Delta In The Darkness - Scene 3
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Translator: Mr. Steak
Just after six o’clock, Kaguyama Murasakiko was passing through the Oumei Rokkaku property on her way to Silent House toward the back, the home of Sezaimaru Beniko. The sky was still plenty bright despite the late hour, but several crows were already fluttering down among the gardens.
Murasakiko’s dress was rather tight, and she was in heels that she was even less accustomed to wearing, so she was only able to walk at half her normal speed. In addition, she was also sporting a fashionable hat. As a matter of fact, she had visited her family home in Kobe just a few days prior, and had been forced to participate in a marriage interview arranged by her grandmother. This hat, dress, and heels had been purchased for her in exchange. As soon as she’d heard there would be a party, she couldn’t imagine showing up in anything except this outfit.
“Good evening,” Murasakiko said, standing at the entrance to Silent House. The door had been left open.
“Aah, you’re here, you’re here!” Beniko leaped out to greet her. “Murasakiko, wow. You look stunning. And that’s such a darling hat. This is good, it means you won’t have to change. Yeah, this’ll work… Oh, wait… Murasakiko, I actually have to tell you something. About our dinner plans……”
“I know. We’re going to Miss Odawara’s party in the mansion, right?”
“Oh my…” Beniko perked up and her eyes widened. “How did you know?”
“Horokusa told me. That’s why I’m wearing this stuffy outfit. I mean, it’s really not suited to just being a dinner guest.”
Murasakiko removed her heels and stepped into the living room, making sure to give the nearby Negoro Kichiei a small bow as she passed. In the end, they had entrusted the man with several favors relating to their plans for the night, so he had been suitably briefed on the situation. In the same room, with a book open on his lap, was Beniko’s son. Just like always, he gave a short glance at Murasakiko’s way, then stood and silently retired further inside. He wasn’t a very friendly child. He never even smiled. In fact, Murasakiko had never once exchanged words with the boy.
Starting with the details of Odawara Shizue’s visit to Avarice Heights, Murasakiko explained in simple terms about the duties Horokusa had requested from her. However, though a job was a job, the reasoning for why Horokusa had to guard Odawara Shizue in the first place was still unpersuasive. And on top of that, describing the roles assigned to Nerina and herself to another person with a straight face made her feel truly stupid. While saying it out loud in front of Beniko and Negoro, she was even starting to get fed up with it herself.
“Hmm, what a coincidence,” Beniko said with a big nod, arms crossed. “Kichiei and I were just talking about that.”
“Yes, we were indeed,” Negoro Kichiei replied elegantly as he lined teacups on the table. Only when Beniko was around, this aging gentleman took on an entirely different personality. It was almost like he was being possessed by a spirit, as people say.
“It’s definitely not just a gimmick for the party, right?” Musasakiko said. “Is Miss Odawara the kind of person to do that?”
“Well, I don’t really know.” Beniko tilted her head like an innocent maiden. True, Shizue wouldn’t be the only one whose outward appearance and internal workings were completely mismatched. “Anyway, who cares? More importantly, I’m looking forward to that delicious food.”
“Mister Negoro, for the reasons I just explained, um, just on the off-chance that the worst happens, I’ll be putting my faith in you,” Murasakiko said with a bow.
“When you say the worst, what sort of situation are you referring to, precisely?” Negoro replied with a grin.
Murasakiko suspected that he was asking that to bully her, but she didn’t let it show on her face.
“I mean, I think it’s super unlikely, but for example, like, if some crazed lunatic barged inside, or……” Murasakiko trailed off there and thought for a moment. “Oh, but, a crazed lunatic wouldn’t have sent those newspaper articles in advance…”
“Probably not,” Beniko agreed, smirking.
“Geez, my head hurts. What the heck is going on?”
“Well, to start……” Beniko took a single sip of her tea, then continued speaking as she returned the cup to the table. “If we presume the sender to be of sound mind, and view this as a single link in a series of premeditated actions, then the most likely possibility I can think of is that their target is something else altogether. That’s my theory.”
“Something else?” Murasakiko took a deep breath as she concentrated on Beniko.
“By scaring Miss Odawara with the threat of physical harm, they can lure her attention away from a separate spot they’re aiming for. Like, precious jewels or something…”
“Milady, you have taken this joke a bit far,” Kichiei said, smile unwavering. “In that case, would not our culprit be Arsène Lupin himself?”
“Oh wow, you know some obscure stuff, don’t you?”
“I would be nothing without your grace.”
“What did I do?” Beniko gave a short laugh through her nose. “Oh, but anyway, my theory is the most realistic one we’ve got so far,” she said, visibly having fun. “There must be some jewels or gold nuggets somewhere, I’m sure of it. And if possible, I’d really love for there to be a huge treasure with a dramatic name like Maltese Falcon or Pink Panther.”
“If such items exist, nowadays they would surely be stored away in a safe-deposit box somewhere,” Negoro replied bluntly.
“But in the previous three Double-Digit Murders, there weren’t any warning letters or anything,” Beniko quickly retorted, expression serious and demure. “Or at least, I was never informed of it.”
“Oh shoot, they’re calling ‘em the Double-Digit Murders now?” Murasakiko asked, leaning forward in excitement. “That’s so cool!”
“Nah…” Beniko shook her head. “I just came up with that name right now.”
“Pardon the interruption Milady, but would you permit me to speak my thoughts on this matter?” Kichiei said, suddenly refined again.
“You may speak,” Beniko replied with the slightest of grins. Sometimes Murasakiko wondered if these two were just acting out a skit together.
“By my thinking, perhaps when Miss Odawara first met with young Horokusa, she fell head over heels in love with him…… Ah, I beg your forbearance for using such a common expression, um…… Yes, she considered the man to be of a gentle disposition, yet quite handsome as well, and despite their difference in age, she was rendered unable to go through with the meeting about his lease, or else possibly she had already been yearning him from afar and wanted a closer look….. but either way, requesting a private tutor for her son was, in truth, the random speech of a woman lost for words. As it goes, her sudden declaration had resulted in a most unfavorable outcome for her. She returned to her own home for a time, but could do nothing to dispel her unceasing thoughts about young Horokusa and her desperation to see him again at all costs, wondering if there were any means at all which she could use toward that end, and with those such motivations hanging in front of her like the light of a revolving lantern…”
“Kichiei, could you sum it up for us?” Beniko said coldly.
Negoro Kichiei cleared his throat.
“Ahem, in conclusion… I believe the letters may have been a ruse thought up by Miss Odawara in her determination to attract young Horokusa’s attention.”
“Wow, Mister Negoro. You’re incredible!” Murasakiko exclaimed in astonishment. “That’s it, that’s the one, you totally hit the bullseye there. Yeah, you really put a ton of thought into this. That’s definitely right. You’re so smart.”
Beniko made a disappointed face, arms still crossed. Perhaps she found the situation less fun when Negoro was the one delivering persuasive theories.
“On second thought, her decree that this all be kept secret from her husband was exceedingly suspicious, was it not?” Negoro added on to his argument, just to drive it home.
Murasakiko responded with a big nod.
Contrary to the playful atmosphere, she also found the idea truly inexcusable. She could never forgive something like that. Murasakiko seethed with rage toward Miss Odawara.
Except, why was she so angry?
Maybe she actually had a thing for Horokusa?
And that would make this… jealousy?
No, that wasn’t it. She could say that for a fact.
Besides, Horokusa was currently chasing the woman right in front of her, Sezaimaru Beniko.
That’s an obsolete term, huh…
“Hey, what’re you smiling at?” Beniko waved a hand in front of Murasakiko’s face. “You communing with the dead over there?”
“Um, Beniko…” Murasakiko straightened herself out and asked her question, looking directly into Beniko’s eyes. “What do you think about Horokusa?”
“What do I think? Well, this is his job, so I’m not surprised. I mean, making the client feel important is his job, so…”
“Wait, no. That’s not what I meant. I was asking what you think about Horokusa as a person.”
“As a person…? Whatever do you mean?”
“He really wanted to go to that concert with you, I think. Why’d you reject him?”
“Ahh… That’s what this is about,” Beniko said with a charming smile. If ever an angel existed on Earth, they would surely look like this on the outside. “You wanna hear my reason?”
“You mustn’t tell a soul.”
“Okay, I won’t tell.”
“The thing is…” Beniko whispered as she touched one finger delicately to the edge of her lips and looked demurely to the side. “I hate Horokusa’s guts.”
Translator and Editor Notes:
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