Last time, Beatrice presented a tricky circular locked room puzzle. She declined, for some strategic reason, to declare that nobody died by accident, allowing Battler room to propose a consistent mundane hypothesis, meaning a victory of sorts for him in the opening skirmish.
The next chapter is The Key to the Golden Land. We return to narration. The cousins go upstairs to accompany Maria to a TV, and Nanjo steps outside, while the siblings try to work out how to manage sleep while guarding the guest house. Nobody wants to sleep.
Eva starts working on solving the riddle. I think we should make our own try first.
Behold the sweetfish river, running through my beloved home of old.
You who seek the Golden Land, follow its path downstream in search of the key.
- As you travel down it, you will see a village.
- In that village, look for the shore the two speak of.
- There the key to the Golden Land sleeps.
- You who laid hand upon the key must journey as follows to the Golden Land.
- On the first twilight, sacrifice the six chosen by the key.
- On the second twilight, those who remain shall tear apart the two who are close.
- On the third twilight, those who remain shall praise my noble name.
- On the fourth twilight, gouge the head and kill.
- On the fifth twilight, gouge the chest and kill.
- On the sixth twilight, gouge the stomach and kill.
- On the seventh twilight, gouge the knee and kill.
- On the eighth twilight, gouge the leg and kill.
- On the ninth twilight, the witch revives, and none shall be left alive.
- On the tenth twilight, the journey ends, and you shall reach the Home of the Gold.
- The witch shall praise the wise, and bestow four treasures.
Rest in peace, my beloved witch, Beatrice.
- One shall be all of the Golden Land’s gold.
- One resurrects all the dead people’s souls.
- One even revives all the love they possessed.
- And one for the rich to eternally rest.
So. We have established the sequence of ‘twilights’ is the ritual for resurrecting Beatrice. They might have other significance.
The ‘beloved home of old’ is now seemingly more likely to be Beatrice’s beloved home of old, i.e. Kuwadorian?
The sweetfish river. That’s less clear, since there was no river on Rokkenjima. Is it, perhaps, a metaphor?
Let’s see what the Ushiromiyas think. Everyone decides Kyrie is very clever and that they’ll listen to what she has to say, which is uncharacteristically positive for Ushiromiyas.
Kyrie points out the three part division. I’ve numbered them 1, 2 and 3 above.
On the first part, the siblings say Kinzo had no love for the Ushiromiya home in Odawara he entered as the head, but probably loved his earlier home. However, Eva has visited, and there are numerous rivers, in an area that’s seen extensive redevelopment.
Kyrie says it’s probably wrong to interpret narrowly geographically. She says the first two lines are probably meant to be interpreted as a pair, as a metaphor. Everyone drops their sweetfish facts. In particular, their life cycle involves going out to sea, and returning to the river to spawn.
Rosa offers the interpretation of the ‘sweetfish river’ as akin to a family tree. In that case, the only ‘village’ character is the one in Maria’s name.
[Note from future Bryn: the kanji used here are 真 里 亜]
So in this ‘village’ - in Maria - we should ‘look for the shore the two speak of’. Well, if Krauss is right that Maria and Rosa are the village, the only shore we’ve heard spoken of is the one where Beatrice ‘died’ before.
However, because Kinzo disliked Maria’s name and never interacted with her, they dismiss that possibility. Eva says to try to think abstractly; Rosa notes the interpretation of the second stanza depends very much on the interpretation of the first.
They move on to discussing the series of ‘twilights’. Kyrie suggests that, rather than literal commands, it might be wordplay, such as anagrams, or eliminating intermixed garbage characters. In this regard, the ritual instructions are really a deciphering algorithm… but they don’t have the ciphertext.
But wait a minute. What if the first lines are also wordplay? What are the Japanese characters for Kuwadorian? And for ‘sweetfish river’? OK, Kuwadorian is 九羽鳥庵. Sweetfish river, Google translate says, is 甘い川 … sweetfish alone is 鮎 … so much for that idea.
But hold on, let’s get the full text of the riddle…
…this would be easier if I knew any Japanese whatsoever lol. If you know a bit more than me and like riddles that may or may not resemble a cryptic crossword, have at it.
They break for lunch, or rather, snacks since that’s all that’s in the guesthouse. Eva remains hyperfocused on the riddle, and snaps at Kyrie and Rosa.
Prodded, Rosa notes an oddity.
[Note from Future Bryn: the difference is between 黄金郷 and 黄金の郷, with the addition of the particle の, which denotes possession and fulfils a similar role to 'of'. This change splits the final kanji kanji 郷 out of the compound (jukugo) word, causing it to take the kun'yomi reading (typical used for an isolated kanji) さと instead of the on'yomi reading (typically used for a kanji in a compound word) きょう.]
We cut to Beatrice watching. She’s gotten bored. Virgilia asks her why.
When Beatrice and Ronove joke at Beatrice’s expense, she demands Ronove go away.
Virgilia says Beatrice actually ‘cornered herself’ by saying there were no more than 18 people on the island in red. She means this in an emotional manipulation sense apparently, suggesting Beatrice should have led Battler further ‘astray’; instead she just emboldened him by ending his conflict over whether to blame one of the 18.
Trolling is just what witches do, evidently.
Beatrice actually starts begging Virgilia for a hint. She’s really acting like a child now. Virgilia’s like, no, I’m not breaking my current alliance.
But Beatrice keeps begging, and Virgilia relents and offers some small hints. The first is to bring up Aesop’s fable of the North Wind and the Sun, to discourage overt aggression. The second is to correct Beatrice on the victory condition: it is to get Battler to accept her existence, not necessarily to submit to her.
Beatrice does not seem particularly inclined to take any such lesson to heart.
Cut back to Young!Eva scolding Eva and encouraging her to solve the riddle. Young!Eva might indeed be just what she seems, and not a secret witch; it might just be similarities in writing style.
Then again, she does seem oddly insightful in regard to interpreting the riddle.
Dramatic electronic music kicks in, and Eva gets an idea of some kind relating to oceans. We’re not told what it is, only that she needs to confirm it in an archive.
…an atlas? Hmm. Why that? She wants to get a six character ‘key’ from it. Young!Eva suggests thinking of it as a childish game rather than a grandiose riddle, and Eva gets it. Well, I don’t.
So Eva sneaks out to go to the library. Seems like a good way to get murdered.
Conveniently, the archive is right there in the guesthouse? So Eva finds something that is a metaphorical ‘sweetfish river’ in a book, an atlas from the sounds of things.
At first, she interprets 里 to mean any populated area, but after cajoling from young!Eva, she figures out what to find.
There, she looks for a ‘shore’.
[Note from Future Bryn: the kanji here is 岸 which can also mean bank or coast.]
So she gets an answer she’s certain of. But it’s not six characters. Think, says young!Eva, with her usual ‘give up and die forever’ bluster.
She finds a six-character interpretation. The only place to use that key, says young!Eva, is ‘that place’; ‘that… is definitely what offers the sacrifices’. Chapter end.
This is far too mysterious for my tired brain. But let’s see. Eva ended up looking for an atlas. The ‘sweetfish river’ metaphor is something to do with the ocean. That could mean, for example, trade routes, wind or oceanic currents? Perhaps that’s too literal…
I don’t think I’m going to get this - given the emphasis on number of characters, it might not even work in English.
The next chapter is called Coronation, and we will continue to follow Eva. But perhaps I’ll cliffhanger you for tonight :)