Part 80: Skirmish II
When Ronove rebuked her, Beato stuck her tongue at him without showing any signs of shame.
"Uhihihi, sorry, sorry. Playing with Battler just put me into such a good mood."
"*cackle* So, Battleer? What do you think of my move? If you can't think of anything in particular, I wouldn't mind showing you how I made the goats carry the corpses... and seal all of the rooms with magic, okaaaaay?"
"Do what you want. I'll listen respectfully to this 'magic theory' that you claim is true. However, I can claim my 'human theory', even though it's completely different from yours, without any interference from your claim."
"In other words, there's no need for me to pay attention to your bullshit!! Go ahead and show me how you can lock the door with your multi-colored magic simply by waving your magic staff. Just like those guys with their toad oil and all-purpose kitchen knives! Virgilia, let's reconstruct the crime scene! Search for a weakness!! Were they all definitely dead? If one of them is just playing dead, this isn't a closed room at all!"
"Here it is, that 'Devil's Proof'. But there exists a sword that can carve that up...!"
"Wh-What's up with them? Looks like they're having a good time, leaving me out of the discussion. I'm his opponent, am I not...? Doesn't he have any time to spare for me...?"
"Fundamentally speaking, communication with one's opponent is not necessary to the act of competing in chess."
"...Every time you've communicated with him outside of making your moves, you've used that opportunity to confuse him. Perhaps this is the result of him not wanting to be led astray."
"...Nngg. For some reason, I don't like it."
"You are challenging him to a chess match, are you not?"
"That's true, but... gah!"
Beatrice puffed out her cheeks, as though to say 'I don't know why, but I don't like it!'
"Because the police have not yet arrived at the crime scene, the human side's ability to inspect the scene is limited. For a strict confirmation of death, I recommend that you have that child repeat it in red."
"Okay, that's where I'll strike, repetition requested!! 'The six victims are all dead'!!"
"...Milady, he has told you to repeat something in red, has he not?"
"Hey, enough lazing around!! Do you refuse to repeat it?! This is where our battle starts!!"
"Wha?! Owowowowoow!! *cackle*cackle* Sorry, sorry, that's fine, I'll answer."
BGM: Dread of the Grave -More Fear-
"Why are you so out of it?"
"...Okay. So I've already got one out of you. We'll start by denying that classic trick where the victims are playing dead."
"*cackle*! I won't go easy on you anymore! Come at me how you like. I'll slice them slantwise one after another!"
"Again, repetition requested! No one is hiding in any of the six rooms! Let's see you deny the existence of people we aren't aware of!"
"I'll answer. There is no one hiding in the six rooms!"
"Okay. Now I'm sure it's only the six of them in the can. And they aren't pretending to be dead."
"...What will you do, what will you dooo? As if a human could manage anything by now. Obediently kneel to the fact that I can control locks at will with my wonderful magic, okaaaaaay?"
"Quit babbling. And another repetition request. 'The six deaths were instant deaths'!"
"Instant deeeeeeaths? Hoh, what do you mean by that?"
"...It means there's a possibility that a single victim on the verge of death managed to escape into the room, and after locking it from the inside to create a closed room, they passed away."
"...Hmph. A classic closed room murder trick. One requiring that the victim receive a fatal wound... and then die later. It is possible for a closed room to be constructed unexpectedly if the victim holes up inside the room to escape the murderer... and then dies after locking the door."
"In order to deny that possibility, you will need to proclaim that 'The six died instantly' with the red truth."
"*cackle*cackle*! Very well, very well, I'll slay you with my red treasured sword!"
"Well, it might still have taken them several seconds or minutes to die in the complete sense of the word. But regardless, it was completely impossible for them to take any actions of their own will. In that sense, I can confirm that they suffered instant deaths!"
"...Up until this point, I've just been checking for the classic tricks. Now's when our showdown over the closed rooms really starts, okay...?"
"If the culprit isn't on the inside, they're on the outside. So they somehow killed from outside the rooms."
"*cackle*cackle*! Have you lost your mind? After all, 'a closed room = murder is impossible from the outside', right?! That's why only a magical murder would be possible!"
"No, that's wrong. The right approach is 'a murder really happened = it isn't a closed room'! No matter how much you try to trick me, this definitely isn't a closed room! It's a sham that only looks like one!"
"However, Battler-sama, only the victims are inside the rooms, and no other people exist inside the rooms. And by Milady's Closed Room Definition, remote murders from outside the room have been clearly denied, have they not?"
"Wait. The definition of remote murders is pretty broad, right?"
It's not just about pulling a fishing line from outside the room and strangling the victim inside the room."
"A traap? Hoh, and what might that be?!"
"Just as an example, let's say they were instructed to enter rooms that someone had picked out beforehand... and lock the doors from the inside to create the closed rooms themselves. A trap was set up in those rooms that they didn't know about... and that's what killed them. How's that?! That doesn't contradict anything!"
"...There are no problems. It corresponds to the existing state."
"...There are no problems on our side either. It does not conflict with Milady's Closed Room Definition."
"Kuhhahhahahahahahahahaha?! What's with that stupid reasoning?! Nothing suspicious was found in any of the rooms, right?"
"What form did that trap have?! Where was it hidden and how did it operate?! Explain that for all six of them...in the parlor, the guest room, the waiting room, the VIP room, the boiler room, and the chapel. Well? You can't, can you?!?!"
"I refuse to counter that!! There's no need for me to explain!! And failing to do so doesn't damage my claim!!"
"Wh-What did you saaaaaaaaayy...?!?!"
"...Well done. While overbearing, a wonderful move."
"...Nng!!! This guy's getting completely used to this...!!"
"Check. Due to murder trap X that we couldn't find, it'd be possible to establish this closed room murder."
"...I-I'll kill that check with the red truth!! The six were not killed by traps!"
"And the definition of a trap?!"
"Oh, umm... that's it! Something that activates when a victim triggers it on their own. Oh, and that's not all! It also includes things activated by remote control or by a timer, everything of that sort!"
"Pu ku ku... So, it refers to all arrangements that could carry out a murder without the direct participation of the one who planned it out. Perhaps we might sum it up that way."
"H-How's that?! I've struck back!! As if I'd let a human crush this closed room!!"
"...Whaat...?! What do you mean...?"
"...You're frantically fighting to make me accept your existence. Until now, I thought I was just being toyed around with by you one-sidedly."
"...But that's not actually true. You're also frantically resisting my counters, fighting to show that you exist...! Now, I finally really feel that it's true."
This isn't torture inflicted on me, over whether I'll surrender or not.
"...Okay, now it's starting to get interesting, isn't it? All six died in closed rooms, and no outsiders were inside. And there was no meddling from the outside, and also no traps. Up until now, I'd probably start suspecting that this had to be the work of magic."
"...And if you decided to show off some bizarre magic at this moment, I might even have surrendered. It's that favorite strategy of yours. You intercept all my moves, and in the moment I've exhausted all options and fallen to my knees, when my heart's barriers are at their weakest, you show off some strange magic and take the game all at once!!"
"...That short temper is something this child has always had, along with a bad habit of rushing things when victory is in sight."
"Pu ku ku. After all, Milady cannot stand putting off a match."
"Heeey, shut up, shut up!! It's Battler's turn, right?! I finished off that 'trap piece' you advanced! What should I repeat next? Show me what you've got!!"
"Right!! Now that even traps have been defeated, this looks like a perfect closed room murder at a glance. And that's why I'll spin the chessboard around right now!!"
"...Here it comes, that special technique of yours! How exactly are you going to spin what around?! Try showing meeeeeeeeeeee!!"
"Yeah, I'll show you!! I don't need to think of how six people could be killed inside closed rooms from the outside!"
"Aaah, that's no good, no good, no goddamn good at all! That's right, the question isn't how you can kill from outside the rooms. The point is how they died inside the rooms, making them closed rooms!"
"Ridiculous! I believe I clearly said in red that the six of them were dead...!!"
"Oh, there were six deaths. Five were victims who got killed. But if you assume that the other person committed suicide, you can destroy this closed room!!"
"...Certainly. If the culprit locked themselves in the final closed room... and threw away their own life, this closed room chain would be established."
"The suicide of the culprit. Normally, it would be an unthinkable move, but the argument that the unthinkable cannot exist... cannot be used. And he has no responsibility to demonstrate a motive. A truly powerful move, which can only be used in a chess match against a witch...!"
"...Well, one cannot be certain that there was no motive. For example, it has been announced that Kinzo only had a short time left to live. Perhaps he did not regret losing his short remaining life and used his own death to send a message. It might be possible to attach such a motive. Milady, it is our turn."
"I-Indeed! To think you'd trample even the dignity of the dead to create a culprit...! What a heartless, cold-blooded man...!"
"I'll set up the dead as the culprit. This worse than inhuman move... is one you used to attack Kanon-kun in the last game."
"...Even though the games are different, I'm taking a shot back at you with this move, as a tribute to Kanon-kun for that time."
"You have no responsibility to hold back here. You should try to confirm that suicide wasn't the cause of any of their deaths. I recommend that you have that child repeat it in red."
"Right!! But suicide's a naive word that won't corner her!! Beato, this'll stop you!!
"...That... is painful."
"Uguu...!! ...Nngg, ooohh...!"
"Hmmmm? What's wrong, all six of them were killed, right?! I'm just confirming that simple premise we've had from the very beginning, right? Can't you repeat it?!"
"Hmph... I refuse to repeat it. Th-There's no reason in particular."
"You realize that refusing to repeat this part is the same as resigning, right?!"
"Checkmate!! One of the six was the culprit, and they planned to commit suicide after constructing the closed room! That's all!!"
"How's that?! Are you satisfied...?! *cackle*cackle*, kakkakakakaka! I've struck back, I've struck back!!!"
"Tch, what the hell, so you can say it... But that's strange. Why are you so panicky...?"
"...I-I-It's your imagination. This time, even I'm feeling the pressure. That's right, I don't have any leeway. Pay it no mind..."
"...The line you asked that child to repeat has been altered. Do not be fooled."
"Pu ku ku ku... It seems not to have worked, Milady."
"Th-That's right! She didn't say 'the six deaths were all homicides'. She changed it to 'none of the six committed suicide'! Which means one of them wasn't killed by someone else and didn't commit suicide."
"...Aaaaaaaahhh, I've got it, I've got it!! This is the truth!"
"...D-Damn iiiit!! Did you think I'd be cornered by something like that?!! I'd never announce my resignation over something like that!!
I'll slice up that foolish checkmate with my red treasured sword over and over again!! None of the six died an accidental-"
"...Muga?! Mmmmnn, mmwt mwar muu mmnnmmng, mmmpphhh!"
"...It's a fair request. Perhaps you should accept it."
"Sure!! Take a break! I've been given those a lot lately. Now it's your turn to take one...!!"
"Thank you very much. Come, Milady, this way. And let us quietly count to one hundred inside our heads."
"Mmmmmmmphphh!! Mphphpmhmmmm, mmmppmmphhhh!! Mmmmmm!"
Ronove quickly covered Beato's mouth with his hand as she grew thoroughly panicked and agitated, suspending the game. He pulled Beato away, supposedly to hold a strategy conference...
Beato normally acted like she was graceful and above it all, but she actually had a really short temper and got mad easily. Her usual intellect had less of a voice when she got excited.
"Ronove certainly is thinking clearly. He probably gave your opponent some time to cool down. That child grew too stubborn trying to remove your check... and was about to easily let several large pieces go. After all, the first twilight is only a skirmish. The correct move at that time would have been to withdraw."
"...So, what does it mean? Did I reach checkmate, or didn't I?"
"That child was about to say something in red. You probably wouldn't have reached checkmate yet. But, most likely, you can expect our opponents to resign once they've cooled their heads."
"...You're joking. Even though she hates losing that much...?"
"Yes. In a losing battle, it is essential to withdraw your troops as soon as possible to try and minimize your losses. The difficult part is gauging whether it's a losing battle or not. Your opponent's butler seems to have calmly made that decision."
"...Oh well. In other words, she managed to escape by a hair's breadth. Getting checkmate and delivering the final blow won't be that easy for me."
"However, you should count this as your victory. It seems they barely managed to prevent a large loss, but they certainly sustained considerable damage. The scale of that child's panic ought to make the depths of that wound quite clear to you."
"Seriously. Ihihihi, it feels like she'd start crying if I bullied her any more."
As we talked, Ronove returned with Beato, who wore a meek expression. She didn't yet have her usual bold smile, but it looked like the blood wasn't rushing to her head anymore.
"...Hey. It's your turn. Did you decide on your next move?"
Beato told me that frankly. It seemed she'd taken a far-sighted view, as though saying 'If you want to laugh, then laugh'. It was a bit of a killjoy, and I lost my desire to deliver the final blow.
"Well, now that you've resigned, that just means we're even, since my theory and yours can't deny each other. You should treat it more like a tie than a loss."
"...I don't need your disgusting sympathy. I'm telling you that I lost this round. When you find a dog drenched with rain, do you have a sudden urge to whack it with a stick or something?"
"Nope. I'm not you."
I did feel that was pretty cowardly of her, but I decided to act with dignity as the victor and let it slide. Beato resigned. That's the one result of the first twilight. Beatrice couldn't counter my move of 'one of the six was the culprit, and that person died in an accident'.
...No, she probably could've countered it, but for some strategic reason, she admitted defeat. It felt less like I'd won... and more like I'd let her slip away at the last second...
Thanks to the 'Devil's Proof', I could create as many strange fictions as I wanted and use them as fighters in our argument. But that only works in a chess match with a witch. In our human world, you can't use such abstract theories to explain things. This first twilight was a chain of six closed rooms. It certainly may have been possible for a human. Beato wasn't able to deny all possibilities. However, I don't have a clue who committed the crime, or why, or how they actually did it...
It may seem strange to hear me saying this after I won... But for some reason, I felt like I'd have been more satisfied if Beatrice had been able to say definitively that it was impossible for humans.