This was a turn of events I had not expected at all. Admitting that she is here and willing to have me whisk her away.
“I understand, sir. I’ll think of something to make this all go away now that I know Miss Silvers is alive,” with the tiniest pause, “and well. I could take her away tonight to expedite the matter.”
“That would be most satisfactory. Come with me, Mr. Gamble.” Sir Drake walked over to one of the bookshelves and pulled. A section of the bookcase quietly swung open, revealing a very thick-looking door. “I am not sure why, but my ancestors were very protective of the wine cellar.” Sir Drake flipped a poorly wired light switch, pulled back the bar, and open the door. Beyond the door was a stairway leading down.
Sir Drake led me down to the cellar. The light below was dim, and the smell damp and cool. The walls appeared to be melted stone. “I’m afraid she was not able to handle her Enlightenment quite as well as you have. She may be…difficult for you to handle at first.” At the bottom of the stairs were wine racks, a table with a dingy light over head, and another door. The cellar was exceedingly cold, reminding me of the when I first touched the statue up in the observatory. The wines are mainly reds, though there are a handful of whites as well. No vintage appeared to be under twenty years old given the thickness of the cobwebs. The bottles are wax sealed and metal stamped with the familiar family crest.
Sir Drake paused and pulled out a bottle, “ah, an Il Dragone 1872. I have been looking for that one.” He absently pulled out a ring with a single skeleton key and tossed it on the table. “She is behind that locked door. I shall go up and make sure Claudette and Samson are occupied while you remove Ms. Silvers.” He turned to me “I take it you are a man of honor and will keep to our bargain.”
He started up the stairs to go distract his staff.
“I’ll collect my firearm at the gatehouse,” I commented as a statement, not a question. I wasn’t leaving my 1911. It had never left me behind.
As soon as Drake was out of sight, I wasted no time. This stank like the half-sandwich I’d left in my desk drawer over a hot August weekend. I had no idea what condition Ms. Silvers would be in, but that was something to deal with later.
I grabbed the key and went to unlock the indicated door. It was pitch black inside.
My eyes adjusted to the faint light the naked bulb was casting behind me. Cowering in the corner ahead of me was a woman. She had nothing on other than a grungy, shredded nightshirt. “Miss Silvers? I’m a friend. We have to hurry. I’m here to take you home.”
The woman turned. If I had not met her twin sister, I doubt I would have recognized her from just her picture. She had bruises and scratches all over her. Her hair was matted with blood and had not seen a comb in weeks. Her eyes were wild with madness. I had seen enough in the War and on the streets to guess at the horrors this woman had suffered.
Her eyes tried to focus on me. She let out a gurgled scream, like something from another world. Then I understood why – she…had…no…tongue! She stood up and lurched at me. I flinched, but took her into my arms. She sobbed and grabbed me but continued to move through the cell door into the main cellar.
Then the lights went out.
She pulled away from me, staggering toward the stairs in the cold darkness. Then I heard…something. It was deeper in the cell. There was a scraping along the wall. I heard a hissing voice, “another friend for Scrambles?...”
In the Study, we see Sir Emery Drake. He has just turned off the light and slid the bar back into place, locking Douglas Gamble in the cellar with …. something. The screams are muffled by the thick oaken door. He softly closes the bookcase and hardly a sound can be heard from the cellar.
Sir Drake walks over to his desk and cranks the phonograph. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21 – Andante lightly floats in the air as Sir Drake opens the bottle of wine and lets it breathe. “Perhaps Scrambles will be in a better mood the next time we have one of our little talks. I am most interested in hearing more of his kind’s dark gods,” he muses to no one in particular.