Standing in the great hall of the mansion, silence hummed through Eugenia’s ears like the murmurings of spirits in a sepulchre. Spattered around the room, furniture lay buried under layers of dust sheets. From the corner of her eye, Eugenia mistook them for ghosts, glaring at her as she passed through the room.
The paintings were left uncovered. One portrait, hung on a wall, grasped her attention with unrelenting claws. An ethereal woman peered back at her with golden eyes as though freshly polished coins, the ones on the eyes of corpses, had replaced her irises. Hair as white as skin leeched of blood cascaded over her shoulders and the woman was dressed in a fashion long dead.
Eugenia could not look away from the face not dissimilar to her own.
After hours of perusing the artefacts, a thick layer of dust marred her gloves and the sun’s light had long since been snuffed out.
A dull tremor reverberated through the walls as a clock, concealed in the darkest depths of the mansion, struck midnight. Eugenia waited for a moment, stock still and ears ringing with effort. She did not have to wait long before a scream cleaved the silence. Laced with agony and terror, the sharp edges of the shriek trailed down her spine and deep into the marrow of her bones as ice oozed into her veins. It was a man’s scream. The old floorboards howled in protest of movement on the floor above. Somewhere upstairs, someone paced the halls.
Eugenia had nothing to fear, she told herself firmly, but her feigned confidence could not disguise the nausea boiling in the pit of her stomach.
The case of Bathory Mansion was a long one, murky enough for the rest of the detectives at the agency to shy away from. Those stories had been forgotten for centuries by the public, the agency neutralising any scandal that arose, although the recent outbreak of events brought the attention back on the house and its occupants. Camilla would argue that the men of her family were far more despicable than her, but Camilla was deranged half the time and asleep the rest. And now she was awake.
Eugenia rushed upstairs before drawing a breath, clinging onto the banister as if it were the only solid thing in a world full of shadows, but the mansion had fallen silent once more. Through her gloved hand, she did not feel the banister slick with a deep red substance. She reached the door to the West Wing and at the sight of it, she halted.
Splattered across the ornately carved wooden door was blood.