He stood there, musing. “Why did they build this room? It’s so small, useless, and ugly. Its walls say that it was without any decoration even in past.”
“Yes.” Mahim consented. An ugly little stuffy room attached to the Baron’s chamber.
Krishan entered the room, now the room was really packed, there was hardly any space left for movement. He looked at one of the corners of the room, “What is that?” he reached out his hand to touch a small statue jutting out of the wall. A deep moan escaped from the walls as it slowly, painfully slid to make a gap.
There was a flight of stairs descending. They exchanged a glance that showed that their puzzles were solved in a second.
They were three inseparable friends, after completing studies they started a business, they bought houses available at a reasonable rate, restored them and sold them. This house was sold at a very tempting price by the last member of an old, aristocratic family. He sold it and donated the price to charity before passing away.
“We will need flashlights and sticks, may be masks too. Heaven only knows since when it has been locked up.” Bankim remarked.
They returned equipped. The stair was covered with thick curtains of cobweb; they started their slow cautious descent. It appeared that the stairs were intact.
They reached a huge hall after countless steps; the hall was underground, because the descent was almost endless and there was no space in the palace that might have hidden this huge hall.
The place was musky and damp but in a surprisingly well condition.
“Apparently the room was well used and well made.” Mahim commented.
He turned when he did not hear any response and saw none was around, Krishan and Bankim were busy; in their private journey of explorations.
Apparently it was the king’s pleasure chamber, there were chandeliers and statues littered all over the place, that is placed properly but covered with cobwebs. As none has trespassed here but spiders and other insects they were right where they were left by the maids after last dusting.
A huge bed was placed at one corner of the room, bordered by the decayed curtains hanging from the beautiful hanger fixed high above.
Mahim reached there and stifled a cry; there was a skeleton on the bed, apparently male. In all these years of his exploration and restoration he has never come across a skeleton before. He was about to call out when something else happened. The room changed.
It was a gorgeous room, daylight was pouring in from a portion a little distance away from the bed, the roof was thick glass, beautifully designed by stained pieces.
The whole room was so well lit that it did not appeared that he was under the ground.
The floor was white, spotless, marbled. A satin bedspread was spread across the bed, velvet pillows and a gorgeous silk curtain said someone has decorated the room with taste and love.
There were books lined up against a distant wall, expensive and exquisite artifacts were placed all around the hall with artistic hands.
“So it was not as old as I thought it was.” He softly whispered as he sifted through the books, they were of the late seventeenth century. All of a sudden he noted that his arms were blanched white, like those of Europeans, and his voice had a strange accent which certainly was not of him.
He caught a glimpse of his reflection on the shining glass of the bookcase. A young man with golden hair, blue eyes stared back at him.
A shudder went down his spines and he pinched himself but to no avail. He tried to locate Bankim and Krishan, they were nowhere around. The room was empty.
Then he heard the footsteps on the stair, crisp sound of a pair of heels descending. Both his friends appeared one after the other. The only difference was they too have changed their nationalities like him. Krishan was thickly built, short-heighted sandy haired man with a wicked grin and Bankim was pale, brown eyed, with hay coloured hair. They smiled at him.
“She will be here.” Krishan smiled. His name was Daniel then.
He knew who he was talking about, his cousin, Miranda. Her portrait was on the table,
A beauty beyond description, he could see her in his mind’s eyes. A soft, fragile creature with ivory and rose skin, she knew how to live and love. She had her cousin’s hay hair but that had a golden tinge and volume. Her eyes were huge and deep blue, full of sweetness and love.
She was Henry, his brother’s fiancé; that is their marriage was fixed when they were babies; she went to France to live with her aunt. Henry received his education and grooming from London to become the next heir of their not so little Manor.
He met her when he was studying arts in Paris, he tried hard but he fell in love. He and Henry were really close, so he asked for his forgiveness and he gladly accepted his love for her and said he will see that the lovers meet in altar.
Then she came to visit them and everything changed. He could not guess it then. He guessed it on that very fateful night. Henry called him inside his private chamber, “She wants to see you for a while, as father is not aware of your relationship you should meet her in stealth for a while. Or else the scandal will be horrible.” He said with a sweet smile. His dark eyes expertly covered his intention.
“Follow me!” he entered a small room attached to his bedroom. There were paintings on its wall, he removed one of them, and pressed a small lever.
He saw another shadow, it was Daniel. “You robbed me off great fortune my friend. He laughed in a hushed tone. My sister was about to marry the Baron, and I was hoping a knighthood.”
“She lost her heart to a commoner. Ha! What a girl!” he winked. “Well, don’t look so sad, it does not matter to me at all, which of my dearest friends won my little sister’s heart.”
They descended the stairs one after the other. “This room is beautiful brother!”He could not resist his pleasant surprise.
“Thanks. You remember Ana Maria, my French tutor? She decorated this with her own hands.” There was a twinkle in Henry’s eyes.
“Would you mind if I enjoy the luxury of your room for a while?” He asked after noting the huge collection of books and artifacts.
“Go ahead. Miranda will be meeting you here after dinner.” They left after spending some time with him. He stayed back and requested Henry to make an excuse for his absence in dinner table. He was eagerly waiting for Miranda. It’s been months since he met her.
A young maid came down with his dinner. He took his dinner and stretched on the bed. Soon he was in deep slumber, he snapped out of it when he heard a commotion in the room. Miranda was standing on the stair, a candle was lying on the floor; its golden flame licking the marble floor; her sweet face was white with anguish and pain. She was staring at a place beside him; he turned and saw a young woman lying there; her bare shoulder visible from under the satin spread.
He tried to stop her but his mouth was dry; the girl woke up and quickly came out of the bed, grabbed a robe and bolted right on the heel of disappearing Miranda.
He tried to follow her but the door was closed. He banged on the wall, hoping Henry or Daniel will hear. Then he inhaled the sweet, intoxicating scent …. He lost his senses within a few minute.
He woke up after a while. His body was as fresh as new but he was feeling absolutely weightless, then he realized he was watching himself sprawling on the stairs. The door opened. Chris and Daniel entered.
“It worked perfectly fine. I told you a girl like Miranda will not tolerate infidelity; that too with a maid.” Daniel said. “After all, she gave up everything for him, the title, the money, luxury and what not.”
“Thanks brother. I will never forget this gesture.” Henry said.
They lifted the body and placed it on the bed. Then they left the room, he followed them. Henry removed the lever from its place and Daniel smoothly plastered the place.
They left the room. He snapped out of his daze. He was standing in the main room, facing the small room’s door. He entered the room and looked at the corner, where the lever was, there was nothing. A smooth wall was waiting for him.
He searched the room from top to bottom, there was nothing; he came downstairs, looking for Bankim and Krishan.
They could not be found anywhere. No one saw them leaving the manor, they just vanished from earth.