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Chapter 12 - The Truth

The charged battle had closed with Jack's dramatic upset of a victory.

Putting aside Jack's words, Won took a moment to breathe a welcome sigh of relief, for this turn of events was no small victory on his part. Conversely, Enrique sat stunned, head in his hands.

Halle stared blankly at the cards.

Her eyes were wide with disbelief.

'No way...'

'How...did you...? Four kings? That... That should be MY hand!'

earing this, Enrique began to violently object, leaving no excuse unaccounted for. Jack was a cheat, he insisted. The match was a wash! No--Jack was disqualified for breaking the rules!

'Give it up, Don Enrique,' Won commanded. 'If you think he's a cheat, then how about you show us, huh?

'Go on. Show us exactly what it is Jack did.'

Won stood resolutely, arms crossed.

'Cheating's fine as long as you're not caught,' he recited.

It was a core rule of the match and Enrique knew it. There was nothing he could say back that could lay bare the trick. He stammered over his words as he rushed to nitpick every single one of Jack's actions throughout the match, but it was no use.


Jack denied it all with a single word.

'This is a technique King used in his final match. I didn't know it at the time, so there's no way Mister Enrique could.'

'To make me win and to keep you safe, Halle, King used this very trick. Truly, a trick worthy of a king.'

Head bowed, he continued.

'...I could never understand it. If he had a great trick like this up his sleeve, then what on earth would make him do somethin' dumb like throw away a match? ...I hated him for that, y'know. Hell, I've spent these past seven years consolin' myself by drownin' in booze.'

Jack looked up, his eyes catching the sparkle of the chandelier above them just right.

'But once I saw that invitation of yours, Halle, it started to make sense. Seeing Mister Enrique's name on the back was all I needed for everything to fall into place.

'Do you remember, Halle? On the same day as that match, you were in bed after being struck with a very sudden illness. No one could explain what it was.'

Jack's words had Halle like a fish on a hook.

'So what? What does that have to do with anything?'

Jack ignored her and continued.

'Around the same time, I'd heard a certain rumor about Mister Enrique. Word was, he'd gotten his hands on a hell of a poison. Somethin' along those lines, anyway.'

Perhaps Jack wasn't the only one who had heard this rumor. Curious at they were to listen in on Jack's story, a flurry of whispers swept through the audience upon the mention of the poison--the kind of whispers where one couldn't understand word for word what was being said, but any onlooker would know exactly what everyone was thinking. Enrique could only stare at the ground and bite his lip.

The facts weren't difficult to piece together. There was Halle, who just so happened to fall ill during the worst of times for King. There was Enrique, who had so conveniently acquired a poison during the best of times for him...

'...And then there was King, who had so blatantly lost against me on purpose,' Jack listed. 'There's an easy way to explain all those things, and it boils down to one simple truth.'

Won leapt to his feat, fury writ all over his features. He began screaming at Enrique.

'YOU! Seven years ago, you poisoned this girl... And then...then you threatened King with it!'

第12回 真実


ジャックの言動はさておき、ウォンは勝利したことに安堵していた。 頭を抱えてしゃがみ込むエンリケとは対照的だ。

ハルは呆然とカードの並びを見つめていた。 彼女には、自分の見ている物が信じられなかった。 「うそ……」



これを聞いたエンリケが猛然と抗議を始めた。 ジャックはイカサマを使った。 この勝負は無効だ。 いや、ジャックの反則負けだ!


「だったら示してもらおうじゃないか。ジャックがどんな手を使ったのかを。」 ウォンが毅然とした態度でエンリケに問う。 『イカサマは、バレなければ問題ない。』 それがこの勝負の「ルール」だった。

そう言われてしまってはいくら悔しくとも反論は出来ない。 エンリケはイカサマを証明しようとジャックの動きにいちいちケチをつけ始めた。

「……無理だ。」 ジャックは言下に否定した。



ジャックの視線がハルを捉える。 「俺を勝たせるために、ハル、お前を守るために、キングはこの『技』を使った。」












ジャックの言葉にハルが食ってかかる。 「……だったらどうしたって言うの?そんなの何の答えにもなってないわ!」

ジャックはかまわず続ける。 「……7年前といえば…………」




心当たりのある人物でもいたのか、観客の間をさざ波のようにざわめきが走る。 エンリケは――唇を噛んで下を向いている。





そのとき、突然ウォンが立ち上がり、エンリケを見据えたまま怒りに喉を震わせた。 「貴様! 7年前この娘に毒を……」