The Château of the Harlequins

by Franc


The 18th of November of the year 1948, François Benoit, a local and ex-soldier meets the psychopathic Baron Luther Von Henkel, as an invited guest of his party. However, he soon discovers that he along with the other invited guests, are part of a diabolical game of death.

'Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence"-Edgar Allan Poe

The 18th of November of the year 1948 will always be remembered by me, as the day I met the psychopathic Baron Luther Von Henkel, as an invited guest of his party. At the time we met, I did not fully recognize his sinister countenance, or the absolute wickedness of his unbridled madness and past.

It had been three years, since the end of World War II and my days of soldiering in that horrible war. I was a valiant French-Canadian soldier, who had been sent to fight on behalf of England. I had heard rumours of Nazis having fled Europe, and finding refuge in North or South America; in particular Brasil and Argentina. No one ever suspected them to be in Canada.

I cannot forget the horrendous murders that took place on that night-for the memory still haunts me, with an insidious passion. I have seen many individuals perish in the battlefield, but none to the vagaries of a macabre delight of a vile man.

It was a cold and drear evening, with a certain achromatic gloom that covered the passage that led to the château of Baron Von Henkel. The château was nestled on a steep elevated cape overlooking a river, past the city of Quebec. Once I arrived by the way of an automobile, I was greeted at the front door, by the butler whose name was Mr. Willoughby.

The mystic château had an imposing central tower, and hardened brick stone wings. The windows were ornate, and the coat of arms on the top of the front façade had a conspicuous design that appeared to be a German eagle. It had reminded me of one that I saw in the churches of Berlin and Frankfurt, during my period in Germany within the war. The vivid architecture was so magnificently Renaissant, but I felt this eeriness once I entered the 19th-century château. I saw clearly, the stately exterior wall of the entranceway arch and the vault of the entrance hall, as I had entered. There were abundant chandeliers in the ceilings, and candles in the rooms and corridors. The narrow stairway of the two-storey château was spiral, and there were colourful portraits of the baron in each hall.

My first impression of the baron, when I met him was of a highly intellectual man. He was indeed a soigné connoisseur of arts and an epicure like the Greek God Bacchus, as his circumspect mien was reflective of that logical comparison. He was considered by the local aristocracy, as a supreme paragon and philargyrist. As for his stature, he was tall and thin, and his complexion was somewhat pale. His oval eyes were turquoise blue, and his hair short and fair, with a tinge of light brown.

We shook hands as he greeted me, with a hearty cordiality in his German accent, "Welcome to the Von Henkel Château, I am Baron Von Henkel of Brandenburg, Germany."

Naturally, I reciprocated his kind gesture, with a firm shake and gratitude, "It is an honour to meet you baron, and to be invited to tonight's party," I replied.

"The pleasure is all mine Monsieur Benoit, and if you will excuse me, I must greet the other invitees," he responded.

"Why of course!"

The list of invitees was the following, Herr Brennwald, an Austrian and alleged former spy, Mr. Mathenson, a Canadian cold blooded ex-convict, Monsieur Villeneuve, a French philandering charlatan, Mr. Bonham, an Englishman and a sleuth of Scotland Yard, Madam Leasure, a galluptious American heiress of supposed repute from New York, who was reported to be a black widow, and have killed her first three husbands. Finally, there was me François Benoit, a local and ex-soldier, who was one of the first guests to arrive at the château.

The chilling effects of the weather, were common for this time and region, in spite of the dreary isolation of the château, there was then sufficiently enough warmth I felt. I waited in the main hall, for the other guests to be gathered, as I observed the spacious comfort of the main hall. I had seen architectural designs of châteaux before in France, but seldom have I seen one like this, so impressively. I dared not ask at that time the baron, how he had acquired the château, but I would discover shortly that his father had purchased it, a generation ago at the beginning of the century.

It was not usual to see many Germans in Quebec, after the recent war, and the looming shadow of the Nazi downfall casted, a definite stain on German pride. It was extremely awkward to be in the presence of a German or Austrian, and even more, when he was in Quebec.

I had received an invitation by Baron Von Henkel, but I did not know the intention of that invitation, since our acquaintance was only brief to say the least. I knew that he was originally from the old part of Prussia, which is known presently as Brandenburg in Germany. I had read before that the château was originally utilized by the English, for their soldiers. Another story that was mentioned was that the château was constructed, over the burial ground of Cree Indians.

However, the most ensanguined story in nature was the legendary tale of the demented harlequins, who were merciless killers of the asylum that was closed and demolished, after the killing spree had finally ended. According to the legend, they were killed within the asylum. The authorities of that time period discovered inside, the twenty dead bodies of their victims. The victims were all nurses, doctors and workers. None had survived, and the unique thing was that the murderers were dressed as harlequins.

This last tale was the most improbable, but it was the most infamous elaborated. Horror stories and ghostlore were nothing that unusual, and they were always present in the fears of my childhood.

Baron Von Henkel then addressed us in the main hall, "Now that we are gathered, I am certain that you are wondering, why I have specifically invited you tonight to the château. The reason why you are presently my distinguished guests is because I have chosen you, from amongst the most cunning of our society. Each and every one of you, were selected for your ingenious traits, and not for your present status or mere nationality. That is relatively insignificant to me, for it is the sudden thrill of the adventure that I mostly enjoy. Thus, I have meticulously made the necessary preparations, for this night. If you must know, what I mean by all of this, then I shall tell you with absolute candour. Tonight, we shall play a game that can be very profitable or very deadly. Of course, that depends on how you play this game, and whether you survive. You see, this game is simple. It is a masterful game of life and death. Oh do not look so shocked my friends, for I am offering you a million dollars and your life, if you survive this night. As you can see, there are candles, lanterns, and torches in the halls and corridors. They will be the only light that will guide you. Therefore, you have no other viable option, but to acquiesce."

"You must be jesting Baron Von Henkel. If not, what kind of perverse mind do you possess?" Asked Mr. Bonham.

"Jesting, I assure you that I am not, my good detective," said Baron Von Henkel.

"You do not expect us, to believe what you are saying?" Monsieur Villeneuve enquired.

"You may believe that, which you want to believe monsieur," the baron rejoined.

"How do you expect to prevent us from leaving?" Mr. Mathenson asked.

"You who are an ex-convict should be accustomed to confinement. These walls of the château are your prison," the baron retorted.

"Baron Von Henkel, you do not expect me to participate, in this mad game of yours?" Herr Brennwald queried.

"Herr Brennwald, you have no choice-for there is no way out. I have instructed for all the doors of the château to be closed completely," the baron responded.

"Baron Von Henkel, you will send a woman to her death?" Madam Leasure asked impassionedly.

"Frankly, it does not concern me whether you are a woman or man-for I am indifferent to that reality," the baron acknowledged.

"How are you going to force us to comply, Baron Von Henkel?" I intrepidly questioned.

"That is simple Monsieur Benoit! You will have to make the decision in the end, if you want to live or die,'" the baron confessed deliberately.

He hesitated and then said, "I hope your stay in the château will be full of sheer excitement. You will be given a weapon to defend yourselves each, but you must locate the weapons. Now, let us proceed, with the game."

The expectation of what was to transpire was unsettling and unpredictable at first. None of us were truly prepared for this sudden change of events. We had arrived to the placid château, for an amiable and festive occasion we had assumed. Who from amongst us would have dared to imagine, such a theatrical but ghastly scenario then unfolding?Nevertheless, it was as real, as the actual eventuality of our immediate death.

Soon, the bright lights of the main hall were turned off, and the only visible light seen, were the plentiful candles lit, lanterns and flambeaux present, along the walls of the corridors. It was vague and silent, as we stood standing within the main hall. When the lights went off, no one saw where Baron Von Henkel had gone. He simply vanished, as well did the butler. We discovered that the electric wires had been severely cut afterwards and were too damaged to be repaired.

It was obvious that his fiendish intentions were to be exacted clearly, with a thorough retribution. The question that lingered on my mind suddenly, what bitter vendetta did the baron have against anyone of us, since it could not be personal? The imminent danger that lurked beyond the main hall was palpable. I pondered what certain disagreements if any, within the minimum acquaintance that anyone of us shared that would cause this violent and hostile resentment of the baron toward us.

Quickly, the tension and heightened anxiety manifested in Madam Leasure, who could not parry her fright and desperation any longer. Our natural reaction was panic and consternation, but we began to each devise an urgent plan that would allow us to find a way out of this madhouse.

Once more the candles, the lanterns, torches, and then the full moon were all the light that was available to us, as we conferred our ideas in the main hall. Thenceforth, more and more as the hours passed, we were contemplative in pensive machination. It was evident that we were confronted, with the irresistible desire to share amongst ourselves the crucial knowledge we had, concerning the baron and the château.

Our survival depended on our astuteness and collaboration. However, this would gradually begin to dissipate in time. It was extremely unfortunate that no one amongst us had any actual knowledge of the château or much information of Baron Von Henkel. We would have to rely steadily on the guidance of our instinctive perception and sapience, during our time within the property. This was the challenge that was imposed on us, by the baron. He thought well of the individuals, who could play his perturbing game of death.

As we were still gathered in the main hall, we had discussed a genuine plan to escape the château. Of what little information we knew about the château and the baron, we revealed to each other. Naturally, being a detective Mr. Bonham was very intelligent and experienced enough, to imply with intimation and logic. He started to speak of the partitions of the château, and the chandeliers that hanged, from above. All of this and more was concentric of the unique design of the château and the key according to the detective was solving the design of the architecture.

What was visibly seen was the fact that the candles were provided for vision, and the arms for protection, or murder. If the doors were closed, they would have to be closed then manually. Therefore, the first thing we attempted was to check the front door. When we did, it was closed. The doorknob would not budge, and the only option was the keyhole.

But the dilemma was there was nothing around that we could utilize except, an earring of Madam Leasure. We thought perhaps it was feasible to open the front door, with the earring. However, we were not successful in our attempt-for the earring broke. The earring was not sturdy enough to resist the motion applied. Madam Leasure had lost the other earring, in the stirring commotion. The limited light we had was not sufficiently adequate to search, for that small piece of accessory.

After our first failed attempt to escape we thought of other options. Mr. Mathenson had speculated that perhaps the château had a hidden secret passage somewhere unknown to us at the time. Since the château once housed military soldiers of England, there could be a possible passage, through the cellar. This idea was received with a certain apprehension and was only speculative in nature.

The proximity of the river was as well discussed, with an abandoned remaining tunnel that could be, yet existing. The location of the château was built upon a rather steep slope that with erosion would tumble down, within minutes.

We also discussed the strong possibility that an acquaintance could report our disappearance, or call the château, and receive no answer. When asked if anyone of us present had mentioned to a loved one or friend that we were coming to the château for the night, there was no favourable reply. They would make the logical assumption that we had stayed, the night at the château.

The baron had once more planned his deceit well. Thereafter, we meditated the likelihood of an existential passage of some sort within the château itself. This seemed to be the most fascinating option to explore more in depth. The problem was the poor visibility, and the unspecified danger that was supposedly lurking.

Soon, we would encounter our first chilling experience, with the unexpected visitor of death. As we stood in the corridor discussing the impending issue of the secret passages, a horrible event befell that made us understand the severity of the situation and the degree of madness of the baron.

Monsieur Villaneuve was at the edge of the main hall speaking to Madam Leasure, when he observed the fireplace. Monsieur Villeneuve was intrigued by the chimney. He had the magnificent notion that maybe there was an escape, through the chimney. Thus, he put his head inside the fireplace, when suddenly the fire lit somehow-killing him instantly in the burning flames. Madam Leasure's cheeks blanched with fright screamed in shocking horror, as she witnessed the untimely death of Monsieur Villeneuve. The horrendous image of Monsieur Villeneuve burned body lying in the ground was extremely disturbing.

I tried to calm Madam Leasure, while the good detective Mr. Bonham and Mr. Mathenson grabbed one of the curtains from the main hall to extinguish the flames that covered his body in entirety. Monsieur Villeneuve was the first victim of this sickening game of Baron Von Henkel. We knew that with the terrible death of Monsieur Villeneuve that the game had begun in earnest. The question that we all had, what was going to happen next, and who from amongst us still present, was to be the new victim of the merciless baron?

There was no place to bury Monsieur Villeneuve, and we did the only reasonable thing we could do at that moment, cover his body with the curtains of the main hall. Time was of the essence, since we had to survive the night, but lasting the protension of the night was conditioned to our survival.

We had found the main hall the best place to unite, since it was ample, and the torches were more effective in bigger space. The cold was beginning to be felt even more, and that was the other reason, we were gathered in the main hall, by the fireplace.

The terrifying death of Monsieur Villeneuve had impacted our minds instantly, but regrettably there was absolutely no time to waste on lamenting his death. Therefore, resolution and introspection were required, with the necessary actions.

After an hour had elapsed, it was now precisely eleven o'clock, as the sound of the clock ringing was portentous. We were aware of the sudden premonition of the clock in the main hall, but it was not pleasant to listen at all. I would be cognizant of many things, but the ringing of the clock, every hour was haunting indeed. I suppose there must be always a silver lining to be discovered. Mr. Bonham ever thoughtful in his profound muse suggested that we not attempt to seek the most difficult way out of the château, instead take the approach of tactical prudence. When asked to expound on his suggestion, he simply stated that the baron had most likely put an impediment to hinder our means of escape.

After, we comprehended the full intent of his words, and we acceded to that insight. Once more, we discussed new ways how to escape, and again the thought of hidden chambers or passages began to become more of a tangible possibility. The constant thought of surviving was contingent to the acumen we possessed, and the intuition we adapted.

Mr. Bonham and Herr Brennwald being the oldest had been conversing, amongst themselves. When I asked them what was their conversation about, Herr Brennwald had told me that they had noticed the portrait that was hanging above the fireplace had a scratch. This was not necessarily something that unusual, but it was certainly enough to intrigue both Mr. Bonham and Herr Brennwald. The immediate reaction was to check the portrait.

Thus, I took down the portrait, and we noticed that the eyes of the baron painted were missing. This meant that someone was watching us. That someone was more likely to be the ignoble baron. But we were not sure if it was Baron Von Henkel, even though I was confident that it was him. What that meant, was that he was still in the château. The important question was where?

This gave us hope amid the awful adversity. However, the worse calamity was about to occur suddenly. It would be a direful calamity that would cause the immediate death of another of the invitees so surprisingly. This time the poor victim was Herr Brennwald, who would be tragically murdered. The sequence unfolded, when we were discussing the recent development of the portrait of the baron. Herr Brennwald had been hanging the portrait in its natural position, when he tripped over a wire and fell on the ground. But apparently, he had triggered a pointed arrow that struck his throat, killing him instantly. The sequence of his death was so horrible but done, with a scelestic rapidity.

Upon seeing his dead body lying on the floor, with an arrow through his throat, Madam Leasure screamed, with sheer fright and revulsion. Quickly, I grabbed a curtain from the adjacent hall and covered the dead body of Herr Brennwald. There were now two dead, and only four guests remaining. Madam Leasure, Mr. Mathenson, Mr. Bonham and me. The château was gradually becoming our graveyard. The drama was building, and the plot was thickening soon.

Mr. Mathenson was beginning to unravel, as well was Madam Leasure. Their mental fortitude was starting to break therewith, and their desperation was heightened, with the horrific death of Herr Brennwald. Mr. Mathenson and Madam Leasure had to be hushed, in particular Madam Leasure. I do not know, if the fact that she was a woman meant she would be inclined to be more apprehensive than a man.

Either way I sensed, she was visibly afraid, and Mr. Mathenson very upset. Mr. Bonham stood there by the corner, within a profound rumination and circumspection. I saw this introspective look in his eyes, as if he was certain of something. When I enquired, he simply told me that maybe the baron had an accomplice. That was not only what he was thinking of, instead, he implied that the accomplice could be one of us who, was alive. This theory was mind-boggling and had caused me to make that exact assumption.

Mr. Mathenson, upon overhearing our conversation, then interrupted with vehemence. He accused us of collusion and being actual participants in this mad game of Baron Von Henkel. According to him, we were the prime suspects. I was a former soldier and Mr. Bonham a detective. No one had suspected us, since Mr. Mathenson, was a former criminal, and Madam Leasure, suspected of killing her husbands. What we did not know was that he had found a gun in the main hall, under the portrait of Baron Von Henkel. He then pointed at us and threatened to kill Mr. Bonham and me, if we did not confess.

Naturally, we were not expecting this rash behavior in Mr. Mathenson. I attempted to assuage his expressed anger, by reasoning with him, but he was not to be easily dissuaded. Seeing that my persuasive words were feckless, Mr. Bonham then interjected, as he interceded. He told Mr. Mathenson, that, if we were the actual accomplices, we would have killed him already. Mr. Mathenson was not convinced, and once again, he threatened us. I perceived his serious intention, as I gazed into his eyes and saw how firmly he held the gun in his hand.

Who was I to doubt the impassioned fury of a seasoned criminal? Upon seeing Mr. Mathenson's desperate reaction it reminded me of multitudinous soldiers of the war. His incoherent logic was enforced, by the minacious presence of the parlous weapon he had in his possession. Neither I or Mr. Bonham were brazen enough to take the gun from his hand, without jeopardizing our lives. His impetuosity drove his impetus and irrationality.

Therefore, we were dealing, with not only the madness of the château and Baron Von Henkel, but as well, with the irascible comportment of Mr. Mathenson. He kept on insisting that if we did not confess that he would shoot us on spot, if we refused. Madam Leasure appeared to be in agreement with Mr. Mathenson, and urged us to confess, so that the nightmare would be over. However, the nightmare was just beginning. The idea of the secret passage was pressing Mr. Mathenson to investigate, as it had whetted his curiosity.

When he saw that we were not going to confess, he realized that by killing us, he would achieve nothing, except our deaths. That was when his criminal mind began to surmise the situation. He ordered me and Mr. Bonham to walk toward the cellar to investigate, a possible passage in the cellar. We proceeded, with the torches in our hands, as we passed the corridor. Mr. Mathenson held the gun, at our backs, while we walked. But when we reached the cellar and opened the door, there was a brick wall that impeded any progress.

This afterwards infuriated Mr. Mathenson that he demanded again that we confess at once our complicity. Madam Leasure implored that we acquiesce, so that we could escape the horrible château. She spoke to Mr. Mathenson, and when she did Mr. Bonham then whispered to me that perhaps Madam Leasure was in cohort with Baron Von Henkel and the butler Mr. Willoughby. It was an idea that had not entered my mind previously. I knew Mr. Bonham was a good detective by profession, but we had to take precautionary discretion, if we were to handle this predicament.

Mr. Mathenson told us that he would be strictly observing every move taken. The trouble we were all confronting was what would be our next step, and what would be the baron's audacious reaction? We gathered as we normally did in the main hall, since we were hampered, by the darkness for the most part. Our discussion centred on what to do next.

Shortly the clock had struck again, and it was then midnight, as this eerie feeling of a mesonoxian anxiety I started to instantly experience. The constant isolation of the château was affecting us, as we paced the main hall consistently. We had experimented, every intense emotion feasible, within the vicarious ordeal that developed. We expressed uncertainty and hope, but we were aware of the extent of the baron's cruelty and implacable deception.

Midnight had arrived, and still there was eight hours to go, before the morning. We had eight hours to survive the unbroken insanity of the château, and each other. Soon, the unthinkable thought of us killing each other out of distrust was a strong possibility. Eluding the baron and our escape was at the forefront of our concerns and desiderata. The prolongation of this night had caused a discernible dissipation in our health-in particular our minds.

Thus, we continued to pace and pace, until Mr. Mathenson could bear no more. He pointed the gun directly at the head of Mr. Bonham, and told him that he was going to kill him, if he did not summon the baron. The countenance of Mr. Mathenson bore the vivid illustration of utter consternation. This time it seemed that I would not be able to simply calm his temperament, or convince him to not kill us then.

As our attention was being diverted by the quarrel, Madam Leasure had noticed something odd, about the wall adjoining the fireplace. There were stains on the wall that were transparent, and she immediately informed us of this strange discovery. When we looked at the wall with keen observation, we began to examine anything else that was out of the ordinary about the wall. I touched the wall slowly, not knowing, what to expect. Once I felt the hardened surface of the wall, I pushed into the wall and suddenly, the wall had mysteriously opened a passage that was indeed unknown to us.

It was an improbable tangent of events that evolved. The passage was narrow in size, and extremely infuscated. If it was dark and cold in the château, the secret passage was even more cold and clammy. At first, we were hesitant and mindful of what terrible consequence had occurred to Monsieur Villeneuve and Herr Brennwald. We proceeded with the utmost caution and vigilance.

Mr. Bonham sensing that it was the exact moment to snatch the gun from Mr. Mathenson had lunged at him, and soon they were on the ground fighting for possession of the weapon. When the tussle abated, Mr. Bonham was lying dead, while Mr. Mathenson rose to his feet alive. There was no absolute regret emoted, in the insensible eyes of Mr. Mathenson. He was then in command and ordered me to enter the passage, and I did with reluctance.

Once inside, there was evidence that someone had been in this passage. Torn viscous cobwebs and squeaking rats were all around, but we continued forth. We carried the torches, as we walked attentively. I was always in the front, while Mr. Mathenson was behind me pointing his gun. Madam Leasure followed him, with a distressed look. Where on heaven's earth did this passage lead to, I then contemplated?

Soon, I would have my answer, and what happened next would increase the suspense. We found an abditory for a treasure trove of Nazi stolen priceless works of art from the war. But as we reached the end of the passage, there was a visible impasse that thwarted our advance.

And there standing then behind us was lo and behold, Baron Von Henkel with a gun pointed, at Mr. Mathenson and me. Apparently, Mr. Bonham was correct in his assumption that Madam Leasure was involved in this maniacal scheme of the baron. She was the devoted mistress of Baron Von Henkel. Mr. Mathenson had suspected collusion in our part tacitly, but he never detected the wicked craftiness of Madam Leasure. She had been involved, since the very beginning, as she wheedled the baron with her feminine charm.

He then ordered us to kneel on our knees afterwards. Mr. Mathenson pleaded for his life to be spared, "Please do not kill me baron!"

"Kill you, why of course that is, the intention Mr. Mathenson. Surely, you of all people should know how to play the game," the baron rejoined.

"Why plan all this Baron Von Henkel, since you have the trove? If what you wanted was for us to kill ourselves, then you have failed miserably, in that endeavour!" I stated.

"That is quite simple Monsieur Benoit. It is the thrill and challenge that excites me immensely. You who were a dedicated soldier should understand. We Nazis had a clear vision for the world, but the world was not ready, for that wonderful vision," the baron responded.

His impersonal gesture and attitude were manifest, as he smiled at us with the gun still in his hand. He shot Mr. Mathenson in the chest, killing him instantly. He pointed the gun at me, as he was about to pull the trigger then, from the chasm rose the immeasurable terror of immutable circumstance.

An irregular reverberation of the unwist awakening of the lurking eidolons was heard. These four surreal voiceless beings soon appeared before us in the passage. They were standing as well behind them. Of their appearance I can only make the general description, within the time that was allowed to descry them. It happened so quickly that I did not perceive their presence.

They wore chequered costumes of harlequins, with motley colours. Their eyes were beady and scarlet, beneath the eccentric hats that had light bells attached to the hats. They said not one word as they gathered, but their actions were swift of a non-material agency that was incompatible to the tentative taction, and of any conventional belief. Within seconds they had attacked Baron Von Henkel and killed him, as he attempted to stop them with bullets. There was nothing the baron or anyone could do to prevent them from murdering us.

Madam Leasure then picked up the gun of the baron, and shot bullets at them, but she too was killed by the harlequins. I immediately, began to walk backwards and tried to reach the entrance to the passage. I then ran and ran, as I sensed the unnamable ghosts were behind me and near.

Miraculously, I reached the entrance door, but as I did, the butler Mr. Willoughby was waiting in the main hall for me, with a gun in his hand. He was not conscious of the presence of the harlequins, and he asked me about the whereabouts of Baron Von Henkel and Madam Leasure. I told them straightaway that they were both murdered by the haunting harlequins. I did not have time to elucidate, and thus I ran. As he was about to shoot me with this gun, the harlequins emerged from the passage, and killed Mr. Willoughby forthwith.

The doors were closed, and it was only one o'clock in the morning, when I heard the clock ring. I had nowhere to go, or to hide. I grabbed the gun of Mr. Willoughby in the main hall and pointed it at the harlequins. As I stood there at the mercy of my fate and disposition of the harlequins, I waited for my death to arrive. I began to have a paroxysm and fell on the floor, as they stood over me. I heard an upheaval of the floor as it shook.

Then, the windows of the château broke into shards that scattered on the floor. I became unconscious and when I awoke the sound of the clock I heard ringing. I opened my eyes and saw that the dreadful harlequins were gone. They had vanished from the château, and there was light outside coming from the sun. I had survived the detached madness, and the unimaginative night that had daunted until then. I rose to my feet immediately and saw that the door to the entrance of the passage was closed. I did not attempt to open it, and the only thought that concerned me was escaping the madhouse. I headed toward the front door and turned the doorknob, and it was opened. But as I opened the door, the money began to shower me. It was the million dollars promised to the individual, who escaped the château.

At last, I was free of the horrible hospiticide of the baron, and the immarcescible fear I felt. I shall not forget the horrifying experience, with the harlequins of ghosthood. Then, the baronial château began to crumble, with the erosion of the steep slope, as it collapsed into the river below. The madhouse was gone, and what I soon discovered afterwards, was that the château indeed had a secret passage that led to the river nearby. The hidden passage was situated, under the remains of an old asylum that was once, the asylum of the harlequins. What was an unscrupulous game of perversion originally had unraveled-the secret of the château.

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