Orphic Phantasia

38: A Game of Chance

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And then it hit her, an instant of horrifying clarity, a dagger-sharp moment of revelation as to her purpose in all of this: the Sidhe were presently holding Prince Dionysus to trial under accusations of treason — and she was the key to a guilty verdict. Ketos had orchestrated this entire holiday, forced the initiates away from Rembrandt Payne’s protection, and gifted magic to willing fools with a promise of rewards unparalleled, all to capture Emily Fomalhaut and force her admission, to expose to all the world her true, cursed identity. The Sophists had burned a forest and massacred a people to purge the Erebus, and the Sidhe had not raised a finger to help — because to help Ophelia Orpheus would have been to help the Erebus, their sworn enemy. And for all the world to discover that the Sidhe — that Princes Freyr and Dionysus — had cavorted with that enemy, with Aliza Adel, in an effort to understand — no, control it? As Himeros had said, the day she arrived in Avalon, it would be enough to bring down Seelie, and perhaps even the Sidhe Court itself. That was how much her life was worth. Messing around with the petty politics of some inconsequential island was a small price to pay for reshaping the very foundations of the world.

Katrina, oblivious to just how massive the conspiracy she and her friends had involved themselves in was, tapped at her cell. “Well, they’re pretty serious about it all,” she said. “Here, this is something Johno recorded a couple of hours ago.”

“Recorded?”

Kat handed Emily her cell. “He’s been working undercover as a cyber-security expert. They don’t even realise he has the whole place bugged!”

No wonder these local sultans didn’t last long. Emily chuckled at John’s — no, Veritas’s — audacity and pressed the play button on the cell screen. There was no image, but the voices were clear.

“What have you to report, inspector?” said the first, his voice that of a man who had smoked a pipe since the moment he hit puberty.

“Keller is dead, Sir,” said the second, a young man with a tremor of nervousness to his Bolventan twang. “We found his body in under-terrace C. Looks like he died of a heart attack, Sir.”

The first grunted. “Same as Yenta then,” he said. “That’s no coincidence.”

“Do you think it’s the Oracle, Sir?” asked the second. “Or maybe even Ketos?”

There was a thump, the sound of a frustrated fist striking a table. “Don’t talk to me about Ketos or magic or Oracles, Prichard, I want facts. That last thing we need is Khurshid lashing out at shadows. Meeray’s already poisoned his head enough with all these promises of power. How do we even know this Ketos exists? For all we know, it’s another one of those Seelie plots to incite a coup.” He growled. Emily could picture him, an old veteran of underground wars, shaking his head with disgust. “If I could, I’d feed Meeray to one of his own damned monsters.”

“Would you like me to order his arrest, Sir?”

“There’s no point. Khurshid already has him chasing after this Aliza woman. Damned fool bought into Meeray’s talk about getting to her through her friends. He—”

Emily didn’t hear the rest of the conversation. As soon as the truth sunk in, she dropped Kat’s cell to the bathroom floor and made straight for the exit. There was still so much she wanted to know, questions she wanted to ask, but none of that was important. Not now.

“What’s up?” asked Kat, bending to pick up her cell.

All it took was one word for her to realise, one name: “Dante.”

Not that we can blame Emily for hogging the spotlight. I mean, she is the most important person in the world right now!