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"Milady, lady Dlanor has arrived."
"Oh what is this! The inquisition has come just to check the outline, and what's more it's the head inquisitor! The Great Court seems to have a lot of free time, or a surplus of manpower."
"......By my preciding witness, I expect your game will be unfathomly difficult and SPLENDID."
"No need to flatter; have a seat. Ronove, prepare some tasty tea and cookies for the head inquisitor."
"No, that's ALRIGHT. More importantly, I would like to see it right AWAY."
"Very well. The outline is complete. But I'm still in the middle of decorating it as a story."
Beato pushed her way through a pile of manuscripts on top of her desk and pulled out a single bundle.
It was the manuscript for the new game.
Revised countless times with various notes and tabs attached, it eminated a kind of dignified presense.
Dlanor gave a bow, and accepted it.
Then amidst the tea vapors as Ronove set the table, she turned over the front cover.
"What is the name of the game this TIME?"
"There isn't one yet. I always wait until I have completely finished writing the story before thinking of a name."
"UNDERSTOOD. ......Then with no delay, I shall begin the READING.
Although if I may say, it is disappointing that my first reading will be before it has become a beatifully arranged STORY."
"Kukkukukuku. That is the biggest disappointment of all!"
"............It seems that this time, too, it will be a truly complex and mysterious INCIDENT. ......I am really looking foreword to seeing just how this will be elevated to 'story' STATUS."
"No need to flatter. Hurry and turn the page. I feel as if I am the newbie mangaka putting my manuscript in front of the editor."
Beato made a rougish smile, and Dlanor returned the same expression.
Dlanor had in her hands, ......the so-called "unfinished manuscript".
No, on it's way to becoming a manuscript, it had a plot in the middle of it's construction mixed in- it was truly an unformed thing.
If we were to use Beato's style of speech, ......it's just as if it was the milky form of ice cream before it was frozen.
No, it's probably even less complete than that.
It's still egg yolk, milk, and raw cream cast into a bowl and at the height of its mixing stage.
"......It really is just like the egg of a TALE. You carefully put time into keeping it warm and cause it to HATCH."
"If I could, I would love to show it to you as magnificent ice cream, since I wanted to allow you to fully appreciate it."
"Of course, that would be IDEAL. ......However, I think this makes for the next best THING."
Because, even if it's in an incomplete state now, the recipe is still exposed.
We can see the precious other side of it; the side we could never see from a completed story.
Those able to see this are...
Only the witch who wrote the tale herself, and... the very few observers she allows.
This is the unfinished, before it becomes ice cream...
manuscript, in a muddy chaos soup state.
In fact, it's missing the narrative development characteristic of a story; it's not even complete as any kind of reading material.
However, even so,
The Infinite Witch Beatrice's secret recipe, yet discerned by no one, is recorded upon it.
To a chef, her recipes and her kitchen are sacred ground.
To desecrate that is the greatest sacrilege.
However, for those who admire delicacies, it is also the forbidden honey that no one can resist.
This is not an example of one of Beato's interests, ... but we could instead say it's an example of one of Featherine's.
From here on, what is recorded is... the cat's... guts.
From here on, turning the pages means splitting the cat's stomach open and killing it.
To love the cat, then kill it and enjoy it again.
Those were Bernkastel's words, but they were originally uttered by Featherine.
So I inquire of thee.
Doth thou kill the cat? Or not?
The ancient Featherine has regretted splitting the stomachs of and killing thousands of tales.
And, in the relationship of irreversability between knowing and not knowing, she even likened not knowing to that of noble virginity.
Thus, I must at least inquire of thee.
Doth thou kill the cat? Or not?
Beyond lies... the inside of the cat's stomach.
This time, let's make Krauss and Natsuhi into accomplices.
But... Natsuhi has a lot of pride, so even if I flashed an enormous sum of money in front of her, it's hard to imagine that she'd easily be partner to a dreadful incident.
With regards to that problem, I'll have to to corner her so she has no place to run and no margin for options.
After the typhoon starts, I'll secretly guide Krauss and Natsuhi to the underground VIP room, reveal the bomb trigger, and threaten them.
If they refuse, everyone dies. If they cooperate, those not sacrificed to the epitaph can come back alive.
All means to connect the island to the outside have already been completely cut off. They have no way to resist.
October 4. Past dusk.
The rain and wind are getting stronger.
The typhoon is already enveloping the island in earnest.
"...Wh... What on Earth is this...?"
Natsuhi stood frozen in front of the wide-open entrance to the secret underground staircase and the darkness beyond.
"There is nothing to be afraid of. We should advance."
Says Beato with a composed smile.
"...This is... fa... father's secret passageway... isn't it?"
Ever since his childhood, Krauss believed in the existence of a secret passage and secret room that only Kinzo knew about.
But even so, when it's brazenly right before his eyes like this, he can't enter without hesitation.
"Krauss, you aren't afraid of the dark, are you...?
Or is it that you'd prefer to expose your body to the wind and rain here behind the chapel...?"
"...Up ahead... what could be awaiting us?"
"You should see it with your own eyes... But you're already imagining it, aren't you? Kukkukkukkuku..."
"Dear, please stop. This is definitely some kind of trap..."
"...I wouldn't go down these forboding stairs either, if I could. ...But it seems we have no other choice."
While grinning broadly, Beato playfully spun the sawed-off rifle held in her hand.
...Indeed, Krauss and Natsuhi had been threatened with that gun and forced here.
They had thought for certain that when they were forced here, it was to kill them in a place where no one would notice.
However, now that they've been shown this secret staircase, they were beginning to think that maybe she wasn't planning to kill them.
That she knows this secret underground staircase is the cause of Beatrice being a witch.
And she went out of her way to show it, so she probably has some other motive than to kill them; nay, she must.
Krauss gulped deeply, and they began to slowly decend the underground stairs.
Natsuhi follws behind her husband.
And Beato, grinning confidently, followed after them...
The enormous pile of gold in the underground VIP room...
Of course it makes Krauss's and Natsuhi's hearts jump, but just that wouldn't make them accomplices to some kind of dreadful incident.
And so, the bomb trigger is explained.
Fortunately, Krauss has appreciation for Kinzo's madness.
Even the embellishment that Kinzo amused himself with the trigger that would blow up the whole island... wasn't something that could just be laughed off.
Understanding Beatrice's threat with the bomb, and the authority that comes with it, was something that they must be made to appreciate.
(I have no source for this part, nor do I know how much is missing. Maybe it's a good excuse to actually buy the book)
"Th, that's...! W, why would father set up such a bomb device on the island he lives on...!? (Natsuhi)
"Rokkenjima once had a secret naval base, and it had an enormous amount of explosives stored on it for the last-ditch war effort...... or so I've heard many times. And I vaguely remember that long ago father said he would, when his luck came to an end, cleanly erase himself along with the island... or something like that..."
"Precisely. And that device is... a device inherited by the true head of the Ushiromiya family. In other words, only I can control it."
By activating it, the device can at any time cause a giant explosion...
Beato's explanation may not be convincing enough.
In that case, Genji will be there too.
If the same story also comes from Genji's mouth, it's credibility will sharply rise.
"...Yes. The time bomb device created by the former head-sama now belongs to a new master, Beatrice-sama."
Hearing the same story from Genji, Natsuhi is at a loss for words.
And understandably so.
On the island she had spent so many years... was buried an enormous amount of explosives. They could have, at Kinzo's slightest whim...... or by some kind of coincidental accident, massively exploded.
Natsuhi was petrified at the reality... that she was still living on such an island even now.
"...I, I see. It's a frightening story. But, aren't those explosives from the war era? I don't think they'd explode now..."
"There are no problems. The head-sama had periodic inspections carried out."
"Kukkukku. We also tested them, of course. They demonstrated their power. At the very least, easily everything within several hundred meters of the mansion will be completely blown away."
"An explosives test...?"
"Indeed. To assess the power of the explosives, I blew up a certain object...
It's something you two are quite familiar with."
Krauss and Natsuhi look at each other.
They don't remember there being any kind of big explosion anywhere nearby.
Shrugging her shoulders with a smile, Beato signals to Genji to explain it to them.
"......Master, milady. Have you forgotten? ...About the local shrine?"
"The local... shrine...?"
The local shrine built on the reef just a little ways out from Rokkenjima's port.
Last year it was demolished by some large wave or lightning or something......
...They hadn't really thought about it much.
But, there's no way some large wave would wash away the whole shrine, let alone the reef.
There was a group among the servants who said purple lightning fell from the sky and smashed the shrine... or some such rumor. But there's no such thing as purple lightning, much less lightning that could smash a shrine and even destroy the reef.
"......You don't mean...... no........."
"Kukkukku! Yes, that's how it is. To celebrate my resurrection I had that shrine and the reef blown away! But to think they'd have that much power! I thought it would be great if they blew up the shrine, but I never imagined they would blow up the reef as well! The weapons of humans are truly dreadful."
"......Ok. We understand the situation. ...So...? You invited us here and had us listen to year story. I'm trying to think of what you seek to get out of that. With all that gold piled there... I can't fathom you having want for money. ......I'm thinking that... you couldn't be telling us Rokkenjima's secret from a change of heart, could you...?"
"...Now you're going to strongarm us into an exchange for something.
...I can't even imagine what that something is, but as long as it's possible, negotiations are open."
"Hoh. Your surprisingly quick uptake saves me some trouble."
"Likely it's something we can't refuse. After all, right now you can take everyone on the island hostage."
"Exactly. There are only two ways to escape from the explosion. One is a way to abort the timer that only I know of. The other is to go down the underground passage beyond this grating to the other side of the island to flee the explosion.
As you can see, this grating's lock is under my control. You cannot refuse me given either intended method of survival."
"We get it. We value our lives.
...But at the same time, it seems you require some kind of cooperation from us. You're carrying the two incredible trump cards of the time bomb and the gold, so it seems to be your good fortune that we must merely nod our heads."
"Fufufufu, Kukkukkukku...! Wonderful, Krauss. If that's they way you wish it, let's do it that way.
...This isn't a threat. It's a trade. I wish for your cooperation."
"Let's hear what we get out of it."
"Let's make it this entire mountain of gold, and the guarentee of your family's life. However, you'll have to give up on everything else."
"...May I ask for a little more detail on what you mean by 'everything else'?"
"It means exactly that. Since this entire island is going to blow up...!!"
Krauss and Natsuhi both were shocked at such an outrageous proposition.
For a time they lost their composure, but even still it was an offer that couldn't be refused.
Krauss calmed Natsuhi and regained his cool...
He retorted that if the island were to blow up, there wouldn't be enough time to carry out the gold.
Beato held out the card to an underground safe at a bank.
This was what Beato had turned into cash so far.
In an underground vault beneath the bank's head office slept 1 billion yen stuffed in an attache case.
By holding out that card, she guaraunteed Krauss 1 billion yen.
But Krauss found it hard to believe that there really was 1 billion yen in that safe.
But, money can't buy the lives of his family.
Once again, after disputing with Natsuhi, he was dispirited and worn.
In exchange for his family's absolute safety, Krause reluctantly offered up his cooperation.
Of course, there was self-interest too.
The island being blown away would probably be treated as an accident.
And along with that, without any relatives the investigation directed at him would become unresolvable.
Of course this includes Kinzo's death, too; nearly all the troubles they bear would be gone.
And even supposing there isn't 1 billion yen in the safe, there's a lot of money on Kinzo's life insurance plan.
...Natsuhi was hesitant ...but to Krauss, it wasn't a bad deal.
Suppressing the guilty part of his conscience, Krauss argued that there was no other way to protect Jessica.
"...So, what will you have us do?"
"We said we'd cooperate but... We won't partner with you for some weird crime."
Krauss and Natsuhi said, completely drained.
"I have want to put on a performance to welcome a certain person."
"That guy and I have a taste for mystery novels; it's a relationship of exchanging contesting ideas. Therefore, to commemorate his return after 6 years, I wish to welcome him with a first-rate mystery."
It would seem that, on this island shut off by a typhoon, Beato wants to put on some kind of kyougen* play.
Their role is to obey the scenario she prepared, so that the story will stay consistent.
Kyougen are a certain kind of Japanese Noh play. They are the let-loose version of Noh and are usually light-hearted, silly, and often bizzaire... I would say they have a kind of... "untamed" feeling to them
In other words, to become characters in her play...
To act and speak only in accordance with her scenario.
There apparently was nothing more required of them than that.
Except, all other things are forbidden.
In the event that her story is interferred with, the safety of Krauss's family is not guaranteed.
The only way to escape the giant explosion is to get far away from the mansion grounds.
The only way to do that is to escape to the opposite side of the island by the tunnel out from the underground VIP room.
And, that underground tunnel is blocked by a locked metal grate.
Only Beato holds a key.
And Beato promises that after everything is over, she will hand that key over to Krauss.
The whole story is dangerous and shady all over...
...No, perhaps this is a nesesary aspect for a kyougen play.
She, in exchange for all the gold, is saying she wants help just for one last play, or perhaps side show.
The dress of the witch in the portrait that she wears, and her whimsical smiling... are perhaps joys only permitted to those who solved the mystery of the epitaph.
Krauss continued to press for his family's safety, that when that promise is broken all cooperation ceases.
And to that Beato once again...
...would scowl with a crazy laugh, that if they don't follow the scenario provided not a single persone will survive.
And with that, Krauss and Natsuhi have been made complacent.
The cooperation of all the servants and of Nanjo has already been arranged.
The preparations for the game board are now complete.
And finally, the story begins.
"In any case, nothing happens if dad doesn't come down." (Rudolf)
"You've got that right. We didn't come to speak to our brother. We came to speak to father." (Eva)
Krauss quietly bore all the harsh words of the siblings.
He couldn't do anything extraneous.
...He must behave in accordance with the scenario provided to him by the witch.
...In the scenario, he was to wait until 24:00.
Which... was soon to be.
Then, they heard the chime of the banquet hall's grandfather clock.
It's time for that witch's scenario... to take motion.
'At 24:00, there will be a knock on the door of the dining hall.'
The door was knocked.
"...Who is it?" (Krauss)
He meant to say it nonchalantly, but it came out slightly nervous.
"...Forgive the intrusion. It's Genji."
He is also a person following Beatrice's scenario.
"Oh, Genji-san. ...What is it at such an hour?" (Eva)
"This is perfect. I'm kinda thirsty. Should we take a little break for now and have some tea?" (Hideyoshi)
Genji, after signalling to Krauss with a look, deeply lowered his head to everyone and made the announcement.
"...Ladies and gentlemen, the head summons you to his study."
Everyone stirred at those words.
Eva doubted even the existence of Kinzo... but that very person was summoning everyone to his study.
"...Wh ...What could this mean...?"
"I... I dunno. ...I've never been able to understood dad's whims." (Krauss)
All is going according to scenario.
...Everyone is commanded to the study.
And then in front of the study he and Natsuhi specifically will be told to wait......
"Please wait. ...The master and milady are to wait here."
In front of the study... Genji made the pronouncement.
Natsuhi says nothing, silently casting her eyes at the floor.
Seeing this, Eva smiles triumphantly.
"Ohhh, what could this be? What on earth could he want to say to us first, without the two of you?"
"No idea... I never know what dad is thinking." (Krauss)
"Master, it is Genji. I have brought all your relatives."
Genji says this through the door after knocking.
A farce. Beyond that door lies only a deserted room that has lost its master.
"Ladies and gentlemen. ...it is the study of the glorious Ushiromiya family head, Kinzo-sama. I implore you not to make any careless mistakes."
"...Genji-san. Dad's in a good mood... right?" (not sure if Rudolf or Krauss)
"Indeed. The master is in a very good mood."
Both Eva and Rosa were visibly relieved.
...But Krauss and Natsuhi knew.
The master Genji spoke of... was a new master. It was that witch.
Right now, awaiting them inside the study... was the Golden Witch, Beatrice.
The island, the mansion he lived in... was, at some point unbeknownst, granted to the witch of the portrait as its new master.
This mansion Krauss had come to believe was his home... had quickly became a very different place for him.
With Genji leading, Eva and the other relatives were... swallowed up by the pungantly poison-scented study.
Slowly the door closed... and with the heavy sound of the autolock, their existance disappeared.
"...Does this mean... our job is over?" (Natsuhi)
"......Well, at least for tonight..." (Krauss)
"That woman is ominous. ...She gives me the terrible feeling that she's capable of destroying herself and everyone else if we're careless in dealing with her."
"...Yeah, me too. That's why I think we should do exactly what she says. I think... if we didn't just nod our heads to her she would have killed us on the spot."
"...All the servants are already that woman's henchmen, too."
"Well, no one wants to die. ...Also, they may have the same reward promised to them. ...She's got 20 billion in gold, after all."
Suddenly hearing unexpected footsteps, Krauss and Natsuhi went quiet.
They looked and saw Kumasawa coming up the stairs.
Kumasawa was also one of the witch's henchmen.
They can't afford to lower their guard, but still they did view her as someone they could better relate to than Genji.
"...Well done. Master's and milady's parts are complete for tonight."
"......What is the witch saying to them...?" (Krauss)
"Who knows... I don't know how Beatrice-sama thinks."
"I see. Both the witch and father truly resemble each other in their whimsicalness." (Krauss)
"What... should we do now?" (Natsuhi)
"...Tonight you shall return to your rooms and rest. ...Starting tomorrow you are to follow tomorrow's scenario..."
"Kumasawa-san. Have you... also been bought out by that witch?" (Krauss)
".........I also value my life, so..."
"Is there really a bomb triggered to explode...?" (Krauss)
"...It's probably true ...since the local shrine has really been blown up with explosives."
"Kumasawa, have you heard what will happen next...?" (Natsuhi)
"......All I've heard is that it's a big show meant to surprise a certain person. ...Please let me off at that. ...I've also been threatened with my life if I say anything unnecesarry......"
When Kumasawa meekly said this, she lowered her head very deeply.
The buyouts from the giant pile of gold and the threat from the bomb.
They really have... no way to resist.
Is this all just a giant farce? ...Or is it the opening to some ghastly celebration of the of the golden witch's resurrection?
Despite the ominous feeling they got from the thunder outside, Krauss and Natsuhi could only head to their respective rooms.
But, in their bedrooms were the new scenarios, already delivered.
By reading them they knew... tonight's farce will continue...
The 5 invited into the study; Eva, Hideyoshi, Rudolf, Kyrie, and Rosa; stood firmly at attention like children called to ceremony.
"...Master, I have brought 5 members of the family."
"Good. Thank you, Genji."
Everyone was surprised at hearing a female voice.
A flash of lightning illuminated a woman's figure for an instant, which... was the very figure of the person whose portrait hung in the reception hall.
"Ladies and gentlemen. You are visiting the glorious Ushiromiya family head, Beatrice-sama."
So overwelmed by the sight of the witch, they forgot to even close their gaping mouths.
Eva was the first to come to her senses.
"......Wh......what kind of joke is this? Genji-san, what's the meaning of this?!"
"H...hey I'm impressed... she really looks just like the witch of the portrait...... is that dress a custom order...?" (Hideyoshi)
"Quiet, please. You are in the presense of the master. Please refrain from such murmuring."
Being scolded to earnestly by Genji returned everyone to confusion.
No, that's not right.
It was because the more familar family head had causually appeared from the darkness.
"The day that I return everything to my beloved witch has finally come.
Tonight, I have turned over the ring and all the assets of the Ushiromiya family to her."
Kinzo made the announcement in boistrously high spirits.
Of course, Kinzo never really appeared.
To those who already know that Kinzo has left this world, this illusion is nothing more than a farce.
Because illusions are... an embleshiment of the result's cause.
They are merely a creative production behind known results.
The results are... that five people die in the study.
And along with their miserable final moments comes its own new production.
"Alright! So, there is a reason behind you all being gathered here tonight! Might there be someone who can figure it out? Kukkukku, you won't if I just ask you out of the blue like that... so I'll give you a hint: There's significance behind Krauss and Natsuhi not being called in. Oh, and don't count Genji, since he still has his uses."
Suddenly declaring this, Beato had a mischievous smile creep upon her face.
Of course there really was no way for any of them to answer such a question.
Even Kinzo tilted his head.
"...Beatrice. To have prepared a question that even I do not know the answer, is truly something astounding. Why? Why is it that you do not have Krauss and Natsuhi here to celebrate your resurrection?"
"You haven't realize it, Kinzo? ... kukkukukukuku. I'll give another hint: It's something that was signalled by the grandfather clock in the entrance hall, just a little while ago.
Getting more and more confused, the relatives muttered amongst themselves.
They really had no idea what was happening.
"Hmpf! To think Kinzo wouldn't realize either! I am disappointed, humans...! Fine, I shall tell you the answer. Let's see... how shall I do it this time?... The Seven Sisters lack manners... people are getting too accustomed to the Chiester Sisters... Gapp might be good... but actually... I think it's about time to call in a new guest!"
Which new demon shall I call?
Opening her grimoire she picks randomly from the 72 noble demons.
...mm, causually flipping through the pages...
the number that appears is 64.
Who was number 64 again?
Rank number 64. Flauros.
Flauros. ...Yes, it has a nice ring to it. Let's go with this one.
Alright, what kind of character design shall we do...
Gapp and Ronove and everyone have an adult-like design, so this time I'd like try the opposite with a more child-like design.
A killer with childlike innocence... or something...
Maybe it could be expressed through character design. Let's look up more about Flauros.
Flauros. Flau-chan. Yes, I like the sound of it.
...What? Has the appearance of a Leopard?
...Has the appearance of a man when taking human form?... Whaaat? A maaaaaan? A cute girl would be so much better.
Ammended. Let's make her a cute girl with matching animal ears.
Sakutarou had cute ears... something like his...
Let's do a sketch.
(I have no source for this part. Maybe it's a good excuse to actually buy the book)
"Flauros. It has been a while. ...For you to acknowledge my summons, it means that you are not bound by contract to anyone.
I am pleased. I welcome you as my ally."
"Rank number 64 of the 72 Noble Demons, Flauros the Blazing, is here!" (Flauros)
To human eyes, she probably looked like a girl still in middle school.
However, she's one of the 72 Great Noble Demons, Flauros.
With her terrible power she lays waste to her summoner's enemies. Her specialty is burning them to ash. Truly a demon among demons.
"It was just some random summons but, it seems I got someone interesting. To imagine that my summoner was the great Lady Beatrice!
Even though I'm here for business, it looks to be fun!"
"Indeed. Once you were contracted to an enemy witch of mine... Your partner was quite a hassle."
"Well, had no choice 'cause it was my job. So, what's the new gig?"
"I command you to cooperate in my ceremony. The clock has already marked it's beginning! I command you to kill 6 people as sacrifices for the first twilight!!"
"Kill six? Got it! Can I kill the 6 of 'em conveniently lined up right here?"
"......fu ...fuhhahahahhahhahhahha! So that's what it is! Ah, so I'm also one of the unlucky ones...! Hahahahahahahahahahaha!!"
Kinzo finally understood the reason for which everyone was gathered in his study.
In Beato's mind, the sacrifices of the first twilight had already been decided.
"...Fa...Father... What... is the meaning of this...?"
Eva timidly asked.
But Kinzo just continued his mad laughter.
"You're a bunch of unlucky guys! Sooooo, who shall I eat first!?"
Flauros's two hands stretched to the floor.
Her appearance was now not so much that of a human's, but of a ferocious leopard's.
"Don't hate me. You guys didn't do anything wrong. If you're going to hate someone, hate that guy who trashed his promise for 6 long years."
They all starred befuddled.
Beato bent down into the sofa's shadow.
And when she stood up again, she was holding in each of her two hands one from Kinzo's collection of sawed-off rifles.
The relatives could only imagine the sight of her wearing a dress and holding antique guns... to be that of a proper lady holding something like a folding fan.
Well, at least they couldn't imagine lead actually gushing from those muzzles.
First, in Ushiromiya Kinzo's study shoot Eva, Hideyoshi, Rudolf, Kyrie, and Rosa dead.
The door to Kinzo's study is thick, so the sounds of the guns won't be heard easily.
Krauss and Natsuhi will already have been guided far enough away from the study by Kumasawa and won't hear the guns firing.
The tools necesary for dealing with the corpses will already have been brought to the study.
Flauros changes into the form of a giant leopard, and starts by swallowing Kinzo in one gulp.
Swallowing him whole serves as an expanation for Kinzo not to leave a corpse.
It might be good to leave something like some of cut-off scrap of Kinzo's rope behind in the room. (I dunno what this "rope" is about)
Shocked by this, the relatives try to escape the room, but they can't because it's been magically sealed.
(I have no source for this part. Maybe it's a good excuse to actually buy the book)
To abide by the above scenario, the bodies are distorted.
So that bullet holes are not discovered, whole chunks of their bodies are destroyed.
Flauros tears into their stomachs, pulls out the entrails and bites them off.
This is also carefully reproduced.
(I have no source for this part. Maybe it's a good excuse to actually buy the book)
Flauros's four legs return to the floor and she moans happily with a stretch, her entire body quivering in delight.
Her body slowly glowing red, she burns brightly.
"I am rank 64 of of the 72 Noble Demons, Flauros the Blazing!! I eat it all, burn it all, smash it all!! Maaan, I can't wait until it's my turn again!!"
Her bright red light turns to white, and suddenly causes a giant explosion.
The room splinters, and everything turns white with smoke and dust from the blast.
The inside of the study was swallowed up by a torrent of blistering rain...
Flaurous's explosion broke a gaping hole in the wall of the study.
"My my, you didn't need to be so flashy. I wasn't planning to something like that, since the idea was that it's supposed to be a closed room murder. That kind of unfettered destruction of the wall is intolerable."
"Nyahhihihihi! I did somethin' bad! I love destroyin' about as much as I love killin'! And I love incineratin' most of all!!"
As she yells Flauros returns to leopord form and, leaving behind flaming footprints, jumps out into the storm-filled sky.
From the giant hole in the wall she lands in the middle courtyard, kicking the walls and prancing about until she disappears into the jet black sky.
It seems she just can't help herself after being separated from the physical world for so long.
"I see. She's the kind that never bores. Kukkukkukku. But still, this is awful."
The giant gaping hole, the wreckage and dust, and the storm blowing in all made the study quite a wreck.
And of course... the sacrifices with their inards cruely strewn about.
"Well, sometimes a bold first twilight like this has its own charm. Kukkukuku, hahahahahahahahahahaha...!!"
Then, Krauss and Natsuhi are to be brought to the scene and made full witness to everything.
So... it would probably be good to get them a bit dusted up.
Something like having them do one roll on the floor of the trashed up study should do the trick.
So after the murder of the first 6, Beato sneers "aren't you lucky?" at Krauss and Natsuhi who, since the seal has expired, manage flee out the door... or something.
After that, Krauss and Natsuhi rush to call the police, but for some reason the call can't get through.
The general outline is that they, in a panic, take the servants and rush to the guesthouse.
But both Kanon and Shannon can't go together, so this part will have to be done carefully.
A simple story would be... Natsuhi and Shannon go on ahead to the guesthouse while Krauss and Kanon went to get guns for self-defense but are a bit late coming back.
Shannon enters the servants room with the terrified Kumasawa, slips out through the window, and meets up with Krauss.
Then for a while everyone holes up in the guesthouse.
The children of the killed parents will probably want to see the crime scene, or start planning revenge, or find some other reason to leave the guesthouse.
If they're really persistant, they can go to the study.
Once again it will be auto-locked, but it's not a problem since Genji has a key.
When they see such a bizairre crime scene with a large hole in the wall, they will certainly accept that it couldn't possibly have been done by humans.
It would also be interesting if there were a magic circle at the crime scene that wasn't there before.
The magic circle could have been prepared several days earlier.
All that's needed is for Krauss and Natsuhi to give false testimony that it wasn't there before.
And to make it even more inexplicable, Krauss or Natsuhi will carry an envelope that makes a proclaimation about the crime... and it will be 'discovered' in a closed room situation.
This is just an example but, something like having a room that was just confirmed locked with nothing unusual, but then when it's reentered there'll suddenly be a creepy letter there.
It will be impossible to explain it by methods other than magic without doubting Krauss and Natsuhi.
The first argument in the upper world can be held here.
Without doubting Krauss and Natsuhi there is absolutely no way to see through it.
Probably 'they' won't be able to think of anything outside of something having to do with the lock, or some kind of location-based trick based off a gap in or around the door or window.
But if this is a closed room in the true meaning, there isn't some mysterious culprit hiding somewhere.
If I note all these things in red, they'll just give up.
They can only destroy 'false closed rooms'.
So, if this room really is a closed room, they'll go as far as 'it's magnificent' and stop thinking.
The 2nd Twilight and the first of Twilights 4-8
Continuing from Beatrice's predictions on how 'they' (her audience) will approach the mystery of letters appearing in closed rooms.
Certainly, in Carr's closed room taxonomies...
there are listed many false closed rooms made to appear like true closed rooms. They provide enjoyment with tricks, and when thinking of how to entertain with mystery novels it's true that a tangibly identifiable "answer" which can be reasoned out is convenient. It's why we can say that there's no helping the vast majority of mysteries from overflowing with false closed rooms.
(But incidentally this also makes for a limit on the thinking involved in the majority of closed rooms. Don't misunderstand, I'm not criticizing false closed rooms. What I am criticizing is a section of narrow-minded humans who, because they only know false closed rooms, think it's the one and only kind of closed room mystery.)
However, we mustn't forget that in Carr's closed rooms taxonomies there are also descriptions of methods for murder in true closed rooms, too.
In fact, if guaranteed a perfect closed room in red, it becomes easy to reason based on Holmes closed room taxonomies.
According to Boucher, closed room murders can be explained with three categories.
To make these categorizations extremely clear, I've written them below.
Listed are: The crime was committed before the closed room was constructed, it was committed while the closed room was up, or it was committed after the closed room had been destroyed.
It's only these 3 categories.
If red truth says it's impossible to do it while the closed room was up, then it would be natural to think the crime was committed before the closed room's construction or after its destruction.
If we are to use an incident of the sudden appearance of a letter as an example, then the letter was placed before the closed room, or after the closed room; it's just these 2 categories.
With the former, you can doubt the person who confirmed it's absence when they locked the room.
With the latter, you can doubt the person who discovered the letter.
In other words, if you base your thinking by Boucher's closed room taxonomies, you can immediately suspect that someone in the Ushiromiya family is cooperating with the culprit.
And it should be clear as day who is more suspicious between the children from the guesthouse who confirmed the closed room, and the lone survivors of the previous tragedy, Krauss and Natsuhi, who claimed to "have been witness to a demon summoned by a witch killing their relatives".
For those who see this world as a mystery, they won't be caught by this kind of deception.
Because to declare "I saw a witch, I saw magic, I saw demons" in this world is the same as confessing to being bought out to play a part in the culprit's ruse.
What a simple and cheap mystery.
Probably, for those people who love to read the mystery novels that I have boundless respect for, they'll see right through it with a big laugh.
To witness demons, even with a brazen display of fantasy as "proof", is to mystery the height of satire; it will no doubt get laughs.
Or so I think.
About 1 in 1000 people might seriously believe that a witch summoned a demon.
Only for that rare person can fantasy be sufficient for my world.
Excuse the digression.
So anyway, I will confuse the foregoing matter using the upper world, decorating it with the preface of an incomprehensible incident.
The target of the upcoming Second Twilight will be Shannon.
We'll have it so the women will go up to the guest house's second floor while Krauss and the male servants fortify the first floor.
And so, Shannon and George can be together.
George will probably attend to the frightened Shannon.
These two 'close' ones will be the target of the Second Twilight.
This time I will 'tear apart those who are close' with an abduction.
After going to the servants' room on the first floor, Shannon will head to the bathroom.
Naturally, George will come too.
But of course he can't go inside the girls' bathroom.
He'll wait at the entrance.
This is not a single person bathroom, but a bathroom made for use in the guesthouse, designed large enough to serve several people at once.
At this point Shannon will exit through the window in the back of the bathroom.
Then, Kumasawa will enter.
And she will lock the window Shannon escaped through.
Then she'll scream to announce some kind of incident.
"Wh, what's wrong Kumasawa-san?! I'm going to open the door!!"
George opens the door to the girls' bathroom.
When he does, Kumasawa's face will be pale and she will be pointing to a stall, shaking.
"What happened...!!! Shannon! Shannon!!"
Shannon went into the girls' bathroom before Kumasawa.
Kumasawa's scream had conveyed only that something strange had happened to Shannon.
Fearing the worst, George peered into the stall that Kumasawa was pointing at.
There was... pasted thickly... in red...
a creepy magic circle drawn on the wall in blood-like paint...
"Wh, what is this...!? Shannon! Where's Shannon!?"
"I, I don't know...!"
"That's impossible!! Shannon went in right before you, so why isn't she here!? Shannon!? Shannon!?!?"
There were 3 stalls, but all of them were empty.
There was only one entrance.
And since George had been there the whole time, right now Shannon should be somewhere in the bathroom.
It's hard for George to imagine, but she could have left through the window in the back.
However, it's locked from the inside, and he can't understand why Shannon would need to crawl out a window in the first place.
It makes no sense. This couldn't happen.
Shannon suddenly disappeared and was exchanged for a creepy magic circle...!!
"Geo, George-sama... um... there's one of the head's envelopes..."
On the toilet in the stall with the magic circle... there was a mysterious envelope... just like the last tauntful envelope from the witch.
"It can't be... this is... this is...!!"
George picks up the envelope and violently tears it open.
Seeing only a single short sentence... as if assaulted by a wave of dizziness, George staggers into a wall, collapsing against it.
'At the Second Twilight tear apart those who are close'
Since I'd like to make Flauros the one responsible, I want to leave some Flauros-style evidence.
Something like having the stall be hideously burned. Or having traces of an explosion from inside it.
Once again they'll find weird evidence that they'll think clearly could not be produced by human means.
Regarding this, it could all be prepared with leisure before the incident.
The only problem is the possibility that one of the female guests would come in to this bathroom beforehand.
For that, the day before the incident the bathroom on the first floor of the guesthouse could be 'out of order', so it would be necessary to instead use the bathrooms of the various bedrooms.
This itself can also be interesting as foreshadowing for the trick.
Or if the flashy decorations were something that couldn't be noticed from the outside, having the stall's door closed would be all that's needed to keep guests from seeing them.
Then later thinking back, they can realize that no one was supposed to be in stall during that time, and that door was closed.
...So then, who closed that door?
If they reason from "no one was supposed to be there", they should be able to figure out that the magic circle was prepared beforehand.
I hope to have a lot of fun debating the Second Twilight.
It shouldn't be hard to suspect Shannon and Kumasawa here.
We'll have a scenario where Natsuhi comes to this conclusion and accuses the servants.
This is a mystery novel gimmick.
I'll use the readers' expectations, that the reasoning coming from the other characters is usually wrong, against them.
By having Natsuhi say something is "right", it will cause them to think it must not be so; it's a confusion technique.
So after that, Natsuhi and Krauss will level suspicion at the servants.
Of course George and the others will object.
They will insist that the servants are victims caught up in the same situation as everyone else.
After the discourse between Krauss and the servants, the decision will be to hunker down in two separate groups: A relatives group and a servants group.
The relatives group will stay in the guesthouse and the servants group will go to the mansion.
In the middle of all this, George will probably insist on looking outside for Shannon.
He can look as much as he wants.
He'll probably be quickly chilled to the bone in the thunderstorm, give up, and return to the guesthouse.
Following that, all the servants will have a meeting together in the mansion.
They'll reaffirm what their next actions are.
The Forth~Eighth Twilights will be a closed room chain.
The feature of closed room chains is that the corpses will be found in a chosen order.
As long as the first closed room will be on the first floor and the others on the second floor or higher, or in places outside the mansion, I can control the flow of their investigation.
"Servants. Your turn has finally come."
Beatrice gathered all the servants to the mansion's banquet hall to make this pronouncement.
Genji's, Shannon's, and Kanon's expressions were calm, but Kumasawa's and Gohda's weren't.
"...Is it really going well? I'm worried..." (Kumasawa)
"Since I've never done something like this, I'm not sure whether I'm enjoying myself or I'm nervous... haha... haha..."
Gohda feigned laughter while trying to appear composed.
They don't know.
They don't even know that Eva and the others are really dead.
This is Beato's deception, made possible by her discovery of the gold.
They believe the five victims were also paid off, and that they're just playing dead.
Excluding exceptions like Genji, most bribees are easier to manage if they aren't informed that they're involved with murder.
It's case by case.
"Alright, now everyone move to your respective rooms. Playing dead can be surprisingly tiring, you know.
Lie in a position that won't wear you out. Kukkukku!"
Kanon in the guestroom.
Genji in on the 2nd floor, the VIP room.
Kumasawa on the 2nd floor, Natsuhi's bedroom.
Gohda on the 3rd floor, waiting room.
Shannon in the Chapel.
They all go to their respective murder scenes and do their make-up.
From the Forth Twilight on they are all 'gouge and kill'.
They are all to be gouged with some of the Seven Stakes of Purgatory.
Everybody attends to their separate tasks in their separate rooms.
Genji is composed. So are Shannon and Kanon. Gohda is nervous that his faking will be found out.
Kumasawa is over that, and is starting to look forward to putting on the show.
"Wohhohohoho... I've played a lot of pranks, but this is the biggest one I've ever done."
Kumasawa was chuckling in Natsuhi's room.
"Is everything ready, Kumasawa?"
"Oh, Beatrice-sama. As a servant it just doesn't feel right to lie on madam's bed"
"Lies. I know that while making it you've wanted to jump on it once or twice."
"Wohhohohohoho. That is what Beatrice would say."
"Okay, time to start the make-up. Lie down."
Kumasawa takes off her shoes and starts to get on the bed.
"Hey, hey. Does a corpse go and take off her shoes? You should keep them on."
"To get on madam's bed while wearing shoes feels like something really I shouldn't do. Hohohoho."
Kumasawa climbs onto the bed with her shoes on.
Beato was opening up her make-up bag.
"Have you found a comfortable position? You'll get tired from holding the same pose for a long time even if you are laying down."
"Yes, I know. But this is for a hundred million yen. Wohhohohohoho."
Each of the servants is getting a hundred million yen.
...In fact, it's already been sent.
In a few days bank keycards should arrive at their homes.
They won't be able to receive them, but their bereaved families can.
It will be more than enough for their funeral costs......
"Something like this?"
Kumasawa had been stirring restlessly, but it seems she finally found a comfortable pose.
It really looked like she had been killed.
"Good. That looks right. You definitely have a knack for fooling people."
"Hohhohhohho. I couldn't possibly compare to Beatrice-sama and her grand show."
"I'm going to start the make-up. Hold still for a minute... no, actually you're already a corpse, so don't move for an even longer while."
"Once Doctor Nanjo visits I'll be able to rest, right?"
"Right. After Nanjo does his autopsy, the room will be sealed until the police arrive. When that happens, you'll be able to rest a bit.
But you'll still be a corpse. You can't make any loud noises."
"Yes, of course not... Sooo, I should hide this."
Kumasawa hides her half-read book and bag of smoked squid under the bedsheets.
"My, aren't you well prepared? Careful not to relax toooo much. Don't forget that if for some reason the show is a failure, there will be no reward."
"Of course. I'll be careful. Ohhohohohoho......"
During their light banter, Beatrice had pulled a stake from her tool bag.
Kumasawa is to be gouged and killed with this stake.
"......Fuumu... Sorry but could you go face-down? The face-up pose just isn't working."
"Face-down is it? I can do that but, I think it might be hard to breathe..."
"Face-up I somehow easily sense that you're just sleeping. Could you just test laying face-down out for a minute? Just a test."
"Is that so? Then I'll try it..."
"Will it be difficult to hold that pose for a long time?"
"For the time being I can manage somehow... Hohoho, I hope the autopsy comes soon."
"I see, I see. Stay like that for now. I'm going to adjust your clothes a bit. Without the clothes set up right there's no realism."
Beato takes a tool from her bag.
It's a twirled up, light extension cord.
"Sorry, I'm adjusting them now. Stay just like that."
She coiled the extension cord around Kumasawa's neck, cross-lacing it from behind.
Once the leftover in each hand had gotten short, Beato flumped herself onto Kumasawa's back, straddling her.
Suddenly, Kumasawa's throat tightened.
And she could neither breathe nor scream.
That extension cord wrapped around her neck... was making a crackling sound... from strangling her.
Kumasawa looked like she was doing the flutter kick in the pool, her heavier kicks occasionally pounding the bed.
And straddling on top was Beato... in complete silence, as if she thought Kumasawa some kind of a bug or rodent, mercilessly wringing her neck.
...The scene looked just as if a giant golden spider had captured some pitiful prey and was injecting it's poison.
And along with that, the canopy bed must also appear to be made from this strange spider's silk.
This web would sometimes suddenly quiver... from Kumasawa's feeble resistance.
And finally, Beato slowly got off of Kumasawa's back.
Kumasawa didn't move a muscle...... she was dead.
"Sorry, Kumasawa. You're gouge is in the leg. To kill you by stabbing you there would be unnecessarily painful."
Done with her strangling tool, Beato next grabbed her nearby rifle.
And then aiming at Kumasawa's calf, she pulled the trigger.
The gunshot wasn't loud... it's not like the 'bang' sounds from TV or the movies.
At most, it was as loud as uncorking a champagne bottle.
But then a splot of blood flies, and there's blood oozing out of the discomforting hole as it's being fished into.
She's picking out the bullet shot into the calf.
Then she unceremoniously tosses it into a small vinyl bag she had in her larger tool bag.
Already stored in that vinyl bag were several stained bullets......
"The placing for the Forth and Fifth Twilights can be taken care of with just a gun, but it get's more troublesome as the Twilights go on.
Sooo... if the large Gohda isn't killed on the Forth or Fifth Twilight it will lead to problems."
Then, taking the stake... she puts the tip into the bloody, still-oozing hole in the calf.
Using her body weight, she carefully presses it deeper.
When she lets up, the stake is cleanly plunged into the calf. She was still a bit worried that it might fall out before it's discovered, but it should still be enough to sustain the idea of sacrifices being gouged with stakes.
And now Kumasawa, Gohda, and Genji have been killed.
As for Kanon, who will be the first discovered, he can't die yet because he still has work to do.
He will take his time drawing magic circles on the doors of all the crime scenes.
The chapel is far from the mansion, so it won't be searched first.
There are 4 scenes to find in the mansion, but they'll have to break a window to get in since they're all locked.
Other than the guest room, all the locations are on the 2nd floor or higher, so it's nearly certain that the first scene they'll set foot in will be the guest room.
In the guest room Kanon will be dead, and in his pocket a master key.
And in the room will also be a letter from the witch that includes the key to the next room.
The survivors will end up finding the corpses in following with the dictated route.
Under the pretense of preserving the room to hand over to the police, the crime scenes will be insulated from possible investigation.
Natsuhi will restrain the children, and Doctor Nanjo and Krauss will be the only ones who go near the corpses.
Jessica might want to run up to Kanon's corpse, so she'll require special attention.
Next the survivors will find Kanon.
Discovering the crime scenes
"Kanon-kun! Kanon-kun!! UwaaaAaaaaaaAaaaa!!"
"Jessica! Calm down!! Don't look! Don't come in!!" (Natsuhi)
"...Un... believable... Damnit......"
"With this... the suspicion that the servants might be culprits has been cleared up. ...Hasn't it, Natsuhi-obasan?"
George sends a cold glare at Natsuhi, who had suspected the servants and driven them from the guesthouse.
"How is it, Doctor Nanjo...?"
"...I can't tell the exact cause, but I can tell he's dead... One thing certain is that this isn't the fatal wound."
There was an awful wound on Kanon's knee, and a bloodied stake on the floor.
There's no doubt that the culprit pierced Kanon's knee.
But, it's hard to think that stabbing a knee would lead to death.
...He was probably killed another way, but Nanjo couldn't grasp what it was with a cursory examination.
"In any case, we should tread lightly at the crime scene, for the police.
If we carelessly disturb it it could hinder their investigation." (Nanjo)
"...I agree. We should probably not do anything more in this room...
More importantly, I'm concerned about the key to the VIP room that was inside the envelope." (Krauss)
"...I don't want to think about it... but the VIP room might also..."
"............Let's go see."
"...What is all this... If we hadn't driven them from the guesthouse......"
Krauss hangs his head and pulls at his hair.
"Sorry, Kanon... for not being able to trust you and the others... To be unable to trust in my subordinates... I have no right to stand above other people."
"Kanon-kun was staked in... the knee...?"
"Kihihihihihi. It's the seventh twilight. Gouge the knee and kill."
"......Which means... what about the forth, fifth, and sixth twilights? ...Doesn't it mean that at least 3 other people have already been killed...?"
"Ca, calm down George-aniki... We still don't know that for sure..."
"Kr, Krauss-ojisan, let's hurry to the VIP room!"
"R..right. But just a minute. We can't leave the broken window this way. Let's close the shutter..."
"Kanon-kun... Kanon-kun... ...Mom, can I at least... see his face one last time...?"
"I understand how you feel... but we won't disturb the crime scene any further. ...We have to leave it as is to insure they find the culprit.
So from now on just pray... for his happiness in the next world..."
And so they all head to the 2nd floor VIP room.
Then to Natsuhi's bedroom.
Then to the 3rd floor waiting room.
Meanwhile, Kanon quietly sneaks out of the guest room.
He's got master keys, so he can just leave strait out the door and then lock it.
Kanon's even got two master keys, so he can leave on behind in the guest room.
Of course there is a concern that after the epitaph murders are complete, the crime scenes will all be investigated again.
For that situation, so that Kanon's missing corpse won't create an inconsistency, the culprit will have to perform some action that takes Kanon's corpse away.
Kanon's disappearing corpse can become the trigger for another mystery.
Kanon heads towards the chapel, and there rendezvous with Shannon.
Then he gives his master key to Shannon.
"...Thank you. How was the assignment?"
"I was just sleeping. It was a lot easier than carrying sacks of fertilizer."
"Good work, Kanon. With this, your role is over." (Beatrice)
"...Thank you, Beatrice-sama. ...Bye, neesan. See you on the next game board."
"OK, see you on the next game board."
Beatrice waves her cane, and then Kanon's body sublimates into mist and disappears into her smoking pipe.
"Alright. So you are to decorate the last link of the closed room chain."
"Yes, I shall."
"I will grant you the forth twilight. It's a very merciful twilight."
"Thank you very much."
Beato and Shannon enter the chapel.
The gloomy, solemn chapel was engulfed in nothing but the sound of wind and rain.
"...Where would be good...?"
"How about behind the altar?"
Between the stained glass and the altar in front of it there was a crevice no more than 20cm wide.
The crevice was sufficiently deep.
Shannon had in advance prepared a metal dumbbell tied to a rope.
And then she carefully tested hanging and lowering the dumbbell into the crevice.
It went in with no problems. The weight of the dumbbell was ideal.
"How is it? Any problems?"
"No, it's fine. There are no problems."
Then let's start the stake make-up. It's pretty hard to stain your stake with real blood, after all.
She pulls some painting materials out of her bag.
It's the exact same stuff used in movies and the like.
And so she applied blood make-up to the end of the stake.
"A cinch. How are your preparations?"
"Yes, I'm ready."
Shannon tied a pistol to the end of the rope opposite to that of the dumbbell.
And then she carefully lowered the dumbbell into the crevice between the altar and the stained glass window.
The middle of the rope was caught against the corner of the altar.
Since the dumbbell was heavier than the pistol, as soon as she lets go, everything, gun and all, will be pulled into the crevice.
"Does it look like it'll fall in?"
"Yes. There are no problems."
Sannon hands the pistol tied to the rope to Beato.
And Beato hands Shannon the fake-bloodied stake.
Shannon gently presses the stake against her own forehead.
Beato also puts the pistol to Shannon's forehead, aligning it with the stake.
"You have no regrets?"
"...None. It is all as Beatrice-sama wills."
"It's too bad. ...If someone had solved the mystery of the epitaph... you would have finished alive.
"There's no way such an incomprehensible mystery could be solved. ...From the beginning it was a bet without any hope for success.
"Yet I still bet. ...because if the miracle were granted, it would truly be magic."
"......In this world of poison-filled humans, there is no magic nor miracles. ...Beatrice-sama, as the one true witch...
...you are the only existence that can bring magic to this world."
"That's right. ...I am the Golden Witch, Beatrice. Rest in peace. The next time you awaken, it will be in The Golden Land.
Your beloved George will also be there."
"...Thank you very much, Beatrice-sama..."
It was a weak sound but, inside the chapel where only wind and rain could be heard, there was a faint echo.
And Shannon was tranquilly looking up at the ceiling... then she suddenly collapsed like a puppet that had lost its strings.
Beato lets go of the pistol in her hand.
And when she does, the pistol, pulled by the heavy dumbbell, is swiftly swallowed up by the darkness of the crevice, disappearing with a heavy metallic clank.
All that's left in front of the altar is Shannon's body with a bloody forehead, and, strewn on the floor beside her, a stake for gouging sacrifices.
"...Indeed. This way it looks as though the stake came out of her forehead when she fell."
And with another wave of her cane golden butterflies took the shape of an envelope placed next to Shannon.
Inside was entrusted the first key, the key to the guest room.
And so the closed room chain is complete.
The five people all with the their master keys and the keys to each successive room, were all locked up in their own closed rooms.
With another wave of her cane, she leaves a letter inside the envelope.
It says something about Kanon's corpse being borrowed as another sacrifice for the ceremony.
And so they'll rush back to the guest room.
But at that time the guest room will have long been completely empty. They'll never be able to see the face of Kanon's corpse again.
"Okaay... with this, the epitaph murders are over. What d'you think, Battler? I hope you enjoy my mystery.
For the story concerning the disappearance of Kanon's body, I'll attribute it to the already summoned Flauros.
Even after Kanon's death, his soul will battle against Beato and Flauros.
But it will be useless and he'll lose, and what's more is his corpse will be swallowed up by Flauros. Something like that.
And with that, this game's epitaph serial murder incident comes to a close.
All that's left is to rewrite it into a fantasy story with Flaurous as the culprit.
After-discussion between Dlanor and Beatrice
"That's what it is at present. I will arrange it into a proper story format, but that's the really tough part....The displayed story and the undisplayed story. Matching them together as literature is truly an ordeal. It's like having to think up all the tricks, except I have to do even more."
"...So by only letting the surface be read, your story reaches the height of EXTRAVAGANCE."
"Indeed it does. I'm constantly painting both a fantasy story and a mystery story. Nevertheless, I only release the one story. It's like the extravagance of cutting out just a little bit of the best part of a cow and cooking it, and throwing out all the rest."
"An extravagant COMPARISON. ...However, ...do you not have REGRETS?"
"Regrets... you say?"
Dlanor had returned the bundled manuscript to Beato, and Beato had replied back as she was arranging it on the desk.
"......You paint twice the story, and then you only cook the surface HALF. Those who would know of the remaining half, so extravagantly discarded, would surely sing praise and astonishment at its taste and bold CUTS.
"Sometimes there are such fellows."
"You wrote that it was for 1 in 1000 people, but I think it's the OPPOSITE. Although you want all the other people beyond that 1 in 1000 to truly read your story, there is no doubt they won't be able to grasp the half that is stripped down and buried AWAY."
"Kukkukukuku. But isn't that just fine? It's extravagant literature where only the surface is preserved as story. And is not casting aside all those readers beyond the 1 in 1000 itself so very delightfully extravagant?
"......Are you happy with THAT? People paint stories to be READ. ......To paint a story not to be read by anyone, to cast it into darkness by one's own will, is beyond extravagance; it can even be thought to be FOOLISH.
"Kukkukku. But isn't that just fine? If things written so that the 999 of 1000 people can understand them can be called "civilization's" writings, then it would be most fitting if my story, written so that only 1 in 1000 can understand it, could be called an "oddity" writing. ......It's a story painted by a witch, so if it has an "odd" taste then should it not be called an "oddity" writing?"
"......My duty is to, using the commandments, make that "odd" tale understandable to all PEOPLE.
"Indeed. ...That's exactly why I don't want to entrust it to you."
"However, I understand your REASONS. It can't be made so that the 999 people can understand it, but... at least I may be able to help you reach just one more PERSON."
"What do you mean by 'help'?"
"I want to some day release this incomplete MANUSCRIPT."
"So you intend to drag out from the trash can the uncooked guts I threw away?"
"......You may... not be understood by ANYONE. However, I cannot think that that is your true DESIRE. You do not seek understanding from those 999 PEOPLE. However, you are still seeking understanding from 1 single INDIVIDUAL."
"There is a possibility that not even that 1 person will appear. ......It's not just young girls in love who wish for someone to understand their inner heart. ......Even witches who have experienced over a thousand years want it."
"The young girl tells of this using cryptic words, and awaits a single PRINCE......"
"Yes. Kukkukukuku. I, too, am one who has spent long years writing a very intricate story."
"If the time comes that the prince does not appear... I shall serve as the guidepost that leads him to YOU."
"......Knox's 10 commandments that guarantee that it's a mystery...? Kukkukuku, could a thing like that really guide him to me......?"
"If it's not enough... I will release this incomplete manuscript to be the key to your WORLD."
"What a disgraceful notion. Isn't it like a girl with no courage to confess having her friend do it for her?"
"That, too, is a way love is REALIZED."
"Fu......Kukkukukuku, hahhahahahahahahahahahaha. .......Very well. I'll shall allow you this manuscript."
Beato faces this way and, leaving a trail of smoke with it, taps the bundled manuscript with her pipe.
When she does, the manuscript bundle whirls into into a cylindrical shape and a bottle blinks into existence around it, sealing it inside.
She tosses it to Dlanor.
"Do with it as you please. Except I have just one condition."
"As long as I have life, I shall not suffer that seal's removal."
"......But then people who reach the truth by this manuscript cannot tell you of IT."
"The only prince I await is the one who arrives without reading the manuscript. ......One cannot love a cat after tearing out its guts."
"............UNDERSTOOD. I will do as you WISH. You have my heartfelt prayer that this manuscript brings a visitor to your GRAVE."
"I don't know... ......The great witches of the Sea of Kakera are truly quite cold. Even if we suppose there was a person who'd visit my grave, they'd probably just come to spit on it."
"......If you painted a story that can be seen by those with love...... then you should love those witches in TURN. Because even the prince you seek will be unable to see it without love for YOU."
"......Fu, ......fuffufufufu ......you've got me. You win. Alright, take that bottle with you. I'm not going to die just yet. I still have much story-writing to finish, after all."
"Then I shall take my LEAVE. ......Lady Beatrice, be WELL. Please do not forget the many love-filled witches that wait for YOU."
".........Yes, of course. I leave it to you and your parting gift. Ronove, the guest is taking her leave. See her to the door. Then get more tea for me... It's been a while, but I've a craving for sweet milk tea."
=====As a result of Lady Beatrice's death, I am releasing this incomplete tale in accordance with her will.
In reading this work, I was reminded of her long years of sadness, and couldn't hold back my tears. But at the same time, I felt pity for her.
Although she was searching for someone who had love, I am sad to say that ironically, her heart was filled with anger at those who did not. She once told me that it was fine if her story reached only one person in a thousand.
However, that was wrong. Out of those thousand people, she wished her story would reach even one more person. If you asked her, she would surely laugh and deny it. But those were without question her true feelings.
In the beginning, I was uncertain about releasing this manuscript. I thought that I should hide it, so as to preserve her mystery for the one-in-a-thousand savior she spoke so often about. But as I read and reread it... I began to realize that the manuscript was a message with no destination address.
It was a wish that even she never realized she had. But now I understand it, and I think it should be granted. That is the reason I decided to release this incomplete manuscript.
After you read this, it doesn't matter whether your feelings toward the woman named Beatrice are love or anger.
But if you can, try to reach her feelings, buried in the deepest part of the story. She said that she wrote two stories and revealed one. However, that was also wrong. She wrote three stories and revealed one. By reading this incomplete manuscript, you will know two of those stories. I would like you to reach the third and final one with your own power. As another woman, I strongly wish that of those reading this work.
Without love, it can't be seen.
They are her words. But I shall repeat them.
Love exists in everyone's hearts.
Her true tragedy was that she couldn't see it.
My deepest thanks go out to everyone who helped with the compilation of this book. Especially my assistant, アン ズー.
-- Dlanor A. Knox=====