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The Golden Torch – Part III


(Part II is right over here, just click the link. Or if you’ve missed Part I, click here.)

Some time went by since I last read the diary of Linkvist. My master and I agreed it best that I spend a few days outside of the property, and hope that all my troubles would resolve themselves that way. Well, they mostly have – I still have trouble sleeping, but not because of nightly ambushes or death threats. I suppose I cannot be absolutely certain until I resume my duties as caretaker. It’s the not knowing that keeps me from my dreams. My master assured me that, in my absence, there were no more ‘irregularities’, or so he insisted on calling all that had happened to me. I definitely sensed that part of him said that just because he wanted me to get back to work – mostly because of him repeating how the yard was ‘not exactly in a preferable state’, how he and his family were ‘living in squalor’. He confided in me that I was the only one he would let near his precious garden. It’s nice to be trusted so much that he wouldn’t let anyone else handle my duties at the house. But for traffic along the two-way street of trust to resume as normal, I would need a bit more assurance than this. My master’s words, I doubted not; just those of his family, who must’ve been in some way involved, for I do not see who else could have learned of the Golden Torch (I had, a few days before, inquired as to who else besides me knew of its existence. There were none.) At any rate, I figured I might just as well return to the house, now; I know myself well enough to see I wasn’t going to get a decent night’s sleep until the matter was resolved once and for all.

Not one step in the door before something strange had caught my attention. I was greeted warmly by all members of the family, save the son, but that I fully expected. But there was just something off about the whole scene, here. Whereas normally the hallway was lighted by a magnificent chandelier, it brought no light today. In its place I saw a row of torches. This in itself wasn’t all that odd, as I was told that the chandelier was only temporarily out of commission due to repairs; but the pattern in which the torches were arranged reminded me of how all this business came to light, if you will, in the first place.

Naturally, I was dead set on having a closer look at all of the torches – who knows, maybe the real Golden Torch had finally been discovered, and was now amongst this bunch. Why the pattern, though…? There were several torches on the wall that remained unlit, and when I asked if I should light them up again, I was told not to bother with it. And I didn’t. At least not before everybody else went to sleep. I simply had to take a look. Carrying around a big ladder without drawing attention to yourself is a hard enough task, but I managed it well enough for the first bit – down the steps, into the hallway – I almost had a heart attack when the young man of the family stood in my way asking what I was up to with that ladder. “It’s so I can fix the …. Eh… The– ah, the wall up there, see, it’s got a crack in it,” this is what I told him, having the ‘luck’ that the wall was actually damaged. This also meant I had to fix the crack, but I knew that I couldn’t full well go hammering away at this hour, lest I wake any sleepers. My ‘obstacle’ went back to bed, and I just hoped he wouldn’t wonder why I had to go fixing a crack at night, of all times, or why he didn’t hear me do as such, when I only just told him I was going to.

When I got on the ladder to check out the torches, I got a closer look at an area previously unlit, because the torches on this section were extinguished. And again, as was the case in the mausoleum, all of them were near a portrait of Linkvist, which was obscured from sight when looking up from the floor. I held one of the lit torches closer to the portrait, and found the look in his eyes to be vaguely unsettling. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, but his eyes just seemed unnatural to me. When the light shone from a different angle it turned out this unnatural gaze came from two small holes in the eyes. These two holes enabled me to shift the painting to the side with my fingers, revealing another crack in the wall – but this crack looked more like it was caused by human hands rather than the rotting away of the wood. I felt around beyond the hole in the wall, and pulled out a small object, which I fully expected to be a torch of considerable value, but that it most certainly wasn’t. It was a small book, with a singularly frightening drawing of a skull on the cover, resembling the one on Linkvist’s diary, only smaller in scale.

The little book started out with the following…


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