33: Three Eyes Open
“I don’t think that will be necessary, Lieutenant,” said another voice. It was Ms Thorbjorn — Commander Thorbjorn — striding down the alleyway towards them. Her own brooch flashed a rainbow of colours, its intricate sapphire wings putting the lieutenant’s to shame. As she reached Emily’s side, she fixed her fellow officer with a stern gaze. “I have orders direct from Queen Thetis that say these cadets are allowed to leave Avalon as and when they please.”
For the first time, the lieutenant showed a hint of emotion, a slight gasp of surprise that shattered his calm exterior. “Q—Queen Thetis?” he asked.
“Are you questioning me, Lieutenant?”
“No, Ma’am. Not at all.” He thrust his hand to the side of his head in a quivering salute, then stepped aside and, with a sheepish flush of embarrassment, took his leave.
Ms Thorbjorn watched him depart, then turned to Emily and smiled. “He’s young,” he said. “Served in a militia unit before he joined Seelie. It takes a while for them to shake their habits.”
“Did you really have orders from Queen Thetis?” asked Emily. She remembered Princess Phantasia using the name.
“Let’s just call it creative interpretation for now,” Ms Thorbjorn replied with a wink. “In the meantime, I see you’re heading underground.”
“We’re looking for Katrina,” said Emily. “I was hoping Veritas might know something about my little, eh, problem.”
Ms Thorbjorn crossed her arms. She had a contemplative look on her face, a serious frown that suggested a thousand threads of thought weaving together in the spaces between heartbeats. “It’s a tricky situation to be in,” she said at last. “But if I didn’t know you could handle yourself, I wouldn’t be here. Just be careful, keep your eyes open for trouble and remember that no matter what happens, you’re not alone.”
Because, she said, without so much as a word, we will be behind you all of the way, even when you cannot see us.
“Thanks,” said Emily. It helped.
Once Ms Thorbjorn had left, if only in sight, she turned to Dante. “So, what’s say we get out of here already?”
It was a wall like any other, the impression of door and nothing else. Or, at least, that was what his eyes told him, what his visor told him.
But Dante knew otherwise.
Emily ran her fingers down its surface. “They didn’t want to make this easy, did they?” she said. Then, with a deep breath, she stepped forward and through the impossible.
Dante placed his hand on the wall. It was a solid as solid could be, and yet he had just seen Emily walk through it as if there was nothing there, just as Byron had done a week before.
So long as he believed his senses, so long as he flinched, hesitated, even if only for a microsecond, the Aethex would solidify. The only way to pass was to let go of the truth. Of the lie.
He closed his eyes. He had to prove himself to Emily. He had to prove himself to everyone. Only then could he save his mother.
He stepped forward.
Chapter 33 End
Well, it’s a start!
Next week, Only Fools and Monsters.