It may have just been coincidence that it was this night Bernard King found himself thinking of his two greatest apprentices, and how similar they had been. Both had been eager to learn, and swift to understand the ways of a sorcerer. Yet William had always been a force of brute strength, a hammer to Alexander’s rapier. He would pepper Bernard with questions and he, with the patience and tolerance of a loving parent, would answer them as best he could. The young Griffon had been an idealist even then; frustrated that he could not fix the wrongs of the world by himself. Fortuno, on the other hand, had been more patient, willing to do things one step at a time. The Elder breathed out heavily, and frowned. Because of him, they were both dead, his staunch refusal to help Griffon in his time of need had torn the world in two and robbed him of the closest things he had to sons. He had never had a family of his own, upon discovering his sorcerous abilities, he had avoided settling down for fear of loss, and fear of endangering the lives of anyone he loved. Bernard King had lived a sad and lonely life, but he had strived to continue for the good of his brothers and sisters in sorcery, so that they might learn to manage their Gifts.
He sat up in his chair and cleared his throat. The Elder Conclave sat, reposed, at their council table. They had assembled in haste, and haste was not something they usually did well. Edward Hartnell was on leave in South America, and the Conclave’s security was entrusted to other men, strong warriors but with less potency in the art of sorcery. But the Conclave were not concerned, there had not been a breach in security since the days of Griffon.
This was the time that Liberthine had promised to report by, and they trusted him not to be late. Yet he had been acting unusually lately since the reports of Jason Fortuno’s whereabouts and some of the councillors were considering having him honourably retired from his post.
‘Nine thirty.’ Remarked Vladimir, checking his fob watch. ‘He should be here anytime now.’
The signature three knocks were heard on the exterior door, followed by the scrape of the stone door moving back. Footsteps echoed along the staircase and the councillors turned to the sound of the noise.
‘I’ve come to retake my old position.’
The councillors stared in shock at the necromancer, who nonchalantly went to take his place. The council members rose to their feet as one. Bernard spoke for them, his voice calm and level.
‘You are not welcome on this Council anymore. You are no better than the rogues and abominations we sought to destroy when this council was formed half a millennia ago. You are not one of us.’
‘How…disappointing. But not entirely unexpected.’
Griffon coldly surveyed his former friends with a casual disdain, showing neither fear nor remorse.
‘Well, I offered you a chance.’
The sorcerers attempted to attack, but Griffon was too swift for them. With a wave of his hand he threw them to the ground. The energy he had received in Italy had strengthened him impossibly; he was casting magic without drawing upon his staff, charged with the energy of every student of the Facility. The councillors own weapons were summoned to the necromancer’s hand in an instant and turned to dust. Griffon saved Bernard’s until last, breaking the head from the wooden staff with his bare hands and casting it to the floor at the Elder’s feet.
‘Now you’re going to see why it was so unwise to deny me all those years ago.’
Griffon’s acolytes descended the stairs, led by the grim faced Maurice. They numbered fifteen in all, and were themselves accompanied by two dead creatures each, crowding the small room with their terrible presence.
‘Mr. Marshall, if you would come with me please.’
He looked over at Elder Thomas, who glared back at him.
‘You’ll have to drag me.’
Griffon smiled nonchalantly.
He extended his hand and Thomas was drawn to him as if by some invisible force. Griffon turned to his acolytes and said coolly.
‘Deal with them how you see fit. But save these two for me.’ He gestured to Vladimir and Bernard, who grimaced at him with hatred.
Griffon turned, his face contorted with rage.
‘If I am a monster Bernard, then it was because of what you did to me! I am your creation!’ He breathed heavily and turned to Maurice, quickly regaining his composure.
He turned away from the Conclave and ascended the steps, shaking his head as the massacre began. Bernard and Vladimir were restrained, but were not allowed to leave the chamber until the last of the terrible executions was over.
Griffon joined Cornelius and Sarah outside. His familiar remained silent, staring into space, remaining in the almost catatonic state he had been in since his master’s return. Sarah, on the other hand, kissed him warmly, smiling as the raw energy coursing through Griffon touched her lips. Griffon smiled sincerely for the first time in centuries. Soon, the two of them would rule supreme, and he might at last fill the void that had occupied his soul for six hundred years.
When the dreadful deed was done, Maurice dragged the surviving elders outside, where they were flung to the grass. Next to him stood Paul Spencer and a number of students who were struggling to keep the bloodied Elder Thomas under control. Griffon ignored them and pulled Bernard King to his feet, spitting in his face with utter contempt.
‘Look at me now, you stupid old man. Haven’t I proven you wrong? Look at all I have accomplished! Twice I have cheated death, and this is just the beginning! A new age will soon be upon us, and there’s nothing you or your pathetic followers can do to stop me.’
Bernard lifted his blood stained face to look at Griffon, but instead of a fear or defeat, he gave a sad smile, a smile of pity.
‘William, William. Always getting it wrong… all you’ve managed to prove is that we were completely right.’
Bernard closed his eyes, accepting that his time had come. Two thousand, two hundred and twenty eight years he had been on the Earth, witnessing the rise and fall of empires, encountering figures out of myth and participating first hand in events scattered broadly across the history books. It had been long and often lonely, full of pain and suffering, but there had been happiness as well. He smiled as he remembered attending the Sermon on the Mount, fleeing the fire of Rome, fighting the French at Agincourt and meeting Shakespeare one rainy night outside the Globe, giving him warm praise and confidence after a poor performance. But the last thought that went through Bernard King’s mind before he died were the times spent with his two greatest friends, Vladimir Serapus and William Griffon.
Serapus could do nothing but stare as his oldest friend was reduced to dust and ashes. He turned expectantly to Griffon, who pulled the Elder to his feet.
‘What?’ Vladimir asked incredulously.
‘You don’t have to worry about Bernard anymore. It can be as it always should have been.’ The necromancer was speaking with genuine sincerity, his hand outstretched towards his old friend.
‘It isn’t meant to be. I’m sorry William. But you are destined to fail.’
Griffon’s smile faded sadly from his face, quickly turning to a snarl as he angrily thrust out a palm towards Vladimir Serapus’ face, sending him flying into a large tree. The Elder did not get up, yet there was a placid smile fixed on his face. Griffon turned away as his servants disposed of the dying sorcerer.
Elder Thomas looked down at him in silence, inert with shock. The acolytes turned to Griffon.
‘What should we do now Master?’ Their lord and master did not reply. For an instant a tear passed across his cheek and he was completely still. ‘Master?’ But an instant was all it took, and the necromancer’s face hardened once more.
‘Track down every sorcerer you can find and bring them to me. As for the Fortuno child… bring me the Gentleman.’
Later that night, Griffon and Sarah lay in each others arms looking silently looking up at the stars. She was surprised at his tenderness towards her despite his violent behaviour. Back at the Facility, she had seen past the mature, flawed body of Dr. Edwin Orphal and fallen in love with the mind of William Griffon, that brilliant force that imagined a great and glorious future, the mind that had made her willing tolerate his temper and the necessary cruelties her job forced her to inflict. She had struggled through beatings and mental abuse as a child, before moving into the monotony of a day-job as a hospital intern, never thinking her life would change until that day when she had caught William Griffon at her hospital, in the process of bringing a child to the Facility. It had been a strange first meeting, but his ideas and promises of a better life had won her over instantly, and there had been no looking back.
William Griffon had tried not to think of Alice as he made love to Sarah. She had stood by him loyally, but he didn’t feel love for her as he had with his wife, or even in his pursuit of Miranda Warwick. But behind all his cruel intelligence and necromantic idealism was a lonely man who wanted to see his vision come to fruition with someone by his side. No matter, once his world was established and the hatred had gone from his soul, he was sure that his heart would open up to her. After all, what was the point in creating a new world if you had no desire to live in it anymore?