Part 55: Devil's Proof II
"Wha...? What, are you saying...?"
"Those two that you kept saying were dead aren't here. And now we have the letter from Beatrice, where she was kind enough to confess that she carried the corpses off."
BGM: System 0
As Aunt Rosa yelled this, she looked over at everyone with a harsh expression.
"F, farce, you say... what do you mean...?!"
"I said it in Jessica-chan's room. You can't trust anyone but yourself and those whose corpses have been found. And since we cannot find the corpses, there's no reason we should accept that those two were killed."
"...P, please wait, Aunt Rosa. What do you mean by that...?!"
"How could you know that?! Are you saying that Gohda-san and the rest are lying?!"
"...Rosa-sama!! I, Gohda, no, all of the Ushiromiya family servants! We all swear that nothing of the sort happened!!"
"You all say that those two were killed. But since there are no corpses, there's no reason to believe that. There's a chance that you worked out a story beforehand, and that you're lying about that!!"
"There's a good way to prove your innocence, isn't there? Find Doctor Nanjo's and Kumasawa-san's bodies!!"
"If you can find them, then maybe I'll start listening to your story. But until you do, you cannot deny that you are all wolves!!"
"Rosa-sama...!! We... couldn't have!"
"Be silent! And Shannon, don't get any closer!! I can't believe that you would repay a ten-year long debt of gratitude with betrayal!! I'll pull the trigger without mercy!!"
"How... how could you... it's too... cruel..."
"...R, Aunt Rosa!! That's horrible!! A murder occurred in this room! Then the culprit carried the corpses away! They are only honestly reporting that to us!!"
Shannon had finally broken down in tears...
...And she had believed that she had built up a friendly relationship with Rosa. And this was how she was treated!! You could kill a person without using a knife...
It wasn't just George-aniki... even I could recognize that Shannon-chan had been stabbed deep into her heart, as blood by the name of tears flowed out...
"Shannon-san, stay back... Rosa-sama, it is true that I, Gohda, have not served for many years, and I understand that I have not earned your trust..."
"...However... could you not at least believe Shannon-san...?! She has sacrificed a full 10 years of service to the Ushiromiya family...! I'm not telling you to believe me...! At the very least, would you at least believe Shannon-san...?!!"
...But... I don't understand anymore!! I don't understand!! We can't demand an answer from them without suspecting them!!!
That's it, bit by bit I'm starting to understand... It's because we demanded an answer, that's why everything keeps getting stranger...
...Isn't that... good enough... I don't... want to suspect... anyone anymore...
Shannon-chan and Gohda-san were protesting their innocence, half-crying. Genji-san quietly stopped that.
That's right. By Rosa-san's argument, if the corpses could be found, then the innocence of only those people could be proved. But only the people who were corpses. Even if they searched around the mansion and found the corpses, in the end, their own innocence would not be proved.
They had kidnapped Doctor Nanjo and Kumasawa-san, killed them in another place, and locked the closed room with their own master keys. Unless the closed room could be broken by a method other than that one, it would be impossible to prove their innocence... But, that couldn't be done!! They only have one chance to prove their innocence. That can only happen when they meet with the culprit, become corpses, and are reunited with Aunt Rosa.
Isn't that strange?!! Innocent if they die, guilty as long as they are alive, almost like a witch's trial! Oh, right, the enemy's a witch. So everything's OK...?
"You really are a model servant. I truly understand why Father trusts you. It is truly heartrending that I must suspect even you."
Genji-san stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out a master key. Then he set it on a nearby table.
"...I believe that I have been entrusted with this as a proof of trust. If that has been lost, I think it is only natural that I return it."
"...That's a good judgment. Those master keys are the greatest basis upon which you have been suspected several times today. It may seem elementary that letting go of those might clear away that suspicion, but, sorry, it won't."
Genji-san looked at Gohda-san and Shannon-chan. The two of them nodded, and set their own master keys onto the table. Aunt Rosa lay the two master keys that had come out of the envelope on top. With that, all five master keys were gathered in this place.
"Maria, give me that handbag."
"...Uu-! Give it ba-ck!!"
Aunt Rosa snatched Maria's handbag, tossed the master keys in there, and pointed at one of them inside. She was announcing that she had all of the master keys.
"A... are you satisfied now, Aunt Rosa? Now, you are holding all of the master keys. Doesn't this satisfy you?!!"
"Yes, I'm satisfied. Even if I can't trust anyone, I can at least trust myself!"
At that time, Maria, who had looked like a spectator off by herself, sneered at her mother. Aunt Rosa reacted nervously to that laugh, and turned around.
"...Keys don't have anything to do with this. Beatrice can open doors with magic. She doesn't need keys. It doesn't matter who has or doesn't have something like that. Kihihihihihihihihihihihihihi...!"
"Don't I always tell you to stop laughing like that!! ...? Wha-t is it, Battler-kun?"
...I had just cut between the two of them. No, that's not it.
"Just... stop it already, Aunt Rosa... Maria was, right..."
"...Wh, what are you talking about...?"
"...Maria... I'm sorry for doubting. I'm sorry for... not believing."
"It was all... the witch's doing... The witch's... doing... All that stuff about tricks and closed rooms didn't matter... It's just, it's just... that the witch Beatrice actually exists... and she's really a witch... Because, I didn't believe that... it was this painful... this sad..."
"...Battler... believes in Beatrice...?"
Maria let go of my hand... and then she was the one holding my head.
"...That's enough, Battler. Beatrice, 'existed'. Battler, really couldn't believe that, so couldn't see her. The witch 'exists'. 'Exists'. Will soon 'come'.
"...Battler believed in Beato, so will surely be invited to the Golden Land. Very soon. It will be very soon. So there's nothing to be afraid of anymore. Not afraid, right? Always be together with Maria, hands joined, alright...? Let's solve the riddle of the epitaph together. Let's think about Beato's problem. Beato has been saying it from the beginning. She hasn't said anything other than let's play and solve the problem."
"Right... she did... Searching for the culprit was just a waste of time... If only we had... just believed in... the witch..."
After softly brushing my cheek as my tears kept dripping down, Maria kissed my forehead, as soft as a feather. For just that instant, Maria's smile, which I had once thought was creepy, looked like an angel...
"...You truly are an admirable person. When the typhoon passes, if the cries of the seagulls return to this island again... I wonder if we will be able to trust each other again."
"...If you were to grant us your trust once again, there would be no greater pleasure."
"I see. We'll definitely be able to understand each other. When the seagulls cry."
"...It would probably be better if we left this room as it is until the police come. Rosa-sama. If you would please lock it. We will return to the kitchen. If you need anything, please command us at any time."
"Thank you. If you are a wolf, how shamelessly you speak. And if you are a sheep, I'm sorry for throwing you into the cage of wolves."
"...Furniture entrusts its fate to the family. If it comes to throwing away this life, if by that, Rosa-sama's trust could be regained, it would be a great honor."
"...I hope that you can remain healthy until the typhoon passes, if that is at all possible. This is all a rhapsody of blowing winds and pouring rain performed by the typhoon. When the performance ends, the curtain closes, and we will surely be able to grasp hands together again."
Aunt Rosa nodded in response... Genji-san turned on his heels. He left the servants' room.
Gohda-san's face was still streaked with tears, but as he had listened to Genji-san's words, maybe he had managed to sort out his heart. His face had been truly shameful, but it had returned to the face of the Gohda-san we knew well.
"...Thank you. I can't wait for your breakfast tomorrow. And the boat will probably come by midday tomorrow. Thanks for everything up until now. Your cooking was my only pleasure on Rokkenjima."
"...Certainly. I, Gohda, will prepare a supreme breakfast. Please, look forward to tomorrow morning."
"Thank you... And Shannon-chan. Tomorrow morning, let's make up, drinking some delicious coffee."
"...It's alright, George-sama... Please, return to the parlor. There are no more master keys anymore. So if you are with Rosa-sama in the parlor, you won't be threatened by anyone."
"That's right. That's how things are. Objectively speaking, I think that being with me in the parlor would be the safest."
"...But I won't force you to stay with us. George-kun, you may stay in any place you feel is safe. You are already an adult. It's up to you where and with whom you spend the time until tomorrow morning."
"...Yes. I will decide... who I'll spend the night with."
"Battler-kun, stay with Aunt Rosa in the parlor. I'm sure that's safest. Compared to that, I think being outside the parlor isn't safe. So I can't leave her in a place like that alone."
"...It's... not like I suspect Shannon-chan and the other servants... no, anyone at all... I don't want to suspect anyone... The inheritance? The gold? That's just stupid... There's no way people are killing each other over that..."
"Yes. I know better than anyone how pure your heart is, Battler-kun. No one will blame you. No one."
"...It's alright. Maria will protect Battler. If he's with Maria, even Beatrice can't lay a hand on him. Because even though Maria's small, she's a witch."
"Yes. Maria-chan. I'm leaving Battler in your care. Alright, Shannon. Let's go."
"Yes... Rosa-sama, if you would excuse me. If you have an order, please call me at any time."
"...I'm sorry for saying something so cruel just now. I don't expect you to forgive me until tomorrow morning. But when tomorrow morning comes, let me apologize again."
"Yes... Thank you very much."
Now, only Maria, Aunt Rosa and I were left in this disgusting, bloodstained room. Until Genji-san disappeared, until Gohda-san disappeared, until George-aniki and Shannon-chan disappeared, we stood there, shocked...
That one sentence made me choke.
"...Wh... why are you... saying... something like that...?"
BGM: Prison Strip
"Th... that's not true, right...? B... by setting down those keys... they weren't just letting go of the keys... You've... made all their hard work count for nothing, disgraced it, trampled it... And in the end, you made them give up the keys..."
"What's with that parting line... They've shown that they're willing to go this far, and you still can't trust them?! Too much... that's just too much...!"
"It's a Devil's Proof! There are five master keys in all?! It's impossible to prove something like that!! You can show that there are five master keys by placing them here! But you can't prove that no more than five exist!! Only a demon or a witch could prove something like that, right?!"
"Please, Beatrice, show yourself right now, and tell Rosa in red that 'there are only five master keys'!! Please, for heaven's sake, this can only be proved by devils, a witch like you could prove it! Please, Beato, show yourself here and tell Rosa that those are all of the master keys, and that there's no need to suspect anyone anymore...!!!"
"*cackle*, whatever could be wrong? No matter how often I say it, it won't reach Rosa. Somehow, it seems that some people still exist that deny me, so she can't hear, right? Ushiromiya Battleeeeeeeer???"
"I accept it!! I accept it, you exist you exist you definitely exist! So for heaven's sake, stop this already!! Stop it already! Stop it already!! Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!!"
"Your words alone will not reach me, show it with your actions. Swear from your heart that you will become my furniture."
"Can you do it? Take off your clothes, be naked, then put your hands together and crawl on the ground. Clothing is proof of one's humanity. From now on, you will become furniture, so it's only natural that you will lose that right!!"
"Then kneel, make your tongue crawl on my shoes. Can you do it? You can do it, riiiiiiiight?? When you do, I'll appear and say it in red! I'll tell Rosa that there are only five master keys!!"
"Oh, but I understand, there's no way you would throw away your lordly pride. But that's alright, that's more than enough, you're starting to waver a bit, aren't you? For just an instant, you though maybe it would be alright to lick my shoes, didn't you? And you immediately denied that and felt ashamed, riiiiight?? Just looking at that expression makes me feel just wooonderful!!"