"The entrance to the vault is through this passage," Rory says.
"I'll use the ghost potion to get through the wall. Then I'll turn off the security and let you in," Delaney finishes.
"What about the book in the main hall of the museum?" Shadow asks, "We want to pick that up too."
"Rory and I have discussed this. We don't think it's such a good idea."
"They don't check the vaults very often, so they won't notice a missing dragon tooth until they rotate their displays. Which usually happens a couple of times a year. But you saw how the docent was drooling over this recent acquisition in his tour yesterday. We take that book and it will be missed immediately."
"We'll be gone before morning," Shadow says, "And we've covered our tracks, haven't we?"
"We have," Delaney says, "But this business always comes with a certain amount of risk. I don't think we should push our luck."
"Maybe she's right," Iola says quietly, "Maybe we should just take the tooth and leave the book be."
Peridot jumps up, taken by surprise as Geoffrey whispers her name. He wasn't supposed to be here. But then, neither was she.
"Your orders were to return home right after delivering the book to the museum," Geoffrey says, his voice low so as not to be heard by the thieves discussing their plans below.
"I couldn't let this opportunity just pass us by," Peridot answers, "Shadow is right there for the taking. I decided to take the initiative and bring him to you."
"We're going to have a long talk about how I expect my orders to be followed, Agent Shinji," he says, speaking to her as an employee rather than as a lover or even a confidant, "But right now I have guests to entertain. Follow me. And keep quiet."
"Good evening," Geoffrey says, and they all turn to face him, "Welcome to the Landgraab museum."
"Shadow! Zap him or something," Delaney hisses under her breath.
Geoffrey chuckles and steps closer to the group, showing no fear, "I don't think your cousin's magic works quite like that. And there's no need for confrontation. I've come to greet you in person, and give you what is rightfully yours."
"You expect us to just trust you?" Rory laughs harshly.
"As I trust you not to blow up my family's museum, Mr. Bowman," Geoff responds with a light smile, acknowledging Rory's role in the destruction of a secret MorcuCorp cloning facility long ago, "You all have a history with my family's company. There's been much bad blood between MorcuCorp and your families. And I've come to put an end to that. Come, I'll let you into the museum."
"My family?" Shadow asks, surprised, "It's a Landgraab heirloom, isn't it?"
"It's a journal kept by one of my distant ancestors. One that happens to be your grandfather," Geoffrey answers, "Our families, our history, is intertwined, Shadow. You are a Landgraab as much as you are a Brannon. Or an Avendale."
Behind him, Peridot and Rory face off, each watching the other, ready to strike if either of them makes a move.
"I don't know, Shadow," Iola whispers, "Why is he offering us this book? I don't like it."
"It's knowledge, Iola," Shadow answers, "Knowledge can be dangerous. But I think we should take it, all the same."
The whole situation feels wrong to her, but Iola can't argue with Shadow's reasoning. The book contains, history, knowledge, and nothing more.
From the main hall Geoffrey leads them down into the vaults in what was once the dungeon.
"My research says all the teeth they have on record as taken by Reinier Landgraab are stored. So, unless, they kept bad records, Talfryn's tooth should be here," Rory says, standing next to Iola in front of shelves of dragon's teeth. One by one, Iola touchs them, feeling the death of each dragon, learning his name and history, until she finds the one they were looking for.
Shadow is drawn to an ancient statue of a woman, worn and broken with time. Like many of the objects stored here, it emanates a magical energy.
"There were thousands of these across the continent," Geoffrey explains, "One of the earlier images of the Lady to be venerated by humankind. This particular sculpture belonged to the Avendales. Your own mother would have seen it, touched it as a child growing up. When my family conquered her town, they removed such images from display, replacing them with their own religious iconography."
"And those images are stored away in basements now along with the Lady," Shadow observes, nodding toward the row of altars to the Watcher lined up in the cage behind him.
"Indeed," Geoffrey says, "Religion was a useful tool for my family, once. But we've advanced along with world. Or, we've made the world advance along with us. Landgraabs have always been the vanguard of change. Every innovation, every new discovery, has our name on it."
"What did you want with us?" Shadow asks, "My sister and I, we were born in your labs. You imprisoned my mother..."
"I'm no older than you are, Shadow," Geoffrey lies, "Had your grandmother not stolen you away from the labs, you and I would have been raised together like brothers. I am only the latest scion of my family. I am no more my father than you are yours, and I have no intention of trying to carry out old plans hatched before I was born."
"But you would still know what those plans were," Shadow insists.
Geoffrey shrugs, letting his eyes wander to the two beautiful blondes standing watch over him, one ready to leap to his defense, he other ready to attack him. Dangerous beauty is always the most attractive. "Genetic engineering," he finally answers Shadow, "MorcuCorp has a long history of toying with DNA. I am myself a product of such experimentation, as is my lovely assistant," he nods toward Peridot.
"I recognize her," Shadow says. His grandmother, Pearl was an elder when he knew her, but her features are unmistakable on Geoffrey's young companion's face. "And that's it? You kidnapped us with no greater plan than just experimenting with our DNA?"
"That's all I know," Geoffrey lies, "When I took over, I scrapped all the old agendas. I mean to keep MorcuCorp on the cutting edge, be the vanguard of change we Landgraabs have always been, not stay mired in plans from the last century. And that is why I came to meet you here, when museum security alerted me to your visit. To bury the hatchet, as it were."
"I don't think we're going to be able to just trust you, after what our history has been," Shadow says.
"No, of course not," Geoffrey agrees, "But this is the first step in earning your trust. We're family, Shadow. Landgraabs have always valued family."
"It's good to see you home safe, son" Aouregan sighs as she embraces Shadow in welcome. She hadn't been able to sleep properly since they left the safety of Drake's Hollow.
Shadow waits to get his father in his shop, away from his mother, to give him the details of their trip, and most importantly, their meeting with Geoffrey Landgraab himself, and the truce he offered between their families. "He gave Reinier Landgraab's ancient journal, because he was mother's real father, and he did seem sincere about acknowledging our family ties," Shadow concludes.
Farrell sits quietly, taking all this in, learning for the first time something his son has known for awhile, that Aouregan's real father was a Landgraab. "Son, not everyone feels the same way about family as you do," he cautions, "Taking any Landgraab at his word is foolhardy."
"I understand," Shadow nods, "But, I am a Landgraab, by blood at least. That must mean something to them..."
"I'm sure it means something, son," Farrell answer, "But bear in mind, they took your mother captive and brought her out of her own time, despite being a Landgraab's secret daughter. And this Geoffrey told you he was himself a product of their genetic experimentation. Being a Landgraab seems more dangerous than not being one, in terms of what they'll do to their own."
"Well, it's not like I've invited him for dinner," Shadow says, "Or even told him where we are. Don't worry, Dad. I'm not going to endanger my family."
"You may not have given him your complete trust, but it's in your nature to think the best of people. Even the worst people. Be careful in how you deal with any Landgraab," Farrell gives a final warning to his son.
"Are you going to tell Mom?" Shadow asks, "About her father?"
Farrell's lips press together as he considers. He hates lying to the woman he loves. "It would only upset her to know. And the knowledge would do her no good, I think," he says with a grim sigh.
"Dad is suspicious," Shadow tells Iola later.
"I don't blame him," she answers, "I don't think we should believe anything the Landgraab said."
"He did give us the journal..."
"And we don't know why," Iola adds.
"Have you sensed anything in it that could arm us?"
Iola shakes her head. "I've spent some time with. As much as I can handle," she says, "The emotions he invested into his writings are powerful. It's hard to sort through it all."
"Then leave it alone for awhile," Shadow suggests, "Let's go out tonight, and forget about everything."
"A date?" Iola asks, smiling.
"We haven't done anything like this, just the two of us, since high school," Iola says, swaying against him as they slow dance to the songs on the Toadstool's jukebox.
"We should make time for ourselves more often."
While his parents are out, Fergus slips into their bedroom. Normally, he and his brothers don't come in here. Not that they've ever been expressly forbidden entry, it's just, there's never much of reason to be in here if one of their parents hasn't called them. But tonight, Fergus is drawn into the room, like he's being beckoned by some unknown power. When he sees the old tome on their desk, he understands. His mother, his brothers, all share the same gift, can read the same history just by touching the cracked leather binding, but none of them can get from it what Fergus can. He can't quite explain why, but this book is his, he feels it.
Fergus sits, not touching it right away, knowing the flood of images, the wash of emotions, that will follow when he does.