Orphic Phantasia

8: Emily and Truth

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Emily fixed her eyes on the empty space besides the Princess. This must have been what it was like for Dante and Shelley when Prince Freyr hid himself from their sight — but Emily had the eyes of a seer, and, as Dante himself proved earlier, nothing was ever truly invisible.

Princess Phantasia tried to hold on to her air of pompous authority, but her secret was out and she knew it. “Y—you can see her?” she asked, her arrogance deflating like a balloon. “But—but Faye doesn’t want people to see her!”

“Not quite,” said Emily. “I mean, it was pretty obvious if you knew what to look for. You don’t always have to rely on supernatural powers to see things. I learned that one from my mum, and she was the greatest seer I’ve ever known.”

Just saying that, admitting that, being herself caused a ray of light to cut through the gloom of an otherwise stressful day. From the way the Princess — Phantasia — relaxed, Emily wondered if she felt the same way.

“Faye is impressed with your observational skills,” she said, unable to contain a bashful smile, “and says they are proof of Lord Dionysus’s faith in you.”

“Thanks, I guess?” This ‘Faye’ sounded like another scheming Sidhe. Emily wondered if she had played Phantasia this whole time, but kept those thoughts where no one, not even a Sidhe, could find them. They had good company.

She walked over to the graves. Six years ago, on August 27th, 106, the people of the forest died fighting the Sophists. Six years ago, on August 27th, 106, her parents fled deep into the underground. She had never seen her father again, and her mother? After that night, her mother was never more than a shadow of her former self.

And all Emily knew of that night was a warning, her father’s last message.

“They got her, Aliana,” his projection told her mother. “Pleiades got Ophelia. Cyrus has gone after her and we’re doing what we can to hold these things off, but it doesn’t look good. Verraden is coming to take Aliza to safety. Are you these, Aliza?”

She had been sitting on the bed as her mother ran a brush through her long, platinum hair, telling her of the ways she could use the blessings of her bloodline to protect herself from those who wanted to abuse them.

“I’m always here.”

She remembered his smile, like a ray of sunshine on a stormy day. “Aliza,” he said, “be a good girl and go with your uncle. He’ll keep you safe, just like he has your sister. When this is all over, we’ll come back for you, you understand?”

The adolescent Aliza nodded. She trusted her father implicitly.

It was the last she ever saw of him.

~*~

Princess Phantasia stayed with Emily until a short ways from Master al-Hakim’s checkpoint. Along the way, Emily plied her with questions about her purpose in the town, but it soon became obvious that the Princes Freyr and Dionysus were keeping her in the dark.

“I am here to save the world,” she repeated, time and again.

“By making friends?” asked Emily.

“Of course! I cannot save a world I know nothing about. I must learn all I can. Only then will Lord Dionysus reveal to me the truth of his endeavour here.”

Admittedly, Emily hasn’t met that many seers.