Orphic Phantasia

29: The Prophecy

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“Ah, yes, you’re one of those Seelie cadets that came in earlier, aren’t you? I’m certain your superior officers will be doing everything in their power to get to the bottom of this. I do worry, however, that even that might not be enough.”

“How so?”

“Well, you see, the Oracle has a lot of power and influence around these parts, and I doubt people will trust Seelie’s opinion over hers. If she says you are a danger, that’s what they will believe.” He reached up to adjust his cravat. “I suggest you come with me. The Fortunate Isles can provide all the protection you require.”

Emily Fomalhaut, like Aliza Adel and the Macha before her, made a habit of never trusting strange men — especially strange men who put on a smile and promised you more than money could buy. More often than not they hid ulterior motives, expected gratitude for their kindness, repayment for their favours…

“Okay,” she replied.

“I knew you would understand,” said the man, stepping forward to take her arm.

Before he could reach her, a voice cut through the passageway like a sharp breeze. “Not so fast!” cried Korrie-Anne Wedekind. “I won’t stand by and watch while the likes of you coerce young women with your lies!”

The man from the Fortunate Isles reached for Emily’s hand. “Who’s that?” he asked.

And then Ceres was between them, purple-tipped claw sweeping upwards, clutching for his cravat. With an audible snap, she yanked her fist back.

Rorric fell back against the wall, then reached into his shirt. “You!” he began, any hint of a friendly manner vanished. “I suggest—”

“Don’t think you’ll be making many more suggestions,” said Ceres. From her fist hung a blue crystal, shimmering as if somebody has captured a slice of the ocean at the very moment the sun rose over the horizon. “Looking for this?” she asked, dangling the pendant out at arm’s length.

“Give that—” he grasped for the crystal, but Ceres snatched it away. Before he could react, she had a knife levelled at his throat. Leira would have been proud — well, as proud as she could have been of a woman she despised.

Korrie-Anne emerged skipping out of the gloom. She danced around the man called Rorric, under Ceres’s blade, and curled around to her lover’s arm. “Ooh, shiny,” she said, leaning over to study the crystal with fluttering eyes.

With a twitch of her knife, Ceres backed Rorric up against the wall. A thread of sweat trickled down his temple. “Makes sense you’d have to rely on some bloody enchantment,” said the Donaran. “A creep like you wouldn’t know the first thing about real magic.”

“Please,” he replied, “I’ll give you anything you ask. A penthouse suite. Suites for all your friends. Unrestricted access to our vendor catalogue. Anything, just—just—”

With a flick of her wrist, Ceres clutched her fist around the crystal pendant. “Anything, you say? How about you—”

With a sharp curse, the Donaran stumbled backwards and the crystal fell from her grasp, colour trailing behind it like stardust. By the time it hit the ground, it was nothing more than a dull grey stone.

~*~

Maybe not such a nice guy after all.