A/N: I pointlessly drag Mycroft into the fray. But only in this chapter. Please read, enjoy, and REVIEW!
"I am not a fearful person, Mr. Holmes, but it was the most frightening sight that I have ever laid eyes upon. I will stop myself here, but soon he commenced to tell me the nature of this business.
"'Your husband is in terrible danger. You have been rather difficult to catch, Ms. Fario, or rather, Norton.' said he.
"'What is it that you want, Moran?' I asked, 'Where is my husband?'
"'That is of no consequence. But you do need to know that he is in danger. We want you to marry the King.'
"'What King?' asked I.
"'Wilhelm Gottsreich Sigmond von Ormstein. In short, the king of Bohemia.'
"'He sent you for this purpose?' I asked, anger flaring deep inside myself. 'The king wants me to marry him? Does he not have enough of a wife?'
"'Clotilde Lothman von Saxe-Meningen is dead. She passed about a year ago. And, as you have probably read in the papers, Bohemia is struggling to cope. Now you are the only one who the King wishes for.' Replied the Colonel, his cruel eyes blazing into mine. I refused to look away." said Adler, her beautiful and resolute face turned away, as if for fear of looking at something that neither Holmes nor I could see. "He informed me that I had one week to set my affairs in order, and another two weeks to travel to Bohemia and marry the King.
"I cannot tell you how outraged I was, Mr. Holmes, at the injustice forced upon me by this event. I screamed and demanded for my husband, I begged, I negotiated… but, no, the colonel would not budge. He seemed to almost to enjoy my suffering.
"Over the next few days, I debated my choices. Moran had promised me that I would see my husband again, and often once married, until then, he refused me access to Godfrey. I packed, I spoke to Kitty, and she did the one of the kindest favors anyone has ever done for me. She promised to go with me.
"When I walked outside, men followed me, except when I used male costume, and was unrecognizable. Kitty and I came up with plans, to stay for a bit longer, and wait a bit, then renegotiate for my husband. They attacked the theatre. The terrible arson a year ago was caused by Moran's associates as a warning to me, to get a move on. I was in the building at the time, but escaped, with the help of a few others. Only a small number died, but I still feel responsible for their deaths.
"I knew it was a warning for me. I saw and recognized the goons who did it as the ones who were constantly following me. I looked for a way to negotiate, but I could not find Moran. Finally, after much deliberation, I went to his house and waited for him in that very same study. When he did arrive, I barely escaped with my life.
"Kitty and I left England, escorted by the ever loyal Shinwell Johnson. We left, but did not go to Bohemia, we waited and traveled, attempting to avoid the men who followed us. It was difficult, and Johnson saved my life on several occasions. We traveled Europe, Italy and France, Greece, planning all the while of a way to rescue my husband. But all these plans were doomed- we had no information to go on, no way to continue. We spent sixth months traveling, hiding, and disguising our identities in many ways, each time, lingering only until discovered, and managing to escape only by hair. We were chased into several precarious positions, threatened, captured, and rescued many times.
"Finally, we managed to reach England again, so Kitty and Shinwell could revisit some affairs. But Moran, upon knowing my location, swooped in upon me. He arranged public meeting places for us. On several occasions, he threatened my husband's death. I argued that I want proof that he had him."
"What proof did he offer?" asked Holmes, leaning forward slightly. She held up her hand in reply.
"The ring. My husband's wedding ring, attached to a note in his hand writing… which simply said my name, then his. I was frightened…unsure what to believe… in the end my stubbornness led to my husband's death."
She shed no tears now, and her face grew suddenly colder and stonier still. Holmes' eyes, which were always hard and clear, dimmed for a moment, and I saw a small measure, or perhaps a great measure of sympathy and sadness shine just behind them. It was one of the rarest moments that Holmes showed any measure of deep emotion. I had only seen that look only once before, though in greater intensity, when I was shot by Killer Evans in the Adventure of the Three Garridebs, Holmes had then feared for my life, and swiftly reacted by smashing the gentleman's head with the butt of his gun. It was one of my most important memories, for it was worth a wound –several wounds- to learn of the great loyalty and love that was hidden behind his bright and hard gray eyes.
"Please continue, Ms. Adler." He said quietly, bringing me back from a sea of treasured memories.
"Well, I traveled back to Bohemia, alone this time, fully prepared to marry the King if it would free Godfrey… but when I arrived and saw what Bohemia had become, I could not bear to carry out my act. And when I told Moran of my decision, Godfrey Norton was murdered…and I watched as it occurred."
My eyes widened in horror as I listened to this poor woman's account of the past months. Even Holmes' eyes were opened wide, as if to facilitate the terrible image of Mr. Norton being killed for such a purpose unfolded behind his eyes.
"When I informed Colonel Moran of my choice and demanded my husband, I was captured on the spot, and forced to watch, imprisoned in some godforsaken cell, the slow and torturous death of my husband." She shuddered uncontrollably for some moments before continuing. "In the end, I escaped and ran away back to England. To live by my own will just long enough to this man hanged for the wrongful death of husband, Ronald Adair, and the countless others he has wronged. That is all I can tell you, Mr. Holmes. Please ask no more of me… please."
"I have but a few more questions and it would help us greatly in the advancing of your case, Ms. Adler." said Holmes.
"Holmes!" I cried, but my companion held up a hand to silence me.
"Where are Ms. Kitty Winter, and Shinwell Johnson?"
"In London, you'll probably find them easily. I am staying near Kitty until you clear this matter up."
"Has Moran followed you back to London?"
"Alright… Thank you, Ms. Adler." And Holmes rose to escort the woman out of our rooms. Though shaken, distressed, and perhaps terribly crippled from the event which she described, Adler rose from her seat and exited our rooms with the same grace in which she arrived.
"I have a feeling that you'll be staying for quite a while, Watson." said Holmes, his voice floating in from the open door of his rooms. I heard the splashing of the water basin in which he frequently washed his face. "These two cases are almost the phantoms of previous cases. Come, hurry Watson, we must get there before twenty minutes to eight. We are headed for the Diogenes Club!"
"We are?" I asked, looking up from another newspaper. It was the next day, both Adler and Hunter had departed from our company. It was nearly seven thirty in the evening.
"Yes Watson, we are. I believe that my brother will be greatly interested in this. Mrs. Hudson, hold our dinner- the Doctor and I are stepping out." He barked to our landlady as she entered the threshold, only to exit it a second later to do as he commanded.
We walked to the Diogenes Club, where Mycroft, Holmes' less well known brother, was waiting for us.
The Diogenes Club is the most peculiar club in London, with regulations based on the idea that all the men in it, came there only to be alone, and enjoy the quiet and the books. Mycroft Holmes, the seven year senior of Sherlock Holmes, was as round and corpulent as Sherlock was thin. Upon first meeting him, Holmes informed me, that Mycroft was more intelligent than he, but was so lazy and lethargic, that he never bothered to test his theories. I soon realized, when in his company, that he was indeed very lazy, but a very capable man, who was valued highly be the government as a vital department member.
"Ah, brother mine." He said pleasantly to Holmes as we entered his room. He extended a huge, flat, flipper-like hand in greeting. "Congratulations on the most recent case, from what I hear, you have returned the papers at the most dire of moments. The Prime Minister was greatly pleased with your success."
"Hum!" cried he. "Government matters are often the less interesting of cases, it is of the smaller cases which I feel are of greater importance to me. But my two most recent ones do not seem to be trifling matters at all. Two people's lives hang in the balance, as does the opportunity of putting away my would-be assassin, Colonel Sebastian Moran."
"You certainly have a handful, Sherlock." said he, taking a pinch of snuff from his tortoiseshell case. He seemed to an obsession with snuff, while Holmes smoked his pipes.
"Yes, that is what I came here to discuss, Mycroft, and it would be helpful if you could advise me once again." And Holmes told him all of our cases.
When he was finished, it was almost twenty to eight. Mycroft smiled, "Ah, dear boy, you know what to do, but if you absolutely insist, I can bring in my department, and you will have the law on your side in your Adler case, but otherwise, you are on your own, Sherlock."
And he departed, leaving the two of us to walk back to Baker Street.