A name Madam Director hadn't seen in years crossed her desk, a man with a pseudonym that she had once considered her best Seekers, had passed away, leaving just one small boy. His given name was lost, something he had asked for in repayment for joining the Bureau of Balance back in the earliest days. Back before it had a name, and it was just a symbol that meant something to them.
Madam Director depending a lot more on symbolism than words these days.
No one who was an active member of the Bureau would remember him, however. He was a man who walked with her through hell, along with their poor guide. Two of them made it out of Wonderland...their guide did not.
It would take one little boy sticking his nose too far in for her to remember to give him the traditional BoB burial and to let the last traces of him disappear.
Angus McDonald didn't call himself the World's Greatest Detective for nothing, no sir. However, he still was a little boy, and the only family member he had really known had passed away. Grandpa McDonald struggled to keep his cool when things that were stressful popped up, but Angus was pretty sure that was because of something traumatic. He knew what the signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were from his Caleb Cleveland books, so he did his best to not trigger his grandpa.
But Grandpa McDonald was also the reason Angus had become the World's Greatest Detective. He had made sure Angus could visit crime scenes undeterred, and soon the little boy actually did have that reputation...at least in Neverwinter. And he had sent Angus on his first case outside the city! Sure, it was just to hunt down the stolen silverware set that Grandpa McDonald had lost when Angus was only a baby, but still! The case had been successfully closed, and he was returning home on the Rockport Limited, the best train that could ever be.
That's when he ran into three gentlemen who didn't really act like gentlemen and weren't exactly the nicest to little boys like him, but they had needed his help, and they weren't so bad in the end since they were stopping a bad guy.
He didn't get terribly long with his Grandpa after he got home, though. Angus was afraid it was his failing health, ever on the decline from his adventuring days, made worse by the news that Angus had retrieved the missing silverware set only to end up with only a couple of utensils.
That's how he found himself dealing with lawyers who didn't like little boys who were the only next of kin who apparently knew more than the lawyers did. It wasn't his fault he knew what he was talking about and they didn't. Angus knew that in the will that Grandpa McDonald left behind, he left the estate to him. He also knew he was just a little boy who had lost the only family member he had. Sure, it took him a couple of days after the funeral home had asked permission to cremate his grandpa's body, and the funeral itself was only attended by one other person. The lady seemed nice, if not sure how to talk to a little boy, and she disappeared before he could stop being distressed enough to ask her how she knew his grandpa. Maybe she was just a nice lady passing by who saw a little boy standing alone in a cemetery and just wanted to make sure he was okay. He thought it might have been more to it than that, but there were other things to worry about.
The following week, he received the parcel from the funeral home that was full of jewelry they had to remove from his grandpa's body before cremation. One piece was a plain ring on a chain Angus had recognized as something his grandpa would look at sadly time from time, probably a wedding ring he had removed once whoever he had married had died. The other was the curious bracer he had never thought to question Grandpa McDonald wearing.
Angus stared at it, turning it over and over. There were no seams, and he had sworn he had seen something like it recently. No hinge, no latch, no tie, just one solid piece of metal, probably closed with a permanently sealing magic spell. Two triangles were engraved on what must have been the face, overlapping with their points facing in, to form mirrored, stylized Bs.
His grandpa kept a journal. Angus grabbed the necklace, looping it over his head to make sure it didn't get lost. It mattered to Grandpa McDonald, so it mattered to him too. Holding onto the bracer tightly, Angus ran to his grandpa's library, pulling open the top drawer in the writing desk. There was a key in there, and after some fumbling, Angus unlocked the drawer he knew his grandpa kept his journal in--
It was empty. That didn't stop the boy detective, though. As if he hadn't read about false bottoms in drawers before! He dug into the drawer, finally getting the edge of his fingernail under the board and lifting. There it was. The blue leather and silver scrollwork designs were beautiful, but he had to focus on the task at hand first. Where did his grandpa get this bracer that those three men on the train had? The men on the train acted weird, and sometimes they had said stuff that he couldn't understand like they were making the sound of gravel being thrown onto train tracks, but with their mouths. Grandpa didn't do that...did he? Angus closed his eyes, trying to remember if it had happened. Maybe? There was a birthday party he couldn't remember all the way.
He sighed, shook his head, and focused down at the book in his hands. His grandpa wrote in this every night before bed and had said once that it was important that a man write down everything because you never knew what kinds of things you'd forget. That was the odd thing about his grandpa, too. He was so worried about suddenly forgetting things. It was probably just because he was old, and when you get old, you forget things easier.
Angus cracked open the journal, eager to read the mysteries of his grandpa's life...only to find he couldn't understand words, phrases, and on a couple of pages, nearly the entire block of text. His eyes refused to focus and trying harder to focus gave him a headache. It was like the words were being forced out of his head.
After a few hours of struggling to get through the journal, he came away with more questions than answers. Why couldn't he read some of those words? Trying to read them sounded like the crackling speech of the men on the train...that was a connection there! Something was blocking him from getting some sort of information, and it was likely connected, what with both pieces of evidence he now had. Perfect.
But where to start? Before people could ask about the train crash, the men had disappeared, and he didn't know how to find them. He would have to wait. Angus knew the importance of waiting, about how evidence could appear at any time to open up a new trail.
The next morning, after a proper night of sleep and a good breakfast, he set out looking for cases where people couldn't remember things. Maybe there would be a thread of connection if he dug hard enough and asked the right questions. He had to just keep trying.
"You...are a troublesome little boy."
Angus looked up from the newspaper he had just gotten handed, where he was looking for any new cases where missing people couldn't be described. There had been a couple of them over the last few months, around the time that an entire town was turned to black glassy stone. The woman who stood next to him wore a kind, unsure smile. She seemed to not know whether to talk to him like an adult or like a child. People who met him for the first time often did that, but he was certain he had seen her somewhere...
"I know you!" She started, standing taller and leaning a little more on the white oak staff she had. Angus thought she must have been pretty when she was younger. Not like how celebrities were pretty, but just that she had a nice, kind face, even if her eyes were much younger than the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes or lining her mouth said she was. That was a different mystery for him to solve later.
"You...do?" Even her voice didn't sound as old as she looked. This lady really was a mystery. She looked around, nervous, and he noticed the same symbol from his grandpa's bracer, the same symbol he had seen a couple of times now since on these cases.
"Yes, ma'am! You were at my grandpa's funeral. I know you were, because it was just me and you. How did you know him?"
She looked down at him, worry playing openly on her face. She looked around again, then offered him that uncertain smile again. "Your grandpa was a brave adventurer with me, once, long ago. I didn't realize you were his grandson." She went quiet for a moment, then slowly bent down to crouch near him. "Your grandpa was part of a group trying to save the world."
"It's the group that I can't hear or read the name of, isn't it, ma'am?" The woman looked guilty and startled.
"...You are definitely a McDonald. You keep throwing me off balance." She laughed softly, and this time gave him a proper smile. "I'd like to ask you to join our organization, Angus. You can help us solve a lot of mysteries and stop some very dangerous bad guys."
"I'm Angus McDonald, the World's Greatest Detective, ma'am! If you have mysteries to solve and bad guys to stop, then I'm your detective!"
She smiled offering him her hand. "I'm Lucretia, Angus. Let's head back to my headquarters, and everything will make sense."
The innoculation ceremony was weird, but he got to keep his grandpa's bracer and journal. It didn't hurt that he didn't tell Madam Director about the journal. Something in him told him that he should keep that secret, for now. But at last, Grandpa McDonald's secrets would be revealed to him, and Angus could put the last of this mystery to rest.
With that, he opened the journal again, settled in his new room. The door was locked, he had a snack and a notebook to keep his own notes, and a brightly burning candle. It was almost as cozy as settling in with his Caleb Cleveland novels.
Met a woman named Lucretia. A young thing, maybe in her twenties? She looks like she's seen hell and is being chased by ghosts, but she came to find me. Said I was famous, and she could use my help. I told her people did that all the time, and I just wanted to settle down to raise my pup of a grandson. Poor boy is still an toddler, both parents lost in that flood that wiped out the Moonshae Isles. He was lucky, in that I had him that day, and we were far from the waters. Still don't know what happened there.
But I told her, "Miss? I just want to spend my retirement in peace. I'm not exactly eager to go adventure seeking, and too many people know me. I don't get any quiet anymore."
This wisp of a girl, she tells me the impossible. Tells me, she can make the world forget about me. I can take up a moniker, but no one will remember who I was. I could have peace again. I don't have to worry about people stopping me on the street every day to thank me, or blame me for not being good enough.
Help her on this one adventure for this secret group she's building to destroy some dangerous items, and I can just do research if I wanna, and raise my grandson in peace.
All in exchange for my name?
Sign me up, miss.
Lucretia tells me we're going to a place in the Felicity Wilds. Out of all the things she's afraid of, she said this one is the worst. Said something about other items, these Grand Relics, going silent, but she had gotten a flyer for this Wonderland place. Don't know what she's expecting, but I've never seen hope and fear in such even amounts over someone's face before. I know she said she was going after a powerful Necromantic item, and that if she could get this one to destroy it, she'd be able to handle the others, but...
She's going in there, hoping to see someone. I don't know who.
I hope she finds who she's looking for.
We picked up a guide in the Wilds, a ranger by the name of Cam. He knows the Wilds, and he's seen some people leaving this Wonderland place with a haunted dead look in their eyes. He says we shouldn't go in, but Lucretia's deadset on it. The big magic signs showed her something that must have shook her to the core. Cam must have seen something too, because he decided he was coming in with us, even though we asked him to just lead us there.
Hopefully, we'll survive this, and get back to our lives.
That goddamn place. That goddamn awful place.
I got off lightly, my body just weaker than he had been. I'm old, that's fine.
We had to leave our guide behind. Poor Cam. If I didn't have Angus to raise, I would have traded places, but I could...I can't leave that little boy behind. And Lucretia....she lost so much of her life in there. She looks far older than she should, and she looks so tired and afraid. She had someone to take care of too, she said.
Our poor guide. He was just supposed to get us there, and we left him behind like the cowards we are.
When we stepped in, there was a big flashy to-do, and she forgot to breathe for a moment. She must have known some people like those fucking elves. We played their stupid game, and I don't think there really are any winners in Wonderland.
Lucretia contacted me again for the first time in months. To be fair, it was far harder to get mail to me these days. She somehow managed to get people to forget my first name and all the heroics behind it. I can't even remember what it was. She said there was something important for me to drink, and that she had more to talk to me about ...something. I can't remember what, but there's something she needed me to know.
Angus nearly broke the vial Lucretia handed me before I could drink it. A curious 3 year old and glass are a dangerous combination, and I already had to get his glasses spelled so he wouldn't break them. I'm glad I did drink the oddly glittering liquid inside. While I remember my name and all those heroics now, Angus covered his ears and wailed at me softly when I tried to say it. Whatever weird magic is at work keeping people from knowing it must also be tied to this.
Lucretia also asked me to be one of her researchers. She called it being a Seeker. All I'd have to do is listen for stories of any large-scale destruction. I asked her about the wars I remember trying to avoid carefully, just a few years ago. And then I stopped, mid-word. Now I remembered those wars, wars I couldn't remember not even a minute prior to drinking that starry vial. And Lucretia...
Lucretia just smiled at me, a sad, distant look in her eyes.
I think she's closer tied to all this than she's telling me, but I can't quite pinpoint how. I get this terrible headache when I do.
Angus started piercing together words from the earlier entries in my journal. I wouldn't be worried except Angus is far too smart at 4 years old. He managed to figure out the false bottom in my drawer and pried it up. It's my own fault for not being more aware of him watching me when we're in the library.
I only found out because he dragged my journal to me to ask what a word meant. He couldn't read my name.
At least now I'm certain I know how well Lucretia's potion works.
Still, he's too clever by half. I'll have to find some new way to entertain him. I might go check out the bookstore to see what they have in stock for too smart little boys.
I'm glad those Caleb Cleveland novels come out so frequently. Angus already finished the first five and is rereading them. Again. A boy like that needs a hobby. Maybe I'll see about getting him those kid detective kits, since he likes them so much, before the next novel comes out. At this rate, he'll know about it before me.
I just need to keep him out of my hair long enough to get that information for Lucretia. I need time to find these rumors of destruction. There's so much to do still...and the more she tells me about these Grand Relics, the more I get worried...and the more afraid I am. Even more than ever, I don't want to let Angus out of my sight. What if he gets hurt from one of these things?
We really need to get rid of them any means how.
I just don't like how cagey she gets when I ask about how they came into being. Or why it seems to only be the two of us and a drow working on this. Does she really expect only three people to be able to find all these things before the general public does?
I forgot about this journal for a good long while. Angus must have been nearly 6 the last time I wrote in this.
He's grown up into quite the little gentleman and a great detective. He just turned 10 this week. He's been helping the Neverwinter guard and police track down criminals. While I don't like that he does it, he insists it's how he can help make the world a better place. I worry, but I'm not going to squash this dream of his. I'll let him chase it as long and as far as he wants, if it makes him happy.
I hope he can do this on his own. I'm not sure I'll be around for him much longer. After Wonderland, my heart's never been the same, and...I didn't want to leave him alone. I did the best I can.
I sent him out to go find some silverware this warlock managed to trick me out of years ago, telling me I was making a "fantastic deal". I just want that antique silver back out of spite, more than anything else. I asked Angus to hunt it down, and he was dead certain he had a lead on it. He left on the train this morning. Shouldn't be more than a week he told me.
He's on his way home. He actually found it, that clever boy.
I'm so proud of him.
I just hope I can make it until he finds his way home.
Angus lowered the journal, scrubbing tears out of his eyes. At least he knew why he never knew his grandpa's name, but he had no idea that his parents were lost in destruction from a Grand Relic...the very things he was helping look for now, to destroy them.
He knew now he was carrying on in his grandpa's footsteps, and he'd be proud of the things Angus was doing now.
Grandpa McDonald was a Seeker, and he would carry on that family tradition. After all, there were Relics to find, secrets to uncover...and most of all, a mystery behind Madam Director, or Lucretia, he wanted to unravel.
Angus just had to find his way there.