Chapter One: Introductions 30[/hr]
The Gravedigger stood outside the Rosengard Estate, his spectral form concealed beneath the heavy rainfall that surrounded the countryside that night. This evening had been in the making for years, and now the pieces were finally in place for the game of souls to begin. He knew there was little to fear from the spirits he had chosen to take part, they were too consumed by fear and greed to see his true intentions. He stared up at the Moon, concealed behind the thick clouds, and grinned. He could hear the mortals arriving now, and it would not be long before first blood was spilled.
A raging storm assaulted the Rosengard Estate as Miss Charlotte Hamilton pulled up to its wrought-iron gates in her horse-drawn carriage. She had traveled a great distance to come to the famed Rosengard Estate, but was shocked to see the sight before her. What was once the pinnacle of luxury was now a dilapidated, and by her view, dangerous looking hellhole. Every single window was broken, and it appeared that large portions of the roof were missing as well. She reached into her purse and checked the mysterious letter that had been delivered to her:
You are cordially invited to take part in an unusual competition to determine the future fate of Rosengard. Be warned: This is not a game for the weak of spirit. Your skill, strength and integrity will be tested at every turn, but he who succeeds will inherit both the massive estate and the family fortune that comes with it. I wholly encourage your participation, and look forward to meeting you in exactly three weeks time.
PS: Enclosed is a trinket expressing my sincerity in this matter.
It had to be more than a joke, she thought as she clutched onto an ornate, jeweled necklace she had been given, Why else would they give her such a remarkable piece of jewelry? It was the most beautiful and expensive thing the simple woman owned, and worth more than she could hope to earn in several years of her modest nurses salary. How could she turn down the opportunity for more? After all, it was only a game.
She reached the enormous front door of the mansion, her clothes soaking wet, when suddenly the dark building began to glow with the faint glimmer of candlelight. Charlotte knocked on the door, calling out for anyone else who might be within earshot.
"Hello? Is anyone here?"
"Is there someone around? Anyone?!"
"I'm here," a deep, male voice replied from behind her. Charlotte turned around, startled, to discover a dark-skinned, middle-aged man standing before her. He wore a fine suit and held an umbrella in one hand, and a familiar looking letter in the other, "You're drenched my dear. Please, share my umbrella with me."
"Thank you kindly sir. Are you... are you the one who invited me here?"
"No, I was invited here as well. I've been surveying the outside of the building, hoping to see any signs of life inside. It looks completely abandoned."
"That's not possible. Someone has to be lighting the candles inside."
"Then I suggest we enter together. I checked the door earlier; it's not locked. At the very least it will give you a chance to dry off."
"Yes, of course," Charlotte said, extending her hand to the stranger, "My name is Charlotte Hamilton. It's a pleasure to meet you."
"I know who you are, Miss Hamilton," the man replied sternly, "My name is Daniel Mathis."
"You know me, Mr. Mathis? How is that possible?"
"How can you not remember?!" Daniel paused for a moment, collecting himself before he spoke again, "...My wife, Elaine Mathis, and was one of your patients. In fact, it was exactly one year ago tonight that you killed her."