3: Torsten Underground
Joel voiced his frustration with the delay and decided to relieve himself in the river, while Dante took Byron’s advice. He knew better than to argue with the poet and his sharpened wit. Byron had been like that since the day he arrived at the Ritches Estate, a bundle of dirty rags in an over-sized hat, demanding keep for him and a young Denny Odette. He had “been places”, he insisted, “seen things”, and it was best not to question his knowledge. And, if he didn’t know something, he would undoubtedly know somebody who did.
While Byron paced around, eyes cast towards the ceiling in contemplation — and possibly in search of his ‘muse’ — Dante focused his attention on the bridge. His cellular’s analysis of the mutilated transmatter was, however, frustratingly vague.
“Yo, Ron,” Joel called over the river, “you know what we need, right?”
“Do enlighten me.”
“That angel babe! I bet she could carry us across, no problem.”
Dante could almost see Byron’s raised eyebrow, his grimace of horror, as if he were standing next to him.
“Yeah, you know, the one that’s got the Sophists all worked up? Who says she’s gonna save the world and everything? Well, we could proper use some saving now. Imagine Kao’s face if I met a fairy before her!”
Dante could imagine it. If he had a natural enemy, a complete antithesis, it was Kaori Shimomura, the girl with butterflies tattooed across her chest and fairies down her arms. He pictured her snarling, the sharp tips of her gloved fingers striking her boyfriend’s face for daring to utter ‘the f-word’.
“I can assure you,” said Byron, “our fair visitor’s reputation is undeserved. When I first encountered her early this morning, I thought her a muse sent to inspire me with words from the heavens, but I have since realised she is little more than an agitating child with delusions of grandeur. Only the naive believe they can ‘save the world’ — and only the foolish are willing to believe them.”
“Calm down, mate! I were only talking.”
Unfortunately for Joel, it seemed he had touched one of Byron’s many exposed nerves and the poet’s voice rose about the rushing waters until they seemed a world away. “’Talk’ is all it takes,” he said, punctuating his words with dramatic hand gestures. “Ideas have power. The people of this world long for a saviour and promises of salvation easily sway them — especially when those promises come from a pretty face. Do not give me such a look, Gibson, for I have seen these things myself, and I have known those who have suffered them.”
Dante was thankful that there were people like Byron in the world, who refused to accept things without the evidence to back them up. Emily had done nothing to prove her belief in ‘fairies’ justified. He had questioned her with logic and she had replied with vagaries and excuses.
“And that girl frightens me. Her very existence causes my bones to chill and my soul to tremble, because I know that people will believe her, and I know that people will revere her, and I know that people will elevate her to a pedistal of sainthood so as to act in her name, whether she orders them to or not. Have you not paid the slightest attention to the world around you? To the Sophists, with their own blessed Saint and his guardian Aeons, in whose names they thought to hunt and to harm and to eradicate the Donara? No, Gibson, I would not give that girl and her delusions an ounce of my acknowledgement. Ideas have power, and her ideas are dangerous indeed.”
Byron probably prepares and practises his rants in private.
He has a lot of rants.