Snippet #2745863

located in Steampowered London - 1885, a part of Death Comes to London, one of the many universes on RPG.

Steampowered London - 1885

A metropolis of clockwork and steam.


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Character Portrait: Ephraim Ramsey Character Portrait: Charlotte Blythe Character Portrait: Amelia Lancaster
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Hanover Square - Lancaster Estate
May 12, 1885 - 08:07 a.m. - Overcast
Amelia Lancaster

Bland. Dull. Boring. That's what the Lancaster estate looked like to Amelia. In anyone else's eyes, it was rather large and extravagent. The dirt road that lead to the foyer and front of the estate was paved in a way that made it appear like the cobbled roads in the city. The house itself was made of white brick and stone, and the shutters made from sturdy maple wood, coated heavily in black paint. The only other color was the red that stood out from the family insignia that was pressed into the statue. It was large and placed near the entrance to the estate. They'd passed it when she'd returned from her errand.

In reality, Amelia thought that her family had poured an absurd amount of money into the home and its appearances. Being nobility meant you had to display it in a certain way, and the estate was, by no means, humble. But that didn't mean Amelia had to like it. She enjoyed certain aspects of it—the garden was by far her favorite addition—but it could have done without the maze her father had installed when he was a young child. He'd said mazes were a great way of learning to read directions, or some silly idea like that.

She could see the head butler, James, standing outside with a few of the maids. Already, his brows were creased in that disappointed way, but Amelia did not mind. He always wore that face whenever she disappeared on him. Not that he could fault her for it. It was just easy to do.

“Lady Amelia, you know Lord Lancaster does not appreciate you going into town on your own, like that," he spoke in that stern, father-like tone he had, but it was still gentle. She frowned slightly. She was not a child; she knew what her father's preferences were. She just didn't particularly care for them. Instead of voicing that out loud, she merely smiled at James.

“We will have guests shortly, James. Please make sure everything is prepared for them for when they arrive. Have you done what I asked?" she spoke, lifting her head up slightly as she did. James sighed softly, but his posture remained intact. The ever proper butler.

“We have asked the authorities to not interfere with the scene, but we were only able to do so much," he replied. Amelia hummed lightly in way of answering and turned on her heel. As long as they didn't disturb the scene too much, she supposed it would be fine by the time Mr. Ramsey and Miss Blythe arrived. Which wouldn't be long now.

“Please notify father that they will be arriving soon," she spoke, watching as James nodded his head, gave her a glance, and walked off. She was going to wait for her guests to arrive.

Given the emptiness of the street in front of the office when she'd arrived, it was unlikely that Mr. Ramsey owned private transportation, so he'd probably had to hire either a carriage or one of the newer steam-powered cabs. It took only another ten minutes for he and his assistant to arrive however. They walked up the rather grand approach to the estate in quite possibly the most contrasting ways possible: Miss Blythe seemed absolutely in awe of her surroundings, looking about at everything as though she'd never seen anything like it. Though... from the way she shifted her attention around, it wasn't just the house itself that interested her, so perhaps the fascination was not what it appeared to be.

Mr. Ramsey probably could not have looked more bored if he tried, sparing not one glance for the statue or the gardens or any of it. Instead, he strode up the approach in large steps, eating the ground underneath him in a way that managed not to seem hasty, perhaps in virtue of his height. The dark blue of his overcoat was as military in cut and style as the rest of his clothes had been, though as with them, it wasn't actually part of any military uniform she'd ever seen. It suited his aesthetic, though.

He stopped only once, to look back over his shoulder at Miss Blythe, brow furrowing before she noticed his pause and hurried to catch up with him. Only then did he resume his progress, ending it in front of Amelia.

"I was told there was a corpse to examine," he said without preamble, regarding her with cold, foggy-violet eyes.

They were, in their own right, very beautiful. Amelia had never seen eyes quite like his, but she did not dwell on that fact. She nodded her head in way of response, and smiled. “This way, if you please," she spoke, turning so that she could lead the way. A thought crossed her mind as she led them towards the garden area. Perhaps with this incident, her father would clear away some of the labyrinth. After all, Jane had been found inside by one of the gardeners who tended to it.

When they approached, her father was already there, standing with perfect posture and a gentle face. His dark blue eyes narrowed slightly in her direction, but that was the only sign of displeasure he wore. She would, undoubtedly, earn a scolding from him for her earlier escapade. “Mr. Ramsey, Miss Blythe, this is my father, Lord Lancaster," she introduced, stopping only so that her father could approach. Even his blond hair, tied in a low tail at his shoulders, stayed in place as he walked.

“Mr. Ramsey," he spoke in way of greeting, and spared a nod in Miss Blythe's direction. “We have requested that the locals not disturb the scene too much, however; we are only able to do so much. If you will follow me, I will escort you to where Miss Chatham was found," he stated, turning slightly away from Amelia. She knew that meant she was not to follow, however; this was not the first corpse she'd seen. Perhaps different in the way it appeared, slightly mangled and gruesome, but not the first. She rolled her eyes when his back was to her, though.

She trailed behind, walking in stride with Miss Blythe as Mr. Ramsey and her father took the lead. The labyrinth was easy to navigate, especially since her father was leading the way. He'd been through here many times in his youth that he could go through it, blindfolded.

“Miss Chatham was found early this morning, before sunrise," meaning it'd still been dark when she was found. It wasn't uncommon for the gardners to work that early. It was cooler for them, and they had preferred it.

Once they reached the scene, the group of them stepped under the tape demarcating the immediate vicinity, both Mr. Ramsey and Miss Blythe with the familiarity of having done so at least dozens of times before. They didn't immediately approach Jane, though; instead they studied the picture in front of them as a whole, Miss Blythe moving to stand at Mr. Ramsey's elbow, as though gravitating into some invisible orbit of his.

The maze itself was disturbed in places, branches broken or collapsed around the immediate area. There was even a spot where it looked like the hedge wall had been breeched completely, a gap large enough for a person to fit through opened up in the formation. Mr. Ramsey contemplated it for a moment, then raised his head slightly, tilting it upwards at a mild angle and pulling in a deep breath. His frown increased incrementally, but he turned his attention to the body.

Poor Jane was in quite a state: she was dressed in the same clothes she'd been wearing yesterday, but without her apron or the other accoutrements of her work, and her feet were bare. Facedown on the ground with her hair spread in an unruly black cloud around her, she had several leaves and other bits of debris clinging to her. The most startling detail, however, was the marks that had been cut into her back. Her dress was torn there, quite violently, the laces of her corset severed and ragged at the ends. It was enough to wonder if perhaps something else besides murder itself had been the aim of her attacker.

The marks looked like words of a sort, but not in any language or alphabet Amelia had ever seen. Ramsey glanced once at his companion and gestured with his head. They approached, leaving Amelia and her father at the edge of the scene. Crouching beside Jane, he reached with his gloved hand to gather up her hair, lifting it carefully away from her back and the ground and tucking it behind her neck. He seemed to be able to make more sense of the cuts than she could—or at least he was good at hiding any confusion he might have felt.

"She was not typically a gardener," Ramsey observed. Though it should have been a question, he seemed to know it without needing to ask. "She didn't frequently spend her time out here, either. Was she ever sent into town on errands for you, or was it only ever personal business that took her off the estate?"

“Both," Amelia answered first. “Jane ran errands for me when I could not do them on my own. She was particularly fond of a baker's son in town as well," she continued. She'd known Jane on a more personal level, and considered her a friend. As much of a friend as she could, anyway, given their different social status. Her father leveled a gaze at her but turned his attention to Mr. Ramsey.

“She wasn't hired as a gardener, in that much you are correct," he spoke, pushing a soft sigh through his nose. “She was fond of the flowers and the maze. She helped the gardeners only when she could," which wasn't often. Amelia often kept her busy with small errands, mostly because she wanted to help Jane out. The tryst with the baker's son wasn't a secret to anyone who knew Jane, but she didn't have a lot of free time to herself.

"Hm." Ramsey acknowledged the contribution only with a short sound, then shifted his attention back to Jane, patting down her clothing in various places in a manner that didn't quite make sense until he turned to his companion. "The police have taken her personal effects. Retrieve them, please."

Miss Blythe nodded at once, standing from where she'd tucked herself on Jane's opposite side and heading towards one of the remaining policemen on the scene. They'd all remained well out of Ramsey's way thus far, occasionally casting speculative glances to where he inspected the body.

When the young lady approached, the officer she spoke to looked at her suspiciously. They were too far away for Amelia to hear the course of the conversation, but it was obvious enough that Miss Blythe's request didn't get granted immediately. The policeman's lip curled a little, but his attention shifted briefly to where Mr. Ramsey was now making an inspection of Jane's hands before he grudgingly handed over a small satchel of items.

When Miss Blythe returned, she handed a small bottle to Mr. Ramsey. It looked like the typical sort one might see at an apothecary's, but it was empty, and there was no label on it. Ramsey opened it anyway, sniffing and frowning a little more deeply.

Replacing the bottle in the satchel and handing it back to Miss Blythe, he stood swiftly and addressed his audience. "Do you know of anyone who had a standing grudge against Miss Chatham? Perhaps a family member she had a falling-out with, or a former paramour she'd left?"

Amelia frowned at the statement. “Jane was well-loved by everyone. She was a sweet woman," compared to herself. Amelia wasn't as kind as Jane was, nor as loving, but she appreciated the young woman for her openness. Her father cleared his throat softly, directing the attention towards him.

“Miss Chatham was a devoted employee. Unless she was running errands or procuring stock for the kitchen, she kept mostly to herself," he spoke, causing Amelia to sigh softly. Her father wasn't acquainted with the staff as well as Amelia was. Jane didn't keep to herself; she was a little on the shy side. It took her awhile to warm up to someone, and Amelia's father had a sort of intimidating air about him. She knew differently, though.

“Perhaps someone in town might have had grudge against her?" she suggested out loud, her brows furrowing slightly. It was difficult to imagine anyone who would want to harm Jane, though, as sweet as she was. It was possible that someone didn't like Jane's closeness to the baker's son, or contrariwise, someone didn't like the baker's son's closeness to Jane.

Ramsey looked about two seconds from rolling his eyes at the obviousness of the answer, but it wasn't until Miss Blythe spoke up that the rest of them could understand why.

"The marks on her back," the girl said softly, glancing at them before lifting emerald-green eyes back to Amelia and her father. "They're a word. Fùchóu. It's the Mandarin Chinese word for revenge. It seems unlikely that anyone would spend the effort to cut the characters into her body if they weren't significant, especially because they aren't even the cause of her death." The sweet lilt of her voice was a terrible match for the grim information she was using it to deliver—honestly the girl looked like she might be even younger than Amelia.

Amelia had to bite her tongue for the moment, even if the quip she wanted to deliver was sitting at the tip of it. Instead, she raised a delicate brow in Miss Blythe's direction. “Not the cause of her death?" she stated, glancing towards her father. His facial expression was one of little surprise, but Amelia couldn't be too sure. Perhaps he knew more about death and the like than he let on. Whatever the case, he took a slow breath.

“What was the cause, exactly?" he questioned, turning his attention to Mr. Ramsey and Miss Blythe. Amelia was curious as well, though she did her best to keep her face smoothed and disinterested.

"Poison," Ramsey replied simply, dusting his hands off and rising once again. He motioned for his assistant to return the satchel to him, at which point he sifted through its contents for a moment, furrowing his brows.

"Which bakery does this friend of hers work at? Our next step is talking to him. In the meantime, the police can assist in making the arrangements for Miss Chatham."

“I can escort you there," Amelia spoke swiftly, watching as her father glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. They were slightly narrowed, and Amelia knew that look. It meant that she was not to escort Mr. Ramsey and Miss Blythe to the bakery, however; Amelia smiled as sweetly as she could at him. “It's in a very quaint corner that can be easily missed. Even Jane had a difficult time getting the address right," she explained, watching as his face smoothed over.

“It would be better if I led them there, directly," she continued, watching as her father's gaze shifted towards Mr. Ramsey. He seemed reluctant, and the slight shift in his shoulders meant that he would agree, but with a condition.

“James will accompany you," he spoke. He nodded towards the authorities, and motioned for them to approach Jane's body. “You are to return home, immediately, after you escort them. You will not stay a moment longer," he spoke, causing Amelia to nod her head.

“Of course," she spoke. Like hell she'd leave, though. She wanted to find out what happened to Jane, and who would want to poision her.

Ramsey and Blythe glanced at each other. The girl shrugged, but her employer looked about as enthused by this prospect as Amelia's father did. "I assure you," he said flatly. "Both Miss Blythe and I have made extensive study of city maps. An address will suffice."

Amelia regarded Mr. Ramsey with a smile, though she could feel something similar to irritation in her left eye. “It might help to have a friendly face. Mr. Morton is a soft-hearted young man. I mean no offense when I say this, Mr. Ramsey, but you might frighten him. He might be more susceptible to a conversation if I were present," she spoke. It was true that Jonah was a timid person, and that he frightened easily, however; he would likely be more at ease if someone he knew was present. He was also the only one who ran the bakery during this time of day. His helpers wouldn't arrive for another hour or so.

The flat look on his face suggested that he'd convinced her not at all, but as luck would have it, he was prevented from speaking by the fact that Miss Blythe did so first. "Mr. Ramsey's not that scary, once you get to know him," she chirped, clearly oblivious to the subtext of the discussion. "And he's very clever. You should ask him to tell you about yourself sometime. He always makes such good inductions—it's almost like a magic trick."

Ramsey exhaled heavily, but he kept his mouth shut, trailing after her reluctantly when she started to head for the exit. The maze was apparently not any trouble for either of them.

“Is that so?" she stated, feeling the curiosity bubble inside of her. She could feel her lips thinning slightly into a small smile, and it took some restraint to not laugh at Miss Blythe's statement. They exited the maze, and made their way back towards the entrance of the estate. It appeared James had already prepared the carriage they were to take back into town, and was waiting for them to approach. Once they did, he bowed slightly and opened the door for them. It wouldn't take them long to get back into the city, and Amelia was, for once in her life, looking forward to it.