You! You stole her…my first love! You took her away from me. By what right do you invade my home and take that which is mine? Be warned, detective. You shall never take my true love! You will never, EVER have…my Rose!
"Hello, this is the Queen…Yes, seriously."
"Ah! Master Detective, I have been desperately trying to reach you. My sources have reported that something, most dreadful, was missed when you pieced together the last pages of Emma's diary at Ravenhearst Manor. You must return there at once. I fear Emma's was not the only spirit freed from that awful place. You may have also unleashed the vengeful soul of her murderer, Charles!"
"Your Majesty...I know. I'm on the case."
A black Cadillac grinded to a wheezing halt just outside the foreboding iron gates. The deep evening painted the sky black behind the thick blanket of rain clouds, which let loose a heavy downpour. Blackpool, England, November 2008, Ravenhearst Manor. Blackpool was famous for two things: the legendary curse of Ravenhearst Manor and the fact that the rain never seemed to stop (which caused the occasional flash flood in springtime). The driver of the Cadillac stepped out, opening a teal umbrella against the deluge, shivering in the damp evening air. She looked around, attempting to get her bearings in the gloaming. A dusty light flickered on, casting a pool of orange on the cobblestones. She tucked a curl of auburn hair behind her ear nervously and fiddled with the clasp of the worn leather messenger bag slung over her shoulder, scanning her surroundings. Something glinted in the tangle of overgrown shrubbery, catching her eye. Straightening her shoulders, she strode towards it and plunged her hand into the thicket. Reaching up to her shoulder, she closed her fingers around something hard and yanked it back. A wrench. I might want to keep this…she thought, Who knows how useful a heavy hunk of metal could be in this investigation? Glancing ahead, she noticed a plague screwed to one of the stone pillars in front of her, overgrown with ivy. She brushed the greenery ways and fished in her bag for a notebook and pen. She scrawled the inscription across the first blank page of a faux-leather bound log. June, 1895- This residence dedicated in name and beauty to my dearest Emma. May this home long stand as a loving testament to your ever loving spirit. Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiature. Vincit qui patitur. Scratched into the metal were a series of numbers. 8 16 18 36 38 36 (heart) 78. She approached the gates and attempted to open them. The only result was a reverberating clang as the iron bars shook. She noticed a keypad mounted near the hinge and began futilely running her fingers over the buttons, hoping for a working combination. Nothing. She found the wrench in her bag and began to remove the bolts holding the key pad in place. The metal cover fell to the ground noisily. Inside were four wires, each labeled with a different pair of numbers, and a grid of electrical ports. Grinning at the ease of the puzzle, she immediately began plugging in the wires, counting over and up to their numbered coordinates in the grid. As soon as the fourth was attached, a small compartment automatically slid open revealing a brass key. She took the key in her hand and fitted it into the gate's lock. With a whine, the gates opened, allowing her access to the manor. She hurried forward, eager to begin her investigation, her heels clicking on the cobblestone pathway. She was half way up the sloped path and noticed a dilapidated well. She grabbed the handle in both hands and torqued it, attempting to pull up the bucket. The handle stuck for a moment and held fast. With a grunt of disappointment, she continued up to the house. She trudged up the steps, glancing around her as if expecting to be ambushed any moment, and brushed a few loose hairs from her face. Another lamp illuminated an inscription carved above the doorway. The house that love built. She shivered. A large, glossy raven perched on a tree branch just off the porch, watching her intently. The floorboards groaned under her weight and sagged. All the windows, she noted, had boards nailed over them and the door was adorned with a condemnation notice of the city of Blackpool. Aside from the glowing bulb above her head, the mansion appeared to be entirely deserted. Upon closer inspection, the door held a typewriter key with the letter V inscribed in ornate script. Frowning, she pocket the trinket. Turning around, she noticed for the first time a familiar looking black cat; under its paw, she noticed, was a key. She reached down for it, but the feline swiped at her hand, hissing. She glared.
"Well, if that's how you're going to be," she chided. "I'll just find some other way to get it!" the cat twitched its tail quizzically. She rounded the corner of the porch, and knelt by an open trunk. Rain and dead leaves had collected inside along with the odds and ends typical of Ravenhearst Manor; a wooden leg, a gnome, a stack of disrepaired books, a brick. She made committed the brick's location to memory, not wanting to carry it with her but knowing that it would probably come in handy. She rounded another corner, hoping to continue her exploration, only to be met with a dead end. As she turned around, one of the boards buckled beneath her. She bent down and tried to curl her fingers under it to pry the board up. It held too firmly. She put her hands on her hips and stomped heavily on the board, though it only jostled a bit more. She turned back to the front of the house and stepped back a few paces to examine the façade. A bird nest was tucked into the eves, something shining inside. I'm going to have to find a ladder…she thought. Shouldn't be too hard to find in the odds and ends. Once I get into the house. She strolled absently across the porch. She came around a bend and realized that one of the windows was not entirely barred over. Delighted with her fortune, she rammed her shoulder against the pane. It didn't budge, seeming to be locked from the inside. She kept pacing around. A mouse darted over her foot, causing her to jump, startled, as it dove for a hole at the base of the wall. After taking a moment to recover, she continued on, following a path from the porch to the garden gate. Two statues stood, a tall, solemn man and a woman, her hands held out in front of her, as if holding something. The detective knelt down to examine the inscription on the woman statue's marble base. Only if you bring me the dark flower that bears her name…flower…name…Rose! She grinned slightly, satisfied with her deduction, but, upon realizing that she had no inkling of where to find a dark rose, frowned pensively. Still pondering the flower puzzle, she crossed to a small gazing pool by the other statue. At the bottom was what appeared to be a glass eye, but the murky water prevented her from being certain. Grimacing, she pushed up the sleeve of her fuchsia sweater and reached for the orb. Upon closer inspection (and being dried), it did prove to be a glass eyeball. Shrugging, she pocketed the eye along with the V typewrite key, though uncertain how it would prove beneficial in her quest. After searching through the heap of discarded junk, the only possibly useable item she found was a small horn. She approached the gate, hoping desperately that it wouldn't be locked, though her hopes were met with naught. The lock was a small metal figure with a bird's skull for a head. She prodded an arm. It bent on a surprisingly smooth hinge. I bet that somewhere there's an answer. Disappointed, she turned back, wandering towards the house. As she walked, becoming slightly frustrated, she saw a stepladder leaning against a tree; she hoisted it over her shoulder and hurried back to the bird's nest she had seen. Mounting the ladder, she peered into the tangle of grass and twigs. Inside was another eyeball. She pocket this too and returned to her lap of the porch. At one end was a planter, hanging from the ceiling; inside was a single dark grey bloom, the stem covered in spikes. She reached for the stem, attempting to pluck it. The thorns impeded this effort greatly. She turned back to the trunk and picked up the brick, an idea beginning to form. She walked briskly back to the window, the one not entirely boarded, and hurled the brick at the glass. It shattered upon contact. She clambered through the new entry, wondering if anyone would notice the smashed window of a condemned and abandoned house. No, of course not, no one- she froze. In the fireplace was a roaring blaze. Someone was here. She cautiously scanned the room, listening intently for footsteps or any other signs of life. Nothing. She stalked slowly across the living room to the door opposite. Mounted on the door was a peculiar lock of sorts. Brilliant. Another one of Dalimar's trademark puzzles. Doesn't that man have anything better to do in the afterlife? The lock consisted of four round 'sockets', each with a small lever, centered around a screen, which showed only a twitching blur. Trusting instinct, she fitted the two eyes she had found onto two of the sockets. They fit perfectly. She flicked the switch of one of them and the blur became ever so slightly more distinct. She nodded slowly. She walked towards the fire for inspection. On the mantelpiece was a crowbar, looking suspiciously new. She took it and placed it in her bag. Carved into the stone of the hearth was a symbol of a crescent moon, an 'equals' symbol, and a marking she didn't recognize. She copied the equation into her notebook. Most peculiar about the fireplace was that puzzle (presumably another lock) mounted on the mantle: a dozen disks, each embossed with an odd symbol, on either side of an indentation whose outline looked to be that of a sun. directly on either side of the depression were two small circles, the same size as the disks. After watching the puzzle uncertainly for a while, as if hoping for it to solve itself, she climbed back out the window. Immediately she was blasted with crisp autumn air. Grimacing, she hurried back over to the trunk to rummage through it again. The only useful item she found was a machine belt, which she added to her bag. Coming back to the loose floor board, she selected the crowbar from her satchel and set to work removing it. The rotted wood splintered in several places, making the task more difficult that she had surmised. Underneath, she found only two glass eyes. She hurried back indoors and fitted them into their places in the lock. After fiddling with the levers, the screen became clear enough to realize that the twitching blur was actually a blinking eye. The door automatically sprung open, revealing the kitchen (rather, what was left of it). The pungent scent of rotting food permeated the air. Into the side of one of the cabinets was etched a diagram which resembled the garden gate lock, which she copied into her notebook, smiling with the decided victory.
"I knew it!" she shouted. She immediately froze again, remember that someone else might be in the house. When she was sure the coast was clear, she began to inspect the cupboards. The only useful items she found were a pair of garden shears, a damp cloth, and a wedge of cheese as hard as rock. The oven, she made not of, was chained shut and padlocked. Bracing herself, she crawled back out of the window. The cheese she placed in front of the mouse hole. Almost immediately, the furry vermin scampered out of its hole. She pounced on it, seizing it by its tail. The mouse struggled, but to no avail, and she carried it across the porch before unceremoniously dropping it in front of the cat. The black feline jumped onto the mouse, grasping it in its jaws. Meanwhile, she grabbed the key which the cat had been guarding. She went back in through the window to the kitchen and used the key to unlock the oven. Inside was a pair of garden gloves, stiff from disuse. She slipped one on for size; a bit large, but not unusable. She again exited by the window and hurried over to the planter. She used the shears to snip the bloom and the gloves to grab it. She briskly walked to the statues, a tingling sense of excitement rising in the pit of her stomach. She ceremoniously placed the flower in the stature's hands, practically bouncing with excitement. Immediately, a blue pendant in the shape of a crescent moon fell from around the statue's neck. She picked it up, staring ponderously at it, and shoved it into her pocket. She turned around to examine the gate lock. With a slight smirk, fueled by her victorious sense of success, she bent the metal limbs into position, and with a click, the gate unlocked. The garden was not entirely unpleasant, though quite overgrown with vines and bushes and weeds. A fountain in the shape of a cupid burbled pleasantly. She ambled along the path, still sheltering under the teal umbrella against the cold rain. The path ended at a clearing surrounded by trees and tall grass. On the ledge opposite her, a cliff cut away to roaring waves and sharp spires of stone below. In the distance, she could barely make out the silhouette of a house in the distance through the driving rain. Several cracked gravestones, titles worn away by weather, stuck out of the ground at odd angles. Upon inspection, one of them had an equations similar to the one with the moon etched onto tis worn surface. Sun equals symbol. She copied it down into her notebook for future reference. A small swing drifted back and forth, hanging from a tree branch. The head of a pickaxe stuck out from a knot of brush. With some effort, she managed to extricate it, and, deeming it a possible benefit, managed to fir the pickaxe into her messenger bag. She circled the clearing slowly, watching for any other important details. A stone monolith, concealed by overgrowth, was nestled between the trees. She brushed away the ivy covering the base and found yet another lock. Four stone rings nestled into each other, surrounded by a ring of small lights on the outside. An eagle head, its eyes darkened bulbs was carved at the zenith of the outer circle. Into each ring was painted several red lines. She crouched to the ground, running her fingertips over each ring. Slowly, she began to turn the outer ring, lining up the ends of the lines each with a lightbulb. The twisted the next ring to line up with the outermost, continuing on to finally the centermost. With a dull scraping rumble, the stone circlets sunk back into the base and disappeared into a hidden slot. Behind the interlocking stone bands was a pendant, amber in color, in the shape of the sun. She drew the moon pendant out of her pocket and held them side by side. To no surprise, she found that they fit together perfectly, like a puzzle. She carefully placed the sun and moon into her bag and began trekking back to the manor. Once arrived, she crawled again through the smashed window, carefully avoiding the sharp and irregular shard sticking from the frame. She stood facing the fireplace and retrieved the pendants from an interior pocket of her bag and carefully, delicately placed them into the indentation. She fished her notebook from her satchel and poured through it until she came to the page where she had copied down the sun and moon equations. Her breath catching with fear or excitement, knowing that something significant was about to happen, she placed the sun symbol disk in the depression next to the sun pendant and the moon adjacent to the moon. The puzzle spurred to life, the sun and moon each suddenly glowing iridescently. A cloud of dust arose around her as the fireplace, hearth, and mantle sunk away into the floor, revealing a dark, narrow staircase behind.
"Well, Josephine, another case begins." She tossed her hair over her shoulder, lifted her chin confidently, and descended the stairs into the unknown.