3: Torsten Underground
While Joel, frustrated with the delay, relieved his bladder in the rushing waters, and Byron paced about in silent debate with his illusionary muse, Dante crawled to the edge of the broken bridge and waved his cellular over the mutilated fibres of transmatter. For once, Torsten’s Poet Laurette did not have all the answers. For once, Dante would have one up on him. It had been a long time coming.
“Yo, Ron,” Joel called over the running waters, “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 morn, 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 naïve 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. “’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,” his neighbour continued. “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 pedestal of sainthood and act in her name. Have you not paid the slightest attention to the world around you? To the things people will do and the actions they will endorse so long as they carry a writ of holy endorsement? To the very genocide that inspired this day’s trials? No, Gibson, I would not give that girl and her delusions one ounce of my acknowledgement. Ideas have power, and her ideas are dangerous indeed.”
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Byron probably prepares and practises his rants in private.
He has a lot of rants.