Chapter 1:

The Lioness

Shadows of the Elite

Two men from the noble class of the kingdom are having a conversation about the news that has spread all around Britain: a woman Earl has become the first captain of a special police force, chosen directly by Her majesty, Queen Victoria.

"She's still young," one of them says. "And she has more wealth and power than most of us."

"Great Britain has never witnessed such a farce," the other replies.

"Shh, we're not supposed to doubt Her Majesty's decision. She must be worried about what we've been hearing lately, these bloody low-class cockroaches, walking around, murdering us, nobles, and trying to hybrid the pure noble blood that goes in our veins"

The two nobles are Lord Reginald Ashcroft and Baron Percival Stirling. They gathered at Earl Eleanor Thornwood's place because she invited them and others to celebrate the honor she received from the queen. It wasn't a big prom like the nobles usually make; only eight guests were invited. Expensive wine was served to those who are present. Eleanor starts clinking her glass to get everybody's attention.

"Honored company, we're gathered here to celebrate our queen's majestic decision of making me the first woman to ever lead a special police force. Her Majesty's decision is nothing but true proof that Britain believes in one's ability and competence, regardless of gender. In this context, ladies and gentlemen, I recommend you to have a great time."

"I'd like to introduce the attendees, starting with myself. I am Eleanor Thornwood. You can call me Nora if you think we're close enough. Standing next to me is my butler, Oliver. Call him whenever you feel like you need anything."

She looks towards a small group then continues.

"Sir Archibald Channing, Viscount Edmund Fairchild, and Lady Arabella Pembroke are the ones chatting over there," she toasts with a smile, and the group reciprocates the respect.

"We unsurprisingly have Lord Reginald Ashcroft and Baron Percival Stirling together. You guys really can't find better company than each other. And the ladies Penelope and Rosalind Worthington."

Eleanor finishes introducing the guests, or at least that's what she claims. In the corner of the room, he was sleeping with his foot on the table – an act of absolute disrespect. All the guests are staring at him, with his hat hiding his face and clearly waiting for Earl Eleanor to explain. But she doesn't.

Angrily, Percival Stirling, who's an elitist with a terrible personality, walks toward the man and is definitely willing to give him a lesson in etiquette. He stops next to the sleeping man, who doesn't seem to react.

"Earl Thornwood, couldn't you find a better guest for your little gathering than this rat?"

Nobody answers Stirling's question, which makes him angrier.

"The butler... Oliver, right? You forgot to take out the garbage, didn't you?"

Still, there's no answer. Some are so scared to talk to Stirling at that moment, while others just don't care. However, the fact that he's being ignored is making him boil.

He takes his long black and clearly expensive cane, and raises his hand, ready to break every single bone in the man's body. The cane moves with impressive speed; normally, the man's blood would spread all over the place. But suddenly, the cane stops. A strong hand is holding it, and the Baron can't move it at all. When he realizes whose hand it is, he can't help but feel humiliated, surprised, and terrified.

Eleanor's hand is tightly holding the cane, and she's looking at Stirling with her beautiful eyes, which for the first time look scary. The Baron realizes that he's playing with the wrong person. The rage inside him is suddenly replaced by complete submission.

She gives him his cane back, and the disgusted look disappears from her face before she elegantly leans on the man and whispers, "Theo, wake up!"

Her voice isn't comparable to the Baron's voice, who kept screaming at the man. The guests struggle to hear her whisper, but the man immediately takes his hat off and sits appropriately, with his eyes fixed on Eleanor's.

The guests watch the two create a beautiful scene, as if they were dancing in harmony. Just from their eyes, you can understand what kind of people they are: the careless but amused eyes of Eleanor, and the eyes that burn with obsession the man has – such an unfortunate couple.

The scene suddenly ends, and Eleanor stands up, introducing him.

"This is Theodore Wycliffe. He's my friend."

Eleanor walks towards her seat, as if trying to create an atmosphere for an important conversation – a very important one. She gives Theodore an angry look, which makes him realize his mistake. In order to get the night going, he speaks.

"My name is Theodore Wycliffe – scientist, special detective, traveler, and Eleanor's old classmate, among many other things."

He stops, then holds a newspaper. "A whole family was murdered in Seven Dials, London," he reads, before addressing the attendees. "Well, Seven Dials is a wild place, isn't it? We shouldn't be surprised or worried if another commoner dies on a commoner's street, am I right?"

Everybody stops talking suddenly, before Edmund Fairchild chimes in with his angelic voice, "What are you talking about, Professor Wycliffe? This is a terrible murder crime. Being a commoner doesn't make one's life less important."

Theodore smiles at Eleanor before another person speaks up.

Penelope Worthington, the older Worthington sister – a woman of pride who inherited a man's heart from her father, believing his bloodline is that of knights – says with an ironic tone, "I'm so disappointed in you, Sir Fairchild. How could you compare us to the lower class? We're clearly better in every way."

Her younger, shy sister, Rosalind, hides behind Penelope's back, stealing glances from time to time. She looks at the guests, recognizing each person's face. She notices that whenever she looks in Theodore's direction, he is staring at her and giving her a comforting smile.

"I agree with Lady Worthington," says Stirling, who has regained some composure.

Sir Archibald Channing doesn't seem to care about what's happening around. He's well-known for being a great playboy. This man doesn't do anything in his life except pursue women. Even now, he's passing the time with Lady Arabella Pembroke. Her reputation isn't better than his; she has been in many relationships before, but her former partners aren't around to tell stories anymore. The cases were so complicated, and they were closed due to the lack of evidence, but it has tarnished the Lady's reputation.

Lastly, Lord Reginald Ashcroft is a very cautious man. He hasn't revealed much of his personality, except the fact that he always stands by Baron Stirling's side.

"Alright, i guess this was a nice conversation to have, shall we keep talking on dinner". Eleanor suggests with a satisfied look on her face, also proudly looking at Theodore, showing him that he did a great job revealing each of the attendees' personality.