Tag Archives: william griffon

Chapter Forty-One: Sunshine

The winter’s sun reflected magnificently off the ice, dazzling the remaining combatants. Yet where Jason Fortuno stood, there was no light, just a human silhouette, impossibly dark, as Griffon had been upon the day of his resurrection. Around its form was a vicious, cutting wind that made it impossible for anyone to get within two metres of him.
‘Jason?’ Echoed a hollow, cautious voice.
The figure turned to look at Bianca, but it was impossible to determine whether it acknowledged her presence. Griffon was shocked, but the fear on his face quickly vanished and his expression returned to one of self-confidence as he stepped forward to confront this new challenge.
‘At last, an equal.’
He thrust his arms outwards to blast the silhouette with another torrent of fire, but the figure seemed to absorb the flames, which spread across its form, giving it the appearance of being shaped from molten liquid. Griffon tried again, this time with sparks of electricity, but he was met with a similar effect. That which was once Jason began to walk towards him, effortlessly absorbing all subsequent assaults. Griffon grew desperate, and he began muttering an incantation, exhaustion causing sweat to come pouring down his face.
‘No, stop him!’ yelled Simon Liberthine, but no one dared to interfere. The necromancer raised his arms and screamed at his terrifying opponent.
‘You think you can take this away from me?’
With every last reserve of his strength, Griffon sent an almighty shaft of dark energy at Fortuno, sending him toppling. The acolytes that Griffon drew his energy from were falling one after the other, their essence drained entirely.
‘I’ve waited too long for this! Sacrificed too much! This…is…my…victory!’ He roared, punctuating each word with another stream of energy that knocked Fortuno to his knees. Both men were exhausted, but Griffon was an experienced necromancer, while Jason Fortuno was still a relative novice in the sorcerous ways. He held up his hands to withstand the assault, and a beam of energy pushed against the combatants, each struggling to force it towards his opponent.

Outside of the cyclone, sorcerers and necromancers all watched and waited. Their skirmishes meant nothing compared to the clash of titans within the circle. Simon Liberthine watched with helpless dread, he knew Jason could not withstand the barrage for much longer, and the effort made to rejuvenate his power without a conduit was draining his life at an alarming rate, despite utilising the life force of his wounded enemies, who seemed to shrivel up as their essences were sapped away. Making one final effort, the young sorcerer flung his arms outward, reflecting the beam of energy back into Griffon. With a mere flick of the wrist, he sent his remaining enemies tumbling into the grass. Griffon’s hooded acolytes seemed to explode from the inside, reduced to dust in seconds. There was a hollow laugh, and no one on the field recognised it as Jason’s own.

‘Jason! It’s too much, you’ve got to stop now!’ yelled Bianca from outside the cyclone. But her friend did not hear her, and continued with his violent onslaught. Sorcerers and necromancers alike were trying to stop him, but he cast them aside indiscriminately. The necromantic corruption fuelled his actions, but the young sorcerer’s life-force was almost depleted, and every use of his new powers sapped away at his strength.

William Griffon had been too transfixed with terror to move, but now he pulled himself off the ground and began preparing the teleportation incantation that would take him away. Jason Fortuno’s corruption by necromancy would ensure that all his enemies were dead; the boy would not be able to stop his newfound power destroying himself and all he cared for. When the dust had settled, and he had licked his wounds, Griffon would return with a new army and finally reign triumphant. His plans had failed, but the necromancer was always quick to think of new ones.
‘Why, William?’ came a voice from beside him. Cornelius stood beside his master, his expression stoic.
‘Cornelius… you traitor! If you hadn’t concealed him… it wouldn’t have come to this if you hadn’t…’
‘It would never have happened if you had swallowed your pride. You killed your greatest friends without remorse; you’ve destroyed life after innocent life pursuing a twisted dream. Your bitterness and hate cost you everything in the end.’
The necromancer angrily went to reply, but could find no answer. Cornelius was right. He sank to his knees, and remained very still. Alice, Bernard, Vladimir, Sarah, even Evanna, who had eventually been consumed by necromancy and died an insane wreck, pleading for the end at the hands of Vladimir and Thomas Marshall. Everyone who he ever loved or who ever loved him was lost. And all because of him.
‘No…I simply will not give in!’ Griffon protested, but with little conviction. He had been fighting for so long to build his dream and make others see the right way, when maybe he was the one who had been wrong.
‘William… there used to be so much good in you. There is still time. Do some good now.’
Swallowing hard, and lifting up his head to the sky, William Griffon, his energy already greatly reduced by his exertions, extended his arms to Jason Fortuno. He called out, his voice rising above the tumult.
‘For all I’ve done… and all I might have done… I’m sorry.’ Then, Griffon took the young man’s head in his and kiss his forehead. The great wind was stilled, and the darkness that surrounded Jason began to fade. The necromancer smiled despite his pain as he absorbed the darkness into his own body. As the remainder of his life ebbed away, he whispered to his dying familiar, once again reduced to the form of a crow;
‘Why ever did I do that Cornelius?’
‘Peace.’ came the serene reply. As the wind died down, William Griffon thought of Alice, smiled, and closed his eyes for the final time.

‘He… gave his life to end what he started.’ Simon remarked, his voice catching in his throat. The battlefield was completely silent as the combatants all pondered William Griffon’s final act in life. ‘Gentleman, your troops are to stand down. There will be no further bloodshed today.’
He looked around for the assassin, but he had vanished from sight.
“I guess… the war is over.”

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Chapter Forty: The Battle of Ages

William Griffon stood confidently at the head of his army, clad in an elegant black robe and red lined cape which swirled dramatically in the wind. He wore no protection or armour, so sure was he of their success. At his side was the Gentleman, silent and implacable, his hand resting on his silver swordcane. The necromancer’s acolytes and their legions of the dead vastly outnumbered Liberthine’s forces and Griffon’s powers outclassed any sorcerer on the field. Crushing these meagre foes would leave him completely unopposed. And yet… what did it matter in the end? His friends lay dead or scattered, opposing him from afar. His wife and child were long gone, and now even Sarah had deserted him. Could he not just give it all up, leave this place and never return? No. He had passed the point of no return; there was nothing to be done. He turned to Paul Spencer, one of the few willing alumni of the Facility on the field that day, and smiled.
‘This is our day. Today is where the old world ends, and a new world begins.’ He gave a signal to the men at his side.
‘Prepare to attack.’

On the other side of the field, where the rain had settled and hardened to become ice, Jason Fortuno tightly gripped the white staff that Simon had fashioned for him. He had expected to feel nervous, but there was nothing, just a cold sense of purpose. Beside him stood Bianca, who managed an anxious smile. For her sake, and for the sake of his family’s honour, he would find William Griffon on the field and wipe the wicked necromancer from the face of the Earth. In front of them was Simon, his face stern, prepared for the battle. His suit was once again immaculate; bowler hat placed firmly on his head, umbrella grasped tightly in his fist as he looked across the field.
‘There are a number of young sorcerers under Griffon’s control today, most of whom have no desire to fight. Deal with them carefully.’ Then, to Jason, he spoke softly.
‘Your parents would be proud of you Jason…don’t forget that, no matter what happens. Stick close to me.’

Jason smiled at the closest thing he had to a father on this Earth, and tensed. The other side were signalling for a parlay. He followed Simon forwards, as they walked to meet Griffon, Cornelius and the Gentleman in the centre of the field. The assassin smiled at Jason politely, with no hint of menace. Griffon strode up to Simon, a confident grin on his face.
‘Simon Liberthine… last of the old guard and now leader of the sorcerers’ ragtag resistance. Quite a promotion. But you’re no Macellan I’m afraid.’ Griffon turned to Jason and spoke as if giving a lecture. ‘You remember Andreas Macellan from your studies don’t you? He was Machiavellian before Machiavelli… nearly fought me to a standstill several hundred years ago with half the force you’ve gathered today before finally seeing the light. But his successor apparently prefers the bureaucratic side of his position. The priest, the functionary who abhors fighting… because he is terrified of it.’
Simon gritted his teeth and bore the insult the way only an ambassador could.
‘One last gloat before the battle… you never change Griffon.’
‘Oh you’re quite mistaken…I’ve changed considerably since our last tête-à-tête. Enhanced, you could say.’
‘I’m tired of talking William. Let’s just get this over with.’
‘Ever the professional, Liberthine? Very well.’
He turned to go, but Simon stopped him.
‘It’s not too late Griffon… it’s never too late. We can set you free.’
Griffon’s confident smile turned to puzzlement.
‘The old ‘last minute second chance’?’ He sighed and lowered his head. ‘No… it is too late for that I’m afraid, Simon. After all I’ve done, the work must be carried out.’ He bowed ceremoniously. ‘Farewell young Jason. I’ll look for you on the field.’ With that, he raised his staff in salute, turned, and walked back to his army.

‘My fellow sorcerers and sorceresses… we stand about to face the greatest battle of our time. We may all meet our maker today… but we can certainly give them hell before the end. It has been an honour and a privilege living and fighting alongside you…’ His voice faltered, for the first time in his life, Simon realised he could not hide his feelings.
‘Good luck… and Godspeed.’
There was a roar as the sorcerers drew their weapons. Despite the massive advancement in technology since the last war, they still fought with swords and melee weapons; a gun was no use against a sorcerer.

‘After today…everything will be as it should.’
It was uncertain whether Griffon spoke to his army or to himself as he prepared to meet the assault. He tensed, and concentrated hard before sending a wave of dark energy at the sorcerers, who managed to deflect it, but at the cost of slowing their attack. Chaos descended in a matter of seconds. Jason was the second to run forwards, hot on Simon’s heels. He remembered everything he had learned in the Facility, all the tricks and underhand ways of achieving victory, for he knew there would be no victory through brute strength alone. He saw Simon leap through the air and bring his sword down on the heads of several acolytes, while further back, Bianca and the unarmed sorcerers continued to cast defensive sorcery around their fighters. At the rear of Griffon’s army, the unwilling students of his Facility served a similar purpose, while the more militant students seemed gruesomely delighted to be in the middle of the fray. They were led by Maurice, who was effortlessly knocking down all in his way, halting only when he locked blades with the Castellan.
‘Traitor.’
‘Bootlicker.’
‘Hypocrite.’
Maurice sighed. ‘This is going to be a long day.’

William Griffon felt the adrenaline surge through his body as he cast down his opponents with ease. He had not felt such raw power since the War, and he yelled in exhilaration as he struck out at the sorcerers, his dark eyes on the constant watch for Jason Fortuno. Never wanting to stray too far from his idol was Paul Spencer, who was fighting as ferociously as any of the adult sorcerers on the field. He halted his destructive frenzy as he reached the far end of the field, coming face to face with Bianca White.
‘Bianca. I’ve been looking forward to this. Mr. Griffon’s been particularly vexed by the trouble you’ve caused. Well…’
Before he could finish, Bianca knocked him out cold with a single punch to the face.
‘You always did talk too much.’

Bianca wasn’t the only one dealing with an old enemy. At the other end of the fracas, Simon Liberthine cut a path through the black clad acolytes with his rapier. While he had confidence in Jason, he knew the boy would be no match for Griffon if they met on the field. But the acolytes continued to swarm around him, and he lost sight of the young sorcerer amidst the chaos.
‘Having trouble Mr. Liberthine?’
Liberthine turned to face the Gentleman, who was standing unsullied and unharmed in the centre of the fracas, as though both friend and foe alike had cleared a path for him.
‘Not at all. Care to join me?’ Simon smirked with a great deal more confidence than he possessed.
‘But of course.’
The two professionals leapt at each other and began a vicious yet almost elegant battle that no sorcerer or acolyte dared to venture near to.

Jason ducked and weaved through the combatants, his heart pounding furiously against his chest. He stopped suddenly in his tracks. Griffon was standing, smiling at the young sorcerer as though he were a long-lost relative.
‘Ah young Fortuno. It’s been too long.’
‘Not long enough.’ Jason snarled, raising his staff. ‘But since you’re here…’
‘Oh please.’ Griffon smirked, batting the staff away. ‘You have your father’s penchant for cliché, but I doubt you have his skills.’
‘Of course not. I learnt them at your Facility.’
‘Touché. But rather childish don’t you think’ He raised his staff towards the young sorcerer. ‘Well, we might as well get this over with.’

The moment Griffon finished speaking; Jason hurled a ball of energy at his head, which dissipated in an instant. The necromancer deflected all of his attacks with ease, he had been a formidable sorcerer in the past, and his rebirth had only strengthened his abilities. He blocked all Jason’s attempts at attacks with a gesture of his hand before breaking the head from the boy’s staff with an almighty crunch. Jason felt like a child being toyed with as he prepared for the inevitable melee.
‘You can still surrender.’
‘No turning back now.’
Jason raised his sword to Griffon, but the necromancer was too quick, he viciously backhanded the youth across the face, causing Jason to fall to the floor, his mouth bloody.
‘Give my regards to your father.’
Griffon launched a blast of fire at the inert figure. As the flames surrounded him, Jason closed his eyes and raised his arms heavenward.
‘Reach out Jason…’
No one else heard the voice, though it echoed in Jason’s ears as clear as day. He reached his hands out further… and felt the presence of all the sorcerers and necromancers around him.
‘Draw on their strength… and strike!’
The combat seemed to grind to a halt as the flames around Jason licked up higher. Bianca gasped in horror and ran, uncaring, through the field to where her beloved stood, now completely hidden within the inferno.
‘Jason!’
The flames died down and there was a collective gasp amongst the warriors.
‘No… it can’t be.’

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 Thirty-Six: The Professionals Meet

The Gentleman made his way across the nightclub floor. There was no visible sign of his earlier fall and impact with the pavement; even his suit remained spotlessly white.
‘Remember me?’
‘Jack, do you know this guy?’ Lauren asked, turning from the man she was serving. ‘And why did he call you…’ Simon cut her off with a whisper.
‘Lauren, take the kids and go.’
‘But…’
‘Now!’
She looked at him with alarm, but complied, swiftly but silently making her way towards the stairs.
‘You’re looking very well.’ He made his way past the table and onto the circular dance floor, which had now been hastily vacated. The crowd, sensing trouble, parted like the Red Sea to let The Gentleman pass. Simon came out from behind the bar and joined him, while the crowd looked on hungrily awaiting a fight.
‘Thank you. I might say the same of you, all things considered. I thought Freya dispatched you back in Munich.’
The Gentleman smiled in reminiscence.
‘Her effort was admirable. But I had a contract to complete, and my employer would have been so disappointed for it not to have been fulfilled.’ The two men circled each other like animals ready to pounce.
‘Where is the Fortuno boy?’ The Gentleman asked with cool authority.
‘Far away from you, and I intend to keep it that way.’
‘You can try sir, you can try.’
With that, the Gentleman’s hand shot outwards, and a thin blade extended from the base of his cane. From the inside of his coat, Simon pulled out his umbrella, revealing the rapier concealed with in its handle. The crowd scattered as the two men began to fight.

In the living room above the club, Jason sat on the cracked leather sofa, still drowsy from his sleep and lost in thought. His whole life had been spent adhering to a monotonous unchanging routine, and now everything had begun to happen all at once. He had finally found a surrogate family with Bianca, Simon and Lauren, a family which could now be under threat from the same fiend who had killed his parents. Jason’s knuckles whitened as he clenched and unclenched his fists. Someday, he thought, he would have his revenge.

His violent thoughts were disturbed as Bianca emerged from the bathroom wearing nothing but a robe, her hair still wet.
‘Oh… sorry Jason… I didn’t know you’d be there.’
‘Sorry. Do you want me to go while you get dressed?’
‘Oh after the Facility I don’t think there’s anything you haven’t already seen.’ They both giggled, and Jason turned away to allow Bianca some privacy as she changed.
‘Jason?’
‘Yes Bianca?’
‘Simon told me what you did today… you were very brave.’
Jason laughed.
‘I was lucky.’
They looked at each other in silence. Jason brushed a stray hair from Bianca’s face.
‘You are so beautiful.’
The tender moment was suddenly broken as Lauren burst into the room, gasping for breath as she spoke; unaware of the intimate scene she had interrupted.
‘Guys, we need to go.’
‘But…’
‘Now!’

A furious battle played out downstairs, each man matching the other blow for blow with text book swordsmanship. The music continued to play at a great volume, as though dramatically underscoring the conflict.
‘I congratulate you on hiding place Simon. It was not an easy task to find you here.’
‘Oh that was nothing. The hard part’s yet to come.’
He grabbed a wine glass with his free hand and flung its contents into the Gentleman’s eyes. The assassin stumbled backwards and Simon took advantage of this lapse, stabbing him through the chest.
‘I sincerely hope that hurt.’
He removed the blade and crossed himself before turning and running towards the backrooms. The crowd looked open mouthed as the Gentleman slowly raised himself up, brushed himself down and set off after him.

Simon managed to reach his silver Bentley and quickly ushered Lauren, Jason and Bianca into the back. While he knew that he couldn’t have defeated the Gentleman, he had bought them enough time to escape. As he moved off, he spied the Gentleman in the rear view mirror, his sword cane glinting as he sprinted to reach them.
‘Everybody, close your eyes.’
Simon swerved the car round and drove full speed towards the assassin, catapulting him several feet into the air before he was dropped to the pavement with a sickening crunch. Simon put his foot down and didn’t look back at, as his passengers stared at him, bewildered.
‘What just happened?’

Twisting his mutilated joints back into place for the second time that day, the elegant assassin watched as his quarry escaped his grasp again. Instead of making off in pursuit, he made his way to a telephone booth and inserted several coins into the slot, before dialling a number.
‘Sir, Fortuno has escaped.’
The voice on the other end did not explode with anger as the Gentleman had expected it to. Instead, there was a long pause, after which William Griffon’s cool, collected tone came through.
‘He won’t go far, not if he knows you’re after him, it would be hopeless.’ There was a few seconds of silence. ‘That was a compliment.’
‘Thank you sir.’
‘He knows he’s trapped… so he’ll call them altogether, whatever’s left of the old guard. All that remains is for us to meet them in battle… and crush them.’

Simon tried to collect his thoughts as he drove aimlessly along a country road that seemed to lead nowhere in particular.
‘So what was with tall dark and handsome back there? And who’s Simon?’
‘Simon is me.’
He pushed his foot down hard on the accelerator. The Gentleman could have easily procured a car by now and could well be on their tail.
‘Hey wait…what do you mean you’re Simon? You mean you lied to me?’
‘I have got much more important things to worry about right now!’ yelled Simon, shooting an angry look at his passenger, before swerving to avoid an oncoming car.
‘You lied to me… even after I took you in, got you up on your feet..?’ The catch in her voice nearly broke Simon’s heart, but he gritted his teeth and thought back to his days as the Arbiter, the days where the slightest sign of emotion could have brought his negotiations crashing down.
‘I’m sorry, but, we have to go back to England.’
‘What? Why?’ Asked all three of Simon’s passengers.
‘Did you not just see that man? He won’t stop until you’re in Griffon’s hands. And Miss Sanders, I’m sorry…’
‘But I’m coming with you right? I mean, that guy might come after…’
‘Why? Why would he come after you? He’s after us! You’re just unfortunate enough to have gotten caught up in this mess.’ Simon screeched the car to a halt, and lowered his voice, all the while avoiding Lauren’s gaze. ‘Take this car back home; once he sees we’re not with you, he’ll leave you alone. Jason, Bianca, come on.’
‘But Jack… Simon… I don’t care; I just want to be with you.’
‘Find someone else. There’s no future with someone like me.’
He got out of the car, Bianca and Jason following on behind. Lauren sat dejectedly in the front of the car and Simon was almost tempted to turn back, to apologise, to do something, anything … but eventually his professionalism won over and he walked along the road, not looking behind him. He couldn’t risk letting himself look back, he couldn’t have the luxury of emotion. The young sorcerers followed Simon along the path, wearied by the day’s events and saddened at leaving their life in New York behind, sorry to leave Lauren and have a chance to be ordinary. There was a small town up ahead, and they managed to sit down in a small booth at the local bar.
‘Where are we going?’ asked Jason.
‘We’re not running, or hiding anymore. I have a few friends to contact… then we must prepare to fight.’

Jason and Bianca sat silently nursing two lemonades whilst their protector made several brief calls on the telephone next to the bar.
‘Well, there goes our life.’ remarked Bianca bitterly. Jason put his arm around her and tried to smile.
‘Simon will make it right. Maybe we’ll even find your parents someday.’ Just a shame we’ll never find mine, Jason lamented to himself. As if she knew what he was thinking, Bianca moved in a little closer to him.
‘You’re bound to miss them Jason. But feeling bad will never bring them back, you can’t change the past. All we can do is decide what to do with the future.’

Their tender moment was interrupted by the return of Simon, who stood over the table, his face grim. He’d settled the bill, leaving a barely touched cup of hot coffee on the counter.
‘Time to go I’m afraid.’
They silently followed him out of the pub, leaving their own half finished drinks behind. Simon stood perfectly still outside for a moment, gazing up at the heavens.
‘Soon, every loyal sorcerer will arrive here.’
‘What for?’
‘One last gathering. For the final council.’

Chapter Thirty-Four: Revelations

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.
‘Leave us.’
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.
‘Griffon.’
‘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.’
‘I see.’
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.’
Marshall scoffed.
‘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.’

Chapter Thirty-Three: Fragments of a Dream

From atop the cliffs, William Griffon smiled as he surveyed the ruin in front of him, delighted to be back on English soil once again. He looked wild as the breeze from the sea swirled his cape around his legs. It was not the carnage that pleased him, but the feeling that the end was near, that soon the world would be as it should be. His only regret was that Alice would not be at his side, their son at hand, watching with pride as the new world he worked so hard to achieve was completed.
‘Wonderful isn’t it Cornelius?’
His familiar did not reply.
‘Don’t you ever speak anymore? I think I preferred you as a raven, at least then you’d screech every now and then.’ He forced a chuckle, but Cornelius did not react, staring blankly out to sea.
‘It seems none of my captives are willing to converse with me. I can’t imagine why.’
The familiar’s face remained stone and Griffon sighed.
‘Very well. Rosemary?’
‘Yes…master?’
Rosemary Carrera slowly made her way towards Griffon. Her face was drawn and haggard, marked as much by the mental trials she had endured as the physical ones. She was pushing a stark metal wheelchair, occupied by a man so gaunt and lifeless that he was barely recognisable as Miguel Carrera. He was sitting rigidly upright, but his eyes had the same glazed look as Griffon’s familiar. Upon his lap sat the lion cub Eduardo, who was as lean as his master, with a silent, stoic temperament to match.
‘Fetch me some refreshment. Eliminating upstarts always leaves me parched.’
Rosemary bowed sarcastically, and went to wheel Miguel away, but Griffon raised his hand.
‘No, leave him here.’ The wheelchair moved effortlessly towards the necromancer’s hands.
‘Oh don’t give me that look Rosemary. I’m not going to hurt him. I promise.’ Rosemary gave her husband a look and glared at Griffon, but left without a word.
‘I do enjoy our little talks.’

Griffon leant in towards the skeletal sorcerer, as though he were speaking in confidence.
‘Still not planning on coming back to us then Miguel?’ Griffon taunted, clicking his fingers in front of Miguel’s face, but he did not respond. Griffon sighed. Despite his mocking, he wished that Miguel would answer. He had not spoken with another sorcerer properly for decades, save for a few brief exceptions, and most of those times were during the interrogation of his enemies, which hardly counted for intelligent conversation. He lowered his voice and spoke softly, as if explaining something to a child, sitting down on the grass so his head just reached above Miguel’s knee.
‘I know you never will come round to my way of thinking, but just consider what I’m trying to do here. A world liberated from the restraints of the Conclave and their outdated dogma, where sorcerers and necromancers need not fear each other. We might even have the humans accepting us one day.’
And then, he said something that made Miguel momentarily break from his trance.
‘You know, I despise myself sometimes. I despise that I have had to do all this to bring about peace and order. But if I ever thought, for one moment, that my sacrifice was unnecessary, that all this ruination was in vain, I wouldn’t have thought twice about handing myself into the Conclave years ago. And then, that day when Fortuno killed me… I would have been happy to have died… after all I had done, maybe it was my time. Clearly someone didn’t agree with me. Given a second chance, I felt I had to resume my duty to bring freedom to all sorcerers. Everything I had risked and lost… it had to be worth something.’
He paused, and curled his hand tighter around the chair, as if physically weakened by this outpouring of his soul.
‘I had hoped that you would accept my way, all the things you’ve seen and changed. You shied away from the norm, you consorted with pirates and lawbreakers, participated in revolutions and counter-coups…. what is necromancy to all the anarchy and revolution you’ve seen?’ He paused again, taking a deep breath. ‘And I want you to know that… I always respected you.’
He did not continue, for Rosemary had returned with refreshment. The necromancer stood up, his face returning to its usual mocking, death’s head grin.
‘Well, enough talk. You two can go.’

Upon their departure from the cliff top, they passed Paul Spencer, his clothes stained from the blood and dirt of the battle. He approached Griffon with his head slightly lowered, a soldier who was both in awe of his commander, and yet afraid at the same time.
‘Mr. Griffon sir, the enemy have been completely routed… those who haven’t been killed have fled into the hills. Shall we give pursuit?’
‘No, we have broken their spirits; they wouldn’t dare come out to challenge us again.’ Griffon turned away, but Spencer did not leave, he was waiting, hoping for some commendation for his progress today.
‘Sir?’
‘Oh yes… you may go.’
‘Sir.’ Spencer bowed and walked off, more than a little disappointed.

‘William.’
Griffon turned in surprise. Sarah was standing behind him, her face betraying nothing.
‘Yes my dear?’
‘William, I’m leaving.’
For the first time in decades, the necromancer was shocked.
‘What did you say?’
The woman who had been his only comfort for the past seven years nearly choked on her words, but stood firm.
‘I’ve had enough William! I stood by you through all those horrible experiments, all these massacres because I actually thought that you were doing it for good. But I was wrong… I’ve been so blind. There’s not one shred of goodness left in you… you’re so wrapped up your own hatred you’ve forgotten everything it means to be human. And I can’t stay with you anymore…goodbye William.’
The necromancer remained silent for a long while, before turning slowly to face her. When he spoke, his voice was like ice.
‘Do you think it’s that easy? Do you think you can leave me here flat?’ His eyes flashed menacingly and he raised the former Nurse of the ground. ‘And before you forget… I have always been so much more than…’ he spat the next word out with contempt. ‘…human.’
‘Please…’ The former nurse struggled to speak, overwhelmed by the tremendous physical pain and the raging emotions that she tried to suppress.
‘You were quite content to sit back and watch the show, and now you get cold feet?’
‘William…’ Sarah Ellis’ voice was almost a whisper. ‘I’m pregnant…it’s…it’s yours…’

There was silence, and Sarah fell to the ground. For once, Griffon was speechless, he turned away.
‘Go.’
Sarah wiped away a tear from her eye and vanished into the night. Griffon slowly, heavily sat down on the grass. Cornelius watched him from far off, almost pitying his master. Their souls were linked, his brain told him not to care, his heart disobeyed. The necromancer closed his eyes, perhaps out of weariness, or perhaps in order to stem the tears that flowed from them.

There had been no unusual circumstances surrounding the birth of William Steven Griffon on the 28th October 533 in a small town on the Scottish border. He had been born on time, with no signs off ill health or outward deformity. His early years also passed on unassumingly, and it seemed that Griffon would live a quiet, simple life, before assuming his father’s mantle as the village’s healer.

All that changed when he was fifteen. Without warning, there was a vicious raid conducted by the Picts from the other side of the border, and young William was one of several youths taken as hostage. Sitting huddled together in terror; the children were looked over by the Pict Elder, a tall, thin man in his forties with a long black beard who inspected the children imperiously. Upon seeing Griffon, he motioned to his two escorts, who pulled the young man from the line and escorted him to the Elder’s tent.

William stood petrified as the two soldiers left the room, leaving him alone with this imposing man. To his surprise, he was offered a seat, and the man addressed him in perfect English.
‘What is your name, lad?’
‘Griffon…William Griffon.’ the boy stammered.
‘Don’t be afraid William. I am no Scotsman. My name is Bernard King and I have been looking for someone like you for a long time.’
‘Someone like me?’
‘You are more special than you think, William. You are one of the few people in the world with the potential for sorcery.’
‘Sorcery?’
‘Let me show you.’

King took a gnarled wooden pole that was leaning against the side of the tent. As the young boy sat, fascinated, the man made several motions with his free hand, and the chair Griffon was sitting on ascended slowly.
‘How did you…the stick?’
‘The ‘stick’ is merely a conduit… something through which I can channel my energy through.’
‘And I’ve got the power to do…’
‘Almost anything you could imagine William.’

After being returned to his village, William Griffon acted as though nothing out of the ordinary had occurred during his kidnapping. Yet once every week or whenever he could find the opportunity, the boy would seek out Bernard King and learn the ways of a sorcerer. When he was twenty, the Romans came to the village, and many of the men were enlisted into their army, Griffon included. But one night, during a campaign in the east of Europe, Bernard found him once again and the two of them made off across the continent, seeking other sorcerers. It was not until they reached Romania that they found anyone else of their kind. Invited to dine one night in the castle of warlord Vladimir Serapus, the two men discovered that their host was also a sorcerer, and Griffon first laid eyes on the warlord’s niece, Alice. However, that very night, the people of Serapus’ town also discovered Serapus’ secret, and the sorcerers were forced to flee across the country. They became good friends, enlisted the most powerful sorcerers from regions around the world and formed the Elder Conclave, which would maintain order and peace. Griffon made new friends, like Andreas Macellan, the Conclave’s Arbiter and Maurice Kendall, a great sorcerer from the Dark Continent. That was before the war, before the schism tore them apart and before William Griffon murdered the two men who had been his greatest friends.

The necromancer stretched his arms out onto the grass and stared up into the night sky, obliviously to the passing of time as he became lost in his reverie. The white lights of the stars offered him no solace as he considered the slaughter he had sanctioned and everything he had sacrificed for his bloody crusade. In the land of his birth, thinking of what he had striven for centuries to accomplish, he recited the words of an old poem:
‘I will not cease from mental flight… nor shall my sword sleep in my hand: till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant land.’
William Griffon did not seek to build a new Holy Land, but somehow, he found the poetry bitterly appropriate. He would make it right; he would not give in, he would make the sacrifices worthwhile.

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.
‘Very well.’
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.
‘You monstrous…’
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.
‘Have fun.’
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.
‘Join me.’
‘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?