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The Secret Investigation: Part 2 - Meeting Shade

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(Lycandria Marilyn Ravenholdt)

We all turn the corner and come to a door, leading to this unknown man whom I presumed was their leader. They had already taken my weapons off me at this point, with my hands also bound behind my back. A few of them were pushing and directing me forward.

The door creaks open to a darkened room. The man was facing away from the door at the back of the room, almost eclipsed in total darkness. My eyes traced along the silhouette his armor made, as the others sat me down on a stool. Darrik addresses the man. "Sir, we have her."

The man responds after a long pause, giving only a slight nod. "Good Darrik... You may leave us." His voice was low and slightly rough or coarse.

Darrik quirks an eyebrow. "Sir?"

The man reaffirms. "Take the others and go."

Darrik looks to the others and nods, closing the door as the last one out.

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I close my eyes briefly, and sigh. There was only enough light to see around the stool I was on. I watch closely as the man moves further toward the back wall. I had a gut feeling who it was, and hoping I was right. Otherwise, I was in quite a predicament.

He takes a brief sigh and finally speaks. "I suppose you have alot running through your head at the moment... Perhaps wondering what you got yourself into, or who I am."

I look up toward his direction. "You're not far off... Though I do believe I already know."

He nods in the darkness. "The truth is, I have been watching over you for longer than you may realize... I know alot about you. Your birth, your upbringing at the manor... and your mother." He slowly turns around and casually moves toward me and the stool.

My ears perk up at the mention of mother; my gut feeling confirmed. I let out a slow concealed sigh, looking on in anticipation as the light begins to reveal his face and form.

He kneels to my side and cuts my bindings, looking at me. "I am that which you have been seeking, Lycandria... I am the one they call Shade." He finishes with a smug smile.

Finally, a face to match the name. He looked in his upper forties, graying hair and aging lines. Darkened peach skin, and a scar spanning across his forehead and the bridge of his nose. He gave off this weathered and experienced look in his blue eyes. He was handsome in his own way. I slowly break a smile in relief.

He reaches to gently stroke my cheek with his thumb. "My goodness... you look just like her. It's like going back thirty years ago... when I met Marilyn, your mother."

I nod and smile at his words. "Grandfather told me that also growing up..." I pause a moment. "Mother's journal told me I could find you here... and that I could trust you, just as she did."

He nods. "Your mother was a very wise woman, and there's not a day that goes by I don't miss her... Everything she did in her final days was to prepare you for the life you had to endure..." He stands and looks away in thought. "She was a good woman, and I admired her greatly. She always had this look... her eyes would just pierce your soul. She commanded alot of presence, and my goodness was she one hell of an alchemist... I owe alot of this organizations success to her work even today."

He then sighs deeply and pauses for a moment. "We loved each other at one point, but we were always better at being friends..." He turns back around and smiles. "She would be proud to see the woman you have become."

I smile at him and stand from the stool, wiping a tear from my cheek. I walk over and lean on him as he extends his arms and hugs me tightly.

He sways us both back and forth for a moment, then speaks. "Sorry about Darrik, he can be a bit ambitious... He's got a few things to answer for." He pulls back and examines my face. "I trust you are okay?"

I slowly nod. "I've dealt with far worse growing up in the ring at the manor... I could only wish things were this minor." I finish lightly touching my face.

He nods and smirks. "I suppose I should give more credit that you made it out alive. Life at the manor is not for the weak... and I can already tell you now, you are far stronger than you realize, Lycandria." He glances over my tabard. "You have the same ambitions your mother had." He smirks. "She always looked for an outlet from the manor, but she just couldn't bring herself to leave Jorach behind... So she turned to Dalaran and other places in the area."

I look down and smile. "Is that when she met you?"

He smiles and nods slowly. "She caught my eye one evening, walking through the streets by the fountain. I was just getting into some work here in Dalaran, and at the time looking for a suspect. She comes walking by and looks over in my direction, and here I was trying to not be so noticeable." He pauses for a moment and smiles. "She smiled... and I couldn't look away. To hell with work, I had to follow her and so I did."

I lightly chuckle and smile looking up at him.

He continues. "So I followed her, we got to talking and... really the rest just fell into place. She learned more about what I did, and I learned more about her life and the manor... She was always such an intriguing woman to talk with. Always had kind things to say about others, especially for the life she had to endure... I always found that refreshing and inspiring."

I nod and frown a bit. "Sometimes, there are days I wish I could have known her..." I pause and slowly smile. "It's good to hear more about her from someone who knew her well."

He smiles. "Speaking of which, would you like to see her workroom?"

I raise my eyebrow at him. "Workroom? She had her own workroom here?"

He nods. "I just need to remember where I put the key... I haven't been in that room for years now. She left things for you in there if I'm not mistaken." He searches the room for the key.

I look off for a moment. "What all did she do for you guys?"

He looks through a drawer and speaks. "She helped to develop alot of things we still use today. Potions, poisons... even hallucinogens among other things." He pauses. "Ah, there it is. Once you see the room it will make more sense." He pulls out a key from the drawer and shuts it, turning his attention back to me. "You ready?"

I smile and nod, still somewhat lost in thought about everything.

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Shade opens the door to the room, revealing a few of the others standing guard.

Darrik was examining my weaponry, when he realized the door opened. He stands at attention, and notices me free of my bindings. "Sir, everything alright?"

Shade nods and gives him a stern look. "Quite alright, except you will return all of these blades to her now."

Darrik nods and looks at me, passing all of my many daggers back into my hands.

We exchange a few glares as I put them back into place on my armor.

Shade then looks to them all. "I will return shortly, I expect you all to be here when I get back. I have alot to go over."

Everyone under his command nods and we proceed into a hall lined with stone walls.

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We come to a door, and Shade unlocks it after a few moments. The door creaks open and reveals a dark room with lots of cobwebs.

He reaches to light a few torches and lanterns, slowly bringing light into the room. "Watch your step. As I said its been a while since this room has even seen a hint of light... I wanted to leave it just as she did, save a few times I came to check on it and clean a bit... She always had a certain way she liked things."

I look around as the light fills the room. Cobwebs and dust were everywhere, but what caught my attention was her work desk. Bottle, vials, books, and dried herbs that must have been there for years. I carefully study the room, and can almost feel her presence. Glancing at the stool in front of her desk, with the thought of knowing she spent alot of time here.

I continue to tour the room, noticing a cupboard full of supplies she must have used often. To the side of the room with her desk, I noticed a ventilation outlet, more than likely to filter out any fumes created in her reactions. Being down in the sewers, it's not like most wouldn't expect a foul odor anyway. It was a very clever setup.

On the far side of the room was a closet, filled with most of her old clothing. Shirts, pants, dresses, aprons, shoes... and even her wedding dress. I browse through everything with great care, holding a hand over my chest where her amulet landed on me.

He looks over to me and smiles. "She brought everything she had here, before you were born. She knew it would be safe under my care, and she made me promise that you would receive everything one day."

I slowly turn around and nod at him, a bit somber. It was alot to take in at once.

He looks over an open book on her desk and sighs. "This is it... the recipe for the last thing she made..."

I look up at him and walk over, glancing over the book. It was the recipe that save my life... The one that cured the dragon blood that flew through my veins at the time. I slump down on her stool, trying to process everything and feeling a swell of emotion rush over me.

He rests his hand on my shoulder. "I've never seen a mother love so much, as she loved you. She did everything she could to save you and worked so hard to find a way to survive the potion herself... In the end, she knew there had to be a sacrifice made."

I slowly nod as my face cringes, beginning to weep.

He wraps his arms around me and holds me from behind. "She loved you dearly, and she would always tell me that you would be special." He pauses a moment and gently rubs my back. "She believed in you... And now, seeing everything you are doing on your own, after what you had to endure at the manor... I believe your mother was right."

I wipe my face and try to gather myself, nodding at his kind words.

He smiles and squats down to look in my eyes. "Even without our help, you naturally had ambition and took the initiative of leaving the manor on your own... I can already see the fire in your eyes to transform the world around you. It's a gift your mother had, and now I can clearly see the same in you."