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"Wh... what in...?!"

 

The scarecrow-man draws closer, dragging its long, ungainly metallic arm behind it.

"Sakuya, watch out!"

 

Its arm slices through the air, smashing the window into tiny shards which scatter across the hallway floor.

We don't know what it is, but apparently it isn't friendly!

"Sakuya, we have to run!"

"I am well aware!"

The screen goes black to the sound of fluttering wings.

"-pant-... -pant-..."

"Did we... lose it?"

"...I think so.
Lucky it moves so slowly..."

"What WAS it?
Surely no one could devise a prank as bizarre as that!"

"It looked like a biped... it was humanoid, but I don't think it was a human."

"I've never heard of a human made of metal and burlap."

"A murder, the dome, and now this!
I know not who is behind these trickeries, but they must have a death wish to mock me so."

"For now, we have to get back to the lab.
We need to warn Mister Nanaki!"

"Oh! Welcome back, Kawara, Shirogane.
Would you like some tea?"

The screen shakes.

"I-Is this really the time?!"

"We cannot afford to relax now, professor."

"Hmm... so, I take it something happened?"

"Uh, the headmaster! He must've been hiding from the scarecrow - it smashed the window!"

"Calm yourself, Kawara! You've become incoherent!"

"S-sorry..."

"We were attacked by a gigantic creature outside the headmaster's office.
It was a bizarre thing, like a scarecrow in appearance."

"A scarecrow...?"

"Yeah.
Like the ones humans used to make... it attacked us, and we ran back here."

"It was slow, but... its arm was really heavy and dangerous."

"Are the other students still in the gymnasium?"

"Probably not all of them..."

"If there's something dangerous in here, we should probably tell everybirdie to stay together in the gym."

"Y-yeah..."

"The plot thickens, indeed. Not only are we trapped under this confounded dome, but now it seems we must contend with this monstrous new guest."

"I wonder what the scarecrow-man's connection to all this is..."

"A scarecrow-man, you say?"

"D-doctor!"

"Fascinating.
I've never cut into one of those... I'd love to get my hands on it. Hohoho."

"Have you finished the autopsy, Doctor?"

"Yes, for now."

"I was awake here the whole time, don't worry."

"Thank you, Mister Nanaki."

"Hmm... you two may well have a right to know what I've found, given your efforts toward the investigation."

"I will try to state simply and briefly what I have learned from the lumps of meat which once were Miss Tosaka."

"..."

"Control yourself, Kawara.
Falling out among ourselves would only do us harm."

"...I know."

"Hoho. Anyway, we lack the tools for a proper examination, but..."

"The cause of death was asphyxiation.
There are no signs of any strangulation or smothering, so she was either poisoned or sick."

"She was dismembered after death, then, Doctor?"

"It would appear so.
There is little evidence of bleeding, so we may assume that she was cut up sometime after death."

 

Hiyoko was one of the healthiest people I know. She couldn't have become that sick that quickly.

Meaning, someone poisoned her.

"Why...?"

"For the sake of the grotesque, or to make her easier to carry, or for some other reason... disgusting, either way."

"I suppose I should also tell you the estimated time of death.
Obviously I cannot be completely certain, but..."

"I believe that Miss Tosaka died yesterday, after school."

"In the evening, then."

"Precisely.
And she was found this morning."

"In other words... unless she was seen yesterday afternoon, she may have been here all along."

"Kawara, her house was near yours, was it not?
Did you see her yesterday?"

"After school? Um..."

"..."

"...no, I didn't.
My mother asked me to run some errands, so I went straight home yesterday."

 

That's right, I went home alone.

It's too late to regret it now, but maybe if I'd just asked her to walk home with me...

"I see. Perhaps we should ask any other students with whom she was close."

"You're going out again?
Be careful. It sounds like wandering around the school could be dangerous..."

"Don't worry. We can outrun the scarecrow, if it shows up again."

"Incidentally, I went home early yesterday too.
I left as soon as class ended..."

"So, I only know what Ryouta has told me. I wish I had some useful information, but..."

 

"I was in the infirmary right up until I returned home, as usual.
I know nothing of what happened in the rest of the school, sadly."

 

So neither Mister Nanaki nor Doctor Iwamine saw Hiyoko yesterday afternoon...

"Oh, right!
Could we ask a favor of you, Mister Nanaki?"

"A favor?"

"The headmaster's office is locked. We think he might be hiding in there..."

"If there's a spare key to his door, could we use it?"

"A spare key... mmm. Yes, there should be one in the faculty room.
I'll ask the vice-principal for you."

"Thank you, sir! We'll be back soon."

"Be careful out there."

"You too, sir!"

There's the sound of a door closing, and the music stops.

"Kawara is a strange boy..."

"I wonder why he lied about going straight home...?"

"..."

 

"We won't be able to talk to the headmaster until we have that key. Let us work on the murder case until then."

"Right. We should ask everyone where they were yesterday..."

"The Doctor said he was in the infirmary until he went home...
I wonder if we can trust him."

"Do not bias yourself with baseless suspicions, Kawara."

"...yeah, I know."

"I think maybe you trust him a little too easily, Sakuya.
He's a world authority, but that doesn't make him honest."

"You know nothing of what that means."

"The head of the Le Bel family - my father - was once crippled with chronic illness.
He was cured with medicines developed by Doctor Iwamine."

"He makes medicine?!"

"Save the sleep talk for your dreams! Have you no idea what contributions he has made to the medical world?!"

"I-I didn't know... I thought he was some kind of mad scientist, cooking up nothing but death and all-around woe."

"You have become biased by the foolish rumors of the peasantry. Reconsider yourself."

"In any case, the Le Bel family is indebted to him. A noblebird will never treat a benefactor with disrespect."

 

So that's why he's so polite to the Doctor...

I think I'm going to mark these parts with italics from here on.

 

Doesn't that make him biased as well, though?

"...anyway, let's go."

"Very well."

We just saved and haven't gone to the headmaster's office yet, so I think we can put off going back to One for now. To the gym!

 

The students in the gymnasium have grown somewhat restless since the evacuation.

Shut up with no explanation, and now there's a suspicious individual wandering the campus.
I guess even doves lose their cool eventually...

"San! San, where are you?!"

"Coo!"
(Okosan is right here, alive and well! So far!)

"Coo coo!"
(Where did you and Sakuya go?
Leaving Okosan alone and going outside is not fair!)

"You'd just confuse the issue if we brought you along."

"We came back because we had a question for you."

"Coo!"
(Come at me, whippersnapper!)

"Uhh, that's not what I..."

"You usually practice on the ground after school, right?"

"Coo, coo!"
(Of course! It is Okosan's duty as track captain!)

"Did you see Hiyoko while you were out there yesterday?"

"Coo!"
(No! Okosan did not see her then, or as he was going home!)

"Can we really be sure that he would have noticed her, even if she had been there while he was running?"

"Good point..."

The screen shakes and the music stops.

"Coo, coo!"
(Do not look down on Okosan's visual memory!)

It shakes again.

"Cooooooo!"
(If you had asked Okosan about the blood-stained interloper he saw, than he would have had something to say!)

"?!"

"?!?!"

"W-w-w-wait, San, what did you just...?!"

The screen shakes.

"Coo, coo!"
(Do not look down on Okosan's visual memory!)

"After that, imbecile!"

It shakes again.

"Cooooooo!"
(If you had asked Okosan about the blood-stained interloper he saw, than he would have had something to say!)

"Coo, coo!"
(Okosan saw the interloper going to the infirmary!)

"The infirmary...?"

"Could that have been Hiyoko...?"

"She wouldn't have been stained with blood until after she died.
She was a bit hyper, but I don't think she'd still be walking around at that point..."

"Coo!"
(It was not Hiyoko! It was a bird unknown to Okosan!)

"So, someone covered in blood was going into the infirmary after school...?
Who in...?"

"Whoever he is, he's our prime suspect now."

"Thanks for telling us, San."

The screen fades to black and we return to the hallway with Sakuya.

"At least we found something.
Even if it raises more questions than it answers."

"Yeah."

 

Some bird who San doesn't know...
Could it have been someone from outside the school?

"...it's past noon already. Let us hurry onwards."

We fade to black again and Ryouta knocks on the Janitor's room door before entering. Jilt continues to play.

"Mister One?"

"...you two again. Come in."

"How goes the investigation? Well, I hope?"

"We went to the headmaster's office, as you requested. It was locked, however."

"Yeah, we got attacked by this weird thing outside there!
I'm glad you're okay, the office isn't that far from-"

"Was that 'thing' a muddy scarecrow-like man, perhaps?"


"Yuuya!"

At least Ryouta is happy to see you, Yuuya.

"So, you've seen it too."

"Just now, yeah. On the second floor."

"I got a glimpse of it from behind at the other end of the corridor and didn't stick around to let it see me, so alas I was not blessed with a look at its pretty face."

"Coward."

"Hey, we ran away as soon as we saw it, too!"

"Anyway, it sounds like it's wandering around the building...
Maybe it would be better for you to leave, Mister One."

"Don't worry about me, young one.
My duties prevent me from leaving this room."

"You two aren't planning on calling off your investigation because of a bad guy or two, either."

"Well... yeah, that's true."

"Hmph, already stuck in the rut of unadaptable middle age?
Don't come crying to us if you get hurt."

"I've come withing touching distance of death in the past.
I will be fine."

 

I wonder what kind of death comes that close to a maintenance worker?

I think we might be surprised.

 

Then again, knowing this school, there could be all kinds of evil going on behind the scenes...

"Well then, what are you standing around for? I believe orders were given for everyone to gather in the gymnasium to avoid the scarecrow."

"Same goes for you. Why aren't you headed over there?"

"Erp."

"I can't just... sit around..."

"Indeed... same here.
Hence walking around the school."

"On that note, I'd better go to the lab. Professor Nanaki wanted me there."

"What for?"

"Something you asked him to do."

"Oh."

"Ah, he wants you to help him keep an eye on Doctor Iwamine."

 

"Most likely, yeah. The Doctor and Hiyoko, that is."

"Anyway, you two go on with your investigation.
I'll be watching over her, so don't worry."

"...right."


 

"Wait."





 



"Yeah?"

"According to the autopsy, Tosaka died after school yesterday.
Did you see her during that time?"

"Yesterday evening, huh...
What did the Doctor say?"

"Just that he'd been in the infirmary all day."

"I was there, too."

"We were inspecting and cleaning all day, so I can verify the Doctor's alibi."

"I told you not to doubt him without evidence, Kawara."

"Aah... right."

 

At this point the prime suspect is that scarecrow, anyway.

"That's everything?
Well, adieu!"

"We should head out, too...
But first let's write down what we've found."

The music stops and we save the game. 8)

"All right, let's go."

 

And so we walked about the school looking for clues of Hiyoko and the mysterious blood-stained stranger.

We were lucky enough to avoid encountering the scarecrow, but we didn't find any information, either.


"Where to now?"

"Hrrm... Nanaki has probably gotten the key for us by now.
Let us return to the lab."

"Okay."

 

...

"Huh?"

"What is it?"

"Did you say something just now?"

"I did not.
Could it be that confounded scarecrow again?!"

"No, it's not him... I thought I heard somebirdie say something."

"Bah! Don't scare me like that.
...though, we've been walking around half the day. It's hardly surprising that your mind should be playing tricks on you."

"This is..."

 

The Library.

"What if there's somebirdie in here? They might not have heard the alarm.
Let's check."

"Very well."

 

Far removed from the emergency of the rest of the school, the library is the same as always - empty.
It is a little gloomier than usual.

We fade to black for a moment.

"I guess there's no one here..."

"Pull yourself together, Kawara.
I have no use for subordinates who lose hold of their sanity."

 

Since when am I your subordinate?

"Sorry, Sakuya. Let's head back to the lab."

We fade to black.

 

...

"Something...
something bad happened."

"I should have known what would happen after this...
if it hadn't been for me, none of it would have happened at all."

"What was I trying to do here?
What did I see?
...why can't I remember?"

 

...

...!

The music fades.

"I can't hear...
what are you saying?"

"You're fading away.
It's too far..."

"Miss Tosaka...!"

"Mister Nanaki!"

"Welcome back. Have you found anything interesting?"

"Yet another suspicious individual."

"But, we should speak with the headmaster first. Have you gotten the key?"

"Yes, I have. Right here."

"Thank you, sir!"

"Well, let's go have a look, shall we?"

"The Doctor and I will be here.
Be careful.
Adieu!"

 

Clear left.

 

Clear right.

"Good. Doesn't look like the scarecrow is here."

"That's good. If I had to fly away from something like that I might panic and hit the ceiling."

 

Oh, right... quails' reflex when startled is to fly straight up.

This is a really cute reference to a really cute thing, and by really cute I mean really dangerous if you want pet button quails. The little babies prefer running, so you keep them in big wide cages rather than the typical tall bird cage, but you also need to put some cushioning on the top of any cage so that if your quail gets startled they get bounced back down so they don't break their necks on the roof of the cage. A startled quail can potentially kill themselves doing something like this.

The scientific term for this phenomenon is "boink factor."

"We should hear it dragging its arm when it moves, so we'll have plenty of time to get away.
Let's go in!"

"Right, right. Let's see."

There's a sound as the door opens.

 

The headmaster, who gathered us all in the gym without any real explanation.

How many of our questions will he be able to answer...?

"Excuse us!"

"..."

"Maybe he's not here?"

"Hrrm.
That, or hiding."

 

There's somebirdie at the desk.

He's sitting with his back to us, but his feathers are the unmistakeable green of a nicobar.

"Speak to us, headmaster! Have you gone deaf?!"

"Sakuya, be polite! Japan is the country of courtesy, after all."

"Is it his fault or mine that we had to come here?"

"Headmaster, will you-"

"Th...
this..."

"S-Sakuya...?"

The screen goes black.

"!"

 

The thing here...
is no longer the headmaster.

His half-closed eyes are dull and cloudy.

The skin showing beneath his feathers is pallid.

"What... what madness...?!"

"H-him too...?"

 

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