Beneath the September night sky, black as a pool of ink, sharp orange flames illuminated London. They were like pits of fire from a hellish world, with great billowing clouds of smoke, demons released from their confines. Or so it appeared to Will.
Flying five thousand feet above the city in his Spitfire aircraft, Will was caught in the thick of the smoke. Although it clustered around the fires closer to the ground, up here, smoke from the bombed sites merged into a dark haze that obscured not only the other planes in his squadron, but the German bombers as well. Will could just see the tail of Eric’s plane off to his left, wavering in and out of the miasma. His hands clenched the stick with expert concentration, and he had strapped his goggles onto the top of his head so that the additional glass wouldn’t obscure his vision.
This was by far the worst he had seen. Admittedly, at nineteen years old, he hadn’t seen much, but beneath his laser focus on the surrounding battle, his imagination styled this as an apocalypse with those demons rising from the inferno, and the people below fleeing from incinerated hideaways toward deeper shelters. Or perhaps just giving up. Will could never understand that, giving up. That was why he and his cousin Rory had come to England, leaving their family on the Isle of Skye to join the RAF. Because if the world was going to end in a hellfire, Will would rather burn in the conflagration than starve on its outskirts.
These melancholy considerations were halted, however, when Jim’s voice sounded in his headset, scratchy with a static buzz. “This is Jim Hartshorne. Squadron leader is down. I repeat, Reginald’s plane is down. I’m taking his position at the front.”
Will bit his lip. He continued flying in the formation, at least, what he assumed was still the formation. Jim, only two years Will’s senior, was a master at improvisation, but leading the squadron was another matter entirely.
“Backing you up on your left,” Will heard Eric’s voice in response.
Then Jim spoke up again. “I see a bomber up ahead, fifty feet above us. Will, I want you after him.”
“You want me to break formation?” Will spoke into his microphone, which was flush against the side of his jaw.
“I want you to do what you were made to.” Jim’s voice was barely audible amid the static. Perhaps the radio tower had taken a hit. “It’s not ideal, but damn, is any of this ideal?”
Although Will knew that was a rhetorical question, he still responded, “No.”
“Then go get the bastard. You’re the sharpest pilot here. Besides, you’ve got the best plane.”
It was true, at least, the part about his plane; Will couldn’t say that he was sharper than the other pilots, though he always trained the hardest.
“Gain some altitude first,” Jim continued. “Then shoot him down like a vengeful angel. I want that plane out of commission in five minutes. You hear? Go get him, fairy boy.”
“I’m on it.” Will felt like adding something to effect of not calling him ‘fairy boy,’ but decided that now was not the time. Yet it did make him glance to the top left of his dashboard where a small picture was taped above the controls, the source of his nickname. It was a picture of the tattered Fairy Flag. Its pale yellow-brown silk was worn thin so that it was no longer a square, but a haphazard sort of polygon. Upon its surface were red spots, forming no particular pattern, “elf dots” as Will’s grandmother called them. Although it looked like no more than a rag in the picture, when he had seen it in person, taken out from where it was usually locked in a wooden chest at Dunvegan, the MacLeod family castle on the Isle of Skye, he had sensed a power within it. It was easily overlooked at a cursory glance, but it was as if each thread had been woven by the singing voices of fairies, bringing the strength of the Other World into it. Even after the other men of his squadron had no shortage of amusement at Will’s expense after having bribed Rory into telling them that the picture was of the Fairy Flag, Will never went on any expedition without it.
Although its origins were shrouded in mystery, the flag was known to protect the clan MacLeod. It had supposedly won them various battles in the past, and had also stopped a plague some centuries ago. Will wouldn’t have admitted it to anyone, but it gave him a strange sense of courage. He didn’t believe that it came from fairies, and was not at all certain about its reputed powers, but it was an emblem of the courage of his people, his distant ancestors as well as his family back home, and the hope for their future.
As he ascended to overtake the German plane, he could hear the whir of his Spitfire’s propellers speeding faster and faster. He had gained enough altitude, so focused in on the plane below, weaving in and out of the smoke like a sea monster only half visible in dark waters. Yet it was visible enough to shoot.
Before Will could become that avenging angel, an enormous bang deafened him. It reverberated down to his bones, and a swarm of heat washed over him. The choking smell of burning fuel pervaded his senses, and the front of his plane surged with flames. He quickly brought his goggles back down over his scalding eyes.
Despite having been hit—probably by a bomber hidden in the smoke above him—he was heading right into the path of the German plane below. He tried to eject, for he would burn up in a moment. Yet the latch on his seat had fused together from the fire creeping beneath the plane, and his hands burned beneath his leather gloves when he touched it. He had nearly reached the German plane, though he tried to turn off to the right to gain himself more time.
Please, he thought, glancing to his picture. If you can do anything, if—
He felt himself whirl into a misting gyre. It was not his plane that was falling, nor even his body, but his mind seemed to be travelling alone. Down he swept, hardly aware of his surroundings, not even able to be dizzy with the great speed at which he was descending. And then even the gyre was gone, and all sensation left him.
Scattered. That was what Fingal was, not just physically lost in this hushed Palestinian forest, but he felt as though his mind had scattered up into the trees during his run here. He stood with his tunic drenched in sweat, the chain mail over his chest heavy and sagging, as he stared down at his dagger embedded into the back of a Turk. It was just the two of them, one dead and lying in a pool of crimson blood, the other living. But it could have easily turned out the other way if the man hadn’t tripped over a root.
The droning cry of a cicada kept Fingal hovering there, the sheer fact that he was alive slowly becoming comprehensible. He dabbed his moist forehead with the sleeve of his tunic and crouched next to the man, then gingerly removed his dagger. He frowned when a gush of blood thoroughly soaked the man’s white robe.
Fingal stood and went to a bare patch of grass to wipe the dagger clean before sheathing it at his waist. He began to feel more himself after performing this simple duty, and so went to search for the way he had come. There was no path nearby, for after the Turks had surprised them at their camp, Fingal, along with the other crusaders, had been chased into the woods, and without his sword, he really had no choice but to flee. He didn’t expect that his companions would have been able to take down their pursuers as easily as he had.
It might have been an hour since he had left camp, and after a few false starts, he was only led back to that clearing with dark blood staining the greenery of summer. A swallow had landed on the man’s back as if he had become no more than a rock or tree that belonged to the forest. Fingal ran his hand through his long dark hair and swept it off his damp neck. What with the surprise attack, he had no provisions, no sword, though was fortunately wearing his woolen tunic and chainmail beneath a surcoat of light blue with the holy cross emblazoned on the front in silver, his dark leather leggings, and black riding boots that had, over the past weeks, become pale brown from dust and scuff marks. He dared not think about how his comrades had fared, many of whom had been resting in their tents to escape the heat of the day before the attack they had planned for that evening.
Fingal went off in another direction. He didn’t mind being out in the forest, though had never been the one to scout out a trail, let alone look at the map. Now, after at least two more hours of walking, he began to regret it. He felt so foolish: going to the East to reclaim the Holy Land, when, despite his skills as a swordsman, he couldn’t even find his way through the wilderness. He thought of his brother back on the Isle of Skye who knew every uncharted pass through the moors, whereas the only landscape Fingal could navigate was the narrow confines of a battle field. With his throat dry and eyes blurred from the heat of the sun that seemed woefully inadequate.
The forest eventually thinned, though instead of giving way to civilization, the land broke up into rocky hills, striated with pale green lichen and minor shrubbery. Fingal figured that he would be better off gaining higher ground so that he could spot Jerusalem, or any village for that matter. The hills built off one another, ascending until Fingal was up in the highlands, probably, he assumed, the Judean Mountains. It was cooler up here, what with the wind to dry the moisture from his skin and the cliffs blocking much of the sunlight. He wandered up a narrow pass, to the left of which was a drop of a few hundred feet toward the forest, and to the right, an equally unforgiving wall of stone. Whenever Fingal grasped it for support, it crumbled into dusty fragments between his fingers. Yet he needed to go higher, for the forest and the taller mountains still obscured his view. The rocks beneath him soon became more uneven, and walking on the path—if it could even be called a path—became more of a climb.
At one particularly forbidding pass, no more than a foot wide against the mountainside, he spotted an opening in the cliff. Although this would by no means help him find Jerusalem, he was curious as to where it led, so, edging sideways along the path, careful not to scrape away any of the loose stones with his chain mail, he reached the opening and ducked inside.
The scent of earth pervaded his senses, and dull orange firelight illuminated the enclosure from a crude torch on the side wall. The far wall was lined with a wicker bench, something of a cot, upon which sat a wizened old man wearing a flowing white robe. His black hair and beard were lined with strands of grey, and his face was angular with a hooked nose and boney ridge over his eyes. Fingal, stooped beneath the ceiling, halted beneath the hermit’s dark, unblinking gaze.
The man said something in a language Fingal couldn’t understand, his voice stony like the walls about him.
Fingal only shook his head.
“Do you at least speak Latin, boy?”
“Ah.” The hermit’s face softened. “You’re not hopeless yet.”
“Do you have any water?”
“Water is hard to come by here.”
Fingal licked his cracked lips. The cave seemed to meld into a kaleidoscope of flames that flickered over the dark walls. “I have some coin,” he said, reaching into his pocket. It was only a single silver coin, but surely that would be more than enough for water.
The hermit peered over at the coin and shook his head. “What use have I for silver?”
“Then what do you want?”
The hermit studied Fingal as if judging what could be wheedled out of him. After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, with the only sound the crackle of fire from the torch and Fingal’s own pounding heart, the man said, “Come. Sit.” He gestured to the ground before his feet.
Fingal came to kneel in front of him. He couldn’t have said whether the man really would give him water after this, but felt that it was worth a try.
“Down the path to the east,” the hermit began, sweeping his boney arm in the direction Fingal had come, “lies the dwelling of the Daughter of Thunder. She guards the path to Jerusalem, the shortest route from the mountains. Yet none take it, for she is an evil spirit wrought upon destroying all men, Christians and infidels alike. I am not strong enough to defeat her, yet I have the one weapon that can.” He reached into a wicker basket behind him and pulled out a roughly heart-shaped piece of wood and held it out to Fingal.
Fingal took it and examined it. “I don’t understand. How can this—”
“It is a piece of the True Cross!” The hermit’s eyes blazed with a religious fervor.
“Oh.” Fingal had naively assumed that any relic from Christ would exude some spiritual light, or at least feel ancient and holy. Yet this might have been chipped off a tree and sanded only yesterday. But still, he was curious, so asked, “You want me to defeat her, then?”
“Then I shall do it.” Fingal figured that if the wood failed, he still had his dagger.
The hermit nodded contentedly, like a king setting one of his knights out to battle. He reached into the basket again and produced a leather wineskin with a wooden stopper, as well as a chunk of bread.
Fingal took this much more eagerly than he had the wood, and before the hermit had finished saying that he could drink half of it, Fingal had swallowed the entire contents of the wineskin. It was unpleasantly sour ale, but it quenched his thirst, and he began to feel stronger. He then ate the bread, stale though it was, before the hermit could take it away.
The hermit scowled. “Go along. When you are a mile down the path, turn right down the escarpment—there are wooden planks nailed into the stone you can use for your footing—and you will enter her domain of the forest.”
Fingal stood, and with a bow to the hermit—he had, after all, given him sustenance and a piece of what was supposedly the True Cross—he turned to leave.
At the threshold of the cave, the hermit called to him. “Young crusader. If you are successful, return the cross to Jerusalem.”
Fingal agreed that he would.
As he was making his way back along the narrow pass, now unfortunately with the glare of the sun in his eyes, he wondered about the hermit’s words. If you are successful…If. How powerful was this Daughter of Thunder, if she had the ability to hold out against a piece of the True Cross?
The escarpment, which Fingal had heedlessly passed during his ascent, was over a hundred feet above the forest floor. The uneven cliff face, crumbling in places, did indeed have a set of wooden planks nailed into it. Fingal tried out the first one cautiously. It wobbled at his weight, but it didn’t feel as though it would come off entirely, so, grasping the stone ledge and trying to keep most of his weight supported by his arms, he began to climb down. He reached his foot down to the next plank and slid his hands along the stones until he found a sufficient hold. He glanced down at the planks forming a winding pattern down the cliff face. Already, his hands were chaffed from the stones and slick with sweat. He’d have to be quick. Besides, then he wouldn’t have time to feel the extent of the danger he was putting himself in.
After nearly half an hour of maneuvering between the planks and protuberances in the cliff face, Fingal at last reached the final step, where vines were already claiming the cliff as their own. He jumped to the forest floor and landed in a crouch.
A slight wind stirred the branches of pine and carob trees, and Fingal spotted a hare bounding into a tamarisk bush. Somewhere, he knew, the Daughter of Thunder was lying in wait for him.
He brushed a lock of damp hair from his eyes and looked down to his burning palms. Seeing the raw skin, pink and scratched, he knew he would have been better off getting here the long way. He untucked his tunic and tore off a piece to wrap around his right hand. It was enough, at least, so that he could wield his dagger if the True Cross failed him.
As he started forward into the woods, he clutched the piece of wood in his right hand and smoothed its surface with his fingertips. He tried to imagine what would happen. Would he just have to hold it out to the evil spirit, or would he have to say a prayer to ‘activate’ its powers? He should have questioned the hermit further, and wished he hadn’t been so careless in accepting this task. Yet if he did defeat the spirit, he would surely gain great honour among the crusaders.
Fingal stopped upon hearing a rustling in a thicket of trees up ahead. He shifted the wood to his left hand and slowly drew out his dagger with his right. He couldn’t see anything, and figured that it was probably just a hare or a deer, but after that noise, the forest had become silent. The wind no longer stirred the branches, and not even the drone of a cicada gave life to the dead air.
Fingal felt his hair brush down over his right cheek, but before he could flick it away, he paused. It was not his hair; it was a cool, soft touch, like fingers…He spun around and saw a lady standing before him, nearly as tall as he was. The hand that had stroked his cheek was still raised, and she curled her fingers back to her palm. Yet these were no human hands. They were a soft white-grey like the rest of her skin, and the fingers were unnaturally long and pointed at the end with pale green nails.
Fingal was at first unable to move, for although he knew that this was surely the Daughter of Thunder, he was overcome by her ethereal beauty. She was tall and slender, with a pointed chin and ears and narrow, spring green eyes. Her luscious waves of white-blonde hair reached to her waist and were hinted with pale green strands. Colorful flowers were woven into her hair, forming a circlet about her head. She wore a light green and brown gown of silk with sleeves that flowed in long wisps from her elbows, as well as a belt of flowers similar to her circlet. A wry smile crossed her thin lips.
Suddenly recalling his task, Fingal held the piece of the True Cross up to her, expecting some explosion of light. Yet the only thing that seemed to exude a spiritual power was the lady herself. The cross, she glanced at without concern. Speaking in Latin, Fingal said, “Begone, Daughter of Thunder! Tremor before the True Cross upon which Christ gave his life for humanity!”
The fey, however, only trembled with laughter, her voice like a twist of wind through silver chimes. She tried to pluck the wood from Fingal’s hand, and her nails cut his skin.
He snatched his hand back. “Are you the Daughter of Thunder?”
Her green eyes sparkled like sunlight dappling over forest leaves. To his surprise, she responded in Gaelic. “I am not.”
He took a step back, but before he could retreat further, she pounced at him and grasped his neck. “I am Thunder itself,” she whispered, bearing her teeth in a wicked grin.
Fingal didn’t think. He just reacted as he would have in battle. He raised his left hand and brought the wood down on her head hard, forcing her to release her hold on him. She hissed, flicking her head back sharply, and he threw the wood at her forehead. One of the edges cut into her skin, and a whitish-yellow fluid like sap tricked down the side of her face. She pounced forward again, and although Fingal was ready with his dagger, she skirted around him with unnatural speed and shoved him onto his knees.
He spun back around and slashed her legs, slitting her skirt and drawing more of that clear blood from her leg. Yet she still came at him, grasping his neck again and piercing her nails into his flesh. Fingal gritted his teeth and slashed her arm. The woman shrieked and spun around him, still grasping his neck and drawing blood as she twisted her nails into his flesh.
Fingal couldn’t shake her off, so instead, he fell onto his back with the intention of crushing her beneath him. He wasn’t sure that he succeeded, for although he heard the snap of a bone, her hold on him didn’t weaken.
“You will not succeed, traitor,” she gasped in his ear. “You may destroy me, but we shall never let you escape.”
Fingal rolled over, and, quicker than her this time, plunged the dagger into her chest. The lady screamed, the shrill cry of a thousand crystal glasses thrown against a stone wall. Fingal dropped his weapon and grasped his ears. The world about him swirled with green as if the trees were swaying and the very earth itself was moving. A strong wind rustled the leaves of the trees in a long moan.
The lady fell back unconscious, this woman of thunder. We shall never let you escape… Her words returned to Fingal as he knelt there, trying to regain himself. He breathed deeply, each breath raw as if his throat had been sliced open. He fell to his hands and saw a dark fluid drip from his neck. It was from the lady’s fingers, and reaching up to his wounds, he found that they were deep. His fingers did not become coated in red, but a very dark green, almost black.
We shall never let you escape…
Fingal only managed a final ragged breath before collapsing next to Thunder.
He was held beneath a veil of music, the dancing of light feet upon silver bells, wandering about the hollows of his mind. It was peaceful, and Fingal wanted nothing more than to lay where he was, absorbing the music. Slowly, he became aware that he was lying on something cushioned like leaves, and that it was pleasantly cool. The scent of stream water and rich earth suffused the air. His mind danced with the music, and when he opened his eyes, he found himself beneath a dense forest canopy creating a loom of sunlight that shifted with the notes of the music. Fingal felt that he might be in a hollow below the forest floor, though trees still grew thickly down here as well.
Yet however peaceful, Fingal soon became curious about that music. And the fact that he no longer had his dagger or the piece of the True Cross—though he now doubted the identity of that piece of wood—didn’t give him confidence that he could defend himself.
He first felt his neck, and was pleasantly surprised that the wounds had healed, leaving only small bumps where the skin was still scarred. When he sat up, he became aware that the music was coming from behind him, and, upon turning, he beheld its source. There was an organ built within the trunk of a wide pine tree, with pipes carved out of the wood and a set of keys that curved out from the tree at about waist height. The keys, of a pale green hue, were each a different size, but somehow, still looked beautiful together. The trunk above the keys was decorated with engravings of vines and flowers.
Upon a wooden stool before the organ a young girl sat cross-legged, her legs tucked up under her dress. She was perhaps fifteen or so, her white-blonde hair was tied in a bun with a sheer green silk scarf, and she wore a translucent gown of pale blue and white. Fingal remarked that her skin was the same grey-white as the Daughter of Thunder—or ‘Thunder,’ as it were—but he was not apprehensive. He just sat there, watching her play the organ, wondering if she was an Eastern fairy, for she was unlike any of the fairies from Scottish legends.
Eventually, her song came to a close with a flourish, and she turned to Fingal as if she had known that he was awake and watching her. Her narrow eyes were bluer than a bright summer’s sky, and her ears and nose were pointed like the other spirit.
“Have you repented yet, MacLeod?” she spoke softly.
Fingal swallowed. “For…”
“You killed my mother.”
“I am sorry. I was sent to kill the Daughter of Thunder, and…” He suddenly realized if he had indeed killed Thunder, and this girl was her daughter…but was she really evil? He had been so caught up with the hermit’s task that he hadn’t thought about whether or not his words had been truthful.
“Will you kill me, then?” the Daughter of Thunder asked, though she didn’t sound particularly concerned. “I, who saved your life?”
Fingal felt his neck again. “Why did you save me?”
“You and your people have a great destiny to fulfill. Far up north you rule your island, but what is even greater than the courage and nobility of your people is your very blood, for it connects you to the earth. Your people are closer to the fey than any other; the fair folk flock to that isle, for it is where our deepest power lies. You must return to your land to preserve the clan, and so preserve our greatest sanctuary. Your blood will always lead you to us, whether you wish it or not.”
After she spoke this, she reached into one of the pipes of the organ to produce a cloth of pale yellow silk. Upon unfurling it, Fingal was struck with its shimmering brilliance, as if it had captured the sunlight of a summer’s day. There were small square crosses wrought in golden thread upon its surface that seemed to radiate light. Fingal could do no more than stare at it in wonder. This was what he had expected from that piece of wood from the hermit, but this cloth was greater, for it drew memories of his home, of the verdant moors, the whisper of a breeze off Loch Dunvegan, and the cool morning mist through which one could almost see the fair folk gliding like graceful dancers. He now knew how foolish he had been. He could have blamed the hermit, but it had been he who had drawn the blade, he who had spurred Thunder to fury.
“I am sorry,” he said. He stood and knelt before the girl, who was still regarding him sternly. “I will never again harm the creatures of the Earth.”
“You ought not to,” she said. “For you are now one of us.” She spread the flag out on the ground before him. “With this cloth wrought by my music, I revived the life within you. Otherwise, you would have perished as my mother did. Destroy this cloth, and you destroy your life and the lives of all your descendants.”
Fingal breathed in the cool, damp air, his eyes fixed upon the cloth.
“In this glen, you are bound to the cloth, yet if you leave, you will perish. You must pledge yourself to us and the earth beneath you, or else you can never leave this place.”
She returned to the organ, and reaching inside another pipe, produced a small metal dagger with a dark wooden handle. Fingal made to rise, but the girl pointed the dagger at him to gesture that he remain kneeling. “Give me your hand,” she said.
Fingal tentatively brought his right hand toward her, which, like his neck, was almost entirely healed.
The Daughter of Thunder pointed the knife to the center of his palm, not too hard, but enough to draw a trickle of blood. “Anoint the cloth.”
Fingal tilted his hand over the silk, letting drops of blood spread over its surface. At first, he thought it a shame to mar it, but the drops of blood added a beautiful red to the silk, and the spots remained bright rather than drying in brown smudges.
When the silk was anointed to the Daughter of Thunder’s satisfaction, she knelt and set the dagger on the ground, then carefully folded the cloth into a small square. It was no longer glowing, but its presence still impressed upon Fingal’s mind. He was about to wipe his hand on his leggings, but found that the wound had healed up on its own.
The Daughter of Thunder handed him the cloth, and he took it carefully. It was so light, as if it was formed of air itself. Yet so too was it his very life, something he would have to guard until his dying breath.
“This is not a curse, young MacLeod,” the Daughter of Thunder continued. “Although you may be bound to the cloth, it was born of my magic, and so carries its own powers. When you return to your clan, you must fashion the cloth into a flag. When your clan is in dire need, they may unfurl the flag before the difficulty and aide will come. This may only be performed three times, and only by you or your descendants. After the third unfurling, the flag and its bearer will return to us, never again to set forth in the mortal world. It is your choice, whether you unfurl it the third time. Though if you do not, the clan may suffer extinction. It is the price of our magic. Yet although your descendants may only gain our strength by unfurling the flag, you may call upon us directly. Remember, if you need my aide, I am the thunder in the ancient stones, in the churning waters, and in the old brambled grottos.
“Now leave, and fulfill the destiny to which you are bound.”
Fingal bowed his head before standing. He felt the earth around him, whispering in his mind, tingling in his blood.
Before he could thank the fey, she had vanished—or rather, he had vanished from the grotto. He was now standing upon a moor covered with long dewy grass in the early morning. The large rising sun was an orange-red with hints of yellow, the same hue as the silken cloth in his hands. He was before the castle Dunvegan that his clan called home. Its stout towers rose before mottled purple-grey clouds, and upon the central turret flew the red and blue MacLeod flag of a bull’s head with the motto Hold Fast.
Fingal may have been wrested from his crusade, and he may have lost some essential part of his life, but he knew that he had gained much more. As he started down toward the castle’s bridge, he realized that he was about to embark on a different crusade, one that would continue until his last breath, and would be carried forth by countless generations to come.
Will didn’t know how it had happened, but he had ejected from his Spitfire. His parachute that, by all rights, should have melted in the heat of the engine’s fire, had borne him down to a rooftop in the east end of the city.
He tore his goggles off and unbuckled his air mask, letting it drop to the side. It wasn’t as though the smoke-dense air was congenial to breathing, but at least he could breathe. At least he was alive.
He just sat there, reflecting upon the miracle, sitting amid debris from his plane, and maybe the German bomber as well. He recognized a part of his dashboard next to him, and absently flicked at some of the controls. Yet his hand hovered over a charred piece of paper that was taped to it. It was only held on by one corner, and the rest had flipped over so that he was actually looking at the back of it. Carefully, Will removed it and turned it over.
The picture was unmarred. Except for the charred edges, the part with the flag was just as it had been when he’d last seen it. He took a deep breath, suddenly remembering what had happened after he crashed into the plane, or at least, what had happened in his mind. He had entered some sort of dream, or a vision, of the man in the middle ages who had first obtained the Fairy Flag, how he had killed Thunder, and had been rescued by her daughter. Although the Flag was now tattered and the golden crosses had faded, Fingal’s blood—indeed, Will’s own blood—was still sprinkled upon it in those red spots.
Had the flag really saved Will? His life too was wrought into those yellow threads, and although he might not have Fingal’s power to summon the fey at his command, perhaps something of its power remained in him as well.
Will looked up from the picture to the fire and smoke cast over London. Surely, this wouldn’t last. He still breathed the air, and although it was fouled with soot, as long as his life lasted, he would fight.
So, tucking the picture of the flag into the chest pocket of his uniform, Will stood and made his way from the rooftop to complete his own crusade.