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Knock 'em Dead

The Manor

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a part of Knock 'em Dead, by pieluver.

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pieluver holds sovereignty over The Manor, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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Setting

Default Location for What the Devil Don't Want
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The Manor

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The Manor is a part of Knock 'em Dead.

13 Characters Here

James Butler [60] "Sometimes it is best just to watch from a distance and bow when asked a question."
Linnet Mallory [55] "You never forget who you really are... no matter how many nights you stay awake trying to,"
Drake Stuart [43] "You will play and you will like it. Or die trying. Or just die. Either way is fine with me."
Lira Devine [35] *Dead*
Allease LaVera [32] "I think I've gone mad..."
Dominic Brecht [18] "You know you can't resist me." *Dead*
Saber Cantin [17] Pompous prince
Elizabeth Richardson [17] "Um, would you mind letting me go?"
Dante Valentine [17] "If this is a joke, then it is not funny."

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Hassen Heindrick Character Portrait: Dante Valentine Character Portrait: Juliet Lockwood Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Saber Cantin Character Portrait: Andrew white
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#, as written by Mela
Mrs. Dante Valentine


“Well, then again, young men in such positions as mine should rarely need to know such a thing. We have other things to be concerning ourselves with and other things that occupy our thoughts. Young men such as myself leave such knowledge to those who do not have to concern themselves with the greater questions in life,” The young man said after her comment, and she merely looked at him, completely inexpressive as she’d taken to being after arriving in this place. She wasn’t quite sure what to think of him. He didn’t seem stupid, but then, children stemming from families with money rarely were; after all, there was the matter of education. But although she did not consider him unintelligent, she had a slight feeling that his arrogance would get him into trouble at some point. Arrogant people had this tendency to think they could do more than they actually could.

She tilted her head slightly to the side as she observed his every expression, the silence stretching between them. She really didn’t like him. There. That was the sad fact. She was captured in a house with some odd, red-eyed creature, a servant who could barely talk because the entire one side of his face seemed to have been cut in two at some point, a scared little girl who’d sat shaking in the corner, a hollowed out corpse, a boy who was probably dead from blood loss by now, and in the kitchen with her was another bloody corpse on the counter, and a spoiled rich kid who ate without a single concern. Honestly, what was her life coming to?

She did not speak to him again. For one, because she did not wish to, but honestly it was mostly because their apparent host entered the kitchen just then. She turned slightly in her seat to face him silently. "Good afternoon, Mrs. Valentine, Mister Cantin." He greeted them, his voice friendly in a way, yet the smile he offered along with it, made Dante’s skin crawl. He was no man. She was sure of it. She had never been one to believe in the supernatural. In fact, she had only ever considered it superstitions. Yet this… creature… could not possibly be human. He just couldn’t. Still, her distress did not show. In spite of how confusing this situation was, Dante knew that showing emotions was never going to help her with anything. So she stood, completely expressionless as she curtsied politely.

That was how she had been raised. Plain and simple. And hey, she figured it could not harm to do so. She drew in a deep breath, remaining standing as her eyes fell on the two he’d brought with him. More people who he had kidnapped? No matter, she would soon find out. He had addressed them, so perhaps he would at last diverge what the purpose was to all of this. Shaking that thought off for the time being, Dante analyzed the two newcomers, her eyes completely void of any emotion. She had not missed the way the young male’s eyes had watched both her and Saber, but just then his expression had changed from coldly calculating to innocent and friendly. The change made her wary. Especially as he then seemed to frown before remembering to revert back to the innocent front.

Hmm. So young, he seemed, yet his eyes, as much as he tried to hide it, were older than they should be. The female next to him had a stiff air to her. She didn’t seem all that tense, yet something about her reminded Dante of a predator about to strike. Her eyes flickered seemingly disinterestedly to the dead body on the counter to the newcomers again, only to land finally on Drake. Then, however, the boy spoke, asking her and Saber how they were. Green eyes slowly made their way to him. How was she? She watched him closely then. Not too good, honestly, but then… he didn’t really care about that, did he? His facial expression had ever so briefly flickered to something a lot less innocent, and Dante couldn’t help feeling like he was trying to be someone he was not. People did not shift like that if they were not trying to put up some front. His seemed very conscious, as opposed to her own odd façade, which came naturally and therefore did not flicker as such. She didn’t like it, and she certainly did not trust it. She had been around way too many people just like that.

But then, she supposed she could brush it off as though she had perceived the question only to be directed at Saber. After all, she wasn’t really too used to being addressed directly that way. As such, Dante said nothing, but instead redirected her gaze once more to land on Drake. The pale, tall figure was the only person whose words held any importance in this moment.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler
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#, as written by slcam
Linnet watched the door nervously, both dreading and hoping for any sign of movement. She took a hesitant step forward, quickly backing to the safety of the corner at the slightest imagined sound. She tried hard not to panic, but it was too late for that. It was difficult to think in any rational patterns, and her thoughts jumbled together until she could hardly move. Should she go in and find James? Could she help him anyway, or was it too late? Should she even be going after him? What if he was.... She shied away from the thought with a wince. She could not allow herself to think that way yet.

A noise coming from the room startled her, and she stared wide-eyed at the partially open door, her heart fluttering. She was tensed and ready to run at the slightest provocation, but she had to know what was happening. Abruptly, the door flung open, and James crumpled to the ground. Linnie gave a small gasp, taking a couple stumbling steps toward the collapsed boy. She hesitated, unsure of what to do, but as soon as James's eyes rested on her with a small smile, she rushed over and knelt beside him.

He struggled to get up, but he was far too weak. Linnet gently pulled his head into her lap, quickly realizing just how bloody he was. Looking at his blood smeared face with concern, she quietly said, "S... Sur James...." The way she said it seemed like she was trying to see if he was alright, and her voice was husky, as if she was on the verge of tears. She gently began wiping the blood from his face and neck, carefully avoiding the slashed skin on his throat. It was quickly apparent that the wound was much more shallow than it had been, and Linnie could not mask her surprise, nor did she try to. However, her surprise was quickly replaced by an odd concern, one that seemed almost accepting. Her eyes dropped from James's, her hand slowing until it stopped as she hunched in a posture that spoke of defeat.

Though it appeared she was accepting what James really was, really, Linnet had made the decision that she would escape no matter the cost. She had to be wary for any opportunity to leave this horrid place. She simply had to, and she had finally accepted that. There would be no salvation here, though Drake had said the last person standing would win, he had already brought more people to replace those who had died. There would never be a last one alive.

She briefly hoped that she would be able to take James with her when she escaped, but it was apparent now that he was as much a part of this game as Drake, the angel of death, was. She realized now why she had felt so attached to James. He reminded her of someone she had known. They cared for each other on the streets, and she loved him as her a brother, but he was just as quickly gone, taken by disease as she watched helplessly. She could no longer allow herself to become attached to James, simply because he was not hers to attach to.

Drakes words came to mind, "I'll tell you a secret, Little Miss Witch. This time, our little friend over here isn't going to be fed until you go and die. And no sooner either, since he's been a bad little servant. He's not allowed to go and make nice little friends today. So you better go kick the bucket before the boy tears your throat out." There was no doubt in her mind that what Drake said was possible. She did not resent James for it in any way, but merely accepted the fact.

Suddenly, she heard a noise from inside the room, and her head shot up. This was no time to sit and think, Hassen could appear at any moment. Linnet felt foolish for forgetting that. Listening to make sure Hassen would not come out at that moment, Linnie whispered, "Sur James,... Do... Do ya think ya could stand if I 'elped? Can't stay 'ere...." Her eyes went back to the open door before alighting again on James face. Her hand darted out, almost by its own volition, to wipe a speck of blood from his cheek, resting there a moment longer than necessary. She looked as though she could cry for the pain that she had caused him, and she slowly removed her hand and began to position herself so she could help James stand.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dante Valentine Character Portrait: Juliet Lockwood Character Portrait: Allease LaVera Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Saber Cantin Character Portrait: Andrew white
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The air in the room was tense, hushed. Everyone was trying to put on a show, it seemed. Mister Cantin was grinning, apparently eager to be initiated properly into the game. He had no idea what waited in store for him. Oh, but wouldn't it be amusing if he died with that selfsame smile on his face? The girl, Mrs. Valentine, was staring at him, her face inscrutable. She truly was a lady, wasn't she. How much longer would she be able to keep it up though? They'd had a calm first hour, he'd have to do his best to fix that. Little Mister White had adopted a polite, innocent voice, inquiring to the health of the others. No one responded. And there was another in the room, someone who Drake had no anticipated. Someone delightfully dead. He crossed the room, gathering her in his arms. Allease. Hassen had done a lovely bit of work on her skull with his weapon of choice, a thin bar of iron.

Her face was still contorted with surprise, apparently she'd thought herself safe hiding in her room. He pulled her off the table where she'd rested, and her feet slid down to brush the floor as he held her upper torso so he could examine her. The back of her dress was still torn, and bandaging could still be seen. The wound had begun to heal without a hitch, but it seemed that skin would never be whole again. satisfied with his servant's work, he folded her over his arm as if she was washing, her arms hanging down limply. She dripped blood from her wounds onto the floor. Yet another thing James would have to clean later. My, he really was getting behind. Silly boy. He'd been so busy playing with his little friend that he'd not done any of his chores at all. Oh well. Drake did not mind living in a bloody manor, though his guests might find it a bit disquieting. Finding corpses laying about really wasn't a pleasant experience for one who didn't regularly deal with them. Especially Lira's corpse, who'd had quite a number dealt to his chest.

After the short sidetrack, Drake brought his attention back to his guests. "Mister White has already heard the rules, so he may find himself something to eat if he wishes," he said, waving the young man towards the table the other two were standing around. "But I shall assume that Hasssen hasn't told the two of you anything, yes?" His eyes turned back to the man and woman, landing on Dante for an extended moment before flicking to Saber. "He's not much for rules, but he is very good at punishing those who break them." His voice was off-handed as he bounced Allease's corpse in his arm a few times.

"As you've likely already surmised, since you've met Lira's corpse, this is a game of last man standing. Or woman, of course." His eyes flicked back to Dante for a moment, skating over her features before returning to Saber's face once again. "Last person alive wins." That was technically not a lie, considering he would still be alive at the end of it all, and he'd win the opportunity to eat their souls. Probably not the kind of prize they had in mind though. "But if you dawdle your friend Hassen will make short work of you. He also won't like it much if you enter the library, or my quarters, or the closed door on the second floor. He's a lot faster than he looks. Which reminds me, don't kill my servants please, that isn't polite." Was that it? Yes, that seemed like everything.

"And I'll guess that you'd like some introductions, yes?" He pointed at Andrew and his servant. "That is Mister Andrew White and Miss Juliet Lockwook. You've already seen Miss Linnet Mallory, though she won't be around for much longer, the little spitfire, and Miss Elizabeth Richardson is probably hiding somewhere about here. And you've met both Hassen and James, the little scrap." Where had the two of them run off to anyway? Hassen had been accompanying these two, and James had been bleeding out on the floor. Maybe the lad took his little friend off somewhere? They played a bit rough, but was rather cute watching them hiss and scratch at each other. Silly little servants. Someone was going to loose an eye or a limb eventually, but for now Drake was ever so happy to spur their spats. Hassen was such a sweet little creature, but he was ever so mortal. James knew better than to hurt him badly or he himself would suffer the consequences.

Drake smiled fondly as he thought of the two servants before bringing his attention back to the matter at hand. "Do we have any questions, Mrs. Valentine, Mister Cantin? Don't hesitate to ask, I won't bite." The shark grin that had curled back up on his face said otherwise, and James's throat still held the evidence of just how sharp those teeth really were. He'd rested his other hand on the corpse's abdomen, which was bloated and pushed outwards since that part of her damaged spine rested right on his arm, and now he leaned against the bloodied table he'd found her on, examining the faces of the two humans like they were the most interesting creatures he'd ever met.

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As time had passed, Hassen had slipped deeper and deeper into sleep. Every muscle relaxed, easing the pain that had collected from the constant use and abuse. Hopefully now the torn muscles would be able to heal themselves before more damage was done. Surely Drake would be insistent upon further "incentives" for the humans to continue playing. A little chase and roughhousing would do the trick.

But for now, sleep.

James shifted his head, pushing it off the boy's shoulder. The servant grunted but otherwise gave no signs of life. The boy was free to roll off the bed. Once James and left Hassen's side, however, the servant whined and reached up to paw blindly at the empty space. The warmth had suddenly left his side, forcing him to a state of near wakefulness. Not quite awake, not quite asleep, the servant tried to settle himself back to a comfortable position but couldn't seem to do so. The comforting warmth was gone, leaving behind the stink of fresh blood and month-old death.

Death?

There had been no warning. Time had seemed to actually speed up for a change. Odd. Didn't it normally slow down during these times? Esther had freed herself somehow and snatched up the cane. The first blow had been accidental, but the man had fallen down hard. The second blow was weak but purposeful. The third and fourth blows strong and powerful. Each blow afterward worked her even further into a maddened, frightened frenzy. Again and again the cane came down even after the startled cry had long been silenced mid-yell. Again and again.

Again and again.

She wouldn't stop. She was hurting the master and she wouldn't stop. He had to do something. Anything! He had chosen to use his body to protect his master. Jumping between the armed woman and her target, he had gathered his master's body to him and screamed.

There had been blood everywhere. Some from him, some from the master. He couldn't tell which was whose and who had lost more. He just knew that there was pain everywhere and, somewhere deep inside he knew, there was nothing to comfort him.


A frightened cry startled him completely out of his subconscious whatchamacallit as he rolled off the bed. The stench of death disappeared with his waking up but the blood on the bed still caught his attention. There was blood but no James. Why was there no James? The servant took a moment to check on Alexander, making sure the man was still sleeping peacefully. As far as he could tell, there was nothing amiss with his master and so he hobbled to the door in search of James. Deep in his subconscious, he knew something was wrong. He needed to go back and check again because was terribly, horribly wrong with his master. He could feel it. But there was nothing he could do. Not right now.

Opening the door completely, he eyed the wall in mild confusion before stepping out. The German servant seemed... lost. Confused. Mildly terrified, even. It was like he had regained a lost piece of himself, only to have it snatch away from under his nose.

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Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Hassen Heindrick
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Linnie’s face appeared more fully above him as James closed his eyes halfway. He was so tired. What he really needed was to curl up somewhere safe and sleep off this horror for a few hours. But Hassen was still a looming threat he couldn’t afford to ignore. Mostly because he was fearful to his core, and in this state it was matter over mind, instinct of rationality. Hassen was always a threat, so obviously he still had to be a threat. It didn’t matter that the man hadn’t displayed any threatening behaviour or done more than haul him off somewhere else, Hassan was a threat. Not just to himself, but to Linnie. And he couldn’t…not another…he wouldn’t let her… James was distracted from his frantic thoughts by Linnie’s voice. His green eyes slid open again to meet hers. She looked worried. He couldn’t manage a smile to reassure her though.

Nonetheless she began mopping his face and neck up carefully. He couldn’t help but sigh softly, relaxing. Her concern was calming, though he could feel great tension from her form. She was dealing with her own problems. Or maybe he was her problem, James wondered as her eyed dropped and she hunched over slightly. He could do nothing to consol her, though he wished to; his entire self was trembling already, and he was trying to do nothing more than pull himself into a proper sitting position. It was not working in the slightest bit however, more than a few odd jerks he was limp as a ragdoll. His veins and arteries were suffering from tiny pricks of pain; they were slowly filling back up with blood, but not fast enough. He was still white as a sheet underneath the layer of blood on his face, and he’d spent the energy gained from his fitful sleep.

Suddenly she jerked, her body becoming alert. She looked towards the door, which he could not see, but he knew what her fear was. Hassen. Was he there, or had she just heard a sound from within? No, he couldn’t be there, his breathing would be audible if he was that close. But the sounds of him stirring were dangerous enough as it was. Adrenaline stung his system as his heart rate increased past it’s already painfully laboured beating, coughing out fear. Linnie looked towards the door for a few seconds like a startled rabbit before looking down at him. He nodded in response to her whispered request. In between the seconds of fear, suddenly, she reached out and brushed her finger across his face lightly as if wiping away a drop of blood, but the gesture lasted a bit too long for that. He stared up at her, trying to silently communicate his thanks, and she withdrew her hand.

She looked about ready to cry, but James couldn’t fathom why. Maybe it was because she’d been through so much. She didn’t deserve it, but there was nothing he could do to fix it. And he didn’t deserve her kindness either, but he knew he should pay it back to the best of his ability. She deserved to be protected to the best of his ability. Drake had intended him to attack and kill her but he would exercise restraint. His wounds would heal, he would be fine. And so would she. For as long as he could make it so. Which honestly wasn’t very long. Even if she did manage to hold onto life for another month, he would go mad with starvation and all bets would be off, but he chose to ignore that fact? It wasn’t important in this moment.

She shifted and he clung to her, getting his shaking knees under him again, his arms wrapped around her upper arm as if he was afraid to fall again, which was very likely outcome if he let go of her. His knees were only just able to support his weight, mostly due to the urgency of the situation. His head, however, was a different story. Keeping it up required a surprising amount of effort, and as he made his way to his feet it occasionally fell forward. He didn’t want to stare at the floor however; they had to get out of this place and he needed to put himself fully to that cause. He could deal with being hurt, but he couldn’t defend Linnie in this state.

They began a haphazard escape down the hall, but it was slow going. James felt like dead weight, though he could stand on his feet he couldn’t make them move very far. It was like moving in molasses his limbs were heavy and slow and he couldn’t change anything. Even the urgency couldn’t bring enough vigor to his bloodstream to strengthen him much more than this trembling state. He made a sound of distress at the situation, gritting his teeth so his head wouldn’t fall back on Linnet’s shoulder. He wanted to urge her to go on by herself, but he couldn’t summon the strength to communicate such a complicated thought.

And then it was too late to do much of anything. Hassen swung the door open, emerging loudly. James froze completely, not able to even look around for a moment, features twisted in slack dismay. Nothing happened for a moment and then he was able to turn his head enough to see Hassan. The man was just…standing there. The expression on his face was mostly confusion. Like he’d stepped out of the door into world he’d never seen before. It was a curious expression. James didn’t spend much time watching Hassan other than times in which they were sparring or he was hunting the male, and he’d never seen this particular expression cross the now twisted features of the other servant. Before…before he could remember once when the male had emerged from a room with guarded confusion on his face, but that was a lifetime ago in a different place under different circumstances. That had been explainable. The man had been innocent back then. Well, it hadn’t stopped him from trying to beat the tar out of James a few hours before that particular scene (Broke his wrist and left him with some nasty bruising, if he recalled correctly. All those fights had long since blurred together though, it was hard to tell), but that had been explainable as well. James would have done the same thing in his position.

This confusion wasn’t able to be explained away by circumstance. And it was tinged by fear, it seemed. Most enthralling, that fear. They really needed to get out of here. James’s fingers tightened on Linnie’s shoulder, but he didn’t move. He couldn’t move. He was rooted in place by the threat, the weakness of his frame, and the curiosity. He might have handled one or two well enough, but all three together were deadly, locking his knees and sapping his strength with this tense moment. On a poorly thought out decision he tried to push Linnie away, urge her to flee without him, but he mostly just pushed himself down onto the ground again. No amount of frantic reaching stopped him from landing hard on his back again, a squeak of dismay escaping his mouth as he sprawled out. Maybe Linnie got his message though and would move on. It wasn’t safe for her to be by herself, but it was less safe for her to be here when Hassan was obviously unpredictable, judging by the expression on his face.

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For a moment, Saber simply looked around. A normal person should have been bothered by this situation, right? A corpse, a boy bleeding, a terrified girl, a demon…All of this should have been terrifying, but not to Saber. No. To Saber this was exciting. This was something different than a house full of servants who catered to his every whim. This was excitement in a world that had made sure he had no real challenges growing up. The pampering he had received as a child made him seek out challenges and excitement. When a boy grew up with everything, what was left to entertain him? Well the things that society called depraved, of course. If he had already exhausted the societally acceptable means of entertainment, he had to move beyond the realm of societal acceptability.

So then, if this situation did not have the potential to bring Saber to his knees, quaking with fear, what did? Being alone, quite possibly. Though, Saber had done his best to avoid that very situation and would, subsequently, not know what it would do to him. However, it was the logical conclusion that a boy, such as himself, who fed off of the attention of others as if it were his very lifeblood, would fall apart if denied that attention for too long. Oh, the lengths he went to ensure that he was never alone. To be alone only with one’s own thoughts…now there was a terrifying idea.

Saber’s attention was brought back to Drake at the mention of the rules. His face brightened once more. A proper game always had rules. Last man standing; don’t touch the library or his private quarters. Well, that’s fine then. That limited the space in which they could play, right? Now the real issue was finding a weapon. The only knives around here seemed to be butter knives. While those could scratch, they weren’t exactly lethal. He could get creative, of course, but the creative methods typically were the more messy ones.

“Are we to be equipped with weapons, or do we simply have to improvise?” Saber asked. There had perhaps been a time when he would have asked why the man was doing this? Why would he have to fight for his life? But truthfully, Saber cared little for his life. He might as well spend it on something thrilling. Of course, he intended to win, but if he didn’t…oh well. At least the ride was entertaining.

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Character Portrait: Andrew white
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Andrew was ignored or either not heard by the male with the surname of Cantin, but Andrew cared not, for his facade was probably easy to see through. Drake had probably chosen intelligent people to play in whatever macabre game they were soon to play. Perhaps this would be the thing to backfire on Drake, but only time's strict and unbiased hand would tell. Andrew saw the same sort of.... personality..... no, that wasn't the word for it. He saw something similar in Master Cantin as he did in those he occasionally worked with, but Andrew couldn't quite place his mind on it. It was quite infuriating for him not to have the answers to everything, but not knowing things would have to become a normality for the young Mr. White. Andrew didn't plan on winning, oh no, that would simply be too much of a hassle. Losing would be a much better alternative to what would happen considering what he was planning on doing. Perhaps he would make the other 'guests' worry constantly with paranoia. That would most likely be a fun idea, but then again, he wasn't the type to cause suffering that could get him killed. Oh my, the two other guests didn't seem very sociable, but he guessed that being kidnapped did that to people.

A dead person appeared to be in the same room as them, but Andrew was not fazed even slightly. Andrew watched in fascination as Drake appeared to have freakish strength. He did not regret stopping his maid from fighting earlier. His luck, not that he believed in it, had appeared to still have been working. He did not believe that he would be allowed to live if he won, it was the simple rule of games like this. Never let the witnesses or victims survive. He listened to the names mentioned by Drake and almost grabbed his notebook, but decided against it. He wouldn't want to reveal the fact that he had a notebook yet, at least not until he had died. He could try killing Ms. Valentine or Mister Cantin, but that would probably lead to some complications later on. He decided that planning out things and then speaking with the other guests would be a good idea, mostly due to the information the other guests could bring him. Alexander would have stayed to listen to Drake's answer to Saber's question, but he decided to leave. He waved goodbye at the other two in the kitchen, and left for the main hallway, his servant following.

He quickly found his room, or what he thought to be his quarters, then he and Juliet entered. He had began writing in the notebook he had, preparing the future players of the game for their turns to play. Juliet, while inside the quarters, stood next to the wall, prepared to strike at any moment. She expected to be followed, which is why she decided to stay there for at least ten minutes.

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Character Portrait: Dante Valentine Character Portrait: Juliet Lockwood Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Saber Cantin Character Portrait: Andrew white
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#, as written by Mela
Mrs. Dante Valentine




Following her reluctant curtsy, Dante straightened, looking up at the red-eyed creature before her. He made her nervous, even the hairs on her arms were standing alert, as though they too could sense that this male wasn’t telling her everything. He wasn’t telling any of them nearly enough. In fact, he had still yet to say anything of any use, and she was too well-behaved to speak out of turn and outright ask him. Dante had been raised strictly, until the point at which she could no longer consider herself a normal girl. And then of course, she’d married her husband, who hadn’t particularly helped things. He was very adamant about her knowing her place and for her not to ever step out of line.

The redhead took a step back, lips parting slightly when the demon man turned and picked up the corpse which had so far been lying uselessly on the table. Her eyes never lost the matte expression, but still, it was a slight slip, and she slowly closed her mouth entirely again, staring at Drake. Was he going to say anything now? Because if he wasn’t, he might as well leave. Or better yet, she might as well leave. True, she knew that wasn’t going to happen. She probably wasn’t even getting out of her alive, no matter what she did, because no matter what, she now knew too much for them to let her go, and they weren’t going to trust her no matter how much she pleaded. Which meant that she might as well already be dead.

"Mister White has already heard the rules, so he may find himself something to eat if he wishes, but I shall assume that Hasssen hasn't told the two of you anything, yes?" Drake began after a little while, and Dante’s gaze cut briefly to the newcomers he’d brought with him. That had to be Mister White. Inwardly, Dante took note of everything, every single word he spoke, and every reaction on the faces of her fellow kidnappees. As her green gaze turned back to Drake, he was looking at her too, and that same chill took another dance up her spine. She drew in a deep breath, donning her indifferent mask more firmly.

"He's not much for rules, but he is very good at punishing those who break them." Drake then explained to them, causing Dante to take a few more steps back until she had a chair, which she sank down upon carefully. To anyone else, this would appear controlled and intentional, but to Dante herself, it was anything but. It was simple really; her legs shook too much to hold her up. Luckily, her long dress covered that perfectly.

He bounced the corpse on his arm a few times before he continued, casually explaining the sick, perverted game to them: "As you've likely already surmised, since you've met Lira's corpse, this is a game of last man standing. Or woman, of course. Last person alive wins." Her worst fears had just been confirmed, and Dante sank slowly, focusing on that simple, subtle action, because she couldn’t even make herself look around. She had enough of an idea about these boys, to suspect that their eyes were probably alight with predatory glee, or something of the like, right now.

With that, Drake began explaining the rules of this… deathtrap. "But if you dawdle your friend Hassen will make short work of you. He also won't like it much if you enter the library, or my quarters, or the closed door on the second floor. He's a lot faster than he looks. Which reminds me, don't kill my servants please, that isn't polite." Slowly, Dante’s mind became more focused, and she closed her eyes briefly, probably for the last time of her life, before she looked around, inwardly recoiling at the expression on Saber’s face. Oh yes, he was indeed the psychopath she’d assumed him to be. His eyes were alight, his entire face bright with excitement. A brief shudder shook her body then, filled with disgust and revulsion. Instantly, she moved her green eyes to watch the dead body, looking at the wide, surprised eyes.

The demon made introductions and Dante reluctantly took note of everything, but she couldn’t stop watching those eyes, no because she was excited or happy, but because she knew she was going to end up the exact same way. Her days were numbered. Even if she did “win”, Drake had spoken of no actual price, and she doubted very much that he was about to just let whoever killed everyone else go. Besides, it was obvious to Dante that this Lira, and the young Miss Mallory, had both been here longer than Dante and the three others. Two dead corpses today alone and they were the substitutes. How many more had already died and been replaced? Was there an end to this “game”? Or were they all to die in this house, little pieces in a game intended to amuse some insane, red-eyed demon-man?

Dante was drawn from her minor personal panic-attack, when Drake rounded off his speech by asking them whether they had any questions… followed by him telling them that he didn’t bite, which was no doubt a blatant lie. His sharp teeth told that, even if the way he smiled hadn’t. He wasn’t human, but he obviously enjoyed playing with the race. Perhaps he lived off of humans like… like a vampyr? Regardless, she had questions, but she did not think he would answer them, and she honestly didn’t dare anger him.

Then Mister Cantin spoke up and Dante almost cursed just then. Why did he have to be so… stupid? “Are we to be equipped with weapons, or do we simply have to improvise?” He simply said, as though that was the most normal thing in the world. Before the demon-man got to reply, however, Dante noticed Mister White and Miss Lockwood leaving the room, the male sending a lazy wave in their direction. Should she go too? Leave this imbecile with the demon-man? No, probably not. It could be that staying would earn her just a bit more knowledge, but she no longer felt comfortable sitting down, so she go to her feet slowly, on legs which she had managed to get back under control. For the briefest of moments, she wondered what her husband must be thinking of her absence.

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Character Portrait: Dante Valentine Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Saber Cantin
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Drake watched them both with dark fascination. Cantin was so excited, it seemed. Oh, he'd have to cure the human of that. Perhaps after he'd made good use of the man. Dante was still reserved. What was going on in that pretty little skull of hers? She was likely surprised. What other reactions could there be? She didn't seem like a sick creature, that little doe. She wasn't like the bored aristocrats that now littered the manner. Would she succumb to the villainy right away, or would she become a killer too? Like Miss Mallory. Drake's attention was pulled from his thoughts as Cantin spoke, a casual question. Drake watched him for a second, observing how White chose that moment to exit the room, his servant trailing behind.

"Ah, now there's a question." He said after another unnerving second spent staring at the human. "I do not have any weapons on hand, but I'm sure you might find some lying about the house. James always has a few to give away, or Lira might have one you can take. He has no use for it anymore anyway." Drake grinned, most amused. He took a few steps toward the man, red eyes flicking over the youth's face. "Some little mouse hoarded away all the kitchen knives though, what a shame. Though a butter knife forcefully in an eye socket does just as fine of a job, if you've got the stomach for it." He blinked at the man, stopping about a foot from him. His voice spoke that he didn't believe the man had it in him to make good of his bravado. A challenge. These cocky rich humans were all about proving themselves, weren't they? They flinched away at the sight of blood just as Lira had.

In a sudden moment Drake turned his attention to the woman. "No questions, Mrs. Valentine? You have nothing to fear from me, I won't hurt you." He said pleasantly, shifting the corpse in his arms again. It was flopping around in the most ungainly fashion, getting in his way. He kept accidentally stepping on the corpse's hand, which made the most annoying crackling sounds. "Though I can make no promises that no one else will harm you. Except for, perhaps, James. Judging by his affinity for Miss Mallory, he won't harm pretty little things such as yourself." At that he smirked. It was true though. The boy's romp with the foolish Frenchman, and now his desire to protect the little street rat? He had a need to protect the helpless, it seemed. That valiant idiotic little boy.

He moved to near the woman and examine her face a bit more closely, but accidentally stepped on the corpse's hand yet again. "Christ. Get out of my way." He muttered at the body, and in a fluid movement he tossed the body into the chair Mrs. Valentine had recently vacated. It hit the chair, head rocking back and limbs tangling in the air, then slumped into an almost natural sitting position. Drake wiped his hands against his waistcoat as if in a job well done then turned his attention back to the woman. "You see, I'm in an incredibly good mood at the moment, and it would be a shame to waste it, now wouldn't it, my dear?" His eyes were fixed on her in an almost predatory fashion.

It had been a long time since he'd played with a human. It was more fun to play with women, they seemed to get more worked up about things. Deget, Linnet, it couldn't possibly be that hard to push Dante into a bit of a visible panic, could it? He didn't believe so. He folded his hands behind him, walking a slow deliberate circle around her, eyes fixed on her the entire time. "So I'll ask again. Anything you'd like to say, my Lady?" It was quite obvious that Drake was enjoying himself. Then again, however, when wasn't Drake enjoying himself?

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Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Hassen Heindrick
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#, as written by slcam
James nodded to her and she gently helped him up, her mind screaming that there was no way he should be able to move, much less to be alive at all. Though her every instinct urged her to run, she ignored the ever-present compulsion, having already accepted that she could not and would not leave him, even if... well, even if worse came to worse.

For the better part of her life, her every moment had been filled with fear, and she constantly made sure she could run and hide. It was difficult and quite terrifying for her to ever be tied down, unable to escape, as years with her father and alone on the streets of London had more than justified. However, in opposition to this very nature, she was helping the injured James despite the danger involved, both from others in the house and possibly from James himself. She would never be able to tell what kept her there with him, but there was no fighting it, no matter the outcome.

She stayed with James, gently supporting him as they crept down the hall. She tried to hurry, but forced herself to keep a slow enough pace for James to not strain himself. However, her own nervousness made her more anxious each moment. James's wordless murmurs half startled her each time as she checked to make sure he was alright. He looked as nervous as she was feeling. They stumbled down the hall, slowly approaching the corner as the distance seemed to grow longer and longer.

Finally, what Linnet had been expecting all along happened. She heard the door slam open with a short thud, causing her to freeze. As she looked to confirm what she already knew, she noted a look of unease, no more than that, on James's features. She turned slightly, looking at Hassen. What she saw, however, surprised her.

Hassen bore a look of pure confusion, as if coming through that door brought him somewhere unexpected. He looked like a lost child on the street. It was an expression Linnet sympathized with, and with a startling ease that was strange since she was scared stiff of the man. Her first time in London quickly popped into her mind. That was definitely what the look reminded her of. But what had caused it in this man. Linnie had no clue as to what had cause this pure, innocent expression, but it caught her off guard.

She also saw something else, something both familiar and possibly dangerous. Fear, something she was very familiar with. She also knew what fear could cause one to do, and had caused her to do earlier that day. Thoughts of Lira caused her to shudder slightly as she forced them harshly away, but she could do nothing to stop the slight trembling.

Interrupting her quaking, James suddenly pushed her away, as if attempting to stand on his own unsteady legs. That, of course, was not what happened, and he just as suddenly fell hard on his back. Linnet tried to catch him, half falling on him in the process. She could not help the small gasp that escaped from her lips as she looked down at the boy with concern. Glancing up at Hassen for the briefest moment, not even long enough to figure out if he had noticed them, she again knelt beside James. She pulled his arm around her shoulder and lifted him to his feet with a strength fueled by fear.

Finally, she looked again at Hassen, praying he had not noticed them. She automatically placed herself between James and Hassen as if trying to protect the injured boy. She was in no place to protect even herself while holding James, but she had to try.

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It was like he had regained a lost piece of himself, only to have it snatched away from under his nose.

James was right; Hassen was highly unpredictable. There was something wrong with his environment - something that effected almost every one of his senses - and yet he couldn't find it. That made him irritable and frustrated at his own inability to find what was so wrong. His master always used to praise him for his talent and finding things that were out of the ordinary. How else would he have kept his master alive for so long? The man was manipulative and cruel, enjoying messing with people's minds or dragging them through the mud, and had quite a number of people after his head. Naturally, as the servant/bodyguard, it was his duty to make sure nothing happened.

Hassen had noticed the disappearance of James, so he hadn't completely lost his touch. However, it was time to get things moving. The sooner he found the missing soul, the sooner he and Alexander got to go home. This game was taking much too long. Perhaps he should start sneaking into the rooms of the "guests" and kill them in their sleep. It wouldn't take long and things would move along faster. But the more important question was the location of James.

The sound of harsh breathing and a body hitting the floor caught his attention. With a cough, Hassen stared down the hall at James and Linnet. That explained where James had run off too. Honestly, the boy couldn't sit still for anything. A frown decorated his lips and his head cocked. Perhaps one of them could see what he couldn't. The girl, most likely.

Never trust a woman. Right. Women were dangerous. Wait, no. Dangerous when armed. That one girl had gotten hold of Alexander's cane. This woman had... nothing visible. Unless she had a knife, everyone would be fine.

Pointing at the door that he had just come through, Hassen made a guttural whine; the closest thing to a cry for help that he could manage in his current state. If he could get her over, she was more likely to look in the room and see things. Then he could use James as a translator and he could tell her what he wanted. Which, of course, meant that he would need to carry the boy over. Easy enough. Take a few steps forward, he continued to point at the door and whine with the hope that Linnet would go over and take a peek inside.

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Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Hassen Heindrick
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#, as written by slcam
Again what Linnet saw on Hassen's face was completely different from what she had expected. The confusion still lingered there, but now there was also a sort of longing, somewhat mangled by his disfigured face but there nonetheless. Linnie did not know what to make of him now. She was unsure of what he would do, though she knew what he was capable of doing. For some reason, that did not terrify her as much as it did just moments ago. She knew it would be best if she just escaped with James, but she could not force herself to move.

He seemed torn with indecision for a moment, looking at her almost suspiciously, but he decided quickly. As he beckoned, Linnie realized whatever had him in that state was in that room. Her curiosity rose, quickly beginning to override her desire to run, as well as her common sense which told her Hassen was dangerous and needed to be avoided if she wanted to survive. She soon realized there was a slight odor in the hall, something she could not quite place.

He took a couple steps forward, and Linnie half stumbled away, nearly tripping over James. They had not been able to get very far away, so now Hassen was just a few steps short of reaching them. With James clinging to her, Linnet was unable to reach the knife still hidden in the sash of her apron, but she did not really think of the knife now. She was longing to understand what Hassen wanted, though it might end up detrimental to her.

Her mounting curiosity caused her to take a couple steps forward, heading around Hassen so she could see inside the door without getting too close. James still clung to her as she supported him, but her mind was not on him at the moment. She paused again, thinking of Drake's warning not to get near this room. Her eyes wandered toward Hassen, but he did not seem opposed to her coming nearer. In fact, that seemed to be what he wanted her to do. Why was another question entirely.

As she came nearer, the smell became more distinct. It was sort of sickly sweet, like something slowly rotting. Linnet wondered how she had not noticed it before, but it somehow seemed to fit this horrid place. She took a couple more steps, half dragging James in her eagerness, though she still kept away from Hassen. Every time Hassen made a move, Linnet froze again, looking at him with a slight fear in her large, mismatched eyes.

Finally, she came parallel to the door and peered inside, unable to really see anything in the dim lighting. Shooting Hassen another, almost warning glance to make sure he was not coming closer. She went closer to the opening, acting as if something might jump out at her. The stench only grew as she approach, making her want to gag.

Finally, her eyes fell on a figure in the bed. She gasped, nearly dropping James as she saw the horribly mangled bits of what might have been a face at one time. Suddenly, the overpowering odor made sense. It was from a decaying dead body. Linnet quickly stumbled back, tripping on the carpet and falling hard to the floor with James falling almost entirely on top of her.

The fall knocked the wind out of her lungs and she tried not to loose what little was in her stomach. Finally, she began to catch her breath, which was coming out in loud, dry sobs. She sat up, helping James to do likewise, before speaking breathlessly. "W... when did.... why... is there a dea... dead man in the.... in the room?" she stammered. She spoke again, half to herself, "Musta been.. dead a long time...." The questions were not to anyone in particular, and Linnet herself seemed to be in a daze as she stared blankly at the door. She thought she had been ready for anything, but not this. This was horrible sight was worse than she could have imagined.

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Character Portrait: Linnet Mallory Character Portrait: James Butler Character Portrait: Hassen Heindrick
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James wheezed as Linnie nearly fell on him. That had not been a well thought out plan. She hadn't seemed to get the message, trying to catch him instead of fleeing without him. It was nice but at the same time it was frustrating that she didn't get his message. It would be better if he could just distract Hassen so she could get away. Hassan was in a strange way, down to the very expression on his face. It was frightening. James was afraid of it. Not for himself, he was already in more pain than he could rightly handle, any more pain would just fall numb on his body. But if Hassan hurt Linnie... There were those useless attachments again. He knew she would die, but that didn't mean he couldn't push back the inevitable as far as he could.

She lifted him up again; he tried to help as best he could, his knees trembling beneath him. He felt so useless. Linnie couldn't fight or flee with him there as dead weight. And he couldn't protect her. He was very much reminded of his current vulnerability as she moved herself between him and Hassan. His body tensed as far as it could as he stared at the other male, his head lolling off to one side as he did so. The male made a plaintive sound, pointing towards the previously vacated room. No. No. That wouldn't...Drake would be angry if...James made a soft, frantic sound, trying to get his feet under him so he could pull Linnie away. Hassan took a few steps forward and Linnie backpedaled, tripping over his limp feet in the process. He clutched at her shoulders, trying not to fall, eyes still fixed on Hassan. He made a quiet growling sound, a warning, though he couldn't keep the threat.

Linnie didn't continue moving backwards. She stopped after a few paces, paused, then began moving forward, skirting Hassan. Her aim was quite obviously the room. He began to struggle weakly, but she paid him little attention, merely dragging him along after her. No, no, no, he couldn't let this happen. If she...it would ruin everything...and Hassan would...Suddenly his panic was interrupted by Linnie's reaction to Alexander. She fell backwards, taking him with her. His exclamation was partially pain and partially despair. He would be punished for this. Though in hall honesty, it really was Drake's fault for putting him in this state in the first place. If he wasn't so terribly wounded he could have just pulled Linnie away at the first sign of a threat. But now, if they lost control of Hassan everything would fall into a terrible mess. The existence they'd eked out would have to be changed again for the second time in less than a year.

He barely noticed Linnie helping him sit up as his panic was nearly blind. He could hear her terrified breaths though. And then she spoke. James flinched, though the words were soft, as if she was talking to herself. Hopefully Hassan wouldn't understand what she was saying, or he wouldn't believe it. Though the fates had never once worked in James's favour, and they likely wouldn't start turning now.

The best course of action would be to be prepared for anything. he didn't know how Hassan would react at all. The man was so sporadic, perhaps because his mental health had rapidly declined from the moment he stepped foot in the manour. There was nothing James could really do but protect Linnie. Drake might have been able to do something, but James did not have that way with words. Or any way with words, really. His body language wasn't even that convincing most of the time.

The boy managed to haul himself from a sitting position to standing upright on his knees, swaying slightly. It required a huge amount of effort, but James forced himself to stay as still as possible, looking up Hassan and putting himself between the taller male and Linnie. There was fear in his eyes, but he did his best to hide it under a blanket of blankness. Just as long as nothing too terrible happened, Drake could fix things later. It would be okay. He just had to keep calm and absorb whatever happened.

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Character Portrait: Dante Valentine Character Portrait: Drake Stuart Character Portrait: Saber Cantin
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Mrs. Valentine looked over at him and Saber caught that look of disgust. For a moment, something strange happened. He felt...bad? Was that the word for it? Something felt simply not right. But just like that, it was gone, replaced by that insatiable lusting for excitement and danger. Truly, what was the value of a human life? What was life anyway? That was a question that drove Saber to read the great philosophers, but he had found no satisfactory answer. As far as he could tell, there was no real reason why he was any different in his current state than that hunk of meat that Drake was holding. Sure he was a little more animated than the corpse, but why did that make them different? What was it that gave him that ability to move and speak? Was it his spirit? Whatever the heck that was. Maybe participating in this little game would help him find the answer to just that question.

For a moment, the creature called Drake simply stared at him and Saber began to wonder if there was going to be an answer. In response to the silent staring, Saber simply gazed back. There was no fear in his eyes, only curiosity. At the "man's" comment about Lira, Saber smirked for a moment. The corpse must be named Lira. Or it had been, before the life-defining-thing had been lost or turned off or escaped. Maybe it wasn't really even part of them to begin with. Maybe that life-defining-thing was simply something inhabiting them. When any particular meatsuit passed it's date of expiry, the thing simply jumped to a different host. Viewed this way, life was parasitic. It made sense, since life was a condition that was also terminal. No one could be cured of life. Maybe you could escape it somehow instead of just expiring. But that was a philosophical tangent for another time.

Right now Saber should be focusing on the murderous creature looking at him so intently and stepping forward. Oh, goodness. Now Drake was speaking. He probably had had such a strange expression on his face while Drake continued. Time to fix that an put on something more appropriate to the situation. Saber adopted an expression of interest and attentiveness. "It's not the stomach that I have to worry about in this particular situation, but rather the lack of strength. I can't say I'm particularly strong with a knife." A bold faced lie, but it did not matter. Saber had sensed the challenge to his abilities and sort of side-stepped the issue. He smiled slightly at Drake. He would not flinch away from blood. It was the best proof that something had been alive, he supposed. That liquid was what kept them all moving.

That crunching sound broke Saber's concentration. Did it really take such light pressure to break their very structure? Saber brought his hand forward and lightly pushed on the back of his own hand, testing the strength. They seemed durable enough, but perhaps once that life-giving-thing escaped you, the strength went with it. Curious. It would be something he may wanted to investigate further when he had the time. If he ever got the time. It was very possible that he may not escape this alive, but that did not seem to bother him. He supposed he may be the youngest "player" here and therefore have the most to lose. His father often argued something along those lines, so perhaps it was true to some extent.

While Drake's attention shifted back to Mrs. Valentine, Saber quietly pocketed a butter knife he had left off the table. Even a dull knife was better than none at all. In fact, even a spoon could be useful in a pinch. For a few moments, Saber simply watched the body as it slid into a sitting position. Curiouser and curious. Even without the life-defining-thing, a body seemed to want to move as it once had. This whole life and death business was too complicated to delve into at the moment. Finally, Saber shook his head slightly and broke his almost meditative thought process.

"As the lady clearly has no desire for my company any longer and you two appear to be having a conversation on your own, I will leave you to it." Saber said with a small smile. He bowed his head slightly. "Mrs. Valentine. Master Drake." With that, he left the room. He as curious about the other players. How would they be working this? While Saber was not the type of person to be the first to kill, he may have to. Truly, he would have preferred to simply sit back and let the others do the messy work for him for a bit. Then he would simply swoop in when needed and claim his victory. For all he knew, though, his victory only meant that he would be killed last.