Orphic Phantasia

41: Unmasqued

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She gripped the crystal between finger and thumb. So long as it remained in the idol, its power spread out across Mireille’s little temple, infected it with Ketos’s magic, that subliminal whisper to “look elsewhere”. The moment she removed it, that magic would retract to a bubble, and everyone outside its short range would reappear to any watching eyes.

And there was one set of eyes always set upon this place—eyes that would not take well to Mireille’s recent activities, to his betrayal of her trust.

Feeling the Macha rise within her, she plucked the crystal free.

Mireille, his voice breaking into a scream worthy of a frightened child, staggered towards her, towards the safety of that aethereal bubble, to the love of Ketos that would keep the Matriarch at bay.

She swung the idol with such force it dislodged his nose halfway across his face. As he stumbled backwards, she swung again, connected with one side of his skull, then the other. Blow followed blow followed blow, each one carrying the weight of a hundred souls, a hundred victims of his selfish cruelty. As his bloodied lips begged for mercy, she took one final, teeth-shattering swing, and sent his body stumbling back into the pool, still murky with the mists of Emily Fomalhaut.

She slipped the crystal into the pocket of Dante’s cloak, where she found the words of the Saptamatrikas sitting next to that little wooden figurine Emily had bought him. She placed both alongside her cellular on one of the nearby consoles, then found the command to deactivate the temple’s signal jamming. If Seelie were as good as she assumed, they would pinpoint her cell’s location within minutes.

As she pulled the hood of Dante’s cloak over her damp, silvery hair, she noticed the dolls climbing into the pool, moving towards Mireille, who, still clinging to consciousness, spluttered for forgiveness. Picking up the Macha’s knife, she mused on how merciful a quick death might have been. Then she slipped the knife into its sheath and activated the cloak. The longer he suffered the sooner the void would rise up and devour him. Its black tendrils were already reaching their way across his flesh, twelve wings to drag him down into the Dark.

His screams followed her as she slipped outside, behind them the faint wail of a distant choir, singing a twelve-note song.

~*~

In earlier drafts, she did, in fact, use the knife…