38: A Game of Chance
With Meeray at his feet, the Sultan stood inside the protective veil of Sidhe magic that had shielded Emily from Seelie’s reach, just as it now shielded its occupants from her’s—but not for long. As Emily hurried to Meeray’s side and wrapped her arms around him like a frightened lover, she felt the cloak of Ketos fall over her once more. But, even as Ms Thorbjorn’s reassuring hand left her shoulder, another reached out to replace it, distant, but determined. I made a promise, it said.
The Sultan looked down on her with a quiet curiosity. Now his aura was visible to her, she could see he held no magic crystal, no blessing of Ketos. Either he refused to carry it, or he had no part in Ketos’s plan. And, if he had no part in Ketos’s plan, he had no answers Emily wanted to hear.
“Don’t let this man fool you, Emily,” he said. “You are no more important to him than all the other girls he has smuggled out of destitution. I suspect one of your good looks would fetch quite a price. Isn’t that right, Jonas?”
His eyes fell on Meeray, who could only respond with a vicious snarl. Emily noticed his fingers twitching, waiting for the right moment to clasp his magic crystal and work its power over the watching audience. You never saw me, it would say; I was never here.
The Sultan, however, must have known about this little trick, because a gesture was all it took to have one of his guards level their sabre at Meeray’s throat.
“You know, Jonas, it hurts to see one of my own betray me,” he said, “but it hurts even more to see that he betrayed me because of a woman. I could have given you women! I could have given you a whole harem to tend to your every need! But no, you had to turn on me. And for what? What wish did your master promise that I could not grant?”
It was one question among many that Emily needed answering, but she knew she would never get that answer, or any others, unless she took a chance, unless she played by her rules, and her rules alone. It was, as it always had been and always would be, a bad habit.
Before the Sultan could stop her, before his guards could raise their swords, before Seelie could move in protest, she thrust her hand into Meeray’s shirt and felt the cold touch of the magic crystal brush against her fingertips. She had one shot at this, and she had to make it count.
Ketos, she wished, grant me this: these people shall not see us! They shall not know that we were ever here!
A name, that was all it took. It was the ingredient Ceres Mendoza missed when she tried using Rorric Yenta’s magic against him, and it was the catalyst that gave Emily’s wish its power as it washed over their audience, a tsukinami of magic potent enough to leave even the officers of Seelie startled.
“Come on,” she said, hoisting Meeray to his feet as the Sultan, his men, and all those watching staggered with momentary confusion. “You wanted to get us out of here, right? Well, now would be a good time!”
Meeray looked at her, lost for words.
“I promised that I’d put a stop to all this, remember?” She took his hand and flashed the smile she knew held a power greater than any crystal, any Sidhe.
No one could resist a Maiden.
Chapter 38 End
To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s strictly true…
Next week, laughs aplenty!