Detailed Plot Synopsis
As they step into the train station, guests are transported into the 1890s, where our story takes place. No time is wasted introducing guests to the other characters on board the train for their round-trip journey from Los Angeles to wine country. In the 1890s, the spiritualist movement in the United States is at its peak: mediums, seances, and an obsession with connecting to the beyond are incredibly popular.
In a response to this popularity, Damon Post (despite being a staunch skeptic) hires Madame Viola, a medium with a fixation on birds, to serve as entertainment on board the train.Also on board as entertainment is magician Howard Hurston and his assistant Zita. Other notable guests include Victor Cierterio, a journalist covering the inaugural train trip, and Norah Green, assistant to Damon Post and former governess of his daughter Ada.
After boarding the train, guests are free to explore the train and enjoy a social cocktail hour with fellow passengers and characters. At the first night’s group dinner, a strange wind sensation and a faint scream pass through the cabin, hinting that something might be amiss aboard the Lavender Empress. Madame Viola, taking advantage of the heightened sense of unease among the passengers, invites everyone to her car for a séance following dinner.
The séance starts out as all show, with vague mechanical effects, like a knocking on the tables, occurring throughout the car. Madame Viola is an entertainer, after all. Suddenly, things take a turn as the lights flicker and the smell of lavender floods the room. Zita, who is attending the séance as a guest, begins to act strange: she becomes possessed with a ghost who reveals itself to be none other than Ada Post.
At this point, journalist Victor Cierterio admits to his relationship with the late Ada and implores guests to help him solve the mystery of her death, which he is now convinced is under dubious circumstances. When guests return to their sleeping cabins, special ghostly effects have now been activated and can be seen throughout the rest of their stay. Guests are also free to spend “after-hours” time in the bar car, where they can have optional interaction with characters or just enjoy their time aboard the train.
At breakfast the next morning, guests can discuss the events of the previous night with each other and with characters whose responses will give hints to the secrets they are hiding. Guests will then be assigned to “teams” and each group will follow a character to a specific area of the train to search for clues about Ada’s death. Every character will have ulterior motive and reason to try to cast suspicion on other characters.
Examples of clues that can be found and their locations are: a bloody handkerchief with Ada’s monogram on it in Madame Viola’s observatory or an extortion check in Howard Hurston’s suitcase. After solving the puzzles in an escape-room style effort to reveal a clue, guests are invited to take a break from the story and explore a relaxing lunch stop at a winery.
Back on board the train after the excursion, tea will be served in the parlor car to immerse guests back in the story. Guests can share information they discovered in their morning exploration, and characters will again try to publicly cast suspicion on others. The same teams of guests will be assigned to a new character who will take them to a different location than the one the group explored in the morning. Again, the passenger parties will solve a puzzle and reveal a piece of the mystery. At the late afternoon/early evening cocktail hour where Damon Post is notably missing, guests can share their clues and Viola, Howard, and Victor will fill in any blanks pointing to the culprit.
The climax of the story is reached at dinner on the second night. Tensions rise following the cocktail hour and continue into the evening meal. After a backand-forth heated discussion between all of the passengers, Damon Post is revealed to be Ada’s murderer, with the help of his assistant Norah Green.
The pair poisoned Ada in an attempt to cover up an accident during the construction of the Lavender Empress, a story with which Ada threatened to bring to the press via her fiancé, Victor. After being revealed as Norah’s nephew, Howard Hurston seizes his opportunity to extort Damen Post after Norah emotionally confides in him of her wrong doings.
After this explosive series of revelations, the lights flicker and the room groans as Ada’s spirit fully manifests in the center of the dining table. Her spirit is released from the train, thanks to the help of the guests for solving her murder. As the lights flicker again, most of the characters take the opportunity to leave the dining car. Guests can then enjoy after-hours drinks in the bar, and guests with a keen eye can see that Howard and Zita’s luggage has now vanished.
In the denouement of the final morning, guests will have breakfast with just Victor and Viola. Viola apologizes for trying to capitalize off Ada’s death and returns her handkerchief to Victor. While disembarking the train, guests witness Damon and Norah being escorted off in handcuffs, with the police admitting to getting a tippedoff telegram in the middle of the night from an “HH”. Guests can now say goodbye to Victor and Viola before returning to the modern world, and if they pay attention, they can smell the faint scent of lavender drifting through the station.