the murder of Jessica-chan. But we cannot say that she is unrelated to the crime. After all, it's a vast amount of gold we're talking about. We can't deny the possibility that there are multiple culprits. Right now, one of the people here among us might have been bought by the culprit!!"
...Don't believe anyone, suspect the person next to you... that's what she was saying. But no one wanted to suspect. They didn't want to suspect anyone here. That weakness in their hearts demanded an answer from those not here...
"There are only two ways you can be sure someone isn't a suspect. If it's yourself, or if they're already no more than a corpse. The same goes for Kanon-kun."
"Until we catch sight of his corpse, he is the most likely suspect in Jessica-chan's murder!! So take care. Even if he's still alive, even if he smoothes things over with some explanation, you definitely must not trust him! Alright?!"
No one gave a answer of their own initiative. However, those who met Aunt Rosa's eyes had to nod their heads...
Humans are beings who live by molding themselves to fit society. In other words, from the time they are born, trusting each other is genetically imprinted on them. It is, unpleasant to go against that. They definitely don't want to suspect someone. But if they had to suspect someone... they thought that choosing one of the people not here right now would be the safest. For just the reason of safety, they half-heartedly chose Kanon to be the sacrifice.
I'd heard it from George-aniki just now, but not only were those two close in age, they also had that adolescent relationship Aunt Rosa had mentioned. It may be a little late now, but yes, they really did have that kind of air about them. After seeing her parent's tragic corpses, Jessica, bearing deep wounds in her heart, would only have trusted Kanon-kun.
...That was a very conceivable story. So I don't like it...!! Kanon-kun was the only one she trusted. So she wouldn't have let anyone but Kanon-kun in. So, this argument saying Kanon-kun was the only one who could have killed Jessica... I just couldn't accept it...!!!
Aunt Rosa made that claim. By using the vague word 'suppose', in the end, she encouraged everyone. Everyone nodded weakly, and, under the temporary excuse that they were just supposing it, they 'claimed' that Kanon was the culprit who had killed Jessica...
...I wonder what the dead Jessica and Kanon would think if they could hear this exchange.
It was frustrating. So frustrating that it felt like her chest would explode... She grieved and resented how far the dignity of the dead had been trampled...
"...Those guys... why are they treating Kanon-kun like the culprit!!"
"...Because there's... no corpse."
"Why are they treating you like the culprit because there's no corpse?! You risked your life to fight for me, right...?! Then, that witch erased the corpse for fun...! After that, Kanon-kun being the culprit, it's horrible, it's too horrible!!"
"...It's alright. In the end, I couldn't completely protect you, but... I was able to be of use to Milady..."
"...Why doesn't everyone understand that?! Stop it, Aunt Rosa!! Don't call Kanon-kun the culprit with that messed up reasoning!!"
"...She isn't saying that I'm the culprit. She's just saying I'm suspicious... no, she's saying to be careful."
"She is saying it!! These people are saying you're the culprit, Kanon-kun, so they can stop thinking! They aren't thinking about who the culprit who killed me is anymore!! They aren't thinking of the possibility that you aren't the culprit!! And after this, every time something happens, they'll repeat the excuse that it was the work of Kanon-kun, whose location is unknown!! I can't stand that!!"
"...It's alright. At least Milady knows the truth."
"If only I know the truth, that's pointless!! I know after dying. Truth belongs to living humans!! If the truth doesn't remain, the dead won't be rewarded!! They won't know why Kanon-kun risked his life!!"
"Lament, lament. No matter how much you lament, the voices of the dead never reach the living."
"Damn it, damn iiiiiiit!!"
"...I can't stand that!! It's sad! It's vexing!! Don't you care that Kanon-kun's dead?!! The honor of the dead must be accepted by the living! It doesn't matter who! Notice it! Notice it, I beg you!! Kanon-kun isn't the culprit!! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahh, don't go, don't go, everyone!! Please, don't let it end like this...! Don't go... don't goooooooooooooo!!!"
Rosa proclaimed that this room should be sealed until the police came. The rest didn't want to suspect each other, so they happily accepted that. For now, they accepted that Kanon was the culprit. Without even imagining how much disgrace that gave to the dead, they accepted it.
"...Milady... it's alright now... Thank you..."
"Don't go!! Don't go everyone!! For heaven's sake, come back!! Don't leave us like this!! Don't leave us, still treating Kanon-kun... as the culpriiiiiiiit!! Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh...!!"
"It won't reach!! The laments of the dead never reach!"
"You make me laugh, yes, that face of yours makes me laugh!! Did you think your voice would reach? It won't reach, will it, Jessicaaaaaaa??? *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*, wahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!"
BGM: Dread of the Grave
"Huh? Battler-kun, did you say something?"
"Yeah, this is no good. It's no goddamn good at all."
At the time everyone made to leave the room... Only Battler had his back to them, and he was still looking down at Jessica's corpse.
"What do you mean, it's no good at all? Do you have some objection...?"
"I'll at least agree that we have to be vigilant. But this talk about having Kanon-kun be the culprit, sorry, but allow me to refuse."
"...Honestly, I give up there. Seriously, why'd I say it's no goddamn good?"
"...I don't take any responsibility for my own conduct. Ihihihihi...!"
"I'm empty-handed with zero weapons to argue with. But you know, I won't hold my finger to my lips anymore!! Beatrice!!"
"...I, is there some proof that Kanon-kun isn't the culprit...?"
The expression that rose to the faces of those two was definitely expectant. They didn't want to believe that Kanon was the culprit. They really believed Kanon. So this expectation was because they wanted to be made to believe him even more strongly!
"Then Battler-kun, which of the other servants do you suspect? Gohda-san? Or is it Kumasawa-san?"
"Quit it, Aunt Rosa. I know the person called Kumasawa baa-chan well. She'll sometimes slack off on work, but she'll always make things fun for people. Even if her eyes were dazzled by money, she is not a person who would kill."
"And I've just met Gohda-san yesterday. Honestly, I still don't really understand him. But there is something I understand."
"...I've never seen someone who can make food that looks so fun. You're the same. The same as Kumasawa baa-chan. Gohda-san likes to make people happy."
"As if a person like that could kill those that praised his own food as delicious... even if money was piled up in front of him!!"
"...Then, who do you think killed Jessica-chan, Battler-kun? Who do you think shut Jessica up in a room that could only be locked by a master key?"
"Wait. Before I argue about that, there's something I want to make clear. I don't want to talk about, if so-and-so is not the culprit, then so-and-so is the culprit. I just want to talk about how it's completely impossible for Kanon-kun to be the culprit."
"It's actually simple. It's something I dangerously overlooked. Beato!"
"Just now, I heard what Gohda-san said. Just before he split up with Kanon-kun. The part about when Jessica went to raid the honored guest room."
"...Gohda-san, you did a good job remembering it. You protected Kanon's honor."
"...I, I... did...?!"
"I heard him say the same thing. But I don't really understand! Could you explain it, Battler-kun?!"
"*cackle*cackle*! Is that really so? Certainly, Gohda has no recollection of the master key being returned to Kanon. However, she might have returned it when Gohda wasn't looking! How does that prove that it definitely didn't happen?! *cackle*cackle*cackle*, if you could just search the pocket of Kanon's corpse, you could establish that, but you can't!! It is impossible to prove!!"
"You're no goddamn good at all. Isn't it actually simple?"
"Yeah. And to prove it, all you have to do is search Jessica. Kanon-kun's master key should be in Jessica's pocket. Doctor Nanjo, would you check for us?"
Nanjo dashed up to Jessica, and searched in her jacket pocket... Everyone was expectant...!
...Please. Be there...!!
"...Here it is! Is this it?"
At Genji's statement, there was a small 'oooh' of joyful voices.
"That is Kanon-kun's master key. I'll say it again."
"'Kanon-kun isn't holding a master key'. Therefore, there's no way he could have locked the door!!"
"...It certainly does... appear that way. But Kanon-kun was the last person to meet Jessica-chan. The fact that he's suspicious hasn't changed."
"Let's give it a rest, enough doing that."
"Normally, humans are supposedly creatures that trust each other. But because we live in a tough world, we learn the depths of doubt. So we'll doubt anything. We are sad creatures. I won't deny that's our nature."
"But if you're going to say someone's guilty, prepare some perfect evidence! As long as you can't do that, definitely don't say someone is guilty because of speculation!!!"
"...u... That is..."
"...I was the one who said the suspicious were guilty. That was careless. I apologize."
"...W, wonderful reasoning, Battler-kun! Thank you too, Gohda-san. Because of what you remembered, Kanon-kun is cleared from suspicion!"
"N, no I... hahahaha..."
BGM: Golden Sneer
"Well done, well done. Not a bad job."
"...Shit. Was I fooled by that bait piece just like you wanted...?"
"You wonderfully proved that at least Kanon couldn't lock the door to this room. The servants should all have been holding master keys. With that as proof, Kanon was treated as the culprit, so at least you wonderfully cleared away that suspicion. *cackle*cackle*cackle*."
"...In that case. How did the culprit who killed Jessica lock the door? So that's the problem that we have now. Sheesh. I've been drawn into a development that went exactly like you wanted..."
"Right into my trap, yes...? Furthermore, you said something outrageous about not doubting any of the other servants. Well then, it'll be worth seeing how you gloss this over..."
"Shut up. Let's start right away. I'll probably deny it as best I can, but first let's check the definition of this room as a closed room."
"It is on the second floor, but it is probably possible to enter or leave through the window. However, the window is locked from the inside."
"...Let me suddenly turn the chessboard over. If I start by arguing about the door and the lock, I probably won't leave the palm of your hand."
"Do as you like. Well then, well then, what should I repeat?"
"...Repetition requested. 'Kanon-kun was killed in this room'."
"Again, repetition requested. 'Kanon-kun's corpse is in this room'."
"*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*! I refuse. I can't repeat it. Because I erased the corpse with magic. *giggle*giggle*giggle*!"
"So you won't say that. There's got to be a secret hidden in there somewhere."
"...Damn, where's the mysterious point in question? Did they lock it without the master key? Or did they somehow kill those two when they were inside the room and it was locked? Or did they kill those two, and then somehow escape?"
"...I hate to say it, but I'll have to tackle this one step at a time... Repetition requested. ...'The last time it was locked was due to the master key'."
"I also refuse that. *cackle*cackle*."
"...This refusing thing is really vague. I don't know if you refuse because it's impossible to repeat, or whether you can repeat it and you're refusing on purpose..."
"Back when discussing the lock to the chapel, you completely turned the tables on me. When I have an advantage, there's no need to go out of my way to use red and say things in a risky way. That's all it is."
"...That's right. Originally, you used the red when you wanted to stop my strange theories."
"It is natural that I would use it to my advantage. Because of the risk of it being quibbled with, I won't use it uselessly."
"*cackle*cackle*. Well then, what move will come next? A move that puts Gohda or Kumasawa under suspicion would probably be the easiest to use, right...?"
"...Damn. It's annoying being provoked... Stay quiet a while, I'm thinking...!"
"I'll say more. No trick could have the effect of locking the door from the outside without using a key. *cackle*cackle*!"
"Sheesh. Damn you for always using red when I don't ask for it..."
First, there are two victims. Jessica and Kanon-kun. Kanon-kun's corpse isn't here, but Beatrice admitted in red that Kanon-kun was killed. So even without a corpse, he is included as a victim. There are a few questionable points. And depending on which I focus on, my line of thought changes a lot.
If we assume that the culprit was one of those holding a master key, it's extremely simple... But I want to avoid that if I can. Because I would have to suspect Gohda-san or Kumasawa-san... no, in the worst case, even Shannon-chan and Genji-san.
Here, I noticed something. I was contradicting myself. I was restricting my own path.
Because of that, I had to explain everything with humans, not magic. But that also meant suspecting some human. I don't want to suspect someone. Of course, if there was some clear proof, I would have to believe that person was the culprit, but, as long as that didn't happen, I didn't want to raise suspicions.
Was I just green...? Was I just a kid who didn't want to have my feelings, which told me that at least this person or that person couldn't be a murderer, betrayed...? I want to deny that it was a witch, I also want to deny that it was a human. Now I don't know what is what anymore...
...It was just as she said. If I started arguing that someone holding a master key was the culprit, this closed room could be easily broken. However, the number of keys that could open this door were limited, and furthermore, since it was clearly known who held those, saying that meant that I was suspecting someone I knew well...
...No, am I simply averting my eyes? In that closed room trick with the chapel, which had been exhilarating to destroy, I had proposed that 'someone stole the key from Maria's handbag, and returned it'. If that theory was right, then the question becomes who could have stolen the key from her handbag. Maria's handbag had probably been the most unguarded when she was sleeping.
George-aniki or Jessica was the culprit? Or maybe an accomplice?! All of our parents had been killed, right?! And yet... and yet, one of us consented to that and assisted with the crime?! We had lamented, mourned, and shed tears in the chapel. And yet, one among us... had been lying?!
"And despite that, how could you act like you didn't notice, and say a theory like that so happily...! *giggle*giggle*giggle*."
"D, damn it... That doesn't guarantee that one of the family or the servants is the culprit! If you snuck up on us hiding in a cardboard box, for example, there's a good chance you could have slunk into our room when we were fast asleep and stolen the key, right?!"
"Hmmmmmm. That is also acceptable. By suspecting the guest, the 19th person, you won't have to suspect them."
"...Then how was Jessica's room locked? It's no trouble at all for me to open the lock with magic, but of course, I don't have a master key. If you deny my magic, you also have to deny that I'm a suspect, right...?"
"So, in other words, that means suspecting one of you 18 people...!!"
"Y, you're so nice, thanks. I've been able to sort things out a bit. My goal is to pursue how the 19th person, the human guest Beatrice, committed the crimes. If I do that, I won't have to suspect anyone!!"
"*cackle*cackle*! If you can do that? Foolish man. A room like this wasn't a closed room from the beginning. After all, there are a total of six keys that can open it."
"And there were several who possessed those keys! You can suspect any of them! Suspect as much as you like!! But you went to all the trouble of denying all of those, and made a closed room yourself."
"...Understand? This is a closed room born from your mental contradiction. *cackle*cackle*! There's no one else, you closed that door yourself."
"...So you're trying to say that there are two options, accept that a witch opened it with magic, or accept that someone I know is the culprit. Damn, are you trying to fork the rook!"
"So much that I wanted to show you that this move also exists."
"*cackle*. So, what will you do, Ushiromiya Battleeeeeeer? Isn't it actually simple...? Don't you just have to make sacrifices of that overly self-confident cook and that hag who wouldn't be a loss if she died? *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle* *cackle*cackle*!!"
"...Damn it!! If I suspect Gohda-san and Kumasawa-san, everything's fine?! It's no goddamn good! I can't think of Gohda-san as the culprit! I can't think of Kumasawa-san as the culprit!! But I won't accept you!! Definitely!!"
"In that case, they would have to enter the room without using magic or a master key, kill Jessica and Kanon, and even erase Kanon's corpse without using magic."
"...How could it be done?! How could it be done so that you can deny me and not suspect anyone at the same time?!! *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
"Huh? Battler-kun, what did you say?"
"...I give up. I was able to prove that Kanon-kun couldn't have locked this door... But that doesn't mean I was able to figure out who killed Jessica."
"N, no... that's more than enough... Umm, for Kanon-kun's sake, thank you very much...!"
"...No need to thank me. After all, that means that Shannon-chan is also under suspicion."
"...And sorry, Aunt Rosa. It's not like I wanted to resist you. I just don't want to die, so I wanted to find Dad and the rest's true killer. Sorry for saying something that wasn't cooperative."
"...No, it's alright. I was also a little rash. Let's make up. As an aunt and nephew, we have to be friendly with each other. Right?"
Aunt Rosa shifted the gun to one hand, and held out her other hand. I reached out, and for the time being, we shook hands.
Rosa's gaze was sharp. In order to deny the witch, she would make anyone a sacrifice. That's what her eyes told me. And me...? I denied the witch... But I wasn't prepared to lose anything.