Arriving at the top of the grand staircase, the two princesses, instead of passing to the left and the double doors to the Imperial hall and the guest chambers on the south wing beyond, proceeded straight across the salle de garde to the service door on the opposite wall. With a self-conscious nonchalance more conspicuous than all but the most clumsy subterfuge, the two liberated a pair of candlesticks from the maid's cabinet beyond, and proceeded down the service corridor to the south wing of the palace.
The southeast corner of Schloß Moritzburg consisted of the seldom-used Imperial Apartments, in which the Sachsen-Veldenz guests had been ensconced, and the Sachsen-Veldenz and Wittelsbach servants shuttled up and down the corridor moving clothing and luggage from the guest apartments to the service rooms down the servant stairs.
Passing into the south wing from the corps de logis, Sophie-Vittoria led Maria-Aurora past the library and the tutor's rooms, deserted these past weeks of Monsignor de Chiaroscuro's journey to the eastern marches of the Empire on some obscure Church business. "My tutor taught at the Collège Royal Henry-Le-Grand before my father retained him to teach us; he might be able to tell us more about the comte when he returns."
Maria-Aurora considered this, "Your Monsignor What-a-Waste could tell us a great many things, no doubt. Did you know that art students in France study nude models to master anatomy?"
"Monsignor de Chiaroscuro only teaches landscapes." Sophie-Vittoria replied somewhat sharply. "The chapel's just past the solarium and the conservatory," she changed the subject, "The organloft entrance is at the end of the corridor to the left."
Stopping a moment to light their candles from the hall lamps, the two proceeded down the side corridor, past a door on the left back to the conservatory to a door on the right shortly before the corridor itself terminated before a window overlooking the triangular south garden, given an ethereal aspect by the starlight reflected in the fountain basin in the garden's centre. Holding the candle close to the door, Sophie-Vittoria fitted the key into the doorlock, and after a moment's fiddling, turned the bolt with a click. Pushing the door open, Sophie Vittoria held the candle in the doorway, pausing a moment to let her eyes accustom themselves to the darkness as the high ceiling and size of the chapel swallowed the candle's light for a moment.
Sophie-Vittoria had only been up in the organloft a few times before; the organ was a man's instrument, since most players were expected to begin their lessons by working the bellows and otherwise familiarising themselves with the mechanics of the instrument. Sophie knew that the small door immediately to the left, behind the main door into the loft, provided access to the bellowsworks and windchest of the massive instrument, but had never herself even seen the inside of the room. The instrument itself was fairly new, completed about five years ago, the chief triumph of Kapellmeister Volker's tenure, after another five years' of work by the renowned Stumm brothers. The three-manualed console backed to the cavernous chapel, with the flickering tabernacle lamp at the far end of the chapel indicating the altar and sanctuary.
Entering, with Maria-Aurora behind her, Sophie-Vittoria proceeded to the narrow staircase leading down to the chapel's ornate ground level, straining to hear a moment, although she couldn't have said for what. The chapel, lit only by their two candles and the sections of the dim starlight spilling in through the gothic stained glass windows, was still and silent. Satisfied that they were alone, Sophie-Vittoria turned back to the bellows room, and tried the door, which was locked. Looking up at Maria-Aurora, she asked, "Ready?" and turned the key in the lock. The bolt slid back and the door opened with a groan...