7: A Shrine to the Fallen
His face froze, his mouth caught in the middle of a wolfish smile, his words fading into the wind. And he was not alone; the sound of birds singing, of the leaves rustling, of Emily’s heart beating, all fell into a moment of silence as a morning mist filled the air with a relaxing serenity.
The Prince sighed. “Very well, my love, though I see not the harm.” Emily noticed a redness to his cheeks, a bashfulness to his smile — Freyr Venris, of the Court of Queen Áine Echraide, was embarrassed.
Then, from somewhere within the mists, came a voice, calm as still waters, as soothing as a summer’s rain. “You need not worry for your companions, Aliza Adel,” it said, and she thought she saw a long shadow turning in the distance. “Though many of our kind believe we should punish those who offend us, all within the Courts agree that the offence itself must be intentional, that it must be directed at us in person.”
If Emily thought Prince Freyr embarrassed before, his skin was flushed with it now. “And here he comes to ruin my fun, as always.”
The other continued, “Your companions could not offend what they could not perceive.”
Prince Freyr’s face split with a grin worthy of Lysander Goodfellow, but if there was a funny side, Emily did not see it. Were this one of Lysander pranks, she could have reprimanded him but before a Lord of the Aes Gaeth, all she could do was hold back her scowl and hope he could not read her thoughts.
“You look at me as if I were a villain,” he said. “But, with the way you have behaved, you very much deserved it, don’t you think?”
“Whether she deserved it or not is unimportant,” said the other Sidhe. “Aliza Adel is our ally, and we would do well to treat her as such, despite her misgivings.”
Prince Freyr grumbled, but bowed his head towards the shadow in the mists. “Very well, my love.”
“And, as for you, Aliza Adel,” said the other, as the mists began to part — or perhaps the figure was simply stepping forward, into the light, “I am pleased to finally make your acquaintance.”
“Lord Dionysus?” She knew his name the moment she set eyes upon him, as if there was no one else he could possibly be. He was a man of Prince Freyr’s stature, and almost as handsome, his tanned chest broad and strong, his hair like crashing waves. While Prince Freyr was a wolf of the forest, the man before her was a serpent of the seas. Emily bowed her head, just as Shelley had done for Lord Freyr, but a thought compelled her to look up and meet his sapphire eyes.
“I apologise for Freyr’s games,” he said. His face lacked Prince Freyr’s chiselled sexuality, but made up for it with a kind, ageless wisdom, lips that never frowned nor smiled, but would always tell the truth. “I am afraid he lets his penchant for chaos get the better of him at times.”
“I apologise for my friends,” she replied, “and for any offence they may have caused.”
“Their ignorance is frustrating, but understandable,” he said. “But I did not come here just to reassure you. There is someone I would like you to meet.”
And there she was at last, emerging from the Prince’s shadow — the girl with the diamond-white eyes.
Princess Phantasia Caelestis, of the Court of Queen Thetis Mysticeti, and self-proclaimed saviour of the world.
Chapter 7 End