Chapter 24 – Room 102, Cursed Room – ‘Mansion of Fear’ (10) Fin
– Kim Ahri
I opened the main entrance of the mansion and walked inside.
Ahh, I seriously didn’t want to come back to this place though. Living in this tiresome mansion as something as ridiculous as a maid was extremely boring.
But… it was almost over now – we were just half a step away from escape. There was only one thing left to do, but that one thing just had to be the most painful thing.
Just then, Kain disappeared after gathering the attention of Sir.
While walking down the inhabited mansion, I remembered the conversation we had a few hours ago.
“Seriously… please stop. What in the hell is with your eyes?”
“I was trying to help you because you couldn’t make a judgement. It would have been easier for both of us if you simply accepted it.”
“There is a better plan!”
A better plan.
There was a little bit of risk compared to the 100% reliable escape method which was an immediate suicide but…
In all honesty, it was impossible to survive through this hotel by sticking to the safest method the whole time. If there was information which was worth risking for, taking that risk would in fact be a safer method in the long run.
That was why I was convinced by his plan.
It was the first time I was alone like this ever since we came into this hotel.
The mansion was very big but that might just be because I was in the body of a young child.
I continued walking and soon arrived at Sir’s study.
It was this place, right?
My memories weren’t clear.
According to the memories of the ‘personality injected by the hotel’, the granddaughter of the priest had come here in the past to persuade Sir, and mentally crumbled after Sir showed her ‘something’.
Following that was the submission of the priest. As a reward, Sir recovered his granddaughter and…
In that process, that ‘something’ which the granddaughter saw also became hazy. That was obvious because clouding the memories of that incident was what the recovery was about.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t kill ourselves. What I’m saying is that we should do more before we die.”
“Is there something else you still want to do?”
“I came up with a hypothesis after seeing the notification that popped up when we escaped Room 101. I wasn’t sure but… I became certain from the card game we played last time.
Escape is not the end of the ‘Cursed Room’. It’s just a method.
What we need to do is constantly repeat exploring the Cursed Room while having one person escape to remove the fundamental ‘root cause of the curse’, right?
That is why we need to find out more even if we have to die.”
I might be heading to face the most horrible death in the world.
Going into the study, I saw a messy cluster of documents.
Where was it again? My memories were blurry.
Was it around… here?
What came out when I lifted the painting on the wall was a lever. This mansion was quite modern and yet some parts of it were rather old like this system here.
I pulled the lever as the bookshelves immediately turned to the side and revealed a wooden door. Behind the door were stairs leading down. There were so many stairs that I could not even see the end of it.
There were no lights either.
Did I really have to go down there?
I had seen all sorts of horrible things in the world, but it seemed that getting used to things like this was impossible no matter how much experience I had.
I climbed down the stairs endlessly without the bottom in sight. The stairs were seemingly connected to the deepest pit of hell.
How far did I go down?
It felt like I had been walking for almost an hour but I couldn’t tell, because of how hard it was to keep my sense of time in a place like this.
At the end of the stairs I finally saw a bluish source of light. Under that sparkling light was an old metal door which was about to rot away.
Forcing the door open, I walked in – and inside was a book shimmering in blue.
The moment I saw that, I immediately realised it.
That was it.
That was the final reward of this room.
The moment I touch that, I would probably notice something and die a horrible death. However, I couldn’t go back up without doing anything after coming all the way here, so there was no other option for me.
The outer appearance of the book was normal. The cover was black and was made of leather of an unknown animal.
Engraved on top of it were unidentifiable letters.
I opened the book.
Darkness enshrouded me.
I fell endlessly.
Down the bottomless pit – an everlasting free fall.
Fall for 10 million years and you won’t ever reach the bottom in this place. Like how there was no place located more north than the North Pole and how everything was south – there was no start nor end in this place, nor was there the differentiation of up and down.
Every direction was the ‘bottom’.
Even though there should be no source of light, I could vaguely see the shape of the walls.
The walls were black yet red, and twitched without an end. It appeared hideous like the innards of an organism.
I was nothing but a bug falling down the intestines of an organism.
For some unknown reason, my fall stopped in the middle.
Something appeared from a distance.
How far was it? I had no idea. It should be tremendously far but I could still see its shape.
It might be closer than I thought, or it might be more enormous than what I could imagine. It was unclear.
I saw it wriggling. Without stopping a single time, it crawled up the walls like an insect.
Whenever its legs touched the walls they melted down but those legs endlessly grew back out.
Ahah, so that’s what it looks like for a parasite to crawl up your intestines.
Feeling like there were billions of bugs crawling in my stomach, a tremendous sense of disgust surged from inside.
I forced myself to think about something else.
This mansion – or rather, most of the things of this hotel were fake. The house, the mountain and the river were all just a stage the hotel created from clay.
But even in movies, the actors were real despite the stage being fake.
There were ‘real’ things in this hotel.
Why was this hotel made?
Some said it was to elect heroes through trials.
Some said it was to inherit the great treasures to their rightful successors.
But perhaps this hotel might be a farm.
A hell that infinitely locked up monsters from going outside to the real world, that occasionally fed humans as fodder to keep them in control.
The eyes of the crawling thing turned towards me.
Did it always have eyes? There should be no reason to have eyes in a place like this, but it must have created them itself.
That was what ‘Sir’ was worshipping as a god, huh.
It was laughable.
In the eyes of an ant, even a chicken would appear like a god. But in the hands of a human, a chicken was nothing but one meal.
No matter how great it was, it was just a horrendous and shabby existence stuck in the intestines of a far greater being.
Slowly, I could feel everything in my sight crumbling to nothing.
I was really close to my limits.
When I forced my eyes to the sky, something popped out of the ‘intestines’ and came towards me.
Making me go through something as horrible as this and calling it a ‘better plan’?
I had to give him a good beating after leaving this place.
The long nights of the mansion were coming to an end.
/You have successfully escaped!
An unapproved participant! You have started at a disadvantage for clearly violating the rules.
However you have still tried your best, and have helped the participants at a crucial moment.
What a cold-blooded choice to kill the sacrifices ahead of the devil! But there are times when you need to be determined.
With this, the ritual of the owner of the mansion who was tainted in heresy has failed.
You have escaped the curse, but you sense the root cause of the curse still persists.
One of your team has successfully escaped! Congratulations! The successful escape allows everyone to return safely./
[User: Han Kain (Wisdom)
Date: Day 8
Current Location: Floor 1, Corridor
Sage’s Advice: 0]
– Han Kain
Swallowing the dizziness, I stood up from the ground. Like the time we escaped from Room 101, it seemed that we were thrown out of the room while unconscious and had just come to ourselves.
Looking around, I saw ‘7 others’ who were floundering their arms like me.
Elena, Cha Jinchul, Lee Eunsol, Yu Songee, Park Seungyub. And two other people who we needed to have a long discussion with.
I remembered the miserable deaths they had at the mansion. My heart pulsed rapidly as a lump appeared in my throat.
Elena who was strangled to death; Eunsol-noona who died to a skewer; Jinchul-hyung who died from poison; and me who killed myself with a dagger. How did Seungyub die?
In any case, I discarded that horrifying recollection to the side.
It was this. This was the moment.
How long had I been hoping for this moment of a happy reunion with everyone else…?
The meal today would probably become an ocean of tears. Even I felt a lump in my throat and felt my eyes turning wet from tears.
At the same time, one of my questions was also cleared.
It seemed that we all came out at the same time regardless of the time we each died inside the Cursed Room.
Of course, there were still a lot of questions to be answered. There were a lot of things we had to ask.
Even aside from the secrets of this hotel, there were a lot of things we didn’t know about each other.
As I was slowly reflecting on the points that had to be discussed one by one in my head,
Someone walked up to me.
She was someone who we had been seeing the whole time at the mansion. It seemed that her true appearance was quite similar to how she looked at the mansion.
“Are you okay? You… Is your name still the same? So–”
An unstoppable fist mercilessly came flying in, and I ended up falling to the ground again.