Red truth, blue truth, gold truth, eternal truth.
A/N: As there are a few things which are quite important to understand, if there is any information which I think is important to understand, I will put it in a note at the start of the relevant chapter. For this chapter, the only important thing I can think of is the floor numbers: I use 'ground floor' then number upwards as 1st, 2nd and 3rd, making four floors in total. A basic picture of the mansion will be linked on my profile.
And for the record: All the information explained in the author's notes is true, unless otherwise specified.
Ōkami no Naku Koro Ni, Ch1
August 5th, 2003:
Kotobuki Yukari sighed as she watched the scenery fly past her. The woman, now 25, was being driven to a meeting of writers with their publisher, at the house of one of the publisher. She had to wonder why Mr. Kurusu's house was so far from a town, but given where the former head of her own family had lived, did not bother to question it.
"Something wrong?" A female voice asked from the driver's seat, and Yukari turned to the driver, a woman with long brown hair and dark brown eyes, who was her assistant, of sorts. They were friends first, employer and employee second. Not that they knew each other before Yukari had advertised for an assistant, but the two had gotten on very well, at least by Yukari's standards.
The woman's name was Marin Yokubari, and there was something about her, which Yukari could not quite place, which made her feel like a close friend from the moment they met.
Yukari sighed again, "This is such a bore, why couldn't Kurusu have agreed to have the meeting in Tokyo or something, not in this damned place in the mountains?"
"You know what old men are like, especially those who still do business."
"Selfish, proud and certain that they should be bowed down to by the younger generations. If it weren't for this offer of his being quite so good, I'd have told him where to get off."
Marin giggled, this was the Yukari she liked to see. "Well then, it's a shame it's such good business. But really, you shouldn't go around making enemies, it's not good for an author to be unpopular."
Yukari made a 'humph' noise, and looked away from her friend, who chuckled at the stubborn young woman.
"Hey, how about another game? I've thought up some more," Marin said after a while of driving in silence.
"Why not?" Yukari said, smiling a little, as her boredom would soon be partly relieved.
Somewhere else, yet in the same place, another Ange watched herself, a vague look of interest on her face, though she was not that interested.
She sat in a chair, a fine wooden thing, before a table with a tea set upon it. There were several other chairs around the table, as though many guests were expected at this tea party, but none had shown up yet. Though there was herein a disparity with the tea set, which only had two cups, and was missing the tea pot.
A shimmer of gold appeared, as a young woman appeared, with the elusive tea pot in hand, and bowed to her mistress.
"Mammon, you're here," Ange-Beatrice said to the stake who had just materialised.
"Of course Ange-sama, I came as soon as you called," the stake said, pouring the tea from the pot she held.
"Have you any more games to while away some time?"
Mammon nodded, and said a simple, "Yes."
Ange raised her hand, and a chess board, without its pieces, appeared on the table. "Then show me your game."
Mammon nodded, and set up pieces on the board. The set-up was nothing like that of normal chess, with no neat line of pawns, and the kings, queens, knights, rooks and bishops placed seemingly randomly. But if you looked at the placing of each piece, you could see the care with which Mammon had chosen that position, how she had thought through everything to create this layout, and when completed, there was a sense that every piece belonged where it was placed uniquely.
Ange looked at the board, and smiled, "You're getting better Mammon, this looks like it will entertain me for some time."
Mammon smiled, or was it a smirk? From her, the two were so similar. "I still am nothing compared to you, Ange-sama."
Ange looked at the board carefully, before raising her hand, and a white pawn appeared in her hand. "Let us examine this first mystery. A room, with no entrances apart from the door and window, and both are locked."
Mammon nodded, "Indeed, the window is locked from the inside. The door is also locked, and there exists no other route out of the room."
Ange nodded, "So, there is a single victim, and a stake through his back? Your favourite method once again Mammon. Don't you get tired of killing your pieces with the same weapon all the time?"
Mammon smiled, "You are a witch, you have countless weapons, but I am always a stake, that is my main armament."
Ange nodded, then surveyed the board again, "And this room... there are two keys, one is in the room itself, and the other is the master key, which is in the possession of... the butler? Well I suppose I should try it, the butler did it."
Mammon shook her head, "We play this game with van Dine's, and Van Dine's 11th, a servant may not be the murderer."
Ange sighed, "Then he was an accomplice. The real murderer took the key from him, and used it to commit murder."
Mammon shook her head, "Until the detective tells him, the butler is unaware of the crime."
"He was an unwilling accomplice, he leant the key, then realised the person who he had leant the key to had committed murder. He covered for them after that."
"Why would he do that? He has no reason to, and otherwise he'd be suspected."
"The person who committed murder was important to him, to the point where he would risk his own liberty."
"Oh really? Can you show that someone like that existed? Otherwise, Knox's 8th, Van Dine's 1st, a case may not be solved with clues that are not presented, and all clues must be presented."
Ange sighed, "The butler cared for his master above the level of a normal servant, this is shown by several of his actions. He would be willing to go to great lengths to protect his master."
And so the game continued...
Even as the witch and her furniture played a game, their vessels played a very similar game, with remarkably similar rules. It had become their way of passing time on long journeys, to have a battle of wits over a mystery. Yukari, having learnt something of the mystery genre from her life under a different name, was quite good at solving the mysteries that Marin challenged her with, while Marin had a little experience from her own reading.
As the pair played, a mansion eventually came into sight. I terms of size, it was certainly a mansion, not a house, but Yukari, who had seen many such large buildings, still thought of it as relatively small, especially when compared to the island mansion she had visited when she was much younger.
Marin smiled as they drove over a bridge, and entered the grounds of the mansion. The area they were in was quite hilly, almost mountainous, and the mansion was surrounded on three sides by mountains, and on the fourth by a mountain stream, cutting it off almost completely from all sides. The only way in was the one bridge they had just crossed.
The building itself was fairly cubic, of about four floors height, but had part cut-away, so that an area at the front of the mansion only had two floors. It was richly decorated, and Yukari suspected that it was designed to impress.
As the pair pulled up to the house, they saw two other people getting out of another car, while being assisted by a man in a suit. The suited man appeared to be a servant, and a moderately old one, who stirred memories of a certain butler in Yukari's mind.
The two he was assisting were a man and a woman, both of a similar age to Yukari and Marin. The man was a tall figure, with messy brown hair, in black trousers and a white shirt. The woman by his side was a head shorter than the man, with curled hair, dyed a light purple, who wore a blue dress, with golden yellow trim, and long black socks, with white, heeled shoes, which were quite tall, making it clear just how short she was.
As the two women stopped the car and stepped out, the servant came over to them. "Kotobuki-sama and Yokubari-sama?"
Yukari nodded, "That'd be us."
The man bowed, "My name is Renji Torei, the Kurusu family butler. Please allow me to show you inside."
As he spoke to them, a younger servant came out of the house, and approached, bowing to the two ladies, "Please allow me to take your bags."
"Oh, thank you," Marin said, as the boy took their two suitcases for them, and returned inside.
"Please, follow me," Renji said, leading them inside.
As they approached the door, the other two guests joined them. "Good afternoon, nice to meet you," the man spoke as they came close. "I'm Sukoshi, and this is Lana."
"Yukari Kotobuki, and this is Marin," Yukari introduced herself and her assistant. "Would you be a fellow author?"
"Yeah, and Lana here's my assistant. I write mysteries you see, and she checks them over. She is really good at solving them though." Sukoshi laughed a little.
"Some of your mysteries are quite fun THOUGH. They take me a good while to SOLVE."
Yukari blinked in surprise. The woman, Lana, spoke rather strangely, the endings of her sentences sounded a little odd, but she could not say exactly how. She glanced at Marin, who shrugged subtly.
"Ah, yeah... Lana has a slight speech quirk, you'll get used to it. To me it now just sounds cute," Sukoshi said, noticing the two women's surprise.
Lana frowned, "Sorry, it's just how I've always SPOKEN."
"It's fine, no worries, it just took us by surprise," Yukari quickly said. She quickly changed the subject.
The four followed the butler into the house, still talking politely to one another.
Ange-Beatrice raised an eyebrow. She knew that speech quirk well, and knew whose it was.
"Dlanor, I know you're nearby, come here," she said, and suddenly, the Inquisitor appeared before her.
The girl appeared little different from before. She wore the same uniform as always, had not grown in the slightest, and wore her usual blank expression. "Lady ANGE-Beatrice, it has been some TIME."
Ange nodded, "So, you have a human vessel now?"
"INDEED. She is an excellent VESSEL. She is well-versed in the Decalogue of my FATHER."
"Do sit down, I wish to talk to you. Would you like some tea?" Ange asked.
"Tea would be LOVELY," Dlanor replied as she sat.
Ange waved a hand, and Mammon appeared, holding a tray with two new cups and a tea pot. The stake placed them upon the table, and poured the drink for her master and the guest.
"So, what are you doing here?" Ange asked as Mammon continued with her task.
"I came here to assist in a GAME." Dlanor's answer made Ange sigh.
"So people are going to die here?"
Dlanor nodded, "But do not fear, Neither your vessel nor Mammon's will be HARMED."
Ange frowned, "Well that is a relief, but I still don't want to be caught up in this."
"I apologise, but you will BE. I have something to give YOU." Dlanor reached her right hand inside her coat, and withdrew a letter, handing it to Ange.
Ange looked at the letter, a plain thing, with the word 'Beatrice' written on the front. Flipping it over, she found it was sealed with was, marked with a wolf's head. She opened it, and began to read:
'My Lady ANGE-Beatrice
You are invited to play the part of the detective in my game. I hope you will accept, or else the game will have to go ahead without a detective. Please give your reply to the deliverer.
Satoru Klein, The Unending Warlock.'
Ange looked up from the letter, and glanced at Mammon, who stood awaiting orders, then at Dlanor, who was calmly sipping her tea. "So... the game will go ahead regardless of whether I play or not?"
"That is CORRECT. Lord Klein has put much work into this GAME. He will have it play out even if no detective is PRESENT. If that is the case, he plans to have the countless witches of this world try their hands at his MYSTERY."
Ange raised an eyebrow, and looked back at the invitation. "Is it just a single game? There won't be multiple rounds or anything?"
Dlanor blinked, and stared at Ange for a few moments, before speaking in red once more, "No, this game is not a CATBOX. There will be just one GAME."
Ange sighed, "Fine then, I will play along, if only so that those who will die will not have their last moments turned into a sport by those other witches."
Dlanor nodded, then drained what was left of her tea and stood, "Do excuse me, I must go and inform Lord Klein of your acceptance at ONCE. The game will begin shortly, so until then please just WATCH."
Dlanor walked away into the distance, until she could no longer be seen.
"What do you think of this, Ange-sama?" Mammon asked her mistress.
"I do wonder why Dlanor would help a witch, but this will probably be yet another shallow game. But I'll play along. Let's teach another witch who we are."
Mammon smiled, "Of course, Ange-sama."
Yukari, Marin, Sukoshi and Lana followed the butler into a large room, which was clearly the parlour, with several sofas and comfortable chairs, most of which were already taken by other guests.
A middle-aged gentleman, maybe in his early fifties, with greying hair and dressed in a suit, turned at their entrance, and bowed slightly. "Ah, Jinchi-san, Yuugaina-san, Kotobuki-san, Yokubari-san. I am Kaname Kurusu, Kenji's younger brother. I am glad to finally meet you."
"It is a pleasure, Kurusu-san," Sukoshi bowed.
"Please, allow me to introduce you, these are your fellow authors, Mayu Ritsuka-san, Kira Satsujin-san and Rina Kibou-san."
Yukari observed these three carefully. Mayu was a lady maybe a few years older than herself, with longer brown hair, and a sweet smile. She wore brown-framed glasses, and had a yellow dress on. Yukari had heard her name, and believed she wrote children's books.
Kira was a man in his thirties, in a grey suit, with short, well-kept black hair, and a displeased look. Yukari ascertained from what Kaname was saying that he was an adventure writer mainly.
The final author, Rina, was probably in her late twenties, with curly blond hair, wearing a long green dress. Yukari knew of her, Ms. Kibou wrote romances, which Yukari had seen Marin reading on occasion.
"I apologise for my brother, he's running a trifle late," Kaname said.
"I'll say," a voice said, with a strong foreign accent. Yukari looked to the speaker, a man, who was sat with a lady. Both were clearly foreign, the man being a tall figure, with dark blonde hair running down to his neck, and the woman, who was somewhat shorter than him, with her own lighter hair in a ponytail, which Yukari did not think suited her. Both were in their thirties, she guessed.
"Ah, I must also introduce you all to our other guests. These are two of our greatest investors, Carl and Sharon Haber. They came here from America to discuss business with Kenji."
"And we've been waiting for over an hour just to see him," the woman, Sharon, commented.
"He'll be here shortly," a voice said from the door, and a woman entered.
"Oh, Shika-chan, you're here," Kaname said. "Ladies and gentlemen, this is my sister, Shika."
The woman who had entered the room bowed. She seemed a fair bit younger than her brother, though still in her forties most likely. She wore an elegant black dress, and moved with dignity.
Another woman, around fifty years of age, wearing servant's clothing, came in behind her, carrying a purse, which she handed to her mistress.
"Thank you Karen. Is Suru preparing the dinner?"
The maid nodded, "He said it should all be ready in time."
"Good, then go and see if he needs assistance."
The maid bowed and left.
"Now we're only short our host," the male author, Kira, said.
"Is he often tardy?" Rina asked, inspecting her nails boredly.
"He's never been late when we had meetings before," Mayu said, timidly.
"He'll be here soon enough," Kaname said.
As his words were just finished being spoken, the doors burst open, and a figure stood in the doorway. It was an old man, nearly sixty by the look of him, but who still seemed very lively. He wore a suit, with a cloak over his back, and smiled, his mouth just visible between his beard and moustache.
"Welcome my guests, to my mansion," Kenji Kurusu procalaimed, "Welcome to Kirisuto!"
"So... aside from the cook, who we haven't seen yet, I'm assuming that those are all the pieces." Ange spoke to herself as much as to Mammon, not expecting an answer.
"Indeed, the sixteen people who have been mentioned so far are the only people in this mansion or within its grounds. At no point in this game will any person leave or enter the grounds of this mansion from outside." A voice spoke in the red truth.
Ange and Mammon turned from where they were surveying their chess board, to see Dlanor and a man standing before the inquisitor. The man appeared very similar to Sukoshi Jinchi, leaving no doubt as to who his vessel was. He was clad in armour, of the sort that a mediaeval knight might have worn, but without the helmet, and with a wolf engraved in gold on the chest plate.
Ange stood upon seeing the man who had spoken. "I assume you are the Warlock, Satoru Klein."
"Indeed, I am a Warlock. May I introduce myself and my game? This is the game of Kirisuto Mansion, and I am the Game Master." He bowed, and when he spoke again, his words were neither red nor blue. Nor were they golden, but a shade of deep purple, "I am Satoru Klein, the Unending Warlock, the one who knows that magic exists, but wishes it did not."
Welcome to Kirisuto Mansion