Mansion — Chapter 1

Strangling

Ah, Lord of the Rings

So, guys! The first chapter of Mansion is here. And yes, as I promised, I actually left it all up to random chance and simulated what all the people would do. (I actually have a bunch of rules in the background for how I do it. Trust me, you don’t want to know. XP) You should know that the detective that was chosen was Vanessa, so the story will take place from her perspective. A couple of materials that would be handy to have while reading are the list of characters and the map of the mansion. Anyway, in this, we’re introduced to the story and the basic premise for the whole thing. Enjoy! 🙂

Vanessa worked hard at scrubbing the dining table. They’d finished dinner about ten minutes ago, at seven. While all the guests present at Rosemont Way were of a higher class and took care to eat in a very precise and careful manner, there were certain unavoidable messes that she had the responsibility to clean up. Hans and Keith talked boisterously in the adjoining kitchen. She shook her head. The two were as loud as squawking chickens at the butcher block.

Therese, a tall, elegant woman stood studying at a painting which overlooked the table. She wore an azure knee-length pencil skirt coupled with a loose, pale blouse which she drew tight at her waist with a classy dark brown belt. Therese turned around, and Vanessa caught sight of a glittering cabochon opal nestled in the blouse’s diving v-neckline before she bent down to continue cleaning the table.

“How long have you worked here, Vanessa?” Therese asked from the opposite end of the table.

“A few months now, I think,” she replied, scrubbing hard at a brown stain, probably left by the zabajone Lavone had served.

“Keith thinks quite highly of you,” the tall brunette said lightly as she picked a cherry off the fruit dish.

Vanessa looked up and smiled thinly. “He thinks highly of everybody.”

There was something about Therese that gave Vanessa the impression of a snake in tall grass. Though the girl would never have voiced her thoughts. After all, the communications technician was Lavone’s cousin, and while Lavone might be fair, heaven forbid that anyone get on her bad side.

Vanessa moved around to clean the far corner of the table, just as Hans walked in from the kitchen. A glass half full of chardonnay dangled from his thick fingers, and his general smiling demeanor combined with his potbelly made him look like a jack-in-the-box that was carelessly crammed back in.

Therese moved to speak with him, and the two exchanged a murmured conversation, punctuated occasionally by Hans’ raucous laughter. Vanessa watched the fluid slosh dangerously in Hans’ glass every time he laughed, but miraculously, he never spilled a drop. Years of practice, she finally concluded.

She dropped to her knees to pick up a napkin and when she stood again, saw Therese extend an elegant hand towards Hans, who kissed the proffered fingers. The tall woman then stalked off in her high heels, Hans eyeing her as she went into the library. He turned, seeking new company, but the last thing Vanessa wanted to do was get caught up in some discussion on nanobiology, so she quickly left the dining room and entered the ballroom on the pretext of mopping the floor.

Dipping her mop in the bucket, Vanessa watched as Hans worked his way around to the end of the dining table and picked out a few choice delicacies. Then she turned and started scrubbing the floor tirelessly. It wasn’t until she whirled around and nearly ran into him that she realized Angelo had entered the room.

He smiled at her, his piercing blue eyes feeling like they bored into her soul. She shook her head, willing the fancies of her guileful mind away. She was just new on the job and had to focus. Muttering an apology, she dipped her mop again and moved to clean another part of the floor. Though, instead of leaving the room as she thought he would, Angelo approached her casually.

“Lavone have you clean up in here? I didn’t realize there was a dance tonight.”

“No, it’s not that,” Vanessa whispered confidentially, looking over her shoulder to make sure Hans was not in sight. “I barely escaped the clutches of Hans and his science.”

Angelo grinned and crossed his arms over his barrel-like chest. “Not a fan of the sciences then?”

Vanessa shook her head determinedly, her curly brown ringlets falling all over her face.

“Well,” Angelo said, moving towards the patio. “I’m going to go check up on the animals. Wanna come?”

“No, I’ve actually got to go upstairs. Lavone wanted me to clean up in one of the bedrooms.”

“Gotcha,” Angelo said and disappeared out through the glass doors into the night.

Vanessa quickly put the mop back in the storage closet in the bathroom and made her way through the guest room to the stairs. The lights were off in there, but Vanessa knew her way around well enough by now, and safely came out in the hall without knocking something priceless over. She caught sight of someone passing among the shelves in the library and heard Abram, the therapist, talking with someone in the living room, but set on her current task, ignored them and headed upstairs.

She trotted quickly up the steps, passing the glaring faces of some of Lavone’s ancestors. She smiled to herself, thinking of how stereotypical Lavone was in some ways. At the top of the stairs, who should she see but Lavone herself, emerging from the bathroom.

“Did you hear something?” the prestigious owner of Rosemont Way asked.

“No,” Vanessa said truthfully. “I just came upstairs.”

“I think I heard something strange coming from the den,” Lavone said.

Both women headed quickly down the hall and turned right into the den. There, lying on the floor, was Hollie, her hands on her throat. Uttering some kind of exclamation, Lavone rushed forward, dropping to her knees beside her cousin’s best friend.

“What happened?” she asked, helping Hollie to a sitting position.

“I, don’t really know,” Hollie said, rubbing her throat tenderly. “I think someone tried to choke me.”

“Choke you?” Lavone exclaimed. “Vanessa, come over here. Help me get Hollie onto a couch.”

Vanessa quickly stooped, and together, she and Lavone eased Hollie off the floor and into one of the chairs. The victim sat there for a few minutes, breathing heavily. All three looked up as Soledad and Arturo walked in, puzzlement on their faces.

“Is everything okay?” Arturo asked.

“We heard loud voices,” Soledad added.

Lavone looked up at them, her features tight. “Someone tried to choke Hollie.”

“You’re kidding,” Arturo said, striding over. “Are you okay, Hollie?”

“I think so,” Hollie said. “Though I’ll admit, for a bit back there I thought that I’d escaped cancer only to get murdered.”

As the three others crowded around Hollie, Vanessa stood up and began studying the room. A large television and multiple game consoles were against the wall opposite the entrance. Two bean chairs and a couch extended across the room, facing the gaming setup. In the corner of the room was a cooler, and a couple of shelves were against a wall. The floor was carpet and would’ve masked the sounds of any attacker, and while the room had doors, they were wide open.

She turned around. “What were you doing when you were attacked, Hollie?”

“I was sitting on the couch, debating whether or not I should go downstairs or play some more video games,” the programmer said somewhat ruefully.

“So you did not see your attacker?”

“No, unfortunately,” Hollie said.

Before Vanessa could ask any more questions, Arturo jumped from his seat and darted across the room. He bent down and swooped something off the floor in one great motion, then began to study it. Vanessa saw that he held a note in his hand and that he was reading it. As his eyes scanned the piece of paper, his face went pale. It contrasted sharply with his bright green hair, making him appear like a partygoer at a masquerade.

“What is it?” Lavone demanded sharply.

Arturo began reading. “This was only the first of many. Tonight, everyone in this mansion will die. Don’t try to escape. Don’t try to call help. You will only make it worse.”

“We need to get everyone out,” Lavone said, rising to her feet. “There’s a killer on the loose.”

“But what if the note is right?” Soledad interjected. “What if there is something worse waiting outside?”

“We can’t just sit here and passively get killed!”

“Well,” Vanessa said. “If we can figure out who the killer is, then we can prevent him from killing anybody. There is twelve of us.”

“Wait, Vanessa,” Arturo cut in. “You’re not thinking this through. None of us have seen anyone odd here. It’s more than likely that one of us is the killer.”

Everyone in the room went silent. Hollie looked at the floor, Lavone glared at everyone, Arturo pensively gazed out the door, Soledad scrunched her face up in concentration, and Vanessa looked carefully at Hollie.

“You were choked from behind, correct?”

Hollie started and looked up. “Y— yes.”

“Do you have any idea what the arm choking you was like?”

“Oh no,” Hollie said. “It wasn’t an arm. Whoever attacked me used their hands.”

“What were you doing, Lavone? M’am.”

“What do you think you’re doing, Vanessa?” Lavone asked, straightening.

“If we’re going to figure out who the killer is, we have to ask questions.” Vanessa said firmly.

Lavone seemed to consider this for a moment, then spoke. “I was in the lounge with Soledad and Arturo. We’d been talking about music and art, but then I left to go check on some laundry that I had set going. After dealing with the laundry, I’d decided that I needed to go downstairs and check on everybody down there, but used the toilet first. When I came out, I heard something from the den, and you came up the stairs.”

“What time would you say it was that you heard something?” Vanessa asked.

“I’m not sure,” Lavone said. “I didn’t check my watch.”

Vanessa turned to Hollie. “Do you know approximately when you were attacked?”

“Around seven forty I think. I know because I’d checked at seven thirty if it was too late for me to have a drink. I do have to drive home.”

“And you, Arturo, what were you doing?”

Arturo scratched his head. “Well, I was talking with Lavone and Soledad, but they both left, and so I hung around in the lounge for about twenty minutes, looking at some of the paintings Lavone has in there. Then I headed out, looking for company, and seeing Soledad enter the master bedroom, I followed her. We talked together for a bit about my work at Triad Technologies before coming here.”

Vanessa paused to consider this, then turned to Soledad. “What did you do, Soledad?”

“As both Lavone and Arturo have said, I was in the lounge talking with them. When Lavone left, so did I; I needed to use the bathroom. After using the bathroom, I headed for the master bedroom, where I know Lavone keeps some aspirin. I had a splitting headache. After I got the medicine, Arturo came in, and we talked for a bit. But when we heard the commotion, both of us came over.”

Arturo smiled a little and brushed his styled green hair into position. “What do you think, detective?”

Vanessa looked at his sparkling green eyes. “I’m thinking.”


 

Now it’s your turn to decide! Take a pick from what you think Vanessa should do. Note that I added a new action:

Investigate: Allows the detective to investigate a character’s story

For a full list of the actions, check out the prologue, here. You can also find the list of characters there, as well as abilities and other important bits of information. The floor plan of the mansion is over here. Also, note that I won’t tell you which characters kept their abilities or faults, and which ones lost both their abilities and faults. I’ll leave it up to you guys to try to suss out what happened.

Also, don’t be afraid to tell me in the comments who you think is the killer! I won’t tell you if you’re right or wrong, but it would be interesting for me to see what you guys think. 🙂

Tours yruly

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