Orphic Phantasia

7: A Shrine to the Fallen

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They don’t,” said Alonie, “but the Founding Father does. Probably tells people it flies on the power of prayer.” She sneered. “What I want to know is why? I wasn’t around when it all kicked off, but I’ve heard stories. Shell there watched it happen.” She turned to her diminutive friend, still cowering in the corner, “Didn’t ya?”

Shelley mumbled an affirmative. Dante remembered her visiting him while he was still recuperating in bed. She had thought him a hero who battled raging forest fires and Sophist monsters, when he had in fact escaped the chaos by clinging to his mother’s back.

At no, point, however, had she mentioned anything about a ship, and it was the sort of detail somebody like Shelley wouldn’t miss out on — the potential for melodramatic spin was far too great. He figured it must have had a cloak of some kind. The highest emanations of the Sophist Aristocracy told more lies than he gave them credit for.

“What about you?” asked Alonie. “You see any of it?” In the corner, Shelley failed to disguise her panicked gasp.

“Nothing you haven’t heard before,” he replied, pawing at the Tablet in his pocket.

Alonie frowned. “You think they had a reason?”

Dante paced to the back of the bridge. There was a circular opening in the ceiling, big enough for a human, through which he could see the tip of Theia’s crescent moving through the sky. “Because they’re Sophists?” he said, as he made for the passage at the back of the chamber. Alonie followed him.

“I think this goes a little bit beyond ‘because they felt like it’,” she said.

He reached a sunlit junction. Casting a quizzical eye into the antechambers either side of him, he continued onward.

“Who knows?” he said with a shrug.

The engine room at the back of the ship opened to the clearing. Something had sliced it clean in two and the rest of the ship lay in a heap at the edge of the forest. At least that explained why the ship had crashed. The pieces were coming together.

“I left their ship a smouldering wreck, and that delusional Kimahian little better.”

He smiled to himself. She had told the truth, and this was the proof of it. Arided kept her promises.

“Do you think somebody pushed them?” asked Alonie.

Dante shrugged. Somehow, he knew Shelley was standing there, watching them. It must have been the slight sound of her breath, her footsteps, something only his subconscious mind could notice — after all, his mother had told him he would notice these things. He was an Orpheus, after all.

That was why they were after her.

“Maybe they wanted something,” he offered, as he jumped down into the clearing. Between the two halves of the ship lay the graves Phoenix had spoken of, a trio of stone obelisks in a sea of roses, each one adorned by a list of names etched in Donaran runes.

Alonie jumped after him. “I guess so,” she said, softer than was normal for the hawk. “Those are graves, I think? Shell tried to read the runes. She did say you might be able to, actually…”

Those ‘runes’ are probably just Spanish.