Prologue

I

In the soft grass my fingers found your fingers
I held your pulse a moment
and felt elsewhere your heart's pain.
…seeing your shadow grow and diminish,
lose itself in the other shadows, in the other
world that let you go yet held you back.

-George Seferis

The ocean sighed and cooled the city. The evening zephyrs carried the salt flow, intermingled with the smell of wet concrete and the sweet, humid undertones of a storm that had died out shortly before. Windows of buildings in the distance reflected the light of the setting sun, perforating the skyline like fireflies. The winds picked up and played with the young girl's hair, as she leaned on the edge of the pedestrian walkway of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge.

"Liam!" she called to the boy catching up with her.

"What is it, Ava?"

"What are you thinking about?"

"I'm thinking about getting a donair. I haven't eaten in hours".

"Why are you always thinking with your stomach?"

"Because it's always right"

Ava sighed and rested her chin upon her arms, folded on the rail. She continued to gaze into the distant horizon.

"Why?" asked Liam. "What are you thinking about?"

Ava shifted her gaze towards him, and smiled.

"What are you getting at?" he asked, trying to hold in laughter.

The smile on Ava's face slowly faded away as she turned her head back to the sea; her playfulness segueing into contemplation.

"Well?" Liam asked, starting to forget his hunger.

"I'm looking out to where the sky meets the ocean", she began, pausing for a second. "I know that beyond that line lays the rest of the world- with places that my eyes won't yet let me see, because I'm too far away. But I can envision them- the plains of Portugal, the shores of Africa, and the dark jungles that encompass those shores. And I know that at the same time, we are there, because we are connected by the ocean. And that the ocean, in a language much older than our own, is calling me there".

Liam walked closer to her, and placed his hand on top of one of hers. When their eyes connected, he said to her, "You know I can't let you do that all alone, right?"

"And why not?" she said, withdrawing her hand and taking a step back, her playful smile returning.

"Because I don't know what I'd do without you", Liam admitted with shy smile.

"Do you know why that is?" she asked.

"Because I'm here to protect you"

Ava stepped forward, wrapped her arms around him, and rested her head upon his chest. "… and because you're mine", she said quietly, feeling his heartbeat. "You belong to me".

"That I do", he replied, his arms wrapping around her.

They stood in each other's arms a while, enshrouded in quiet contentment, until the silence was shattered by an enormous grumble from Ava's stomach.

"I really think we should eat something", Ava laughed, taking Liam's hand and leading him down the bridge pathway.

"What did I tell you?" Liam remarked. "Your stomach is always right!"

The ocean moaned as they walked into the distance, their silhouettes merging with the city shadows.

II

God! What a struggle it is for life to keep going, as though it
were a swollen river passing through the eye of a
needle.

-George Seferis

Excerpt from Malachy's Journal

Belfast, Northern Ireland
April 10
th, 1998
11:42 PM

The old ways are dying. The years have drifted away into oblivion, like the embers that once rose from my hearth. The fire is extinguished now. The hearth is empty and cold.

Tonight, I go into exile. My enemies will hunt me. They will pursue me to the ends of the earth. I will be waiting for them there.

They took our homeland from us. They desecrated our churches. They took my wife and my daughters from me. They took away everything that made me human.

And they still keep taking.

Now, my comrades in arms have abandoned me, and left me to fight alone. My conviction is all that stands between corruption and deliverance.

In my hands, I hold an agent of change. With it, I shall set fire to the foundations of this anomaly. From the ashes, I will reclaim what is mine. I will gather the lost fragments, and begin to rebuild my empire in the shadows.

It is begun.

On the morning of April 11th, a politician from the Ulster Unionist Party was found dead on the steps of Parliament. A bullet from a rooftop sniper ripped through his neck the night before. Though the bullet severed his carotid artery, no blood stained the steps he rested on. It seemed as though he were drained dry.