Orphic Phantasia

32: Acceptance

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“Well someone from the City clearly does, or we wouldn’t be in this mess, would we?” Emily replied with an amused smirk. “What we need to know now is who they are, and what they’re after.”

Until a few hours ago, Dante had never heard the name ‘Player Dees’, but now it lay at the centre of everything. Arided was just a minor piece of the puzzle, a missionary for something much greater, for a force that could win a young boy’s trust and kill a young girl’s hope in the space of a single night.

“I don’t know,” he said, “it just seems so … so big. What can we hope to do against something like that?”

“You say that, but if Player Dees was really that powerful then why did it go to all that trouble just to kidnap your mother? She must have known something, had some kind of power over them, and if she could make a difference, then so can we. It only takes one person to change the world.”

Dante shifted uncomfortably. “I—I don’t know,” he said. “I need time to think about it.”

Emily squeezed his hand. “One step at a time,” she said. “Speaking of which, how do you feel about faeries now?” She didn’t make the warding glyph — and why would she, when no other would hear them? “Are you ready to paint me a gallery?”

“Maybe,” he replied.

She grinned. “Well, ’maybe’ is better than ‘no’.”

~*~

Six years ago, one night changed Emily Fomalhaut’s life for the worse. Now, one night had given her more drive and determination than she knew what to do with. She looked her reflection in the eyes and pulled the brush through her sky-blue hair. If one person could change the world, she would be that person — not for her sake, but for her friends’ sake. For her mother’s. For Dante’s mother’s.

“Well, we got into some trouble,” she said in reply to Dante’s query, “so we fled to the surface.”

“The Macha, right? And Badb?” he said, brutalising both pronunciations as only someone who read them on a page could do. Or, she suspected, on a wanted poster at the World’s End.

“It’s ‘Ma-kha’ and ‘Biev’,” Emily corrected him with a smile. “And yes, that was us. Along with Nemain and Anand — that is, Kaori and Shelley — we were the Daughters of Ernmas. Those two didn’t have our, eh,” she chuckled to herself in recollection, “reputation. And, you know, they’re the daughters of prominent Seelie officers. You don’t put a price on the heads of people like that.”

The cult of Alastor had learned that lesson the hard way.

“But yeah,” she continued, “after that I became Emily Fomalhaut. Figured it sounded Malkuthian enough and, well…” She wanted to be the kind, generous person Fomalhaut had always imagined her to be.

She looked over her shoulder. Dante was still curled up on the sofa, wrapped in his cloak. He had barely moved since he settled down to sleep. Emily wasn’t even sure if he had slept.

Hopefully that clears the Badb thing up for anyone who thought it was pronounced ‘bad-b’. Saying that, there’s half a dozen variations on the actual pronunciation. I just go with the one that sounds a bit like ‘babe’ because it would really piss Leira off if you called her babe.