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ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE
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
“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
“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
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
“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
“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
“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.
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