~ Lucien's Luck ~

His name, in the language of High Rock, means luck. His first name means light. Ironic, isn't it? He has never walked in the light, and as for the other one: twenty one years ago, he completed a contract and thought it over and done with and went on to the next, but by chance a boy child lived to tell the tale and grew to manhood wrathful and cunning, and with a hunger for vengeance that increased with each passing year. How's that for luck?

He looks Imperial through and through - looked Imperial, you correct yourself. What he looks like now hardly bears thinking about.

But with a name like that, you muse, almost idly as the sun sinks low over Applewatch, there must have been a Breton ancestor somewhere in the male line.

As with so many other things, you will now never have the chance to ask him.

The Shadow

You never even thought of it as murder. That Wood Elf in Skingrad, the one with the darting, suspicious eyes- he was convinced they were watching him, and he wanted you to help him stop them. At first you were humoring him, but humor quickly turned to alarm as you realised how far he was prepared to go.

Drawing your weapon had been a last resort. It was done in defense, after all, and no-one saw you. No witness, no guards, no bounty.

No, you never thought of it as murder. Someone did, though, because later that same night, you jerk out of a deep, dreamless sleep in some grubby Colovian inn, and he is there: beautiful black-hearted Lucien, like a piece of the night made manifest, like a shadow in the shape of a man.

You're on the back foot from the very start, defenseless and unprepared (and this will set the pattern for the rest of your encounters; the initiative, the advantage, will always be his and not yours). Flat on your back for one thing, weapons across the room out of reach, and still muzzy with sleep. Oh, and naked. You thank the Nine that the inn, whatever else its shortcomings, at least sees fit to provide its customers with good, thick blankets.

Yanking them up around your bare shoulders, you gape at him with a mixture of fear, shock and outrage. Murderer? Thief? Rapist? He looks dangerous, and that's got to be deliberate; no-one cloaks themselves from head to toe in midnight black unless they're trying to create an impression.

Murderer, then. But this one's no amateur, no freelancer come to your room by chance, and your fear leaps. Dark Brotherhood. You know, you could have learned a few things from Glarthir's paranoia after all. Should have kept a dagger under the pillow...

But then he speaks, and his voice is low and cultured and soothing, even if his words are not. He smiles at you. He steps from the shadows into the circle of candlelight, and in its subtle glow his eyes are like rich brown jewels.

Most of what he says slips by in a daze. All you can do is sit there and stare at him, and he smiles again and makes some remark about having your rapt attention. Gradually, it dawns on you what you are being asked to do.

It's futile, really. You're already in thrall, under his dark beguiling spell. Already you suspect that you'll do it, or anything else he might ask - but you feel obliged to say it anyway: "I'm not a murderer!"

Lachance looks at you down that proud, hawklike nose. "No?" he says softly, speculatively. "The Night Mother seems to think otherwise."

And he gives you a weapon, a thing of beauty. His gaze remains fast in yours, and as your hand closes automatically over the carved hilt, his fingers brush yours in the barest of caresses. Perhaps his smile widens, or maybe it's just your imagination.

"I do hope we meet again soon," he murmurs. And that's that. He turns to leave, with a lithe grace that even his dark flowing robes cannot conceal.

You huddle deeper into your covers, caught between disappointment and relief. "What, you're not even going to stay and share the latest gossip with me?" you mutter with sullen sarcasm.

In the doorway, he turns his cowled head. "Dear sister," he says, sounding slightly offended. "I do not spread rumours. I create them."

And with that he is gone, back into shadow. He never stays, as you're going to learn.