Part 58: Surrender
October 5th, 1986, 9:00 PM
He ate some reheated soup that Gohda had made, along with some random leftovers from the refrigerator. They were all things Gohda had made himself, and were, of course, delicious. He had half-heartedly gone to ask Rosa and the others what they would do for dinner, but he had been yelled at by a voice telling him that they had canned food so they were fine, and the door wasn't even opened for him. So ironically, the servant Genji was able to eat a more delicious meal...
But why was it that Genji wasn't afraid to do the rounds all by himself, even though all of those crimes had been committed, and many people had already met a brutal end? Judging by his appearance as he carried out his normal tasks without a trace of fear, as though everything was normal, you might think that all of the horrible events that had happened today were just a dream or an illusion. Was he taking a philosophic view, or was it simply resignation?
It would probably be impossible to perceive the depths of his heart for all eternity, unless he told of it himself... Because he had given the master key back to Rosa, the places he could go to were extremely limited. All he could do was walk around the hallways, checking to make sure that the windows were closed. So he was probably able to go around that route far more quickly than usual.
"Who is it?!"
I was napping in a sofa, and that voice also brought me back to reality.
"...Rosa-sama. It is Genji."
"Do you have some business? We'll be fine without opening the door. Tell us from there."
BGM: At Death's Door
"Wh, what did you say...?!!"
"...I see. Understood, let's go and check them. Until I see the corpses, I won't believe anybody."
"...Uu-. It's alright, Battler. If Maria's there, it'll definitely be alright."
Maybe my face was shadowed with anxiety. Maria grasped my hand with her small hand, and spoke softly, trying to give me courage. Since it was Aunt Rosa's job to ready the gun and stand guard, it fell to me to remove the barricade of sofas. When I finished, I took a backward glance at Aunt Rosa, who was pointing the barrel of the gun over my shoulder, and opened the door.
"...In the courtyard. I shall guide you."
"Battler-kun, wait! Just in case, let's check the doors and windows of this room. Wait a second."
Aunt Rosa called me to a halt to prevent me from going on ahead, and began to carefully check the locks on each of the windows. But those locks had already been checked once. It felt kind of unpleasant, as though she suspected that I might have secretly unlocked them when she wasn't looking.
No, maybe Aunt Rosa was right for being this cautious... Even though it was called a courtyard, it wasn't really a pretty place you could take a walk in like the rose garden. On the contrary, since it was surrounded by the mansion on all sides, it made you feel a little discomfort, as though it was telling you that even if you tried to escape to the outside, you couldn't escape from the mansion. On the other hand, thanks to that, even though the violent winds could be heard, the wind itself was blocked.
Genji-san held out an umbrella, but Aunt Rosa ignored him. She probably wanted to say that the gun took two hands, and it would be dangerous if she took the umbrella. Even without Genji-san pointing his finger, we understood immediately.
Aunt Rosa entered the courtyard without even opening an umbrella. So Genji and I also entered the courtyard without opening an umbrella. Only Maria opened her umbrella.
"...Maria... Is this... you know?"
"...Uu-. It's the seventh twilight and the eighth twilight."
"I... I see. Certainly, just as Genji-san and the others said, there are horrible wounds on their necks. Very sharp. Almost as though they've been sliced with a katana or something..."
That gaping wound on their necks definitely made me want to avert my eyes, but after seeing the Halloween party in the chapel, even though I thought it was horrible, it was no longer enough to make me feel sick. More importantly, my gaze fell to their legs. On Doctor Nanjo's knee. On Kumasawa-san's ankle.
...They must have been the same as the one that had pierced Jessica's back.
"...What is this? It's the same as Jessica-chan. Is this supposed to be some kind of occult ceremony, I wonder?"
"...I do not know. The last time I saw their bodies, there was nothing like this. Maybe it was done after they were carried out of the servants' room."
The one that had been stuck into Doctor Nanjo's knee was still standing erect, but the one that had been thrust into Kumasawa-san's ankle might have been a little shallower. It had come out and fallen over. So, by looking that one that had fallen over, for the first time, I realized that it wasn't a knife, but something like a stake. Its full length was probably about 30 centimeters. It was probably made out of bronze or iron or something of the sort.
Even without touching it, I noticed that it had some weight to it. It was composed of a grip and a cone-shaped part, and it was obviously made to be a piercing weapon. Maybe it seemed like a miniature version of those lances western knights used on horseback. The ditch that had been inscribed in a spiral shape made it also look like a drill. However, the grip had an occult-like design of a demon or something, so instead of a weapon used in war, it felt like something that would be used in a ceremony to offer up a sacrifice.
"...At the seventh twilight, gouge the knee and kill. At the eighth twilight, gouge the leg and kill."
"Wait. Then, they've left out the fourth, fifth, and sixth twilights. C, could it be..."
If something like this had happened, why wouldn't George-aniki, Gohda-san, or Shannon-chan be here?! Why was Genji-san alone?!
"What is this? Where did George-kun and the other two go?!"
"...I was told that they wanted to go to Madam Natsuhi's room to search for something, so they left. They have not returned yet."
"What did you say...? Umm, you say they left, when was that?!"
"Two or three hours ago, I believe."
"N, no way...!! Why didn't something that important, wait, no, why didn't you think that was suspicious?!"
"...There must always be one servant awaiting orders. It was my duty to wait for orders until they returned."
Was Genji-san really this much of a robot?! This is bad, this is bad, it's really bad...!!
We ran towards Aunt Natsuhi's room. With a touch of anxiety, and just as much resignation. Before we even saw the inside of Aunt Natsuhi's room, we were imprisoned by a certain resignation.
BGM: Dead Angle
Anyways, this wasn't a normal situation, and without opening the door, we were able to imagine what was inside that room. On the face of the door... how should I say it? Hands had been heavily painted with the same red paint that the magic circles from before had been drawn with, and had banged on the door, scratched it, dirtied it. It was dirtied like the aftermath of a kindergartner playing in the mud.
I didn't know what it could mean. The bright-red paint that had been slathered on was dripping down, and even though no one said it, it made us think of blood.
"...G, Genji-san, please open it."
Aunt Rosa held her gun up high and ordered Genji-san to open it. Genji-san approached the door without being particularly troubled by that stuff on it, and turned the knob, but immediately turned around, shaking his head. It was locked.
This time, Genji-san asked Aunt Rosa to unlock the door, instead of the other way around. After making a slightly unhappy face, Aunt Rosa handed me a master key, and told me to open the door.
"...Battler-kun, would you open it for me with this?"
"Just trusting Genji-san with something like that wouldn't..."
Aunt Rosa glared at me with an intense gaze. Getting into a fight here would only make the environment turn even more sour.
Without talking back any more, I approached that creepy door, and tried the knob. It didn't open. It was definitely the resistance of the lock. I stuck the master key into the keyhole. Clunk. There was a light resistance. While listening to Aunt Rosa as she told me to take care, I opened the door without taking any particular care.
"...! H, horrible..."
"As I thought, it was a reproduction of the fourth, fifth, and sixth twilights."
The inside of the room looked as though a robber had just broken in. Drawers were flung open, pulled out, with their contents thrown about, devastated so that it looked nothing like the room of the methodical Aunt Natsuhi. But the thing that caught the eye before that was Gohda-san's corpse lying facedown right in front of the door...
...Exactly how far could it have reached after being stuck that deeply into his chest? Just imagining it would cause anyone's chest to hurt.
"...Was gouging the chest, the fifth twilight?"
Maria grabbed my hand. Her expression looked just like normal, but maybe she really was afraid of the aura in this room where three corpses lay.
...This time, one of those stakes had been rammed right in the center of his stomach. Was gouging the stomach, the sixth twilight?
Had she seen her own face in the end, in that horribly broken mirror stained with blood? Because she was face down, I couldn't see her face, but I could imagine even without seeing it. Nearby, in the sea of blood she lay in, a demon's stake had fallen... Only the fourth twilight was left. Gouge the head and kill...
Maybe my heart was completely tired out and dead... Even though I knew what I was doing was wrong, I lifted her head, and checked. And, I made sure that my guess was right on the mark. There was a gaping hole in Shannon-chan's head, and her insides were dripping out. Not only that, you could even see... inside her.
After seeing that, I finally noticed that what I was doing was wrong. I immediately averted my eyes, but by now, it was probably pointless.
Aunt Rosa got violently mad at me, and even tugged at the back of my collar. I tottered limply and fell on my butt, and gazed dimly up at the ceiling...
"...After this, even the eighth twilight is over. What was the ninth twilight again?"
"I see. After this, the Golden Witch Beatrice will be revived. What then? On the final tenth night?"
"...At the tenth twilight, the journey shall end, and you should reach the Golden Land. Very soon, the door to the Golden Land will be opened. Very soon."
"...The witch shall be revived and none shall be left alive, you say. We're going to die? Or is the ceremony of sacrifices over now, our journey shall end, and we should reach the Golden Land...?"
"...What is our journey? We've spent the whole day trying to find the culprit, spinning our heads as we tried to break out of this situation, and we haven't gotten anywhere. It's like they say, thinking stupid is no better than sleeping."
That's right... if nothing could be solved, it would have been much better if we had locked ourselves up the whole time without thinking at all. Grandfather was the wisest of us. He'd been shut up in his room since yesterday, without any contact with anyone. That would have been fine. Grandfather was the most correct...
"...It's alright, Battler. If you're with Maria, it's alright. The witch is very fickle, and she's a terrifying being who maybe kills humans for fun sometimes."
"...However, if you're together with Maria, it's alright. So, don't be afraid."
"...Thank you. It's soothing, and I'm happy."
After Aunt Rosa finished investigating their deaths, she proclaimed that she would seal this room again, chased the rest of us out, stole back the master key she had lent me, and locked the door again. It seemed that George-aniki had been holding the original key to Aunt Natsuhi's room. She had also collected that.
...Wait a second. She had all of the master keys in her hand.
Is this the fourth closed room...?
Now that we had been released from our suspicion of those three, we once again returned to the parlor. I don't have a clue what's going on anymore. If only the dead were safe, and everyone alive was a wolf... all that was left was me, Aunt Rosa, Maria, and Genji-san. Only those, Grandfather, and that 19th person, the guest who we hadn't even sensed, Beatrice.
13 people had died, and six were left. With only six people, how would the wolves and sheep puzzle end...? Even though the puzzle which had had 19 people in it had been reduced to six people, I couldn't find any answer...
..I felt a little anxious that, while we were gone, a creepy magic circle or something might have been drawn on the door to the parlor, but thankfully, there was none...
"Thank you, Genji-san. This is far enough. Please rest for the day."
"...Certainly. Then, if you will allow me to rest."
"H, hey, Aunt Rosa... are you saying that you'll leave Genji-san all alone in a situation like this...?"
"...That's right. I think it's very dangerous. But, in that case, why is he safe? After those three headed to Natsuhi nee-san's room, he was alone the whole time. And yet he's safe."
"...It's the wolves and sheep puzzle. Why would an isolated sheep be safe in its weakest position?"
"...P, probably because, by coincidence, there weren't any wolves..."
"Wrong. Because it wasn't a sheep."
"Are you saying Genji-san's... a wolf...?"
"W, wait, with that argument, anyone-"
"...Battler-sama. Thank you for your concern."
"...I believe that trust will be won not with a hundred excuses, but with simple faithfulness. Even if I am not able to gain your trust, I wish to be faithful until the end."
"...Then, we're decided. If you are truly innocent, the police will prove that for us when they come tomorrow. So, until then, we cannot remove you from suspicion."
"...After your long years of service, I find it truly painful to treat you so poorly. But please understand about tonight. Then, when tomorrow comes, please let us make up again."
Genji-san gave his head a small shake.
"...Today and tomorrow, I will continue to be a servant of the Ushiromiya family. If you have any business, please say so at any time. Then, if you will excuse me."
After hearing all that, there was nothing left to say. Genji-san bowed deeply, and left down the hall... And we entered the room.
She opened the curtains, and checked again to make sure the windows were locked. As I watched... how should I say it, I felt like it didn't really matter anymore. If I said anything unnecessary, it would turn into another fight.
For a while, I gazed at her from the corridor, figured I had waited just about long enough, and entered the parlor behind her. If she couldn't trust anyone but the dead, she could just go around killing everyone with the gun she held in her hand. And then in the end, she'd realize that she herself was the wolf. And then in the end, she could blast through the head of the final wolf, and the curtain would close on this insane murder theater...
As I thought that bitterly, I returned to the sofa where I had been encamped before, and rudely rested both of my feet on the table... When I tried to do that, I found something there and stopped moving my feet.
"...What is, this...?"
BGM: Closed my Heart
It was that envelope from before, with the seal of the One-winged Eagle. And it was unopened.
W... wait wait wait wait... What is, this...? When, who, put it in a place like this...? I had been sitting here the whole time, until I had gone with everyone to check the corpses. And there hadn't been anything. And when I returned, it was, here.
"...It's alright. There was no problem with the locks on the windows. This room is safe."
I heard Rosa muttering that...
Wait wait wait wait. Wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait. We had made sure this room was safe when we exited it. We had checked that the windows were all perfectly locked. And we had locked it, come back, and the windows were still locked. Then, wait, who had put this letter here and how...
I opened the letter. Two pieces of stationary came out.
If I asked Maria, she'd probably know what it meant.
And there was writing on the other page.
...There was no mistake. It was a letter... from Beatrice...
"...Uu-? Battler, what is that?"
"Ah... aaah, when we came here just now... i, it had been set here."
"What happened, Maria? Huh?! Battler-kun, that letter?!"
"W, wait, err! It was set here. Why?! Even though we properly checked to make sure this room was closed!! Why?! Why!!"
"...Maria, come here."
Aunt Rosa closed her eyes just a little, and after silently thinking something, told Maria to come. Maria obeyed her mother's words. As she did, something unbelievable happened.
Aunt Rosa pointed the barrel of that gun at me...
"When I came into the room just now, I saw that there was nothing at all on the table. And I know that Maria did not approach that table. It was for a short time. But the only one who claims to have approached the table and found the letter, is you."
"How can you... wait, th, that's all screwed up!! Why would I put something like this here?! Wait wait, I just found something suspicious and reported it, right?! Why are you suspecting me?!"
"Because only you could set that letter there!! That's right, this is all a charade!! You pulled an envelope from your pocket, and then acted as though you had just found it. To create the illusion that the witch entered a closed room, set down a letter, and left!!"
"...Dumbass... a, are you thinking like that again...? Are you going to doubt me... because of something like that?! Cut it out!! My dad and everyone else were killed!! Why would I take part in the culprit's scheme?!!"
"That's right. Even if you could have received a large amount of money, I don't want to believe that a demon who would sell their own parents exists."
"...Wh... whaaa?!?! Think about what you're saying!! Dad is Dad, right?! Of course, I'm not related to Kyrie-san by blood, but she's like a big sister to me!! You can't ignore at least that much, you bastard!!"
"Uu-uu-uu-!! Sto-p i-t!! Uu-uu-uu-!!"
"Stop saying uu-uu-!! ...I'm sorry, that was a bad way to say it. Of course, Ushiromiya Battler-kun might be Rudolf nii-san's child!"
"...But, are you really Battler-kun, Rudolf nii-san's child?!"
"What the hell are you talking about?!! If I'm not Battler, then who else do I look like?!"
"Including Rudolf nii-san, we've been reunited with you after six years. No one can prove that you really are Ushiromiya Battler, right?!"
"Cut it out, damn it!! I am me! Ushiromiya Battler!! If we're going to doubt even that much, are you really Ushiromiya Rosa?! I'm myself, no one else!! Yeah, that's right, it's just as you say, the only one you can trust other than corpses is yourself!!!"
"If you're going to say that much, let me make an objection!"
"My reasoning goes like this. You're in contact with the real culprit, and while I wasn't looking, you lent them one of the five master keys!!"
"I didn't do something like that!! See, there are five of them here, right?!"
"As if that matters!! You could have had them set it in a pre-arranged spot, and collected it, right?!! And weren't you the one who said it was suspicious whether there were really five master keys?!"
"So how are you saying that someone other than yourself set that letter there?!! As long as you can't prove that, you are a wolf!!"
"Shut uuuuuup!! Then why don't you show me some proof, how do you say the culprit killed George-aniki and the rest in that closed room?! How did they lock it?!!"
"There is no fraud or trick, there is no means of secret passage and no hidden place! Natsuhi's own key was in George's pocket, and the inside of the room was closed off. Only the five master keys were left, and Rosa was holding all of them! And let me say this, the parlor's the same. The original key to the parlor is sealed in the servants' room. So unlocking it without the master key is impossible! The definition of a closed room is the same as always!"
"Come on, now there's only one suspeeeeect, or are you still playing innocent, Ushiromiya Battleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer?!"
"Shut uuuuuuup!! You keep silent as welllllll!!!"
"If I can be suspected, then you can be suspected, you try showing me some proof, wasn't the first person to enter the room and begin checking the windows you, Aunt Rosa?!"
"Then you anticipated that I would return to the place I had been sitting, and secretly placed the letter. I can also suspect that this is your trap, right?!"
"Why would I use a trap like that?!! If I was a wolf, I'd shoot you with this gun without question!!"
"That's no reason!! Maybe, because you couldn't commit murder in front of Maria, you chose the roundabout way of setting a clever trap!! All of the master keys are in your hands! So this place and the room just a while ago, are all your doing, aren't they?!! If you can talk your way out of this, then let me hear your excuse!!"
"That's right, you've been suspicious from the start, Aunt Rosa! Why is it that even though six adults in the family conference were killed, only you were the exception, Aunt Rosa? Why were you the only one not in that chapel?!"
"There can only be one reason, you invited Dad and the rest there and killed them!! Damn it, damn it, that explains everything, doesn't it, don't fuck with me don't fuck with me, stop saying things that don't make seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeense!!"
"Mama too, Battler too, stop iiiiiiiiiiit, stop iiiiiiiiiiiiit!!! It's no one's fault! It's not Battler's or Mama's fault!! The witch did all of this! It was done with magic!! It's no one's faaaaaaaaaault!! Uu-uuuu---!!"
Maria thrust herself in between Aunt Rosa and me as the blood started rising to our heads. I was taken aback by Maria's crying voice and returned to my senses.
...I had acted shamefully just now. My eyes filled with tears.
"Even though it's the work of the witch, we weren't even able to trust each other as humans...!! Right, Aunt Rosa, from the beginning, there wasn't a human culprit, it was all the work of the witch."
"So there's no way you're the culprit, and there's no way Maria, Genji-san or I am the cuplriiiiit!! Why has it come to this?!! Why am I screaming with Aunt Rosa... who I loved?! Why am I having this fight... with the kind aunt who I loved?! Why, why does everyone have to suspect each other?!?! I'm not going to doubt my aunt, I'm not going to doubt anyone, it's all the work of the witch, it's all the work of Beatrice, it's all, all a crime that Beatrice committed with magic!!"
"Beatriiiiiiiice, please, show yourself here, and confess to us that you did everything, I'm sorry already, I'm sorry for doubting each other like this!!"
"So forgive us, release us, release us from this hell of suspecting each other until we see each other's deaths!! Give me my kind relatives and cousins back!! I hate it, I hate it, I hate it all!! You definitely exist, it's your victory!!"
Apparently, some time ago, Kinzo had fallen into a doze. He searched for his spectacles, and looked at the clock. It was 10:00 P.M.
"...Her ceremony, let's see, how far has it progressed? It must have progressed quite far by this time."
Kinzo lifted his heavy body from the chair, and approached the portrait of the witch that he had gazed at every day.
"So, in the afterliiiife, let me... meet with you one more tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime... Then, let me swear my love to you, let me apologize for my crimes, uuuoooooooooooo..."
"...But I won't let you escape!! You are mine!! From your hair to your toenails, to the dirt under your toenails, you are mine!! Every fragment of your flesh is mine, even the broth of your corpse is mine!! I won't let you escape, this time you won't slip from my hands!! I'll make you mine for all eternity!!! I will never let you escape a second time, I will never let you escape a second time!!"
Kinzo howled in rage, then suddenly fell to his knees, as he shook and scraped at the wall... In an instant, he had started sobbing.
"...Whaaaa, hic... that's wrong, I didn't want to say something like thiiiiis, Beatriiiiiiiiice... Please, let me meet you one more time... Even if you only let me apologize... Whaaaaaaa, Beatriiiiiiiiiice, hic, hic...! Uwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauaauauau...!!"
"You are beloved, yearned for...! I was mistaken...! If you would just smile, I wouldn't need anything else... I made a mistake, I made a mistake about that, I did something that cannot be taken back...!"
"In atonement, I offer all that remains of my life...!! In order to apologize to you, in order to atone for my crimes, I offered... everything... Please, even if it is as I die..."
...As Kinzo shook and cried, behind his small back, a butterfly appeared out of nowhere, like flake of gold leaf, and softly fell down...
BGM: Steady Pace
Well, even if it wouldn't make a human woman fall for you... it might for a woman who is not human. Kinzo. Do you remember...? That musical piece of chess you played with me, which was still ongoing...?
Kinzo, as though he had suddenly remembered something, approached the chess set. It was as it had been during the game he had played with Nanjo until yesterday. After removing the chessboard to mow off all the pieces, he began to line the pieces up one by one. It was the setup for an ongoing game.
Kinzo waited, with the opposite seat empty. Surely, very soon, his opponent would appear there, and he would be able to restart this game again...
...You fool, Kinzo. You want to apologize? You want to see my face again? You want to make my smile an eternal thing? Why can't you say a much, much simpler word? Even though that is the sole element of the world...
At that time, Kinzo muttered. A prayer? An entreaty? It was probably best to just call it muttering.
They were pure words, like something an innocent child would say, without any evil intent...
You really are a fool, Kinzo. If you ever have the chance to do your life over again... Know that those words could never cause a woman to fall for you. That's right... unless there's a miracle. So this is...
At that time. Kinzo definitely heard a small knock, with a different tempo than those of the servants...
"...Who are you?"
The woman beyond the door... didn't answer.
"...I'm asking who you are!! Will you not answer?!!"
The woman beyond the door... didn't answer.
"Could it be... oooooh... could it be... B... Beatrice?"