The following evening, whilst most of Griffon’s war party were preparing for their next campaign, the necromancer summoned Paul Spencer into his presence, much to the young man’s delight. The older man was seated on a deck chair, with another set out opposite him.
‘You summoned me my lord?’
‘Yes Mr. Spencer. What is your opinion of our campaign?’
‘Excellent sir, we have made better progress than we could have hoped for.’
‘I asked for an opinion, not a report.’
‘Oh’. Spencer was taken aback and struggled to muster up a suitable answer. ‘We… we do what must be done sir. For our enterprise to succeed, the ends must justify the means.’
‘Hmmm.’ Griffon paused for a moment. ‘Bring Thomas Marshall to me at once.’
‘As you wish sir.’
He bowed and quickly departed, leaving Griffon to his thoughts.
When Spencer returned soon after, he brought with him the emaciated form of Thomas Marshall, who was being supported by two necromancers. Marshall’s familiar, Clavius, had taken his usual form as a magpie, but with a white bib that was strangely reminiscent of the shirt he wore as a human butler, and was perched on his master’s shoulder.
The necromancers obeyed. Griffon waved his hand and a chair moved out for Marshall, who wearily slumped into it.
‘How fortunate that I decided to keep you alive Thomas. For you see, now that I have eliminated my opposition, there is a little unfinished business I wish to complete, for which I need your help. Where is Andreas Macellan being held?’
Thomas looked up at him under hooded eyes. His face was haunted and drawn, while his eyes, always so stern and calm, were bloodshot, the right twitching dangerously. He spoke in a voice that was devoid of his usual professionalism and control, but that retained a flat monotone.
‘Why would I help you? I’ve told you too much already. You can rot in Hell Griffon.’
‘And you can be there to keep me company.’ Griffon retorted. ‘Don’t forget Marshall, it was your mistress who led me down this path in the first place. You were as willing a servant as any.’
‘I changed Griffon. I changed; because I knew what I was doing was wrong.’
‘Don’t try to take the high ground here. You changed because you saw your downfall approaching. The rat fled the sinking ship.’ He curled his lip at the former Councillor. ‘And I’m sure the fact that your mistress no longer found your company…’
Thomas had moved faster than Griffon had expected, and the necromancer was left holding his bloodied nose. He laughed, spitting blood onto the grass.
‘I haven’t…been taken by surprise like that for quite some time.’ He paused. ‘My apologies. There was no need for me to speak of Evanna like that.’
Thomas made no attempt to hide his surprise at this show of courtesy.
‘Why are you apologising to me?’
Griffon sank into his chair and gave a long sigh. The coldness seemed to drain from his facade, replaced with a deep melancholy. When he finally spoke, it was in a low whisper.
‘Because I’m turning into her. No matter how hard I try to stop.’
Griffon had not been present when his old co-conspirator died. While he was safely concealed in his lair in the Urals, he had received an urgent distress call from Evanna’s avatar. However, by the time he had got to her lair in Greece, she was dead, finally consumed by necromancy. Vladimir Serapus had been waiting for him, Miguel and Thomas at his side. His old friend had a great cut across his eye, and it appeared that he would be unable to see from it again. There was a great sense of unease in the air, but none of the men attacked.
‘Gentlemen. So who did it? Vladimir?’
‘It was me.’ Came a voice from behind, the voice of Thomas Marshall. Griffon had not expected that. He had considered the former necromancer to be little more than a lackey.
‘She asked me to. Better to die, she said, than to live with the knowledge that she had caused such suffering. Her works brought about her ruin.’
Vladimir Serapus spoke up, his voice wearied from battle.
‘Do what you have to do Griffon.’
Griffon paused for a long-time, and looked down at Evanna’s fallen form, her face finally peaceful in death.
‘No. You once spared my life for the sake of our old friendship. I owe you the same kindness. But the next time we meet, I will not be so lenient.’
‘I know you loved her Thomas.’
Marshall did not reply.
‘She was not a cruel person. Necromancy… it does something to you…’
‘You would know of course. The most beloved son of the Elder Conclave, hero of our race…’
‘It’s all a matter of perspective.’
‘Alright. I’ve done things… terrible things… things I can’t just blame on being under the influence of necromancy…’
‘Back in the old days you claimed that you could control that influence.’
Griffon laughed, a brief, mirthless chuckle.
‘That’s what I like about you Marshall, argumentative to the very last.’
‘It’s one of my few redeeming qualities.’
‘I know about your son.’ That comment stopped Thomas in his tracks. ‘The son she bore you in one of her last loving moments.’
‘My son is a dead man. If he hasn’t died already, then I’m sure you will show him no mercy when you find him.’
‘Why did you lie to him?’
‘Would you tell your son that his parents were monsters? A failed necromancer and a power addict who abandoned him at birth? I should have been damned for loving her…’
‘You don’t choose who you fall in love with.’ said Griffon, so softly that Thomas was barely sure he had heard him.
‘You and I are not so different are we… William?’
He stood up, and moved towards the cliff edge.
‘What do you think you’re doing?’
Marshall did not turn around. He smoothed down his coat and did up the buttons on his jacket, before responding in his famously calm and collected manner:
‘I have become deeply and thoroughly unsatisfied with the present company.’
‘You’re not just walking away…’
‘You will find Mr. Macellan at Serapus’ old castle in Romania. We always used it to house undesirables after the war. Jeffrey Holmes was the guardsman, but knowing him he will have done the sensible thing and found somewhere to hide.’ Thomas took a deep breath, as though in preparation. ‘I’m sure you will enjoy renewing old acquaintances.’
Thomas looked out into the black, unforgiving sea and was reminded of Evanna, his untameable, ever-changing love. He remembered the carefree days of their youth, and the passions they had shared as they reached maturity. When he had finished reminiscing, Thomas turned to Griffon with a sharp intake of breath, looking deep into the necromancer’s eyes.
‘Tell Simon the truth for me.’
He clasped his hands together, as if in prayer, before stepping over the precipice.
Griffon walked slowly over to the edge. There was no sign of Marshall. Slowly, calmly, he walked through his encampment and went up to the tent where Miguel Carrera was being held.
‘I have something I need you to do for me.’