As Fortune stood over the body of Miranda Warwick, he gave no thought to the consequences his actions would bring. He would be outcast, maybe even executed. No, not maybe… certainly. But none of this mattered now… he didn’t think he was stupid for committing himself to someone he barely knew… all Alexander Fortuno could think of was Miranda.
All of the onlookers, save Miguel had turned away, for a powerful, deathly sensation had filled the air as Fortuno finished the incantation, energy visibly streaming from his fingertips. Miranda’s chest began to heave, and her eyes fluttered open.
‘Don’t worry Miranda… you’ll be okay now.’
As he finished the sentence, Alexander Fortuno embraced Miranda Warwick tightly as if he was never going to let go. But as they parted, an arrow of blinding, multicoloured light came shooting from over the horizon and looped over itself several times before crashing by Miguel’s feet. As it did so, a very tall man dressed in a black suit and bowler hat materialised in the glade, an umbrella in his hand. The umbrella concealed a sword, but more importantly it was a symbol of office imbued with magical energies. Wielding it was a man greatly respected by the sorcerous world. This was Simon Liberthine, The Arbiter, ambassador and herald to the Conclave.
The tall, thin man wasted no more time; he went up to Fortuno and a pair of shackles shot out of his pockets, sealing themselves tightly onto the sorcerer’s wrists.
‘Alexander Fortuno, I am placing you under arrest for use of necromancy.’
Miranda and the sorcerers vanished into thin air, leaving the startled Negan staring into space, rubbing his eyes in disbelief.
‘Those lawless, Godless curs…’ He turned to face his officers, who had swiftly followed on behind him.
‘Round up a search party at once. Fetch the constabulary, the Dragoons, anyone!’
‘I’m afraid we can’t do that sir.’ Mumbled Scriven. ‘I’m afraid you’ll have to come with us.’
Negan was stunned into silence as the young officer slapped the irons on his wrists.
‘Sorry about this sir. But the law is the law.’
‘That’s all right son…’ Negan gave an odd chuckle and smiled. At a time like this, all a man could do was appreciate the irony. ‘You’re only doing your duty.’
Alexander was swiftly escorted to the Elders’ meeting place where a courtroom had been hastily assembled, although a place of execution might be a more appropriate term. When he was placed behind the stand, he could see the disappointment and shock in the eyes of those gathered. Elder Bernard, who was presiding as Judge, gave his former apprentice a long, indecipherable stare. Miguel had been allowed to observe the proceedings as something of a comfort, though the bailiffs had confiscated the blade he had obtained from Negan’s men and were stood at the doorway, prepared for any shenanigans. Miranda was nowhere to be seen, and Fortuno could only assume the Conclave would have her silenced.
Liberthine spoke up, his soft voice betraying no emotion as he proclaimed the sentence:
‘Alexander Fortuno, you have been found guilty of the crime of necromancy, specifically the resurrection of the mortal Miranda Warwick. The penalty for such a crime, under any circumstances… is death.’
Alexander looked across at Miguel, who grimly looked back. Even a single use of necromancy could corrupt the user to the point that they could not do without it, and after finally disposing of Griffon, another power hungry necromancer was the last thing the Conclave wanted. It was after all, love that had driven Griffon to such ends in the first place.
As Fortuno looked away, he did not notice Miguel looking oddly at Simon Liberthine, who had his back to him as he continued to address the court.
‘This grieves the Conclave deeply, as you have performed many great services for us, but the law is absolute.’
The Arbiter grimly pulled out a gleaming ceremonial blade, ready for the execution, and handed it to a hooded figure dressed all in black. It was unusual for the punishment to be carried out immediately, but these were unusual times.
‘Do you have anything to say before the sentence is carried out?’
Alexander looked straight up at the Elders.
‘Milord, ladies and gentlemen of the Council, I am aware that I have broken our most ancient laws and am fully willing to pay the price. But, sirs, know this… given the choices again, I would surely do the same.’
As he said this, Miguel grabbed the umbrella from Simon Liberthine’s hand, using it to create a blinding blast of white light. Before the light cleared, Miguel had caught his friend by the arm, and they vanished into thin air, much to the indignation of the Councillors. None of them noticed a sly grin quickly shoot across the face of Bernard King.
Alexander and Miguel reappeared on the southern edge of Hyde Park, where Miranda and Sam were already standing. Miranda embraced her beloved; Sam immediately began to clean himself.
‘You can teleport? No wonder you always seem to get in and out of trouble so easily.’ Fortuno grinned.
‘I know enough of the ‘forbidden arts’ to get me by. And I do have friends in high places.’
Fortuno grinned, before remembering something that he had put out of his mind whilst trying to save Miranda.
‘Miguel, what happened to Captain Fraser?’
‘I took special effort to meet with the Elders’ spy before our little attack on the fort and prepare an escape. They’ll be on the run, but I imagine he’d have it no other way.’
‘Tell me then, who was the spy?’
Miguel tapped his nose and smiled.
‘Some other time. There are powers on this Earth greater than even the Conclave’s agents.’ He took a glance at the far end of the park. The Conclave’s enforcers had not yet emerged, but it was only a matter of time. ‘Well Alex, this is where I leave you.’
‘In trouble? How like you Miguel. Although it would have been good of you to inform me of your little plan before you sprang into action.’ Fortuno smiled at his old friend.
‘Always keep them guessing Alex.’
‘This is twice you’ve saved my life, I am in your debt Miguel.’
‘How can a friend be in debt?’ he asked philosophically. ‘Besides, this is sure to cover most of the trouble I’ve got you in before.’ His faced turned serious. ‘Now run, run far away. We will not be able to see each other for some time I fear.’ He grinned. ‘I believe Mr Liberthine will be wanting his umbrella back.’
‘Farewell my friend.’
‘Good luck… to both of you.
The two sorcerers embraced tightly, Miguel gave Miranda a quick peck on the cheek, and the two fugitives vanished into the night. Sam paused from his bath to look at Miguel.
‘Assisting a fugitive from justice, unlawful teleportation…you do know they’ll crucify you when they find you, don’t you?’
Miguel did not reply, he simply smiled, gave a magician’s flourish and disappeared.
That was 1873.