Orphic Phantasia

36: The Scrying Game

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Emily, of course, did not know where the Oracle made her temple, and she suspected Jonas Meeray knew that, too. He just wanted to get her away from Bolventor, away from the crowds, perhaps, even, away from her friends. Then he would reach into his shirt, stroke that phallic little crystal of his, and work his magic.

But Emily had magic of her own. “I’m afraid I have other plans,” she said. “My mother suspected something was afoot and sent me here to investigate. Now that I know what’s going on, I need to meet with my contact inside the Sultan’s palace, so that we can find a way to stop it.”

She reached out to touch his arm. His muscles tensed. “I would advise against it,” he said. “The Sultan will be on the lookout for any”—his eyes met hers for the briefest of moments—”seers.”

For Aliza Adel, she thought. “But there’s a back door, isn’t there? If you could get me inside, my mother would see that you are well rewarded.” She leaned close, lowered her voice to a whisper. “I would see that you are.”

The smile, her most potent weapon. She brushed her fingertips against the back of his hand, tried again to reach inside.

Her will is too great.

Emily blinked, unsure of where the voice came from, only that it was not Jonas Meeray’s, nor any other she could place. Was it the Oracle’s, perhaps, reaching out to guide her? Or someone else, another force with a say in these events?

Meeray, oblivious to her momentary distraction, had paled. He was caught between his schemes and his desires, between the need to guide Emily into his trap and her promise to reward him. But, in the end, she knew he could not resist her. No one could. That was why she was the only one who could do this. They wanted her, and they would do anything to have her. Anything. All she had to do was press her advantage. If she succeeded, if she unravelled the mystery behind all these years of schemes and subterfuge, behind their trip to Avalon and Prince Dionysus’s trial, then she could trade the answers with Prince Freyr and avoid the cruel fate he asked of her. This was her alternative.

Next to her, a nervous shadow in the candlelit booth, a trickle of sweat drifted down Jonas Meeray’s temple. Theirs was a battle of liars, a clash of schemers, and only one would see it through to the finish.

“As you wish,” he said with a heavy sigh. “I will show you into the palace, but you have to be careful. If the Sultan catches us…”

“He won’t,” she said, placing her hand on his, throwing him a smile of reassurance, a “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing”.

But that didn’t mean she had to like it.

~*~

I know you know I know you know I know.