After James and Jimmy went to investigate the cellar:
“I’m going to meet Sir Bridle in person.”
With those words, Helena left to meet the owner of the mansion.
“So…It’s just the two of us now.”
“Don’t let the wine touch your lips, okay” I reminded Sir Henry.
Out of all of us, only Sir Henry and I attended the ball as scheduled.
When we entered the banquet hall dressed the same as the previous day, we had to swallow our astonishment once again.
‘It’s the same as yesterday.’
The sight of the guest drowning in hallucinations was shock and horror in itself.
When I returned to the drawing-room after a while, Helena was back.
“Did you talk to Sir Bridle”
She shook her head with a disappointed expression on her face.
Helena had tried to use her influence to make contact with Lord Bridle.
‘My sincerest apologies, my Lady, but the Lord’s health has deteriorated rapidly over the past few days.’
Unfortunately, the butler refused her request.
As I narrowed my eyebrows, Helena spoke first.
“It’s strange, don’t you think”
The banquet was held, but the owner didn’t bother showing his face and instead had the butler deliver the refusal on his behalf…”
In fact, it was very disrespectful.
If the Lord of the mansion cannot show his face for an unavoidable reason, he should at least deliver an apology letter written by himself.
“…Is the butler hiding something”
Helena nodded gravely at my words.
“We should consider all possibilities.
By the way, why is everyone so late”
Neither Sally, Jimmy nor James had come back yet.
The moment I glanced at the door in agitation, it burst open.
“My Lady! Lady Emily!”
Sally rushed in, gasping for breath.
“Sally, what’s wrong”
“That’s…Hah…You can’t go into the basement…”
Sally panted with a red face.
I urged her to sit down and speak calmly.
Sally regained her composure only after she drank a glass of water.
“You can’t enter the basement, at all.”
Her recount was like this.
“As Baron Moriarty suspected, there is something horribly wrong with the wine cellar in the basement.
People moving like puppets, with skin paler than snow, were working in the cellars.
“Every Brichester employee is aware of their existence, but the story didn’t leak out because Sir Bridle enforced a gag order.”
“If this was leaked, people would never want to enter the mansion.”
Images of people who were nothing more than living corpses float in my head.
Recalling her earlier words, I asked, confused:
“But what do you mean one can’t just go in”
“Abigail said that.”
Her pale lips trembled softly.
“If you go in without any preparation, they will attack you.”
“Before you enter, you have to apply something on your body.
If you don’t—”
At that moment, the door opened with an even larger bang than before.
A voice that sounded like a plea, unlike the usual indifferent and calm voice.
James Moriarty looked like he was about to collapse at any moment.
…I almost screamed when I saw who was in his arms.
Sally frantically ran past me.
Sir Henry also ran hastily and helped Jimmy stand on his own feet.
I got up in disbelief and slowly approached him.
His pulse was checked— though he was trembling, luckily he was breathing fine.
When I parted aside his dishevelled fringes, I could see his unfocused eyes.
Jimmy had lost all reason.
…It was evident that he had seen something terrible that left a deep mark on him.
“Jimmy …Are you okay” A light slap on the cheek brought his eyes back to normal.
Jimmy looked at me and suddenly burst into laughter.
“He, he, hahaha!”
The voice that started like a groan soon turned into elated laughter, and then into the laugh of a madman.
What the hell happened in the cellar
Anxiety rose to the tip of my throat, and I struggled to stay rational.
“Oh my God, Jimmy…”
The moment Sally muttered with a face that looked like she was about to cry, a thud was heard.
“How did this happen…James!”
I turned around and saw James lying on the floor.
A gasp escaped from Helena’s mouth as she ran to him.
“Emily! The baron is seriously injured.”
…It really was extremely serious.
I knelt down and looked down blankly at one of James’ sleeves.
His clothes were black, so it was hard to see, but I could see blood dripping from the end of the sleeve.
When I looked closely, his dishevelled face was also a mess.
…As if chewed by something, the wounds were steadily leaking blood.
I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
“Oh my god…”
I heard Sally throw up at the terrible sight.
When I didn’t let go of his arm, James met my eyes with his own.
His face was pale and bloodless.
“Ah, Emily, I showed you an unsightly appearance…”
“Don’t talk, you’ll bleed more…”
“…Are you worried about me I’m glad.”
James’ lips turned upwards with some effort.
When I frowned at those words, he leaned over and whispered in my ear.
“Jimmy and I… we got caught by them.”
“Them The ones in the cellar”
“…Yes, the ones in the cellar,” James confirmed.
In the most obscure corner of the mansion, they produced the famed ‘Brichester Wine’.
…The living corpses stabbed Jimmy with thorns and ate his arms and face.
‘Living corpses and thorns.’
It reminded me of something.
Perhaps because of a series of shocks, my frustrated brain refused to think properly.
James quickly explained everything else he knew, and I had no choice but to store the information he gave me in my head.
“Those are…they’re monsters, Emily…” He panted.
“You can’t win on your own.”
I told him to lie down, but James said he was fine and sat up.
But I’ve often been through situations like this, so I know well what was going to happen.
‘If you don’t get treatment right away, you won’t have much time left.’
Before he could be taken to a larger hospital, James Moriarty would die of excess blood loss.
…The death of Baron Moriarty.
I know it had nothing to do with me, but…
‘The problem is Jimmy.’
He was still muttering nonsense with his eyes wide open.
If it was true that he was attacked by strange creatures in the cellar, no amount of treatment would erase his psychological trauma.
…I know what comes next.
‘There is only one way.’
The moment I made up my mind, Helena, who was restless, looked back at me and said:
“What do we do Call the doctor right now—”
I stood up, calming my pounding heart.
“Helena Blavatsky, my dearest, eternal friend.”
At that moment, Helena’s eyes widened.
She felt something in my voice.
I pulled something out of my clothes and handed it to her.
…It was a self-defence pistol.
“You would know how to shoot.”
Helena, who took it immediately, looked at me with trembling eyes.
Sir Henry and Sally didn’t seem to understand what was going on.
“You know that I trust you the most, right, Helena”
“If you trust me too, then…”
I bit my lip softly.
…I’m sorry for entrusting you with this task, Helena.
I pointed to my forehead and spoke.
Helena couldn’t take her eyes off me.
One shot, no pain.”
Helena just opened her mouth and didn’t say anything.
“Madam!!! Have you gone crazy”
Sally, who had only been observing till then, shouted with a sharp, shaking voice.“Lady Helena, please don’t respond! I think my lady is having hallucinations.
This, this is absurd…”
She gradually began weeping.
“Madam, did you drink the wine earlier Or were there drugs in the meal…”
Sally’s eyes widened at Helena’s words.
Sir Henry also yelled “Ms Blavatsky!” but she slowly raised her arm and pointed the gun at me.
“Lady Helena! Please stop it! Everyone, are you all crazy Sir Henry, sir, please—”
“Madam Blavatsky, stop! No matter what you do to Emily—”
As James’ voice came out in a whisper, it became quiet instantly as if cold water had been poured on everyone.
He seemed to have noticed something.
“Well, was that so…”
James turned to me and then to Helena.
“Madam Blavatsky, do as you please.”
Then, Sir Henry ran towards Helena.
In a flash, James jumped up and grabbed Sir Henry.
“No! Agh, let me go!”
“Shoot now! I can’t hold on to this man anymore!”
Helena looked directly at me.
As I nodded, the gun was pointed at my head.
— — —
TL note: What a scary chapter… The scene where Emily tells Helena to shoot her is probably one of the most impactful ones in this novel.