Ghost Cache

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'Menu' 3.2


Evening Continued

Home of Raphael Whitebuckle, Tanzar, North West Coast, Mrilchift, Riches of Renfros

  • Through repeated practice and attempting new techniques, you have grown noticably better at walking and running.
  • Your Footwork skill has reached tier 4 of Poor rank, reflecting your increased prowess.

Stoni privately smiled as she scoped out the house.  The structure was tidy and simple, with one front door and one in the back.  A flower garden had been planted in front of the house, and there were long rows that she thought must be vegetable beds behind.  It was too dark to determine what was being grown.  Before approaching close to the house, she examined the sandy soil for footprints and other signs of traffic.  It looked as though several people had left through the front door and nothing had disturbed the soil since, which is what she expected to find.  Satisfied that the house was empty, she carefully walked up to the front door and tested the handle.  It was locked.

  • Through repeated practice and attempting new techniques, you have grown noticably better at using and interpreting your senses.
  • Your Observe skill has reached tier 15 of Poor rank, reflecting your increased prowess.

It's not hard to notice that a door is locked, but I'll take it.  Now, is there a spare key under the mat?  Nope, how about a flower pot?  Right, the flowers are all in the ground.  Since I thought of looking there, does that mean I've seen someone do that before?  Maybe I did it before.  Have I lived in a house like this?  I might have.  So, no key, nothing to pick the lock with, no idea how to pick a lock especially using one hand in the dark...  The frame looks way too sturdy to break it down and I really don't want to try that.  How about a window?

Upon closer investigation, Stoni found one of the side windows had been left partly open.  She set her basket down by the door to free her hand to reach inside.  That required her to first move a wicker chair under the window.  Once she had attained the necessary height, she felt a stiff metal chain holding the window from opening further.  She could just barely see a handle for winding the window open or shut, but it was out of reach.  A careful search of the vegetable garden yielded a discarded piece of wire and another Observe tier.  After some amount of fiddling and jostling, she snagged the winding handle and moved it in the correct direction to widen the gap.  That made further progress easier, and she was soon hauling herself inside.

"Of course I picked the window above the kitchen sink," she muttered as she tried to avoid a mess of dirty dishes.  "Now, what I really need is a light source."  She couldn't find any lanterns or candles in the kitchen, so began feeling her way through the dark, silent house.  As she tiptoed from room to room, she noticed a complete lack of creaky floorboards and squeaky hinges.  There was something eerie about the absense of creepy noises.

After a couple of false starts, she found her way into a large living space.  Navigating around the lounge chairs was particularly daunting, as she could easily imagine someone sitting unseen in the darkness, waiting to surprise her.  She stopped several times to listen, but heard nothing but her own breathing and the distant cry of a night bird.  If anyone was hiding in the room with her, they were holding their breath.  Or didn't need to breathe.

That thought did not comfort her at all.

Hoping she was worried over nothing, she walked between the chairs to the log stove around which they were arrayed.  She stepped up onto the stone hearth and reached behind to the mantelpiece, on which she found a box of matches.  Actually striking a match required some creativity.  With her left arm remaining unresponsive, she was forced to squat down and grip the matchbox between her knees.  Holding it in her teeth seemed rather unwise.

The match flared to life on the second strike, revealing bookshelves, glass cabinets of trinket, and most importantly a tall red candle in a holder, waiting on a short table.  She was able to reach it and light it before her match went out.  "Much better."

Now that she didn't have to worry about tripping over or running into any unseen objects, and could actually find things with relative ease, she walked to the front door.  Unlocking it required a key, but a spare was hanging on a hook in the entrance above a shoe rack and below a coat rack.  Unlike most people she imagined might break in, she opened the door in order to bring her basket of items inside and put them away.

"Lucky none of the bottles broke when I fell down laughing.  But it looks like I squashed this cake," she said, looking down at the sticky mess in dismay.  "At least I have bread.  And some sort of... green dip?  Now I wonder if any of this needs to be kept cold.  Do they have refrigeration in this world?  Uhhhh... ALI?  Do refrigerators exist in VIVID?"


"Great, so there's got to be...  Hang on.  This isn't the only world in VIVID, right?  So do refrigerators exist in, uh, Riches of Renfros?"


"Oh."  Stoni felt foolish for having clarified.  "Is there a refrigerator in this house?"

You may determine the answer to that question through observation.

"Right.  That was very helpful," she grumbled.  A cursory search of the kitchen revealed no cold storage, but also nothing particularly perishable.  With no other option available, she left the food and drinks she'd retrieved on the kitchen bench and returned to the lounge.

As her candle's flame danced around, the long shadows danced eerily.  She thought she saw something moving in her peripheral vision and froze.  It was nothing.  She continued and approached one of the bookshelves.  Again, something caught her eye and raised her heartbeat.  It was merely a magazine rack.  Curious, she sat down beside it, set her candle on the floor, and looked through the magazine covers.

"What have we got here?  Mrilchift Miners' Monthly, Richer Riches, North-West Woodcarving, Chef's Companion, Blake's Backyarding, Noble Deeds, Household Lifehacks, Limitless Lifestyle, Military Almanac, and Alternative Armoury.  Quite a selection of useful reading and gossip rags, it looks like."  There was no need to speak out loud, but it was so quiet that she felt more comfortable making some human sounds.  Still curious about the magazines, she picked up a recent issue of Military Almanac and skimmed through the pages.  "Lots of details of army buildups and naval movements, none of which I have any context for.  It's good to know this information is available though.  I wonder how accurate it is.  It could all be propaganda.  It's really interesting that the covers have colour photographs.  Ooh and there's some more colour printing in the centre pages."

She spread the magazine out and held up her candle to get a better view of the snapshots of army formations.  "Some spears and axes but most are armed with wooden clubs.  Some with nails through them.  I'm not seeing any swords at all.  And... is that a tree holding a sledgehammer?"  Peering closer she realised there were more other than human fighters.  "That's some sort of cat-man, and there's a pair of cow-women with blades on their hooves and horns.  So that's a thing that exists in this world.  Um... maybe I need something to drink while I think through the implications of that."

Instead of getting up right away, she looked at the cover of the closest Alternative Armoury.  "Nope.  I'm not wearing that!"  She quickly put the magazine back and took her candle to the kitchen.  "Let's see, where would I keep the wine glasses?  I'm certain I'm old enough to drink, and I've definitely earned it.  Ah!"  She found what she was looking for in one of the upper cabinets and poured herself a glass of something that looked light and bubbly.  "Here's to knowledge!  May it help me rather than hurting," she toasted before taking a careful sip.  "Mmm, that's decent.  I think.  And it doesn't seem too strong?"  She wasn't sure about that, so she munched on some of the remains of the cake before taking a second sip.

"I wonder how old this is."  She picked up the bottle to examine the label.  It bore a picture of an animal skull with a cluster of grapes in the mouth.  "Bottled 557.  Was that a good year for wine?  Who knows?  The remarkable thing is that I can read anything in a dream world.  I'm sure I remember knowing something about reading while dreaming being impossible.  So am I really reading?  Or is this not really dreaming?  This argument feels familiar, but... nope, it's not connected to anything else."  She put the bottle down in the middle of the bench and slapped the top of the polished wooden surface in frustration.  "I better check the bookshelves.  There's got to be something worth learning in there.

A loud thud broke the silence.  It came from the lounge room.



"Is someone in there?"

Still nothing.

Stoni waited a few second for her heartrate to slow.  It didn't.

She had to know what she'd heard.  With measured steps, she approached the doorway between the kitchen and lounge room.  She held the candle out into the room.

Nothing responded.

She leaned forward to peek with her good eye.

Nothing was out of place.  Except...

"A book on the floor?  That's all?"  She looked back and forth between the heavy volume on the floor and the gap in the top row of the shelves furthest from the kitchen.  "But how?"

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