Hello friends! Let’s keep this ball rolling!
Last time, we learned a thing or two about witches. The fulcrum here seems to be, just what sort of person is Beato? She really seems to have gone through a major change in attitude. It’s not that she’s lost the power to kill and resurrect, but she’s definitely less concerned about flexing her mighty Golden Witch status than she was at the outset of this chapter’s game. Chapter 2 Beatrice would just have laughed in Battler’s face, I think.
Anyway, the next chapter is called Announcement of the Sacrifices, so I guess it’s about time we see what sort of show Eva Beatrice will put on…
We open with Hideyoshi in Eva’s room. It seems that now Eva Beatrice is no longer burning magic at the rate she was, Eva’s fever has calmed down. This is a curious element—if witches are alters, do they all have a host body which gets burned up when they cast? Or is this a peculiarity of Eva Beatrice? Perhaps because she has not yet totally subsumed Eva?
In any case, Rudolf is the first to notice Rosa’s disappearance. He’s also the one who decides to go out and search for her—Battler offers to come too but Rudolf shuts him down. Eva wakes up, and panics on hearing they’ve gone into the rose garden. It seems she’s dreamed about what we saw happening there…
……Th-……they mustn’t, ……they musn’t go to the rose garden…! Tell Rosa to stop…!
………That’s not it… …Not the rose garden… …There’s a witch there………and she’s waiting for a sacrifice…! Rosa, you musn’t go………oooooooooooohhh…
The bodies turn out to be pretty much where Beatrice left them. Virgilia narrates this in summary.
Nanjo apparently confirmed the causes of death as impalement on the fence in Rosa’s case, and likely strangulation in Maria’s case. The context of this narration turns out to be Virgilia summarising what has been observed to Beatrice, who responds with two items of redtext:
- Rosa and Maria died
- The causes of death were as Nanjo diagnosed
This doesn’t seem especially difficult to explain non-magically. Battler is here, apparently talking to Beatrice again, but he’s still pissed…
One thing that I note is that, this being the third game, I think it’s hard to be especially troubled by even a very gruesome death. After all, we know these fictional characters will be rising again in Purgatorio before long, and after that, we’ll rewind to the start of game 4 to find them right as rain. Which means, in a sense, we’re having the viewpoint of an Endless Witch cultivated in us.
Battler acknowledges the fact that, knowing there are 18 people on the island, it must have been one of the ten survivors—unless it was an accident. He proposes that Rosa accidentally killed Maria to shut her up(!), and then killed herself out of guilt.
Beatrice quite literally starts on a ‘well, actually’—to which Battler tells her to shut up in no uncertain terms…
Beato apparently realises from Battler’s coldness there’s a line she shouldn’t cross here, and rather than continue to argue, exempts herself and indicates for Ronove to continue in her place. But she’s not content to just be called a 化け物, so she demands to know why Battler ‘instinctively’ hates her so much. Battler says, well, from the very beginning, to which Beato attempts to play it off as just a game.
Beatrice: Come on, Battleer. Don’t misunderstand, alright…? Aren’t we just a pair of players confronting each other through a game? …We look for moves to make things painful for each other, but—
Battler: Don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t hate you because you’re my rival in this strange game about whether I accept you as a witch or not. ……I just cannot in any way forgive how senselessly cruel you are.
Beato apparently does not know that adage about being in a hole.
Anyway, curiously, Battler is willing to accept all the elaborate locked-room murders as ‘part of the game’—though honestly it’s a little unclear to me what Battler did to become part of this game! Sure, he explicitly agreed to the terms from chapter 2 onwards, but in chapter 1, the very first series of murders, he was just kind of… there? In any case, Battler’s objection is all the gore that bothered me so much five years ago.
Beatrice’s answer is uh…
The wrong one.
Battler replies that yep, that’s what he expected: Beato is doing it for fun, not because it has anything to do with proving her witch status. He admits he actually did have fun arguing with Beato about the six-room chain. He imagined at that point that they might be able to understand each others’ existence… and not anymore, after watching how dispassionately, even enthusiastically, Beatrice observed the repeated mutilation of Rosa.
He even manages to pull the “I’m not angry, I’m disappointed” line!
Battler: When I realized that your decision to kill them in a slightly better way this time had been nothing more than a little whim, …and that nothing had changed in your cruel character, I was deeply disappointed.
Especially since this didn’t even have anything to do with bullying him, it was purely gratuitous. (Because, you know, you like that huh Battleeeerrrr~~~?)
As a result, Battler realised it’s the ‘sadist’ part, not the ‘witch’ part, that really gets to him. But he won’t resign over this. He’ll just insist on fighting Ronove, who has better ‘taste’ (in murders).
Virgilia also scolds Beatrice, and tells her to speak later, and stop giving excuses. Okay, teach!
With Beatrice gone, Battler continues to work it over to Virgilia: it’s not so much the cruelty even but the expectation that he would sympathise.
That idiot watched with me as Auntie Rosa was horribly killed, and turned around with a huge smile on her face.
……She really believed that she could laugh with me at that cruel show. …She really believed that I could sympathize with that emotion…
Looking at that innocent smile, I just felt horrible. ……It would have been much better if she’d said it with her normal bullying face… …Damn it…
Ronove replies: yeah, she’s never had a friend! Battler’s response is along the lines of, now hold on, I’m not her friend. But all the same, Virgilia thanks him for staying in the game… what’s her stake in all this? She does seem to care about Beato, despite it all.
So, on with said game! Ronove answer’s Battler’s ‘accident’ play with Rosa’s and Maria’s deaths were homicides. Battler finds it hard to call on his spiral power at this point though.
We cut back to the narrative. It is much as you expect: grief, disillusion, preparation for a siege.
So, let’s consider what Battler’s next move would be. We know Rudolf was the one to find the bodies, and he insisted that nobody go out with him. So perhaps Rudolf did the deed? We could think of a few explanations. Perhaps Rudolf has figured out the gold puzzle, and wants it to himself. Perhaps Rosa really did kill Maria, and when he found her, Rudolf was so furious that he killed Rosa. Perhaps Rosa deliberately committed suicide, and this counts as a ‘homicide’ in Ronove’s definition. Alternatively, perhaps Eva and Hideyoshi conspired to do the murder. This last seems unlikely, given we saw them in a number of ‘mundane’ scenes without magic, but who knows what we can deny!
In their investigation, the adults determine that Rosa’s rifle was not fired, nor trapped. They also decide they had best trust Nanjo’s determination that the earlier murders are really dead. Rudolf settles on a ‘19th person’ theory—probably someone known to Rosa since she didn’t fire. Krauss suggests this person might be an off-shift servant who remained on the island. Eva, seemingly no longer lost in her dream, doubts. Regardless, why leave the gun?
Kyrie establishes that, at the time of the murder, there were three groups who can vouch for each other:
- Natsuhi, Krauss, Rudolf and Kyrie, in the dining room
- Eva and Hideyoshi, in Eva’s room
- Battler, Jessica and George, in the cousins’ room
Nanjo was alone, although he says he was seen going upstairs. Rudolf immediately accuses him of jumping out the window, doing a murder, and coming back in, which would be hilarious. Natsuhi cuts off the accusations.
At this point, Eva Beatrice starts talking to Eva. She doesn’t seem to be fronting, at least, but she tells Eva she did the murders, and that as a result, the Eva system will keep all the gold to herself. Eva says what the fuck, we don’t need all that gold. Eva Beatrice: it’s for honour, bitch.
Eva Beatrice further confirms to Eva that she fully intends to kill five more people. She says the reason that she didn’t age and become an adult, in contrast to primary front Eva, is that she didn’t throw away the dream of becoming a witch. She also claims credit for Eva’s ‘two dreams’ attained by her magic—not exactly sure which those are, possibly her perfect son George and attaining the head status? In any case, Eva Beatrice very much will not get back in her box.
Turns out the effect on Eva is because Eva Beatrice hasn’t yet unlocked her full powers:
So she’s casting from HP until the end of this game. What could make her fail? Well, Eva could suicide.
She goes on to announce her intended murder list: Rudolf, Kyrie, Krauss, Natsuhi and Nanjo. This way she’ll avoid Eva’s immediate family (and, I note, the kids. But then, no doubt Eva Beatrice has beef with at least Rudolf and Krauss from her childhood!).
Back outside the HEAD ZONE, Eva collapses with a fever. She tells George to go upstairs and not leave the guest house no matter what happens—that outside, ‘that…witch’ is… something, she doesn’t finish her sentence.
Back in Purgatorio, Beato is giving Eva Beatrice some strategy coaching…
I have to wonder, what’s so inconvenient? Can they really not overwhelm a handful of people with their awesome magic powers, even if those people are armed? Just dispatch an army of goats, they can only blast so many medulla oblongatas.
Eva Beatrice raises that exact point. Beato answers:
Witches are never inferior to humans… However, perhaps you could say that times change, and that humans have gotten their hands on a poison…
Yeahhhh!! That poison is… the power of scientific reason! Cue ratfic.
…OK, I was joking, but that actually is the reason. People who doubt magic, such as Battler, actually serve to negate it. The more humans there are, the stronger the magic negating power of Press Square To Doubt. I mean, of Magic Resistance. Beatrice likes it to a fraction, with the doubting Thomases as the denominator.
Interestingly, that would seem to suggest that someone like Maria is especially vulnerable to magical attacks.
Rokkenjima, the narration goes on to explain, is a very advantageous area for witches due to its low population and widely known ghost story. Eva Beatrice quickly catches on to the implication: if you create a suitably occult murder scene, the power of Doubt will weaken and the witch will get more power. So, it’s a semiotic war: you don’t just have to kill but dress it up to look magical.
This is why, Beatrice says, the first twilight has to make a strong impression… a little petulantly.
Eva Beatrice immediately tells her that her First Twilight in this game was a total tactical misplay. She should have guro’d it up a lot more. Beato struggles to make a good excuse, unable to admit the real reason. Can’t believe Beatrice was a classic tsundere all along. Anyway, Eva Beatrice drives the point home.
I recall being told how people were surprised and disappointed when Higurashi turned out to be a fantasy rather than a mystery, so yeah, here we go, back down to the metafictional point: what kind of story is this? The suggestion here is then that if you want to tell a fantasy story, you need to signal that early on, so that suspension of disbelief can be calibrated.
Beato tries increasingly desperate excuses to play it off without looking lame. “I am just testing you!” She points out the challenge of separating the group now, and offers some advice. Eva Beatrice declines! She decides to run with the ‘test’ framing, and claims to have already made her move…
So Beato is left alone, feeling rather disgruntled.
You keep telling yourself that, Beatrice.
At this point, Ronove arrives to tell us what happened in the argument with Battler. Battler’s answer to ‘both deaths were homicides’ was to make a case for Eva as the ‘principal offender’, with Hideyoshi as an accomplice. Beatrice tells him to consider axiomising that both were in the guest room, but Ronove did not do that because it might set them up to lose ‘several important pieces’ later, and he isn’t sure what Eva Beatrice is planning.
So, this is the second time that Ronove refrained from closing an argument with a view to the future. What are the ‘pieces’ being risked here? We recall, the aim of the game is to convince Battler that magic and witches are real, so if too tight a picture is painted too early with the red text, does this risk that Battler will dismiss the authority of the red altogether? In any case, it seems that declaring certain axioms would interfere with the narrative the witch side might potentially want to present.
Beato is delighted to hear that Battler won’t get fired up in the same way without her. Her mood brightens so much, she’s even blushing. D’aww.
The chapter ends with a first hint towards Eva Beatrice’s move. Kyrie declares to Rudolf she wants to go outside. What’s she concluded?? Does she have a reason to suspect one of the 18?
We’ll find out next time!
So, this chapter… mostly moving pieces around, but we have had a couple of big revelations. The anti-magic effect is the biggest one: Beato cannot simply declare by fiat whatever she likes. Previously, ‘magic did it’ has been treated as a fully general explanation, but now we start to see what the limits are. The question is, how are they enforced? Could Battler catch on and call Beatrice on narrating an illegal use of magic? Or would she never make such a move in the first place?
The magic circles so beloved by Maria have also been confirmed to be entirely theatre. It does not seem to be necessary to use them at all. That said, it does seem that Kinzo’s warded study did genuinely have a magic-repelling effect which Beatrice had to puzzle out in earlier games.
This is fun. Reading this as a fantasy story, we are slowly being let in on the rules of the magic system. Magic power seems to be quantifiable, and closely associated with human emotions. It can be drawn from a variety of sources: Eva’s life force, magic artefacts like the mirror, basically anything someone seriously believes is magical. It seems that even for mighty Beatrice, the Endless Witch, her power is in fact finite (since it can be divided down by the presence of unbelievers). ‘Furniture’ characters also hold reservoirs of magic power, which seem to emerge upon ‘awakening’ in a time of crisis.
Since magic is dispelled by disbelief, we only get to see the aftermath of magic. Stakes embedded in people, doors locked, that kind of thing. The fact we’re getting so much more onscreen magic could be a sign of Battler starting to believe.
However, we have been told to think of the magical scenes as provisional hypotheses. Is that just part of the game Battler is playing, or should we treat all the narration as unreliable? If so, what can we trust? What kind of narrative are we building in its place? We can’t deny everything or we don’t have a story! Yet we definitely shouldn’t be taking this at face value.
Beato is frequently described as honest, but here she seems to be lying frequently—albeit poorly. Which suggests she might not be such a smooth operator, and she probably genuinely believes the narratives she’s (ostensibly!) presenting. Many elements of the premise are simply incompatible with ‘mundane reality’, such as the time loop, the metafictional zone, all the times that Battler is killed and resurrected. Yet these don’t seem to ‘count’, somehow.
On another tack, Beato does not seem to have command of the narration. She seems to have some foreknowledge of where the story is going, such as the flashback sequence to Kuwadorian, but can also be taken totally by surprise, as with Eva Beatrice’s ascension.
Lots of questions, not a lot of answers. But then, we are still on the ‘Question’ arc. I guess that’s no surprise…