May 14, 2006 (Midnight)

Although it is quite late, I feel obliged to explain my previous entry in more depth and the events following…I split the house and grounds by floor, and picked through each area as quickly as I could, jumping at every noise, wondering if it were Charles, ready to exact revenge upon me… I admit in my haste I overlooked the keys in several locations multiple times, causing me to have to turn back, mumbling irritably all the way. I actually found all seven keys, but was so intent in my search that I got all the way back to the front porch before realizing and racing (so fleetly that I tripped, sprawling in the entryway) to the cellar. Once there, I grabbed the nearest weapon I could get my hands on, a spatula and a slightly rusted pry bar. With the trusty spatula, I scraped away the rest of the plaster, leaving a snow-like heap of white dust at my feet. I swung the pry bar into the wall, shattering a brick into small chips of red stone. I managed to lever out enough bricks afterward to reveal a final lock (though luckily not another complicated puzzle!). No, instead I saw a wooden door with a buzzing orb in the center, around it were several small hooks, each connected with wire to the orb. Above each hook was carved a symbol, and emblazoned on the end of each key was a matching symbol. Quickly, my hands shaking, I placed the keys to their matching hooks. Each time I moved a key to the corresponding hook, the orb would fog, and then slowly reveal the nearly indistinct outline of a letter. As I pieced the lock together, I was able to discern the word FOREVER. The orb began to cloud again. The door swung open, creaking. Inside was a simple wooden coffin, several candelabras, and a bunch of dead lilies. The tomb of Emma Ravenhearst. Tentatively, almost fearing, I nudged the lid of the coffin aside. Inside, a skeleton dressed in white gown and veil. As soon as it had sunk in what I had discovered, the corpse faded away as if it were made of mist. Sweat dripping down the back of my neck, my hands trembling, and my heart racing, I smiled. I walked with slow, measured strides, almost a trudge, out of the front door, across the grounds, out of the iron gate, to my hotel room, where I finally has an opportunity for a good night's rest, a hot shower, and some actual food. When I arrived, I found several envelopes on my pillow waiting to be opened. One was addressed from the Queen of England. She congratulated me on solving a baffling case which has apparently been puzzling experts for decades. Also, as reward for my unmatched detective skills, bravery, and perseverance, I am an official member of the Royal Secret Service and am allowed all of the membership's privileges and entitlements. I have earned the trust of the Crowned Princes of Europe who will no doubt be seeking my help in future cases. It even came with a badge. I do believe that I am no longer just an amateur sleuth…I am officially an authorized detective! I also received a letter of thanks from the mayor, congratulating me on lifting the curse of Ravenhearst Manor, and inviting me to visit Blackpool at any time I desired. The final envelope was unaddressed, though I know from whom it was sent. Inside was a black and white photograph of a young woman, tall, thin, with light skin and a sweep of black curly hair tied under a bonnet. She wears a plain dress and shawl, and appears as though she were waving at the camera. She stands on a ship's dock and carries a large suitcase. On the back, in thin, flowing scrawl was the simple message 'Thank you, my dear friend.' It was signed E.R.