Orphic Phantasia

41: Unmasqued

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Looking down at Jonas Mireille, a trickle of drool teasing its way from the corner of his mouth as he dozed in blissful ignorance, lost in a moment of pleasure that would haunt him for the rest of his life, she wondered if she even had the right to call herself ‘Emily Fomalhaut’ again. ‘Emily Fomalhaut’ was the sort of girl who would have one day settled down with her one true love, perhaps on a farm in the middle of the countryside, where they would have grown good, honest, natural food to help ease society away from its dependence on the Cities. Perhaps, one day, she would have even have had children, passed on that flame of rejuvenation, watched into peaceful old age as they carried it forward, dragging the world from the brink of death one precious step at a time.

But that life was a lie. It always had been, and it always would be. In the end, no matter which way she cut it, she was a Maiden, and no Maiden ever lived an idyllic life, not her mother, not her grandmother, not any of them at any point in history. She couldn’t even have children. She wasn’t ‘programmed’ to. All she was programmed to do was to seduce and to scry. That was her role. That was her place. ‘Emily Fomalhaut’ was just wishful thinking on her part.

No, she could never go back. It was time to accept the truth. Time to accept reality — and the reality was that this world was fucked. Not just a little, but massively, insanely, completely and utterly fucked. The Erebus, that cursed, spiritual cancer that drove people to despair, was proof of that. Jonas Mireille, the man who helped spin the wheel of souls towards its inevitable and catastrophic conclusion, was proof of that.

She bent down and slipped her cellular beneath his neck. Had he been anyone else, an innocent or, as Lord Freyr intended, one of her friends, she would have done everything in her power to lessen the impact of her invasion — but he was nothing of the sort. Jonas Mireille was everything wrong with the world. He was a man more monstrous than the very monsters he created, a mind more corrupt and despicable than any she had known. Only Alexis came close, and he had suffered for it just as Mireille would.

Seriously, take your standard urban fantasy story, with its hidden world of magic and mysteries, and turn the clock forward a century or ten…