The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village:Bonus Part 6
- Enbi and I investigate the underground passageway.
- She hasn’t said anything about it, but Enbi is staying by my side like it’s normal.
- She’s even surreptitiously grabbing my sleeve.
Hayabusa: “That just makes me worried about you…”
Enbi: “That’s only because it’s a bulleted list! It only looks so sudden because you can only see the final result! There’s infinite space between the lines!!”
8:15 – 8:45 AM
- The basement is made from bare concrete and metal bars, so its closed-off structure is the exact opposite of the mansion. My heart is pounding.
- The passageway walls are covered with bookshelves and storage space. There’s all sorts of personal information on clients and summaries of meetings.
Hayabusa: “Now, then. This reveals the secret behind the Hoshimi family’s fortune telling.”
Enbi: “They gained the trust of clients, got some secrets from them in private meetings, and cobbled those together to look informed about the wide world and people’s narrow hearts. You can never trust someone who says something is ‘just between you and me’.”
Hayabusa: “This storage would be what the corporation group wanted to find. The secret behind the mountain road collapse and mannequin may have been there too.”
8:45 – 9:00 AM
- There’s a Japanese-style cell in the back of the basement. It contains Osakabe-hime, a Youkai of prophecy and divine power.
- According to Osakabe-hime, she can take walks outside with Shuuren’s permission. But to make sure she doesn’t escape, a traveler’s god is placed in the tunnel while she’s out.
Enbi: “He had some guts insisting on no secrets among family. Or maybe he was saying they should all share in the same crime.”
Hayabusa: “This might be sudden, but as you can tell from the fact that Youkai tend not to like me, Youkai do exist in this world. There’s no point in doubting it. By the way, here’s some data on Osakabe-hime.
“Modern Youkai Encyclopedia (Paid App Ver.) – ‘O’ Entries”
A woman in a twelve-layered kimono said to secretly live in Himeji Castle’s tower. Famous for her prophecies and divine power. Said to actually be a fox Youkai, but this may or may not be true.
Has many connections to historical figures such as giving a sword to Miyamoto Musashi as a reward for exterminating some Youkai.
The master of Himeji Castle has the right to meet Osakabe-hime once a year and receive a special piece of advice.
Enbi: “There’s a ton to that one, isn’t there?”
Hayabusa: “In fact, is she even a Youkai? Aren’t they just forcing that as an explanation for some unidentified divine power?”
Enbi: “But she didn’t seem to have much to do with Shuuren’s murder. It didn’t look like she could slip through the metal bars or curse him remotely.”
Hayabusa: “Really, she didn’t seem that interested in the human world. If she wanted revenge, she just had to wait two hundred years and that nouveau riche family would be destroyed by inheritance taxes and whatnot.”
Enbi: “The real demon kings aren’t in a rush.”
Hayabusa: “The other point was the mention of the tunnel.”
Enbi: “A traveler’s god is a god that resides inside a stone vessel. They’re set up at places like the borders of a village to keep disaster and disease from getting in.”
Hayabusa: “Osakabe-hime claimed the Hoshimi family had placed one in the tunnel.”
Enbi: “But they hadn’t. The narrow tunnel of their private road had been built so a shutter of rock could be lowered. It had looked like the tunnel had collapsed before the storm, but was that because someone had used a secret key?”
9:00 – 9:30 AM
- Enbi and I finished investigating the basement and returned to the first floor.
- The others were gathered in the second story hallway.
- When we checked, it turned out Ren, the maid, had been attacked while in the shower. (4th time) She had apparently been shot from behind by a crossbow and hit in the shoulder.
- Once again, no one saw the murderer.
Enbi: “The detective made a basic mistake here. He should have focused on the maid rather than the vanished murderer. If no one saw the moment of the crime, then she too had to have ‘vanished’.”
Hayabusa: “I was a little busy trying to stop the bleeding and get her conscious again. And to be honest, I wanted a target for my hatred. Walking through a glass mansion with no blind spots and attacking two people just isn’t normal.”
Enbi: “But that assumption was about to fall apart.”
9:30 – 10:00 AM
- I let Ren, the maid, rest in a second story bedroom.
- Akua, the wife, took a shower.
- Yatsui Toshi and Toyokawa Ryuu are getting belligerent. They had wanted to ask Shuuren something, but the maid had had nothing to do with it. They wanted to know why she had to be attacked.
- There doesn’t seem to be a connection between Shuuren and Ren. This hired maid was isolated. Was this a planned crime? Or had it been spontaneous?
Hayabusa: “There was also a rather dynamic possibility that Ren had been Shuuren’s mistress.”
Enbi: “Everyone could see everything in the Glass House. How would they meet in secret?”
Hayabusa: “Then it had to be a spontaneous crime for some other reason.”
Enbi: “Crimes of convenience are sometimes caused by completely unrelated grudges.”
Hayabusa: “Like the mountain road collapse or the mannequin? The corporation group would be one thing, but I can’t imagine a maid who never left the mansion would be involved. Oh, and her family name of Matsushima is the same as the construction company, but it isn’t that rare a name.”
Enbi: “Which meant…”
Hayabusa: “The maid may have known something about Shuuren’s murder.”
10:00 – 10:30 AM
- Enbi-chan figured out the trick.
- But it isn’t quite enough to identify the murderer.
- Enbi-chan takes action!
Hayabusa: “And here you go again.”
Enbi: “Eh? Oh, c’mon. It’s not that big a deal. All I did was pretend to be the murderer and attack the maid. And the ‘action’ I took was nothing more than hitting her on the back of the head with a blunt object.”
Hayabusa: “I really can’t believe you!!”
Enbi: “But since I couldn’t identify the murderer quickly enough, the maid would definitely have been killed if I didn’t take some kind of defensive measures. After all, the murderer could keep trying until they’re discovered.”
Hayabusa: “Well, yes…but as a police officer, I can’t praise you for what you did!”
Enbi: “Anyway, I had to create a situation where the murderer couldn’t act without standing out too much.”
Hayabusa: “In other words, Matsushima Ren had been attacked because…?”
Enbi: “She had figured out the trick, just like me. But then someone other than the murderer attacked the maid using the same trick. Once they knew silencing the maid wouldn’t keep the information from spreading, they would know killing her would be meaningless.”
Hayabusa: “Or that was your plan anyway.”
- Ren, the maid, was attacked and killed by the murderer. The cause of death was a crossbow bolt fired into the head.
Enbi: “I screwed up here. I tried to make it look like Person X had attacked the maid, but the murderer must have thought the maid faked it. They must have been pretty confident in their trick and doubted more than one person would figure it out.”
Hayabusa: “So all you did was put Matsushima Ren more squarely in the crosshairs.”
Enbi: “I sometimes wonder if there was some other way I could have done it. I know it would’ve been hopeless, though.”
Enbi: “The murderer was starting to figure out things were falling apart, so things speed up from here on.”
10:30 – 11:00 AM
- Dounyuu, the son, is dead. He committed suicide by grabbing a crossbow bolt and stabbing it into his own throat.
- His suicide note claims Shuuren’s fortune telling led to Yatsui General Trading Company and Matsushima Construction’s decline in rewarding quality work and ultimately to the shoddy construction that caused the road to collapse.
Enbi: “Case closed.”
Hayabusa: “How was I supposed to believe that!? It was too simple!”
Enbi: “The murderer was trying to make it look like Dounyuu was the culprit, so they didn’t even try to hide the trick this time. They left the stuff by the wall in place.”
11:00 – 11:15 AM
- I discovered the trick. The room is in plain view with the glass walls, but furniture like dressers and desks is placed by the walls such that it lines up and fills a single wall when viewed from one direction. In other words, a blind spot is created.
- The keys were hidden between the wall and the furniture. By placing another piece of furniture on the other side of the transparent wall, a small hiding spot appears.
- By repeatedly moving the furniture around, one could create and remove these blind spots, so they could only be found at the time of the crime.
- Ren, the maid, figured out the blind spot creation trick and was apparently attacked by the murderer while moving furniture to try to create a blind spot of her own.
Enbi: “Oh, honestly. I so wanted to call everything together to show off as I gave the answer.”
Hayabusa: “Apply that kind of pressure and I promise you the murderer would have run off. They were the one with the keys, after all.”
Enbi: “I couldn’t do it then, so let’s do it now! Picture the ‘three’ side of a die. Those are three columns in a square, transparent room. When viewed from above, the three circles are lined up diagonally, but when viewed from the side, they would block your view as a single large panel, right?”
Hayabusa: “But if they did that, you’d notice as soon as you set foot in the room. That’s why the murderer placed each of the obstacles in separate rooms. Looking in each room would only show a single column, but they still covered up the whole wall when looking through all of the rooms.”
Enbi: “The maid probably figured it out when she saw the steam fogging up the wall when she took a shower. Everyone assumed you couldn’t hide anything with the transparent walls, but if you overturned that, you could create a sealed room, an invisible black box.”
Hayabusa: “But anyone could move furniture. That wasn’t enough to identify the murderer.”
Enbi: “Yes. That’s why I had to lay a trap in the very end.”
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