Tag Archives: Maurice Kendall

Chapter Forty Two: A Brighter Future

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.
‘Listen… Jason…’
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.
‘It’s alright.’
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.
‘Er…Jason?’
‘Yes B?’
‘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.
‘Goodbye William.’

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.
‘We’re clo…’
‘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.’

Chapter Thirty-Seven: Abandoning the Past

William Griffon had been in Romania when he received the summons, standing in the ruins of Vladimir Serapus’ old fortress. When the last war began, the castle had become a prison for necromancers who had been captured, the most notable being the man who Griffon had arrived to visit: Andreas Macellan, former Arbiter of the Elder Conclave and later Griffon’s deputy in the ‘Shadow Conclave’ of necromancers. If he had not been captured, it was highly likely that the necromancers would have triumphed.

Griffon walked almost blindly through the remains of the skirmish happening all around him, his black cloak whipped by the wind as his acolytes, led by Maurice and Paul Spencer, cast down the guardians of the prison with little effort. Though he was so close to achieving victory, Griffon’s mind was far from easy. A little way behind him walked Cornelius, as pensive as his master. A sentry hurried up to the necromancer and bowed.
‘We’ve found him sir.’
Maurice, lighting a torch with a wave of his hand, escorted Griffon along the dark hallways, where several of his men were busy setting free key members of the old guard from their cells. Those who remained were enraged, shouting and screaming themselves hoarse, but the acolytes paid them no heed. Griffon did not hear them; he was deep in thought; remembering his first visit to the castle, a memory that remained clear in his mind even after over a thousand years. Back then, the castle had been filled with the smell of freshly cooked meats, its hallways illuminated by torchlight. It had been a place of welcome hospitality. He and Bernard had stridden into the great hall where Vladimir Serapus waited, clad in robes of rich silk. The room was imposing, with great portraits hung in ornate golden frames. A large oak table had been set out before them, laden with a bounteous feast. That day, a friendship had been made that he had thought would endure forever. But for an immortal, forever is never as long as it seems.

Stirring from his reverie, Griffon eventually arrived at a great chamber, larger than the rest of the cells. In the centre of the room on the cold stone floor sat a dark, hunched figure that flinched at Griffon’s approach, before recognising his old ally. Macellan had wished to be given a seat on the Council, but was granted the Arbiter’s position for his years of faithful service. When the war began, Griffon had played on his ally’s disappointment at not being accepted into the inner circle and won him over to the side of necromancy.
‘Now here is a welcome face. They told me you were long gone William.’
‘They were right… in a fashion.’
Andreas Macellan had never been a large man, but centuries of captivity had left him emaciated to the point of being skeletal. His face had been handsome, but was worn from years of neglect, and was mostly covered by a large black beard. His entire body was a framework of skin stretched thinly over old bones that seemed to radiate a great sense of weariness. But in his eyes there still shone some cunning, a remnant of his days as councillor to Bernard King, and later Griffon himself. The memories of wild hopes and dreams that had once driven him lurked beneath the deep hazel eyes.
‘I tell you, if I had been there, things would have gone a little differently.’ He chuckled, the sound rattling around in his throat. ‘You actually managed to return then, come back from beyond?’
‘I did, and here I stand for all to see.’
Macellan’s eyes gleamed, and a crooked smile came over his bony face.
‘I knew it could be done.’
Griffon smiled as well, but there was something threatening in the gesture as he leant in closer. Macellan spoke again, and this time there was some genuine concern in his voice
‘Tell me, what became of my wife?’ For a moment an expression of concern appeared on the man’s treacherous face.
‘Katarina? She’s eluded me so far.’
‘Well, I am sure she will return once I am free of this place.’
Griffon made a murmur of agreement, but his face remained suspicious.
‘They named Simon Liberthine as your successor. Do you remember him?’
Macellan frowned and mused over the name before a flash of recognition came to his face.
‘Thomas’ lapdog? That subservient cleric boy? I presume you put that young upstart out of his misery swiftly and effectively.’
Griffon’s face darkened.
‘As a matter of fact, he still eludes me. He was never one to confront an enemy directly.’
Macellan rose to his feet, though the exertion was clearly an effort for him.
‘Well then, now that you have your old councillor once again, it’ll take no time at all before we find him… and crush whatever resistance remains.’

Griffon did not respond immediately, and when he did, his words were spoken with such abruptness and venom that Macellan recoiled.
‘You aren’t going anywhere.’
As he spoke, Griffon took a step towards the skeletal man, forcing him to cower back into the corner of his cell. Macellan looked out into the doorway for help, but the two were completely alone.
‘William?’
Griffon sealed the door behind him with a flick of his wrist.
‘I was secure in my fortress at Dijon. We had turned the tide of the war. Then I was forced to flee to some godforsaken cave in the Urals, because the Elders had discovered where I was. How did they do that Andreas? How ever did they find me?’
Macellan paled, and his hands began to shake, though his voice was calm and persuasive; the years in prison had not taken their toll in his sharp mind.
‘They could have intercepted a messenger, or deduced it from your past behaviour and attack patterns… how should I know William? I was in captivity by then.’
‘And that, Andreas, is when you betrayed me. What did they promise you? A more lenient sentence when I was found? The restoration of your abilities and station?’
He gripped the former Arbiter tightly by the throat and lifted him high above the ground.
‘Never trust a betrayer they told me. Much suffering and pain could have been prevented if you had held your tongue. Now, I will see you pay for it.’
Struggling to speak, Macellan managed to rasp out a few words:
‘There was… no bargain. If you had endured what I did… you would have submitted as well. Day after day, praying that the next turn of the wheel or lash of the whip hurts just a little less than the last. But they don’t stop; they never stop, not until you give them what they want.’
Griffon’s grip tightened.
‘Then why not lie, for all they knew I might have left long before they even arrived.’
‘It would… have done no good.’ He grimaced through his pain and glared at Griffon. ‘If you’re going to kill me…do it now. Finish this.’

Time seemed to stand still for one tense moment before Griffon threw Macellan to the ground. The fallen necromancer clutched at his throat, coughing and rasping as he struggled to regain his breath.
‘You will remain here until the end of days…. or until someone with a greater sense of mercy than I come to find you. Maybe they’ll free you from your miserable existence.’
He stormed out of the room and sealed the doorway.
‘Why didn’t you kill him sir?’ asked Maurice as they walked away from the cell.
‘I have seen too many old friends perish to have another die at my own hand. His captivity is punishment enough.’
Maurice sighed, and for one moment, his tough façade disappeared.
‘I’m tired sir.’
‘So am I Maurice. So am I. But think of your family. You love them don’t you?’
‘Of course.’ Maurice stiffened.
‘Then you’ll want your children, and one day their children to live in a better world. And they’ll know their grandfather was a great hero… a powerful necromancer, someone who helped to bring about peace and order to the land.’
‘Sir.’ Maurice shuffled off, not entirely convinced. Beside him, his owl familiar, Amos, had landed, carrion-like on a corpse, before pecking at it and disappearing. Seconds later, the corpse stood up, rather unsteadily, its own features now curiously owl-like. Griffon turned to the acolytes who remained in the area and spoke softly.
‘I require a moment alone. Finish the scouring of the castle, and meet me outside in ten minutes.
A great hero… someone to be proud of. If only there were someone left to think that of me Griffon thought to himself. It was then that he received the call from The Gentleman, and he immediately began mustering his forces for the greatest battle of their time.

Chapter Twenty: The Escape

Jason returned to Dr. Mutor’s classroom shortly afterwards to verify his choice of topic with his teacher.
‘An interesting choice. Not a popular one… although I suspect that’s why you selected him, is that right Jason?’
Jason nodded. He liked Dr. Mutor.
‘The Grecian wars will be a good place to focus on, and the whole feud with his brother Stefano is a very juicy topic. But be careful to get your facts right when writing about the Battle of Bordeaux, it’s a pet subject of mine.’ He smiled, and Jason forced himself to do the same.
‘I’m sure I can trust you to avoid bias.’
‘Yes sir.’
‘Have a good day now Jason.’

At exactly 8: 30, the students filed out back to their dormitories as usual, but as the lights in the main hall flickered out, one of the guards noticed a student crouching beneath the table, so well concealed that he had almost missed him. Moving towards the table, he was sent suddenly flying through the air by an outstretched foot. He did not have time to pick himself up before he was seized upon by the young sorcerers, who had been hidden behind the serving counter.
‘All too easy.’

Maurice, the Head of Security at the Facility, was standing watch at the doors to the living quarters when a guard in a hazard suit approached him, leading three students by the shoulder.
‘I’m taking these three to see Nurse Ellis, they have complained about feeling…unwell. I think there may be a virus going around.’
Maurice raised one eyebrow and snorted.
‘They’re probably pretending…’
He was cut short as one of the children vomited on his shoes. Maurice sighed, raised his other eyebrow and, making a gesture with the baton from his belt, cleared the mess away.
‘One at a time then, you know the regulations.’
‘Yes sir.’
The guard led the sick child past him, whilst the remaining youths stared silently at the floor.

After turning the corner and heading swiftly down a series of corridors, the guard and his young charge reached one of the four main outer doors of the facility. There were two guards standing outside the door. The guard motioned for the student to hide behind the corner, before disappearing outside.

‘Maurice sent me to relieve you; he needs to talk to one of you about a rumoured breakout.’
The guards looked suspiciously at him. Unlike most of the security forces stationed in and around the Facility, they did not wear hazard suits, and were clad in simple black uniforms. They had been hired for their size and their lack of expense rather than their brains, and it clearly showed.
‘Why only one of us?’
‘Because he needs to ask some questions about an event that happened earlier, and I’m the only guard on reserve. If he sent for both of you, there’d only be me to guard this place and that’s against protocol.’
There was a long pause, and the hooded guard asked, very slowly and deliberately:
‘Do you un-der-stan-d me?’
The security personnel nodded dumbly at him.
‘Good. Off you go then.’
The guards nodded dumbly, and one of them made his way back into the building.
‘Glad we can be alone.’

After dealing with the guard with a well timed strike to the back of the head, and checking to see that Bianca had managed to intercept his companion, Jason removed his hood and breathed a sigh of relief.
‘Hey, we’re not out yet.’
‘Still, good job dealing with him.’
She smirked at him and raised a playful eyebrow.
‘You managed to do it, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I can’t knock someone unconscious.’
They both took a deep breath, before stepping outside the building and quietly making their way up the nearby hill. The slope was steeper here than at the front entrance of the Facility, but it was also less well defended.
‘Almost there. Can you believe it? We’re actually…’ An owl hooted nearby, startling the two escapees. It was only then that they saw Maurice Kendall, with the said bird on his shoulder, flanked by three guards. Next to him stood Paul Spencer, smirking triumphantly.
‘You kids didn’t really think I believed you did you?’
There was no chance of escape. Moving surprisingly fast for a man of his bulk, Maurice whipped a baton from his tyrian purple duffel coat and aimed it at his young targets. They fell to the ground, as though struck by some invisible force. Maurice slowly approached them, the ground crunching beneath his boots as he pointed the baton at Jason’s face.
‘So, whose idea was this? Yours or your lady friend’s?’
Jason hesitated, until Maurice directed his weapon at Bianca.
‘Mine sir. She was just an accomplice.’
‘He’s lying Mr. Kendall; he’s covering for her…’ Spencer began.
‘Shut up. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it.’ Kendall silenced him with a glare, before turning back to Jason.
‘It was all my idea.’ Jason repeated.
‘Are you sure? Because if I find out you were lying…’
‘Why would I sacrifice myself for nothing?’
Maurice considered this, and lowered his baton.
‘I think you need to spend some time with the Director.’