Utsuro no Hako:Volume3 Round 1
 ▶First Day <A> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
The first thing that entered my sight was the blank concrete ceiling and the naked light bulb hanging from it. I jumped up, surprised by this unfamiliar place.
"...What room is this?"
Suppressing my rising confusion, I tried searching through my memory to remember how I'd arrived here.
I'm supposed to have slept in the lower bunk, as always. I can't remember having moved after that. Neither do I remember having changed the place, nor having met anyone.
I looked around the room. There was a toilet and a washbowl built into this six tatami-size room. In the center was a table with a jute bag on top.
But what stood out the most was the modern 20-inch monitor that was embedded in the wall and seemed out-of-place in this prison-like room.
My gaze dropped to my body. I was wearing my uniform of which all pockets were empty.
I reached into the jute bag and took out one item after another.
A ball-point pen.
A memo book.
A blue digital watch.
Seven portions of solid food.
There was also a portable terminal that looked exactly like an «iPod touch».
A heavy knife.
I carefully removed its cover. A solid blade. It even had a serrated edge. It was a combat knife that could appear in the hands of a soldier in a movie.
"...What the...? For what purpose do I..."
This was obviously a weapon. A tool made to kill.
Someone is trying to make me fight? So I have no other choice but to fight?
I shook my head and threw the knife back into the bag. Noticing that I was trembling, I took a deep breath and tried to calm down.
Once again, I looked around the room. There was no window. I couldn't spot a ventilation shaft either. There was only one door that seemed awfully heavy. I thought about opening it, but then I noticed that there was no doorknob to it. For testing purposes I pressed my body lightly against it, but it didn't move one bit.
I tottered to my bed and plunked down on it.
"What's going on here...?"
I don't get it. I don't get it... but this is an abnormal situation.
---Abnormal - the unusual.
Aah, is this perhaps---
«Good - morning»
The sudden voice made my heart jump.
I turned my head and saw---what is this?---an odd creature on the monitor that had been black until now.
«HaHaHa - Good - morning - Kazuki-kun»
Contrary to its intimate way of speaking to me, the voice sounded awfully machine-like, without intonation. The garish green thing on the monitor is supposed to depict a bear... I guess. Probably. Because of his sharp eyes and ill-formed body, he didn't look cute at all. Plainly speaking, he was gross.
«YaaYaaYaa - Do - you - feel - well? I am - the mascot - Noitan! PleaseD to - meet you»
The bear's ---Noitan's?--- mouth moved up and down. This animation just consisted of his chin moving up and down, so again: gross.
"...what a horrible character. The children would cry..."
«Who is horrible you fucking hog! Shall I maim you by crushing your balls? That sure would suit you.»
I-It just spoke! On top of that, with an extremely foul mouth! And why does he suddenly speak fluently!? Also, the graphic of those bloodshot eyes is just too scary!
"...U-umm... are you able to speak with me?"
«Yes - I am - able to!»
His tone returned.
It seems he's set to speak fluently only when he's angry.
«You over-familiar piece of shit, won't you add a "san" to my name!? Also, speak with some more respect!»
"......Noitan-san. I have come here unknowingly, so I was wondering where I am?"
«You are inSide - the game - called - [Kingdom Royale]! I will - eXplain it later - at the place - where eVeryone has gone, but ---»
"Everyone...? So I'm not the only one here?!"
«Shut the fuck up when I'm speaking or do you want me to tear your tongue out?!»
"......I am sorry."
«This door - will now open! You wilL reach - the place - where all participants - of this game gaTher! I will - eXplain it to you - there so please - wait a moment»
When Noitan finished speaking, the heavy door started to open slowly but steadily.
"...May I leave?"
«Please do - if you have - prepareD yourself!»
«Beyond thiS door - is the big room - Are you prepared - to mEet those humans - that aRe in the same - position as you?»
"What are we going to do?"
Noitan contorted his eerie face and said,
"........Eh? What does this---"
The monitor turned off before I could finish. At the same time, the door fully opened.
---What on earth is this?
A thick darkness was connecting the door with the other side.
Is there really a room beyond it? ...I can't believe it.
But I'm sure I can't refuse to go.
I put on the blue watch that was on the table and stood in front of the door.. Since I was about to get cold feet, I tried to reassure myself:
...It's alright. It should be alright.
Nothing good awaits me beyond there. But, I am inside a 'box'. Therefore, she is here.
---Maria is here.
Therefore it's alright.
With those thoughts in mind, I leaped into the dark.
 ▶First Day <B> Big room
The scenery changed at once.
First, everything became white. It was an unnatural white that made me almost feel like I was in a freshly built, empty hospital without any doctors, nurses or patients.
When I finally managed to realize this much---
---I was knocked over.
Without having time to wonder or to feel the pain of the hard ground striking against my back, the point of a knife was thrust before my very eyes.
Seeing the girl with shoulder length hair that was holding a knife in front of me, I finally realized what was happening to me.
"You're called «HII»? That's not true, is it? Didn't I ask you for your name?"
W-Who is this?
I noticed that she was wearing our school's uniform and, on her left hand, an orange digital watch. Naturally the color was different from mine.
So is she a participant of this game? ...eh? Perhaps, the life and death fight has already begun and I was just checkmated? W-Wait a moment! Isn't that too cruel?!
Though my situation seemed so hopeless---
---Aah, just by hearing this voice I was able to calm down.
"Mh, Otonashi-san, is this an acquaintance of yours?"
"Yeah, he is."
Returning her gaze, the girl with shoulder-length hair looked at me with observing eyes.
Having said so, she stood up without changing her expression and stepped back. I don't really get it, but it seems I was released.
"Are you alright, Kazuki?"
I answered while taking Maria's hand after she had rushed to me.
"B-But why on earth did she---"
I stopped my words when another voice resounded, and turned around in wonder. The girl from before was holding her knife against a standing guy with brown hair.
"...umm, what, all of a sudden?"
He asked, while looking around using only his eyes. He was startled, but seemed to have enough composure to examine us.
"...you're pretty composed, aren't you?"
Having noticed this, she said so to the brown-haired guy.
"Not at all, actually... well, but I noticed that 'Aah, you're not serious', so I could stay cool somehow."
She answered with a meaningful "Ohoo" to his words, then she removed her knife and released him.
"...ah, do you let me go already?"
"Do what you want."
...she released the brown-haired guy readily as well, huh. I really wonder why she's doing this?
The released brown-haired guy already flashed a smile as if he had forgotten what just happened to him and said,
"Oh, there are a whole three hotties! Lucky me!"
Three...? Umm, Maria, the girl that assaulted me with a knife, and---
I discovered a girl with long hair that was curled up into a ball next to the big monitor in this room. With her white skin and the contrastive deep black hair, the girl made a trim impression on me.
Also, she was wearing a beige digital watch on her left wrist.
"Don't worry, Yuuri!"
The knife-girl patted the head of the black-haired girl and smiled at her, showing her kindness she had not shown to us. The face of the black-haired girl that had been contorted in fear relaxed slightly, but this lasted only for a short moment.
"...What will become of us...?"
"We'll be fine!"
...it seems those two are acquainted.
"You're Hoshino-Upperclassmansenpai, right?"
Being addressed, I removed my glance from those two. It was the brown-haired guy from before.
"Do you know me?"
"Of course! Senpai, aren't you famous, together with this Maricchi over there? You can't tell me that you forgot about that legendary entrance ceremony!"
He was wearing a crinkled uniform, a silver necklace and on his wrist a green digital watch. ...come to think of it, everyone here wears our school's uniform.
"Umm, what's your name?"
"I am --- ah! Kaichou, it seems we're all here now, so how about an introduction?"
He said to the knife-girl.
«Council ChairmanKaichou»? Does this mean that she's the student council chairman? One of the three supermen Kokone told me about?
"Mh, right. That might not be bad."
Now that he mentions it, I have often heard this crisp voice in announcements over mic. This self-confidently smiling girl is... right, without doubt the student council chairman.
I'll have to fight against those supermen in this life and death fight?
"Do you think this is everyone?"
The student council chairman asked him.
"There are six chairs, so I guess so."
"Wait a sec! Aren't we only five---"
"Kazu, are your eyes made of glass?"
I held my breath when I heard these words.
In the center of the room was an oblong table with six chairs arranged evenly around it. On the furthest one from me was, he.
The uniformed Daiya contorted his mouth slightly, and raised the hand on which he was wearing a black digital watch, as if to send me a light greeting.
Despite this being the first time we meet in almost two months, despite this being at such a place, his greeting was light as if we had just met.
"What? Do you know each other? ......I see."
"Kaichou. Can I take this as your assessment of the risk that we may ally against you?"
The chairman lost her composure for an instant, but then she snorted. She continued,
"I leave that to your own judgement."
This time it was Daiya who smirked at her words.
What kind of exchange are those two having...? Almost as if they were already preparing for war.
...no, or has it already begun? Is this the reason why she held a knife against me?
"I'm the only one without acquaintances then? I feel so lonely~"
The brown-haired one embraced his head exaggeratedly as if he hadn't noticed the tension between the two of them at all. ...I wonder if that guy even knows what situation he is in...?
"Right, we were going to introduce ourselves. Shall we do it then? For now, let's sit down since there are seats after all."
I sat down in front of Daiya and Maria took the spot next to me. Maria was wearing a watch on her wrist as well. The color was, red.
"Okay, many of you should already know me, but I'll start with my introduction. I am---"
"Before that, can I ask one question?"
Maria scowled at the chairman in front of her and asked so.
"I didn't intervene because I did not sense the will to harm anyone in you... but what was this threat with your knife supposed to be?"
Seeming not to care about Maria's scowl, the chairman started to explain.
"If you've got the same explanation as I have from that silly bear, you should know that a «death-feud» game is going to be carried out here, right? Therefore, I considered that there might be someone who would want to take the initiative while everyone is still confused. So I thought by doing so I could prevent this. In short; crisis management."
Daiya snorted at this explanation. The chairman seemed obviously offended.
"Uumm... Daiya Oomine-kun, was it, right? I've heard of you in rumors. So, what was this sardonic laugh supposed to mean?"
"I just thought that this was a painful lie. Crisis management? Do you seriously believe there is a militant that would cause a massacre just by this explanation of that bear? You merely tried to make the first move in order to be in a psychologically superior position, or am I wrong? Be at ease, the only one who could do this is you, who can arrive at such a thought!"
"A strategy to be in a psychologically superior position, huh. You're getting me wrong, totally wrong. I would not use such means in which the downside outweighs the benefit. If I acted clumsily and incurred someone's enmity, I would be the one at risk, right?"
"Then was it a check for the wirepuller? Did you try to find suspicious people by their reaction?"
"I didn't think this far. How rude."
Her replies were light. However, the anxiety in the air could not be hidden by that.
"Whoa, chill out Senpais! You're really scary!"
The brown-haired guy interrupted them.
"...Okay. But you sure are calmed down, aren't you? You're quite a strange fellow."
"Cut it out please! I'm like this just because I can't keep cool. Usually, I act more maturely, but how should I say it, a strange tension's in the air now... Well, but I think I'm not as tense as your friend there, Kaichou."
When the conversation went towards her, the docile-looking girl cringed her shoulders.
"No, Yuuri. You have no reason to apologize."
"I-I'm sorry, Iroha."
The chairman laughed and shrugged her shoulders when seeing how she apologized right again.
"Aah~... somehow I lost my tension."
He sent her a thumbs up.
"Eh? Eh? Did I do anything...?"
She blinked puzzledly, which made the chairman giggle again.
"Shall we return to our main subject and start the introduction? I am the third year Iroha Shindou and, as you may know, the chairman of the student council. My special skill is that I can sleep anywhere. My hobby is track and field."
"While being able to participate in events all over the land, Track and field athletics is just your hobby, huh? I bet you're quite unpopular, aren't you?"
Daiya butted in.
"You have a sharp tongue, huh? But it's a simple fact that it's my hobby. After all I'm not suited for track-and-field. In those events you have no other choice but to rely on your physical nature. And I'm not so gifted in that. Hence, I'm not suited. It's just a hobby."
"That's called 'sarcasm'!"
"'...the youngster said sarcastically.'"
The chairman countered nonchalantly. To be able to keep up with Daiya, she really is superhuman.
She poked the girl next to her with her elbow, urging her to continue.
"Ah, I-I am, um, a third-year and, err, was on good terms with Iroha in the first year when we were in the same class... umm, special skills and such as well, Iroha? Uuumm... I don't know of any special skill... but my hobby is to read. My name is Yuuri --- Yuuri Yanagi."
I muttered unknowingly.
Did she just say «Yanagi»?
"......Eh? Umm, d-did I say something weird?"
The girl that named herself «Yuuri Yanagi» became confused by my behavior.
I came to my senses again and shook my hands desperately.
"N-Nevermind! It's just that I know someone with the same surname."
Yanagi-san---would be confusing, so I'll use Yuuri-san---was still looking in wonder at me, but then,
"Yuuri, are you done?"
She was told so by the chairman and removed her gaze from me.
"Pl-Pleased to meet you."
...Oh no, maybe she received a strange impression from me.
The brown-haired guy that was grinning at me opened his mouth.
"Yuuri-chan's really cute. She's my type."
"Hey, first year, don't hit on Yuuri! Also, you're overfamiliar adding a 'chan'."
"By the way, you're too strong-willed, hence not my type, Kaichou."
"I don't care. Now go on with your introduction."
"Oka~y. I'm the first year Koudai Kamiuchi, nice to meet you. Ah, it's especially nice to meet you, Yuuri-chan. Then, my hobby is to play on the slot machine. ...ah, just to get things straight, the ones at game centers."
Surprisingly, Daiya interrupted the introduction of the brown-haired guy, Koudai Kamiuchi.
"Aah, you're that Kamiuchi, huh. I often hear rumors about you. Seems you have never lost on a Pachinko machine?"
"That's not true, though. Well, but on the whole I definitely win. I have good eyes, basically."
"The guy called Haruaki Usui scouted you once to get you to enter the baseball club, right? Because you were famous as the one that stormed through the sport tournaments in middle school."
"Scout? Can't really remember... but no, no, high school baseball is seriously impossible for me! And anyway, there's no way someone as delicate as me could keep up with that draconic practice, right? The go-home club suits me best."
Could it be that Kamiuchi-kun is, while not at the level of the «Three Supermen», an amazing person...?
"Are you, by any chance, also extremely smart?"
"Eh? I-I am, um... not really."
"Yuuri is always at the top in class 1."
The chairman said plainly.
Third year, class one? That's an elite class in liberal arts that's aiming for the universities of Tokyo and Kyoto. She's number one there...?
"T-That's because you're in the science class, Iroha. If you were in the liberal arts class, I'd lose to you without doubt..."
"Ah, by the way, it seems my results in the entrance exams were the second best. Yuuri-chan, we're both second placers that can't rival over-talented first placers, aren't we?"
So Kamiuchi-kun wasn't a ordinary person either.
"Hmm. I think I grasped the commonality of us. Top students... well, since science and liberal arts are quite different, so I can't say for sure, but it seems we're a gathering of each year's first and second place students. The number of people would just fit."
"Ah, but my results are just barely above-average? My results in the last exams were relatively good, but I was still just at the lower to---"
I swallowed my started word.
Because the chairman, Yuuri-san and Kamiuchi were staring at me.
...Why? Did I just say something strange?
"Just confirming: Otonashi-san and Oomine-kun are top students, right?"
The chairman said with her gaze fixed on me. I nodded silently.
She then asked with a smile in which only the eyes were not smiling:
"So why are you the only exception, I wonder?"
I winced at the coercion she didn't even try to hide.
What is this? Why do they look at me like that?
"There is a limit to rashness."
Hearing these words, the chairman removed her gaze from me. From me --- to Maria.
"Why are you so strained when we don't even know what kind of game this is? Does this mean that you endorse this «death-feud» and are eager to participate in it? If so, then you are the one we should be cautious of."
"I-I agree. After all it's not like anything has started yet..."
Upon hearing Maria out, Yuuri-san said so while peeking at the chairman.
As for the chairman, she was pursing her lips for a while. It's not like she was pouting - this merely seemed to be her habit when thinking.
She tightened her mouth and said with a sigh,
"That's also true. Since it's only a hypothesis that we're a gathering of top students, it would be weird to be cautious of someone only because he doesn't fit in, huh. Also, I guess I'd be tripped up by someone if I continued doubting everyone without basis."
"Well, and the way I see it, you're the most suspicious of us, Kaichou, with your actions being too quick."
"Hahaha, I am suspicious? Look in the mirror once."
Daiya flashed a satisfied grin upon hearing her words.
"...Umm, what are you doing? Are you already searching for the culprit?"
The corners of the chairman's mouth raised slightly to this question I asked because I couldn't follow their conversation.
"Rather than searching for the culprit, I'm just looking for people I have to be careful about. The wirepuller that schemed this game could be among us or a supporter of him could be here to try to spur this «death-feud» on. I want to disclose this as soon as possible if I discover something - before it's too late."
The wirepuller, huh.
Wirepuller, my ass --- I know who the cause of this is.
---Daiya Oomine. Only he can possibly be the culprit.
...But I was starting to realize that I could not just tell them of this fact.
Careless statements are not allowed here. I'm getting doubted just because I'm no top student. Actions that go against the flow of the others lead to doubt immediately.
What would happen if I said «this is the deed of a 'box' which was used by Daiya»?
It would seem more absurd to them than it is already. At most, they would think that I'd be trying to make Daiya the bad guy.
Therefore, no matter how true it is, I can't tell them about the 'box'.
This is probably also the reason why Maria has fallen into silence with a stern expression.
«WeLl, well, well - IT - seeMs you have - alreAdy started - tHe fuN of douBting - each oTher - as hoPed for - Very nicE»
We looked all at once at the big monitor in the center of the room.
On the monitor was the absolutely not cute green bear from before. His ugliness stood out even more now on the big monitor.
The chairman flashed a wry smile while looking at the monitor.
"Uglypooh appeared again."
«Watch your mouth and call me "Noitan-san"! Don't be proud of yourself just because you're a stinky council prez' of some school!»
The chairman herself smiled full of ease, but Yuuri-san was startled by this foul mouth and graphic and cringed with a small scream.
...it's not like her body's small, but she sure looks like a little animal... though I'm not one to speak, since people often say the same to me.
"Give us an explanation already, Uglypooh."
«Are you too dumb to comprehend words!? I hope you bitch will die first!»
"Oi, Kaichou-sama! Could you please be quiet? We won't get anywhere like this."
The chairman just shrugged her shoulders at Daiya's sarcasm and closed her mouth obediently. After some silence Noitan cheered up again, his graphic returned to the normal one and he started to speak with his awkward voice.
«I wiLl now - eXplain what - [Kingdom Royale] - is aBout!»
I gazed silently at the monitor.
«This is bAsically - a kiLLer-game - but to be - a liTtle more prEcise - it's a gAme - in which eVEryone tries - to stEal - the kinG's thronE!»
We exchanged glances when hearing Noitan's explanation.
«A [class] was - aSsigned to eaCh one - of you partiCipants - [Classes] can bE [King], [Prince], [The Double], [Sorcerer], [Knight] and [Revolutionary]! ThEy all hAve - their speCial - characTeristics»
"How can we find out our own [class]?"
«You cAn check - yoUr [class] on - the mOnitor in - yOur room! By the wAy - they are - tOUch-sensitive and cAn be - contrOlled acCording - to yOur [class]»
The chairman frowned and waited for the continuation.
«Okay, beFore I - explain to you - the [classes] - I will gIve you - sOme informaTion - about the stAge - of this [Kingdom Royale]! You knOw - this cOuntry - is a dicTatorship - that has invAded - many otHer countriEs - and---»
Maria interrupted Noitan who was about to start an explanation that would most likely be skipped by the players if it was a game.
«What - iS it - Maria-chan - ?»
"We don't need that. Just tell us what we need to know about this game already."
«You've got some nerve to take up such an attitude when I'm about to explain it all kindly to you! You're conceited, you stinky brad!»
The graphic changed once again to the usual blood-shot eyes.
"Didn't you use 'stinky' already for Shindou just now? What a poor vocabulary."
«If you have the time for faultfinding you'd better find a fucking way to survive, you poor caged bird!»
Satisfied (?) by having said so, his graphic returned.
«It can - nOt be - hElped - I wIll - tell yOu - only the iMportant - pArts! FiRstly - you hAve to - abIde by the - timetable striCtly - or else yOu will - automaticAlly [lose] - So be - carefuL»
"...what happens when we [lose]?"
The air froze.
«BeheAding to - bE exact! FAir enough - is it nOt? - Someone wHo can - not eVen abIde - by the tiMe - should beTter - just dIe - aftEr all»
Yuuri-san didn't even blink. And as soon as she realized that «execution» was to be taken literally, her face lost even more of its color.
Noitan ignored her reaction completely and proceeded.
«Also, - thEre is a - univErsal time liMit! Your fOod supply - consists of - sEven portions - of sOlid food - This is jUst enough - for oNe week - You wIll - not be hUngry - if you eAt one - of these mAgical - portions of sOlid food - eaCh day! HoweVer - if you fAil - to eAt one - each dAy - you wIll becoMe - a muMmy due to - hunGer!»
"A mummy... huh."
The chairman scratched her head with pursed lips.
"So, how can I win this game? Honestly, I have no clue what to do."
«Alright - the conditions to win - vary according to - your [classes] - For example - if you are - the [King] - you can win by - eliminating all players - that aim for - the throne! I wIll now - diSplay the - deTails for - eAch one»
Noitan disappeared and letters appeared on the screen in place of him.
| He is the king who has ascended to the throne by assassinating the previous ruler and has carried out many invasions. Having a distrustful personality, he's scheming murder of the ones that threaten his throne. He does not notice that his distrust makes others lose their loyalty for him.|
He can request his subordinates to commit [murder], but he cannot force them because he fears their animosity could become directed at him.
A land ruled by a man that cannot trust others is unlikely to have a bright future.
|Skills of the [King]|
|Victory conditions for the [King]||To protect his throne. (Elimination of the ones that threaten the king's throne - [Prince] [Revolutionary])|
|An ambitious person. He was originally only at the third place in the inheritance order of the king's rank. But taking advantage of the king's mistrust, he made him murder the other princes and moved up to the first place. He acquired anti-magic to guard himself against this mistrust.|
If he comes to the throne, this land is likely to turn into a worse dictatorship than it was before.
|Skills of the [Prince]|
|Victory conditions for the [Prince]||To become the king. (Elimination of [King] [The Double] [Revolutionary])|
|An ex-farmer who is loyal to the [King] and looks exactly the same as him. He is not really ambitious, but he can absolutely not allow the [Prince] to become the king since he was always made a fool by him.|
If he, with no ideals, becomes the king, this land is likely to fall into ruin in no time.
|Skills of [The Double]|
|Victory conditions for [The Double]||Death of the ones that try to kill him. (Death of [Prince] [Revolutionary])|
|A subordinate of the [King]. He is the teacher of the [Prince] in magic and also gets on well with the [Prince]. He is satisfied as long he can pursue his studies in magic and has no interest in the king's throne whatsoever.|
No matter how much he can raise his magic skills, nobody will value a person that secludes himself in his shell.
|Skills of the [Sorcerer]|
|Victory conditions for the [Sorcerer]||To survive.|
|A subordinate of the [King]. While being a subordinate, he is plotting revenge on the royal family for they have ruined his homeland. He believes firmly that he can only attain happiness by exterminating the royal family.|
As a matter of course, a man that has drowned in his own feelings of loss will only fall into the darkness of misfortune.
|Skills of the [Knight]|
|Victory conditions for the [Knight]||To take revenge. (Death of [King] [Prince])|
|He is the right arm of the [King]. Because of his competence, he realized that this land is going to fall into ruin if it goes on like this. Hence, he prepared himself to take over the land.|
A ruler that has accumulated feelings of bitterness due to assassinations is uncapable of leading a land. At most he will be assassinated himself.
|Skills of the [Revolutionary]|
|Win conditions of the [Revolutionary]||To become the king. (Murder of [King] [Prince] [The Double])|
|* The game ends when all victory conditions for the remaining players have been met.|
Everyone was silently reading the text to themselves and trying to understand its meaning.
I, too, was staring at the monitor with all my might, but I was at a loss what to do. I merely understood that words like [Murder] and [Assassination] were proof of [Kingdom Royale] being a killer-game.
"Hey, Uglypooh. How can we actually execute those [Sorcery] or [Assassination] actions?"
The chairman asked.
«The commAnd is - displaYed on the - monItor in the rOom - of the coRresponding player - You jUst have - to prEss the buttOn - on the monitor - in orDer to exEcute - the cOmmand! TherefOre - it's as sImple - to kill somEone - as to bUy a ticket.»
Everyone except for me turned pale upon hearing this. I did not understand why everyone showed such a reaction and looked at Maria.
"Do you not see the great danger in this?"
I shook my head slowly. Seeing this, Daiya laughed amazedly. ...I don't know, so it can't be helped, can it!
"Okay, let's assume you consider yourself in danger. ...no, that's still too soft. Let's assume you noticed that you're definitely going to die. To escape from this crisis you have to kill a certain person. Could you kill this certain person with a knife, Kazuki?"
"T-There's no way I could!"
"So what if you just had to press a button?"
By pressing a single button I could protect my own life. By stealing someone else's life.
"......I-I still couldn't! Something like killing..."
"Well, I guess it's like this for you. However, do you think the other people here arrive at the same conclusion?"
I looked around spontaneously.
The active student council chairman. The anxious-seeming Yuuri-san. The strangely lighthearted Kamiuchi-kun. Finally, the 'owner' - Daiya.
"Do you have positive proof that all six participants here, including you, will not steal someone's life if their own life's at risk? ...Honestly speaking. I don't."
It's probably the same for the others.
"Everyone is probably considering that someone might kill them. And I don't even need to say that this suspicion is going to worsen our situation even more, right?"
"B-But just because you can kill someone by pressing a button doesn't mean that you would readily be able to do it!"
"But what if the time limit draws near?"
"Hasn't the green bear said it? That there is an universal time limit; in other words we'll die as soon our food supply runs out. This means that everyone loses when there is no winner... in other words, we'd all die."
I held my breath.
"Our goal is not to become the winner. It's to slip out of this game. But when the time runs out, this goal is going to shake. There will be people that give up attaining this goal. They might prioritize to survive. They might start to think it's better to meet their victory conditions than dying with everyone. And when the first corpse appears---it's the end."
"There was a corpse. The other players found out that there is someone that plays this game actively. If they did nothing, they would all just be killed. Therefore, the other players would have no choice but to participate properly as well. In that case, the game will go on until there is a winner."
Maria explained plainly - no one objected. The others were probably agreeing with her.
"When the first corpse appears, it's the end..."
In short, we have to find a way out of this game before someone makes a mistake.
«So so sO - did you unDerstand - how thIs - gAme works? I wIll now - disPlay the timEtable! - Abide by - thIs timetaBle and - move wiThin - a 5 minutes toLerance - okay?»
The screen was cleared and a timetable was displayed on it.
|- Break, standby in own room|
|- Gathering in the big room|
|- Selection of [Secret Meeting] partner until 14:40. Spend 30 minutes in the room of the selected character.|
|- The [King] is able to select a target for [Murder].|
| - The [Sorcerer] can use [Sorcery] (the [Knight] can use [Deathblow]).|
(The character that was targeted by [Sorcery] or [Deathblow] will die at 17:55)
|- Gathering in the big room.|
| - Dinner in own room.|
(If no food supply available, death by turning into a mummy)
| - The [Revolutionary] can use [Assassination].|
(The character that was targeted by [Assassination] will immediately die)
|- Break, sleep|
«You dO not - nEed to - tAke notEs! The detAiled - inforMation about - tHe classEs as weLl - as the timEtable - is inSide - your pOrtable - tErminals - ConVersations are - also loGged on - this tErminal - so I hoPe it - wiLl be of uSe»
"Uhe, this conversation is recorded on this thing?"
"Did you say something that should better not be recorded or what?"
The chairman pressed Kamiuchi-kun right after he made his statement.
"No, actually not, or what do you want to insinuate...?"
"Didn't you think that you'd have to be careful to not say anything that would let others guess your [class]? I see you're eager to participate in the game!"
Kamiuchi-kun smiled wryly.
"Haha, well, there's no one who would want to show a weak spot in the present state of affairs."
It's understandable that Kamiuchi-kun is on his guard. Even I want to know the [classes] of the others, even though I don't plan to participate in the game. Especially the ones opposing me and the dangerous [Revolutionary].
For this purpose we will most likely read these logs.
But this action in itself might be dangerous. I have a hunch that if we get anxious and read through the log while being tormented by suspicion, even trifling statements will catch our eyes and make our suspicion even worse.
Eventually, unable to endure this suspicion, someone will press the button and---
...Right. I'm sure that even this log is just a means to make us participate in the game.
«Okay thEn - I wiSh all oF you a - good fight! - Just dOn't end - the gAme by - doing somEthing - as bOring - as tuRning - into muMmies everyone - okAy?»
After that, Noitan vanished from the monitor.
"This damn Uglypooh..."
The chairman cursed.
The painful mechanical voice went away and the room turned silent. Everyone kept quiet and didn't even open their mouth. Maybe this is also because everyone knows that our conversations are recorded, so it's annoyingly hard to speak.
The chairman was the one that broke the silence.
"You stated beforehand incidentally that «to slip out from this game» is our goal. But do you think this is possible?"
"Of course I do. Do you not think so?"
"I... honestly, I think it might be very hard. After all I comprehend with logic and my feeling is that this environment here is «abnormal». I'm assuming this is not just my opinion, but everyone else's too, or how is it?"
Yuuri-san and Kamiuchi-kun nodded. I nodded hurriedly, too.
"Do you think there is an escape path prepared for us in such an [absurd] place? If you do think so, please tell me your basis."
Despite her light tone, her voice was firm like in a questioning.
Even the others were looking at Maria like jurors.
...Maria has a basis for her assertion. Maria knows that one can slip out somehow from this 'box', no matter how absurd this place is.
She peeked at me for only an instant and,
"...it might be hard indeed. But it's the only goal we have. So I think we have to believe in it, no matter how hopeless it might seem... or am I wrong?"
As expected, she hid the fact of the 'box'.
"I guess so. It's as you say."
The chairman seemed to have accepted Maria's unhesitating justification.
"Kaichou. Your «slipping out of this game is hard»-like statement just now was an announcement of your participation in this killer-game, right?"
Daiya asked sarcastically, again with a triumphant look.
"Trying to find faults again? You're wrong! I would never kill anyone. Even if, for argument's sake, murder would not be a sin here and one could kill just by pressing a single button, the fact that one committed murder would never disappear. Eventually I would not be able to carry this sin on my shoulders and I'd destroy my life. So I could never do it, as I'm able to imagine this much."
Daiya snapped his tongue at this perfect-seeming answer.
"It's the same... for me."
"We all know that you couldn't, Yuuri-chan~! Ah, by the way, I'll go with this answer, too."
"Look at yourself jumping the bandwagon... Yuuri aside, I can't trust your statement at all, Kamiuchi-kun."
"Uhe... don't be like this, Kaichou!"
"Well, Daiya is the one I can trust the least, though."
Daiya answered with a cynical smile to the chairman's reaction on his sarcasm earlier.
Then he said,
"Yeah. Since I would kill for my own sake."
He made a statement that made everyone his enemy, coolly.
 ▶First Day <C> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
«Your [class] is [Sorcerer].»
I noticed this message on the monitor immediately when I returned to my room.
Certainly, [Sorcerer] was the only [class] that has no enemy among those six.
I breathed out in relief.
Our goal is to prevent [Kingdom Royale] from starting. But it's still very reassuring to know that I don't have a real enemy.
A message was displayed on the bottom of the monitor.
«No target has been selected for [Murder] yet.»
---[Murder]. The command with which the [King] can select someone he wants to kill.
I guess if the [King] selects a target for [Murder], the command to use [Sorcery]---in other words the command to kill someone---will be displayed there.
I don't want to think about it. Neither about the situation in which someone tries to kill someone else, nor about the situation in which I would have to press this button.
"......It's alright, it's alright."
I reassured myself by murmuring so. It's not like we will start killing each other. Because the others should also not wish for that.
At least in the early stages where we have still no problems with the time limit, nothing can possibly happen.
I mustn't forget that Daiya is among the six of us.
«Ya ya ya - Kazuki-kun - it's tIme - for - [Secret Meeting]!»
Noitan appeared out of the blue as always.
Since I got used to this, I wasn't startled as much and raised my head to look at the monitor. As always, it was a ugly green bear which was opening and closing its mouth.
«Please - selEct a player - you wAnt to - talk tO - You can then - go to thE - room of - thIs player - for just - half an hoUr! If more - than oNe - select - a cErtain - player - the mEetings - will tAke place - from the quIckest - to the slOwest!»
Noitan disappeared from the monitor and six names appeared together with a corresponding photograph.
"...What happens if the one I selected also selects me?"
«Nothing - spEcial! You will - jUst have - twice as mUch - time to speAk»
Noitan answered my question only with his voice.
While gazing at the mobile terminal on the table, I asked,
"...err, can the others also see the log of our conversation during the [Secret Meeting]?"
«They cAn - not! - Only the - disCussions the ownEr - of the mobile teRminal - has heard himsElf - are logged. For exAmple - even if - somEone is in the - same plAce as you - the discUssion won't be - saved for hIm - if he doesn't - heAr it - But the - inFormation of who you - talKed to - in the [Secret Meeting] - will bE saved - in the lOgs - of the othErs - so be carEful»
Who should I select... well, there's only one.
Of course, I pressed «Maria Otonashi»'s button.
«Okay - Please wait - untIl everyone - has selEcted - their partNer»
I wonder who the others will select...?
...it's just a hunch, but I think Maria won't choose me. I'm sure she guessed that I would select her.
Therefore, she will select---Daiya.
«OkaY - it seEms everyone - has deCided - I will nOw - display who - has chOsen whom»
Noitan disappeared again and names appeared on the screen.
|[Iroha Shindou]||->||[Koudai Kamiuchi]||16:20~16:50|
|[Yuuri Yanagi]||->||[Iroha Shindou]||15:40~16:10|
|[Daiya Oomine]||->||[Kazuki Hoshino]||15:40~16:10|
|[Kazuki Hoshino]||->||[Maria Otonashi]||15:00~15:30|
|[Koudai Kamiuchi]||->||[Yuuri Yanagi]||15:00~15:30|
|[Maria Otonashi]||->||[Daiya Oomine]||16:20~16:50|
As expected, Maria chose Daiya.
Daiya designated... me?
I couldn't grasp his intention. ...I don't know what he's up to to begin with, so there's no way I could.
But fortunately, my meeting with Maria is first.
I'm glad it wasn't the other way around. If the [Secret Meeting] with Daiya had been before the one with Maria, I would have acted however he wanted me to. But now I can work out a strategy together with Maria.
I confirmed who the others had selected. Yuuri-san and Kamiuchi-kun's selected players are plausible, but it's a little surprising that Kaichou chose Kamiuchi-kun.
«The doOr - will opEn when - it's tIme! If you - go throUgh - the door - you will - automAtically arrivE - at the room of - the appRopriate person - so pLEase be - at eaSe»
 ▶First Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Maria Otonashi], [Maria Otonashi]'s room
I feared to fall down into the nothing when I stepped through the dark, but I arrived at a room that looked the same as mine. Its appearance was so identical that it felt to me as if my room had only turned around.
Maria was sitting on the bed with her gaze fixed on me and urged me to sit down next to her by patting the space beside her.
"We don't have time for idle chatter, so I'll raise the main subject right away."
"...umm, our main subject is...?"
"How we can steal the 'box' from Oomine, of course. Don't tell me you plan on properly taking part in [Kingdom Royale]?"
While sitting down next to her, I shook my head wildly.
"Our goal is the same as always: ending the 'Game of Idleness'. Well, you can say it's easy this time since we know the identity of the 'owner'."
"...But I wonder if Daiya will hand his 'box' over to us freely..."
Maria wrinkled her forehead at hearing my words.
"...indeed. We have no other choice but to persuade him, but..."
"...this will be no easy task?"
"Do you think it's easy?"
I shook my head again.
Failing to persuade him would also mean that we'd also be unable to access and take his 'box'.
If that situation arose, we'd have to crush the 'box'---along with Daiya.
"...Say, Maria. If Daiya loses in [Kingdom Royale], do you think this will automatically also mark the end of the 'Game of Idleness'?"
"This depends on the nature of the 'Game of Idleness', so I can't say anything definite yet... but I had many opportunities to find out about Oomine's personality thanks to the 'Rejecting Classroom'. Having watched him for a long time there, I think, since for everyone defeat means death, Oomine's defeat at his own game will will have just the same result. Don't you think so, too?"
I nodded. We can't say for sure while we still don't know what his goal is yet... but it's hardly reasonable that someone as prideful as Daiya would be the only one not obeying the rules.
Maria looked into my eyes while I was being absorbed in thought.
"Do you... wish for Oomine's death?"
Maria gazed at me with an expression that seemed composed as ever, but there was faint anxiety mixed into it.
...Certainly, my question just now might have sounded like a proposal to kill Daiya.
"I don't! I would never wish for Daiya's death."
The origin of the smile that accompanied those words was obviously relief.
...right. There's no way Maria would wish to use such a method.
"Getting out of here by Daiya dying; that's no solution!"
"Right. Just as you say."
"Well, I may say that, but I still don't know what to do, though..."
When I murmured so, Maria started to speak with a frown.
"......I'm reluctant to propose this, but listen. We may need to... ask the others, except for Oomine, for help, especially Shindou. If we could all arrive at the same opinion, we would have nothing to fear of [Kingdom Royale]."
"...What do you mean?"
"If we could get them to believe the concept of the 'boxes' and the fact that Oomine's the 'owner', we could make clear who's the enemy of everyone. We could avert the worst case where nobody knows who might kill whom. [Kingdom Royale] is a game that does not start as long we don't distrust each other."
"...But it's difficult to get them to know about the 'box', isn't it?"
"Yeah, exactly. Even just telling them about the 'box' is very hard in the current situation, where any remarkable action is directly connected with risk."
"Yeah... I can very well understand that you're reluctant!"
"...I'm not reluctant because it's hard to execute."
"Do you not understand? Tell them who's the 'owner'; Tell them that their enemy is Daiya Oomine. But if you do so, everyone will know that they would be released when Oomine dies. And don't forget that we can kill others by pressing a single button in here."
I held my breath.
"Oomine is not someone who can be easily persuaded. I don't think he would stop the 'Game of Idleness' even if Shindou and the others found out about the truth. But how would the others react to that behavior? Would everyone patiently wait until he changes his mind, in an environment with limited time, where they could get killed at any time? I think they wouldn't. If we entered a standstill, probably---"
Maria hissed bitterly.
"---Shindou would kill Oomine."
I took a deep breath and continued.
"No way... D-Didn't Kaichou say it herself? She would not be able to kill."
"Did this statement calm your mind?"
"...Do you think it was a lie, Maria?"
"I don't know whether it's a lie or not. However, Shindou would be all the more dangerous if she's telling the truth."
Maria stood up silently, took the portable terminal on the table and began controlling it. Then she replayed a recorded voice file.
«Eventually I would not be able to carry this sin on my shoulders and I'd destroy my life. So I could never do it, as I'm able to imagine this much.»
"Do you see the risk in this statement?"
I shook my head.
"Shindou's saying that ---she can kill if she's prepared to ruin her own life."
This sounds a bit like an over-interpretation, but... it is indeed possible to perceive it this way, I suppose?
"B-But you don't easily become prepared to ruin your own life unless there's a strong reason!"
"You really think there is no such reason? I can name some right off the bat. Let's see... for example, would saving Yanagi not be a strong reason to her?"
She said plainly, making me fall into silence. This is indeed one motive that would make that Kaichou cross the last line.
Right, this is no everyday life after all. It's an abnormality that was distorted by the 'box'. There can be any amount of strong reasons.
"Kazuki, you should know it already, but I cannot kill anyone, whatever reason there might be."
"Yeah, I know."
"I do think it's the same for you. Can you tell me the reason for this as instantly as Shindou did?"
I started thinking when she asked so.
Why can I not kill?
---Because it's haughty to think it's okay for one to kill others?
---Because I pity the other?
---Because my ethics don't permit it?
I can think of some, but none of them feel quite right. I think none of them are wrong, but they don't seem right either. These are all subsequent reasons that follow the fact that I cannot do it.
"Nothing comes to mind...?"
I answered with a dropped gaze.
"That's how it should be."
"What Shindou said about imagination and such is not right. Someone that really can't kill others has no reason. You and I---we simply cannot kill."
...Right. Exactly. This feels the most natural.
"It is unnatural when you are able to find a reason why you can't kill, and can tell others smoothly. Shindou merely tried to make us believe she's not dangerous. Well, but this is still way more wholesome than Oomine's showcasing of his enmity."
"I wonder why Daiya behaves like this, although he's in a dangerous position..."
"Well, he wouldn't sound very convincing if he said «I would never harm a fly» like Shindou and the others, considering his usual attitude. Viewed from such an angle, his personality might be surprisingly disadvantageous for [Kingdom Royale]."
...indeed, as it looks now, his life is the most threatened.
On the other hand, Yuuri-san might be surprisingly in the safest position.
"Ah, right. I was wondering: is the 'Game of Idleness' an internal or an external 'box'?"
Maria's gaze became sharper upon hearing this question.
"S-Sorry. I wasn't thinking. R-Right, such an insane 'box' has to be an internal---"
"It's an external 'box'."
"The 'Game of Idleness' is an external 'box'. Its level should be even about 5."
The 'Sevennight in Mud' had an internal level of 4 if I remember correctly. Far higher than this 'box' that was just about changing roles.
But if it's an external 'box'---
"This means he believes in this situation to a certain extent. ...perhaps, the 'owner' was able to master the 'box'."
I held my breath. This... would be quite amazing, wouldn't it?
"Persuading him is difficult because of this. The 'owners' we met until now had all more or less common sense at the point when they used their 'box'. Because of this, their 'wishes' were flawed and inexact. We were able to get them to give their 'boxes' away by using those flaws."
"...but there are none this time."
Honestly speaking, I can't believe Daiya was able to master the 'box'. After all, Daiya is a rigorous realist. He is not suited for using a 'box' that makes 'wishes' real together with the doubts that come with it.
"Anyway, this means influence on reality is unavoidable. So the memories of what we experience in this [Kingdom Royal] are likely to remain and its outcome will also take effect in reality."
"Ergo, if we die in the game, we will also die in reality...?"
"Yeah, think of it like this. ...just for your information; not only in external, but also in internal 'boxes' is the impact of «death» big! That I stand here unhurt, though I died several times in the 'Rejecting Classroom', is only thanks to the special characteristic of that 'box' which made «death» itself void. If I died during the last 'School Transfer', the 27,756th time, I either would have really died or at least I would have suffered after-effects that correspond to death."
Anyway, in short it's:
«Death» here is equal to «death» in reality.
"Therefore, we absolutely must not let [Kingdom Royale] start."
Honestly speaking, maybe I didn't have enough sense of danger. The light sound of the word 'game' and the «death» that seems to arrive by pressing a button---ultimately I thought of this unreal-seeming 'box' as some kind of game.
But this is wrong.
If I died by someone pressing a single button or if I killed someone; this «death» could not be reset like in a game.
"...we have not much time. Let's first consider what you should do in the [Secret Meeting] with Oomine."
In the present situation where we can't even see the sign of a solution, we must first do what we can do now.
"Umm, I think Daiya's going to ask for my [class] first. What do you think?"
"I guess so. ...aah, just in case, as long you don't have a special reason, you must not tell anyone your [class]."
I'm aware of the risk in this by now. But---
"But I'll tell you, Maria. I am the [Sorcerer]."
"...What would you have done if my [class] was opposing yours?"
"Nothing in particular. I would still say it."
"...I see. You have a point. Such a trifling matter is not something we would hide from each other."
Maria said so and smiled. My cheeks relaxed unknowingly at seeing this smile.
Maria just called this matter, that would be life-endangering if known by others, 'trifling'.
"By the way, my [class] is [Prince]. I would have preferred [Revolutionary], though."
Fair enough. The [Revolutionary] is the one who's most likely to kill someone, because he can kill on his own. But Maria would never make this mistake even if the time limit drew near.
Maria will definitely not kill anyone.
I realized something when thinking so.
With a sidelong glance at Maria, who was gazing at me suspiciously, I thought:
---Maria is powerless in this 'box'.
After all, this [Kingdom Royale] is a game about killing and deceiving. Maria, who's unable of both, has no chance for victory.
Until now I was always relying on Maria in all battles revolving around the 'boxes'. And even this time I will probably rely on her.
However---the time will definitely come when I have to do something with my very own power.
Maria kept looking at me with a frown after this reply.
She trusted me that I would never kill anyone. But if I realized that Maria was going to die, and I knew that I could prevent this by killing someone,---
---What would I do then?
 ▶First Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Daiya Oomine], [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
What to do in order to withstand Daiya; In the end, we came to the conclusion that I should just keep silent.
Daiya will doubtlessly try to confuse me, so just showing him a reaction is already dangerous. Since I have no confidence in being able to avoid his plan well, I have no other choice but covering my ears.
Sitting on the bed, I greeted Daiya by raising my hand when he entered the room. Daiya looked quickly around and sat down on the table.
"Kazu, let me ask you---"
I interrupted him immediately.
"I know that we're inside your 'box'. I can only conclude that you considered me easy to ally with and, hence, approached me with the aim of deceiving me. Therefore, from now on, I won't speak anymore."
Daiya seemed surprised at seeing me form a thin line with my mouth for a moment, but his expression quickly changed to a smirk.
"What are you talking about, Kazu?"
"What's the point of being quiet? Aren't you eager to ask me about the 'box'? You have to do something about the 'box', don't you!"
I won't utter another word. That's what we've decided on. If I answered him by my own judgment because 'this much should be no problem', he would exploit this gap. He would subtly hint that 'it's okay to speak' and eventually make me talk.
Therefore I won't speak.
"...aah, so you're passing the whole task to Otonashi, huh. It was her anyway, who told you to keep silent, right? You really aren't even for the birds. If you're only being silent, then even insects are superior to you as they won't possibly talk, ever."
I held both my hands over my ears.
"You can still hear me anyway. Hmpf, I'll tell you something good, Kazu!"
Daiya stood up, approached me and whispered into my ear.
"This 'box' doesn't originate from my 'wish'."
I reflexively widened my eyes upon hearing this and looked at Daiya.
Daiya raised a hearty laughter.
"Look! There you lose to insects."
Stop getting rattled, me! Or else I won't be able to keep silent.
When he stopped laughing after a while, Daiya returned to the table. Then he focused on me and declared:
"But what I just said is true."
...I won't be deceived. There's no way I'd believe him. Not even I am this softhearted.
"Well, I guess it's impossible to force you to believe me. The inside of your head may be one big flower garden, but there's no way you'd believe anything like a fool. But why do you think I would claim specifically this?"
Daiya raised the corner of his mouth.
"Because it's the truth."
...I won't believe you. I definitely won't believe you.
"You should know that I didn't do anything for a while after obtaining a 'box'. In other words, I was merely in possession of the 'box' without using it. Tell me, Kazu, how can you be sure that I don't continue doing so even now?"
...this can't be. ...I'm sure it can't.
"You don't have to believe me. Believing me is impossible from the start after all. But still, Kazu, didn't you think of it like that just now? I'm probably lying, but what if I'm telling the truth? If so, wouldn't there be the need to consider the possibility of a different 'owner', no matter whether I'm telling the truth or not? ...hu, not something I should say, huh."
...Damn. It's exactly as he says.
I can't think of it as pure nonsense. In fact, it seemed strange to me that Daiya had mastered a 'box'. This doubt would get resolved if he's not the 'owner'.
If there's another 'owner' besides Daiya, then he would easily be able to kill us.
Daiya effortlessly succeeded shaking me up like this.
Of course, he didn't overlook this disturbance in me, this faint gap in my heart.
"Kazu, you are the [Sorcerer], aren't you?"
I let out my voice spontaneously.
How did he find out? I didn't didn't make any fault that would reveal---
Having thought this far, I noticed something.
I made a mistake ---just now.
Daiya laughed pleasantly, probably because of the baffled grimace I made.
"Hahaha! I knew it from the start, but you really are too unimportant in this game, aren't you!"
While listening to his laughter, I bit on my lips.
Although Maria advised me so kindly, I brought it all to naught. I'm completely Daiya's poodle.
"......You're lucky, aren't you Daiya."
Daiya just by chance said [Sorcerer]. The probability is 1:6 ---no, 1:5, since he knows his own [class]. He just randomly named [Sorcerer] which happened to my actual [class]. ...If only I had another [class], only the fact that I'm not the [Sorcerer] would have been busted...
"I'm lucky? Don't you get why I especially asked you if you're the [Sorcerer]?"
"...What do you mean?"
Daiya kept quiet for a while and scratched his head then.
"Well, for now let's assume that I'm not the 'owner' of this 'box'."
"I don't think so."
"Shut up and listen. If it's not mine, then this would also mean that I don't wish for this «killer-game». Also, I wouldn't want you, my acquaintance, to die."
"Therefore, I wanted to ask you if your [class] was [Sorcerer]."
"......aren't those two statements a little disconnected?"
Daiya looked at me with awfully scorning eyes.
"Don't tell me you think that you're the safest because the [Sorcerer] has no enemies? If you seriously think so, then you don't have brains in this head of yours, but shit."
I lost my tongue because he guessed right.
"I'll explain it to you so politely that even a monkey would understand! Firstly, it's definitely the [Sorcerer] who has it the hardest to survive."
"...Why? The [Sorcerer]'s life or death is irrelevant to the victory conditions of the other [classes]."
"Even you understand that the [Revolutionary] is the most dangerous, right?"
I nodded. It doesn't even have to be mentioned that the [Revolutionary] is the most dangerous, having the ability of killing others on his own.
"The one the [Revolutionary] wants to get rid of the most is the [Sorcerer]. You see? Only the [Knight] can actually decide whether to kill or not, apart from the [Sorcerer]. However, the victory conditions of the [Knight] and the [Revolutionary] are rather similar, thus they are likely to conspire. If the [Sorcerer] dies, the danger to the [Revolutionary] will drop dramatically."
I took the portable terminal on the table and reread the explanation of the [classes].
...Indeed. Even if the [Revolutionary] killed the [King] who's directly opposing him, the [Prince] and [The Double] would just take his place; So his condition wouldn't change much. However, if the [Sorcerer] disappeared, the [Revolutionary] would immediately achieve an advantageous position.
"Hey, but that... wouldn't that mean that the [Revolutionary] is almost sure to win if the [Sorcerer] died...?"
"It's not that simple either. For one, some will guess the others' [classes] wrongly and no one would readily become the ally of the [Revolutionary]. And also,---"
Daiya rummaged my jute bag and took that rough knife out.
"No matter how advantageous or disadvantageous you may become in this game, in the worst case you have this. Ha, you can survive [Kingdom Royale] anytime, you just need to have the resolution to kill others directly!"
I held my breath.
...I'm convinced now. The 'owner' of the 'Game of Idleness' is insane.
"...Kazu, let me say just this."
Daiya said while stowing the knife away.
"You can't persuade the 'owner' until the killing starts. If you want to keep damage to the minimum, you have to kill the 'owner'. So---"
Daiya looked at me. He declared with an honest face, devoid of falsehood:
"No matter how much you struggle, it's decided that at least one person will die because of this 'box'."
I shook my head slightly and murmured,
"That's not, true---"
Daiya didn't say anything.
In fact, even I had already noticed it long ago.
That this is the truth. Long ago.
 ▶First Day <D> Big room
No one was there yet when I arrived at the big room.
I recalled the [Secret Meeting] with Daiya. In the end, I exposed to him that I'm the [Sorcerer] and I even lost confidence that he's the 'owner'.
There is the need to consider together with Maria how we should proceed from now on based on this. Actually I hurried to here to meet her as fast as possible, but---and right when I thought so, she appeared from her door.
She looked at me with a grave face when I called out for her and sat down in front of me.
Maria had a [Secret Meeting] with Daiya, after he finished the [Secret Meeting] with me. Judging from her expression, she might have been shaken up like I was.
"...Did something happen with Daiya?"
"......Probably the same as with you. I'm principally considering Daiya the 'owner', but now I started to take the faint possibility of someone else being the 'owner' into consideration. So it has become even less judicious to tell the others easily about the 'box'."
"Though we have no time..."
"Yeah, that's exactly what bothers me. I'd like to use this time to talk to the others about themselves for the purpose of grasping their personality, but... I myself can't talk about me. After all I can't talk about my environment without mentioning the 'boxes'."
Maria's environment, huh.
Even I know almost nothing about it. She doesn't talk about herself at all and having seen her 'Flawed Bliss', I'm far from being able to ask her.
"Maria, tell me---"
Kamiuchi-kun entered the big room and raised his hand toward us. I flashed an awkward smile and waved back.
I shielded Maria's ear with my hand from him so that he wouldnt be able to hear my next words.
"Kazuki, you mustn't whisper. Showing them how we have secrets from them in the present state of affairs will arouse distrust in them."
"Ah, I see..."
"Don't worry about it too much, Maricchi. You're lovers after all, so it's natural you have some secrets, isn't it?"
"You may say so, but that doesn't mean that the others think so, too."
"You think so? Speaking of which, they are scary, aren't they? Especially Kaichou and Oomine-senpai."
"...Maria, were you already acquainted with Kamiuchi-kun perhaps?"
I asked so as his intimate tone bothered me.
"No, not at all."
"Whoa, isn't 'not at all' a bit too harsh? Haven't we talked several times already, before this?"
"You arbitrarily spoke to me several times, yes, but there was never a conversation."
Kamiuchi-kun shrugged his shoulders with an amazed expression.
"I only want to be healed by talking to a super beautiful girl, so there's no need to be on guard, though... It's not like I'm planning to pinch you from Hoshino-senpai, really!"
"...Listen, Kamiuchi-kun. Just so you know, Maria and I aren't really going out, you know?"
"No, it's too late for such restraint or modesty or whatever now."
He doesn't believe me, as expected.
While we were having this talk, everyone gathered in the big room. We sat down on our seats on Kaichou's instruction.
"Alright, has anyone thought of a way to get out of [Kingdom Royale]?"
After she said this at the very beginning, Kaichou crossed her arms and waited with a smile for an opinion.
I stole a glance at Daiya; He was looking in another direction as if he wasn't even listening to our conversation.
If the three people who know about the 'box' aren't saying anything, no one will say anything. ---was what I was certain of, but an unexpected person raised her hand timidly.
"Oh, Yuuri, do you know anything?"
"Umm, it's not a way to get out, but a way to restrain it... if you, don't mind?"
"Ooh, nice! Tell us your opinion with no worries!"
Urged by Kaichou, Yuuri-san nodded slightly.
"Uumm... I think we all agree that suspicion will worsen our situation. This guess of mine isn't wrong, is it?"
After confirming that we nodded, Yuuri-san continued.
"We don't know who has which [class]. We don't know who our enemies in this game are. I believe this is what leads to anxiety. Nobody wants to let the game proceed, right, everyone? So, why don't we just count to three and reveal our [classes]?"
Everyone was quite surprised at this bold proposal that was contrastive to the fainthearted tone that lied in her voice.
Yuuri-san faltered a little on seeing this reaction of ours, but bravely opened her mouth again.
"If we do so, no one will be able to jump the gun anymore. I think we will be able to trust everyone. It's also impossible to lie since we'll all say it at once. So if two named the same [class], we would know that one of them is lying. What... do you think?"
"Aah, Yuuri-chan you're brilliant! This is definitely the way to go!"
Upon receiving Kamiuchi-kun's high praise, Yuuri-san smiled bashfully and turned red.
"Further, we can only do this when all six people are present. Because it would become possible to lie if only one person was missing. ...ah, 'missing' sounds ominous, doesn't it, I'm sorry."
Yeah, worth trying... I think. But I can't approve lightly. There might be something I'm overlooking.
Maria should be thinking the same. After thinking for a while with crossed arms, she opened her mouth and said,
"I'm for it."
Even Maria did not find a catch? Then there's no problem.
I was about to approve right away, when---
Daiya sneered scornfully.
Yuuri-san made a mixed expression of disturbance and fright on seeing his reaction.
"...you don't like it, Daiya-san?"
"I don't like it at all."
"Please forgive me if my consideration was insufficient... may I ask for the reason, though?"
"I don't like how you play the good girl."
Yuuri-san widened her eyes and grew stiff to those unexpected words.
"What's that grimace? Are your ears made to only hear words that are convenient for you or what? I just told you that I don't feel like obeying you since I hate you, you fucking bitch."
Tears were welling up in Yuuri-san's eyes.
"Oomine-senpai. Aren't you getting carried away? Please apologize to Yuuri-chan."
"Hah? I should apologize? I'd rather expect the others to thank me! Guys, I'm disclosing to you that she's a coward. Right, Yanagi?"
Yuuri-san's shoulders twitched; she was on the verge of crying already.
"A-A coward? I am? Why...?"
"So let me ask: are you either the [Revolutionary] or the [Sorcerer]?"
Yuuri-san turned pale at once.
"No, you're not, are you?"
"...W-Why, do you---"
"In truth you know it. You know that the risk of a coming-out varies vastly between the single [classes]. Thus, you are none of the two comparatively endangered [classes]. I judged that you are a [class] that is relatively safe. How is it?"
She already seemed pitiful, but her pale face was still turning whiter.
"Such a wicked girl as yourself proposed this only for your own sake and not for improving the situation anyway, right?"
At last she started to shed tears after hearing this ill-will.
"Oi oi, do you think we'll forgive your deceit when you cry? Whoa, girls' tears are really convenient, aren't they? Being such a bitch, you can make them flow like a water tap anyway, right?"
"Cruel... this is just cruel of you..."
"You merely wanted to quickly know who has the dangerous [classes] - in order to survive."
"No... that's... I only, didn't want a killing to start, so, uuuuu..."
Yuuri-san was unable to stop her continuously flowing tears and dropped her gaze.
...indeed, Yuuri-san seems timid, so she might have not made this risky proposal if she was the [Revolutionary] or the [Sorcerer].
But still, she proposed this after thinking with all her might to improve the situation. Those remarks are indeed too cruel. As it seems, Kamiuchi-kun seemed to have similar thoughts; he was scowling at Daiya with such a might that it wouldn't be surprising if he attacked him right away.
"Didn't you just not want to say it because you're the [Revolutionary]? Sorry, Senpai, but if you really are the [Revolutionary], I honestly don't plan to let you act as you please, you know?"
"I see, so I'm the [Revolutionary], huh. I shall [assassinate] you in the next <E>-block, then."
Kamiuchi-kun seemed overwhelmed by Daiya who spoke clearly more ill-willed words than he had, and simply lost his tongue. He lost the will to counter and just screwed up his mouth.
"In the first place, I wouldn't need to object anyway! Right, Kaichou-san?"
Yuuri-san raised her tear-stained face to look at Kaichou. Kaichou showed her a wry smile and stated,
"...Well, yeah. Sorry Yuuri, but I'm basically also against it."
"Certainly, there is a gain as you mentioned. However, the downside is bigger. For example, would we be able to keep cool if we knew that Oomine-kun, who's been acting like a jerk now, was the [Revolutionary]? In the worst case, wouldn't our suspicions increase further?"
"I'm also sure Oomine-kun would start to operate if that happened. He might try to get us under his control by highlighting his own power... There are several other downsides I can think of. Therefore, I'm against it in principle."
Yuuri-san became downcast when her proposal was even rejected by her friend.
"Right, an idiot like me should better keep silent... everyone, I'm sorry for upsetting you."
Another teardrop fell down from her eye.
"Y-Yuuri-san, please don't say that! I think it's a great idea, you know? And look; didn't even Maria approve of it?"
I have to admit this was a pretty clumsy encouragement, but Yuuri-san smiled faintly at me anyhow.
"Come to think of it, why do you approve of this proposal, Otonashi-san?"
Kaichou asked Maria.
"Because I believe mutual understanding is more important than anything. As long we can't even reveal our [classes] to the others, nobody is going to be fully honest, am I wrong? I for one don't think something of that extent would cause us to assault each other. So what's your take on that?"
"Isn't this because you lack the sentiment of fear? We aren't all as strong as you, you know? I'm frightened, to be honest."
"Doesn't look like it."
"Because I'm making sure it doesn't look like it. Since everyone is going to take advantage of any weak spot I show... oh, it's no use acting cool if I blurt this out, is it?"
She said composedly. ...yeah, I also believe it's a lie that she's frightened.
"You have a point with claiming that it's necessary to reveal our [classes] in order to understand each other. But it's obviously too early for this as the situation is too uncertain right now."
"But it will be too late when the first corpse appears."
"Right. We ought to clear up the matter as soon as possible..."
She murmured and pursed her lips. Kaichou's habit when she thinks.
"Well, let's refrain from it today at least. Nobody is going to die on the first day after all, I think."
In the end, no one had a better proposal than Yuuri-san.
Of course we kept chatting with each other for better mutual understanding, but the time passed by without us finding anything to improve the state of affairs.
«It is - tiMe! - If you - don't reTurn - you are - going to - dIe!»
It was exactly «20:00» when I looked at my watch after hearing Noitan's announcement. The end of the <D>-block.
Daiya had quickly returned to his room, and Kaichou and Kamiuchi-kun were in the process of heading to their door.
Okay then, I had better return quickly as well.
When I was about to pass through the door, somebody grasped my sleeve.
I turned around.
Not Maria, but Yuuri-san was standing there with wide eyes. I noticed my misunderstanding and turned red. Seeing me like this, she narrowed her eyes and formed a tender smile.
"E-Err... what's the matter, Yuuri-san?"
"Mh. I would like to express my thanks to you."
"...? Thanks for...?"
Yuuri-san seemed even more pleased when I tilted my head in wonderment.
"You don't understand right away, which means... you weren't deliberately kind to me to make me your ally..."
"Ah, no, never mind. ...do you really not understand? Look, didn't you cheer me up when I cried?"
"So again, thank you."
Yuuri-san bowed deeply, whereupon I hurriedly replied,
"D-Don't... it's not like I did something great, really."
"But it helped me very much, you know?"
"T-That's... fortunate then..."
It was pretty embarrassing to be thanked formally like this.
Yuuri-san was smiling for some reason at my reddened face.
"...I have the feeling that it's okay to believe you even in this game."
She seemed to hesitate a little, but eventually she readied herself and looked right into my eyes.
"If we trust each other, nobody will kill anyone. I believe so. ...Hoshino-san. Do you think I'm being too naïve?"
I shook my head vigorously to answer her persistent gaze.
"Not at all! I believe so, too."
She unknowingly grasped my right hand with both her hands in overwhelming joy, or so it looked to me. My face turned even hotter when I felt this warm, soft sensation.
"I think we would absolutely not lose to such a game if we all connected our hands and trusted each other. Therefore, let's first have mutual trust between ourselves."
I was unable to look directly at her carefree smile and dropped my gaze reflexively.
Yuuri-san is, despite being an upperclassman... um, really cute.
I looked up as I was called by someone. Maria was watching us expressionlessly. ...I recently realized that she frequently shows this face when she's in a bad mood.
"The time's getting risky. Return quickly."
Yuuri-san comprehended me when I looked at her and let go of my hand. Her expression seemed a little lonely to me.
"Yanagi, you should consider the time as well."
Yuuri-san was still frightened of Maria.
"...Um, Yuuri-san. It's okay, you can trust Maria!"
"Ah, yes. If you say so, Hoshino-san..."
"So, we have to go back to our respective rooms."
"Yes, you're right. ...ah, one more thing."
With these words, she brought her lips to my ear.
"I'll come to your place for a [Secret Meeting] tomorrow."
She whispered into my ear. Her breath touched my ear.
Yuuri-san danced away with small steps and disappeared beyond her door with a prankish smile.
I stared dumbfounded in the direction she disappeared in.
Maria sneered ill-humoredly and disappeared beyond her door as well.
Left behind alone in the big room, I recalled her name.
"......they resemble, I think."
Their faces don't. But I had the feeling that this prankish smile at the end resembled---her.
Resembled the other «Yanagi» I know.
Her, who I'm unlikely to meet ever again.
 ▶First Day <E> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
«[Yuuri Yanagi] was strangulated by [Assassination]»
Those letters were displayed on the monitor in my room.
As I was unable to comprehend those words, I couldn't show any reaction. I just kept rereading this message over and over.
"......what is this nonsense?"
I murmured unknowingly and couldn't suppress a small laugh.
I mean, didn't everybody say it?
That nobody is going to die on the first day. That it's going to be okay. They said so.
Yeah, they sure did! Tell me, someone... they said so, didn't they!?
«Yaa yaa yaa»
Those incomprehensible letters disappeared from the monitor and the green bear appeared instead.
«What a piTy - Yuuri-chan - dieD!»
I roared reflexively at Noitan.
« - Lie?»
At that very moment---
Noitan's graphic changed to one I had not seen yet. He opened his mouth to the verge of ripping.
«UHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYA - Lie? - If only it was a lie, right? - But you know? - She's dead! - She was strangulated, so she died with her eyes popping out - her face turning all purple - and excreting piss and shit! - She died with a groooss visage and stank like hell, though she was so cute before!»
I always thought he's disgusting.
But this was the first time I felt hatred against him.
This is probably the true nature of Noitan---no, of the 'box'. The true nature of that dirty, hopeless, pathetic 'wish'.
«Too bad, isn't it? - You were so close to getting intimate with her - You could have had gotten between the blankets together with her if all went well - It really is too bad she died, isn't it!! - UHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYAHYA»
I covered my ears because of his guffaw.
I will absolutely not admit such a 'wish'. The circumstances of the 'owner' don't matter to me. I don't care if there's a gap or not. I will absolutely not admit this, no matter what reason he may have had.
Therefore, this guy is my enemy.
"......show me the proof!"
Noitan's mouth returned to normal.
"Show me the proof that Yuuri-san's dead! If you don't, I won't believe it."
«The proof -hUh»
"Right! This is a lie anyway, so you won't---"
Noitan disappeared. At the same moment, the door opened.
The usual dark was hanging beyond the door.
I stood before the darkness and swallowed my saliva. I started to get doubts. What if Noitan was telling nothing but the truth and the «proof» that awaits me there is---
Even so, I have to go through the door---go through the dark.
I jumped through the door.
In the center of the mirror-inverted prison-like room was --- it.
Yuuri Yanagi's --- «XXXXX»
This was the perfect proof.
This made me realize. Realize reality.
Although I understood what this is, I failed at connecting it. I failed at connecting this with the appearance of that lovely girl.
I may have been unable to connect these remnants with her, but this terrible spectacle in itself broke my heart.
I lost control of my body while screaming and crumbled down. When I crumbled down, the distance between me and the «XXXXX» decreased. What once was supposed to be her lovely face, was now---
A purple visage so ugly it made me almost forget sympathy.
Yeah, there was no lie or exaggeration in Noitan's explanation. She was there in the exact same state as Noitan had said.
Then, I finally managed to recognize it clearly.
Yuuri Yanagi died.
I was again unable to save «Yanagi-san»
---like this, [Kingdom Royale] started
with the death of the girl that claimed everything would go alright if we just connected our hands.
 ▶Second Day <B> Big room
A jute bag was blatantly placed on the table in the big room.
Its contents were almost the same as of the one in my room. The only difference was that the digital watch wasn't blue, but beige. Her portable terminal had become unusable.
There were also six portions of solid food. In other words, if someone else died, you could steal their food and extend your time limit. It probably was just another system to provoke murder.
It disgusted me.
We were all just sitting silently on our seats and gazed at the jute bag.
Next to me, Daiya was wiping the blood around his mouth away. He had been hit by Kamiuchi-kun shortly after the <B>-block started. Kamiuchi-kun firmly believed that the [Revolutionary]---the one that killed Yuuri-san---was Daiya.
"...at least he didn't use the knife."
Kaichou, who had stopped Kamiuchi-kun's rampage together with Maria, whispered so to Daiya.
---It wouldn't be strange for anyone else to start killing as well.
"People, let's calm down and go over it again. First a confirmation: The [Revolutionary] killed Yuuri. He killed such a kind girl. Furthermore, the culprit is among us. There's no doubt about that."
At first glance, she seemed as calm as yesterday, but her expression looked forced somehow and had lost its composure.
And her gaze was almost abnormally sharp.
"Our goal is to get out of [Kingdom Royale]. But now we have a second goal. That is, to find and kill the [Revolutionary]. That's OK, isn't it?"
"Wait, Shindou. What are you deciding there on your own accord?"
"Otonashi-san. Sorry, but I don't accept objections on that matter. Should I explain the reason to you? Firstly, we're going to get killed by him if we keep doing nothing. Secondly, it's safe to assume that he's the wirepuller or his accomplice, as he committed murder at this point in time. Thirdly, I won't be satisfied until he gets what he deserves."
"You said that you would ruin your life by killing someone. So, in other words, you're now prepared to ruin your own life, right?"
Maria asked. Kaichou was at a loss for words for a moment. But nonetheless she answered fluently,
"I don't know. But I just can't forgive him for killing Yuuri in such a gruesome way."
She probably judged that it was impossible and unnatural to persuade her there and then. Maria closed her mouth.
"Our goals are set. Or does someone want to add something?"
Kaichou looked at us, who were sitting there silently.
"Nothing? Okay, then let me express my opinion on---"
She stopped her words and widened her eyes, seeming surprised.
Daiya, who had not properly taken part in our conversation so far, had raised his hand.
"Do you want to say anything?"
"Yeah. ...well, I'll be silent if you have no interest in the suspect's words."
"I won't say that. ...But what kind of twist is this? Weren't you silent until now?"
"There's no way I could keep quiet when I'm without doubt the next who's going to be killed, with the way things are going now."
"Well, that's not surprising now, is it?"
Kamiuchi-kun sneered at this exchange of words.
"Suit yourself. But whatever you say, I won't change my mind, so every word of yours will just be noise to me, you know?"
"I don't care."
Daiya spat this out and turned his gaze to Kaichou.
"A question: Why did the [Revolutionary] choose Yuuri Yanagi?"
"Actually I've been wondering about that, too."
Kamiuchi-kun snapped at Kaichou, who had said so with a light frown.
"What are you saying, Senpais? Isn't that all the same? Do we really need to know more than that a certain somebody, who is the [Revolutionary], is a bastard that deserves being killed?"
"...Kamiuchi, would you kill Yanagi first if you were the [Revolutionary] and had to kill someone?"
"Could a piece of trash like you please refrain from talking to me? The only reason that I'm sitting here obediently is because you're going to get killed soon by [Sorcery] anyway!"
"Hah... you can't even comprehend human language, huh."
Daiya shrugged his shoulders exaggeratedly.
"What do you think, Kaichou? Would you want to kill Yanagi first?"
"...Not if I wanted to survive. To be frank, the first I would want to get rid of is you, Oomine-kun. While I think it's possible that Otonashi-san or I are targeted, I don't think anyone would want to eliminate Yuuri right away."
"Right? Or perhaps the [Revolutionary] found out that Yanagi was the [Sorcerer] and... well, that's impossible because yesterday I exposed that she's not."
Kaichou asked slightly irritated,
"OK, I get your point. So what?"
"In short, the aim of the [Revolutionary] was to provoke this situation."
I didn't understand his point. But the others got it right away. At once, there was an absolute silence in the room.
Kamiuchi-kun's sneer was what broke this silence.
"Sorry, but I have no clue what you're talking about. Why would he need to make such a detour? If he wanted to kill you, he would just need to [assassinate] you, right? But the [Revolutionary] didn't do that, so isn't that proof that you're the [Revolutionary] yourself?"
"Don't you get that he might be suspected of being the [Revolutionary] if I died?"
Kamiuchi-kun widened his eyes and was at a loss for words. Kaichou opened her mouth instead.
"By seeming like the [Revolutionary], you act as his scapegoat---that's what you want to say, right, Oomine-kun? But can you prove that it's not just a lie you thought of in order to save your skin?"
"If I were the [Revolutionary], I would have had no reason to kill Yanagi first."
"Isn't this the same for every one of us?"
Daiya took his portable terminal out of his pocket and replayed a voice.
«---So, why don't we just count to three and reveal our [classes]?»
"Yanagi wanted to unveil the [classes]. Maybe she wanted to avert distrust more than anyone. If so, it's highly probable that Yuuri Yanagi had already revealed her [class] to someone she trusted."
Both Kaichou and Kamiuchi-kun kept quiet.
"So? I wonder what the two that had a [Secret Meeting] with Yuuri Yanagi yesterday have to say?"
Suddenly, I recalled that Yuuri-san had planned to have a [Secret Meeting] with me.
If we really had this [Secret Meeting] today, she probably would've told me her [class].
Of course she had more trust in Kaichou than in me, who she had met only recently. So why should she even tell me about her [class] before telling Kaichou?
"...but even if I found out about Yuuri's [class], how does that make me want to kill her straight away?"
"Oh, is the sagacious Mrs. Student Council President unable to figure out something of this degree? ...huhuhu, I'll let you know, then! The reason is... to steal Yanagi's [class]."
...There was no such rule in the explanation of [Kingdom Royale].
Unable to comprehend, I listened to Daiya closely.
"He wants to make the others believe I'm the [Revolutionary]. Of course he has to pretend being another [class] as he's the real [Revolutionary]. But if he simply claimed to be Yanagi's [class], the other players are unlikely to see through him. Dead men tell no tales, after all. Even if we did a coming-out now, he could simply use Yanagi's [class]."
Everyone kept quiet and waited for Daiya to continue.
But I still didn't get it. Was that reason enough to kill her first?
"Shall I simulate it for you? First, he takes advantage of the fact that he can claim to be Yanagi's [class] and suggests a coming-out. The victory conditions for the [Revolutionary] are to kill the [King], the [Prince] and [The Double]. ...hm, Yanagi was probably either the [Prince] or [The Double]."
"...how can you narrow it down this much?"
Kamiuchi-kun asked with a sour look.
"If the [King] gets killed, [The Double] will know because [Murder] becomes usable. Therefore, he would not be able to pretend being the [King] in front of [The Double]."
"But there's still the [Knight]!"
"If she were the [Knight], it would have been more beneficial to use Yanagi instead of killing her. And I don't even need to mention why she can't be the [Revolutionary] or the [Sorcerer], right?"
"The [Revolutionary] only needs to kill two more in order to win, since he has already killed Yanagi. As long everyone believes I am the [Revolutionary], he is unlikely to be targeted by the others. If he succeeds at finding out the others' [classes], he will know who he needs to kill. I could go into detail but... that would be tiresome so I won't."
Daiya continued with a light smile,
"But you realize that it's a huge advantage for him if he can make me appear to be the [Revolutionary], right? The way things are he's almost certain to win."
Having said so, Daiya---
---scowled at Iroha Shindou.
"I bet he was rejoicing mentally until before. To him, others are brainless pieces of shit that merely act as his foil anyway. He'd gladly kill those pieces of shit if he can survive by doing so. ...geez, how impertinent."
He sneered and declared,
"While being such a fool as to make me his enemy."
A certain thought crossed my mind.
Just because I hadn't taken part in the conversation, still being in shock from Yuuri's death, I noticed.
---What's happening here?
Snarling at each other, hating, doubting - what is this explosive situation? Isn't this exactly the situation we assumed would be the start of [Kingdom Royale]?
That's not good. That's not good at all! I mean, this would mean things are going just as planned. --- Just as the 'owner' of the 'Game of Idleness' planned!
If it goes on like this, we will kill each other and our lives will end.
That worst case has to be averted. For that purpose, we surely have to figure out the 'owner'. We have to unite. ...and yet---
"Cut it out already, Oomine-kun."
Kaichou's voice seemed completely different now.
Insuppressible anger and hatred contorted Kaichou's face.
"I'm amazed at how you can talk such baseless bullshit, full of confidence. Look down on people as you please, but I have no idea what kind of confidence you have to show such an attitude. If it's about grades at school, Otonashi-san's better. If it's about physical strength, Kamiuchi-kun is better. If it's about being trusted, Hoshino-kun's better. If it's about charm, Yuuri's better. Tell me, is there any area where you don't lose to someone else among us? Apart from the talent for hair-splitting, of course."
She flashed a deprecative smile, almost like Daiya.
"You're not better than those low-lives that take their anger out on others, unable to accept reality. No... you actually committed murder, so you're even below them."
Daiya reacted just with a smile similar to Kaichou's. She wasn't even trying to hide her aversion anymore.
"We don't live in a soft world where the others avoid you when you appear smart... because of a pathetic misunderstanding, you made a mistake where you won't get off with 'youthful indiscretion'. You killed Yuuri. ...haven't you noticed yet? It's the end for you! An incapable, powerless, useless guy like you will be easily crushed like an ant."
She continued with an inappropriately soft voice,
"I'm already perceiving you as my enemy, you know? I'm going to give it my all to crush you! Hey, I'm saying that---I'm going to kill you, do you get it?"
"......right, let's give you a leg up. First, I'll reveal that your delusions are nothing more than that, delusions! You claimed that Yuuri was either [The Double] or the [Prince]. But that is wrong. You overlooked something obvious. The [King] would know of the death of [The Double] because he would become unable to use [Substitution]. Uwaa, what a beginner's mistake! Which means that Yuuri's [class] could only be [Prince] if the [Revolutionary] wanted to fake his [class]."
I looked at Maria after hearing this. Maria, who was the [Prince], was just silently looking at the argument between those two.
"I'll confess! I knew Yuuri's [class]. Isn't that great, Oomine-kun? At least this hypothesis of yours was right. But listen, it was not [Prince]. Which means that the [Prince] is among us now. Hey, [Prince]-sama, you already know that these are only Oomine-kun's delusions, right?"
Daiya kept just quiet, apparently unable to object.
"Besides, if you were the [King] or [The Double], you would have surely noticed this, so you can't be one of those two [classes]. Well now, what [classes] remain?"
The remaining ones were [Knight] and [Revolutionary]. Daiya's [class] was narrowed down this far by Kaichou.
However, Daiya, who had been silent until now, started ridiculing her now.
"You go this far just to make me the bad guy? You sure are desperate."
"I'm amazed at how you can boast this much just because you found a loophole in my hypothesis. I'm not the real [Revolutionary], so it's logical that I can only make assumptions. With your blether you merely demonstrated your hazardous human nature. I can construct as many new hypotheses as you want! Then you can delight in objecting to your heart's content, uselessly."
"Quit these desperate bluffs! Or else I'll slowly get angry because you're going too far with your poorness."
Seeing this sword-fight-like discussion before my very eyes, I thought:
---it really is too late.
[Kingdom Royale] became unstoppable the moment the first corpse appeared, the moment Yuuri-san was killed.
But... I can't accept that.
Yuuri-san said we'd be OK if we just trusted each other. And now her corpse is the reason why we cannot trust each other anymore. I can't accept such a horrible outcome.
The thought was so mortifying that tears overflowed my eyes. Kaichou noticed this and looked at me with wide eyes. A delicate arm was laid around my neck while I was desperately suppressing my tears.
Long hair clung to my cheeks and stopped my tears.
"......It's alright, Kazuki."
But I already knew. Those words of Maria lacked foundation.
Kaichou called my name.
"I like this kind nature of yours."
Kaichou continued with a soft voice as to comfort a child,
"But I won't let your kindness get in my way, got it?"
Those words were more than enough to make me realize that there wouldn't be peace anymore.
 ▶Second Day <C> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
«No target has been selected for [Murder] yet.»
The times when I could feel relieved by just this had passed.
I didn't know who was able to use [Murder]. But this person would certainly select someone.
He would urge me to kill that player.
«Well well well - it's abOut time - for the - [Secret Meeting]! - Please sElect - the player - you want to hAve - a [Secret Meeting] wIth»
I immediately touched the spot on the screen where «Maria Otonashi» was written.
«Please wait - untiL everyone - has selEcted - their partNer»
After a clearly longer while than last time, the [Secret Meeting] pairs were displayed. ...Maybe someone chose later on purpose to adjust the order.
|[Iroha Shindou]||->||[Kazuki Hoshino]||15:40~16:10|
|[Daiya Oomine]||->||[Kazuki Hoshino]||16:20~16:50|
|[Kazuki Hoshino]||->||[Maria Otonashi]||15:00~15:30|
|[Koudai Kamiuchi]||->||[Daiya Oomine]||15:00~15:30|
|[Maria Otonashi]||->||[Iroha Shindou]||16:20~16:50|
So this time Daiya and Kaichou designated me. Daiya aside, why did Kaichou select me?
I suppose Daiya is both the [Revolutionary] and the 'owner' of the 'Game of Idleness'. After all, I can't believe there would be another 'owner' so conveniently.
...But if Daiya was neither the [Revolutionary] nor the 'owner', then it would almost certainly be Kaichou.
Those two suspects are going to meet me.
I recalled their argument at the big room and cringed. For me it's absolutely impossible to persist against them.
I waited for the time to meet Maria while holding my head.
 ▶Second Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Maria Otonashi], [Maria Otonashi]'s room
Maria was sitting on her bed with crossed arms and a frown.
As soon as I sat down next to her, she immediately started to speak.
"Kazuki, we must not permit another casualty after Yanagi. You are aware of that, right?"
"This has, however, become extremely difficult. If we don't do anything, the [Revolutionary] will definitely kill another one. ...We have to break this cycle somehow."
"What should we do...?"
When I asked this, Maria clenched her teeth once and declared,
"We will tell Shindou everything about the 'Game of Idleness'."
Couldn't Kaichou be the 'owner' as well?
"I understand your concern. But we can no longer avoid all risks. ...this will probably put you in danger, but please forgive me."
"......could it be that I was the reason why you didn't tell them about the 'box'?"
"What other reason could there be?"
Maria raised a brow, wondering.
...I had scruples about this thinking of hers... but since it wasn't the right time to say this, I asked:
"Err... we're going to tell Kaichou about the 'box', so that means that we're acting with the assumption that Daiya's the 'owner' of the 'Game of Idleness', right?"
"I'll assume Kaichou believed the story about the 'box' with this example now, okay? If so, I guess the present Kaichou would... probably kill Daiya...?"
"......Yeah, you're probably right. But it is absolutely necessary to show Shindou and Kamiuchi that there's also another way out of here than winning in [Kingdom Royale]. To hold them back from killing Oomine, I will also have to clearly convey my will to them. ...this will be hard indeed."
"...Ah, but if Daiya's the 'owner', Kaichou can hardly be the [Revolutionary], and she can't do anything about Daiya by using [Murder]. As the [Sorcerer] I have a veto after all. Everything's OK as long I don't press the button."
"Why can't Shindou be the [Revolutionary] if Oomine's the 'owner'?"
"Eh...? No, I mean, if she's not interested in starting [Kingdom Royale], what would be the motive to kill Yuuri-san...?"
Maria didn't nod to this logical reasoning.
"Oomine has said something about there not being a reason to kill Yanagi... but can't you think of it like this: taking the lead in the game does not matter to the [Revolutionary]. He merely always hated Yanagi; enough to kill her. Therefore, he took advantage of this situation, in which murder gets justified, and executed it on an impulse."
First I thought this was another one of her jokes that doesn't sound like one, but her serious face didn't change, no matter how long I kept looking at it.
"......No way. I mean, we're talking about Yuuri-san. There's no way someone would have such a grudge against her."
"Yanagi is charming. Such charm that shakes the feelings of others can sometimes also arouse negative emotions. For example, I'm sure there are girls that are jealous of her because she's so popular with the boys. Also, I'm sure there are guys whose love has changed to a grudge when they were turned down."
"...Well, this is not more than a possibility. It's not like I felt anything strange in Shindou's attitude towards Yanagi. In the first place, Shindou is also blessed with talent herself. I don't think she'd be jealous of Yanagi. I just wanted to say that it's dangerous to arbitrarily decide something in advance."
She was right. I had only been thinking like: «[Revolutionary] = 'owner'». If I hadn't thought about the other case, I probably would have tripped.
I wondered what to do. The amount of questions was increasing in spite of the lack of time. I had to believe that we could do it. But the situation was --- hopeless.
A comfortable weight was put on my downcast head. Maria ruffled my hair.
"I don't know about Shindou, but I was jealous!"
I raised my face reflexively and looked at Maria.
Maria continued to speak expressionlessly while stroking through my hair,
"It took you a long time to stop calling me «Otonashi-san», but for some reason you called Yanagi by her first name «Yuuri-san» in no time. Yanagi was over-familiar as well, and held your hand, and she even whispered into your ear! On top of that, you even arranged a [Secret Meeting]? Boy, this is irritating!"
"What do you want to say with this puzzled look of yours?"
"How is that connected to jealousy...?"
Her hand stopped its movement immediately.
"...are you seriously asking this?"
"Then let me explain it to you politely. I just said that I found the thought of Yanagi being in your favor to be mortifying."
With those words, Maria laid her hands on mine. Then she brought her face close to mine. I should get used to this by now, but her face was still unbelievably pretty, so my face turned red at once.
"Err... y-your face is, too near...?"
"Do you get why your possible [Secret Meeting] with her irritated me...? The both of you, boy and girl, all alone in a separate room... you know?"
The soft blow of Maria's whisper brushed against my ear gently. Then, Maria put her index finger into it.
Maria's bewitching expression disappeared immediately from her face when she heard the little scream I let out and then burst into a contented laugh. While I was completely baffled, she moved back a little and kept grinning at me.
"You're being easily toyed with by a younger girl, Kazuki."
With those words I finally realized that I was being teased.
Uuh... to begin with I haven't admitted yet that Maria's younger than me...
"Geez, why do you get this flustered just by a little joke?"
......Joke - from where...?
When I felt entirely down and fell into silence, Maria stopped grinning and said,
"You don't have to worry, Kazuki."
And then she smiled more gently than anyone else.
"I will protect you!"
 ▶Second Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Iroha Shindou], [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
This leaked unknowingly out of my mouth as soon I returned from Maria's room.
I looked dumbfounded at the monitor.
«A target for [Murder] has been selected»
That wasn't the problem. I had already presumed that the person, who can use [Murder], would execute this command. But the selected person was someone other than I had presumed.
«Will you burn [Iroha Shindou] to death by using [Sorcery]?»
Below this message was a picture of Kaichou's face with the word «KILL?» written over her eyes. If I press this picture, Kaichou will burn to death.
Why isn't Daiya, but Kaichou the target of [Murder]...?
I desperately tried to sort my thoughts that were about to go wild. Only the [King] or [The Double] could select a target for [Murder]. Neither I nor Maria are one of those two. Also, there was no way Kaichou would [murder] herself. Which meant that either Daiya or Kamiuchi-kun did the selection.
...But Kamiuchi-kun was supposed to be completely convinced that Daiya's the [Revolutionary]. I don't think he would select Kaichou then.
So it was Daiya...? No, didn't Kaichou claim that he was neither the [King] nor [The Double]?
Wait a sec!
So who on earth is the [Revolutionary]...?
"Ya, here I am."
I almost jumped just by this.
"Mh? Aren't you exaggerating a bit? You knew that I'd come, after all."
Kaichou stood in front of the door and raised her hand with an amazed face.
"I-I'm sorry, Kaichou."
"...I won't coerce you into it, but could you stop already with that 'Kaichou'? I don't really like it, since it gives me the feeling that me as the person beneath it is ignored."
"'Iroha' would be nice."
"The 'san' isn't needed, but... oh well... I'll sit down here!"
While saying she wouldn't force me, Kaichou---no, Iroha-san forced her opinion upon me and sat down on the table like Daiya had done the previous day.
"Umm... why did you choose me, Iroha-san?"
Kaichou answered with a smile to this question,
"To beg for my life."
"Do you not understand? If I don't kill Daiya Oomine within today's <C>-block, I'm almost certainly going to be [assassinated]. In other words, my life is in your hands, Kazuki-kun. Kyaa~ please save me~, Kazuki-KUN!"
"...Why do you say this to me...?"
"Aren't you the [Sorcerer]?"
I desperately suppressed the disturbance that was about to assault me. This was the same trick as Daiya had used on me. Making the same mistake twice would be too pathetic.
"Oh, you don't fall for it? You're surprisingly careful, aren't you? Anyways, if Daiya Oomine doesn't get [murdered] today, I'm going to die. Ohmygod!!!"
"...umm, are you in a position to use [Murder]?"
Iroha-san denied distinctly.
"Then I couldn't save you on my own even if I were the [Sorcerer]! After all I wouldn't be able to select the target of [Murder]."
"You can't? After that conversation in the big room, do you really think Kamiuchi-kun or Otonashi-san would not [murder] Daiya Oomine? That guy dug his own grave there, didn't he? So shouldn't it work out if only you did something?"
At least Maria would never select «a target to kill» and, in fact, Iroha-san herself was the selected target.
But since I couldn't tell her that, I kept quiet.
"I chose you as my partner for the [Secret Meeting] because the probability of letting Oomine-kun go seems the highest for you! I mean, I gather that Oomine-kun and you have been intimate originally and look, you're kind after all."
I could only hear sarcasm in those words.
"See, I'm bothered if you let him go. Therefore, I came to give you a push."
A push to kill Daiya---huh.
"......But didn't you say previously that killing someone will ruin your life?"
"Yeah, exactly! By urging murder like this, I'm definitely going to ruin my life. To be honest, I have no idea how much I'm going to suffer in the future because of this, since I lack imagination! No, rather I'm trying to not think about it. After all---"
Iroha-san declared with a smile, but also with a strong light in her eyes,
"This is definitely better than dying."
After seeing these unhesitating eyes of hers, I finally noticed---
---the danger she posed.
What makes her a superman is not just her natural ability. It's the nature of her psyche. The characteristic that she goes straight for her goal without any detours might resemble Maria. However, compared to Maria, who puts others first and hence may change her own goal, Iroha-san prioritizes her own goal and definitely does not change it. For her goal's sake, she may step on others from time to time. Naturally, without even noticing it, like a train that crushes a pebble under its wheels.
And this time her goal is «to survive».
Suddenly, I recalled how we first met, which sent chills up my spine.
Iroha-san had said she wanted me to press the button to kill Daiya. But what did she plan on doing if I shook my head at this request?
What would she do in a situation where she believed that she would die if I didn't do it?
"Do you have your knife equipped?"
Iroha-san widened her eyes.
Then she looked at me interestedly and asked,
"How did you notice?"
She thrust her hand into her skirt, took a knife out and threw it to the door.
"Or did you discover it when you tried to peek at my panties? You pervert!"
"Haha, just joking! ...ah well, that I hid a knife can't be settled with a joke, huh. Aah~... can you at least let me make an excuse? It's not like I equipped the knife because of the [Secret Meeting] with you! I'm always holding it when I'm not alone in my room. For real."
"But if I had rejected your request to [murder] Daiya, you would've threatened me with the knife, right?"
"Yeah. But isn't that normal?"
I shook my head at her, who had admitted it easily. There's no way that would be normal.
"Really? Oh well. But as it stands I can't threaten you anymore, so."
"The jute bag..."
"Hand over the jute bag on the table, because my knife's in there."
Iroha-san widened her eyes once to my words and then smiled wryly. As she was told, she threw the whole bag over to me.
I caught the bag, took the knife out and threw it to the door like Iroha-san.
"...did you also sit down on the table because you thought my knife would be in the jute bag?"
"Ahaha, I didn't think that far. By the way, can I confirm something?"
Iroha-san looked straight into my eyes and asked,
"Whether you cooperate in killing Daiya Oomine or not!"
She said this easily and with a fresh smile.
"I won't kill anyone! No matter whether it's Daiya or anyone else."
When I replied like this, Iroha-san kept quiet with her gaze and smile directed at me. I averted my eyes and dropped my gaze unknowingly due to this silent admonition.
"You don't get it. What I'm asking is:"
Iroha-san made a short break once and continued,
"Will you kill Daiya Oomine or will you kill me? - That's what I'm asking!"
I raised my face and looked at Iroha-san. She was looking at me as if I were a unreasonable child.
"Don't think you can escape from sin if you don't press the button! If you press the button, you will kill Oomine-kun indeed. But if you don't press it, you'll have killed me for sure!"
"Believe what you want, but that's what it's like for me. If I get [assassinated], I will think that you have let me die!"
In fact, I knew it. I knew that it wasn't possible to stay clean in this killer-game, no matter what action one might take.
"...I got what you want to say. But I'm not able to [murder] Daiya in today's <C>. ...I can't tell you the details, though."
"Does this mean you are no [class] connected with [Murder]? ...wait, don't tell me Oomine-kun wasn't selected?"
She was almost scowling at me when she asked this. Of course I could not answer her question.
"Judging from your expression, it's the latter one! Whoa, hey! But ain't I sure to die then!"
When I kept quiet to this weird excitement of hers, Iroha-san let out a sigh and laid back on the table.
She then covered her eyes listlessly with her arms.
While maintaining this posture, she whispered so with a completely different voice than before.
"Yuuri was cute, wasn't she?"
Confused at why she asked this, I gazed at her silently.
"You know, I had never found anything enviable until I met Yuuri. Because I thought I could basically achieve, like, anything. The first person I respected and found enviable...and probably, was jealous of, was Yuuri."
I recalled Maria's words, 'charm can sometimes also arouse negative emotions'.
"Because it's like showing my weak spot, I haven't told anyone until now, but only once during my high school life I was in love. I was on good terms with him from the beginning... and well, since I was inexperienced in love matters and such, I was alright with being friends."
Iroha-san flashed a bitter smile and said,
"Until he started to go out with Yuuri."
I was unable to read her feelings from this bitter smile.
"And as a friend of both parties, I had to help both of them out with relationship counseling. Thanks to that I even knew how far they had proceeded! For example when they first held hands or when they first kissed. Hearing that, I naturally thought: ---if only their bonds would rip apart."
"And as if my prayers were answered, they broke up three months later. Am I not idiotic? I had hoped so, although I didn't profit when he and Yuuri broke up. After all there was no way he would go out with me and we even became estranged as I stayed Yuuri's friend... Why did I pray for such an indifferent thing? In other words, I only prayed for their misfortune! Though they were supposed to be important to me. To put it mildly, I'm horrible."
Iroha-san finally looked at me.
"Did you just think this is a boring, common story?"
I shook my head distinctly.
"Well, that means that even I have some of those clichéd worries. ...just how am I a superman?"
Iroha-san shifted her gaze to the naked light bulb at the ceiling and said,
"...I had already forgotten about this childish worry. Really. Because I was satisfied with just knowing that Yuuri's important to me."
She flashed a self-ridiculing smile.
"But I remembered when Yuuri died. Even worse, I can't get it out of my head anymore. I can't get this inconsequential matter out of my head. Just when my dear Yuuri dies, I can only think of such a thing."
Iroha-san turned her head slowly to me.
"Tell me Hoshino-kun, what do you think?"
She asked gently with a whisper.
"Did I really --- like Yuuri?"
I couldn't reply anything to this question.
Iroha-san gazed at me expressionlessly for a while. But after she watched me being silent, she suddenly raised the corners of her mouth contentedly.
"Huhu... how was it? My strategy?"
"Don't you want to become my ally after hearing about my human side?"
She said so and chuckled.
But I understood. She might have tried to end that with a joke, but everything she told me were her true feelings. She had no one she could show her weakness. And I was sure she couldn't even show herself. Therefore, she didn't even understand her own heart.
This was her weakness. She could only let it out just because she was really about to die.
When Iroha-san saw that I dropped my gaze and closed my mouth, she stopped laughing.
And then she said, in a joking tone---
"I just cursed you."
With a refreshed expression.
"Now you will always remember this story if I die."
Her strategy was successful.
Even if she were the origin of all this, I couldn't wish for her death.
 ▶Second Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Daiya Oomine], [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
Daiya sat down on the table and controlled his portable terminal.
"Did you know, Kazu? This terminal cannot be controlled by anyone but its owner."
Saying so, he searched my jute bag on the table, took out the portable terminal and showed me that he was indeed unable to use it.
"...you seem composed."
Contrastive to Kaichou who had been under pressure.
"Well, because I know that I won't be [murdered]."
Daiya raised the corners of his mouth.
"Don't ask something as stupid as why I know this. Of course because I selected the target for [Murder]."
"...so your [class] is..."
"I am the [King]."
He said this so naturally, I was about to believe him right away---but, I wasn't allowed to. That had to be a trick.
I racked my brain to find a doubt.
"...umm, if you're the [King], then that means you knew that Iroha-san's the [Revolutionary], right? So why did you not select Iroha-san immediately when the <C>-block started? Why did you select her only after your [Secret Meeting] with Kamiuchi-kun?"
"During the <B>-part, I suggested subtly that Shindou's the culprit, but I wasn't too confident, to tell the truth. Because I doubted Kamiuchi to the same degree as Shindou."
Though he had gotten so emotional due to Yuuri's death?
"So did you ever think that Kamiuchi-kun might be acting his anger?"
"He's a dangerous guy in his own way. Even you noticed that he's at least a slippery fellow, right?"
I nodded slightly.
"And just remember. Shindou's first partner for the [Secret Meeting] was Kamiuchi. The reason being that he was the one Shindou was the most cautious of."
Indeed, Iroha-san might have selected him, but...
"...come to think of it, Daiya, it seems to me like you knew Kamiuchi-kun already."
"Yeah, I knew him already. We went to the same middle school. I didn't remember his face, though."
"......eh? But Kamiuchi-kun didn't seem to recognize you?"
"As if an ant like me would be noticed by our oh-so-great Sir Kamiuchi. Unlike me, who has only good marks, he is a celebrity. I could as well tell you some bad rumors about him, but there's no necessity to talk about this now, is there?"
I decided I'd take that as 'there are enough bad rumors to make Daiya and Iroha-san cautious of Kamiuchi-kun'.
"Okay, now I'll tell you another interesting fact."
"The [Revolutionary] hadn't planned to kill Yanagi."
My mouth opened with a whack.
"Hah... do I have to explain everything right down to the last detail? The [King] has another special command besides [Murder], hasn't he?"
Using this command, it is possible that [Assassination] hits the wrong target.
"The [Revolutionary] wanted to kill me, not Yanagi!"
Daiya was suspicious and used [Substitution] right on the first day. Hence, Yuuri-san was killed instead because she was [The Double].
If it were really like this, then one couldn't call Kamiuchi-kun's anger a performance even if he were the [Revolutionary]. After all this would mean that Kamiuchi-kun had killed his favorite Yuuri-san unknowingly because of Daiya.
"I became convinced that Kamiuchi is not the [Revolutionary] in the [Secret Meeting] just now. Therefore, only Shindou can be the [Revolutionary]."
If Daiya is telling the truth, then this would mean that Iroha-san killed Yuuri-san unintentionally.
If so... the nuance of Iroha-san's confession just now might change slightly.
To drown her feelings of guilt, she's desperately trying to find a reason that would justify Yuuri-san's murder.
---This is how it could be interpreted, maybe.
"B-But... why were you that indirect in the <B>-block then? If you had revealed that you're the [King], wouldn't that have cleared up the doubt about you?"
"It's absolute idiocy to reveal one's own [class]."
"But didn't you tell me---"
"That is because I believe that you would never kill me."
When I widened my eyes, Daiya made a frown as if to say that he just made a slip of the tongue. He then averted his eyes almost as if he had blushed.
...he just said that he 'believes me', right? This Daiya has?
"...I'll explain what I wanted to achieve with my statements in the <B>-block."
Daiya began his explanation, quickly thrusting aside his previous statement.
"Let's start with my first intention. Making out the suspects. The [Revolutionary] knows naturally that Yanagi died because of [Substitution]. Thus, I purposely raised the question about why Yanagi was targeted, in order to get him to make a mistake. Well, this didn't work, though."
I nodded and urged him to continue.
"Then my other intention. Making them think I'm not the [King]."
"...Why would you want to do that?"
"The [Revolutionary] made me his scapegoat. Because he wants me to be the target for [Murder]. But since I'm the [King] myself, this is completely meaningless. Oh well, after all I'm the one that selects the target for [Murder]."
In truth, Iroha-san was selected for [Murder] and not Daiya.
"So what do you think the [Revolutionary] would do about me, when I'm worthless as a scapegoat and even realized his lie?"
Daiya raised the corners of his mouth, seeming almost pleased.
"He would naturally kill me with [Assassination]."
I gulped unknowingly.
"Therefore it's better he doesn't speculate that I'm the [King]."
I recalled a line of Iroha-san's.
«Besides, if you were the [King] or [The Double], you would have surely noticed this, so you can't be one of those two [classes].»
Aah, I see.
This argument they had was to make Iroha-san believe he's not the [King].
I noticed that I was about to get sucked up in Daiya's fast thought process.
But---it might be best to get sucked up and follow him. I mean, I can't think that Daiya shammed when he said he believed me. ...I don't want to think so.
We're friends, after all.
Should I really believe Daiya? And should I really assume Iroha-san's the [Revolutionary] as well as the 'owner'?
While I was silent, Daiya said to me,
"Kill Iroha Shindou."
"If you just use [Sorcery], neither you nor Otonashi will have to tread on thin ice anymore to settle this 'box'. We'll get released from everything just by a single resolution of yours. ---No, you have to kill her. Or do you want to render even my resolution futile?"
I'm aware that this proposal he interrupted me with is the wisest solution.
"I won't use [Sorcery]."
My answer won't change.
"If Iroha-san's really the 'owner', I will persuade her somehow to hand the 'box' over to us."
"Although you and Otonashi might die because of this hesitation of yours?"
Daiya sneered at me when I declared so.
"Wow, how naive that you act the goody two shoes as always, even in a killer-game. 'She looks like a good person, so let's believe her!' - or what? That is quite the worst kind of simplemindedness there is. Look at this arm of mine! I got such bad goose bumps I can't seem to wash this out anymore; how will you compensate for that?"
For some reason I apologized, though I was the one that was being called names. But... that was almost like our usual conversation in the classroom.
"I did, however, know."
Daiya said while stroking his arm studiedly,
"That you would answer like this."
Daiya smiled wryly as if he had given up.
"Whoa, you're repulsive. Why do you laugh although I'm making a fool of you? What on earth happened to your mind?"
Unintentionally, because, well, acknowledging me while complaining is just like you.
And then I was convinced.
Daiya is telling the truth.
 ▶Second Day <D> Big room
The [Revolutionary] and the 'owner' of the 'Game of Idleness' is --- Iroha Shindou.
This is the conclusion I've arrived at. I have to persuade her somehow so she won't murder anyone else.
I should be able to do it. She is not a bad person who makes light of others' lives, after all. Therefore we should be able to settle things, no matter how hard it may appear.
Just why was I so unbelievably naive?
A pool of red liquid was spreading towards my feet. But I stood stock still, without even thinking of evading it.
Maria's shout brought me back to reality. I went on to recognize what has collapsed before my feet.
The pool of red liquid is, blood.
I knew that. Yeah, I was aware of that. But, I didn't want to realize the meaning of it spreading slowly but surely but slowly but surely but slowly but surely but slowly but surely.
I crouched down slowly and touched the face of this person carefully. A smile was on it, almost as if it was ticklish.
This expression was so «like her» that I called her name unknowingly.
*step* *step* *step*---
What is this sound?
*step*. This was the sound of a step. Red footprints remained from each step. *step* *step*. The boy who was producing this sound sat down on his seat as if nothing had happened.
Although it was him who stabbed Iroha-san.
"Why? You sure ask strange questions, Hoshino-senpai. Because Kaichou would have killed us if we left her alive~! So stopping her is a matter of course, isn't it?"
"You didn't have to go this fa---"
I stopped speaking unknowingly.
Kamiuchi's hand were trembling horribly. He noticed this absurd trembling himself and, 'Hu, kuku,' raised a chuckle that didn't fit to this scenery.
Surely he had found out that Iroha-san was the [Revolutionary] in the [Secret Meeting] with Daiya, hence he might have thought he would die if he didn't do anything about her.
But that was no excuse to murder her right away... Aah, I see. This meant Iroha-san and Daiya were right in being cautious of Kamiuchi-kun.
Upon hearing this leaked moan, Maria awoke from her bafflement and rushed to Iroha-san. In order to give her some kind of medical treatment, she examined her body thoroughly and---
---stepped away wordlessly.
"......I... see, scapegoat..."
She said and---coughed up blood.
"Uwa, vomiting blood...... all over me... I look.. uncool..."
She whispered such things with a faint voice.
I was incapable of saying anything.
I mean, although a girl was vomiting blood before my very eyes, although she was about to die, I involuntarily thought like this:
---it might have been best like this.
Iroha-san closed her eyes. ...Because she had not enough power left to keep them open.
".....sorry that... I cursed you."
She mustered her last strength and whispered in a weak voice,
"...sorry that I couldn't save you..."
Those were her last words.
---sorry that I couldn't save you?
While gazing at her motionless body, I considered the meaning of these words.
Iroha-san knew that there was a dangerous character among us that would readily kill Yuuri-san. Knowing this, Iroha-san had to kill this person, whatever it takes.
She took the lead in this [Kingdom Royale], although it meant that she would be doubted all the more by the others. For the purpose of changing the situation for the better, this responsibility-minded girl put herself at risk.
---while being prepared to ruin her own life.
For the sake of protecting her life.
For the sake of protecting our lives.
I touched her face one more time.
But she didn't show me a ticklish smile anymore.
She didn't move anymore. She didn't breathe anymore. She didn't live anymore.
And even so, the 'Game of Idleness' did still continue.
I stood up.
I turned my head slowly to him.
Daiya Oomine was touching the piercing in his right ear expressionlessly.
 ▶Second Day <E> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
«[Koudai Kamiuchi] was strangulated by [Assassination]»
Now he has exclusive control.
 ▶Third Day <B> Big room
"The battle was over at the moment I realized you were the [Sorcerer]!"
Daiya started to disclose his trick in the big room, where only the three remaining players were.
Maria was haggardly sitting on her seat. As she knew everything, she had tried with all her might to teach Kamiuchi-kun about the 'box', but he hadn't lent her his ears anymore.
And then, Koudai Kamiuchi had been killed as expected.
Ultimately, we weren't able to avert the death of a single person.
Only why did I believe Daiya? Though I knew that Daiya was the 'owner', why did I believe such a cheap lie, that there would be another suspect?
Though I knew that [Kingdom Royale] was a game about deceiving...
Therefore, I knew that that outcome was my fault. But, still---
"Didn't you say you believed me?"
When I complained like that, Daiya raised the corners of his mouth,
"Yeah, I said so. That I believe you will never kill me."
"...so those were just empty words to deceive me, weren't they?"
"It was a verbal slip. You could have noticed the true meaning of those words if you were keen."
"Don't you get it? I concluded that you, the [Sorcerer], can't kill me. In other words, I mocked you by saying I could do what I want, you wouldn't kill me anyway."
I bit on my lips.
...in short, he made a fool of me. At that time I had thought he averted his glance because he had blushed. But in truth, he had merely noticed his verbal slip and became nervous.
"As I'm the [Revolutionary], it's only natural that I want to know who the [Sorcerer] is, since he also has the ability to kill."
"That's why you asked me if I'm the [Sorcerer]..."
He hadn't been worried about me, he simply wanted to know who the person with the most dangerous [class] for him was.
"And you were the [Sorcerer], Kazu. Therefore I won't be [murdered] if I let you live."
Daiya flashed a grin and declared,
"Because I believe you, hah!"
So that's why the battle was over at the moment he found out that I'm the [Sorcerer]...
"But if you had become convinced that I'm the [Revolutionary], you might have still used [Sorcery] anyway. And even if not, you would have done something about me. In short, I just needed to make you think I'm not the [Revolutionary]."
So I danced to his tune and believed Iroha-san's the [Revolutionary].
---Oh. In fact, everything was simple.
What we should have done was exactly what Maria and I discussed in the beginning. It was just about persuading Daiya and getting the 'box' from him.
It was only complicated because Daiya made it look like this.
"...Not everything went without problems, though. Especially Yanagi was a bother."
"Yeah. She tried to make allies. Actually, she probably would have managed making everyone but me her ally. If I had let her live, it wouldn't have gone this smoothly."
...I see. To Daiya, who wanted to start the game, Yuuri-san's existence was a bother, as she was going to stop [Kingdom Royale]. Therefore, Daiya rejected her coming-out proposal and killed her as soon as he could.
He finished disclosing the trick.
Daiya took a breath and looked at Maria who was sitting on her seat.
"I only have to kill one more player to clear the game."
Only one of [Revolutionary]'s enemies has remained.
Only the [Prince] - Maria Otonashi.
Maria didn't even raise her head when he announced his intent to kill her.
...Ah, I see.
The [Revolutionary] has absolutely no need to kill the [Sorcerer] in order to win. Therefore, I will survive. Maria doesn't need to do anything, I will survive anyhow. And Maria has no interest in her own life whatsoever.
Therefore, Maria has no interest in [Kingdom Royale] anymore.
She doesn't mind getting killed like this.
---don't mess with me.
As if I could allow such an outcome!
If Maria plans to save me, throwing her own life away, calling herself a 'box', making light of herself---
I will of course---refuse that!
I scowled at Daiya and declared,
"I won't let you kill Maria!"
Right. when I noticed Maria's powerlessness in this 'box', didn't I realize that the time would come when I had to do something? Right now was the time for this!
At that time I hadn't known what to do. But now,
"If you plan on killing Maria, I will stop you. I will stop you no matter what. Right, even if---"
I've easily come to the conclusion.
"---I have to kill you."
Maria, who had not moved even slightly when Daiya announced to kill her, widened her eyes and looked at me.
Sorry, Maria. I will betray your belief that I would never kill anyone.
"...you seem serious."
Saying so, Daiya fell into silence.
In the first place, Daiya said so himself. That the possibility existed that even I would use [Sorcery] when it was clear who's the [Revolutionary].
Daiya made a mistake. Due to Kamiuchi-kun killing Iroha-san, he became unable of making her his scapegoat and opened up that he was the [Revolutionary].
"Hand over the 'box', Daiya. If you do so, you won't have to die."
Daiya countered with a composed expression. But having been his friend, I know.
Daiya couldn't be more nervous.
"Won't have to die, huh."
He repeated my words and smiled wryly,
"...Kazu. Do you know what kind of 'box' this 'Game of Idleness' is?"
Because the sudden change of the subject, I frowned.
"The 'Game of Idleness' is just a 'box' with the purpose of killing time, that makes the called players play the killer-game [Kingdom Royale]."
"Do you think it ends like this, though its purpose is to kill time? Do you seriously think I would be satisfied with just one round?"
"This is a meaningless fight to the death. Thus, the feeling of yours that you want to save Otonashi, as well as the resolution to kill me are also meaningless. The outcome is completely indifferent. The next round will have a completely different development of things, just by changing the player. I might even become your ally."
What on earth is he talking about...?
"However, the sin in this shitty game will remain. If you kill me, the regret alone will remain."
"......Therefore I should not kill you?"
So this was just idle talk to make me spare his life, huh. Even now he still tried to deceive me.
"It's painful to see you like this! Please, just give me the 'box' already!"
Having been my friend, Daiya should know very well how serious I am about killing him.
"That's out of the question."
Daiya declared coldly.
"...You know that you're cornered, right?"
"Doesn't matter. I have now tasted the «hope» called the 'box'. As I've tasted it, there's no way I'd let someone steal it from me. If I lose the 'box', I will have no goal anymore. A human that merely lives without thinking much, doesn't differ from a CO2 machine, does it?"
"The 'box' is «hope», you say...?"
This 'box' that tormented Mogi-san, Asami-san and Miyazawa-kun is...?
"It's not such a good thing!"
"Shut up, you're annoying! I have no interest in your cheap values that could as well be sold at the special sale of some supermarket!"
What was dreadful was that Daiya was serious. He seriously said that the 'box' was hope. Though he should know about the previous two incidents.
Thinking that far, something struck me suddenly. Perhaps---
"Has it something to do with Kokone?"
Daiya couldn't counter immediately.
"I said, does your 'wish' have something to do with Kokone?"
"Why do you suddenly mention her? I almost pity you for this brain of yours that produces such painfully unrelated thoughts."
But I hadn't overlooked the strained expression he made until he wrung out these words.
There was no doubt. Daiya's 'wish' had something to do with Kokone.
I then became convinced.
"You don't plan to... hand over the 'box', right?"
I became convinced that Daiya would absolutely not hand over the 'box'.
"Yeah, that's what I've been saying all the time."
No matter how much I threaten to kill him, Daiya would not hand over the 'box'. In other words, we---
Maria looked at me when I had realized this.
Maria was smiling.
She was smiling. ...Smiling as if she had given up on everything.
But I suppose that was the appropriate expression for this situation.
I knew it from the start. I couldn't crush the 'box' against his will by killing Daiya. I couldn't use [Sorcery] no matter what happened.
That was not because I lacked the resolution to kill Daiya. It had nothing to do with my resolution.
The problem was that I couldn't use [Sorcery] on my own. Right---
I can't use [Sorcery] because Maria would never kill anyone.
we lost against Daiya Oomine.
 ▶Third Day <C> [Secret Meeting] with [Maria Otonashi], [Maria Otonashi]'s room
I had known it, but my attempt to make her use [Murder] was ignored for a whole 30 minutes.
I recalled Maria's statement the day before.
«I will protect you!»
I accepted this right away.
Just how foolish am I for accepting her kindness and strength readily like this?
Didn't I know from the start? Didn't I know from the start that Maria was powerless in here, as [Kingdom Royale] is about killing and deceiving each other?
This was wrong.
It was me who was supposed to say it.
«I will protect you, Maria!»
But it was too late already.
 ▶Third Day <E> [Kazuki Hoshino]'s room
«[Maria Otonashi] was strangulated by [Assassination]»
*********** GAME OVER ***********
[Daiya Oomine] (Player)
[Revolutionary], has killed Yuuri Yanagi, Koudai Kamiuchi and Maria Otonashi with [Assassination], alive.
* Victory conditions have been met due to Yuuri Yanagi, Koudai Kamiuchi and Maria Otonashi's death.
* Victory conditions have been met due to him surviving.
[Knight], chest was stabbed by Koudai Kamiuchi on the second day, death due to hemorrhagic shock.
[The Double], death on the first day due to [Assassination] by Daiya Oomine.
[King], killed Iroha Shindou directly on the second day. Death on the same day due to [Assassination] by Daiya Oomine.
[Prince], death on the third day due to [Assassination] by Daiya Oomine.
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