@alchymistryandcoldsteel prodded me to consider the broader questions. That is, I’ve been following Battler in narrowly focussing on ‘whodunnit’ and ‘is magic fake as shit’ within each individual murder narrative, and not ‘exactly what is going on in this whole situation, why is Battler playing this game against a metafictional witch, and what is the role of the reader who was addressed directly by the second witch at the very end of the last game’
so let’s go over what we ‘know’.
- there are at least two parallel universes (following Beatrice and Bernkastel’s conversation, ‘fragments’), and a ‘meta’ universe aka Purgatory.
- in each of these fragments, the 18 named characters exist. these characters correspond to people in the ‘meta’ universe, although so far we’ve only seen the young people in Purgatory.
- the ‘game’: meta!Beatrice is presenting particular fragments to meta!Battler, trying to convince him that there is a magical witch called Beatrice active inside each one.
- it’s not clear how far we can trust the narration. if the narration is fully believed, there are numerous instances of magic that we’ve directly seen. Battler is evidently not persuaded by this, so we must have reason to suspect Beatrice (or someone else) is embellishing the narrative in the golden butterfly scenes.
- meta!Beatrice can make statements about the fragments in red text that we must accept as true about that fragment. In that regard, she must have detailed knowledge of what happened, not available to Battler.
- in the first instance, the narrative we saw was apparently a message in a bottle left by Maria, who was identified from a fragment of jaw.
we also have what Bernkastel told ‘us’ directly:
- Beatrice is a personification of the rules of ‘this world’
- to defeat Beatrice, we must ‘expose the rules of this world and unravel them’
it’s not clear who ‘us’ was, whether it’s the reader, or from Battler’s POV. Is the reader considered a character?
In any case, time advances. They stay grouped together, supposing that there aren’t many culprits, and the six adults were killed by poison, so they’ll be unlikely to be attacked in a large group.
Ten people remain alive, nine of whom are together in the parlour. Kinzo remains in his study. They eat only canned food, in case of poison.
Maria takes the chance to explain the ‘Wolves and Sheep’ puzzle. It is indeed a river crossing puzzle. The rule is that if there are more wolves than sheep in a location, they kill the sheep. On Wikipedia, this puzzle is given an absolutely vile genocidal colonial narrative about ‘missionaries’ and ‘cannibals’. In truth, the so-called ‘cannibals’ of course had much more to fear from the missionaries, slavers etc., and their supposedly violent nature was used to justify enslavement, extermination and forced Christianisation. It’s really horrible to hear century-old genocide-justifying myth being treated as a supposedly politically neutral mathematics problem</soapbox>
Anyway. Wolves and sheep is better even if it’s not accurately describing wolf behaviour at all. The version Maria shows has two of each, and a boat that can contain two animals. A solution off the top of my head:
I may be mistaken that the wolves won't eat the sheep if there are equal numbers of wolves and sheep, in which case my solution would be invalid.
Battler offers a different solution:
Battler’s solution seems to involve some redundant moves, but has the advantage that no wolves are ever left with a sheep, even outnumbered.
Solutions aside, Rosa believes some of the people are ‘wolves’.
At this very moment, Rosa sends Sayo, Genji and Kuwasawa to accompany Gohda to wash the dishes. Hold on, why doesn’t everybody go to wash the dishes? She’s up to something…
Sure enough, when George offers to go too, he’s denied by Rosa. Clearly Rosa wants to foster suspicion against the servants. She also sends Nanjo away. All who remain are Ushiromiyas.
George challenges Rosa on an excess of suspicion. Rosa starts to argue the servants are in league with Beatrice. She doesn’t think a lone actor could have done all the violence in the chapel. She also says the master key puzzle implicates a servant.
At which point Battler finally considers that someone might be trying to implicate them…
…in the usual way.
Rosa starts questioning whether it was the servants, raising the possibility that the lock was locked by some other means. Of course, she doesn’t have Beatrice’s axiomatic declaration that this is impossible.
They consider the possibility that Kanon, having murdered Jessica was hiding inside the room waiting for them to leave. OK, but, they searched the room and Kanon wasn’t there?
Meta!Battler jumps in to explain how much he hates this line of reasoning. He goes over the possibilities he’s had to reject. Beatrice alludes to Knox and Van Dine’s lists of rules of detective fiction, specifically, Knox’s rule that there shouldn’t be too many secret passages. Having never heard of these lists before, I would like to say they’re both wankers.
Beatrice restates some axioms. There are no hidden doors in this room. There is no way to get in or out other than the door and the windows.
Meta!Battler expresses frustration that narrative!Battler does not have the advantage of these red text axioms, and will not be able to convince Rosa that her hypothesis is wrong.
George, of course, won’t accept Sayo is a ‘wolf’ (accomplice/perpetrator). Rosa says she was alone with Genji, and not killed, so either Genji is not a ‘wolf’ or they both are. She favours the latter interpretation. George is like, no way.
Battler calls Rosa on making an argument from ignorance in a really harsh way.
Rosa says she is determined to act as a mother for not just Maria, but also Battler and George. She insists they not go out of her sight.
Battler is like, OK, you’re accusing everyone, can you prove you aren’t a wolf? Rosa’s answer is ‘I have a fucking gun you noob’, or well, pointing it at Battler. Wow, I live in a country where guns are illegal and even I know you never point a gun at someone, whether or not you think it’s loaded, unless you intend to shoot them. Anyway, point being: if she was the culprit, she’d have shot them by now, having a perfect opportunity with the servants gone from the room.
Narrative!Battler wishes 19thguest!Beatrice would come out and act like a proper villain, cackling on a balcony, so everyone can stop suspecting each other. Meta!Battler tells meta!Beatrice to shut up.
None of the servants are dead. They’re passing time. Gohda is making soup from ‘sealed ingredients’. They’re pretty relaxed… and then someone makes a thump outside the back door. Possibly Beatrice dropping off Kanon’s body?
Of course they freak out. Genji grabs a knife (apparently he’s used to hiding knives in his sleeve?), and he and Gohda go to check out the noise.
It is indeed Kanon, who isn’t quite dead yet, somehow. But given the massive chest wound, probably doesn’t have much longer. If Kanon was killed at the same time as Jessica, it seems unlikely that [he] would last this long.
Anyway, they decide to take Kanon to the first aid kit in the servant room, and inform Rosa. But Kanon manages to say ‘wait… not Rosa’… huh. They agree not to tell Rosa.
Nanjo says the blood loss is too severe, and Kanon will need a blood transfusion.
Kanon continues to try to say something about Rosa while coughing up blood. Eventually it comes out: Rosa came to Kanon and Jessica; implication, she murdered them.
That explicitly contradicts the narrative we witnessed, where Kanon fought the various demons and died. Implication: that narration was false? Magical alternative: Beatrice modified Kanon’s memories to sow suspicion and implicate Rosa.
When could Rosa have done this? Well, most likely after she went upstairs to visit Kinzo and join Genji and Sayo. Why? If everyone in the family is dead, she inherits the will. The gruesomeness of the murders is a stretch, though.
And of course, the question remains: Rosa is no more capable than anyone else of locking the door without a key. Of course, she could have stolen one, just like Beatrice could.
This is an unexpected twist, to be sure. And casts a lot of doubt on the reliability of the narrator.
Sayo runs out of the room, looking for an unspecified something that wouldn’t be in the cleaned rooms, but might be in the boiler room. A weapon? Something else? I don’t know. But she could be the next casualty.
Gohda and Genji discuss how to overpower Rosa and take the gun. Apparently she has four or five shots loaded.
They wonder whether Rosa would really try to kill them all. Kanon asserts she said she would.
Nanjo notices Kanon should be unconscious after the level of blood loss, but Kanon only seems to be getting stronger.
Kanon’s sprite gets creepy red eyes. That seems significant.
The obvious magical interpretation is that Beatrice is animating Kanon’s corpse. The non-magical interpretation is that Kanon is either telling the truth, or an accomplice, though that doesn’t explain [his] seemingly miraculous survival.
Kanon starts asserting the wound is not serious and doesn’t hurt anymore - an obvious falsehood given Nanjo’s observations. [He] even takes off [his] bandages, and sticks [his] fingers deep into the wound.
Consistent with magic. As an alternative, has Kanon been drugged? Something to deaden the pain and ensure [he] is susceptible to manipulation?
Sayo comes back. She went to the boiler room to ‘check’ something. She asks whether Kanon is really Kanon.
The ‘something’ she intended to fetch was a spiderweb. She’s put it on a handkerchief. I guess this is a way to test if Kanon is undead or something? Sayo says if spiders are Kanon’s natural enemy, this should provoke a reaction. What the heck?
The Beatrice magic pulsing noise comes back in. Shannon brings the cobweb close to Kanon’s leg… and ‘something happens in an instant’. Kanon jumps back, tracing three ‘purple arcs’ across the throats of Nanjo and Kuwasawa, cutting them. The third one was going to cut Sayo’s throat, but Genji saved her.
What in the actual fuck?
So. Genji, Sayo and Kanon all have - if we can believe these scenes - magic powers. And more knowledge than we’d assume about magic things. These are also the three who refer to themselves as ‘furniture’ and have a specially close relationship with Kinzo the mage.
So Nanjo and Kumasawa are dead. Kanon’s reanimated corpse has gone full-on ninja, and Genji is dodging its attacks.
Gohda jumps on “Kanon”. This is apparently sufficient to subdue the ghoul or whatever you call it. “Kanon” tries to attack Gohda with magic, but Genji has throwing knife skills now?
Genji approaches with the cobweb and “Kanon” freaks the fuck out. There’s a horrible flesh-sizzling sound and Kanon screams. The result is that “Kanon” turns into a cloud of golden butterflies, and dissipates.
Gohda has no fucking clue what’s going on. He’s not the only one. With Sayo crying in the aftermath, the chapter ends.
So that’s three living witnesses to magic SFX. Two of whom know a lot more than they’re letting on…