The Last Remaining Light

Ground Zero Chantry, Seattle

Tomorrow, what might be the last battle of the apocalypse was coming. Tonight, they partied like it was the end of the world; after all, it was.

Marius sat at one of the bars, watching the band play. The damned Hollowers, even without their old lead singer, even with that fool boyfriend of hers, the insufferable, suicidal, utterly stereotypical Wintre Knight…in Thoth’s name, what an absolutely fitting nom de Goth…well, they could still put on a show.

The Defiant’s crew surrounded him and Morgaine. The new ones, the few, older survivors, everyone who’d stuck it out with them so far. Morgaine was talking strategy with Geist and the Carlisle kids, last-minute plotting against the swarm of Nephandi and the otherworldly entities flying swiftly through the Horizon towards Earth ahead of the Red Star.

He felt a light touch on his shoulder, and shook it off, bristling…then relaxed, frowning. It was only Terpsichore. Smiling at him. “Are they trying to cheer us up, or what?”

Marius turned his attention briefly back to the band.

And if you don’t believe / The sun will rise…

“Why this, now?” Marius’ voice cracked. The wave of despair that hit him felt palpable; it shook him. He snarled, focusing on his mind-shields, fighting back tears. Morgaine was occupied…she’d notice, if he couldn’t maintain control.

Terpsichore tried again, a gentle pat on the shoulder. She glanced toward Morgaine, then back. “Yeah…I get it. Hang in there. People want to see us before we go. Means a lot to them, y’know. Almost done.”

Marius nodded, grimacing…

Wembley Stadium, London

…then he snapped out of his reverie, the view seeming to shift in an eyeblink. Marius let out a sigh. Time senses were like that…if you let them wander. I must have the same look they did, back in the day. People will wonder what I’ve been smoking, he thought to himself, frowning. Those old Cultist friends of his, long gone…how long had it been since he’d even thought of them?

Marius looked around. It wasn’t Seattle, after all. At least it wasn’t raining. A few of their friends from the Defiant and from their would-be students in House Diedne had picked out this section of the stadium. A ways off from the smallish crowd that had gathered, down by the field, where the Hollowers were in fact playing.

That seemed to have remained constant. Their old vocalist was still dead. After spectating a while, however, Morgaine had decided to join them for a set. Wintre, though…he had a new, double-fret guitar, plugged into an amp and, apparently, into a jack built into his temple.

That was the start of something, something Ishaq ibn-Thoth had mentioned earlier. Morgaine didn’t know about it yet; there hadn’t been time. Something else they hadn’t quite seen coming, although now that it was happening it seemed rather predictable. The Syndicate were out of the gate early, looking to codify and condition the people’s new understanding of high technology, and magic. Marius let out another sigh. Time enough later. If there is a later, he figured.

Geist wasn’t there. Neither was Terpsichore. How different things had gone, it seemed. She’d made just one mistake, but her campaign of subtle influence on Marius had been discovered — by Geist, no less — and now they were both gone. Terp had gone up in a storm of Paradox that took the Seattle Chantry, and Geist…Geist died a hero, saving the others. Why else would they be here now, in England?

Marius raised his red plastic cup of beer to old, dead friends and drank, watching Morgaine have her fun. Tomorrow, they would go back to Vienna and finish what they’d started there — for the vampires, at least. Tonight, they partied…and now that the goths had played out whatever flavor of doom metal they favored, they were taking requests. This old tune, even the Brits knew, from the sound of them.

Carry on my wayward son / There’ll be peace when you are done …

Marius smiled faintly, his senses open, mind reaching out. One of Morgaine’s favorites. She was being inspiring, of course. The few hundred Londoners taking time out from an otherwise bleak existence could use it. So could he. They might not understand the battles to come, but they knew more than they did. Magic was real, now. Many more, less wholesome things were undeniably real, too. Rebecca had begun referring to them not as Sleepers, but Daydreamers.

If there was a world, after…things wouldn’t be the same. It wasn’t a vision of Ascension, not hardly. But there was talk of a cycle, memories coming back to him of an earlier time. Perhaps that was what they would do, if they won: reverse the cycle. Magic weakening, leaving the world, spirit itself split from the material, impassable barriers cutting off spirits and ghosts. Could they undo it? Should they? The next few days would see whether or not they would win the right to try.

Marius toasted Morgaine and the band, and drank again. Look at me, thinking about the future. That’s different. Inspiration enough for one night, he thought. Through the link they shared, he imagined he could feel her smile.

The Last Remaining Light

The Last Remaining Light tytalus