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Fallen Final

"One day he was gone.

"Max had already been burnt out by the time we stormed the Temple. All the shifting, all his 'cubed' experiences, all the stress and uncertainty. Then being trapped here. Losing Maggie, again. None of us were totally surprised that he left. Dex was bitter, Wraith was angry, Callan was resigned, but none of us were surprised.

"And I was the least surprised of all, because Max had told me that he was going."

Wraith straightened in her seat, her frame tense. This was new to her, a story she hadn't yet heard. Darius glanced at her as he sipped his tea, and continued.

"He had come to believe that he was the problem, that Morganfokker was behind all of it and that he was carrying Morganfokker's signal, his sickness, with him. He thought that he had screwed up and gotten all of us trapped here. And he realized that as long as he was around we might never find our way clear of all the bad weird shit. I know, it's pretty egotistical when you think about it, but he might have been right.

"So he said that he was going underground, that he would go into hiding, use some of that weird identity magic he knew, and we would see what happened. And that he would try and find a way to make things better, and if he did he would come back. I nicknamed it the 'Once and Future Cube' plan. Make no mistake, things were still bad after he was gone - the Demons were relentless - but... Things were less weird without Max around."

Wraith was shaking her head but it was impossible to tell what she was feeling behind the mask.

"So," Marshal said. "Why did he tell you? When he didn't tell anyone else?"

"I'm not sure," Darius replied. "I've wondered about that. Why do you think he might have told me?"

Marshal considered. "The way you talk about everything, you seem to understand a bit of what it was like for Max."

Darius considered, a glimmer in his one eye. "I like to think I did. I tried to. So is that why you decided to tell me?"

"What?" Marshal blinked.

Darius smiled slightly. "You can tell me now, why you decided then to tell me about the 'Once and Future Cube'."

Marshal took a deep breath. A strange look on his face. "I... I knew..." He wasn't sure if he was making things up or remembering them. "I knew that I would need someone's help to get back."

Wraith stood up. Darius asked, "And why would you be coming back?"

"Because there was a chance... A chance to make things better."

"And what would it be?"

He thought about everything he had studied in Haven, everything he had learned from the Arcana. He thought about what he had seen in the borderlands, the ruins, the Demons. The Dragons and the stories that Darius had told him.

"If... If you could use one of the Grids to take control of an Eye... You could fly the Eye through one of the Gutters, out past Frontline... To where the Demons come from. It must be a portal. That would be your way to get out. Or shut them down. Or both. And now that the bulk of their forces have advanced on Haven..." He blinked again.

Darius grinned. "Alright Max, let's try it." Wraith nodded. "And we'll see what happens next."