Chapter 59 - Requiem
It was all over in an instant. The Corporate mercenaries turned tail and fled into the countryside. Two fell to Cpr12r's bow while Phoebe all but
emasculated another but the rest were allowed to escape. There were too many and there was no guarantee that all would be caught. Even if every
mercenary involved in the seige was
hunted down and sent to Azrael, there would always be more coming. There must have been reports filed,
orders given - a paper trail that pointed straight to Stokesay. And when the so-called Azraelites realised what had happened to their leader, they too
would seek their revenge here. Stokesay, this place of refuge for so long, was no longer safe.
Tobias touched Erisian's face softly with a calloused hand. His tears fell upon her face and he moved to wipe them away. Fingal knelt beside him,
offering strength and comfort.
"Where is he ?", Tobias sobbed.
"Who, my son ?"
The soldier's voice was filled with tears as he replied. "Azrael - where is he. I want her back. It wasn't her time."
Tobias rocked the still form of Erisian in his arms as if she was a sleeping baby.
"He has returned to his place", the priest replied. "As soon as he was released from De Mornay's demonic control, he left and took the Souldrinker
with him. Without that, no one will be able to take command of him again"
"I want him to bring her back !", Tobias screamed. "She shouldn't have died !!!"
Muryannan knelt before the stricken soldier and lifted his face to hers. "Even if he wanted to return her soul, he couldn't", she said softly.
"Why not ?", Tobias spat, "He took her, he can bring her back !"
"He has not the power", she replied sadly. "Once a person dies, the soul cannot return. Only if ..." Muryannan stopped and bowed her head. Then
she stood, her hand clutching her recently bandaged left arm. She winced. "Let us take her, Tobias. Prepare her. There is nothing to be done."
Tobias held even more tightly to Erisian as Pickwick moved to join Muryannan. "What did you mean ?", he said, "You said 'Once a person dies,
the soul cannot return. Only if ...
' Only if what ?"
"It is impossible. I should not ..."
"What ?!?!?!" Tobias shouted. He lay Erisian tendely on the grass and stood, his anger surmounting his grief. Reaching out, he grabbed Muryannan by
her arm, making her bite her lip in pain. "Tell me or I swear I'll ..."
There was movement all around him. Twenty bows drawn, twenty arrows aimed.
"Go on then !", Tobias said loud enough for everyone to hear. "Shoot your arrows ... Send me to Azrael ... send me to Erisian !"
"Let her go, Tobias", the pixy said quietly. KayEm walked over and softly took the soldier's hands from where they had been squeezing Muryannan's
arms. Mury sighed and staggered back, pain evident in her face. As she regained her composure, she waved the archers to stand down and turned towards
"Let us take Erisian", she said reaching out and placing her hand on his arm,"The enemy knows our whereabouts and we will need to leave this place
soon enough. Our grief must wait a while. And then I will tell you ..." Her voice trailed away as she turned away.
Pisky and Pickwick moved towards Erisian but Tobias stopped them. "I'll take her", he said and lifted her up, cradling her against his chest while
tears fell from his eyes.
Isis sat on a piece of broken wall, her eyes glazed, her thoughts elsewhere. A movement from her left made her jump and she turned her head to see
MacKiller striding across the battlefield his face streaked with soot from the burning helicopter. In his hand he held a wicker basket fastened shut
by leather straps. "Your pilots dead", he said as he sat beside Isis, the basket between his legs. Isis closed her eyes.
"Your chopper's fecked anyway", MacKiller continued, "The fuel tank's been punctured ... I found this inside though. I assume it's yours.
"Apophis", she said softly, opening the straps.
"A what ?"
"Apophis", she repeated, then opened the lid and turned it towards MacKiller. He recoiled as he saw a nasty looking King Cobra staring up from the
depths of the basket. "Best keep the lid shut", Isis said, "Its far too cold for him here". And she closed the basket and refastened the straps.
MacKiller sighed in relief. "To quote Indiana Jones", he said, "I hate snakes !"
Isis giggled, "He's ok when you get to know him", she said, "You really should make the effort - you never know, you could end up as friends"
"I'd rather just stay acquaintances, if you don't mind", MacKiller said.
"What do you plan to do ?" MacKiller asked once the snake was once again locked carefully away.
"Try to get back to the Temple, I suppose", Isis replied, "Although how I'm going to do that with no transport, I have no idea"
"There are a few hummers back there", MacKiller said pointing through the mist, "You could use one of those"
Isis sighed, "I suppose so", she replied, "But I don't know. Something's not right. Why did that mercenary try to kill me ?"
MacKiller thought for a moment; "They were under De Mornay's command", he said eventually, "Maybe he ordered them to do it"
"But he didn't give
any such orders", she said worriedly, "I was watching him all the time. He was concentrating on the ritual and on
MacKiller shrugged; "Fecked if I know then".
Isis bit her lip and looked into the distance, a concerned look crossing her face.
As Tobias walked slowly across the drawbridge into Stokesay, Pantha appeared beside the pixy. "He's taking it hard", she said sadly, "I can't
imagine what he's feeling right now".
"Nor me", Pisky replied. "You know that we have to leave Stokesay ?"
"I guessed as much", Pantha said, "How long do you think we have ?"
Pisky shrugged his shoulders, "A day, possibly two, but I wouldn't want to push it. We need to go as soon as possible. Tonight. At the very least we
have to be away from here by sunup tomorrow.
Pantha sighed. "And what about ..."
"KayEm's helping Fingal with the arrangements. And Loki is finishing up a few things before we leave".
Pantha sighed sadly and turned her face away from the pixy lest he saw the tears in her eyes.
Leaving the Great Hall, Fingal walked over to where Pantha waited while Pisky massaged his ankle. "We cannot leave our fallen comrades here", The
priest said, "Unshriven and with no words said over them. I would like to take them to the church. They will rest in peace in the catacombs below the
Pantha looked across to where Pisky was gingerly replacing his foot onto the ground. "We have time", he said, answering the unasked question. "But
we need to do it soon. Mury's organising transport, the horses and a few hummers the corporates left behind - Then we need to work out where we are
going. Annie's in the Gatehouse looking through the computer - fortunately the bastards left that alone, and Cpr12r is working with some of the
riders to shift anything we need to take with us."
And with that confirmation, the old priest strode away to make his own arrangements.
It was two hours later that Fingal reappeared in the doorway of the Great Hall. Tobias stood beside one of the old oak tables, staring at the body of
Erisian which had been wrapped in a makeshift shroud.
"We are ready", the old priest said as he reached the soldier's side. Tobias nodded and pulled the sheet away from Erisian's face to gaze upon it
one last time.
A sob rose into his throat but he forced it down, then after a moment of reflection covered her once more. Loki and Pickwick entered bearing a
stretcher, which they placed upon one of the other tables.
"You won't need that", Tobias said, "I will take her myself". And with that he lifted Eris and carried her for the last time through the
courtyard, over the drawbridge and into the church.
The crypt was old and dusty. Candles supplied the only illumination, casting ghostly shadows in this most gloomy of places. Shelves around the walls
held the bodies of the dead. Crumbling coffins hundreds of years old shared the crypt with the white shrouds of the newly dead. Beside the gated
doorway was a marble tomb. There was no inscription upon it and it had never been used for its original purpose. The historian in Fingal had
discovered that it was made for a long-dead member of Lawrence de Ludlow's family who, like the first owner of Stokesay, had died at sea. With no
body, and no one of high enough standing to warrant such a tomb, it had been left empty for centuries. It had been the pixy who suggested that it be
used for Erisian, an idea that met with the approval of both Fingal and Tobias.
Watched by his friends and acquaintances who were already gathered in the crypt, Tobias walked slowly down the steps and carefully lay the body of
Erisian into the tomb. Fingal placed a hand upon his shoulder as he passed through to the other side of the crypt. All eyes turned to him as he opened
his book and began the litany to the dead. The Requiem.
"Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis."
Fingal began, and his voice carried through the crypt to everyone present;
"Lord, grant them eternal rest; and let the perpetual light shine upon them ..."
With the ritual completed, Fingal led the rest of the mourners up the steps back into the church. Alone in the crypt, Tobias stood beside the tomb of
his beloved with his hand resting on the cold marble. He closed his eyes as a tall shape appeared at the top of the steps, and soft footsteps
approached. "I thought you would like some company" Ravenna said, "Tell me go if you want to be alone."
Tobias shook his head. "I can't believe this", he said as a sob caught in his throat, "I never thought it would end like this."
"None of us did", Ravenna replied, "Six months ago if you had told me that I would see the Angel of Death, I would have laughed in your face.
Things are different now, Tobias. It's as if the world has shifted somehow. Strange things, things from legend are becoming commonplace. Vampires ...
I mean , who believes in vampires ?
do now, thats for sure. And now the Angel of Death ? What's next ?"
"What are you trying to tell me, Ravenna ?"
She took a deep breath. "I remember reading an old book, years ago. The original was written in various languages but there was a Latin translation,
which I was able to read. When De Mornay mentioned the stars being right, it reminded me of this book."
"What book ? and what does it have to do with anything here, with me, with Eris ?"
Ravenna turned as Muryannan appeared silently beside her. Her blonde hair and light blue gown reflected the candle light, making her resemble an angel
come to visit the tomb of the saints. She looked into Tobias' tear stained face and spoke softly the words of a rhyming couplet. "That is not
dead which can eternal lie. And with strange eons even death may die."
Ravenna spun to face Muryannan, her eyes wide in disbelief. "How ... ?"
"It is what I came to tell you", Muryannan said to Tobias, ignoring Ravenna's shocked reaction. "It is from the book Ravenna mentioned earlier. A
vile book full of horror and creatures so foul that the merest glimpse of them can turn a man insane."
"You have read Necronomicon ?
", Ravenna asked
"Part of it", Muryannan replied, "As far as I am aware, there exists nowhere on this earth a complete copy. There are many hoaxes of course, some
of which even contain part of the original, but the whole book does not exist in its entirety."
Ravenna pushed aside an errant piece of hair from her face; "But I've seen ..."
"What has this got to do with here ... now ?" Tobias interrupted, glaring at the two women, both experts in the field of the hitherto unknown.
"The words I spoke come from Necronomicon
", Muryannan explained. "It was supposedly written thousands of years ago and covers various
subjects, most of which I will not discuss here. From what has begin to happen recently, I have come to the conclusion that the Strange eons
spoken of in the book have now begun. Vampires stalk the earth, Isabella herself is still at large somewhere. De Mornay was able to summon the Angel
of Death himself, using a long lost blade supposedly used to slay the Egyptian god Osiris"
"So ?", Tobias spat.
"... with strange eons even death may die"
"And what would happen if death dies ?", Ravenna asked.
Muryannan smiled. "I am not completely certain", she replied, "But I believe that if that were to happen, the dead would return to life"
"What ?!?!?", Tobias exclaimed. "Will you please
speak English, not this pseudo-archaic claptrap language you mystics like using?"
"Mystic ... hmmm ... I like that", Muryannan replied then turned to Tobias; "Mr Tobias, what we are trying to tell you is that according to
, if you were able to slay the Angel of Death, it is quite probable that Erisian would be returned to you".