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1042059 No. 1042059 ID: d98cb8

-Divided- A quest in the Balanceverse, written by crows and illustrated by shitty AI! Possibly NSFW eventually (but only by text), but no promises!

---

My hand is steady as I drag my iron across her back, filling in more of the taoist symbol with smooth movements. It's a simple design, the interlocking teardrops of black and white. I'm not super into the meaning behind it other than balance or something, but there's always people who want it tattooed on them. It's an easy freehand job.

The woman is quiet as I dip the needle, her breath steady and rhythmic almost as if asleep. There's no blood to blot away, and I think to myself that I've never had it go this easily.

The room is only lit by the lamp directly above, everything else in shadow beyond the pool of light surrounding us. It’s a circle only filled with the steady hum of the tattoo machine on the floor next to us, and nothing else. I wonder what time it is now, since I’m sure I’ve been at this a while.

She speaks, her silky voice sliding into the silence.

”How important is a home, do you think?”

It’s an odd question, but people always seem to ask those when they’re in the chair. Tattoo artists, bartenders, and massage therapists, all shrinks in the eyes of the public.

It probably has something to do with intimacy.

“Well you gotta have a place to sleep at night” I answer vaguely. But I know it’s not the question she was asking.

The silence stretches as I trace back over a line I don’t remember. The tattoo isn’t a simple symbol, I think as I continue working on it. The black isn’t solid, but a closely drawn picture, lines as close as cross-hatching on her skin.

It’s a towering building, with spires and arched windows, with a forest beyond. A wall with a wrought-iron gate lay in the foreground, obscuring the very front of it. The sky above is swirled, in spirals.

I don’t know why I’m amazed at the details. I did this art, it’s my work. I can remember hours spent doing this now. It’s not weird at all, beyond the fact that I was permitted to be the one on this job. I’m not that good. Mostly I only ever get the template jobs.

The woman seems to be waiting for me to speak again, and I pause to stretch my hand before I do.

“Never had much of a home, so I really wouldn’t know. I figure it’s important to some people.”

She sighs, a contemplative sound.

”I do believe that makes you more qualified than most to judge. It’s hard to appreciate what you take for granted.”

I put the iron back to her skin, filling in some lines. I’m working on the white side now, which is as intricate as the black. I’ve never done a white tattoo before, considering how subtle they are. Nobody would let an apprentice take on this job, so I wonder why I’m the one on it.

It feels as if the words are being drawn out of me, pulled forth by some need as I answer.

“A home is... very important. Having a place to belong is-”

I stumble over my words, the buzzing of the machine rising in my ears, before fading back as I find what I mean to say.

“If you never have it, it’s something you want more than anything.”

I look down at my work, at the building on the other side of her tattoo in white. It’s a reflection of the first, less ominous, but still imposing. It takes me a moment to see that it seems to be the same building from the opposite side, down to the overhanging tree on the left being on the right here. The sky is the same swirl, but in white. The details are too intricate for my skills, despite remembering doing it.

The tattoo machine seems to be having issues. The buzzing rises and falls, over and over. It shouldn’t be doing that.

But before I can worry about it, she asks again,

”If you had a home, a place to truly belong, what would you do to protect it?

The iron is forgotten in my hand, but her tattoo appears to be finished. I can’t remember finishing it. I’m struggling to remember this woman’s name. But I can’t help but respond.

“I would do anything.”

My statement rings true, from the bottom of my soul. I don’t understand why I feel compelled to speak, why I feel like I have no choice but to answer with everything I have.

The woman begins to stand, her arm across her breasts for modesty while her auburn hair falls to obscure the tattoo I’ve finished. The art looked like it’d been done by a master, and was long healed despite the machine at my side.

The machine’s vibrations continue to swell and recede, louder and louder, as the woman turns to face me.

I remember she called herself Gaia, just before she asks one more question.

”Will you swear to protect the home I give you?”

I can’t make out Gaia’s face, even though I’m looking straight at her. I can’t see her expression, but her tone of voice was soft, and gentle.

I can’t see anything but myself and the woman in front of me, in this point of light in a vast darkness. The light itself swirls at our feet, resolving into a shape like the symbol I’d etched upon her back.

I answer with utmost sincerity, knowing that I must.

“I swear.”

Gaia nods, and I can tell she’s smiling.

”Thank you.”

The sound of the machine swells, louder than before.

I wake up.
Expand all images
>>
No. 1042060 ID: d98cb8
File 166170376933.jpg - (13.31KB , 256x256 , d02.jpg )
1042060

BZZZZZZ BZZZZZZ

BZZZZZZ BZZZZZZ

I roll over in my dim room, sheets tangled around my legs. My stupid phone is going off, but it feels way too early for my alarm. I doubt it’s even noon yet, and my brain is foggy from lack of sleep.

Fumbling around on my nightstand, actually just a kitchen chair I found out on the curb, I manage to knock my hair tie off onto the floor before I grab the offending device. The vibration on the wood is thoroughly annoying, as any alarm should be. Just not this early.

However when I manage to pull it free of the charge cord and slide the banged up last gen smartphone next to my pillow, I see that it’s not an alarm. It’s a phone call from some local number. Probably spam.

I consider just letting them leave a message, but the clock at the top of the screen tells me it’s barely 9am, and I’m annoyed enough that I’m in the mood to tell someone to fuck off for the sake of catharsis.

I slide the screen to the left to answer.

“Hello.” I deliver in a monotone, not even bothering to lift it to my head. My ear is close enough already.

The female voice on the other end is chipper and perky. The sign of a morning person. Absolutely evil.

“Hello! Am I speaking with Addison Kinley?”

I gear up for a good cursing, and answer sullenly.

“That’s me. What do you want?”

If this is one of those car warranty people again, I’ve got choice words worked up and ready. They’re all scammers and they know it, making it oh so guilt-free to go off on them.

Instead, she heads in a different direction.

“My name is Parker Troy, of the law firm Lupus and Troy. I’m calling you about your uncle.”

Okay. This is a new one. If it’s a scam it’s got my attention for the creativity. I lift the phone to my ear and roll onto my back to look up at the cracks in my ceiling as I respond.

“What uncle?”

Papers being moved accompanies her answer.

“Your father is John Kinley, correct?”

“Was. And father is a generous way to put it but yeah.” I roll my eyes at the implication that waste of space was ever any sort of ‘father’.

Ms. Troy’s voice had seemed to lose a little bit of it’s cheeryness, possibly due to my attitude. Guess I’m good at bringing a mood down.

“Just checking to be sure. I’m sorry to inform you that your uncle Mortimer passed away a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the funeral has already passed. You were honestly quite hard to locate any contact info for.”

I vaguely remember the name, but it’s got no meaning beyond that. A name from christmas cards when I was a kid or something.

“I probably wouldn’t have come anyway. Never met the guy. Why call me?”

I sit up and stretch, popping my shoulders. Maybe since I’m awake I’ll grab something to eat before I go back to bed.

“Oh uh,” Ms. Troy pauses before blurting out, “Because of the will. You’re in it.”

This is so ridiculous that I actually laugh.

“Okay now I know this is a scam. Why would the uncle I never met leave me anything? Do I gotta show up to some will reading in a dusty study now?” I say.

Ms. Parker Troy, of Lupus and Troy, coughs delicately. It almost seems embarrassed.

“We don’t actually do that, Ms. Kinley. That’s only on TV.”

She pauses again. I wonder if maybe this is real after all. But that doesn’t even make sense.

“Frankly, you are the will. Aside from a few personal belongings to select friends and debts paid, Mortimer Kinley left everything to you.”

“What?” I blurt out, “Why me? What do you mean by everything?”

The lawyer takes my raised voice in stride.

“Far be it for me to assume his intentions, but I gather you may be the sole living relative. Mortimer had no children, and only one sibling. Your grandparents and parents have passed... so you seem to be all that remains.”

Huh. Apparently I had one last remaining family member until only this month. Go figure I’d find out right after losing that.

“As for everything,” She says as I hear the flick of papers, “It consists of the land, house, and all contents included.”

A house.

I’m inheriting a house?

“No that can’t be right.” I comment out loud.

My shock must be audible over the phone because Ms. Troy laughs slightly.

“You can see why we tried so hard to locate you, Addison.”

I look around my apartment. It’s a single room, with an attached bathroom. Kitchen is a nook in the wall. The paint was thickly applied before I moved in, I’m told because the original paint layer had lead it in and this was the best way to seal it up. The aforementioned ceiling cracks were the result of a water leak last year.

It was a shithole. It’d been my home for two years.

I thought about a house.

“Assuming I believe you and this isn’t a huge scam,” I say as I gather my wits, “How do we do this?”

Despite how much of a pain I’d been at the beginning, now I was on the back foot while the lawyer was in her element.

“Well, you’d come out here and see the property, and then we sign the paperwork to transfer ownership. It’s fairly simple.”

I’m still slightly dazed at the thought, but then think to ask, “Where exactly is it located?”

“The property and our firm are in Wolfport. Will getting here be a problem?”

I think about my shitty little hatchback. Wolfport is about seventy miles off, but the volvo is a dependable thing even if it looks like junk.

“No I can get there. When?”

“When’s good for you?” Parker asks.

I think for a long moment on what my days off are. One, five days from now. The family restaurant I work at has me most afternoons and evenings.
I should be asleep so I can get enough rest to be there at 4pm. Money’s usually pretty tight paying rent out here on a waitress income, so I have to pick up every shift I can. Missing work would be irresponsible.

I look around at my shithole apartment that I work my ass off to keep.

I don’t own much in the way of furniture, since there’s no room and I can’t afford it. There’s no food in the fridge for the same monetary reason.
I have a tiny flatscreen TV I got free off a guy, and a streaming dongle I splurged for that runs off the neighbor’s wifi.
Two laundry baskets, one full of clean clothes and one full of dirty.
My tattoo machine, gathering dust in it’s carrying case against the wall.

Fuck this place.

“How’s this afternoon? I can be there in a few hours.” I ask.

“Oh!” She responds, “Certainly! You do move fast, Ms. Kinley.”

“No time like the present. What’s the address?”

I write it down, thank her for being willing to do this immediately, and agree to see her at 1pm before I hang up.

It’s time to get myself packed.

Hopefully this isn’t some scam.
>>
No. 1042061 ID: d98cb8
File 166170382292.jpg - (12.84KB , 256x256 , d03.jpg )
1042061

Lunch was dollar menu cheeseburgers in some small town near Wolfport. My car was packed tight with what few belongings I wanted to keep, and the keys to my mostly empty apartment were in my mailbox back there.

If this is real, I wouldn’t even need to drive back. I could call and tell my landlord I’m out, since it’s a month to month deal. He’ll keep the deposit for cleaning and disposing of my bed and what’s left, but I’m pretty sure even if the place was perfect he’d find a way to keep my deposit.

Assuming this is real. The possibility I’m being punked was why I didn’t bail on the apartment already.

But after the long drive, and then a fair amount of time doing circles around some big nature preserve, I managed to locate the address I’d been given.

It was a slightly winding drive up past a chunk of the nature preserve, which it seems the house was nestled up against. There were a few others in the area, all looking kinda dilapidated but in a formerly nice kind of way. Maybe it used to be a fancy part of town.

At the very end of this stretch of slightly creepy was even more creepy, as a graveyard lay off to the left side. It seemed older, and basically untended but for whoever probably mows the grass.

I’m not one to believe in the supernatural or omens or anything like that, but man if it didn’t make me wary to be driving out in a seemingly abandoned neighborhood to my new house.

At the very edge of the graveyard was a small copse of trees, with the road doing the slightest loop to get around it, where my destination lay.

Looking up at the building I’d pulled up in front of, I realized I’d basically inherited the Addams Family mansion.

“Damn.” I whisper to myself, in slight awe.

There was an open area where the road pretty much just widened into a place to park. There didn’t seem to be a driveway up to the house, which was slightly hard to see behind the wall in front of me. The gates were wrought-iron, but equipped with a modern lockset.

Beyond those gates rose a multi-story monstrosity. Arched windows with those segmented panes, pointed peaked roofs. A dim grey facade, with loads of worn and beaten edging, with pitch black roof shingles and even a weathervane. The place just screamed gothic, in an almost absurdly overblown way.

And next to the gate, standing by a shiny car that probably cost more than I’d ever made in my life combined, was Ms. Parker Troy.

She was exactly what I expected. Exactly.

Blonde hair in a short businesslike cut, cute glasse, nice lawyer suit with skirt and heels. Briefcase held in front of her with both hands, which she transferred to a single hand as she reached out to shake mine.

“Ms. Kinley, it’s nice to meet you! Or would you prefer Addison?” She asked, brightly.

In comparison to her my jeans, sneakers, and tank top made me look very underdressed. Usually I wouldn’t give two shits about that but for some reason I was self conscious about it now. Should I have dressed up for a meeting with a lawyer?

“Yeah you can call me Addison.” I say, shaking her hand, “Do you uh, prefer Parker?”

She releases my hand to hold hers over her mouth as she lets out a quick laugh.

“Oh yes, I really do. I’m Ms. Troy all the time at work. I wouldn’t mind being a little casual here.”

“Sure, makes sense. So what now?” I ask.

With a grin, Parker produces a keyring from her pocket, with two keys on it.

“Front gate, and front door. I’ve got the paperwork right here for the place, too,” Parker says as she pats her briefcase. Or was it called an attache?

I glance back at the building, before looking back at her.

“Easy as that? Nobody’s gonna contest the will or argue it out in court?”

She shakes her head, “Unless an illegitimate child were to somehow show up, which isn’t very likely at all as I understand it.”

She holds out the keys to me, and I take them in hand. It’s a completely normal keyring with a completely normal pair of keys on it. Feels like they should have been big skeleton keys or at least all fancy looking.

“You’ll want to take a look around inside before you sign, of course. Always best to do so.” She informs me.

“Yeah. It’s bit overwhelming, is all.”

Parker nods.

“Take your time,” she says, before almost guiltily adding, “Would you like some company? I confess I uh, really would like to see the inside.”

I think on it.

Do I want to roam around inside the house on my own, or would I like Parker’s company here?
>>
No. 1042067 ID: e5709d

Ignore the house. Read the paperwork, ask for a cliff's notes of all the important points and intentions, then sign it.

This thing's a horror film collector's dream. The sooner you sell it, the faster you can buy a proper apartment and become a real landlord.
>>
No. 1042118 ID: 3129b1

Ehhh...it feels mean to leave Parker here; plus you'll have plenty of time to explore it later, plus if anything tries to eat you / collapses out from under you you'll have somebody to call 911. Uh...there wouldn't happen to be money involved in the transfer, would there? Houses generally require some amount of upkeep, so inheriting a house and nothing else can be costly, unless you turn around and sell the thing, which seems kindof a shame. (And I suspect you wouldn't get a good price on a timer like that.)
>>
No. 1042125 ID: 3129b1

While Kome's course of action might be pragmatic...dunno; how pragmatic are ya feeling, Addi?
>>
No. 1042139 ID: 2ca3ce

>>1042067
Ask for the paperwork first, yeah, find out if there's money involved because maintaining this might actually be a big problem. It's a spooky manor after all.

If the paperwork seems fine then, since she's a lawyer, ask her if she has a simple NDA and if she's willing to sign one then have her come on in. No use pushing her off, but once people know you have money and a big place and someone talks about it, then "unexpected relatives and friends" do tend to appear. best to be safe.
>>
No. 1042142 ID: fce62b

Stay with Parker and explore the house together. It seems like she might be more familiar with the area and has probably been inside already. Maybe ask if she's familiar with the mansion's history?
>>
No. 1042144 ID: 15c72a

Investigate.
>>
No. 1042164 ID: 815672

Let's take a look around together. This place is too big to explore alone and she seems like she's enjoying the moment. Let's indulge her curiosity in our new house. Ask out loud if there's no other keys anywhere in this house. Surely there's more then one locked door in the building?
>>
No. 1042245 ID: 12c7ff

Take her with you but ask to read the paperwork on the way.
>>
No. 1042645 ID: d98cb8
File 166214539955.jpg - (14.46KB , 256x256 , d04.jpg )
1042645

I look at Parker again, and mentally subtract a few years from her age. I’d assumed she was just really fresh faced, but the lawyer might actually be closer to my age or younger. Twenty-nine is old enough to be a lawyer, right? It’s not like I’d know.

“Sure. I guess I could go for some company. You ever been in here before, like when my uncle was around?” I ask.

She shakes her head, “No, never. I never met him. Actually he only came into the office once, when I was out. That was when he sorted out his will with us, and left the keys.”

I look down at them, then nod my head toward the gate and begin walking in that direction. Parker follows behind. I imagine her as an excitable puppy. One of those golden ones that love people.

“Just the keys, huh? Hope this unlocks everything.” I remark, “Don’t suppose there’s like, money to keep up the place or whatever too?”

“No, nothing like that. However, you do own everything in the house. I’d assume with a place like this there might be something you could figure out.”

“Fair enough. Maybe there’ll be a pile of gold bars or something,” I joke.

The gate lock was a newer thing with a big rod that held the older metal gates shut, with a keyhole in the middle to unlatch it. Of the two keys I was holding, of course I picked the wrong one first. My typical luck.

But the gate swings open easily as soon as I free it, no sounds. It must have been upkept really well, which might be a good sign.
Another good sign was the relatively tended lawn, with a few trees shading it. The grass was long, but it was the normal long you see when it’s been a few weeks too long since it was mowed. There was a small building nestled up against the wall way off to the left, maybe holding yard equipment.

“Not as Addam’s Family as I expected at a glance.” I say to Parker as I head up the brick path toward the front.

“Addam’s Family?”

I glance back to see her confused face.

“The movie? Or movies I guess?” I ask.

Parker shakes her head, “Never heard of it.”

For a moment I wonder how anyone can not know about those movies, but I guess they’re kinda older. I decide not to attempt to explain the concept or the appeal right now. Or at all probably. Parker’s here to do this job and leave.

That begged a question, since I didn’t really know lawyers. So I asked while climbing the short set of stone steps to the spacious porch. There was a porch swing slowly swinging in the wind off to the side.

“Are you like, my lawyer while we do this? Is there attorney client-privilege or something?”

Parker laughs, “Oh, no. I’m acting as executor of the will, that’s all. Why do you think you need attorney-client privilege?”

I shrug, stopping at the door with the other key out. It was an ornately carved set of double doors, with some colored glass panes. Kinda fancy.

Parker steps up next to me, and as I turn the key I hear the latch clunk very audibly. Heavy duty.

“Never really dealt with a lawyer before. Maybe I watch too much TV after all.”

I turn the knob, and push open the doors, stepping into the house I’m about to own.
>>
No. 1042646 ID: d98cb8
File 166214545361.jpg - (10.51KB , 256x256 , d05.jpg )
1042646

Stepping inside, the first thing I notice is how dim it is, but the lack of dust. I guess I thought that the house of a dead man would be in more need of a cleaning. Even after only a couple weeks of neglect I know my apartment always needs cleaning, but maybe this place was freshly done when Uncle Mortimer died. Besides that, the windows don’t seem to let in nearly enough light to illuminate the space I’m standing in; a space which is surprisingly large.

I guess it’s called a foyer, right? It’s a big open space in front of the doors, with a very high ceiling and a chandelier sort of thing above. Hard to call it that without it seeming too ostentatious, since it’s a simpler sort. It’s hanging from the second story above, which can be reached by two staircases ahead.
Between those staircases is pair of big double doors leading toward the back of the house. Another pair of normal doors lay to either side, set in walls of nice wood paneling. Even the wood looks lovingly cleaned and cared for.

“Oh, it’s very nice.” Coos Parker, looking around at the details, including the hardwood floor. There’s a big rug on the floor obscuring part of it.

“Yeah,” I answer, slightly overwhelmed, “But do you think there’s power? Or water? Do those things get turned off when you die?”

Parker answers that one simply by reaching over to a switch on the wall with two brass knobs, and pushing the top one. The room is lit immediately by the glow of electric light sconces in the walls. No chandelier though.

“Okay. Well I’ve got no idea where to start here. You?” I ask.

She lifts and pats her briefcase.

“I’ve never been in here before, but with all the paperwork was a blueprint to the house. I can lead us to the kitchen and we can sit down?”

Sounded as good as anything so I shrug and agree.

The path to the kitchen is through the door to the right, and down a long hall that turns to follow the edge of the house. Only doors line the outer edge, leading to rooms that I assume have windows to make up for the lack here. Varnished and well kept wood features implies that someone must have been cleaning the place regularly. Did Mortimer just spend all his time polishing, considering the lack of money left behind for cleaners?

Regardless of the cleanliness, the place was a little bit of a maze despite being a straight corridor. None of the rooms were labeled and they all had the exact same doors. I assume Parker was navigating by counting them when she turned to push open one and lead me in.

The kitchen was big. Probably built for serving a bunch of guests or something, it stretched down at least twenty feet of counter space and furnishings, prepared to feed an army with multiple stoves and ovens.

Weirdly out of place off to one side was a single modern looking fridge, a smaller model not too unlike the one I’d had in my apartment. Near one counter were a few stools, unmatched to anything else in the room. My uncle must have just done his meals right here.

The briefcase is set out and opened as Parker begins bringing out paperwork.

“What do you think so far?” She asks, checking through the stack.

I take a seat first on the stool before I answer.

“It’s kinda fucking overwhelming. But a lot less creepy in here than I expected from the outside. Hard to believe this is mine.”

She nods, “I’ve seen that reaction before. Just remember that you don’t have to keep it, live in it, or anything. This isn’t some TV show where you only get to keep the house under weird restrictions. It’s simply yours.”

That was good to know. I’d kinda thought about that but hadn’t asked for fear of looking stupid about it yet again.

“Sure, I guess I could see if someone around here wants to buy a Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere.” I say wryly.

Parker cracks a smile at that, then sets down some papers near me.

“Right here is where you’ll sign, and the property will be all yours. Take your time and read it over if you’d like.”

She then hauls out a folded over piece of paper, older looking.

“And here,” She unfolds it dramatically, “Is your... Well I guess map would be the best way to put it. It’s not really up to blueprint standards, but it shows the rooms.”

I look to the paperwork and then at the map.

“This basically just says it’s mine, no rules or caveats or anything? Nothing I have to do in return for owning it?” I lift the paperwork up and fan it a little.

The lawyer smiles, “Well, yes. That’s all it is.”

It seems silly to bother digging through what seems to be an itemized list of property, so I decide to bother with that later on if I really need to know specifics. As she said, there’s no obligations in return for it beyond the normal ones for having a house.

“Show me where to sign.”

-

It takes a couple minutes, signing on various lines while Parker makes sure everything is in order. Overall a weirdly simple process that leaves me with a copy of everything in a folder to go over later on.

Closing her briefcase, Parker looks to me cheerfully.

“Welcome to your new home, Addison.”

“Uh, thanks.” I reply lamely. It’s hard to figure out how I feel.

But rather than immediately heading for the door, she leans in conspiratorially.

“So I should be going now. Office duties, paperwork, filing. But-” She pauses with a gleam in her eyes, “You did say we could look around. I’ve got some time still.”

This lawyerly woman just went from professional to excited child in an instant, right in front of me. But her mood was infectious. It was a big house, basically a mansion, and I was allowed to wander through every single room and mess with anything I want.

“Actually that sounds fun.” I say, smiling.

-

We looked over the map.

It was obviously old and hand-drawn, with notations and room labels written in cursive. Lots of the fine details were faded or smudged, with some stuff unreadable. The cursive didn’t help either.

After a short discussion on how much time Parker would have before she’d need to bail on me, we decided it’d be possible to go explore three locations in the house before we parted ways. We were already in the kitchens, and decided to look into only the rooms we could legibly make out.

I looked down our list of rooms :
- First Floor Front Foyer [seen!] Rear Foyer Pantry Dining Room Breakfast Room Music Room Gallery Library Black Parlor White Parlor - Second Floor Study Art Room Blue Bedroom Red Bedroom Yellow Bedroom Master Suite Drawing Room - Third Floor [Too much of this floor seems to have had something spilled on it, and nothing at all, even the shape of rooms, is legible besides possibly Observatory. I decide not to climb all the way up there and get lost right now]

I need to pick three places to wander around and get a good look at with Parker. I’ll be able to explore more on my own later.
>>
No. 1042647 ID: 7c3037

No basement? Weird. Definitely check for trap doors and foundation access.

I vote library, pantry and breakfast.
>>
No. 1042672 ID: a2d88b

Library, art room and master suite.
>>
No. 1042682 ID: fce62b

Pantry probably going to be pretty quick to check since we're already in the kitchen. Just keep an eye out on the goods inside. It's rather eerie that this place is so clean, like it's been waiting for you. If it looks like new produce has been bought/prepared then that might not be a coincidence we can brush off so easily.

Otherwise my votes are; Pantry, Art Room and Library.
>>
No. 1042694 ID: db478f

Black and white parlors first. Just open up the doors along the way to take a look as you pass. Maybe get some actual natural light in here. Then head up to check out the art room. Wonder if there's anything left in there.
>>
No. 1042892 ID: d98cb8
File 166233601367.jpg - (17.18KB , 256x256 , d06.jpg )
1042892

We’d decided to only take a good look at a few rooms, but I guess that doesn’t mean we can’t poke our heads into a couple others in passing.

I usually don’t go in for a ton of company. Alone is how I like things, since I get enough time with random strangers being a waitress. Or I formerly did, I guess. If I stay here.

There’s still the option of heading back to my little apartment, apologizing for missing tonight’s shift, and letting my life go on while I figure out what to do with this place. But the more it lingers in the back of my head, the more I realize I don’t want to do that.

I’ve got all my belongings I care about in the car, I’ve got what would have been next month’s rent in my account. I don’t really care about going back to a manager who took half of my tips and harassed me constantly.

Even if I decide I’m gonna sell this place and find someone who wants it, I can live here until that happens. Wolfport is a new city. I can get another job.

So I need to get used to my new house, and I’ll admit to myself that having company for the initial look around is welcome. Even if Parker is a lot more chipper than would be my first choice.

-

Folding my map, the first thing I do before leaving the kitchen is to duck over to the door the map labeled as the pantry, and poke my head in.

It’s the size of a my old bedroom, with large industrial refrigerators lining one wall and shelves across the others. A central counter with a wood top, marked up with scratches to show it’s primary use as a massive cutting board.

But completely empty. This is weirdly kinda reassuring. The house is already too clean, and if it were fully stocked with food as well I might have started to suspect fairies or something.

Parker peers over my shoulder.

“Spacious.”

I laugh, “But useless to me. Let’s go check out somewhere else.”

-

We dip past a room at the front corner of the building closest to us, labeled as the White Parlor.

“What is a parlor, anyway?” I ask, spotting the right door.

I let Parker get the door this time. She seems excited.

“It’s a room for hosting guests. Living room, sort of, but without any distractions away from the conversation.”

The door opens smoothly to reveal the White Parlor.

It’s very, very white.

The walls are as white as I’ve ever seen, with no variation in shades in the edging. The hardwood floor is the palest wood I’ve ever seen, covered with a large rug in an intricate geometric pattern of white on white. Even the furniture is brightly white couches, facing each other across from a white coffee table. Even the curtains are silky white.

“Oh this is weird.” I say.

Parker is walking around the room already, and I decide to circle it in the other direction. There are two noticable standouts in the entire room, on the walls without the windows.

One is a painting, in the darkest of black inks and as densely painted as anything I’ve seen. At a glance I assume it to be simply a black square until I see the details outlining a painting of the house I’m standing in, done as if under a moonless midnight sky. Weird to have something so dark in this blinding brightness.

The other item is a grandfather clock. A big one. It’s all white wood and black trim, and taller than I am. There are carvings up and down it, of... prancing rabbits? Leaping, bounding, sitting, and sleeping. Kinda whimsical for such a big clock. The face of it behind the numerals is a mirror, and I can see my face in it. Addison Kinley in the mirror is tired and confused, but interested. It’s not an expression I see in my mirror very often.

“Clock’s stopped.” Parker comments, startling me enough to make me jump. Like one of the rabbits on the clock I guess.

I glance back at her, then at the clock. The arms aren’t moving after all. I hadn’t noticed while looking at the strange design.

“That mean it’s broken?”

She laughs, “No, not at all. My parents had one like this. You just pull those two chains down below to raise the weights, and start the pendulum swinging.”

Following the instructions I do so, and it begins ticking rhythmically.

“Now you just move the hands to what the time is right now, and you’re good. Keeps going on it’s own for a while, but you’ll need to pull the chains back up again every so often.”

Checking my phone for the time, I set the clock properly before I stand back to look at it again. It’s weirdly satisfying.

“Guess I own a fancy old clock I have to babysit.” I muse to myself.

-

Cutting through the foyer and up the stairs, Parker and I locate the Master Suite. It’s around the same place as the White Parlor but on the second floor.

Stepping in, I find that suite is a very good description. The first room is a lounge of some kind, with large glass-paned double doors to either side standing open.

The decor is much more normal than I expected after the parlor. Regular wood paneling and a thick lush carpeting.

What stands out the most is that all of the furniture is covered in fitted plastic. It’s all clean and dust free, but apparently unused.

“I guess Mortimer didn’t sleep here.” I say, but Parker doesn’t hear me. She’d already beelined into the room to the left. Before I follow along I poke my head into the other side.

It’s a bedroom, on the same ridiculous scale as anything else around here. That’s not a big deal by now, but what is more impressive is that the bed actually is almost as large as my apartment was. I’m not sure what size lay above king but this is it.

Parker calls out, “Addison, you should come see this!”

Leaving the party-sized bed under it’s plastic cover, I cross to the other room and look in.

Parker is standing in a tub almost as big as the damn bed. It’s empty, but with it being set into the floor she’s waist height to me. It’s got carved edging, and multiple taps on one side for filling the massive thing.

She looks up at me with slightly sparkling eyes.

“I kinda want to ask if I can come back just for this tub.”

This time it’s my turn to laugh, “I’ll consider it.”
>>
No. 1042893 ID: d98cb8
File 166233609113.jpg - (24.87KB , 256x256 , d07.jpg )
1042893

Crossing the second floor, and climbing the stairs up to the third along the way, Parker and I reach the Art Room.

Heading inside, we find a room with windows across the entire wall letting in plenty of light. There’s curtains and modern blinds attached, showing off the purpose of the Art Room. It was pretty obvious in retrospect.

The room was outfitted for artistic pursuits of all kinds. From easels with canvases, to a drawing table, to one of those spinny tables for working with clay. The room was kitted out for the act of creation, with cabinets to one side that were probably full of materials.

It was all mostly useless to me.

“Maybe I can sell some of this on craiglist.” I remark.

“Not an artist?”

I shrug, “Not really this kind. I did tattoos, a few years back.”

“Oh!” Parker looks weirdly delighted, “Like the one on your arm? Did you do that?”

I respond as I walk over to the drawing table, the only item in the room of interest to me.

“I’m not that good. I’m right-handed yeah but it’d still be stupidly hard to tattoo my own arm.”

I wrap my hand around my bicep and my tattoo as I continue, “This was done by the guy who taught me. Apprenticed to him for a while.”

“Didn’t work out?” Parker asks sympathetically. I’m not sure if she interpreted it as a relationship gone bad or what, but I’m not going to correct her. It’s not something I really want to discuss right now.

“Something like that. Let’s move on.”

Parker seems to know when not to press further.

-

Downstairs to the first floor again, we stop by the Black Parlor. It’s located at the opposite corner of the house from the white one.

I meet Parker’s eyes, pausing before opening the door.

“Wanna bet on what it’ll look like?” I ask.

“Absolutely not.” She answers immediately.

With a twist of the knob, we enter the Black Parlor.

It is... almost exactly as I fucking expected.

Pitch black walls, pitch black curtains, and the darkest hardwood floors I’ve ever seen. A black rug that appears to be a perfect copy of the white one, and black furniture to top that all off.

“Okay so, it’s a lot more identical than I thought it would be.” I say while turning to check the walls.
As expected there’s a white painting like a spotlight among the darkness, with the same details barely visible of this house lit under the brightest light.

“Matching themed parlors. Interesting house.” Parker says, before pointing.
“And there’s your matching grandfather clock.”

It’s just as the other one, but inverted. Black wood, white trim. Same rabbits, same mirror. Stopped as well.

“Aren’t clocks like this kinda expensive? Wouldn’t a matching pair be insanely so?”

Parker shrugs, “Ours was inherited, but I assume so?”

Well as long as I’m here, it only makes sense to get this clock started too. The process is easy to remember, and in moments the clock is ticking away.

My face in the mirror shows a smile of satisfaction.

-

We head toward the Library, and as we do I consider the option of getting a stack of papers and putting up signs for myself everywhere. This place is like a maze, and it seems weird that somehow despite the library being right down the hall from the Black Parlor we got turned around and passed through the Rear Foyer. The light filtering in through the windows were violet in the stained glass, dimmer. A storm must be coming.

But we arrive eventually, and push our way in through the double doors into the room.

So I’m not huge into reading, but if I were this place might be heaven. I might even pick it up as a hobby just because.

Parker must be big on books though. She audibly gasps as she takes in the expansive room that extends up into the second floor. The walls are lined with bookshelves, end to end apart from the windows where blinding sunlight filtered in. They’re packed full, all colors and sizes of books shoved in as densely as possible. There’s a single metal spiral staircase up to the second floor where more books are visible behind the railings.

“This is amazing.” Parker whispers.

The center of the ground floor is occupied with a large circular table, with books and papers strewn across it. Multiple lamps sat upon it, and the multiple couches and chairs sat nearby.

But the floor itself was something special. There was no rug here, nothing but the furniture to block the view of what appeared to be a floor made of a single solid slab of marble. It was spiraled, black and white, circling inward toward the center of the room.
I bend down to slide by finger across it, noticing the lack of seams. I didn’t think marble came like that.

By this point, Parker was already standing at a bookshelf and looking at the spines visible, but in looking over at her my eyes are drawn to what I’d initially ignored as a weird chandelier above.

It was a... solar system?

At least, hanging from the ceiling in the center of the room was a model of the globe, of earth. I couldn’t tell from here exactly but it looked like it might have been textured with actual valleys and mountains.
However surrounding it were three other globes, in white, black, and violet. There didn’t seem to be any texture on those, only solid perfect spheres all hanging by metal fixtures. No light sources, no movement. A model of some kind.

“Weirdest library I’ve ever been in.” I say, before considering that I really hadn’t been in many before. Mostly just at school.

Parker’s hands are running down the spines as her eyes glitter. Definitely a book person.

“Find anything interesting?” I ask, attempting to get her attention.

She looks over to me in wonder.

“Addison, you wouldn’t believe the books you have here. All sorts of genres, from fiction to nonfiction. Reference books, modern, classical. Everything.” She giggles, “Never mind getting lost in your house, I could get lost in this room. You’ve got an entire section on mythology and folklore here that would take me years to dig through.”

I plop down into a chair next to the round table, feeling far more relaxed than I had been in a while. Parker’s enthusiasm and company had been far nicer than I expected it to be. This exploration would have been a lot spookier without the blonde woman’s presence.

It stuns me to think that I really wouldn’t mind her coming by again, like she’d joked. I think I could be friends with this nerd.

-

We chat for a while, mostly about the books. Or rather, Parker chatters at me about them and I nod along and ask leading questions.
It’d been an early morning for me, and a long drive and day. I’m glad to get some time to sit and relax. Any thought of asking her what valuable books here could be sold to bring in quick money is immediately discarded. I’m not so cruel as to say such a thing to someone who loves books this much.

But we only get so much time to chatter before Parker checks her watch, and sighs.

“I uh, really need to go. I guess.” She sighs, “Work calls, right? Gotta go do some paperwork, then uh, head home.”

Parker looks deeply regretful.

“I’ve been having fun, but obligations await, right? As much as I’d love to just stick around. You probably want some alone time to settle in as well.”

The chipper mood had faded, and it surprises me to understand what she’s feeling. I get it.

Parker is lonely. She’s enjoying herself, as much as I have, but feels like she needs to go back to being responsible. And she’s worried that she’s stepping on my toes by hanging around. I have no doubt that my semi-permanent case of resting bitch face makes it hard to judge if I want her around at all.

I know how she’s feeling because I’ve felt the exact same way many times in the past, before going home to watch something on TV and eat something I microwaved.

For being such a perky, driven nerd with a career, Parker might be a lot more like me than I thought.

-
If I ask, I might be able to convince her to hang around a while longer. Skip the rest of work for the day, and have fun. Parker probably knows a good delivery place for dinner. Maybe she’ll give me a hand hauling in my luggage. This is assuming I’m reading her right. It could be weird if I’m wrong about it and she doesn’t want to hang out. But On the other hand, it might be nice to settle in alone. I might be winding down on being social, and I still need to locate a bedroom to make mine. I’m probably not picking the Master Suite. Could offer to invite Parker back another day when she’ll have the whole day free. For all I care she can just hang out in my library if she wants.
>>
No. 1042895 ID: e5709d

Settle in. You can't convince the senior lawyers to give their employee a day off, and she'll be busy cashing in the corpo cred for finding the long-lost niece of a high-stakes inheritance.

But spontaneously kiss her, then dance around your new house.
>>
No. 1042927 ID: fce62b

As you said, exploring this place would've been spookier alone, and it'll probably be even worse at night.

Give her a tentative offer. Say that you'd appreciate the company, but if she really needs to head out you both can meet up tomorrow.

Side question about the weird chandelier, are the black and white spheres set up in a similar orientation that the black and white parlors are? If that's the case there might be a secret violet parlor around here somewhere.
>>
No. 1042948 ID: 25edc8

Well, you could offer she come back later. You could take some time to settle in, she can finish her paperwork, then she can come back and you can eat chinese takeout in your ridiculous mansion. :P She could come back another day if she'd prefer.
>>
No. 1042949 ID: 83fb9f

>>1042893
Let her go, but offer her invite to come by on her day off. She already has your number anyways. You have a bed to claim and some food scrounge up. Delivery fee must be wild out here.
>>
No. 1042950 ID: a2d88b

Invite her for another day, and start settling it.
First step: Check the kitchen fridge for expired produce to throw away and still-fresh produce to eat.
>>
No. 1043001 ID: d98cb8
File 166240660753.jpg - (16.45KB , 256x256 , d08.jpg )
1043001

I’m sorely tempted to ask Parker if she can’t just skip out on work and hang out with me. But even if I’m reading her right, I don’t want to overreach.
Plus I don’t want her spending too long around me and deciding she’s sick of my shit and just likes me for my neat house.

“That sucks, it really has been fun.” I offer, “But I get you. Adulting awaits, right?”

I stand up and set down the book she’d handed me to look at while discussing the topic. Some illustrated old text on northern european folklore. I think I see some disappointment in Parker’s expression.

“But,” I add, “I wouldn’t mind company another day if you wanna come around. I’m going to be pretty free for the time being I think.”

She perks up visibly.

“Oh! You wouldn’t mind? When would be good for you?” She asks, immediately interested. I guess I was right to some extent.

I shrug, “Anytime, really. If I’m sticking around here I guess I’m quitting my old job. It sucked anyway. So I’ve got nothing going on.”

Parker raises a finger to her lips and looks up toward the ceiling in thought. Considering options?

“Never been to Wolfport before today, either. I could use someone to show me around, if you’re willing?” I add.

Her eyes sharpen as she looks back at me excitedly.

“I’d love to! I don’t get out enough. I’d be free tomorrow afternoon, would that be good? I’m sure you’ll need necessities, and it would be good to know where everything is so you don’t get lost, and-”

I cut her off gently, “Sounds great. Guess I’ve got some stuff to do today then before we can hang out tomorrow.”

Parker’s smile is genuine, and I decide that I’m definitely gonna try my best to make friends with this woman. I don’t have many at all as it is.

As we leave the library, I glance back to the weird globes on the ceiling. They’d drawn my attention when Parker was looking up toward them in thought.

If there’s a black globe and a white globe, along with a Black Parlor and a White Parlor, it begs the question: Is there a Purple Parlor to go with the purple globe?
If there is, I’ll find it later. I’d try and determine if the orientation of the globes has anything to do with that but for the fact that I’m having a hard time keeping my bearings on the layout of the house.

Assuming the globes haven’t moved, which my memory says they might have. I could swear they were on different sides. If so it’s so slow I can’t tell while looking.

I shake my head and follow Parker out of the library.

-

Somehow despite the map, Parker and I get lost again and end up in the Rear Parlor. It’s annoying to think of circling around again until she points out that the double doors at the base of the stairs should lead through to the front.
They do, taking us down a single hallway with no other doors that connects between. It seems like a waste of a space but for all I know it’s so you can haul stuff right through the house in one straight line.

We do reach the front doors eventually, and I double down on the idea of signs. Gonna get some tape, paper, and sharpies from the store tomorrow. Definitely.

“Thank you for humoring my curiosity about the house, Addison.” Parker says, hand on the doorknob.

I shake my head.

“I liked the company. Really. There’s a lot more to come help me explore, too.”

She laughs and graciously concedes the point as she steps out onto the porch. The swing is still moving back and forth in the breeze, but at least it’s not squeaky or anything.

“Did you want me to lock the gate on my way out? I think it works without the key.” The woman asks, assuming I’m going to stay at the house.

I follow instead, answering, “I’ll leave it open. That’s probably okay way out here on the edge of town. Gotta grab my boxes out of my car too.”

“Do you need some help with those before I go?”

“Nah, I don’t own much.” I respond, before something else strikes me, “But I could use a recommendation on delivery. Know any good pizza places?”

Her confident answer is immediate, “Sasumo’s. Best pizza I’ve ever had.”

My reaction must have betrayed my dubious reaction to the name, because Parker defends the choice before I can comment.

“I swear. Hiroshi, the owner, moved out here when I was a teenager. Straight from Japan, but he wanted to make pizza. It’s the most perfectly American pizza I’ve ever had, and it’s amazing.”

“Okay, okay, I believe you.” I say as I push open the gate and step out, “And they deliver?”

Parker nods, “Anywhere in town. But you might want to tip the driver a little extra for this trip.”

“Fair enough.”

We say our goodbyes, and Parker promises to call me tomorrow. After she leaves, I turn to my next task.

Hauling my belongings into my house, and finding a place to settle in.
>>
No. 1043002 ID: d98cb8
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1043002

After getting turned around again, I find a room only a little off the front foyer that appeals to me.

It’s not a bedroom, I think all those are on the second floor. Only one I know of off the top of my head is the Master Suite and I’m good on that, thank you. The map doesn’t have something legible here, but I think this is probably a living room style deal. It has the benefit of being across the hall from a small guest bathroom, so I don’t have to wander around looking.

A fireplace sits cold and gated off, and there’s a big soft couch long enough for me to lay down on, so I claim it. My laundry baskets go on the floor near the wall, and I wonder if there’s a laundry room here, and if it’s modern or has washtubs. Hopefully modern.
My tattoo machine in it’s carrying case goes in a corner. I’m not planning on doing anything with it but it’s the most valuable thing I own so it doesn’t stay in the car.
A couple cardboard boxes with the miscellaneous rest of my junk sit near another wall, and my TV went on the coffee table that I pushed slightly back from the couch to reach an outlet.

There. It’s home.

In fact the room is bigger than my apartment was, which continues to be weird to me. This is the strangest situation I’ve ever been in, and I used to do drugs and hang out with some real weirdos in my early 20s.

So I acclimatize with a simple thing: After setting up the TV and my streaming stick (and discovering a lack of wifi in the house means I’m using phone data), I sit down and watch some cat videos online.

This relaxes me enough that I can get to the business I need to get done.

First, a call to my landlord to let him know I’m moved out and won’t be renewing the upcoming month. He’s not happy about it, and threatens to withhold my deposit if I fail to clean the place perfectly, in an attempt to get me to stick around.
Since I’ve never heard of anyone getting their deposit back from this jackass in my two years living there, I write that off and tell him this is acceptable. Everything I want is already in this house.

Secondly, a call to my job at Sherrie’s, the restaurant I’m supposed to be at work at about now. The actual Sherrie sold the place probably before I was born, but they kept the name.
I explain I won’t be in tonight, or ever again because I’ve moved. The manager says that I’m making a stupid decision, whines about lack of coverage, and then tells me that if I want my final check I’ll have to come in and get it since he’s not mailing it.
I only have to think for a second to realize I’m only out probably $30 since he paid me the minimum allowed and expects my tips (which he takes 20% for himself) to cover the rest. It’s not even worth the gas money to drive my car back to pick it up even if I thought the asshole would give it up.

Strangely relieved of those burdens, I make it my third task to call Sasumo’s and order myself an extra large meat lovers pizza. The guy on the phone is pleasant and says there’s no issue with delivering out to my house. His voice is faintly accented, and I wonder if this is Hiroshi. I don’t ask.

I’ll handle more exploring and doing stuff like cleaning out the fridge tomorrow.

-

Evening comes, as does my pizza. Thankfully I manage to get out there to the pizza guy without getting turned around, and in return for being cool Jerry gets a generous tip. I don’t plan to order out a lot but I figure it’d be best to not annoy anyone who voluntarily drives out to this place for me.

Food in hand I settle in for the night. What’s left will keep until morning on the side table in my freshly claimed room, and I decide to just put on some mindless TV shows I’ve seen before. I need a thorough unwind.

The hours stretch past, and in the room only lit by the glow of my TV, I doze off.

-

I wake to find my bladder letting me know that I definitely drank too much of the 2-liter I ordered alongside the pizza. Autoplay on my TV has stopped, asking me to confirm if I’m will watching, and I use the light of that to grab my phone and check the time. Almost midnight.

Midnight in a creepy mansion. Great.

But it’s my damn mansion, and it’s not like I was awoken by the ghost of my dead uncle or anything. I’m not really the type to give in to those sort of nerves. Easier to give the world the middle finger.

Heading across the hall, I hit the bathroom. It’s weirdly quiet when I step back out, noting that the heavy door muffles the last sounds of the toilet flushing really well.

After that, it’s silence, in a hallway lit by my cell phone light.

Okay maybe a little nerves. I’ll put on some youtube videos to pass out to properly.

So I push my way back into my room... only to find it isn’t my room. It’s a smaller room, with couches in a circle.

It’s way, way too easy to get turned around in here. I’m lost going across the hall to the bathroom. This is incredibly dumb.

I try the next door over, but it opens onto a room with multiple desks set up with hard wooden chairs. There’s no light coming in through the windows, and I remember it being a new moon tonight or at least so close to it that it might as well be.

“Fucking hell, I didn’t walk that far.”

I step back out, and trail back down the hallway past the room I’d checked before, and open this door.

A pan of my phone light across the walls shows another room that’s not mine, but that was apparent the moment I noticed the lack of TV glow.

This room has lushly paneled wood walls, multiple high-backed chairs each with a single small table with an ashtay on it, and a strange horn shaped hood hanging on one wall. The room smelled rich in a weird way, but it was the sight of a large glass fronted wooden cupboard in one corner that made it click. I’d actually seen one of these before, as my ex was really into smoking.

“A humidor. It’s a cigar room. I have a cigar room in my house.” I sigh, and then get indignant.

“Where the fuck is my room?”

Leaving the smoky smelling room behind, I look up and down the hallway and decide to reorient myself. My room was only three doors down from the foyer, so I’ll just walk until I get to the foyer again and then count the doors back. Easy.

It’s a quiet walk down the hall, and it clicks to me that it’s especially quiet because there’s no ambient noise outside. I’m at the edge of town away from any traffic. I doubt many people are in the local neighborhood either based on the looks of nearby buildings.

I reach the foyer after what seemed like a weirdly long walk past too many doors, and pause. It’s big enough that my phone light doesn’t illuminate much of it, and I consider the lights.

But the only switch I remember is near the doors, and I don’t want to leave lights on all over. It seems silly but I don’t know how much this place costs to power. I can’t afford to light the building just because I got turned around at night.

Tomorrow. Signs on every door. Walls too.

Sighing, I locate the front doors to get my bearings and make sure I’m headed in the right direction, and then backtrack down the hallway and count off the doors. I feel faintly ashamed that I managed to get lost while going to the bathroom.

I open the third door down, my room.

It’s a bathroom. Salmon pink walls, fluffy towels, and a fluffy pink seat cover on the toilet. It’s fairly small and cozy, with a frosted glass window above the tub.

“What the fuck.”

Okay no, this doesn’t make any sense. I feel like I’m being screwed with.

So I try the door across the hallway.

It’s another bathroom. Executive looking, with chessboard tiled floors. Literally chessboard, with symbols of each piece in the opposite color on each tile. The towels are varied black and white, and there’s no tub but a large open standing shower, with a window paneled back and forth between frosted white glass and shaded darkened glass. The fixtures are all polished chrome.

Wait. That doesn’t make sense. Both sides of the hallway can’t have windows. There’s no courtyard or anything, the interior rooms don’t have windows.

My heart is beating in my ears from what feels like an impending panic attack, but I bash that down. I’m not gonna do panic here. I don’t panic.

Instead I decide to get pissed. I’m being fucked with.

I don’t know how or who, but I’m being fucked with.

So be it, assholes.

I walk with a determined pace back down the hallway, not bothering to count off the rooms. I’ll begin at the foyer and I’ll turn on the lights and just open every damn door down the hall until I find my room. And then I’m staying there until morning. I’ll figure out what to do after that.

I reach the foyer, thoroughly annoyed, and make a beeline straight for the switch next to the doors. I tell myself I shouldn’t have to turn on the lights to deal with this shit.

When I reach it, I discover that somehow that choice has already been taken away. The switch is gone.

I eyeball the front door, and consider sleeping in my car.

But my stuff is in here, as well as my blanket and pillow. Plus I’m pissed off at this now. I was always told that getting angry and stubborn was a bad habit but in this case it drives my footsteps forth as I walk back to the hall to begin opening doors. There can’t be that many in my house, even if it feels like a maze.

But when I enter the hallway, I find a lack of doors. There simply aren’t any on either side, heading back into the darkness beyond what my phone light can show me.

“Fuck you!” I call out into the darkness, before heading down the hallway.

It goes on for far further than I thing fits in my house, and I wonder if maybe I’m on some prank show. Maybe someone hauled me to a TV set with moving rooms while I was passed out, and this whole mansion deal was a lure in to film the dumb waitress being lost and scared.
If so I hope I’m ruining the experience. I probably should have read all the paperwork to make sure I hadn’t signed up for something stupid.

I keep expecting any door to appear, but instead I find myself walking out into what seems to be the foyer again, from the other side.

I walk out into the middle of the large space, staring out into the room only lit by a single LED on my phone.

“What the fuck do you want?” I call out into the darkness.

Nothing answers. The house is as silent as the tomb. Which I decide is a dreadful metaphor in this situation.

I raise my voice and shout out.

“If you’re trying to get me to leave, fuck you! I quit my job, I’ve given up my apartment, and I’ve got nowhere else to go! I’m staying!”

The silence drags on, and I grit my teeth.

“I inherited it, so this is my home now.” I say to myself, a lot quieter.

A click sounds from across the room.

Raising my phone in that direction, I see the double doors between the stairs are standing open. They definitely hadn’t been before.

If I’m being haunted, whatever it is just gave me a clear message of where to go, and I might as well follow. So I head through toward the Rear Foyer.

However, instead of a hallway connecting the two, I find myself in a large circular room.

My light pans across, and I can see two couches facing each other in the center of the room, with a coffee table between. The floor is hardwood, with an intricately patterened rug centered beneath the furniture.
It’s all in shades of purple. Even the wood floor, which I didn’t know came in purple.

I’d wondered about it, and now I’d found it. I’m guessing this is the Purple Parlor.

I look toward the walls, expecting the two things the Black and White Parlors had, but am surprised to find two grandfather clocks at opposite sides of the room. They’re both a deep purple color, but one has black trim while the other is white.

These clocks don’t need to be restarted. They’re ticking steadily, easily audible in the otherwise silent house.

A wobble of my phone light draws my attention upward, and I see the ceiling. I found the picture.

The ceiling is slightly domed, arching above the room gracefully. The painting on it isn’t the same monocolor as the other rooms, however. It’s a full mural of the house, in blacks, whites, and purples. Vividly done, it’s hypnotic to look at with a strangely 3D depth to it.

As I stare up in wonder, I hear another click that draws my attention back down.

The doors across from me were open, leading to the Rear Foyer. This time I can see more than darkness beyond, as the light of the moon outside shines through what I recognize to be the violet stained glass of the rear door. I’d remarked on it as we passed by.

However...

There wasn’t a moon out tonight. It was pitch black out there. If so then what’s that light?
I feel like I’m being lead somewhere, but where? And why?

What other choice do I have, beyond following this?

But as soon as I wonder this, I hear a click behind me. I’m getting kinda sick of those by now.

As I whirl I see that the room around me has four more doors, in opposite sides of the room around me. With those, the clocks, and the foyer doors this gives me a sort of eight-pointed compass in this room.

But the noise hadn’t been any of those opening. It’d been the front door.

I look across the Front Foyer, and see the porch. It’s lit by a light above, and the doors stand open for me. It’s an offer, another choice. Along with the other four doors.

The question is, what door do I take?

Exit out into the night air and take a breather, try any one of these doors around me, or open the rear door lit in purple?
>>
No. 1043010 ID: 1717a4

Purple means progress, onward!
>>
No. 1043047 ID: 25edc8

Anything set those four doors apart from each other? Assuming nothing particularly attention-grabbing, I'm leaning towards purple door; seems the most likely to get you to the bottom of this.
>>
No. 1043074 ID: 6f9ed3

Time for the purple door. This is no time for being a quitter.
>>
No. 1043076 ID: e5709d

Open the rear door. Time for answers.
>>
No. 1043081 ID: 83fb9f

Just take a quick breath of fresh air outside. Keep the door open by staying in the door way. Count to 10. Try the rear foyer again.
>>
No. 1043260 ID: d98cb8
File 166269580944.jpg - (12.57KB , 256x256 , d10.jpg )
1043260

Looking around, I consider the four doors in the room around me and decide against trying any of them. They all look identical, which makes me feel like the house is taunting me somehow. I’d half expect those to end up just circling around each other or something.

The front door is tempting, if just for a breath of fresh air, but that feels like it would be giving up after all of this shit. I’ve come this far, and I might as well keep on it. Assuming this isn’t some whacked out nightmare, I want answers to what I finally admit is probably some supernatural shit going on.

The glow coming in from the rear door casts a perfectly straight line of light extending almost all the way to the Purple Parlor. As I tread this path I can see nothing to the sides, not even the floor. It could be a yawning void for all I know.

My feet cross the wooden floor in moments, and I grasp the doorknob firmly. I don’t see a lock on the door, and I didn’t expect to. If I’m being lead in this direction, I’m not going to be suddenly stopped now. So I turn the knob, pull the door open, and step outside.

There’s a strange feeling of tension in the air as I cross the threshold, as if I’m pushing past resistant of some kind. It shivers across my skin, making me feel fuzzy and slightly off-balance.

This feeling is almost immediately forgotten, as I look upward at the weirdness.

The moon is out, the purple glow of it lighting what should be the back part of the property. Instead there is a path stretching back into a deep forest beyond, much deeper and denser than the nature preserve I’d spied in it’s place before. The entire tableau is moderately creepy on it’s own, lit by a violet night sky.

What makes it weirder is the roots.

There are tree roots visible poking up through the ground all over. They’re huge, practically as big around as the typical tree is usually, and they seem to follow the path out as if guided to grow under and alongside. They all have one originating point though.

Right next to the house, towering above me, and above the house itself, is one massive tree. It has deep purple accents to the wood, almost black in places, and it’s simply too big. My mind struggles to put the size into perspective. A hole big enough for me to walk into crouched was visible as a black pit in the base of it.

“Whoa.” I mutter to myself, reaching up to rub my eyes as if to make the strange view go away.

The view is almost forgotten for the immediate when my right hand enters my view. It’s wrong.

I blink at the whiteness, tinted purple in this setting, processing with confusion what I’m looking at. Is that... fur? I reach with my left to poke at it.

My left hand is the same, but in black.

Fur.

Fur on my hands.

“What the flying fuck?” I ask, a weird panic rising in my chest. I’d dealt with the house stuff and being lost, but that was something screwing with me from the outside. This was something changing not the world around me, but... me.

My hands rise to my face, and the feeling is strange. It’s fur on fur, across my face. As I cross my eyes I can see it as I attempt to stare at my own nose.

My heart is pounding now. Something has happened to me, is happening to me, because I came here. Because I couldn’t just turn around and walk away. Because I insisted on going onward.

There’s a quiet noise ahead of me, loud in the silent night.

I focus ahead, toward the sound. Coming from the base of that tree. Coming from that hole in the trunk that could lead anywhere. I take the immediate excuse to panic about anything but whatever has happened to me.

Out of the hole in the trunk comes a dim shape, of blurry white. It resolves gradually, until finally stepping out of the trunk and into the moonlight.

The small bunny girl looks toward me, a frown on her face and hands on hips, and exclaims.

“It took you long enough!”
>>
No. 1043262 ID: d98cb8
File 166269583424.png - (731.91KB , 1189x2048 , d11alice.png )
1043262

The bunny in front of me was wearing a dress.

Okay back up. The bunny in front of me was a girl wearing a dress. A brown and tan dress with white frills, to match her white fur and long flowing white hair. With a body that was definitely, obviously female despite being a bunny.

And white bunny ears. I’m really getting caught up on that one. Definitely a bunny.

In fact the most colorful part of her was her eyes, in a vivid luminous purple. Those eyes looked at me from a face showing exasperation at something I’d done.

“What.” I ask, confused. My panic had drained into a sort of mental sludge from seeing this girl, leaving me feeling wobbly both physically and mentally.

She strides up with a self-assured pace, small bunny feet unclad with any shoes or socks. I think to myself how weird that one is.

The bunny peers up into my face and remarks, “Hm, you don’t look quite right.”

“I’m sorry?” I can only try as an excuse.

She shakes her head, her ears wobbling back and forth as she does.

“I felt the manor shuffling about and figured you were getting up to something, but you weren’t. Having a hard time in there?”

This is definitely a dream at this point. I look down at my hands again, one black and one white, both clad in fur.

The bunny sighs, “Looks like we have a lot to discuss, Addison. You like coffee? Let’s head to the kitchen.”

Sure. Coffee sounds good, little dream bunny. I’ll accept that. But...

“I don’t know where the kitchen is.” I answer honestly. The inside of the house was a maze.

She points to the door I’d just come out of.

“The kitchen is right through those doors. Don’t worry about that. As soon as walk through, I guarantee it’ll be the kitchen in there, and you won’t be worrying about that.” She points at my hands, “Come on now.”

Heading toward the door, the bunny girl glances back and adds, “I’m Alice. I really have been waiting a while.”

-

It was as Alice has said. The moment I opened those doors it was the kitchen on the other side, exactly as I’d left it that afternoon. My hands in the brightly lit room are as human as ever, as if it was only an illusion.

I’m quickly sat down by the bunny, who orders me to sit and try not to pass out, telling me that if I do she’ll have to leave me where I am due to my weight. I decide to not have anything to say about my weight.

As I sit, Alice pulls a coffee maker out of a lower cupboard, reaching up to place it on the counter. So follows a tin of coffee grounds, before she grabs a stepstool I hadn’t seen next to the fridge.

She obviously needs the stool, as by my guess Alice is maybe three feet tall, tops. Ears might give her an extra few inches on top, maybe. It makes for a strange site to see her puttering around in my human-sized kitchen, making coffee and getting out mugs. Her motions are practiced and rote.

Finally Alice comes over to the counter and sets down two mugs full of black coffee before dragging a stool close. It’s almost as tall as she is, but in a single hop she gracefully leaps up to land casually on it. Her paws smooth out her dress before she picks up her mug.

“Ahh, missed this. It was so inconvenient with the manor locked up.” She says as she takes a sip.

I lift my mug, looking down at it.

“Don’t like it black?” She asks before shrugging, “Can’t help you. Tossed out most everything before we locked up.”

“Black is good.” I take a sip. The bite of it clears my head a little. The kitchen makes this less surreal and more just odd.

“Good, good. Now I bet you have a lot of questions, Addison. Where do you want me to start?”

I ask the obvious, “How do you know my name?”

Alice smirks. A smirking bunny rabbit. Weird.

“I knew your uncle my entire life. It’s not like we didn’t see his death coming and prepare for it. The will was written and ready, wasn’t it?”

“Oh. Huh.” I respond lamely.

“Might have been able to stretch it out longer, but Mortimer figured it was his time. I helped him with the will, we cleaned up, locked up, and he took his leave.” She explained as if this cleared up anything at all.

“That cleared up exactly nothing for me. What ARE you? What was happening to me?” I ask.

“I’m a rabbit. A bunny. Leporidae. Order lagomorpha.” She answers laconically.

“Do I need to repeat what I just said?”

After a sip of coffee the rabbit girl answers, “Okay yes, more detail. I’m a void spirit, a rabbit, and as of today your assistant. The other situation, let’s shelve for the time being. I’ll explain that later. For now it looks like it’s time for cosmology 101.”

“Sure.” I respond insanely. I’ve yet to find something to really get a grasp on, to have something to ask. There’s too many questions to know where to start.

“So where you’re from,” She begins, “Would be the mortal world. Pretty simple, you’re familiar with it already. But there’s two overlapping worlds, of yin and yang. Those are populated by spirits, cultures alien to you, all of that. Usually depicted as black and white, or alternatively blue and red respectively. With me so far?”

“The fucking black and white parlors.” I comment.

Her eyes brighten, “You catch on quick. Please don’t cuss.”

“Wha-”

Anyway, there’s a third world. In a matter of speaking. It’s more of a shadow being cast by the mortal world by the brightness of the yin and yang worlds. We call that the void. Sort of a neutral zone.” She points toward the door we came through.

“That was this void, out there? Why’s it purple?” I ask.

She shrugs, “Red and blue make purple.”

“Oh.”

“Moving on, there’s one more important location here. The manor. It’s a bit special, obviously.”

“I think I caught that.” I say annoyed.

“It’s a connecting point between all the worlds, that’s what makes it special. Anyone can pass through here between worlds regardless of their powers or limitations.” She spreads her tiny paws apart to emphasize the anyone.

“That doesn’t sound good.”

Alice nods, “Obviously ripe for abuse. So every one of these connecting points has to have someone to protect it, keep it safe. Manage travelers. That’s you now.”

I stare at her for a moment, processing all of this. Assuming this is true and I’m not just insane or dreaming, which is still an option, that sounds like a whole lot more than I fucking signed up for.

“And what, this just gets dumped on me? Do I even get a choice in it?” I demand.

Alice’s eyebrows raise as she cocks her head.

“Did you or did you not sign the paperwork to accept responsibility for the place? And to get out of the back door you must have declared yourself to the manor as well. Plus I hear there’s a dream even before all of this. Goddess asks you if you want the job.” Alice shrugs, continuing, “Seems like you already said yes multiple times.”

Oh. She makes a decent point. I wasn’t warned about all of this, but I did basically decide to accept whatever shit I’d have to deal with then I inherited this place. It was worth it at the time.

Was it still worth it?

“This is screwing with my head. You said you’re my assistant? Why you? Why a rabbit?” I wonder aloud before thinking that this might be a bit of a rude way to say this.

The rabbit in question takes it gracefully, however.

“Usually, a sanctuary like this has a pact with a clan. They serve in keeping the place going, in return for protections under it. In this case under is literal. We have a burrow that sits directly underneath the manor.”

She sips some coffee before continuing,

“As for me, my father was Mortimer’s assistant before me. I was chosen almost from birth to follow in his steps, which I’ve done for about ten years now.”

“How old are you?” I blurt out. Ten years in service already? How young was she when she began?

Immediately I can tell it wasn’t the best way to ask such a thing.

“Despite my looks, I’m thirty-three. We age slowly, as will you now that you’re the new guardian.” She primly comments.

“You’re four years older than me.” I remark blankly.

“Yes, yes I am. Respect your elders, please.”

I open my mouth to retort but can’t find something good to say. This is a weird situation so far. So I resort to a different line of questioning.

“The house, uh, manor, was fucking with me. Moving rooms around and shit. Why?”

Alice frowns, “Language please. And it’s... Well it’s complicated. Might be easier to show than it would be to tell. Are you about done with your coffee?”

I down the last of it and set my mug down, only for Alice to scoop it and hers up and hustle over to the sink. There’s a stepstool directly underneath that she pulls out to reach the taps and efficiently rinse and set out the mugs on a nearby drying cloth.

When she sees me raising an eyebrow at this, the diminutive bunny remarks, “Cleaning now means less later.”

After patting her paws dry, Alice hustles to the door with me in tow.

“Okay, so I assume you’d like to get back to your room for now? Maybe get a little sleep and look at this fresh in the morning?” She asks.

“Sure, yeah. It’s pretty late. Part of me hopes I’ll wake up and this will all have been a dream.”

This got a smile from the rabbit.

“Well I’m going to clap my paws, and that door will be set to where you need it to go. You just need to focus as I do it, and we’ll get you back to your bedroom. Which one did you pick?”

Chagrined I answer, “Uh, a living room on near the front foyer. It had comfy couches and I didn’t want to explore too much yet.”

“Hm. Well okay. It’s your home after all. Now focus on it and I’ll do my magic.” She holds out her paws.

I think about my chosen room, and long for my pillow and to wrap myself in my blanket and just sleep this weirdness away.
Alice looks toward me and I nod.

She claps her paws together, and I open the door.

My living room is right in front of us.

“Magic?” I ask.

Alice laughs.

“I’ll explain that in a moment. You look absolutely beat, so get a lay down. I’ll answer whatever questions you want to ask before you fall asleep.”

What do I want to ask Alice about? The spirit worlds and the void? Uncle Mortimer? The responsibilities I’ve got now? What other magic is out there? Alice and her life? The other bunnies? What about what was going on with my body? The options are open, the only thing I’m about to learn for sure is how she gets around in the house.
>>
No. 1043294 ID: e5709d

"You said this place was a connecting point between worlds. How are those formed?

Do I have to act as some kind of party host for negotiations between Yin and Yang ambassadors?

Please tell me there are smoking hot girls who have been conscripted as Yin/Yang agents and will rent this place out.

... Okay sorry. But seriously, how many wards do I have to maintain? And am I in a roguelike dungeon crawler or a farming sim?"
>>
No. 1043295 ID: 41e37d

You just drank a mug of black coffee; I was under the impression people do that so they DON'T fall asleep?

Practical questions:
Are there any urgent issues coming up?
Any surprises I should know about?
Less practical questions:
What's the best and worst thing about this job?
Is Alice ok with having this job chosen for her, from birth?
What was Uncle Mortimer like?
>>
No. 1043333 ID: db478f

Ask how you can contact her once you wake up and are ready to continue. And maybe why you looked like a bunny when you were outside
>>
No. 1043400 ID: d98cb8
File 166284019126.jpg - (12.87KB , 256x256 , d12.jpg )
1043400

Walking in, it occurs to me that despite claiming the whole house as mine, this was the only room I’d felt at home in yet. I’d need to fix that if I’m planning to stick around. And probably also start calling it a manor, like Alice had been. Better than ‘mansion’.

For a moment I worry about sleeping after a cup of coffee, but I don’t usually have a hard time with caffeine after work so I should be good now. It’s been too long of a day for that to keep me from crashing.

“Okay so, how did you-” I begin, before spotting that I didn’t have Alice’s attention at all.

She’s standing in front of my TV, still turned on and showing the hold image from my streaming stick. I hadn’t spotted her tiny white tail until now, but it was very subtly vibrating. Alice seemed enraptured by it.

“Is this your TV?” Her voice was excited, interested.

“Uh, yeah? Why? Is there not one around here?” I ask.

The little rabbit turns, her eyes shining to match her tone.

“Mortimer had one in his study, but it’s an older CRT. What is this, 40 inches? What streaming service do you use?” Alice rambles out.

“Uh...”

She lights up in a blush, with it showing through the fur on her face. I know she’s older than I am but it’s actually kinda adorable.

“Sorry,” Alice says, straightening her dress, “I don’t get to uh, go out. So I watch TV. Sorry.”

I flop down on the couch unable to hold back a smile.

“Straight up, I don’t get out much either. Not a lot of money working as a waitress, and I don’t have a lot of friends either. That’s life sometimes. I’m guessing your issue is more of the um-,
I wave vaguely at her, “Bunny thing?”

“It does make it hard to swing by Walmart.”

Eyeing the rabbit, who’d hopped up onto the other couch with her tiny footpaws hanging off the edge, I concede that even there she would probably stick out. Probably.

I mean I HAVE seen some real weirdos there...

Instead of pursuing that train of thought, I change tact.

“First things first, Alice. How’d you control the hou- the manor? Can I learn that?”

She smirks, “I’ve got good news for you then. You’ve already learned it.”

My eyebrows are raised.

“I’ve got no control over the manor, Addison. All you this whole time. Only the guardian and anyone they form a pact with can move rooms.” Alice says, scooting back on the couch to lean against the armrest.
Her little brown dress rides up a little before she smooths it back down. I guess it’s hard to wear pants or shorts with leg like that. Makes me wonder if she sews her own clothes or if there’s a bunny dressmaker around here.

“I’m pretty sure the building was fucking with me though. Looping hallways, moving around. Can’t say I clapped MY tiny little paws together and magicked things around myself.”

“Such mockery sounds like jealousy to my ears,” She says primly, “But really, you were. The manor responds to your intent, to your will. You just made contact to it before you were aware what you were doing.”

“You’re telling my I wanted to be fucked with?” I ask.

Alice’s eyes roll, and I remember her comments about language. Maybe etiquette is important to the rabbit.

“I’d bet you spent a whole lot of time thinking about how confusing and maze-like the manor is. Wondering if you’d pick the wrong room next door you open.”

Ah fuck. She’s right, isn’t she?

I spent all damn day convincing myself how hard it was to find anything in the house, telling myself it was too complex and mysterious. I got the mysterious part right. Was all the rest just stray thoughts?

“Shit. Then how were you doing it? How do I get this under control?” I wonder.

Her paws come together in a little clap again, and Alice smiles.

“That? Just a little acting. Easier to convince you that I’d directed the manor than it was to explain it. You believed me, so you believed that the room was where it was. Your intent made it so.”

My hand meets my face as I see it. She reassured me repeatedly that the room would be exactly as I expected, told me to expect it. Convinced me to expect it.

“Okay, you’re good.” I admit.

“Thank you. Won’t need to do any more of this though. You’re aware of it now, and by morning you’ll have enough connection to be able to do it on purpose. Hopefully not on accident either.”

By morning. Assuming I don’t wake up to find this was all one very weird meat-lovers and coke fueled dream.

The more I talk to Alice the more I think that I truly don’t want it to be a dream. My life is becoming far more interesting now. Plus she’s pleasant, if a little concerned with me cussing.

“Okay, so then what?” I ask, “What happens from here on? Am I going to be renting the place out to travelers? Do I host receptions in my weird parlors? Anything urgent like magic wards or something I need to maintain?”

She waves a paw dismissively.

“Nothing important right now. The manor is secure enough day to day, and generally considered neutral territory. You’ll learn as you go for anything else.”

Alice continues, “That’s what my purpose is. You need help, I’m here to help.”

I look at the dutiful little bunny, and wonder about her.

“Do you... enjoy your job, Alice?”

“Hm?” She looks quizzically at me.

“You said you were chosen for this, from birth. All you do is what, act as assistant to whoever’s in charge of this place? Did you ever want to do something else?”

Alice leans back on the couch, thoughtfully. Contemplative. She doesn’t immediately respond. I let the silence stretch out before us.

Finally she answers.

“My kin and I, we’re void spirits. That’s what happens when yin and yang spirits form a pact together, share their power evenly. It can be a personal thing, just two spirits together, but in our case it was two tribes of rabbits from either side. They formed a group pact, changed themselves and all of their descendants.”

She taps her cheek right beneath her left eye, drawing my attention to the vivid purple irises. The same color as the moon outside.

“This makes us... close to mortals. Still spirits, but free in a different way. Most yin and yang spirits don’t really understand it. Some of them really don’t like it either. So we live in the void and do what we can to protect ourselves. The burrow is beneath your manor for that purpose, as a pact that grants us safety in return for our service. Puts us with one foot in the mortal world.”

I nod, “Makes sense so far. But... you?”

My implied question doesn’t hang for long before she continues.

“We’re craftspeople. When we’re not tending to the gardens or the greenhouse, my kin create things. Woodworking, metalworking, pottery, sculpture, needleworking, art... almost anything like that. We’re very very good at it. Where do you think all your furniture comes from?”

My attention is drawn down to Alice’s finely sewn dress, then further down to the exquisitely upholstered couch she’s seated on.

“Someone has to act as assistant, as liaison between my people and the guardian. You can’t just send whoever. They need to understand humans properly. So the assistant is always trained from birth. They live in the manor, they learn how mortals think, and they use that knowledge to keep everything running smoothly.”

“Pretty good reason to have an assistant.” I say, leading her forward. The living in the manor part confused me slightly, as Alice hasn’t been inside when I arrived.

“It is. I do enjoy it, actually. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be living in the burrows, practicing my craft of choice, and going for long walks in the forest to lounge under the sun when not working. It’s not a bad life, but I can’t imagine it for myself.”

“I grew up in here. First at my father’s side as he helped Mortimer, and then it was my job. Mortimer, his bonded, mediators and other mortals passing through. Sometimes spirits from either side. I met them all and helped them along the way.”

“So I don’t really have much in common with my kin. I know humans. I love humans, and human culture. Every bit I can get of the outside is...”

She sighs.

“My only regret is that I can’t go out there. I only get what comes to me.”

Alice smiles at me.

For the second time in a day, I see someone lonely who’s hiding it behind a brave face. Perhaps even hidden well enough that she doesn’t see it herself. I don’t know what I can do about helping with that.
But maybe there’s something I can do for her.

“Well if there’s anything you want that can come to you, I can probably help.”

“That’s what Mortimer always said.” She responds with that same smile, but the look on her face says that she may have been disappointed in the past.

Alice claps again, hiding those feelings, “Probably enough for tonight. I need sleep as much as you, and we can pick up tomorrow.”

“Sure, sure.” I say, “But uh, how do I get ahold of you tomorrow? Go out back and knock on the tree? Or wait, you have a room here right?”

Alice laughs.

“Oh no, I’m making it easy on you. The manor is still in flux until you sort it out, so I’m sleeping in here tonight. Spare blanket please.”

She points toward my clean laundry basket where my spare blanket is, the one I use in winter to make up for my shitty apartment radiator. I scoot down the couch enough to lean over and grab it, and toss it over.

I didn’t intend to bowl over the girl, but I’d also somehow forgotten to take her size into account. She’s tipped over entirely under it, with her upper body buried under and feet in the air. I catch a look at white panties covering her furry white butt, and can’t help but laugh.

A moment’s struggle later and Alice is upright and straightening herself out with a flustered look on her face.

I shrug sheepishly, “Sorry?”

Alice shakes her head ruefully, and after I turn off the lights and my TV we both lay down on our respective couches to sleep.
The day’s excitement quickly overwhelms me, and sleep drags me down into the darkness.

Hopefully she’s still there in the morning.
>>
No. 1043401 ID: d98cb8
File 166284021396.jpg - (15.26KB , 256x256 , d13.jpg )
1043401

Alice is still there in the morning.

I wake to sunlight peering in through the windows, a morning warm enough that I’d kicked my blanket off at some point. The couch had been unsurprisingly more comfortable than the mattress I left behind.

Still gently asleep on the other couch is the little white rabbit, her nose twitching slightly. If the warmth of the morning light had gotten to me, it made sense to see Alice’s blanket pushed down as well, showing her splayed out with her rumpled dress riding up way too far. She seems to be far too much interest in propriety to be flashing panties at me, but I’m guessing it’s probably difficult to sew dresses that fit over those thighs comfortably. I stifle a laugh.

Sitting up to check my phone I discover it’s closer to noon by now, and realize that I don’t really know what happens from here.

So I sit, and relax. Think.

My life went from boring to interesting in the span of a single day. The world is apparently much bigger than I’d thought, and I’m now maybe an important part of it. All of these revelations given to me from the mouth of an adorable little bunny girl I could carry under one arm.

I have to remind myself that Alice is a few years older than me, despite that.

The quiet is broken by my cell phone buzzing on the coffee table, insistently notifying me of a phone call. Hopefully not my (now former) landlord with something to whine about. I can’t think of anyone else who’d call me.

“Mmm nya,” Alice mutters to herself as she sits up, rubbing her paws against her eyes. I judiciously don’t remark on her dress situation as she blinks and stares at the wall.

Instead I grab my phone. It’s a local number that I don’t recognize. Time for the usual routine of telling yet another telemarketer to fuck off and remove me from the call list.

“Hello.” I answer, annoyed tones as usual.

“Oh, you really always answer your phone like that, don’t you?”

The voice on the other end of the phone is the chipper upbeat tones of Parker.

“Uh, hi Parker. Sorry. I get a lot of telemarketer calls.”

“Those!” She exclaims, “I get you now. Used to get a lot of those, I even had to change my number!”

I blink the remnants of my quiet morning mental fog out of my head as I look over toward Alice. She’s fully upright with her dress straightened out, already hopping down off the couch.

“Yeah I probably should. I just woke up, sorry. Little groggy.” I mutter.

“Did I wake you?”

“Nah, just relaxing. I was up late last night. What’s up?”

The rabbit is stretching, her arms above her head with back arched. It only emphasizes her weird legs. What’s that called again? Animal legs. They bend all weird.

“Well you said you wanted to hang out. I thought I’d give you a call, see when you’re available?” Parker asks, hopefully.

“Uh, dunno. Had a busy night handling stuff. You wanted to go out shopping?”

“I’m sure you want to go out shopping too, right? You’ll need essentials, Addison! It’s such a nice day out too, you can see Wolfport.”

Parker is a very enthusiastic morning person. It’s sorta hard to not at least let that sunny disposition brighten my day a bit.

“And then you can come by and look around my library some more, right?” I take a shot in the dark. It’s not a hard shot.

She laughs, “Am I that predictable?”

“Well you were pretty clearly into it. Is this your cell phone number?”

“Yep, this is me.”

“Okay,” I get up and stretch too, “Lemme get myself cleaned up and I’ll text you in a bit. Deal?”

“Mmhm, I’ll be waiting!” She laughs as I hang up.

Alice seems to finally be as awake as I am, and looking toward me for answers. I try to sort out what I mentioned of the day before beyond ‘long day’.

“A friend?” She asks.

“Kinda? Shit I don’t know yet. She’s the lawyer who signed over the house.”

Her eyebrows climb, “You’re going to go shopping with this lawyer?”

I sigh.

“Sit down for a sec and I’ll explain.”

Last night Alice told me a bit about herself. I can at least summarize the long day I had. So I do.

-

“You quit your job AND gave up your apartment before you even got here?”

Alice’s expression is incredulous. I can’t quite blame her.

“Yeah well, shitty job and even shittier apartment. It was a risk but... not that bad.” I sheepishly respond.

This time it’s Alice’s turn to sigh. She’d listened to my story with at first a look of interest, and then incredulous disbelief. Her arms were crossed beneath her bust, which weirdly made it more noticeable that the tiny rabbit has bigger boobs than I do. At least for her height.

“I cannot believe you. First that, and then you wandered right into your pact. I’d assumed that you’d found a note your uncle left in his study, or something!”

She throws her paws up in the air, “But no! You got the clocks working by sheer happenstance! No wonder the manor was bending to your will so quickly, when you’d already unlocked most of it by yesterday afternoon. Sheerest luck.”

“Sorry?” I offer.

Alice laughs.

“No, I’m not- I’m just a little shocked. The bond would have settled into place on it’s own eventually once you claimed the manor, but you moved it along faster. I’ll admit it’s nice to be let back in after being locked out for a month.”

I hold a hand up, “Okay you’re gonna have to explain part, or all of that. Bond, claim, you mentioned pact, and you were locked out?”

She nods, “There’s a bond to the manor you get when you claim it as you own. You signed off for it, you announced that it was your home, so you’re the Guardian now. That’s your bond, and it gives you control over it.”

“Now your pact, that’s what connects you to us, to the kin. It gives us protection under you in return for the service, marks you as our own. Makes it to other spirits can see our connection.”

“Lastly, the clocks. They’re linked to the pact as a sort of security. If nobody’s holding the pact, the passage from the mortal world is locked. If the clocks are stopped, the passage is locked even with a pact. No exceptions. Everything needs to be in place to restore the manor.”

I put that together in my head.

“Okay so, I started the clocks and opened the doors, and that... turned my bond with the house into a pact? Did I not get a choice in that? Why were you out there instead of in here, if you live in the manor?” I ask, before one last thing popped into my head,
“Is THAT why I had fur on my hands when I was outside?”

Alice shrugs.

“That’s how it works. Take up any complaints about the pact with whatever ancestor you have who made it originally. I was out because Mortimer secured the manor when his cancer was in it’s final stages. He didn’t want me stuck in the manor for however long it would take to find you, and he was right to do it. We’ve been locked out for more than a month.”

She stands again, and points toward the door.

“As for the fur, well if you want to get the manor straightened out properly we can step out back and I can show you. Sorry to say part of your end of the pact is looking like us. Personally I think it looks nice on you, far better than Mortimer.”

“You’re telling me I turn into a rabbit when I go outside now?” I demand.

“You look like yourself AS a rabbit. To be clear. Only in the spirit worlds too.”

“That’s-” I begin, but decide not to make a rude comment about looking like a bunny to the bunny girl, “Different.”

Alice shrugs, pointing to the door again.

“Regardless, how about we sort out the manor first?”

“Sure, yeah. I think I’m okay waiting on checking out my bunny form though, thanks. No offense. It’s just a little strange to me. How do I do this?”

“No offense taken,” She graciously allows, “It’s fairly simple. You should, if you focus, be able to feel the layout of the manor. Where the rooms lay, where the hallways are going. They all have a location they belong in, and you’ll be able to feel that. It’s as simple as focusing, and telling the the manor what to be.”

“Simple. And random thoughts aren’t going to screw me over?”

“Not now. Your bond should be secure now. Just focus.”

Alice didn’t tell me what to do beyond that, but I feel myself drawn to place my hand on the door to my comfortable little room. I close my eyes, and focus on the map of the house that I’d seen the day before. It was actually sitting folded on the coffee table.

Right before I wonder if getting out the map would help, I feel it in my mind.

The manor blooms forth in my head, a web of rooms and hallways and hidden secrets. Every nook of it is there for me to touch. Every hallway is just a line between two points. I can feel it there for me to touch with only a thought.

It’s a complete mess.

The hallways are a tangled knot, looping around and in on themselves all over, with rooms shoved in wherever. Some of them don’t even look to be connected to hallways at all. Other rooms are chained together on after the other in loops. There even seem to be ghostly images of extra rooms that feel strange to brush past.

“The fuck?” I say out loud, eyes still closed. Alice mutters something about my language.

There are a few things that feel like they’re in place like they should be. The Black and White Parlors in their corners. The Purple Parlor in the center. The doors, one leading to the front yard, and the other leading out the back.

I spot those extra doors from the Purple Parlor, and look at what was past them.

My mind shrinks back from a feeling of absolute horror. A never-ending chain of rooms, identical, extending into all directions. Infinite. Even the way in isn’t visible from that side.

I’m fucking glad I didn’t try THOSE doors.

Pulling back from all of that mental exploration, I feel at the manor, feel for what Alice said I should be able to find. It’s obvious once I’m focused on it. Every room and hallway has a place where it should be. It’s a far better map than any blueprint.

It only takes a push. The manor wants to be in order.

Everything slots into place, right where it should be. At least in my head.

I open my eyes and look down at Alice. Her paws are on her hips as she waits patiently.

“I think I did it?” I say.

“Sounded about right.” She says, opening the door. The hallway outside is exactly the one I expected to see. I breathe a sigh of relief.

“Sounded?”

She puts her paws up behind her ears and wobbles them.

“What do you think these are good for, Addison? Heard it just now, as I heard it last night. That’s why I went outside to check.”

“Okay. Magic bunny ears. Now what?” I ask.

Striding out into the hall, Alice turns to me and smiles.

“First, I’m going to go to my room, open a window to air it out, and find a change of clothes. Then I’m going to gather some folks up and we’re giving this place a cleaning, stock the pantry. I’d appreciate it if you’d hold on moving any rooms around for the time being?”

“I hadn’t been planning to.” I admit, “But uh, I was going to be letting Parker come by later. Will I have to tell her she can’t?”

The smile lighting her face is triumphant.

“I’m delighted to say I get to leave that decision to you! You can do whatever you want about guests. If you’d prefer to keep regular people out you can. If you want us to hide while she’s around, we can do that too. You could even move rooms around while she’s here so Ms. Parker can’t wander across us.”

Alice adds, “Or you can just introduce us.”

I can’t see my own expression but it’s obviously incredulous at this last option.

“Am I even ALLOWED to do that?”

“Absolutely.” The white rabbit responds.

“Not that there’s anyone to stop you even if you weren’t. But not only are you allowed to, you’re encouraged to it. A Guardian needs mortal allies just as much as spirit allies.”

“No demand of secrecy?”

“We’d prefer you don’t try to march spirits around on the evening news of course,” She says, “But beyond that, it’s your choice. How do you want to handle it today?”

Before I text Parker to hang out, it seems I need to make a decision. A) Do I tell Parker I’d prefer not hang out at the manor with her, keep her out for now? I know it’ll disappoint her, but it might be a good idea to draw a line between the rabbits and Parker for now. B) Do I invite Parker to visit, but keep the spirit stuff hidden and have the kin all clear out for the afternoon? I actually kinda like her as a person and I’d prefer not to be lying or hiding such a big thing the first time I hang out with her. This feels like it might disappoint Alice to be told she can’t meet Parker. Feels like she misses being around humans. C) Do I invite Parker by, and just introduce her to Alice? Alice would be delighted, but I’m not sure what Parker’s reaction would be. She seems like she might accept the weirdness, especially with how taken she is about fantasy novels, but I’m not sure about that. If she was it might make my life easier in the future. I’m not too worried about her trying to tell others about me having bunny people living on my property. It’s a story too insane to believe.
>>
No. 1043433 ID: 41e37d

I think B leading into C. Hang out with her for a while, get at least a little better feel for who she is, maybe ask some relevant "hypothetical" questions and so forth, and if it feels like a good idea, drop the explanation bomb. ...And maybe mess with her a bit first, moving rooms around and such, haha. ;P
>>
No. 1043449 ID: 41e37d

Side note. I wonder...if we could get Alice a computer. :3 Or like, a phone or something, anyway. Also, this manor needs wifi.

Oh, on the note of buying things, actually, ask Alice what Mortimer did about money. Is this a paying gig? :P
>>
No. 1043569 ID: 83fb9f

B. It would only do you good to make friends. When you got things settled down and you two are alone in the library you can maybe bring up how wild the world is sometimes. Gently probe the idea of there being more to the house then you thought.
>>
No. 1043621 ID: a2d88b

I say B for today.
You'll move on to C once you have established trust a bit further.
>>
No. 1043666 ID: d98cb8
File 166306097580.jpg - (19.16KB , 256x256 , d14.jpg )
1043666

I’ve got a feeling that I’m going to be spending a long time living alongside this girl, so I decide to stick to as delicately tactful as possible. I’m not against Parker and Alice meeting after I’m sure it won’t be an issue.

“How about when Parker comes by I’ll scope it out first? I’ll see if I can’t figure out how she would react to this whole situation. I’d rather not make the only person I know in Wolfport decide to block my number.” I admit truthfully.

Alice nods, her ears bobbing a bit. She doesn’t look disappointed by this answer. I have to pause and wonder if maybe she was scoping me out to see what I would say, rather than hoping for a specific answer.

I’m as much an unknown quantity to her as she is to me, I guess.

One last thing occurs to me, “By the way, how did my uncle pay for stuff around here? It can’t be cheap to keep the manor running.”

“I told you already, Addison. We’re craftsfolk.” She says as she turn and begins to walk down the hall, “We sold furniture, porcelain, antiques. Go check in the study.”

Alice turns the corner at the end of the hall, and her cottonball tail disappears out of sight along with the rest of her, leaving me with that. I guess I can’t expect her to lead me by the hand everywhere.

-

After a shower, change of clothes, and general freshening up, I fire off a text to Parker letting her know I’m ready when she is. Her reply asks me to give her fifteen minutes, so I decide to burn that time by heading up to the study as Alice recommended.

It’s easy to find now. The entire manor sits in the back of my head like a glowing map, free to view and inspect with only a moment’s focus. At my new assistant’s request I don’t poke at the arrangement of the rooms or try to change anything. Instead I simply walk.

The study is a more obviously lived-in room than any other I’ve seen so far. Shelves occupy one end of the room holding what appear to be binders full of paper and notebooks, with a large ornate desk nearby. Finely polished wood is barely visible under the papers piled on it. Strangely out of place is the office chair pulled up to it, with a box sitting on the seat of it.

Glancing over the papers, all I see is... business. Of some kind. Receipts, shipping invoices, things like that. Stuff I’ve got no idea how to process.

One thing does stand out when I look at it all, and that’s the handwriting. The stuff at the top of the pile is written in handwriting worse than my own sloppy scrawl I use when taking orders at work, but the rest is really easy to read with nicely printed block lettering.

It doesn’t take a genius to add the handwriting and the box on the chair together to get one small bunny doing her best on the paperwork in place of my uncle.

“Fucking cancer.” I remark at the room, remembering what Alice had said about how he passed away.

Turning to look around, I spot a second desk in the other corner, shoved up against the wall. It’s smaller, though not in height, the top completely occupied by a computer. A very, very old computer.

One of the big old monitors with a glass front, with the computer box up next to it on the desk. It’s all in that old tan plastic you saw on computers twenty years ago.A keyboard and mouse complete it, and I swear it’s an old ball mouse.

THIS is what Mortimer used to sell furniture and stuff? I doubt it could play a youtube video without exploding. The fact that it still runs feels like a miracle. I don’t even own a computer but I would still not use this thing.

The closest to new on the desk is a small cellular internet router, one of those ones you pay monthly for wifi you can take on the road. This one’s plugged in with an adapted into the ancient relic. When I check the screen on it I find it’s a prepaid monthly amount of all of 2GB of data.

At the least, I’m going to need to get proper internet around here. I’m not living without streaming services.

But before I can even finish doing a search on my phone for that, it rings. Parker’s number shows up after I’d added her earlier.

I answer, “Hey Parker.”

“Oh, you’re much cheerier now!”

“I am?”

“Eh, kinda?” She says, “I guess? Anyway, sorry about the wait. I had to make a call for work, one last thing to settle. All done for the day, the weekend even!”

“Shit, the whole weekend?” I ask. Feels weird to me to consider getting two days off after only working to just past lunch on a friday. Sort of thing that never happened for me.

“You sound surprised,” Parker laughs, “But yes, sometimes people get time off.”

“Never heard of it.” I deliver in a deadpan, only mostly joking.

“Sounds like I have plenty to teach you then! And I’m jumping in the car just now, be there soon. Eaten yet?”

Suddenly I’m very aware of my empty stomach. I’d had a few slices of pizza yesterday evening with some coke, and beyond that only a cup of coffee in the middle of the night with Alice. I’m absolutely starving.

“I could really go for some food. The pizza place was good though, yesterday.” I add. Parker would be glad to hear it.

“I’m glad to hear it! Sasumos rocks but it’s not really breakfast, so we’ll stop somewhere else. Then you need groceries and some basics. Anywhere else you want to drop by?”

Hmm... Where do I need to go? Beyond the basics and maybe looking into an internet connection, what IS there to go see in a new city?
>>
No. 1043670 ID: 83fb9f

Why, the nearest shopping district and surrounding area of course.
Your budget is a little tight but you can start actually shopping for more than just the essentials now. Maybe pick up a cheap web book. (Super cheap laptops for surfing the web.) So Alice can start selling things again. Plus a streaming stick (ChromeCast, Amazon Fire, Ect) and a wifi range extender. All cheaper things.
>>
No. 1043693 ID: 41e37d

Rummage around and see if there's a stash of money. Ask Alice about it otherwise, and also confirm quick with her if there's a protocol with it, balancing ledgers or whatnot. If there's a budget that can acceptably be used for this purpose, it makes sense to get equipment that will serve well instead of serve just-barely.

Re: what to do in new city, uhhhh. I'm an indoorsy person. Ideas: library, museum (art, science, history), bowling, skate park, normal park, drive around and look for anything weird?
>>
No. 1044050 ID: d98cb8
File 166347610665.jpg - (20.54KB , 256x256 , d15.jpg )
1044050

“I definitely want to get internet hooked up here. Can’t run off my phone nets forever. Beyond that uh... Shit I don’t know. I don’t get out a lot, Parker. What do normal people do? Go bowling? Museums? Parks?” I say as I dig through the desk a little.

Part of me was hoping for a little lockbox or something full of cash, as unlikely as that sounds. Maybe a safe hidden somewhere, if they were selling stuff. No luck to be had here.

A bottle of scotch is in a bottom drawer though, with a solid crystal tumbler. Can’t blame the guy for indulging himself I guess, being sick and all.
Unless it was Alice, which is a funny thing to imagine.

“Do you like bowling? Or museums?” Parker asks.

I shrug despite knowing she can’t see it.

“Not really. Used to be a party person forever ago I guess? Quit that shit eventually.”

She laughs, “We’ll figure something out then. Be there in a few, I’m just down the street.”

“Aight.”

Before leaving the study, I consider asking Alice about funds. But it’s not like I don’t have money of my own right now, and it feels weird to be asking about dishing out cash when I haven’t actually done anything to help yet.

Figure that out later. Hang out with Parker now.


-


On the way out, Parker takes a slightly different road than I had coming in, and I get a look at the nature preserve that sits behind my property. It seems to extend a lot further than I’d thought.

I’m not really an outdoorsy person but it might be nice to go for a walk out there sometime. Maybe I’ll learn to like nature more, given the time to actually appreciate it.

Our drive takes us past a small parking lot attached, and I see that a section of the preserve is more manicured, with a lot of grass and trees spread out further. More of a park in this location. There’s walking paths and benches, and a little structure visible just out there.

“What’s that?” I ask.

Parker glances over as we drive past.

“You like plays? Theater performances? It’s an outdoor theater. Most of it’s sunk into the ground to make it into tiered seating. Sometimes they do Shakespeare!”

“Huh. That’s cool.” I comment, “Maybe I’ll go sometime. Are they working on it?”

There’s a couple work trucks parked near the concrete structure, their wheels having torn some ruts in the grass. I can see caution cones nearby.

“No, some vandals smashed up a wall. Probably drove up over the grass and rammed it or something, knocked it over.”

“Fucking assholes.” I can only say. Parker nods.


-


Unfortunately, Parker’s choice for breakfast actually opens later on weekdays than on weekends. I advocated for just grabbing some fast food. Since we’re taking her (admittedly much nicer and less messy) car, we compromised on me getting some fries to go, with promise of hitting up her favorite restaurant in an hour or so when they open.

She was very firm that we were going to sit down and eat a proper meal, but I wasn’t hard to convince.

Thus we ended up at the local internet place first.

“I really would be more comfortable sending a technician out to your home, Ms. Kinley.” Whines the customer rep guy, Bill.

“You said my house was hooked up for cable already. Just sell me one of the internet boxes to plug into it and turn it on.” I counter, “No house call needed. I don’t want to pay for it.”

He shakes his head, annoyed. I don’t think he’s supposed to be so obviously annoyed at a customer. Against the rules or something.

“We don’t charge for initial setup, so it really would be better-”

“Why?” I ask.

He sighs, “The service hasn’t been hooked up for almost a decade. There could be issues with the lines. It would save you a trip if you’d just agree to have someone out there. We could do it tomorrow.”

“No thanks. Give me the box, and if it has any issues then I’ll consider a service call.” I say firmly.

Half of my reason is that I don’t want to risk some random tech seeing something weird. The other half is that these places always find a way to slip a secret fee in even after they claim it’s free. No thanks.

In the end, Bill caves and I’m set up with internet. He does attempt to upsell me on a bundle but I’ve got a streaming stick already. I’m good.

“Are you going to need extenders for your house? It’s a bit big.” Parker asks me as I toss the box into the backseat.

I consider the logistics of wifi coverage over a building that has a negotiable relationship with space and distance.

“I’ll figure that out later.”


-


We settle on walmart for necessities. I’m not sure what food I’ll need to have around considering Alice mentioned gardens, but I decide I can’t go wrong with some soda, microwave meals, stuff like that for now. Easy to drive out later and pick up more if I have to.

Could end up driving back sooner than I expect anyway. I’m not sure I even saw a microwave in the kitchen, and I’m not living without one of those in the house.

“Are you sure you don’t want to freshen up your look a bit?” Parker asks, looking toward the clothing.

She’s advocated at least twice that we could stop by a proper clothing store, since both times we’ve met I’ve been in jeans and a t-shirt. My clothing habits have become apparent. This is fine for me though, I’m comfortable in it.

If she had her way, Parker would probably put me in a fashionable yet casual dress like she’s wearing. No thanks. Nice comfortable jeans for me, and my boots. Even my old manager folded on letting me wear slacks as a waitress.

Instead of clothing, I pause in the entertainment/computers area.

Don’t have one of my own. With my phone and my TV that’s all the internet access I need, as long as I have wifi. Video games aren’t my jam either. But...

On display are a bunch of laptops. Plenty of them are expensive as hell, worth months of pay at my old job. Kinda silly to spend that much on a laptop I think as I browse idly down the row. Parker is down the aisle looking at the bargain bin DVDs with interest.

One at the very end catches my attention.

Cherry red, decently sized. Cheap, but not in a bad way. It’s just a bit below average for a laptop I think. About as good as my phone if the ram is anything to go by. Well within affordable.

I hold my hands out to the display model, and imagine myself holding the coffee mug last night. I think about Alice’s hands (paws?) holding her own mug, identical to mine. I compare sizing.

“Hey,” I call out to the guy working the nearby counter, “Can I get one of these?”

I point to the laptop.


-


“The fuck did you say this is called?” I ask Parker, eyeballing the sandwich I’d ordered at her insistence.

Her eyes glitter in amusement, having convinced me to go with one of her favorites at Eggingtons. Despite it being named that, we end up having lunch instead of breakfast.

“It’s a Monte Cristo. You dip it in the jam, it’s delicious.”

“Ham and cheese in jam does not sound delicious.” I argue.

“It is when it’s deep fried in batter, Addison. Try it! If you don’t like it you can get something else, on me.”

I hesitantly lift the weird, weird thing and dip it in the jam. I’d been expecting breakfast and not whatever the heck this is.

“Hope this isn’t just an excuse to get yourself two sandwiches without saying you want to order two.”

She snorts in amusement. I take a bite of the monte cristo.

It’s really good, damnit.

Parker smiles expectantly. I take a second bite. Her smile turns into a grin.

“Fine, it’s good. I give.” I say.

“Told you!” She triumphantly proclaims, before switching topics.

“Anyway, how are you liking your new house, Addison? Picked a bedroom? The big one maybe?”

“God no,” I say between bites, “Way too big for me. Didn’t actually pick a bedroom yet, just claimed a living room with some nice couches near the foyer.”

“Really?” Parker says dubiously.

“Really. Room’s bigger than my old apartment, it’s not like I’m feeling short on space.”

She points at me, “That’s why you need me to come by. I’ll help you spread out. Claim your house as your own.”

“Manor, I think. Bigger than a house, smaller than a mansion.”

Parker laughs.

“Addison Kinley, Lady of the Manor! I love it.”

I pick a small french fry from my plate and throw it at her for that comment, eliciting a laugh and a motion as if to return fire, though Parker doesn’t do it and kicks my boot under the table instead. She picks up her sandwich.

“Anywhere else you want to go after this, or back to your manor?” Parker pronounces the final word with a slight amount of snark.

“Enough shopping for one day for me, thanks. Still want to come wander around?”

“Absolutely.” Parker says.

There’s a pause in the conversation as we both dig in, and I decide there’s no better time to begin prepping her toward maybe introducing her and Alice. A hypothetical of some kind would be a good idea, maybe?

How should I approach this?
>>
No. 1044067 ID: e5709d

Hit her with a sidewinder that happens to conform to confirmed biological sciences.

"Mortimer had a secretary. Woman-butler-maid. Whatever. And it's so creepy but he groomed her from birth and her father was totally okay with it. I have no idea why he didn't fork the place over to her, but she keeps telling me she won't contest the will as long as I give her a place to crash."
>>
No. 1044075 ID: a2d88b

I think it's not time to introduce her yet.
Perhaps on some other day when the manor is not under cleanup, you can introduce her to your secret with proof at the door.
>>
No. 1044078 ID: 83fb9f

Even she has to admit that the rooms just scream fantasy design. Stark black, white and purple parlors? Seems like it came out of a book like Alice in wonderland. There's something kinda magic to it once you get past the confusion. Ask if she believes in magic.
>>
No. 1044179 ID: 663c95

Oh, hah, takes place in the same area as Unbalanced, huh?
>>1044078
Something like this, yeah - "I keep half-expecting to turn the corner and see the White Rabbit running late with his pocketwatch, haha." Maybe, "I keep getting lost; it feels like the place is rearranging itself when I'm not looking." You might also speculate about ghosts, leading into "Do you believe in ghosts?" It's not directly relevant, but that seems a more normal question to ask than "Do you believe in magic", and is close enough to still help gauge. Though really, we don't care so much whether she BELIEVES in e.g. magic than how she'd REACT. In relation to the library, you could ask about her favorite books, what she likes about fantasy novels, etc.
>>
No. 1044353 ID: d98cb8
File 166375459680.jpg - (15.86KB , 256x256 , d16.jpg )
1044353

Deciding to segue into it a little, I veer back into discussing the manor.

“Honestly, I found myself getting lost repeatedly last night. All those inside hallways are surprisingly easy to get turned around in.”

“Is that why you claimed a living room to sleep in?” Parker asks with a wry smile.

I shrug, “Comfy couches and there was a bathroom across the hall. One I still got lost trying to find in the middle of the night.”

She chokes back a giggle, mouth full of sandwich.

“Seriously,” I continue, “It felt like a completely different building at night. After seeing those clocks I half expect to see a white rabbit with a pocketwatch turning the corner ahead of me.”

This was generally true, which meant it felt less weird saying it. This morning was after I saw the clocks, and I do expect to see Alice in the manor. Don’t know about a pocketwatch though.

“Really makes me wonder what sort of person your uncle was. Themed black and white parlors, all of that?” Parker says.

“Oh there’s a purple one, too. In the middle of the manor.”

“Why purple?”

“I don’t really have a good explanation for that.” I shrug, “Maybe it’s just magical? Has another two grandfather clocks in it.”

“Your manor is getting past interesting and into silly, Addison.”

“I know. For all I can tell it’ll also turn out haunted. You believe in that sort of thing?”

I take a shot in the dark at approaching the idea of weird supernatural shit. I’m definitely not going to flat out tell her about the weirdness but maybe I can prime her here.

Parker’s reaction is a wistful sigh.

“God I wish. It’s hard to just believe in the supernatural, but I so want to. Wouldn’t it make the world so much more interesting? Assuming it wouldn’t be horrible or grim, like so many TV shows want to paint it these days.”

“So you don’t believe, but want to?” I ask curiously.

“Well there’s no proof, right? How would anything like that really stay hidden?”

A question I’m wondering myself, after Alice’s full endorsement of meeting my new friend.

“Good question.” I admit.


-


“You’re going to need a second trip, we can’t haul it all in one go.” Parker says, eyeballing everything I’d picked up out of her trunk.

“Psh, I got this. Toss the cable box on top.”
I motion with my chin toward it. She does, and grabs the last couple grocery bags to lead the way up the path to my front doors.

“Locked?”

“No,” I admit, “But probably should be.”

Just as Parker walks through the doors ahead of me, I consider that maybe I should have found a way to warn ahead. What if Alice or someone was in the foyer?

Thankfully there isn’t, but the place has definitely been cleaned in my absence. Floors are freshly polished, shining. Fresh flowers fill the vases against the walls, and the air is clean and devoid of any smell of dust from the open windows.

“Wow, big change of mood in here.” Parker remarks, looking around.

Considering the belongings I’m holding, I decide to drop all the groceries on the floor there in the foyer, and come back for them in a moment. It takes some shuffling of my arms to do so without dropping the entire armload.

“Yeah uh, cleaning service. Turns out my uncle had one.”

Technically true.

“They came back that fast? No scheduling?” Parker looks surprised.

“Just about as soon as I opened the doors, really.”

“Nice.”

We dip into my temporary room to drop off stuff, which gives Parker a laugh to see. The fact that I chose to not sleep in the master bedroom, or even a bedroom at all, amuses her to no small extent.

“I guess it’s cozy and easy to find.” She hides a smirk behind her hand.

“Maybe I just don’t want to sleep in the same bed my uncle died in. I’ve got no idea which one was his really.”

As we put down my stuff, Parker looks toward my cases in the corner. Textured metal and black siding, with large clasps to hold them shut.

“What are these?” Parker asks.

“Tattoo machine, and inks, other stuff. Haven’t touched it in forever.”

She lifts the lid on the larger of the two cases, which I could have sworn I’d left latched shut, and peers inside. The wound cables and equipment is all tucked into place like it should be, which probably makes it even harder to tell at a glance what it is.

Lifting the iron, she asks, “Tattoo gun?”

“Not a gun,” I reply forcefully, almost on autopilot, “The iron, on a tattoo machine. Guns don’t make art. A tattoo gun is one of those things you see hacked together from a ballpoint pen and an electric razor, with piano wire. Below even amateur work.”

“Oh!” Parker looks taken aback, looking back at it before setting it into place in it’s case.

“Sorry.” I say sheepishly.

She closes the case carefully, and latches it with a solid couple of thunks before standing up to smile at me.

“You take it seriously, huh?”

“Did once. Shit happened. I gotta go run the groceries to the kitchen, you wanna head on and go dig through my library? I’ll just be a minute.”

To my relief, Parker seems to graciously understand that I don’t really want to talk about the tattoo stuff right now. It’s a slightly sore subject. Maybe if I get fucking drunk or something first.

“I didn’t just come here for your house, Addison, so don’t go vanishing on me. No getting lost!”

I nod and we part ways for a moment.


-


Entering the kitchen, I’m struck by a delicious, buttery garlicky smell, and a sizzling noise. It’s unexpected enough that I pause in the doorway with my laden arms.

Alice is up on a stepstool across the kitchen, large wok on the stove and spatula in hand, stirring something that smells fantastic. She’s contentedly humming to herself, and glances over toward me. Her outfit today is a lot more comfortable looking than the stuffy looking one from last night, being a soft looking blue dress.

“She sounds nice!” The rabbit comments without leaving the stove.

I walk to the counter and plop the bags down, giving her a look.

“What?” She asks.

“Were you spying? And what would you have done if Parker followed me to the kitchen? Leave a meal half cooked for me to explain?”

“I wasn’t spying, I just have very good ears. It’s my job to know what’s going on.” She responds casually.

“And the cooking?”

“Obviously you just move me to a different itera- Oh.”

“Oh?” I demand.

Her face colors in a blush slightly under the fur, an interesting effect.

“I didn’t explain how to do that. I’m so used to Mortimer handling it constantly, I’d just forgotten. We should probably go over that later.”

I sigh. Some of my annoyance drains immediately at seeing how embarrassed Alice was about this.

“So you weren’t like, trying to get seen on purpose?”

“No!” She exclaims, “I wouldn’t. It’s your decision, I wouldn’t try to force it. Was just making something to eat. Vegetable stir fry.”

“Oh.”

Alice snorts a little, adorably in her own way.

“I’m stuck with you for the foreseeable future. Trust that I’m on your side, Addison.”

I sigh, and put away the groceries.


-


Returning to the library, I find Parker standing in the center of the room looking up toward the globes on the ceiling. She seems to be concentrating very hard, with a book in hand but ignored.

“What’re you looking at?” I ask, eliciting a slight yelp from her as she spins around.

“I could swear they move, but I can’t seem to spot it happening. Maybe it’s really slow.”

I look up at the globes as well. They’re definitely in a different spot, but I could swear the metal holding them in place looks like it’s attached very securely to the ceiling.

“My house is weird.” I comment to her.

“Like something out of a story.” She agrees.

Glancing down, I see the book she’s holding. It’s something about the history and practice of tattooing. Go figure I’d have something like that in this massive library full of stuff. Parker catches where I’m looking and shrugs a little.

“Thought I should read up before I asked any more about tattoos.”

Okay so maybe she didn’t get that it was a touchy subject, and misunderstood it to just be me being prickly about specifics. Fantastic.

Honestly, it might be a good idea to just tell her about my issues in the past there. It'd be nice to tell someone. Alternatively, call for Alice and reveal her. I’m sure at this point that Parker wouldn’t have any issue with her.

A) My past, B) My present C) Abort, ask Parker about herself.
>>
No. 1044361 ID: a2d88b

A (preferably followed by C).
>>
No. 1044371 ID: db478f

This is an option to move on. B. Still slowly ramp into it. Remark that those globes probably are moving. We just can't understand it. Likely something magical. How have Alice bring the stir fry.
>>
No. 1044376 ID: 3525a6

If you're confident now about telling her What's Up, then I guess let's plan to do that before the day is done; no need to delay too long.
>>1044361
A leading into C is probably still a good conversational direction, though.

I'm still quite tempted to mess with her before the Big Reveal, like come up with an excuse to go to a different room, and then somehow end up back at the library several times. :3 Then followed by a laugh, an apology, and an explanation. You'll only get this one opportunity for it, at least with her.

So maybe A, into C, then excuse to go somewhere? Maybe to the kitchen for lunch (if the time has progressed that far) - except then mysteriously you just keep ending back up at the library? Wait, you already had lunch. Hmm. I mean, I guess you could just claim you wanted to show her e.g. the study or whatever. "All of the options" is arguably out-of-scope for one suggestion, though, haha.

Oh also - "How would anything like that really stay hidden?" maybe a good question for Alice.
>>
No. 1045247 ID: d98cb8
File 166470595706.jpg - (6.22KB , 256x256 , d17.jpg )
1045247

Yeah, it’s not big deal talking about the past. It’s just a sensitive topic. It’d be nice to open up. It’s good to talk about things like this with friends. I haven’t been able to tell anyone these things. The story sucks but it’s just a story. It’s in the past. Things in the past are no big deal anymore. I don’t know why I’d feel this sore about the idea of talking about this now. Just because I had a dream about tattooing?

I’m definitely going to tell her. Parker is understanding. She’ll get it.

What if she doesn’t get it? What if she thinks I’m lying?

There’s a chair near where she is, and I wave her toward one while I sit down in the other. Nice and relaxed. Easy.

I’d rather try to convince her of the existence of magic. That’s an easier thing to talk about. I should talk about that.

“It’s- not the tattoo knowledge. It’s different. Shit happened.” I say casually.

Not casually. I can tell.

“Ah, I’m sorry. You don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want to. I misunderstood.”

Parker says as she reaches over to set down the book. My mind flashes back to walking around the store, her checking the time on her phone. The information only an internet search away if she types my name in.

If she finds out on her own she won’t want to be my friend anymore. I don’t want that. I want her to become my friend.

“It’s fine, it’s fine. It’s no big deal.” I say as I stand back up, suddenly uncomfortable. I need to be on my feet.

The last time I tried to tell a friend about this they didn’t believe me. I’m sure Parker will, if I tell her before she finds out from someone else.

I pace toward the wall, taking a breath.

“I was accused of tattooing someone underage. I didn’t do it. But nobody wants to hire on an artist accused of that.” I try for as casual as possible.

It’s been four years, this sort of thing is easier to talk about after that much time. Just a sore spot.

It’s more than a sore spot.

“I’m sorry.” Parker says from behind me, “That must have been tough. Did they sort it out?”

I rest my hand on the wall, breathing steadily on purpose. It doesn’t get to me. Nothing gets to me. I handled the manor turning inside out on me last night. I can handle anything.

I remember things about what happened.

Entering the apartment to find a girl in our bed with him.

Shouted accusations and screaming.

A drunken car ride away. The car in a ditch.

Police officers at my hospital bedside.

The judge, looking down at me disapprovingly.

Hatred on the faces of friends.


My hand shakes at my side and I make a fist to hide it. I’m not weak. I don’t give up. I move forward. There’s no problem with talking about this. I’m fine.

“Addison, are you... okay? You don’t have to talk about it.”

Parker’s voice was coming from close behind me. It’s sympathetic. She can tell.

But she could get curious anyway. The entire story was in the news. She could find out without me telling her the true side.

A) I’ll tell her the full story / 1) I can’t tell her 2) That’s enough for now / B) That’s not the whole story
>>
No. 1045248 ID: e5709d

... Wait.
You can solve this.
You run an inn for superheroes.
Hire a runner to install a supernatural spy-cam on your ex to see if he escalated to serial rapist/killer.

Oh, and (A). You're not a loser. Losers don't have magical mansions and bnuuy servants.
>>
No. 1045249 ID: a2d88b

Tell her the full story. Get it out of your system.
>>
No. 1045290 ID: 08b944

I feel like you've already started it, it's better to finish. IMO. Also - I feel like the more you get to know people, the harder it can be to bring up stuff like this; you worry more about the image you've built up in their eyes, compared to when somebody's only recently met you. If she again says you don't need to talk about it, you could respond with e.g. "I feel like I need to talk to somebody about it." It seems to me like you do - or at least that it could help. At the very least, there's a good chance it'll be a landmine no longer buried between you, a thing you don't have to worry about.

Also, uh - depending on how the rest of the conversation goes, pranking her might be kindof a jarring change of tone, so uh, I guess I'm reconsidering that, or at least making it lighter and briefer, unless there's a more lighthearted interlude first.


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