First Disclaimer: Nothing Umineko-related is mine. This was a monkey on my back that just had to get written.
Second Disclaimer: This may or may not get finished before the release of the sixth game. With that in mind, treat this as a massive AU in case any of my theories turn out to be wrong. The basic premise will be used, that much I know, but the theories presented here may not be correct.
A word of thanks to Chidori vs Rasengan. Without his help, this fanfic would've taken much longer to get published. Many thanks. Any mistakes made are my own.
Bold when not in author notes = Red
Italics when not in thoughts or emphasis = Blue
Ushiromiya Battler leaned forward in his chair, deep in concentration. At his side stood Virgilia, her pale hair falling down past her shoulders, her eyes halfway closed. Facing opposite him was Frederica Bernkastel and Lady Lambdadelta, both with a look of contempt on their faces. And sitting right between them was Furudo Erika, who did not look quite as contempt, but had a satisfactory smug look on her face. On the table sat a small, handheld mirror left by Virgilia, who claimed she would need it later.
"So," said Battler, "I guess I should set up the next game soon, huh?"
"That would be a good idea," said Bernkastel. "Considering that's something you should have done over an hour ago." She and Lambdadelta turned to face each other and they shared a smile.
"You're right," sighed Battler. "Sorry, I'm still getting the hang of being the Endless Sorcerer and all."
"And that's all?" spoke up Erika, startling the two witches sitting on either side of her. She had not spoken since the last game, when, after thinking she had the upper hand on Battler, she was mercilessly defeated and the game ended in a tie. Now, she spoke with bravado: "You're not upset about your beloved Beato getting eaten up by goats? Your heart isn't being torn apart by the thought of how her last few moments were spent in sheer agony?"
Battler clenched his fists. "Don't speak her name," he said in a quiet, angry voice.
Seeing that she had struck a chord, Erika went on: "It was poetic justice, so to say. Hoisted by her own petard. Poisoned by her own concoction. Throat slit by her own sword. However you prefer to say it, she was executed through the same brutal manner she preferred to execute others." She let out an obnoxious yawn. "But I'll bet that satisfied you immensely, did it not? I'll bet you hated her so much for killing your family you wanted to see her suffer, right? But she was too proud to give you that pleasure. Instead, your beloved Beato chose to go down laughing and—"
Battler slammed his hands down on the handles of his chair and shot up from his seat yelling, "I told you not to speak her name!"
"Battler," said Virgilia gently, placing one hand on Battler's shoulder. Battler, still glaring, sat back down in his chair.
Erika, after getting over her initial shock smiled over at Bernkastel. "I've found his weak spot," she said. "Are you satisfied?"
"Shut your mouth," said Bernkastel sharply, still angered over the last game ending in a tie. "Mere taunting won't be enough to achieve victory. You can't be all talk in a chess match—you have to sit down and concentrate."
Erika sighed and slumped in her chair. "You heard her," she said, twirling a blue pigtail. "What's it going to be?"
"I don't know," muttered Battler, rubbing his aching temples. "Just give me a minute."
"If you really care about your family that much," said Lambdadelta, "you can always just choose more merciful means of killing them off. Well, how about it?"
Battler clenched his fists once more. Now that he was the Game Master, it was his job to set up the game however he liked...and regardless of how merciful the killings would be, he did not want to kill his family or even think about who would want to kill his family, which one of the bunch was a wolf in sheep's clothing waiting to devour the innocent sheep once they were outnumbered by the hungry wolf.
"Lady Lambdadelta," spoke up Virgilia, "I think you should be more merciful on dear Battler. He is entirely new to being the one in charge of the game. He'll figure out the rules eventually. You were at least kind enough to let...my former successor...even everything out to her favour for as long as she could in spite of the control you had on her."
"Yeah, but I hold no responsibility over her any longer," said Lambdadelta with a toss of her short blonde hair. "I hold no responsibility over the dead."
"Shut up," said Battler through clenched teeth.
"Battler," said Virgilia gently. She then said, "If the three of you are getting so bored with waiting for us, then why don't you give us some time alone for a little bit? We'll come up with a strategy to get the game started and let you know when we have. Until then, feel free to go off and plan your strategies while we plan ours."
Bernkastel and Lambdadelta shared a glance. They shrugged and Bernkastel turned back to face Virgilia. "Fair enough," she said. "Just don't think you can get away with starting the game without us."
"Why not?" spoke up Battler. "That was what you did."
Bernkastel ignored this and said, "Come, Erika. We have some planning to do."
The three disappeared in a burst of gold, leaving only Virgilia and Battler. Battler sighed and buried his face in his hands. After getting over the initial rush of becoming the Endless Sorcerer, euphoria faded and reality set in. He had achieved the title of the very thing he had been denying from the start at a terrible cost. Tried as he might, he could not get that face out of his mind...he could not erase the colour of those blue irises that mocked him relentlessly...that laugh that both infuriated and excited him...those golden locks once held up by a delicate bun now hanging loose and lifeless...or that smile she had given him...that very last smile...
"Thank you...liar...goodbye and...I'm sorry..."
"Beato," moaned Battler, clenching the red hair that strayed down his forehead. "I'm sorry, Beato..."
"Battler," said Virgilia gently, "do you truly miss her?"
How could he miss her? This was the woman who had sadistically killed his family over and over, forcing him to either admit magic existed or admit someone in his family was a bloodthirsty killer, and laughed over it...and yet...this was also the woman who could be fun to be around most of the time...the woman who, upon thinking about any aspect of her, would leave him feeling heavy-hearted...the woman who wasn't as bad as she seemed...
"Yes," admitted Battler, who slid further down in his chair. "I miss her." He looked into Virgilia's eyes. "Please tell me this is another set-up," he said. "Please tell me this is something you and Beato came up with together to trick me into admitting defeat, please tell me Beato is hiding somewhere right now and is going to jump out at any second crying out "Surprise; I just tricked you; now surrender!" Please tell me this is just a joke!"
Battler had thrown himself to his knees and was clutching the edges of Virgilia's dress. Virgilia smiled sadly. "I wish this were another set-up," she said, "but I'm sorry. Beato really is gone."
Battler let out a cry of anguish and threw himself to the floor, weeping bitterly. How could he feel so much for someone he shouldn't even care for? Wait...now he remembered...the few occasions when going back and forth with her was actually entertaining...
"Why couldn't you have remained an evil, bloodthirsty witch?" said Battler in between his sobs. "Why did you have to show a pitiable side to yourself? Why did you have to show me I was the one torturing you?" He slammed his fists on the ground crying out, "Dammit, dammit, DAMMIT!"
"Battler," said Virgilia calmly, "if you miss Beato so much...why don't you call for her right now?"
Shaking with fury and grief, Battler, using a chair for support, stood up. He walked across the tea room and said, "Well, Beato? Aren't you going to show yourself? You've had your fun; now come out and show yourself."
Nothing was happening. Was Virgilia doing this to him to deliberately torment him?
"I said show yourself!" cried out Battler, tossing his arms up in the air. "Show yourself to me, Beatrice!"
He cried out and slammed his fists down on the coffee table, taking a few, deep, shaky breaths to calm him down. Sometimes...she had been kind of fun...why? Why did she have to make this so complicated?
"Look in the mirror."
Battler looked up. He thought he heard someone talking to him.
"Look in the mirror."
"Virgilia?" said Battler. "Why do you want me to look in the mirror?"
"I'm not the one speaking to you," said Virgilia with an innocent smile on her face.
"Look in the mirror."
"Nice try," said Battler, placing both hands on his hips. "But I know what you're up to—you're a master ventriloquist who is just trying to throw me off by—"
"IDIOT! Look in the mirror!"
Battler sighed and picked up the handheld mirror. He was so startled by the reflection he nearly dropped it. Staring right back at him was her, the former Endless Witch.
"Beato," he whispered. "What...how...?"
"Close your eyes," said Beato, a look of fierce determination in her eyes.
Battler stood there, trembling, not believing this. This couldn't be real...he had to be going mad with grief...
"Close your eyes," repeated Beato, sounding irritated that she had to repeat herself.
Even if this was just an illusion...or delusion rather...even if he was only seeing what he wished to see...Battler closed his eyes, wishing for this to be real.
Battler obeyed...and was nearly taken aback by what he saw. He was no longer in the meta-world...yet it was clear he was most certainly not in the real world, either...
"Where am I?" he said. The world surrounding him was a lavish purple, fragments of the previous games played between him and Beato circling around him...
"This," Battler turned towards Beato's voice and sure enough she was standing just a few feet in front of him, her hair up in its usual bun, her dress long and flowing, "is the world between worlds. We are in neither heaven nor hell nor purgatory. We just are."
"I could ask what the hell is going on," said Battler, stroking his chin, "but personal experience tells me you're not going to bother giving me an explanation, are you?"
A smirk made its way across Beato's face and for a moment, she looked like the old, arrogant, proud Beato once more. "Of course not," she said. "What would the fun in that be?"
"Allow me to explain," said another voice. In a burst of gold, Virgilia appeared before the two. She made eye contact with both and spoke: "This is where the souls of those who died in the previous games go to. They know they are not truly dead and gone forever. They know they are but chess pieces in this game, merely put away in their box until the next game begins. And when it does, they are taken back to a certain amount of time before their supposed murders. And they have no memory of it—or at least, no conscious memory, anyway. They retain their subconscious memories, learn from their mistakes, and become better people for it."
"So," said Battler slowly, "this is where Beato's soul is right now? She's not truly dead?"
"No," said Beato. "I am not dead... Not yet, anyway. I could surrender right now and allow myself to go to either heaven or hell, wherever I am destined to go to...or, I could stand up and fight."
The look of determination in her eyes flared up. "Do you really think I plan on just sitting back and doing nothing while you win my game back for me? I guided you along the way...the least I can do is sit on the benches steering you in the right direction rather than just pack up and leave all together. Not even Teacher alone can help you with a game I created."
"She's right," said Virgilia. "Only the creator alone can provide you true guidance."
"That's saying a lot, given I had almost no guidance in the last games," said Battler, folding his arms across his chest.
"Oh, that was just to keep you on your toes," said Beato nonchalantly. "If I just gave it away to you, you would be ill-prepared against Bernkastel. However, now that you are used to whatever tricks are thrown in your direction, you are prepared to do whatever you can to strike back."
"Gee, thanks," said Battler sarcastically. "The least you could've done was to warn me." He stroked his chin once more. "Hmm...so I have to bring you back, but if I do you'll be shackled to the game for all eternity and continue to suffer until you die for real...yet you do not wish to be held back in the afterlife..."
"Battler," spoke up Virgilia, "I just thought I'd let you know that Lady Lambdadelta no longer holds any responsibility over Beato. She said so herself: 'I hold no responsibility for the dead'. Remember?" She winked knowingly at Battler.
Battler grinned, figuring out that Virgilia had tricked Lambdadelta into surrendering all power over Beato, therefore enabling Battler to revive her if he wanted. "Oh, you sneaky devil!"
"I'm not quite as innocent as I appear to be," said Virgilia, smiling. "With that in mind, can you come up with something?"
"I...think I can," said Battler slowly. "Now that I am the Game Master, I can set the rules to my liking. If...if I were to turn back time before the murders take place, or before everyone else arrived...let's say one week, like September twenty-seventh...and I were to somehow arrive here...I could get away with trying to figure out who the potential murderer might be. And then I could stop them from committing murder and seek help for them. That way, no one has to be sacrificed. I could get away with that, right?"
"I see no harm," said Virgilia. "After all, Beato did set the early games to her advantage so much to the point where they became ridiculous and I took pity on you, you incompetent fool."
"Don't blame me for trying to help," scoffed Beato.
"Next time, try to help me a little less," teased Battler, glad to be bantering with Beato once again. He then said, "We would still need an excuse for my going to Rokkenjima, though. So how about I send you and Virgilia back to a few days before September twenty-seventh so Virgilia can have enough time to send my family an invitation forged in Kinzo's handwriting urging us to come over for an emergency family meeting?"
"My, my, you're on your way to becoming a good chess master," mused Beato. "I chose wisely."
"There's still a third obstacle," said Battler. "Beato...you no longer want to be tied down by the game...yet you have to come back..." He turned to Virgilia. "Virgilia...is it possible for witches to be reverted back to mortals?"
"Well," said Virgilia slowly, "it has been done before...so you could do it..."
"Wait a minute," said Beato suspiciously. "Are you saying you plan on revoking my powers and making me mortal?!?"
Battler decided it was best not to beat around the bush with a person like Beato: "Yes."
"How dare you?!?" said Beato angrily, looking and sounding as though she would kill Battler if she had the power to do so. "After all I've done, this is how you plan to repay me?!? By taking away my powers?!? Fine, see if I care when you get torn to pieces by demon goat butlers! Don't expect me to jump in and risk getting impaled by a red sword!" She folded her arms across her chest and 'hmphed' like a scorn child.
"Beato," said Virgilia in a stern voice, "Battler is playing your role from this moment on, so you can no longer be on the game board. And you really have no other choice. You say you do not want to be trapped in the game forever, yet you do not want to be mortal. You cannot have it both ways. As the saying goes, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You have a choice: You can either go back as a mortal, or not go back at all."
Beato glared at both Virgilia and Battler. "Fine," she sighed. "But only if I'm allowed to do more than just sit there. Doing nothing gets boring after a while."
Virgilia pursed her lips. "Actually," she said, "I have known former witches who had their powers revoked and reverted back to mortal. They said the process is excruciating, so you might not be able to jump in as quickly as you like. But the pain will only be temporary, so..."
"So I'll have to endure a little bit of pain," scoffed Beato. "I'm tougher than most witches, Teacher. Any pain I've faced so far can't be nearly as bad, right?"
"I can only hope so," sighed Virgilia, "Ronove? Seven Stakes? Gaap?"
One by one, each of the following requested appeared in the world-between-worlds. The first one to appear was Ronove, looking proper as ever. Then each of the Stakes prepared to do their service, and finally Gaap, who looked determined to help in bringing a dear friend back to life.
"We are at your service, milady," said Ronove with a bow.
"Anything you need," chimed the Seven Stakes.
"Lia," said Gaap, "what is it you need us to do?"
With a smile, Virgilia said, "Hang on to your hats. We are about to try an entirely different strategy." She turned to Battler. "Ready, Battler?"
"Ready," said Battler. He turned to Beato. "Are you ready, Beato?"
Beato looked hesitant, but she joined hands with Battler. Battler, ignoring the slight shiver of excitement he felt from holding Beato's hand, turned to Virgilia and asked, "What do I need to say to revoke her powers?"
"You need to say something along the lines of 'you exist but you are not a witch'," replied Virgilia. "You can vary the words however you want, but you need to concentrate while you're saying them or they will not work."
"That's it?" said Battler, surprised. He was expecting it to be a bit more complicated.
"That's it," nodded Virgilia.
"Er...okay," said Battler slowly. He cleared his throat and turned to Beato, declaring, "Beato...a real and true mortal you may be, a witch you are not!"
He wasn't sure just where those words came from, but they seemed to have some sort of effect for there was a bright light surrounding them as Battler then proceeded to take everyone back...back in time to before the game was supposed to begin to prepare to fight...
September 23, 1986
Beato felt a hard slam against her face as she hit the floor. She groaned and rubbed her head, struggling to sit up. She felt a lot heavier than before...she realized with a sinking feeling this was because she was now mortal. As a witch, she felt light as a feather, unrestricted and unbound by human limits. Now, here she was, bound once again as a human... Unlike with Kinzo, however, she would not merely lose memory of her powers...they would vanish all together...
She opened up her eyes and looked around. These walls looked very familiar...where was she?
"Kuwadorian," she muttered, slowly standing up, "Of course…"
She had been inside these walls far too long to not identify them properly. It was like a prison you grew accustomed to after violating parole one too many times.
"We're back," said a familiar voice.
"Gaap?" said Beato, turning to face the curly-haired woman who was standing alongside Virgilia, Ronove, and the Seven Stakes.
"It's been years since I've seen the insides of these walls," Virgilia mused, "Not a thing has changed."
Without warning, Beato felt a sharp pain in her chest. She gasped and fell to the floor. The pain was spreading quickly, down to her arms, to her legs, everywhere all over her body, consuming her like fire. She struggled to breathe, but it was like drowning on dry land. She didn't even have enough oxygen to scream from the growing agony.
She heard everyone crying out "Beato!" or "Lady Beatrice!" They were all surrounding her now. She was seeing stars, her head was about to burst open. God it hurt so much...
"Battler...kun..." was the last thing to escape Beato's lips before everything faded to black.
September 27, 1986
Battler struck the alarm clock sitting on his dresser and muttered, "I'm up… I'm up…" He yawned and stretched out his arms before opening his eyes. He wasn't in the meta-world or on Rokkenjima. He was in his own room, safe and sound. He never thought he'd be so grateful to wake up to white walls in his life.
"What a nightmare," he muttered, vowing this would be absolutely the last time he would eat potato chips and ice cream before going to bed. Maybe it was also because of that junk food he felt a lot lighter now...
There was a knock on the door that startled him into sitting right up. The door opened and in came the one person he was most grateful to see.
"Kyrie!" gasped Battler, leaping out of bed. "I had the worst nightmare of my life! There were these witches that killed everyone, and I had to figure out who the real killer was, and—and there were these Seven Stakes of Purgatory that kept stabbing people and—oh, and there was this crazy, ridiculous fantasy scene where these two witches were killing each other with towers and spears and—and people were drowning in jelly and getting squashed by cake, and at one point I was naked and in chains, and—and the worst part of it was, there was this witch that I actually began to have feelings for just before I woke up! It was horrible!"
Kyrie smiled. "My, that does sound like a nightmare indeed," she said. "Well, now you know not to eat junk food before bed."
"Now I see where you were coming from," sighed Battler, sitting back down on the bed.
"Don't get comfy for too long," said Kyrie as she began to leave the room. "You still have to get dressed for our visit to Rokkenjima."
Battler frowned. Wait...so it wasn't a dream? He stood up. "Wait, what?" he said.
"Don't you remember?" said Kyrie. "Your grandfather called us on an emergency meeting a few days ago. He wanted us to arrive before everyone else to discuss the matters of his inheritance. We're leaving for the airport in fifteen minutes."
Before everyone else...
"Remind me again," said Battler. "What day is today?"
"The twenty-seventh of September," replied Kyrie. "Now hurry up and get dressed!" With that, she left the room and closed the door to give Battler some privacy.
Battler ran his hands through his hair. "Oh man," he breathed. "So it wasn't a dream..."
Then, he realized: The plan worked. It actually worked. Now I have one week to solve the murders before they occur.
He grinned and said, "Game, set, match. Prepare to go down, Bernkastel. I'm taking this game back for Beato!"
Two individuals...two former foes...neither one realizing this would be a time when they would need each other now more than ever...
I'm wondering where you are and what you are doing now?
Are you at the other side of this never-ending sky?
--English translation of "Dear You (Vocal)"