Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.

And after an hour of me and xx barfighting in #pesterchum we finally both lost the will to stay standing, drooped to a nearby table and discussed the Morituri roster. Here it is, ledies and gents:



Professor Doctorandus Protractor Ninja as Hector
Our Jane Doe, Agent1022 as [size=small][color=#93001C]Sam W
quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

The lights go down.

“Noble ladies…”

A skeleton of a woman in a throne of crystal needles, a glittering sphere in her narrow lap. She wears a silky gown pierced with gently pulsing threads that extend into her skin and into her hair, forming a web over her face and the gentle slope of her sunken chest. She is pale to the point of translucency.

“Esteemed gentlemen.”

On her shoulder is the smallest smear of green: a hummingbird nestled against the curve of her neck.

“Man and beast. Welcome.”

She opens her hands over the globe draped in the swath of her gown, spidery fingers creaking. Strings jut up from her wrists and arms like searching roots towards the crystal and burrow into it greedily, cracking the surface with the faint sound of grinding glass. Dark lights flicker in the crystal’s core.

“Are you prepared to die?”

The bird on the woman’s shoulder blurs into motion, hovering silently over her head. She grasps the crystal in a stranglehold; the light strikes out between her fingers, blinding the eight unfortunates before her.

“We who have gathered here salute you. I am the Haruspex.”

The hummingbird’s wings are the faintest note on the edge of hearing.

“You will die,” she says, musing over the crystal’s surface with a bony finger. The glass buckles and warps under her touch. “I foresee it. I foresee a time of pain and sorrow, of men and gods and women. Of fire and death. I see a challenge and challengers. I see those who fall.” For the briefest instant her gaze rests on the bird. “I see victory. For one.”

Her eyes are mirrors, glittering freezing silver against her glacial throne. “For the rest of you I see only suffering and death.”

The lights bloom into brightness, exposing a wide swath of marble that had been shrouded in shadow. Eight shapes are gathered together in rigid poses, faces smoothed into icy serenity and mouths locked into placid smiles. Their eyes are dark and terrified; more than one is shaking. The bird comes to a rest on the head of a golden dragon towering far above the others. It preens itself in the reflection of the creature’s eye.

“A dragon. Mysiddion.”

The Haruspex’s voice is calm and assured. As she speaks the crystal ball pulses and flickers with ghostly images of the contestants’ lives: faces and words, brief glimpses of landscapes, buildings, empires. Each sees it only as a vision of their own past. From atop the dragon’s scales the hummingbird stirs.

“Three men and two women. A serpent and an urn.”

She smiles underneath the spiderweb of threads, her teeth white knives in the glow of her crystal. The threads pulse and twitch with life as the globe darkens until its surface is obsidian glass, draining what color still remained from her white skin. Her hands drift over its surface with the delicacy of lace and the precision of needlework, pulling the shadows within it to the surface. All at once it clears, revealing a towering Victorian mansion crumbling from years of neglect. Tattered black curtains billow wildly in the winds of a silently raging storm.

“The Shrewdish Manor. Long rumored to be haunted and the site of several murders some many years ago. The bodies were found but the culprit was not; legend tells of a hidden treasure and a vengeful old miser. But these are just stories....” The crystal’s view sweeps down to reveal a tiny figure banging at the massive double doors of the manor for a few seconds before smashing one of the few intact windows with a crowbar. The intruder clambers through the frame clumsily clutching what appeared to be a rather battered notebook and a suspiciously lumpy duffel bag. “A self-styled detective. Jamie Knight, amateur sleuth… not very popular with the locals. Nor so the local crime ring. Rather infamous for this sort of thing…”

The crystal ball dims and dies once more as the Haruspex beckons towards the hummingbird. As the little creature flutters to her hand she waves vaguely in the contestants’ direction. “Eight of you are leaving but I foresee only seven’s return. I trust you to make your own introductions. We will meet soon again, children. Mors vincit omnia.

The marble floors of the palace shift and twist under their feet like quicksand. As the room begins to blur, they swear they hear a quiet voice murmur,
“Good show, Mademoiselle. I couldn’t have done it better myself.”

Originally posted on MSPA by Agent1022.

The mists cradled the lake with a mother’s embrace, its waters mingling with their waters, one entity but for when the bitter wind blew. Then the roiling whites and greys parted across the water’s rippling glass, playing about the remains of piers and collapsed bricks and rusting ironwork. Decay of things man-made and natural permeated the pungent air, and it was beneath a corroding bench that an incongruous huddle of clothing unfolded, unceremoniously, into Sam Wün.

Slowly, he stood, and gazed out at the mirror of the lake, felt the miasma about him, and listened to the sounds of a million wild woodland creatures going very loudly insane. His brain attempted to process the transpiring events, mostly with half-completed fragments of “-the fuck-“ and “what”, while instincts took over with his body, brushing off dirt and rust from his coat as best as could be done without actively disintegrating its threads.

Gathering his thoughts

was as difficult as ever

Then the world lurched back into sync with time’s proper vector, and he began with “Oh fuck, I’m in trouble.”

It was as good a place to begin as any.


The air cleared as he approached the darkened mansion, lit in what moonlight could filter through the angry clouds above. Wind whipped balustrades and rotting balconies, slowing to trickle through gaps in columns and play with pieces of light debris scattered on pathways and porches amid the hulk that was Shrewdish Manor. Still barely visible was the name on the smashed crockery that Sam picked his way through, littering the back garden that he was now invading. Lord Shrewdish had apparently been a man of excess, for there was an inordinate number of ceramic shards scattered about the porch, and even the hallway Sam found himself in as he staggered through the back door – the servant’s entrance – carried a few choice porcelain pieces in jagged oblivion on the stone-tiled ground. One of these he picked up, and wiped the dust from its glaze. He gave himself a little smile in the stained reflection. It reminded him of

It had been a cold day when small Sam had found and donned the lead researcher’s scarf, and had thoughts that were foreign, tasted like bitter wine, the knife in the kitchens and the blood welling from cuts cuts who could have known that Dr. Hadrea had lost a custody battle with her husband, and was suicidal? There had been mixed feelings all around about the whole incident

No no no no no no no no – he shoved the memories bodily from his consciousness, dashing the shard to the ground, where it shattered into twinkling dust for a moment as it caught the moonlight, and choking back a sob he ran through a door-

-and into the palatial interior…

Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

The olden manor ached and moaned in pain. The constant winds ebbing away at the structures brittle bones had taken its toll, and it had been so long since it had so many visitors, especially ones deciding to rudely and spontaneously exist from the inside. In the shell of an antiquated sitting room did a certain Ms. Levenson decide to materialise from whatever godforsaken ether she had previously come from. Her entrance kicked up a tumult of dust and pottery fragments around her.

Carlie was at a loss for words, in fact she spent her first twenty seconds of blood thirsty omni-dimensional death match looking around like a panicked deer. The only sound coming from her being the occasional confused semi-noise you’d expect to hear from your local lunatic. Carlie eventually calmed down enough to form a comprehensible sentence and not just single syllables.


Course, it was a single word sentence, lengthened and shouted to an outlandish level, but it was a small improvement none the less.

“Wh-what? I-but –no! No, no, no, no, no, no. NO. That...doesn’t just happen! That’s not a thing that happens!”

Carlie raged alone and out loud in the dilapidated room, her heated voice echoing around the bare walls and floors.

“I mean, I don’t expect much ok? Basic physics and oxygen and shit!” She flailed her arms around as a sound example of ‘basic physics’. “But this!? This is not something that happens in REAL LIFE!”

The twenty-five year old stomped around like toddler having a tantrum, her movements jerky and full of contempt for life not doing its job properly. “Unless...” She paused to think, her turbo-panicked brain attempting to make sense of the completely absurd situation she was in right now.

“Oh fuck I knew it. Fucking...called it. This. This is some drug fuelled hallucination isn’t it? Of course it is.” Carlie rolled her hand through her thick and mangled hair. “Should’a listened to those Social Health Seminars in school Carlie. ’Oh you take drugs and everything will be fine and then oh no! Psycho drug dream with spiders crawling up your arms and shit!’” She couldn’t help but glance down at her arms for aforementioned spiders and then to her surroundings once more.

“This room’s pretty big, but I remember last being in my bedroom...” Of course, by bedroom she meant ‘room of latest unfortunate friend she had decided to leech off’ “So that means this room is actually small and is actually an illusion HOHA!” Carlie proceeded to run around the square living room like a maniac, kicking up more dust and ancient ceramics as she went. It took her a good minute to realise that in fact the room was as big as advertised and she was being incredibly dumb. She sheepishly slowed down and contemplated some more.

“ that must mean I’ve...collapsed and I’m having some hallucinogenic fever dream, I guess?” Once again she asked a question to no one; no doubt an onlooker would think poor Ms. Levenson was talking to an imaginary friend. Carlie took a glance at the entrance of the room, the old wooden frame ensnared in rot, the door long gone. “Presumably this house is a metaphor for some aspect of my life isn’t it?”

Carlie reflected a little on her life, in the back of her mind she had a thought that maybe, this was all real. That maybe, this had something to do with her... ‘skill’. She quickly evicted that thought from her psyche. No, this isn’t real, it can’t be real. How could this possibly be real?

“Well great. I’m stuck in an episode of Life on Mars.” Carlie reluctantly shambled out of the doorway.

“I am so dead.”

Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

"I unno, I eard that manor's uanted."
"Woah, are you gunna chicken out? In front of da boss?"
"No, no, i jus wanna make sure that we all know what we are gettin into!"

The voice that responded to them was lined with anger and smelled of all kinds of drugs. The very tall man standing in front of the rest of the thugs, all of them hanging in the back door of the Shrewdish Manorm, was not one who often made personal visits, but he had his reasons for this one. "Look, that Jamie Knight put my girl in the slammer and I'm not gunna let that go unpunished. If you pansies want to stick around here in the back, go ahead, but I'm not gunna let that little detective cross me and get away with it."

Bo Blackwell was a man of many vices. Incidentally, he was also the leader of a local gang, taking time out of looting and drinking in order to get revenge. Dressed rather well and holding his trusty gun, he took out a cigarette and held it to his minions, asking them for a light.

Before any of the many of them could take out a match, they heard a snap and the cigarette seemingly lit itself. Stepping out from the shadow, holding a small ball of fire, was a red headed young adult wearing sunglasses. He smugly smirked as he weaved through the miscellaneous thugs directly to Bo's surprised face.

"So, you're looking for revenge, eh? I think I could help you there! That is of course, assuming that you could do me the same."

Bo and his gang took a closer look at the young man, noting more of his features in by the orange flame floating above what wasn't actually a hand, but a metal contraption in the shape of one. The peanut gallery looked in a mixture of awe and fear. One thug had the exact amount of idiocy and bravery to charge at the sunglasses clad male.

Chad didn't like that. He supposed that he could have just dodged or tripped the bat wielding thug, or even dealt with him by slowing down or speeding up a little and then just beating the shit out of him. However, that would just be practical, and wouldn't look as cool as what he did decide to do.

He tossed the fireball on to his other hand and caught the bat as the thug swung down. Turning his smirk into a scowl, he lit up the area around his head and tossed the bat on the ground, staring at the poor thug and starting to surround himself with flames. The thug began to cower at the burning man in front of him, struggling as he was lifted in the air, and sweating as the flames intensified.

Chad stared at the thug directly in the eyes and then engulfed him in flames.

"Later loser."

Chad tossed the burning corpse on the floor and then turned back to Bo, returning to his smug demeanor. "So, what do you say?"

While the rest of his gang looked in fear at their fallen comrade, Bo began to cackle. "I like you kid! Much more than that idiot. I'll tell yea what, if you help me take down that idiot detective Jamie Knight, I'll help you with whatever ails ya."

Bo placed his hand out, "What do ya say, we've got a deal?"

Chad shook. "Sure."

Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

A veneer of dust coated the expansive ballroom. Dirty white dust sheets had been draped over anything of any value a long time ago. Overhead the ceiling sagged towards the centre of the room, occasionally motes of plaster would fall and scatter upon the scuffed and marked marble floor. It gave the distinct impression that too much frenetic energy on the floor above and the entire ceiling could easily come tumbling down; the multi-tiered chandelier that had once hung in the centre of the room had already done so. It had gouged great scratches into the black and white floor and, up until now, it was the only part of the room where the blanket of dust had been disturbed. The nameless woman stood and silently regarded the room, her naked feet finding the marble floor cold and hard beneath her.

It was a far cry from the Market; her home for the last year or so. The Market was characterised best by the hanging multicoloured veils that formed the walls from one room to another and the exotic incense that just about masked the scent of blood and sex with its own obnoxious choking odour. It was something of a cross between a brothel in design and a black market in function and somehow, despite its opulence, it managed to be shadier than the shadiest dark alleyway could have ever hoped to be. You could stay the Market for as long as you pleased, so long as you didn’t mind being the merchandise. They said that if it wasn’t for sale in the Market, it didn’t exist; Nameless could believe it.

Nameless fished her notebook from her robe and, lit only by the dim green light cast from the flickering runes of her collar, she regarded the last couple of pages and her blocky writing upon them. After a moment she tore off the pages, balled them up and tossed them away into a dusty corner of the room. Given her change of circumstances she doubted very much whether she’d need her old list of prices. Without any more fuss than that she slid the notebook away and looked for a door out of this once-grand room. A hypothetical observer might have been surprised by the nameless woman’s understated reaction. It was not that she was not surprised to be suddenly removed from her own world, or that she did not fear for her life. It was more that everything she had ever cared about had already been left behind. It was a simple exchange of one unfortunate circumstance for another.

The double doors that were the closest exit from the ballroom creaked ominously as Nameless pulled them open. A long and dark hallway lay beyond, a broken window at the far end with curtains being blown around by the raging wind. In between Nameless and the broken window was the eponymous detective Jamie Knight. She had shoulder length auburn hair and a face covered in freckles. She’d jammed her notebook into the pocket of her loose fitting tan jacket and in the hand freed up by its absence she held a flashlight. The beam of which was directed upon Nameless. Her expression was neutral for a second before it coalesced into a friendly smile; it was always important to be polite to potential customers.

“Who are you?” Jamie asked warily, glancing around to make sure she had a clear path back out of here in case this stranger turned out to be as crazy as she was oddly dressed. “What are you doing here?”

Nameless reached into her robe and produced her notebook. For a moment it had looked like Jamie was ready to run; she was more used to the people she met on her investigations and as brave as she was she wouldn’t even try to face down someone with a gun. Jamie frowned as Nameless started writing something; this investigation had taken a turn for the odd that she just had not seen coming. She was intrigued and she moved closer, though she was careful not to give the impression she was letting her guard down. By a not insignificant couple of inches Jamie was the taller of the two. Were it not for the outlandish robe she might have mistaken Nameless for a kid, that and inescapably adult look upon her face. After a moment’s fervent scribbling Nameless held the pad up to Jamie.

‘dont hav a name and u wudnt beleve me y im here' Nameless' Nameless’ writing was large and clear and slightly child like. In the world she was from knowing how to write at all was an accomplishment that most of the population could not claim, but by most standards she was borderline illiterate. Jamie just frowned at her.

“You don’t have a name?” she asked with more than a modicum of disbelief in her voice. Nameless replied with a polite nod. “And I’m guessing no voice either.” Another nod. A look of understanding crossed Jamie’s face. “Oh do you have amnesia?” She was always meeting people who had amnesia. Usually once their memories were restored they would turn out to know vital things about the thing she was investigating.

‘close enuf lets say yes'

“What do you remember?” Jamie asked, getting out her notebook at the prospect of unearthing some important clues.

‘ur jaime night’ Nameless wrote. Jamie looked momentarily taken aback as she read her own misspelt name and then after a second this turned into a smug smile.

“You’ve heard of me then?” she asked cockily, but Nameless was already writing again.

‘herd theres tresure here sumwhere we get it together and split 50 50 ?’

“Sure.” Jamie said without hesitation. Whoever this nameless woman was, she seemed to know more than what she was letting on and sticking with her would be, if not a good idea, then at least interesting.

‘more people here 3 men a woman some snakes and a urn’

Yes, Jamie thought, she was certainly going to make this investigation interesting.

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Originally posted on MSPA by M_Sheep.

Varljiv could not speak. As much as he would have liked to shout or scream or damn who or what was responsible for his current circumstances, he simply could not move. His jaw remained stubbornly glued to the roof of his mouth as he continued doing his best impression of a hunting trophy. He was not held in place by any means artificial or magical, The Haruspex’s all-powerful grip on him had ceased as soon the mansion had flowed into existence around him. What then held him in its vice-like hold could only be described as pure, abject and total horror.


“I foresee it.”


Varljiv’s keen mind was undoubtedly his greatest strength.

“I foresee a time of pain and sorrow, of men and gods and women. Of fire and death.”


But it may also have been the greatest of his failings.

“I see a challenge and challengers. I see those who fall.”


Because often, he just couldn’t help himself.

“I see victory. For one.”


For when given the key to answer questions best not answered, resolution crumbles before comprehension.

“For the rest of you I see only suffering and death.”


And so the mind turns inward, spiraling round when faced with an absolute truth it cannot reconcile.

“You will die.”

The mind turns inwards and devours itself in perfect representation of the Ouroboros.

You will die.

Not yet.


Not yet.

Not yet.

Not yet. Not yet. Not yet not yet not yet not-

Mania alone was strong enough to break the Aspect of Lies from his phantom paralysis, but there would be no solace. No matter where he turned, he was greeted by yet another twisted reflection repeated endlessly into the void around him.

No, not a void. Realization crept up upon Varljiv. He was completely surrounded by a maze of mirrors.

Originally posted on MSPA by Agent1022.

Sam stumbled through a maze of waxen, wooden walls, innumerable painted canvases and torn tapestries mended with the work of a thousand spiderwebs. Mural-splattered ceilings and walls surrounded him, punctuated with querulous doors of infinite majesty that stuck fast halfway through their arcs.

Through one of these, he stepped into another world.

The Master Bedroom of Shrewdish Manor had long been by tradition placed above the kitchen, that if the Lord Shrewdish so desired he could call for victuals, delivered by dumbwaiter and served by catering staff – a function utilized increasingly often as the Lord grew sickly, fevers of the mind and body wracking his once noble spirit.

“YOU! Foul play, Aristides! You have brought poison into my soul and my soup!”

A tableau: a richly dressed husk of a man in a richly dressed dressing gown – a man that seemed to have grown from small to corpulent, then to small again, that the velvet gown hung on him like another set of blankets from the opulent bed. Yet for his size and frailty he held another man, dressed in perfectly pressed butler’s garb - straight and ironed except where a grip of iron creased the fabric, into curlicules, bunches and folds that would make a tailor wince in pain.

“My lord, I beseech you-” Fear showed clear in Aristides’ eyes, fear and reluctance to struggle against the demon of a man that was his master. Eyes are windows to the soul, and Aristides’ soul was saying to itself in a nervous little voice: The fit will subside, ‘Stides old boy, and then you can soothe your nerves down by ye olde brandy cupboard as befits your station, nothing he can do about that, can he?

And ever faithful to Murphy’s Law, there was something the mad Lord Shrewdish could do. “No! No, Aristides! No! You have betrayed me, and for that, you die! You die! You dieeee,” and the lord brought maddened arms about the hapless butler, with them propelled him into the wall, the dumbwaiter’s alcove, the butler landing square on the nape of his neck on the spot where dumbwaiter met room - almost as if by accident, perhaps by madness, perhaps by hatred, a hand triggered the lever that brought the little elevator freefalling deadly on the dot, decapitating an Aristides who had had his last drink.

Lord Shrewdish held an arm before his face as the blood splattered across the fine walls, the red velvet sleeve catching the gore and hiding it in its shades of folds...then the motion continued in its natural arc and Shrewdish crumpled to the ground, one arm to his face, the other twisted awkwardly behind his back. His legs splayed in inhuman positions, and twitched. The outline of his mouth appeared in the thick fabric of his sleeve, draped as it was, and grew deep like an ever-cursed pit of death, filled with the smell and taste and warmth of freshly spilled blood.

The unfolding scene before Sam’s eyes rippled and grew grayer in the gloom, the piercing shrieks from the kitchen below seeming to come through thick auditory gauze before fading back to never having been - or having been, but long, long ago.

The bed was made and slightly moved, the alcove bricked up, the dusty carpet moth-eaten in places, but the room before him had unmistakably been, at one time, the Master Bedroom of Aristides’ and Lord Shrewdish’s demise. Age had not changed its essential features - it could have been the same room were it not for the dust, the gloom, the transculent specter of Shrewdish by the door-

Which spoke. “I was poisoned, you know.”

Sam’s brain abortively started a few reactions, found none of them acceptable and opted instead to give an “Oh?” while it sorted things out. He had never encountered any situation like this in recent memory

a blaze of wings. a message from On High. the robe had been misplaced from the security vault it had been kept in, and by Murphy or sheer bad luck had gone to the one person incapable of just wearing it, without taking on its owner’s being

they had had to subdue her with far too many tranquilizers

and had spent a month in observation babbling, of gates of pearl and doors of fire

“Oh yes. An efficacious tonic for my delirium, I believe, had been misrepresented with another sample of an altogether different potion. My actions were...out of character.” Lord Shrewdish - Sam was rapidly coming to think of the specter as Lord Shrewdish - shrugged his ghostly shoulders.

Sam smiled at the strange normality of the situation. “I think I understand being out of character, Lord Shrewdish.” He balked for a second, pondering whether to temper normality with formality-

The ghostly lord seemed to see the confusion in his face through grey, unfocused eyes. “Think not of titles, living guest - though I rather doubt I own the house you stand in now, or how it must be. I have been trapped here in my accursed bedroom, with a ghastly reenactment of my murderous deed.” Shrewdish paused. “A ghastly reenactment of that horrifying day, for more than just myself.” The edges of the specter’s form began to blur, fluttering in and out of focus as if deciding which background to embed themselves into.

“But what do you mean...?”

Lord Shrewdish smiled sadly. “Each and every member of Shrewdish blood died that day. In this house.” Slowly but gaining speed, the ghostly lord lost form, definition... “In a room. Some together...some apart forever...” The grey drained from Shrewdish’s spectral figure, “gone...far away...” and the outline rubbed out, “while still...staying here...” like so much chalk dust spread across the cosmos, and then the lord was gone.

A tableau: a richly dressed husk of a man in a richly dressed dressing gown...

Treading slowly, Sam left the scene behind. He closed the creaky door behind him, drowning out the screams.
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

Carlie meandered through the numerous rooms and corridors of Shrewdish Manor, all the while making sure to broadcast her constant narration of the situation like a psychopath. “...So I assume this big ol’ house is a trial, maybe? Is this a thing where I have to ‘discover my true self’? Because if it is, you could have at least made it a little more straightforward, BRAIN!” The mansion’s winding corridors seemed to stretch out indefinitely, and through either dumb luck or some cruel joke, Carlie seemed to miss just about everyone in this ancient husk of a building.

A feeling of overwhelming dread slowly built up in Carlie’s stomach. The tension of the whole situation was getting out of hand, at this rate, she would have been happy to meet up with some psycho-dream monster and have it eat her right now. Anything but this painful crawl to what Carlie assumed was the inevitable. Her wild theorising of the situation helped relieve the stress and helped keep the circumstances grounded in reality, even if it was purely based on Carlie’s own TV-fuelled bullshit logic.

“Alright...what happened before this? Creepy death lady with the bird, that’s - err, probably what my subconscious thinks death looks like I guess. Kinda expecting the Grim Reaper but ok I can run with this. “She made an abrupt turn into another corridor. She didn’t care where she was going as long as she was moving and talking and not thinking about her imminent demise. “Three guys, two gals, a serpent and an urn. Okay, well, one of them is me; the others are probably...manifestations of my greatest failures?” Carlie tried to think back to think of her ‘greatest failures.’ Honestly there wasn’t really much to justify a symbolic trial within the mind.

It had been four months since Carlie witnessed her friend’s brutal death and subsequent resurrection. All the while she had convinced Jess and herself that it never happened - I mean, how could it? Last time Carlie checked, it was pretty impossible to bring people back from the dead, not with magic flame hands at least. Deep down though, she knew it really did happen; it couldn’t have been some drunken dream, it felt so real. Carlie never got the chance to further investigate her power, which wasn’t surprising, considering you don’t tend to run across corpses when you’re a twenty-something layabout. But sometimes, when she saw a dead insect or plant or anything, she could feel a tiny spark run down her fingers.

Of course, it wasn’t like any of that mattered now. She was about to become a victim of some delayed-reaction drug poisoning crap, she assumed; no doubt she was drowning in her own saliva right about now.

Carlie took another sharp turn, plunging herself into darkness, she froze in her tracks, finally stopping her monologue to try and see where the hell she was going. A thin, weak light shone through a distant window, slowly pulsing as clouds flew in front of the moon. An inhuman clamour crept down the black corridor. A bleak fusion of echoing shrieks and scraping metal drifting closer and closer. “I’m dead. This is it. I’m dead.” Carlie closed her eyes and braced for her doom as the noise got louder and louder and then...nothing. Calrie reluctantly opened an eye to check if she was still alive. Intricate, iron torches lining the walls burst into flames without warning, leading up to a single wooden door at the end of the corridor. A door which opened by itself with a guttural creek.

“Oh HELL no.” Carlie’s fear had quickly transformed into anger. “I’ve seen this movie a thousand god-damn times! That is certain death and you KNOW it! I’m not an idiot, brain!” Carlie stomped towards one of the lit torches and ripped it off its handle. “In fact, fuck you! I’m not playing by your shitty, horror cliché rules, house!” Carlie headed towards the single window and swung the metal torch as hard as she could, shattering the ancient window into a thousand pieces. “BOOM! Yeah! Didn’t expect that did you!? Levenson: One, Cunting subconscious nightmare ghost house: ZEEEROO!”

Carlie clumsily climbed out of the window and onto the soaking wet grass outside. The winds were ferocious, sending Carlie’s already unkempt hair all over the place, not that she cared; she was too preoccupied revelling in her ‘victory.’ She hugged the wall of the manor, making her way around the humongous structure. “Now all I got to do is wait out this stupid fever dream until someone calls for an ambulance and wakes me uaaaAGHGHGH!” Carlie couldn’t help but scream at the sight of a severely burnt corpse hanging out of a back doorway. Carlie crept up to the smouldering husk of a man and peered over him. “Well shit. There's something in there that can torch people to death. Brilliant. Ah well, as long as it isn’t m-”

Carlie’s gaze drifted towards her hands. Ashen flames danced around her fingertips, the edges dissipating into a kaleidoscope of colours. Her eyes widened in fear, “Oh no, no, no please not now, please not now, please not n-“But it was far too late. Light exploded through her hands straight to the blackened cadaver. An alien sound erupted through the air, overpowering the storm’s resonance and echoing through the ancient manor. Shining light danced around the burnt man, quickly erasing all the damage made to the poor idiot, until finally, he bolted up with a sharp, desperate breath.

The man slowly turned to the girl, eyes widened in complete disbelief. Carlie returned the exact same look.


Originally posted on MSPA by Protractor Ninja.

The air in the mansion’s long-forgotten library crackled and fizzed as some sort of space-time disturbance thrust itself into being. As it forced a passageway through the more resilient dimensions of existence, aged floorboards shuddered below a host of shivering bookshelves while furniture rumbled across the room. Rampant temporal energy spread wildly, knocking an assortment of novels to the ground and dissolving others to dust, aging them thousands of years in what appeared to be mere snippets of time. Newly emancipated pages swooped across the room as a hellish howl, generated by the surging energy of pure aetherial force, grew in intensity. Suddenly, as swiftly as the disruption had began, a fantastic spectrum of colors - some never before seen by mortal eyes - shone through the chaos for a fraction of a second and the entire disturbance disappeared.

As pages fluttered to the floor, the gaunt, middle-aged man who had recently landed roughly in the middle of the room groaned and hoisted himself upwards. After a brief period of consideration, he dusted himself off, muttering “this is why I don’t travel” to no one in particular. It sounded like the kind of thing a hero would say.

Hector adjusted his spectacles, which had somehow survived the pandemonium unscathed, checked his belt - his assets were undamaged, although the squid was visibly agitated - and surveyed the room. What appeared to have once been an in-home library was now a decrepit mausoleum of books, a look only enhanced by the aftermath of the recent supernatural bedlam. Four of the room’s six walls were hidden by half-covered bookshelves - their contents had been spilled to the ground or simply turned to dust - whose individual shelves sagged lazily as if ready to buckle and collapse if given the opportunity. Three more disheveled shelves, surrounded by a selection of cushioned reading chairs, stood perpendicular to the wall opposite Hector’s arrival point, which contained only a doorway leading to a carpeted hallway. An ornate grandfather clock stood against the wall behind him, its pendulum still calmly swaying side to side.

It looked like a good time to do some reading.

The conditions of his arrival already starting to fade from Hector’s memory, he selected a small stack of healthy-looking books and sat down in a remarkably comfortable reading chair. After a significant amount of squid rearrangement, he settled in and began to read. Had he bothered to look upwards during his inspection of the room, he may have decided to do something else.

Above Hector’s head, the chain connecting the library’s dedicated chandelier to the ceiling finally gave in to the throes of time. Several links had become corrupted by the same energy that had destroyed a number of books, lasting a few minutes longer only due to their material and distance from the origin of the spatial rupture. There was a sharp snap, and the chandelier came down.

For the second time that day (or night - he wasn’t really sure), Hector groaned and pushed himself away from the floor. The fallen chandelier had crushed the nearest bookshelf, clipping his chair and sending him to the ground amidst hundreds of shards of broken glass, earning him a nasty-looking gash on his lower leg. Once more he found his spectacles, a few inches away, to be miraculously undamaged. Thankfully, he hadn’t landed on his tentacled companion nor the silkworm, although his satchel of gold dust had been torn open near the top, spilling a few pinches’ worth of shimmering powder across the floorboards.

After checking skywards for any additional chandeliers, Hector looked at the scattered remains of his short-lived reading session and sighed, the events of the past hour or so weaving their way back into his mind. This kind of interruption was not among those he particularly enjoyed, although it was undoubtedly better than some involving angry parents and screaming children. The racket may have attracted prying eyes - eyes he decided he’d most likely not want to run into - and the room no longer held his interest. Shaking away the image of what could have been a pleasant hour of reading, Hector stumbled out of the room and into the mansion beyond.

Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Chad and Bo entered the back door of the manor, the latter leading the way. Bo didn't exactly like his position as what was essentially a hired gun, but it was something he would have to endure for revenge.

The thing about Jamie Knight was she was one lucky bitch. Despite her reputation around crime circles, no one had ever been able to successfully off her. Something or someone always got in the way. Tonight, had it not been for a certain someone's timely interruption, his attempt would have just been him, going into an apparently haunted mansion alone. Knowing her luck, Jamie would have gotten out without a missing hair while he would have been locked in with those ghosts.

After striking the deal, the guy with the glove introduced himself as Apollo. While Bo's original plan was to spread out in the mansion, find Jamie, and then blow some lead into her, the talents of this Apollo presented the option of just burning the whole place down. Apparently that would attract the attention of Mysidio too early. While the rest of the gang was understandably confused, 'Apollo' informed Bo of the dragon's existence, leading him to disperse his gang around, lest one of them do something stupid and doom them all.

Bo was relegated to the front due to his ability to actually recognize Jamie and because his weapon was more difficult to use for betrayal if the holder was in front. While Bo would have argued the same about the fire tricks, it was pointed out that front or back didn't make a difference when it came to pyrokenesis. That was something that Bo liked, it was obvious that they didn't trust each other, they were only using each other and would likely backstab the other the moment it was possible.

Even though both parties knew this, they each decided to play along. "So, after ya kill Jamie, what do I have to do?"

"Oh don't worry about that, it won't be anything you won't enjoy doing."

"Oh yea? And what makes you so sure bout that?"

"Because it involves you killing someone for me."

"Oh, really? I thought that was what you are here to do for me."

"Oh don't worry, I will see to it that Jamie Knight dies, just trust me when I say that my situation is a tad more complex."

While Bo obviously didn't trust him, their conversation was cut short by a horrible wailing coming from one of the doors. The pair went up to the room opened it, both wanting to shut it up immediately.

The room was a nice classic sitting room; it had a very nice rug, some comfy looking chairs, and a romantic fireplace. Sitting down kneeling at the fireplace was a sight as cliché as that kind can get. A sobbing woman without shoes, a tussled dress, and messy hair, was the source of this otherworldly wailing.

While Bo's first instinct was to shut her up the hard way, Chad stopped him before he could get far, holding one finger to his lips and making a "shhh" sound.

Chad slowly stepped toward the sobbing woman and put his hand on her shoulder.
With a soft voice, he said, "Excuse me miss, what is wrong?"

The sobbing girl turned, acknowledging Chad's presence. With a sad sigh, she simply stated, "I'm dead, do I need another reason?" before continuing with her tears.

"Oh come on, surely there must be more to it than that, I can't imagine that you would be crying so hard if it were just for yourself."

With a pout, she rebutted, "My entire family died, on the same night, all because of some stupid gem. Is that enough for you?"

Chad put on a face of caring sorrow while Bo stood in the background, not only bored, but in disbelief at the idiocy that he was witnessing.
"Wh.. what? Your entire family? That's horrible! How could a gem cause all that?"

"It has been how many years and I still don't know! It has some power a power that made me kill my beloved..."

She didn't sob that time, the memories of her life produced only silent tears. Chad kneeled down and hugged the ghost as best as he could, comforting her and he feigned a tear of his own.

Bo looked at the scene in disgust, longing for a smoke. It would make him want to puke less.


To Bo's relief, the feelfest ended, which left the manor one less wailing lady and one more satisfied Chad. As the pair reconvened, Chad motioned that Bo stay quiet a while longer.

Once the door was shut and the ghost was out of earshot, Bo finally asked, "Well what the fuck was that for? I thought we were going after Knight?"

Chad smugly smiled, "Tell me Bo, what does Jamie do? Solve mysteries. What has the Young Miss Shrewdish presented us with? An entire family dead, murdering at each other’s hands, all because of a single jewel? Why, that sounds like a mystery."

"So, what you are saying is that instead of looking for Jamie, and running into all sorts of ghostly interference and danger..."

"Yes, we just find the jewel and wait for her to come to us."

Originally posted on MSPA by Agent1022.


The plaintive voice drifted through the old, abandoned halls of the manor, lightly shaking the cobwebs, rippling through the motes of dust hanging in the occasional moonbeam. Where it could through the rippling sky, moonlight shone down onto Shrewdish Manor – into Shrewdish Manor, through holes in walls and ceilings eaten and smashed by the elements, by decades of storms and chaos. Luna’s soft white reflected light played on the worn wooden floors, worming into crevices and illuminating their microscopic chasms, a million bas-relief shards of black and white fraying the world into momentary checkerboards.

It played blandly on Sam’s face as he peered up at the moon through the crack torn through the ceiling and wall, and refracted through strands of messy hair as he looked away, his attention consumed with the creaking floor and the voice he followed.

“Is s-someone there?”

A storm cloud blew across the moon once more, pitching the manor back into its night unnatural, punctuated only by the mysterious glow of its ever-burning, unreal lamps hung in nonexistent brackets where no walls remained. Sam stopped to examine one, passing his fingers through the immaterial flame, and felt instead of pain only a piercing coldness down to his heart; a cold that screeched of death and unlife, of the cursed, discarded and broken functionaries of a hateful universe. He tore his hand from the burning image, and ran, pell-mell, down the corridor…


The voice was louder; a young woman’s, calling out with a forced effort that marked fatal injury, or a slow, agonizing death. It grew like a miasma as Sam ran, melding with its echoes and peaks and becoming more than a sound, changing the air about him into solid, endless requiem for death and grievance.


The cry was an old one – it had rung for years, loud and miniscule in this schism of a world; it had been worn into the wood and brass of the walls, of the furniture and doors, warping them ever so slightly into strange and twisted forms – forms that suggested to the curious, wandering eye that they, too, were screaming in unison, in chorus with the pearlescent ghost that stood in the doorway. She wore the clothes of an explorer, Sam saw as he barreled forward, arms flung out to break his fall, worn khaki uniform and broken-in boots. He landed, roughly, amid the ghost’s whimpers and cries for help.

“Miss?” He cringed – it seemed so demeaning to call any woman ‘miss’, in this day and age (though what day and age he was in seemed as fluid as the origin of that feeling; a memory teased the corner of his consciousness, but on reflex he flicked it aside) “H-hello?”

The ghost whirled on her central axis, and turned on her visitor. For a moment her eyes focused – but the next it was gone; her form fading slowly as she floated away – and Sam clambered to his feet, and followed.

The boots had not worn away, nor had the tough khakis, but the explorer’s skeleton still lay prone where it had fallen. Her ghost quailed incoherently above it for a moment, then slid away without another sound – fading into the dust and substance of the air. He stared at the clothes for a moment, hesitating between respect, curiosity, and safety – and curiosity won out, as it usually did with him.

As he slipped out of his corduroys, he felt the strange cognitive dissonance that he always did (as well as the stirrings of memories he fought to quell, like forcing vomit down back down to its hellish, stinging source), and pulling on the uniform brought with it the same – only of a different brand; every person’s clothes gave a different set of uneasinesses and discomfitures, tailored to their beings. There was also the fact that he was pulling on a dead person’s clothes. At first the clothes hung and squeezed unfittingly on his frame, but in a swift moment



Sir Gregory Sarfassian was born in 1910 to cruel parents, who had wanted a boy. Using her name to fool clerks across the world, she had become an explorer for the Crown – an explorer to show them, a successful explorer to spite them, and a treasure hunter to outdo them. A slew of profitable yet exhausting forays into the jungle brought her eyes closer to civilization, and to her ears came the story of Shrewdish Manor; the story of its treasure untouched for twenty years.

She had been cocky to think that old manors would be easier than ancient temples. She had shrugged off stories of other treasure seekers that had never returned from the manor on the tarn, waved them away like so much rumor and myth – nonsense!

The uniform oozed that arrogance and confidence; it had soaked it up from her being, in the same way it had soaked up her blood as it flowed from her wounds – she had gone alone before, why would a ratty old mansion be any different?

Because mansions were not temples; traps in mansions had not had a thousand years to wear out and erode; mansion-builders had had access to much better technology and it was perfectly plausible to set racks of spring-loaded arrows ready to fire at those who made a fatal misstep.


Sam fought his way through Sir Gregory’s memories as a set of arrows buried themselves neatly in the wall beside his head; instinct (perhaps not his) propelled him as he lunged low, keeping his body tight together, a minimal target – only to hear an almost imperceptible, dismaying click.


A section of planking rolled back, neatly, as arrows unfurled from their still-operational springs – metal-tipped shafts of lethality singing a song of death-

Only to burn up on their way there; their ashes lightly sprinkled her face. Looking up through the smoke, Sam glimpsed a strange figure, pointing the gauntlet on his arm where the arrows had been.

<font color="#000080">“Are you all right, lady?”

Wait, lady?</font>

Originally posted on MSPA by Wojjan.


quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

Chad paused for a moment to asses the woman(?) in front of him and the situation in general. On the floor there was the naked skeleton and a male's set of clothes. The woman was obviously female, but her face didn't seem to fit the same way. Yes, it was feminine, but it also felt masculine. There were a few conclusions that he could draw from this, but he elected to keep them to himself, and instead try to investigate. He bowed a little and put his gloved hand backwards, sending a small flame back in the door, as a way to tell Bo to scram for a moment, while saying, "Oh, Pardon me, you see..."

<font color="#93001C">As Chad began to trail off, Sam got a good look of himself(?) and realized that yes, he did look like a woman. Looking back at Chad, Sam ascertained that with his glove and his clothes, and his general manner, he was another one of the eight that the Haruspex had taken. While she did look a bit out of place what with the skeleton and the clothes (especially those sunglasses, damn they looked nice), there wasn't any reasonable way that he could know her true identity. As a result, Sam thought it would be best to try to weasel out some information before deciding how to proceed.

"Ah, but where are my manners. My name is James Apollon. I was... thrust into this mansion against my will and I couldn't help but notice that you were in a bad situation. Do you think that you are going need any more help?"

There was something about the inflection that made Sam wince a little. While his lovely smile and elegant tone gave the image of a knight, who did save her (how'd she fall for the same trap twice), his words seemed to serve more to remind him that she was in his debt than as a genuine offer for aid. And those sunglasses didn't help. They were very good ones too, Sam wondered how they would feel...

Snapping herself back to reality, Sam replied, sucking up his suspicions, "Why, as a matter of fact, I was wondering if I could take a look at your sunglasses?"

"That... isn't quite what I had in mind. I'm sorry, but they stay here."
"Oh come on, why are you even wearing those at night... do you have a secret?"
"Don't we all? And what use would they be to you in at night, hmm? You seem awfully interested in clothing, you've been clutching to your coat, it isn't that cold, is it?"
"Well maybe I could stand to be a bit warmer, eh?" Sam, or rather Sam as Sir Gregory leaned a bit closer to Chad, giving off an uncomfortable grin.

Chad slowly pushed Sam away, only for the latter to go back in, to his chagrin.
He sighed. "Look. We shouldn't waste much more time here."
"But whyyy?"

With a defeated groan, Chad leaned forward and whispered something into Sam's ear.

"Oh." Visibly shaken by the others words, Sam recomposed some of himself.

"Alright then, now that we have that settled, let's go find some treasure."

Memories of Sir Gregory's somewhat short lived expedition had slowly been tricking in. Sam had an idea of where she had gone and not gone, and with the fiery muscle at his side, they were going to finish the job. "I think that the room wouldn't be as dangerous if there wasn't something here."

"If I were to hide treasure, it would be lower, not higher. However, I haven't been able to find an entrance to the basement yet. Maybe it's here?"

"Hmm, I saw one of the ghosts slip through that wall."

Chad knocked on the wall with his glove, leaning against it to test if it was hollow. The wall sounded thin, but not quite enough to break down.

"So we have the entrance, we just need to find the switch."

"Well the trap is around here, now that I know about it, I should be able to figure out what I did wrong. Then we could open the door."

Chad smirked lifting up his gloved hand. "Oooor, we could just brute force it."

Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison.

It took Grotto several minutes to shrink his winding figure enough to squeeze out the door to the conservatory into which he'd been rather unceremoniously packed after the spartan introductions were complete. He had spent a short while twisting around fruitlessly in the small room before finding the door, his too-large form dealing untold damage to the numerous potted plants within it. The idea to break the glass walls had occurred to him, but only when he was a third of the way through the door, and he had not particularly felt like going backwards through it.

With a final lurch, he pulled himself into the hallway, disturbing the dust layer that had settled over the wooden floorboards, which complained of his weight with a symphony of creaks. Grotto winced at the noise, trying fruitlessly to step more lightly to avoid broadcasting his position. Although he would be hard-pressed to give any specifics in the current situation, experience had taught him that there was always someone listening, especially when it would be most undesirable.

A loud crashing noise came from one of the rooms further down the hallway, and Grotto paused, waiting to see if any of the doors opened. After several tense moments of silence, he inched closer to investigate. When he was only a few feet from the door, it swung open, and Hector stumbled out. Grotto hissed, and Hector swung his head towards the serpent, eyes widening in astonishment. "Who, exactly, are you?"

[Image: zjQ0y.gif][Image: vcGGy.gif]
Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

Nameless was frustrated. She was trying to make the best out of an unusual situation, but this mansion was not making it easy for her. Where most people might have been focused upon the negative aspects of being thrown into a battle to the death, Nameless has chosen to see it as an opportunity. In this run down old mansion, amongst the trash and the stuff that had gone bad, so to speak, during its abandonment there were some valuable items. In her hands at the moment she held an intricately carved cigar box. It was a little dusty, which was to be expected, but it was in fine shape and was likely an antique. Her instincts and her collar told her that this would sell for a fair few dollars.

Unfortunately she could not sell what was not legally hers. As much as she’d like to pretend that the fact that this mansion was in bad shape meant that everything inside was up for grabs, she knew that all this stuff had an owner somewhere. The fact that the owner was probably some real estate company that didn’t have the faintest idea of what was inside the mansion or the faintest inclination to have this place restored and sold didn’t really matter. The collar said it was owned and that was the end of the discussion. Nameless hoped that by striking a bargain with Jamie to split this mysterious treasure, she’d be able to circumvent standard ownership rules, but she couldn’t be completely certain. If it turned out that that didn’t work then she would be more or less out of options on how to make money in this place.

The other option would be to try selling aspects of herself… she didn’t have any problems with it, but Jamie didn’t look the type to buy and she reckoned that there was no quicker way to sour their relationship than to try to start down that path. Jamie could be useful; Nameless didn’t want to alienate her so soon.

“An urn?” Jamie asked thoughtfully. Nameless turned to see Jamie pulling a dusty old sheet from what turned out to be a well-worn maroon armchair. In their hunt for the treasure they’d ended up in what, they presumed from the ornate ashtrays and the slightly stained wallpaper, was once a smoking room. It was the closest room to where they had met that Jamie had not already investigated, so a logical place to start their search. Nameless responded to Jamie’s question with a semi-shrug that said ‘yeah but what is your point exactly’.

“You said that other people were here and you listed an urn as one of them.” Jamie said. “In what sense exactly is an urn a person?” Nameless looked thoughtful as she fished an expensive, yet worthless, cigar from the box. During the introduction the urn was something that she had taken special notice of, but not for this reason. It looked valuable; certainly more valuable than this cigar case and probably more so than whatever unspecified treasure there was hidden in this mansion. She’d wondered who exactly owned it, or since it was being treated like a person whether it could be said to own itself? Eventually she had concluded that the person to talk to about acquiring the urn for herself would be the Haruspex; in a way it could be said that person or not she owned all of them now.

Nameless scribbled down a note ‘was told’ and was about to pass it over to Jamie when she added ‘got a lite?’ as an afterthought.

“Smoking is a dirty habit.” Jamie replied critically as she handed the notebook back. Nameless shot her a glance and started rifling through the cabinet looking for a box of matches. “Who told you this anyway?” She received no response for a minute or so until begrudgingly she fished the cigarette lighter from her jacket pocket (such an item was a necessity for a teen sleuth in the same way that she didn’t leave home without her notebook and her magnifying glass) and passed it to the nameless woman.

After a cursory examination of the unfamiliar object Nameless figured out the lighter, lit up the cigar and took a drag of the smoke. Jamie watched her with a massive frown and her arms crossed; it would be difficult to imagine her looking more disapproving of anything. She could not have looked more disgusted if Nameless had been drowning a litter of innocent puppies and cackling as she did it. After a moment Nameless started coughing heavily though she didn’t stub the cigar out. After she managed to catch her breath she wrote another note ‘how much for the liter?’

Jamie scowled and snatched it back. She decided to change the subject.
“Could you be any more specific about these ‘people’?”

Nameless took another drag on the cigar and wrote for a minute or so. For a moment Jamie stood and listened to the creaking of the old mansion; whether it was the sounds of distant movement or simply the background noise of an old mansion, it was difficult to tell. Impatiently she started reading Nameless’ note over her shoulder. ‘1 guy swetter pone tail and glases looked like a profesor 2 guy red hare black glases no coler cordernashun 3 guy red eyes hevy cote maybe homeless? woman blond mesy hare scrufy snake 1 green snake snake 2 black snake’

Nameless doubted she’d be able to get too much of a handle upon her competitors from appearance alone. Though with that said Nameless was pretty sure that the dark glasses guy was someone who in normal circumstances she would not be able to sell to. He looked like a narcissist, someone who believed he was perfect as he was. Of course the fact of their situation meant she had something extra to offer if it came to it. The guy with red eyes would probably be the easiest to sell to. He looked like the person who would have the least going on in their lives; the person would most appreciate a new aspect for themselves. The girl and the ponytail guy looked too normal to be participating in a battle to the death. It was too early to tell whether they had some hidden capability or whether they were as clueless and out of place as she was. And as for the snakes, maybe they would be classed as the Haruspex’s pets?

Jamie had torn the page from the notebook and was taking a good look at it. Nameless was in the process of writing another note ‘i rely dont think tresure is in here’ when she heard the sound of people moving in the hall outside.

“I dunno about that Apollo,” a voice was dimly audible through the thin walls, “sure he can shoot fireballs and whatever but I just don’t believe in monsters.”

Jamie looked up from the note, and rather redundantly pressed her finger against her lips. Nameless rolled her eyes as Jamie grabbed her bag and hauled it to the other side of the room; where she threw open a pair of French doors that led into the mansion’s courtyard.
“Come on.” She hissed as the sound of footsteps in the hall got closer. Nameless didn’t need to be told twice. She stubbed out her cigar, and followed the teen sleuth into the courtyard.


“I’m not exactly popular with some of the criminals around here.” Jamie explained as she closed the doors behind them. “I don’t know who this Apollo is, but that’s The Stick. He’s one of Bo Blackwell’s lunkheads.” She paused for a moment and then grinned. “Looks like we got some competition in this treasure hunt.”
[Image: XM5sGnt.png][Image: oD2Q6os.png][Image: 6SlFOCz.png][Image: fXUWhDZ.png][Image: C53uhZF.png][Image: BvZArpd.png][Image: lam0slf.png][Image: JmQq9We.png][Image: TGjrdJF.png][Image: zwqYyze.png][Image: OMnWsrl.png]
Originally posted on MSPA by Protractor Ninja.

"Do I need to ask again?" the creature hissed. Still disoriented from the chandelier incident, Hector had only stared when the serpentine figure had made its demand the first time. He later suspected it would have been difficult to do anything *other* than stare, given that an oversized mutant snake had just asked his identity in an abnormal fashion relative to regular greetings from characters of the scaly sort, that is, all of his limbs were still intact.

This bespectacled man was either scared out of his wits, Grotto thought wearily, or a little bit slow. Wonderful. He asked again, taking care this time to speak with less of a hiss and more of a... what was it again? An accent. Yes. One of Grotto's parent scientists had been born overseas, and the other team members loved to have him talk about silly things like tree throwing contests, just to hear his voice. They all thought it was very amusing, at least until Grotto had butchered them all. After that they didn't think very much of anything.

"Who, exactly, might you be?"

Hector, in addition to feeling very frightened, was suddenly very confused. Had he just been hissed at in a Scottish accent? The thought was enough to jolt him out of his trance and remember what was going on, something that he realized was probably going to happen very often.

"I'm sure you don't want me to have to force something out of you, because I would enjoy it and you wouldn't."

Right. He'd forgotten about the irradiated spawn of Medusa. Who was apparently related to the Loch Ness Monster.

"Oh, I'm, um, Hector. Just Hector." He shakily held out a hand towards what looked like it could have been the creature's dominant appendage. Nothing happened. "And you're..."

"Grotto." came the guttural reply. "And I'm done with the accent."

"Right. Good." Hector retracted his quivering palm and wiped it down the side of his pants. Something told him it would be a good idea to play it safe with this... Grotto. The serpent's name certainly matched its disposition. Hector quickly decided that this was a competitor he'd much rather have as an ally than an enemy.

"Okay, then... Grotto." Hector began. The creature looked at him in a way that appeared either quizzical or homicidal. "From what I understand this mansion houses some sort of treasure, and there are at least six more potentially dangerous entities who are also here for one reason or another. What do you say the two of us team up for the time being? We can split anything we find, fifty-fifty."

[color=#000099]Grotto was taken aback. This man could not be so stupid. He didn't have any idea what sort of danger he was in, even excluding the multitude of ways Grotto could have murdered him in the past few minutes. But... an ally, even a na
Originally posted on MSPA by Agent1022.

It was a cold night - with dawn and the warming sun seemingly never to come.

Every dry surface radiated moonlight, shining forth the illusion that it was otherwise, and every wet facade glistened like silver in the lunar glow. The clouds roiled angrily: not with the red-hot male anger of action and destruction, but with blue, biding, biting anger, the sort that waits forever. Be it for a beginning, an end, a climax or a denouement - or all four - they waited and lingered, spitting in the face of meteorology like so much rain of fish. They were going to roil, and roil well, unsettled cold front predicting a complete dispersal of the summer storm be damned.

Sam’s thoughts roiled with the sky, the little eddies and swirls in her mind formed from Sir Gregory’s memories, mannerisms, personality, identity..

Perhaps a little analogy is in order, to pass the time whereupon Chasewell and Wün navigate the dark service corridors of the manor - the maze of twisty passages, all alike.

Imagine an ocean, of water clear as day and pure as glass. Then, with an eyedropper, let a single drop of black ink fall in. At first there is a clear boundary where the two are separate, but it diffuses, smears itself out, insinuating itself in the mass. Let another drop fall, and another, and another, and watch the water darken. Sir Gregory in Sam’s mind was a trickle of ink in her ocean, but it would take her in time, turn her waters murky and her identity unclear. Enough ink, and you could write with the ocean...

The mansion was in fact not as large as its interior portrayed. Shrewdish Manor had been built by the master architects of the eighteenth century, the sweeping halls and gothic arches bearing the fingerprints of Chambers and Kent. The building was a subtle repression of spatial geometries, splendor held back and fed to the spectator’s eyes one tableau at a time. It was the architectural equivalent of légèrement retenu, music in wood and stone and masonry. Even in years of disrepair and neglect, the stonework stood barely ruffled by the ravages of time and the elements, the manor standing tall and proud in its stripped-down finery.

But under its proud exterior, its little passages fared less well:

once lit by oil lamps, that burned down and fell and scorched the wood and stained the stone,

once waxed and scrubbed as well as their main-thoroughfare cousins, now worn away and rotting,

once cleaned by contingents of maids and housekeepers, some of which fled, some of which stayed, all of them now dead; now carpeted with undisturbed dust centimeters thick in places.

The little passages had been the by-ways of the servants, who utilized them to go about business without intruding on their masters’. Now they stood as old and dead as those who had once walked them. Yet as Sir Gregory strode through them, she felt a familiarity to their structure - but of course! She’d pored over the designs for the manor, hadn’t she?

No, she hadn’t!

Sam clutched her head with a hand - a hand, she noted, was slightly lighter in shade than it had been a minute ago - and wondered what had possessed her to wear so much of Sir Gregory’s clothes. Perhaps it had been her instinct to hide, to take on another identity in the hope that she would go unnoticed in this mad battle. It hadn’t worked, not on James.

And then there was James. Apollon. ‘Apollon’. Even the name sounded fake; he didn’t fit the vision that it commanded. Sam thought - no, she knew he wasn’t saying all he knew, and the look in his eyes had said he’d known a lot. He’d said (and Sir Gregory had been the type of person to think in italics)...

<font color="#080080">“Cut the crap. I know why you’re here in an empty mansion; the Haruspex has you too, doesn’t she?”

A pause that lasted for a fraction of a second too long.

“I think we ought to join forces. Team up. Ally ourselves. That’d be the best course of action, wouldn’t it...Sam?”

...he’d bent right down near her ear, his breath caressing it softly, the undertone saying volumes more than the words he whispered in that perfect, rich tenor. He was more to her he was more to her he was more...

That was about the way Sir Gregory’s thoughts went, the echoes of passions and desires long dead, preserved in the fabrics that Sam now wore. She couldn’t concentrate, not with them banging about.

A loud stomp from Sam’s boots shook plaster from the ceiling, bringing Chad irritably around to glare at her. “Good lord, could you stop banging about? By now everyone and their great-great-grandmother knows we’re here!”</font>

”We do.”
Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

There was a brief moment of awkward silence between the pair as they stared each over out in bewilderment. Even the wind died down a little, as if waiting in anticipation as to what would happen. Eventually, the recently revived goon stuttered out a response.

“Did...Did you...bring me back to life?”

Carlie gawked wide eyed at the man he raised form the dead. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the whole situation in front of her. “Um...yeah, I guess I did.” She glanced down at the black scorch marks covering the floor around the man. “...Quite the astute observation actually, considering you were a smouldering corpse a minute a go.”

The man sprung up and looked at himself with wonderment. He couldn’t help but laugh at the whole predicament. To think it was all over for him a mere moment a go, and yet here he was, completely fine. “Are you some kind of angel?”

“What!? No!” Carlie spun around to hide her embarrassment. Her face turning a soft hue of red. She was never really one to accept compliments with any semblance of grace.

“So, err, who are you then?”

“Ooohh, just some girl trapped in her own head who can maybe bring people back to life but don’t quote me on that as you’re just a figment of my imagination and I’m probably insane.” Carlie took a sharp breath and turned to face the man she revived. “What about you?”

“Me? I’m Mickey Keller. I’m one of Bo’s boys!” Carlie physically winced. Bo’s boys? Christ only my imagination could conjure up something that terrible. “You know what i’m going to do now?”

“Err, I never asked?”

“First i’ma capture Knight to show Bo how great I am!” Mickey reached down for his bat and raised it above his head. “Then I’m gonna find that fire guy and kick the SHIT out’a him!”

Carlie’s interest peaked. “Fire guy? Like, as in a fire-fighter or...?”

“No, like, a literal fire guy! He had some funky fire machine on him or sumthin’. Wore sunglasses and a smug-ass smile. He was the son of a bitch that killed me! Well I’m gonna return the favour!”

Carlie looked at Keller with disbelief. “You seem...mighty confident about this. You really think you can beat the guy? He sounds pretty tough.”

Mikey smiled widely. “Course i’m confident!” He turned to point to Carlie. “Because you’re gonna help me!”


“Well, so long as you stick around me, you can just keep bringing me back! Can’t fail if you can’t die, aye?!” Mikey laughed triumphantly, clearly proud of his master plan.

“Laugh it up, fuzzball!” Carlie stepped forward, her expression curling into an angry scowl. “First off, your stupid-ass plan implies I’m going to help you at all! Second: I don’t even know if this life thing works twice!“

“You don’t know how your power works?”

“NO! The thing didn’t come with a motherfucking manual! I didn’t even bring you back on purpose! It just sorta happened!”

Mikey looked at the raging girl a little saddened. “’re not gonna’ help?”

“Of course I’m NOT going to help! I’m going in the exact opposite direction of this psycho house! Presumably I’ll find the edge of my own mindscape and find a way out of this nightmare cluster-fuck!"

Mikey’s face changed from sad to angry in less than a second. He lunged forward towards Carlie, pinning her down onto the rotting, wooden walls. Carlie squeaked out a welp as he looked at Keller with a mixture of confusion and fear.

“Listen Blondie; I got no qualms with hitting a lady.” He brought his singed bat towards Carlie’s quivering head. “So unless you wanna start picking up your teeth off the patio, you’re gonna do what I say. Understand!?”

The firey rage that Carlie displayed before had been quickly extinguished. “Okay! I’ll help! Calm down! There is no need to get all batty now. Just calm down-OH SHIT HE’S RIGHT BEHIND YOU!”

Mikey quickly swung round, brandishing his weapon fiercely. His eyes darted all around to find...nothing. The thug stumbled forward as Carlie shoved him out of the way and fled back into the house. “Hey! Come back here you crazy bitch!”

Oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I running back into the house? Why am I back in the fucking Resident Evil death mansion again?! Carlie’s thoughts ran through her head as quickly as she was running through the ancient manor. She slammed her body through a pair of double doors, into a large open courtyard.

Nameless and Jamie quickly ducked behind an ornate statue. They spied on the girl as she ungracefully legged it across the length of the courtyard, bursting through the doors the pair just left. Nameless strained to hear the familiar voices of Bo’s henchmen again.

“What the!? Was that Knight!?”

“Who cares man, after her!”

Jamie and Nameless emerged from hiding, a little bemused at the scene they had just witnessed.
“I take it that was one of the other people who came with you?”

Nameless nodded.

“Well, she certainly got rid of those goons. Shame, I was hoping for a little bit of ‘healthy competition!’”


Fuck, fuck, fuck, now these guys are chasing me who are these guys!? fuuuuuck!

Carlie twisted and turned down the various corridors of Shrewdish Manor. After what had felt like a marathons worth of running, she could not run any more. She slowed to a lethargic walk, desperately gasping for air. Mercifully, it seemed that she had lost her persuaders. “Oh...fuck...ah...oh man...I’m out of shape.”

She glanced around her surroundings, bleary eyed and confused “Jeez, that really took it out of me, I’m seeing multiples here.” She rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times, but she could still see walls and tables and...Herself multiplied a dozen times over.

Then she realised it; the walls were mirrors. Every single wall around her was a mirror.

“Oh my god. This is hell.”

Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris.

While Chad and Sam were being press-ganged by ghosts, Chad was also sitting around, bored, waiting for something interesting to happen.

"You would think that someone with complete control over the passage of time would be able to avoid this kind of thing!"

Chad was a bit miffed at Chad for stranding him in what seemed to be a completely sealed room full of useless junk. There didn't seem to any way out, each of the four walls looking exactly the same with only the crap that was on or near it differentiating one wall from another. Sure, his glove probably was capable of getting him out if he tried hard enough, but he was adverse to trying that for one very significant reason.

"Listen Chad, it's been done. It doesn't work out so well! You should probably just stick here and wait for me."

It was pretty hard to ignore advice from yourself, and luckily, right before Chad started up his glove, Chad jumped out from the future and told him not to waste his time trying to escape, as the room only had one entrance that couldn't open from from the inside quite yet.

"Oh so that's what the skeletons are."
"Yea, it's a bit complex, but we'll get it and you'll be able to slip out and grab this."

Chad showed Chad a very peculiar gem, one that glowed with energy.

"Oh so that's the power source you found?"
"Yes, it also happens to be the cause of all of the ghosts around here."
"So wait, what does that mean for the ghosts once you start using it?"
Chad shrugged at the question, "I don't know yet, haven't been to the future, been too busy keeping this time loop."

The conversation went on for a bit, and the two eventually left on a high note, leaving Chad rather smug and cheerful for what the future would unfold before realizing that he was trapped and that there was nothing to do.

As a result, Chad had been sitting down, pocketing some coins, and just staring while he waited for Chad to come back for him. After a while, he started to think about what he was doing before he was so rudely taken when a ghost girl floated from the top to say hello.

"Hello there yourself." Glad to have someone to talk to, Chad switched from his slight stir-craze to a smooth operator, not wanting to do anything that would startle the ghost away, "So what brings you to this room?"

"I could ask you the same, but I already kind of know. I was sent by uhhh, you. Or at least someone who looked and sounded like you..."

"Aaah, I see, well I certainly have some time, why don't we chat for a bit, huh?"

"I think I would like that."

Originally posted on MSPA by XX.

Hello, dears.

As you may or may not already know we are in the process of possibly acquiring a cast shift. There's been a stunning lack of activity, and you know that breaks our dead, black hearts. Let's try to move past that. In addition, Ixcaliber has lovingly provided a planning document for the good of us all, and here it is. We understand that the current plot is somewhat confusing. We hope this helps.

Originally posted on MSPA by Ixcalibur.

It did not take long for the treasure hunting pair to return to what they were doing beforehand. There had been an awkward moment between the two when it had become apparent that neither of them wanted to do the thing that they felt was obligated of them; to attempt to save the fleeing woman from the thugs that had chased her. Jamie was just being practical; as much as she wished the best for the girl who had gotten herself tangled up with Bo Blackwell’s men somehow (and felt kind of bad on the off chance that this was somehow partially her fault), she knew for a fact that blindly charging after them was not going to do anyone any good. Nameless, while equally powerless to help, just didn’t care. Carlie was not her problem, and she did have her own problems, not the least of which was finding this treasure before it fell into the hands of one of her competitors, or perhaps one of these thugs.

They slipped back into the mansion through a door that had been left open at some point long ago; the hinges upon it were long since rusted and the vines that grew up the wall of the house had started to poke their way into the corridor beyond. The first door here led them to a long and ill-kept dining room. An expensive dark wood dining table ran down the centre of the room, the chairs around it knocked over or left in a state of disarray, the entire thing was thick with dust. At the far end of the room a serving hatch hung open, and the drab faded wallpaper upon the walls had began to peel away. There was someone sat at the table, perched upon the lip of one of the few chairs that was in proximity to it. His head was in his hands and he was oddly translucent with a strange occasional flicker of milky white.

There was a moment where Jamie hesitated in the doorway craning her neck this way and that to get a better look at the ghostly figure. After a moment she seemed to shrug off whatever trepidation she had felt and went to casually stride into the dining room, only to be pulled back by Nameless’ grip upon her jacket.

“What-” Jamie was cut short by Nameless shushing her into silence as she hurriedly scribbled onto her notebook.

‘GOST’ the word was writ large and in urgently scrawled letters.

“There’s no such thing as ghosts.” Jamie replied dismissively. “You don’t seriously believe in ghosts do you? What are you four years old?” Nameless regarded the teenage sleuth critically; she had to fight back against the instinct to write a rebuttal with an emphasis on just how dangerous an angry ghost could be, after all this was clearly not her world, Jamie would know best what was and was not true within it.

‘u sure?’ Nameless wrote.

“Yeah.” Jamie replied. “I’ve took more than a couple of cases where it seemed like a place was haunted and usually it’s just some guy with really exceptional makeup or wearing a sheet. Sometimes it’s like some kind of high tech hologram or something, but there’s always an explanation that is founded in reasonable fact.” Nameless looked doubtful. “Trust me, rational explanation every single time.” And with the matter settled to her satisfaction Jamie confidently strode into the dining room and Nameless followed her.

There was something off about the ‘ghost’ and not just the translucency and the intermittent flickering which Nameless was having a hard time believing was simple ‘really exceptional makeup’. He looked out of place, as though he didn’t belong in this mansion; neither the long-abandoned now-dilapidated structure that it had become, nor the richly furnished house that it had once been. His hair was short and scruffy, his eyes obscured by an odd visor with a loupe (a type of magnifying glass) attached on a plastic spring. He wore a buttoned down white lab coat and a pair of sleek black boots. At the sound of footsteps upon the old wooden floor the ‘spectre’ glanced up at the pair. He met Jamie’s intense glare and seemed taken aback.

“Explain yourself mister!” Jamie demanded, holding her notebook and pen with the same intensity that one might hold a weapon.

“Not gonna run screaming from me?” The ‘ghost’ climbed to his feet. “Ha, you’re braver than most.”

Nameless frowned. Though things such as ghosts and dragons and other miscellaneous supernatural beasties were considered things of the past, there were still ghost towns that even the bravest of men would not set foot in for fear of what would happen to them in there and the monsters that Raxucorp could not protect them from. This guy did not seem to be the kind of thing that even trained soldiers would balk at confronting. However on the other hand he had not seemed to notice that he and the table were occupying the same space. It intersected his waist and was disconcerting, if not downright worrying. Nameless tensed up and shot Jamie a disapproving glance, not that the sleuth could see it from her position in front of her.

“That’s a neat trick,” Jamie said, “but ghosts aren’t real, so how are you doing that?” The ghost grinned; it was not a wicked grimace of a spectre about to commit mischief but the smile of someone who has just been pleasantly surprised.

“Of course not.” The ghost replied. “Ghosts are nothing more than silly superstition for idiots. My name’s Endal Shrewdish, it’s good to finally meet someone with a shred of wits about them after so long.”

‘but ur a gost’ Nameless scribbled down before she’d really contemplated walking over there to show it to him. She found she didn’t want to and the note went unread.

“I can’t see where you’d hide the projector so I’m guessing you’re not a hologram?” Jamie spoke slowly her eyes darting around looking for answers. “My guess would be smoke and mirrors, but to what end? I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to be scary or sad or lamentful or something, being calm and rational seems like a waste of the special effect.”

“Would that it was a special effect…” Endal sounded sort of lamentful, but more bitter than anything else. Jamie, who had been getting more impatient each time he evaded her question, strode up to the supposed not-ghost, kicking aside fallen chairs where necessary, and attempted to accost him. Her hands went straight through him in a manner that nobody present was surprised back. Endal grimaced and stumbled backwards.

“If you don’t explain yourself…” Jamie’s hesitation was only momentary, “…then I’m moving on. We have treasure to find and you are not particularly helpful.” Endal sighed.

“Once this mansion was all mine.” Endal began. “I converted the basement into a state of the art laboratory. It was perfect, all gleaming metal and polished white surfaces, though of course that is gone now.” A momentary pause wherein he caught Jamie’s eye and quickly continued. “Other scientists of the time called me a hack and derided my studies and I can’t really say that I blame them. I was doing experiments upon the Shrewdish Diamond, a valuable heirloom that has been in my family for generations. But Epstein and Syrus and all the others who mocked me had not grown up with the diamond; it had always had this strange energy to it that I could never quite explain. Though I suppose I cannot explain how or why any more than I could back then but now at least I can tell you the what. It’s time travel.”

“Excuse me?” Jamie asked.

“The diamond stores temporal energy and I figured out how to unlock it.” Endal replied. “The time when I used to own this mansion, that was some hundred or so years from now. I am, or I was, the last remaining descendant of the Shrewdish line. I came back here before I knew what I was doing.”

“That really doesn’t explain anything.” Jamie said. “That is even supposing that I did believe you.”

“When I arrived back here I met my grandfather.” Endal said. “He was a stern man who didn’t stand for any nonsense, especially not complete strangers showing up in his house and most especially not when they were carrying what was pretty clearly his diamond.” He hesitated. “He tried to take it from me, but I wasn’t going to let go of my only way home. We fought, but it’s not like we came to trading blows or anything, we just both wanted that diamond and then he fell, he struck his head pretty hard against the dining table. He, he was dead before I was able to do anything about it. It was awful, so much blood I couldn’t think straight…” He trailed off for a minute, but managed to quickly compose himself. “The point is that I didn’t know it at the time but he hadn’t fathered my father yet. My father was subsequently never born and neither was I. Logic dictated that I couldn’t exist any more and yet if I didn’t exist there was no problem, there was nobody here to kill my grandfather.”

“So this is what happened to me. I became trapped, incorporeal, an echo of a timeline that could no longer exist. I didn’t know it at the time. I thought I must have been shot or something. I thought I must have been dead or mad or dreaming. But the worst thing was watching things get worse. I’d unlocked the capabilities of the diamond, that someone else would use it was not just probable it was inevitable. I watched as one permutation played out after another as the timelines shifted and more and more versions of members of my family became part of dead timelines, cursed to haunt this place just as I have except without the true knowledge of what it is that is happening to them.” He paused. “I’ve tried to tell them but nobody listens to me, I’m just some mad spirit with a more crazed tale than the rest of them.”

There was a long pause; it was a lot of information to take in.
“That’s quite some story.” Jamie said.

“If you’re half as smart as I think you are you’ll just get out of here while you can.” Endal said. “If you insist upon looking for the diamond, I’d ask that you destroy it somehow. I can’t say for certain but I think, I feel, that it is what is keeping us echoes alive and I don’t want that any more.”

Jamie bit her lip as she contemplated what she had been told.
“What do you think?” she asked, but when she turned back to look Nameless had gone.


Nameless didn’t hold with consorting with spirits no matter how good mannered and insistent that they were not spirits they might have been. She’d stuck around long enough to hear Endal mention that there was a basement to this house before deciding that that was pretty clearly the direction she should be headed in. She moved quietly as she could through the run down old mansion, checking one door after another. Though she was sure that she could buy or sell her way out of any unwanted attention she might come across, she would prefer to go about this uninterrupted. There was still of course the problem about how to convince her collar that the diamond belonged to her, but that was a bridge that could be crossed when she came to it.

It wasn’t long before she stumbled across a staircase leading down. The staircase was old and rickety and looked like it was liable to collapse if she wasn’t careful, and down at the bottom of the stairs it was almost pitch black, with just a hint of light in the distance. She hesitated and wished that back when she lived in the market someone had saw fit to purchase her fear. Eventually she compelled herself to move. She slowly, carefully, descended the stairs and thought about the things she did for cash.

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Originally posted on MSPA by Not The Author.

“I-I-I don’t like dis, Mac. Spooky in ‘ere.”

“‘S a haunted harse, y’git. S’posed t’be spooky.”

“All da s-same. P-place p-puts me on edge. Why’s it g-g-gotta creak so much?”

“Dunno. Why y’gartta yammer s’much?”

“It’s my nerves, M-Mac. I ain’t s-suited to dis environm-ment!”

“Naw shit i’s yer gardamn nerves. ‘S in ‘ere?”

‘In here’ turned out to be the kitchen. Contrary to the rest of the manor, there seemed a lack of wear or decay – there was the omnipresent layer of dust, of course, and the smell of must and rot still permeated the room, but the walls were unmarred, the counter uncollapsed, the doors still firmly attached to their cabinets, the maid still studiously mopping up last night’s wait a minute

Will only got as far as the fifth G in ‘A ghost!’ before Mac caught on and slapped him upside the head. “Nar such thing’s ghosts, idjit.”

“B-but I can see th-th-through ‘er!”

“Th’, uh… S’trick o’th’light.”

The light is c-coming from her!

“Richard? Is that you?”

The old, portly Spaniard fixed her gaze on Will. “I’m sorry, sir, but the servants were in an uproar; I had to send them away. Dessert will be late, I’m afraid.”

“I-I, uh… I a-ain’t…”

“Would you mind, sir, finding someplace to put this in the meantime? Normally I’d not ask you dirty your hands, but as I said, we’re busy with dessert.”

Will’s protests were cut short as when the maid lobbed Aristides’ still-ghost-bleeding ghost-flesh’d skull into his arms. While he juggled the head and stammered incoherently, Mac got down to business. “Look, lady…”

Or tried to, anyway. “Gregor! You’re here as well?”

“Oi! We ain’t ‘quainted, lady. Now shut’cher yap, ‘fore I shut it for yer.” The sight of the meat cleaver dangling loosely from his fat fingers sufficed to prevent a rebuttal, for the moment.

“We’re lookin’ for a, ah, girl, name a’Knight. She’s onna run, see; made some bad choices an’now we gotta find‘er ‘fore she, ah, gets’erself hurt, eheh.”

Will didn’t pay attention to the evolving situation between his partner and the maid – she wouldn’t know anything, and he’d threaten her, and she’d babble about something or other and he’d cut out her guts and laugh and laugh that horrible wet laugh of his. He paid no attention to the head on the counter before him, either, intentionally so – it was a skull but it was a head but it was a ghost and he didn’t want to think about it too hard. No, true to form, Will was being a nervous wreck, eyes darting from one corner of the room to the next. He was apprehensive thanks to his environs, of course, but he was always one for details, and something was bothering him.


People often think things that are obvious to them are obvious to others, and sometimes let slip dangerous information. Mac always told him he needed to ‘cut th’tective crap art,’ but it was just his nature to pick up on those sorts of details. It was what made him such a good shot despite his shakiness.

“Mac, I th-think…”

Swiftly, Will drew his revolver from within his coat, pointing it dead at the window. He could’ve sworn he’d seen movement, and that was what worried him. He’d checked the entire room – barring the walk-in freezer, but that was sealed tightly – and had seen only the ghostmaid and Mac. So…

Who was the ‘we’ making dessert?

“I th-think we ain’t alone in h-here.”

He perked up at a sickly noise, and swiveled just in time to see his brother collapse in a pool of his own blood. The maid looked mortified, screaming about this fresh mess she’d have to clean, and the

The, uh

Will turned

And looked

And saw

And fired on instinct

Three cracks rang out, three shots struck true

And then Mac’s cleaver embedded in his sternum.

“That maid,” his mind muttered as he died, “has some absurdly good aim.”


“Tchah, now look what you’ve done! Blood everywhere. I’d just cleaned it all from before, too!”

Apologies, milady, but your life was in danger. …You should probably get yourself cleaned up.

“Clean myself! What of the kitchen? There’s bodies, and blood! This simply will not do.”

The kitchen’s appearance is less important than your own. There are likely others here who would see you harmed; certainly so, whilst clad in the blood you so abhor. Leave this mess to me. I’m starved as it is.

“Come again?”

D- I, uh. Just go! I’ll have this place spotless in no time.

“…Alright, if you say so. Should I take-”

You need not, but others would take it for their own if left unguarded. Happens with aggravating frequency.

The maid shrugged, tucking the unsealed urn in the crook of her arm, and headed off to find a fresh wardrobe. Not a minute later, the only signs of a struggle that remained were a trio of crumpled bullets left on the counter.

A door was opened, then closed, and the kitchen was empty.
Originally posted on MSPA by Sanzh.

Varljiv stared at the mirrors encircling him. They reflected back falsehood, the artificial facade he had chosen to adopt, and were no impediment to him. Intended to confuse and bewilder, the planes of polished glass were of no consequence for the Aspect of Lies-- the false nature of their reflections was plainly laid manifest. There was another lie, of course-- they were intended to obscure the true path out of the labyrinth. This falsehood was just as easily dispelled. Still recovering from the primal terror of moments earlier, the snake began to cautiously move. Scales pushed against dusty, time-worn flooring.

"Oh my god. This is hell."

Not quite. Varljiv thought in response. Carlie's comment was hoarse and short of breath, but broke the silence of Varljiv's thoughts, brought him back from his microcosm of endless reflections. Carefully angling himself, he could almost see the silhouette of another figure, flitting across the panes of glass. She was human, thin and fatigued. The Aspect of Lies indulged himself in thinking through how to best manipulate this situation, his mental cogs grinding forward with unchecked alacrity-- the piercing, terrifying certainty of moments earlier was steadily replaced with his usual scheming. He slid forward, navigating the hall of mirrors and swiftly approaching his quarry.

Carlie sat down, propping her tired body against one of the mirrors. She didn't care that the accumulated dust of the manor now coated her, or that she was being pursued by gangsters or that she was deep in the throes of her subconscious or whatever else. Desperate gasps for breath punctuated her monologuing-- she was too tired to coherently maintain her habit of voicing her thought process.

"R-right, okay, so maybe they won't find me here? I can hope for that, right?" She said to herself, in between heavy breaths. Carlie paused, scanning the lines of reflections. "Yeah, of course they aren't here, the only person who'd be here is--"

Carlie's eyes met Varljiv's-- each stared at its opposite reflection.

"--is that giant snake." She hesitantly finished.


"Right, you boys keep quiet-- I want this girlie alive, not plugged fulla lead." Mickey Keller whispered. The pair of thugs accompanying him eased up slightly. One of them loosened his grip on his battered submachine gun, slipping his finger outside of the trigger guard in a thin modicum of discipline. Together, they formed a loose rank-- Mickey Keller heading the formation, flanked on either side by a hired gun.

But even Mickey's brusque comment could not wholly ease the tension that permeated the mansion. The thin layer of dust, flecks of plaster and broken ceramics, broken artifacts of the Shrewdish estate-- they were treading inside a mausoleum to a now-forgotten glory of a dead family, and even for a band of simple-minded ruffians it was disquieting. That they now patrolled a hall of mirrors only further amplified their tensions. Distorted reflections haunted them as they walked, taunting their failure to catch a tired, desperate woman.

Mickey Keller stopped. The two gangsters with him halted immediately as he did.

The gangsters could hear two voices-- muffled and indistinct, obscured by the layers of labyrinth separating listener from speaker, but still audible. He could also see, through a tarnished and time-worn mirror, the reflection of an enormous snake.


"Okay, calm down Carlie, this is all just in your head, there's nothing to--"

Varljiv failed to repress a spiteful, hissing laugh. "You are not good at lying-- especially not to yourself, child." He derisively chided.

"I'm not-- hey!" Carlie indignantly stamped her foot, paying no attention to the swirls of dust and broken ceramics that coated her battered trainers. She was already physically tired, exasperating from running through the mansion's maze-like corridors-- and now she was mentally tired, as some forgotten part of her mind now manifested itself in mocking her.

"I'm not a child, I'm twenty-five." She indignantly complained.

A pair of shortened, dull fangs gleamed as the snake tauntingly smiled. After an artificial eternity locked in outright terror, encountering someone this naive was refreshing-- early in his existence, he had found a scant source of amusement in the lies of the delusional, those who were lying to themselves. An existence of categorizing lies had killed even that pleasure, but after moments of tortuous truth it was a slight relief.

Those moments-- the translucent skeleton of a woman, haunting the Aspect of Lies with her piercing certainty-- his mind quickly slipped back to the matter at hand. "I'm not going to waste my time debating that, child. Not when we have something more pressing to discuss. The Haruspex's game."

A strained sigh was Carlie's response. "Look, now really not the time to discuss this." She began, watching the snake's focused, intent stare. "God, listen to you, Carlie, talking to a giant snake right n--"

"Would you prefer to talk to an urn?" Varljiv ridiculed in return.

If Carlie had responded, Varljiv never heard it. A hail of gunfire saw to that, as Mickey Keller and his two accomplices shredded the monstrous serpent. Bullets ripped through shimmering scales, shards of broken glass lacerated his body further. From the countless shears and penetrations rending the now-dead Aspect's body, blood pooled and rippled, ichorous and black.

Mickey paused, taking a moment to observe his work. He was having some difficulty wholly comprehending what he had just done. He was desensitized to violence. There was no importance placed on how he had shredded the mansion with gunfire, how he killed a giant reptile. But he had no understanding of how a gigantic snake had talked, or how he had been brought back to life, or how anything in this mansion had happened.

He leaned against a wall, reeling back. The contorted reflections were nauseating.

"Boss? We gonna find that floozy or what?" His accomplice asked.

Carlie silently gulped, praying that the network of mirrors did not reveal her location. Sound came as a deadened muffle-- her ears still rung from the terrifying roar of gunfire. Everything seemed to move slowly. The only constant was the reflection of a serpent's broken visage, mocking her just as it had done with its spiteful lies.

"...Yeah. I don't think she's here though." Mickey responded. Panes of glass, already tarnished with years of neglect, exposed the wooden framework comprising the maze. Bullet-holes allowed tight beams of light to penetrate the labyrinth, exposing the dust that floated through the air.

It was all too much for him-- he was hired as muscle, pure application of brute force, and he had no pretensions of being something greater than that. He was being forced to think, and he was not entirely comfortable doing so. He needed to collect his thoughts, and he needed to do so somewhere outside of the maze.

"Ain't nothing but dust here, boys. We'll find her somewhere else." He finished.


Several minutes had passed. Carlie had ambled through the hall of mirrors, and now found herself standing next to the serpent's corpse. Wherever ink-like blood had not pooled, phantasmal light glinted and shined off the thin layer of shards now decorating the floor.

"Okay, so, creepy lady said that only seven would return. And I'm pretty snake-thing here is dead." She nervously mumbled to herself. No mirrors echoed her actions-- all of the ones nearby had been destroyed, reduced to nothing but a few solitary fragments clinging to their torn framework. She was forced to endure her feeble attempt at self-assuagement in solitude. "Well, brain? I'm waiting here, you know." She added, irritated at the failure of her subconscious to react to the reptile's death. She glanced back down, towards the corpse, reflexively verifying that the aberrantly large snake no longer lived. Caliginous flames spat and licked across her fingertips, fading as they transitioned into a spectra of colors.

"Oh no." She gasped. Before she could jerk back her already-glowing hand, the light enveloped the corpse. The brilliant luminescence was everywhere, reflected off distant mirrors and coruscating off countless broken fragments.

Resurrection works oddly for those in the realm of pseudo-deities, particularly for those who had not fully died. While Varljiv's form had been destroyed, that form was merely a representation of what he was-- the falsehood that he was, stretching back from the seven untruths that had formed him down to the catalogued lies of every magistrate, every beggar, every god and king alike. He was dictated by function, and that function had not been undone; all that had occurred was its primal manifestation had been disrupted.

Carlie's ability was not suited for the realm of Aspects. If her powers were bound by a set of rules, they were rules wholly inapplicable to the kin of divine byproducts and immortals. But it had worked as best it could, attempting to pull together fragmented lies into an undamaged form-- and as it did so, it incorporated a new lie: the paradoxes that haunted Shrewdish manor, the echoes of impossible, dead timelines wove themselves into the textile that was the Aspect of Lies' being.

Varljiv awoke. His body rippled as it attempted to find a suitable form amongst the countless impossibilities that now held him together, before finally settling on a state somewhere between half-alive and half-dead.

"Woahwoahwoah! Shit!" Was a frightened, panicked girl's response.

Originally posted on MSPA by Lankie.

Carlie stepped back and clumsily stumbled to the floor, barely missing the shards of mirror that peppered the ancient floorboards. Varljiv’s appearance was shocking when he was alive, but now, in this unique state of not quite dead and not quite alive, The Snake’s form was uniquely unsettling. The newly revived Varljiv turned to the panic stricken girl.

“Well, that is certainly quite a trick you have there, child” Carlie didn’t respond, instead opting to continue holding her petrified gaze. “It certainly explains why you are here. Though why The Haruspex would choose to enter someone who can raise the dead in a fight to the death is beyond me.”

Carlie, after what felt like an hour of agonising fear, finally managed to find her voice. “Y-yeah. I guess that doesn’t make too much sense.” She lifted herself off the floor and brushed away aged dust from her clothes. “Though I’d like to know how you know that I did my, err, life thing.” There was a brief moment of awkward silence between the pair. Carlie’s eyes darted to the floor in discomfiture. “Because, y’know, you were dead, like, a minute a go.”

Varljiv shot a questioning look towards the young woman. “You...don’t even know how your own power works?” Carlie’s embarrassment intensified. “Look this is, like, the second or third time this has ever happened!” She looked up at the huge serpent, which still gave off an aura of uncomfortable impossibility. “And this is the first time it’s gone a little...weird.” Varljiv exhaled an exasperated sigh. “I’m not sure how I know that you brought me back to life. I It’s as if the fact was placed in my head upon revival.” A worried look emerged on Carlie’s face “Shit, I don’t like this; it’s all just metaphors and hidden meanings in my stupid head! Why can’t it all be straight forward and just let me wake up already!?”

The Aspect of Lies moved forward, ignoring the overly dramatic ramblings of the girl besides him. “We can discuss your delusions at a later date. We have more pressing matters at hand.” Varljiv began to traverse the maze ahead of him, with a befuddled Carlie following his tail. “Woah, wait, what? What matters? Where are you going?” Varjiv’s movements though the labyrinth were swift and calculated, as if he were homing in on a target. “We must find The Shrewdish Diamond.”

Carlie’s pace quickened so that she could be at the giant serpent’s side. “Fuckin’ what? What diamond? That isn’t a sufficient explanation!” Varljiv rolled his eyes in an exaggerated manner. “The Shrewdish Diamond is a temporal artefact of significant power. The ‘spirits’ that haunt this place are deceased timelines, caused by paradoxes creating using the diamond’s power.” Carlie gave a sceptical look at the snake. “Oh! Well shit! I’m so glad we cleared that one up!” Her voice was heavy with her usual sarcasm. “I barely even knew this place had ghosts! How the hell do you even know all this!?” Varljiv continued his winding path through the seemingly endless hall of mirrors. “Do I seriously have to spell out everything to you, child?”

“I’m twenty-five! And yes, you do! Especially when everything about this whole situation is brimming with convoluted bullshitshITSHIT!” Carlie skidded to a halt and threw herself close to a wall. Varljiv couldn’t help but pause with her out of curiosity. “There are other people! Hide!” Carlie pointed towards an exit out of the mirrored maze, revealing a pair of elongated shadows moving closer and closer.

Varjiv turned to Calrie rather unimpressed. “I don’t see the problem here.” Carlie snapped back in a stage whisper. “There is a massive problem here! The last people you came across literally filled you full of lead!” The panicked girl glanced round the corner to get a better view. “Looks like it’s some old guy and – oh of course! Another giant snake! Brilliant. Because why the fuck would it not be another giant snake.” Carlie buried her face into her hands, while Varljiv seemed a lot less stressed about the situation. “I recognise them from the start. If we team up we can get to the diamond faster and lessen our chances of being attacked...are you listening to me?” Carlie continued to maintain her face palm while mumbling to herself. “Why did it have to giant snakes? If I’d have known I was about to run into a cross between Raiders of The Lost Ark: Jumbo edition and the fucking Resident Evil mansion I would have just stayed with mob guy. Knowing my luck we’re going to find this diamond and it’s going to melt my goddamn face off.” Varljiv stared at the girl with disbelief. “You really are an odd child.”

“I’m Twenty-Five! I’m not a child!”

“You know if you really wanted to stay hidden you probably shouldn’t speak so loud.” Grotto chimed in. “...or hide in a room full of reflective surfaces.”

Varljiv couldn’t help but close his eyes in utter contempt.