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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Book of Ataniel

Changing of the Guard

“Well?” Scala stepped out from behind the bridge post, in a golden glow of light. “What did she decide?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Marlukin looked out over the river. “She would have been redeemed either way.”

“To Lucifer with her! What of us?”

“We will remain as we are,” said Marlukin, looking off.

“Damn it!” cried Scala. “Did you teach her nothing of duty?”

“I taught her duty goes in two directions, like this road,” said Marlukin. “She was my protégé, not yours, and either sacrifice would have sufficed. She is the last of the Gods.” There was quiet pride in Marlukin’s voice. “And she has chosen humanity.”

“You were rooting for this, weren’t you, you old softie?” Scala demanded.

“There is no one in this Hotel who could have been so unbiased,” answered Marlukin.

“But in your heart of hearts?”

He kissed her lightly, one ghost touching another, all that would ever remain of the divine cadre of Ataniel. “In my heart of hearts,” Marlukin said softly, “I have a dream.”

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