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Linnet Mallory

'My biggest fear is that, eventually, you will see me the way I see myself...'

0 · 370 views · located in The Manor

a character in “Drop Dead, Darling”, as played by slcam

Description

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Will tomorrow ever come? Will I make it through the night?
Will there ever be a place for the broken in the light?
Am I hurting? Am I sad? Should I stay, or should I go?
I've forgotten how to tell. Did I ever even know?



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Full name:
Linnet Enola Mallory

Gender:
Female

Age:
Approximately 20 years of age.

Height:
5'4

Weight:
109

Appearance: Linnet is rather slight and unimposing. She has never had much weight on her frame, and that has not changed much. Her long hair is a light, almost platinum blond. Though she attempts to keep it back, either in a bun or braid, it's wispy, wavy nature means that there will always be small tendrils that will escape, giving her a slightly wild appearance.

Though it is not apparent from a distance, Linnet's eyes are different colors. One is a light brown, while the other reflects a pale blue. Due to whatever similarities there are in these pale colors, the difference is often overlooked. Still, when they catch the light or flash in anger, the distinction is readily apparent. This has given more than one person pause, and it has been a feature that often caused her difficulties in the past.

Though Linnie is slight, she is well used to hard labor; accordingly, she has a surprising, wiry strength. Still, where the small girl might have difficulties with overpowering someone, she is rather fast. She has become rather skilled at fleeing at the first sign of danger, or reacting quickly when necessary; of course, the former is often more likely. She is often seen in dark-colored dresses, but always wears a white apron with a wide sash.

Her odd eyes are almost always clouded with a look of nervousness. It does not take much to make her jittery, and she is not much good at staying still. Her hands are often fidgeting, looking for some way to expel the nervous tension so often held in her small frame, and her actions often show her hesitancy. Still, she is mostly silent, and can move about with considerable stealth. As long as she does not stumble into something, the girl can often go unnoticed for long periods of time.


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Personality: Linnet has always been a rather hesitant creature and her situation has not changed that. She would much rather duck back and observe than get caught up in the middle of things. She is more likely to run than fight. Though she is not without some measure of compassion and kindness, that aspect of her personality has been forced down for quite some time. More dominant is the distrusting way she treats everyone. Well, almost everyone.

Linnet, in general, is as jumpy and skittish as a wild horse. It should not be surprising, then, that Linnie is a woman of few words. She would much rather watch and observe than add to conversation. Even with this, if there is nothing vital or interesting to her, she is highly likely to simply walk away and let things take their course. She is more used to using indirect rather than confrontational methods, and more likely to meddle and hide herself away than directly start something. She is often rather pensive and analytical, and is used to thinking on her feet, spur of the moment.

Linnie is very expressive, and it can be as easy to read her emotions as an open book. When she is frightened, her entire being seems to radiate that fact. When sad or upset, there can be little question about her mindset. When angered, the tension of her body and flash of her odd eyes should give plentiful warning to those willing to pay heed. Still, beyond these broad, often overwhelming emotions, it can be difficult to tell exactly what is going on in her mind. Over time, she has become more skilled at using her plainly revealed emotions in a more deceptive manner. When not clearly expressing some emotion, she is able to keep a blank facade as well. Due to the seeming openness of her nature, it is not hard to trust the girl, though it is unlikely for her to return that trust.

Though she is not confrontational by nature, her main aim is survival. Linnet will defend herself fiercely, and this brings out a rather intimidating part of herself that few have seen. Her determination is fiery and her actions often end up rather drastic. Even the simple look in her eye and tension of her form have caused those seeking to harm her to hesitate or back down.

Linnet hates being touched. James is the only person she will willingly allow to contact her, and even then, she will get jittery and nervous over time. There is no better way to get Linnie worked up that to get too touchy with her.

Other: Linnet has a rather pronounced Cockney accent, which makes it readily apparent that she has had little education.

Due to a past injury in the manor, her left arm has an intermittent but persistent tremor, along with an odd scar above her elbow.

Short history: Linnet's beginnings were far from happy. At birth, her mother died from complications, leaving the babe alone with only her father. It was not long before her father turned to drink to drown out his sorrows. It was only luck that allowed her to survive her short childhood, and she quickly learned to fend for herself. Still, her father was a rather abusive, if clingy, drunk. Thus, Linnet's revulsion to being touched. She always did her best to avoid the man, especially when he was inebriated. Her young life took a turn when she was fourteen and her father came home in a particularly nasty mood. Though she hid, her father found her and began beating her harshly. She ended up getting a hold of a cast iron skillet and beat the man until he was senseless, then ran off.

There was, obviously, no way she could stay there, and so she eventually made her way to a decent sized town further south. She was able to get some work here and there, just enough to keep her fed, but not enough to have a place to live other than the streets. No one was foolhardy enough to take her in either, not with her strong accent and ill educated ways. In a way, Drake Steward was the first to take her in, though it was only as a player in his death game. Through the happenings of the game, all but Linnet were killed off within a couple days. Since then, she has been captive in Drake's household, stuck between her deep affection for James and her similarly deep hatred for Drake.

So begins...

Linnet Mallory's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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#, as written by slcam
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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#, as written by Skwidge
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Eden Fellsden Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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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: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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Laurent's head snapped to the side as he felt the young lady's hand connect to the side of his face with a very audible and resounding slap. His mind instantly going blank at the contact, he numbly turned his attention towards the young woman before him.

Although her dress had numerous wrinkles, rips, and tears throughout the fabric and her golden hair was disheveled and out of place, her beauty was unmistakable. By her mannerisms and the way she held herself, it was clear she was straight from the depths of nobility.

“Apologies, but terrifying her further is likely to produce the opposite intended effect. You’re scaring her.” Laurent startled a bit at her words the situation and his rational thinking finally working his way back into his mind. He glanced over at the other young girl in question, and sure enough, the poor thing looked horrified. He imagined the only thing keeping her from bolting out the room was her own shock. Shame instantly flooded over Laurent. This... was not the kind of man he was...

"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." Another wave of guilt washed against Laurent as he looked to the young man that had joined their circle smiled back at him. Another child... He seemed to be a relatively average youth beginning his adulthood, and by his accent, from the country.

Laurent looked away and began wringing his hands. A habit he formed when he was thinking. It was difficult for him to not be working on something. He had noted earlier that all the "guests" and "staff" had all been no older than twenty, and yet, he seemed to be the only one playing the child. No, bursts of emotion were certainly not going to help. Finally, after a brief period of uncomfortable silence he spoke. His tone far calmer and conservative than his earlier outburst.

"I do beg your forgiveness. I... was enraged. However, regardless of my personal vendetta towards our self-proclaimed 'host', that is no excuse for being short with a lady." Laurent bowed towards the servant girl hoping to ease her fears at least a little. He then turned towards the noblewoman who returned him to reality.

"Thank you... I needed that." He gently smiled and nodded his head towards her notifying that her efforts were appreciated seeing the guilty expression having slapped him.

"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?" During his rage, Laurent had completely glossed over Drake's speech; the question bringing it all back to the forefront of his mind. Why indeed?

"Another good question, and although I regret my earlier temper, I still do need to know anything regarding my sons. Please, can you tell us anything?" Laurent's voice wavered slightly at the mention of his sons. His anger had dissipated, but his desperation still remained.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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#, as written by slcam
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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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: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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#, as written by Skwidge
Everette found herself a bit shocked that she did not feel any further guilt or that she was questioning her existence at that moment with having slapped the man. Being a lady meant that one was expected to never allow such a thing to occur, especially against a man. It felt good though, to express herself in such a way, though not that she found any sort of pleasure in having hurt Laurent. It had seemed like the right thing to have done in that moment, and Eve felt a bit of pride in herself. Beside the fact, in this place, it seemed that all outside rules were exempted. A slight stir of excitement jolted up her form, this was a place where birth didn’t matter, so perhaps she could-

It was then that Theodore interjected, agreeing with her action and mentioning her as a ‘fine lady’. And with that comment, Ever’s gaze fluttered down to her arms and took in the sleeves of the dress she had been wearing the prior night. Of course she was still in it, and of course it screamed nobility. Not to mention the way she was holding herself. Everette resented Teddy a bit for having brought this to her attention, though she couldn’t blame him, not truly anyway. He was backing her up, after all.

However, her thoughts were halted when Laurent then started to move as well. He seemed to rub his hands together in a strange sort of quirk, the guiltiest expression on his face that Eve had ever seen. After a few stressed moments of awkward silence, Mr. Foxlinde spoke up and apologized to the small girl before turning to her. Everette’s eyes widened slightly in surprise, she had not been expecting to be addressed. He was… actually thanking her for slapping him? It was a bit strange- he sounded so sincere about it. Though with his words and the little smile, the small knot of worry that had settled in her stomach unwound- at least he wasn’t angry with her.

The men’s attention was then diverted back to the small girl, and Everette was relieved, allowing her curiosity to get swept along in the motion. The girl’s attention was sharp and her eyes wide; she had straightened some time during the exchange, and Eve had missed it, as well as her words. Linnet was so quiet, Everette must have not even registered them when she had first tried to answer Laurent, but now that she heard it again, she realized it had been somewhere in the background during the excitement.

She had a cockney little accent- like broken English and the slur of the streets. Everette immediately decided that she liked it, even though it may have been rough and somewhat unpleasant to the trained ear. It was so rare to hear anything other than the posh, proper pronunciations of the upper class, and as it’s well known, Ever can’t stand anything about nobility.

However, it did not seem the girl was very knowledgeable at all, and completely dodged the question. Drake had made it seem like she would know everything that was going on as well, but that did not seem to be the case. Suddenly, the boy stepped forward and cut the air with his hand, signaling that any questioning was over as far as he was concerned. It was then that James made a guttural sound, growling to get them to back up. Everette wasn’t that close to begin with, but she did take a step in the opposite direction. The boy was then trying to communicate with Linnet- it seemed that he had their answers, or perhaps not. Everette couldn’t possibly even begin to tell. He was pointing at Clayton and Foxlinde, though, so it was a bit of an educated guess. She tilted her attention to Linnet to see what would happen next.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory
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Laurent seemed to calm down almost immediately, a wave of relief rushing over Clayton. Their current situation was maddening enough as it was, and having people panic would almost certainly make things a million times worse. It seemed, luckily, that the man was more sensible than Theodore had given him credit for. However, he noted the parental ferocity and passion he'd had and decided, then and there, that he had no intentions of getting on Foxlinde's bad side. After all, a good father would do anything for his children. Clayton had to wonder whether or not that might extend to murder.

Murder. It bugged him that he were even considering that the idea that someone who stood a few mere feet away might resort to killing someone. Such concepts had always seemed so foreign to him, and yet now each and every one of them was being forced to partake in a twisted game. How truly horrible. He allowed his eyes to wander the room, getting a peek at each and every one of the guests. These people all seemed nice enough. Upstanding citizens and all that jazz. If this Drake Stuart wanted a bloodbath, why pick them? They weren't criminals, they weren't killers. Why, why, why? Did he enjoy watching previously normal human beings become savages? Clayton felt that the answer was, most likely, yes.

The girl that they'd crowded around finally spoke, her eyes trained on the floor as she did so. Though she was certainly not literate, her point came across perfectly well. She spoke to him, a bit of resentment in her voice, her eyes locking with his. Though Clayton was no skittish man, he felt undeniable anxiety for a reason he could not explain. She had a point - a good one. He'd had his own worries about Foxlinde only a few moments before, the man being a father. The rest of the lot, their motives were unclear. Who knew what they had left behind and just how willing they'd be to return?

Clayton quickly realized that he'd frozen, his mouth hanging open, speechless. He quickly sealed his lips, taking a tentative look at those around him. No, to lose his composure in a moment such as this would be utterly stupid. She was baiting him, quite obviously, and if he began to distrust the others without reason, he knew it would end problematically. They'd given him no reason to believe them capable of murder and he wasn't about to peg them as such.

Still lost in thought, Clayton had been slightly startled to find the quiet boy, who he had hardly noticed, leaping in front of Linnet and slicing through the air with his hand. Some horrid growl escaped the lad's throat and Clayton quickly found himself stepping back. Obviously, the child had gotten tired of their questioning.

He watched as the child began to move his hands, turning back toward the girl. Theodore quickly decided that the two of them were communicating. He'd never seen any sort of signing, having lived with so many loud-mouthed relatives who didn't know a lick of anything aside from traditional English, but he assumed that this had to be what it looked like. With narrowed eyes, he glanced at the other two before turning back to the servants. He cleared his throat, hoping to possibly catch the duo's attention.

"Pardon my interruption, but I think we're all a bit curious as to what you're saying over there, if ya don't mind sharing," he said, trying to maintain a somewhat polite tone lest he sound a bit harsh. He even added a wide grin; he definitely didn't want to pick a fight with either of these two - in fact, making friends with everyone here just might be his best chance of survival.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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#, as written by Shané
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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#, as written by slcam
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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#, as written by Skwidge
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: Wiley Skidmore Character Portrait: Everette Insuza Character Portrait: Theodore Clayton Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Laurent Matthias Foxlinde Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: Anderson Fulton
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#, as written by slcam
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.