The demon with the burgundy pigtails took a closer look at the dead body of Agatha. She smiled. "Whelp, she's definitely dead-dead." She takes a picture of Agatha before taking a selfie of herself with the dead body.
Charlie looks around the ballroom. The flying shadows had finally left to parts unknown, leaving a large mess in the spacious room. Seeing the danger gone, for the most part, the guests emerged from their hiding spots. Niffty zips around, trying to clean anything. "How could this have happened?" Charlie asked mournfully, clearly heartbroken. Her first masquerade party turned into a horror show.
"How indeed!" Katie said, taking off her mask and tossing it aside. "If I had to take a guess, it would be tall, red, and deery over here. Since the two of you were the closest to the body. And here I thought your hotel was supposed to put an end to those tendencies! Ha-ha-ha!"
Charlie sneered at the news woman. Alastor acknowledge it by narrowing his eyes and moving his pupils to Katie. "I assure you, my dear, that I have nothing to do with it."
"Oh? Then do you know who did it?" Katie asked, drawing closer into Alastor's personal space, face to face. Alastor leans back a bit to make distance, a bad move because of his bad back. He cleverly hides his discomfort.
"Clearly, I don't." He notices Tom with the camera pointed at him. He gives the poor anchorman a frightening sneer. "And take that confounded box elsewhere." Tom squeaks in fright before running off. Katie face palms.
"A crimson tome…" Charlie muttered.
"What?" Vaggie asked.
"Its what the message said. Is this supposed to be some kind of scavenger hunt?"
"Who cares? Let's get the hell outta here!" Angel exclaimed. He grabs the handle to the exit door and pulls it. The door doesn't budge. Angel does it again, with two hands, but it won't move. He pulls again with his second pair of arms and when that didn't work, he uses his retractable third pair. No cigar. Angel pants from the strain it gave him. "Wha…the fuck?"
"Move." Botis demanded, shoving Angel to the side. "Let a real man handle this." Angel glowered at the comment. The Von Eldritch boy firmly grasps the handle and gives it a good tug. It wouldn't move. Botis then tries to push it. Still nothing. Angry, he said, "Piece of shit!" and kicks the door. Out of nowhere a surge of electricity went through and electrocutes Botis. "…fuck…" he was able to wheeze before collapsing, smoking and sizzling.
Angel stared for a moment of shock before saying, "The door's a no go!"
"What about the windows?" Vaggie proposed.
"I got it!" Niffty declared before running in top speed into the nearest window, only to be bounced back as though the glass is made of rubber, crashing into something. "Never mind!"
"…I do wonder what goes on in her little head." Alastor remarked. He squeezes his nails into his hand so his nails can draw blood. His shadowy, equally smiling minions emerged from his own. Without a single word of demands, the shadows go to and find any nook and cranny to find an escape route. There was none. What a waste of blood.
"Ms. Velvet. It would seem they we cannot make hellular connections from inside." a demon said to the pigtail demon.
"Jamming signals, huh? Sounds like that's right up your alley, radio man." Velvet said to Alastor.
"Must I repeat myself? I did nothing of the sort. So, instead of pointless interrogation, why don't we focus our energy on figuring out what is going on, hm? It's clear that we have a mystery on our hands!"
"He's right." Charlie said. "We need to find out who did this to Agatha and why we can't leave. Maybe the clue is in that tome? If so, then it looks like we're going to have to play this game."
"We shouldn't waste time on this silly game." Vaggie said. "We need to get out of here first." A screeching wail echoed around much to the pain of everyone's eardrums. A large shadow emerges from nothingness and grabs the moth demon.
"VAGGIE!" Charlie shouted. The moth girl struggled to free herself but no avail. Then, Alastor digs his fingers into his palm, drawing more blood. With an echoing snap of his fingers, tentacles appeared and pulls Vaggie out of the shadow's grasp before disappearing. Vaggie lets out a shout as she fell before landing in Angel's arms.
"…Thanks." Vaggie said.
Angel shrugged. "Eh. I just happened to be standin' here." He lowers the hotel manager to her feet. "It was Al who saved you, though." At first, Vaggie was shocked and a little grateful to learn that. That Alastor went out of his way to save her.
Alastor chuckled. "Come now. What would I do without my favorite Pun-ching bag? You are the hotel's moth-erly manager, after all. Ha-ha-ha!"
Vaggie's sense of gratitude crumbled away. Of course.
She could hear Angel snickering. He stops when she glares at him. Charlie runs over to her girlfriend and hugs her tightly.
"I'm so glad you're all right." the princess muttered. Vaggie smiles, hugging her back.
"AAAGGGHHH!" screamed an unfortunate demon who was snatched by the shadows and taken up in the air. "No…Please…don't—" the poor creature was impaled horribly by the gothic chandelier, his blood dripping from the spikes.
Everyone else stood there, starring at the red splat on the ceiling. Vaggie and Charlie hugged each other more tightly. Charlie looks at her Vaggie and vice versa. "…I think it's best that we play along." Charlie said to Vaggie.
Angel was the one to notice the dripping blood forming words. With cautious steps, he drew closer to read it. "… 'Without the aid of a mighty crook, you will venture through the maze of athenaeum. To locate the crimson book, find a collection rich of knowledge that lasted a millennium.'" As soon as he was done, doors leading to the other areas inside mansion swung open. Angel blinks. "…Does it have ta be a fuckin' riddle?"
"Well, it's a start." Charlie said. "Question is, what is an athenaeum?"
"The word itself sounds that it came from the name of the Greek goddess of war, Athena." Rosie said, twirling her umbrella around.
"So, what? The book is in some battlefield somewhere?" Angel wondered. "News flash: We can't leave."
"Excuse me, moffie." Katie sneered. "I'm the one giving the news around here."
"It's a figure of speech, ya hussy!"
"What did you call me?" Katie sneered again, now with her extra limbs emerging.
"Ya ain't deaf, ain't ya?" Angel challenged. The two growled at each other before Charlie moved in between them.
"Stop this right now. We have no time to argue." Charlie said. "We need to figure out this riddle so we can progress further in this game so we can get out." She glances up at the carnage still on the ceiling. "Hopefully in one piece."
"A library." Vaggie spoke up.
"What?" Charlie asked.
"I think an athenaeum is a library."
"And what lead ya to that?" Angel asked.
"While Athena was seen as a goddess of war, she was more known for as the goddess of wisdom." Vaggie explained. "The Athens was famous for cultivating many scholars. Is there a library in this mansion?"
One demon rose their hand. "I think I saw one down in the east hallway."
"Then that's where we're going." Charlie said.
"Wait!" Regina exclaimed as she scurried out from her hiding spot. "Let me come with you. I-I don't want to be alone here."
Charlie gives her a warm smile. "You are more than welcome to come, Reggie. Let's go." Charlie said as she heads towards one of the opened doors. Before she could walk over the threshold, she was pulled back by Helsa.
"Take a backseat and have kumbaya circles with your sinners while I win this game." she said.
"Lives are at stake, Helsa." Charlie said as she followed. Vaggie, Angel, Botis, and Niffty trailed behind over the threshold. Alastor was close behind, but before he could walk through, he was knocked back by an invisible force.
"Oh. That was unexpected." Alastor said.
"Al?" Charlie asked, curious and worried.
"Ah! That has answered the 'Without the aid of a mighty crook' part of the riddle." Alastor said. "Apologies, my dear. It would seem that I would not be able to accompany you all."
While a part of Charlie's mind was disappointed that the red stag can't go with them, another part was relieved. At least Alastor can take a break so he could focus on his own wellbeing.
Charlie nods. "Okay. You hold down the fort."
"Good luck, Charlie." Alastor said.