4: Just Like Old Times
After Kaori returned, Leira announced her plans to head into town and tackle Ms Thorbjorn’s challenge — the idea of her interviewing the general public gave Emily her first genuine smile since that morning — and they all agreed to meet back up for Ms Shimomura’s at the end of the day..
“Mother did advise it was best to leave her trial until last,” Kaori explained as they headed to the Theatre foyer. “Also, Joel says he’ll be waiting for us by reception.”
“Any word on how they did?” asked Emily. More than anything, she wanted to know if Dante had made it through the illusionary wall. If he had, then there was still hope. If he hadn’t — well, she could always hope the Fates threw him into another encounter with the Princess Phantasia.
The irony teased the corners of her lips. Maybe the Fates were as real as some believed them to be. After all these years dreading the day she again crossed paths with Sidhe Royalty, she now found herself wishing for it.
And wishes, she had learned, were a dangerous thing indeed.
“Well,” said Kaori, “since we didn’t see them there, what’s shall we say we have a little fun?”
“So, where’d you babes get lost?”
“Oh, you know, around.”
Emily though it cruel — painfully cruel — and that she was going along with the joke bothered her more than anyone would ever realise, but, really, who was she to criticize a little lie here and there? And besides, the boys were no better…
“I bet it were that wall.”
“Wall?” asked Kaori, doing a good job at masking her amusement. Her mother had taught her well.
“Well, that’s the thing, see. There’s this wall, right? But it’s not actually a wall, is it, Dant?”
Dante mumbled his agreement. Joel must have bullied him into agreeing with his charade. Emily sympathised.
“I bet you it were the fa—ir folk,” said Joel, sparing himself from Kaori’s wrath at the last moment. Emily caught Dante grimace out of the corner of her eye. “Speaking of which, Kao, Ron had a right go at me about that Phantasia chick.”
Her elbow slammed into his ribs. “That is Her Royal Highness Princess Phantasia Caelestis to you.” She added, with haughtiness worthy of a princess herself, “You should show the proper respect. Especially once we enter the forest.”
Joel’s grumbling apology earned him another strike. He made sure his second was more enthusiastic.
Dante trailed behind them, hands thrust in pockets, stuck in a world of his own.
You should always be careful when making a wish…