By Christian Laforet
The whine of repulser engines drifted through the frozen city. Buildings which once defied the horizon were now sad, crooked tombstones with ice and snow clinging to every inch of their exteriors. The endless winter blew whistling through gapping windows, snow-drifts as big as small buildings leaned against the bases of sky scrapers.
As the shuttle descended through the tumult of angry clouds, eddies of white powder swirled along the roof tops of the ruined buildings. The transport was only the second sign of life Toronto had seen in nearly three hundred years.
The craft landed with a soft thump at the edge of the city, the struts had been specially designed to touch down in any condition and so the shuttle only sunk into the thick snow covering the ground a dozen centimeters.
Marcus unbuckled the harness which secured him to the pilot’s seat. Even though the trip from the Kingdom’s capitol, New Concord, had only taken an hour, he felt like he had been cramped into the cockpit of the craft for much longer. Stretching his arms as high above his head as the ceiling inside the cockpit would allow, he made his way into the passenger hold.
At one time there would have been a dozen people bucked into the seats lining both sides of the square space created for passengers. Now however there was just a single old man.
“We’ve touched down, Mentor,” Marcus said as he approached the older man. The man’s name was Nasin but he had been, and would always be, known as ‘Mentor’ to Marcus.
Nasin was well into his seventies but he held himself like a much younger man. The only thing that gave his age away was his face. Thanks to the ravages of time and the hardship of battle, Nasin’s face was a textured crosshatch of lines.
Nasin wasted little time as he headed for the pressure sealed door along the right side of the passenger compartment. With a slap of a gloved hand, the old man popped the seal on the hatch and sent it swinging upwards. A blast of snow curled through the opening and peppered Marcus’s face with icy freckles.
The iced city lay just outside of the Kingdom’s northern most border. Having never ventured further north than Pittsburgh, Marcus was eager to take in Toronto. It was much colder than he was expecting.
Marcus pulled the hood tucked into the back collar of his combat suit over his head as he moved towards the open hatch. The hood, like all of their gear was state of the art. Their uniforms were thin, flexible material which allowed full movement, but could stop a bullet fired at point blank range and was more than capable of keeping them warm in the inhospitable environment they were in.
He had landed the ship in a spot that seemed least likely to be buried under a collapsing building. A massive domed structure stood directly in front of the ship’s hatch, Marcus wondered what its purpose could have been. He could see the snow-blasted remains of lettering sticking from the side of the building. Whatever it had once said was lost to time and the cold, all that remained was an unfinished word in, Roge.
Nasin also looked out at the frost-bitten world beyond their shuttle, he had raised a pair of thin goggles which Marcus knew would be both updating and proving information on their surroundings as well as making a recording of the hunt for the King to review if he so choose.
“Marcus, unload the bikes,” Nasin grunted.
The transport’s size was deceiving. Most of the ship’s interior was dedicated to operating systems and the repulser engine. The only open spaces aboard the transport besides the cockpit and the passenger area was a small cargo hold located in the aft of the ship. Inside the cargo hold were two flight bikes. “Mentor, do you think we’ll really find her here?” Marcus asked as keyed in a command to a nearby terminal which caused the twin bikes to unlatch from there moorings.
The bikes used the same repulser technology as the ship itself, just on a much smaller scale. This made it easy for Marcus to guide first one then the other bike across the ship’s interior towards the access hatch.
“Our intel comes directly from the King’s top agents.” The old man did not look at Marcus as he spoke but rather kept his gaze directed outwards towards the frozen cityscape. “If they are correct, this is the last free witch on earth.”
Marcus felt his head nodding as his mentor spoke. He wanted to ask the man what use there would be for witch hunters if there were no witches left to hunt, but let his question die in his throat.
“What happened here teacher?” Marcus asked as he prepped the bikes.
“The war, boy, the war. During the height of the Witch War, this place became the staging point for an operation which turned the tide against the witches. The High Priestess of all the Witch-Hive covens, Mellori, had taken refuge in the city with a small circle of her most trusted soldiers.”
“Why would Mellori hide here?” Marcus knew he shouldn’t interrupt the man but he always seemed to do so.
The old man finally took his eyes off the frozen building surrounding them and turned them towards Marcus. “I don’t know.”
Marcus suddenly felt stupid for asking. “How did the Order find her?” He stumbled trying to forge past his foolish question.
“The King’s spies were everywhere back then, they caught wind that Mellori was hiding in the city and so he dispatched a team of the best hunters in the order to find her. He knew that he may never get the chance to strike at the head witch again.”
“Where were they hiding?”
“Strangely enough, Mellori and her followers had secretly taken over a laboratory located in one of the city’s schools.”
Marcus desperately wanted to ask why, but this time wisely kept his mouth shut.
“They found her and drove her out. The witches were caught by surprise, and the hunters had the better numbers but this was not a novice they faced, Mellori was the leader for a reason, she was by far the most powerful with to ever live. The only reason the hunters were able to take her was due to her age. The woman was said to be north of a hundred and fifty at the time and her health was failing.
“Maybe she knew that the end was near for her and her religion, maybe she just wanted to bloody as many noses as possible on the way out, but whatever the reason, before she was taken down, she unleased a final spell.” Nasin stared hard into Marcus’ eyes before raising his arms to encompass their surroundings, “eternal winter.”
Marcus whistled. “Wow, I’ve never heard of such a powerful spell before. How come none of this is written in the texts?”
This time the old man did have an answer for his protégé. “Part of ending the witch line is erasing all history of their actions. How would it look if people knew that there were people living amongst them at one time with this kind of power? No, part of the Order’s mission is to make sure the Witches stay dead this time.”
“Besides Mellori, the hunters bagged twelve high-ranking witches that day. With their leaders gone the remaining forces scattered around the world began to fall.
“As you well know, it is extremely rare for a child to be born with the witchcraft ability, and it is even rarer for one to have the power levels displayed by Mellori.
“As their numbers dwindled there were no replacements to take up the slack.”
The old man straddled the nearest flight bike.
“Make sure your gun is primed,” Nasin said over his shoulder to Marcus, apparently the history lesson was over.
Marcus pulled the sleek gun from the holster on his right thigh. Due to their various spells, charms and talismans, the order had developed guns which could fire magic nullifying ammunition called null rounds. The bullets would explode near the intended target creating a dead zone bubble were all energy—magic or otherwise—was rendered null. The only thing was that the guns had to be primed to fire such intense ordinance.
As Marcus climbed onto his own flight bike he couldn’t help but feel a wave of anxiety wash over him. He had been training since he was a boy for this very moment, and it had finally come. He was once again yanked back to question which had plagued him earlier, what was next? His mentor was old, he had fought hard for the cause and deserved a life of retirement. Marcus could practically picture the man lounging in a chair next to the floating pools in the resort city of Cancun. But what of himself?
“Teacher…what do we do after this?” Marcus felt the words leave his mouth before he could think it through.
The old man turned towards him. Marcus was sure he would get another non-reply but this time he was surprised.
“I don’t know son. Hunting witches is all I’ve ever done. I guess I will fade away somewhere and wait for the dark to take me. But you, you have your life ahead of you, you can go on to do great things Marcus. When this is all done,” the old man hesitated. Marcus watched as his mentor thoughtfully reached up and disabled the power to his goggles. “When we are finished with this,” Nasin started, “you should leave the kingdom behind. There are other things in the world worth your time besides that the king decrees.”
Marcus couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Witch Hunter Order had been a staple of the Kingdom since the first days of the Witch War. The order had always served the King first and foremost in everything. The words which had just been uttered from his mentor’s mouth were borderline treasonous. Besides, the thought of leaving the kingdom was a frightening one. Much of the rest of the world had not rebounded as well as the Kingdom had, there were places out there that would make even the hardest witch hunter quake in their boots.
As if reading his student’s thoughts the old man cleared his throat and said, “Don’t listen to me, I’m just an old man. C’mon boy, let’s make history and bag the last witch.”
With that, Nasin reactivated his goggles, started his flight bike and took off out of the open hatch of the shuttle.
Marcus was still floored by what his mentor had just suggested but it was not the time to dwell on such things, Nasin had been right, they did have a job to do and Marcus would be damned if had trained since childhood only to have the last witch in existence be taken down by anybody but him.
“Who are they?” The tortoise asked, the unmistakable quake of fear audible in the creature’s voice.
Camila stroked the soft, smooth head of her companion. “Witch hunters,” she said.
The two of them watched the hunters as they mounted flight-bikes and took off into the city. Camila continued looking into the enchanted mirror long after her pursuers had disappeared from view. She had several “eyes” stationed around the city, they all fed their sight back to the mirror. It would only be a matter of time before the hunters came into view once more.
“Should we run?” Camila turned away from the mirror to look at her friend. The tortoise had been Camila’s familiar since she was just a little girl, nearly forty-five years ago. She had asked one time how old he was, he said he couldn’t be certain but guessed he was at least a hundred and twenty.
“There’s nowhere left to go, Alda, besides, if we don’t finish what we’ve started here, all will be lost.” Camila let her words hang in the air.
Alda slowly nodded, before adding, “Well, I guess we should get ready for some company then.”
Camila raised a hand. “Not yet my friend, we still have some time.”
She walked across the room that they had called home for the past several months. The space was once a storage room, but now was filled to capacity with various trinkets, talismans, pouches and books. A large feather stuffed pillow had been her bed—a smaller one next to it had served as Alda’s. Camila busied herself at a sturdy writing table which she had used as a work bench, her various concoctions covered its surface.
“No matter what happens today, Alda, I want you to stay here and protect our future.”
Alda looked surprised—no easy feat for a tortoise. “Now you wait just a minute, Camila. I’m not going to stay here while you go face those two brutes.”
Camila crouched next to her friend and let her hand slide along his warm shell. “Oh Alda, you are very fierce for a tortoise, but these men are trained professionals. If you come along, you’ll only give them leverage over me. No. You have to stay behind. Like I said, your job is more important than mine now.”
“Are these men really that dangerous?” Alda asked.
Nodding her head, Camila said, “They are. I’ve only seen a real witch hunter in action once in my lifetime, it was the most frightening sight I’ve ever beheld. It will take all my magic, all my skill just to lead them away from this place.”
Alda could feel his eyes begin to moisten. “But you can do it, right? You can get them away and then you’ll come back, right?”
Camila’s hesitation was all the answer Alda needed.
“Let me tell you a bit about the witch hunters, my friend. During the early days of the witch war, King Harris II, fearing that once the war was over the witches would set their sights on the kingdom, turned to the witches’ oldest foe: the witch hunters.
“In the beginning, the Witch Hunter Order was feared by all witches. Countless women have been tortured and murdered by the Order; they were relentless. However, when the covens went underground a thousand years ago, the Order found themselves with no witches to hunt. By the time we re-emerged—thanks to the Witch War—the Order had become nothing more than a small-time militia fueled by hate.
“King Harris II took the hunters and funded them with his considerable wealth. With access to near unlimited resources, the Order was reborn.
“The witches quickly realized that their own squabbles were nothing compared to this new threat. Only under the leadership of the most powerful witch, Mellori, did the splintered covens reform as one, but it was too late. Mellori was too old to save us, her health was failing her every day. She knew that the War had left us exposed and we could not beat the Kingdom and its witch hunters. Our only hope for survival lied in technology.”
As she spoke, Camila began tying pouches to her belt. Even though she had been sitting around for weeks, she hadn’t been idle. Potent magic, and offensive enchantments had kept her busy. Now she was going to get to use them.
“The witch hunters had followed Mellori here. She knew that the work she was doing was bigger than her or any other single witch. It’s why she unleashed the wintery curse on this city. She knew that if the Order found out what she was working on, it would truly be the end of us.”
Camila wasn’t blind to the similarities between herself and Mellori. They were separated by five hundred years, yet they were both willing to die for what was in the next room. She of course was not capable of unleashing something as massive as the wintery curse; no witch in existence could have done that except for Mellori.
“Do you think these men will find this place? Is this the end?” Alda’s voice had dropped to almost a whisper.
Camila thought about it for a moment, then replied, “Not if I can help it. Besides, if King Harris IX knew what secrets this place harboured, he would have sent more than just these two witch hunters, we would be dealing with the entire might of the Kingdom.”
“Please, Camila, let’s leave this miserable place. We can start again somewhere else—maybe somewhere outside the Kingdom,” Alda begged.
Camila smiled sadly at Alda, “There are some things in life that are worth dying for…this is one of them.” Before Alda could protest, she continued, “We can’t change the past, Alda, we can’t go back and right our wrongs, but maybe…maybe we can ensure our future.”
A quick glance at the enchanted mirror revealed that the witch hunters were getting closer. Camila couldn’t let them find the laboratory, she needed to confront them out in the city, and hopefully lead them away.
Having given up on persuading Camila to stay, Aldo said forlornly, “Don’t forget your heat-skin.”
Camila grabbed the ancient hide—said to be taken from a fire-wolf—and wrapped it around herself. It would protect her from the frigid environment waiting outside. She started for the door to the room before stopping. She rushed over and wrapped her arms around Alda’s long, wrinkled neck.
“If I don’t come back,” she started.
“Don’t say that,” Alda interrupted.
“No, listen,” Camila persisted, “If I don’t come back, it will be in your hands—our future. I know you can’t work the machinery, but you won’t have to, everything is automated, you’ll be needed when she wakes. I just ask that you can be as loving, kind and faithful to her as you’ve been to me. I love you Alda, and I know I’ll see you again one day, my friend.”
The tears that Alda had managed to hold back earlier, broke free. He wanted to scream, but he knew she was right, Camila was always right, that’s what made her so special. He pressed his face against her cheek and could feel hot tears of her own collecting on the top of his head. “Goodbye, Camila.”
With that, the witch wiped the tears from her cheeks and headed for the door. She gave one last look over her shoulder at Alda before grabbing her broomstick and exiting the room.
In stark contrast to the space she and Alda had been living in, the room right outside was a massive technological wonder. Camila walked across the white tiled floor. The lab was deep in the bowels of a university. All the overhead lights had been deactivated. It didn’t matter though, as the light from the tanks cast the entire space in a ghostly blue glow. She stopped in front of one of the tubes—the only one that mattered—and raised her hand to press against the glass. Looking through the distortion of fluid, she made an oath that she would keep the witch hunters from finding this place, no matter the cost.
Camila hurried up the darkened stairwell to the main level of the building. The city’s curse of eternal winter had seen centuries of snow blowing in through broken windows and doors. She pulled the heat-skin tighter around her slender frame and mounted her broom. With a kick of her heel, she pushed off the icy floor and rocketed out through an open window into the grey sky.
“I see her!” Marcus shouted into his headset. He relayed his coordinates to his mentor before pushing down on the throttle.
The first hour of searching had resulted in nothing. Marcus did not doubt the King’s sources, but he was starting to wonder at the chances of just two men being able to locate a lone person in such a massive area. He could tell that Nasin’s head was in the same place as his own when the older man suggested they start searching in a grid pattern.
Equipped with a thermal detection unit, Marcus had begun scanning every building he passed in the frozen city. The device would have been useless almost anywhere else, but there in Toronto it made the hunt much quicker. With nothing living left in the city, any heat sources would appear across the screen. It saved him from having to actually enter the derelict buildings—something that could be potentially dangerous because of their deteriorated state.
Marcus had just cleared another city block when he directed the device towards the ruins of a university. Almost immediately, he picked up something faint emanating from within the building; something in the guts of the place was giving off heat. Swinging his bike around, Marcus headed for the source. He reached around to secure the thermal unit in the compartment on the side of his bike. The slight movement saved his life.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the witch streaking down the icy street directly towards him. The woman flew fast enough to disrupt the snow resting atop the shells of cars lining the road; it looked like she was dragging a blizzard along behind her. He couldn’t hear what she was saying but he could see her mouth moving; he prepared for the magic he knew was coming. Moments later, with her spell cast, the swirling flurry chasing the woman’s wake transformed into giant birds of ice and snow.
Letting years of training take over, Marcus yanked the handle bars of the flight bike hard to the left, twisting his body even further until he was mostly facing the witch and her magic. He unsnapped his gun and fired three rounds before accelerating away from the oncoming spell.
Camila cursed her bad luck. She had waited too long to attack. If only she had come at the man as soon as she spotted him, she could be that much closer to returning to Alda. The snowbirds dove to intercept the bullets flying towards her. The extreme cold of the magical manifestations stopped the shots before they could reach her; the bullets breaking the magic holding them together.
With the hunter aware of her presence, Camila pulled the handle of her broom to face the grey sky and blasted off. She looked back over her shoulder as she zoomed through the frigid air. Snow flurries whipped against her, but her heat-skin kept her warm. The hum of the man’s flight bike began breaking through the howling wind behind her. Camila smiled. She was happy he had chased her; he was far too close to discovering the secret hidden under the school.
Marcus was closing in on the woman, he knew not to be overzealous, but the chance to finally test himself against a real witch was setting his heart to race. He had expected her to weave around the buildings, but she had surprised him by flying straight down the street. Gripping the handle bars with one hand, Marcus held his gun as steady as possible and pulled the trigger.
Camila felt the bullet explode against the protective barrier surrounding her a moment before the gun shot echoed off the dead buildings around her. The earth charm she wore around her neck would only hold up to one more shot—at best. Feeling that she had lead the hunter far enough away from the school, Camila decided to engage him.
Marcus watched the bullet burst into a small green puff of smoke. Clearly the witch was protected. He reached out a hand and set the gun to fire null-rounds. It would take a few seconds for the gun to charge enough to fire the powerful ammo, but when it did, the witch’s magic would be useless.
Reaching into one of the pouches hanging at her waist, Camila pulled out a handful of silver powder: erodust. Using a simple spell to steady her broom, she switched to a side-saddle position and looked back at her pursuer. With a wink and a smile, she released the powder. The wind grabbed the magic dust and whipped it towards the witch hunter.
Marcus tried to steer around the suddenly growing cloud of silver before him, but he was moving too fast to avoid it. Immediately, the silver powder began to eat through the front of the flight bike. Marcus managed to duck below the windshield causing the corrosive concoction to pass over his head. As a grinding sound began emanating from the front of the vehicle, he tried to keep the bike flying straight but billows of noxious black smoke began pouring out of the ragged holes forming along the front end. A flash of electrical fire spurted up just past the handle bars. Marcus knew he would have to abandon the bike if he was to survive. Before he did though, he had a surprise for the crafty witch. Flipping a small switch near the bike’s left handle, he exposed a plastic button. Marcus jammed his thumb down hard on it. Through the rapidly crumbling front end of the bike, a panel flung free and a round sphere the size of a baseball launched out.
With no other options left, Marcus leapt from his speeding vehicle. He landed on the barely exposed roof a car; the metal crumbling under his weight. Marcus rolled off and sunk down to his knees in the snow. Behind him he could hear his flight bike collide with one of the buildings; he paid in no mind though, instead he watched as the seeker grenade he had fired arced through the snowy air. The seeker used a variation of the technology employed by the null-rounds, except instead of nullifying magical energy, the seekers were attracted to it.
Camila slowed and brought her broom back around to face the destruction she had wrought. A widening patch of melting snow was forming around the flaming wreckage at the base of a nearby building. She saw no sign of the hunter, but then supposed there wouldn’t be much left of him after a crash like that.
She was about to fly away in search for the other hunter when she noticed a glint of metal breaking through the flurries. Camila squinted her eyes for a moment before opening them wide with surprise. Swearing, she tried to fly away, but the object zeroed in, hitting her protective barrier with tremendous force. A ball of green energy absorbed most of the impact, but the explosion was too much for her earth charm. The protective barrier failed and she was hurled to the ground, her broom reduced to burning straw and splinters.
Marcus whooped when he saw the fireball erupt across the permanently grey sky.
He began the arduous trek through the deep snow towards the downed woman. As he got closer he could see her robes flapping in the wind. He debated firing a null-round at her prone body to be sure, but then decided against it. If she was playing possum, he might regret the time it would take to charge another shot. Instead, he made his way over to her, gun held before him.
“Report!” Nasin’s voice crackled through Marcus’ headset.
Keeping his eyes focused on the downed figure, Marcus replied, “Target is down. Ping my tracker for an exact location.”
Not liking the way the woman seemed to defy physics by lying lightly atop the snow, instead of sinking in it, he used the tip of his gun to prod the pile of robes scattered before him. Nothing was visible of the witch besides her clothes, but he could make out the unmistakable human shape underneath them. When the witch did not move he shouted, “Hey!”
Keeping his gun trained before him, Marcus yanked the robes free. As soon as the edge of the clothing left the snow, it evaporated into a cloud of smoke. Marcus realized they had been an illusion all along. Lying directly under where the robes had appeared to be, was a dried out apple core.
“Huh?” Was all Marcus could manage before the apple core burst.
Camila hunched against a twisted hunk of metal, a faded graphic of an envelope barely visible on the side of it. Her body ached badly from the explosion, but the pain was something she could deal with.
She watched as the Newton’s Apple did its trick. Everything within three meters of the apple core suddenly had its gravity reversed; including the witch hunter. The apple’s magic only lasted for a couple dozen seconds, but that would be more than enough time for the man to be carried at high as the nearest building. Then, when gravity reverted to normal, he would plummet to his death.
Marcus fell up so fast that he was several meters off the ground before he could react. He searched desperately for something to grab a hold of. His searching hands were rewarded when the twisted end of a street light slapped into his palm. He held on for dear life.
Gritting her teeth, Camila pulled the long curved blade from the lamb skin sheath located on her hip. This man was proving increasingly hard to get rid of. She still had several magical tricks up her sleeve but was all too aware of the second hunter still roaming the city.
With a stomach churning lurch, the gravity around Marcus returned to normal. His grip on the street light had been sound when going up, but suddenly falling back down, his fingers slid off the icy metal.
He crashed down on a wind-swept portion of road where the snow was only a few inches deep. Marcus felt something crunch in his lower back, a spasm of pain blasted through him.
The witch was on him as soon as he landed, slashing at his throat with her knife. Marcus absorbed most of the blows along his armoured forearm, but a few managed to find openings near his elbow. Hoping that the knife wasn’t cursed, Marcus kicked the witch in the stomach sending her flailing backwards. He climbed back to his feet before she could resume her attack.
The hunter had knocked the wind from her but she couldn’t stop. Reaching for one of her pouches, Camila pulled free three small seashells. She let her thumb slide across the outside of one of the shells, the Celtic symbol carved into its surface had been nearly rubbed out over the years, but she could still feel the slight indentation. The Shells of Acionna had been passed down in her family for generations; she was loath to use them, but the shells represented the most powerful magic she had. With a flick of her wrist, she heaved them at the hunter.
Marcus smacked the shells out of the air before they could hit him. The witch stared at him wide eyed, clearly waiting for something to happen, and soon after it did. It began with a swelling sensation which caused intense pressure in his chest. He reached up to pull the edge of his armour away from his neck when he doubled over and began vomiting several liters of water.
He couldn’t breathe; every time he opened his mouth to gasp for air, more water gurgled out. He forgot about everything around him, even the witch, as panic gripped him. He fell to his knees, clawing at his throat. Marcus’s mind raced, he was going to die. Water had gotten under his goggles making his vision a blurry mess, but still he could make out the witch approaching to finish him off.
Seeking wildly for something to save him, Marcus spotted his gun resting in the snow nearby; a green light flashed along its side signaling that a null-round was primed.
The sight was grizzly. Camila knew that the man would soon drown to death, but as long as he could move at all he would be dangerous. Clutching her knife tight, she stalked over to the helpless witch hunter.
Despite the fact that she opposed everything the man represented—and that he had just spent a great deal of energy trying to kill her, she would make his death as quick as possible.
Before she could deliver the killing blow, the hunter jerked his arm out, grabbed his gun and fired it into the ground between them.
The round left the chamber and instantly exploded. The null field wrapped around both of them. Marcus’ suit, and all other electronics he carried died. The witch’s spells and enchantments likewise vanished.
Flipping onto his side, Marcus felt the end of the water begin draining from his lungs. After a couple of seconds, precious air started passing past his lips.
Camila was hit with a wave of numbing cold as the heat-skin wrapped around her was reduced to a thin piece of material. She shook her head a few times. The sudden loss of all her magic was disorienting. She had heard of the specialty bullets that the witch hunters carried, but until that moment, had never seen one in action. It seemed that the strange technology at work did not just extend to her own magic either; a patch of street which had been buried for hundreds of years in unrelenting snow was swept clear for the first time since the wintery curse was uttered.
The whole effect was so unnatural to her, so insulting to everything she believed in, that a spike of anger shot through Camila. Snarling, she leaped towards the man, her knife angling in for a killing blow. She knew that he would still be reeling from the devastating effects of the Acionna Shells.
A bullet caught Camila just under the ribs on her right side. She felt her body jerk violently from the impact. A grunt blew past her lips before she crumbled to the ground. She cocked her head to the side to see the other witch hunter dismount from his flight bike. The man held his gun before him as he hurried over to check on his partner. Camila tried to move but her body would not respond. A circle of ice—even colder than the air blowing through the city around her—began growing inside of her chest. She tried to talk but words failed her. She died there in the street.
Nasin pulled the goggles off of Marcus’s head. “Marcus! Are you alright son?!”
Marcus coughed a coupled times, the last bits of water coming out, before replying, “I think so.”
Nasin helped him back to his feet. They spent the next several minutes attending to his injuries before wrapping the witch in a sack and then securing her to the back of Nasin’s flight bike. Slapping Marcus on the back, Nasin said, “You just became a part of history, Marcus. We just took down the last witch.”
Marcus nodded, before saying quietly, “She fought harder than I thought…”
Nasin let out a sad chuckle. “They all fought hard, son. At least the fighting’s finally over.”
They returned to the shuttle. Nasin offered to fly and Marcus was grateful for it. The woman whose body was now stowed away in the back had given him everything—even more—than he could handle. He was happy to have survived it. As the shuttle lifted off, Marcus reflected on Nasin’s words, ‘At least the fighting’s finally over’. This brought him back to his own question when they had arrived in Toronto: what next?
Alda watched through the enchanted mirror as the shuttled disappeared into the frozen sky. He had seen most of the fight; and worse, he had seen Camila fall. The old tortoise wondered how he could possibly live without his companion.
With a low moan he shuffled out of the small room they had been living in, and into the lab right outside. He made his way over to the glass tube situated in the centre of the room. With a resolute nod of his head he looked at what was inside—what Camila had given her life to protect. A girl, around twelve or thirteen by appearance, floated in the cerulean liquid held within. She was a perfect clone of the grand witch herself, Mellori. Alda marveled at the peaceful look on her delicate face.
There was a long road ahead of him. Soon the girl would emerge from the tank and she would need his protection, his guidance. The world she was being born into was a dangerous one. But he would be strong, he would keep her safe until she could fulfil her destiny. Because, with Camila gone, this small girl was the last witch.