She descended the stairs slowly, warily, half worried that a step would give out underneath her at any moment. At last she put her foot on the solid ground of the basement floor. A rusted pipe dripped in a dark corner, creating a puddle which practically covered the entire floor. A discarded doll lay limp and filthy at her feet. A faint glimmering came from a high window, casting a dull milky glow. Ahead, a ruddy, warm light came from a doorway. Cautiously, she picked her way through the mess of old crates, viscous water, and all manner of refuse. She had not come five paces before a thick white mist seeped from the floor, forming into the faint, shadowy figure of a young woman in a long Victorian gown. Her dark hair and angular face looked oddly familiar, though she couldn't imagine where she had seen this woman…this ghost. It reached out a hand towards her, speaking with a heavy English accent.
"Greetings, brave soul. My name is Rose Sommerset- at least, it once was."
Josephine's eyes grew wide. This must be the nurse Emma mentioned in her diary! "My daughters and I were stolen away a long time past. I do not have much time, so please listen…Please, unlock the doors quickly and help me find my children! Free us from this wicked place before her returns!" The ghost shook her head sadly and faded away like mist. The detective lunged forward to where Rose had appeared.
"Wait!" but it was too late, and too many questions were unanswered. Frozen to the spot by a surge of shock and fear, the gears began turning as she attempted to sort out the scenario as it seemed to have unfolded. Dalimar poisoned, held hostage, and murdered Emma, then kidnapped Emma's maid and her daughters and held them all here. And now Rose Sommerset's ghost wants me to free her soul and those of her children. Alright. And this may well end with me facing off against the freed soul of a- a maniac. She let out a soft whimpering moan as she imagined having to take on the soul of Charles Dalimar single handedly. She sighed heavily, her stomach clenching in apprehension, and edged cautiously towards the glowing doorway. She entered into a large, open chamber. Several large, burning torches adorned the walls and an elaborate web of pipes carried what looked like a glowing fluid through the ceiling. A solitary stone angel held a plaque reading May Our Hearts Forever Beat As One above the middle of three doors. She approached the far left; the lock consisted of three two rotatable rings, the upper containing slots for three blue marbles, the lower for three yellow. The overlap between held three blank slots. The right door was mounted with a type writer. Several of the letters were missing and the ones which were left appeared to have been removed from several different devices. A yellowed scrap of paper was nailed to the door below the type writer reading ALL KEYS PROCEED IN HIS NAME! She fished in her pocket for the V key she had discovered earlier and snapped it onto the peg where it would typically be placed. She approached the middle door. A peculiar device barred entrance, bearing strong resemblance to the puzzle locks found on practically every door in Ravenhearst Manor in her previous investigation. Although she hated to admit it, Josephine had come to almost enjoy picking apart the intricate mechanisms; beginning her attempt at solving, she flicked on a nondescript light switch mounted in front of her. Immediately the lock sprang to life. Several reels of recording sprang to life, loudly spewing jumbled bits of static and mumbled words. At the same time, several of eight small screens like those of an electric alarm clock displayed a flashing series of numbers. Next to each was another switch, near the size of her thumb nail. She flipped one; the light next to one of the blank screens winked to life as the one adjacent to the switch she had flipped darkened. She frowned. She began turning switches at random, searching for a pattern. Entirely by accident, each of the dim bulbs sparked to life, a pair of red, a pair of blue, a pair, a green, and a pair of orange, like colored Christmas tree lights. She smiled at her handiwork and took a step back, noticing for the first time a dial split into four sections, color coded to correspond to the bulbs. She flicked the arrow to red; a row of mismatched keys each engraved with a digit, stemmed from another screen much like the first several. Using the keys, she entered the two numbers next to the red bulbs: twenty two and thirty six. This was followed by green (seventy six and twenty six), orange (forty one and thirty seven) and finally blue (eighty six and thirty eight). The screens and bulbs blinked rapidly as the door swung open almost noiselessly. Odd…if the door's as old as the manor, it ought to squeak, I suppose…perhaps whoever I heard in the manor has been tending this lair. Josephine proceeded slowly, her senses on hyper-alert. After another rickety flight of stairs which groaned a bit too much for her comfort, her feet met the solid floor of a cave. She found herself in some kind of subterranean town: oil lamps hung from the ceiling at intervals, casting a lurid glow. Several building lined the main street, which Josephine could see branched off ahead. A sign hung from the peeling façade of what appeared to be a General Store reading in elaborate script Welcome to Roseville, Population: 1. She shivered in the damp, musty air, staring at the welcome in horror. On the other side of her was another building, the sign too faded to make out. Several windows were shattered and the door hung awkwardly off its hinges. A large notice was nailed to the wall.
Absolutely no contact with the outside world.
Lock tampering shall be severely punished.
Exit permitted only for nourishment and work detail.
Exercise beauty shop facilities regularly to maintain hygiene.
No diaries, journals, notebooks, or logs.
Disobedience invokes severe punishment.
Your brief journey serves only my continuance.
There will be no discussion of my motives for harboring you here.
Know that I preferred Emma.
Our hearts will forever beat as one.
She stared agog. Not only did he keep Rose captive against her will but made very clear that he seemingly had no desire to allow her to remain- she was only a pawn in his plan…whatever that was…is. Rose's desperate plea echoed in her mind: "Free us from this wicked place before he returns!" She ambled down the road, avoiding several puddles of murky water, and turned to face a large shop window full of miscellany. A long branch was leaned up against the wall, which she grabbed and stuffed into her bag. She turned back to explore the general store. Inside was a counter, several shelves stocked with outdated canned foods and other essentials, and at the back end, and elevator. From the ceiling hung various dangerous looking devices, from shackles lined with metal spikes to what resembled bear traps. In the back corner was an iron stove. Something on the counter glinted in the dingy light: a red marble. I'd bet actual money that this goes to one of the other door locks in the chamber…she pocketed it and continued on. Seeing as there was nothing else of immediate and urgent importance, she turned and went back outside to see what else 'Roseville' had in store. Near the end of the street was 'Rose's Beauty Parlor'. She tried the door; it was locked. Her eye was drawn to another lock: this one consisted of a jumble of red, yellow, and green tiles which needed to be slid into rows of corresponding colors. Josephine began sliding the tiles back and forth, her brow furrowing slightly as the rows began to come together. With a click, the deadbolt was disarmed. She entered in, eyes darting around the room, not sure what to focus on first. Several mannequins in various elaborate dresses and corsets stood against one wall; against the opposite was a scrim and an ominous looking device connected to a velvet-covered chair. Against the wall farthest from her was a staircase trailing up to the second floor. Several lights glowed dimly on the ceiling, emitting a low whine. In one of the mannequins hands' was a scrap of paper. She snatched it and poured over the faded text. September 2, 1895: Local Man Cleared of Charges. Blackpool official yesterday relieved all charges against Charles Dalimar, resident of number 7217 Darkwood Lane. Mr. Dalimar was accused of kidnapping Rose Sommerset and her twin daughters, Gwendolyn and Charlotte Sommerset earlier this year. Mrs. Sommerset was briefly employed by the accused as a live-in nurse maid for Dalimar's family friend, the American Emma Ravenhearst. Miss Ravenhearst could not be reached for comment. "That man is a liar and cannot be trusted!" exclaims Reginald Sommerset, father and husband to the missing parties. A strong alibi and lack of evidence cleared the accused of all charges. Victims remain at large. Alibi my foot! And is 'could not be reached' newspaper for 'horribly murdered'?!
"Charles Dalimar, if I ever-!" she exclaimed forcefully, her voice echoing in the near silence. A creak and a heavy slam made her bolt around before she ever finished saying what she would ever; the door had slammed shut on its own. Her head pounding, back prickling with fear, she took a deep breath, wiping her sweaty palms on her jeans. She turned around slowly, reaching into her bag carefully and fishing out her notebook. She opened the front cover and pressed in the newspaper scrap against the page to save it. She approached the scrim to look behind it, kicking aside several rusted pairs of shackles. Behind the scrim the walls were plastered with posters advertising 'Beauty Pills', 'Extra-Slimming Corsets' and all types of other products. A red marble was tucked into an empty perfume bottle; she grabbed it and smashed it against the table. Once she had taken the marble, she picked through the untidiness towards the staircase. Two carved wooden figures were mounted onto the railing. One sat at an odd angle, as though it had been partially twisted. She turned it and it spun freely. She attempted to spin the other; a panel in the wall swung around, revealing a portrait of two girls in white gowns. Are these Rose's daughters? The corner of one of the portrait had been slashed, removing one of the girls' faces, revealing an odd symbol etched onto the wood behind it. It looked like an angel hovering over an X. Josephine made note of the marking in her notebook and continued up the staircase, uncomfortably aware that the only sounds were her own footfalls and the hum of the lights. At the top of the stairs was a heavy door leading to a dingy bed chamber. The air was heavy with dust and the scent of mildew. Rose's sleeping quarters, presumably, where she was held during this nightmare. A window let in a hazy glow. She approached, hoping to open it and air out the room. To her dismay, she realized that the glass had been painted over and the latch was only a molded decoration- the window was a fake! On one side of the grimy four-poster was a chair, a vanity, a nightstand, and a stool. She tried the drawer on the nightstand only to find that it had been nailed shut. The mirror in the vanity had been smashed and the various tins, jars, and bottles lay in a cluttered jumble. The ceiling sagged miserably. On the opposite side of the room was a door; to her bemusement it was sealed with yet another puzzle. A large circle, full of raised squares and a single metal ball, a small hole, and a short length of chain hanging from either side. She tugged one chain: the circle twisted left. She pulled the other, and it spun to the right. The ball rolled back and forth, only coming to a stop as it hit the edge of a square. She spent a while tugging at the chains, hoping to land the ball in the hole. If it rolled off, a new ball would drop back onto the board from an invisible chute in the top. Finally, with a rusted scraping grind, the door swung open. The room inside was a bathroom, filthy and in disrepair. In the corner was a shower, and behind the shower curtain was a person!