【Episode 2 Part A: Real and Fake, Part 8】
「But if it’s really like that, then how should we go against him?」
This is no doubt a tremendous threat to all of us here, so we have to come up with countermeasures against it.
「We have to think of something, that much is a given.」
「It might sound cliched, but maybe we should ask ourselves questions that we are sure only we know answers to?」
Kuhoh thought about my proposal for a bit
「That is cliched, Monjiro-senpai, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good idea. Even if someone possessed one of us, he shouldn’t be able to replicate our memories.」
I honestly doubt it’s going to be as easy as that, but for now it’s our best bet. Every mystery story that is worth its salt has the hero outsmarting the villain in some way with their wit, so we cannot be worse than them!
「Well then, may I be the first one to start? For example… Monjiro-senpai. Do you remember the conversation you had with me when we first met each other? What were we talking about?」
「When I first met you, huh? Well…」
Kuhoh and I met for the first time when I first became the member of the Librarian Committee, it was at the freshmen meeting. Out of all six female members at that time she struck me as the most mysterious and cute so I decided to start a conversation with her out of genuine curiosity and, much to my surprise, it turned out we had quite a lot of things in common. If my memory serves me correctly, she had a certain thing with her, and that thing was, in hindsight, the thing that kickstarted our friendship. That thing was…
「We talked about bamboo swords.」
「That’s right. Senpai was sitting next to me and offered to help me when I was worrying about where should I put the bag with my training bamboo sword. At that moment I thought to myself 「That guy is a pretty good person.」」
Yes, Kuhoh brought her sword with her to the meeting but had no idea where she should put it so that it wouldn’t bother the others so seeing her struggle I offered to search for a suitable place together with her. In the end we put it on an empty shelf at the back of the room. So she also remembered that.
「Now, do you remember the first words you said to me?」
It wasn’t any form of ordinary greeting, like hey, hi or hello.
「I remember that I was surprised, that’s for sure.」
I spoke to her with surprised words, but what were they, exactly?
「I remember it as if it was yesterday, but it looks like you’ve forgotten about such an insignificant event, Monjiro-senpai.」
「No, no, I’ll remember it right away, I just need to jog my memory up a bit!」
Kuhoh looked really sad just now. So our first meeting was that important to her, huh? However, try as hard as I could, nothing was coming back to me. I couldn’t recall something so important.
Kuhoh just giggled for some reason. I looked at her… and she was smiling.
「No, it’s nothing, senpai. It’s just that you didn’t say anything remarkable. It was… oh yeah, you looked at me and said…
「Isn’t it tough for you to carry that sword with you all the time? Want to borrow that shelf over there for a while?」 or something along those lines.」
So it was a greeting after all.
「Remembering it only after so many hints. I feel disappointed with myself, if I am to be honest.」
「You don’t have to, Monjiro-senpai. Actually, I was also not one hundred percent sure if those were the exact words. What I’m trying to say is, even if those are our memories, a lot of them can become foggy and uncertain after a while.」
「Ahh… so I guess that would make the 「ask ourselves questions that only we know the answer to」 quite difficult unless we have something that can serve as an absolute proof?」
An audio recorder or a video, for example, assuming that none of them have been edited in any way. But since we don’t have an access to something as convenient as that, receiving confirmation will not be as easy as I initially thought, because we’d have to incorporate the vagueness of the memories as a factor here and we know that it can vary from person to person. Some people are able to remember event the most distant of happenings in their lives clearly while the others won’t be able to recall what were they having for dinner yesterday.
「Just like me and Monjiro-senpai, professional killers, we can assume that a professional who can take on the appearance of others would be well versed in the art of psychology relating to memories.」
「I see… If the 「Legendary Knight」 is the one who set this whole thing up then it would be impossible to see through it.」
「Something like that. It would be ideal if we somehow forced him to make a really careless mistake that would make him reveal himself, but I guess going against someone of the 「Legendary」 caliber was never going to be that easy.」
Could it be that Kuhoh was saying all of this because she was already…? It is a possibility, but at this point I don’t know who should I suspect and who I should not!
Looking around, senpai has worriedly placed her tightly clasped hands in front of her chest. Every last one of us was currently lost in the maze of doubt and suspicion, not knowing who can and who cannot be trusted.
That’s why, at least for now, we have to think of something fast.
I think we can cross senpai off the suspect list since she’s the target of this attack in the first place. If she had already been replaced, then I don’t understand what would the point of trapping us in here be. On the other hand, if she’s replaced and isolated and would disappear at some point, it would make searching for the criminal behind it pretty much impossible.
As for Fujisato, I am still on the fence here. She’s already met the enemy once and it looks like he showed her his abilities on purpose. She and Kuhoh were the last ones to arrive to the party and on top of that they are not always together, so it wouldn’t be all that strange for her to be the one who was replaced.
Same reasoning as the above goes for Kuhoh. Even though she is a professional killer just like me, our enemy is no pushover either. He might’ve already switched with Kuhoh and then hypnotize himself into explaining and analyzing his abilities to us, knowing it will make us suspect her less.
That leaves me and Aika. Ever since I’ve returned home from my date with senpai and Shiki we’ve not separated for even a moment, always staying within arm’s reach of each other. There was always a possibility that I’ve been switched before I got back home, but we’ve only decided to hold the party today at the end of the date and Aika didn’t know about it until I called her and informed her about it. Choosing her as the one to replace seemed like too big of a gamble, so I think she’s also in the clear, just like senpai.
And then there’s Shiki.