29: The Prophecy
Eventually, the girls’ search for the enigmatic Himeros brought them to the edge of the island, where its white sands rolled up against a shallow promenade. There was an open-air cafe a short walk away and, next to it, a white, sterile building with a tall spire rising from its midst. According to the local map, it was the ‘Sector Seven Cleansing Clinic’. A small group were gathered beneath the arch of its entrance. Emily noticed their attention sweep across the promenade towards the girls, then linger on her for a few moments before the group hurried back inside.
Next to her, an oblivious Korrie-Anne kicked sand into the still breeze.
“So,” Ceres crossed her arms and frowned, “where would you hide if you were one of the Sidhe?”
Emily glanced around the soulless, synthetic wasteland. “Anywhere but here,” she replied. “Are you sure this Himeros is even one of the Sidhe? He could just be an avatar. You know, like they have in the forest?” She assumed that Ceres, being a native to Torhout, knew all about its synthetic overseers.
“Could be,” the Donara replied with a shrug, but she didn’t sound convinced. “What do you think we should do, Korrie?”
Pirouetting about the sand, Korrie-Anne replied, “Let’s find more people!”
The young couple blushed as Korrie-Anne pulled up a chair and took a seat at their table. Across the other side of the cafe, Ceres watched her girlfriend with a fawning smile, a lazy hand stirring the mug of tea she’d brewed from herbs she kept in one of her many pouches.
“I don’t think she realises how people see her,” she said.
Emily took a sip of water. “It’s probably better that way,” she said. “Until somebody tries to take advantage of her, at least.”
The open-air cafe sat nestled in an alcove between towers, a garden of pastel parasols between mighty trees promoting sports contests and fitness events. The chances of finding a wandering spirit in such a place seemed remote at best.
Ceres grinned over the rim of her mug, a handmade piece of pottery she kept wrapped up in a tattered cloth when not in use. “I wouldn’t worry about that,” she said. “There’s a tiger sleeping beneath those pretty looks. Piss Korrie off and you’ll be sure to regret it. Well, once she’s finished lecturing you about your heinous evildoings.”
She sipped her tea, a tint of pink colouring her olive cheeks. Every other moment, her gaze would flutter in Korrie’s direction, her smile would broaden.
“You really love her, don’t you?” As obvious an observation as it was, it was the sort of thing Emily Fomalhaut, innocent and naïve, would say.
“I tried not to, I really did. Told myself I didn’t have time for one person, that I had to go out there and experience as much as I could before I burned at the stake, but Korrie, she…” Ceres looked Emily in the eyes. “You know what it’s like.”
Emily forced a blush of her own, a stammered “W—well, I don’t know. Maybe?” in reply. Of course she didn’t. She had no need to. Maidens didn’t love.
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Awkward girl talk.