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Wiley Skidmore

"Oh, umm...sorry, sorry, I'll just leave now."

323 views · last seen in The Manor
a character in “Drop Dead, Darling”, as played by pieluver

Description

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Full name: Wiley Baxter Skidmore

Gender: Male

Age: 22

Personality: The short and long of it is that Wiley was misnamed. He's not particularly wily at all. He's a bit of a bumbler, actually. He still acts like an awkward adolescent, stumbling over his words and flushing at the drop of a hat. He is an earnest worker though. He tries his best, though he seems to mess things up just as much as he does things right. It's like feet are too big for his body, and he just gawks around everywhere, knocking things over and stammering. Most of his friends find it endearing. Despite his inherent clumsiness and general problems with words, Wiley is a very optimistic chap, and as long as he isn't standing their with his mouth hanging open, he's usually seen with a smile on his baby-faced mug.

Wiley takes great pride in being a friendly soul, and perhaps that is one of his skills. He's very trustworthy, and people seem to like to confide in him. If he was more malicious, maybe he'd be able to do something heinous with the information, but he's as innocent as a lamb, and a bit gullible too. He sees the world as nice and up front as he is, so he is easy to manipulate and trick. Set him at a task and he'll do it, without stopping, if he thinks he's doing a good thing. He's a man of many a moral though, and just the thought of sinning makes him sweaty and nervous.

Speaking of sweaty and nervous, there is one thing that stops Wiley in his tracks. He's an absolute mess around women. Anyone older than 14 wearing a dress makes him stumble over his words, even if he doesn't find them attractive in the slightest. He's just sort of afraid of women, you could say. He gets as stammery and apologetic, and usually attempts to make a quick escape, knocking over many things and tripping over his feet in the process. At the same time, he's a great believer of chivalry, and would do almost anything for a women, if she asked. Of course, he might bumble it horribly, but he'd try. He'd try his darn best. And his face would probably be red as a tomato the entire time.

Guess what?
Wiley is a NERD
My fave nerd
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Appearance: Wiley is a fairly pretty young man, with a softly curved face with not a scrub of beard on it. His hair fringes in his face, curling just a little bit in the front, giving him a scruffy look that detracts a few years from his appearance. His hair is a creamy light brown, and shines with a tinge of gold in the sunlight. His eyes are of a similar hue, large and dark. His nose is straight and sharp, and his jaw is firmly defined, at odds with the gentleness of his cheeks and the expressions that cross his face.

He's 1.7 meters, or 5'9 and he weighs about 64 kilos, and his frame is fairly slight, but his hands and feet seem a little large in comparison to his body, but that's just because he carries himself so uncomfortably, as if he expects to knock something over or trip at any second. His hands are worn and callused, stained with ink permanently. Despite this, his fingers are long and delicate as a piano player's, which betrays his calligraphic abilities.

Other: Wiley was in his Morning Dress when he was taken --on his way to work as an assistant clerk to a a lawyering firm-- he was wearing his brown morning coat and matching pants (they're getting a little high water these days) , with a lighter brown waistcoat (sporting a few stains from years of wear and tear), and his dark brown Oxfords (He's saving up for a black pair). Sadly, he lost his tie and his hat in the scuffle that ensued as he was snatched. Drake did spare him his coat though, a man can't be about during the day without his coat.

Short history: Wiley was born to lower middle class parents, and he was educated well enough to take a job working at transcribing for a Law firm. He lives on his own right now, he hasn't been married yet, though he's attempting to court a girl who lives down the street from him, who wears the prettiest of violet dresses to accentuate her dark curls. Of course, it hasn't been working too well. She just thinks he's funny. He's been working as a clerk since he was fourteen, and he loves his job, he loves hearing about all the cases, and fancies himself a bit of a writer in his spare time. He spends a lot of his free time these days reading books, writing, or practicing his calligraphy. Well, he did until he was snatched from the streets just before dawn, while he was taking a nice stroll before work. Of course, he managed to get himself tangled up in his assailant, and quite the struggle ensued (mostly him spouting apologies and trying to untangle himself, not realizing that he was being kidnapped) before he was put out.

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So begins...

Wiley Skidmore's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

Things had been positively quiet since Hassan had let loose on the manor and murdered pretty much everyone. It had taken Drake by surprise, set him off his stride a little, but now things were returning to normal, and he was bored. Linnet, who he rarely hesitated to harass, was starting to grow complacent in his opinion, and that meant it was time for another game. He hadn’t told anyone, but James knew by the glint in his eye one late afternoon after the demon returned from the small city not far from his manor that there were plans afoot. Research being done. Schedules looked into. Targets found. Traps set.

And now here they were. James could vaguely smell the life source, it was driving him a little mad, he hadn’t eaten in three weeks, he was certainly reaching his expiration date, but when it came to the games, there was no worry about time. They’d all slaughter each other soon enough. It was the way humans worked. The carrot and the rod. The small male considered the human condition, curled in an armchair after finishing writing some missives for Drake to send out the next day, since the demon was too impatient to write in the fine script the letters required. Drake was in high spirits, grinning all over himself, talking to his mute little servant as he mused over what to wear for the day. All of them were still out, they wouldn’t stir until they were shaken awake, he was sure of it. A nice thump over the head can do that to a body.

“Oh, and James?” James stuck his head up as his name was called to show that he was indeed listening. “Please do entertain the guests instead of just following Linnet around like a forlorn dog. You have a job to do, and you know very well that she can take care of herself.” And the unspoken ‘and if she doesn’t’ hung on Drake’s lips. They both knew that part of the demon hoped that Linnet would get herself killed. Not enough for him to do anything about it though. Of course he wouldn’t, James would pout for decades if he made a foul move. That didn’t stifle his jealousy over the bond James had with her. The spite simmered in the back of his throat. Loathsome human emotions, ruining all his nice things.

While James was still processing the words, Drake scooped him up in his arms. The boy let out a squeak and seized Drake’s neck, startled by the sudden vertigo. After a few moments of being carried, he decided he should take the current affection for face value and not think about the maiming he was sure to receive as soon as Drake introduced the game to the guests.
It wasn’t difficult to know about where Linnet was, if Drake focused a little he could pinpoint the direction her soul signature was coming from. Humans have such a distinct scent. What would be difficult would be getting her to come out from her hiding place in the ballroom.

Drake tipped his head back and let out a roar. “LINNET, COME HERE.” That would catch her attention. He didn’t know if she was aware of the upcoming game or not, but he figured regardless, she could use some extra incentive to hasten her feet. “If you don’t hurry yourself, I’ll drop James from the roof and you can clean him off the ground.” His voice had returned to a casual conversation tone, but somehow it still seemed to boom through the vast room he knew Linnet was hiding in. He was sure she could hear him.

After he’d collected her, a smirk scrawled across his features, he led his merry band out the door, towards the guests’ quarters. James was still perched precariously on one of Drake’s arms, clinging to his neck for dear life, face tucked into the crook of his neck, and the demon didn’t look back once to see if Linnet was still following. She’d know the consequences if she tried to leave.

Once he reached the guest rooms, Drake abruptly released James. The boy staggered to his feet, straightened, and set to work. The red-eyed demon signaled Linnet to stay where she was, if she even needed the urging. She was too skittish for this. So James prodded all the humans out into the main room by himself, lining the groggy figures up in a row. All of them still looked some stage of bewildered, after being prodded awake by a strange child in a strange place.

Drake grinned as James returned cautiously to his side, looking up at him as the demon slung an arm around his shoulder, rubbing behind his ear like he was a dog. Okay, it did feel pretty good though.

“Welcome, friends. My name is Drake Stuart, and I’ll be your host for the duration of your stay here.” Drake’s voice was soft, but it still carried through the room. It was a voice that demanded attention. “We have much to discuss. But first, the introductions.” His toothy smile, on another face, would have seemed pleasant, but on the demon it merely seemed hungry.

“Let’s see, the young one on the left is Mister Anderson Fulton.” He gestured at the male languidly. His eyes turned immediately to the next victim, “And ah, Lady Everette Insuza, as resplendent as ever. And Mister Wiley Skidmore, terribly sorry about your hat,” Drake smirked, but the bored expression returned to his face quickly, “and of course, Mister Theodore Clayton” He gestured again, and then turned slightly to the last member of their little party. “And lastly, we have Mister Laurent Foxlinde. A pity about your children, but what is life without a little tragedy?” Drake shrugged apathetically, but there was a growing light in his eye.

“Now that we’ve finished with the introductions, let’s get on to the rules of this game.” James, who up until now had been leaning against Drake’s side, his eyes half-shut like a cat, straightened, wariness growing in his features. “This is a rousing game of Last Man Standing. Last one alive wins. You can kill how you please, granted you find your own weapons. If you plan to bleed to death, or cause another to, try not to do it on the carpet. It takes James a devil of a time to get the stains out.” He tugged the boy’s ponytail, causing his head to bob.

“And if you dally, or try to run away, you will be taken care of quite swiftly. I promise, it will hurt quite a bit before you finally die.” He paused for a moment, his piercing rose eyes digging into his victims. “And stay out of my rooms, any studies, the attic and the library. For goodness sake, don’t destroy anything or steal food from the kitchens. I will provide food as necessary. Also, while the ladies are quite lovely, if I find any signs of fornication, I will personally rip your limbs from your body.” He smiled pleasantly. “And for the love of God, do not hurt my servants. Well, I suppose James can stand a stabbing or two, he certainly deserves it, but don’t kill Linnet, she’s still new.” he gestured towards the girl so they’d know who he was talking about.

At this point, he released James, who stared up at the white haired male for a second, an incredulous expression on his face, then turned to move over to stand by Linnet before Drake changed his mind and bit his throat out again or something. His hands were already up to sign something to her as he moved behind Drake, and his focus so wholly taken that he didn’t notice the demon very deliberately shift his weight to trip his servant. James stumbled, grasping a fistful of the back of Drake’s coat. Drake smirked, but the boy didn’t seem to notice, he was too focused on moving over to stand beside Linnie, careful to give her a respectable berth. It was difficult for him, he was a contact oriented person, but he knew that Linnie wasn’t partial to people being in her comfort zone.

I’m okay!” James signed at Linnie, his back to the other humans. He was slowly teaching her sign language so they could communicate, and he was quite proud of her progress so far. ‘Thank you’ He continued, scrunching up his brow to show the depths of his gratitude. While he loved Drake with most of his heart, he knew that if Linnie wasn’t around, Drake would be much more apt to cause him bodily harm. Perhaps he was playing the jealousy thing a little too hard, and he did feel bad for keeping Linnie trapped here with his own selfishness, but he was keeping her alive, wasn’t he? Isn’t that what she wanted? To stay alive? He sent her a smile before turning his head back to the going-ons with the humans.

“I suppose that’s everything. Happy hunting, my dear friends! If you have any questions, direct them towards Linnet.” He paused for a moment, as if remembering something. “Oh, and if you see any ghostly figures, don’t touch them. They don’t like that.” With that, a grin on his face, Drake turned around and disappeared around the corner.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

Hell. Hell was the only word Linnet could use for this blasted manor, and there was no reason to think of it otherwise. In her first few days here, everyone else who had been brought to the manor died. She was the sole survivor of Hassen’s massacre. And since then… Well, living with a soul-eating daemon is hardly pleasant. James was probably the only reason she still had even a shred of sanity, the only reason she still clung to her life as though it was still worth keeping. Things had been rather quiet for several days when Linnet started to notice that something was different. It was not long before Linnet made the startling discovery that there were others in the manor.

Linnet had peeked into a bedroom, looking for an item she had hidden a while before, when she realized that the room was occupied by an unconscious female. She quickly ducked out, then popped her head into another room. It was similarly occupied. She was rather tempted to slam the door behind her, but thought better of it at the last moment. The door clicked shut, hardly disturbing the quiet hall. Linnet’s left hand began trembling, jarring the doorknob, before she pulled it away and clasped the trembling limb to her chest. She tried to still the trembling, but even gripping it with her other hand made no difference. Her body seemed numb with fear, as though it was no longer hers to control. She closed her eyes, wanting to crumple to the floor and scream her frustration. It was clear now that Drake was starting a new game. And how she hated him for it.

Finally, she regained control of her legs and began running down the hall. Her mind moved almost as rapidly as her feet. Unwillingly, she thought back to the horror of what had happened to her, and what she had been forced to do. Now it was all starting again. She hardly knew what to feel, other than a horrible despair. Finally, after just a moment of running, she came to the ballroom. The room was large, ornate, and richly decorated, not that it had much use. It was easy to tell by the slight gathering of dust, especially as one got further into the room. Even with the manors rather unconventional cleaners, there was just too much room to keep fastidiously clean. The ghosts never had much of an attention span either. With the long, silky curtains shut, the room was rendered dim and uninviting. Which was exactly why Linnet chose to hide here.

She pushed herself into a small alcove near the middle of the room, carefully scooting around a small, circular side table holding a vase to seat herself on the ground. She rested her back against the wall, feeling the handle of the knife she hid in her apron sash through the material of her dress. Linnie tilted her head back until it was propped against the wall and blankly looked at the short, half-dome ceiling of the alcove. She willed herself to calm down, trying to breathe deeply and slow her thoughts. At first, her efforts seemed for naught, and her left arm gave another few sporadic twitches in response. Finally, she stilled. She stared vacantly, though a mix of anger and fear still lurked under the surface.

It felt as though only a few moments had passed, though she had been sitting motionless for much longer than that. She finally realized how uncomfortable she was getting and began shifting slightly to get the blood flowing again. Suddenly, Drake’s roar split the silence, demanding that she come to him. She jumped, hitting the table and sending it rocking. A small noise of alarm burst from her lips as she quickly steadied it. Linnet held her breath for a moment as the fragile vase wobbled dangerously above, raising a thudding clatter as it rocked. Finally, it settled back on its base and she heaved a silent sigh of relief. Judging from Drake’s tone, breaking something right now may not be the best move.

Still, she was loath to leave her hiding spot. No doubt, Drake could easily track her down if he so desired, but Linnet always felt a measure of security when she was hiding. Even more, she had an idea of what he wanted her for. He probably wanted to explain the game to the new ‘guests.’
Linnet desperately wished she could just be left alone, even though she knew that would not be possible. Drake was rather stubbornly persistent with these things.

Linnie was still debating whether to come out when she heard Drake’s threat. To an outsider, it would seem teasing or empty, but she knew how easily Drake would carry it out. He had effectively seized her weak point, and she now had no choice but to obey. The girl would never willingly cause James harm. The boy was far too dear to her. And so she shifted her slight form out from her hiding spot, careful not to bump the table again. As she stood, she quickly swiped the dust from her skirts and walked toward the open door. There was a slightly guilty look in her odd eyes as she surveyed Drake’s form, noting to her dismay how he held James in his arms. No, his threat had not been empty at all, had it? She lowered her eyes before she was close and stood just out of arm’s reach.

Drake seemed satisfied, pleased even, with her obedience and soon led her down the hall, back where she had come from not long before. She trailed behind him like a sulking child, every once in a while shooting glances up to James. He wasn’t looking at her though, so she lowered her gaze each time. Linnet’s hands unconsciously clasped behind her back, and she fingered her dagger through the fabric it was concealed behind. As always, it was hidden so its form would be indecipherable, but Linnet touched the thing so often for reassurance, it was not hard to guess that something was there. It was the same knife James had given her more than seven months ago, when this nightmare had started. Linnie had not parted with it since.

It was not long before they arrived at the hall near the back of the house. Linnet felt rather jittery, wondering if Drake would force her to go wake people up. She heaved a small sigh of relief when, after dropping James, he motioned for her to stay where she was. She would rather not touch anyone if she didn’t have to, and it seemed for now she would not. Her dual colored eyes shifted over each form as they were pushed and prodded out from their respective rooms. If anyone glanced her way, she quickly ducked her head to avoid eye contact. When James finished, he hesitantly returned to Drake.

When the daemon slung his arm around the boy, Linnet began to worry. She recalled that last time, when Drake was explaining the rules he had throttled the poor boy until he was purple. Not to mention the time not long after when he ripped at the boy’s neck with his teeth, just to prove a point to Linnet. She shuddered, unsure of what she would do if Drake pulled a similar stunt now. She could hardly bear the thought of James being harmed, but there was nothing she could do in this situation. Her odd eyes flashed toward the bewildered bunch of ‘guests’ for a moment before returning again to the floor. Impulsively, she scooted so her right side would be partially obscured by Drake’s form, but she did not come any closer to him.

Though Linnie was tempted to space out during the introductions, she forced herself to listen and memorize the names. There were two females and three males this time. She could not help her curiosity and stared at each face for just a moment as they were called. Still, she ended up ducking her head if anyone so much as glanced her way. At the last man, Mr. Foxlinde, Drake’s comment caused Linnet to scowl slightly. Her hands, clasped behind her back, clenched until her knuckles turned bloodless. She hated the daemon terribly, but it was not like she could do anything about it.

He began on the rules, and Linnet noticed James’s sudden tension. She straightened in response, her eyes flickering between Drake and James, wondering what injury might be inflicted upon the boy. She ignored the rules, they hardly mattered to her anyway, and focused on the pair before her. Still, she winced when Drake told them James deserved to be stabbed and was faintly surprised that he cared at all if she was killed. Finally, he released James, increasing Linnie’s surprise. The only harm that came to the boy was a small tripping.

James recovered and moved over to her, but kept a bit of distance. She quickly signaled her concern and James confirmed that he was alright and thanked her. She smiled slightly, a small twitch of her lips, before her attention was again attracted to Drake when he said something about the guests asking her questions. She subtly moved closer to James, almost as if to hide behind him. It was fairly clear Linnie was uncomfortable with the idea of questions. She was close enough to the boy that he could probably feel her body heat, though she was not touching him as yet. She was still too distracted by the possible threat of the new guests.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

Laurent shot up quickly gasping for air with sweat pouring down his face and back. He tightly clenched the sheets of the bed he was laying in as he slowly came to terms with the fact it was a dream. He glanced around the room, but saw nothing in the pitch black darkness. He let out a deep sigh. A dream... No. A nightmare.

Even now, he could still the glowing crimson irises of the monster burning in the back of his mind. Laurent had certainly had horrific dreams before, but not like this. None of them had ever been so... crisp. Laurent swept his eyes across the room, his vision finally adjusting to the inky darkness crowding him only for it dawn on him that something was wrong. Very wrong.

A growing sense of dread began weighing him down as he slowly realized that this was not his bedroom. He recognized none of the furniture or the decorations within it, but the most disturbing detail being the carefully boarded up and secured window. So well was it covered that not even the edges glowed from the outside light. Laurent put a hand to his forehead to try to make sense of the situation only to startle himself when he realized his prized work goggles were still firmly strapped to his head. Unfortunately, when he took them off, he noticed a small spiderweb crack had taken up residence in the left lens. Tragic. He realized he was also wearing his same work clothes from the day before although they were wretchedly wrinkled and desperate need of a good washing. Even his leather shoes were still firmly on his feet.

Then, like a roaring river, memories from the previous night flooded his mind. He.. he had been coming home. He had just finished a difficult day at the company. They were experimenting with a new type of engine that would not only require less coal, but would also be significantly lighter. Yes... he had been exhausted trudging home late at night when he was ambushed. A strange man with white hair grabbed him and although Laurent fought, he quickly realized he was out muscled. All the same, he resisted until he felt a hard thwack across his head.

Now, here he was in a strange room all by himself with a strange boy...

Laurent's attention snapped instantly to the boy standing at the side of the bed. The boy was staring at him blankly. He only proceeded to point at the door which when it was opened, Laurent had no idea. Instantly, the sight of the child washed over him a fresh wave of panic. His children! Where the bloody hell was his sons? Rage consumed his whole body at the idea of that white-haired bastard laying a finger on his family.

As Laurent was preparing to leap out of the bed and tear the whole manner down, an overwhelming sense of grogginess and confusion set over him. The boy grabbed his hand and pulled him out of the bedroom while Laurent had no choice, but to obey. Wearily he glanced back at the door and saw that it had the number five on the paneling. He was led through two long hallways until they reached what appeared to be an entry hall. He saw four others lined up looking just as confused and bewildered as himself. The boy tugged him to stand in the line as well before retreating to the imposing figure standing in front of them.

Laurent's fury flared in response at the figure. It was him. The white-haired lunatic who had dragged him here in the first place. Laurent could feel his arms shake as the adrenaline coursed through his body, but he was held still by some unknown force. He heard him begin speaking momentarily disrupting the wicked curses coursing through his mind. So, Drake Stuart was the dastard's name. The family name was unfamiliar and foreign, and by the size of the mansion, he felt as if the name should have been somewhat recognizable. He introduced the four others, but Laurent hardly paid attention. He was far too occupied staring daggers into their "host's" face. Then, Laurent just about lost it on his own brief "introduction".

“And lastly, we have Mister Laurent Foxlinde. A pity about your children, but what is life without a little tragedy?” There. He saw it. The glint in Drake's blood red eyes as he made eye contact with Laurent. The same glowering stare that had haunted his subconscious. There was no mistaking the evil glittering there and Laurent felt a shiver crawl down his spine. Whether the chill was from fear or anger, Laurent would never know.

Vaguely, he heard him spout about some nonsense of a game and rules and such, and if Laurent was thinking clearly, he would have hung on to each word and analyzed it to the deepest extent. However, he was too busy struggling to voice his outrage and the answers he was craving.

Finally, after ten minutes of speaking, Drake simply whirled around and seemingly disappeared around the corner. Laurent felt an audible pop in his mind, and could feel control rush back into his body. Without hesitation he took off after the sociopath.

"You bloody bastard! Where the hell are my sons?" he yelled running to the corner, but as soon as he was there, he saw that Drake was gone without a trace. He clenched his fists and whirled on the next best thing: his servants. He marched straight up to the young lady that was supposed to be taking their "questions". He wavered slightly when he saw the bitter expression on her face, but persisted anyway. He was a worried parent, and the longer he didn't know where his sons were, the more frantic he would become.

"Alright miss, since your master is too cowardly to answer himself and fight his battles fairly, I will take my answers from you. Where are my sons, and what the bloody hell is going on? One night I am coming home from the company and the next thing I know I am being attacked and abducted like a child!" Laurent kept his gaze steady with the young woman gauging her reaction. She looked extremely uncomfortable and upset. Could she be here against her will as well? Glancing at the others, they also, to his dismay, were in the early years of adulthood, and not much older then children themselves. Laurent visibly wilted. What had he done to involve himself in such a situation?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

Wiley’s head hurt. He could feel a lump swelling between his skull and the pillow under his head. Strange, why was he in bed? He’d been headed to work. Had he fallen? Was he in an infirmary now? He cracked his eyes open. It was dark in the room, but he knew immediately that he did not recognize it. His brain was too sluggish, swimming around aimlessly, for him to really comprehend what that meant for him.

At first he didn’t notice the child standing next to him, jostling his shoulder. When he did, it was in an unremarkable way, a slight trace of confusion on his face. He sat up on the bed, which he’d wrinkled by laying on top of, and rubbed at his eyes.

“Excuse me, but ca-oh” He started, only to be stopped mid-sentence by the boy grabbing him by the wrist and tugging him to his feet with a surprising strength for his small frame. He stumbled after the silent youth, who pushed through the door and into a posh looking hall. What was he doing in a house like this? The last thing he remembered was bumping into a man and a sharp pain in his head.

Out in the hallway that connected the rooms, there were already two people standing with their backs to him, and a man with unsettling red eyes, plus a timid looking girl standing near the door behind the man, looking like she was about ready to flee at any moment. Perhaps the expression on the girl’s face, or on the pale man’s should have made him feel afraid, but he was mostly focused on the fact that there were two girls in the room. Already his face was flushed with nervousness. What if they talked to him? As they neared, he saw that the girl was only wearing a night dress. He chewed his lip as he was deposited next to the tall girl.

The dark haired male sent a few glances at the two others, and also at the other girl that was in the corner. Not too long after, two more gentlemen were standing on his other side, one that looked about his age, and another who seemed perhaps a little older, but still had no facial hair.

Wiley kept his mouth shut as the red eyed man began to speak. As memories slowly returned to him, he recognized the man as the one who’d run into him. Drake Stuart? Never heard of him, but it sounded an excellent name for a villain.

The man began listing their names, but Wiley forgot them quickly as he remembered who was standing right next to him and heat flooded his face again. And when his name was mentioned, his hand went to his head like he hadn’t realized that his hat was gone. Or his tie. Oh, that had been a nice tie too.

The first inklings of fear dripped into his body at the mention that they would have to kill each other to make it out of this place alive. His brain was still trying to avoid those unpleasant feelings though, so instead it focused on the ladies around him again. His face couldn’t have possibly been redder, and his shifted on his feet, his knuckles white as he clasped his hands together.

Wiley absorbed the rules, trying and again failing to ingrain them in his flustered brain. Hopefully he wouldn’t mess up. Drake left, and almost immediately, as if a curse had been lifted, the room fell into motion. The man at the end of the line, Laur…laur…lauren? Laurent? something like that, stepped forward, positively trembling with anger, yelled about his sons as he tried to chase after the wraith of a man, but to no avail, because the master of the house was obviously long gone, as if from thin air.

Then the man turned towards the two servants, the young looking one in the suit and the young woman in the dark coloured dress who was hiding behind the former though she easily dwarfed him. He continued yelling. It was making Wiley feel skittish. He worried his hands, his eyes flicking this way and that. What could he do? Should he talk to these people? Was Drake even being serious about them killing each other? There were two ladies here. But somewhere in his brain he knew. Someone was liable to snap and start the bloodbath. This was all so surreal though. As if he’d gotten trapped in a strange and cruel story. But what kind of person could possibly be sick enough to think of something like this?

Wiley turned his attention from the yelling man, trying to keep himself calm. Everything was all happening at once, now that it was sinking in that he was probably going to die in here, a knot was forming in his stomach. He wanted to flee. He turned to hurry back towards...somewhere? He had no clue where anything was in this place, but maybe he could find a nice room to hide from all this in. But he was so involved in his trembling that he ran directly into the man who'd been standing at the end of the line. A-andrew? Anderson? Something like that.

"T-t-terribly sorry, sir" he said, flushing even further at his own clumsiness, under the impression for a moment that he'd lost his hat when he collided with the man, only to remember through the faint haze of a headache plaguing his mind that he'd lost his hat some time earlier. Wiley still wanted to flee, but he couldn't possibly just turn tail and run now, after so rudely bumping in to someone, so he just stood awkwardly, staring at the ground, pigeon-toed and bumbling his fingers together, unsure of exactly what to do at all. Oh, this was a right mess, wasn't it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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A dull pain throbbed somewhere in the back of Everette’s mind, slowly growing in magnitude to the point where it could no longer be ignored. She slowly regained consciousness along the crescendo of muted pain. Her form stirred within the softness that surrounded her. That didn’t seem right, but she was not yet aware of anything to do any real considering.

It was dark… really dark. And all too quiet. Perhaps she should bother to open her eyes now. A muffled sort of noise trembled through her vocals as she finally came to and her eyes crept open after a few tries. It was still dark- quite the surprise. Ever blinked a handful of times, quickly wincing as she came to actual awareness. The smallest of hisses slipped through her lips as she tried to support herself onto her hands. The pain that had previously only been a far-off echo in the recesses of her mind now came to a sharp stand at the forefront of her consciousness. With that sharp, unexpected reminder of some tragedy that had occurred, Everette buckled from the tension just after having woken up. What little amount she had managed to raise off of the bed went crashing right back into it.

Lifting a hand to rest it against the side of her face in a vain attempt to locate and subdue the beast that had shot at her while she was unawares, Eve tried once more to pick herself up from her position. Her mind was finally catching up with her, and the more it did, the more a sense of wrongness grew in warning. At least the pain seemed to be retreating once more…. Or at least the pain in her head. It was then that another feeling registered to her. A bit of stiffness at the neck, one she knew would be uncomfortable the moment she actually made an effort to change the position. She had been lying face down on the bed, seeming to have almost been unceremoniously dumped onto it without a care, her head turned to the side so that she would not suffocate into the pillow her head had been resting upon.

It was an unfamiliar position to her- she was a side sleeper, never one to slip into the absolute nightmarish and inelegant way she was now. She turned as soon as it was possible for her to, ignoring the invisible grasp to her neck as she shifted it out of the position it had likely been in for hours. She would have to take care of it later. But for now her eyes were scanning across the wall closest to her bed, as that was all that was available for her eyes at that moment, adjusting to the darkness. There was no doubt that this was an unfamiliar place.

As Everette turned her head to take in more of the room now that she could actually discern shapes in the darkness, it suddenly stopped on another figure simply hovering by the door, staring at her. She stared right back, mind slowly calculating through the situation. The boy blinked, she blinked. They seemed to simply stare at each other for who knows how long, when her brain finally registered a warning and the boy moved from his stock still position. A sharp sense of unease panged through her gut, but Ever didn’t really get the chance to voice her unease as the boy was then at her side, grabbing her hand with clammy fingers.

She shivered at that, but for some reason she did not complain, nor did she try to wrench her hand free from his purposeful grip. Curiosity gripped her judgment now rather than the natural sense of fear, rather than the reaction of flight rather than fight. Instead she did nothing, simply allowed herself to be led out of the room, shifting slightly to the point where her clothing seemed to drape her form the way it was supposed to. It was disheveled, that was for sure, and no doubt so was her hair. Not that that was her current concern.

She was being led through strange, unfamiliar halls by a strange, unfamiliar boy. The eerie silence she had first experienced before she had come to seemed to hang over the whole building. There were no other sounds than that of her own footfalls. The boy’s own did not seem to make a noise, other than an occasional shuffling against carpet or flooring.

It seemed as though ages had passed as the boy led her through the winding maze of wherever it was that she was. They finally came to a large, open room, and the first thing that Everette noticed was the line of people forming. Nothing large, simply three other people so far, each looking just as she did- ruffled and unfamiliar with these surroundings. A shorter girl stood to her approaching left as she was led to the line as well. She was in little more than her smallclothes, it would seem, as a simple nightgown was all that hung over her form. To her immediate right was a tall young man who seemed fairly uneasy and apologetic, as if he didn’t quite understand the correct feelings he should be harboring in this situation. One other male stood beside the first one- the same height as she was, Eve mused for a moment.

The boy released his grip on her hand after he had seemed satisfied with positioning her in the line, and he walked off once more, no doubt to retrieve another if her deductive reasoning was anything to look at. How many of them were there, and why were they here? There still seemed to be some sort of block in her mind, she was still obviously missing a very important chunk of information, but what it was….

It was then that Ever finally finished looking over the others beside her and her gaze actually shifted to the center of the room, finally realizing that there were two others. A small girl in the background, she registered her first but really didn’t pay her any mind, for when her eyes landed on the tall gentleman who seemed to command all attention, everything else was drowned out. Funny how she hadn’t recognized to notice him before that moment; rather a contrariety to his intended display.

It was serene, really, what transpired within that closed-off interaction that seemed to occur just then, though no doubt he wasn’t paying her any mind. Even when their gazes seemed to meet. But appearances were deceiving, she knew. No fear seemed to stir within her despite the dire-some situation she was in, despite the fact that she should be freaking out like a child or a throaty old bird. But the only emotion she had was simple curiosity and a grip of herself. She did not waver under his presence nor the supposed stare he had leveled at her, she simply looked on with a blank face, blinking when needed.

His eyes…. They were the color of the roses in her garden, illuminated in the night. Such a pang of familiarity, yet completely foreign and uncharted. So otherworldly- different. Everette’s head tilted a fraction as she mused upon them from her still position in line with the others. With the sights of those orbs and the presence that swirled behind them, it was then that she remembered what she had been missing previously. Her memories of the other night.

She had been out amidst the gardens wandering, trying her best to escape the suffocating presence of fake smiles and otherwise simple looks of happiness for her- looks that, if she didn’t already know, might have been taken seriously. But it was too easy to see through that thin veil- greed, relief, hate. Those were the true intentions that hid in such plain sight. It was not only the people who had driven her away, both fake and ever so monotonous, but the fact that loomed ever increasingly, only strengthened with what that night had meant.

Everette was expected to marry in a month, to be condemned to a swirling vortex of captivity with the sharp, devastating need to escape life and her own torrential emotions, yet with the absolute knowledge that she would be stuck forever. To live a dull life of servitude under an unfamiliar man, to keep up draining masks of fake appearances and endure the utter simple minds and malicious tongues concealed with sweet words and passive aggressive inclinations. A true internal crisis whose force would be unmatched, unwavering, unending. That was hell.

She had been wandering in the large gardens around the estate, doing her absolute best to stave off such negative, hopeless thoughts and simply enjoy what she had in the moment- silence, solitude, sweet air, freedom. She had wandered far from the house, putting as much distance as she could between herself and the life she was cursed to bear. It was then that she had heard an unnatural snap in the twigs of the bushes, had felt an eerie presence behind her. She was simply not fast enough to react, and perhaps… she didn’t really want to.

Everything went dark after that, and her memories picked up at the point where she had awoken in the unfamiliar bed of the manor. So, she had been swept away from her home in the middle of the night by a strange man to a strange house, and the only thing she felt towards that fact was burning curiosity; it interested her greatly as to the reason why this man had done it. But by the rigidity and animalistic nature that seemed to swim within those pink orbs, it would no doubt be anything but good.

But anything would be better than the life she had been kidnapped from.

The boy had returned with yet another figure, an older gentleman who seemed to tower over every single soul in the room, and Everette wondered if the young boy would disappear once more, when he slipped to the side of the white haired man, looking rather comfortable.

It was then that the man spoke, introducing himself as Drake Stuart with an attention commanding voice despite the gentle timbre of it. Everette did not really shift in her seeming comatose handling of the situation- she simply watched on and listened without any real conflict showing on her gentle face. It was then that Drake mentioned introductions, and with the toothed smile that seemed to just barely make it to his harsh eyes, it happened once more. There was an unmistakable inkling at the back of her mind, something that bothered her to no end, like there was something important that she knew, something amiss with the man who spoke to them. But for the life of her she could not put her finger on it.

Drake finally began addressing each of them, the shorter female to her left as Eden Fellsden. The name seemed the vaguest bit familiar, but Everette was uninterested enough to simply not dwell on the piece of information. She had not really expected to be among the first to be introduced, but really, what was she expecting anyway? Drake’s gaze focused on her, and he spoke her name, adding a rather flattering bit afterwards. Not that she was impressed or moved in the slightest. With his attention came that irritating itch within her mind, the information dancing just out of reach. Her eyes narrowed slightly in response to it, but otherwise she did not move. She seemed unable to, anyway, which was increasingly strange to her.

Drake continued with the introductions, naming the three gentlemen beside her as Wiley, Teddy, and Laurent. The little bit he added with Mr. Foxlinde’s she would never have expected. The man had children. Well, it wasn’t entirely surprising in itself, the male was certainly old enough to have them. It should have been unsettling, it should have put quite the distance between the five of them and their host what with such a flippant remark. But the only thing that came to mind was that with kids came marriage, and Ever utterly despised the idea. Despite the fact that it was obvious that this was a different situation, Eve also could not help a bit of detached malice towards the thought of kids as well, with only the information she had- upper class children. Spoiled brats, loud, irritating, posh, superiority complexes.

After Drake had finished, he moved on to the actual business of why they were all there. A game, apparently. She noticed the boy shift uneasily at the man’s side, and a small sense of wariness settled over her as well. As he explained the general idea of this event, he introduced the small boy as well, James.

So it was a Battle Royale that they were made contestants of. A game of life but inevitably death. It was then that the rules were set, a hesitation of blood towards material possessions, a warning in regards to wide spread physical limitations, boundaries set, necessities met, and a mention of fornication that made Everette’s eyes widen. It hadn’t occurred to her that such a thing might happen in the midst of trying to kill each other, but the vices of the flesh were wide spread and varied. She didn’t dwell on the thought too long, lest complications arise.

After all, Drake was still speaking. He made it clear that neither one of his servants were to be harmed, yet went back on that statement in the next flow of the subject, mentioning that James needed a good stabbing. That made her uneasy as well- why would he suggest such a thing, if there was the easy chance to lose the boy? That annoying, wiggling thought returned, still as shrouded as ever. It was driving her off the wall in a softly increasing sort of way. The girl was introduced as well- Linnet- and it was then that Everette actually looked her over.

She was young and rather small, though no smaller than Fellsden. She looked wickedly uncomfortable and as though she were a doe, ready to bolt at any split second in regards to any motion. Another pang of unease hit Everette, though in a different sort of manner. Drake then released his hold on James, and the boy tried to move back to the girl, but was tripped on his way over. Subtle hints of worry slipped around her features, but the boy seemed fine. He used his hands, motioning at the girl, and for the first second Ever was confused. But the answer followed in the next moment. He was a mute.

Drake abruptly butted into her thoughts, announcing that he was done and bidding them fare hunting. It seemed he purposefully, and delightedly, burdened the girl with having to answer questions when she obviously wanted nothing to do with the room at the moment, and it was then that the white haired man turned and left, leveling one final piece of information in regards to ghosts. Great.

The older gentleman, as soon as they seemed to regain control of their bodies once more, shot off across the room after Drake, yelling profanities and threats. Everette took a step back in regards to the distasteful display, though she would never have blamed him. Everyone seemed rattled- well, everyone but her. For a moment Insuza wondered why she wasn’t as upset as the rest of them. Had she already accepted her fate? Was she simply incapable of caring? Was she broken as a human being?

There wasn’t an answer, and when Laurent came to a shuddering halt- apparently their host had disappeared without a trace- another focused look came upon her face. Something was off, there was no doubt about that. But it seemed that she was cursed to just miss the answer she might have in her mind towards it. It would do no good to frustrate over it.

Laurent then whirled on his toes, suddenly facing back towards the group, a hateful and unpredictable look to his face. He suddenly approached on the poor girl, showering her with angry questions. It bothered Everette, and a soft frown draped across her face, obviously unamused and seeming almost disappointed. She was moving a moment later, eyes set easily on the male who was bombarding the young servant girl.

As soon as she came within reach of him, she stepped up to decrease the obvious difference in height and swiftly moved her hand against his cheek. The force intended behind the blow would not be particularly hard nor was there be any intended malice behind it. Just a motion to jar him back to reality and out of his frenzied state. It seemed she may have moved a bit too slowly, as he seemed to come to a bit of a realization himself as he glanced back towards the rest of the group. As he turned and her hand was closing in, at the last moment she may have faltered a bit, and so she waited to see if it would land.

Regardless, if it did or did not, she spoke up with a small tremble to her voice, one which she coughed softly to clear before continuing. “Apologies, but terrifying her further is likely to produce the opposite intended effect. You’re scaring her.” The first bit had been to explain the reasoning behind her attempted action, but it seemed Everette grew impatient with herself and added the last bit to get to the point that she was actually concerned with.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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Clayton likely could have slept a lot longer had he not come to the realization that he was not in his own bed. It was the unfamiliar scent that lingered on the sheets that woke him in then end and the sudden worry that came hand in hand. Where was he? He wasn't sure, his memory foggy like a puzzle missing its pieces. His brow furrowed and he tossed the bedding off of him, glancing around the strange room. It rang no bells; he was positive that he'd never been there before. Uneasily, he slowly inched toward the edge of the bed, rummaging through his memory for some recollection as to how he'd gotten here - he'd been heading to the market when... thump. There was a sharp pain in the back of his head as he remembered having been hit from behind. He'd not seen his assailant coming, nor had he gotten a glance at their face. It seemed likely that he had been mugged... so was this place some sort of hospital? The thought, though he believed it reasonable for a moment, was almost immediately proven false by the figure that opened the door.

Teddy found himself staring back at a young boy he didn't recognize, one who didn't seem to fit the role of any sort of doctor. Right. So this place was no hospital. But, if not... He cleared his throat, watching as the child slowly and silently approached. "Er, 'scuse me, but what exactly is this place?" The boy provided him no answer, merely grabbing the elder's forearm and pulling him from his place on the bed. Instinctively, Clayton attempted to pull away, but the boy's grip was like iron. He quickly decided that it would be in his best interest to play along, and so he followed the child out into the hall.

As soon as he'd stepped out from the darkness of his room, Clayton's free hand went over his eyes to shield them from the blinding light. His eyes adjusted quickly, and so as soon as he could see once again he began to observe his surroundings. One of his uncles, whose house he'd stayed at for a few months, had been an avid hunter, his home littered with the heads of his kills. Though Teddy had found such an interest both unappealing and rather cruel, he'd not been saved from the man's hunting stories. One such tale was of a time in which the man had gotten lost in the wood. He'd gotten out of his horrid situation by finding anything that held a sense of familiarity and finding his way back from there. If only Teddy could, somehow, take a peek out of one of the boarded up windows, he might recognize the area and...

Before he could finish the thought, he found himself placed next to a row of other people who looked just as dazed and confused as he did. His eyes narrowed, having another try at grasping the gravity of their situation before his thought was interrupted yet again. His attention, and the attention of the others, was immediately drawn to a man who seemed almost otherworldly. This could have easily been due to how he suspiciously knew each and every one of their names, or the malicious aura he seemed to give off, but the detail Teddy seemed to fixate upon was his eyes. It was as though rubies had been placed where his pupils should have been – completely and utterly fascinating, but terrifying as well.

The man, who introduced himself as Drake Stuart, began to explain just what was going on through the wild grin upon himself. After naming all of his 'guests', he proceeded to explain that this was all supposed to be some riveting match of murder, to which Theodore laughed aloud. He hadn't thought the man serious, but his mind was quickly changed when he noticed the grim and panicked expressions of those around him. Absentmindedly, Clayton rubbed the back of his head while he listened to the rest of the explanation. They were expected to slaughter one another for a reason Theodore didn't seem to understand. It certainly wasn't something he'd expected to occur during his simple run to the market, and he still couldn't wrap his mind around the fact that this was really happening.

As suddenly as he'd appeared before them Drake seemed to vanish, leaving his servants behind to do the explaining. Clayton opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. It seemed, for one of the first moments in his life, he was relatively speechless. Hmm. However, it didn't seem that his speechlessness was mutual, as the moment Drake began to leave a man went rushing after. Angry words came flying from his lips, which was understandable but did nothing to lessen Clayton's headache. He seemed to head toward the female servant next, still somewhat livid. Teddy merely shook his head, mumbling something about this all being some horrid dream. Unfortunately, his gut told him that wasn't the case, but he would have liked to believe it.

A woman - Ms. Everette or something of the sort? - seemed to be attempting to reason with the man, - Laurent, possibly? - and Teddy decided he'd attempt to help. The last thing they'd need was panic; lest the actually begin to kill one another. "Oi, pal," he said, walking over to the small crowd, "I think this fine lady's got a fair point. Your anger's warranted, 'specially if you've got kids, but gettin' upset isn't gonna help anyone." He smiled, hoping to somehow help ease tension. But, in a situation like this, it felt like he was attempting the impossible.

"Though I've got to ask," he said as he turned toward the female servant, who seemed visibly uncomfortable with the commotion, "Just what's this all about? I mean I got the gist, 'last man standing' 'n all. But even so, that doesn't quite make sense. Why would we want to kill one another?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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Linnet’s fears were quickly validated. Mr. Foxlinde stormed after Drake, rage apparent on his face as he shouted out his questions. He balled his fist and whirled. Linnie shrunk back in fear as he turned, his eyes alighting on her. Still, the fear on her face was mixed with the slightest bit of determined anger. Drake was, indeed, a bastard, as Mr. Foxlinde most aptly pointed out. The daemon probably told their supposed ‘guest’ to ask her questions purely because he thought there may be trouble. Though she hoped the man would not get physically aggressive, Linnet already had her hands held behind her, feeling the shape of her knife through her apron sash. This motion looked innocent, however, as though she was merely clasping her arms behind her. Laurent stomped up to her, and she backed up unconsciously. She had hardly moved back two steps when she realized she was already pressed against the wall.

Her eyes flicked to James, and she noticed he was tensing as well. Mr. Foxlinde seemed to take no notice of him, however. He growled out his questions rather forcefully. Linnie kept eye contact until he finished, her eyes wary as she tried to keep from trembling with some success. As he ended his rant, Linnet dropped her eyes and stammered out, “I—It’s as ‘e said. Your ‘ere t—“ she was cut off as the sound of a slap dully rung out. She was surprised when she saw that Miss Insuza had stepped in to help her. The lady mentioned that the man was frightening Linnet. Though that was true, she hardly wanted to seem weak and fearful enough to be a target if anyone did get violent. She drew herself up slightly, making herself look as tall as her small frame would allow so she was no longer cowering against the wall. The act hardly seemed aggressive, since her wide eyes were still watching those in the room with a definite anxiety.

Linnet noticed Mr. Clayton come over to join their group as well, and, though he was also trying to calm Laurent down, she had to force herself not to back away from the man’s approach. It was not like she would get very far in any case. The wall was still at her back after all.

Mr. Clayton’s question certainly gave the odd-eyed girl pause. She hardly knew how to respond, and instead, her mind drew her back to some experiences she would have preferred to forget. Her gaze went over the inhabitants of the room, evaluating them each for a sparse moment. Mr. Foxlinde seemed to be the oldest of the room, though still not what one would call ‘old.’ His tall, hefty form was rather intimidating, especially since he practically towered over everyone but Drake. Mr. Clayton seemed rather cunning, but charming as well. Of course, Linnet did not trust that. She knew how quickly charm could turn. Miss Insuza seemed tall and graceful, the epitome of a Lady, yet she had a disturbing blankness to her. It made Linnie feel wary of what may be hiding under that pleasant exterior. Mr. Skidmore, on the other hand, seemed to bumble about like mad. He was more nervous and jittery than she, and that was saying something.

Linnet made her evaluation in the space of only a couple breaths before her eyes returned to the floor and she answered Mr. Clayton’s question about their motivation for killing. “Are you really so willin’ to trust ev’ryone ‘ere, Mr. Clay’on?” Linnet’s tone held a tinge of bitterness, but was otherwise impassive. Her eyes slowly came up to his face, jumped around to the rest of the ‘guests’ standing in the room, then found his again to emphasize her point. She only met his gaze for an instant before dropping her own once more.

Mr. Foxlinde’s desperate question came rushing at her soon after. Her face immediately became more unsettled, as though she expected him to shout and be angry with her once more. However, it was more that she did not enjoy being the center of attention like this. She would be much happier if everyone simply forgot about her presence. All these eyes focused on her made Linnet want to squirm, but she resolutely kept her form still.

“Not really nuffin’ to tell.” She stated, still not meeting the gazes of those near her. She gripped her hands tightly behind her and haltingly continued. “Drake about… ‘e about said it all.” She glanced to her left, the only unoccupied side, and contemplating fleeing from the room. Still, she did not want to go against Drake’s wishes, nor was her need to escape greater than her desire to be polite. In any case, James was still there, and his presence made her feel the slightest bit braver. So, for the time being, she stayed put.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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When Linnie shifted ever so slightly closer to him, he felt a flush wash over his face, and he straightened his back. He was glad that she trusted him enough to want to be around him, especially after all that had happened. He wasn't sure if she know just how willing he was to fight tooth and nail for her, but he appreciated that he was the protector in this situation, after spending so much time being the victim. Linnie was still like a bird, fluttering around with her senses perfectly attuned to danger, ready to fly off at the first motion of it. And in this manor, there was one specific source of danger. One that James couldn't always protect her from, because he had to mind his own place. Otherwise he'd lose his privilege to keep the human around. And it wouldn't end well for either of them.

James went almost entirely rigid the moment the man started yelling. He fully expected the male to go charging down the hall after Drake, which would be ineffectual. Drake would probably just stare at him and grin until he was all yelled out, then just leave again. But then, the man, Foxlinde, turned to Linnet and began yelling more. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Linnet back into the wall, and his body tensed further, his shoulders hunching as he prepared to pounce on the man, or at least, at the man, just in case he was intending to hurt Linnie. Of course, If it came to blows, he might have to peel Linnie off him, because he could already see her hands going to a weapon hidden on her person. But he didn't come much closer as Linnie started to stammer out an answer. James wished dearly that he could speak for her, but that was impossible.

But suddenly the sound of flesh striking flesh rang out, and James saw that Foxlinde had been slapped by one of the women. Insuza? James couldn't help but smirk slightly at the motion, the man kind of deserved it, he was in such hysterics. And he was the oldest one here by far. Oh, what humans would do for their children. James contemplated the irony of his situation with slight bitterness.

Foxlinde was calmer now, but the frequency and earnestness of his queries didn't diminish in the slightest. James folded his arms over his chest, and turned his gaze to Linnet as she began to speak again. Her words were carefully chosen, from experience, he knew. She hadn't exactly had a pleasant stay at the manor, even without making alliances and tangling herself up in the slowly declining mental state of the manor. Of course, it as partially his fault, he had put knives in the hands of one of the parties an pushed him just a little too far. It was a talent of the desperately hungry. And desperately hungry he was now as well.

As Linnet answered the second half of the question, James let his face fall impassive. Well, they would kill each other, eventually. If they didn't, Drake would grow impatient. And he'd make an example, which would probably mean James would have to get his hands messy, and it wouldn't absolve his hunger at all. Such tedious work. And it only took one cracked mind as it was, to send the whole balance of the game spinning in malicious directions.

The green eyed boy scrubbed at one of his eyes with the back of his hand, he'd only recently been woken from his nap, and he probably still looked terribly ruffled, and smiled at Linnie. He had nothing to add to the discourse, he had no way to add it except through her or through crude hand motions. It was true. It was Drake's way or nothing.

Linnet cast a glance at the door, and James read her body language. She wanted to leave. But Drake had pretty much told her to stay by telling everyone to ask her questions. But, if that was making her uncomfortable, he could put a stop to the question and answer session.

The small boy, his arms folded tight across his chest, took a step forward, putting himself between Linnet and the others, He made a sharp gesture, angling his hand towards the ground, cutting the air with the side of his flattened hand. That was more than enough questions for Linnet. She probably didn't know much about the game anyway, beings that the last time she'd experienced one she'd been a participant. They'd have to ask Drake for the answers to most of their questions. Or if they were going to ask questions, they should do it farther away. And less vehemently.

To punctuate his point, he made a guttural sound in the back of his throat, a cross between a growl and a hem and flapped his hands at them, urging them to back up. Especially Foxlinde. Mostly Foxlinde, actually. Then, very slowly, he began signing at Linnet, careful to only use words he knew she already had learned. Then he pointed at Foxlinde for a moment. ' Tell him sons okay. He kills receives sons back.' His signing, the special brand he'd shared with Drake and way now teaching Linnie, was highly rudimentary, even more so due to the fact that her vocabulary was still highly limited.

Of course, he wasn't sure if Linnet was willing to lie to them to get them motivated, but he wasn't afraid to. He'd been doing this for too many decades to be squeamish about lying. It wasn't like he could go to hell or anything over it. Tell him two choice, die, kill He then directed, pointing at Clayton. They could make things nice and clear, because obviously, these humans were the type to think outside the box. Maybe Drake didn't do such a good job picking them out this time. Or he was just malicious and wanted to give Linnet trouble. Either way, it seemed like it would take some cajoling to get these humans to stir themselves.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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Anderson's first thought as he awoke was to curse all his fellow classmates. By the sizeable headache he could only guess they had somehow convinced or forced him to finally get drunk with them. His eyes still closed he let out a growl of irritation. How many times did he have to tell them of his lack of interest in their typical games. That was when he involuntarily took a trip down memory lane and ended up sitting up with a curse.

His eyes flew open and they did not like what they saw. It was not his room. When the last memory you have is following a strange noise out of the house and you wake in an unfamiliar environment you know you are in trouble. Immediately his mind ticked over the new information. The key here was not to panic but to think. Apparently his kidnapper had no intention of allowing him to, as a boy suddenly entered.

Immediately Anderson was dragged from the bed. He opened his mouth to tear into the boy verbally, but then thought better of it. He carefully shut his mouth instead focusing his attention through his eyes, taking in the dark Victorian mansion. Abruptly he was released next to a few others. From the variety of clothing and dazed looks it appeared he was not taken alone. Instinctively he crossed his arms over his chest, glaring at the formidable character standing before them. For a split second his intense gaze swept to the boy and the young girl at the front, but perceiving less importance from them his eyes returned to Drake.

From the self-important speech the first word that popped into Anderson's head was sadist. At the mention of a gory fight to the death his immediate reaction was one of distaste and revulsion. Goodness this man was a sick bastard…then his mind began ticking over. Six people…some weaker, some stronger…one way out…a challenge!

Unconsciously his hand went to his chin and he was entirely unaware of the commotion around him. An impossible challenge. Hmmm. Perhaps it wasn't so impossible after all. Two were females after all. And none appeared to him to be natural killers- though he mustn't too easily underestimate them. Briefly his eyes flickered over to Linnet and her stammering answers to the small crowd around her. From her appearance and answers Anderson quickly discounted asking her any questions, it didn't seem like she'd be much help and there were too many others there to listen to the answers. His eyes glossed over again as he returned to his thoughts.

Perhaps it would be smarter to find a way out. Immediately the thought was discounted- the amount of people escaping a kidnapper was minimal and Drake Stuart certainly seemed the kind to have thought this through. Therefore that was a secondary option. If an opportunity arose like hell he'd take it, but for now the main objective must be to off the others. Inwardly he chuckled slightly, if not a little uncomfortably. At the back of his mind was his conscience screaming at him in horror at how quickly he had accepted this option. It only took a few seconds for Anderson to the shut the thing up. What alternative was there? He doubted the others would stick to their morals for very long anyway once the ball got rolling.

Now he needed a plan….surely there was a kitchen somewhere. And where there are kitchens there are bound to knives-

His thoughts were suddenly put on a screeching halt as a nervous older man crashed straight into him. Instinctively Anderson took a few steps backwards to remain upright.

"T-t-terribly sorry, sir"

For a second Anderson simply stared at the young man. Taking in his nervous, anxious habits and obviously uncomfortable stance. Then the spell was broken and Anderson's face relaxed into a friendly smile.

"No harm done." He murmured smoothly. "In consideration of current events, I would say there are more detrimental matters to attend to. Can't rightly say I'm interested in playing this sadistic game."

His eyes quickly darted to the man's eyes to gauge his reaction. For now it was a social challenge. Stab too early and you'll likely find four knives in your back. He'd play the morally upright card and the intellect attempting to think of alternative escape paths for now.


"The name is Anderson." He said sticking out his hand by way of greeting.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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Though she made no move, her body involuntarily tensed with anxiety. She hardly enjoyed being with this many people, especially since they were people who were strange to her, and even more since those same people expected answers out of her. Her left arm began twitching and trembling slightly. Suddenly, her heart leapt as James moved in front of her. The sudden movement startled her into stillness, and her eyes fixed on his form. The dear boy was protecting her. His hand motions effectively cut off all further questions, and a few of the ‘guests’ seemed rather startled by it. Linnie was only relieved. Maybe now everyone would just disperse. They at least collectively scooted back a step or so.


When James began signing to her, her heart sank slightly. He wanted her to tell both Mr. Foxlinde and Mr. Clayton something. At James’s message for the former, Linnet’s eyes widened slightly and soon filled with sadness. The poor man had left children behind. Now James wanted her to deceive him to make him more motivated to kill. Still, it would be hard to see anything past Linnet’s general sorrow at what James what saying as she considered the message. Could she really tell the man this? It seemed all too cruel to give him nothing more than a harmful lie for hope. It would not matter what he did, he would never see his children again. Though Linnet feared his anger, that very anger showed just how deeply he loved his children. Linnet had never felt love from her own father, but it was still clear even to her that the man treasured his young ones.

James continued with an ultimatum for the other man, Mr. Clayton. This, at least was no falsehood. It was something Linnie had lived in these very halls. So long ago, when she was in the very same position the current batch now found themselves, she had to steel herself to survive. If even one of them took the warning seriously, the rest would wish they would have….

Just this thought made her nervous, and she lowered her gaze until her wispy bangs all but hid her face. She briefly considered the words, and how best to tell them. Perhaps she would just leave after all. She really did not have the nerve to stir these people up. That may just turn out badly for her own safety after all.

Just a moment after James finished, Mr. Clayton broke into her thoughts, politely demanding to know what James had said to her, as if their communications were merely a way to privately converse, rather than the only solid mode of communication for James. Linnie looked up at him through her bangs, without raising her head, making it seem almost like she was glaring though she had just been caught off guard. James, on the other hand, quickly made clear why he was not talking aloud.

Once his little demonstration was finished, Linnet looked up a bit more. She now had to say something at least, and there was no point in lying about what James had told her. She raised her head just slightly more, an almost defiant look in her eye as she spoke softly. “Well, ‘e said, Mr. Clay’on,” she bobbed a small curtsey, emphasizing her words, “that Mr. Foxlint’s chil’ren is alright, for the time bein’. If ‘e wants to receive ‘em back alright, though…” she hesitated for a moment, trying to decide where to go from there. The defiance dranined from her mismatched eyes and she looked up and Mr. Foxlinde. There was something akin to pleading there, along with the sorrow. Her next words were just loud enough to hear, “You’d ‘ave to kill to get ‘em back, Sur.” The conviction was apparent in her voice, and she almost winced to hear it. Still, she kept her disconcerting gaze on Mr. Foxlinde for a moment, as if apologizing for the harsh words.

She dropped her eyes again, though she did slightly turn her head in Mr. Clayton’s direction. The defiant tone returned once more as she spoke, and her left arm trembled slightly. “To you, Mr. Clay’on, ‘e says there’s two choices. Die, or kill.” She turned away, hiding the fear in her eyes. “That’s all,” she said, with an almost childish tone of resentment. If any more questions were asked, or even if James tried to tell her to say more, she considered simply not responding. She was getting fed up already. Drake had explained why he brought them here, the bastard. Couldn’t they go bother him for a change. Linnet was seething under her outward timidity, but this would not make her dangerous. That is, unless someone made an aggressive move toward her. Even then, she would probably simply flee the room, with or without James to protect her.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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Laurent was taken aback as the young boy who had retrieved him from his "room" suddenly cut in front of him and the others and sliced the air with his hand. A guttural noise akin to a growl escaped his lips as he glared rather pointedly at them, mostly him. Out of surprise, rather than fear, Laurent took a step back. The boy turned towards the young servant in question and began motioning with his hands towards the girl. Her eyes widened in horror, apprehension, and, for only a moment, sadness.

Ah. So the boy is mute. That would explain why the terrified girl would be forced to answer questions despite the boy having all the answers. Laurent mused.

During the servants conversation, the girl glanced in his direction multiple times the concern and worry apparent on her face. Whatever the lad was telling her was without a doubt the answer to his own personal question, and he was certain that whatever information he was telling her, he wasn't going to like it. Immediately after the boy stopped signing his message, the young man broke in with an inquiry as to the subject of their conversation.

Looking as if she would rather be anywhere else but there she turned towards them. She looked towards young man first with a glint of annoyance in her eyes and a sarcastic curtsy she mentioned that his children were alright. The uneasiness and worry settling on his shoulders lifted slightly at the mention that they were indeed alive and well. But her next words cut him to the core.

“You’d ‘ave to kill to get ‘em back, Sur.” Her words were cold and biting, but the look in her eyes was unmistakable. Pity and regret flooded her countenance. However, it only lasted a mere moment before she returned her attention to Clayton and addressed his own concerns. But Laurent heard nothing except the ringing of his ears and the echoing of her words. He felt nothing except his blood run cold at the implications of that statement. So this is it? This was real. This was how his life was going to end. In the hands of some twisted sociopath.

Laurent glanced once more around the room committing each face to memory. The other participants: a young noble lady bred and raised to social "perfection" that was no better than a canary in a gilded cage, a strapping young man at the start of his adulthood just beginning to unfold his potential, a fidgety gentleman that looked like he would scream at his own shadow, and last another noble and seemingly the youngest of all the group, and yet... something was wrong. There was something in the boy's eyes that Laurent instantly decided he didn't like. What that was, only time would tell but he would be sure to keep an extra close eye on him.

Without another word, Laurent turned back towards the hallway they had been dragged from. Laurent needed to think and clear his mind, and standing in the foyer would certainly not aid in that. He moved his way down the hallways only making one wrong turn before finding the hallway his bedroom was located in. Not at all liking how close his room was to the other "contestants" he made a mental note to find another bedroom to sleep in. He opened his door and began rummaging through the drawers and dressers only to discover that most of which was empty give one set of clothes he assumed were for himself given the size. Frustrated he went back into the hall and briefly considered searching the other rooms, but quickly discarded that idea thinking the results would be the same as his own room. Not particularly wanting to sit in the darkness of his personal quarters he resigned himself to enter the sitting room at the end of the hallway.

It was a rather quaint room with light blue walls and matching cushioned sofas and chairs with a white wooden and glass table in the center. Laurent slumped into one of the large chairs in the corner and began mulling over the information he just acquired.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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He could tell that she was uneasy with what he told her to do, and he hated to do it to her, but he did have to consider his own survival as well. Not to mention her own, because he was more than sure that if she underperformed, Drake would have no qualms about getting rid of her, despite his best protests. Her eyes cast towards the ground, and James watched her quietly, his brow drawn. He would not blame her if she didn't want to lie, he'd just have to find another way to communicate to the guests. This was likely a touchy subject for her, and he hated that Drake, no, he hated that he was making her go through this. It was certainly not fair for her, nor was it safe for her.

Then all of a sudden, Clayton, grinning all over himself, though the curve of his lips seemed a touch forced, interjected. James turned his head immediately to him, staring hard with his wide green eyes. A small flare of annoyance sparked in his system. Always so impatient, these people. Though could he truly blame them? They weren't in the best situation. But he was tired of answering this question. He opened his mouth, relaxing his jaw so it just hung down, letting all the guests see exactly why he couldn't talk. The ugly twist of muscle in the back of his throat was obviously not a natural occurrence. Whether they put together two and two that it was Drake's fault didn't matter. Now they knew that he couldn't speak to them.

As soon as he snapped his mouth shut again, still staring hard at Clayton, his eyes blank, Linnie began to talk, her voice full of sorrow. James wondered if she was revisiting the past as she spoke. He slowly turned his eyes back to her, trying to catch her gaze. He could feel the tension roiling off her in waves. She was good at hiding her feelings, but the last few months had James attuned to her particulars of her body language. That's all, she said. That's all. That's the end of it. He could tell that was the end of her patience. He let out a sympathetic huff of air, as if asking her to forgive him, and ever so slightly tilted his head towards the exit to the room, one eyebrow lifted in a question. He could handle things from here if she was ready to find refuge. Actually, he'd prefer it if she concealed herself elsewhere. It'd lessen the chances that she'd get hurt, and he knew from experience that Linnet was a most excellent hider. And she was still human, not immune to the plight of her peers. Well, he wasn't either, but he was more numb that she was.

At this point in time, Foxlinde turned around and walked right out of the room. James swallowed the faint smile that threatened to crease his face. Ah, there it was. Things were falling into their usual places now. Now he really only had two things to focus on. One was obtaining food, and the other was protecting Linnet. Not in that order of importance, of course. The boy turned again and gave Linnet a meaningful look. If she was up to it, following the man might prove a rewarding activity. Though, it would be dangerous, since he didn't seem to be quite right after she'd told him what was at stake. James sighed almost comically, turning back to the rest of the group. He hadn't really considered how difficult it would be to keep an eye on everyone and also prevent Linnet from being hurt. Perhaps he was underestimating her abilities a tad, but she didn't have the ability to heal herself, so he felt he had every right to want to protect her. Plus, he feared that at the first sign of weakness, Drake would grow bored of the whole thing and get rid of her.

This was all such a mess. The boy closed his eyes for a moment, scrubbing them with the back of one gloved hand. His eyes were still sticky from the nap Drake had woken him from to write the missives. And his hunger nagged at him, he knew he didn't have time to dally, but he needed to be a bit more cautious with Linnet on his side. He'd let her play by her instincts, which seemed to serve her well, and not push her too hard. He knew his limits, and she knew hers, he shouldn't try to push her too far.




Wiley's face was beet red as the male he's accidentally run into pinned him with a stare for a few painful seconds. He had the standing of someone obviously of a higher class, though as Wiley looked closer at him, he was perhaps a few years younger than himself. The brown haired man chewed on his lip for a second until a smile broke across the other's face, and he relaxed a little.

"You're r-r-right sir, quite right, q-q-quite right." He managed to continue stuttering through his sentences nervously, despite feeling an ounce more at ease. "I d-d-don't wonder if I mi-might be dreaming, this all seems like th-the plot of a w-work of fiction." He laughed, still slightly ill at ease.

He took the proffered hand and shook it. If there was a protagonist in this novel, at this moment it was either the man with the children, or this obviously well born man, who spoke smoothly and easily, and seemed calmly distressed at the thought of killing. And then the young woman would be the love interest, the damsel in distress that he would inevitably save from the red-eyed man.

"Skidmore. Er- W-Wiley Skidmore." He said by means of introduction, and tried to mimic the smile, straightening a touch. As he withdrew his hand, me meant to tell the young man what he thought, but in the quick moment of silence, he felt the incredible tension in the room. Everyone seemed to be looking at the servant girl, and the boy who stood protectively in front of her. The boy opened his mouth, as if to say something in the direction of one of the other people in the room. Wiley caught sight of the interior of his mouth, and began to feel a touch faint. His face grew a mite paler, and he quickly turned his eyes to the girl behind him, who had a sad look in her eyes.

She spoke to the man with children, and to the man the servant boy had been staring at, but her words bounced in his mind. Die or kill. Those couldn't be the only options. There had to be a way out. Why weren't these people helping them? How could so many be privy to this strange, sick game?

"Die or kill," he murmured reflectively to himself, then he turned his eyes upwards to Anderson. "There has to be another option." His voice, in it's incredulity, had lost the stutter, but now he was worrying his hands. "Nothing is ever that simple." He began chewing on his lip again, looking at the blond male as if he expected the other to tell him what to do now. Wiley was not an action man. He was fairly intelligent, for his social class, and he was a hard worker, but he was born to work under someone else. He needed guidance. And his innocent mind had found a suitable leader in the boy with the self assured smile and the calculating voice.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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The slightly older man's face quickly filled with colour, and Anderson doubted he'd met a more nervous and unsettled man in his life. His proffered hand was accepted as he mentioned dreaming. Anderson bit his tongue mentally. It seemed such a cliché to immediately want to be dreaming…or in hindsight more like clinging at straws. Nay, the situation was much to detailed to be a dream with the constant throbbing of his head and the solid feeling of the floor beneath his feet Anderson was sure that dreaming was a nice idea at most. As for a work of fiction that Anderson could relate to, and as it stood Anderson was going to make a point of being a major character rather than a minor one that gets picked off at the beginning.

He was pleased to have the man introduce himself as 'Wiley', though the name hardly seemed fitting. Nevertheless the exchange of names held future promise of a temporary alliance. This was going reasonably well then, well as reasonably to be expected at this point. That was when the boy's deformed mouth caught Anderson's attention. Immediately the young man averted his eyes. For the first time his mind seemed to catch onto the gravity of the situation and his eyes could not hide the sudden fear that flooded him.

Certainly he liked challenges, but this one's stakes seemed absurdly high. Perhaps death and life were no longer the only viable consequences, but now mutilation and pain were suddenly bought to the forefront. For a moment Anderson was caught in an uncharacteristic second of pure terror before his mind caught hold of his emotions once again, reigning his fear in. He need not fear the consequences of failing if he succeeded. Once again winning this challenge became the only reasonable option.

"Die or kill, there has to be another option."

Anderson's immediate reaction was to laugh and point out to Wiley the desperate wistfulness of the statement, however revealing how quickly he had bought into the options and was planning how to move forward was unwise at this point. Instead he nodded with a dazed look on his face as his mind continued to race.

"Nothing is ever that simple."

"That my friend is an understatement." Anderson replied thoughtfully.

He glanced back at his new acquaintance and found the man looking at him waiting for a direction that Anderson had not yet come up with. His attention was temporarily diverted by an older man suddenly leaving the room. Inwardly he frowned, he had a bad feeling he'd missed something important as he knew nothing of this stranger, he being too preoccupied with his own plans and Wiley. He dismissed the feeling of unease as for now there was nothing to be done about it. Now required action of some sort. Suddenly his eyes lit up.

"Wiley- I do believe you are right. There must surely be another option, since things are never simple there must be a technical clause to get out of it." He lied smoothly, never doubting that there was no other option, but playing the game nevertheless. "We will undoubtedly need to seek answers elsewhere as it appears these two are not going to be of much more practical help."

His words were stated logically and were not unkind as he glanced at Linnet and James. That was when he noticed the young lady standing nearby.

"Miss?" He asked politely, bowing slightly. "Myself and this gentleman are going to be looking for the answers that undoubtedly we all seek. Would you care to join us? In a place like this it is doubtfully better to stick together."

On one hand Anderson had wanted to be alone to explore and allow himself the privacy of picking up whatever he deemed useful without eyes that would notice his scheming. However from a more broad perspective, leaving alone could be seen as scheming in itself and would allow a group to band together against him. For now he would play the leader and protector.

Anderson was also acutely aware of the other man's absence. Had he taken Anderson's option A. of solitary planning? Or perhaps he was merely confused and needed time alone. Whichever held the most truth was of no consequence, as why not place seeds of suspicion into the others minds of the man's possibly devious planning? The more they focused on each other and trusted him the higher the chance of success. He immediately allowed his eyes to slide to the door the other had exited through, a small frown coming over him.

"I am a little concerned about the gentleman that left." He said smoothly, concern and worry dancing across his features. "I pray he is merely coming to terms and seeking alternative paths as ourselves…"

He was careful not to point out what the alternative reason for his leaving might, lest his subtlety come crashing down.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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The two legitimate residents of this seeming hell house seemed to discuss several things in a very deep manner, the boy constantly moving his hands and fingers. Everette seemed to lose herself to the choppy motions as the room seemed to lapse into silence. That was far from true, of course, as the din of two other voices sounded somewhere in the background. Eve didn’t pay them much mind.

The spell was broken as James allowed his hands to fall back to his sides, and just a moment later the seeming silence was interrupted as well when Theodore politely spoke up, really speaking for the three of them as he intoned his interest in knowing what the two had been discussing. The answer they received, however, was anything but positive.

The little Cockney girl answered with seemingly practiced ease, though her body language spoke otherwise. She even seemed to mean to stand up a bit. When Linnet informed them that Foxlinde’s children were alright, a small seam of ease rushed through her, Ever’s gaze shifting quickly over to the man in question and hoping that this information would provide useful and settling. Linnet was not finished, however.

Laurent would have to enact murder upon the rest of the house if he wanted his children back. That shook Eve to the core. For the first time since awakening, she felt rather nervous. It had been no secret that the older man was passionate about his children, and with the girl pointing this rule out, Ever suddenly became all too aware of the fact that this game would indeed begin, and there would indeed be the possibility of bloodshed.

The small girl and the oldest of the group seemed to share a moment separate from the rest of them, Foxlinde taking in the news in complete silence. It gave another sort of kick to Everette, a deep feeling of unease and disgust settling in the pit of her stomach. It did not help that a moment later Laurent looked around with a blank face, seeming to eye each of them. Eve quickly shifted her eyes back to James and Linnet, hoping not to have been caught witnessing the act.

Linnet spoke up for Theodore, really answering him as if she were informing everyone else that this rule applied to them: kill or be killed. It was such a simple answer, a simple-seeming cause and effect. But the implications were extremely complicated- there was so much more to it than just that. Linnet fell silent after that, looking very much like she was done for the day.

Everette was distracted from her current thoughts when she caught a bit of movement, quickly registering it as Laurent. He had turned from them, wandering back down the hall like a ghost. A subtle bit of worry flourished within her, and while she weighed her options to go after him and ensure his state of mind or remain here for her own safety, she inevitably decided that it would be best to leave him to his thoughts and to not disturb him. His news was heavy, after all, and she was more than certain that he would not want to be disturbed or forced to put thinking on it off for much longer. Ever settled it that she would visit on him later and hope to find out his thoughts and feelings on the situation, and hopefully not prove to be a first victim of the game.

With those thoughts she had a momentary panic that she would be best off looking for something to protect herself with, but only a moment later dismisses such. Panic-made decisions were hardly logical, and while yes, inevitability said that she would need such, no one had proven to be a threat so far, and making such a move might not be the wisest, especially if someone were to happen to catch her in the act. It was too early in the game, and despite the pros and cons on either side, she would wait. Besides the fact, she did not figure any of the participants heinous enough to actually do anything on the first night. They would be too busy with other things, too shocked, too curious, or too thoughtless.

It would be better to take the time she had in the beginning to do some research- Drake had said there was a library, and that little irritating itch at the back of her mind stirred once more, demanding to be settled. There was something she knew of Drake, or at least something familiar in regards to some information locked away in her mind that connected. Besides, reading always seemed to calm her and set her thoughts straight.

Despite the fact that the demon had said so many different rooms were off-limits, Everette doubted that very much. What would the man actually do to them, should they break such a pointless rule? Besides, why would those rooms be off-limits, unless they held secrets, or something Drake wanted to avoid any of them discovering? He was the game master of this twisted little story, and if he had set the five of them against each other, Everette had little reason to believe that he would interfere.

There was something else as well, though. Eve’s gaze drifted over to the hallway that Drake had taken to depart, and a heavy look of thought overtook her. Information needed to be established, and-

A new voice broke in, and immediately her face was wiped clean as she turned from the hallway to look at the boy who had spoken. Anderson, she recalled. There was a drilled sense of talent for remembering names in Ever’s case. She had to remember many and in quick succession if she wanted to save her father’s pride, what with so many different ranking nobles always flooding in and out and expecting the highest forms of respect.

The young gentleman bowed politely as he asked of her, and Everette returned the motion automatically without even thinking of it for a second. She dipped her shoulders and chin slightly in the weakest form of a curtsy to indicate greeting. He then spoke, making mention of the nervous man behind him, Wiley, and informing her that they would be going out to seek answers.

Everette had no cause to flaw his logic on sticking together, but for some reason the thought of being among so many others soured her mood. It was a good idea, of course, but Everette struggled between the face of elegance to simply agree and prosper from what the group would discover, and the clever intelligence that sparked, bringing up the fact that it would be best to vet those around her and learn more of them, for her own safety. But at the same time it would be a chance for them to do the same towards her.

Anderson then spoke up, making mention of Laurent’s absence. Everette simply nodded in agreement to his being concerned, though between the noble woman and the youngest of the group, it was concern in two different aspects. She of course understood him, though. “I have little doubt that he is indeed simply mulling over the facts and getting a grip on himself. He’s most likely exhausted, physically and mentally, and sought to retire. I myself am considering the option.”

She smiled very softly towards Anderson, displaying a small bit of weariness herself before looking to Wiley. The man seemed too sprung to settle down in the least bit and too nervous and polite to mean any harm. Ever decided that she liked him, and turned a polite smile of greeting towards him as well.

“My apologies. I think you might find my company a tad boring, but if you should insist, I would have no qualms about joining your small party for a small while. Elsewise I think I may retire.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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As if to answer Clayton's question - or, more accurately, to explain why he couldn't - the boy let his mouth fall open. What sat inside was no pretty sight. A bit of flesh that had presumably once been a tongue sat limply in his throat. Had Theodore misplaced his manners, he would have almost certainly gasped, or maybe cringed, but his only true reaction was a small oh that never escaped his lips. He'd assumed the boy had some sort of aversion to talking, but it seemed that was not the case. Boys who lacked tongues, men with chilling red eyes; he could only wonder what other oddities this manor held. With his point proven, the young man snapped his mouth closed.

Theodore felt uneasy as the conversation continued. Maybe it was James's actions that had triggered his slight nausea, or maybe the mere the horror of their circumstance. The only thing Teddy did know was that he was now craving a smoke. How inconvenient.

The woman spoke next, curtsying in a fashion that seemed bitter and false before recounting, to them, what the boy had been saying. She first spoke of Foxlinde's children, letting him know that they were fine. Which was the first good news of the day; this game would've been an entirely different beast had a participant's family been harmed. Clayton watched the older man's reaction, the latter seeming, for obvious reasons, relieved. However, that relief didn't last for too long, as the young lady wasn't quite finished yet. She informed Foxlinde of just what he'd need to do in order to see them again. Clayton probably should have expected an add on like this, but he felt his breath catch in his throat nonetheless. Foxlinde would have to play their sick game.

It seemed that they too had realized the leverage available were they to bring Laurent's children into the mix. And they certainly knew how to play their cards. Any hope that this group had of maintaining peace was a fragile one, and those running this game seemed to know just how they could shatter it entirely. Clayton glanced at the mute boy from the corner of his eye. He had to give the kid credit, as it was a fairly solid strategy.

Linnet spoke to him next, the resentment in her voice returning. He was a bit distraught, given the fact that he'd already caused someone to dislike him so early on when his one goal had been to play nice, but he refused to let that show. He watched intently as she explained to him his options, none of which favorable. To be a murderer or a martyr... it was surreal that he would even have to make such a choice.

He opened his mouth to make some sort of witty comment, but before he could, Foxlinde promptly turned on his heel and left. Clayton felt concerned, and almost called after the man. Of course, his reaction wasn't too out of the ordinary - in fact, he was much more composed than he had been before - but, could Foxlinde possibly be mulling it over? How far could one man go for his children? Coming to his senses, Teddy let the man go, giving a small smile as he turned to face the servants. "Well then, I see how things are," he said quietly. It was not that he was resigning to his fate, but instead recognizing that he could, at the moment, do nothing about it. He'd have to play along for now. Make friends as opposed to enemies... or, at least, try to do so.

From nearby, Theodore heard Miss Everette being addressed. He glanced over at the conversation out of the corner of his eye. It seemed that it was one of the other two gentlemen he'd not yet met, an Anderson or something of the sort, who'd spoken up. Charismatically, he offered the lady his companionship, and that of the other man. Clayton noted that the latter looked horribly fragile, as if a mere sour glance might cause him to collapse. Wiley had attached himself to Anderson like a drowning man to a raft, and it seemed that Anderson was playing the savior quite well. In fact, he'd put himself in that position a little too fast for Clayton's taste. He made himself out to be some sort of protector, which was quite noble of him, but he felt as though it only proved to undermine the others' abilities. Miss Everette for instance: Teddy'd only just watched her slap a man, and thus he got the feeling that she was quite the capable woman. But, then again, being in a group had to have merits.

Either way, though, it didn't matter, as it didn't seem that Theodore had received an invitation. He was fine with that, he supposed, as he could make do on his own. Or, he might try and make friends in different places. "I think I'll go on n' check on Mr. Foxlinde," he announced to no one in particular, beginning to exit the foyer. "Ya know, just to make sure he's not planning on killin' any of us." He uttered the a grim statement in an almost inappropriately playful tone. With that, he shot a wink over his shoulder and hurried down the hallway.

Clayton stood in that hallway for only a moment, curious as to where the man may have gone, before noticing that the door at the end of the hall wasn't entirely closed. He walked to the room, gently rapping upon the door-frame as he gave the door a slight nudge and stuck his head into the opening. "Hey there, mind some company? If not, I understand, an' I won't take offence if you tell me to go away."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Wiley smiled and nodded along, as he was often wont to do. He was starting to calm down a touch now, Anderson had proved himself a quite capable leader already with his diction and general attitude, and Wiley had decided that things would turn out fine as long as he stuck around and didn't break anything. Which could prove to be quite the feat in itself. Anderson mentioned the possibility of a technical clause, which sparked something in the timid young man's brain. Of course. Technicalities were inherent in even the most foolproof of documents, loopholes easily exploited by those who knew what they were doing. So the same must be true of reality. There had to be some way out, some escape. How could this man possibly have trapped them in this manor with no way out? And even so, the only servants they'd seen so far were a tongueless boy and a girl who, though he'd barely looked at her for fear of shaking out of his boots, seemed quite nervous as well. If they decided not to kill each other and instead seek another way out, what could the two possibly do? It wasn't like they were superhuman, even though the red eyed man had seemed a touch ethereal, that was the stuff of fiction. As a transcriber for a law firm, he knew first hand that there was no evil that could not be overcome by a technicality, a loophole, or the slow inevitable march of the blind Lady Justice.

"Yes, of course." He said eagerly when Anedrson mentioned that the two servants would not be a help. They could seek out a better solution to their problem! Of course. The faint fluttering of being safe quickly died in Wiley's chest, however, when Anderson invited the Lady Everette into their group. While it meant that they were now a complete trio, the hero, the sidekick, and the love interest. What could possibly go wrong? Other than the fact that, as the young woman drew closer, Wiley's face turned bright red from neck to the tips of his ears, and he dropped his eyes to his feet and shuffled a little ways away from her. Despite the fact that he was looking down, he kept shooting uneasy glances back up at her, at if afraid that she'd drawn nearer. She spoke, her voice soft and quite refined, she must have come from money as well. Once when he glanced up she smiled at him, and he returned the smile, feeling his lungs constrict and throw themselves madly into his ribcage. He made a slight, strangled sound and covered his face with his hands after a few seconds, trying to compose himself. Oh dear, he wasn't sure if he could do this.

But these were such extreme circumstances. And he didn't want to be out here by himself. The other male had already left, so it was just the three of them and the off-putting servants. So after spending a few seconds buried in his palms, he swallowed and steeled himself. He needed to be strong now. Maybe if he just didn't look at her his heart would settle down, and he'd stop shaking slightly. He was being silly. It wasn't like she was incredibly beautiful and apparently very nice to boot. He couldn't be bashful. "W-w-whu" he started to say, but he couldn't manage to get the words out past his trembling tongue. He swallowed, trying to calm himself down by staring at his hands, which were still raised slightly in case he needed to cover his burning face again. "W-wh-where s-should w-we start looking?" He finally managed to spit out, still flushing furiously from the collar of his shirt up, completely oblivious to the delicate game of subtleties Anderson was dancing around his stuttering brain.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

For an agonizing moment, everyone’s attention was on Linnet as they took in those startling words. As much as she did not like it, Linnet could hardly blame them. After all, she had basically proclaimed a death sentence over their lives. It was not her fault though. It was a mere joke of fate that had brought each of them here, under Drake’s domain. The thought always made her want to laugh hysterically, but she savagely repressed the impulse. That would do little to help her, especially if the others got the idea that she was close to some sort of breaking point. It was nothing like that at the moment, though. She was more resigned than anything, though she hated herself for it. Fate had always seemed to throw the worst possible circumstances at her. It was her own personal misfortune to survive and endure through those circumstances. There was no other choice, or at least none she was brave enough to accept.

Soon, she noticed the “guest’s” attentions shift away from her and toward each other. James raised an eyebrow at her, subtly communicating that she could go if she wished. She was as used to reading his body language as he was to reading hers. They had been around each other for months after all. He was releasing her from her role of answering questions. She could tell that he did not want her here for the same reason she did not wish to stay. People would, eventually, mean danger. She turned her gaze to the floor, thinking about whether she could gain any more information by staying. After all, she would prefer to know where people were to better avoid accidentally running into them. Literally, in some cases.

Just as she was contemplating this, Mr. Foxlinde startled her by suddenly moving. She reflexively brought her hands up just under her chin, as though preparing to fend off a blow, but she quickly realized he was moving away from her toward the sitting room at the end of the hall. He did not even glance back, and Linnet could only imagine what would be running through his head. She let her arms drop back to her sides as she watched his retreating form until the half-shut door concealed him. She sensed James move beside her and turned back to him, immediately noticing his look. Perhaps she would look in after Mr. Foxlinde, though there were inherent dangers in that, especially after what she had told him. Her body tensed slightly in anticipation, already threatening to make her freeze. She fought the panic down, reassuring herself that she could take things slow and flee if necessary. After all, she knew this manor. Foxlinde did not.

She had almost convinced herself to move when she heard Mr. Clayton’s comment about making sure Mr. Foxlinde was not planning on killing. She froze then, watching as he too paced down the hallway toward the sitting room. ’No, nononono…’ She anxiously shifted from one foot to another, certain that this would make her previous plans unworkable. After a moment, she calmed herself again. No, this would not change anything; she would just have to be more cautious. That was all. She looked around the room once again, making sure of where people were. James still stood beside her, probably curious as to what she would choose to do. Clayton had just stuck his head in the sitting room door, and Mr. Foxlinde was still out of her line of sight, which would likely mean he could not see her either. The other three, standing at the other end of the hall from the sitting room, seemed suitably distracted as well, talking amongst themselves. For now, she was not being observed, and she hoped to continue that way. After all, it would be better for her purposes if no one knew where she was, and safer too.

She hastily nodded at James and smiled. She was still nervous, but now was the time to move if she was going to do so. Linnet stalked off toward the sitting room, trying to conceal herself from either Clayton’s or Mr. Foxlinde’s notice. She crept toward the door to the right of the sitting room, the only one unoccupied by the other ‘guests.’ Consequentially, it was unoccupied because it was meant to be hers. After all, she had woken up there mere months before with no idea of where she was. Though she had hardly used it since, for now it’s positioning was convenient. She soundlessly slipped inside and partially shut the door. Only a small crack let light into the musty room. The curtains were drawn, the bedclothes still rumpled from the first time she had woken up there. She had not slept on that bed since. Still, in the bottom of the wardrobe was one of her stashes of random items. A couple dresses that she had never worn, a book she had stolen from Drake’s library, a hard piece of bread that was likely moldy by now.

However, her mismatched eyes hardly glanced at the room. Instead, she turned and peeked out of the cracked door, listening. She immediately heard Mr. Foxlinde, speaking in sonorous tones, “--as a good idea to come visit with the doting father who would do anything for his children…” Linnet continued to listen, trying to gauge the man’s mood from his words. She concentrated on keeping her breaths shallow and soundless as the man spoke. She was surprised at his statement that he would not kill for his children. Either he was a good actor, or a good man. She was not sure which unnerved her more. His next statements only increased her unease. Though Foxlinde had just said he would not kill for his children, he also made it clear he would still fight. She felt something akin to relief when he aimed his anger at Drake. Still, if he considered her merely a part of Drake’s plot, that would hardly exempt her from his anger.

Just as suddenly as he started off, Foxlinde interrupted himself for an introduction. It was a subtle rejection of what Drake had done moments before, and Linnet sunk into contemplation. It seemed that Foxlinde was a spirited man. Perhaps Drake would not crush him as easily as he had with some. Perhaps he would not be so easily lured into this game. Still, Linnet still wondered if it was an act. It would be a good cover if Foxlinde did decide to play Drake’s game for the sake of his children. But, she did think his earlier rage and concern for his children had been sincere. Linnet was unsure of whether he could put on an act so quickly after such raw emotion. She turned away from the door, resting her back against the wall next to it as she listened, but no longer watched the conversation. There was not much she could see anyway. Her mind raced to take in whatever information might be useful to her in the near future as she eavesdropped.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton
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INK

The eagerness in which Wiley had decided to follow him made Anderson grin. It appeared this may not be too impossible. For now having a rather compliant companion was a good beginning. With such optimistic beginnings Anderson was praying for a smooth run...though he very much doubted it. Violence never boded ease.

After approaching the lady, he smiled as she returned his formalities only confirming his happy suspicion that she too had a proper upbringing.

“I have little doubt that he is indeed simply mulling over the facts and getting a grip on himself. He’s most likely exhausted, physically and mentally, and sought to retire. I myself am considering the option.”

He inclined his head slightly in agreement, though inwardly he was a little disappointed at the assumption that the man was simply seeking retreat. Then again, in upper class fashion her comment may just hold the essence of niceties and not reflect her true thoughts.

Her next comment definitely rubbed Anderson up the wrong way. While it had the appearance of being happy to go either way, Anderson knew better. To insist would be rude on his part and therefore not a desirable option. Despite a little frustration, he hid his true feelings instead nodding in agreement with a small smile.

"Undoubtedly it has been a rather tiring episode for us all." He commented. "However now that my mind is full, I have no doubt that true rest will escape me. Hence I will allow you to retire and continue with Wiley here."

One of the men announced his own leaving with, in Anderson's mind anyway, a rather unsavory sense of humour. Despite that he had latched onto the idea of murder for survival with both hands, he still did not find the situation worthy of humour.

It was then that Anderson noticed Wiley's sudden change of colour. For a moment he stepped back slightly, concern lighting up his features as he observed the boys unnatural pallor. He was about to enquire about his health when the source of the change clicked. It appeared the lady was making Wiley decidedly uncomfortable. Anderson hid a smile of true amusement. He had never met someone with such a reaction to the other sex, and the result was decidedly hilarious.

If they had met in any other circumstances Anderson would most definitively had befriended him for good. After all here was a reaction that would be most common considering the population of females in England.

"W-w-whu"

Anderson had to force his face to remain deadpan despite how badly he wanted to laugh. For a moment he found himself thanking his luck stars on being bought up in the Upper Class and being able to hide his emotions. Goodness, if not he would have been rolling on the floor laughing at the poor man and managing to offend his only accomplice so early on in the game. So despite his amusement the only sign of his thoughts was a slight twitching of the lips.

"W-wh-where s-should w-we start looking?"

He took a moment of compose himself entirely to allow himself to speak before responding to Wiley's comment. He immediately decided to allow Wiley to make the decision as frankly he wasn't actually looking for anything, and it had the pretence of 'shared' leadership.

"Well anyplace seems better than here for a start. I am happy to accept any suggestions you may have."

Place a little trust on those that follow you and they follow you all the harder Anderson thought smugly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Wiley didn't pick up on his new friend's amusement at all. He was mostly just glad that the woman hadn't decided to come with him, because he knew what would inevitably happen. Either he'd trip and fall, or he'd knock something over, or something equally embarrassing. Though she seemed quite nice by the same turn of the hand. He felt sad that such a lady had ended up in this place. She didn't deserve this. Of course, no person deserved this, but women more so. What kind of scourge would think that putting a woman in this kind of enviroment was even faintly a good idea. It was just cruel. Like kicking puppies. Or stealing alms from the poor. Though, all things considering he could envision their host doing both of those things, which truly spoke to his moral character. Putting them all in the same place to kill each other. It was heinous.

This was the point when Anderson decided to turn his question back on him and ask his opinion. Which immediately made Wiley turn scarlet again. People rarely asked his opinion on things, or asked for suggestions from him. What kind of trust had been bestowed upon him? What prestige? He couldn't let his friend down, so he wracked his brains for what a hero in one of the many books he'd read would do.

Well, logically, there were many options. They could check the doors, see how they were being contained, or they could check the windows likewise. But Wiley felt acutely uncomfortable wandering around the place with that maniac kidnapper on the loose, so maybe it'd be wise to find someway to defend themselves in case he found them and didn't like that they were trying to escape? If they eliminated the host, then it'd be more than easy to escape at their leisure. Surely the servants were unwilling participants in this? The mute one had looked uneasy, and the other one--the girl--surely a woman didn't have any part in this? And she'd looked so terrified when confronted, as if she was used to being hurt when someone yelled at her. Poor bird. And what heros would they be if they saved the servants from this horrific manor by liberating them from their maniacal master?

Wiley smiled at this thought. Yes, this would be the ideal course of action. The idea that his fellows, any of the other that had been kidnapped, would turn against their brother and try to actually participate in the game didn't cross his mind. Men were naturally good, naturally virtuous, in Wiley's mind. He was too trusting for his own good, that boy.

"I-i-i'm not much for s-suggestions" he stuttered, his face a little red yet, but more with hesitant pleasure at his ideas being valued than from embarrassment now, he looked like a small child who'd been praised. "I do think that our first operative should be to find something to defend ourselves with in case that red-eyed man comes back. I don't care to think what he might do if he finds us trying to escape." Wiley put his fingers to his lips. "And if we head to the kitchen, we can also secure food, in case we are here for a long period of time." Ah, that was an excellent idea! Wiley, though slim, was a well-fed man, he didn't know how long he could starve for.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Everette curtsied politely to Anderson as he dismissed the thought of tarrying upon a woman’s exhaustion, and thus freed her to her own devices. “Indeed,” She mentioned, “The weight of this news undoubtedly burdens us all past the state of true rest, but alas, I think I shall still try. Thank you for your offer, and I bid Godspeed to the both of you. Hopefully you will be able to figure something out to the sense of aiding us all.” Soft, refined words, but ones that held little in regards to sincerity or truth. But they wouldn’t be able to discern the difference. Such was the way of the nobles and the upper class. With one final respectful curtsy, she bid the two men farewell, eyes hesitating for a moment on Wiley with a small smile to entrust actual sincerity in her motions.

Hopefully the two of them would not get themselves into any trouble, but as for herself, there was little she could say for it. There was a nagging sense of pressure constricting around her heart when she thought of her next actions and how they blatantly disregarded what the lord of this house had said, but in the same instance she was assuring herself with logic and a bit of defiance. There was no fair reason for him to outlaw certain areas of the house, not unless there was some ultimately important reason to handicap the players of his game.

Exploration came first in any sense, as it was the best course of action to familiarize oneself with their surroundings so as to have the upper hand, or at least not to have a disadvantage when it comes to others with the knowledge already in hand. This she had learned through many different books read, both on logic and on mystery, as well as puzzles or challenges inscribed within tomes. It was a logical conclusion, and it made sense without having any deeper understanding of modes within ideas and inclinations born from prior, tested knowledge on any one subject.

This wasn’t to say, however, that she was actually doing as much for her own overall benefit, but rather to suit her purposes in locating a specific room within the mansion. She had twisted her words when she spoke of retiring- rather than to a place of rest, instead she would find a place of solace to ease her mind into the very source of most of her knowledge- books.

Finally departing from the room in which everyone had been lined up as if in a shooting gallery, Everette allowed her façade to falter. She took a deep breath, face devoid of emotion, and let her head lull to the side in order to give a quick sigh as she walked forward down the hall. No, there would be no true rest from this point onward. Things didn’t tend to get better with time, and if she knew anything, it was that human nature could never be trusted. People were selfish, or at least that was what she knew from the pool in which she drew information. It didn’t matter how she might have felt, or how much she wanted to suspend disbelief in regards to her fellow players, there was simply nothing to be done about it. Hope would be dispensed accordingly and for a time, but eventually, it would falter just like her façade had moments ago. It couldn’t be kept up forever- to do so would inevitably mean certain death, and Everette wanted to last as long as she could in this exciting, though heinous, turn of events.

Now was not the time to think any longer, however, as she needed to focus on where she was going and put her mind to work at building a mental map of the building she was in. It took her quite some time to finally work her way around to locating the library, though, in essence, it wasn’t like it had been hiding either. Large, ornate double doors secured a bounty of knowledge within its confines. The room itself was even larger. Eve rested a delicate hand on the old handle to the room, opening it as quietly as she possibly could. Who knew what dangers and surprises could be hiding behind any one of these doors? It was as such that she had made her journey through the few areas of the house she had, peeking inside certain rooms and avoiding others altogether for a reason unknown to even her.

But when she revealed the library, her breath was certainly taken away. It was massive, that much was obvious, as well as ornate, but it looked so underused. For one thing, she had not been expecting so many books; they lined every wall in tall, commanding bookcases, dotted around the entire room. There were rows to go through. Why hadn’t she realized that her quest for a specific tome of knowledge would be hindered by so many different distractions? She couldn’t even be sure that what she sought would be here. But it was inevitable that it would- with such a collection, no doubt there would be a wide variety on many different subjects, and, with a little luck, the one she was looking for.

Much of the standings within were covered in some layer of dust, and Everette was sad to see such ignorance towards such precious things, the books. There were signs of use in some places, and of course the floor itself was not in disrepair; it was apparent that Drake used this library in some fashion. It was also odd to see that there were no chairs anywhere within the room. It struck Ever as absolutely inconvenient, but as such, there must be something to remedy that nearby. With a look mixed between awe and a wee bit of contempt, lady Insuza chose a bookcase at random to begin her search. She walked with such silence, as though a single loud step could shatter the reality; this felt like a holy place, and indeed, it could be said to be one, what with all of the knowledge within it, though hardly as extensive of libraries that she had heard of. But for a personal collection, it was certainly impressive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Drake was in a light mood, humming to himself as he wended his way through the manor, ending up in his library. He had a sneaking suspicion that someone would inevitably end up in here. Humans were terrible with directions, their skulls were too thick for them to actually process instructions, or even threats in some cases. The best teacher when it came to humans was experience. There was no amount of warning them that could prevent them from stepping into the bear trap, but once their leg was firmly gnawed off, they'd surely be more careful in the future. Drake smirked as he strolled through the library. It was a beautiful one, any human would be envious of the mass of texts he had obtained over the years. Ancient texts, some of which he had the only surviving copy of. And he had no strong desire to share them with the world, unless he could make a good sum from them.

The demon yawned languidly as he crossed the shelf-maze and entered the small study nestled within the larger room. There were several chairs in the room, but only a few of them showed use, mostly from James's small body curling up on them while Drake worked. He reclined behind his desk, propping his feet up on the mahogany surface and resuming his place in the book he was reading.

Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, as it were, it didn't take long for someone to wander through. Drake could sense a human enter the library. He lifted his head, his mouth falling slightly open as he tracked the human's soul signature. It paused for a few moments, probably taking in the library and reorienting itself, then started moving again. The demon rose to his feet, folding the ribbon that kept his place back into the book and placed said book lightly back onto the table, as if a loud noise might alert his prey. Slowly he exited the study, leaving the door ajar behind him as he slunk down the aisles with a practiced light-footedness.

He found his way to the end of the aisle the human, who turned out to be Lady Insuza, apparently made of tougher stuff than her demure appearance would suggest. He folded his arms over his chest and stood completely still, observing her, and waiting for the human to pull herself away from the bookshelves and notice the white wraith at the end of the aisle.



Linnie smiled at him as she left, and James watched her dolefully, hoping she took care and didn't get hurt. She was clever, and he knew that she'd be fine, but it didn't stop him from worrying. Then he turned his green gaze back to the three remaining people in the room. The three were talking, and one of the men had gone red as a cherry, so James tuned in to discern what it was they were discussing. The woman was excusing herself, and James' eyes tracked her as she glided away. Then his eyes snapped back to the two remaining people. Looks like he was tailing them now. It seemed like they were making plans, the red-faced one was stuttering something about arming themselves?

James lifted an eyebrow slightly. Out of all of the people currently trapped here, that man seemed the least likely to manage to hurt anyone, just looking at the way he was trembling like a leaf, James wondered if he could even sum up the courage to squash a fly. The boy leaned against the wall behind him as he continued to watch the pair, not caring of they noticed him or not. He would follow them and keep an eye on them, just in case they ran into any trouble.

Setting

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Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Anderson nodded politely at Everette's long, but truly rather meaningless sentences. Long winded speeches without much by substance were just part of life in the upper class, and yet being placed in such a new, exciting circumstance Anderson found himself no longer content to play with niceties. For the first time he found them irritating and altogether pointless.

Despite his new-found criticism of his upbringing, Anderson allowed the lady to bid he and Wiley farewell. He bowed without any real deference, but more out of habit in response to her courtesy. He was about to turn to Wiley and continue their conversation when he caught her give Wiley a more genuine gesture; a small smile. This irked him more than he cared to admit. Surprised by the strength of his irritation towards something he would ordinarily find petty he immediately put it down to fatigue to compensate. Nonetheless he could not so easily put away this rather uncharacteristic disappointment that she had paid more attention to Wiley.

Finding himself unable to dispel his feelings, he instead masked them and turned back to Wiley with a more neutral, if not more distant, expression. It was more easy to hide the true nature of his emotions with Wiley's next words. They seemed almost too well matched to Anderson's previous plans and a genuine smile marked Anderson's features.

"I daresay that sounds like quite a sensible plan." Anderson said with much praise in his voice. "I'd prefer not to use such devices as weapons, but to ere on the side of caution is far wiser than finding yourself unprepared-"

He was going to continue when he noticed Drake's little henchman staring at the pair. He frowned slightly not liking the detached way the man could simply observe without having actually getting involved in this sick game. Anderson sent him a hard look, warning him not to interfere and then turned back to Wiley.

"I think the sooner we act upon your suggestion the better." He lowered his voice to keep James from overhearing. "I find that ghouls presence quite unsettling and fear he is far too much in league with Drake for my liking."

Giving Wiley a conspiring nod, he started to leave the room and began wandering the corridors for the sign of a kitchen.

It wasn't long before he chanced upon it. It did not appear to have been in use for quite some time given the amount of dust forming blankets upon the counter tops. Perhaps this sick game had been idle for longer than Anderson had anticipated. Finding himself slightly off put by the rather dead and unwelcoming sight, Anderson slowed his steps taking his time to let his eyes rove around the new room.

After a second or two, he shook off his apprehension and made his way over to the drawers. The first one held what he expected; silvery forks, spoons and small knives. Finding nothing of particular use he delved into the next one. Mainly ladles were kept here, but underneath a few larger one was the glint of metal.

A sigh of relief escaped Anderson in an uncharacteristic lapse of his mask. He grasped the handle and pulled up a large carving knife, glinting dully in the dim light. Suddenly Anderson frowned, his mouth twisting into a grimace. His hand dropped it back into the draw with a clatter, his mind coming up with gory images of the blade delving deep into unsuspecting victims. As much as he had decided he would most certainly be participating in this game and winning, the reality of holding such an ugly implement had momentarily caught Anderson off guard.

Furious with his sudden lack of courage, he forced himself to quickly pick it back up again, slicing his hand open on the blade.

He let out a curse at the long, if not shallow cut.

"Damn my clumsiness."

Setting

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Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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INK

Wiley tucked his hands into the pockets of his pants as Anderson lavished praise upon him. His face was still flaming, and he ducked his head a bit, smiling bashfully. Perhaps this wouldn't be as bad as he'd thought. At least he had on ally. "Of course, of course," he murmured his agreement with Anderson's words, it there was one thing he could do well, it was agree. Then he noticed his friend's eyes dart to the mute servant whose green eyes were boring into them. Wiley leaned in as Anderson lowered his voice, nodding still. Now that Anderson mentioned it, there was something unsettling about the young man. His unnerving gaze, perhaps? He almost looked....hungry. His first instinct was to believe that the servants had been pressed into service and had no choice in the matter, but he trusted Anderson's judgement.

They set off down the halls, ultimately finding their way to the kitchen in the strange maze of a building. Wiley wondered if they'd ever find their way back to their quarters at this rate? He nibbled pensively on the thumb nail of his left hand as they walked, trying and failing to memorize their path.

The kitchen looked quite sorry. It positively reeked with the aroma of disuse. Maybe that was why the servant had hungry eyes. "I'll check the pantry." He said, turning to one corner of the room. Inside there was quite an amount of food, so much that he was dazzled by it. Tinned meats and bread and cheese and barrels of vegetables. "Saints alive, take a look at all this!" he said, poking his head out of the pantry just in time to see Anderson slice the meat of his hand open.

He let out a sort of choked sound of mixed surprise and sympathy. "Are you alright?" Was all he managed to get out at first. Well, of course not, he was bleeding! Wiley took a deep breath to reorient himself and reached up to grab his tie, perhaps in the hope to mop up the blood with, only to remember that he lost said article of clothing in the scuffle he'd had with Drake. Then his hand lifted to his collar, but that was starched and wouldn't do a good job of mopping up blood.

"I'll see if there's a rag for your to wrap that up with." He announced as he began to go through some of the surrounding drawers until he found a clean looking length of cloth. "Ah, here we are!" He cried out, holding up the cloth like a flag. "This should do the trick!" He hurried back over to the man and reached out to wrap his hand before suddenly recoiling. He wasn't sure if Anderson would mind if he touched him. His wide eyes flicked upwards, either seeking approval or admonishment.




When Anderson's eyes flicked to him, that fierce green gaze, he immediately and instinctively looked down at the ground. They were murmuring now too low for him to hear them. It didn't stop him from following them, however, as they took off. They were easy to track wile staying out of sight. They were headed towards the kitchen as far as he'd been able to glean, but they were doing a poor job of it. If they'd only asked him he could have shown them straight there. Usually at least half of the guests seemed to trust him immediately, so this was a strange turn of events for him. Perhaps that was the purpose of Drake's constant brutalization. It made them think of him as a victim as well. He sucked on his bottom lip, unwilling to admit that perhaps Drake had been right about all that.

When the humans finally, finally made it to the kitchen he settled down outside the door, where they wouldn't see him unless they stuck their heads out of the door they'd just went through. He sank down until he was sitting, his knees bent and his arms resting on them.