There was a bloody redness to the sky when Vanessa opened her eyes again.
"The blood of Apophis", an excited voice, vaguely familiar, babbled with dizzying delight. "That's why the sunrise is red. After Auf kills Apophis with the help of all the other gods, he can become Re again, the sungod, and enter the realm of the living once more. That is why this is happening!"
"But my dear Mr. Lyle," another familiar voice, this one female, protested, "that was a myth! A metaphor, at most!"
The cool air of a desert morning, not yet warmed by the heat of the sun, was all around her as she drew a breath. A breath. Vanessa blinked, then breathed again. In. Out. Was this another trick her mind was playing on her?
A face swam into her sight, bowing over her, ashen with worry under the bronzed skin an outdoor life had left. It was the last face she'd seen - before. When she'd still breathed.
"Ethan?" she asked, and half rose when she found herself embraced and almost crushed, again. She breathed. In. Out. She couldn't believe it. Ethan whispered something in her ear. Over his shoulder, she saw Malcolm staring at her, not saying a word.
In, out. Breath. Life. She could feel blood pumping through her veins.
"Where is..." she began, when another part of her memory started to catch up with her, "...where is Mr. Clare?"
Wordlessly, Malcolm nodded to a point at the left of her. She turned her head and saw that Victor Frankenstein was busy examining the crouching, shaking figure of her friend. Belatedly, Vanessa could feel the tremors of her own body. She'd thought it had been Ethan, still holding her, who was trembling.
In, out. The air was clean, save for a scent of salt. Malcolm knelt down next to Ethan, still not speaking.
"He's dead," she said. It was a statement, not a question. She was as sure of this as of nothing else. It was her own status that she was still confused about.
"And all the lost souls found," John Clare said, hearing her. Vanessa, reaching behind Ethan to touch Malcolm's face, found it wet only for the second time in their lives. The morning dew, she thought, and breathed again.