“I know him… Yes, that has to be it.”
Maybe I was a little out of it.
The young man returned my gaze with a seductive smile.
“Then I’ll go ahead and excuse myself.
My deepest apologies, Mrs.
Carter.” McMerrin quickly left the store.
The door rattled shut behind him.
I followed the young man into the reception room.
It was decorated with exotic artworks from faraway countries such as Africa and South America.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mrs.
I heard you’re quite fascinated by the statues at the Edinburgh cemetery.” Contrary to his sullen face, he raised his head and spoke in a mellow tone.
It was a voice that was solemn and difficult to guess the age.
This voice… I’m sure I heard it before!
But where Where did I hear it
Why do I feel like I met him before
“I work under Mr.
McMerrin as a handyman and receptionist, but I also have a personal interest in this.”
Art shops often possessed heavy objects such as sculptures, so it was common to hire people who could do manual labor.
The man in front of me seemed nowhere near that description.
Although he was dressed in rags, his hands revealed he never had to do such work in his life.
There was also the way he talked.
Although he had the unique accent from Edinburgh, it was clear he was a person of higher education with his choice of words.
…I had a gut feeling that he was lying to me.
“People say these living, moving sculptures are but a mere ghost story…”
I carefully scrutinized the features of the man who continued to speak.
His dark, blonde hair, stylish and neat, shone softly under the light of the lamp.
His skin, pale enough to see his veins, sharp nose, and lips gave off a noble yet sensual impression.
“Very few had seen the statues alive and moving like I have while working under Mr.
“…You experienced it a number of times” I leaned forward a bit and expressed my interest.
“Yes, that’s correct.
In addition…” The man smiled, his half-closed eyes like crescent moons.
It was a kind of grin that made people blush if they weren’t immune to such charm.
“The villagers who made these statues called them Blind Revealers.”
His words, spoken in a languid yet strangely self-indulgent tone, continued.
“Perhaps it is because of their name that these sculptures have repeatedly revealed to the public undisclosed affairs.”
Scandals of high-ranking government officials.
A well-known celebrity abusing his own child.
A seemingly sound business was actually the center of crime and so on.
Those who owned these “blind revealer” sculptures were exposed to the full extent of their chivalry.
“Every time, the owner disposed of these strange statues which soon found themselves in this remote Scottish cemetery.”
“They have quite the story to them.”
With a few words exchanged between us, the man also explained how the statues revealed these acts of evil.
When someone who could interpret their message appeared, they slowly moved toward that person when he or she wasn’t looking at them.
They point their fingers to where the “injustice rests”.
“If you look at where they point, you can see where the corruption is, right”
The man smiled as if satisfied with my reaction.
Those blue, sunken eyes looked cold enough to cast their own shadows.
The moment our gazes met.
“By the way.”
“What’s your name”
The man looked a little flustered because he didn’t expect me to ask.
Then, he smiled brightly, took out his nametag from his pocket, and put it on his chest.
A, R, M, O, R, Y, I, T.
I glanced at the letters on the nametag.
As I stared at his last name with a unique spelling, suddenly, someone’s voice from a distant memory rang in my head.
“I love anagrams.
It’s merely a different arrangement of letters, yet it shows the possibility how everything can be different.”
At that moment, the letters that made up “Armoryit” flashed before my eyes.
“It’s laughable, to say the least.
Who is the judge that determines what is justice and what is injustice”
“If a statue asked me if I could judge such a thing by my own will, I am bound to feel skeptical.”
In contrast to his bright expression, he calmly talked about his way of thinking in a masculine yet powerful voice.
I realized the answer and couldn’t afford to respond to it.
I randomly threw out my only card.
Hearing that name, the man unconsciously turned his head to look at me.
“Oh, I meant Simon.
I’m sorry, I was confused for a second.”
The moment my “bewildered” expression was reflected in his silverish blue eyes, I quickly stood up.
“Come to think of it, I forgot I had an afternoon appointment.
Thank you very much for today’s conversation… I’ll leave first.”
As soon as I turned around without listening to the other person’s answer, I felt goosebumps.
At the same time, I felt the air change around me, and a stabbing sensation in the back of my head.
“I had a great time as well, ma’am.”
I slowly looked back.
Although his way of talking was still polite, the young man’s face had an expression quite different from his previous, welcoming one.
“For some reason, I have a feeling we will meet again soon.”
A face suitable for a person looking down at his subordinates.
…The moment I saw his expression, my vague feeling turned into conviction.
There was a fear that made my hairs stand on end.
I rushed out of the reception room without saying anything.
I pushed the door as if I was being chased.
I got into the car, leaving behind that rattling bell.
“Return to the mansion immediately!”
The driver started the car.
Even as the scenery outside the window slowly moved away, my racing heart didn’t calm down.
It kept beating like I had just run 100 meters.
An unknown amount of time had passed.
Outside the car window, I could see that McMerrin’s shop had become a dot and disappeared.
I couldn’t get the face of the man who smiled at me out of my head.
Although he introduced himself as Simon Armoryit, I was confident it was a pseudonym.
Armoryit was just an anagram of Moriarty.
Who was he
Sherlock Holmes’s archenemy, the worst criminal of them all, the Napoleon of Crime.
…He was Professor James Moriarty.
He was the person who had killed me two times already.
…Henry killed me while being possessed by an evil spirit, but James Moriarty killed me like I was an insect getting in the way of his goals.
* * *
It’s been two days since I went to McMerrin’s art shop.
In the meantime, I tried not to think about Professor Moriarty, but despite my efforts, the memory didn’t easily leave my head.
So far, I had died 23 times.
The twelfth and thirteenth deaths were because of Professor James Moriarty.
Did it happen when the fire broke out at the train station
It was known to many that a drunken, homeless man set fire to the place in a fit of anger.
In reality, it was an event in which the mystery of the unknown worked.
James Moriarty and his men were also involved.
“Boss, what are we going to do Emily Carter, wife of the late Randolph Carter…”
“Oh, that damn Randolph Carter.
And what do you mean”
I couldn’t forget that cold, amused voice.
“Just kill her properly.”
My twelfth death was getting shot through the head by one of his men.
My thirteenth death was when I was pushed off the highest floor of Big Ben.
James Moriarty, who I was facing at the time, had his whole face burned by an “unquenchable flame” from a monster.
“That was why I didn’t recognize you at first.”
But that smooth, baritone voice.
That unique skill of making people nervous which only made me curious.
In any case.
I had gone half a year back in time after my thirteenth death.
Aside from my experience of the end of the world, this was the furthest I went back in time.
Before I even faced James Moriarty, I first intervened in a certain case and solved it by nipping it in the bud.
It was thanks to me that Moriarty’s face was fine.
Yet how did I come across him like this I thought about the memories of Moriarty I had experienced in previous timelines.
I couldn’t find anything that could be related to those “living statues.”
“Emily, what sort of deep thoughts are you having”
Helena was here with me, who had a dark expression all the time ever since I returned from McMerrin’s shop.
I didn’t tell her anything about James Moriarty.
The fewer people know who he was, the better.
Even in those other times, he kept his identity a secret.
That meant those who knew his secrets weren’t allowed to live for long.
When I didn’t explain myself, Helena narrowed her eyes.
“…You’re hiding something from me, aren’t you”
Helena stared at me, and for a moment her gaze was as still as the surface of a lake.
Then, she returned to her normal self with a smile.
“Well, I won’t pry.
You’ve never done this before… Oh, here.”
She handed me an envelope with the scent of a high-quality perfume.
Once the wax seal was broken, I saw there was an invitation.
I’d like to invite you to my villa.
Your good friend, James Moriarty.]