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[center][table=70][tr][tdcolspan=6][center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/mansionbw.jpg[/IMG][/center][/tdcolspan][/tr][tr][td][center][font="book antiqua"][size=4][b][strike]Umbert Thatcher[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/umbertthatcher.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 64
Retired Sea Captain[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][b][center][size=4][strike]Selina Marqs[/strike][/size][/b]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/selinamarqs.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 39
Prostitute[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][b][center][size=4][strike]Cindy Grey[/strike][/b][/size][/font]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/cindygrey.jpg[/IMG]
[font="book antiqua"][strike]Age: 24
Secretary[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][b][center][size=4][strike]Miles Shaw[/strike][/size][/b]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/mileshaw.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 48
Pianist[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Charlotte Hamilton[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/charlottehamilton.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 27
Nurse[/strike][/center][/font][/td][/tr][tr][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b]Daniel Mathis[/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/danielmathis.jpg[/IMG]
Age: 50
Professor[/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Kevin Andolli[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/kevinandolli.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 25
Gambler[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Jacqueline Masey[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/jacquelinemasey.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 27
Artist/Prostitute[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Evelynne Decoeur[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/evelynnedecoeur.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 24
Journalist[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Madea Hall[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/madeahall.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 80
Psychic[/strike][/center][/font][/td][/tr][tr][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Elyssa Janovica[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/elyssajanovica.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 31
Opera Singer[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Diana Ross[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/dianaross.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 24
Housewife[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][b][center][size=4][strike]Steve Bastion[/strike][/size][/b]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/stevebastion.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 24
Unemployed[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Alicia Mills[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/aliciamills.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 26
Doctor[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Wyatt Bishop[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/wyattbishop.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 36
Author[/strike][/center][/font][/td][/tr][tr][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Edward Nelson[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/edwardharries2.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 72
Janitor[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Harriet Mercer[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/harrietmercer.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 12
Factory Worker[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Sara Marcel[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/saramarcel.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 20
Art Student[/strike][/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b]Leonard Howard[/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/leonardhoward.jpg[/IMG]
Age: 33
Police Officer[/center][/font][/td][td][font="book antiqua"][center][size=4][b][strike]Jacob Barry[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/jacobbarry.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 13
Thief[/strike][/center][/font][/td][/tr][tr][td][center][font="book antiqua"][size=4][b]Belle[/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/belle.jpg[/IMG]
Age: Unknown
Harpy[/center][/font][/td][td][center][font="book antiqua"][size=4][b][strike]Mimic[/strike][/b][/size]
[IMG]http://i619.photobucket.com/albums/tt278/PandasQ/dopplereffect-1.jpg[/IMG]
[strike]Age: 1
Doppelganger[/strike][/center][/font][/td][/tr][/table][/center]

[indent][size=5][font="book antiqua"][b]Chapter One: Introductions[/b][/font][/size][hr]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.

[center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/charlottehamilton.jpg[/IMG] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/danielmathis.jpg[/img][/center]
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, [I]dangerous[/I] 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:

[blockquote][I]Miss Charlotte Hamilton,

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.

- G

PS: Enclosed is a trinket expressing my sincerity in this matter.[/I][/blockquote]
[I]It had to be more than a joke,[/I] she thought as she clutched onto an ornate, jeweled necklace she had been given, [I]Why else would they give her such a remarkable piece of jewelry?[/I] 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.

"[b]Hello? Is anyone here?[/b]"

Silence.

"[b]Is there someone around? Anyone?![/b]"

"[b]I'm here,[/b]" 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, "[b]You're drenched my dear. Please, share my umbrella with me.[/b]"

"[b]Thank you kindly sir. Are you... are you the one who invited me here?[/b]"

"[b]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.[/b]"

"[b]That's not possible. Someone has to be lighting the candles inside.[/b]"

"[b]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.[/b]"

"[b]Yes, of course,[/b]" Charlotte said, extending her hand to the stranger, "[b]My name is Charlotte Hamilton. It's a pleasure to meet you.[/b]"

"[b]I know who you are, Miss Hamilton,[/b]" the man replied sternly, "[b]My name is Daniel Mathis.[/b]"

"[b]You know me, Mr. Mathis? How is that possible?[/b]"

"[b]How can you not remember?![/b]" Daniel paused for a moment, collecting himself before he spoke again, "[b]...My wife, Elaine Mathis, and was one of your patients. In fact, it was exactly one year ago tonight that you killed her.[/b]"[/indent]

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Lightning flashed blue-yellow, illuminating the ferocious rolling coal black clouds. If Miles Shaw didnâ??t know that such things were impossible he would have sworn that the mass of cumulonimbus were converging over the disheveled old mansion. He tapped his feet, twice on the left, once on the right, and turned nervously away from the old wrought iron gate. Shivering he stared down at the items in his hands.

In his right hand was a letter written on aged parchment paper. It read:

[indent][i]Mr. Miles Shaw,

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.

- G

PS: Enclosed is a trinket expressing my sincerity in this matter.[/i]
[/indent]
In his left hand the trinket glittered in the lightning. Tinged with dried blood, the thin strand of piano wire reflected serpentine neon hues of blue, green and yellow. Miles Shaw knew that he should have thrown it away three weeks ago. He should have thrown it into the river and burned the letter. He did not. He was far too frightened of the potential consequences and far, far too tired of hiding from his past.

He turned back towards the gate and tentatively pulled it outward. Behind him a shrill voice called out:

[b]â??Boyâ?¦boy!â?[/b]

Miles turned. His face darkened. A woman stood before him wearing a large floppy hat, fur coat and pearls. The face was familiar, it was a face that had haunted him for years. His grip on the piano wire tightened until it bit into his skin.

[b]â??Ah, boy, my bags, take my bags. Lords am I glad that the estate still has help, though from the look of it not much. Would it kill the Rosengardâ??s to hire a gardener?â?[/b]

[b]â??Iâ??m not the help.â?[/b]

[b]â??Ohâ?¦oh dear, well do forgive me. An honest mistake, it isnâ??t often that you see colored folks at such an estate when they are not help. Iâ??m sure you understand.â?[/b]

[b]â??No,â?[/b] Miles said simply as he turned back toward the mansion. [b]â??Besides, I donâ??t think anyone has lived here for years, let alone picked up after the place.â?[/b]

The woman frowned, taking a closer look at the Rosengard estate.

[b]â??I guess I didnâ??t get a good look at it until now due to the storm. It is in a sorry state, isnâ??t it?â?[/b]

[b]â??Yes.â?[/b]

[b]â??Well, do you mind helping me with my bag?â?[/b]

Miles clenched his teeth, grinding them together, forcing the words of anger on his tongue back into his head. He turned back towards the woman. Silently he scooped up the bag and headed toward the mansion.

[b]â??Ah, thank you, you are quite a gentleman after all. My name is Elyssa Janovia.â?[/b]

[b]â??Yes, I know. Miles Shaw.â?[/b]

[b]â??Miles Shawâ?¦that name is familiar, so familiar. Perhaps we have met before?â?[/b]

[b]â??Yes, yes we have,â?[/b] Miles whispered to himself, his back turned on the woman. He walked quickly towards the old building, his fear quieted. In its place the nearly deafening roar of fury rolled through his body.

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[color="#008000"][i]The Green Lady observed the front yard of the mansion in silence from a broken window in the upmost floor. Those poor unfortunate souls had no idea what kind of a game they were getting involved in...[/i][/color]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/saramarcel.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/kevinandolli.jpg[/img][/center]

[b]"Oh, isn't this splendid? It is a theme party, Kevin, it must be![/b]" exclaimed Sara Marcel filled with enthusiasm as her fiancé Kevin Andolli escorted her to the Rosengard mansion. Not long ago, they both had received an anonymous letter inviting them to this estate. Sara was clinging to Kevin's arm as they approached the ghastly house.

[b]"I have to wonder, my love..."[/b] Kevin said, his eyes evaluating the surroundings. He was always so shifty and full of suspicions, that silly Kevin. But Sara thought it was required of a man making his living on the horse races.

[b]"The Rosengard mansion has not been inhabited for who knows how long. And the stories I've heard... They are most certainly not suitable for such precious ears as you have."[/b]

Sara giggled. [b]"Oh stop it, Kevin, you're just impossible!"[/b]

Sara had met Kevin at a gallery where she had been assisting one of the artists showcasing his work there, while Kevin had been looking for something to splurge his newly-gained fortune on. Sara had recommended an Impressionistic painting of a maiden walking in a hedge maze, and Kevin had remarked how much she resembled that maiden. That had been the first of the countless times the dashing young gambler had made the art student blush and giggle.

Sara had known her fiancé long enough to know that Kevin was only that dashing when he had won a gamble. Losing a game made him sulky and snappish, and Sara did not enjoy being in his company during those periods. One strike of luck later Kevin always came behind her door to apologize with a bouquet of roses, and the last time with a diamond ring that was now on Sara's finger, gleaming in the flashes of lighting.

The pair noticed that other people started to emerge amidst the rainstorm. In Sara's mind this confirmed that they were heading to an exciting party organized by one of Kevin's filthy rich friends. She couldn't wait to see who was behind this! Edited by Sandy

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[font="Garamond"]Selina Marqs descended from the carriage and opened her umbrella quickly - and ultimately fruitlessly - to defend against the onslaught of the storm. The driver of the carriage hauled her small yet heavy bag from the compartment and placed it on the ground next to her, extending his hand for payment. Selina quickly fished a handful of bills from cleavage and stuffed them into the man's hand. He looked surprise, but said nothing as he jammed them into his pocket, tipping his cap to her before hopping back onto the carriage and driving off into the night, her last chance to change her mind disappearing under the cover of the howling wind and rain. She stared after the carriage for only a moment, and then pulled the letter out of her pocket to skim again, her other hand clutching the trinket that had been enclosed, a large glass marble with strands of red, yellow and white streaking through it.

She tucked it back into it's rightful place in her coat pocket before turning and bending slightly to retrieve her bag, made her way towards the wrought iron gates of the once grand mansion.

Another woman came up the path winding around the side of the house, her hair was covered by a scarf that she tugged down tightly to shield her face. As she neared Selina and another pair of shoes came into her limited view, she turned her face up slightly to look at the owner of the shoes. Selina smiled faintly and took a step towards her, placing her bag down again and extending her hand.

[b]"Selina Marqs."[/b] The other woman smiled genially, letting going of her scarf to clasp Selina's hand.

[b]"Alicia Mills. Dr. Alicia Mills."[/b] they shook.

[b]"Nice to meet you. Here for the game, I assume?"[/b] Selina picked her bag up again and gestured with her head to the gate,

[b]"You assume correctly. You must be, too!"[/b] Alicia laughed lightly, following Selina's lead and ducking through the old rusty iron gate, it clanged shut behind them as they made their way up the path and to the heavy front door. Alicia pushed it open after much effort, Selina following after shaking off and closing her umbrella.

The two women walked side by side across the dark and sagging wooden floor of foyer, following the faint light and sounds of voices ahead.

[b]"So you're a doctor, are you? That must be very interesting.[/b]" Alicia nodded.

[b]"I enjoy it very much. And you? What do you do?"[/b] She inquired. Selina was silent for a moment.

[b]"I'm... I'm a lady of the night."[/b] Selina settled on the phrasing.

[b]"A what? Oh- ohh. I see."[/b] Alicia's posture stiffened noticeably, as she took a sideways glance at Selina's heavy make-up and noticeably inappropriate attire, wondering how that wasn't her first guess.

[b]"I hope that doesn't make you uncomfortable,..."[/b] Selina offered, noting Alicia's reaction and immediately regretting her decision to tell the truth. Though she probably would have found out eventually.

[b]"Oh, no... not at all..."[/b] Alicia lied. [b]"Oh, look, there's everyone else. Let's go get acquainted."[/b] She rushed off ahead, wanting desperately to get away from the awkward situation.[/font]

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Edward Nelson stood at the gates of the Rosengard mansion, watching as people stepped past him into the yard. He had his tent-like black hooded raincoat on him, so the rain didn't disturb him. This whole scene did, however.

Looking at the passers-by, Edward saw that he was clearly one of the oldest people present - old enough to remember the countless horror stories that revolved around this ruined mansion. Even as a child he had sworn never to step into the mansion's premises, yet here he was, clutching a soaked and tattered letter in his wrinkled fist. These young hoodloms were obviously playing some kind of practical joke on him, to pay back his past deeds.

Edward worked as a janitor in the Gaston Boarding School for Boys, had been for well over forty years. He swore he would not abandon his work until death came to collect him. He had a reputation of being extremely strict to truants and loiterers, never hesistating to use a stick or the back of his hand to put the boys back into their place.

But boys grew into men, and Edward feared he might have beaten up some boys a few times too many. He was almost certain that once he entered that mansion, he would be surrounded by a frenzied mob that would give him the ultimate beating.

With his left hand, he tapped the pocket of his coat to ensure that the flintlock pistol was still there, and then followed the other people inside. He would not go down without a fight!

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[color="#0000FF"]
The Drowned Lady looked through the shattered panes of glass leading into the dark recesses of the Poolhouse. Her stark white eyes peered out into the heavy rain; She snorted, looking at the 'guests' arriving. They were clueless, absolutely clueless. The Drowned Lady showed no emotion, though the foot of stagnant water in the bottom of the pool surged and rippled. The time was drawing closer....[/color]

[center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/evelynnedecoeur.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/madeahall.jpg[/IMG][/center]
Evelynne exited her carriage, looking to the mansion. By chance, there had been another carriage beehind hers, and it too came to a stop. Emerging from that carriage was an old woman, who teetered a bit as she walked with the aid of a cane.

"Madea? Madea Hall?" Evelynne asked, approaching the motherly looking African-American woman. She looked up, and Madea's eyebrow twitched. "Yes... I am she..."

"I'm such a fan of your radio show!" Evelynne said, and hurried over to the woman. "I'm so thrilled to be able to meet you!"

"I'm sure you are." Madea snapped. "Everyone is. Now unless you're a servant, leave me be. The likes of you white folk don't do too well for my abilities." The old woman tottered away, leaving Evelynne speechless. "How... how rude!" she said indignatly before following the old woman at a distance. Edited by ExcelExcel

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The old captain looked on at the mansion looming before him. He'd been told to come, in order to play a game of some sort; a contest. Umbert sighed. He knew there was always more than meets the eye to such things, experience from all his years on the sea. The storm blowing overhead seemed to make the night even more surreal. All in all. the night didn't bode well, he was extrordinarily paranoid this evening, something had Umbert on edge, though he was far from sure what exactly was making him feel this way.

Sighing but unable to shake his uneasy feeling, he advanced to the mansion, heading for the massive oaken doors. From his right, came the sudden sound of a young girl giggling. He twisted his head, shaken by the sudden noise. A rusted, broken down swing set became illuninated by a flash of lightning. The swings blew around the wind, creaking loudly. "Just what is this place?" He muttered, taking a moment to steady his rapidly beating heart before again moving to head through the doors of the mansion.
[center]
---------------------[/center]

The young boy sighed in relief, he hadn't been spotted by the old man. Jacob Barry looked down at his clothing, though there was nothing to be ashamed of. He wore nice clothing, albeit it was soaked through at the moment. Old habits died hard.... even when the sisuation didn't call for them.

This mansion... the loot it must have! And worth far more than a dead man's wallet could contain. The boy patted the seven inch blade he kept inside his boot. It wasn't hard to conceal, nor did anyone suspect that such a young boy would have such a thing. Jacob took a deep breath, and walked with his head up high. Tonight a contest was being held, and he'd randomly received an invitation. To hell with winning the damn contest, he just wanted the mansion's valuables to steal away in the night. It wouldn't be that hard to sneak out, hide something, and come back for more.

He entered into the mansion, and was met by several other people, each of whom had a strange look on their face, but continued on with their small talk chats.
[b]
[center]
----------------------[/b][/center]
[color="#FFFF00"]
The twins laughed, they'd managed to startle the old man and had spotted the boy following him. "Did you see? There's someone for us to play with!" Rin chattered excitedly. Len nodded, mirroring his sister's excitement. "This will be so much fun!" he replied. "I wonder what that other boy's name is?" he continued. "Maybe we can play our games with him!"

Rin bounced up and down now, she was so excited.. "Should we kill him? Should we kill them all?"

"Let's have some fun with them first... It's been a long time since we had playmates." The twins giggled excitedly, their laughter fading away slowly.[/color] Edited by Inuyasha Fandom

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[/center][font="Garamond"][b]â??Is that you miss Jacqueline Masey?" [/b]The lawman Leonard Howard figured this game was going to be filled with all sorts of street rats, but he didnâ??t think there would be successful ones like Masey here.
[b]
â??Officer Howard,â?[/b] she tried to sound bemused, but she couldnâ??t keep out the disappointment. [b]â??I had no idea you would be here of all places.â?
[/b]
[b]â??Yes, I figured our reunion would be at the station after your finger paintings blew overâ?

â??Perhaps being wrong is your new occupation.â?

â??Look, I donâ??t need any lip from someone like you, and I will let you know that the law is never wrong.â?[/b]
The two made there way to the entrance. the dark mansion seemed run down, yet it had an undying feel of dignity.

[b]â??Well this game should be entertaining, I do love beating high strung assholes like you.â? [/b]
[b]
â??I donâ??t know what this is all about, but I intend to find out just whatâ??s going on here, and if there is one foot out of line I will see to it that whoever is in charge of this operation sees ends up inside of mine.â?[/b]
The doors of the mansion opened, allowing them passage with only a slight creek in retort, however it was enough to gain the attention of the majority of the guests. Everyone seemed eager to see the last few contestants enter.[/font]

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He stood in the old library trying to remember how long he had been in the cursed place. Decades? Minutes? He remembered the passage of time and how relevant it had seemed when he was alive. Now it no longer seemed consequential.

Byron moved to the huge window and spread the once ornate but now moth riddled drapery apart. People were converging on the house, not spirits but real flesh and blood people. A malice filled smile played at the corner of his mouth. His voice broke the silence in a hoarse whisperâ?¦

[indent][i] And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again: a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought--and that was death
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails--men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devour'd,
Even dogs assail'd their masters, all save one [/i][/indent]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/wyattbishop.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/harrietmercer.jpg[/img][/center]

Wyatt Bishop was a vain man. He prided himself on his appearance and made sure to never leave his home without a careful primping. Today was no different.

Before leaving the inn Wyatt had made sure that he was perfectly attired for the malevolent storm raging outside. The pebbled grain of his calf-high black boots not only looked stylish but would repel the rain and disguise any dirt or mud in its pattern. His plaid mac would repel the rain while its upturned collar gave him a roguish look. The ivory handle of his umbrella was recently polished and stood out in the storm like a shining beacon.

As he sauntered toward the mansion, carefully avoiding mud-holes and puddles, he thought of the letter he had received and the promises that it made. Would their truly be riches waiting inside? Would someone really gain a fortune? He twirled the small ruby in his hand, staring at it with greedy eyes. It had accompanied the letter and he immediately recognized it for what it wasâ?¦a solution to all of his problems.

He didnâ??t notice the small, plain girl until it was too late. Plowing into her he thought for an instant that he would knock her down. But she was a strong girl, she bore his weight and pushed him back upright, away from him.

[b]â?Watch where youâ??re goinâ?? you bloody ass!â?[/b]

Her accent was thick and drawn out, she had the drawl of the uneducated and the carriage of one that worked hard for her meals. She was not the type to be trifled with.

[b]�My apologize, please excuse me, I should have been paying more attention.�[/b]

The girlâ??s cold, hard look softened a bit.

[b]â?â??S alright. I suppose youâ??re headed to the fancy old house as well?â?[/b]

[b]�Uhm, yes, yes young lady I am. How did you know?[/b]

[b]â?Iâ??m no oneâ??s lady, the name is Harriet, youâ??d think a proper gent would at least introduce himself. And of course I know you are going to the old house, you have the same letter in your hand that the rest of us got.â?[/b]

[b]�My sincerest apologies Miss Harriet, my name is Wyatt Bishop. Did you say others?�[/b]

[b]â?Course, you didnâ??t think we were the only ones? We better get inside, no point in standing out in the rain when it is dry inside.â?[/b]

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[indent][font="Tahoma"][size="2"]The Butler watched the tiny flame on the end of the taper flicker with exuberance for several moments before expelling a short rush of air to extinguish it. The candles were lit every night, at precise the same time in precise the same order they had been for decades, all part of an elaborate evening ritual the Butler found himself compelled to perform long after the Manor had been left abandoned. It simply wouldnâ??t do to have it any other way, it simply wouldnâ??t do to have the guests blundering around in the dark potentially damaging what little was left undamaged, his pride would not allow that.

Adjusting his spectacles he silently watched the newest guest, a young woman approach the house with haste to escape the falling rain outside to join those already present. Removing the sliver pocket-watch from the top pocket of his jacket he examined it expectantly, the faint ticking the only sound apart from pitter-patter of precipitation. It would all begin soon.

[hr]
1
[/hr]

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Watching the series of ominous clouds pass overhead Cindy reflected quietly on the circumstances which had brought her into this situation, a mysterious letter from an unknown party would normally be something to be considered a curio, placed in a cupboard and left to gather dust But everyone knew of the Rosengard estate, the fantastic wealth that had once been flaunted by the family at every opportunity before their grizzly collective demise. Now someone claiming to have access to that fortune wanted to pit them against one another and the winner would ascend to a societal position the vast majority could only dream of, for a typing pool girl like Cindy it was almost too unbelievable to be real.

Carefully she avoided the puddles to bring her down the long courtyard towards the front reception area, she could already see a gathering of people present, young and old, she'd wondered vaguely just how many people would be here and it seemed to be more than she'd hoped. Passing through an assembly of large pillars she attempted to mingle among company, and maybe find out some weaknesses that would bring her closer to the prize.

The man she approached was clean-shaven, albeit with the hint of a moustache playing on his upper-lip. His clothes and gait were informal, especially in comparison so some of the others who held themselves like wolves before sheep, tapping him gingerly on the shoulder she put on her most pleasant face with just an hint of ingénue charm.

"[b]Excuse me sir, I'm so terribly sorry to intrude, I...uhhh...I[/b]"

A wide smile broke across his face, it was just a hint too wide and didn't reach his eyes to be real, evidently he was attempting the same kind of gambit she was.

"[b]Well hello there my dear, such a pleasure to have a beautiful woman to converse with.[/b]" He flourished lavishly before taking her hand and raising it to his lips. "[b]Steven Francis Bastion, Esquire and may I have the pleasure of known the name of the most radiant woman in the room ?[/b]"

Heat played at her cheeks as several other pairs of eyes turned to observe their conversation, she withdrew he hands slowly, and attempted to smile even more brilliantly than before as if stunned by his charm and interest.

"[b]Cindy Bastion Mr Grey, I mean, oh, Cindy Grey Mr Bastion.[/b]"

He laughed wolfishly.

"[b]Perhaps a sign of better things to come Ms Grey, or would you prefer Madame Bastion ? For such a beauty I think I could be swayed to agree. New times my dear and new ideas.[/b]"

"[b]You do a simple girl like me too much honour Mr Bastion, I was just going to ask if you're here for the same reasons as I am.[/b]"

The letter flashed from her handbag for a moment and in turn he produced a copy from the inside of his jacket.

"[b]It would seem so my dear, the chance of good sport was just too tempting to pass up.[/b]"

Cindy wondered quietly whether he had now added her to the category of sport, still a foppish playboy like him might be the perfect partner, at least for a while.[/size][/font][/indent] Edited by Gavin

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[color="#008000"][i]Out of the twenty mortals invited to Rosengard, one pair in particular peaked The Green Lady's interest greatly. They knew each other better than perhaps any other two people in the group, yet they had no knowledge that the other had received the letter as well. The ghost let out a hollow, gasping voice that was something in between a laughter and a sob. What a truly twisted game this was![/i][/color]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/dianaross.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/mileshaw.jpg[/img][/center]

Diana Ross was the last person to enter the rickety mansion. The entrance hall was surprisingly large, and lit by incalculable amount of candles. It was still chilly there, with all the windows broken so that the wind and rain passed inside freely.

Diana surveyed the small crowd gathered in the hall timidly. There were men and women both young and old present, and even a few children too.

She knew it had been wrong to leave little Jimmy home alone when her husband wouldn't come home until midnight, but something inexplicable had drawn Diana so that she was practically forced to come.

Then she froze as she saw a black man turn around. He was the last person she had expected to meet here.

[b]"F-father?"[/b] Diana asked. Miles Shaw looked at his daughter flabberghasted.

[b]"Diana! It's been... so long!"[/b]

But not long enough. Diana had cut all ties to her father once she had gotten married to James. Miles Shaw was nothing but a worthless drunkard pianist, who hadn't even been able to take care of his own family. Memories from her miserable childhood flashed in Diana's mind. A broken bottle... A raised fist... Mother's teary, swollen eyes... Shouts, screams, the smell of old liquor and piss... The flames.

[b]"Stay away from me!"[/b] Diana shouted, catching everybody's attention. Edited by Sandy

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[color="#0000FF"]The Drowned Lady watched from the broken windows of the poolhouse. The rain itself had made the remains of the ceramic tiles in the poolhouse slick, though it was no issue for the Lady. She could hear all too clearly what had been transpiring within the past hour. Her lips parted into a smile as she turned away from the sight of the dilapidated mansion. Her black high heel clad feet brought her to overlook the edge of the pool, and into the black water. It seemed to churn at her will, she never showing any emotion other than her smile. The reminants of her prized piano sat in a heap at the bottom of the deepest section of the pool. It would serve the Drowned Lady well as bait to draw in stragglers... and give unto them a rasping, airless death. Neither child nor adult would be spared. The piano rumbled accordingly, as if to emulate her thoughts as it lifted out of the pool and returned a condion of 'operable.'

"Fools...." She spoke. "Fools... All of them. They make such shows of feigned ettiquette, but their eyes are burning with greed." The water in the pool rumbled and surged, swirling about the Drowned Lady. "Vanity will cost them their lives."[/color] Edited by ExcelExcel

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Charlotte Hamilton couldn't for the life of her remember Mr. Mathis' wife that he claimed she had killed. She certainly hadn't murdered anyone, but in her line of work she saw death every day. Maybe one day the field of medicine would be able to cure any illness and injury, but for now the doctors and nurses only had to do their best. Charlotte felt insulted, almost angry.

Wanting to stay clear of the black man that had accused her so, Charlotte wandered out of the entrance hall through a doorway where the door had fallen off its hinges. As she walked down the murky corridor, she heard steps behind her. Spinning around, she saw a black-haired woman behind her.

[b]"Oh, I'm sorry!"[/b] the woman said. [b]"I didn't mean to frighten you. I just saw you leaving the group and thought you might know why we are here."[/b]

[b]"I apologize, but I'm just as clueless as you are. My name is Charlotte Hamilton, by the way."[/b]

[b]"Oh, nice to meet you Charlotte, I'm Evelynne Decoeur. I'm actually a freelance journalist, so I thought I could make a scoop out of this game while I'm here. What do you do for a living?"[/b]

Charlotte humphed.

[b]"Apparently I kill people"[/b], she answered dryly. Edited by Sandy

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The startled shout was enough of a distraction to allow Selina to extricate herself from further awkward conversation with the socially-conscious Dr Mills, no she thought bitterly it wouldn't do for such a well-to-do lady to interact with her lessers, especially one who might share the same clientèle. Quietly she moved away from the uproar being generated by the father-daughter reunion, evidently pleasant for only one of the two parties involved. Her own father was a deeply average man, worked as much as anyone else in their neighbour, drank and fought as much, laid down the law physically with almost metric precision. Perhaps the only unusual thing the bank clerk had ever done was to drop dead in the middle of dinner, face suddenly shading crimson, a ghastly rasp and then face first into mother's freshly prepared Sunday roast, if it hadn't been so dreadfully unexpected Selina might almost have laughed at the state he allowed himself to die in, if only for the mortification he'd have felt.

Still, it had been exactly that loss of income that had driven her mother to pursue work as a washer-woman and several other lowly paid but necessary jobs to keep food on the table. Selina had been seventeen, a woman in her own right and of enough of a mind to know she would not sully her beautiful features in the same way her mother allowed herself to. There had always been gentlemen who admired her, courted her for however briefly they thought would gain them access to her bed chambers, before she'd had little inclination to allow them to, but things were different.

It had been a curious existence at first, a half-hinted conversation with a neighbour had brought her to a reputable gentlemen's club, as the newest girl she often found herself obliging veteran customers who were looking for something a bit different. Rarely did she run into men she had known previously, those that did were intelligent enough to keep their own mouths shut lest word get back to their better halves about how their men occupied their time. "The Oldest Profession", even now the name caused a smile to play at her lips...

"[b]I must say Ms Marqs, having run into your colleague Ms Masey already I didn't expect another of Madame Bourgelle's to make an appearance.[/b]"

Ugh. Only one voice could be so self-righteous and imperious, and utterly fail to maintain the polite tone the structure of the sentence he'd likely aimed for. A half-turn put her face to face with Inspector Leonard Howard and just the sight of those eyes was enough to force her to stay her hand from slapping him hard across that frequent scowl.

"[b]My dear Inspector, neither did I expect to see you here, but alas I suppose our villainous plot is unravelled by your masterful deductive skills and we shall all rue for the rest of our lives, while clapped in irons at one of your lovely establishments that we dared to tangle with the pride of the city's finest.[/b]"

If possible the crease in his brow deepened, colour flourishing across his cheeks and eye's narrowing.

"[b]Your sarcasm does you little credit. I take it, along with the rest of this motley collection of individuals you've been brought by the allure of gold, silver and the life of a true lady, rather than a lady of pleasure ?[/b]"

"[b]My, my someone touched a nerve earlier didn't they. Here's a thought Leonard, rather than harassing me for absolutely no reason other than your mother didn't breastfeed you as an infant thereby forming your distrust of full-bosomed women, why don't you go police that rather intrusive racket coming from over there ?[/b]"

She pointed in the direction of the still shouting father and daughter, and smiled inwardly as his attention shifted and he marched off to intercede, leaving her in peace.[/size][/font][/indent]

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Umbert Thatcher straightened his hat as he examined the front room of the mansion. There were many other people around chatting and yelling with only a few just standing alone like him, taking in their surroundings. One particular woman caught his interest. Wearing a robe and hat he'd never seen before, she did not seem interested in anything or anyone in the room. Umbert walked gallantly towards the elderly woman, taking off his hat in the process he pressed it against his chest. With a quick lick of his fingers, he combed over what gray hair was left on his head and advanced, bowing his head before greeting her.

[b]"And what may I ask brings a stunning-"[/b]

[b]"Before you try and serenade me, [i]Umbert Thatcher[/i]." [/b]the lady interrupted.[b] "You should know what I know, as I know [i]all[/i]. You are a retired sea captain who gave up your job after nearly losing your entire ship and crew to a so called [i]giant squid[/i]-"[/b] Umbert interupted at the mere mention of his crew and the squid, a story he had told many times.

[b]"You say that with such sarcasm."[/b] he grinned.[b] "My dear there are many places in the world that have yet to be discovered, especially on the sea. Do not mock me for I know what I experienced. That squid was very real and I barely escaped with my life."[/b] the psychic raised an eyebrow at that line.

[b]"And how [i]did[/i] you escape, Mr. [i]Umbert Thatcher[/i]?"[/b] she nearly spat out his name in a thick Jamacian accent. It drove him up the wall to hear his name be mutilated like that... especially intentionally. But this was a elderly woman and he would not be rude, no matter how superior she thought she was. Umbert swallowed his pride and for once in his life he told the true story of how he got away.

[b]"There was only one life raft. I took it as the beast lay siege to my vessel... I used my own crewmates as bait to get away."[/b] Umbert lowered his head in shame. The woman turned at him and smiled.

[b]"If more people would just tell the truth like that, the world would be a better place."[/b] she pinched his cheek and glanced around the room. [b]"Now, let's explore a bit, these young ones screaming and shouting is driving me batty. And keep away from that journalist, she's a nosy one."[/b]

[color="#696969"]At that moment, The Detective, a somber looking spirit with a fedora and a trench coat stood at the top of the stairs, overlooking all the contestants. He sighed for he knew that at some point, all of these people would be dead and he didn't quite like that. Not that he could really warn any of them of the true danger that lie ahead. He simply took out a cigarette and popped it in his mouth. The moment he lit it up, the smell of tobacco filled the room and of all the people there, everyone that already smoked had a sudden craving to have one as well.[/color]

[b]"Excuse me one moment, Miss...?"[/b] Umbert said.

[b]"Madea. You may call me Madea."[/b]

[b]"Well, Miss Madea I will be right with you in a jiffy, just going to have a quick cigarette outside on the porch before the curtains are raised on this interesting convention of characters."[/b]

[b]"You are a smooth talker Mr. Thatcher. Don't take too long, I feel as though you may be the only one here worth talking to."[/b] [i]And the only one who doesn't recognize me from that blasted American radio show I wasted my time with years ago.[/i] She thought to herself. Umbert smiled and pulled out a cigarette from his front pocket, walking back towards the front door of the mansion. Edited by White

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The singer looked on, as the people filed in. She noted the children, they were far from adorable to her. Unconciously her hand moved to her uterus, feeling the life that had once been created there. Her own child, had it lived, would have been about the same age as the two here in the mansion now. It was ironic, in a sense, that the death of Elyssa's young daughter would shoot her to the famous position she was in now. The life insurance policy had been more than adaquate to begin her career. Elyssa mentally shook herself to cease thinking of the past. Her career, her fame, it was all worth the sacrifices she had made.

Even that of the life of her young daughter.

A young man approached her, smiling broadly.

"Greetings, madam. I beleive you're the famous singer Elyssa Janovica? I've seen you perform. Splendid performances, as always."

"Thank you, kind sir." She responded, and lifted her gloved hand to shake his. "And you are...?"

"Steven Bastion. A devoted fan of yours, rest assured." He smiled, his words meant to flatter. But, his purpose was anything but innocent. Perhaps, when this was over, he could be well supported by making a show of affection torwards her.... Steven was, after all, unemployed. But with his good looks, what woman wouldn't want him? But, Elyssa wasn't fooled. Time and time again men had tried to woo her, if only to become moochers off of her wealth.

"Truely, young Steven. You flatter me." She smiled, her words laced with venomous intent. "But, I must say, it's not the first time some pretty young playboy tried to... shall we say, entice me? I see right through you." She snorted at him, and turned to walk away, leaving him open mouthed and speechless. Angry, he stormed out of the room, heading down a corridor lined with mildewed paintings and broken doors.

"Old cunt!" He swore after making it some distance, all the way to the end of the corridor. "Refusing me!" He reached for the brass door knob, and was met with the door swinging open. His eyes widened, he hadn't opened it. Shrugging off his fear, he ventured into the room.

It was a massive dining room, and one that hadn't been taken care of very well. The long table had broken in two, and the table cloth hung in tatters from age. Wine glasses, plates, gravy boats, platters, silverware, and vases lay strewn around the middle where the table had collapsed. The remains of bones could be seen here as well, leftovers from the food that had long since rotted away. Curio cabinets lined the walls between massive floor to ceiling windows, each filled with fine china or various dishes. The broken french double doors lead out onto a veranda, and Steven could see a covered pathway leading to another building, most of which looked to be shattered glass panes in a long half-pipe shape. His brow furrowed, wondering what was in there. "Is that the pool house?" he wondered aloud. As if to answer his question, lightning bolted across the sky, illuninating the weed infested ceramic tiles and cement of the pool house.

Shrugging, he dismissed the sight, and opened up his jacket, to remove a syringe and a white powder. He looked around, and picked up a spoon from the floor, and removed a lighter from his pants pocket.

About fifteen minutes later, he returned to the main foyer, where people were still chattering, awaiting their host to announce the beginning of the game. Edited by Inuyasha Fandom

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[font="Arial"]Sara let Kevin wander about the Mansion, never letting go of his arm and smiling politely every time he or someone else said something. But there was something bothering her about the whole thing. The place was clearly in disrepair and other than that of the guests there wasn't any footprints in the heavy dust. So just who had lit the candles and turned what few lights there were on?

"[b]Kevin dear,[/b]" Sara said quietly when they were slightly apart from the other guests. "[b]Don't you think this is odd?[/b]"

"[b]Whatever do you mean?[/b]" Kevin had that gleam he got when he was on the trail of a good gamble. It was cute and endearing but it also tended to make him a bit oblivious to things around him.

"[b]It doesn't seem like anyone was here at all, not even to light the candles.[/b]" She gestured vaguely to their surroundings. "[b]And we've yet to see a single sign of our host. Doesn't that concern you? I thought we were here for some sort of party.[/b]"

"[b]For a game dearest[/b]," He smiled indulgently, as if humoring her. "[b]I'm sure our host will show themselves soon enough.[/b]"

Sara sighed and pressed on. "[b]Don't you find it odd that there isn't even any music or refreshments of any kind? Why I haven't even seen any staff.[/b]"

"[b]You forget Sara, this place has been abandoned for quite some time.[/b]"

"[b]All the more reason for someone to have checked the place out first, to insure it's safe for hosting a game or party.[/b]" She shook her head. "[b]This place is so worn down it could be condemned for all we know.[/b]"

Kevin looked at her and finally realized she was serious. He grasped her hand that was resting on his arm. "[b]Don't worry dearest.[/b]" He let go briefly to check his pocket watch. "[b]We'll explore the Mansion and wait for about an hour. If no one has shown up by then we'll head home. Will that do?[/b]"

She bit her lower lip, thinking about it. He was right, it would be silly to give up after taking the time to come here. Sara nodded. "[b]Alright. One hour. If no one has shown up by then, I think it's safe to assume this was an elaborate hoax.[/b]"

"[b]I certainly hope not.[/b]" Kevin muttered.

"[b]What was that? I didn't quite catch it.[/b]"

Kevin flashed his most winning smile. "[b]Nothing dear.[/b]"[/font]

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[font="Garamond"]Jacqueline quickly ducked behind a pillar as Inspector Howard turned from his conversation with her 'senior co-worker' to attend to the two new arrivals who were causing a scene.

[b]"Figures she'd be here..."[/b] she scoffed. To say Jacqueline wasn't a fan of Selina Marqs was an understatement -- while Jacqueline was simply trying to make ends meet until her art career took off, Selina actually took great pride in her occupation at Madame Bourgelle's. She used her body to her advantage, and unfortunately, it worked nearly every time. Jacqueline detested that while she was taking great pains to get out of Madame Bourgelle's and be known for something. Selina was everything wrong with women, these days.

Jacqueline sighed and pushed her glasses up her nose. She took a step out from the shadow of the pillar, fingers crossed hoping she could escape into the crowd without Selina noticing.

Safely away, Jacqueline took the opportunity to survey the array of new faces. She was distracted by all the people when suddenly she found herself splayed on the ground, coat and suitcase nearby.

[b]"Ow, lady! Be more careful!"[/b] A young boy who looked about twelve or thirteen was on the ground just a few feet away, rubbed his arm and scowled at her.

[b]"Oh my goodness young man, I am so sorry. Are you alright?[/b]" Jacqueline got to her feet quickly and extended a hand to the little fellow, who stared up at her for a moment before taking it and pulling himself up. She looked him over quickly, turning him around. [b]"No permanent damage, I don't think."[/b] she brushed some dust off his shoulder.

Jacqueline had a soft spot for children, and seeing the little boy there, all alone and quite obviously without an adult chaperone brought out the maternal instinct in her.

[b]"You're a little young to be here all by yourself, aren't you?" [/b]she asked after the two of them had gathered up their few items and had straightened up again.

[b]"No Ma'am, I'm thirteen years old."[/b] he puffed up his chest a little.

[b]"As I said,"[/b] she chuckled [b]"A little young."[/b]

[b]"I been looking out for myself since day one, I don't need no adults around to tell me what to do."[/b] he insisted.[b] "My name's Jacob, by the way. Jacob Barry." [/b]Jacqueline stuck out her hand to shake his.

[b]"It's lovely to meet you, Jacob. I'm Jacqueline Masey, but you can call me Miss Jackie."[/b]

[b]"Nice to meet'cha, Miss Jackie."[/b]

[b]"If you need anything, just ask me, alright? We all need to look out for each other, here, it seems..."[/b] she added, Jacob simply nodded in return.

Jacqueline pulled the letter she'd received out of her pocket, it was damp and the ink was smudged but the words could still be made out. [b]"I do hope our host comes to greet us soon, I'm rather curious to see what this game is all about."[/b]

[b]"Me too."[/b] he concurred. He swore he'd seen a golden glint in Miss Jackie's pocket when she'd pulled out the letter. Whatever it was, it would soon be his, he'd make sure of it.

He smiled up at her.[/font]

[strike]ooc um oops that took me way too long to post =/ I can get rid of it if you want. making minor tweaks so it makes sense.[/strike] Taken care of. - Shy
thank you :3 Edited by Anomaly

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[indent][font="book antiqua"][size=5][b]Chapter Two: The Game Begins[/b][/font][/size][hr]30[/hr]
All of the guests had huddled together in the cavernous dining room and began introducing themselves to one another. Their conversations were brief and pleasant, but few were willing to go into more detail than a simple greeting. Elyssa folded her arms, a bit of rainwater still dripping from her long gown.

â??[b]Does anyone know what we are waiting for? When is this supposed â??contestâ?? going to begin?[/b]â?

â??[b]You musnâ??t worry â??bout that, dearie,[/b]â? Madea said drly, sitting from a chair at the end of the large dining room table, â??[b]Our host has been watching us the entire time.[/b]â?

As if waiting for an introduction The Gravedigger appeared in a cloud of smoke from behind the old woman. Several of the guests jumped back, startled by the suddenness of his arrival. he wore a long trenchcoat and aged black boots covered in dirt. In one hand was a rusted shovel covered with several indentations, while in the other hand was raised towards the roomâ??s enormous chandelier.

â??[b]Good evening,[/b]â? the dark figure said. Suddenly the large glass ornament above them lit up, revealing The Gravediggerâ??s face. It was tired and ragged, even moreso than the leather on his boots, and there were too deep sockets in place of his eyes, â??[b]Welcome to the game of souls.[/b]â?

â??[b]Who are you?[/b]â? Umbert asked as he rose to his feet, â??[b]Are you the caretaker of this estate?[/b]â?

â??[b]In a sense, yes, but that is not of concern to you. I am here merely to act as overseer of this competition.[/b]â?

â??[b]And that contest is...?[/b]â? Evelynn asked impatiently.

â??[b]Survival. None of you are saints, each of you know this in your hearts to be true. Whether it be the result of your fellow man, the traps that have been laid in the mansion, or the vengeful spirits participating in this game, only one will survive the evening.[/b]â?

The crowd suddenly burst into panic as several of the players fled the room immediately. Kevin immediately charged The Gravedigger, placing his hand on the manâ??s shoulder as he attempted to tackle him to the ground.

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/kevinandolli.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/poisoncard.jpg[/img]
[i]POISON: The character wielding this card will slowly become poisoned over time.[/i][/center]

Upon touching The Gravedigger Kevin found himself overcome with an intense nausea and immediately collapsed to the ground.

â??[b]Kevin![/b]â? Sara cried, rushing to his aid, â??[b]Are you alright?[/b]â?

â??[b]He made the mistake of trying to harm me... let that be a warning to each of you. The others will find that the gates have been sealed, and there is no escaping from this place. Treat your fellow players with mercy when you take their lives, as you can only hope for the same for yourself when your time comes. Good luck.[/b]â?

With that the chandelier went dark once again, and The Gravedigger was gone.[/indent]

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[indent][font="Tahoma"][size="2"]Silently the Butler watched the frenzied and pitiful reactions of the mortal guests, regarding them with a growing loathing and disgust. Unforgivable, absolutely unforgivable that they abandon their civilised sensibilities in the home of their betters simply because all but one of them would soon count themselves numbered among the dead. If man, woman or child were to meet their death at a time appointed or otherwise they should have the decency to do so with dignity and restraint. Yes, a lesson was required in decorum it seemed...

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Though priding himself on his literary capabilities, which with absolute humility and modesty he considered second to none, Wyatt Bishop found himself for the first time in his career absolutely lost for words. Terror, abject terror had taken hold of his beating heart and steadfastly refused to let go. Hardly a man prone to baseless panic, the idea that all but one of the house occupants were some grizzly sacrifice for the entertainment of the Manor's resident ghouls was simply too much for a perfectly rational man such as himself to accept. There had to be some other reasonable explanation, a trick of the lights to allow the old gravetender to seem to appear and disappear at will, the man Kevin was clearly an actor paid to play his part in convincing the rest of the group to acknowledge the legitimacy of the charade. No, not he, Wyatt refused to be cowed. This was a trick and he would prove it. Quickly he clambered on top of one of the Manor's fine leather seats to raise himself above the frightened guests.

"[b]Everyone please listen! We must remain calm! We are all logical, rational individuals here and therefore there must be a logical and rational explanation for what has occurred here tonight.[/b]"

Wyatt's hands were raised to attempt to placate the gathering and for the moment it seemed to be working. Kevin's partner was still at his side quietly begging him to hold on but some semblance of order had been restored.

"[b]Yes, this Manor does indeed have a grim history most, if not all of us are aware of. But are we to be so terrified by what occurred here that we take leave of our better judgement and accept that baseless assertions of these self-seeming spirits ? I put it to you ladies and gentlemen that we are dealing with a band of charlatans who for their own amusement have concocted this deceit to lure us here. They know that the opportunity to inherit the vast fortunes of Rosengard would draw us in, and equally that what occurred here would put us on edge. I say that we deny them their fun, I say that we show them we are not frightened by their petty misdirections and that we cannot and will not be held here against our will![/b]"

Leaping down from the chair, strode towards the imposing wooden front doors and shoved heftily with his shoulder. Grunting, he turned back to the assembly of guests.

"[b]Captain Thatcher, Officer Howard, Mr Bastion would you please lend me your strength ?[/b]"

Possessed by a renewed vigour the three men joined the author in hammering against the oaken portal in the hope of providing an exit for the guests, and with each charge the mood in the room seemed further attuned towards hope...

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/jacquelinemasey.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/jacobbarry.jpg[/img][/center]

Her rapt attention dedicated to the efforts of the four men at the door, Jacqueline failed to notice the small streams of dust and plaster falling from the ceiling with each strike. Beside her the juvenile pickpocket Jacob Barry decided to use the distraction as an opportunity to relieve her of that treasure in her pocket. A young lifetime spent relieving others of their valuables in the name of survival came to the fore instantly, his hand weaving inside the garment opening with supreme swiftness and precision... Suddenly however he felt something touch his arm, adrenaline surged and he craned his eyes to the ceiling where with the latest shove the chandelier groaned as the supports holding it in place sheared and the mass of light and crystal came crashing down...

"[b]Little thief![/b]"

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/death.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/shout.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/jacobbarry.jpg[/img]

[i]SHOUT: The character is frozen with fright from the authoritarian shouts of spirits and is unable to move.[/i][/center]

He needed the move, had to run but the voice wouldn't let him...Oh God no!

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/leonardhoward.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/selinamarqs.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/madeahall.jpg[/img][/center]

The screams as the chandelier crushed and carved the boy gave way after a moment to a terrible silence. Wyatt and his party instantly backed in horror as the police officer charged forward to survey the wreckage. Holding his handkerchief to his face he brushed away several shards of glass to find a pair of bulging, bloodshot eyes rooted forward in fear, bile rose in Leonard's throat and he pulled away retching from the crushed and mutilated corpse of what had once been a young child, careening into Selina Marqs who despite their earlier disagreement latched onto the policeman for dear life.

All eyes turned to ancient Medea Hall as her low, eerily detached voice broke the silence.

"[b]The first of many...[/b]"[/size][/font][/indent] Edited by Shy

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Harriet gasped, her eyes wide with fear. The other young boy... he'd been crushed... just like that! Falling to her knees, she shivered, thinking how she could be next. Standing next to her was Cindy, who looked on with indifference. Her beauty surely wouldn't be marred, she'd be victorious in all of this, and escape unscathed. Looking down the young gorl, Cindy spoke in her sickly sweet voice, the one she had used on all of her employers.... and now dead husbands. "Stand, child. It doesn't do for a lady to lose herself." Aiding the child up to her feet, Cindy smiled, flashing her winning million dollar smile. "It will be fine." She lied, mostly to reassure the child and to secure Cindy being viewed as a good person.

Harriet shuddered, looking at the spreading pool of blood around the other boy. She stood, and moved over to a sofa to sit.

Cindy walked away, leaving the child to her thoughts. She ventured out into a corridor, her manicured nails trailing in the dust. Someone had already been through here, there were footprints from high heels left in the dust. Looking down, she could also see that the mildewed carpet was freshly wet, as if water had dripped from the person walking. Her brow furrowed, she ventured through another doorway, and found herself to be in some sort of instrument room.An ancient grand piano sat in the corner, with a multitude of various other instruments. She felt drawn to the piano, it was as if it called for her to look and inspect it. Reaching for the piano, she hit one of the keys, and a horrible noise emerged from it, the piano being horribly tuned. Stepping away, Cindy didn't want to offend her ears anymore with anything from this monstrousity.

Turning, She found herself face to face with The Drowned Lady. The appearence of the woman before her caused her to draw in a breath, but found she was unable to scream out of fear. The woman's white eyes bore into Cindy, seemingly staring into her very soul, judging her. Cindy looked over the woman, her eyes darting to take in the sight of the ghastly apparition before her. Was this one of the malevolent spirits spoken of? Cindy drew in her breath with great difficulty, it was as if the air was chokingly thick.
[color="#0000FF"]
The Drowned Lady glided torwards her prey, merciless and vengeful. She made no attempt to disguise her malice, her fury unbridled. This woman would die now, alone and within the Lady's grasp.[i] "So beautiful..." [/i]She breathed, gently rasping, her solid form and fine curves far too convincing to be an illusion. The Lady moved to reach down and touch the cowering woman, and she smiled. [i]"You will die here..." [/i]she said, carressing the woman's cheek.[/color]

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Cindy screamed, and batted away the woman's icy touch. Scrambling to her feet, she bolted for the door, and managed to pry it open. She ran down the hall, looking over her shoulder to see the woman slowly following her.

"Help me! Someone please help me!" Cindy screamed, running with all of her power into the main foyer. The other guests stared at her, and Harriet looked up from her quiet daze. "What's wrong?"

"A monster!" Cindy screamed, turning to look around over her shoulder.

She screamed again, the woman was there, in the doorway. Taking off again, ran as fast as she could through the doorway on the other side of the room. At the end of the hallway she found herself in, she opened the door to find a washroom. Slaming the door behind her, she sat down on the floor, amid the broken glass of the mirror and shattered porceilin of the toilet.

She sobbed, crying into her skirt. A rattleing sound jerked her attention upwards, to the rusted showerhead above the tub. It shook violently, and began to erupt with water, sending the showerhead itself rocketing into the tub. The smell of chlorine filled the room as filthy water blasted into the room. Screaming again, Cindy desperately tried to open the door, if only to find it wouldn't budge. Turning around, tears streaming down her face, she could see now that more water was beginning to gurgle up from the sink and the shattered toilet. Dirty water leaked down the walls, covering the tiles in a slimy coating.

"Please... I don't want to die...." She sobbed.

[color="#4169E1"][i]"Then you should never have been born."[/i] [/color]came the Drowned Lady's reply.

The water was quickly rising, flodding up abover Cindy's waist, then her neck, and then her head. She held her breath in the murky water, the sight of the Drowned Lady the last thing she saw. After what seemed to be an eternity, she could no longer hold her breath. Gasping in the water, she choked, her vision blurring as she breathed in the water. Her body drifted to the floor, and so thus was the end of Cindy Grey.

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[center][b][font="book antiqua"][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/edwardharries2.jpg[/IMG][/font][font="book antiqua"][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/harrietmercer.jpg[/img][/font]
[/b][/center][font="Garamond"][b]â??What happened little girl?â?[/b] the janitor said viewing the child in her mournful state.
[b]
"Itâ??s the woman, Cindy. She is dead!â?[/b] Edward followed he young Harriet Mercer into the room that held the remains of Cindy Grey. The janitor placed two fingers on her throat to check for a pulse. The slight pressure caused the corpseâ??s mouth to open, leaking dark water upon the regal rug. [b]â??How could this have happened Mr. Nelson?â? [/b]

The janitor turned to the walls to check for any water damage. There was none. Even if the water was dried and removed, the rugs replaced, and the body tended to the walls would be irreparably damaged. This was a supernatural death. â??[b]Ghosts Ms. Mercerâ?¦ ghostsâ?[/b][/font]

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[font="Garamond"]While the Janitor was kneeling looking for any signs of the water that led to the end of Grey, a bulge was quite noticeable in his pocket. with ought thinking Harriet slipped her nimble fingers trough his pockets and pulled free a flintlock pistol., loaded and ready to fire. She placed it behind her back as he turned around.
[b]
â??I need to tell the others about this, please do not disturb the body.[/b]â? with that the janitor left, hurrying off into the other room. Harriet was aloneâ?¦ or so she thought.
[color="#8b0000"][b]
â??A gun is a handy tool to have. But what use would it be to you, when the ones aiming to kill you cannot be shot?â?[/b][/color] the Bandit floated down to ground level. His fine leather shoes seem to have come to a rest on the rug, though no sound was made.
[b]
â??Who are you? What do you want from me?â? [/b]
[color="#8b0000"][b]
â??I am one of many souls hereâ?¦ and one of many that would like to see you dieâ?¦ and believe my words, you will die. The only question is how.â?[/b][/color] The Bandit slowly faded away, starting at his feet, until all that could be seen was the ghoulish smile, then nothing at all.[/font]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/death.jpg[/img][font="book antiqua"][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/harrietmercer.jpg[/img][/font]
[/center][font="Garamond"]
Her eyes drifted to the gun inside of her hands, coldâ?¦ but comfortable to hold. She placed herself against a wall opposite of the entrance to the room. She would be the first thing the others saw as they entered. She lifted the gun to her temple, she could feel the cool metal, and the call of the trigger. She lowered her head, muzzle still fixated on her forehead and began to cry.
[/font][font="Comic Sans MS"][i][size="5"][font="Garamond"][b][size="4"]BANG![/size][/b][/font]
[/size][/i][/font] Edited by Shy

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While most of the other guests rushed towards Cindyâ??s now muffled screams Miles Shaw went after his daughter. When the phantom had made his entrance he noticed his daughter heading towards the stairs. Now that the commotion had died down he was sure that she had slipped away upstairs. He had to go to her, he had to make sure she was safe.

He started up the stairs when a voice called out from behind him.

[b]â??Wonâ??t you help an old woman up the stairs?â?[/b]

Miles looked at the old woman torn. He couldnâ??t refuse to help her, that would be rude, but he knew that he needed to hurry and find Diana.

[b]â??Of courseâ?¦are you sure that you want to go upstairs maâ??am? Donâ??t you think it would be safer to stay with the group?â?[/b]

The woman laughed, [b]â?safer, lord I donâ??t think any of us could be any less safe right now.â?[/b]

Miles shrugged and took the old ladyâ??s arm. They walked up the old flight of stairs and came to a series of rooms. They entered the largest, a huge sprawling library.

[b]â?I hope I donâ??t seem too anxious maâ??am, it is just that Iâ??m trying to find my daughter, Iâ??m worried that she might be hurt.â?[/b]

[b]â?Gauging her reaction to you when she saw you in the foyer I donâ??t think she is anxious for you to find her.â?[/b]

[b]â?Noâ?¦no, she isnâ??t. It was hard on her growing up. I tried my best for her and her mother but I just didnâ??t do either of them right.â?[/b]

The two of them huddled around the fireplace, neither of them stopping to think how odd it was that there was a roaring fire crackling beneath the archaic, time-worn mantle.

[b]â?That isnâ??t quite the truth is it Mr. Shaw?â?[/b]

[b]â?Iâ??m sorry?â?[/b]

[b]â?Well, the way I figure you never wronged your daughter in any real way. Sure you were a vile drunk, but you always fed her and kept her clothed. Maybe if your wife hadnâ??t been such a tramp, things would have been easier on all of youâ?[/b]

Miles stared at the woman. He wanted to be angry, he wanted to be confused, but a deep sadness overwhelmed him.

[b]â?Maâ??am, I donâ??t know who you are, and I donâ??t know how you know the things you think you know, but if we find my daughter you best keep your opinions to yourself.[/b]

[b]â?No, I donâ??t think so![/b]

The young woman appeared in the doorway. Diana was drenched in sweat, her hair was frizzy, and her eyes were wild.

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/mileshaw.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/madeahall.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/dianaross.jpg[/img][/center]

[b]�Tell her how it really was dad, tell her what you were really like! Tell her about the time you beat mom and broke her nose! Tell her about all the times you would get drunk and curse at her for hours in the middle of the night!�[/b]

[b]â?Daina, honey, I donâ??t thinkâ?¦â?[/b]

Diana stepped towards her father and pulled out a derringer. It was small and steel and glittered malevolently in the fire light. She pointed it at her father.

[b]�TELL HER NOW!!!�[/b]

Miles turned toward the old woman.

[b]â?She is right. I beat my wife, I called her awful, awful things. One night when I was drunk I hit her so hard broke her nose. I loved her, but it wasnâ??t enough.â?[/b]

[b]�YOU NEVER LOVED HER!![/b]

[b]�Honey I��[/b]

[b]�DON�T CALL ME HONEY!!![/b]

Diana extended her arm fully, the derringer was inches from Miles nose. Madea hall broke the silence with a snort.

[b]â?Hmph, one of you are lyinâ?? to the other, the other is lyinâ?? to themselves. Honey, your father might not have been a great husband, and he may have been a mean drunk, but your mama had it coming.

â??Where do you think your mama got those fancy clothes in her closet? Where did she get those new shoes? She was running into the arms of another man. And not just one other man, lots and lots of them.â?[/b]

[b]�YOU LIE!!! DON�T YOU DARE LIE ABOUT MY MOTHER!!![/b]

Diana turned the gun on the old woman. Her arms trembled and tears streamed down her face. She didnâ??t want to believe Madea, she wanted to think that the old woman was some two-bit schemer that pretended to be a psychic. Everything she said made so much sense though. Her mother would disappear for days at a time and come back with nice things, things that her father couldnâ??t possibly afford. And her dad never once raised a hand to her. He had always tried to comfort her and was interestedâ?¦at least when he wasnâ??t drunk.

[b]â?I, I donâ??t believe you,â?[/b] Diana whispered.

[b]â?Girl, you believe me, you just donâ??t believe yourself.â?[/b]

Diana dropped to her knees and let out a wail.

From the far corner of the room a man began laughing. It was a deep laugh, filled with cruelty. The man had a mane of white hair and deep blue eyes. He was dressed in a perfectly tailored suit. Something was off though. His trousers were rolled up and his feet were covered in mud.

The man disappeared as if he was never there. Then, magically, he appeared behind Diana. The phantom whisperedâ?¦

[indent][i]� And thou art dead, as young and fair
As aught of mortal birth;
And form so soft, and charms so rare,
Too soon return'd to Earth!
Though Earth receiv'd them in her bed,
And o'er the spot the crowd may tread
In carelessness or mirth,
There is an eye which could not brook
A moment on that grave to look.[/i][/indent]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/dianaross.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/gloom.jpg[/img][/center]

Byron disappeared leaving Diana in a heap. She was hyperventilating, the look in her eyes despondent. She pushed the derringer against her temple and shuddered closing her eyes.

Miles was on top of her in a flash wrenching her arm away. The shot went wild and Diana fainted. Miles cradled he head in his lap.

[b]�My sweet girl�why would you do that�why would you do that?,..[/b] he cried as he rocked her back and forth.

Miles heard a thump behind him. He turned to find Madea on her knees. The slug took her in the right cheek. Her lower right jaw had been blown off of her face and now dangled loosely near her breast. Her eye socket was shattered and oozed white. The back of her skull had been blown clean off, and bit of bone and brain glistened on the fireplace mantle. The fire blow cracked and spat and reeked of burning flesh.

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/death.jpg[/img] [img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/madeahall.jpg[/img][/center]

Eerily the voice of the specter whispered all around themâ?¦
[indent][i] The all of thine that cannot die
Through dark and dread Eternity
Returns again to me,
And more thy buried love endears
Than aught except its living years. [/i][/indent] Edited by Heaven's Cloud

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[color="#FFFF00"]The Twins angrily stomped down the massive staircase in the foyer, Rin leading the way. Len stomped angrily behind her, and they made their way to the crowd of people, making no attempt to hide themselves. "You took our prey!" They screamed, causing all to look at the twins themselves. Shocked expressions greeted them, and Rin and Len, for all of their adorable appearences, they were making many of the guests shiver in their shoes. "How dare you!" Rin screamed, her shrill voice rattling the paintings and walls with the sheer force of her and her brothers anger."We wanted to play!" Len screamed, the walls shaking again. "Now we're going to play with you!"[/color]


[center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/umbertthatcher.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/charlottehamilton.jpg[/IMG][/center]

Umbert looked on at the twins behind him, their innocent faces contorted in anger. His heart was beating at a pace it shouldn't, his fear was getting the better of him. Charlotte, too, she looked terrified of the children.

The twins seemed to move closer to the guests, without actually moving. They began to glow with a red mist around them, their clothing fluttering around, as did their hair. The little girl grasped her teddy bear, and ripped it's head off, and the little boy popped his ball. Umbert, though scared beyond any reason of a doubt, attempted to get closer to the twins. Charlotte remained where she was, rooted to the spot.

"It seems.." Umbert rasped, his heart racing out of control. "that you've broken your toys... Maybe... we can get you new ones...."

"You think we want toys? We want your heart!" They screamed in unison. They graped each other's hand, They were suddenly upon the old man, floating at chest level. Umbert inhaled a single, swift breath, and the twins jabbed their opposite free hands into his chest.

[center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/death.jpg[/IMG] [IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/umbertthatcher.jpg[/IMG][/center]

There was a gasp, and the limp body of Umbert Thatcher fell to the mildewed carpet. His heart had given out from fear, not anything that the twins had done physically.The twins seemed to have calmed down, and drifted to the floor, just in front of Umbert's body. The red mist and the waving about of their clothing had ceased. "Who's next?" Rin giggled. They separated their hands, if only to hold a tarot card, though one with a drawing of Death on it. But, this death was nothing more than a shadow with red eyes.

They held the card up together, and smiled evilly, their bright blue eyes seemingly with a red glint. Len began to recite a children's poem gone completely wrong...

[i]"Einy Mieny Miny Moe...
Who's death shall be so?
The next scream will be the one who dies.
May your carcas be fetter for the flies!"[/i]

As he pronounced each symbol of his poem, Len pointed at another guest. On the word 'flies,' he pointed at Charlotte. The card in their hands shifted, a woman appearing out of the blackness.

[center][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/playtime.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/charlottehamilton.jpg[/IMG][/center]

The same figure appeared, standing beefore Charlotte. It's skin appeared to be blistered. blood and puss oozing from its sored. The ratty, tangles mass of blondish hair lied about it. Looking closely, one could see it was a female, with long black claws.It sliced the air in front of it, gouging lightly Charlotte's skin. "Thay insurance fraud worked out nicely... didn't it?" It growled.

It looked Charlotte in the eyes.

It had Charlotte's face. IT wore a dirty nurse's uniform, now that one could see the monster closely. It's eyes were as red as blood, the lipstick smeared around it's lips and anything but orderly.

Charlotte screamed as the monster took another swipe, and dodged around the monster, running for god knows where. She had to get away.

"Don't run!" It roared. "Let's play with your life for a change!" it cackled, and slashed through the doorway. Looking on, it had left several inch deep long gouges in the wood.

The twin giggled. "This game is a lot fun, Brother.." Rin laughed.""Don't you think so?

"Yes, it is, Sister. I hope they'll come back for more." Len echoed. They turned to the remaining men and women. "It's playtime..." they said, and disappeared. Edited by Inuyasha Fandom

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[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/aliciamills.jpg[/img][/center]

After witnessing a number of gruesome deaths and horror-inducing apparitions, Dr. Alicia Mills burst into tears and dashed up the large, fractured staircase. She ran like mad, unable to control her feet or her tears. She faintly sensed that other people had followed her, but who they were, she had no clue.

Finally she saw a small door in front of her, entered through it and slammed it shut behind her. It lead to a small room with a single window that was shattered like all the others in the mansion. There was a low table, an empty cabinet with no doors, and a small bed with filthy rags for sheets on it. Some birds had once inhabited the room, with a few half-rotten nests sitting on the cabinet's shelves. The rain was forming a good-sized puddle on the floor.

But none of that mattered to Alicia. She threw herself onto the bed and squeezed her eyes shut, hoping for her dear life that this was just some horrendous nightmare and she would wake up from the comfort of her own bed soon. But she knew that wasn't the case. The letter had arrived three weeks ago, and ever since that Alicia had had trouble sleeping. Her insomnia had started to affect her work in the maternity clinic so much that she had been put on sick-leave. It was now apparent that the letter had caused her sleeplessness, even though Alicia had thought it was only an invitation to some publicity stunt event or something like that.

She was no stranger to death because of her job, but she was much more accustomed to see new life being brought to this world. Now there were children dying right in front of her eyes, and those ghostly twins were the most horrifying thing she had ever seen. If this was really all happening, how could she ever survive this night?

Slowly the panic and the tears subsided, and Alicia smelled a peculiar scent that filled the room that she hadn't noticed before. It was sweet and lovely, but in a kind of excessive way. Like flowers gone bad...

[color="#008000"][i]"Hush now, child", the Green Lady whispered, tears falling down her cheeks, and stroked the maternity doctor's silky black hair. "This game has upset you greatly, but I sense power in you. A power only a mother has."

"Yes, I know you have no children of your own. But you have helped deliver countless babies, and that way, you are the mother of all mothers. You know that sometimes motherhood is tough, sometimes it... [b]hurts[/b]. But it is all in the name of love."

"You are strong, Alicia Mills, and thus I grant you my blessing. Use it well."[/i] [/color]

[center][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/rosebriars.jpg[/img][img]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e366/nifty_fifty/mansion%20cards/aliciamills.jpg[/img]

[i]ROSE BRIARS - Holding this power card allows the mortal to grow a thick hedge of roses to shield them from physical harm.[/i][/center]

Alicia opened her eyes. To her amazement, all the walls in the small room and even the door were covered by thorny briars with blood-red roses growing on them. Edited by Sandy

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