[Chapter 1 – a Song of Despair, All in Your Head, Investigation Period]
April 18, 2020
Time: 7:15 AM
The other people in the kitchen were all startled by Haruka's scream. They immediately turned to her direction to see that she was about to fall backwards. Yu immediately rushed towards the florist in unbelievable speed and caught her.
"Hey," Yu tried to shake the florist awake to no avail. "No good. She's out of commission."
Kasuka and Naomi proceeded to check the contents of the cauldron. Naomi covered her mouth in horror as she saw the lifeless body of Hanzai while Kasuka only narrowed his eyes.
"T-this isn't real right?" Naomi's voice was shaking, contrary to her usual haughty tone. "T-that's j-just a dummy right? S-something that Ōkuma made to scare us right?"
Yu settled Haruka down on one of the chairs and took a look at the cauldron. His eyes flashed briefly before shaking his head. "I'm afraid that this real. The Killing Game has begun."
"They took a page from Ishikawa Goemon's execution," Kasuka said as he pushed up his glasses. "How twisted."
"You're quite calm despite all this," Yu noticed.
"I'm actually quite shook right now," Kasuka said as he zipped up his hoodie. "But I have to keep calm or else I won't be able to focus."
The other occupants came running into the kitchen, with most of them haven't even finished getting dressed.
"What the hell happened!?" Kenta yelled worriedly as he made his way towards Kasuka's group.
"Hanzai's been murdered," Kasuka said simply.
"Hanzai's been murdered."
"I-I heard you the first time!" Kenta shouted as he clutched his chest to regulate his breathing. "I-I'm sorry, Kasuka. T-this is just…"
"I understand, kiddo" Kasuka nodded his head as he looked away. "Not even I can believe it."
"H-Haruka!?" Petrove immediately went over to the florist's side. The mountain climber had even forgotten her fur coat on her rush here. "W-what happened to her?"
"Don't worry, honey," Kasuka said reassuringly as he placed a hand on her shoulder. "She's okay. She just…couldn't take the shock of what she saw. Though, I'm pretty sure she'll come to it later."
"Thank goodness," Petrove let out a sigh of relief before looking up towards the cauldron. "B-but why would anyone do this? T-this is just…"
"I guess one of us couldn't just let go of what they have right now," Kazuma said with a somber face. "However, It's not a matter of why did they do it right now. The real question is who did this."
"And you're all going to try and find out in the trial!" Ōkuma suddenly appeared, startling most of the occupant though Kasuka noticed the Kira didn't flinch as hard as she did before. The bear chuckled as he bathed at the glare of everyone present. "Dear me, those are some harsh glare, kiddos! Even though I have a present for all of you."
The self-proclaimed king handed each one of them a black and white tablet. The tablet contained information on the deceased Hanzai's body. "Those are the Kuma Case Files! Those babies contain information on the body! If you're ever short on information you can always consult those babies to get yourself out of a bind!"
"I see…" John said as he scanned the file. "Well then, you're not needed anymore. Get out so we can concentrate."
"Oh dear, kiddo's mad," the bear covered his mouth with his paws and chuckled. "Well, you're king wishes you luck on your investigation. Please don't fail on the first trial, that would be really inconvenient."
Before John could ask what he meant by that, the bear had already disappeared with a puff of smoke.
"Okay then," Kazuma said as he stretched his arms a bit. "Let's start this investigation."
"Whoa dude," Dave raised an eyebrow a bit at the other boy. "Just like that man?"
"We can't really just stand around doing nothing," Kazuma closed his eyes as he sighed. "If we don't find the culprit, we're all dead."
"He's right," John agreed. "We have to bring Hanzai's murderer to justice. We can't let them get away with this."
"Alright!" Sayuki said with a confident smile. "Let's solve this case! The hammer of justice will soon fall upon this vile and heinous criminal!"
"Along with Ōkuma's execution hammer," Nemesis smiled wryly.
"I'll stay here and guard the crime scene," Tohka volunteered, which made the other look at her. "The killer might try to clean up some mess that they didn't notice. I can stand on guard and prevent that from happening."
"But what if you're the killer?" John question as he narrowed his eyes. "You can alter the crime scene and then tell us that there was nothing amiss."
"If that's the case, don't worry," Yu interjected. "I'll guard the body with her. If she tries anything, I'll stop her."
"Fine then," Nemesis said as she closed her eyes. "Let's all split up into groups and find some clues elsewhere. Surely this isn't the only place within the château that's connected to the crime."
"Also," Nemesis turned to Petrove who was with the unconscious Haruka. "Take her to either your room or her's. This isn't really the most suitable place to be sleeping."
"O-okay," Petrove nodded. She then quite easily hoisted the florist onto her shoulder. "I'm sorry that I won't be able to help with the investigation."
"Don't worry, honey," Kasuka smiled and patted the girl on the head. It looked quite weird as they were almost as tall as each other but nonetheless it looked quite cute. "I'll just double my effort in investigating so you focus on taking care of Haruka okay?"
"Un!" Petrove gave him the brightest smile that she can give. "I-I wish you luck, Kasuka!" She said as she left the kitchen with Haruka.
"Heh," Kenta gave Kasuka a small smile. "To be honest, you're kind of like a big brother to her."
"I am a big brother," Kasuka replied. "By the way, Nemesis. What are you wearing?"
The Mafia boss had ditched her usual attire for a white sundress that reached her ankle. Her hair was a bit messy due to her rushing to the crime scene. Nemesis raised an eyebrow to the psychologist as if he asked a dumb question. "Do you seriously think I would wear the same clothes every day?"
"It was also getting a bit stuffy in those clothes to be honest so I wanted to change a bit."
"I see," Kasuka said. "Where did you get those anyway? The clothes that Ōkuma provided us were the same one as what we're wearing now."
"I bought some from the store," Nemesis replied. "If you have no more questions, I'll be off to do some investigation. Sayuki come with me."
"Roger that!" Sayuki saluted, rather happy that Nemesis picked her to be her partner. "I'll be your Watson, Nemi!"
"Don't make Sherlock jokes. Our Sherlock just died," the mafia boss sighed as they got out of the room.
"Heh," John scoffed. He gives the others in the room a big smile and a thumbs up as he walked out of the kitchen. "I'll also be doing my own investigation. Wish me luck!"
"I'll search here," Kenta volunteered. "The kitchen's quite large after all."
He turned towards Priscilla and offered a hand. "Care to help me?"
"Sure," Ella replied. "I know this kitchen better than anyone."
[Care to partner up?] Amamiya asked Genjiro who turned towards her and sighed.
"Though I would be against it in a normal situation, I guess I shall combine forces with you for now," the chuuninja said. Amamiya gave him a flat look but didn't say anything as they went out of the kitchen.
Dave rubs his shoulder for a bit. "Hey, uh, I think I'll go investigate on my own so see you guys around." After that, the bassist left the kitchen.
Kasuka looks around at the only people who are still available, Naomi and Kazuma. Kasuka sighed. "Well, let's get started with our own investigation."
"I'll help you out," Naomi offered as she placed a hand on her chest before giving Kasuka a small smirk. "Although I can solve this one on my own, I believe that the two of us working together would make it easier."
"Are you saying that we'd be unstoppable together?" Kasuka asked coyly.
"Of course, you and I are would be the ultimate pa—" Naomi's eyes widened as she realized his implications. She then promptly turned red before clearing her throat in embarrassment. "I seriously fell for that one."
"Haha sorry. I kind of want to lighten the mood up a bit," Kasuka smiled before checking his Kuma Case File.
Kuma Case File:
Victim: Hanzai Shinpi
The Victim suffered multiple stab wounds on the chest. The Victim also suffered a strike to the head.
Time of death is unknown.
"Jeez some helpful file this is," Kazuma said with a groan.
"Not only that," Kasuka said. "Without any time of death, it's going to be hard to get a solid alibi unless you were seen by someone,"
"Most of us were probably in our rooms," Naomi bit her thumb. "We're all unaccounted for."
Truth Bullet: Kuma Case File
Kasuka placed his Kuma Case File in his pocket before looking at the cauldron. "Hey, Kazuma," the psychologist called out to the other boy. "Do you think that you can help me move this cauldron down?"
"Alright," the musician replied. The two grabbed the cauldron by the side and heaved with all their strength. The cauldron was placed down on the floor so that they can take a better look at Hanzai's body. "Should we take him out of the cauldron?"
"Let's," Kasuka nodded.
The two grabbed the corpse at each side and got pulled it out of the cauldron. The corpse was still warm, probably because it was from a heated cauldron. Hanzai's chest was caked in blood and there were multiple stab wounds as the Kuma file had said. His hands and feet were also tied up with some wires.
"You're quite calm with all this," Kasuka remarked to the musician who in turn gave him a confused look. "Most would be freaking out when touching a dead body."
"I could say the same to you," Kazuma replied.
"I am actually internally screaming right now," Kasuka replied.
As the two talked, Naomi went to the cauldron. The cauldron was filled with water mixed with Hanzai's blood. The enigmatologist takes a deep breath as she pulled up her sleeves before plunging her hand into the horrifying mixture. Since she couldn't see the contents well because of the blood she relied on her sense of touch. Her efforts rewarded her with a rather large kitchen knife in the cauldron. "Hey, I found a knife on the cauldron," she said as she handed the knife to her partner.
"A knife in the cauldron, huh? Hmmm…" Kasuka examined the knife before turning to the body once again. He proceeded to aim the knife at one of the stab wounds before slowly plunging it. His action gathered, of course, gathered some attention.
"What the heck are you doing!?" Tohka cried out.
"Just checking something out," Kasuka replied calmly. He took out the knife and hands it back to Naomi. "I wanted to see if it really was the murder weapon."
"Still…" Yu narrowed his eyes. "You shouldn't try to desecrate the body more than it is."
"Sorry," the psychologist rubbed the back of his head apologetically.
Truth Bullet: Kitchen Knife
Kazuma studied the wire on Hanzai's limbs. "His arms and limbs were tied up so he wouldn't put up a struggle huh."
"Well, if his limbs were free he could've gotten out of the cauldron," Naomi stated.
Was he really alive when he was put in the cauldron though? Kazuma asked himself.
Truth Bullet: Wires
Truth Bullet: Hanzai Boiled?
Kazuma looked at the body for a while before noticing that Hanzai's head was actually struck with something. There was a slight wound on the head.
This must be what the Kuma Files was talking about, Kazuma thought. I didn't notice it at first as the water probably washed away the blood.
Truth Bullet: Head Wound
Naomi was investigating the kitchen once again. She noticed something shining on the floor and curiously approached it. As she got closer, she saw that it was actually Hanzai's glasses. The glasses were broken beyond repair. The lenses were shattered and the frame was destroyed.
Truth Bullet: Broken Glasses
Naomi noticed something peculiar and took a closer look at the floor. She saw that there was a slight smudge of blood on the floor that had been wiped off. Probably to hide some evidence but the killer seemed to be quite incompetent when it comes to cleaning the crime scene.
Truth Bullet: Smudge on the floor
Naomi smiled as she felt like the investigation here was going well. She wondered if the others investigation was also going well.
Location: Store/Storage Room
Time: 7:45 AM
"You also thought of searching this place huh," Nemesis greeted John who was looking around the storage room. Of course Sayuki was right behind her. The two were practically inseparable.
"Of course," John replied. "Where else would the killer get some weapons?"
"Heh," Nemesis scoffed. "You can make weapons out of anything to be honest."
"I didn't need to hear that."
"Have you found anything yet?" Sayuki asked the baker who in turn sighed.
"None yet but I'm working on it," the baker said as he looked at the gacha. The rate up items was an SSR android, an SR cursed doll, and an R crystal ball. Who would want this shit?
"Can't you buy things here and not just the gacha?" Sayuki remarked. "Perhaps the items in the gacha could also be bought from the store."
"That's right!" Ōkuma appeared earning a groan from each occupant of the room. "Though you can only buy the non SSR in the store. SSRs are rare for a reason after all."
"So? It's not like that would…" Nemesis eye's widened a bit. "Hey is there a transaction for those who buy things here in the store?"
"Hmmmm…Maybe, maybe not, t'is a mystery."
"I'm guessing there is," Nemesis concluded with a sigh. "Can we take a look at it?"
"Huh?" the king bear tilted his head. "Sorry but that's private and I can't just disclose information of the customers here like that."
"Tch," Nemesis bit her thumb in frustration.
"Though you can get the privilege of viewing it if use 10,000 points," The bear said. "Though I would still keep the identity of the customers private."
"Good thing I never use these points then," Nemesis said. She still had the complete point balance of 10,000 plus the 1,350 from the daily points as she bought her sundress. Nemesis handed her Electro ID to Ōkuma. The bear took out something that looked like an ID reader and swiped the Electro ID on it. Ōkuma hands Nemesis back her ID as he chuckled.
"Nice doing business with you honey," Ōkuma said. He pulls out two pieces of paper from out of nowhere and hands it to Nemesis. "Since I'm feeling generous, I'll also give you the transactions made within the gacha."
"I see," Nemesis replied absentmindedly as she looked at the papers. "Thanks I guess?"
"Oh finally! You're welcome honey!" The bear looked ecstatic upon hearing that. "Well, I have to go. There are things that this king needs to attend to!" The bear proceed to disappear again with a puff.
"Hmmm…" Nemesis eyed the papers intently. "I see."
"What's in it?" Sayuki asked as she peered from the mafia boss' shoulder.
"Someone bought some wires, a tape, a metal pipe, and a switchblade from the store," Nemesis replied. "Though it says here that the one that bought them was an 'unpleasant guy'."
"Eh?" Sayuki looked closely at the papers. It was true. Unpleasant guy was written next to the items bought. "What could this mean?"
"Not only that," the mafia boss said as she looked at the gacha transactions. Most of it was filled with the words 'No, Kill them all' and 'Killing one's brother'. "This is pretty weird isn't it?"
"It's pretty weird how he hides the identity of the customers," John commented.
"Well, it's better than nothing I guess," Sayuki said.
Truth Bullet: Transaction List
"By the way you two," John eyed the pair. "Where were you guys when the murder happened?"
"Us? You want an Alibi?" Sayuki raised an eyebrow at the question. "Well, Nemesis and I were together for the whole night."
"She spent the night in my room," Nemesis sighed. "She was insistent on it so I had no choice but to give in."
"I-I see…" John said with a wry smile.
Truth Bullet: Sayuki and Nemesis' Testimony
"Well, enough of that," Nemesis said. "Let's get back to investigating.
Location: Trash Room
Time: 8:00 AM
"Why are we rummaging the land where which unneeded is cast aside?" Genjiro said as he looked around the trash room.
[Perhaps there's a clue here that would give us the identity of the killer] Amamiya replied as she looked for clues. She eventually found a black notebook that looked a bit out of place in the room. She picked the notebook up and began reading it.
"They've come for me huh? Perhaps they know that I've managed to piece together their identity. They've called me to the kitchen. Though this might be a trap, I can't let them get away with this. There's also the chance that I can get everyone out of here before any murder happens."
[…] Amamiya narrowed her eyes as she looked at the notebooks contents again. It seems that this notebook was Hanzai's journal.
"It seems that someone challenged Hanzai to a battle in the kitchen," Yu narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists. "And unfortunately, Hanzai lost."
Truth Bullet: Journal
[Let's go] Amamiya wrote as she went for the door. [I think this is the only thing that's important here]
"I feel it," Genjiro said as he covered one of his eyes with his hands. "My Discerning Eye will finally reach the Truth."
Location: Kitchen Freezer
Time: 8:20 AM
"Kind of cold in here huh," Kenta hugged himself as he and Ella look for clues.
"Don't be a wuss," Ella sighed. On Kenta's defense, He wasn't properly dressed yet. His tie's crooked and he wasn't wearing his coat. Though he was a bit surprised at how good Ella was faring despite wearing a sleeveless JSK dress. "Come on, I think I see something noteworthy there." She said as she pointed towards somewhere.
When they got near it, they were quite surprised that there was a puddle of frozen blood.
"Blood…" Kenta narrowed his eyes as he touched the puddle. It was already frozen. "Why is there blood here thought?"
"I'd like to find out why as well but I think we need to wait until the trial to get our questions answered," Ella said.
Truth Bullet: Blood in the Freezer
Kenta looks around the area for a bit longer and spotted a piece of folded paper lying on the ground. The boy proceeds to pick it up and began unfolding it. It seemed that it was a letter.
"You're being a real pain in the ass. Come to the kitchen at any time you like after Dinner. I'll be waiting, Mr. Detective."
Kenta narrowed his eyes. This is already serious but it just go more serious.
Location: Haruka's Room
Time: 8:30 AM
Haruka's eyes fluttered open. She was back in her room. How did she get back here?
"Ah!" Haruka's head turned towards the source of the sound. Petrove was by her side and was looking extremely relieved. "You're awake! Thank goodness!"
"Was it all a dream?" Haruka held her temple as she got up. Sadly she got the answer from the forlorn look on Petrove's face. "I see…"
"Hanzai's really dead…" Haruka muttered.
"I'm sorry…" Petrove looked down.
"It's okay. No, actually it's not," Haruka sighed. "Hanzai was a good guy who was just trying to protect us all from the mastermind. He was so determined on not letting any murder happen. I think he was even prepared to lose everything if it meant protecting us, despite the fact that we've only been together for a few days."
"…" Petrove stayed silent. What can she even say? There were no words that she can give her.
"He even thought of a way for all of us to get escape."
"Eh? Petrove's eyes widened. This was the first time she's heard of this.
"Oh that's right," Haruka said. "He didn't tell anyone else. His plan was pretty simple. Bore the mastermind with the lack of murder."
"Bore the mastermind? But wont that make the mastermind just kill all of us."
"I told him that too but he was willing to gamble that they were going to let us go. Also in an essence, the mastermind loses the game they tried so hard to make. If they kill us, they'll just be a sore loser."
"I see…" Petrove nodded her head.
Truth Bullet: Hanzai's Plan
"Ahem!" Ōkuma's voice echoed throughout the château. "Investigation time is now over! Come to the Big Red Door located at the North Side of the Château! Anyone late will be punished accordingly."
"Ahaha…" Haruka laughed wryly. "I wonder if I'll be of any help during the Trial. All I did was sleep throughout the whole investigation."
"I'm sure we'll pick up some pieces during the Trial," Petrove assured. "Don't worry, Haruka! Maybe Kasuka can get us out of this bind!"
"Kasuka huh…" Haruka muttered. To be honest, he's the one I'm most suspicious of right now.
Hanzai had suspected Kasuka to be in cahoots with the Mastermind and it just happened that Hanzai was the one who got murdered first. This might just be a coincidence and she was probably being paranoid but she still can't get it out of her mind that Kasuka might be involved with this. Her gut feeling was going crazy.
Haruka got up from her bed and proceeded to leave with Kira in tow. The hall was silent that she might be able to hear a pin drop. She found that she and Petrove were the last to arrive.
The air was thick. Haruka could feel the tension as well as suspicion in the air.
"Hello Haruka," Kasuka gave her a smile. "Did you rest well?"
"I'm fine," Haruka replied while cracking her neck. "By the way, where's Klara?"
"My phone's charging," The psychologist replied simply.
"Wouldn't she miss the trial?"
"I don't think Ōkuma considers her a student so I guess she'll be fine."
"Is that so?" Haruka closed her eyes. "Let's find the killer."
"Ooh. Excited aren't we?" the glasses wearing boy gave a wry laugh. "You do know what's going to happen to them once we've captured them right?"
"Execution…" Naomi answered for her.
"You don't really think that he'll…" Dave chuckled nervously.
"I'm pretty sure that Ōkuma would," Kazuma narrowed his eyes. "The extent of depravity that Despair can reach is practically a moving goalpost."
"The culprit also has to have been prepared to face punishment," Nemesis tipped the brim of her hat.
"I'd also prioritize surviving rather than worrying about some murderer," Kasuka sighed.
"That's right!" The bear arrived at the scene. The bear's grin was a lot more sinister right now. His single red eye glinted with excitement like he couldn't wait to watch them suffer in the trial. "Stop worrying about your sir blackened. It was entirely their choice to murder poor Hanzai!"
"You say that but if it wasn't for you we wouldn't be out here trying to murder each other," Ella replied with a slight glare.
"Oh, you are all so mean. Always putting the blame on me," The sefl-proclaimed king sulked at the treatment he receives from his subjects. "I didn't force anyone to commit murder."
"What the fuck are you saying?" Dave gritted his teeth. "If it weren't for that motive…"
"So? It was only a push," Ōkuma placed a paw on his mouth. "Not my fault that you fell but enough of this. Let's proceed to the courtroom."
The Big Red Door opened slowly revealing a long hallway. The occupants walked inside and kept walking for a while before finally reaching the courtroom.
The courtroom looked like it was taken out of a medieval movie. There were armours around the corner and giant chandelier above. There was also a cross behind the tall seat which was probably Ōkuma's throne. Sixteen podiums were arranged in a circular shape.
"Alright!" The bear appeared on his throne. "Get to your positions now. Your podiums been marked with your name so come on and hurry up! You are now jesters and your struggles will now entertain the king!"
Haruka wanted to say something but decided against it. She got to her podium and clenched it hard.
Hanzai. Though he might seem distant, he cared for all of us. He might have cared for us more than anyone else in this room. He just wanted to save everyone and now he's dead.
His killer won't be forgiven. Our hammer of justice shall shatter the deception that hides their betrayal.
It's time to start the Class Trial.
[Château Killing Game: Day 04 in progress]
[Remaining Students: 15]
[Deceased Students: 01]
Trial is now on session! Now it's time to find out who killed our dear Hanzai! I'm getting excited! I wonder what secrets will be revealed in this trial?
As always, a big thank you to my readers and special thanks to MudkipOfDespair and StoryProducer214 for beta reading this chapter.
We shall find out
Oh yes, the despair of sinking ships. I know it too. But for now, Hanzai's killer must be put to Justice!
The truth shall be revealed in the class trial