"Times Past: 1838, Family Ties Part I": In 1838, Richard Swift was a resident and lover of the city of London. For the most part, this love of London was the fact that his beloved family lived there too.
- If I recall the moment I became the Shade - the instant - it is just that, a moment in time. But simultaneously in my memory it took years. Cast adrift on an ebon tide. Agony, bliss, icy numbness, conflagrant light, anger, calm. And I became someone new.
- — Shade
Appearing in "Times Past: 1838, Family Ties Part I"
- Shade (Flashback and main story)
- Hope O'Dare
- Charles Dickens (Flashback only)
- Enid Swift (Flashback only)
- John Swift (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
- Sam Swift (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
- Culp (Flashback only)
- Adele Culp (Only appearance; dies) (Flashback only)
- Dopsy (Single appearance) (Flashback only)
Synopsis for "Times Past: 1838, Family Ties Part I"
His wife Enid's cooking had been a source of pleasure for him, despite the fact that they had a capable servant, who Enid would never allow to take her place as cook. He took further pleasure in trying to groom his son Sam for a life in finance, though Enid would urge him not to put too much pressure on him. Though ashamed to admit it, Richard favoured Sam over his newborn son John. That might have changed, if he had been around to see the boy grow up.
That would not come to pass, thanks to Richard's acquaintance with a man named Simon Culp. Mr. Culp had come to Richard with intent to make use of his talent for procuring rare and exotic goods. Particularly, Culp wanted Richard to get him a live lion. Despite receiving no explanation, Richard accepted the undertaking.
After that, Culp became a frequent figure in Richard's life, as the young man had developed a certain fascination with him. Richard's friend Charles Dickens was not a fan, claiming that Richard was being manipulated by him - going so far as to base a character with those traits on Richard in his "The Old Curiosity Shop". Part of Richard's fascination with Culp stemmed from his great travels. While Richard had barely left London, Culp had been as far east as Markovia, and as far south as the Mediterranean.
Eventually, the lion arrived, but it had died from the journey's rigours. It would be some months later before a young lioness arrived in its place, to Culp's great delight. In gratitude, Culp revealed that his client had invited Richard to a great banquet, and the young man saw no harm in accepting.
Unfortunately, Dickens' warnings proved true, as he and Richard were attacked and chained to a cross with others, and were to be a meal for the very lioness that Richard had procured for Culp. Gleefully, Culp revealed that he lured Richard into this situation, though it wasn't he who selected him for that fate.
Culp began to go on about how he turned to black magic in order to balance his small stature with power. He intended then to evoke a goddess named Scathach, "she who strikes fear," who demanded a sacrifice of innocents by some primal creature - in this case, a lioness. Strangely, Richard was requested specially as a sacrifice by the goddess.
When Culp released the lioness, it began to attack Charles, but suddenly, a great darkness began filling the chamber, and the animal was frightened away from her duty. Richard, meanwhile, had begun to be affected by this darkness. As fleeting memories passed through his mind, the man in that life he saw was cast aside, and he became someone new; he became The Shade. Though he was unaware of his actions, he apparently managed to save Charles' life, while consuming Culp's young wife within his blackness.
When Richard regained his awareness, he had killed everyone and every thing in the room - though Culp and Charles had apparently escaped. It would be a long time before Shade learned that Culp had become a creature of shadow as well, and it would be 87 years before Scathach herself would tell him why he was chosen to wield his own power.
With much of his memory taken from him, Shade decided it was best to leave the family he had behind, as he had left Richard Swift behind. Perhaps, that weakness of his own character led to the weakness of character that continued through the Caldecott bloodline. Even so, the future holds hope for the Shade, and he faces the it with a greater understanding of his weaknesses.
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