༺ The Scandal of the Bohemian Queen (2) ༻
“Move, move out of the way!”
The young nun who had rushed in to fend off the menacing vagrants screamed in pain as she fell down, struck by the blade they had brandished as a threat.
“Mr… Mr. Adler!”
“Are you alright?”
And, just then, from the distance, individuals presumably my household servants started running toward us. The vagrants immediately bolted as fast as their legs could carry them, swiftly getting out of our sight.
In the end, all that remained at the scene were me and the blood-soaked young nun.
If an oblivious bystander had witnessed this incident, they would have sung praises for the young nun’s otherworldly bravery.
‘Holmes was right all along.’
While pretending to check on the nun, as I knelt beside her, that was the conclusion I drew.
Carefully tasting the blood she was shedding with my finger, I realized that it was red paint.
Regardless of gender, Holmes was still Holmes. If I had been unaware of this plot, I would’ve been thoroughly fooled by such a startling act.
“Please forgive our incompetence, Mr. Adler.”
“We, we made a mistake. We should have come further out to greet you…”
“I, I have nothing to say.”
In this overwhelming situation, as I was pondering how to navigate through it, the late-arriving maids and servants began to kneel one by one in front of me.
“We, we’re sorry…”
“Please forgive us…”
Observing them closely, some maids seemed to have turned pale in fright, tightly shutting their eyes and trembling incessantly all over.
“I admit I failed to properly lead everyone. I will take the punishment on their behalf, so please forgive the others, Mr. Adler.”
The maid speaking in front of them, while kneeling, had dark bruises and wounds on her neck region.
‘…This is absolutely insane.’
I vaguely understood why people at the detective academy gave me such cold glances when they looked at me.
Isaac Adler, whom I have come to possess, seemed to be quite a despicable human being.
“…How is this nun doing?”
“She seems to be badly injured.”
“She looks like she’s dead.”
In an attempt to change the subject, I directed my gaze toward Holmes and posed a question to the arriving entourage of servants. The maids, after momentarily glancing at me, began to murmur amongst themselves.
“She’s not dead yet. However, she might not last until she’s moved to a hospital.”
Judging by the butler’s assessment, it seems Holmes also knew how to imitate certain medical conditions.
“She, she was a brave nun. Without her, Mr. Adler would have been in danger…”
“We can’t leave her lying on the street like this. May we take her to the mansion?”
Listening intently while looking down at her, I could hear the voices of the head maid and the female butler.
‘That’s exactly Holmes’ strategy.’
Holmes orchestrated this event to gain entry into the mansion, aiming for the photograph of the Bohemian Queen that I possessed.
The rogues from earlier must have been actors hired by Holmes.
Once we bring her inside, it’s very likely that the commotion of a fake fire will erupt shortly after with Watson’s assistance.
Holmes, who would be lying lifeless in the room till then, would seize that opportunity to track my movements.
“Support her and bring her to my room.”
I must capitalize on this very aspect.
After all, the ‘Scandal in Bohemia’ was an episode where Holmes had been defeated for the very first time.
If I were to just mimic Irene Adler’s actions from the episode, the photograph would be safe and I would be able to deliver a heavy blow to Holmes.
“Sh, should we clean her up…?”
“We’ll bring her right away.”
The female butler, stifling the murmuring maid’s surprised voice, started carrying Holmes toward the house.
‘Just follow the original story, just follow the original story.’
I might not be aware of the specifics since the game was still in active development, but this world was based on the Sherlock Holmes series.
Having read the four novels and 56 short stories multiple times, I was confident I could survive in this world.
Of course, surviving and tackling the absurd quests that made me want to laugh like a hysterical fool just by looking at them were two different things.
For now, I should focus on the incident unfolding before me.
“Where are you heading, Mr. Adler?”
As I moved with that resolve, I had to halt my steps and widen my eyes when the butler called out to me.
“Pleased to meet you, Mr. Isaac Adler.”
“”Pleased to meet you too.””
Several dozen servants had come out to the front of the mansion to greet them.
And among them, not a single one was male.
‘He really is something else.’
I began to wonder intensely just what sort of diabolical deeds Isaac Adler had done in London.
Holmes, carried by the butler and Adler, entered the vast mansion.
‘…Good, just as Holmes planned.’
Dr. Watson, who had been hiding and watching from behind an alley, suddenly recalled the conversation she had with Holmes just moments before.
“The photograph is probably inside the mansion. Adler might carry it on weekdays when he’s not at home, but since it’s the weekend, it’s likely stored somewhere in the house.”
“But I heard that the scandalized Queen has searched the house several times before.”
“Heh, if the issue could’ve been resolved by that lascivious Queen, I wouldn’t have taken up this matter.”
“So, how do you plan to find it?”
“Simple. I’ll make the other party reveal the hiding place directly.”
While remarking about this matter, she changed into a nun’s outfit that clung tightly to her body. Once done, she continued articulating her thoughts.
“When faced with a crisis, he’ll naturally head to secure what is most valuable to him. Men are inherently like that.”
“Of course, being called the scum of London, Adler will certainly, in his madness, head to where the photograph is.”
“Yes, that makes sense.”
Watson didn’t entirely agree with everything Holmes said, but she wholeheartedly agreed that Adler would exhibit such behavior.
“When I go inside the mansion, depending on the situation, I’ll open a window and signal you. At that moment, you should throw a smoke canister inside the mansion through the opened window.”
“Shout loudly, ‘Fire! There’s a fire!’. That’s your mission for today.”
Recalling the plan she and Holmes had formulated, Watson took a deep breath and looked ahead.
The maids… Most of the maids appeared to be around the same age as Holmes.
As they welcomed Adler into the house with bowed heads, Watson noticed bruises and wounds on their necks and arms.
‘Are they being abused?’
Being a doctor, she recognized the signs immediately.
Those marks weren’t made overnight.
‘What a trashy human…’
Watson’s eyes began to burn with a sense of justice.
The kind-hearted lady, until a moment ago, had felt guilty about involving innocent people in the matter. But upon reflection, she realized that there was no need for such concerns.
If they succeeded in retrieving the photograph through this operation, the queen herself would surely deal with that scum.
Then, freedom would undoubtedly come to those poor children.
Lost in her thoughts while wandering around the vicinity of the mansion, Watson suddenly looked up when she heard the sound of a window opening.
Shortly after, having seen Holmes’ signal, she steeled herself and pulled a smoke canister from within her coat.
‘Please let it be successful this time, Holmes.’
Then, with force, she threw the canister into the room.
Subsequently taking a deep breath, she prepared to shout out loud, cupping her hands around her mouth like a megaphone.
However, out of the blue, a massive explosion occurred right before her eyes and the shockwave sent her flying backward.
Tumbling on the ground for a while, Watson eventually slammed hard against a wall.
Her vision was filled with the sight of Adler’s mansion being completely engulfed in massive flames.
“Fi, fire… Why is it real…?”
Muttering with a weak gaze, the impact of hitting against the wall caused Watson to lose consciousness soon after.
Holmes, who had been lying in Adler’s room till now, gripped her throbbing head as she tried to get up from the bed.
“I’ll be damned!”
Then, entering her field of vision was the fiery interior of the room and her own head, now genuinely bleeding.
Could it be that Watson had thrown not a smoke canister but a firebomb into the room instead?
While examining the room with such thoughts, Holmes’ eyes caught the sight of the smoke canister rolling on the floor, emitting viscous smoke.
From the looks of it, it seemed that the canister Watson threw wasn’t the issue leading to the current dire situation.
‘The origin of the fire isn’t here; it’s coming from the living room.’
Holmes, trying to identify the cause of the situation, noticed the dense smoke seeping in through the gaps in the door.
‘The windows in the living room were all closed. So, it wasn’t an external factor but an internal one.’
She could think of two plausible situations.
Either Isaac Adler had sensed Holmes’ plan and took preemptive action, or someone, given Adler’s notoriously bad reputation, had committed an act of terror against him.
‘…This has gotten problematic.’
Either way, it was an unfavorable development for Holmes.
Having taken a paralytic drug for a perfect act, her body had now become unresponsive.
The effects of the drug, combined with the blast that hit the mansion, left her in a severely compromised state.
It seemed unlikely that she’d be able to get up from the bed any time soon.
Holmes’ expression turned icy cold.
If this explosion was intended by Adler, he would have already taken the photograph and fled the scene.
Even if Adler hadn’t intended this, if he were dead or the photo wasn’t in this room, the outcome would be the same for her.
In other words, a very grim situation where one could only hope that the narrative was… Adler getting caught up in this incident and meeting his demise.
‘…There’s no way a mana user would die here.’
To make matters worse, Adler was one of the extremely few mana users in the world.
His audacious behavior was possible because Adler was one of the few mages in England, treated with the same respect as the nobility themselves.
Rumors had it that his skills were rather poor, but it still seemed unlikely for a mana user to die in such a manner.
‘I need to change the plan before it’s too late.’
Thus Holmes, faced with a completely messed-up situation, clicked her tongue in frustration and began brainstorming to find a way out of this scenario.
– Clomp, clomp…
She then tilted her head, alerted by the sound of footsteps coming from beyond the door.
At that very moment, a coughing sound echoed right in front of the door.
As Holmes quickly closed her eyes and pretended to sleep, her vision caught Adler, staggering into the room after opening the door with hasty movements.
Covered in serious burns all over his body, he was also drenched in blood, likely from being caught directly in the ensuing explosion.
‘So the photo is here, huh…’
Despite her battered appearance, Holmes felt certain about the presence of the photograph, seeing Adler forcing himself into the room.
Internally, a quiet smile formed on her lips, but she soon held her breath.
Adler, in deep contemplation and glancing around the room, fixated his gaze on the bed where Holmes was lying and started to approach it urgently.
In order to avoid giving away that she was awake, Holmes shut her eyes tightly, and Adler’s relieved voice echoed near her ears.
‘Did he hide the photograph in the bed itself?’
In a moment of uncertainty, having already searched the bed when no one was around, Holmes was internally questioning whether to open her eyes when suddenly…
Adler’s arm gently wrapped around her waist.
For the first time in her life, being held by a man, Holmes’s thoughts momentarily froze and her brain seemed to have stopped processing altogether.
“That was a close call.”
Adler, holding her tightly, murmured with genuine relief in his voice as he moved toward the exit.
Soon after placing Holmes down in the mansion’s courtyard, Isaac Adler, with his limping body, headed back into the mansion.
The mansion’s servants, who had been outside, watched Adler with a look of disbelief.
Holmes, having observed the entire scene, suddenly recalled what she had said with a shrug to Watson earlier.
The gaze of the proud genius girl, who had never once changed her views since birth, was subtly shaken at this very moment.