The town of Winchester is filled with many quirks and oddities. Between authors who played at crime scenes and undertakers who wished they were alive, D. I. Knighton is never short of things to investigate. A pall is cast over the town, however, when a sudden rash of killings spread throughout. Will the detective be able to solve the mystery before one of her loved ones becomes the next target?

(Comments, constructive criticism, and theories are welcome and appreciated!)


4. III.

     Millie gave an internal sigh as she watched Lord Bishop dance with Abigail once again. It wasn't that she was jealous- far from it. She was quite happy that someone as plain as Abby was being doted on by a lord. It was more that she didn't appreciate being invited to a social and then being ignored through the whole of it. It was completely rude and a waste of her time, yet she couldn't leave without seeming rude herself. Still, she decided to take a look around the expensive-looking mansion. Lord Talley- the owner of the home- was obsessed with clockwork creatures and filled his home with the newest models. Millie herself knew little of the actual mechanics of the artificial beings and trinkets, but she did enjoy the twisted beauty of them. She stood and headed for the nearest hallway, making sure not to be spotted.

     It was decorated with paintings of the Talley men from apparently their immigration from France in 1342. Millie doubted that it was real, however. After meeting Lord Talley only twice she knew that his blood was as impure as a poor beggar. If not for his wealth, from which no one knew how he gained, he would not even be considered a noble. Millie decided not to tread down that path, and instead focused her attention on where she was going.

     There were four doors connected to the hallway, counting the one she came through. Two were firmly shut, but the one at the farthest end was slightly ajar with light spilling out into the dim hallway. The closer she got, the more she realized that she could hear someone speaking just behind it. She smiled at the idea of speaking to a new person. If she were careful, they might not even notice that she was a noble. Though she loved the attention her title brought, she hated how subservient and completely stupid people became. She finally reached the door and eased it open quietly in case she was interrupting something. What she saw, she certainly wasn't inspecting.

     An automaton butler lay on the ground with his chest in pieces around him. A man sat leaning over him, mumbling to himself. He had copper-colored hair that was choppily cut and hazel green eyes that seemed distant. His handsome face was covered in stubble, and his clothing was covered in grease. His large hands were gloved and constantly moving, removing and replacing parts inside the mechanical butler. Millie took a step forward to try and gain his attention, but he was fully absorbed in what he was doing.

     “Excuse me?” Millie tried in her politest voice. It was one that usually got her anything she wanted, and she prided herself in the perfection of it. Still, the man didn't look up. Millie stood there for a moment, listening to his mumblings.

     “...40, 000 droplets from a sneeze...”

     Millie raised a perfectly manicured eyebrow. “What are you talking about?”

     To that, he looked up. The expression on his face clearly read that he'd not noticed her arrival, and he turned slightly pink at the realization that he'd been caught talking to himself. He scratched the back of his neck with a gloved hand and avoided looking at her.

     “It's... the statistical amount of the spread of consumption,” he replied in an embarrassed voice. His voice was deep and lyrical, but Millie was too surprised by his response to appreciate it.

     “Do you often speak of plagues when you are alone?” she asked him to keep the conversation going. Even talking to a madman was more interesting than the dead party down the hall. He turned a darker red.

     “It's just something to keep my mind focused. Repairing old-grade machines is mind-numbingly easy, and I don't want to become like the automatons I fix.”

     He sounds like an old man, Millie thought, though he looked to be in his mid-twenties. He removed his gloves and offered a lightly scarred hand to her.

     “Adam O' Lorman, ma' am. I'm the local mechanic around here.”

     Millie continued to stare at Adam's hand before he dropped it and stood. He wore a large tool-belt that seemed to hold everything. Millie could have sworn that she saw a pocket shift, but added that to the fact that she was alone in a room with a commoner. They always made her wary, despite the fact that her parents always told her that it was the lower-class that helped to keep the nobility fed. They were just bleeding hearts in her opinion. They made her go to orphanages and lower herself to serve them.

     “You look familiar,” Adam stated, and Millie realized that he'd been staring at her. It was her turn to blush.

     “I... Well...” Despite him being crazy, she still didn't want him doting all over her like everyone else did. She liked the spotlight because she was amazing, not because her bloodline was.

     “Yeah, you're the Marquess Rumblefellow, right? You and your family go around visiting orphanages. I remember you now.”

     Millie gave out a defeated sigh as Adam bent low in front of her. So much for being treated past her status. Or so she thought until Adam stood, holding a piece from the butler.

     “D' you mind helping me pick up these pieces?”

     Millie stood still and watched as Adam gave her and exasperated shake of his head before he continued to clean up the mess.

     “You noble types are all the same,” he sighed as he deposited all the pieces in his belt. They didn't seem like they should have fit, but they all disappeared inside the numerous pockets. “You all expect us to do all the work just because we don't have one of your pretentious names.” Millie was offended, and her expression showed.

     “My name is not pretentious!”

     Adam gave a mock bow. “Oh, forgive me, Mildred, Marquess of Rumblefellow! I meant no insult!” Millie glared at him until sudden realization dawned on her.

     “You're from Laura Hope Orphanage.”

     Adam gave her a wry grin.

     “I aged out actually.” He reached out and this time took Millie's hand despite her reluctance. “And now I must say goodbye, m' lady.” He winked and left. It wasn't until moments later that Millie realized her silver bracelet was gone, but by then it was already too late. The mechanic was gone.

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