"So who, or what, do you think The Dark Shadow is?" Robert asked as they walked through the Houses of Parliament, in complete disguise. They wore the robes of an MP and each had a false beard over the lower half of their chin.
It was a rather good disguise.
"I don't know," replied Blake, clearly in deep thought, "The professor has Tara Rhodes and is currently looking what could have killed her but, as of yet, I have no idea. It won't take me long to figure it out, at least."
The walls were slightly Gothic in style - a dark, stained wood set into rectangular panels in a repeating pattern. The roof loomed over them at a great height. The corridor was cold and lifeless. There were no sounds but the soft pounding of their feet on the carpeted and rugged floor.
"Do you know what you're looking for?" Robert questioned, arching his eyebrow slightly.
"Something... odd," Blake decided, "Something which shouldn't be here... Aha, I have it."
"In 1834, it was destroyed, right?"
Robert nodded in response.
"But Barry tried to incorporate as much of the remaining structure as possible. What survived were... Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Jewel Tower and the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, I believe."
"I wish I knew how your mind works," Robert pointed out.
Blake ignored him, "We need to search every single one. They are the things that aren't supposed to be here. But... wait. Barry didn't include the Jewel Tower in his designs. Not really. So that narrows our search down to the Hall, the Cloisters and the Chapel. We need to split up."
Robert nodded, "That way we can get as much covered in less time. I want the Chapel."
"Then I'll take Westminster Hall. Good luck Robert, and make sure you don't miss giant writing on the wall saying "press here for a secret room"."
"Please don't remind me of that..." Robert said, gritting his teeth slightly in grimace at the painful memory of which he showed his true stupidity. He had made Blake laugh for hours afterwards.
"That's why I said good luck," the detective said with a nod, "You'll need it."
Two hours later - The Cloisters of St Stephen's (or what remains of them).
Blake frowned at the little of the once-great part of the Houses of Parliament that remained. The Cloister was a rectangular open space with pillars set between the open roof and the paved ground. So far there had been nothing suspicious in the other rooms. Not a single piece of wood out of place or a book facing the wrong way. Nothing.
The Cloisters were slightly ruined, and weren't strictly a part of the Houses of Parliament. They showed up in hardly any building plans, and that was the reason why Blake was intrigued by them.
He was disappointed, however.
The detective ran his hands over the brickwork, analysing every little ridge in his mind. The brick that was slightly out of shape, a minor crack in the roof...
There was a clunking noise beneath his feet as a piece of stone shifted a lot more than he expected. It made him jump slightly, but he regained his composure then knelt down to look at the loose stone.
It wasn't odd. It had no markings, nothing out of shape...
He slowly lifted it out of its original position and set it down on the side. Beneath, carved into some hardened mud, were the words, "The Dark Shadow - He will rise. He Eats nothing. he Is the Shadow. Darkness Eats Anything. Danger in the shadows. Beware".
Robert finally joined him at the Cloisters. The soft footsteps gave him away, that and the shadow that obscured his view on the mud.
"Hello again Robert. I have found what we're looking for. But as for what it means..."
"What does it say?" Robert asked curiously.
"Take a look for yourself..." Blake said thoughtfully, "Some letters are capitalised... I wonder what their significance are."
"T, D, S, H, H, E, I, S, D, E, A, D, B," Robert pointed out, "They're random letters. Someone might not have been able to spell or use grammar..."
"He is dead," the detective said, grimacing slightly, "He is dead."
"If The Dark Shadow, whoever it is, is dead... how can he have killed Tara?"
"Now that is the question, Robert," Blake said, "That is the question indeed."
They went back to Scotland Yard. They had no clues to go on. No witnesses. No nothing.
Scotland Yard was full of activity. Police officers and detectives everywhere, putting criminals in prison and filing different amounts of paperwork.
"What are we doing here?" Robert asked, "This won't help to bring in The Dark Shadow."
"We're doing research, Robert. Research."
"Tara Rhodes, and The Dark Shadow. I'll search through files to see if any of them have cropped up before. Meanwhile, I would like you to go and get Arthur. He might be able to help."
"You and Arthur don't get on very well. He wrote a book series based on you."
"I know that," Blake said, "We do get along well. I just find his moustache... irritating."
"You say he looks like a walrus."
"Do you like the books?"
"They're ok. It won't go far, though. The detective has a stupid name and a stupid assistant and most of all, a stupid hat."
"I'll go and see Mr Doyle, then. You can do all the research, alright?"
"That's a deal," Blake said with a grin.
Arthur Conan Doyle turned up in the middle of Blake's research. As always, he had his walrus-moustache which instantly annoyed the detective.
Blake, meanwhile, was stood over a filing cabinet. He had several files out on the desk behind him, all displaying the same name, "Tara Rhodes".
Next to them, were sixteen others. Unmarked.
The detective, however, kept muttering, "How the hell is this possible..."
"Find anything interesting down there?" Arthur asked, tilting his head slightly, making his annoying moustache lean to one side.
"I did indeed, Mr Walrus. How are you? How are the stupid books going?"
"They are going fine thank you, Mr Blake. I can tell Sherlock Holmes is definitely based on you. You have the best record for solving murders, have you not?"
"Sherlock Holmes is a ridiculous name. I hope you understand that. The books won't go far at all with that title. And yes, I do."
"So what are you working on at the minute?" Arthur asked curiously.
"There's a murderer known as The Dark Shadow. We don't know who, or what, he is. But we're still going to arrest him. And his victim, Tara Rhodes... she seems to be very interesting."
"How is that?" Arthur questioned, his walrus-moustache moving slightly as he spoke.
"Check out this," the detective said, handing Mr Doyle a brown file, "1750-1770. This is the first Tara Rhodes. The next one..." he handed Arthur another file, "1780-1800. Both killed in exactly the same manner, with no suspects and no witnesses."
"They could have been in the same family?"
"That was my first thought, but she doesn't have any family. There were ones born in 1810, 1840 and 1870. Each with ten years in between since the last one died. They all last for about twenty years, give or take two years. All killed in the same manner. Their descriptions are all the same, in terms of appearance, their cat has been killed every single time too."
"Why the cat?" Arthur questioned.
"I thought the murderer would just have been sadistic. But then I realised..."
"You realised what?" Robert asked from beside Arthur.
"It may be in no way connected, but the Egyptians believed cats were the guardians of the underworld. So if The Dark Shadow... if it isn't just a nickname..."
"You're saying he is a dark shadow?" Arthur questioned, "You know how stupid that sounds, right?"
"Look. The professor has got back to me and there is no reason at all why Tara Rhodes should have died. There were no marks, no scars, no bruises, nothing. Her heart is perfectly intact and there are no signs of a stroke... which only leaves one possible explanation. Something supernatural."
"Do you have any evidence of this?" Robert responded quietly, "It is an unbelievable claim."
"As a matter of fact," Blake said, "I do."
He opened one of the unmarked brown files. Inside there were drawings. Sketches, if you like. Pencil drawings, all containing the same thing. A dark humanoid shape with white triangular eyes and sharp fangs that protruded from its mouth. It seemed... semi-liquid. Sticky. There were tendrils of shadow that seemed to glue themselves to the walls that were behind it.
"Excuse me," someone said from the other side of the room, clearly directed at Blake, "There's something you need to go and have a look at."
"And what might that be?" the detective asked, looking up slightly from the drawing that seemed to capture his concentration.
"There's been another murder. No witnesses, no injuries... they say you're the man for things like that. We have the building surrounded. No one has left or entered. Whoever did it is still inside."
Blake smiled, "Bingo."