Orphic Phantasia

38: A Game of Chance

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Dante, who Jonas Meeray suggested stay behind in Bolventor. Dante, now isolated from Emily. From Aliza Adel.

She flung the door open, hands reaching out for Meeray’s neck. If she had to rip open his soul and carve a path to the truth, then that was what she would do, keeping up appearances be damned.

But Jonas Meeray was nowhere in sight—and Emily, for the first time since they entered the tower, could see the world as it really was, drenched in the shallow observations of vacuous, disinterested eyes, souls who only cared for their own reflection, their own materialistic gains. Yet, even as she stepped out into the corridor, she realised there was something else, someone moving towards her with eyes so sharp, observations so concise, that they could only belong to seer. She had bright pink hair and contacts to match, and her name—her voice—drifted through the aether, reaching Emily in all of a moment.

I am Jacyntha, third daughter of Jadwiga Järvi, she said. I am here to help.

So was Doyle Kennedy, of all people, but before Emily could think to greet him a watery veil fell over the world and everything froze, Doyle and Jacyntha mid-bound, Katrina half-emerging from the bathroom’s sealed shell, face wracked with concern.

“Emily.” It was Ms Thorbjorn, her voice clear and loud, filling the corridor. Emily turned, and there she was, standing next to her, a hard frown on her familiar face.

“It’s Dante, isn’t it?” If they had so much as bruised him…

Ms Thorbjorn nodded, her confirmation driving an ice-cold spike deep into Emily’s shoulder. Then came the twist. “They arrested him a short while ago, along with Byron and Lance.”

Emily could feel her blood draining, great globules of cursed black slime pouring from her shoulder. It was all her fault. She had gotten them involved in things she should have faced alone. Just as she had done two years ago, when she begged Prince Freyr to remake her life, she had clung to her friends without a thought for the consequences. This time, however, it was more than just their memories at stake—it was their lives.

Ms Thorbjorn, as ignorant of the scar Emily carried as she was her true identity, placed an understanding hand on her student’s shoulder. “Don’t worry yourself,” she said with a smile, “Captain Espinosa is keeping a close eye on things. The boys are currently in a prison cell, awaiting the Sultan’s judgement. He plans to use them as ransom should you refuse his offer.”

It was that night all over again. Emily clenched her teeth and forced back the pain. She promised herself that things would be different, that history wouldn’t repeat. That she wouldn’t sacrifice herself as Ophelia Orpheus had. That she would end the cycle once and for all. “What offer?” she asked.

“The one he will make when you return to the casino,” she replied. “He’s there now, waiting for you. For the time being, I suggest you play along with his demands. It’s the safest place for you to be right now.”

The safest place for her to be? She wondered if that was what they told Dante’s mother on that night she surrendered herself to Pleiades. “He wants to hand me over to Ketos, doesn’t he?” She held her head high; now was not the time for lies. “And Ketos wants to use me to bring down Seelie.”

Just think of all those times people could have conversations behind your back, in those literal instants between the seconds! Whole lectures, meetings even!