Mahnör Manor

Disclaimer: This is a non-profit work of fiction. It uses one character from Capcom's Ace Attorney series and generally takes inspiration from it to create a pastiche, a celebration of the original work. However, this is more a story centering around personal tragedy, rather than a traditional murder mystery.

This is part 1. Part 2 can be found here.

17 January

Mahnör Manor

Tyson shivered. Not due to the cold, they were wearing enough layers to ward of the low temperatures of a winter in northern Germany, just slightly above freezing. It was more what expected them, an evening with his father and his friends that promised to be unbearable, far away from all the friends they had made in L.A. during their time at college there. Not to mention the good food, as local food in small-town Germany ranged from okay (steamed white asparagus with molten butter) to terrible (plain cooked chicken breast sandwiches seasoned only with salt). Tyson would have preferred nothing more than to stay stateside, to be able to keep showing up to the meetings of their local support group, one that had helped them so much to get their life sorted out, while also allowing them to give back to a community they felt at home at. Moving to the city for the famous anthropology program of UCLA had definitely paid off.

But having graduated from college and being unable to find any kind of job paying enough for rent and everything else, his father, who had financed their degree, demanded them to come back to live with them, to a place where Tyson had no friends, nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Well, except for wherever his father dragged him to. In this case, it was the most famous local sight, Mahnör Manor, located at the edge of town near a forest known for its old oak trees. Their father had rented it for a weekend to celebrate their retirement party after 40 years of being a wildly successful prosecutor. Spending a weekend at such a place sounded more interesting at least than more lonely evenings at home, not that his father left them much real choice anyway.

More interesting was relative, of course. Tyson knew how these evenings would go, just long rows of people loudly talking for hours about topics they didn't understand or care about, while drinking beer and occasionally going to the buffet to load on more food. But it was worth it at least for the change of scenery. Looking at the same two trees, lawn and few remaining patches of snow beneath a uniformly grey sky was starting to get to them. After the frequently all to hot temperatures in LA and the sea of tarmac and concrete in many places the cold, grey and green had been a welcome change at first, too, but by now it had outstayed its welcome and just come to remind Tyson how dull and aimless their life had started to feel again. Not to mention lonely. Although, at least here there was hope. Franziska von Karma, a young prosecutor from Germany they had gotten to know in America under rather unfortunate circumstances, promised to visit her home country in January as well, but wouldn't arrive for another few days.

Knocking on the door, they felt another shiver. Waiting at doors always felt awkward to them, and the gigantic iron doors of this castle felt intimidatingg on top of that. The door was however opend with not a word spoken, as if their father on the other side could read their thoughts. Or perhaps he was just too busy with preparations. Either way, Tyson was glad for it and began exploring the castle, the only reason they had decided that coming was worth it.The ceilings were high and the stone walls bare, but the carpets and paintings as well as the many windows with flowers in front of them made it all just cozy enough to make Tyson feel somewhat easy. Weird, sure, but it all seemed more interesting than anything. Even the full suits of armor felt more quaint than anything with all the decoration surrounding them.

They had barely had time to take it all in when their father called them into the kitchen of the castle. Down various stone stairs they went and through some long, dark basement halls but finally they reached a wide, open door that led to a huge vaulted room with a curious mixture of medieval ovens and modern kitchen appliances, as well as big tables full with food from catering services. And there was a man at the end of one of them, around 22 or 25, wearing the cutest little blue winter scarf Tyson had ever seen and an even cuter smile adorning an equally cute, freshly shaven face. Blue eyes were giving them a friendly yet icy gaze. Despite this, they felt their heart melting. The short black hair that was standing up from the man's forehead gently waved when he turned away giggling, realizing he had made someone blush, which only made it worse for Tyson.

They could see this wasn't going to end well if this moment kept on any longer, so they tried to break the ice by saying hello, but an almost whispered "Hey..." was all that came out.

– "Aww, you're cute. Hey to you..." the younger man said, but stopped when he saw that Tyson was running away eyes wide and face flushed red. "Wait!"

Tyson's father just sighed. This wasn't how he had meant for things to go.

They were running up the stairs, alongside the same halls, past the huge front door, up some other stairs past stained glass windows, more carpeted halls, more stairs, and this continued until they had reached a tower that led to a platform on top of the castle. It was a beautiful place that normally would give a good view of the town but in the darkness of winter only showed some lights, in the streets below as well as in the sky above them. Both of them, as the man from the kitchen had just caught up to Tyson. And now he was blocking the only route of escape.

"Uhh, sorry... for running away so abruptly..." Tyson managed to get out, now almost too exhausted to feel embarrassed.

– "It's okay. I just wanted to make sure I didn't do anything wrong."

"No, it's just ... you didn't... I was just not feeling good for a moment." Tyson said, looking away.

– "Maybe we could go downstairs and properly introduce ourselves to each other? Or do you want to do it here?"

"No, no, too cold here for that..."

Tyson didn't have to wait long for him to go back and then followed with some distance, relieved that they hadn't been forced to walk with him together.

When the both of them passed the front door again, they saw that the tables in the festively decorated main hall located across it were already being set, with Tyson's father shooting them both a disapproving glare. Nothing more needed to be said, and Tyson hurried down to the kitchen to help bring up food. With the help of the weirdly alluring stranger the work was quickly done, potato salad, ham, green beans, and so much more found their place, and the two helpers had some moments to relax and admire the flowers that had been brought in by the father from his garden. But just after Tyson had sat down, they remembered they had come here to see the castle, not just sulking. There was enough of that happening at home already.

So they got up, turned to who had helped them out and abruptly said "Hey now that everything is set up do you want to go explore this ... castle?". The words were uttered with such speed and seeming confidence that they were successful in covering up the tension Tyson still felt between them both, although new anxiety was quickly creeping in.

The answer was delivered with a smile, but also the same gaze that seemed to be an odd mixture of icyness and passion.

– "So... I have met many people in my life, but never saw someone perform an emotional turnabout the way you did. Do you treat every person you meet this way, running away from them then ask them out at the first opportunity? It's admirable and ..."

Before he could let what Tyson assumed would have to be the words "very cute" out, they answered, not wasting any more time on thinking.

"Yes of course! It... it helps to break the ice and get to know each other. I was just... not expecting to meet anyone, uh, like you, today."

The smile turned into a slight grin. "Haha, I understand. Well, let's go then. Since you seem so eager to go."

Passing the large festive tables, they opened an ornamented wooden door, which led to a rather narrow, but tall corridor. A gallery was visible on the other end of it, located at half-height, worked into the stone wall with a purple curtain behind it.

As they entered it, the man who hadn't even told Tyson his name yet pointed towards something in front of it.

"Hey, look at that suit of armor on the ceiling!" Suspended in a horizontal position, it reflected the sparse light from the chandelier in the middle of the hall with its polished iron boots pointing towards the main hall. A sword, pointing directly to the floor, was grasped by iron gloves. The ropes with which it had been secured could apparently be accessed from the gallery.

"Is that an authentic sword? Still sharp? I wonder if it's ever been used before." he continued, as they both walked on. Tyson remained silent, unsure what to add.

Instead, their eyes remained fixated on the sword, dangling right above their head, menacingly. Then, they looked upon the other parts of the suit. It all seemed very heavy, and the thought of having nothing but a few ropes preventing it from crushing them put them at unease. It was hard to imagine that anyone would have ever worn these things voluntarily and on purpose. History was just full of mysteries.

They breathed a sigh of relief once they had crossed the hall. After stepping through a similarly ornamented wooden door, this one creaking a lot more, what might as well be their new friend, pointed to the left, a narrow, dark staircase that evidently led up to the gallery. Tyson still hadn't bothered asking his name. They were bad with names anyway and felt they would probably immediately forget anyway, which would just be embarrassing.

As they went up the stairs, the man first with Tyson following shortly behind, it got increasingly darker, as the candles on the left and right side hadn't been lit. Eventually, they had to feel their way upwards, carefully, to not stumble and have a painful encounter with the stones of the floor, or hit their heads on the much narrower ceiling here. After a minute or two Tyson felt a curtain on the left and pulled it aside, with light from the armor suit hall now shining into the tiny space. They got somewhat rudely pushed on the gallery, and now could clearly see the helmet, and the blue feather it was wearing on top.

Tyson stepped closer to the railing and noticed that the sword was actually within reach. An idea to steal it for a moment, to be able to look at it more closely and see how it feels in their hands. But the gloves would have to be separated first a bit. They tried to move them apart a bit, but they wouldn't budge. The man, that Tyson definitely had not already been crushing on, saw them struggling and stepped over to them, getting a bit too close to comfort. With a grin he seemingly effortlessly got the gloves to give way and the sword fell to the floor with a clank. Tyson immediately rushed downstairs again, and picked it up, swinging it around for a few moments, as if pretending to be a knight.

But the noise had alerted their father, who stormed into the hall and judging by the stern look on his face wasn't happy with their behavior. Tyson sighed and wasn't even interested in listening to his complaints properly anymore. They were always the same trite stuff. So absent-mindedly they said "Yes, I'm sorry, I should have known better, what if something happens to me?" ... After a moment there was still more chiding. "Yes, I will be careful with the ... things here, I don't want to have to deal with the insurance either if something breaks." It was just grating to hear that, and they had heard it already almost every day at home. And now here, too. Just annoying.

Spending some time with that new friend that seemed so cute and interesting and strong was much more appealing. Maybe the two of them could go to the castle garden to get further away and relax a bit, talk in peace.

But their father didn't let them, and was still getting angrier at not being properly listened to. Next, Tyson and their friend had to sweep through the main hall, the entrance hall and other rooms the guests might enter. Sure, it was at least faster to do it as a "pair" than alone, but it was still *annoying* and boring at best. It was just like at home, doing chores and sulking the rest of the time, wishing to be somewhere else, especially once the loud complaints and then the insults started if the father wasn't happy with the results, which was almost always. And then Tyson couldn't ever hold themselves back and things would often escalate further. Unfortunately, there were no other relatives they could live with, as they were all abroad, too distant or had already died.

After half an hour the work was finally done and Tyson free to go, alongside their "partner". Trying to avoid seeing the father for a while, or even any castle floors, they wandered both into the dark castle gardens, currently lighted only by some old-fashioned laterns that just barely allowed them to make out the meandering paths. They went past what seemed to be flower beds, large lawns and a pond with a fountain inside that was still audibly spraying water around. The otherwise silent night had a serene feeling about it that made Tyson finally feel at peace, and the fresh air felt energizing.

But the silence didn't last for long.

"So you're not gonna ask me for my name at all, huh?" The words seemed to pierce the air and immediately returned tension to it.

– "Ahh! Yes!" was all Tyson managed to get out.

"Is that another of your quirks?" The grin only made them feel all the more embarrassed. "Well, either way, I'll tell you mine anyway. It's David. What's yours"

– "Tyson."

"Tyson." He seemed to turn around the name in his mouth like candy. "That's a nice name."

– "Thanks..."

"How were you planning to spend the evening? Sitting around with stuffy old men and their wives? They never talk about anything interesting, do they?"

"No, they do not..."

– "And the food here didn't seem very exciting either. Honestly, every fast food place in America probably has better food."

Tyson didn't reply.

"How about we stick together some more and after having some complimentary potatoes and beans just go exploring the castle some more?" His mouth smiled, but the eyes still seemed distant and aloof.

– "I guess I don't have much better to do. Sure, I could go home but there's nothing and no one waiting for me there either."

There were of course some doubts in Tyson's head. David was still more or less a stranger, even if apparently brought to the party by their father. But at this point they were just desperate for company and so they were loath to be critical.

They both go back inside again and see that the guests had already arrived. In fact, it was past 8 PM, so they had started eating the food some time ago. The people seemed weirdly enthusiastic about something as plain and even boring as potato salad here, Tyson thought. But maybe everyone here just didn't know anything better. And there was nothing better available, too, so Tyson grabbed a plate and put some on it, and David did the same, sticking out his tongue in the process, clearly enjoying it even less.

Trying to get away from the noise, they step back into the narrow hall with the suit of armor dangling from the ceiling. But, as it turned out, they weren't alone there. Tyson's father happened to be standing at the other end of the hall, glaring at them both again.

"Oh, so you finally show up again, too." he began.

– "Uh, yes?"

"You weren't there when I greeted the guests, when I led them into the main hall to begin the celebrations, or when I opened the buffet."

– "Sorry, I thought this was your celebration..."

"Then why would I have taken you with me here? Everyone asked about you and I had to deflect."

– "I'm an adult, I don't have to be with you the entire time..."

"No, but at least in those few moments you could have done me the favor to embarrass me." The glaring was getting increasingly fierce. Tyson could feel an argument coming up, and yet had no idea how to respond. These arguments could be like incoming trains, and Tyson was stuck in a tunnel.

"And then you of course come back just to get some food and immediately disappear again, probably not even saying hello to anyone!"

– No response. Maybe it could just blow over–

"You're so egoistical. Every day you do nothing but laze about and don't even bother looking for work."

That was enough to get Tyson worked up, too.

– "I do a lot of things! I help you out whenever you ask me and..:"

"Like five minutes chores a day isn't exactly much to brag about! I'm so tired of this and you and your behavior. You contribute nothing, but are always willing to take!" Their father's anger grew palpably larger and larger, like a pot of water that was starting to boil over.

– "What work is there even available here? All I could do is stand in some supermarket or work in some warehouses! Is that what I went to college for? If only I had been allowed to stay where my friends were..."

Tyson felt their arm being grabbed and eyes staring into them, as if this had just been a large provocation.

"Are you really going to bring up that old trite argument again? Do you really not understand? You couldn't find work in the US either, and if you had stayed there I would be going bankrupt soon with the ridiculous Californian costs of living, and you would end up homeless! Did you want that?"

– "No! But that's not how it would have gone! I could have lived with some friends and had some small job in this museum..."

"That was a glorified volunteer position, not something that you could do for a living! You can't just live at other people's expenses forever. Now go home and start applying to jobs again, and if you can't find anything, go collect some unemployment aid and ask the employment agency for help!"

– "I wasn't just living at other people's expenses! I did ..." but their father wasn't listening just mocking their voice.

"Blablabla, You're really so boring of a person, always repeating the same old stuff. No one can stand to listen the same things over and over again, and I'm sick of it the most!"

Why was David staying so quiet? Not that Tyson expected him to come to the rescue, but maybe he could have said a word to defuse the situation... Tyson just tried to move on, past their father, away from here...

"Where are you going? The door outside is in the other direction."

Both Tyson and their father were now standing right under the suit of armor, and standing in each other's way. The latter tried to force his way through, but ended up tripping over Tyson's feet in the relative darkness and fell, arms stretched out.

"You idiot! You won't ever amount to anything!" he shouted, face still turned towards the stone floor.

Tyson's heart sank, but they still tried to help him get up, but he wouldn't budge, so they started moving backwards, towards the exit where they had come from, taking David's hand who still hadn't said a word.

The father suddenly got up and started lurching towards Tyson, but at the same moment they heard a snapping sound and saw the suit of armor complete with sword dashing towards their father.

Tyson tried to get out a warning but only managed a scream.


But it was too late. The sword had enough momentum to not just stab their father, but to pierce him and his heart, with blood splattering everywhere. The metal tip burst from the chest of the father, cutting an earth-shattering scream that for a moment had been reverberating in the hall short, as he immediately dropped dead on his stomach, the tip of the sword creating an eerie metal clank as it hit the ground.

Alongside a Tyson now covered in red splatters on hands, arms and clothes, it formed a rather grizzly sight. And it proved enough to get them arrested on suspicion of murder by the police. The police, that David turned out to have called. Tyson felt he was their only hope right now. He had seen everything, right?