Orphic Phantasia

2: Of Sophists and Seelie

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“Living out here has made ye soft,” she said. “Since when did the People ever give a feck about us normal folk? It’ll always be about the big picture with that lot, Seelie included. They’d see this town burn if it were in their best interests.” She snapped a biscuit in half and gestured towards the east window. “Like they did with that forest. If they’d be willing to let those bloody Donarans burn, what hope is there fer the rest of us?”

A short distance beyond the edge of the Ritches Estate, just past the Armstrong farm, lay the edge of Torhout Forest. The early morning sun picked out the greens of the summer leaves and, hidden in the cracks between them, the unnatural turquoise of their synthetic replacements. The City had provided them to help ‘rejuvenate’ the forest after the Sophist Aristocracy had set it ablaze six years ago.

Six years ago, the same night Emily’s life changed forever. Suddenly, she didn’t feel like eating any more. “You know it wasn’t that simple,” she said, returning a half-eaten biscuit to the plate. “Seelie had a lot to deal with that night and things would’ve been a lot worse if they hadn’t been there to help. They might not always seem like it, but they’re still the good guys. I mean,” she flashed a grin, “you’re not always a particularly nice person yourself!”

“Aye, but I ain’t never claimed to save the world. Not like Seelie, and not like this princess or whatever she is.” Leira’s scowl morphed into a rare smirk. “I ain’t feckin’ deluded like most people out here.” The smile vanished behind her teacup, and then it was gone.

“I’m telling ye, though — and ye bloody well know I ain’t ever wrong when it comes to this sort of shite — there’s no way they ain’t connected, this princess and Seelie. They’ve got something up their feckin’ sleeve and I don’t be liking one bit of it.”

And she was right: Leira Byrne was never wrong when it came to this sort of thing. It was what had kept her alive all these years. Emily gulped back the last of her tea and, before placing the cup down on its plate, thought to check the tealeaves lingering at its bottom. For a moment, she thought she saw a wolf staring back at her.

No, she reminded herself, you only see what you expect to see.

~*~

Theia’s crescent diminished by the hour. Later that day, it would vanish completely as it cut a path across the evening sun, casting the town into an early twilight. Emily wondered what anyone — even the Sidhe — could do against such a monster. Even if Theia didn’t fall today, or tomorrow, or for another ten — another hundred — years, its curse remained, a threat of imminent and inevitable destruction that engraved itself into the hearts of any who dared look to the sky. The only escape, it seemed, was to deny the real world completely.

Malkuth’s shadow shimmered behind a haze of summer heat. The mountain tomb claimed more lives by the year. Emily was not about to let Dante add to its number. Immortality was not worth the price of ignorance.

Closer Moon = faster orbit (about six days) = more eclipses.