37: Chasing Emily
Doyle Kennedy was a step behind him, a tower of tanned strength amongst the pale, malnourished rats. He raised a hand in greeting and exchanged a quick, but elaborate handshake with Lance—something dating back to their days in the militia, from what Dante understood.
“Ah, dudes, you just missed her,” said Lance. “She’s on a secret mish with this dude we met in the pub. Said his name was Johnny, or something?”
The magenta-haired girl had moved over to join them, her eyes furrowed with concern. “Johnny?” she asked.
“You heard of him?” asked Byron. She shook her head. He turned to Lance. “Are you sure that was his name?”
“Pretty sure. Like, ninety-nine percent sure. Maybe ninety-five. Eighty…”
Byron rolled his eyes. “You are the blindest fools I have ever had the misfortune to know,” he said. “Have you any concept of the danger Emily is in? The number of strange men who have plied her mind with promises, suggestions of escape from this accursed island? How, at any moment, with but the slightest slip, we could lose her forever?”
“Chill, dude, Christof was with her, and we just saw Mr Hakim and Ms T heading into the palace, so they’ll be there if shiz kicks off.”
The colour drained from Byron’s brazen face. “Are you informing me that Emily has wilfully entered the Sultan’s palace?” He turned to his female companion. “Yasinta, I fear we have little choice but to enter the beast’s lair and pray luck is on our side. Can you get us past their security?”
“I can be very persuasive,” the woman replied, her twitch of a smile almost, but not quite that same crescent moon Dante knew so well.
“Excellent,” said Byron, “then we have not a moment to lose!”
With a scornful glare, he pushed past Dante and Lance. Doyle, two steps behind, ruffled his hair and forced a laugh. “Don’t worry, dudes, he’s just having a bad day. You gonna tag along?”
“Leave those fools where they stand!” Byron called over his shoulder. “They have caused enough trouble for this day.”
Lance grinned, flicked aside a wisp of golden hair that had escaped from beneath his hat. “Sure thing, dude. The more the merrier, right, Dant Man?”
Dante shrugged and followed after them.
“And this,” said Chris, “is why we have the Prometheus Clause.”
It was everything Emily despised merged into one hideous amalgamation, caked in a fabricated veneer of velvet and gold. Where the World’s End catered to the impoverished denizens of the underground, with its cheap drugs and heavy music, the Sultan’s palace presented itself as an exclusive gentlemen’s club where every drink came in a crystal glass. Or, at least, an alchemium replication of one.
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Earlier drafts involved more of a journey through the various levels of the tower/palace. I should really collect all these cut scenes somewhere…