Utsuro No Hako To Zero No Maria / Utsuro no Hako to Zero no Maria Vol 4 Chapter 1

«Yaa yaa yaa – What’s up? – I am Noitan – the much-loved – cute mascot – of [Kingdom Royale]!»

«Huh? – You are wOndering – why suCh an – outstanding persOnality -like me is here? – Eehm – I thOught – I will explain – [Kingdom Royale] to you – piTiful guys – whose memory – is about as gOod – as a chiCken’s! – Although you – lowlives coUld – easily be mistaken – for the oriGin – of the word ‘idiot’ – I am kiNd to you! – I am the maScot – after all»

«Alright – I wiLl – begin now!»

«To be frAnk – [Kingdom Royale] is a game – about killiNg – and deceiving – each other»

«The six players – get their own – [classes] and – have to mEet – their respective – victory cOnditions. – I will now – disPlay the [classes] – and the victOry conditions!»

 


[King]
 
Victory conditions: Death of the [Prince] and [Revolutionary]

[Prince]
 
Victory conditions: Death of the [King], [The Double] and [Revolutionary]

[The Double]
 
Victory conditions: Death of the [Prince] and [Revolutionary]

[Sorcerer]
 
Victory conditions: Surviving

[Knight]
 
Victory conditions: Death of the [King] and [Prince]

[Revolutionary]
 
Victory conditions: Death of the [King], [Prince] and [The Double]

«The game ends – once evEryone’s – victory conditions – have beEn met! – Put another way – the gAme won’t – end just by – clEaring one’s own – victory conditions – For exaMple – if you are the [King] – and both the – [Prince] and thE [Revolutionary] – died – the game will not – end as lOng as – the [Knight] – who still aims – for yOur life – is alive»

«Therefore – someone deFinitely – has to start killing.»

«Huh? How to kill? All players get a knife, so simply start to slaughter each other.»

«Hah? You can’t do something like that? Go kill yourself you fool! Don’t you get that mankind’s a beautiful race that can slaughter each other even without any meaningful goal!»

«Ethics? Ah, you’re talking about that ambiguous thing that changes along with the environment. You can’t kill because of that? It makes me sick but I have to admit that may be true. Don’t worry! [Kingdom Royale] is prepared so that even wimps like you can kill each other! We kindly implemented a system that lets you kill someone by simply pressing a button.»

«……»

«Mh? I am – not angRy! – Uhm – I will now – explain – the skills – of eAch [class] – including the skills – to kill others»

 

Skills of the [King]
– [Murder]
He can select a player he wants to kill and request the [Sorcerer] or the [Knight] to execute this action. He does not need to select.
– [Substitution]
He can once avoid being the target of [Assassination] by changing roles with [The Double] for a single day. If he was selected as the target on this day, [The Double] will die instead of the [King].
Skills of the [Prince]
– [Throne Succession]
He becomes able to use [Murder] once the [King] and [The Double] have died.
– [Anti-magic]
He cannot be killed by [Sorcery].
Skills of [The Double]
– [Inheritance]
If the [King] dies or [Substitution] was executed, he becomes able to use [Murder].
Skills of the [Sorcerer]
– [Sorcery]
He can choose whether to effectively kill the character that was selected by [Murder]. The targeted character will become a burnt corpse.
Skills of the [Knight]
– [Deathblow]
He can choose whether to effectively kill the character that was selected by [Murder]. Only executable when the [Sorcerer] is dead. The targeted character will die due to beheading.
Skills of the [Revolutionary]
– [Assassination]
He can assassinate the selected character. He does not need to select one. The targeted character will become a strangulated corpse.

«Basically – the mightier the sKills – the higher the risk – one bears – Therefore you canNot – call any [class] – advantageous.»

«I will now – explain the – timetable of this gAme – which is surprisingly – important»

 

~12

 
– Break, standby in own room
12~14

 
– Gathering in the big room
14~18

 
– 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]).

(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)
22~

 
– Break, sleep

«Use this table – to plan the tiMing – of various actions!»

«Ah right – there is still – someThing I have – to tell you»

«Actually – [Kingdom Royale] is a gAme – that is being played – by one after the oTher – When you are the player – the otHers are – just NPCs – and will not – really die when – you kIll them! – Isn’t that great? – You can kill – at ease – You can enjoy – the game.»

«Eh? You can still – not enjoy the game – even thOugh – the others are NPCs?»

«What is an incapable piece of trash like you who spent a boring life and wouldn’t even get an article on Yahoo News when dying saying? Entrust your body to your lust and savor each moment of this enjoyment! That just suits someone like you who can hardly be distinguished from a hog!»

«……»

«Just joking ☆! Did I – surprise yOu? Noitan is everyone’s – dear masCot – so I would – never think – like that ☆»

«Well then – please enJoy [Kingdom Royale]!»

 

 

 

I’m in a scene I can only remember in my dreams.

“To be honest, I’m not pleased with this development.”

I still don’t know what kind of face he has, even though I should have become used to seeing him by now.

“Ironically, this development was called forth by Daiya Oomine-kun, even though he’s supposed to be your enemy. …No, maybe it’s more accurate to say that he did so because he’s your enemy.”

But even while saying such things, he (she?) is still smiling, full of composure. He’s disgusting as always.

“Your goal and mine resemble one another after all.”

Goal?

This word makes me suspicious. He didn’t seem to have a goal; rather, it seemed as though he had just been playing with us.

So I won’t believe that. Isn’t it rather the opposite? Hasn’t he always tried to destroy the everyday life I’ve been trying to preserve?

“If it were like that, would I have really helped you destroy the ‘box’ when your body was taken over?”

You did that just in order to observe me, didn’t you?

“Hehe… that’s just a pastime for me and not my goal. No, maybe you could say that having such a pastime itself is my goal.”

I don’t get what your goal ultimately is.

“But isn’t it the same for you? You, too, are saying something ambiguous like wanting to preserve your everyday life. Is that a clear goal?”

I’ve unknowingly closed my mouth.

“Because it’s hard to understand, it’s also hard to maintain. Therefore, I truly respect Daiya-kun for making use of that weak point of yours! Even so, I think that your nature won’t change yet!”

While his cryptic choice of words increases my level of irritation, I ask for their basis, but…

“If you were such a simple human, I wouldn’t be able to notice you like this.”

He continues, still smiling.

“Daiya-kun told you that you are «an existence that tramples others’ wishes», right? I think he’s perfectly right! His accurateness is truly interesting, really. But that is just a one-sided way of perceiving you. I think that answer lacks something. You are an existence that tramples down others’ wishes—“

He says to me with a triumphant look.

“But you can also be an existence that grants someone’s wish.”

 

An irritating smell like diluent is in the air.

A harmful smell that causes delusions and breaks people. But one also becomes addicted to this smell.

This is a pleasant space, like a sauna that was built just for me. But it’s not pleasant in the sense of comfortable.

It’s a space in which I can easily consume my life.

My life gets consumed before my very eyes. In a shape that’s as easy to understand as the balance in a bankbook that’s approaching 0 at high speed.

Aah… this feels good.

Consuming is a pleasure after all. People who suffer from shopping addiction don’t actually want to have new things; they just calm themselves down by spending money. Although they know they’re only ruining themselves, they can’t get away from the pleasure of consuming.

This ‘box’ is the same.

It may sound paradoxical, but I attain pleasure and a sense of security by putting my life at risk, by consuming it.

Is this foolish?

I bet it is. But I don’t care. No matter what kind of life we spend, eventually we all get thrown into some retirement home and end up getting our asses wiped by some annoyed nurse. If that’s what awaits us, it’s much better to seek pleasure than a meaningless life of pain for our endeavors. Or am I wrong?

While not actually caring about any of these musings, I recall the inhuman guy who gave me this ‘box’.

“Do you have a wish?”

I immediately realized that he was abnormal in some way. I can’t even recall his gender; well, I didn’t care about that to begin with. But that abnormality of his was more than enough to stimulate my curiosity.

I think I answered him with something like «I can’t think of any wish, but this world is awfully boring». When I said that, he flashed a mysterious smile and held out a ‘box’.

I immediately understood that it really would grant any ‘wish’.

I reflexively pondered whether I wanted it or not, but I didn’t come to a clear conclusion. In the end, I accepted it lightheartedly, thinking that I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. It was like accepting a free pack of tissues advertising some prep school.

While I pretended to listen to his explanations, I thought about pre-ordering a game I had seen that day in that week’s Famitsu because it looked funny.

But then I imagined a game that seemed even funnier.

So I thought: “Why not go with that idea?”

And thus the ‘Game of Idleness’ was born; just so I could play a game called ‘Kingdom Royale’. It took the place of an unreleased video game.

Alright, then.

“I will win against you, Daiya!”

Kazuki Hoshino said that.

I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.

“Absolutely impossible.”

I am confident. Kazuki Hoshino has no chance of achieving his goal.

 

 

 

▶First Day [Kazuki Hoshino]’s room

—*crinch*

Crush. Transparent hands reach into my body and crush my organs. I’m getting crushed, minced, shrunk – in order to fit into this game. I feel my whole body rotating dizzily as if I were thrown into a washing machine along with some clothing.

While bearing the physiological unpleasantness of such an experience, I become as transparent as those hands. I become as light as if I’ve lost my entire body, and slowly open the eyes that I unknowingly closed.

The first thing that enters my sight is a blank concrete ceiling and a naked light bulb that hangs from it.

My heart speeds up.

Once again I’ve been placed in this prison-like room.

…no, that’s not quite correct. To be precise, it’s the first time that I’ve truly come here. I’m going to fight a battle in which I really cannot make a single mistake.

I recall the promise I made with Daiya.

«You can survive if nobody kills anyone during those eight days.»

«And—if you can bring about that kind of ending, I will destroy the ‘Game of Idleness’. That’s the ‘fairness’ you’ve been talking about, right?»

My goal is to crush the ‘box’, save Maria, and return to the real world.

We could solve the ‘Rejecting Classroom’ and the ‘Sevennight in Mud’ by finding their respective ‘owners’ and persuading them to hand over their ‘boxes’. But that won’t work this time. Daiya, the ‘owner’ of the ‘Game of Idleness’, cannot be persuaded.

Therefore I can’t persuade him; I have to win a match against him.

I’m supposed to lead the group so that no one will kill anyone else. I’m supposed to reach an end where nobody dies.

I look around. Just like last time, I see a toilet and a washbasin in this small room. Furthermore, there’s a roughly 20-inch monitor, a table, and a jute bag on top of the table.

The contents of the bag are the same as well. A ball-point pen, a memo book, a blue watch, seven portions of solid food, a portable device and a knife.

However—

«PleaSed to – meEt you»

The disgusting green bear, Noitan, greets me like that this time.

—‘Pleased to meet you’, huh.

It feels sorta awkward, but it is the correct greeting. I may feel like I’ve met him several times already, but actually it’s our first true meeting. Only my NPCs, my copies, have met him thus far. I have only seen this meeting before in the form of a [vicarious experience].

«Gufufu – PleaSed to – meEt you – Kazuki-kun – Alright – you wiLl now – select yOur [class]»

“…? I can select my [class]?”

«Yes – [Kingdom Royale] is designed so – that the player – has the advantage – over the NPCs – This applies – for the – psychologically-superior position – you have because you – know that the others are NPCs – and also for – the [vicarious experiences] – with which you were able – to learn about their behavior»

“And choosing one’s [class] is another of those advantages…”

«EXactly»

Noitan’s graphic disappears and the [classes] get displayed on the screen.

[King]

[Prince]

[The Double]

[Sorcerer]

[Knight]

[Revolutionary]

“…mh?”

I notice that [King], [Sorcerer] and [Revolutionary] are grayed out for some reason.

«The grayed out [classes] – are the ones – you can not select! – That is because – they were already – selected by – the other players»

Noitan explains, answering my question.

Already selected [classes], huh. [Revolutionary] was Daiya, [King] was Yuuri-san and [Sorcerer] was… I didn’t have the chance to find out, but it must have been Iroha-san.

“But why was such a rule set up?”

«BecaUse the players – who had their turn fiRst – would be at – too great a disAdvantage – without this rUle! – They would gather – less infoRmation – from the [vicarious experiences] – aftEr all – For that reason – we giVe them more freedom – in selecting thEir [classes] – to keep things fair.»

I see. …well, I still think the first player is at a pretty big disadvantage, though…

Anyway, that means I can select [Prince], [The Double] and [Knight]. …as one would expect, the remaining [classes] aren’t exactly ideal for controlling the flow of the game.

“Ah…”

I notice a certain thing.

I can only select from those three [classes]. That also means that the dangerous [classes]: [King], [Sorcerer] and [Revolutionary] will definitely be assigned to others.

I recall the second game in which Yuuri-san was the player. That time, I had been the [Revolutionary]. A tragedy occurred nonetheless, but… what would have happened if Koudai Kamiuchi had been the [Revolutionary]?

I’m sure it would have ended up even worse. I probably wouldn’t even have been able to save Maria.

If Daiya or Koudai Kamiuchi become the [Revolutionary] this time—

“—uh…”

I shudder. If that happened, it wouldn’t be possible to solve the game peacefully without incident.

…no, I mustn’t become timid. I must still lead them to the -block of the eighth day without a single death.

«Choose – alrEady»

Urged by Noitan, I return my attention to the monitor.

[Prince], [The Double], [Knight] – which of them gives me the best chance to lead the group without anyone dying? Ultimately, I think the key has to be restraining the [Revolutionary]. Therefore—

I reach out my hand to press my chosen button.

«Are you – suRe?»

While urging me to choose already, Noitan still poses such a question!

“……I am!”

The [class] that’s suited to bring the [Revolutionary] onto his side because their victory conditions are similar. And the [class] that has powers of deterrence on top of that. It is—

I press the button for the [Knight].

The screen changes immediately and Noitan’s graphic appears again.

«Alright – Kazuki-kun just beCame – the [Knight] – I hoPe – you will hide your desire – for revenge against the otHers – as it’s written in the character setting – betrAy them – and slice them – with your swOrd»

“…revenge, huh. Don’t make me laugh.”

When I murmur that, the mouth of the green bear splits open into a wide grin.

«No, you hold a grudge against those guys that deceived you and killed brutally, don’t you? They tried to kill you for their own life’s sake even! Hehehe»

He stops tottering and says those wicked words without any distortion. I remember. That ugly green bear can talk fluently when it chooses to.

“…You couldn’t be any more wrong! I don’t hold any grudges!”

«Stop playing the saint already, you piece of shit! Or would you readily forgive anyone while laughing like a dunce when you’re about to get killed, you fucking masochist? You think that it’s them who ought to die and not you anyway, don’t you? Well, of course you do. After all, the others thought so, too, when they slaughtered you.»

“No way I’d think li—“

But there I stop.

Of course I don’t bear a grudge against them. I don’t want to take revenge either. I don’t feel like doing so at all.

However — Yuuri-san and the others did indeed kill «me». Though that was just my copy, of course.

I can’t achieve my goal if I don’t put my life at stake. Therefore I’m prepared to risk my own life to protect the others. There might even be the need to become their shield and take everything upon me.

—for the sake of protecting the people that killed me several times.

Can I do that without wavering? Without doubt? Honestly speaking… I’m not really confident. So, will this slight doubt prevent me from achieving my goal?

I shake my head.

There’s no meaning in thinking like that.

I just need to do everything in my power to build a consensus where everyone can trust each other. If I manage to achieve that, no one will start killing.

“——No.”

Maybe that’s not quite right. …no, it’s not right.

That wouldn’t be enough.

Of course a relationship of mutual trust is necessary. But that alone is nowhere near enough. Koudai Kamiuchi would still move as he pleases, Yuuri-san would still betray in order to survive, Iroha-san would only do what she believes is right and Daiya wouldn’t cooperate anyway.

So, what am I supposed to do?

«Won’t you listen to me! Just slaughter that bunch in a bloody frenzy and you’re fine, you sneaking murderer!»

“Be quiet!”

«Do you even think you could hold hands with everyone while knowing there’s a murderer among them? Give that thought up! You have to rule the others like your dirty slaves!»

“…shut up. Slaves, my ass! I could never—“

…No, is he right? Do I really have no other choice?

I’m not saying that the game can only be solved by killing each other. What I’m thinking is that it can’t be solved by merely trusting each other.

Right, in other words, in order to win—

—I have to rule over them.

“……Haha…”

What’s that? In order to break out of this game, someone has to reign over the others like a «King», just as the title of the game implies: [Kingdom Royale]?

So I can win if I become the «King»?

Am I suited for that? It isn’t realistic; there’s no way I could manage to pull this off.

But at the same time, I realize:

That’s the only way to make sure no one kills.

If that’s the way things are—

«I’m just a powerless girl in this [Kingdom Royale].»

«—but still, I want to protect you even if I have to pay with my own life.»

—I’ll do it. In order to protect Maria, who is just a powerless princess in this ‘box’, I’ll do it.

«Come on – it iS time – to greet the foLks – that killed yOu»

Noitan disappears after this and the door opens.

Ugly desire dwells in that darkness. The malice that I’m supposed to fight against is out there.

I clench my fist.

Yeah… I got it!

“I’ll—“

Become the «King».

▶First Day Big room

The six of us are already gathered in that hospital-like room.

Similarly to the second round, Iroha-san’s knife threat was prevented by Daiya, so no knife has been pressed against my neck.

Thanks to that, the tension in the air wasn’t too high and the events were progressing similarly to the second time. And like that time, we decided to do a self-introduction at the suggestion of Koudai Kamiuchi.

While listening to their self-introductions, I think about how I can bring the respective person under my rule.

“I am Iroha Shindou. My hobbies are—“

The student council president Iroha-san. Her watch is orange. She’s extremely talented. According to her, her extraordinarily high concentration is what makes her similar to a superhuman. She has a very frank character and almost never lies. She seems to be rather insensitive towards the subtleties of her own and others’ emotions, which may be because she usually stands above others. If she strengthens her resolve, she can even suppress her own emotions completely and become a murderer.

She likes Yuuri-san, but to me it looks a bit like that is just how she rationalized her own emotions in order to deal with the negative feelings she got from that love issue.

In other words, a bomb is hidden in her relationship with Yuuri-san.

I think she will not betray me if I manage to win her trust. She also has the power to control the atmosphere, so she would be a most reliable ally.

“I-I am Yuuri Yanagi.”

The top student of class 3-1, Yuuri-san. Her watch is beige. Contrary to Iroha-san, she’s very sensitive towards the emotions of others and is able to control their impressions of her. Furthermore, her character is so determined she even takes advantage of others’ favor towards her. Since the emotions she openly shows are mostly fake, it’s very hard to notice this.

But essentially she’s just a scaredy cat and actually good-willed. So she will absolutely not commit a sin if there’s no need to do so.

It seems she doesn’t simply think of Iroha-san as a good friend.

In other words, her relationship with Iroha-san is unstable from her side as well.

Rather than trust, it’s important to calm her down by showing her the benefits she gets from cooperating with us.

“I’m Koudai Kamiuchi, nice to meet you.”

The first year, Koudai Kamiuchi. His watch is green. He is an individual who doesn’t hesitate to kill, going so far as to even enjoy the situation we are in. Because his actions are determined by what he finds «interesting» and he’s indifferent about his own life, it’s hard to read his actions. He’s used to violence for some reason. Even Maria or Daiya will stand no chance against him if it comes to a one-on-one fight.

He’s attracted to Yuuri-san, but that doesn’t mean that he’s considerate towards her.

There’s no use trusting him, so I will certainly not be misled by him. He’s the only clear enemy. To overcome him, I will probably have to build an environment in which he’s unable to commit murder.

“I’m Daiya Oomine.”

His watch is black.

He’s the ‘owner’ of the ‘Game of Idleness’, but his stance in [Kingdom Royale] is still unclear.

Of course I have no idea how to cope with him.

“I’m the first year Maria Otonashi.”

Her watch is red. The princess.

“—eh, ah!”

I stumbled. It seems I was so concentrated that I relaxed unconsciously when Maria’s introduction ended.

“What are you doing there, Kazuki? Are you trying to act like an airhead character?”

Maria looks at me with half-opened eyes and Yuuri-san starts to giggle.

However — it can’t be helped, sure, but I don’t feel too good about analyzing others as if I was trying to clear some game… well, they are NPCs as a matter of fact, though…

But I still don’t think that matters. Even when they don’t remember the past three rounds, even when their life and death in here doesn’t affect them in reality – the NPCs are still exactly the same as the real people.

“It’s your turn.”

Maria suddenly urges me.

“Eh? What turn?”

“It’s not ‘what.’ It’s your turn to introduce yourself.”

“Aa, I see.”

The others’ gazes naturally focus on me.

I’m about to open my mouth—but falter.

…right. I mustn’t readily introduce myself. If I follow them and act as if I don’t know anything now, that would bring up the question why I kept secrets from them and cause distrust later.

On the other hand, it’s also dangerous to just tell them everything I know right now. If I say something I shouldn’t, they will consider me suspicious.

“…Kazuki, why don’t you say anything?”

“Ah, no—“

But now is the best chance to tell them about the ‘Game of Idleness’ without being doubted since Noitan hasn’t explained the rules yet. I must reveal something.

The problem is how to select the information I’m supposed to unveil to them.

I resolve myself and open my mouth.

“I’m the second year Kazuki Hoshino. I’m Daiya’s classmate and I have become acquainted with Maria already before her school entrance. Furthermore—“

I gulp down my saliva once and continue,

“—I’m the [Knight].”

Question marks appear on their faces.

“…Kazuki-kun. With «Knight» you’re referring to some kind of medieval «Knight»?”

Iroha-san asks.

“I guess so.”

“Aah, you just startled me. I almost thought you were conferred knighthood by some queen or something. So, is «Knight» a metaphor for something, or—“

She gets interrupted.

«Yaa yaa yaa, as someone seems to be arbitrarily disclosing things, I will instantly tell you about this [Kingdom Royale]!»

 

«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?»

Having finished explaining [Kingdom Royale] to us, Noitan disappears.

“Could we get an explanation now, Hoshino-kun?”

Iroha-san asked. She had glanced at me suspiciously several times during Noitan’s speech.

“Why did only you know about [Kingdom Royale] at that point in time? And why do you know your [class], although no one should know this yet?”

Right, this is what it meant to reveal my [class]. I’m the most suspicious character for knowing this information no one should have right now.

I am the suspicious character Iroha-san has been searching for in each round by threatening us with her knife.

“……But…”

It wasn’t me who reacted to her question, but Yuuri-san.

“It’s not advantageous at all for him to reveal his [class] like he did, right? It would have been much better for him to keep silent and to deceive us if he wanted to win the game…”

“Sure enough.”

“So I think that Hoshino-san purposely did something disadvantageous to discomfit the wire-puller of this game.”

I’m relieved. Someone actually understands why I’ve revealed that I’m the [Knight].

“…he purposely did something disadvantageous, huh. …Yeah, maybe.”

Iroha-san relaxes her quite stern expression.

“But the question is, why did you do that?”

Iroha-san says and turns her sharp gaze to me.

I nod quietly at this gaze and start to speak,

“There’s something I want you to believe.”

What I mean is the other victory condition.

«You can survive if nobody kills anyone during those eight days.»

Those are Daiya’s words.

“There is a way to slip out of [Kingdom Royale] without meeting the victory conditions.”

I noticed that they all held their breath.

“An end where everyone turns into a mummy isn’t provided. In other words, if we all manage to survive until the -block of the eighth day, the game will be aborted.”

This is my goal and at the same time it’s the solution everyone should be wishing for.

It’s not like any one of them wishes to kill in [Kingdom Royale]. They just can’t avoid murdering in order to survive or to protect the remaining others. Yuuri-san and Iroha-san just committed murder when they were the players because they concluded that there was no other solution.

Showing them that there’s another solution besides killing each other is the best way to prevent murder. Thus, I absolutely had to tell them.

“Now that you mention it… didn’t Noitan-san also say something along these lines? That we shouldn’t do something as boring as turning into mummies. Turning this sentence around… it might… back up what Hoshino-san just said.”

Yuuri-san murmured. She’s searching for a basis to believe my words because she took this information favorably.

It’s only natural to easily approve of convenient information. Therefore I just need to tell them the truth bit by bit until I can ultimately tell them the details about the ‘boxes’ and that Daiya’s its ‘owner’.

Yeah, I’m headed in the right direction.

If we all aim for the same goal, murder can’t possibly occur.

That is—

“I’m afraid I can’t consent yet.”

—if there wasn’t this bothersome person.

Koudai Kamiuchi is here. And he gets bothered when there’s no killing as he wants to enjoy [Kingdom Royale].

“Do you have an objection or what?”

When Iroha-san asks him like this, he flashes a frivolous expression and answers while scratching his head.

“Well, sure enough, I agree that Hoshino-senpai [1] is related to [Kingdom Royale]! But does that automatically mean that we can believe in his proposed solution?”

I could clearly see the uneasiness becoming thicker in Yuuri-san’s face.

“This solution could just as well be a lie, couldn’t it? Maybe Hoshino-senpai benefits in some way when we believe it, right?”

“That’s… not true!”

“Then tell us your foundation that proves that it’s not just idle talk.”

I falter. How should I explain it? How much do I need to explain such that he understands me when I don’t even know if they’d believe me when I told them the truth?

“Why can’t you explain yourself? Shouldn’t you be able to tell us everything without hiding anything if you really wanted to lead us out of good will?”

As I fail to object, he attacks me even more.

“You can’t explain it, huh. …I see, I just found a plausible explanation!”

“…eh?”

“You’re a spy. If Hoshino-senpai is a spy who tries to confuse us, everything makes sense.”

That one word was powerful.

That one word turned my words upside down and made them suspect me.

Wariness dwells in Yuuri-san’s eyes.

Iroha-san furrows her eyebrows.

There’s no way those two could determine whether to believe me or Koudai Kamiuchi as they don’t remember the past rounds.

“……uh…”

This is bad. If it goes on like this, I have no chance of becoming the «King» since they won’t even trust me to begin with. Even worse, they might think of me as an enemy.

I reflexively turn my gaze downwards upon being the focus of cold gazes.

I can’t think of any words to resolve this situation.

Is it already too late?

Have I already lost?

Can I really not win in the ‘Game of Idleness’?

Koudai Kamiuchi flashes a grin and seems already sure to have won, but—

“Cut it out already, Kamiuchi.”

His menacing grin gets erased by her voice.

Maria.

I calm down just by the fact that she raised her voice. I start smiling.

Right, she always helps me out. I don’t have to worry anymore. I’m safe n—

“——ah”

……That’s not good at all. Why am I calming down?

It was this kind of dependence that lead to the bad ends. Didn’t I learn this firsthand during the previous rounds?

But… although I’m aware of this–although I’m supposed to save Maria, not the other way around–I accepted her help again.

“Stop trying to trick Kazuki into looking like the bad guy.”

Koudai Kamiuchi widens his eyes and spreads his arms exaggeratedly.

“Whoa, please don’t say strange things. Isn’t it obviously Hoshino-senpai who’s trying to trick us all?”

“Then tell me why you’re trying to create confusion.”

“…what do you mean?”

“You don’t get it? Then that’s proof that you have no proper personality.”

“Wait, wait… why?”

“I’ll tell you: if you thought like an ordinary person, you would want to follow Kazuki’s proposal, leaving aside whether you believed it or not. Also, for pointing out that his proposal is suspicious. One would normally do it differently.”

“Really? Isn’t it normal to press a question upon Hoshino-senpai when he’s suspicious?”

“You wouldn’t do it like that. That is because Kazuki tries to prevent a slaughter with his proposal. Even without knowing Kazuki’s intention, you should want this proposal to prove itself true. Despite this, you’re distinctly denying Kazuki. You’re distinctly denying a person that made a proposal to prevent a slaughter.”

Koudai Kamiuchi closes his mouth.

“Are you aware that it’s dangerous what you’re doing here? In a sense, this could become the spark that leads to killing. If you just wanted to make the others pay more attention, you would still need to do it more carefully. …well, of course it’s different if you want to encourage us to take part in the game.”

After getting silenced, he starts to object again smiling wryly.

“…sure, I may have gone too far. But then why is Hoshino-senpai unable to explain anything?”

“Even you gather that this place is abnormal, right?”

Koudai Kamiuchi purses his lips at Maria’s sudden words.

“Well, yeah…? So?”

“This is a space that was created by aliens from Sirius for the purpose of observing the mode of life of us earthlings.”

“…………Hah?”

I’m sure that’s what she’s been aiming for. Maria raises the corner of her mouth.

“Do you believe me?”

“…no way I would!”

“So what kind of reason for this incident would you believe then?”

Koudai Kamiuchi frowns upon hearing her question.

“I don’t mind whether it’s a lie or fiction – just explain the reason for this space to us so that we can understand and agree to it.”

He thinks for a short while before he answers “…no, I can’t.”

“So let’s assume Kazuki knows the truth, but this truth is something as absurd as my story about the Sirius aliens – do you seriously think he could tell us that, right now, right here? Could he really say it while knowing he would become disadvantaged without doubt?”

“……”

Having been silenced like that, Koudai Kamiuchi stole a glance at me.

He was smiling as always, but in his eyes was—

“……uh…”

—a light that bore unconcealable madness.

Even I only saw it for a split second, so I’m probably the only one who noticed this madness. In the next moment, he flashed a carefree smile and spread his arms affectedly.

“Okay, okay, I lost. I was too absorbed in trying to bring my doubts to light, so I didn’t think about the others enough. I’m really so sorry!”

I saw that Yuuri-san and Iroha-san relaxed just a little at seeing his smile.

But I know the danger behind that smile. It’s a smile to skillfully conceal his madness. I know, because I was tricked by it once before and lost.

But for the time being we could avoid the worst situation of us rivaling each other.

However—

«Don’t worry, Kazuki. I will protect you.»

I clench my fist.

—it’s no good like that. Not at all!

If I stay so weak that I get overwhelmed this easily by Koudai Kamiuchi, I will definitely give in to this ‘box’.

And Maria will be killed by the ‘Game of Idleness’.

▶First Day [Kazuki Hoshino]’s room

«Your [class] is [Knight]»

This obvious message is written on the monitor.

The others should have seen this screen by now as well. I can only pray that the [classes] were distributed in my favor.

«Hey you bastard, what’s wrong with you that you expose facts of your own accord?! How will you make up for this if it gets boring because of you damn hypocrite! If that happens give me back my money!»

Noitan started to curse right after appearing, but as usual I can’t counter with anything.

«Choose your partner for the [Secret Meeting], you scum.»

The blood-shot-eyed Noitan vanishes and the photographs of six people appear.

[Secret Meeting], huh. I know exactly who I’ll choose. I reach out almost reflexively for Maria’s picture—but stop my hand halfway.

Is it really alright to pick her?

It’s no mistake to choose Maria. In order to save Maria, I will certainly need her cooperation.

But… I reached out my hand reflexively. Almost without thinking.

Is that because I instantly concluded that it is the right choice?

…as if. Even after what just happened out there, I’m unconsciously trying to rely on Maria again.

Therefore, I should not choose her, no matter if it’s right or wrong to select her.

I will cut off my dependence on her.

“I will fight, alone.”

Therefore, I’ll choose the person I’m going to beat first.

I stretch out my stopped hand. I choose—

«Hoho – this iS – an uneXpected – tuRn»

—«Iroha Shindou».

I will become the «King».

For that sake, I will first put Iroha-san under my rule.

 

[Iroha Shindou]
->
[Yuuri Yanagi]
15:00~16:00
[Yuuri Yanagi]
->
[Iroha Shindou]
15:00~16:00
[Daiya Oomine]
->
[Kazuki Hoshino]
15:00~15:30
[Kazuki Hoshino]
->
[Iroha Shindou]
16:20~16:50
[Koudai Kamiuchi]
->
[Daiya Oomine]
16:20~16:50
[Maria Otonashi]
->
[Daiya Oomine]
15:40~16:10
▶First Day [Secret Meeting] with [Daiya Oomine], [Kazuki Hoshino]’s room

I’ve already prepared myself for the [Secret Meeting] with Iroha-san, but the one with Daiya is first. Which means that he selected me quicker than I chose Iroha-san.

Since I was all ready to speak with Iroha-san, this is kind of a let-down, but I get a grip of myself right away.

I must be careful.

Daiya arrived immediately at my room when it was time. Before even sitting down on the table, he scowls at me.

“…hey, are you really Kazuki Hoshino?”

“Eh?”

An unexpected question.

It’s more like the others can’t be called real since they are copies, but he doesn’t know that.

No, but that he poses such a question means that he’s not aware of being the ‘owner’ of the ‘Game of Idleness’. Daiya’s NPC fights under the same conditions as the other NPCs.

…Wait. Does that mean that—-

“……Daiya. How do you think about this ‘box’?”

“You have some nerves ignoring my question and asking one yourself. …Anyway, let me tell you.”

He continues, frankly showing me his discomfort.

“This ‘box’ is trash.”

As I thought.

“There’s no meaning in the existence of a nonsensical ‘box’ that just exists for making people play a game about killing each other.”

This Daiya thinks exactly like the Daiya of the second round.

In fact, his words are almost the same as in the second round. It’s obvious now that I think about it. Daiya’s NPC hasn’t taken over his memory. It’s only natural that he would take the same actions since their amount of information is the same.

And if memory serves me right, in the second round he—

“Who’s so stupid to play such a pathetic game like [Kingdom Royale]?”

—tried to stop [Kingdom Royale].

In other words, my goal of stopping [Kingdom Royale] matches the goal of Daiya’s NPC. So you could call him an «Ally».

No, Daiya isn’t my only «Ally». Except for Koudai Kamiuchi, all the other NPCs don’t want to kill actively either. As a matter of fact, only the players did so in order to survive, because they knew that the others were NPCs and thought there was no other way out.

…a chance of winning may just have come in sight a little.

“Daiya, there’s something I want to tell you. Okay?”

“What?”

“Your stance is the most dangerous one.”

Daiya frowns.

“…what the…? Sure enough, I may look like a dangerous individual seen from the others’ point of view. After all, I might be able to kill someone if it’s necessary. …but so what? Why do you say that now? Do you want to persuade me because I’m dangerous?”

“…No. I didn’t mean to say that you’re dangerous, but that you’re in danger the most. In other words, you’re at risk of being killed.”

“Don’t talk bullsh—“

But he stops instantly.

“No, it’s not all that wrong, huh. Leaving aside whether it’s really ‘the most,’ I agree that I could easily become a target because of this personality of mine. Because I look dangerous to them!”

“That’s not the only reason.”

When I say this, Daiya stares at me wordlessly.

“It’s also because you’re the ‘owner’.”

“Hah? Don’t mess with me! Sure, I’m an ‘owner’, but I’m most definitely not the ‘owner’ of such a ‘box’.”

Come to think of it, he also defamed this ‘box’ as nonsensical or something in the second round. I’m amazed he can say that, in spite of using it as a way to stave off his boredom…

Or is it also a lie that he’s using it to stave off boredom? Does he really have a hidden goal which I shouldn’t know? And not even his NPC is able to see through the real Daiya’s intention?

…I don’t know, but I’d better hide the information that would make this confusing.

“…no matter what the truth is, Maria thinks of you as the creator of [Kingdom Royale]. Therefore, I think there’s a high possibility that the others would falsely assume that crushing the ‘box’ – or killing you – solves this case when they get to know that.”

In fact, in the second round he was killed first because of that.

“…Well, possible. But still, it’s funny that I’m not being told «don’t kill anyone» but «don’t get killed by anyone».”

Saying so, he scowls at me.

“As I thought, you’re strange somehow. Our good-natured Kazuki Hoshino normally wouldn’t be capable of such a thought. Even if you really hit upon this, you would never tell me with so much confidence. What’s with that attitude? Almost, as if you’ve already—“

He stops there.

“…I see… it finally makes sense to me. That’s also why your attitude towards Shindou and the others seemed strange to me, huh. Hey, — it’s not the first time you’re playing [Kingdom Royale], right?”

That’s Daiya as we know him.

He was able to arrive at the truth with only this little information, although there would be many other possibilities. His capability really is amazing.

“…judging from your expression, looks like I’m right. Well, the truth doesn’t matter to me. I only need to know what you’re trying to make me do after making me answer your question. So, try telling me your plans.”

Daiya speaks arrogantly.

“But be prepared to be used by me.”

I unconsciously close my mouth.

In this [Secret Meeting] I originally wanted to find out how he’s going to move. Put another way, I didn’t have concrete plans of what to do with him.

However, I came to know that we share our goals.

Couldn’t this be the greatest chance I have? I’d be able to work together with Daiya.

I mean, there can’t possibly be a situation where he listens to me more unaffectedly than now. If he believes me, we can do something about his situation of being an easy target. And most of all, I’d have access to his outstanding wit. That would be a huge leap towards the achievement of my goal.

Of course it’s still risky. If he wants, he can easily make use of me as he said. I don’t say so because I’ve become faint-hearted, but because it’s a fact I experienced in the first round.

But—

“I know the system of the ‘Game of Idleness’ well.”

I can’t stay silent anymore. I guess it was already decided that this would happen since the time I revealed being the [Knight].

“There’s a lot I want to tell you, but first I’ll teach you how the previous three rounds of [Kingdom Royale] progressed! In the first round—“

Like this, I started explaining to him.

Daiya silently listened to me, almost without interrupting me.

Unable to tell him everything in the remaining time, the [Secret Meeting] ended with the appointment continuing in the next [Secret Meeting].

▶First Day [Secret Meeting] with [Iroha Shindou], [Iroha Shindou]’s room

I don’t know whether the cooperation with Daiya will go well. But for now I’ll switch and concentrate on the next matter.

The partner of the next [Secret Meeting] is the person I ought to clear first—I ought to control first—Iroha Shindou. I’ve already decided what I’m going to tell her to achieve that.

The reason why I want to bring her under my rule right off. It’s because she has the power to change the mood more than anyone else.

Therefore, I have to move before she can do something that’s disadvantageous for me.

At least she shouldn’t completely reject what I have to say, judging from her attitude earlier.

It’s alright.

Reassuring myself, I enter Iroha-san’s room.

“……”

And yet, I wonder why? Iroha-san was standing there, expressionlessly, with crossed arms, almost as if she was awaiting an enemy.

“May I ask? Why did you choose me as your partner for the [Secret Meeting]?”

A wariness she hasn’t shown in the big room.

I answer her while feeling a little anxious.

“Because I wanted to make you my comrade first, Iroha-san!”

That’s no lie.

“…«Iroha-san»?”

Iroha-san narrows her eyes suspiciously.

“Umm, what do you mean?”

“…most people call me «Kaichou» when they first meet me, you know. Thus it feels awkward being called by the real name right away. It seems like I’m hard to approach familiarly.”

Now that she mentions it, I was calling her «Kaichou» as well until she told me to stop…

“Anyway… why would you want to make me your comrade first? …wait, better not say it. You noticed that I’m trying to control the mood anyway, right?”

“………eh?”

I’m perplexed at her stunningly quick understanding.

“You’re troubled when I arbitrarily do something that ends up worsening your position. Hence, you want to quickly make me your comrade, right?”

“Well, yeah…”

What the hell? It’s almost like she predicted what I was going to say.

“Let’s assume that one obediently follows someone like a little child and it ultimately leads to a good outcome, okay? Even if things went well by luck, I can’t appreciate such people. Because it means stopping one’s own thinking and leaving one’s life to someone else, you see. Say, don’t you agree?”

“……err—“

“It just doesn’t suit me. Obeying someone’s instructions, dancing to someone’s pipe – that’s no fun. …Um, where were we? You said you want to put me under your control on the pretext of making me a comrade?”

As I thought.

As I thought, she has already seen through my intention.

“But as I said, I choose to not move by your leadership. We choose to move by thinking «ourselves».”

“…we?”

Iroha-san doesn’t answer the obvious question of whom she refers to that way.

There’s only one person that would join forces with Iroha-san at this point in time.

Yuuri Yanagi.

There’s only Yuuri, who once tried to kill Iroha-san through [Sorcery].

…there’s no way this could be a good course of events.

“Honestly speaking, I basically wanted to believe what you told us in the big room!”

“…Eh?”

“But you know, in our [Secret Meeting] Yuuri pointed out that you seem to one-sidedly know us well. Well… of course people hear about us to a certain extent through rumors, but she said that you’re not on that level; that you seem to know about us more in detail.”

“That’s because—“

But Iroha-san doesn’t let me interrupt her.

“I don’t care what you know about us. That is because I know that you’re in a special position. But you know, the problem is that you hid that fact. You didn’t reveal to us right away that you have information that gives you an advantage to fight in this game.”

“I-I didn’t mean to…! No. I just didn’t say it because that’s not something you can say right away!”

“Yeah. May be. But there’s no guarantee. I don’t know whether you’re the instigator or an endorser or an opponent of this game. I want to believe the latter, but if I’m wrong, our lives are at stake. Don’t you think it’s too risky for us to just obey your words?”

Therefore, she doesn’t follow me.

Aah, shit… it’s an obvious consequence.

“Don’t worry. I won’t ignore your opinion, Hoshino-kun. I will properly hear you out! But «we» decide whether we believe it. Our life depends on it, so we can’t just blindly follow someone. Therefore, I won’t become your «comrade». Sorry.”

I do think her judgment is appropriate and I also think it seems like the best decision to make for them.

It’s also a situation where it seems like I can still achieve anything.

But it only seems like that—I can’t anymore-

This is already a dead-end.

“……Iroha-san.”

“What? Do you still want to try persuading me? No problem. I’ll listen!”

“……”

To tell the truth, I thought I could expose almost everything to her like I did with Daiya. Because I expected that she would comparatively accept my story favorably as she’s capable of calm decisions. At least I think she would have supported me more or less in my goal to «end the game without anyone dying».

“…I changed my mind.”

—it won’t go that way anymore.

“I see.”

After all, Iroha-san would tell everything to Yuuri-san. And as soon Yuuri-san’s opinion mixed in, a change would definitely occur.

That is because unlike Iroha-san, who can view things objectively, Yuuri-san doesn’t believe things that aren’t in her favor. For example, I don’t think she would believe that she’s only a NPC at the moment or that she bears the sin of murder on her shoulders.

What would Yuuri-san do after hearing my words, that are unfavorable to her?

I can see it clearly.

She would deny it.

She would consider me her enemy.

And then she would aim to win [Kingdom Royale], making use of Iroha-san.

In other words—she would commit murder.

Therefore, this is already a dead-end.

“——“

There was still spare time.

But I didn’t find anything to talk about anymore.

▶First Day Big room

And I had to see the consequence of my failure right away, in its worst shape.

“I think we need groups.”

Iroha-san waited for the moment everyone was sitting to say that.

I failed to immediately grasp her intention. Iroha-san and Yuuri-san are cooperating, after all. Why does she need to announce this to everyone?

But seeing her smiling at me, I understand.

This is some kind of constraint.

A constraint against me and the «person who knows the reasons for [Kingdom Royale]» in whose existence she believes.

Iroha-san has put me on the enemy side because I failed to achieve anything in our [Secret Meeting].

“It seems there is the need for an explanation. First, let me confirm our goal. Naturally that is to get out of here without any killing incident. Am I right?”

No one objects.

“Okay, Hoshino-kun proposed one method to achieve this. According to him we automatically get out of here if all of us survive. That sure sounds like an attractive proposition, really! But don’t you agree that it’s too dangerous to believe him blindly and move as he wants us to, without knowing his true motivations?”

After checking that everyone’s listening seriously, she continues.

“But well, there’s no real other good plan that comes to mind, is there? We can’t even tell for sure whether he’s telling the truth or not. But that also means that no murder will occur. Why? Because no one would commit murder for winning the game when there’s this attractive proposal that might be true.”

“Well, I guess so.”

Hearing Koudai Kamiuchi’s agreement, I can barely manage to not scream out «You’re the only one that’s not like that!».

“In other words, we would ultimately follow Hoshino-kun’s goal. Without fully believing him, we would spend eight days without doing anything.”

“Maybe. But in the end we may get saved as he said, and in any case, it’s much better than to kill each other in the game, isn’t it?”

Iroha-san answers her as Maria nods.

“Yes, sure, but there’s also someone who’s not like that, isn’t there?”

“Who?”

Then, Iroha-san says without changing her expression,

“The instigator of the game.”

The person she perceives as her enemy.

She didn’t mistake whom to consider as her enemy. But it’s not possible to defeat him – because his non-NPC version isn’t here.

Thus, Iroha-san drifts off the correct path to take.

“I don’t know what his intention is, but the instigator of this game definitely wishes to see the repugnant scene of us fighting each other. Or can you find any other aim in such a meaningless game?”

No one objects. Because everyone can agree to what she’s saying, even without definite proof.

And I know that she’s actually right. This ‘box’, that was created by Daiya as a way to stave off boredom, does indeed not wish that things proceed without anything happening.

But let me repeat this: he isn’t here.

“Therefore, someone — someone who supports the instigator — will certainly change the flow so that people will die in this game.”

Iroha-san speaks while clearly looking at me.

She has mistaken her enemy.

“…do you want to say that Kazuki’s going to do that?”

“No, I didn’t say so. I only want to say that there might still be someone among us who wants to change the flow. And that it’s dangerous if he manages to do that. Therefore, we will divide into «groups».”

“Into «us» and «the instigators».”

I see. Thinking that there are «instigators» isn’t Iroha-san’s only mistake.

“Yeah. Why not?”

“I think… we need to do so, too.”

Her gravest mistake is to think that no one would spur on the game apart from the «instigators».

Fair enough. When I was an NPC, I also didn’t want to believe there were people like Koudai Kamiuchi who actually want to play a killer-game. I also didn’t notice that Yuuri-san would go as far as committing murder. Both are things I wouldn’t have come to know without experiencing the second round.

It’s not something she could possibly notice without remembering the previous rounds.

But Iroha-san continues her explanation, having no idea of all that.

“Our greatest concern right now is the trap of the instigator. But we can ward this off as long we don’t act as he wants us to. No, rather we should comprehend his intention and use it against him to grasp an outcome where no one kills anyone.”

Maria asks with a frown,

“That’s why you want to divide us in «groups»?”

“Exactly. I think that, if we all act separately, someone will fall for his intention. On top of that, we all have our own interests. The worst case scenario I can think of is that one of the psychically weaker people will start to suspect the rest and make the grave mistake of committing murder.

But what if our wills are united? What if we all have a will that can’t be shaken, whatever happens? The trap of «the instigators» would degrade to being a joke! Therefore, I’m saying we should build «groups» with a united will. Of course the «the instigators» who want to trick us won’t be able to enter there.”

“Hmpf,” Daiya snorts at her explanation, “I got your reasoning, but how do you plan to build those «groups»? To begin with, how can you distinguish the instigators from the others?”

“There’s no way I could distinguish them, is there?”

Iroha-san says as if it was a matter of course.

“What? But then—“

“Therefore—I’ll just take their freedom away.”

Iroha-san says without letting Daiya speak out.

“…I can’t seem to understand you. Will you threaten everyone who doesn’t agree with you or what?”

“The opposite!”

Daiya raises an eyebrow.

“The opposite?”

“Yeah, the opposite. I won’t take away the freedom of the people that don’t follow my plan, but of those who agree with me.”

Not only Daiya, but everyone here widened their eyes.

“I won’t allow any objection against me from anyone who belongs to my «group». I’ll have them swear absolute obedience to me. And I will kill anyone who betrays me.”

“K-Kill…hey…”

Looking straight at me, when I said that, she explains,

“Let me tell you how I’ll do it. First, I’ll make the ones who approve of me hand me over their food supply. If we can believe that Uglypoo, we will die by turning into mummies if we

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