Cherry waved away the pot roast as it was offered and nibbled at the walnut and arugula salad instead. The chef wasn’t to know that garden gnomes were vegetarians. The cat gladly took her portion for himself.
The rest of the investigators seated round the great dining table (they seated in their chairs, she standing in hers) looked as stymied as Cherry felt. Or did they know something she didn’t? Cherry tried on her own “poker face,” though she had never played poker in her life. Silence reigned over the table. Wouldn’t the investigation benefit if they discussed their findings? Pride. Pride was the problem. Everyone wanted to be the hero and announce the murderer first (Cherry admitted that gnome-pride was at stake here, too), and so the investigation had slowed to a crawl. Or had it?
A kitchen provided all the amenities if one felt the urge to dispose of one’s enemy. Water and chemicals for washing, easy access in and out of the house, weapons and poison for the deed itself.
Hands lowered discreetly beneath the tablecloth, Cherry scribbled a note in her notebook. She would leave it for Vixler once supper had concluded.
Fluffy had been gaining weight after weeks of eating to his heart's content. Not that he'd been especially underfed before starting on this murder case, either, but he did heartily approve of Chef's cooking... and it was beginning to affect his waistline.
After the run-in with the mystery person in the walls, Fluffy hadn't made much progress. It had been so exciting, that moment! He felt that surely he had been on the verge of discovering something important. But then... but then... nothing.
The depression and gloom that had settled around the house had resettled, and his normally exquisite mind felt muddled and unclear.
He went over some of the permutations in his mind and, at last, fell on one option that hadn't been considered yet. It was worth a try, anyhow!
Post by doublejay9 on Apr 14, 2018 16:00:48 GMT -6
Andrew was close. He was sure this time. He didn't just smell it; he could taste it too. Right now, it tasted like pot roast. Chef C did not disappoint. Yet he wasn't entirely happy. No, something still had him on edge. And that something was sitting across the table from him.
The impossibly short woman had a round, rosy face and a tiny red nose. She wore her white hair in Dutch-style braids. To Andrew, it looked like she walked straight out of some "quaint" garden. That or off a box of strudel. As they continued to eat, a single fact settled into Andrew's mind. This has to be the fifth investigator -- the one that Andrew kept blocking from his memory. The more glances he stole of her, the more he understood why.
She's a garden gnome. Garden gnomes aren't alive. She shouldn't be in that chair, eating salad, and doing something discreetly underneath the table. Taking notes, maybe? Fair enough, Andrew guessed. He's done the same with his phone during meals. But he shouldn't be thinking these things. Under normal circumstances, he wouldn't. He can't deny what he's seeing, but none of it made any sense.
He didn't feel any better after dinner. Those questions and some new ones kept bouncing around inside his skull as everyone parted ways for the night. He's a Philosophy major. He regularly questions reality in class. So why does the gnome bother him? Because he always does it willingly. Nothing forces you into it. Plus, it only happens in class. Outside of class, out in the real world, which Andrew believed this mansion was a part of, you operate as normal. Otherwise, you freak out everyone around you and get sent to the loony bin. You should be able to count on the real world to back you up on this. But then that gnome entered the picture.
Andrew entered the room and felt along the wall for the light switch. He wasn't expecting it to turn on more than one light. This clearly wasn't his bedroom. It looked like the team's HQ, but some stuff was missing -- Chief's laptop, case files spread over a central table, the evidence safe, the portraits of the DuQuesne ancestors spying on everything.
So where the hell was he? He checked his notes. They reminded him of a study on the third floor. He knew he climbed all of the stairs to get here. This has to be the place. It's also somewhere Chief thinks the murder might have happened. Well, he's already here. It wouldn't hurt to give the room a once-over before searching it thoroughly tomorrow.
Andrew was standing beside some kind of cabinet. On top, a crystal decanter and matching set of tumblers sat neatly in a silver tray. He would appreciate a drink right now, but the decanter was empty. Instead of portraits on the walls, there were still-lives of flowers and fruit. Painted by the same obscure European whose work is featured in the foyer? Likely.
He past a couple of easy chairs and a chaise lounge on his way to the desk in the far corner. Sturdy, golden oak with carved scrollwork along the edges. A dark stain smeared across the surface. Andrew sat in the chair, and it rotated him toward the right. He immediately grabbed the desk to stop himself. Why am I spinning?
He quickly stood up. The chair spun more from the momentum. Tan upholstery aside, this was just like the desk chair he had back in his dorm room. That populated every computer lab on campus. When were these invented? Google could really help him with that. Still, most of the furniture in the mansion had an early twentieth century aesthetic. Desk chairs that spin don't fit that mold. "You don't belong here," he concluded.
Wait. Did he just say that out loud? Is he so flustered that he's talking to the furniture now? Or is he already starting to lose it?
He found his room and flopped on the bed. The questions surrounding the gnome returned. There may not be any shame in prioritizing survival, but what if it keeps you from doing your job? The Northview robberies showed him that ignoring something can prevent you from seeing the truth. You can't ignore the obvious and the probable. Should you ignore the crazy too? Would Andrew have to risk his sanity to get to the bottom of this? Must he accept that, as the weird kid in The Matrix put it, there is no spoon? Does he even have a choice?
His phone beeped. The low battery warning. He went to close everything and discovered that the photos app was still open. He scrolled past the ones he'd taken during the investigation. He found ones with his family during the summer. Ones with his friends last school year. He stopped at the group selfie they took at Spring Formal. Yuri was the best-dressed man there. And Anne was gorgeous in that red dress. Andrew couldn't take his eyes off her all night.
He smiled. All of these people, they've got his back. Andrew just needed to make it out of this alive. He closed the photos app and added two lines to his investigation notes:
Suggestion: Gardener, Knife, 3rd floor study Ask 5th investigator what her name is
Post by Caulder Melhaire on Apr 15, 2018 11:03:45 GMT -6
Alone before the smothering embrace of a fire, she wove her troubled thoughts on a loom of restless fingers. Each time she held the cloth up against the night sky, the stars shone through it. Each time she rewove it, the cold still crept through. This mantle was torn; the threads binding it together were so very frayed, and no doubt it would soon break from the stress of her pulling it ever tighter.
She had been strong, once. Now she swayed from a threadbare rope, becoming the pendulum to her own sanity. Everything she did bore doubt. Bore a scrutinizing eye of morality and cost. She had made a sensible alliance, but it was not an ultimate guarantee, and in her joy of the power, she had forgotten that. And but for the sharp tongue of a frowning sous, she might never have cut the truth from her flesh.
She could kill him because she was him.
It was time for a change.
CLUES HAVE BEEN SENT
We are all rowing the boat of fate... the waves keep on coming and we can't escape...but if we ever get lost on our way...the waves would guide you through another day."~ Rie Fu
Post by doublejay9 on Apr 16, 2018 15:04:58 GMT -6
Andrew decided to take a detour on his way to breakfast. He wanted to see that study in the daylight before reporting to Chief. As soon as he entered the room, his eyes were drawn to the desk chair. They weren't playing tricks on him last night. He saw the same thing now that he saw then. He gave the chair a spin and knew exactly what to tell Vixler.
Some time later, Andrew joined Chief and the perpetually silent DuQuesne audience in the second-floor study. He quietly sipped his coffee as Chief looked up something on her laptop. She was comparing Andrew's suggestion to the case files. He was used to the thick silence by now, used to the response Chief would inevitably give.
But not today. A smile spread across her face. "Impeccable," she whispered. Chief closed her laptop then produced a handgun from the desk drawer. "Let's wrap this up," she told Andrew. "I'll be right behind you."
"Wait. Seriously?!" Andrew asked. He knew that he was close last night, but he didn't expect to find the truth so quickly.
"Yes," Chief answered, opening the study door.
Andrew set his coffee mug down on the central table. "And we're confronting him now?"
"Yes." Annoyance crept into her voice.
Nervous, Andrew ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah. Sure." He had never confronted a criminal like this before. Last time, he could only listen to it all go down over police radio at the station. What did Chief think was going to happen that she needed to arm herself?
Andrew and Vixler walked out the back doors into the garden. Andrew braced himself against the cold, his coat billowing at his knees. He bet they looked like a pair of badasses. Yuri would love to see this.
The shed in the back was open. Jarle must be in there, just as Chief expected. Andrew looked to her; she nodded. You do the honors was how Andrew interpreted the gesture. Lucky him.
Jarle soon appeared carrying a toolbox and a rake. He smiled and greeted them. "Morning, Agent Vixler, Mister -- Kechi, was it?"
"Morning, Mr. Jarle," Andrew replied.
The silence quickly grew awkward. "Can I help you?"
"You asked me how close we were to finding the killer the other day. Remember? Well, we've found him now. Of course, you already know who we're talking about. Knew from day one."
Jarle's smile faded. "I don't understand," he said as he set his tools on the ground.
There was no use in beating around the bush. Andrew thought out loud as all the pieces fell into place. "You were the one who stole the chef's best knife. Then you went to find the Duchess up in the study on the third floor. She was writing when you drove that knife into her back. The deed done, you didn't just hide the body in the basement. You also hid the chair she had been sitting in, now soaked in blood. The chair that's in there now -- it's a replacement that you found down there. Finally, you took it on yourself to clean up the crime scene. Why? Because you knew Aubrey couldn't bear it. You wanted to spare her the shock."
"You sure that's what happened?"
"There's a stain on the desk where ink was spilled. The Duchess probably knocked it over in her final moments. Then the replacement chair. It makes sense for the room, but it doesn't fit with the rest of the furniture. Of course, you wouldn't have known that. You said so yourself -- you're always outside. That night was one of the few times you've ever been inside the mansion, right?"
The gardener's face hardened. "What are you saying, boy?"
"I'm accusing you of murder. The murder of Duchess DuQuesne."
[Accusation: The gardener with the butcher knife in the third floor study.]
Post by Caulder Melhaire on Apr 17, 2018 13:27:39 GMT -6
Jarle’s hand was clutching a tree saw, and as he raised it towards Andrew, Rebecca caught him across the gut with the flat of a nearby spade. No more Yamun bullshit. Just pain. Before he could recover, she was on him; forearm pinning him against the wall by the back of the neck.
“You’re just the same as she is, you know, “ he hissed. “I can feel it on you.”
“Yeah. So you know what I can do.” She spun him around, bringing the other arm down into a pair of cuffs. “Jarle Evans, you’re under arrest for the murder of Duchess Eliz...oh fuck it, you know who you killed.”
Outside the shed, she sat him down on an overturned bucket and turned to shake Andrew’s hand. “Nice work, detective. Backup is on the way. They’ll be wanting a full report from you, I’m sure. In the meantime, if you want to-”
She stopped as Charlotte appeared, Aubrey sobbing into her shoulder. Behind them followed a host of curious individuals, no doubt tracing the source of the gunshot.
“Nice work indeed. I hope you’re all very happy with yourselves,” the latter said, glaring at Jarle. “You owe me a knife, prick, and you’re lucky you took mine to start. Look what you’ve done to her!”
“You said it yourself, Chef. We got what we asked for, remember?”
“Animal.” She looked between Andrew and Rebecca, frowning slightly less than usual. “What’s his excuse, then?”
Rebecca hesitated, trying to explain without opening twenty new doors to the outsiders.
“Jarle cared for Aubrey. After her breakdown, he did his best to comfort her, but their occupations kept them far apart. So he went to the Duchess to ask for a reassignment, somewhere inside the manor, where he could be close to her. Of course, she told him no, but that didn’t stop you, did it?
You kept after the girl, and she told you that the Duchess had let her in on.... family secrets, didn’t she? Information that Aubrey had used to her own gain, and at first had been cathartic for her. But she couldn’t deal with the... with the guilt. And everything she tried to do only cost her more.”
He sneered, staring just past her head. “She’s not the only one who didn’t know when to quit, was she, detective?”
Vixler shrugged. “I know now. But more importantly, so did the Duchess. Which is what she told you when you confronted her that night. That there was a way for Aubrey to escape the consequences all along, she just never told her that.”
“No! She just let her dig the hole deeper and deeper, all the way down. Watching, all the while. It was payment, for her and her... pets. They loved the chaos. The spiral. The more she tried to escape, the more they took from her mind! Do you know what that hag was writing in her black journal that night? Who she was writing to?”
Rebecca drew her gun and aimed it at Jarle, who sat back down without a word.
“That’s all well and good, but what I meant was, where in the hell did he get my knife?”
Rebecca looked at Charlotte, then to Andrew, and finally all eyes settled on Jarle, who answered as if it were the most blatantly obvious fact in the world.
“It was on the dinner tray. The caretaker probably put it there so the old witch could hack her way through one of your rubber pies, you scullery troll.”
“So you put it in her back, and tried to hide the evidence so that Aubrey wouldn’t have another death on her conscience.”
“How absolutely noble. Come on, girl,” Charlotte said, “Let’s go back inside. Everything’s going to settle down now.”
Nessa Arandur: soooo, I'm considering another RPG soon. We may be silent, but we're still writing!
Oct 4, 2019 22:04:08 GMT -6
bilance: nope I still pop in from time to time
May 14, 2019 8:55:21 GMT -6
Tglassy: The small town of Ash, a haven for refugees from the fall of a great city of legend, Is now empty of the life that had briefly touched it when those refugees first appeared.
Mar 22, 2019 15:49:58 GMT -6
Tglassy: Wind blows through the abandoned doors, tumbleweeds roll across the deserted roads as vines begin their creep up the walls of what used to be a bustling town square.
Mar 22, 2019 15:48:35 GMT -6
Raveneye: Whoa. Forgot to check in recently.
Jan 29, 2019 9:10:58 GMT -6
beesauce: the ones that paralyze. i had an accident. Sprained neck, pinched nerve. Lost feeling in my legs. Nightmare's IRL
Dec 10, 2018 14:39:07 GMT -6