Dudley and the Mysterious Tower
(Japanese Original)

Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Epilogue





Prologue

It was a starless night.
In a pitch dark forest on the outskirts stood a tall, massive tower, to which arrived a short courier and a white dog.
They had come to make a delivery to the tower's wealthy owner.
Would they be able to deliver that important gift, carefully stowed away in a bag?





Chapter 1

The courier stood at the front door, and readjusted the hat on their head as if getting prepared.
Knock, knock, knock.
In response, a woman in an apron dress came from within the tower.

"From your attire, I would wager you're a courier? It must have been quite a trek, especially at this hour.
You say it's an important delivery, so you wish to give it to the Master in person?
Which is to say... monetary, perhaps?", the woman supposed with a frown.

"Well, you have your reasons. I'll let you in. But first, tell me your name.
Incidentally, mine is Ann. I work as a servant here. It's not necessary to remember that."

The courier replied to the servant in a whisper.

"Dudley."

"Dudley, hm? I'll keep it in mind."

"Woof!"

"Wah?!"

The dog beside the courier leapt onto the servant, tail wagging.

"Is this your dog? I suggest you train him better! Sheesh!"

The dog was a close companion of the courier's. He would never stray for a moment.


The servant led the courier around the tower.
Heading inside, they came to a large door.
Beside it was a soldier in red uniform with a stern face, standing perfectly still.
He appeared to be the guard for the door.

"Open the door, please," the servant requested.

The guard complied and pulled a lever next to the door.
Then, with a heavy rumbling sound, it slowly opened.
The courier proceeded inside.

"Welcome to the mysterious tower!"

A voice came from out of nowhere.
The courier looked around, but there was nothing. Only the surrounding red walls and a large bronze statue in the center of the room, posing majestically.
He had a portly build, a flashy outfit, and a dandy mustache. Giving the impression of a noble, it appeared to be a statue of the owner.

Just what was that voice?
Was it this statue that spoke?
While gazing at it curiously, the courier then noticed stairs in the back of the room.

"You'll find the Master up on the top floor," the servant politely explained.
But it seemed this was as far as she would guide them.

"I wonder if a shrimpy boy like yourself can make it that far?", the servant said with an ill-natured grin.





Chapter 2

The courier and dog companion went up the stairs together.
The stairs spiraled upward, on and on, surrounded by cold brick walls.
It was dark up ahead, as the light from the rooms could only reach so far.
So the courier borrowed a candle from Ann, and they advanced depending solely on its light.

Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap.
Their footsteps resounded through the silence.
Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap.


Thump.

There seemed to be the sound of slightly heavier footsteps, separate from the courier's.

Thump.

There it was again. It wasn't just imagined.
The sound was coming from behind them.

Thump, thump, thump.

The sound slowly became louder.
The courier resolutely turned around.
Then the sound immediately came to a stop.

Was someone following them?
But there was no sign of any people.
Slightly scared, the courier began fleeing up the stairs.


After climbing a while, the pair arrived at a landing.
What would await them through this door?
Curious, the courier opened it up.

It was a small room with pretty decorations and purple walls.
There was a person inside. A kindly-looking lady dressed like a nun.
The woman smiled as she noticed the courier.

"Ah, a guest. Welcome.
I'm known as Sister the Diviner.
I've been waiting some time for your arrival."

It seemed this woman was a fortune-teller, and knew the courier would arrive here.
She told them a secret about the tower.

"Strange things happen when you come here.
What exactly will happen is up to you.
Perhaps you may lose sight of something.
But, given you have a dependable friend to help you, I think you'll be all right.
Now, go. I wish for your safety."


Taking the fortune-teller's words to heart, the courier started back up the stairs.
The dog followed after as well.

The stairs continued on, still into darkness.
After a while, this time they heard a human voice.
It was a man's voice, which sounded like it was sobbing.

The courier stopped and brought the light closer to the source of the sound.
And in the light appeared a cowering human shape.
How long had it been there? The courier was shocked, but summoned up the courage to approach, and saw him clearly.

It was a man wearing a tailcoat that suggested a butler.
It was too dark to make out his face.
But his body shook, and it was clear he was afraid.
He had been the source of the sobbing.

The butler spoke with voice trembling.
"Since that day, I've been plagued by nightmares. Wherever I run, demons come after me.
I am sinful. This hell will surely last forever."

The courier felt repulsed upon hearing the voice and looked away from the butler.
And upon turning back, there was no butler anymore.
He had vanished, even though he was just there...

Just as Sister said, something strange had happened.
The courier was unable to move out of fear.
Concerned, the dog whined and cuddled up close in encouragement.
This had the desired effect, and the courier began up the stairs again.





Chapter 3

Meanwhile, the servant Ann was in the office, a special place only for the tower's authorized personnel.
It was usually a remarkably clean blue-carpeted room, but today was a bit different.
White envelopes were spread out over the floor, making it all white.
The servant's coworkers were working frantically to pick up all the letters.

"I just cleaned up, and it's all a mess again..."
"And sure enough, it's always those letters..."
"Must be the work of a poltergeist."
"Maybe this tower really is cursed?"

"We'd better clean this up quickly, or the Master will yell about how we lack discipline as servants again!"
"But does the Master understand anything about that himself, I wonder?"

Busy conversations flew back and forth across the room.
Ann noticed an old newspaper mixed in among the letters and picked it up.
It was dated a few years ago. One of the articles caught her eye.
An article about a very tragic incident.


"A man and woman were found dead in a bedroom in the house of millionaire Chester Brown.
The bodies were identified to be Chester Brown and his wife Lucy.
Both appear to have died instantly from gunshots to the head.
The night of the incident, the couple's 8-year-old daughter Marie was hiding in the bedroom closet, and was thus safe.
Due to the messy state of the room and the thorough theft of all assets, investigators are considering it a robbery."


The culprit was never caught.
Even now, they were lurking somewhere. Perhaps somewhere close.
Ann shivered at the thought of it.
Then she began to realize something.

"Ann, you should help clean!"
"I've got something else to do. You take care of it."

With that, she left the office.





Chapter 4

Long, long stairs.
How many had they climbed by now?

The courier pondered.
Why did the master build such a huge tower?
How did he build it?
What was he thinking making that statue?
Why was that butler there?
Thinking about it all just made the courier's chest ache.

The climb had gotten a bit tiresome.
But the courier would not stop.
Remembering the delivery that had to be made, the courier clutched the bag tight.

After a while, they arrived at another landing.
This time, there was no door. Only a letter.
The courier picked up the envelope. In the corner, it said:

"To the courier."

The courier immediately knew there was no one else it could be referring to, and timidly opened it up.
Inside was a letter written on cute floral stationery.
As the courier began to read, there was a voice.

"Don't go."

Those were the same words written in the letter.
As the courier looked up, something strange happened again.

There was a warm breeze on the courier's cheek.
A blue sky and green grass now surrounded them.
A four-leaf clover danced around in the wind.
The courier was standing in the middle of a field of clovers.
What had happened to the tower they were just climbing?

"Woof!"

The dog also had no idea.

"Hey, let's go home!"

There was a voice again.
The courier turned to where it came from, and there found a girl.
With her ash-gray hair and elegant one-piece, she gave the impression of a princess.

Behind the girl was a large mansion, toward which she was pulling the courier by the hand.
But her hand was shaken away, which upset her.

"Going outside will just get you dirty..."
With that, the girl walked off toward the mansion.

The courier felt something amiss.
The bag seemed like it was lighter.
Nervously, the courier checked, and...
Gone. It wasn't there.
The delivery was missing.

The courier searched everywhere, up and down the clover field, but could not find the delivery.
Tears began to well up, and soon they wouldn't stop, even as dirt-stained hands tried to wipe them.
The courier soon gave up the search.
But then...

"Woof!"

The dog seemed to find something under an apple tree a little ways from the clover field.
The courier promptly went to dig it up. Sure enough, the package had been buried there.
The courier held it firmly, and resolved to never let go of that precious gift again.
As well as that other precious treasure...

"Thank you."
The courier hugged the dog tight.





Chapter 5

The servant Ann was also climbing the stairs, going after the courier.

Tap-tap-tap.
Thump-thump-thump.

She heard multiple sets of footsteps.

"A ghost again...?"

This tower was famous for its ghost sightings.
According to the fortune-teller, the negative emotions of the wealthy owner drew in ghosts who'd lost their way.
The strange phenomena caused by ghosts were everyday occurrences to the servants residing in the tower.

"I wonder if that courier's okay..."

"Woof!"

As she began to worry, a familiar dog came down the steps.
There was no sign of the courier.

"Oh? What happened to your master?
Were you abandoned, I wonder?
We could employ you as a guard dog."

"Woof woof!"

The dog grabbed the servant's skirt and pulled on it.

"Hey! Where are you trying to take me?!"

Guided up the stairs by the dog, she at last found the courier, crouched over motionless on the landing - seemingly asleep.

"Dudley! Wake up, Dudley!"
"Woof woof!"

As the servant shouted, the dog leapt at her with tail wagging again.
Was he under the impression she was yelling at his master?

"All right, all right! Be gentle."


"Dudley... Dudley..."

In darkness, the courier heard a gentle voice.
As if guided by it, the courier's eyes slowly opened, awake.
That letter was nowhere to be found.

"Finally, you're awake."

The servant looked at the courier with worry.

"Are you all right?"

The courier nodded to the servant.
She seemed a little relieved by that and touched her chest.
Then she said something unexpected.

"Truthfully, the Master's orders had been to deny entry to any outsiders.
But you are special. The Master has exempted you.
Thus, I have no intention of stopping you.
However, I couldn't help but worry.
Since you seemed frightened when you came here...
That's why I came to check on you. Be grateful."

The servant looked a little shy as she spoke.
The courier got shy as well, and said with a bashful smile:
"Thank you..."
It was a very kind smile.

"I wonder, are you..."

The servant was about to say something, but cut herself short.
The courier stood up, turned from the servant, and went up the stairs again.
To make the delivery.

"Are you really going?", the servant asked from behind.


"Are you really going?"

Those same words were repeated in the courier's head.

"You know there's no turning back?"

The courier quietly nodded.

The servant felt a little lonely.
She had a premonition that after this parting, they'd never meet again.
Even still, the servant saw the courier off.
Soon enough, the courier had vanished into the darkness.





Chapter 6

The long, long stairs were coming to an end.
One... two... three...
Just three steps later, the two of them finally arrived at a wide hallway.
There were no more stairs. Finally, they were at the top floor.

After some wandering, a large door appeared before them.
It seemed to be the only room on the top floor.
This was where the master was.

The courier put a hand on the door.
The other was on their chest, feeling a rapid heartbeat.
The courier's companion drew close, as if wishing good luck.
Encouraged by the lovable dog, the courier forcefully opened the door.

Behind it was a gorgeous room, as if out of a castle.
Ivory white carpet with a damask pattern, a vase of dahlias, a shiny gold table.
There was even a large bed with curtains.
In the back of the room was a black revolving sofa, turned toward the window.

The master was nowhere to be seen. But the courier sensed someone was present.
Immediately, the courier knew the master was hiding somewhere.

Nervously, the courier stepped into the room.
Walking along, there was a crumpling sound.
The courier had stepped on a white envelope on the floor.
It was unsealed, and the stationery inside was easily visible.
It had writing on it. But the courier didn't pay it any mind.

The courier took the delivery out of the bag with two trembling hands.
Gripping it tightly, it clicked, and those hands moved in the direction of the black sofa.

"So you made it, courier."

The sofa slowly began to turn around.
A worn-out face appeared in the courier's eyes.
In that moment, the faces of the servant and fortune-teller came to mind.
But it was only for a moment. The courier had no hesitation.

"You came to deliver it, didn't you? The gift.."

Those were his last words.
No one was sitting in the sofa anymore.
The courier just stood there on the red carpet, in a daze.

"Woof!"

The barking finally returned the courier to reality.
The dog awaited his companion by the door.
He had watched the scene unfold.
The delivery had been made successfully.

Loosening the tight grip on the package with relief, the courier pulled off the large hat.
The long, ash-gray hair hidden within spilled out down her back.
The girl spoke to the dog with a gentle smile.

"Come here, Dudley."

The dog responded by leaping to her side.
The only ones left in the gorgeous room were a girl and a dog.
There was nothing left for them here.

"Let's go."

The courier and Dudley the dog quietly left the place behind them.





Epilogue

A tall, massive tower standing in a pitch dark forest.
There's no one to be seen there.
Only a single white envelope was left behind.

------------------

Dear Mr. Millionaire,

Hello.
How are you doing?
Do you remember me?
Do you remember my parents?
I'm going to come for you.
Wait for me.
No matter what, I will X you.

- Marie

------------------




Back