33: Three Eyes Open
“After today,” he told her, that day he brought them out of their basement prison and up to the surface, “you won’t have to be afraid. After today, we will live in a world where there is no darkness.”
Emily rubbed her shoulder. On that day, her own uncle had reduced her to nothing more than a tool, an inconsequential sacrifice to further his ascension to Malkuth. On that day, Aliza Adel, the girl who spent her life in sweet dreams and pleasant fantasies, learned what it was to be a Maiden, to be an object of perfection in a savage world of greed and plotting. Like her mother and her grandmother, and like Ophelia Orpheus, she existed for the sake of others, if not to grant them insight or pleasure, then to act as barter.
But not now. Not anymore. Now she had come to realise the extent of her bloodline’s plight, she was done with it. If the Sidhe wanted information out of her, they would get it on her terms and her terms only. There would be no scrying of her friends, no scarring of their souls. She would take the blessings of the Maidenblood and she would use them as she saw fit. She would free herself from the cycle that claimed her mother and her grandmother. And, if she could free herself, she could free Dante and his mother. She could free them all.
Somewhere deep inside, on the shores of that lonely lake where one soul died and another was born, a black-and-blue flame danced a ferocious dance. Not Emily Fomalhaut, not the Macha, and not Aliza Adel, but something else. A new identity. A new start. An alternative.
Once they had returned to the plaza outside their holiday apartments, Emily closed her eyes and focused on the world around her, pictured the myriad perceptions of paradise, filtered through that Alchemium implant in the back of their necks. Without a clear consensus of what they were seeing, without a solid concept into which they could pour their acknowledgements, the people of Avalon had shaped an uncertain reflection of the world around them — but that just made Emily’s job easier. Peering into those threads of scattered opinion, she plucked free the observations of just one person, a familiar aura Emily could separate from the chaos.
“She went this way,” she said, starting after the trail. Dante, unquestioning, followed.
As expected, it soon led into one of the invisible passageways between buildings. Emily realised now that it was the Alchemium implant convincing everybody there was nothing there. Only someone who could see the world through a third, aethereal eye would notice the dark blot in the jumble of conflicting impressions, the sharp, defined path that never changed. Only a few people might have walked it — Katrina among them — but those people all saw the same thing, and that gave it a soul stronger than anything else Avalon offered.
At least somebody is being assertive!