"My name is actually Selene," the chess player said, standing up slowly to greet the newest arrivals at the Faktor mansion. "Although, most people call me Shakhmaty because I play chess. That's how I earn a living, or have tried to." She smiled. Her blue eyes contained the certainty of a person who told the truth, and yet there was some barely-hidden anxiety behind him. What was it? What had caused it? She herself was reluctant to disclose. "I'm pleased to make your acquaintance. I wonder if Mister Faktor's feeling better."
"He is," announced a voice from the kitchen, "but I suspect that he will not emerge until he's properly dressed for dinner." Henrietta herself emerged from behind two large wooden doors, both appearing as heavy as they were tall.
"Doctor Lee?" asked the servant, turning to the guests who had arrived most recently. "You will sleep in the Blue Room. It's all prepared for you. Mister Reynolds? You will have the Green Room. They are both upstairs. This way." Henrietta led the two men up the winding staircase, which creaked and groaned under their weight, until they reached two doors adjacent to each other. "It took me hours to get everything ready. I hope you will be pleased."
Henrietta turned to descend the staircase for what seemed the hundredth time. Shakhmaty was still sitting in Mister Faktor's favorite chair, wiggling her right foot absently. Should she tell her? The maid decided firmly against it.
The Blue Room was, in a word, stark. Instead of the lush cherrywood of the Plum Room, all of the furniture in the Blue Room was strictly black lacquer, or else highly-aged varnish. The wood was nondescript, probably pine or balsa. A utilitarian bed with white sheets and a blue comforter stood next to two utilitarian chairs and a utilitarian writing table. Upon that table lay...a knife?
Indeed. There was no mistake about it. However, it was no ordinary knife, not one to use for cutting steak, but rather, for cutting bodies open. It was a surgeon's scalpel, the blade clean and glinting in the light of the tall iron lantern on the nightstand. Why was it there? Surely it hadn't been placed--
In the Green Room, the furniture was even more spartan, but its wood still smelled faintly of the living pine it had once been. There was the same bed, but this one was king-size. It had a quilt upon it, in squares with camouflage colors--green, brown, hazy gray, and stitches of off-white. A writing desk stood in front of the window, and on it were two leaflets of cream-colored paper. Blank. Fine paper, but why would a soldier need such a thing?
An iron candlestick, lit, paved the way for Jacob Reynolds in the chamber.