Chapter 20 – Room 102, Cursed Room – ‘Mansion of Fear’ (6)
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 7
Current Location: Floor 1, Room 102 (Cursed Room – Mansion of Fear)
Sage’s Advice: 3]
We arrived at the boat.
I looked at the bottom right hand side to observe the crack again. Due to being left overnight in the storm, the crack was now slightly bigger than before.
There was a lot more water seeping in through the gap.
“About ⅓ of the boat is filled with water. I believe we should take the water out before we can even repair it. Fortunately, we do have a pump with us.”
We began pumping in the middle of a storm.
It was tremendously exhausting.
Fortunately, the hole wasn’t that big and we were able to avoid something as terrible as water being endlessly filled back up while we were pumping the water out. However, emptying the large amount of water filling the boat was already challenging in itself, and I regretted telling Jinchul-hyung to stay behind.
After about 2 hours and 30 minutes, when we were finally able to see the bottom of the boat, the butler carried a few tools and began repairing the hole.
I sat down and took a rest to collect my breath, and before long, the butler stood back up.
“Mr. Butler. Have you finished repairing the boat?”
“It is just about finished. I believe there would be no more water seeping inside. Of course, this boat is pretty much gone because of all the water seeping into the materials, but even if we do have to discard this later on, it will last a few days until we leave the lake so I believe that should be okay.”
“Then can we leave immediately?”
“That would still be difficult. If we try to cross the lake in such stormy weather with a dying boat, I’m afraid we will just be feeding the fish inside the lake. I’m sure the storm will end sometime soon. Maybe in around one or two days.”
Even though the boat was repaired, it would still take one or two days for us to escape. There was nothing I knew about a boat so there were no objections for me to make.
While leading my exhausted body back home with the butler, I brought up the previous topic again.
“Regarding what happened with Ahri just then, please let me apologise in the stead of my friend. Jinchul-hyung has been jittery the whole time ever since those things happened to Miss Elena and Eunsol-noonim.”
“Please don’t worry. Two people died in just a day. It would instead be strange for him to be okay.”
“I think Ahri was also quite angry for a moment.”
“She is still a young child… When she was young and when the cathedral was in a normal state, the priest used to look after her but, the cathedral was ruined from the following strife and the priest also left so she has always been very lonely ever since. That must be why she unconsciously developed such a harsh side to her…”
An empty scoff almost left my mouth.
She looked young enough to appear like a 13 or a 14 year old, and the butler was saying she had been living here ever since she was even younger.
Which elementary school did she go to then? I definitely couldn’t imagine a school existing in such a rural area.
Of course, if we started talking about how ‘realistic’ things were, the first question would be how there was a ‘cathedral’ in such a rural place where this one mansion was the only place of residence nearby.
I didn’t bother delving into the topic.
More importantly… Although I had been somewhat expecting it from the start, I had a better idea of what the two keywords that Eunsol-noona gave me meant.
One was a person and the other was a location, so the only answer I could come up with was bringing that person to the location and fortunately, it seemed that she had been frequenting the cathedral ever since she was young.
It seemed that I would have to take Ahri to the cathedral using whatever excuse possible after going back.
Upon returning to the mansion, I realised that there was now less tension in the atmosphere.
Hyung was at least not screaming but as always, Seungyub was following Ahri like a sparrow, diligently helping her to the point it made me question who the employee and the guest was.
Honestly, I didn’t know how this child in her early teens was even helping with the management of this large mansion.
We couldn’t cook a grandiose meal in a disturbing atmosphere with two people dead. Therefore, every meal we had after our dinner at the campsite on the first day was a sandwich and none of us was against it.
While having the simple sandwich, I thought to myself.
I wondered what excuse I should come up with to take Ahri to the cathedral and soon came up with a solution.
“Ahri. Do you have time?”
“Seungyub helps me a lot so I’m always free! Would you like my help with something?”
The sharp tone she showed in the morning was gone as if it had been an illusion and she was back to her lively self.
“Ah, it’s nothing much but I heard from Mr. Butler that you used to go to the cathedral a lot. I have some things to look for in the cathedral. Do you mind helping me?”
“Sure! When should we leave?”
“The weather isn’t looking good, so I think we should leave as early as possible.”
“Then, I will get prepared immediately.”
I left the mansion and waited as Ahri soon walked out of the mansion.
I marvelled upon turning around to see her. Although I heard pretty people would look pretty regardless of their clothing, this girl with an extraordinary appearance was wearing a raincoat that covered everything except for her face and yet still looked like a fairy.
So this is why Seungyub just can’t seem to wake up…
Swallowing the sigh, we were walking towards the cathedral when Ahri suddenly stopped her feet.
“Does your leg hurt? Shall we take a rest?”
“No. It’s just that…”
“It feels like my head is turning clearer… and I suddenly recalled memories about the past, back when I was travelling around with grandpa. I settled down at the mansion when I came to myself though.”
Had she been moving houses often when she was young? It was rather peculiar how she was nostalgically reminiscing about her past memories despite her current age.
Or was it because I was bringing her towards the cathedral as noona mentioned in her message?
There was nothing happening immediately even after we entered the cathedral.
Ahri was glancing around the building as if everything was interesting. Thinking that staring at her wouldn’t change anything, I decided to leave her alone and first off headed to where the bell was.
The bell tower at the top of the cathedral might have been added after the construction of the building – going up to the bell was actually quite hard.
There was a wooden ladder which was too shabby to be called a staircase, and it was left outside in the rain without any maintenance. Climbing the terribly insecure ladder, I arrived at the bell tower.
It was interesting.
Looking at the state of the cathedral and the bell tower, there should clearly be no-one looking after the bell and yet it was mysteriously clean. Plus, there were strange and illegible letters written all throughout the bell.
I had never seen anything like this before.
It was most definitely not a normal bell. Although Eunsol-noona did mention the bell in her message, it looked so extraordinary that I would have noticed its importance even without her help.
The bell wasn’t that big.
Although I wasn’t too sure of what to do, this bell looked like it was supposed to be rung so I decided to ring it.
Looking around, I found something that could replace the snapped string connecting the bell to the ceiling, forced it inside and somehow managed to hang it in the air.
Then, I picked up a piece of metal from nearby and gently tapped the bell.
– Taang! Tuung!
Rather than a clear and a refreshing sound, it gave off a coarse, screeching noise. I had no idea if it was because of the bell itself, or because of me.
It was then.
A sharp scream reached my ears.
I hurriedly climbed down the bell tower, went back into the cathedral and found Ahri rolling on the floor while clasping her hair.
A light bulb flashed through my head.
Was this the right answer? Were the three words noona wrote down – cathedral, maid, bell – telling me to bring Ahri to the cathedral to ring the bell?
How did she find this out before her death?
That was when Ahri suddenly stood up and stared at me.
It was the same doll-like facial features and a dark red pair of eyes.
However, this was clearly a different person.
There was a slightly cold look on her face, and a sharp piercing glare. She still looked the same, but that small disparity gave a completely different impression.
“Looks like you managed to reach quite far oppa.”
This… even her manner of speech was different. Like when she shouted at Jinchul-hyung recently – it sounded like she was scoffing at me.
“But what should I do? You took too much time. It’s already too late for me. But listen carefully. I can still sing the hymn!”
“The hymn? What are you talking about?”
That was when her eyes flipped upside down.
I could see black and stinky smoke seeping out of her lips, which were distorted towards the sky.
Ahh– I have seen the deep pit.
I have heard the cries of the one who couldn’t be born.
The father in heaven treasures others, and yet has not even given a birthplace for the child of the lowest pit.
The child is coming up! Watch it twitching in its crawl!
I can see it! How can you not see it?
The devoted hand has offered two, and there are now three left to go.
Everything shall regain its balance.
The time is near for the one who couldn’t be born to snatch the place of those that were born!
A prophecy? A curse? Or was it a ‘hymn’ like what she called it herself?
After pouring out strange and undecipherable words, Ahri collapsed into a deep sleep. Having no other choice, I carried her behind my back and walked back to the mansion in deep thought.
What did this all mean? I had to decipher it as supernaturally as possible.
Even though I wasn’t a master of occult, it sounded to me that a devilish existence was being born by swallowing sacrifices.
‘Child of the deepest pit, One who couldn’t be born.’
The reason she called this terrible song a ‘hymn’, was probably because this was a hymn praising a devil.
This was probably talking about Elena and Eunsol-noona.
What was mysterious was that there were ‘three’ left to go.
The current survivors were Cha Jinchul, Yu Songee, Park Seungyub and me.
Did it mean that it only had to kill 3 out of the 4 people? If not, then…
I came up with a hypothesis.
To be frank, it was a hypothesis that had been staying in a corner of my mind ever since Elena’s death.
I had set it aside for the time being following the suggestion of Eunsol-noona but…
Slowly but surely, pieces of the puzzle were being brought together one by one.
I added those pieces together.
It was becoming clearer over time – the identity of the enemy threatening us; the devoted hand and the devil that was trying to be born by swallowing sacrifices.
There were a lot of things I discovered but I was still clueless about the most important thing.
So what were we supposed to do in response?
It was after I returned to the mansion.
We had ourselves the third victim.