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>"I'd like to get something to eat, but I'm a little short," you reply, hoping Ashton doesn't remember your wallet is in your back pocket. Ashton sighs.
"Well, I'm already in for the tickets, I guess a couple burgers couldn't hurt. Pay me back eventually, though, I need to save up some money for my vacation." You scope out a bench while Ashton gets in line.
>"Here's your-" Ashton starts. You quickly grab the burger and lift it high over your head. You got a free meal! Don't you feel proud of yourself? "A...alright," Ashton finishes, moving slowly away from you.
>"Mrpmphgulpthanksagsgkksdglskdg" you garble out while stuffing your face on a Free Meal. Ashton is stunned at your manners.
"No problem, but between this and the tickets, you're really starting to build up a tab. You're gonna owe me for this." He continues staring at your eating, but suddenly something catches his attention. "Oh, the rail is almost here!" he says excitedly, pointing behind you. You turn around and are completely taken aback by what you see. It's... it's...
>IT'S HUGE!! This train is easily three or four stories tall! You're completely in shock at the sheer scope of this thing. Like clockwork, though, some memories begin coming back. This is a train called The Searchengine. It was commissioned by the city and designed by a famous inventor four years ago. Although there is only one actual train, it runs circuits around the city and has greatly improved life. In fact, carriages have all but disappeared in recent years, and seeing one is a rarity. This train is quickly becoming an iconic symbol of the city. You're fairly sure it won't play a huge role in whatever it is you're here to do, but it is so grand your memory probably felt it deserved some background story to make it worth while.
>"So how does this thing run?" you casually ask Ashton.
"Did you forget already? All Arcadian officers are required to know how the Search Engine operates in case of emergencies. Basically..." what follows is a complex cascade of words and phrases you can not even begin to understand. Something about steam and magnetism and... man, you don't even know.
"Right, magic, got it" you interrupt. You board the train with Ashton.
>You and Ashton make your way to the passenger car and find your compartment. "You wait here," he says, dropping off his things and turning back towards the door, "I'm going to go use the radio and make contact with headquarters before we get moving. I'll probably be a few minutes." He leaves. You are alone.
>You let out a big ol' smile.
>You take a closer look at the picture behind you. It's a landscape painting entitled "The Edge of Destiny". The painting is signed "Selanis -21". It's pretty.
>You notice a package sitting next to you. Where did this come from? Thinking back, you recall Ashton having it after your encounter with the magic hobo. He must have gotten some sort of parcel delivery on the train platform while you were separated. It could be very private, are you sure you want to open it?
>You lift the box, which is surprisingly light, and begin to shake it. From deep within its cardboard exterior you hear a soft shuffling. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be very hard.
>Checking the outside with your mad detective skills, you notice a postal sticker. "From: Arcadia Cleaners and Packing, To: Ashton Dragon". There's a stamp over it that you recognize as a delivery confirmation stamp.
>From what you've gathered, and being a cleaners, it must be some kind of clothing! But what of that "and Packing"?! This mystery keeps getting more complicated...
>You decide for some reason to try eating the package.
>"I couldn't get in touch with the station. Must be something wrong with the-"
You immediately regret this decision.
>After explaining to Ashton that you were just trying to figure out what was inside, he opens it up and shows you its contents. You get the feeling you've seen it before. "I-it's a backpack. Filled with a change of clothes and some spare shirts and ties. It's for my trip next week. I just ran into the delivery guy on the train platform, it's not really that interesting." You both share a (uncomfortable) laugh about the situation. "Why don't you go take a look around the train? You're acting a little off today. We're in the passenger car, but if you make your way towards the front of the train you can probably find some stuff to keep you busy until we get to the Jianti Chateaux."
>You end up taking Ashton's advice and leave to explore the train. Finding a sign pointing towards the dining hall, you follow it in hopes of getting something else to eat. That Free Meal still left you feeling hungry. As you walk down the hallway, you pass and odd looking person. Partly transparent with a giant question mark on his face, this person moves as silently as the wind past you without even breaking his stride. What could that have been. Your mind begins to feel fuzzy, and you hear a familiar voice in your head...
The ocean of life does not grant everyone knowledge of all its splendors.
You may remember the fish you catch, you may curse the fish that got away, but there is no name or role for the fish who you don't recall.
Those that do not make an impact, can not themselves expect to be impacted.
They are nobody.
As you try to make sense of this, you abruptly bump into someone. "Oh, pardon me my good sir," the man says. You shake off all the weird cryptic stuff and look up at the man you ran into.
>You apologize for bumping into this strange looking fellow, trying as hard as you can not to stare. "C...classy..." you find yourself muttering.
"Ah! Why yes!", the turtle says, excited, "I'm Reginald Von Huffingtuff Li Muffinman the Fourth, but everyone just calls me Classtoise!" That's a long name, and you're still pretty surprised it can talk.
"I-I'm Kyou, I'm a detective for the Arcadian police," you manage to get out, still trying as hard as you can not to stare.
"Oh? A police officer? How delightful! I'd wager we are heading for the same destination!" exclaims Classtoise, with glee.
"H-how's that?" you reply.
"Why, you must be heading to my establishment, the Jianti Chateau! You're investigating that disappearance, aren't you?"
>Seeing as this guy(?) apparently owns the crime scene, you decide to question him."So, Mr. ...Classtoise? Could you tell me what you know about the recent disappearance at the Jianti Chateau?"
"Yes, yes. That nasty business! Such a dreadful thing. Well, there's not really much to tell, you see. That is to say, I don't know all that much. Yes quite." This guy is talking to himself an awful lot... "It was similar to the other cases I've been reading about in the daily paper, yes, yes. The victim just vanished over night. Yes, and then the next morning we found some kind of strange mural in blood in her room. Can you believe that? Blood! Oh I do hope the lass is alright." This sounds familiar, you decide to pry a little further...
"So, who was the victim?"
"What? Gufahahaha!" he seems incredibly amused, "You don't even know who the victim was? Gufahahahahaha! This must be your first day on the job! Yes, yes quite."
"Er, could you just tell me?"
"Well," he starts, thinking, "There's an awful lot of people at my Chateau. This lass moved in just recently, you see. What was her name? Oh, yes! Quite! I remember now, her name was-"
"Miss Eyes Five!"
>"Oh yes, quite sure about the name. Quite, yes!" Mr. Muffinman seems pretty confident about the name, and he does own the building so you don't have any reason to doubt him.
"Can you tell me anything about Eyes Five?"
"Hmm..." he thinks to himself, "Yes! She was a quiet girl with glasses, bangs and a ponytail. She read books quite often, too." Unfortunately, that sounds like the girl you saw in Vitae...
"I'd love to tell you about some of the people we have living there, but there's so many! Yes! Hundreds, infact! My Jianti is the largest housing complex in all of Arcadia. Yes, and they're all very interesting people! I'd probably be quite a bit easier for you to just meet them yourself when you get there. Yes."
"Gufahahaha! Finally something I can help you with! I have no earthly idea who may have done this or where Miss Five might be, but I did see the mural in her room! Here, I'll draw it for you..." He grabs a pen and paper and begins sketching. A familiar feeling washes over you. Your head begins to ache and the room starts to feel like its shaking...
>"All done!" as Classtoise lifts up the paper to show you the drawing, the whole world feels as if its starting to fall apart. This is exactly like what happened at the police station! Your head feels like its being ripped in two. You scream and clutch your skull. The world around you is chaotic nonsense at the moment, but something seems to emerge...
Wh..what?! What was that?!
>"I said," Ashton starts, "What do you think? What's your deal? It's like you aren't listening to anything I'm saying!"
>"Welcome..." Classtoise starts from in front of you, "To my Jianti Chateau, yes!" You're really confused at how, but apparently you've arrived at the Jianti Chateau! This is the scene of the latest disappearance. Before you stands a building of indeterminable height. A seemingly mismashed skyscraper reaching to pierce the heavens. It is both confusing and... well, impressive. Between this weird building and the even weirder owner you find yourself worrying what lies beyond the giant doorway.
"W...well, that certainly is s..something," starts Ashton, as shocked as you are (but better at hiding it), "We better get on with the investigation." Mr. Muffinman aka Classtoise, Ashton, and yourself all enter the Chateau.
>"BZZT ATTENTION MR. CLASSTOISE HAS RETURNED. BZZT ATTENTION TWO POLICE OFFICERS HAVE ENTERED, PLEASE SHOW THEM RESPECT." This booming, crackling voice seems to be coming from every direction, ending with a loud screeching tone. You and Ashton both hunch over and cover your ears. You both look around but don't see anyone except the receptionist waving at you.
Ashton stands back upright and starts heading upstairs. He turns to talk to you, "Taya already gave me directions to Ms. Five's room. I'm going to go check out the crime scene. Kyou, can you ask around and see if you can find anyone that saw the victim before she disappeared?" He then continues up the stairs.
Looking around, it seems Mr. Muffinman has also wandered off. You find yourself suddenly left alone in this labyrinth.
>You notice nothing of importance
>You glance at the map behind the fellow in front of you. It seems to be a silhouette of the Chateau, divided into rooms and hallways. You find the little dot at the entrance that indicates that you are there and look around you. The first thing you notice is that the Chateau has hundreds, maybe even thousands of rooms, all indicated by a letter followed by a number. "Um, excuse me!" the man behind the counter says enthusiastically, "Yo, I'm Chaos Soldier! I'm the desk clerk here. It's really hard for outsiders to understand our map, but I have this place memorized! Can I help you find someone?" You ask about anyone that might have seen Miss Eyes before she disappeared. Mr. Soldier thinks for a minute. "Well, Mr. Diablo Fett in MG223 mentioned seeing her shortly before she vanished and said something was weird. Also, her downstairs neighbor Mr. Harling Tox in TO523 could know something too. Oh, and additionally, Mr. Nfinit Vylence probably knows something, he's in WI105 and is the hallway captain of Miss Five's floor." Rooms MG223, TO523, and WI105. You glance up and down the map, shortly giving up. "Here," Mr. Soldier says handing you three scraps of paper, "Here's the directions to their rooms. I told you I had this place memorized!"
"Oh, and come to think of it," Mr. Soldier says pointing up, "You're probably wondering what these are. These are a kind of speaker/monitoring system that Trame of XX000 set up himself. He's taken it upon himself to monitor everything going on in the Chateau, so I'm sure he could tell you something. I've prepared the directions to his room too. I've got to warn you that he's a little different."You received Directions to Mr. Fett's Room!
You received Directions to Mr. Tox's Room!
You received Directions to Mr. Vylence's Room!
You received Directions to Trame's Room!
You'll probably only have time to go to two of these rooms, so which one is first?
>You decide to investigate Mr. Fett and Trame. You examine the directions you got to their respective rooms and discover Mr. Fett's is the closest, so you go there first. You thank Mr. Soldier and head deep into the Chateau. Miraculously, you locate Mr. Fett's room with little difficulty, Chaos Soldier really wasn't kidding about having this place memorized. You knock lightly on his door and receive no answer. You try the handle and to your surprise it is unlocked. The door slowly creeks open, and an inviting glow seems to welcome you in. Since your here on official business you decide to check around.
>(th...that was close...) you think to yourself, rubbing your neck.
"Sorry about that," the man says, lighting a cigarette, "Can't be too careful, you know?"
(I think it grazed my neck...)
"Name's Diablo Fett, and if you're with the police department I'm willing to bet you're here to ask questions about Eyes?" Oh, that's right. You ask him what kind of relationship he had with Ms. Five
>"Well, we'd usually pass by each other in the hallways in the morning and exchange pleasantries. Nothing spectacular. I'd ask what's new, she'd talk about art stuff and interesting dreams she'd had. The only thing that seems relevant to the case is she was acting weird last week, but I don't think it has anything to do with the case."
>"Well..." Mr. Fett starts, quickly getting lost in thought, "I don't know how relevant it is to the case, but in the weeks leading up to her disappearance Ms. Eyes was noticeably less...cheery." You ask Mr. Fett to elaborate on that. "Well, we'd run into each other every morning and have a... conversation. Even though they were pretty one sided, I'm a gentlemen and I'd listen. She'd usually talk about dreams she'd had the previous night. Subjects like space hunters or making friends with flying people and going on adventures, things like that."
"But..." he continues, "they started getting darker. Eventually her cheery dreams were replaced with stark blackness. Eventually she mentioned seeing a man with a bird and a dog, or something to that effect. She said she'd feel trapped, and the man would just stand there staring at her. When she called out to them, the man would only smile and turn and leave. Real creepy stuff."
>"Often," he said, lightning a new cigarette, "She said that when they left, the dog would turn around and look at her, almost like it was sad." He blows some smoke and sits down. "Like I said, I don't know if this stuff has any bearing on her disappearance, but it certainly affected her state of mind. I think these dreams were messing with her sleeping, because after a couple weeks she told me she was having trouble remembering who she was." He looks off to the side, "Poor girl didn't deserve this..."
>"So... that's my piece. Did you have any more questions?"
>You notice Mr. Fett's dashing headband. You thank him for the information. Before leaving you can't help but cheerfully ask if there's anything special about his awesome headband. "This?" he says pointing to his headband with his thumb, "The battlefield is a terrifying and beautiful place where many things can bloom, Detective. This is all that's left of my best friend. Lost him in the last great war. He got blown in half. It wasn't pretty. In his final moments he passed it on to me. He lives on, through this headband." Mr. Fett now seems distant.
Well there goes your good mood.
>You thank Mr. Fett again and decide to head to Trame's room. You exit Mr. Fett's room and consult your directions to try to get your bearings. Before you can be on your way, you hear a voice from behind you. "Hey, Kyou, got a minute?" Ashton asks, walking quickly up to you.
>You decide to avoid Ashton for some reason and take off in the direction you're pretty sure you need to go. Ashton gives chase. "H...hey, Kyou! Didn't you hear me!?" Determined to outrun him you speed up, but so does Ashton. A memory quickly comes back. When Ashton and yourself were taking the entrance exams for the police department, Ashton would always beat your track record. Crap! "Hey Kyou!" Ashton shouts, "I tried to call the police staaation but I still can't get throoough! I even tried Chief McClure's private liiine!" This guy doesn't give up! "ANYWAY" he shouts again, cupping his hands around his mouth while still giving chase, "I THINK YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT MISS FIVE'S ROOM AFTER YOU ARE DONE! THERE'S SOMETHING THERE THAT'S REALLY..."
>Naturally, you are not looking where you are going. You see Ashton's expression change as he points ahead of you. "Kyou, watch out!" Before you can turn around, you run right into somebody, getting knocked to the ground in the process. Owwww.
>"Oh my gosh, are you okay?!" a woman in a white coat asks, panicked. She helps you up as Ashton slows down and stops next to you, laughing.
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