Part 54: Devil's Proof
October 5th, 1986, 1:17 PM
BGM: Dead Angle
"Aaah, Shannon! Thank goodness you're safe...! If something had happened to you, I...!"
"George-kun, be quiet for a second! A murder occurred before your very eyes, right?! Did you see the culprit?! Or not?!!"
"Th, that is, umm... how should I explain...?! G, Genji-san."
"...Even we cannot explain what we saw very well."
"It certainly, umm, happened right before our eyes! It was right in front of my eyes! However, that, umm... what was it... Even I do not understand!"
"What are you saying?! It's impossible for you to have met anyone other than the witch, Beatrice, whose location has been unknown since yesterday, or Kanon-kun, who has gone missing! Was it a man or a woman?! You should be able to tell me at least that much, right?!"
"Aunt Rosa, calm down a bit...! Anyone would be confused if two people were taken out right in front of them! Gohda-san, Genji-san. There's no need to rush. Tell us what happened, one at a time."
"...About that... how should I say it..."
...And it seemed that it had occurred in front of these people's eyes. But even so, they spoke awkwardly. They admitted that they had definitely seen the crime with their own eyes. But when asked to explain what they had seen, their mouths went suddenly shut. I could understand why Aunt Rosa was irritated and flaring up...
"...Shannon. Did you see it? When Doctor Nanjo was attacked."
"Tell me. Just what you understand. What in the world happened?"
"...Came... to the back door."
"...Th, that's right. Someone came up to the back door. Then, wondering who it was, I opened the door..."
"Someone at the back door? Who was it?!"
"Let them finish! And after that?!"
"...That person was... stained with blood, and had a large wound. We carried that person to the servants' room, and Doctor Nanjo immediately began first aid. It was, a very deep wound."
"Like I said, who are you talking about?!"
In a manner that didn't match his large body, Gohda held his head and scratched at it... I didn't have a clue whether he was confused because he couldn't remember, or whether he was confused because he had seen something terrifying, and couldn't accept it. And Shannon looked the same way. If she let her guard down, what she had seen just a short while ago would quickly melt away like a daydream, and she wouldn't be able to remember what she saw. That's what she looked like.
Only Genji looked composed as usual. So the questions were naturally focused on Genji. However, even Genji took quite some time before he opened his mouth, and had to gather his thoughts.
"Genji-san. You saw it, right? Who was the person that came in through the back door?!"
"...At first... I believed that person, was Kanon."
"You see!! He was alive after all! My reasoning was correct!!"
"...By 'at first', you mean that your impression changed later, right...?"
"Yes. I cannot explain with words what happened after that. He killed Doctor Nanjo and Kumasawa, then disappeared. At that time, he was definitely not Kanon..."
"Yes! That's right! It's just as Genji-san says!! You really couldn't explain it with words!"
"...Do you have the same opinion?"
"...Yes... I also... can only say the same thing..."
...If we interpreted what they were saying favorably, it meant that Aunt Rosa's conclusion had been correct from the beginning.
Then, something terrifying had happened. Since these people couldn't imagine that Kanon-kun could have pulled it off, they had started to suspect whether that really had been Kanon-kun. Is that how things are? In other words, this means... Kanon-kun had appeared. No matter how confused they were, no matter how they muddled their words, that's what it meant in the end.
So just as Aunt Rosa thought, Kanon-kun had used some trick to escape that room while it was locked?! No, that doesn't matter anymore. The real problem is that Doctor Nanjo and Kumasawa-san were killed. Aunt Rosa had claimed that Kanon-kun was behind this from the very beginning. No matter how confused they became and no matter how much they tried to deny it, they were half-way saying that it was the truth. But even so, for some reason, I felt like their awkwardness couldn't be explained just by confusion...
...What had they seen?
Like they said, had they really seen something unexplainable with words...?
I was also interested in that. Even if these people didn't have a clue what was going on in their confusion, if those of us who hadn't been at the scene calmly looked at the corpses, we might find something. But it was a little surprising that Aunt Rosa was also concerned about the bodies, just like I was. Even at this point, I still wanted to expose the culprit and the truth myself, if we could find any clues.
But Aunt Rosa should have been different. Hadn't Aunt Rosa's plan given a higher priority to staying safe than to finding the culprit? I couldn't really see why Aunt Rosa would go to all the trouble of leaving our barricade in the parlor because she wanted to check the bodies.
"We will all go to the servants' room together. If we all move together, it'll be safe. Maria, stop playing with scribbles!"
"Uu-. Not scribble-s. Solving Beatrice's proble-m. Uu-..."
"Beatrice's problem? What's that, tell me too."
"...Aunt Rosa. Are you, umm, bringing Maria-chan too?"
It seemed that George-aniki was against the idea of bringing Maria to the bloody crime scene. But taking into consideration the fact that Maria would be left alone here, it would surely be much safer if we took Maria with us. In the end, it was just Aniki's irresponsible humanism. We decided that all of us, including Maria, would go to the servants' room.
...No, not just the bed. The whole room was covered with a gruesome paint from countless blood stains. That dreadful scene alone was enough to give us an idea of the repulsive sight they had been trying to describe...
"...Uu-. Maria also loo-k!"
"Maria-chan, wait here with me."
George-aniki was standing by the entrance, covering Maria's eyes, with his back to the room. He probably didn't want to dirty an innocent girl's retinas with the repulsive blood in this room. That was surely the correct decision. I was acting tough right now, so I didn't mind... but for the rest of my life, whenever I see red paint scattered around, I'll probably remember this room and start to vomit. My retinas already had this room burned into them. In other words, it was too late for me...
Right after they entered the servants' room, Gohda-san and Shannon-chan trembled. We shook, wondering what horrible new situation had arisen to make them tremble again.
"What happened? What is it?"
Aunt Rosa also shuddered, raised her gun high, and searched for whatever it was that had made them shudder. But she couldn't find it.
...It was only natural. They were trembling because they couldn't find it.
"Hey, what in the world's going on..."
"What does this mean?"
"...Th, that can't be...! Those two were definitely, here...!"
"...Wait wait wait. What the hell, are you saying the corpses just walked off somewhere? That couldn't happen, right? I mean, wasn't the servants' room locked? Didn't you unlock the door when you came in just now, Gohda-san?!"
"...What does that mean? Isn't this the same as Jessica's room?! They've disappeared from inside a closed room again?! That's ridiculous!!"
"I don't have a clue what happened either!! When we left this room, we definitely locked it...!! I don't have a clue what's going on anymore...!!"
There was a timid and pitiful smile on Gohda-san's face that he definitely wouldn't have let show normally. Shannon was the same.
"Two corpses disappeared! And furthermore, they disappeared while the door was locked! Even if Kanon-kun was the culprit, he shouldn't be holding a master key anymore!!"
"That's wrong...! Kanon-kun is not the culprit...!!"
"...Shannon... I believe Shannon. Kanon-kun is not the culprit. This is definitely the work of someone who looks a lot like him."
"No. Kanon-kun did not have the master key. After all, his master key was found in the pocket of Jessica-chan's corpse. And, who took that key?"
"!! Th, that's right! It was Doctor Nanjo...!!"
Then, if they'd had the opportunity to search Doctor Nanjo's corpse, it would have been easy to take the master key back...
Aunt Rosa searched under the bed and in the locker. By now, I also understood what that meant. If you assume that there were two culprits, it could be easily explained. The first person was Kanon-kun, or maybe an impostor that looked like him. He had finished off Doctor Nanjo and ran off somewhere.
The second person was... probably the 19th person, Beatrice, whose location was unknown. That person had hidden under the bed in the servants' room beforehand, and while Doctor Nanjo's body had been enshrined here, that person had waited for Genji-san and the rest to leave. Then later, they had crawled out, taken the master key back from Doctor Nanjo's pocket, and carried the two corpses away for some reason. If they had then locked the door with the master key, this closed room would be created.
"...If the culprit had taken the master key back by the method you say, that culprit would have to know that Nanjo had taken the master key from Jessica's body."
"...You don't have to tell me that... You're probably trying to say that it's information only the people in that place, at that time, could know..."
"...Heh! This third closed room was crushed so fast that you can't do anything but say that sarcastically. There's no art in repeating the same content..."
Even though I was bluffing, that move of the witch's hurt bad... I realized I was cracking under the thing I wanted to deny the most.
This person's trying to close in on me from two directions. On the one hand, there's the frontal attack, where she tries to force me to believe there's a witch using closed room tricks that only a witch could do. And on the other hand, there's the rear attack, where she tries to lure me into thinking it would be better if there was a witch by strengthening my suspicions of those close to me.
In the first closed room, the chapel, she had used the frontal attack, but it hadn't worked on me. So by the second closed room, and now on the third closed room, she was definitely changing the direction of her attack... However, the fact that she was changing the direction of her attack also proved that my resistance was working a little. And she had surely given up on the frontal attack because she clearly couldn't win with it... I tried to force myself to accept my own position by thinking that. But it seemed that the witch had seen through these thoughts of mine long ago.
"*cackle*cackle*. The frontal attack is not lacking. The rear attack only has meaning because it advances at the same time as the front attack. If I were to degenerate into only using the rear attack, it would be nothing more than a foolish plan occurring when my means became my goal."
"...Ihihi, really? Well then, won't you repeat 'someone was hiding in the servants' room' in that red you're so proud of?"
"There is no need. The premise of your reasoning will be destroyed starting now."
"Oh, oh?! You refuse?! So someone really is hiding?!"
"Rosa will destroy your premise starting now. *cackle*cackle*! Well, let's try listening in."
Aunt Rosa began to search through various objects around the room, her back to Gohda-san as he cried out in supplication. Eventually, she found something, and for a while, stopped moving.
"Rosa-sama, we definitely aren't lying...!! The two corpses were definitely here!!"
"Be quiet. The person who hid the corpses is confessing that they took the corpses to another place. With this."
BGM: Witch of the Painting
"What on Earth is that?! It couldn't be... a letter in a sealed envelope, just like in the chapel?!"
"...Yes, that's right. It was set here, out in the open. I'll read it."
People of the Ushiromiya family.
I wonder if your attempts at solving the epitaph riddle for the gold are reaching a climax.
Solving the riddle of the epitaph is the single method by which you can stop me.
You will not be able to stop me, or this ritual, by way or any other method of any kind.
I ask all of you to take care not to mistake your goal.
Attempting to search for me is useless.
Attempting to escape from me is useless.
Attempting to deny me is useless.
Beatrice the Golden
"...P.S. I borrowed two corpses for the ritual. I'll return them later, so please forgive me. Furthermore, since these keys belong to all of you, I'm returning them."
As Rosa read that aloud, the contents of the envelope lay exposed on the palm of her hand.
Video: Battler's Brave Counterattack
BGM: Organ Short #600 Million in C Minor
"I haven't said it in red, alright...? I haven't denied the possibility that after they locked the door and left, someone was hiding in this room, alright...? *cackle*cackle*cackle*!"
"...If they were hiding under the bed, that doesn't necessarily mean that they wouldn't be able to carry the bodies away somewhere. But that way they couldn't lock the door! The master key they went to all that trouble to get their hands on was set down right here!"
"...That's right, I'd forgotten. What about the original key to this room, the 'keys to the servants' room'?!"
"Which means that the situation hasn't changed at all since the time with the key to Jessica's room... It's not like the servants would walk around with an unnecessary key when they have those convenient master keys. I can accept that they're all kept in the key box..."
"And nothing has changed in the other conditions. Entry or exit is impossible except for the single door and single window. Therefore, hidden doors and irregular methods of entry are denied. Rejoice, great detectives. *cackle*!"
"And those were both locked. The door and the window do not permit any kind of entry or exit when they are locked. So it wouldn't work to remove the door and make a crack to slide in through or anything like that while the lock is still on. And obviously, it is impossible to unlock the door without a key to the servants' room or the master key."
"...It's a pain having to read all these aloud every time. Sooner or later, I should think of a word to put this all together and abbreviate it."
"But you can't repeat that someone was hiding in this room! However, that alone won't break open the door of a closed room... Aaah, damn it, damn it!! It's no good, no good, no goddamn good at all...!"
"*cackle*cackle*! What happened to that turning over the chessboard thing that you're so proud of...? Please, announce your boastful strange theory."
"...Turn over, the chessboard. What would I do if I were the culprit? I carry the corpses off somewhere. I leave a letter. I lock the door from the inside. Then I just have to escape this room by some means. Damn it, is that even possible?! I was told in red that you can't get outside except by the door or the window...! ...ah-"
...Carry the corpses, leave the letter. And not relying on a hidden door, in other words, not even able to escape...
...That's it. This isn't a question, it's an answer...
"What have you thought of? Very well, I'll explain. A hidden door refers to an entrance or exit that cannot be recognized by those who do not know of it. Even children know that."
BGM: Melody (instrumental)
"Hoh... Here it comes."
"I kept thinking that it was something that let the culprit escape the closed room... That's wrong. Even the culprit couldn't escape the closed room! So the culprit decided to hide until we passed by!"
For the second closed room, I had used this theory to reason that Kanon-kun might have done this. But I had given up that reasoning when I had been told 'Kanon-kun was killed' in red. And next, I had guessed that there had been three people and that it was possible that they had escaped through a hidden door. And then, for the first time, the claim had been made in red that 'no hidden doors exist'. And what I'd learned just now. These 'hidden doors' the witch was talking about referred to things that made it possible to get into or out of the room.
...In other words, things that didn't permit entry or exit to the outside, and also wouldn't be noticed by people who didn't know about them, wouldn't fall under the definition of 'hidden door'.
In other words, the third person in Jessica's room was hiding here, waiting for us to pass by! Heh, how pathetic, just a little playing around with words! Looks like even this third closed room in the servants' room will be handled by this method. If there's a hidden shelf under the bed or anything like that, that would be enough. The culprit's hiding somewhere, waiting for us to leave. The culprit is also trapped in the closed room even now!!
Which means... this very moment! The culprit is still hiding in the servants' room, holding their breath...!!!
Which means... what the hell... Even though I was tortured with closed rooms three times... in this very moment, we've actually gotten the culprit in checkmate!!
"Repetition requested! 'There is no one in this room other than us'! By us, I mean me, George-aniki, Maria, Aunt Rosa, Genji-san, Gohda-san, and Shannon-chan, alright?! What do you think?!! You can't say it, right?!"
"I'll bet I hit you where it hurts!! If you refuse, then say you refuse, damn it!!"
"Here comes the next one!! Repetition requested!!!"
I don't know how they're hiding in this room. But if that's a fact, then this also resolves the second closed room, Jessica's room at the same time!! I've finally caught her by the tail! With this, I can explain everything! Witches don't exist, I don't have to doubt anyone!!
BGM: Organ Short #600 Million in C Minor
"Let's go back to Jessica's room. When Jessica's corpse was discovered, only Battler, George, Maria, Rosa, Genji, Gohda, Shannon, Kumasawa, and Nanjo were in Jessica's room. Whoops, the corpse of Jessica is also included. Therefore, both in the case of Jessica's room and the case in this servants' room, no humans exist that you were not aware of. No one is hiding."
"And I'll say more. No method exists by which the door can be locked from the outside without using a key. Regarding the window, no method exists by which it could somehow be locked from the outside."
"D, dumbaaaaass... So, it's really... a closed room, isn't it... I... it was so hard to think of, too. If you had been hiding... that explanation would fit everything. Just when I thought I'd broken the trick... damn iiit..."
"...u... uooooooooooooooo ooooooohhh!!"
It's useless it's useless it's useless it's all useless!! For a second, I thought I'd had it! It was all useless!! Beatrice, you bastard, you spoke in riddles by playing around with words and skillfully using the red, and you probably saw through me, realizing that you could skillfully trick me...!! Just when I thought I'd seen a light in the darkness, ...it disappeared, it just disappeared, swallowed up by a blood-red sea...! Red... redredredred!!
Have you just proven that it's all impossible?! Has the Devil's Proof... been fulfilled... with a frontal attack?! Impossible... this is impossible!!
"Yes, that's a really wonderful method. Truly wonderful how you tried to make me fall over laughing and drown in a sea from the tears of my own laughter. That's what you were really trying to do, right? You were trying to make me laugh and laugh and laugh myself to death, right, Ushiromiya Battleeer???"
"Magic?! I'll definitely deny witches exist!! I definitely won't believe in you!! You used the power of magic, and bullied and killed everyone for fun? I definitely won't accept thaaaaaaaat!!"
"Hey, Battler? Sorry for bullying you too much. I'll 'turn the chessboard over' from my side. I'll teach your side the best move in your place. Want to heeeeeaar??"
"Don't screw with me, I don't want to hear, I don't want to hear!!"
"The case in Jessica's room. You really struck on a good spot, right...? Trying to hide and wait for you to pass by. That truly was a good observation."
"...But why did you think that could only be Kanon or me, the 19th person...? I see, the 'hide' part of hide and wait for you to pass must have gotten in the way, so you didn't think that far."
If Jessica were the culprit, a farce like this could be easily constructed!! She killed Kanon-kun, and carried him off somewhere! Then, she played dead and let us walk by!
But that's ridiculous!! Doctor Nanjo had definitely checked that she was dead! So was Doctor Nanjo an accomplice too?! That's wrong!! I had also made sure that Jessica was really dead! Of course, I'd never performed an autopsy before, but she was definitely dead! I think she was dead!! No, that's probably surely definitely what I thought but certainly wait... she was dead!! She was dead!!!
"Jessica was also an accomplice. And Nanjo, who performed the autopsy, was also an accomplice. *cackle*cackle*cackle*cackle* *cackle*cackle*cackle*!! Then the third closed room was a faaaarce."
Yeah, then it's simple. Doctor Nanjo was an accomplice so in other words, he was on the culprits side in other words in other words, so he hadn't been killed in the first place?! We only thought the body disappeared because he had been killed, but he wasn't in the servants' room in the first place?! Then is Kumasawa baa-chan, who disappeared with him, also an accomplice?!
That's not all that's not all! The servants who had prepared this story beforehand, Genji-san and Gohda-san, and even Shannon-chan were accomplices! Then, the one who stole the key from Maria's handbag was Jessica, no no, it's also possible it was George-aniki! After all, if Shannon-chan was on the culprit's side, then George-aniki would automatically be on the culprit's side!!
Not only am I drowning in an ocean of bright-red blood, there are packs of wolves clamoring on the banks, whose blazing eyes tell me that if I crawl out, they'll eat me!! Which way should I die?! Will I deny everything and drown in a bright-red sea?! Will I know the truth, and have my whole body chewed to bits by the wolves?! It's either one hell or the other!! I can't choose! Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!!