Part 52: Wolves and Sheep Puzzle
October 5th, 1986, 1:00 PM
According to Genji-san, when tomorrow morning comes, the boat should arrive. The boat had a radio. We could probably contact the police directly with that.
All of us gathered in the parlor, and decided to wait quietly until tomorrow. I proposed that we should search throughout the mansion for clues about the culprit, but Aunt Rosa rejected that, saying that if we managed to corner the culprit, or maybe provoke them, it might lead to a third murder. That was probably the right thing to do. If a bunch of amateurs like us investigated, there's no way we'd find anything. It would be wisest to focus on protecting ourselves without doing anything unnecessary, and leave it to the police after tomorrow.
We had been tense in the beginning, but other than Aunt Rosa, most of the people had spent all afternoon watching TV and were getting bored, so our sense of danger had grown much less intense. When we thought about it, even though there certainly had been six adults killed at once in the first murder, that made us imagine that some back-handed method like poison had been used. And in the second murder, it was thought that those two had become sacrifices because they were unfortunately isolated from the rest of us. From this, we imagined that the culprit wasn't a large number of adults, and they weren't someone who could kill this large group gathered in the parlor all at once.
Furthermore, Aunt Rosa was even armed with a gun. Surely, with this many people staying in this room, they wouldn't be able to touch us easily. That feeling of security, along with the passage of time, allowed us to recover from the shock of that morning bit by bit...
By the way, lunchtime had just ended for us. However, it had been a canned food lunch, a far cry from last night's dinner which Gohda-san had skillfully made for us. Aunt Rosa had also suspected that poison had been used in the murder of those six people. So, we probably couldn't deny the possibility that the culprit had snuck into the kitchen during all that confusion in the morning, and mixed poison in with the ingredients there.
...Aunt Rosa ordered all of us that, until the police came, we should not put anything into our mouths except safe foods like canned food. As a cook, Gohda-san must have felt very let down. As though he wanted to display his skill anyways, Gohda-san said that he at least wanted to bring the plates and pile them up with canned food. At first, Aunt Rosa had been reluctant, examining each one of the plates that were brought, but she hadn't been able to find anything to complain about, and Gohda's 'Chef's Pick Canned Food Combo Lunch' was born. Gohda-san said something about taste being savored not just with the tongue, but with the eyes too. I see, it's the same canned food we ate for breakfast, but it feels like something completely different...
As I was sitting lazily on the sofa, with no desire to watch TV, Maria came over, pulled a picture book out of her handbag, and held it out to me as she said that.
"...What is that book? 'Wolves and Sheep Puzzle'? Let's see."
BGM: Melody (instrumental)
At the time, I hadn't known what it meant, and then after that, there was the uproar when Jessica's corpse was found, so I'd forgotten about it completely. The book that Maria held out to me looked like a foreign picture book or something that had been translated. When I opened it, I realized that it was a book stuffed with riddles.
"Uu-. So there's several wolves and sheep, right? It's a puzzle to take them to the other side using one boat."
"...Hmmmm? I've heard of a game with rules like this. This is the wolves and sheep puzzle?"
It was a very simple puzzle, passed on from long ago.
Let's try posing a question. On the right bank, there are two wolves and two sheep. There is a boat that as many as two animals can ride on, and using it, you have to move all four of them to the opposite left bank. That's the puzzle.
There are two rules.
The second is regarding the wolves. When they are greater in number than the sheep in that location, they attack the sheep and it's game over.
For example, at the start of the game... The two sheep ride the boat, and go to the other side. Then one sheep gets off, and the other goes back to the first bank. When it does, there are two wolves on the first bank. And a single sheep returns there. When that happens, there are more wolves, so the sheep is attacked and it's game over. On either bank or even the boat, there must not be more wolves than sheep.
It's a puzzle about how to shuttle them across in the boat under these conditions.
The game provides the solution to the Wolves & Sheep Puzzle here, but just for fun, I'm going to move it to the start of the next post. The first person in the thread to post a valid solution will be awarded with the honor of being at least as smart as Maria.
It looked like Maria wanted to test whether I too could solve the puzzles she knew how to solve, and she kept showing me different pages, saying 'solve this one' and 'this one's hard'. What had been happening when Aunt Rosa had said the name of this puzzle...
That's right. When we'd decided to call Jessica, we had been talking about how many men should go, and Aunt Rosa had mentioned 'Wolves and Sheep Puzzle', saying that we should all go together...
"...Wait a sec..."
BGM: At Death's Door
And when the number of wolves and sheep was balanced, we were safe, but when a situation came up where that wasn't the case, the wolves bear their fangs... is that what she thought...? At the time we had found our parents corpses, Aunt Rosa had already suspected that the servants might be 'wolves'. She had sniffed out the possibility that, while she didn't know whether it was all of them or a group, some 'wolves' were hiding among them.
That's no surprise. That murder scene was very elaborate. It was easy to imagine that there were multiple culprits. And because she had reached that conclusion, when we went to Jessica's room, where Jessica had been alone with a servant, Kanon, and had been killed, it isn't hard to imagine why Aunt Rosa had suspected the servants so persistently...
"My apologies, everyone. Let us go as a group."
"...Shannon, Kumasawa. We are going."
"Yes, yes, coming. Hoh-hoh-ho."
"Well then, George-san, excuse me for now."
"Yes... Take care. Ah, Aunt Rosa, could I go as well?"
"I'm sorry, would you remain here, George-kun? There's something I want to talk to you about."
"...Is that so? Sorry, Shannon. Anyways, take care. Don't be alone."
"I'm sorry, Doctor Nanjo. I wanted to consult you about something."
"Yes, what could that be? ..."
The servants put the utensils and empty cans on the serving cart and started to head out into the corridor. Behind them, Aunt Rosa was talking to Doctor Nanjo about something in a small voice.
"...Understood. I will go."
"Yes, I am counting on you."
Doctor Nanjo closed the book he had been reading, stood from the sofa, and followed after the servants... Aunt Rosa stuck her head out into the hallway, and after seeing them leave completely, she closed the door, and spoke.
"...Hmm? Yes, that is true..."
"So you're saying that you've chased out all of the 'wolves'? Aunt Rosa."
With that one sentence, Aunt Rosa's gaze grew sharp. Apparently she had picked up on the sarcasm. She laughed lightly.
"...Your mind sure works fast, Battler-kun. I like clever kids. It means there's less to explain."
"Uu-. Battler, smart...? Can you solve this? Page 64 is hard. Uu-!"
"Maria, watch TV for a while. Mama wants to talk with Battler-kun and George-kun."
"Aunt Rosa. I heard about the puzzle from Battler-kun. I don't think it's bad to be very careful, but I think being too suspicious isn't good either."
"...Maybe the mystery guest, Beatrice-sama worked all night, and did it all."
"And the case with the master key involving the door to Jessica's room? Isn't that proof that one of the servants was involved?"
Only the master key could have locked the door to Jessica's room. In that case, we can only suppose that one of the servants locked it...
"Turn the chessboard over. That's strange, Aunt Rosa."
"...Th, that's right. It's just as Battler-kun says! There was no need for them to go to all the trouble of making themselves suspicious."
"Yes. That's an interesting thought. Of course, I also thought that. If that's so, then the person who locked it wanted to cast suspicion on the servants, and locked that door without a master key. But that's impossible. Right?"
...That's right. If there was a trick that could lock the door without a master key, this would be a good disguise aimed at casting doubt on the servants. If the culprit wanted us to isolate ourselves and attack us one by one, this trick would also be effective at giving rise to paranoia. However, there was no way to lock that door without using a master key...
"How can you make the claim that there's no way to lock the door without using a master key? Isn't that a Devil's Proof, like Rudolf nii-san was talking about? Maybe it was locked by a method we can't think of."
"Even if we can't think of it, that doesn't mean we can deny that there was some unknown trick."
"...That's also true. So is that it? The suspicious ones are guilty...?"
"I don't know the practical details of the trick, but I have a general idea. My apologies, but if we supposed that Kanon-kun was the culprit, it can be explained extremely easily. Even as to why there was no corpse."
"Huh... But Kanon-kun wasn't holding a master key, right?! Putting aside the other servants, at least Kanon-kun shouldn't have been able to lock the door!"
"The brain speed of a little sister is always the big sister's minus 1. Right now there is no one I need to worry about, so I feel relieved."
George-aniki realized that she was referring to aunt Eva, and seemed a little disturbed about how he should take that sarcasm...
"...I, I'm sorry. Could you explain it so that even I can understand? Kanon-kun's master key was in Jessica-chan's pocket, closed up inside a closed room. After the door was locked, it should have been impossible to put it in her pocket from outside the room no matter what trick he used...!"
"That's not it, Aniki. If it was done in the way Aunt Rosa imagines... this trick could only be used by Kanon-kun. And, the door could be locked without a key, while the master key was still in Jessica's pocket. And, as a result, his corpse would also disappear."
"H... how?! How would he lock the door without a key?!"
"It's simple. George-kun, when you return home, you lock the door, right? You twist the knob, *click*, right?"
"Huh...?! ...C, could it be... no, but, Kanon-kun wasn't anywhere..."
"...It looks like you've got it, Aniki. That's what Aunt Rosa was searching inside the room for. She was searching for Kanon-kun, who had locked the door from the inside, stuck the key in Jessica's pocket, and was hiding somewhere, waiting for us to walk right past him."
...And if he could get out after those who discovered the body left, the closed room murder would work perfectly...
"We searched that room, but we didn't find anything. But, that doesn't mean we know that the room didn't have something like a secret hidden passage that only the servants know about."
"We don't know where that might be hidden, but if we assume that there was a hidden passage, we can make the claim that it was impossible for anyone except him."
"*cackle*cackle*... 'Kanon was killed in this room', right?"
"Because you seemed to suspect Kanon as the culprit, you made me repeat this to destroy that possibility right away. I understand, I understand. *cackle*..."
"...So this is what I thought next. A theory that there were actually three people in that room. Jessica and Kanon-kun were victims. And I thought that the culprit, the guest Beatrice, was also there with them."
"You wanted to make it 'the human me' who committed the crime without using magic. I see, a strange theory that fits you perfectly. *giggle*giggle*."
"...I guessed that you killed those two, then locked the door from the inside. And you carried Kanon-kun's corpse using some secret method that normal people wouldn't notice. In other words, you used a secret door to escape."
"But you told me it in red. You said that there are no types of hidden doors."
"So even without having to thoroughly search the room, a famous detective could claim that there are no secret passages. *cackle*cackle*, playing as human detectives is so easy."
"Damn you, talking so big... Thanks. Thanks to the witch's arrangement, I can claim that the room doesn't have a hidden door without searching the whole thing."
"Indeed. There are no hidden doors in this room. There is no way to get in or out other than the door and the window."
"...Which means that theory Aunt Rosa's so confident in... is wrong. Furthermore, it's annoying, but it's impossible to disprove that theory. If you, the witch, say 'there are no hidden doors' in red, then it's settled."
"...However, no matter how much a human like me tries to argue against her, Aunt Rosa probably won't accept it. Humans can't prove there's no hidden door. It's a Devil's Proof. Damn. It sure is convenient being a witch..."
"You can't accept that, so you'd like to hear some reasoning that is easier to accept? There is none. I've been thinking the whole time. There's nothing but this!"
"George-kun, you had a good relationship with Shannon-chan, right? So I think it would be hard for you to accept that all of the servants are the culprits. I also don't want to believe that Shannon-chan is one of the culprits. But whether it's all of them or not, the culprit, or maybe an accomplice, is definitely in that group. You must not fail to see that!"
"...If you thought that someone other than Kanon-kun was a wolf, then causing that uproar by saying that Kanon-kun was the culprit in Jessica's room was to see the servants' reactions...?"
"Yes, that's right. And as a result, I began to suspect them even more. There certainly is a wolf among the servants. Certainly. And, just like the 'Wolves and Sheep Puzzle', while they are normally docile, they will surely attack if they get the chance."
"...Jessica-chan was a lone sheep on the boat. In that puzzle, they may not attack when there is a balance between wolves and sheep, but our puzzle is different. Depending on the opportunity and the number of people, they'll attack even if there is a balance. Just like when Jessica-chan was killed!"
"...Th, there's something I don't like! In that case, Shannon, who you had go to the kitchen, is in a dangerous situation, right?!! We should also go to the kitchen right now! No matter who might or might not be a wolf! If we can form a balance by gathering together, I think we should maintain that!!"
"...Shannon-chan went to see Father along with Genji-san. At that time, she was supposedly isolated, but she wasn't killed. Because Genji-san wasn't a wolf either?"
"Shannon isn't the kind of person who would take part in a crime!! Even if it's you, Aunt Rosa, I cannot ignore that. I demand that you take back what you just said...!"
"...I hate to say this in front of Aniki, but that argument, feels just like something aunt Eva would say. If we can't argue back, then you automatically assume that you're right. Looks like you can't fight your blood after all, Oba-san."
"...Even I don't think of myself as very praiseworthy right now. But guess what? I'm a mother! I would even become a demon to protect Maria's safety. I really wish I could shut myself away somewhere alone with Maria."
"...But I also plan to act as a mother to you two. Right now, you are as good as my children. Even if you aren't my own children, I won't forsake you. Definitely."
"I just wanted to warn you not to be careless, as your mother. Always remain where I can see you. I will protect you."
"And at the same time, you'll be observing us to make sure we aren't 'wolves'. Yeah, thanks a lot for that. Can you, auntie, prove that you aren't a 'wolf' yourself?"
"Yes, I can."
"That's a quick answer. How?"
"With this. This is my proof."
But that was only for an instant. She immediately lowered the gun, laughing impishly... But to me, the time I spent staring down the barrel of the gun had felt like an eternity.
"...How does that gun prove that you aren't the culprit, Aunt Rosa?"
"Think about it. What if I were the culprit? Did you think I would let the once-in-a-lifetime chance I got when the servants left get away? I could just shoot you, *bang*, and think of a fitting excuse later. Something like, Beatrice appeared outside the window and shot you with a gun. I would claim that I fired off a second shot back at her, and throw away two shots worth of empty cartridges."
"That's a crazy violent argument, but it does make sense. Ihihihi!"
"Long ago, there's something Krauss nii-san often said. Might is right. I wonder if that's really true?"
"...But understand. I want to protect you from the malicious culprit. I will become a demon to do that. That's all there is to it. I'm sorry for saying something that's angered you. Battler-kun, George-kun. Let's make up."
An unsatisfied expression rose to George-aniki's face. He probably couldn't forgive the damage done to Shannon's honor.
...What about me...? Several bits of circumstantial evidence hinted at the servants' participation. I didn't want to believe that one of them was the culprit, or possibly colluding with the culprit, but in the current situation, that was nothing but wishful thinking. Who should I believe?
In the first place, who was the culprit? Were there accomplices? If so, how many?! It seems that I've only been suspecting the people involved. I had quickly forgotten that 19th person, the guest, Beatrice, who had come yesterday and boldly called herself the Golden Witch. I hadn't actually seen her face. I'd heard that she was like a double of the witch in that portrait, but because I hadn't seen her directly, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't really feel like a 19th person was on this island. So I had unconsciously been hallucinating that the culprit was one of the 18...
Damn it... Come out, Beatrice. If you're the bad guy, then act like the bad guy, and show yourself, laughing in a high-pitched voice and looking down on us. Just like the bad guy in one of those dramas who, even though they are exposed as the culprit, aggressively says 'is there any proof?'
"Shut up, no more talking..."
It was only accented by the sound of Shannon and Kumasawa washing the dishes. Gohda was using the leftovers from breakfast and lunch as ingredients for a soup. Rosa had suspected that poison might have been added to the food, so they had decided to eat canned food, but it hadn't really been satisfying. But Gohda thought that she was being too careful. So he was spontaneously creating a soup to be served only to those that wanted to drink it.
Shannon and Kumasawa were washing the dishes that the food had been arranged on. On the inside, they thought maybe Gohda should be the one to wash them since he had been the one who wanted the food on plates in the first place, but they left their complaints unsaid for the time being. Genji and Nanjo were facing each other across a crude chess set which had many years of experience.
...It had still only just begun. And because the opening game of the experienced players had been endlessly refined, it looked like a ceremony where they just moved specified pieces in a specified order.
"It was made only from sealed ingredients, so there won't be any poison mixed in. I am making enough for everybody, so please, eat. Of course, I will also taste for poison. Please feel secure and eat."
"That really is a nice aroma. Gohda-san, the food you cook really is delicious."
"It's natural that you can create delicious food if you buy delicious ingredients. My master taught me that perfecting your ability to make delicious food from whatever is at hand is what makes you a true cook."
"That was a good master. Thanks to him, it looks like we can enjoy some truly delicious soup."
"...Although it is a shame that it was made from ingredients intended for all of the family members to eat."
"I'm sure that Rosa-san is also tired after everything that happened this morning. It is only natural."
"But thanks to that, we get to drink some soup made from delicious ingredients, hoh-hoh-ho."
The atmosphere in this place accepted that, but their hunger wouldn't be overcome by that momentary emotion.
"Ironically, it has become a soup that we normally wouldn't be able to savor. I would like to also serve it to everyone in the parlor, but...?"
"...Seeing that would violate Rosa-sama's instructions, it would be better to give it up. It is alright if only those who want to drink it do so."
"Hoh-hoh-hoh-ho. Skillfully taking a breather when no one is looking is also something a servant knows, isn't it."
When Kumasawa cackled, Shannon and Gohda also laughed. It seemed that, in an area where only their fellow servants were gathered, they could be very relaxed. Shannon didn't like Gohda's occasional dishonesty, but she knew that there was no falsehood in his childish smile when he cooked food, nor in his desire that people enjoy his food. So even though it was a little aggravating to be made to wash the dishes, she couldn't really hate him. However, they couldn't have dreamed that Rosa was calling them wolves in the parlor at exactly the same moment that they were spending their time peacefully like this...
It seemed like the sound made by a servant outside the back door when they were carrying a mountain of trash bags on a rainy day, or maybe when a servant was returning from work wearing a raincoat. So after hearing that sound, at first, none of them noticed anything out of the ordinary...
As the servants all looked at each other, they checked to make sure that each one of them knew what that sound meant.
"Wh... who could it be...?"
The servants knew the mansion's layout well. So they understood how incomprehensible it would be for someone from the parlor to actually go outside in this typhoon, go all the way around, and come up to this back door. Then was it Kinzo? They couldn't imagine that Kinzo, who never left his study, would dash out into the middle of this typhoon and come to the back of the house, where only low class people came in or out.
"...Th... that wasn't, our imagination, was it...?"
Shannon and Kumasawa drew close together, fearfully looking at the back door...
"...Wh... who is it...?"
As Gohda fearfully approached the back door, he called out. And he checked with his eyes the location of a butcher's knife set in a nearby sink. He didn't pick it up yet. Because there was still a possibility that this was a member of the family. However, that possibility wasn't possible...
There was no response from across the door to Gohda's initial question. Maybe his voice had been so quiet that it hadn't reached through all the wind and rain outside.
"...Hmm. Stand back, Doctor Nanjo and the women."
"...Wh... who in the world could it be..."
Genji took a knife with a classical design from a stationary box placed near the chess set. It was something to be used instead of a paper knife to open envelopes for statements of delivery and bills. But it was fundamentally a knife. So the blade on it could injure someone...
Genji hid it in his sleeve with a well-practiced manner. Then they both approached the back door, Gohda silently signaling his approval.
Gohda cautiously approached the back door, and slowly started to open it...
The shadow of a person suddenly shuffled into sight, landed on its knees, and fell over. Gohda fell backwards onto his backside and couldn't get up. That human shadow was soaked with rain, smeared with mud, and drenched with blood...
"...Kanon. Are you alright...? Doctor Nanjo...!"
It was Kanon. His breath was feeble, and the puddles of mud he left quickly became drenched bright-red. When Nanjo held him and turned him face up, there was a deep, gruesome scar right in the center of his chest, as though a spear or something had been stuck there. Even now, deep-red blood poured out from there...!
"Th, th th... this is horrible... Wh, what shall we do, first aid kit? First aid kit?!"
"Kanon-kun, put your hand against the wound! Please, push firmly! Let's carry him to the bed in the servants' room!! Everyone, please, lend a hand."
"C, come now, Kanon-san! Please, hang in there a little longer...!"
"Hang in there!! It's alright now!! So don't take your hand from the wound...!!"
"Anyways, let's carry him to the servants' room. Kumasawa, inform Rosa-sama that we have found Kanon."