“At least it would give you the opportunity to debunk their belief,” frustrated at his flat mate’s pouting.
Receiving no answer, John smiled. “Or is it you don’t think you can prove there is not a truth to their evil folklore belief?”
Suddenly Sherlock jumped up yelling, “Tell them we’ll take it. Now stop you noisy thinking, I need to go into my mind palace for a while and decide how to disprove this delusion.”
John headed toward his room upstairs to get dressed when Sherlock’s voice stopped him, “And John, I know what you just did. Don’t think you fooled me for a minute.”
“Of course not, Sherlock.” John continued up the stairs smiling.
The detective turned over slowly, eyes closed, and fingers under his chin in his thinking pose. For the next couple of moments, Sherlock jumped up and yelled, “Move it, John, I’m leaving in five minutes with or without you.” Then hurried to his room to get dressed himself
Arriving at Baron Casimir Horvath’s mansion, John knocked on the door. A butler dressed in a tuxedo and white gloves looked down on them. Before Sherlock could say anything, John elbowed him in the side and spoke, “Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes for the Baron. He is expecting us.”
“Step into the hall while I notify the Baron of your arrival. Please do not move from this area,” then walked away.
Taking one look at Sherlock whose face was livid, John said. “Sherlock remember you are here to find the real murderer. Just forget it.”
“I believe we should leave and let the ‘Baron’ solve his own problems,” Sherlock said in a disdainful tone.
“We can use the money, and it is a large amount. Plus, you do want to prove him wrong, don’t you?”
Glaring at John, he suddenly smiled, “I can’t wait to do it.”
John just hoped that Mycroft didn't depend on the Baron for any international issues. He was sure by the time they left that Sherlock will have set back international relationships back by years.
“Try to be nice,” John requested.
“I’m always nice,” Sherlock smiled heading for the butler who had motioned them to follow him.
Entering the room, the Baron was seated in a chair that reminded John of a throne. “Mr. Holmes, please take a seat,” He ordered ignoring John. Obviously, he knew that Sherlock’s brother was important, so he at least needed to be civil to the detective.
John sat beside Sherlock.
The Baron ordered, “James hand the gentlemen some tea and give me a brandy. I’m sure you gentlemen understand the brandy is from my private stock and too precious to share.”
Sherlock could hear John grinding his teeth but ignored him. “If you could tell us the problem, Casimir.”
Almost choking on the sip of tea John had just taken, he smiled at the audacity of his flatmate. Usually, he would give Sherlock the ‘bit not good’ look but in this case, he just couldn’t.
“Mr. Holmes, if we could keep this as a professional visit I would appreciate it and address me as Baron or Sir. It is my title and respect should be maintained.”
“Did you know John,” Sherlock glance at his partner with a smirk, “At one time Baron meant mercenary?”
Even with the deadly glare he received from the Baron, Sherlock maintained a neutral expression when he turned to face the man.
“Would you care to explain the problem Baron?” John stepped in to prevent any more animosity between the two men.
“As you know,” he began, “My three oldest sons were murdered in the last six months. The police in their ineptitude have found nothing to bring the killers to justice. Mycroft suggested I engage you to bring them in. We are of the royal line, and I wouldn’t think your brother would appreciate if I didn’t support the needs of England that my country can supply.”
Sherlock sat up straighter and looked the Baron in the eye. “I think my brother would be very unhappy to hear you were trying to blackmail me with threatening England’s international relationships.”
Realizing he had made a mistake, the Baron quickly added, “I did not mean it as a threat, Mr. Holmes. After all, I have been known to contribute to many worthy charities in your country.”
Sherlock mumbled, “With stolen money.”
“Did you say something, Mr. Holmes?”
“He was clearing his throat,” John responded before Sherlock could be ruder.
Once more the Baron ignored John and continued to speak, “I just want to help the English crown removed those who would upset Britain’s safety.”
Again Sherlock mumbled, “By making them disappear and show up dead.”
“Mr. Holmes, do you intend to continue this character assassination? Or plan to help me?”
“Once you get to the point, I’ll be able to answer that question. Now, what is it you want us to do?”
“I wish for you, Mr. Holmes, to find out who killed my sons before my youngest son or I am next.”
John interrupted the two men’s verbal combat before it could get any more heated. “We understand you believe it’s an ogress called Baba-Yaga. Can you explain why?”
“Mr. Holmes, you did not answer me. Will you find this killer or not?”
“I believe my partner, Dr. Watson, asked you a question. We are together in this situation, and I would appreciate you stop treating him like a nobody.”
“Sherlock…,” John warned.
“No John, he will either speak to both of us or neither.”
The Baron looked at the two men then started again. “Will the TWO of you help me with this situation or not.”
Before Sherlock could answer, a sobbing child rushed into the room followed by the nanny and climbed on the Baron’s lap, wrapping himself around the Baron’s waist.
“I’m sorry Baron. He ran before I could catch him,” the nanny explained.
Waving her away, the Baron said, “Leave, you are useless. Your job is to take care of him not to make excuses. I will discuss this with you.”
After the nanny left, silence except for the sobbing filled the room. Sherlock and John could see the loving care the Baron gave the boy. Once the boy settled down, he asked him why he was so upset.
“I woke up, and an ugly woman with big teeth was standing over me. She had a big pot and something in her other hand.”
Sherlock gently asked. “What did she look like?” Although the detective could be abrupt with adults, John always saw him be soothing with a child witness.
The boy seemed to notice the men for the first time. “Go on Johnathan, tell them.” The Baron encouraged.
“She had long white hair, writing all over her face, scary eyes, a long pointy nose, and a necklace of bones. She was leaning over me, and I saw her long mean looking teeth. Why was she in my room, daddy? I don’t like her.”
“I believe Dr. Watson and I will have a look at the child’s room,” Sherlock announced. Standing he continued, “If one of your staff will show us where it is, we’ll take a look.”
“I’ll have James accompany you.”
“I prefer not to have others messing up my investigation. He can point out the room, and we’ll return after looking it over.” Sherlock headed for the staircase, leaving a stunned Baron staring after him.
After being shown into the room, John and Sherlock began examining it. A dead smell filled the room. However, nothing was obvious to indicate its source. Ready to leave after finding no trace of evidence, John called him back, “Is that blood?”
Pulling his magnifying glass out, Sherlock bend over the single spot on the rug. The spot wasn’t truly red, but most definitely blood. “Slide,” Sherlock ordered holding out his hand to John.
“You git. It’s in your pocket.” The doctor handed it to his flatmate with a huff.
Placing the first slide over the spot, the detective ensured the spot was transferred then covered it with the second slide. After putting in into an evidence bag, he headed for the door. “I’ll need to take a closer look at this; something isn’t right.”
Coming back downstairs, Sherlock headed toward the door stopping when the Baron called him, “What did you find?”
Instead of answering him, the detective continued to walk and headed out the door.
“Sherlock will get in touch with you. You’ll have to excuse him as he can be rather rude at times, but I’m sure YOU can understand that,” John stated patronizingly before following his partner out the door.
Heading towards his microscope, Sherlock threw off his coat as they entered the flat. John asked after hanging up both of their coats. “What do you believe is wrong with it?”
“I believe I know,” was the last words spoken for a few hours.
Abruptly Sherlock broke the silence, “It is fresh but came from something long dead.”
“So, Baba-Yaga could be real?”
“Honestly John let’s not get carried away. There has to be a reasonable explanation for this that doesn’t include a fairytale told to frighten children.”
“And that would be?”
Sherlock ignored the question as he grabbed his coat.
“Where are you rushing to?”
“We are rushing to the Baron’s house. Johnathan is in danger,” Sherlock shouted as he ran down the stairs and hailed a cab.
Looking out the window after telling the cabbie to hurry, Sherlock was silent. The detective jumped out of the cab without waiting for it to stop completely. As Sherlock ran up the driveway, John paid the cabbie and followed him. When they arrived at the door, Sherlock banged on it until the butler opened it.
“Mr. Holmes, I don’t believe….” Sherlock pushed passed him without answering and raced up the stairs to Johnathan’s room.
Regaining his surprise, the Butler called after the detective. “Mr. Holmes. You can’t go up there.” Turning toward John, “I’m informing the Baron of his invasion.”
Then headed toward the study to get the Baron who met him as he went down the hall after hearing the noise.
“What is the meaning of this intrusion Dr. Watson? How dare you invade my home like this?” The Baron demanded.
A blood-curdling scream broke the air followed by crashing of a door upstairs causing the Baron, butler, and John to race up the steps.
Entering the room, Sherlock found a hag holding Johnathan by the head pulling him close to her open mouth. Only the nanny hanging on to him kept the child from her bite.
“Put the child down,” Sherlock demanded as the ogress turned her gaze toward the noise the detective had created. “The child is an innocent.”
“The evil drew me to this house,” the hag croaked. “And I will destroy it.”
Coming up behind the open door, the Baron and John saw Sherlock standing close to the woman speaking. “The child is not the cause of it. Do you punish just to punish? This child has done nothing to earn your fury.”
The hag threw the child toward the nanny and moved closer to Sherlock, sniffing him as she reached him. John moved closer to his friend. “Stop there, John,” Sherlock ordered not looking at him.
“You human,” the hag began, “You give off the odor of evil, but there is good burying it. I am confused. Are you the one who drew me here instead of the child?”
While the ogress had her attention on Sherlock, the Baron began to slip away. “Daddy, help me,” Johnathan cried out.
The hag twisted away from Sherlock and her vision narrowed toward the Baron. “YOU! You are the reason I was called here. You are evil incarnate, and now you will face the price of your wickedness.”
Quicker than anyone could react, she was in front of the Baron and bit off his head before anyone could stop her.
As the blood pumped out of the headless body, the nanny passed out. The butler ran down the stairs screaming for the police. Johnathan sobbed for his father and attempted to reach the Baron but was held back by Sherlock who held his face into his chest to block out his father’s body. John watched as the Baron’s body slumped to the ground.
“You,” the hag hissed pointing toward Sherlock, “I’m not sure about you, but will not destroy you this time. There seems to be good offsetting the evil. Beware, human. I will be watching.” She cautioned before disappearing leaving only her scent behind.
When the police arrived, they listened to the story from the hysterical nanny and distraught butler. The panic-stricken boy was removed from the area by a maid before Greg talked to John and Sherlock. “What is the story here? The two of them are talking about some type of folk legend.”
“Nonsense” Sherlock declared. “Just some drivel by two unobservant witnesses. Someone dressed as the legend beheaded the Baron and escaped. It’s as simple as that.”
“What were you two doing here? This doesn’t seem like your type of case,” Greg pointed out.
“Mycroft, of course, The Baron represents one of the governments he interacts with. “We just didn’t get here in time to save the Baron’s life,” Sherlock clarified their presence at the resident.
Greg looked at John and knew there was more but that nothing would come from either of them.
As John and Sherlock entered the cab, John began. “Sherlock...”
“I will not discuss this. There is a logical reason, and I refuse to discuss this further. Mycroft can handle it from here. We’re going home.”
No more was said. But if at times, Sherlock seemed too distant in the next week, John said nothing more, just offered him tea and let him be.