Orphic Phantasia

33: Three Eyes Open

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Emily listened to Dante’s recollection, vague as it was. As he spoke of underground streets and crowds, he sounded like someone recounting a particularly odd dream, or a piece of gossip they overheard that no one could possibly believe.

“It sounds like she’s in Bolventor,” Emily offered with a smile. “It’s an old town buried beneath the island. Jasmine mentioned it a couple of times. The way there is supposed to be a secret, mind.” She glanced out of the gondola window at the streets below. Even from up here, there was no sign of the hidden alleyways she stumbled into on the day they arrived. “I guess that’s never stopped Phoenix, though,” she added. “Maybe we should go look for them?”

Even though his aura was difficult to read, Dante’s face betrayed a certain anxiety about Katrina’s whereabouts that wouldn’t settle until he knew for sure that she was safe. Veritas had a reputation for poking around in places they didn’t belong, after all, and chances were they had put their time in Avalon to good use. In fact, Emily was counting on it.

“Knowing them, they’re probably on a first-name basis with whoever runs this place,” she said, unsure of whether she was overestimating their skills or not. The Veritas girls — Katrina, Phoenix, Andromeda and Amanda — all placed highly in the initiate rankings, as did their co-conspirators, Theseus and John, but they had never achieved the sort of journalistic success Phoenix longed for. She wanted them to expose political corruption and unravel supernatural mysteries, but they spent most of their time reporting on militia activates and missing persons. Avalon, however, had everything a manic conspiracy theorist could ever desire. “Who better to ask about strange men with magical powers?” she added with a smile, fake as it was, but reassuring enough that Dante himself almost replied in kind.

His frown, however, proved difficult to dislodge. If anything, it had only deepened since he opened up about his past. For six years, he had tried to believe his mother was safe in Malkuth, healed of the Brand that cursed her, but now he knew otherwise. Emily’s own past was all the irrefutable evidence he required to realise what the Saptamatrikas — what Pleiades — had done to him. Now the two of them just needed to find out why, what possible use such a force, whatever it was, could have for a cursed Maiden. Avalon had the answers, of that Emily was certain.

As the gondola descended towards the docking platform, she reached over and took his hand in hers. “Don’t worry,” she said, “we’ll be fine. I mean, it can’t be any worse than this place, can it?”

He nodded, as much of an answer as she would get.

Katrina is 6th, with 13970 points; Phoenix is 3rd, with 14311; Andromeda 4th, with 14014; Amanda 9th, with 13794.
Theseus and John are 8th and 11th, respectively, while Emily is 18th and Dante 25th.