So we’ve established

We have still yet to establish

Battler immediately questions whether Rosa was correct to believe that Beatrice had died at this time.

Battler, dramatically pointing (as he is wont to do) at Beatrice: “Don’t mess with me, that can’t be…! Auntie Rosa was a kid, and she was panicking. It’s not like there was a doctor. She probably made a mistake, thinking you were dead, and you were probably, umm, ……were in a state of apparent death, or something, but actually alive. Right?!”

Red text in 3… 2…

No, actually, meta!Battler inspects the body from his vantage point (what is that exactly?) and concludes she’s really dead.

He still asks for confirmation, and gets it. She’s definitely dead, says meta!Beatrice.

Well, who are you then, Ms. Not Dead, says meta!Battler. Nevermind that confirmed dead people have shown up in ‘Purgatorio’ before…

Beatrice explains the death of her ‘vessel’ simply broke the cage keeping her tied to the physical world. ‘Strike me down and I will become more powerful than you can even imagine’, indeed.

Fine, says Battler. He sips tea as we return to the narration.

Suddenly we are in first-person narration as the spirit of Beatrice, watching Rosa shake her corpse.

Beatrice’s ghost: “……………………That’s right. I am……me. …So, I have finally been able to escape from Kinzo’s restrictions…”

אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה”, huh Beatrice?

Beatrice’s memories now quickly return to her. She is now vulnerable to the sun, and finds it easier to maintain a butterfly form than a humanoid ghost form. She resolves to bide her time, regain her magic powers, and ultimately take her revenge on Kinzo.

Meta!Battler steps back in, summarising.

Meta!Beatrice to meta!Battler: “That is correct. I take this form to sneer at you, but normally, it is easier magically for me to keep my form as gold butterflies.”

Sneering is very important when you’re a witch.

Kinzo, apparently, quickly moved to trap Beatrice on the island and prevent her regaining her power. Battler suggests a butterfly net, and Beatrice says the magical equivalent is the small Shinto shrine on a reef off the coast of Rokkenjima. Wasn’t that there before Kinzo ever arrived?

Ronove says something curious.

Ronove: “This island was originally an island of distortions. Magical beings and other beings of similar ilk were attracted to it. ……Milady herself is one of them, I imagine. How about some more tea?”

Beatrice explains that the old Shinto shrine, built by an ‘Eastern mage’, had long since lost its power, but Kinzo repaired it to trap her there. The fact it was Eastern, not Western magic meant Beatrice didn’t have the expertise to counter it effectively. The Eastern magic reduced the effectiveness of Western magic, meaning it would take many times longer than a thousand days for Beatrice to regain her power.

For the next twenty years, Kinzo used various kinds of magic to try to recapture Beatrice, but luckily for her, failed every time.

Beatrice speaking over a greyed out dining room background. “A human cannot bring about miracles very many times. Even simply holding me captive for that long had been a miracle far above his place. It would be unthinkable for me to be captured like that multiple times.”

The mysterious hierarchy of mages pops up again.

Battler recalls all of Kinzo’s talk about, as he puts it, ‘probabilistic miracles’. Beatrice says he ‘worked out’ the 13-sacrifice ritual as a means to revive her. Kinzo would have a 5 in 18 chance of surviving and seeing Beatrice again.

Beatrice says she does feel some gratitude for having a few decades that weren’t boring.

Beatrice: “………Then I choose 13 people arbitrarily as sacrifices. And as that unfolds, you people are thrown into total confusion, and show me various aspects of the fabric of human relationships as you stand against me, which gives me great pleasure. I really do like this game of Kinzo’s! *cackle*cackle*.”

Beatrice would definitely be organising raids on 4chan if this story happened in the early 2000s.

Battler refuses, naturally, to accept this magic story. He demands to know who Beatrice is. Beatrice says she is indeed the 19th person, but uses Battler’s catchphrase (one of them) right back at him.

Beatrice with a taut evil grin: “That is true, I most surely am the 19th person. *cackle*cackle*cackle*! But it’s no good, I’m afraid…? It’s no goddamn good at all!!”

The audacity!

And then she drops that serious redtext we’ve been waiting for.

Beatrix in red: “There are no more than 18 humans on this Rokkenjima!”

There are no more than 18 humans on this Rokkenjima! Battler doesn’t like this one bit.

Battler: “Then, what the hell are you, why are you here?!! If the 19th person doesn’t exist, then are you saying you’re one of the 18 in disguise?!”

Beatrice compares blaming one of the 18 to castling, a last resort defence. (Don’t some chess strats do it really early though?)

Now, she says, comes the hard part.

………However, for me, the hard part is just beginning. You need only throw away appearances, and you can prepare a culprit freely amid the 18 people! Finding a route through those 18 pices, in order to checkmate you and force you to accept me, ………will be truly difficult.”

She will, she says, come at him all at once. She already has a ‘thorough knowledge‘ of what Battler is vulnerable to.

We get a montage through the various characters, ending with Beatrice manifesting in front of her portrait and the clock striking 12 (even though it only rings five times…).

Next: The Beginning of the Ritual.