The picture fades in to the blurry outline of Mia walking out onto the driveway of Ravenhearst Manor, the heavy rain obscuring her on her way to her car that had been brought up by Alistair. The camera zooms out a bit, showing The Shadow standing in the tall window at the end of the hall overlooking the entranceway to the Manor, once in pristine condition, now partially overgrown like a child waking up in the morning, unkempt and in disarray. He slowly shakes his head as he turns around and it becomes clear that the driveway is not the only thing having taken a turn for the worse in the last few weeks for deep lines of exhaustion and worry are etched on The Shadow’s face, partially covered by a growing beard, which is not enough to conceal the gauntness brought on by Myfanwy’s kidnapping at Twilight of the Gods and the following mad dash trying to find any information about her whereabouts.
His head hanging low due to the disappointment of Mia’s felt betrayal at Golden Intentions and the subsequent ejection from the Manor, he shuffles past the camera towards his study, the roar of the rain the only sound save for the distant revving of a car engine, followed by the crunch of gravel, just to be replaced by the rain again and the howl of the wind whipping the downpour along. A downpour that normally was only common during a brief cloudburst during a thunderstorm, but instead having lasted for over three hours by now, in a way an apt portrayal of The Shadow’s state of mind.
As he steps into the study, Sanford Thibodaux is sitting in an armchair next to the roaring fireplace, a glass of whiskey in his hand, his eyes closed.
Sanford Thibodaux: So she is gone, is she?
The Shadow: Yes, yes she is.
Again shaking his head in disbelief, he grabs a glass filled with appears to be lemonade himself before sitting down across from Sanford.
Sanford: And now what?
The Shadow: She will have to find her way, I have done what I could.
He takes a long sip, unfocusedly staring into the flickering flames of the fireplace.
Sanford: Are there still The Forsaken?
Despite himself The Shadow manages a short laugh.
The Shadow: With how many people have forsaken The Forsaken? But yes, The Forsaken will not perish unless I perish.
He looks over at the bald Louisianian, some of the fire we have known from The Shadow somewhat rekindled.
The Shadow: Ataxia is gone. Zach is gone. Dorian is God knows where. Now Mia is gone.
Sanford: Jimmy is back.
The Shadow: Well, technically Jimmy never was a part of the Forsaken, but right now he is the only one standing by my side.
Sanford: Hey, we--
The Shadow lifts his hands in a gesture of calming as Sanford sits up and forward.
The Shadow: We’re talking about the Forsaken here, Sanford, don’t worry, I know I can always count on you and the others.
With a relieved look on his face Sanford slinks back into his chair.
Sanford: Thank you. But now-- Stewart. It is pretty clear that he is behind the whole thing, but he still is the boss of CWF, so he’ll be able to dictate matches for you that could get you hospitalized or worse!
The Shadow: Now, he won’t.
Sanford furrows his brow and looks at the Canadian quizzically.
The Shadow: No. Didn’t you read the news?
Sanford: Apparently not the same news you were reading…
The Shadow: Well, in San Juan they will be announcing the new CEO of CWF.
He takes another sip as he lets the words sink in and Sanford finds the news release on his phone.
Sanford: I thought Stewart owned everything.
The Shadow: That’s what he wanted people to think, but he was just the biggest shareholder. There is another letter here that explains things a little. Read this.
He takes a folded letter out of the pocket of his shirt and hands it over.
Sanford: Someone has bought all the other shares from the different shareholders and transferred into a trust account overseen by a law firm. Wow. I did not expect that. Any idea who that would be?
The Shadow: What does the letterhead say?
Sanford: Thibodaux and McLean Corporate Law… Wait… Thibodaux, McLean, what is happening here?
Despite the seriousness of the situation The Shadow begins to laugh.
The Shadow: Yes and no. Yes, I took the liberty to register a law firm in the name of two very trusted gentlemen in an attempt to avoid suspicion when suddenly shares would be bought up. But no, I am not the new CEO. Check the second page.
Sanford folds over the first page and his eyes go wide.
Sanford: Are you serious? The new boss is--
With a sharp gesture The Shadow raises his hand to silence his friend.
The Shadow: Ssshhh. The walls have ears, Sanford, you should know that better than I do. Let them have their surprise at Evolution.
The darkskinned man closes his mouth again and sits back, shaking his head in disbelief as he re-reads the letter in his hands.
Sanford: Wow. Just wow. But now Paradine, who stuck you with him and in the opener? Still Stewart?
The Shadow: I don’t know and quite frankly, I don’t care. I know that Stewart was not happy with how I confronted him at the PPV and then how I took out Ataxia in the battle royal.
Sanford: So now what about Paradine?
The Shadow: What about him? It’s not the first time we meet and the last match, well, let’s put it like that, Lindsay was not very fond of him at the time and kind of screwed things up. I don’t harbour any ill feelings towards him, at least not anymore, because I have come to realize that I have way bigger fish to fry.
Sanford: So are you going to just tank the match?
The Shadow: Oh no. I have to pull myself back together, you’ve seen how everything has fallen apart. I have let my worry for Myfanwy tear me apart and push me off course, but I have to focus. And with Jimmy on our side now I think that we can use Stewart being torn out of his comfort zone, his tower of power.
Paradine, he is a formidable opponent, only few can match his submission holds and his ring intelligence. Just look at Golden Intentions, it was either beat Daniels or be out of CWF and he prevailed despite the pressure. No, he is trying to build himself up again, but so am I. It feels like an eternity that I held that title. I’ve been so out of it. I have to take a step back and reevaluate where we stand.
Sanford: Taking a step back?
The Shadow: No, that is not what I mean and you know that.
Sanford: A penny for your thoughts sometimes…
The Shadow: That won’t work either.
The Shadow: We don’t have pennies anymore, remember? You need to invest a nickel now.
Sanford: Oh come on! But good to see you are coming back, I have not heard this from you in a while.
The Shadow taps his temple with his index finger.
The Shadow: I have to get the brain cells firing in sync again. That is why Paradine is so important. If I let go, I will lose to him and lose focus again. That is why I will treat this match as if it was not an opener to an Evolution, but a match for the world title. And anybody who thinks that I’m not all there anymore because of Myfanwy gone, well, they will see that The Shadow is not gone.
He turns towards the camera.
The Shadow: Nathan, I am sorry that you will be the first to feel it, but you are just the first step in the return of The Shadow. CWF, you are herewith put on notice - I am back. Oh, and Stewart, may the Lord have mercy on your soul, because you will need all the mercy he can bestow upon you…
The picture fades to black as it focuses on The Shadow’s mirthless, piercing gaze.