I may have reached a breakthrough!
So in this episode, we learn that Natsuhi and Krauss traveled to many Asian countries, including Taiwan. Krauss tries to get Natushi to share areca nuts with him, and claims that Kinzo loves them. I didn’t think much of it, but it’s interesting, since Kinzo is much more interested in European traditions than Asian ones.
I was also still trying to figure out the riddle, and where Krauss’s beloved hometown might be. I don’t have an atlas, so I googled ‘map of Taiwan rivers’ and sure enough, there are lots of rivers, too many to really narrow it down. So I tried to be less literal. I looked over the maps, and looked for something that flows like a river. And that’s how I found a map with the Taiwan railway system.
See those red and blue lines running through Taiwan? Those are railway lines. I had to do a lot of googling, half-suspecting it was all a wild goose chase. If the epitaph refers to a railway line, it has to be a line open before the events of the game. Actually, if this is Kinzo’s ‘beloved homeland,’ it has to be a line open even earlier than that.
The oldest railway system I could find was the Alishan railway line. Established in 1912 by the Japanese colonial government in Taiwan … doesn’t that seem like a fitting choice for someone from a distant branch of a Japanese aristocratic family, used as a puppet Head by the Ushiromiya elders? And in this railway, there’s one line that stands out to me … The Shuishan Line. I’m no expert in Asian languages, but Shan shui is a style of painting like flowing water. Sure enough, it’s the same characters: 水山, 山水. Mountain-water. Like a fresh water stream. Just as Rosa said, the ‘sweetfish’ ends up not being too important. EDIT: I’m no longer certain Shuisan is the right line – nothing in particular can be found along it-- but there’s a major Tamsui line also containing the character 水. I believe it’s written 淡水, which translates to ‘fresh water.’
Now I might as well share the rest of my thinking. The word I think the key unlocks is ‘quadrillion’ – as in ‘you will only be blessed at a probability of a quadrillion to one,’ the quote above the door to the chapel. The chapel represents Kinzo’s desire to be united with his beloved Beatrice, so it makes a fitting entrance to the golden land. George attempts to translate this word in an early episode, and Kumasawa has a picture of the door among her belongings. Basically, if I look at this story with love, and trust the clues are there for me to solve the riddle, I can conclude that word is important.
‘Quadrillion’ is eleven English characters long. I think after you follow the right railway line, you find the key, and the key is a word. You remove the characters in that word from ‘quadrillion.’ That’s the first twilight. On the second twilight, you ‘tear apart’ the two characters that are closest alphabetically – either remove them entirely, or put one letter at the beginning of the word and one letter at the end of the word. On the third … I’m not sure, but I think you either remove the characters that are in the word ‘Beatrice,’ or you introduce them. On the fourth through eighth twilights, you ‘kill’ characters based on their placement in the word. The first letter in the word could be the ‘head,’ the middle could be the ‘stomach,’ etc, etc. Either that or it’s something physical that you have to do with the actual door on the actual island. On the ninth twilight, you must use the keyword ‘Beatrice’ again. I’m still not sure how. But it seems like it’s the end of the puzzle, where all the characters have been used up and ‘none shall be left alive.’ On the tenth twilight, you reach ‘the capital where the gold dwells.’ Whether that’s another character, or something more literal, I can’t say.
Even though I’ve made this breakthrough … I still haven’t figured it all out. I’m still having trouble finding what the village and the shore are with the maps I have available. I’ll keep looking, but I’d like your help! If I find anything new, I’ll let you all know right away.