༺ The Scandal of the Bohemian Queen (3) ༻
The day after Isaac Adler’s house was reduced to ashes for reasons unknown—
Having received Holmes’s message to come to the hospital Watson worked in, the Queen, who had been staying at a hotel, rushed out hastily and was thus catching her breath heavily in the hospital lobby.
“I came immediately upon receiving your message, as you said.”
“Yes, you did well.”
“What’s the urgent matter that you want to talk about?”
Holmes, who had been waiting for the Queen on the lobby’s sofa, answered her question.
“It’s naturally about the photo.”
“… You didn’t already get your hands on the photo, did you?”
“Not yet, but it’s as good as in our possession.”
“Oh, oh! Is that really true?”
The Queen, with a flash of excitement, then took Holmes’ hands in hers.
“I knew I did the right thing entrusting this to you. How can I ever repay this favor…”
“The case isn’t over yet. Please calm down and listen to my story first.”
However, Holmes spoke to her in a cold voice, suggesting that the Queen sit down for the moment.
“What is it, Watson?”
From beside Holmes, Watson, who had been quietly observing the situation, began to whisper cautiously to her.
“Are you really okay?”
Whenever a case seemed on the verge of being resolved, Holmes usually maintained a calm demeanor and immersed herself in her hobby of cracking down the last crucial part of the case and then delivering the breadth of events to the client.
However, for some reason, she was now irascible, almost like a girl going through puberty.
“I’m fine, Watson.”
“…I said I’m fine.”
It was a noticeably different behavior from the always mature and knowledgeable Holmes that everyone was used to seeing.
“Explain what happened quickly.”
“I’m so on edge that I feel like I might go mad any moment now. We don’t have much time left before Adler’s deadline.”
But the Queen, seemingly unfazed by this unusual behavior, started to press Holmes with an anxious expression on her face.
“To start, we failed to find the photo yesterday.”
With that, Holmes, still in that irritated mood of hers, began to explain to the Queen.
“But now, I know where the photo is.”
“Is… is that true?”
The Queen, whose eyes had widened in surprise at Holmes’s statement about failing to find the photo, showed a hint of color upon hearing that she knew the location of the scandalous photograph.
“Where the hell is that damned photo?”
“It’s in room 102 on the 3rd floor of this hospital.”
“What did you say?”
“Because Isaac Adler is admitted there with full-body burns.”
The Queen’s expression changed to one of shock upon hearing those last words.
“Why would he…?”
“It’s a long story.”
Holmes, with her eyes shut for a moment, tapped on the desk with her fingers and let out a long sigh.
And then, Holmes began explaining the events that had occurred the previous day.
“Isaac did that?”
“That damned rascal did?”
As Holmes’ narration reached the part where Adler jumped into the flames to save her and his servants, not only the Queen but also Watson showed absolute disbelief in their expressions.
“You couldn’t see with your own eyes yesterday since you passed out, so it’s understandable.”
“However, Watson… Prejudging a situation based on bias is a direct path to distorting the truth.”
With that, Holmes somehow raised her voice, chiding Watson.
“However, even I find it strange. Isaac, who regarded women merely as toys to play with and then discard, why would he…”
“Your Majesty, I apologize, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make.”
Holmes, cutting off the Queen who was still muttering in disbelief, continued her explanation.
“I had guessed that the photo would be in his mansion. But, Adler moved in and out of his mansion several times without taking the photo.”
“He planned to release the photo within 36 hours, so he wouldn’t have used a bank or private safe, considering the complicated procedures to retrieve items from those official places. And of course, he wouldn’t have hidden it in an insecure place with no security measures.”
As Holmes continued with her crystal-clear explanation, the Queen listened with a dazed expression.
“Taking all that into account, it becomes clear where the photo is. From the very beginning, Adler had been carrying the photo on his person.”
“On… on his own body?”
“He already had his most valuable possession with him, so he had the luxury to rescue others even amidst the flames.”
However, Holmes, who usually enjoyed confidently laying out her deductions to clients almost as if lecturing them on how she was able to reach said conclusions, appeared unusually less confident than usual.
“Even so, the reason he saved me remains unexplained…”
Holmes added, her expression furrowed as if she were a girl stuck on a challenging math problem.
“So, if we approach Adler now, we can retrieve the photo?”
But ignoring that comment, the Queen hastily posed another question, to which Holmes replied in a soft voice.
“Dr. Watson and I will retrieve it on your behalf.”
“There’s no need for that…”
“Adler is a mana user. What if you face a counterattack?”
Initially, the Queen, showing a bit of hesitation on her face at Holmes’ proposal, began to contemplate after hearing the next set of words that escaped her lips.
“Watson and I have extensive experience dealing with bizarre cases and mana users. You, Your Majesty, don’t have that experience.”
“Indeed… that’s true.”
Finally, she seemed convinced.
“Then, I’ll wait here for you both.”
“A wise decision.”
Holmes and Watson, rising from their seats, gave a nod to the Queen and then made their way toward the third floor, where Isaac Adler was currently located.
“Holmes, why did you insist on coming along?”
Suddenly, Watson posed a question to Holmes.
“Adler was prescribed morphine and sedatives to alleviate his pain. The Queen would have been more than capable on her own…”
“You tend to talk too much sometimes, Watson.”
Holmes, curtly brushing off Watson’s question, hastened her pace. She tilted her head slightly and then glanced back.
She found the nurse who had just passed by them oddly familiar.
Never had he imagined that he’d run into Holmes and Watson just as he was leaving a patient’s room in the disguise of a nurse.
‘That was close. Too close…’
The shock he felt when Holmes turned around and eyed him suspiciously, thinking he’d been caught, was just indescribable.
Could it be because, in the original work, Holmes failed to recognize Irene Adler when she greeted him in disguise?
Fortunately, it seemed that Holmes hadn’t recognized me completely as I was disguised as the nurse.
‘Anyway, it really was Holmes.’
There wasn’t much sentiment when he saw her disguised as a nun lying down.
But seeing her approaching from the other side of the hallway in Holmes’ signature coat with a cape draped over his shoulders, it finally felt real.
Holmes truly was a woman. A rather young one at that, with a brash yet simultaneously weary gaze. In short, she was a beautiful girl.
Perhaps all the characters I’d meet subsequently would have their genders changed as well.
And somehow, I’d have to become involved with most of them.
I sighed lightly and then steeled myself, eyes opened wide in determination.
There are two main things I needed to do now.
Firstly, I had to settle my relationship with the client Holmes was keenly interested in— the Queen of Bohemia.
If I didn’t resolve it soon, just as Professor Moriarty said, my life will be in danger.
And then, next would be…
I had to complete this quest.
Otherwise, this world would crumble and shatter.
‘Never thought I’d see the day.’
I never dreamed that I would be the one to hand Holmes her first defeat in life.
But I hoped she would understand that all of this was for her sake.
Though her abilities may match those of the original Holmes, Charlotte still had the weakness of being mentally immature.
For her to rise as the only one to confront Moriarty, this failure was indeed necessary for plausible growth.
“Ah, ah. Can you hear me?”
Though I was of different age and gender, I somewhat alleviated my guilt of using knowledge from the original work to defeat a figure I deeply respected.
“If you can hear me, please respond, Professor.”
Before leaving, I murmured softly while wearing the miniature mana receiver that Professor Moriarty had given me.
– I hear you loud and clear, Mr. Adler.
Then, I started to hear Professor Moriarty’s voice in my ear.
– So, what should I do now?
From the café on the opposite block, Professor Jane Moriarty sat with an excited look, waving at me.
“Think of this as a rehearsal before officially engaging in criminal consultation.”
According to the narrative of this world, I have a duty to help the protagonist— Charlotte Holmes, grow.
“From now on, I will act according to the orders you give, Professor.”
But at the same time, I also had the duty to develop Professor Jane Moriarty, her arch-enemy and final boss, into a plausible existence.
“Don’t get too nervous about it, just take your time and do it without pressure.”
Turning her, who has just entered the world of criminal consultation, into an emperor who will rule over London’s underworld.
Because that was my other main quest.
“If anything happens, I’ll take full responsibility.”
– That’s quite a romantic statement you made there, Mr. Adler.
In my field of vision appeared the Queen of Bohemia, nervously sitting on a chair in the hospital lobby.
“As your assistant, let’s try to topple the Queen of Bohemia, Professor.”
To escape from this absurd situation, it was time to use Moriarty as a cheat code of sorts.
Meanwhile, at that moment.
The hospital room where Isaac Adler was admitted.
Carefully opening the door and entering inside, Charlotte Holmes looked down at the bed with a look of disbelief on her face.
– As soon as you see this, please open it immediately.
Instead of Isaac Adler who should have been lying there, there was a lone envelope on the very middle of the straightened bed.
– To Miss Charlotte Holmes.
On the envelope, her name was written in Adler’s handwriting.
“Holmes, what on earth happened?”
It was the moment when the very first failure was etched into Charlotte’s flawless detective career.