After arriving at the mansion, you are ushered to the Lounge. You introduce yourself to the other guests and sit down. The solicitor walks to the front of the group, clears his throat, and says, “Thank you for coming, everyone. My name is Daniel Harrington, and I am the Solicitor charged with executing the estate of Lord Byron Higsley.”
The lights in the mansion suddenly dim for a moment before coming back to full strength. Daniel Harrington looks around the room, mutters a “humph,” and continues,
“We have an unusual situation tonight, allow me to explain. As you may know, Lord Byron Higsley has not been seen or heard from in over ten years. The authorities declared him to be dead earlier this year. It turns out that, just before he disappeared, he wrote a Last Will and Testament in which he directed that a select group – namely, you – be invited to tour the manor and bid on some of his most valued possessions in the event that he died or disappeared. As I indicated in the letter that I sent to each of you, I do not know how he chose this group of people. I can only assume that each of you have some sense for why he would have wanted you here.
“Included with the will are a number of sealed documents that are required to be opened and read aloud in the event of this auction occurring. It is unusual, but not unheard of, for a will to contain instructions like this. As the solicitor executing his will, it is my duty to read the documents for all of you at the appropriate times. This one,” he says as he picks up an envelope, “is to be read now.”
He fumbles in his breast pocket for a few seconds before pulling out a pair of thick reading glasses. He puts them on and opens the envelope and continues.
‘Greetings and welcome to Higsley Manor, honored guests. If you are hearing this read, then I am most likely missing and presumed dead. Do not mourn my passing, for I have learned the secret that was lost to our forefathers. I have moved on to a higher plane of existence. Despite my apparent absence, my spirit remains here in the manor. It gratifies me to know of your interest in my life and work. I hope tonight that all of your questions will be answered.
‘Ask many questions. Ask good questions. Pursue the answers to them zealously, because this is how we arrive at the truth. This is how I solved the riddles of the Ancient World. The truths that I have discovered must be discovered by others. You can find the truth, and find it you must. The truth is valuable – costly, even. Do not be satisfied with anything less. Many secrets must be revealed.’ ”
Harrington frowns. “Hmm,” he says, “it seems that Lord Higsley had some rather eccentric things to say here. I apologize if this seems unusual to any of you, but I am required to read this entire document.” Harrington takes a sip from a glass of water and the desk next to him.
‘You all have your own secrets – secrets you do not want others to know. You guard these secrets jealously, but you cannot keep them forever. One of you carries an especially troubling secret. One of you is…’ ”
At this point, Harrington drops his glass of water. He begins to sputter.
“Well, in all my years as an executor, I have never read such a thing. Is this some sort of prank? Did someone take the real document and exchange it for this? Where is the real document?” He begins frantically rummaging through his suitcase, flinging its contents about. “This must be the wrong document,” he complains, “Where is the right one?”
After a fruitless search, he takes a deep breath. “If this is the correct document, then that sentence says, ‘One of you is a murderer!’ I promise that I do not understand how this happens and I deeply apologize. Unfortunately, it is the true document as far as I can tell. This means that I have not choice but to continue reading. It next says,
‘Don’t worry, I am not the victim here. A certain Martin Scardale – a journalist and an interesting fellow, is dead. He was murdered, and one of you did it.’ ”
He throws his hands up in exasperation. “How could he have possibly known that Martin Scardale would be dead?”
he demands, “This was written ten years ago!”
He continues reading,
“ ‘You may be wondering how I know that Mr Scardale is dead. It is not the only thing I know.
‘Now, I know what all of you are thinking? How could I have possibly known that all of you would be in my manor when I wrote this will ten years ago? I have already given you the answer to this question. Time is an illusion. My spirit, as I have said, is here in the manor. My spirit will not rest until my question is answered. Do you doubt the power of my spirit? Kindly check the door. You will find that it is sealed.’ ”
After reading this, Harrington stands still for a moment, looking stunned, then doubtful, then anxious. “That can’t be true,” he says, but he is already walking briskly toward the door. In another moment, he breaks into a full sprint. He grabs the doorbell frantically and tries to open it. The doorknob is clearly stuck. He begins pounding the door with his fist.
“The door is sealed!” he yells, “I cannot open it. Who is behind this? Which of you did it?” He continues to pound the door. He tries to kick it open. When he throws himself against the door, you hear the sound of something breaking. The door is still intact, though. You realize the sound was the chandelier on the ceiling coming loose. It falls and lands on Harrington. He is knocked out. You find a note attached to the chandelier. It says,
“No one is leaving here until you have found the murderer. Beware the murderer. Beware the power that resides in this mansion. My soul is watching, and it shall not be satisfied until the truth is known.”