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Okay, with the introduction out the way, it's time to get down to a hard night's snooping. Act 1 of 8. Not even the Germans write plays this long.

Trouble is I don't really have a clue as to where to start. There's this room, which is the one Lillian and Laura are sharing...

...and this one, where Ethel is hanging around. A check of the manual reveals that she's Lillian's elderly mother.

It doesn't look like there's a lot here for us yet, so let's explore the other way.

Outside the bedroom is the back upper hallway of the mansion. Trying to take the vase or the porcelain cat at the back give the response "They don't belong to you", setting the tone for this as a very different adventure from most of the Quest games.

I went into the bathroom by accident by approaching the door - I had expected to have to manually open it. But Laura rather rudely walks in on Lillian as she's at the sink.

Lillian hangs around for a bit here going through quite a detailed animation of washing her hands, drying them and her face and so on before control is taken away from the player for a moment and she eventually walks out of the room. I wouldn't normally think anything of it, but bearing in mind this is a Sierra game, I feel I probably just missed something important.

There's already a very small example of the game's world being "alive" and time-sensitive here - if you try to shower before Lillian leaves it'll tell you to wait. But with her out of the room, you're free to take your turn.


Um. I hadn't expected the camera to remain in the room. That was a surprisingly detailed undressing animation, and absolutely scandalous underwear for the 1920s as you can see almost all of her legs even when they're correctly positioned. After showing her backside to the player, though, the game finally gives Laura some semi-privacy:

Oh, hold on

Well. That's pretty much the Sierra way - killed within two minutes by a mysterious assailant with a glow-in-the-dark dagger, doing something you'd reasonably expect the game to want you to do. At least she survived all the way through the credits - that's quite a long time for one of their protagonists.

And just in that short time span I've probably missed about seventeen vital things happening already - so I think we've better restart with that walkthrough I mentioned.

So here we are again, restored to life. The walkthrough doesn't even have me move out of the room at first - I did notice this hatch on the wall without its help, but I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts at opening it with "open hatch" and "open cupboard" before giving up. Thanks to its guidance, I've learned "open chute" works. (If I had remembered the right-click-look-at function from the first part of this playthrough, I would also have been able to infer "open door" is also acceptable.)

The game comments that it's a laundry chute of some kind, and then leaves Laura in this crouched position - you can't move about as normal, you have to enter a command for your next move. Perhaps this is going to be a secret passage that we'll need later!

...Tossers! What did you tell me to do that for?! Oh... on closer inspection, I was meant to open this chute, do nothing with it and then close it again. I don't know why. Unlike the other Sierra adventures up to this point, there is no visible score in this game but the game's keeping track of what you've seen and what you haven't, so though this seems unimportant, it could be vital later. You know what, the extremely terse nature of that walkthrough is going to make it very difficult to keep track of anyway, so I'm going to use an alternative from now on.

And this replacement walkthrough tells us to restart the game, go into Ethel's room and grill her mercilessly.

Let's ask about Lillian first.

Fairly neutral.

Ooh! As for the Colonel:

Hmm, another potential conflict. Who else is there?

Thanks a lot, parser. You clearly knew what I meant - but nice of you to fulfil your duty of making an adventurer's day a bit more difficult for no reason. I had to go back to my first entry to remember Clarence the Sparrow's first name - he's the Colonel's lawyer.

Oh come on - I was impressed earlier that Celie wasn't an appalling huge-lipped racist caricature, is this game now going to make it so that she's actually some sort of voodoo witch doctor? Or is this just a rumour from a racist old woman? We'll find out.

Finally, asking about "Laura" gives a generic "I don't know what you mean" response, so we're not getting any information about her opinion on us from here.

Well, that was a pretty big dump of information all at once, but I think it can be summed up with the following:

Trusts: Nobody really
Neutral on: Lillian (daughter)
Doesn't trust: Absolutely everybody else

Sets a precedent for what's obviously about to go on here, doesn't it. With that done, the guide now says that we have to go and bother Lillian.

Wow, I wasn't quite ready for that tragic analysis, Laura. I was really just interested in getting a closer description of what she was doing. The walkthrough says you have to look twice, which I wouldn't normally have thought to do but this is Sierra. So:

Hmm. The walkthrough says that it's important to get the scent of Lillian's perfume here, and I tried to time my looking and sniffing with when she was applying it (even just with "sniff" on its own when she was out of the room) but I was unable to get an acknowledgement that I now had this piece of information. Actually, maybe it's in the notebook?

Oh, ha ha. Very clever. Maybe "read notebook", then?

No, that's all it's giving us. All right, then - against my better judgement, I'm going to take it on trust that I've done something here and that I won't run into a sudden dead-end six entries later. I feel I'm going to regret this.

This next part is where things start to get interesting, and also marks the major single thing that I missed in my extended wanderings of the house the last time I played this.

The armoires or wardrobes or whatever they are on each side of the room are movable! When you do this, they swing aside on hinges and Laura walks through into a secret passage beyond.

And if we face north on the little platform and tell Laura to look, we're now looking through the cut-out eyes of the portrait that was described to us when we looked at the Colonel's picture in our room!

This is a bit of an interface strangeness - why would you want to skip important-seeming dialogue like this, when normally you only get the option of flicking through text boxes with the Enter key? But already, we've learned that Gertie isn't actually a blood relative. On checking the manual, I find she's the widow of the Colonel's younger brother (who probably died in an entire separate murder mystery scenario), making her his sister-in-law - Rudy and Gloria are her children. Unlike Gertie, Ethel is a blood relative - she's the Colonel's younger sister. Why the Colonel and his sister are so positively ancient when Lillian is just twenty years old isn't explained - I would have expected there to be at least one generation between them. Did people not have children until they were sixty in those days in America?

So we haven't really learned anything new here - this lines up with Ethel's distrust of that side of the family from earlier, and she thinks they're undeserving of the money because of not being directly related to the Colonel. Well, you old bat, perhaps he just likes them. Still.

You can get Laura to look into the room to the south as well, which produces this animation at the picture with shifty eyes, but nothing's going on with Rudy and/or Clarence yet.

On the west side of the upstairs hallway, it's exactly the same situation. Let's take a look in the room to the north.


Oh, hold on - as soon as the clock disappears, they're clothed again with no animation or anything. Was that a graphical error? Whether I just hallucinated Fifi perched on the Colonel's vast capital or not, something is definitely going on here. Despite Fifi talking about her attraction to him as convincingly as a female character from a 12-year-old's Zelda/OC fanfiction.

A "blade" is an archaic word for an energetic young man according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, but it doesn't know how to spell "colour" or "aluminium" so what does it know.

Too late, though I wish I could un-notice it.

Fifi kisses the Colonel and wanders off, ending the scene. I knew that something was up as soon as I saw her - French ladies are always promiscuous and sexy in this genre, but personally I don't think I could sleep with someone who talks like Poirot.

The same story as before on the opposite side, Gertie and Gloria's room is currently empty.

I thought I had made a massive blunder here when I tried to see if I could open the door north from the secret passage, but when Laura notices someone is in the room the door just slides back again without any apparent consequences.

It's 7:15 now, meaning that a few people have moved around the mansion - not that we've seen much of it yet. Quickly restarting, skimming through the game and trying the actions in a different order, it looks like things are fairly generous with regard to what you can miss at this point - you can even wander into the Colonel's room first where Fifi is dusting around (and 7:15 is declared when you walk in) and then retreat into the secret passage and still get the scene above.

Meanwhile in this timeline, we're now going to go into the Colonel's bedroom for the first time after spying on him and Fifi and wishing we hadn't.

He's alone now, and having a smoke to calm down.

This is another thing that the walkthrough tells me to do, but that doesn't seem to have any immediate importance in the game. We'll see. But now for interrogation number 2!

Okay. Ethel, then?

You don't.

Well, that was even less helpful than the first. All we know is:

Colonel Henri Dijon
Trusts: Don't know, but presumably Fifi
Distrusts: LAURA

To the west of the Colonel's room is a disused box room that the doctor has been shoved into during his visit, with one of those amazing beds that folds up into the wall. Examining most of the room just gives us descriptions of how old and cobwebby everything is, with one standout detail:

Let's have a look through that!

Oh, come on - what kind of adventure game protagonist are you?! You've got too much respect for other people's property, that's your problem. Once again, both the walkthroughs I've mentioned say to look at this bag (though the first one gets its location wrong), but there is no indication from the game that this has done anything at all. Perhaps it's enough to know that the bag was here, or that this is the bag that belongs to the doctor? It's a mystery.

There's also a lift in the corner of the Colonel's room (I was wondering why Laura described it as new-fangled because it's an old-fashioned one with a gate, but remember this is in the 1920s). We can't use it, though, so to explore further we'll have to go downstairs the traditional way.

The chandelier vibrates back and forth on this screen, clearly the chain is on its last legs. I have a feeling this might become a murder weapon later.

And this thing's definitely going to reappear at some point! (No pun intended, sorry to whoever it gets lodged in later)

The walkthrough is directing my attention to the clock on this screen - it behaves in exactly the same way as the armoires from upstairs.

Let's take a look to the north first...

The doctor is there, reading some magazine that's possibly about how to dismember your employer and make it look like an accident, but we won't get any useful information from here. He reminds me a lot of Patrick Moore, although I'm not sure if that's intentional - more likely just because he was the only monocle-wearer who lived into the 21st century.

So let's take a look to the south instead...

It's Rudy and Gloria.

For actual reference this time, "a couple mil" in 1925 is worth close to $30 million in 2017, chiefly because so many furries with weird kinks were created in the 1990s and caused a lot of inflation.

I had been wondering about something along these lines - he mentioned he was bequeathing the money to his immediate and not-so-immediate family at the table, conspicuously leaving out the house's servants - you'd think he could throw them a couple of scraps after their forced unemployment. But that's the way it is.

More like she's wrapped around his... actually I'll stop, sorry.

Here's another interesting bit of information! Clarence the lawyer has something going on with Gloria. Or rather, he had something going on, though he doesn't realize it's over yet. And in the manual's character backstories, Gloria is an aspiring actress despite her conspicuous lack of talent, so I'm pretty sure this new arrangement is a purely strategic one on her part.

And working your way up the Hollywood ladder like that is exactly how you get embarrassing medical conditions!

And with that, Rudolph Dijon Valentino scrolls off and the scene ends.

So, what do we know from that?

Trusts: Gloria
Distrusts: The Colonel, Clarence the Sparrow, probably Dr. Feels, Fifi

Trusts: Rudy, her ability to charm her way into films
Distrusts: Clarence, definitely Dr. Feels, Fifi

This scene moves the clock to 7:30 - it's early days yet, but this clock seems to be a bit more reliable than the one in Amon Ra in terms of moving when the walkthrough says it's going to. I'll have to go and think about some of this before taking on any new information next time.
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