Good timing. I didn't
quite like where the conversation with my butler was going. It is
really unsettling when someone appears to know more things about your
personal life than he is supposed to. I know that well, I frequently
use that as a weapon, and I don't like it when it is used against me.
Rokudou opens the door
for Satsukawa, and he comes inside with a joyful gait.
He seems to be in high
spirits. He is carrying a huge cardboard box that appears to be quite
Erika: "Is that a
gift for me? How thoughtful."
something like that."
He puts the box on the
table, next to the empty teacup. The loud sound it made confirms my
first impression on its weight. I already have an idea of what is
inside, but just to be sure...
Erika: "What did you
paperwork you requested yesterday. These are the crimes that were
reported around this area for the past two years. And that's not even
all of them, of course, just the ones you're interested in."
Rokudou: "It looks
like there's quite a lot of documents in there, hu hu hu."
Satsukawa: "Have fun
browsing through them."
Erika: "I can't help
but detecting a note of sarcasm. Is this the reason you're so happy,
quite. Well, that too..."
Erika: "Then I guess
there's something more important to discuss than a pile of papers.
What news do you bring?"
to business, uh?"
Erika: "If you've
found new evidences regarding the case, I want you to tell me about
them without delay. I don't want to waste my time speculating about
theories that don't match with known facts."
you're really going to love what I'm going to tell you. That was one
of your theories, and now we've found something that supports it."
One of my theories? Which
Erika: "Where? When?
How did you find new elements to solve the case without me? Explain."
Satsukawa takes an object
from his pocket, and triumphantly hangs it in front of my eyes. It's
a transparent plastic case, with a silvery disc inside. There are no
labels of sort.
Erika: "A compact
it's a DVD. This is yet again something that you requested."
Erika: "Ah, finally!
I had almost forgotten about it. You sure took your time!"
a reason for that, and it took me a while to understand it...
Actually, I'm not completely certain I do yet, but the geeks at the
headquarter surely tried their best to explain it; they wouldn't stop
Erika: "Rokudou, can
you bring my laptop here? It's over there, on the sofa."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu.
Satsukawa-san, you can try and tell me what you've learned from those
Basically it's about how hard disks work when storing data.
Apparently they divide information in many little clusters..."
something everyone with a basic knowledge of computer science knows."
well... Anyway information is split randomly among those clusters..."
Erika: "I know."
Satsukawa: "And do
you also know that when you delete a file, it doesn't actually get
removed from the hard disk?"
Erika: "Is there
anyone that doesn't? I mean, apart you."
sorry for being born in the sixties..."
Erika: "That's no
excuse. To make it short, what they told you is that some files were
deleted from the hard disk of Gotsuji's PC, but they still managed to
retrieve them by examining the clusters into which their information
something like that... albeit I still don't quite understand why
they're still there, if they were deleted."
because when you delete a file, what actually gets deleted is the
data necessary to retrieve it."
Satsukawa: "Ah, I
know! That's what the trash can is for!"
Nevermind, you're a lost cause."
Meanwhile Rokudou already
finished preparing the laptop. Nowadays starting up the OS takes only
a few seconds. I only wish Satsukawa's brain could be as fast.
Erika: "What exactly
is inside that DVD?"
Satsukawa: "All the
files that they managed to retrieve. Gotsuji's PC is an old model, so
its hard disk isn't very voluminous. A single DVD was more than
Erika: "Give me
I say so, while extending
my hand, without hiding my annoyance.
not done explaining what's the important bit that we've found..."
Erika: "I'm trying
to speed things up, it'll take hours at your pace. Just give me that
DVD, you don't need it to explain."
hands the disk over to me, while letting out a dejected sigh. Without
delay, I put it inside the optical drive of my laptop.
Erika: "I assume
that this important evidence comes from files that were deleted. You
wouldn't try to explain all that computer stuff that you don't even
understand for no reason, right?"
Satsukawa: "It's the
web browser's cache."
browser's... cache, uh? I see... this is getting pretty interesting.
the browser's cache is..."
Erika: "I know what
a browser's cache is, Satsukawa-san. That's where temporary data
downloaded from internet sites is stored. And I think I'm starting to
get an idea of where this is leading us. By checking a browser's
cache you can see which are the sites that the user visited in the
past. There's certainly a lot you can learn from that."
that's what they told me, however it wasn't that simple, because
apparently Gotsuji cleared the cache recently. In other words all
those files were deleted."
we're talking about an old computer with a low capacity hard disk,
that doesn't surprise me at all."
Satsukawa: "Well, at
any rate they managed to retrieve part of that data from the clusters
it was written into, but there's probably a lot missing."
Erika: "Because once
files are deleted, the related clusters are considered empty by the
computer and they can be overwritten at any time. When that happens
the previously stored data is lost forever. It's pretty clear. What I
don't get is why this is so important. We're talking about internet
pages, right? Can't we simply look at the browser history and check
those sites directly?"
the problem is that the sites in question constantly change, so even
if you go there now, you won't see the same thing that Gotsuji saw at
that time. Then again, I guess that what really matters is that she
browsed them, so you do have a point..."
Erika: "What kind of
sites are we talking about?"
don't you check them directly? There, they conveniently placed the
relevant retrieved data inside that directory."
After clicking on the
icon that Satsukawa indicated, a list of html files appears on the
I do as he suggests, and
the web browser installed on my laptop automatically starts; its
window maximized occupies the whole screen. Both Satsukawa and
Rokudou, standing behind me, lean over to take a closer look. The
page is obviously lacking some graphic elements, files that were lost
and couldn't be retrieved; the textual content should be, however,
complete. There are still several pictures that can be seen, pictures
Erika: "What is
Satsukawa: "It's a
page from a dating site."
Erika: "A dating
site... Now, this is getting really interesting."
you're going to love what I'm going to say next. This and the others
aren't exactly the kind of dating sites where people look for long
Erika: "Ha ha ha!
Yes, I'm loving it, tell me more."
I quickly open the other
files. Exactly as Satsukawa said, they come from many different
a special section of the MPD that deals with sex crimes, we consulted
them and they told us that many of those sites are well known to
the strict definition of 'prostitution' in the current law system, I
doubt they can do anything about that."
only true for those that are 18 or older. A few years ago the
government approved a law that forbids any kind of compensated
obscene acts for those who are under that age. This is why the police
is monitoring those sites to make sure they aren't used by children."
Erika: "Then what
we're talking about is enjo kosai after all."
it was a phenomenon strictly related to telephone clubs, but at this
point those have become obsolete. Nowadays internet dating sites are
used in their place. Technically you need to be at least 18 years old
to even be allowed to access them, but all it takes to lie is a
Erika: "And Gotsuji
suddenly became interested in those sites. This is really great news,
awesome! Did you tell her father already?"
More importantly, have you established when she accessed those
that was between the last December and January. The current theory is
that during that time she was evaluating the idea of getting extra
money through compensated dating. She probably visited many of those
dating sites to get an idea of how they worked. In the browser
history there's evidence that she actively researched the subject.
However there's still the possibility that she was just curious, we
don't know if she actually ended up selling herself."
Erika: "And yet,
that would explain how she was able to make all those expensive
purchases. In addition the times match. As far as we know she never
bought anything that she couldn't normally afford before the present
that's certainly true... But if she created an account, evidence of
that should appear on her computer."
Erika: "That page
might be one of those that couldn't be retrieved. It might be worth
to try checking the actual sites."
what the geeks were asked to do, but they said there isn't a big
chance they'll find anything."
Erika: "Why so?"
it's young girls making those announcements, they usually give false
information. For example they all write they're 18 years old, which
is the minimum allowed age. They rarely upload pictures, and when
they do, they make it so they can't be easily recognized. Then
there's the fact that those sites constantly change, so Gotsuji's
account could've been deleted already by now."
Erika: "I see. At
any rate I think this is a very important evidence."
Satsukawa: "Even if
you say so, I can't help but thinking that this just complicates our
work. This opens the possibility that Gotsuji was killed by one of
her clients, and then we'll never find him."
Erika: "Don't be so
negative, Satsukawa-san. Everything suggests that the culprit is
related to the Mitsugi institute."
The empty teacup is
standing alone on the table. Somehow I find it a saddening sight, and
that reminds me that I didn't have a proper breakfast yet this
Today Rokudou was earlier
than usual. He should really try to keep his schedule a bit more
organized, I wish his visits weren't so random.
Rokudou: "Did you
experience any discomfort during your stay in this hotel, Milady?"
This must be the
twentieth boring question he made me since I welcomed him inside. I
know that he is just doing his job, but this is getting annoying. My
many little grey cells are craving for a more intellectually
I absentmindedly answer
him, reassuring him that there is nothing he should be worrying
about. Not like I am absolutely satisfied of this accommodation, but
I don't really care. I might be rich, and I might be a person that
appreciates elegance and style, but I am also very practical and
adaptable. Currently my only care is to solve the many mysteries
surrounding the Mitsugi institute, the rest is hardly of any
Erika: "Today is
Friday? Time sure flies..."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu,
are you experiencing difficulties in keeping track of the passing
particularly. I guess I simply enjoyed the past few days, that's
Rokudou: "I imagine
they've been rather exciting for you."
Erika: "Oh, there's
been quite a few amusing moments, but the best has yet to come."
Rokudou: "So, today
is the big day."
Erika: "Big day?
That's an amusing way to define it. When an exterminator frees a
mansion from the vermin lurking inside, does he consider it a big
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu!
I see, I suppose that that would mean giving the vermin too much
So today isn't particularly big or anything, it's just a day where
I'll have fun doing what I do best."
Rokudou: "Do you
have a plan already?"
Erika: "A plan?
You're underestimating me, Rokudou, I have more than one."
you don't know what kind of tricks Teramoto has prepared."
Erika: "I believe
I've already figured out the most probable."
Rokudou: "With just
the little information at your disposal?"
Erika: "There are
substantially three magic tricks that Teramoto uses to challenge the
disbelief of the students. One is the door that can only be closed
and opened from inside."
Rokudou: "Ah, that
part has been solved already."
Erika: "I'm sure
Hibari followed my advice, so Teramoto shouldn't know that I've
figured that out already."
Rokudou: "I see, you
made it so she wouldn't tell."
Erika: "The less
Teramoto knows about what I know, the best it is for me. Hibari in
her stupidity doesn't even realize how harmful it is to withhold
vital information from her friend."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu,
she's not the brightest mind."
Erika: "The second
trick is the Ouija board. How does she moves the planchette where she
Rokudou: "Do you
know what kind of system she uses?"
Erika: "I wish I
knew more, but I imagine it isn't something too obvious. Those girls
seemed pretty sure it couldn't be a trick. I can think of a few
possibilities, but in the end it doesn't really matter which it is, I
have a secret weapon. *giggle* *giggle*"
Rokudou: "Then only
one trick remains."
the most insidious."
Erika: "You see, the
third trick is Pazuzu itself. In other words: how Teramoto can summon
him in front of everyone?"
Rokudou: "Oh? I'm
not sure I understand, but what are you going to do about it?"
Erika: "I'll simply
destroy it, there's no other way."
Rokudou, Miss Erika does not wish to tell her plans before executing
them, but I am sure she will be willing to explain everything after
her inevitable success."
Rokudou: "Hu hu hu,
I see, I won't press this any further. But what if there are other
Erika: "It's a
possibility, but I'm sure those three are the most important.
Regardless, I can expose the truth behind any kind of trick in a few
minutes. Even if she pulls something that I don't expect, I can deal
with it. There's nothing to be worried about."
Rokudou: "I'm glad
to see that you're as confident as ever, Milady."
Erika: "Why would
you even doubt that?"
Rokudou: "I imagine
that confronting Teramoto is a mandatory step, but shouldn't you
focus more on solving the murder case? This is already the fifth day,
and I think the MPD is expecting more substantial results. I don't
need to remind you that your services were requested because they
wanted to settle this matter as quickly as possible."
Erika: "Ha ha, you
sound just like Satsukawa. I find your worries that I might not solve
this case quite amusing."
reassuring that you feel that way, but time is of the essence."
Erika: "Yeah, I
understand perfectly, Rokudou. They think they can solve any cases
with or without my help. So they'll only consider me necessary, if I
prove I can do it faster and better. I get it."
Rokudou: "If you
disappoint them, the chances that you'll be called again will greatly
Erika: "That won't
happen. They want a culprit served on a silver platter, someone to
prosecute without the slightest chance that he'll be acquitted. I'll
deliver their order in a timely fashion, but I'm not going to rush
it. That could compromise the quality of the final product, don't you
Rokudou: "It's very
hard to understand how close you actually are to such objective."
Erika: "That's how I
work, Rokudou. An artist never shows his paintings before they're
finished. I'm the same. You just need to trust that progress is being
Rokudou: "If you say
that everything is proceeding smoothly, I won't worry anymore."
Erika: "Then you can
Rokudou: "I see...
I'll do that. I have faith in your talents, Milady."
Erika: "Right... Ah,
Rokudou, by the way..."
something that I think you can help me with. I actually planned to
ask this since yesterday, but I just reminded it now."
Rokudou: "What could
Erika: "In the
previous case, one of your many connections proved to be quite
Rokudou: "Ah, that
Erika: "Do you think
you can contact her? I wish to take advantage of her services again."
Rokudou: "Hmmm, I
haven't seen her in a while, but I think I can still persuade her...
Why don't you ask Satsukawa-san first? He might be able to provide
the same information."
Erika: "I don't
think he'd like my idea, and I prefer to keep this under the table.
Besides, what I'm going to ask isn't quite legal."
Rokudou: "In that
case I think it'll be necessary to reward a few persons for their
cooperation and discretion."
Erika: "And is that
Rokudou: "No, not at
all. If it is to improve your chances of success, Milady, I have
nothing against a few expenses."
Erika: "Good. Take
care of this matter as soon as you can, and keep me informed."
My butler can be pretty
useful. I guess that is why I keep him around, even though he isn't
very dignified. In the end if he was a completely honest person, it
could become a problem for me.
Erika: "I'm getting
hungry. Why don't you call the room service for me, Rokudou? You can
order the usual."
is going to join us very soon. I thought the three of us could have
breakfast somewhere outside, today. It would be certainly more
enjoyable that way."
Erika: "Hmmm, I see.
Let's do that, then."
Now, here is another
example of how Rokudou is totally not like a real butler should be. I
do think he had a nice idea, but servants aren't supposed to share
meals with their masters. And yet he proposed that as if it was
something absolutely normal, denoting his complete lack of tact and
elegance. He really doesn't behave like a butler at all, whatever
should I do with this uncouth man?
Rokudou: "By the
way, Milady... Have you ever been in the metaworld again after that
Why does he ask?
Erika: "Why do you
Rokudou: "It's been
a long time since you haven't been there. I thought it could have
happened again recently."
I wonder if he knows. And
if he does, how did he find out? This is too strange to be a
coincidence... But there is no way he knows. Rokudou, like most
people, shouldn't be able to see and interact with the metaworld.
Erika: "It's a thing
of the past, Rokudou. I have no idea why are you bringing that up
Rokudou: "I thought
so, I was just curious."
He has always been
insanely curious about my adventures in the world beyond. I remember
the first year he entered in my service. He kept pestering me with
questions about Bernkastel, Beatrice, the golden land, and all the
haven't met any denizens of the illusion world then?"
Erika: "No, how
could that even happen? They can't come to this world by their own
will. For that to happen one needs to summon them. It requires a lot
of concentration and training, and even then, only the summoner will
be able to interact with them."
Rokudou: "Right, I
had forgotten that."
disappointing, you were such a fast learner. I guess you're as fast
at forgetting as you are at memorizing."