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OUTSIDE

A heavy fog hangs over the wet grass as you approach the front gate, but you can still make out the towering silhouette of the Château de Violon just ahead. You are startled to a stop as the gate creaks open before you. In the distance a high-pitched whistling sound momentarily transforms to a shriek, followed by the soft hum of violin strings.

Suddenly, a voice from somewhere deep in the fog whispers your name...

Welcome...

ENTRANCE HALL

You hurry inside the main door and are met by a large chandelier shattered on the floor of the Entrance Hall. The rug beneath it is covered in dirt and large scorched holes. Two statues flank the double doors ahead leading to a sitting room. Everything around you is coated in a thick layer of dust and cobwebs, but you can see it must have been beautiful in its heyday.

The police received a distress call from the Gardener, and upon their arrival noted there were various scratches and signs of tampering on the outside lock of the main door. 

- WHICH DIRECTION DOES THE MAIN DOOR FACE?
 

That's right!

THE MAID CHAMBERS

As you enter the Salon, you see a large sitting area surrounding a mysteriously lit fireplace and an dust-covered upright piano on the south wall. Your attention is drawn to a short corridor on your left where you catch a glimpse of an enormous golden statue of a man riding an armored steed. You begin moving in that direction when a metal clanking sound startles you. It came from a small, wooden door on your left which opens to the maid chambers. You cautiously step inside. The room is cold, damp, and incredibly small. Clothes are scattered around the room, now covered in a mixture of dust and feces. Suddenly, a large rat scurries across the floor, sending you falling backward out the door.

The maid testified that this Sunday morning had started like any other - she opened the windows of the Master Suite and began cleaning at 7:00am sharp. But after 20 minutes of cleaning she ran out of supplies and had to retreat to her chambers to collect more. She heard a thud from the corridor and quickly returned to find the room had been ransacked.

- HOW MANY WAYS IN AND OUT OF THE CORRIDOR?

Interesting...

THE MASTER SUITE

At the end of the corridor was a magnificent door leading to the Master Suite - a large, ornate room with a massive fireplace inhabiting the West wall. A few smoldering embers somehow managed to stay aglow inside, and beside the fire sat a mop and a bucket, no doubt belonging to the maid. An intricately carved writing desk sits proudly between two sprawling windows on the far wall, and the bed to the right could satisfy any king. You get one step into the room before stumbling over an open case on the floor. A gold-plated box with royal purple fabric lining its interior in the shape of an instrument. Catching yourself, you notice a large armoire to your right has been opened and badly damaged, and there are clear footprints directly in front of it as well as on the right window ledge.

The Gardener testified that around half past seven he was in his shed when he heard rapid footsteps pass by him. They were headed towards the woods, he believed. He stepped outside and noticed that the windows of the Master Suite were still wide open.

- HOW LARGE OF A WINDOW WAS THERE FOR THE CRIME TO OCCUR? (IN MINUTES)

That's a pretty short timeframe.

THE KITCHEN

Following the footsteps, you push open the right window and climb out into the crisp night air. To your right, a beam of light cuts through the thick fog. You hop out onto the wet ground to get a closer look. The window is quite high, but you notice it is tilted inward slightly. Rolling up your sleeves, you pull yourself onto the small ledge and push it open. Inside, you are immediately greeted by shards of broken glass and the strong stench of decomposition. On the counter below, a variety of food items have been left out to rot, and in the corner of the floor a bag of wheat lay torn open.

The cook testified that he was preparing a morning meal in the kitchen when he heard the distressed maid in the Dining Room. He stepped out to see what had happened just as François stood and bolted out the door toward the Salon.

- WHICH ITEM IN THIS ROOM IS MOST SUSPICIOUS?

Strange indeed that nobody mentioned it.

THE DINING ROOM

Through a sliding pocket door beside the sink you step over a bucket and into the massive Dining Room. It is just as large and ornate as the Master Suite. The single chair sits askew at the end of a long, hand-carved table with a lonely candle at its center. At the West end of the room, a twisted root stretches from one of the table legs along the floor and up the wall. It gives you the uneasy feeling you aren't here alone...

François was still in shock when the investigator arrived, and only the repeated words “my violin…my old friend…gone…” crept through his trembling lips.

The cook confirmed that the maid was standing visibly upset in the far corner of the room as he and François passed her on their way to the Master Suite.


- BASED ON WHAT YOU'VE DISCOVERED SO FAR, WHAT THEORY SEEMS MOST PROBABLE?

Agreed! 

THE SALON

The Gardener heard the maid in distress and met the others as they passed through the Salon, then followed them into the Master Suite to see the empty violin case lying on the floor. Moments later, he said the maid entered the room and instructed him to call the police.

When the investigator arrived, he locked down the entire estate and gathered everyone in the Salon while he collected testimonies and evidence. 

A quick walk-through revealed a few critical pieces of information:
1. There were no footprints leading to the forest
2. The keys to the armoire in the Master Suite were found in the Salon
3. One or several of them had to be lying at some point

Fingerprints were collected from each person, but with the violin still missing after days of searching, there was no way to proceed with the case. He believed the violin to be hidden somewhere within the house. 


- WHERE DO YOU BELIEVE THE VIOLIN IS HIDDEN? (ONE WORD, ALL CAPS)

Truly Impressive!

BUT HOW?

(WARNING: SPOILERS!)

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