The scene of the crime is a three-storied estate, reminiscent of a hospital. On the second and third floors, two sides of the structure have modern looking glass walkways supported by thick support columns that blend in with the white walls. The only entrance you find into the building is a set of large, black double doors.
Through them, you are greeted by a group of sharply-dressed, roguish looking individuals. They inform you that the outcome of your investigation must be held in the strictest confidence. The authorities, especially, will not be made privy to it.
You quickly learn why. The group explains that the group had gathered for a conference earlier that day. This conference was to be an armistice negotation between three rival crime syndicates. Each was to send two representatives to gather at this estate, which was owned by the victim. The host was one of the two representatives of his own syndicate.
The first floor is a mostly featureless white expanse, save for a massive elevator shaft in the center. Sparse rows of black chairs and sofas dot the empty space, further evoking a hospital’s waiting area. The only means of egress from this floor are the double doors you entered from, and the elevator. You instruct the guests to wait in their rooms for you to hear their testimony.
As you ride the futuristic elevator upstairs, the group informs you that they had been staying in the rooms on the second and third floors. The guests each received a map of the estate grounds as a courtesy from their host. One of the guests provides this for your benefit. Due to the nature of their business, none of the guests knew each other’s names, so they were to refer to each other by previously agreed-upon codenames. These codenames were how the guests received their room assignments, as made clear by the map:
Lastly, they tell you that the host’s body is still where they found it: Room E on the third floor.
The elevator first stops on the second floor, and Leona, Karasu, and Aguila step off, heading to their respective rooms.
The elevator arrives at the third floor after quite a long ride. The need for a map soon becomes clear: the guest wings are completely symmetrical. This would be disorienting, but the hallways on either side of the elevator are color-coded, as they appear on the map. You decide to begin by investigating the body, and exit via the white hallway with Hiena.
The door at the end of the hall slides open automatically as you approach, and you find yourself on one of the glass walkways visible from outside the building. The walkway is minimally designed, with no frills or adornments. If you look below, you can clearly see the glass walkway on the second floor. Hiena tells you she will wait in her room and turns left on the walkway, while you head in the opposite direction.
The door to Room E is plain, and doesn’t appear to have a lock of any sort. You’re able to simply pull the door open with no resistance. Indeed, you would later find that every door to the guest rooms is identical, and cannot be locked or obstructed in any way. Additionally, the rooms are completely sound-proof when the door is closed. The first thing you notice once inside the room is a simple doormat marked with the room’s letter. Further inside, you find the host, Hitsuji, slumped against a wall. A single shot to the head is the only injury present, and you find no signs of a struggle in the room. You estimate that the time of death was from 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM.
You finish examining the body and head for Room F at the other end of the walkway. The guest inside, Hiena, looks uneasy, but invites you inside. You ask her to begin with her whereabouts that day. She looks reluctant to speak, but opens up after some prodding.
“I was in my room for almost the whole day. I even brought my own meals to last me through the conference.”
Almost. You press her further.
“Well, yes almost. I took a little walk sometime after 10 PM. A little birdie told me Tora wasn’t in his room, so I thought I’d pay it a visit. Couldn’t have been longer than five minutes.” She said, with a smirk.
You tilt your head, feigning confusion.
She sighs, slightly frustrated. “Right. As you heard, the guests in attendance are key players in a trio of underworld empires. It goes without saying that any intel concerning our rivals would be priceless… and well, I pride myself on my work. Tora, in particular, we’re well acquainted with. He’s been a thorn in our side as far back as I can remember.”
You wonder aloud what she means by “our”.
“Hitsuji and I. We were co-representatives for our, ahem, organization. This whole place is his. He even had some renovations done, after he heard he’d be hosting the conference this year. Anyway, that’s why, after leaving Tora’s room, I went straight to his room to report my findings back to him.”
You interrupt and ask exactly what these findings were, but she smiles coyly and gives a half shrug. She continues.
“But when I got to his room… he was dead. One in the head, quick and clean. Part of the job, you know… but given the circumstances, someone has to pay for this. So, I rushed off the gather the rest of the representatives.”
You nod, making notes on her testimony. Finally, you ask her about who would have a motive for killing the host. She responds with a derisive laugh.
“All of them. Every last one of the snakes. Myself excluded, of course. We would all stand to gain from destabilizing any of our rivals. But don’t get me wrong… breaching the ceasefire of the conference is more than frowned upon. Has to be, to make sure this doesn’t turn into an annual bloodbath. If anyone were caught scheming to take out any of the other representatives… well, the other two groups would be obligated to come down on them. Hard.”
You thank her for the information, and take your leave.
You find that Room G on the other side of the floor, through the black hallway, is unoccupied. Indeed, you recall that only six guests were in attendance that evening, which would leave two of the eight guest rooms empty. You make your way to Room H, where you find Tora lounging in his chair. You ask him the usual questions.
“Me? Nothing exciting from me, I’m afraid. I left my room early in the afternoon, and claimed a comfortable spot on the first floor. I took the opportunity to do some undisturbed reading, you see.”
You ask Tora if he saw anything strange around the time he left his room. He thinks for a moment.
“Strange? Can’t say I did, no. I saw Leona leaving her room at the same time I did. I met up with her in the elevator as we were both heading to the first floor, and exchanged pleasantries. She left to walk the grounds, and I curled up with my book. At around half past six, I saw Aguila returning to the estate. I’d say Leona came back a couple of hours after that. Anyway, I stayed where I was until later in the evening… around half past ten, Hiena came storming out of the elevator, shouting that someone had killed Hitsuji. She practically pulled me out of my chair and we went to find the others on the second floor.”
Finally, you also ask him about the possible motive behind the murder. His expression hardens slightly.
“I’d hoped not to discuss any of the more unsavory details of our profession, but… Truthfully, any one of us would have taken the opportunity… if it weren’t for the threat of retribution from our respective rivals, of course. Now, I know what you’re asking yourself. It doesn’t seem like it’s in my best interest to cooperate with your investigation, yes? If this incident were to go unsolved, only Hitsuji’s group would be left crippled. I assure you, this is not the case. The best possible outcome is for the bystanders. If the culprit is exposed, their organization will be utterly crushed in the retaliatory strike. Wiped from relevancy. An even more profitable turn of events than simply destabilizing one of our rivals, wouldn’t you say?”
You nod, and thank Tora. His statement seems to corroborate Hiena’s. It appears it would make no sense for any of the guests to commit such an act if they expected be caught, given the high risk.
You mull over the testimonies so far as you take the elevator downstairs.
Taking the white hallway once again, you find yourself on another glass walkway. The glass walkway above is also clearly visible from this vantage point. You resume the investigation at Room A.
Aguila, by far the youngest of the guests, opens the door excitedly. She explains her decisive testimony should be all you need to solve the case. Without being prompted, she begins.
“I left pretty early in the morning to explore the grounds. I’d say I got back at 6:30 PM…ish? Not sure, you can ask Tora though. I saw him hanging out in the lobby when I got back. Now, here’s the good stuff: I was keeping watch right outside my room for most of the evening. From 8 PM to… a little after 10:30 PM? Something like that. That was when the rest of them came and got me, telling me they had found a body. Wasn’t surprised.”
“Just a feeling. Well, that, and this…”
She shows you a letter which is clearly written in disguised handwriting. It warns that an attempt would be made on the host’s life that evening, sometime after 8 PM.
“I thought it might be a joke… good thing I trusted my gut!”
You question her on why she didn’t try to stop such a plot. She gives you an incredulous glance.
“Why would I stick my neck out for the competition? I’d sooner shank him myself. No, this is really the best possible outcome. Two for the price of one, if you do your job right.”
Remembering what Tora told you, you drop the line of questioning.
“Anyway, sometime after 10 PM was when I saw it. Hiena, entering Hitsuji’s room! She was in there for a while… more than a few minutes. She strolled out afterwards, towards the elevator.”
You think for a moment. Did her testimony line up with Hiena’s account of finding the body? Aguila continued.
“You know what that means right? I didn’t see anyone else entering or leaving that room while I was keeping watch. Who else could’ve done it?”
So much for having everything add up nicely. You spare yourself her explanation about a motive, as you suspect you would only hear the same story.
In Room C, Karasu explains his whereabouts that day.
“Felt like shit all day. Still do. None of these bastards’ll let me sleep it off though. Hiena, Leona, and Tora were poundin’ down my door. It was after 10:30. Can’t remember exactly. Was half-asleep, after all. Screamin’ their heads off about a dead body. Went and got Aguila before we went upstairs, and there we found him.”
Karasu seems eager to be left alone, and you’re happy to oblige. If he hadn’t been ill before, he certainly looked it now.
Finally, you arrive at Room D. You ask Leona for her alibi and whereabouts earlier in the day.
“Well, I left my room sometime after noon. Tora should be able to vouch for that, since I saw him leaving and met up with him in the elevator. We had a brief chat, and he stayed in the lobby reading while I went to walk around the grounds. Not much to do in this stuffy building, really.”
You nod, and wait for her to continue.
“I’d say I got back around 8:30. Tora was still in the same chair, of course. Such a bore, that one. I stayed in my room until a little after 10:30. I was on my way downstairs to see Tora, when I saw Hiena and Tora coming out of the elevator. They told me Hitsuji was dead, and that they were going to get Karasu. I came with them, and we rounded up the rest of the group. Sure enough, someone put a bullet in him. Just a shame I didn’t get to do it myself, honestly.”
You gather the suspects on the first floor once more. You ask them about whether any of them would have had access to a gun during the gathering. They all glance at each other, and begin laughing. Each of them reveals a variety of firearms, hidden discreetly on their person. Of course.
You also ask them what they did after discovering the body as a group. The consensus had been that they should all stay together to limit the culprit’s movements. And they had–none of them left each other’s sight until after you arrived.
You slump down into one of the couches to think. Nothing about the case as it stood made any sense to you… it was clear that the innocent guests would benefit the most from exposing the culprit, and would have no reason to lie in their testimony. Even worse, the only possible suspect is the only one without an actual motive.
But how could anyone other than Hiena have killed the victim?