Orphic Phantasia

27: Nothing But Blue Skies

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“Why didn’t I bring my development materials, Kit?” she asked her automatous cat. “This camera might be the only proof we have that none of this is real, and I won’t know for sure until we return home!”

As she got to work, snapping a few frames before adjusting her camera, moving to another position, and then snapping some more, Dante leant on the railing and traced the path of the ship’s vapour trail east. Even with his visor’s enhancements, Torsten was little more than a speck sitting on the edge of Torhout Forest, itself but a jutting peninsula of a greater ocean that stretched into the eastern haze. His visor could at least pick out the boundaries between the various Circles. They were now approaching the seventh, the very limit of Malkuth’s expansion. Beyond that lay the Seventh Wall, perhaps the greatest triumph of sufficiently advanced technology besides the Cities themselves.

He was calculating how long they had to go until the green and gold lands of Malkuth gave way to the cracked grey Malebolge when Emily’s voice called across the deck. For all of a moment, he froze, thinking she might have seen through his cloak, but then she addressed Katrina and asked her how photography was going.

“I won’t know until they’re developed,” Kat replied.

“Wouldn’t it be easier to just use your cell or something?” asked Emily.

“Cells are fine if you just want a quick shot or a video or something, but they’re rubbish at details.” Kat had explained as much to Dante countless times. “You know, that old saying ‘one who knows seven trades is a master of none’? Besides,” she moved over to the railing, held the camera out as far as her arms would allow, then clicked three times in quick succession, “unlike a cell, no one else can tell this thing what to see.”

Emily moved into the space between Kat and Dante, putting her within nudging distance of his cloak. “So, you figured it out too, huh?”

“It’s not exactly subtle. Well, if you know what to look for.”

Dante shifted to his left slightly, just enough to put a safe distance between his cloak and Emily. At a distance, it was near flawless in its ability to hide a person but, up close, the seams were obvious — if you knew what to look for.

Much to his relief, Emily did not. “I figured that, if they could hide the ship from the outside world, they could hide the outside world from the ship,” she said, brushing a stray feather of hair from her eyes. “What tipped you off?”

“You not noticed anything missing?” asked Kat.

“The clouds?” said Emily. Save for the sun, it was clear blue skies as far as the eye could see.

Kat clicked the cover over the lens of her camera. “More obvious than that.”

Emily’s gaze wandered the lands below, moved to Malkuth in the southeast, then east, to the horizon, to the clear, blue sky.

“Ah. Aaah.”

Kat’s one of those hipsters who would never settle for a camera phone.