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Chapter 9. The Priory Ruins
“What? You mean in here?” The innkeeper could hardly believe it. The solitary tomb at the Priory Ruins belonged to an abbot who died a few centuries ago; he was said to walk the streets of the village at night.
No one really enjoyed wondering in the darkness chancing to bump into a centenary spectral appearance, so the tomb could be a safe place. “We can easily slide the lid,” said the stationmaster confidently. It was not the first time he strolled through this place and Augustus was seeing a different side of his friend, a more undaunted one. “We could drop the box in here. It’s only bones and dust. See?”
“I see, I see, but… Somehow I think this might not be the right place, Ernest. What if someone…”
“Decides to come over to an old tomb and slide the lid and go… oh, look, a strange looking box without an opening?”
His friend was right, Augustus thought. The likelihood of anyone coming up with the idea that this was a good hiding place was very dim. Besides, it was dark and the ruins had a dire reputation when it came to ghostly entities.
“We should try to open the box before we leave it here. You have the key,” whispered the innkeeper, turning the box around a few times and shaking it. Only its weight betrayed the fact that it seemed empty. “Are you sure the key goes in this box? I don’t see a keyhole.”
“I am sure. Remember when I took my vacation last year?”
Augustus nodded, suspicious of a slight movement in the shrubbery, probably from the wind.
“Well, I went to the library in the capital and found out that this is a Japanese Himitsu-Bako,” he proceeded to explain.
“Himitsu-Bako. It means secret box and it has a few tricks before you can open it. Look.”
Ernest started sliding a panel on the side of the box, that panel exposed a small crevice that the stationmaster pushed, which made a small square panel click.
“See? It’s like this until you can finally open it.”
“I still don’t see a keyhole, dear friend.”
“It’ll appear, when we move the right pieces in the right direction and in the correct order.”
“Have you opened it already?!” Augustus thought that Ernest looked way too confident for someone who was doing this for the first time.
“Oh, no, no. I have managed to find only a few of the correct moves, but not all.”
A sudden rustling of leaves in the back silenced the men immediately. It was completely dark by then and the slightest noise could be heard as if a storm had broken out. For a long minute or so they just stood beside the tomb, silently, waiting. Their eyes were adjusted to the dim light of a crescent moon, but they couldn’t see anything out of the ordinary.
The windows of the Mansion, overlooking the small patio between the Church and the ruins, let only bits of light go through the thick curtains, far from enough to bring light to where they stood and even less to their ideas.
“Ok, let’s hide this box before someone shows up,” said Augustus back in command. “We’ll come back for it when the train leaves.”
The stationmaster agreed.
While the two walked away, certain of having accomplished their goal, the lid slid open, little by little, and a shadow crept from inside the tomb, holding the Japanese box.Chapter 10: The Church >