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18603 No. 18603 edit
Explanation and Rules

This game will differ from either a classic gameboard or a RP gameboard, though it will take elements from each. The reason for this is simple: the aim of the game is to explore an unknown gameboard, though one that is very similar to Rokkenjima for reasons yet to be discovered.

This game will be set in the year 2017, thirty years after a horrible tragedy occurred that claimed the lives of many people. On the thirtieth anniversary, a group of people gather at the place where it happened, trying to piece together the events of that tragedy so that the truth may finally see the light of day. Each has their own motives, be it fun, the challenge, or something more sinister. For the first time, however, there is one in their midst who should know what really happened.

I will be playing that person.

However, I will not simply reveal the truth. Instead, I shall act as directed by you all. Once every day or two (if my schedule holds up), I shall post a new section of the story, and end with a set of choices. After that, you all will have approximately 24 hours at least (maybe more) to vote about which of the choices to make. You can discuss it or just simply cast your vote. Each person only gets to vote for one action (so no double-voting or giving first/second/third choices.) Whichever action gets the most votes wins. In case of a tie, I will attempt to combine the two, but if that's impossible then I get to be the tiebreaker.

Well, Seacats, shall we see if together we can lift the veil of the past even as the intrigues of the present constrict around our necks? Only the truth can save us.

Welcome to the Future of the Diamond Queen.

Last edited at 15/12/18(Fri)23:41:11
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>> No. 18604 edit
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18604
>>18603

I gazed out of the window of the train car, watching the snowy landscape flying by outside. There is something melancholy about looking out of the window of a train that no other activity can quite replicate. It's a soothing melancholy, like the pleasant ache one feels in the muscles after a workout, except that it's felt in the soul. I've heard people say that trains like these would soon be a thing of the past. I hope that isn't true. People need this kind of ache to remind themselves that they can endure. At least, that was why I needed it then.

"If you look out of the other window, sir, you can see the mountains," said Chou Kaneko, my companion and caretaker for as long as I could remember. While I understood her reasoning for wanting me to look at the mountains, I couldn't bring myself to just yet. I was feeling trepidatious enough as it was, and I'd seen plenty of pictures of those mountains over the past three decades that they were all I had seen in my mind's eye for the past several miles. Soon we would be pulling into the station and I would have to stare down the mountain that had killed me, but I didn't have to yet. So I nodded and continued to gaze out of the train window. As much as I willed myself to let my mind go blank, I couldn't stop the thoughts that drifted through unbidden...

Terrible Tragedy on Cursed Mountain...Investigators Baffled by Findings...Mystery Surrounding Deaths Deepens...Was it the Queen's Curse?...

These were the headlines that had always followed me. These were the headlines that earned me the stares, the whispers behind my back, the snide insinuations saying that I was the cause of it all. The worst of it was, I couldn't deny it.

I didn't know.

My first memory was waking up in a hospital bed, with Chou checking some readings on some medical equipment beside it. She'd immediately called the doctor, and after about twenty minutes some police joined us as well. I told them the same thing I'd be telling everyone for the next thirty years: I didn't remember anything. The doctor said that there was the possibility that there had been some brain damage due to oxygen deprivation, or perhaps it was simply trauma-induced. They knew who I was, of course, and explained it to me. They had explained it all. I was never able to explain to anyone what it's like to have to study your own history like schoolchildren study the past, just so that you can try to make sense of everyone who insists they know you. It got to the point where the only person I felt I could actually trust was Chou, as her motive was to make sure I was healthy. When I asked if she would quit her job to take care of me, she laughed and said that I would have to double her pay. Thankfully, I apparently had a lot of money to my name, so that is exactly what I did, and she'd been with me ever since as my nurse, my maid, and most importantly my friend. However, money cannot erase the memories of society. Time, however, did to a degree, and I managed to create several successful business ventures and assist many charities. Some said I was just doing it to assuage my conscience, but a person with no memory of sin cannot feel guilt.

Yet I was afraid that I really had sinned, just as people assumed. The police were never able to prove it, but I think most of them thought I was guilty too. With that on my mind, I had done everything I could to distance myself from the incident. Now that the the thirtieth anniversary approached, I found myself truly wanting answers. If I were to someday go to my grave without knowing, I knew it would be my greatest regret. I had been only half-surprised to learn that the location had been rebuilt to capitalize on the macabre incident, and that there was a club of amateur sleuths meeting there. Obviously they were more than happy for me to come, and their leader had even said that together we might all be able to fill in the missing pieces.

So it was I found myself staring out the window on a train as it pulled into the station at the small town at the foot of a cursed mountain. Near the peak of that mountain was a resort, beckoning me to visit like it supposedly had all those years ago. What did it hold in store for me, then and now? What would I find there? Would I learn what happened to me that would make my memories disappear, and what truly happened to my family? Would I find the key to unlocking the hidden memories I prayed were still inside my mind? I wanted to stop pretending to be this person that I had studied. I wanted to truly know what it meant to be me. I wanted to understand who I was.

Just who is Lion Ushiromiya?

-----------------------------------
Options

I am currently about to get off the train, but it will be a couple minutes before we can get transport to go up the mountain. Do I:

A: Go into the station restroom, to splash some water on my face and give myself some courage.
B: Go to a cafe, get some coffee, and skim the local newspaper to take my mind off of things.
C: Talk to Chou Kaneko, to get her take on this idea and what it means.
D: People-watch.

Last edited at 15/12/18(Fri)22:55:24
>> No. 18605 edit
>>18604
B
>> No. 18606 edit
D
>> No. 18607 edit
>>18604
Agreed with Ozaki, B

Learning about the local affairs is a good idea.
>> No. 18608 edit
>>18604
B
>> No. 18609 edit
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18609
>>18604

As we got off the train, the crisp November air stole my breath for a moment. The snow was falling gently, and muted the noontime sounds of the small city we had come to. It seemed much like any other city might on a Thursday, with people hurrying to and fro on errands or for work, with a lucky few able to slow down and enjoy the day. As the train left the station behind me, I turned, and the mountain that cast a shadow on my life was revealed to me. In my mind it was radiating malice, and a shiver that had nothing to do with the cold ran through me.

Chou noticed, however, and frowned. "See, sir, I told you you should have worn a thicker coat. You're an old man now, and you should take better care of yourself."

I shot her an annoyed look, and she beamed back brightly. "You're going to rub it in for all it's worth, aren't you? Your time is coming soon, you know."

She laughed. "Absolutely. But I still have two whole weeks before I turn 50, and look at you, already 51 as of yesterday. Oh, what a cruel and lovely thing is time!"

I shook my head and chuckled. "One of these days, Chou, I'm going to have to hire a more respectful helper," I said, to which she smirked. It had been a running joke for decades. "Well, how about you go get us a way up that...thing," I continued, unable to even bring myself to acknowledge it further. "I'm going to go into that cafe and warm up a bit."

As she headed off, I entered the cafe. It was small, but gave a feeling of warmth and age that was a rare thing in this modern era of gimmicks and speed. Although there were many patrons, it was somewhat quiet, as folks here seemed to be content to enjoy the peace. I ordered a cup of coffee and sat down at a table by the window that had a local newspaper on top of it. As I sipped my coffee I idly skimmed it, noting that the snow was expected to continued, but no great storms were anticipated.

Then I saw a headline on a small editorial article, and I froze. Immediately afterwards I started reading the article as quickly and thoroughly as I could.

Thirty Years of Speculation: The 'Diamond Queen Incident'

It should come as no surprise to those who have read this newspaper often that I have strong opinions on the rumors that have taken the events surrounding the deaths at the Snowspring Resort thirty years ago and catapulted it to the point of being a legend. Namely, that despite the publicity and tourism that it has provided us, we should not take a tragedy and sensationalize it to be the work of hidden monsters or spirits of the mountain. To do so continues to hide the truth of what happened, and I believe it is a truth that must be known.

However, as I write these words, I realize that it cannot be helped that we would blame the deaths on an angry spirit, in the absence of further facts. I imagine most people who grew up in this city have been warned about the Diamond Queen, the terrible woman of the mountains who will come and snatch you from your bed if you do not honor your parents, or if you do not go to sleep on time, or if you do not study hard enough, or any of the innumerable small childhood sins. In school, growing up, my class learned the Warning Song for a performance. There are even a few shops around that are named for this legendary woman, and had been for years beore the deaths at the Snowspring. When there is an easy answer such as 'it was the work of the Queen,' who would reach beyond such low-hanging fruit?

Well, there are a few, still. They call themselves the Miners for Truth. Mentioning them causes feelings ranging from amusement to annoyance from those who know who they are, and understandably so. These people come from all walks of life, with only the desire to find out what truly happened on Kiramekuyama uniting them. Some believe that there really is some mountain spirit. Others believe that the residents of Snowspring turned on each other for any number of reasons. No matter which one you talk to, you are sure to get an insistent and in-depth discourse on their personal theories, and it's this peculiar brand of enthusiasm that makes them such outcasts. However, I urge those who deride them to take a moment and truly consider the goal of their work again. Rather than simply accept that some strange tragedy occurred, shrug, and blame it on some spirit, these people are resolved to not give up until a more concrete answer is found. Perhaps that is the sort of zeal that this world needs more of nowadays. That's why I will be going to Snowspring to gather with them as the anniversary of the mystery approaches.

Who knows, perhaps this is the year that something new comes to light? After all, this year Mr. Lion Ushiromiya, sole surviving member of the prominent family that was otherwise wiped out on Kiramekuyama, will be joining us. He has conveniently claimed amnesia since the incident, but who knows what sort of memories might be 'rediscovered' in the right circumstances? I have it on good authority as well that Detective Masahiro Yamauchi, son of the Chief of Police of the prefecture, will be joining us. Perhaps he, too, could be considered a Miner? At any rate, wish us all luck, and look for the follow-up to this in a few days. Perhaps my next article will be on the front page, saying exactly how we all managed to finally solve the mystery, and put the legend of the Diamond Queen to rest!

-Shinji Yukimura


I sighed and leaned back, drinking the last of my coffee. I heard the door open and I turned to see Chou coming in. She spotted me and nodded, and I got up and exited with her.

"There's a car that should be here in a couple minutes to take us up there. ...What's wrong, sir?" she asked, noting the look on my face.

"Chief Yamauchi's son is going to be there," I replied.

"You mean that horrid man who tormented you for years, convinced that you knew more and were just hiding it? His son?"

I nodded. "And some local reporter, too. I wish that they'd told me that when we were e-mailing. I wouldn't have come."

As the car pulled up, the driver came out and opened the doors for us. "That's obviously why they didn't," replied Chou. "Father always said that only a fool makes bait unappetizing to the prey."

"Wasn't your father a doctor?"

"Yes, but that was about chess."

The car took us up the mountain quickly, and Chou spent the time by distracting me with random conversation. I appreciated it, even if it was obvious. I even returned the favor, as after ten minutes we had to drive across a wide wooden bridge. Despite it being obviously sturdy and in good repair, Chou had never been one for heights. It was past in a matter of moments, though, and after one more turn we found ourselves at a large gate, its doors standing open wide. Hanging from the top was a large white sign with 'WELCOME MINERS' written in large red script, flapping in the breeze. The snow was coming down a little more heavily, but it looked like the resort staff was doing a good job of keeping it clear.

Chou and I exited the car and stood before the gate. Farther inside the grounds I could see the large central building where I presumed we would meet the people whom I'd conversed with, as well as the other somewhat-invited guests.

"Well, shall we head inside?" asked Chou.

------------------------------------

Options

A. "Lets get this over with." (Go inside the main building)
B. "I know why I'm here, but why are you?" (Ask Chou her motives.)
C. "Hold on, I want to look around first." (Investigate the grounds.)
D. "What do we really know about these people?" (Discuss the e-mail correspondence.)
>> No. 18610 edit
>>18609
One vote for D!
>> No. 18611 edit
>>18609
Well let's see. No point in going straight inside. I'll go with option D.
>> No. 18612 edit
>>18609
B
>> No. 18666 edit
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18666
>>18609

As the car pulled away, I found myself suddenly struck with trepidation; not for the locale, but for those that had reached out to me. After all, apparently a reporter and a detective were coming. What else was there in store that I didn't know about?

Chou noted my hesitation as she was preparing to head in. "Is something wrong, sir?" she asked.

"I'm just thinking. What do we really know about these people? I mean, we've e-mailed and all, but they obviously haven't told me everything. Can we trust them?"

Chou smiled at me and carefully set her bag down on a relatively clear patch of ground. Opening it up, she pulled out a small stack of papers. On the top one seemed to be a picture of a person as well as a few paragraphs. "Did you really think I'd let you come here without doing a little digging? What kind of caretaker would I be?"

She handed me the papers as I stood in shock. "Wh-how...

"Well, you do have a pretty large corporation at your beck and call. I just had Human Resources do a little checking up. Morally grey, but highly effective. Most of this was on social media anyways." She giggled lightheartedly as I made a mental note to check my online privacy settings.

It seemed that the core group of the Miners for Truth, at least those that would be here, numbered 9, and had a wide variety of ages and occupations.

On top was the leader, Noriko Kojima, 170 centimeters or so tall, black hair, dark brown eyes, and about 50 to 55 kilos in weight. She was a woman of 35 and owner of her own confectionary shop. She had gained a bit of fame a decade earlier after an idol started demanding her cupcakes after every show. Unfortunately the idol had died a few years ago, and Noriko's shop had been in a downturn since. She had told me in our e-mails that she'd been in the city below 30 years ago when it happened, and even though she was young then she had never forgotten it.

Next was a name that I'd heard a few times, but not in connection with this. Kado Morita, standing about 180 cm tall and weighing over 75 kilos, with green eyes and black hair, dyed light brown at the roots and darker further on. At only 23 he was the head of a small, up-and-coming tech company that was making serious waves in the industry. It was said that he was as much a business genius as he was a technical one, and I'd considered investing in one of his more recent ventures. Now I was glad I hadn't. I wondered what would make a man like him so interested in these events, but moved on.

Beneath that sheet was an older man named Professor Hideaki Ootsuki, a 64 year old college professor who was about 175 cm tall, weighed about 80 kilos, with greying hair, glasses, and dark brown eyes. He seemed to be a professor in good standing at the college where he taught, so I assumed he saw this as an intellectual exercise.

A female college student was next, and given that she went to the same college as Professor Ootsuki, perhaps she was his student or assistant. Her name was Kiyomi Seki, and her area of study was law enforcement. She was 22, a little over 160 cm in height, about 63 kilos in weight, and had medium brown hair with hazel eyes.

I was startled a bit by the next one, as we had very little data on him. His name was Kenjiro Itoh, and he seemed to be a NEET. He was 42 years old. That was it. I looked at Chou, confused. She glanced at which one I was looking at and shrugged. "That's all that could be dug up. At least without crossing a few definite boundaries that would have gone beyond just'morally grey.'" I sighed and nodded, remembering that I probably wasn't really supposed to be able to see all this anyways.

Finally there were a couple pairs at the bottom. The first was a mother/daughter team, with the mother being Raira Fukuhara and the daughter being Emi. The mother was 35 and the daughter was 13, both with dark brown hair and light brown eyes. Raira was a little over 65 kilos and 160cm. Her daughter looked to be about 45 kilos and 155 cm. The mother worked as an accountant, but it seemed her greatest notoriety came from six years prior, when her husband died in a traffic collision. The police had found enough evidence to rule it homicide, but apparently there hadn't been enough hard evidence and Raira was acquitted. As for Emi, Chou's notes just said 'normal teen girl stuff.'

The second pair were a husband and wife, Norio and Sachiko Mori, respectively. He was 24 and worked as a laborer, and she was 22 and worked as a clerk in a convenience store. He was about 190 cm and 100 kilos with black hair and grey eyes, while she was 175 cm and about 58 kilos with dyed blue hair and green eyes. They'd each had a few minor issues with the police, but nothing major. They were another group of people that I couldn't figure out their reason for being interested.

I nodded, glancing over all the papers again before handing them back to her. "Thank you. I'm not sure how much of a help that will all be, but at least it's a comfort to know that on the surface they all seem to be at least somewhat respectable people. Now then, next..."

Before I could continue, I saw someone walking towards us on a path from a side building. I hadn't seen her emerge, but it was Ms. Kojima, the head of the Miners. She waved as she saw that we had noticed her, and as she came up to us Chou quickly stuffed the papers back into her bag. Noriko Kojima had a huge grin was plastered on her face as she got to us and bowed deeply.

"Mister Ushiromiya. It is a great honor to have you here. And you must be Ms. Kaneko. Welcome! I am Noriko Kojima, the head of the Miners for Truth. We've conversed via e-mail. Please, won't you come inside the main building and meet the rest of us?"

------------------------------------------

Options

A. "Absolutely, Ms. Kojima." (head inside)
B. "Where were you coming from just then, Ms. Kojima?"
C. "Actually, I was hoping to see our rooms..."
D. "Why did you invite a reporter and a detective, Ms. Kojima?"
>> No. 18667 edit
>>18666
A.

I've played enough games to know we'll learn the answer to the other questions in due time.
>> No. 18668 edit
>>18666
A.
>> No. 18669 edit
>>18666
A.
>> No. 18670 edit
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18670
>>18666

"Absolutely, Ms. Kojima. Lead the way."

As we entered and walked along the clear path to the large building I had seen from the entrance, I took a moment to glance around. To the far right, against a natural break in the mountainside, was the building that Ms. Kojima had come from. Judging by the logs placed around it and the steam rising from behind it, I guessed that it was a hot springs. My joints, not as spry as they used to be, gave a twinge as if urging me to go avail myself of the hot water as soon as I could.

A little ways away from that building was another spring which trickled down and branched into a couple ponds on the far side of the complex. One of the ponds had an antique-looking water mill set near the where the stream came in, though it was frozen stuck at the moment. As I walked on a small bridge over one of the streams I could hear water splashing, though looking at the tops of the streams and ponds they all appeared to be frozen over from edge to edge.

As we neared the center of the courtyard of the complex, I saw something that gave me pause. There was a statue standing about three meters tall, carved out of ice. Even as it was getting covered with snow, I could tell it depicted the form of a beautiful woman, seated regally on a throne that was textured to resemble gemstones. "The Diamond Queen," I heard myself murmur, and Chou touched my arm in a concerned fashion.

I walked forward and faced the representation of the being who had tormented my life for so long. Whoever had carved her had done an excellent and detailed job, and her face reflected a quiet, predatory eagerness. She seemed a snow leopard ready to pounce down upon me. However, strangely, for the first time since coming here, I felt no trepidation. Instead I simply ran my fingers along her icy throne, tracing the contours of the fake gems. I wasn't sure why, but I felt the need to greet her as I would an opponent for a badminton match. "My name is Lion Ushiromiya, and I am honored to be your opponent. I look forward to a fair and spirited match." The wind gusted slightly harder, and the cold seemed to pierce my skin for an instant. Was that...?

I shook my head to stop that train of thought before my imagination ran away with me. As I turned my head away from the statue, I saw another small building. It was a stable for horses, currently empty, but something about it...horses...

"These horses are magnificent, Grandfather!" I said to the old man beside me. The horses were huge Clydesdales, their breath steaming in the air as they pulled us along in the nighttime snow. To me they seemed like forces of nature itself, gracefully prancing through the snow despite the weight of the carriage behind them. As for the man I was speaking with, I had seen his picture often enough to know that I was remembering Kinzo Ushiromiya. We were both bundled up tightly against the nighttime and the snow that was coming down much more forcefully than it had the previous afternoon. We were in a horse-drawn carriage, and I somehow knew that there were people behind me, but no matter how I wished I could not turn my head. I was a prisoner, trapped in my own memory.

"That they are, Lion! As strong and graceful and healthy as I, eh? At least for this year!"

I laughed. "And for many years to come, I would hope. If there's anything we've learned, it's that no mere illness is enough to fell the head of the Ushiromiya family."

He nodded and smiled, but then his face took on a more somber aspect. "For now, at least. Though no man is immortal. Indeed, I feel the weight of each passing day upon my shoulders like a stone, and I know that there will come a day when I cannot stand under the weight. Yet, you have grown into a fine young man, Lion, a man I'm proud to know is my successor. With you leading the family, I will be able to go to my grave knowing that all will be well. But now is not the time for an old man's reflections! We are here to celebrate! I know that you will get many more at the party tonight, but here's an early one!"

He handed me a rectangular object, wrapped in red and gold wrapping paper with a shining golden ribbon around it. "Happy birthday, Lion!" said Kinzo. I hugged him and thanked him, and began to unwrap it, revealing...


I was back in the present, and Chou was talking to me. I blinked, and tried to focus on what she was saying.

"...alright? Sir? Mr. Ushiromiya?" Her face showed deep concern. Behind her, Ms. Kojima looked worried, but also greatly intrigued. There was a flash of...something, in her eyes. Triumph, perhaps? Then it was gone. Or maybe it was just my imagination.

"I'm sorry, Ms. Kaneko. I just got lost in my own thoughts for a moment. Maybe that age you love pointing out is finally starting to get to me." I laughed to lighten the mood, but Chou wasn't convinced.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

----------------------------------------

Options

A. Explain what you just experienced to the two people with you.
B. Brush it off as no big deal.
C. Tell Chou that you'll talk about it with her later.
D. Give a vague hint that you might be remembering things, but don't explain fully.

Last edited at 15/12/27(Sun)09:50:29
>> No. 18671 edit
>>18670
C.
>> No. 18672 edit
>>18670
C sounds good.
>> No. 18673 edit
>>18670
Sea!
>> No. 18674 edit
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18674
>>18670

"It's fine!" I said, a bit more forcefully than I'd intended. Chou looked a little shocked, but I recovered quickly. Glancing at Ms. Kojima, I looked back to my friend and nodded. "Just not feeling too well. Maybe it's the altitude. We'll talk about it later, and I'll give you all the symptoms then. Right now might not be the best time to discuss it though," I said, pausing for a moment before continuing. "Considering we're standing in the snow, that is."

Chou was always quick to understand me, and this time was no exception. She knew that I was suspicious of these people, and caught enough of my meaning that she backed me up immediately. "I understand. It might be that new blood pressure medication. I'll look you over, and until then let me know if it gets worse."

I looked to Ms. Kojima, and her expression was still one of concern. Perhaps I really had just imagined that look of triumph a couple seconds ago... Collecting myself, I stood tall and nodded towards the large building at the back of the complex. "Shall we?"

The path to the door was ornately designed and completely clear of ice and snow. In fact, as I reached the end of it, I noticed that it actually felt warm under my shoes. I looked to Ms. Kojima and she laughed. "Yes," she said, "we all have that realization at some point. It's heated. According to the owner, whom you'll be meeting shortly, it was fairly easy to do. Don't ask me to explain it though, it's all way over my head."

We entered the building together and took off our shoes. Inside was a wide, grand hallway, decorated finely with vases, paneling, and paintings. There were two sets of stairs I could immediately see, one going up the wall on either side of us. They terminated at the second floor landing, and on the center of the second floor wall there was hung a massive picture. It seemed to be what the ice sculpture outside was based on, as a woman clad in a shimmering gown and seated on a throne of diamonds stared down at me.

"I told him to take it down..." I heard Ms. Kojima mumble beside me, before directing my attention to those who were in the hall or coming to investigate the sound of the opening door. "Mr. Ushiromiya, may I present the other guests?"

She first pointed at a pair of men whom I didn't recognize from the papers. "The standing man there is Mr. Masahiro Yamauchi, and the seated man is Mr. Kenjiro Itoh." As I introduced myself and Chou, I noted that at least I now had a face to go with the NEET's name. He was short, only a little one and a half meters if I had to guess, yet very rotund. His black hair was cut short, and there was a bit of grey around his temples. Yet there was an intensity in his dark brown eyes that I found unnerving, like in once glance he had sized me up. Then, of course, there was the detective. He reminded me a lot of his father, standing just under two meters tall with dark brown hair cut in a loose mop and green eyes peeking out from beneath the bangs. Still, there was a friendliness to his gaze that hadn't been in his father's, and I didn't know what to make of that. He made no mention of being a detective, and I pretended that I thought he was just another Miner. Mr. Itoh merely expressed that it was a pleasure to have me here and then clammed right up.

The next to appear at the top of the stairs were Raira and Emi Fukuhara. Raira seemed to be almost hurrying to meet me, while Emi was quietly and timidly descending the steps. A moment later, a middle-aged man wearing glasses came around the same wall that they had come from, holding a small notebook. "Ms. Fukuhara, please, just one more qu-" The man paused as he spotted me, and a huge grin split his face. I hadn't yet had a chance to introduce myself to Emi before he was butting in.

"A pleasure and an honor to meet you, Mr. Ushiromiya! My name is Shinji Yukimura, and I'm a reporter. I'm hoping to do a piece on this gathering on the anniversary of the tragedy. Please, may I have a few words about your feelings at the moment?"

Thankfully, Ms. Kojima came to my rescue. "Mr. Yukimura! I said that you could come on the condition that your primary role was to observe only, and that you'd behave yourself. I cannot permit you to trouble Mr. Ushiromiya so before he's even had a chance to introduce himself and his assistant to everyone. Now please, lunch should be served shortly. Would it be too hard for you to rein in your reporter's instincts until we've at least eaten?"

Seemingly chastised, the reporter slinked off. Judging by the way the Fukuhara family stayed near Ms. Kojima, I could only assume that he'd been harassing them before I'd made myself a target.

Over the next couple minutes everyone else that I'd seen in the files came to the grand hallway and introduced themselves to me. As everyone was apparently anticipating being called to lunch soon, they continued to hang around, breaking off into smaller groups. I had a moment to breathe, but was that what I really wanted?

------------------------------------------

Options

A. Chat with Ms. Kojima and the Fukuhara family.
B. Chat with Mr. Itoh, Detective Yamauchi, Professor Ootsuki, and Ms. Seki.
C. Chat with Mr. Morita, Mr. and Mrs. Mori, and Mr. Yukimura.
D. Chat with Chou Kaneko.
>> No. 18675 edit
>>18674
B.
>> No. 18676 edit
>>18674
C
>> No. 18677 edit
>>18674
C
...
Mostly because I'm convinced that chatting with Professor Ootsuki never leads to anything productive
>> No. 18680 edit
>>18674

I found myself wishing to avoid the policeman as much as possible, and while talking to Ms. Kojima and the Fukuhara family might be nice, it likely wouldn't be very productive. There was one person here whom I found myself continuing to question his reasoning, however, and I decided to go talk to his group, though it meant possibly weathering the questions of the far-too-eager aging reporter.

I walked over to the group that contained the young businessman Kado Morita, Norio and Sachiko Mori, and Shinji Yukimura. Chou followed attentively at my side. Kado was clearly the center of attention for the group, with Shinji trying to get comments from the somewhat-famous businessman and the husband and wife rather blatantly working to ingratiate themselves to him. Kado, for his part, was as solid as a rock in the sea, wearing the calm smile that I'd termed the 'diplomatic shield' a while ago. It said nothing, but it did it with perfect politeness and grace. The others were so focused on him that he was the first to notice me coming over.

"Mr. Ushiromiya, it is an honor to finally meet you in person." He executed a perfect bow, then drew a card from his pocket. "I am Kado Morita, head of MoriTech, a rapidly-growing company in the field of computers and pioneers in the realm of virtual reality." He bowed again and offered his card to me with both hands. Just like that, he had trapped me in the Business Waltz. Is that why he'd come? To network?

I took the card with both hands and read it carefully, as was customary, before taking my card holder from the inner jacket of my pocket. I placed his card there and withdrew my own. "A pleasure to meet you as well. I have heard great things about you and your company, Mr. Morita. Perhaps at some point, when this weekend excursion is through, we could meet to discuss your plans for the future of MoriTech, and how my corporation might be able to help you achieve those goals."

"I look forward to it eagerly, sir," he replied, taking my card and reading it just as carefully before putting it away. I'd learned over the past couple decades to know when I was around someone I'd have to watch out for, and right now Kado Morita, despite, or perhaps due to, his calm and well-groomed exterior, was triggering every internal warning I had.

"Mr. Ushiromiya!" said Sachiko, butting in on my thoughts, her bright blue hair gleaming garishly in the light. "I'm sorry that my husband and I have no cards to give you, but I just wanted to say again that we find you very admirable, and love to read about all the great things your corporation does!" When they'd been introduced to us by Ms. Kojima, they'd both fawned over me as well, and compared to Mr. Morita's graceful social dance, these two were like the proverbial bulls in a china shop. They wanted me to like them, and I'd known enough similar people to guess that they were after some kind of favor. I thought I'd give them a test.

"Thank you very much, Mrs. Mori. I'm glad that people like the fact that we try our best to contribute to humanity however we can. I'm especially proud of the Broken Wing Foundation and all the good it does for our dwindling natural wildlife."

"Oh, um, yes!" said Norio. "It's terrible, the effects that industry are causing." I sighed internally. Test failed. The Broken Wing Foundation was created to help orphans and their families, and had nothing to do with wildlife. For what it was worth, the slight smile on Mr. Morita's face told me that he knew that they'd just failed as well. Still, I didn't want to burn any bridges with the whole weekend ahead.

"It truly is," I replied, then turned to Mr. Yukimura, who seemed to almost be in physical pain restraining himself from asking me question after question. "Alright, Mr. Yukimura, I can give you something for your paper, but I propose a deal. In return for my statements and for getting to interview me throughout this weekend, I get to ask you questions as well. After all, surely a hard-working reporter like yourself knows plenty of things that I might not. What do you say?"

The man seemed shocked, and for a moment I felt pity for him. It seemed that he was far more used to having to pry information out of people than to have them volunteer it, and that was no way to live life. Still, he nodded and said, "Absolutely Mr. Ushiromiya. Everything I may happen to know is yours. Now, about that statement, would you care-"

However, as if on cue, a stout man of about 35 came out from the branching hallway on the ground floor. "Attention please! Lunch is ready in the dining hall, if all guests would care to follow me?"

--------------------------------------

Options

A. Go and eat without further ado.
B. Give the reporter his statement first.
C. Try to get someone to tell me who that man is before going
D. Try to get settled in my room first, and possibly miss lunch.
>> No. 18711 edit
>>18680
B.
>> No. 18712 edit
>>18680
Bee!
>> No. 18713 edit
>>18712
B, because bandwagon.
>> No. 18744 edit
File 145205311053.jpg - (164.11KB , 1280x854 , sherwood_room_long_table_landscape_with_events_lig.jpg )
18744
>>18680

As the group began following the man, I held Shinji back. He had seemed disappointed at the interruption, but when he realized I was still willing to at least give him a short statement, he was instantly attentive.

"I'm proud to be here, with the Miners for Truth, and I'm just as ready as any of them to give it my all to uncover what happened here. Perhaps even more so, because even though I have been told who I am, I want to recover my memories. For me, it's not just about bringing peace to the dead, but restoring my old self to life. I intend to give it my all, and I truly hope we solve every mystery contained within those tragic days."

As he finished scribbling in his notepad, he grinned. "Thank you, Mr. Ushiromiya. That will work wonderfully in my article. I can tell you've done this before."

I smiled in return. "It comes with being the head of a business." I patted him on the back as we walked in the direction the others had gone. "Consider that a down-payment on the questions I'll be asking later."

We walked in the direction the others had gone, and saw the man waiting at a door that branched off from the hallway. He stood by the door patiently as we walked up, and inside I was treated to the sight of a large dining hall, with a ceiling that seemed as white and elegant as the falling snow outside the windows. There were two long tables in it with places set on each, though even with the whole group seated we only took up one. I apparently had been saved a seat of honor at the head of the table with a spot for Chou on the other side, but otherwise the seating appeared to be random. Shinji made his way towards an open seat at the other end, and so I found myself seated next to Masahiro Yamauchi. He smiled pleasantly in welcome, a smile which I did my best to return so that I could see what the end goal of his facade might be.

There had been conversations going on as I'd arrived, though too many to keep track of. I'd noticed, though, that the instant I'd arrived Ms. Kojima had fallen silent and watched as I'd walked in. She was staring at me still, as if probing me with her gaze, but thankfully the man from before had taken a spot in front of everyone, and coughed politely to get everyone's attention. At his back were two young women in maid outfits that had to be identical twins, each standing beside a large food cart laden with covered plates. As the room quieted, the man smiled.

"Welcome, once more, Miners for Truth, and I would especially like to welcome you, Mr. Ushiromiya, to my humble Snowspring Resort. I hope that this weekend gives you all what you seek, and I, Keichiro Minazuki, as well as the rest of the staff here are at your disposal. Now, if I may, I'd like to present to you this lunch that our chef has handcrafted for you all, so please, eat up and enjoy yourselves!"

The twins pushed the carts forward, placing plates of salads, soups, and entrees out for everyone. Ms. Kojima seemed to finally be focusing on something other than me, and judging by the aromas wafting off of the plates I couldn't say I blamed her. We all began to dig in.

-------------------------------------

Options

A. Focus on the meal and try to limit small talk.
B. Converse with Detective Yamauchi
C. Try to get more information out of Mr. Minazuki about the resort and himself.
D. Try to listen in for whatever scraps of other conversations I could glean
>> No. 18745 edit
>>18744
I guess I'll go with D
and hope for drama.
>> No. 18746 edit
>>18745
D for me
>> No. 18763 edit
>>18744
D.
>> No. 18786 edit
>>18744

Sometimes the smartest thing to do at a large business lunch is to sit back and listen to everyone else talk. It was a lesson I'd taken to heart, and I decided to see if it would serve me in good stead again. I quietly savored my meal and let my gaze travel over the others here, never stopping long enough to look like I was staring. My focus drifted from conversation to conversation, and while I wasn't sure if anything I learned was especially significant, it was better than nothing:

1. Emi Fukuhara ate very rapidly, keeping her face pointed at her plate the entire time. Her mother, Raira, was much more animated and open, but did not interact with her daughter at all.

2. Our host, Keichiro Minazuki, and the rotund NEET Kenjiro Itoh spent a sold five minutes conversing with each other as to whether too many juniper berries had been used in conjunction with the venison. It seemed Kenjiro knew quite a bit about high class cooking and had quite expensive tastes.

3. Kiyomi Seki, the college student, was conversing with Professor Ootsuki about something I couldn't quite hear. Then the professor put his hand on hers, but she pulled it away quickly, looking uncomfortable.

4. Masahiro Yamauchi tried repeatedly to strike up a conversation with me. I gave him enough non-responses that he eventually gave up and started chatting with Chou. She kept him busy with trivialities, and I reflected on how lucky I was to have such a cunning friend.

5. Ms. Kojima and Mr. Morita were seated next to each other, and spent most of the meal talking. Mr. Morita was taking notes on a small pad. As the meal wrapped up, he put the pad into a pocket.

The maids cleared the plates and Ms. Kojima stood up. Addressing us all, she said, "Alright, I know we'd all like to thank Mr. Minazuki for allowing us to have full run of this resort for this weekend. We Miners have never had a better chance to figure out what happened here in 1987, with...almost... everything restored to looking exactly the way it was, as best as we can tell. Now that our honored guest Mr. Ushiromiya himself is here, I shall call our first meeting to order at 2 P.M. in the bar. Please be sure to be there, as I hear Mr. Yamauchi, our newest member, has brought something we'll all be very excited to see. I hope everyone's looking forward to it!"

With that, the group broke up. There was about an hour until the meeting. The twin maids came up, and one offered to have them show me to my room.

--------------------------------

Options

A. Go to my room, then converse with the maids.
B. Go to my room, then converse with Chou.
C. Decline and wander the grounds.
D. Decline and try to find out what the detective has that everyone should be excited about.
>> No. 18819 edit
>>18786
B!
>> No. 18836 edit
B for me
>> No. 18845 edit
File 145386995984.jpg - (47.01KB , 640x360 , Four_Seasons_Hotel_George_V_Paris.jpg )
18845
>>18786

On the way, I found out the twins were named Ayame and Yuri, though I would be hopeless to tell them apart. Chou was the one who conversed with them. I admit that I was lost in thought over what had transpired so far, and that flash that I had experienced in the courtyard. It was a memory. It had to be. Perhaps I really was going to be able to reclaim my past here.

"Here you are, then," said one of the maids.
"The Queen's Suite," said the other. "Ms. Kaneko has the adjoining room."

"The Queen's Suite, eh?" asked Chou. "I'm impressed. This resort certainly does put a lot of emphasis on the Diamond Queen. Has it always been like that?"

One maid shook her head while the other replied, "It has been for as long as we have worked here, madam, but I'm told that before the tragedy it was simply another mountain resort. Is there anything else that you might need us for?" she asked, skillfully blocking further questions.

"No, thank you," I replied, giving them both a tip as they left. Chou was already looking around as I turned back to her, and I couldn't blame her. The room was opulent for this resort, and that was from the perspective of one who knows opulence. The walls were lined in white and gold, and swirls of blue in the upholstry and bedspread drew in the vivid blue of the carpet. On the far wall was a smaller copy of the picture we had seen in the entryway, and the large grandfather clock beside me showed that we still had plenty of time before the meeting in the bar. I briefly considered doing the responsible thing and unpacking all my things, but decided that it wouldn't hurt to relax a bit first. With the groan of age I lowered myself onto a chair and let my eyes scan over the room again. There was something tugging at my mind, but I couldn't put my finger on it. After a few moments I found myself in a staring contest with the painting of the Diamond Queen. I frowned and looked away as Chou came back in from a side door.

"Clearly meant for children whose parents get to enjoy this room," she sulked. "Just once I wish that the adjoining room was equal to the best room." She fell silent, but when I didn't fill the space she had obviously intended for a humorous quip, she sat herself down gently in the chair beside mine. "We're alone, sir," she said, quietly. "Would you like to tell me what happened outside?"

I knew that I should, but for a moment I hesitated. What if she thought I was going mad? ...WAS I going mad...?

"Did...did you remember something?"

I sighed, and resigned myself to tell her what happened. If I could trust anyone here, I could trust Chou Kaneko. "I...think so. It was like a daydream, really. I could see it in my mind, but more vivid than any flight of fancy. I was talking with Kinzo Ushiromiya, calling him 'Grandfather.' We were riding in a horse-drawn carriage at night in the snow. He was talking about how I was his heir, and how he was proud of me. Then he gave me...something. Some kind of present."

"What was it?" she asked in a near-whisper.

"I don't know. I can't remember," I replied, slowly getting up and walking over to my luggage. To give myself something to do, I began to unpack. She came over to assist me, and we worked in silence for a time.

Eventually, as she was hanging up one of my jackets, she said, "It's what you wanted though, right sir? To remember your past?"

I chuckled. "Yes, yes it is. I think a part of me doubted that it would ever happen though. Now, with what I saw, it's a very real possibility, and I'm surrounded by a bunch of strangers, some of whom I swear are looking at me like I'm a meal. I fear I might be losing my nerve." I tried to cover the shake in my voice with a smile, but Chou came over to me anyway.

Squeezing my shoulder, she looked me in the eyes. "Courage, sir. You've already shown it by coming here. Now you've just got to hold on to it and face your past. I believe in you."

I smiled and patted her hand. "Thank you, Ms. Kaneko. You'll probably have to tell me that quite a lot over the next few days."

She smirked. "Probably. Going senile is such a sad thing."

I chuckled, and just like that she had lifted the weight off my shoulders. We finished putting my things away, and as we did I asked her about what she'd heard from Masahiro, but unfortunately she hadn't been able to get much out of him. He wasn't even saying anything that could definitely be a lie, but he certainly wasn't advertising that he was a detective. Chou went to unpack her own things, denying my offer to help as always, so instead I took a brief shower to refresh myself before the meeting.

With that, our time was spent, and we went down to the bar. Everyone had already gathered or was close behind us, and Mr. Minazuki was getting drinks for everyone. Once everyone seemed situated, Ms. Kojima called for everyone's attention.

"Alright, this annual meeting of the Miners for Truth has begun, and to be perfectly honest I don't think we should waste time getting to the biggest development we've had in a long while in our quest to uncover what truly happened here. Mr. Yamauchi?"

Masahiro stood up, holding a small briefcase. "Thank you, Ms. Kojima." He addressed the group as a whole while he placed the briefcase on the bar and began spinning the combination locks on the latches. "As you all know, having Mr. Lion Ushiromiya here opens up plenty of new possibilities for us to find out new facts about this case. However, sadly Mr. Ushiromiya has no memory of what happened here. When I heard he was coming, I realized that we had to do all that we could to get him to unlock those memories." Perhaps on cue, the latches on the briefcase sprung open and he opened the lid, withdrawing something from inside. "With that in mind, I decided to pull some strings and track down a rumor I'd heard a long time ago but hadn't thought worth following up on, as even if it were real it wouldn't have helped us. Yet I found what I was looking for, and perhaps, together with Mr. Ushiromiya, it might prove the key to this whole thing."

He came over to me and smiled in a way I couldn't read. "Even if not, it seems right that I should give this to you, Mr. Ushiromiya. After all, it is your property." Pulling his hand from behind his back, he showed something to me that sent me reeling back into the past. I was there in the carriage with Grandfather just as much as I was in the hotel bar, and in each location I was looking at a large scarlet book covered in gold filigree. I remembered what it was, but I didn't have the strength to say it.

Masahiro said it instead. "The journal of Lion Ushiromiya, first entry on the night of November 29th, 1987."

The entire room was filled with murmurs and gasps of shock, but they sounded far away to me. All I could see was the book, and all I could hear was my heart beating in my ears.

---------------------------------------

Options

A. Accept the book and start reading.
B. Accept the book but don't read it yet.
C. Tell Masahiro to keep it.
D. Ask Masahiro how he got it.
>> No. 18846 edit
>>18845
B. I imagine he read it the guy.
>> No. 18847 edit
>>18845
B again!
>> No. 18861 edit
B is best
>> No. 18881 edit
File 144072483258.png - (2.36MB , 2429x1366 , book1.png )
18881
>>18845

Swallowing to help alleviate my suddenly dry throat, I grasped the book in slightly shaking hands and held it as he stepped back. The scarlet leather binding felt cooler than I had expected it to, but perhaps that was my imagination. I ran my fingers along the spine, feeling the rough texture interrupted by the intermittent gold accents. Inside were the words of another me, a stranger whose body I had grown up in and taken as my own. Grasping the cover, apprehension and curiosity warred within me.

Chou gave a light cough, and that brought me back to reality. I looked out at the room and saw everyone gazing intently at me in silence.

"Thank you for this, Mr. Yamauchi," I said to break the moment. "I am in your debt. Now, I know everyone might be mildly interested to know what words are written here." I was relieved that my understatement got the low chuckles I'd been hoping for. "However, please, give me some time to process this. If I may, I would like to first read this when I am alone, though I promise that I'll share with everyone anything that might be important for the investigation."

This resulted in a great deal of grumbling, as they seemed more hostile to the idea than I'd anticipated. Norio Mori was the first to reply directly, though. He stood up from his chair and put his hands on his hips, saying, "Oh? And why is that? There's no telling what may be important, after all. Could it be that you want a chance to filter out anything you don't want us to know? Or maybe you want first crack at any secrets you may have written, like where certain things may be hidden!" At the last part, Sachiko reached up and grasped her husband's arm, and he seemed to calm. "Like, um, weapons or whatnot..." he finished, quieter. Mr. Itoh specifically seemed to watch him with sharp eyes.

Ms. Kojima chose that moment to speak up. "Please, Mr. Mori. We're all dying to hear the contents of that journal, but as Mr. Yamauchi pointed out, it is Mr. Ushiromiya's property. We cannot force him to read it if he doesn't want to." Then she turned to me. "Truly, though, Mr. Ushiromiya, please. I know that you've only met us today, but we are your best hope for finding out the truth of what happened to your family if you give us all the information you can. We have precious little time here, only three more days, and we'd work best together and here. I understand your reluctance, but surely the truth is more important?"

I frowned in thought, and idly noticed that Detective Yamauchi had his hand in his pocket, apparently grasping something.

----------------------------------------

Options

A. Hold firm, and say it'll be read after I read it alone.
B. Ask Mr. Mori what he thinks is hidden.
C. Ask the detective what he's got in his pocket.
D. Give in and read it.
>> No. 18882 edit
>>18881
D. Now I kinda want to know.
>> No. 18883 edit
>>18881
B.

For now I'm more interested in what these people are trying to get out of this.
>> No. 18899 edit
>>18881
B.
>> No. 18902 edit
File 145547194490.jpg - (172.79KB , 642x1083 , Poke the Bear.jpg )
18902
>>18881

I could feel the tide in the room turning against me, it was true. I wasn't going to give up just yet though, and something about how Mr. Mori had talked had piqued my interest. So I held up my hand in a placating fashion towards Ms. Kojima, and tried to deflect the conversation a little longer.

"Hold on one moment, please, Ms. Kojima. Mr. Mori, what do you hope to find? I imagine the police got everything they could already."

Mr. Mori stammered, trying to come up with something to say, but then Mrs. Mori stood. "While that's true, Mr. Ushiromiya, the state that this place was in when the police got here means there still could be lots of things undiscovered! After all, avalanches do have a way of burying things, don't they? You know as well as us that a lot of the bodies were never even recovered! If they could miss bodies, surely the police could miss other things too! Hidden things! I mean, they'd just be more pieces to the puzzle, right?"

Professor Ootsuki stood up. "Mrs. Mori, please! We all know that you and your husband don't care at all about what happened here thirty years ago. You're just after the supposed wealth of the Diamond Queen. Well, as a scholar, I must say that it's utterly reprehensible, and totally impossible anyways. The Diamond Queen is only a myth! And to use an investigation such as ours as an excuse to go treasure hunting is deplorable!"

"Oh and I'm sure you don't have your own reasons!" shouted back Sachiko Mori. "Just how important would solving this mess be for your career, Prof? I'm sure fame and fortune never entered your mind, just as sure as I am that you brought your little T.A. along for purely educational purposes. How many tests has she passed between the sheets, eh, Prof?"

Kiyomi Seki spoke up for herself, "I am writing a dissertation on the events that happened here! That is all! Professor Ootsuki was kind enough to help, since this is his hobby!"

"Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetie. My husband and I may not be as smart as you two, but at least we know who we are, what we want, and aren't ashamed by it."

An uncomfortable silence followed, which was then broken by five simple words, "The Diamond Queen is real."

We all turned to look at Emi Fukuhara, who was nervously looking at the floor to avoid our gazes. "And, and you shouldn't make her angry, saying that she's not, Professor. Or by saying you want her diamonds, Mrs. Mori. That's why she brought down the avalanche on Mr. Ushiromiya's family and the others. She's a very powerful monster, and shouldn't be mocked."

Silence fell again, and Ms. Kojima looked to me nervously. "I...apologize for that outburst from our group, Mr. Ushiromiya. Truth be told, we let anyone in who wishes to work to figure out what happened, and with the case being thirty years old, anyone left probably has ulterior motives. What I said before still stands, though. We are the best hope you have for finding out the truth. So please forgive us, and won't you please read what is written?"

--------------------------------

Options

A. Read from the book
B. Stall, in the hopes of them fighting again
C. Ask Emi about the Diamond Queen
D. Deny the request ouright, after that display
>> No. 18905 edit
>>18902
C.
>> No. 18908 edit
>>18902
C.
>> No. 18909 edit
>>18905
seacats
>> No. 18992 edit
File 145558973041.jpg - (235.81KB , 600x784 , 040-yukionna.jpg )
18992
>>18902

"One more moment, please!" I said. Detective Yamauchi's hand clenched in his pocket, and I caught a bit of paper peeking out from its corner. The rest of the room was still tense, but I still commanded their attention and respect. It suddenly seemed important to me that I understand the legend of this Diamond Queen. I had researched it somewhat, of course, but had dismissed it as mere folklore. Now that I was here, surrounded by the legend, as it were, it sounded strangely plausible. Perhaps the legend itself was the wall blocking me from the truth. If that was the case, then it only made sense to know more.

"Emi?" I asked softly, and she looked up long enough to meet my gaze for a moment before nervously looking back down. "What do you know about the Diamond Queen? Why do you think she is real?"

She hesitated, then said, "She...she's a Yuki-onna..."

"Now, dear..." began Raira, putting her hand on her daughter's shoulder.

Emi shrugged it off and said, forcefully, "No! He wants to know! He HAS to know!" She turned back to me and a torrent of earnest words spilled from her. "The Diamond Queen bears a lot of the hallmarks of a Yuki-onna. They're women, often portrayed as young and beautiful, associated with snow or ice, and are often known for luring people into the mountains where they reside. Now, there's a lot that doesn't quite line up, but every prefecture has their own variation. The simple fact that Yuki-onna are mentioned so widely indicates that there has to be some kernel of truth. Then you have to take into account that the town below is actually surprisingly old, founded in the Muromachi period. That also happens to be the time that the first recorded tales of the Yuki-onna occurred, though who knows how long oral traditions had mentioned them previously. But for the Diamond Queen, a Yuki-onna, to figure so prominently in the city's folklore means that there was almost certainly something real being referenced! Even the Warning Song is mentioned in this city's records almost all the way back to the founding! I know! I've looked through them all!"

A desperate look had entered her eyes. "Please, Mr. Ushiromiya! She has already spared you once! Grant her her due respect, or you might suffer the same fate as the others!"

Her mother reached out to her again, "Emi! Please! Monsters aren't real!"

"They are real, mother! I've seen them! I know you've seen them too! Why don't you ever admit it?!" With that, Emi burst into tears and fled the room.

"Emi, wait!" shouted her mother as she ran after her. Her daughter had quite a lead, though, so she paused at the door and bowed hurriedly. "Please forgive us. We'll be back when she calms down." With that, she left as well, while the rest of us sat there, stunned.

-----------------------------------------

Options

A. Wait a couple moments, then read the book.
B. Ask for more information about the Diamond Queen legend from the remaining people
C. Suggest a break to cool our heads and read the book in private.
D. Ask about the Warning Song
>> No. 18999 edit
>>18992
D.
>> No. 19000 edit
>>18999
a

Last edited at 16/02/16(Tue)14:10:48
>> No. 19001 edit
>>18992
C.
>> No. 19011 edit
>>19000
A
>> No. 19027 edit
File 145576845728.jpg - (76.71KB , 500x375 , keeping-a-journal1.jpg )
19027
>>18992

For a couple moments we all sat in silence, listening to the receding footsteps. Most of us were looking at the door, but as I turned my head I saw that both Ms. Kojima and Detective Yamauchi were still looking at me. The detective still had whatever was in his pocket clenched in his hand, but his face was placid.

After a couple more tense moments had passed, we all silently realized that they wouldn't be back soon, and more eyes turned back to me and the book I held in my hands. It felt heavy in my fingers, like it was carrying the weight of their expectations as well. Knowing that I probably couldn't hold it off much longer, I sighed. "I...apologize for delaying. I'll read it now..." With that, I opened the book and looked down at the handwriting of a person I used to be.

November 29th, 1987

Hel Journ Alright, I admit, I don't really know how to start a journal. Grandfather says this is a way for me to catalog my life and coming accomplishments, and that he wishes he had had one growing up to reminisce on nowadays. Perhaps that is how I should write this then? Yes.

Hello, myself. It's my birthday! I turned 21 today, and I am definitely happy with how today turned out. As a family we all decided a couple months ago to make this a group vacation, partly to celebrate my birthday and partly to celebrate the fact that Grandfather has regained his health after a few years of medical troubles. It's great to see everyone together for an actual celebration, rather than the family conference we had a month and a half ago. I mean, those are fun at times, but they tend to be so serious, always steeped in business and accounts. Now everyone's having a chance to relax and be themselves! We came to the Snowspring Resort, and actually rented out the whole place for today. Father, Rudolf, Kyrie, George, Battler, and I went snowshoeing, and the scenery around here is wonderful. When we got back we found a bunch of snowmen that Ange and Maria had made to welcome us back. I told them I was honored. Jessica was annoyed that her asthma kept her from it, of course, but she and the others got to enjoy the hot springs here, so I think it's an alright trade.

I suppose I should explain how everyone is right now, since who knows how much people might change over the years, eh? Grandfather is, well, Grandfather. A brilliant businessman, really, and he loves taking big gambles as much as ever. Still, he makes sure that we know he loves his family on a routine basis. Mother and Father are doing great, though Mother keeps getting her headaches. Still, now that Grandfather's feeling better and I convinced Father to listen to Mother's advice more often, they're not nearly as stressed. It's good seeing them be close again. Sis is doing alright too. I can't believe she's in university already! And for music! I always joked that if her band started taking off that we might have to get the Ushiromiya family into the record business, but now it doesn't seemed so far-fetched. It's not really my style of music, but she performs it well.

Uncle Hideyoshi is the life of the party, as always, and I'm glad for it, too. I'd hate to see what Aunt Eva would be like without him. It's not that I don't love her, it's just that I've seen flashes of incredible ruthlessness with her, especially with how she pushes George. Between the two of them, though, they've raised a great son, and I'm proud to have him as my cousin. He's officially started up his own business, and has already paid off the loan. We all offered to help him, of course, but he said that he wanted to forge his own path to start with. Here's hoping.

Uncle Rudolf and Aunt Kyrie are doing well, though I wish that I didn't always feel like they need someone to act as their conscience. Some things I've heard about their business have got me worried, but hopefully they're just rumors. At least Battler came back into the family last year, though! I'm not sure I can really support his slacker nature as far as his life goes, but he's definitely a hoot to be around! His bond with Ange is wonderful to see, too. I think she's the reason he came back, honestly. I just hope she doesn't follow in his footsteps as she grows up.

Aunt Rosa's fashion business is steadily making ground, and I think she's finally come to terms with being an unwed mother. I don't understand why there's such a stigma on it, personally, so it's good to see. I think it's affected Maria, too. She's finally starting to...grow up? It's a weird choice of phrasing, I know, but it's applicable in this case. Her cute act was fun and all, but it's good to see her starting to act her age a bit more.

We offered to let the servants come too, of course. Most decided to just take their own vacation, but Genji and Gohda came. Seeing Gohda fighting to resist the urge to jump back into the resort's kitchen while dinner was being prepared was hilarious! Kumasawa came too, even though she's not really a servant anymore. I know that ever since she retired she's been spending time with her family, especially that nephew she dotes on, but it was good to see her again, and she said she misses us too.

So anyway, tonight's party was a blast. Mr. Heiji Minazuki was a great host, the food his two chefs cooked was excellent (even without Gohda's touch), and there was some dancing, party games, and plenty of laughter. That's all you really need in life, and I hope I don't forget that when I get older. Family, friends, and laughter.

Wow, the snow's really coming down now. We're staying over the weekend, and the resort is having a party to celebrate the beginning of December, but I'm really starting to worry about other people trying to get up here. I hope anyone trying to make it here stays safe!

Anyways, good night, me! I'll check in with you tomorrow, but for now I need sleep.


That was the end of the first entry, and as I finished reading, Emi and Raira returned to the room. I paused, and looked at them. Emi's eyes were red and swollen from crying, and she'd returned to her previous withdrawn demeanor. Raira looked at everyone, embarrassed, as she guided her daughter back to their previous spots.

"Is that all?" asked Mr. Morita, thoughtfully.

I did a quick check. "No, there's a few entries more."

--------------------------------------

Options

A. Keep reading
B. Ask for what everyone thought
C. Ask to be allowed to read the rest privately first, and relay them later, now that you've proven you will.
D. Ask Emi and Raira if they're alright.
>> No. 19028 edit
>>19027
A
>> No. 19031 edit
>>19027
A.
>> No. 19032 edit
>>19027
A.
>> No. 19072 edit
File 145576845728.jpg - (76.71KB , 500x375 , keeping-a-journal1.jpg )
19072
>>19027

As no one seemed inclined to speak up, I went to the next entry.

November 30th, 1987

I had a very strange dream last night, and it stuck with me throughout the day, so I should probably write it down:

I was walking down a stone hallway, like in a Western-style castle. There was a strong breeze blowing in my face, but it actually felt warm instead of cold, even though I could see snow coming down outside of the hallway's windows. I know that I had more to the dream before that, but I don't remember it. Anyways, I was walking along the hallway, when I started to hear a woman's voice, singing a mournful song. There weren't any words, but I could hear the sadness and longing in the notes. I followed the hallway through many twists and turns, trying to find the woman, and I finally found myself in an amazing room. It was large, like a cathedral, and the walls were made of diamonds. The woman was there, wandering around, singing and crying. Her teardrops turned into diamonds as I watched , and her gown glittered with them too. I tried to call out to her, but suddenly it was like I couldn't breathe. Instead I reached out to her and grasped her shoulder. It was as cold as ice, and seemed to suck the strength right out of me. As she turned at my touch I heard her say, "Freedom in death..."

And then I woke up. I know that it was just a nightmare, but it spooked me. Maybe writing it down will help get it out of my head.

In other news, the snowstorm has gotten even worse, but some people managed to make it through, and we had a great December-eve (that's what Mr. Minazuki called it) party! He hired a local band to come and play live music, and I get the feeling that a lot of the older folk were worried when he said that they were a group of university students most known for doing covers of American metal and rock music, especially some group named Iron Maiden. They weren't what we were expecting at all, though! They actually had a wide range of genres, and took requests, so there was plenty for everyone! I could have sworn that the bassist was far too young for university, but I actually talked to the lead singer for a bit after the show, and Will (that's his name) assured me that she just looked younger than she was. He was pretty fun to tease, actually, being as dour as he was. I hope they stick around for a few days. Maybe Jessica's band and Eiserne Jungfrau can be the two groups to launch Ushiromiya Records?

I got to meet most of the other new arrivals, too, considering not many people braved the storm. There's a group of four sisters, probably about the same age as myself and my cousins, who are absolutely thrilled with all the snow coming down. They call themselves 'professional snow bunnies', and travel around the world to winter resorts. Reima, the oldest, used to be an Olympic Biathlon athlete! How cool is that? She's training her sisters to follow in her footsteps, er, ski tracks. Yoko and Shinju are apparently both shoe-ins for the 1992 Olympics, at least to hear Shinju talk about it. They've offered to let me see them practice once the storm lets up. Kokoro, the youngest, wouldn't be joining us, as she's recovering from a leg injury. Apparently they chose this resort over others because of folklore saying that the hot springs here is full of minerals that are good for healing. I hope she gets better soon. She's a sweet girl.

The final group I didn't get a chance to talk to, but Ange did and told me about them after the party. Apparently it's an aunt and her two nieces, and they came up here so that the girls' parents could have a tenth anniversary alone. (Ange asked me why the parents would want to be alone on their anniversary, but I didn't feel quite comfortable explaining that to her, so I dodged the question.) She didn't talk to the aunt much, but she and the girls played some, and she says that Satoko is very fun and Rika is nice. I saw their aunt, Hachijo, talking with Uncle Rudolf during the party. Maybe I'll ask him about her tomorrow.

Well, I'm getting tired now, and I'm hoping to get a bit of snowshoeing in in the morning if the snow has stopped, so I should probably stop now. Good night, me!"


I checked, to answer a question I knew would come. "There's one more entry."

---------------------------------------

Options

A. Read the last of it
B. Ask what people know about these other visitors
C. Ask to hold off on reading the last entry
D. Wait to see if conversation happens on its own before continuing.
>> No. 19073 edit
>>19072
D.
>> No. 19075 edit
>>19073
B
>> No. 19076 edit
>>19072
B.
>> No. 19088 edit
File 145636796966.png - (91.74KB , 400x400 , tumblr_mpq7n4nmZ11synzwmo7_400.png )
19088
>>19072

When I realized that no one was immediately demanding that I read the final entry, I took a moment and looked around the room. Mr. Yukimura was frantically scribbling notes into his reporter's notebook, but otherwise all eyes were on me. Finally I let my eyes settle on Ms. Kojima.

"I've heard of these other victims, but I don't know much about them, and, at least while I was under strict investigation, neither the police nor press seemed to give them much thought. I imagine the Miners have more information, though?"

She nodded. "We've entertained theories over the years that one of the others was responsible for what happened. Either one of the staff, or one of those who were supposed to have arrived on the 30th. So we've done plenty of research, but sadly they seem rather unremarkable, and described as they were there. It would have been nice to have had that book earlier though. We thought it was a major breakthrough when we found out that Kokoro Tanegashima was injured when she went up there, and that was probably why the sisters went..."

She seemed to zone out for a moment, then refocused. "My apologies, I'm still reeling from all the theories that this book is confirming for us. That doesn't answer your questions though. So, since we're on the subject: the four Tanegashima sisters. Like you read, they were Olympians or Olympic hopefuls in the Biathlon, which is the event that involves skiing and rifle shooting. Reima was 25 at the time, and indeed was an Olympian in the previous Winter Games. However, she had a training accident the following year and lost her right eye, making it impossible for her to accurately determine distances during range shooting. Rather than retire completely, she became a trainer for other hopefuls, especially her sisters. Her experience was highly sought after, and the fact that she was willing to travel and train anyone from any nation for a decent fee meant that they could all travel around the world, and support themselves like that. The next eldest, Yoko, was 21, and there isn't much known about her beyond her appearance, her family, and the fact that she was apparently very skilled if her biathlon records are anything to go by. However, it seems she was very timid generally, and tended to hang back and let others take the limelight, usually Shinju. As far as skills went Shinju was usually in a dead heat with Yoko, and was considerably more vocal. There's plenty of interviews with her in various sports magazines, and she seemed to be very bombastic and self-assured. Kokoro, the youngest, was just starting to really hit the international stage at 15, so again, not much about her. In fact, we didn't have an idea as to her personality at all until you read that apparently she was sweet."

"Whatever that is worth," I replied, somewhat annoyed at my past self's lack of detail.

She shrugged and moved on. "Hachijo, Satoko, and Rika. Not much to say on these. They seemed to be very normal, almost bland. Hachijo was a young freelance writer, writing short stories in magazines mostly. Actually some of her mystery stories were quite good reading. Satoko and Rika were her nieces, 11 and 10, respectively, living in a nearby village. Classmates remembered Satoko as being very hyperactive and flighty, but fun to be around and always had plenty of candy to share. Rika was quiet and well-loved, with a soft spot for cats. Their parents were actually killed in a home invasion robbery on the same days, so in a sad way it's good that both they and their parents were saved the pain of losing the others, I suppose."

"Finally, the band, Eiserne Jungfrau. German for Iron Maiden, which was the American band that they most enjoyed. They performed a few gigs in the surrounding area, but weren't famous by any means. They were very dedicated though, almost obsessive. They all had stage names that they insisted on using at all times, and they even kicked the bassist's father out of the group when it was determined that they needed a different lead singer, which would be the Will that you apparently spoke to. He had actually only recently joined the group after leaving another band called SSVD. The bassist, Knox, was the real leader of the band. She really did appear much younger than her age. Hold on, I think I have a poster here somewhere..." Reaching into a folder that she had brought with her, she pulled out a flyer for the band that had pictures of all of them.

They were standing on a stage, obviously posing in that too-cool-to-be-interested style that bands love to adopt and dressed in a fashion that could only have taken off in the 80's. Knox must have been the one on the far left with the curly lavender hair, judging by the fact that she seemed very young. The double-necked base guitar slung over her torso looked to be half her size. A much taller girl with long dyed-blonde hair was on the right, idly holding an electric guitar on her shoulder. In the back on a raised platform stood a young woman with brown hair cut short leaned forward over a synthesizer. Then, finally, in front, was a man...

He was walking through the entrance of the main resort building, with Knox coming in right behind. Father and I had been talking right before that, but we turned as they entered.

"How did you make it to the village that fast?" I asked. "Are the police on their way?"

Will gritted his teeth in annoyance. "We didn't make it. The police aren't coming."

"What? Why?" asked Father, rising to his feet.

"The bridge has COLLAPSED. By foot or by phone, we are completely cut OFF," replied Knox in a deadpan tone. Rather than find her calm demeanor soothing, I found myself just wanting to shake her and demand she acknowledge the situation. A person had died! And now...

"So...we're trapped," I said, quietly.

"With a murderer," confirmed Will.

We all looked at each other, and then we heard a loud bang from upstairs...


My hand was shaking, and I was looking at a poster again. I realized that I could hear my heart pounding in my ears, but I tried to calm myself as I looked up. I could tell immediately that no one bought it though.

Chou came over and put a hand on my shoulder, but didn't say a word. I handed the poster back to Ms. Kojima. As she took it, she finally asked the question that I'm sure the whole room was thinking: "Are you remembering things, Mr. Ushiromiya? What is it?"

----------------------------------------

A. Don't answer, and read the last entry.
B. Lie and say no.
C. Answer, explaining the memories.
D. Ask about the bridge.
>> No. 19097 edit
>>19088
D.
>> No. 19098 edit
>>19097
D
>> No. 19099 edit
>>19088
D.
>> No. 19103 edit
File 145658940735.jpg - (87.98KB , 900x646 , HesAlwaysThere.jpg )
19103
>>19099

"The...bridge..." I forced the words out, while gripping Chou's hand for strength. "The bridge we went over to get here. It collapsed, yes?"

Mr. Minazuki spoke up. It seemed like he, too, wanted to be part of the conversation, as his father was one of those lost. "Well, yes. The side closer to the resort got knocked down by the same avalanche that buried the resort. It was much older, and due to be renovated that coming summer. so it's not that surprising."

"Are we sure?" I asked, sharply, startling most everyone.

"Why?" asked Ms. Kojima, pressing me.

I knew that they wouldn't stop pushing the issue. Jumping from reading about people to asking about a bridge was too far of a leap to cover. I had to give them something. "I think it collapsed sooner. Before the avalanche. I don't know when, but I think we couldn't get across. We were cut off, and couldn't escape the resort."

Ms. Kojima's eyes went wide. "I knew it. Down in the village, we were in that storm too. It was at its peak from November 30th to December 2nd, and on the night for the 30th to the 1st, there was thundersnow. Bad thundersnow. I've never seen it worse. I was terrified of thunder at the time, so I was having a hard time sleeping. There was one time though, during that night, that I head something that sounded a little different. I was certain it wasn't thunder... I ran to my mom, but she told me that it was just a strange echo from the mountains, and that everything was fine. I don't think anyone else would remember it, but for a little girl afraid of thunder...I'm certain it was different..." Her face was flush with excitement. "It's definite, then. Someone deliberately isolated this place."

"Now hold on a moment," said Mr. Morita. "It could have simply collapsed due to the snowstorm, rather than the avalanche. What's more, Mr. Ushiromiya simply said he had a feeling. I think we should wait to see what that last entry says."

Ms. Kojima looked to him, annoyed. "But it...!" Then she caught herself, and calmed. "Yes, of course. Please, Mr. Ushiromiya, continue."

-----------------------

Options

A. Keep reading
B. Ask Ms. Kojima to explain her ties to the village
C. Explain the memory
D. Refuse, and declare a break

Last edited at 16/02/27(Sat)11:42:28
>> No. 19104 edit
>>19103
A
>> No. 19105 edit
>>19103
A.
>> No. 19109 edit
>>19103
A.
>> No. 19204 edit
File 14568038692.png - (94.99KB , 640x480 , blood_2e.png )
19204
>>19103

I exhaled, nodded, and turned the page. There were two obvious things I noticed. The first was that what I had thought was one entry was, in fact, two. They were easily distinguishable due to the rushed penmanship of the second one.

The second obvious thing was a large rust-red splatter stain on the bottom quarter of the page.

December 1st, 1987

I'm hoping that writing in this will help wake me up. The storm last night was incredible. There was lightning and thunder all night, and I don't know if any of us got more than an hour of sleep. It's calmed down a lot, but I don't think I'm up for snowshoeing.

There's something odd about this resort, too. That female voice I heard in my dream the night before? I could swear that I heard it again last night, while I was awake! It sounded like it was coming from all around me in my room. I keep trying to convince myself that I was dreaming, and maybe I was, but it felt so real... At breakfast I asked if anyone had heard anything odd last night, but no one mentioned a singing woman. Jessica finally asked why I wanted to know, and I mentioned that I thought I had heard a woman singing. Everyone agreed it was the wind, and they're probably right. Rika, though, suggested that it could be the Diamond Queen. Apparently she's something of a local legend, a mountain spirit that comes to get vengeance on 'impure' souls, either stealing them away or just outright killing them, depending on the legend. She sang something for us called the Warning Song, and said it had been passed down for generations. I'm going to bring this journal to lunch with me and see if I can write it down. I'm not much of one for ghost stories, but maybe it's something about the storm last night that is making this one seem just a little bit more real to me. I probably just need some more sleep. Maybe I'll take a nap after lunch. Most everyone is spread out, taking it easy after last night since the snow is still coming down pretty heavily, but I promised I'd go play cards with my cousins. I should probably head out.

It's lunchtime now, we're still waiting on a lot of people, but Rika's here so I thought I'd write down the song:
"

I started to read it, but realized that there was the sound of someone singing, so I stopped reading. Emi was staring at the floor, like usual, but she was quietly singing the words that I had written so long ago.

"Storms will blow, hear her call
Seeking souls of the unclean
On the peak, she comes for all
Within the dark, the Diamond Queen

She glitters there within her room
Weeping for her long lost groom
Yet no comfort should you give
If you still wish to live

Cannot run, cannot hide
From hatred twisted and obscene
The living she will not abide
Within the dark, the Diamond Queen

Seated on her crystal throne
Skin like ice and a heart of stone
Yet in her soul her rage burns hot
And shelter helps you naught

Weak shall weep, strong shall fall
Death walks on the snow unseen
All shall perish, great and small
Until she once more rests, serene

So to stay safe, this song recall
And beware, you, the Diamond Queen"

Emi fell silent, and the last phrase seemed to hang in the air, making the room seem just a little colder. For a moment, Emi looked like someone else to me. Someone smaller, with blue hair and clad in a long black and white dress. I shivered, then looked to the page, confirming that she had sung it exactly as it was written. She had.

The next part was the part written in a hurried scribble.

We're trapped here. Kokoro is dead, drowned in the hot spring. We can't reach the police. My cousins, my sister, and I are in my room, along with Genji, who is watching over Grandfather. I want to be here if he wakes up, but staying in one spot is killing me. The Diamond Queen has cornered us. Our parents are gone. Everyone is gone. Someone is here, taking us. Hunting us.

I hear it now. We all do. She's singing again. There's someone at the door.


That was all that was written. Only the splash of what I had to think was blood served as a signature.

-----------------------------------------

Options

A. Leave to get some air.
B. Ask where the journal was found.
C. Demand the detective say how he got this journal here.
D. Remain silent and see what happens.
>> No. 19207 edit
>>19204
B.
>> No. 19208 edit
>>19204
B.
>> No. 19212 edit
>>19204
B
>> No. 19231 edit
File 145705319674.png - (239.76KB , 640x480 , homing6br.png )
19231
>>19204

Before anyone had a chance to chime in, I followed with what I believed to be the obvious question: "Where was this found?"

Masahiro spoke up to respond. "Apparently investigators found this inside the remains of this building. Or to be more precise, the version of this building that was destroyed by the avalanche. It was wedged in between a mattress and a bedframe, open to that final page. The stain on the bottom is definitely blood, but there wasn't any on the bedframe or the mattress that it was found with. Then again, with the way everything had come crashing down, that doesn't mean much."

I decided to push my luck a little further. "How do you know so much about how it was found?"

He hesitated a moment. I probably would have missed it if I hadn't been listening for it. "I'd been chasing rumors of a diary being recovered for a while. The person who had it said they'd gotten their hands on a police photo as well that showed where it had been found."

"So you're saying this was stolen from evidence?"

He stayed silent.

-------------------------------

Options

A. Remain silent in a test of wills.
B. Let him off the hook and invite comments about what you've just read.
C. Let him off the hook and ask about the resort as it was.
D. Demand that he come clean with who he is and what he does.
>> No. 19237 edit
>>19231
D.
>> No. 19238 edit
>>19237
B
>> No. 19274 edit
>>19231
D
>> No. 19286 edit
File 145748552240.png - (3.78MB , 2429x1366 , cof_2b.png )
19286
>>19231

I couldn't take it anymore. I had him pinned. I knew it, he knew it, and so I snapped.

"No, I don't think this was stolen from the evidence lockup. I think it was requested. Isn't that right, Detective? Detective Masahiro Yamauchi, son of the man who is now the prefecture's Chief of Police, though back when I was younger he was just a detective as well, intent on working his way up the ladder and ready to use my family's tragedy as a stepping stone? Son of the man who hounded me day and night with question after question, sending psychologist after psychologist at me because he 'wasn't convinced' that I had amnesia? Son of the man who kept this case alive in the media for years, who was out to ruin my reputation, no, my life as I was trying to scrabble one together? Now that I've finally decided to involve myself in this case again, has he sent his son as his dog to keep hounding me until even I'm convinced that I did it? Why are you here? Why did you hide who you were? Answer me!"

I don't know when I had stood up, but I realized I was glaring into his eyes, only inches from his face. Chou's hand was on my arm, lightly holding me back. My knuckles were white from how hard I was gripping the journal, and I realized that I was ready to smash it in his face depending on his answer. His father had come to symbolize everything I hated about this case: my uncertainty about my past, whether I could have done it, the glances and whispers I had endured for years, the lack of a family, all of it. A more objective me may have said I went overboard, but at that moment I was anything but objective. He opened his mouth, and I was ready to shove the journal down his throat.

"I believe you, Mr. Ushiromiya."

"W-what...?"

"I believe you. I don't think you are anything more than a victim, and that you don't remember what happened."

Inside me, I felt something start to crumble, then fall away faster and faster. All the rage I had felt drained away, and left me feeling weak and empty inside. To my surprise, I realized I was on the verge of tears, but I sucked it up. I had never realized just how much I needed to hear those words spoken aloud. It wasn't coming from his father, but it felt just as liberating.

He continued, and I was grateful to him for it as it gave me a bit longer to collect myself. "You're right that I'm his son, I'm a detective, and that I got this journal released so that I could bring it here. However, I've grown up with this case hanging over our family. I can't understand how much it's affected you, but I assure you, it did not make my life any easier. I grew up hating you, Mr. Ushiromiya, for creating this obsession for my father. As I became a detective in my own right and researched everything about this case, though, I realized that I believed you. So I came here to work with you, and with the Miners, to free you and my father from this curse you live under."

As he had talked, I had looked around. It seemed that the professor and Ms. Seki were surprised by this, as were the Fukuhara family and Mori couple. Everyone else seemed to have known that he was a detective.

As I noted that, I began to feel a kernel of distrust growing again inside my mind.

----------------------------------------

Options

A. Don't believe him, he's just playing mind games
B. Ask those who knew why they didn't mention it
C. Decide it's just paranoia, thank him, but request a break until dinner
D. Decide it's just paranoia, thank him, and continue the meeting
>> No. 19287 edit
>>19286
D
>> No. 19288 edit
>>19286
D
>> No. 19292 edit
File 145766568253.png - (271.01KB , 640x480 , cha_r1g.png )
19292
>>19286

I exhaled. They probably just hadn't wanted me to react badly. Just because I ended up finding out early didn't mean there was some vast conspiracy.

"Thank you, detective. I appreciate your honesty, and your beliefs. Forgive me for my tirade."

"Of course."

I chuckled slightly to get the room to relax, and sat myself back where I had been. "Well, now that that has been ironed out: Why wasn't the information in this journal ever released to the public? If it was, I've never heard of it. I always knew that the police were considering it a case of homicide, but I'd never heard why they didn't think it was just a natural disaster."

The detective shook his head. "It never was released. My father was trying to build a case against you, and he considered this to be his centerpiece: proof that you had killed someone and were preparing your defense."

"Why me?"

"You were the one that survived. He thought you had triggered the avalanche to cover the evidence."

"Was there ever any sign that it was triggered?"

This time Kenjiro Itoh answered, looking up from the beer glass he was resting on his rather rotund belly. "None," he said in a deep baritone voice. "No chemicals or signs of blasting were detected. Nevertheless, the sheer amount of snowpack that came loose at once seems to suggest there was more in play than a simple avalanche. Perhaps someone had loosened the snow somehow using some other method. However, as seems apparent from that journal, to imagine that this was simply a natural disaster would be folly of the highest order." He took the last swallow from the glass and called to Mr. Minazuki. "Sir, another beer, if you would. You have excellent taste in stouts."

Before I had a chance to question Mr. Itoh, Ms. Kojima spoke up. "Please, Mr. Ushiromiya, if I may ask, what caused you to remember things? Perhaps we can find some way to trigger more memories?"

"Well I think if the goal is that, we should go to the hot spring," said Professor Ootsuki. "It sounds like that was the place of a death, surely that would be a place to trigger memories! Besides, these joint of mine could use a nice soak."

"No hold on one moment!" said Chou Kaneko, with a protective forcefulness to her tone I'd only heard a few times over the years. "Mr. Ushiromiya is not some puppet you can drag around and make dance! He is here as a favor! Furthermore this has been a very intense time for him over the past hour. We have a weekend, there is no need to rush this."

----------------------------------------

Options

A. Question Mr. Itoh about who he is and his interest in this.
B. Explain everything about the memories thus far to see if anyone has better ideas.
C. Go to the hot spring
D. Agree with Chou and take a break from the meeting.
>> No. 19295 edit
>>19292
B
>> No. 19299 edit
>>19292
B.
>> No. 19300 edit
>>19299
B
>> No. 19329 edit
File 145789481439.png - (270.26KB , 640x480 , cha_r1c.png )
19329
>>19292

"It's alright, Ms. Kaneko," I told Chou. "I'm not ready to rest just yet."

I turned to everyone. "To answer your question, Ms. Kojima..." I exhaled, and laid my metaphorical cards on the table. "It's been little things each time. The first was when we were outside, and I saw the stables. It made me think of horses, and I suddenly remembered going on a sleigh ride on a path with Kinzo Ushiromiya. I mean...my grandfather. We were talking about a party that night, so it must have been on the 29th. He gave me this journal then." I looked down at the book, feeling its weight and texture once more. For a moment, I almost thought I could feel the warmth I had felt in that memory again, but then it was gone.

"The next time was when I saw the picture of Eiserne Jungfrau. Will in particular. I remembered being in the front room of this building, talking to my father about something, and Will and Knox came in from the outside. They said that the bridge had collapsed and they weren't able to get to the police. The phone lines were down too. We were all trapped with a murderer. I heard something upstairs..." I closed my eyes and tried to force my memory further. I could recall the memory clearly now, but no matter how I tried, I could not remember what happened after I heard that bang. Shaking my head, I opened my eyes again. "That's all I could remember from that."

Then I looked at Emi. "Finally, I almost remembered something when she sang. It was like I could see the one girl, Rika. At least I assume it was her. It must have been from the lunch that the journal mentioned, but I can't remember anything else. It was more like very strong deja vu."

Relaxing, I shrugged. "That's all that I've remembered. I know it's not much."

Mrs. Mori looked at me suspiciously. "Are you sure? Seems like random and useless stuff to remember. Keeping the best bits for yourself, I'd wager."

"Not necessarily," cut in Ms. Seki. "It sounds about right. Memory is a strange thing. A glance, an errant sound, a trace of a smell in the air can all serve to bring back memories long forgotten."

Mr. Morita looked at her dubiously. "What were you studying again, Ms. Seki."

She smiled. "Law enforcement, but I want to become a criminal profiler, so there's quite a bit of psychology involved." She looked back to me, thoughtfully. "Still, if we're looking to unlock more of Mr. Ushiromiya's memories, it might be best we try to get him to experience other things that might remind him of back then."

Ms. Kojima nodded. "That's why I tried to get Mr. Minazuki to get this place to look as close to the old resort as possible, based on photos and research and his memories from childhood. He did well...for the most part."

The owner held up his hands defensively after handing Mr. Itoh a fresh beer and chuckled. "I didn't have a lot of time, you know, and there are some things that just can't be moved! I did try to do my best though. The ballroom in particular I'm very proud of."

"But surely it'd be easier to get at the more intense memories?" asked the professor. "I still think the hot spring is the best." He looked to the grad student for support, but she shrugged noncommittally.

Mr. Itoh took a drink from his beer, sighed contentedly, and looked to me. "Well, Mr. Ushiromiya? We seem to be letting you make the decisions. What shall it be?"

-----------------------------------

Options

A. The ballroom
B. The hot spring
C. The front hallway
D. Don't try to unlock more memories yet
>> No. 19340 edit
>>19329
A.
>> No. 19345 edit
>>19340
B
>> No. 19356 edit
>>19329
B.
>> No. 19437 edit
File 145826218385.jpg - (1.76MB , 3058x2294 , img_4104.jpg )
19437
>>19329

"The hot spring. I think Professor Ootsuki's suggestion sounds reasonable."

Ms. Kojima smiled, looking excited. "Very well then! To the hot spring!" She began gathering up her items as I looked around the room. She was actually the second-most excited, behind Mr. Yukimura, but at least most people looked happy about the decision, or at least intrigued about what might happen. Emi looked more concerned than anything, at least as far as I could tell from her downturned face. Her mother was trying to cheer her up, talking about how they were going to make progress on the mystery, but that didn't seem to be improving her mood at all.

Chou, however, seemed less than pleased. As everyone was gathering up their stuff, she took the time to whisper to me, "You shouldn't push yourself so hard. You were so worried about coming here, couldn't you have some of that caution now?"

I gave her a smile that hopefully showed that I appreciated her concern, but she just frowned and shook her head, exasperatedly. By then, everyone was ready to head out into the snow that was continuing to fall.

Mr. Minazuki bowed as we were heading out the door. "Forgive me, but I should stay here to clean up and check with the chef to make sure tonight's dinner will be ready as planned. I'll have one of the maids go with you, if that is alright?" Before we could respond, he pulled a small device from his pocket. Speaking into it, he said, "Ayame, could you please meet our guests in the front hall and take them to the hot spring?" A quick click was the response, and he nodded. "She'll be there. Again, I beg your indulgence in this matter."

"Oh, no trouble at all, I should imagine," said Mr. Itoh, lumbering to his feet. "I hope the spices I provided you with after lunch will assist in the dinner."

"Undoubtedly," replied Mr. Minazuki, though his voice sounded like he was forcing himself to be pleasant.

By then we were all set, and filed out of the room. Ayame, or at least the maid I assumed to be Ayame, was indeed waiting for us in the front room, and as a group we left the building. The snow was coming down heavier than I recalled, but visibility was still fine, and it was a calm walk of only about five or ten minutes to the hot spring.

As we crossed the first bridge over the frozen stream, I saw the ice sculpture of the Diamond Queen looming large again. The Warning song began to play in my mind, but I shoved it down. She was just a myth, and the sculpture was just ice. Still, as we passed, I could almost feel its eyes digging into my back. I coudn't resist turning for one more glance, and caught Emi seemingly offering a small prayer before it. When she turned around she noticed my gaze, ducked her head, and hurried back into the group beside her mother.

Mr. Morita suddenly disrupted the quiet after we crossed the second bridge, by speaking to our guide. "It's a magnificent sculpture, and looks fairly fresh. I can't imagine it's cost-effective, though. If the goal were to make this place seem as it did at the time of the tragedy, wouldn't it have been better to not have paid for that?"

Ayame responded, "Actually, Mr. Minazuki specifically brought that in for this gathering. He wants to get a real statue, but the profits haven't been there for one yet. However, he said having something there was absolutely essential, and found an ice sculptor in the village who was willing to do it exactly as he wanted for a pretty decent rate."

"I'm glad he did, too," interjected Ms. Kojima. "A statue of the Diamond Queen in that spot was just about the only tie the resort had with the legend before the tragedy, but it was enough to tie it to her. If I recall the original statue was made out of some kind of crystal. It was broken by debris in the avalanche though."

By then, we were approaching the hot spring. I could see a little bit of steam seeping out through the tall logs that kept the perverts at bay. Ayame opened the door and we stepped inside as she spoke. "Welcome to the hot spring that the Snowspring Resort is famous for. It is an all-natural hot spring, full of cleansing and rejuvenating minerals."

I found myself stretching a bit, as my joints notified me that they would love to soak for a while, and I saw Raira massaging her neck as well as she spoke to me. "Did the journal say, or do you remember, which side of the hot springs the girl's body was found?"

"Oh there aren't sides," interrupted Ayame. "This is a mixed bathing hot spring, kept that way as to not disrupt the water.

Professor Ootsuki nodded. "Interesting. In that case we should be able to head in without problems. Perhaps we should dress appropriately, to increase the authenticity?" He said it calmly, but I saw his eyes linger on the grad student beside him.

She, for her part, idly took a half-step away. "I don't believe that would be necessary. It's likely that Mr. Ushiromiya saw the victim while he was clothed, after all." The professor nodded his understanding, and I could only see a little disappointment in his eyes.

---Options---

A. Attempt to ask Ayame for any more information about the construction or properties of the spring.
B. Press on, into the spring, and see what can be remembered.
C. Listen to Chou's advice and think about holding off for a while.
D. Investigate the interior of the building before going out to the spring.
E. Declare the professor right and force everyone to 'dress appropriately'. Perv.
>> No. 19444 edit
>>19437
B.
>> No. 19445 edit
>>19444
B
>> No. 19471 edit
File 145887710564.jpg - (428.42KB , 800x600 , springs.jpg )
19471
>>19437

I looked to Ayame. "I presume, given the strange circumstances, it would be alright to enter like this?"

She nodded. "Of course. Though I would recommend not getting into the water clothed. The minerals from the water might ruin them."

Without waiting for more permission or for someone else to bring up other points, I opened the sliding door and stepped out to the hot spring.

It was beautiful, to say the least, like something out of story. I could see why these springs would make the resort famous. Steam rose up from the large pool, and snow hung over the edge of the patio roof, with the occasional icicle meandering down. The snow itself continued to float down from the sky, but around the pool it melted into mist. The ground around the pool looked to be natural, though at least smoothed over somewhat to make for easier footing, and the water itself was seeping into the pool from a crack in the mountainside beside it. Pervading the air was the slight smell that was often a characteristic of natural mineral hot springs, but to me that just added to the purity of this place. It almost felt holy, a natural blessing to wash away the grime of modern life.

I took a couple steps away from the door, and I heard the others follow in behind me. All were as silent as could be, though, and I couldn't say I blamed them. They were all waiting to see what my memories would do, just as I was. However, much to my disappointment, my memories seemed to be as dark as ever.

Slowly I began to walk, leaving the patio behind. The ground crunched underfoot, and in the quiet air sounded much louder than it probably was. I began to circle the spring, looking at it and everything else from every angle that I could think of. I closed my eyes and listened to the gurgling water, inhaled the air as deeply as I could, and reached down to touch the steaming water with my fingertips. Yet still, there was nothing, not even a sense of deja vu.

I stayed crouched by the pool and sighed, then looked up to relay the bad news...

My world was spinning as I looked up from the corpse of Kokoro. Yoko was beside me, staring at her sister in shock. She hadn't said a word for as long as I'd been there. Shinju was screaming at everyone, her normal snide confidence replaced with fury, demanding to know who had killed her sister, and why they would do it. Reima was holding her back, but I could see cold fury in her one good eye.

I looked back to Kokoro, resting at my feet. Kumasawa had found her, and according to her she had found Kokoro lying at the edge of the water, with most of her body resting on the stones and her face in the water. She said she had turned her over as soon as she saw her, and got her out of the water, but looking at her face alone it was clear that she was dead, and had been face down in that hot water for some time. Of course Shinju had attacked her immediately, saying that she was just trying to cover up the crime. Now Kumasawa was being comforted by Aunt Rosa, and my family had rallied around her. The sisters, of course, seemed all too eager to place blame, and Kumasawa was an easy target. Eiserne Jungfrau was staying neutral, and had gone back to the main building to call the police.

"W-why is she dead...?" whispered Yoko beside me. "It has to be an accident, right? She was so wonderful...and kind..." Tears welled up in her eyes, but remained unshed.

"I don't know," I replied, feeling helpless. "If only Doctor Nanjo was here, he might be able to tell more, but...if she slipped, why wouldn't she get up? She didn't hit her head. See, no bumps or anything..."

The next thing I knew I was lying on my back, staring up at the face of Shinju, with tears of rage falling down around me. "Don't touch her! Don't touch my sister!"

I stammered, "I was just trying to see if I could tell...I mean..."

She continued screaming. "You want to know why she died?! Because someone killed her! Someone who's still here! I think it was that old witch over there, but all of you blue-blooded bastards look out for each other. Maybe it's a conspiracy, huh?! Rich family trying to get away with murder for kicks?! The killer should die! You all should die! Die, and bring my sister back!"

Reima grabbed on to Shinju right before she was about to begin pummeling me, and I watched as her rage morphed into grief. She collapsed to her knees beside Kokoro's body, sobbing and wailing in a way I could never have anticipated from the short time I'd known her. Her expression somehow remaining calm, Yoko reached over and gently placed a hand on her bereaved sister's back, comforting her silently. I stood and returned to the group, and Reima followed me. I could feel the malice radiating from her, but she maintained her composure well.

"We will wait for the police, and the results of their investigation. No one has any objections, I assume?" she said as a statement more than a question. We all just shook our heads. Even Grandfather seemed somewhat cowed by this woman. "Very well," she continued. "If everyone would please go back to the main building and wait there? My sisters and I would like to grieve, and it also serves to prevent disturbance of the crime scene."

"But...how do we know one of you didn't do it, and would use the opportunity to clean up the evidence?" asked Battler. A glare from Reima was enough to shut him up though.

"Go. Please," she said, and the 'please' was perhaps the most threatening word I'd ever heard in my life.

We began to file out, and I heard Kumasawa whisper to Rosa, "I didn't do it, I didn't! Oh God, they're going to kill us all, aren't they...?"


I was standing by the sliding door, and everyone was standing around me, staring at me. When they realized I was looking at them, they all seemed to exhale at once.

"You...you were mumbling to yourself," said Ms. Kojima. "Something about 'kill us all'..."

---Options---

A. Try to continue the memory.
B. Rest, and try to squeeze more detail from the memory.
C. Explain everything you just remembered to the group, and see if anyone has more insight.
D. Lie.
>> No. 19472 edit
>>19471
D.
>> No. 19473 edit
>>19471
B
>> No. 19474 edit
>>19471
B
>> No. 19478 edit
File 145930102745.jpg - (627.01KB , 1500x1045 , minusmonkeys.jpg )
19478
>>19471

I shook my head, trying to clear the cobwebs from my mind. "I...I remembered more." I held up my hand, holding off her questions. "Please, a moment, I want to focus on it."

Thankfully everyone listened and I got a moment to lean against one of the supports of the patio roof. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, trying to take myself back there.

Suddenly, there I was again. I remembered being over by the spring, beside the body, and every moment thereafter with almost supernatural clarity. I couldn't change my actions, and I couldn't look elsewhere, but I could see it all and I was able to recall vague facts about things I had apparently learned before.

Kokoro's body had had its towel wrapped all the way around it, though it seemed to have loosened somewhat when she had been rolled out of the spring. Her hair was wet, but much more the front of it than the back of it. Her face was bright red, like one might expect from being in a hot spring unprotected for a long while. Her eyes and mouth were closed, but had been open and showed signs of heat damage as well. There was no immediate sign of bruising around her neck or shoulders. I hadn't been able to tell if there was bruising around the scalp, but the hair didn't seem obviously tugged or pulled out. There was some gravel in her palms and on her knees that looked like it was from the edge of the spring. It was impossible to see any gravel on anyone else due to the fact that all were clothed. Kumasawa had dressed herself between discovering the body and the time we'd arrived. Kokoro's knees also looked slightly bruised and scraped. Other than that, her injured lege was the only immediately visible injury, looking swollen outside of its wrap and brace.

Around the section of hot spring that I recalled, there was no immediate sign of another person being there, but that was no guarantee considering the ground was mostly stones.

When Shinju had been crying over her sister's body, she had actually been saying nearly incomprehensible things. However, I could make out, "I'm sorry," "...didn't mean to...," and "...take it all back."

Finally, I remembered a thought I'd had after Kumasawa had voiced her fear to my aunt. They could if they want to. They all brought guns...

I kept trying to squeeze more information out of the memory, but after a few minutes I felt a headache coming on. So I opened my eyes and let the soothing calm of the hot spring air wash over me for a moment before looking at the group. Of course, they were all looking at me, expectantly.

-----------------------------------------
Options

A. Reveal nothing, and go my own way.
B. Keep pressing at the memory, hoping for a break.
C. Reveal all and ask for people's take on it.
D. Hunt more memories with the group, going to the ballroom.
>> No. 19479 edit
>>19478
D
>> No. 19480 edit
>>19478
D
>> No. 19481 edit
>>19478
D.
>> No. 19484 edit
>>19479
also rune you've been here for a real long time, if you are interested in joining the skype gameboard chat just say so.
>> No. 19505 edit
>>19484
Sure. (edited for privacy)
>> No. 19511 edit
File 146112513059.jpg - (95.60KB , 554x366 , Gold-Ballroom-Reception.jpg )
19511
>>19478

In response to their unasked questions, I shook my head. "I'll tell it all in time, but right now it's probably best to keep the momentum going. It seems that this really is unlocking my memories. Where was it that Mr. Minazuki said he was proud of? The ballroom?" I walked towards the door out, but stumbled as a wave of dizziness overtook me.

Chou was by my side in an instant, supporting me. "Are you alright? For goodness sake, sir! You are going to force me to overrule you as your nurse if you don't take a break!"

I don't know why I had such a sense of urgency, to be honest. However, the more I delved into my past, the stronger the feeling was that I had to solve this riddle. What's more, it would not wait for anything. Perhaps it was irrational of me, but I felt like if I didn't solve it soon, I'd never get a chance to later. I covered the hand on my arm with my own, and looked at her. "Please, Chou, I need this," I pleaded, quietly enough that I don't think anyone else heard. Her eyes searched mine, and her lips pursed, but then she nodded. "Alright, sir, but please be mindful of the present as well..."

She let my arm go and I turned to the group, trying to project strength. "Sorry, just the altitude. Shall we?"

It was actually something of a blessing that I had that moment of weakness, as it curtailed conversation on the way back to the main building. As we entered and took off our coats, the other maid came and let us know that Mr. Minazuki wanted to let us know that dinner was coming along splendidly and would be ready in a little over an hour, as planned. I will be available to assist you with anything you need until then. Unfortunately Ayame is needed elsewhere." She turned to her sister and whispered a few things that I didn't catch, and her sister nodded and excused herself.

I explained that we were on our way to the ballroom, and she led us there without preamble. We entered through large double doors that seemed similar to the dining room, but this room was even larger. My eye was immediately drawn to the large, ornate chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, but as I walked further in I allowed my gaze to roam over the intricate designs on the walls and ceiling, as well as the simple but elegant furniture and decorations. I could see why Mr. Minazuki had been proud of the work he'd done here. To our left he had even put a bandstand, likely as close as possible to the bandstand that stood here that...weekend...

I stared at the bandstand, and blinked.

There was a large stereo system set up, and Mr. Minazuki was playing records. He had apologized that it was the best he could do, and a live band would be arriving tomorrow, but I was fine with it. It was actually more amusing to watch my generation and my parents' generation argue about what records to play. Jessica was fighting for rock, of course, and Father and Mother were voting for a waltz. It was all in good fun though. Especially since I spied Ange climbing up onto the stage while no one else was watching...

I blinked.

The band was on break, helping themselves to the food that had been placed on the table by the far wall. As I was helping myself to some as well, I took the opportunity to strike up a conversation with the lead singer, Will. He was rather dour, honestly, but once I got him talking he was actually quite insightful. Looking around I could see Ange and Maria chatting with two of the other new arrivals, girls about Maria's age...

I blinked. Then I blinked again. I was back in the present, though I could still feel the past all around me in this room, like a crushing weight upon my soul. My thoughts were jumbled, confused. Things were wrong here, not like they had been then. They needed to be like then, if I wanted to know more. I needed to know more. My heart was pounding in my chest, and I started to hyperventilate.

I heard someone muttering, and after a moment I realized it was me. "No no no, not there, there..." I ran over to some chairs and rearranged them around the table they were at. "Less light, it was dark then..." Hurrying to the windows, I pulled the curtains together, blocking out the view of the snowy early evening outside. As the last one closed, I could feel something like a pressure building in my mind. I imagined I could hear the laughter of people that I hadn't even known I'd missed. Flickers of movement teased the edges of my sight. I was almost back there, back to my family...

I turned to those who had followed me here. "Noise. Talking. Laughter. Please, I'm so close!" They must have thought me a madman, but I didn't care. Not now. Understanding what I meant, Chou began talking to Ms. Kojima. I didn't even pay attention to what she was talking about as I looked around, desperate to find the next scrap of memory. The others started talking, and the large room came alive with the sounds of humanity. A whiff of some enticing smell brushed my nostrils...

The sounds of voices were everywhere around me. The rich aroma of food was nearby, and Will was sipping from a glass of punch. I looked away from where I had been watching Ange be amazed by some simple sleight of hand that the young blonde girl had performed, and I looked to the empty bandstand.

On the bandstand, there was the sound system, and Ange was sorting through the collection of records the Mr. Minazuki had supplied. But...hadn't Ange just been...?

"Are you alright, Mr. Ushiromiya?" asked Will.

I smiled at him, "I told you, please call me Lion. But, something seems strange, don't you think?"

"What do you mean?" he asked, looking around with piercing eyes. He was incredibly perceptive, and his deductions were going to be useful in the next couple days. Wait, how did I know that?

I shook my head, and looked back to the bandstand where Eiserne Jungfrau's equipment was going to be set up tomorrow. Ange had found a record she liked and started it up. Everyone was surprised, and started laughing and dancing. I didn't, though, because the song I heard was sad, and not providing the beat the others were dancing to. Why were they hearing something else?!

I felt myself start to panic, but pushed it down. I remembered what was going on, and that all this was simply my memory. The song continued to play in my mind, but that's all it was. This was all in my mind's eye, and I began to make sense of it.


My mind had unlocked two different recollections of this room, and the sheer information flooding in had caused them to mix. Turning a technique I learned for business to a different use, I began to focus on one thing at a time, compartmentalizing it. I envisioned my relatives and the guests calming, and they did. All stood like mannequins, each a font of information, waiting to be examined to see what I could learn. My head ached terribly, and my heart was still pounding in my chest, but I was back in control for now. Still, I could feel the information was far more than I could examine easily, so I had to choose what to focus on.

------------------------------------

Options

A. Learn more about Maria, Ange, Hachijo, Satoko, and Rika.
B. Learn more about Jessica, Krauss, Natsuhi, and Grandfather
C. Learn more about Eiserne Jungfrau
D. Learn more about Battler, George, Rudolf, Kyrie, Eva, and Hideyoshi
>> No. 19512 edit
>>19511
C.
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