Griffon’s remaining acolytes surrendered swiftly afterwards. None of them posed any real threat now that Griffon was dead and the Gentleman had disappeared. Against his will, Simon was proclaimed the new leader of the free sorcerers, much to Miguel, Jason and Bianca’s amusement, and he was instantly called upon to form a new Conclave. The sorcerers seemed determined that everything would return to normal, as if none of the terrible events of the last year had taken place. Still exhausted from the battle, and still reeling from recent revelations, Simon straightened his tie and ascended to the top of the hill. Below him was Maurice, the current leader of the defeated necromancers, who stood stoically, head bowed, awaiting his fate.
‘I know that all of you here today are eager to return to normality following these dark and troubling times. You may feel that we once again need the guiding hand of a Conclave to lead us.’ There were murmurs of approval from the crowd.
‘But I say not.’
Gasps and angry words quickly replaced the show of warm support.
‘We had… we had a group that provided order and rules to our society, but at what cost? The laws our leaders created constricted us until someone was bound to break them. Yes, I enforced these rules, but I have learnt from the mistakes of the past. If we don’t do that, we cannot hope to move into the future. If we don’t trust ourselves, and our future generations to do what is morally right without laws to bind us, how are we different to the beasts which crawl upon the Earth? We must have faith, trust in each other… and in ourselves. Not so long ago, someone much younger than me showed me that sometimes we must act with our hearts, not our heads. And that is what I plan to do from this day forward.’ He stepped down to face Maurice. ‘Maurice, you and your followers are free to go.’
The necromancer looked at him with astonishment and respect.
‘This is a new day for all of us. Let us make it one of freedom, understanding, and peace.’ He paused. There was a long silence, before soft clapping came from Jason and Bianca. It soon spread to Miguel and Edward Hartnell, and before long, the entire gathering was cheering and applauding. Former enemies turned to warmly shake hands, realising that, despite conflicting views on the nature of sorcery, they were not so different after all.
The sorcerers began to disperse soon afterwards, each heading off back to their own home awaiting the next new challenge. Despite Jason’s role in turning the tide of the battle against Griffon, his succumbing to necromancy meant that he had been treated with barely concealed fear and disdain by some of the ‘pure’ sorcerers, and he decided to leave them as soon as possible. The records of the Facility would have to be recovered, and parents reunited with their children, and Maurice had volunteered to help Edward Hartnell in this act. He immediately dissolved the elite school of sorcery, much to the joy of its captive students.
Miguel Carrera was reunited with his wife, who had, like several rebellious students from the Facility, been guarded under the watchful of eye of several of Griffon’s novice necromancers, the few who had not been involved with the battle. Rosemary embraced her husband in silence, and the two disappeared for several hours to rest. Their experience in Griffon’s captivity had left them drained, but news of his defeat had invigorated their spirit and gladdened their hearts.
Over the course of the next few weeks, the casualties of the battle were buried, and a ceremonial funeral was held for the Elders and high ranking casualties of war whose bodies were not found, but most notably for Alexander Fortuno and Miranda Warwick. There was a surprising turn-out of those wishing to pay their respects, many people who had never even met the two, but who laughed and cried at Miguel’s speech all the same. After the eulogy, Paul Spencer slowly walked up to Jason, his head bowed low. He was still bedraggled and ravaged from the battle, but the most terrible scars he bore were not physical.
Jason looked at the pathetic figure in front of him. He felt so much hatred for Griffon’s most devoted acolyte, and yet, for some curious reason, he felt pity.
He thought about embracing his enemy, before settling for a handshake.
‘That’s past now. Just promise me you’ll make something better out of yourself.’
As the sun began to set on a green field where lay the flower strewn graves of Alexander and Miranda Fortuno, Simon Liberthine approached his two ‘foster children’.
‘Well… these have been hard times. The Conclave has gone, only time will tell if any of the old guard survived the attack, so… well I guess I’m out of a job. We’re trying our best to reunite the students with their parents, but in some cases… not a lot of luck. But now that’s it over, well… I don’t know where I’m going, but you’re more than welcome to come along.’
Jason smiled at the man who he would have been proud to call his father.
‘We’d love to, but I’m afraid we’ve both got other obligations now.’ His eyes flitted proudly down to Bianca’s stomach.
‘You mean…ah.’ His face flushed. ‘Well, I wish you both the best.’
‘This isn’t goodbye Simon.’ Bianca grinned, standing on tiptoes so that she could kiss him on the cheek. ‘We’ll see you again soon.’
Simon smiled, and walked off along the country road. Jason and Bianca watched him go, embraced, and left in the opposite direction.
‘Where exactly are we going?’
Later that evening, Simon and Miguel attended a small, quiet service in a London churchyard. While most of the sorcerers had celebrated his demise, they two knew the goodness that had remained in the man, even to the very end. As they took a moment to mourn William Griffon, laid to rest next to his beloved wife, the sorcerers, even the usually talkative Miguel, were silent. An era had passed; a new one would soon begin. As they left, they did not notice a small figure quietly approach the grave and leave a single lily behind on the freshly dug earth.
Lauren Sanders forlornly wiped the bar top clean. She had been happier in the last six months than in her whole life, and then everything was suddenly turned upside down. She was so lost in her thoughts that she barely even noticed the front door open.
‘I thought I might stick around…if that’s okay?’ asked Simon Liberthine. He looked out at her with a shy grin, clutching his hat under his chin like a bashful schoolboy.
‘Oh…that would be…just perfect.’
That night, they sat on the rooftop, high above the lights of the City, gazing down at the people in the square below them
‘You’re sure I’m not going to fall?’
‘I’m absolutely certain.’ He clinked wine glasses with her, and they both looked up into the night sky.
‘To the future.’