Orphic Phantasia

27: Nothing But Blue Skies

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Theia was gone. Vanished beyond sight. Where there should have been a demon’s frown, fleeing from the sun, there was nothing but an endless blue. Dante’s heart beat so fast, he was afraid the sound might give his presence away.

“Guess I didn’t miss it much,” said Emily. Reaching into her hair, she pulled out a small clip. “Want to try an experiment?”

Kat nodded and took her cellular in hand. “One thing this has over the classics is a replay function,” she said with a grin.

Once she was ready, Emily flicked her hairclip over the side of the deck. Dante followed it with his visor as it spun through the air, a helpless victim of unbreakable laws, then, for the slightest of moments, slowed, before vanishing from sight.

Dante replayed the moment to confirm what he saw, as did Katrina.

“I’d say that was irrefutable proof,” said Emily.

~*~

Emily watched the footage of her hairclip hitting an invisible wall, then vanishing into the blue sky beyond. “I’d say that was irrefutable proof,” she said. The sort of proof Dante could not deny.

Kat slipped her cellular back into her pocket. “The question now is, why?” she asked. “I can understand them cloaking the ship to hide it from the Sophists, but why would they lie to us about the outside world?”

“Maybe we should ask?” said Emily.

A group of initiates had just emerged from the ship, Sohrabarak al-Hakim close behind them. While Hermia Adelheid made loud protests over Korrie Wedekind’s reckless balancing over the edge of the deck, and Phoenix Rogan thought to interrupt John Smith’s study with her excitable babbling, the dashing archaeologist hurried their peers over to the starboard railing.

“You see?” he said. “I told it was quite the view.”

Curving around to the north, reddish-gold in the morning sun, was the Seventh Wall, now but moments away. Even as high as they were, the man-made mountain range was an awe-inspiring, if nauseating sight. Standing almost a kilometre in height, it dwarfed everything bar the City itself.

Kat already had her camera at hand. “Just a shame it’s not the real thing,” she said under her breath, before joining her friends. Emily, content with her view, remained where she was.

Beside her, Dante watched the wall trail off to the south.

“As we get closer, you will see that the Seventh Wall is more than just a single structure,” explained Mr al-Hakim, as he paced behind the line of watching initiates. “Although difficult to date, we believe the oldest of these is at least five-hundred years old.”

Emily craned her neck over the railing to get a better look. From a distance, the Seventh Wall appeared a single, ominous barrier but, up close, it was, as Mr al-Hakim said, made of multiple layers. The outermost was a shallow curve, short in height but long, and covered in dirt and debris. Each layer beyond that grew steeper, taller, until they fused into one almighty monolith of a barrier that seemed almost as wide as it was tall. Emily noticed buildings atop its surface, openings and canals, canyons to redirect the ocean’s flow and stations to harness it. The Seventh Wall wasn’t just protecting civilisation — it was powering it, too.

The Seventh Wall isn’t actually solid (only enough to hold against the tides). There’s plenty going on inside it, too.