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VER 2.0

Part 2

    The Grand Throne Room of Lord Recluse was a place few people ever went willingly.  An audience with the Dread One, even when invited, always had a high probability in the guest incurring Lord Recluse’s displeasure, or even his wrath.

    Norman walked down the grand corridor to the throne room with a sense of purpose.  As one of the Rogue Isle Protectors, he often had to make reports to his superiors.  However, due to his recent involvement with the Gamester affair in Paragon City, mention of a particular “hero” caught his Lord’s attention, and his summons. 

    He was never overly concerned when called before Recluse.  He was, after all, probably his top Protector agent, and had never given Recluse cause for punitive action.  Norman’s helmet hid his slight smile.  An audience with the Dread One was, indeed, a great privilege.

    The guards at the door nodded and let him pass.  Norman smiled again; the thought of Lord Recluse needing guards was almost comical.  Any attempted assassination, or even arrest, of the ruler of the Rogue Isles would be dealt with before the would-be perpetrator came anywhere near the royal residence.

    The Grand Throne Room sprawled out before Norman.  A herald had gone before him to announce his expected arrival to his Lord.  From the back center of the cavernous room, a large throne with eight massive legs curved around it could be seen.  Several functionaries gave the Protector a respectful glance and moved away from Lord Recluse, whose red eyes flared in brightness at Norman’s approach.

    Norman automatically went down on one knee, bowing his head in respect.

    “All my Lord asks, I am willing to do,” he said, repeating the final line of the oath all Protectors took.  While some agents might say the words, Norman truly felt them, and tried to live each day to further his Lord’s purpose.

    “Rise, Protector,” said Recluse.  He looked at his servant for a moment, then began to speak.

    “Your report caught my attention.”

    Norman smiled and bowed deeply.  “My Lord flatters me.”

    “You know I have long sought the daughter of Dr. Gerhardt.  Are you sure this Madam Medusa is indeed her?” 

    “I would believe that she is, Lord Recluse.  Did not my sample confirm the fact?”

    Lord Recluse’s eyes narrowed as he sat back in his throne.  Norman knew he was merely pondering his next course of action. 

    “Perhaps I may make a suggestion, my Lord,” came an eerie, female voice from the shadows.

    Norman suppressed a shudder; Ghost Widow had been listening in.  It shouldn’t have surprised him, but her presence always unnerved him slightly.  He had gotten a similar feeling around Nightbringer, perhaps due to their mutual association with the powers of darkness.

    Ghost Widow emerged from behind Lord Recluse, weaving her way around the massive, spider-shaped throne.  Her death-pale features betrayed nothing about what she was thinking, not even what she was feeling.  Norman involuntarily took a step back.

    “What is your suggestion, my dear?”  Lord Recluse asked, his curiosity piqued.

    “This Madam Medusa is married to a hero named Nightbringer, who has been missing for several months.  However, a new resident of Aeon City who goes by the name Deathbringer has been sighted in the company of  a certain Nocturne.  Seeing as Deathbringer matches the description of the missing “hero,” I’d be inclined to think them the same person.”  A chill smile crossed her features, making her seem even more eerie.

    “Your point being?”  Lord Recluse asked with a note of slight impatience.

    “We use Deathbringer as bait to get Madam Medusa to come to us.  She is a woman in love, and love can always be exploited.”

    To Norman, her last words seemed edged with a note of anger and resentment towards Lord Recluse.  If the Dread One picked up on it, he ignored it, because he chuckled deeply from his chest.

    “Yes…excellent idea, my dear.”  His attention shifted back to Norman.  “Find Medusa, and use the prospect of being reunited with her husband as bait.   I trust you will succeed on your mission.”

    “Thank you, my Lord,”  Norman bowed gratefully.  He always relished the opportunity to go to Paragon City.  With a little luck, he might even run into Thauma Guard, he mused.  He started to leave the audience chamber.

    “Ah, Protector,” came Lord Recluse’s voice.

    Norman stopped in his tracks and slowly turned to face his Lord.

    “I believe some congratulations are in order.  You’ve recently acquired custody of a child, I hear.”
    “Someone I vowed to protect, my Lord.”  Norman explained.

    “I  would ask nothing less of you.  I would like to meet this young lady some day.” 

    “I’ll bring her with me when I do not have my Lord’s business to attend to, Great One,”  Norman added, and quickly left.  With Lord Recluse, there were no such things as requests, only polite demands.

    TO PART 3 >

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