The Truth (1)

For a moment, I thought time had stopped. Eventually, the court burst into a stir, and an air of chaos ruled the space.

The one who cut the fuse was the judge.

“W-wait just a second there. Isn’t that different from twins?”

“Very different. While it’s true twins boast appearance exceedingly close to one another, when it really comes down to it, they’re different people. Even if they have the same physique, that does not run as far as their hearts.”

“In this case, you mean memory and personality?”

As Prosecutor Schaefer said it level-headedly, I agreed.

“Exactly. Fifty years ago, when the demon lord was brought back from death, it meant there now existed two demon lords.”

“But what sort of relation does that have to this case?”

I answered the judge’s question.

“It changes from hero and demon lord to demon lord and demon lord, it will show you a completely new outlook on this scene. Are you listening? Once upon a time, in the era of the Great War, there was no one able to harm the demon lord besides that demon lord himself. Until the holy sword came into the equation, the demon lord had no enemies. Besides himself.”

… The demon lord’s true enemy was himself, I said.

“The only person in the world who could kill him was so close by. I’m sure this was a threat to someone who had always thought themselves strongest in the world. If possible, he’d want to get rid of him. But his foe had the same level of power as him. They wouldn’t die off so easily.”

I said one thing that came to mind. Without thinking of what sort of development this line would lead to, I continued emitting whatever words came to my head.

“Right, as I can’t kill him myself, I’ll call in someone who can. That is the truth of this case.”

It felt terribly refreshing. The hazy outline of the case that had been drifting around rapidly converged, and put itself in order.

… What, so it was something so simple.

“M’lud. As I thought, the true culprit of this case is not the defendant. The man over there is the culprit, and the ringleader.”

“Hmm, then let us hear the defense’s opinion.”

“Yes. Let’s begin at the start. The spark that set off this incident was a letter delivered to the defendant from sender unknown.”

“Oh, a letter?”

The judge looked at the defendant and asked. “Is that true?”

“U-um, yes. It’s true.”

“Hmm, then defense. Please continue.”

Claudia held her sword tight, answering with an expression that looked like it would break at any moment. I took my eyes off of her, turned to the judge, and continued my claims.

“The letter stated that the demon lord would appear at Westminster Hotel on November the 10th at 9:00 pm. Having been taught the demon lord was evil from infancy, Claudia Rheinland trusted that information, and arrived at the hotel. She attacked the person who appeared at the scene.”

I paused my words for a moment, looking around the court. Without any doubt, everyone was looking at me.

“At that time, who did the defendant believe that individual was?”

I went on.

“She likely recognized him as the demon lord. At the time, she didn’t know what sort of face the demon lord had, but if the holy sword could cut him he must be the demon lord, so perhaps she thought it was fine to confirm it after taking a swipe.”

With a somewhat sadistic look on her face, Prosecutor Schaefer spoke.

“Oh, is that your guess? Hey, girly. Big sis wants to hear it from your mouth. How did it feel to slash down at a complete stranger from behind?”

“M’lud. The prosecution’s current statement was irrelevant to the case. I would like to deny that testimony request.”

Seeing Claudia’s pained face, I immediately objected.

“Hmm, I uphold the defense’s objection.”

“Oh, how unfortunate.”

But while she said that, she made a somewhat exhilarated expression. “Then can we hear what comes next,” she urged.

I didn’t mind being the bad guy. But I didn’t want to make one out of Claudia.

Keeping of the prosecution’s offhand statements, I continued my claims.

“It’s likely that the one she attacked on the 10th was Hal Anderson. In order to fool the camera, he had swapped with Andre McHirsh, and was in the middle of his security guard job.”

“Mhm? Then they did plan on murdering the defendant?”

“Yes, they had such a plan set up between them. But as I said before, the demon lord’s true aim wasn’t the hero but the demon lord. It’s likely the one who sent the envelope wasn’t Hal Anderson, but Andre McHirsh. And Hal Anderson thought the defendant wouldn’t be coming on the 10th, but the 11th.”

I recalled the security camera footage. In that footage, Hal Anderson looked awfully surprised.

“Just as the defendant was lured with the envelope, Hal Anderson was lured out by the other demon lord.”

… And the incident happened, I continued.

“The defendant attacked Hal Anderson from behind. But his wound was light, and he did not die in one blow.”

“Then where did he go after that?”

Prosecutor Schaefer gave her objection.

“Even if he didn’t die from that strike, if the fall’s what killed him, it’s still murder in the end, isn’t it?”

“No. That isn’t possible. Even if you fell from the roof, falling into that park would be impossible.”

With a mildly miffed look on her face, “Why’s that?” the prosecutor asked.

“That’s because it would be impossible to fall with that hotel’s construction. On a floor below that hotel’s roof is a veranda that sticks itself out ever-so-slightly. If one fell from the height of one floor, it would definitely hurt, but I doubt it would kill anyone. Especially not the demon lord. Perhaps he even escaped completely uninjured.”

“Hmm, I see. That’s quite a novel outlook.”

The judge closed both his eyes, his face deep in thought.

“But in that case, a single contradiction is born. By that security camera feed, the victim falls and his right arm is severed. If those words are to be taken as true, it would have been impossible for anyone to fall, right?”

“Yes. Of course, it’s impossible. But please remember. That camera footage was taken not from the 10th, but the 11th.”

… That one was real, I said.

“It’s true the rooftop camera footage was falsified. But there’s no guarantee the same can be said for the others. More so, that one was genuine. After Hal Anderson escaped with his life on the roof, he got back at Andre McHirsh, and managed to kill him.”

… That’s why it was severed post-mortem, m’lud, I loudly declared to the court.

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