Orphic Phantasia

2: Of Sophists and Seelie

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The apartment door opened and Katrina Ritches lumbered out. A tall woman, two years Emily’s senior, she was Ms Ritches’s only daughter, and heir to her estate. A flap of kitten-print pyjamas poked out of her leather jacket, while the caricature of a turquoise cat peeked over her shoulder with button eyes. She ruffled her irregular, self-cut mane of chestnut hair and grinned in her usual, goofy way.

“I found him drinking coffee,” she announced with a wave of greeting, “off in a world of his own.”

Dante emerged from her shadow, a dark pillar shrouded in stainless white. He grunted a greeting, but kept his hands buried in his cloak’s deep pockets.

“Study, huh?” Emily teased.

“Study,” he replied, his face a wooden mask of stoicism.

Byron d’Arcadie, it seemed, would not be joining them. They spied him napping on his second floor balcony, his wide-brimmed hat sheltering his face from the sun. Emily blamed the drugs. Leira, however, didn’t have such an excuse, but she couldn’t care less for punctuality. As for the rest of their housemates, Horatio, Hermia and Denny would already be at the Theatre, taking advantage of its facilities to further their training.

Not that training made much difference. Despite their skills, the Theatre still ranked them as Second Class initiates. It was almost as if Chief Payne wanted to keep his students on Seelie’s training program for as long as possible. It was something Katrina and her friends had noticed a long time ago—and if there was something amiss or a conspiracy to unmask, then Phoenix Rogan and her band of amateur journalists, who called themselves ‘Veritas’, would be the first to find out about it. Such was their enthusiasm, in fact, that Seelie saw fit to hand them control of the Theatre’s local news service.

“So, you guys got any intel on today’s assignments?” asked Emily, as they made their way across the Estate grounds. So far this week, aside from a slight misinterpretation on Wednesday—because Phoenix Rogan thought ‘Liberate Azhara’d al-Hakim action figure from Chief Payne’s office’ was the staff’s idea of a joke—her team had scored a perfect run with their predictions.

“The usual,” said Kat, raising a hand for silence as she slipped into a stalking pose. With the slightest of sounds, the turquoise cat leapt from her shoulder and landed in front of her, its back opening to reveal an ornate camera covered in dials and buttons. In a single, fluid motion, Kat prised it free and brought it to bear on a family of ducks as they waddled out of some nearby bushes. Then, with a single click, it was over, ducks waddling away unawares as their hunter slipped her camera back into its feline guardian.

Kat grinned. “I thought it was Joshua,” she said, referring to one of her family’s many cats. Continuing on their way, she returned to the topic at hand; “According to the data John pulled last night, our assignment has something to do with the industrial ruins over in the west. His father was out there last night.” She shrugged. “It shouldn’t be that bad.”

“No dealing with monsters then?”

Kat laughed. “I don’t think the Sophists would be too happy with that.”

Look at all that name dropping! Some are more important than others.