9: A Message from the Past
Phoenix Rogan didn’t budge. Instead, she showed Emily her cellular’s screen. It displayed a list of data concerning Master al-Hakim’s exam, with focus drawn to the time each initiate spent in the forest and how long it took them to reach the Donaran shrine. It was fair to say that Emily’s data stood out — the Sidhe, after all, had a bad habit of twisting time.
“Annie pulled up this information as we left the forest,” said Phoenix. “You took longer than anyone else to reach the shrine.”
This was why Emily hated the Aethex. “I got lost.”
“So did most people, yet even perennial underachievers such as Joel Gibson and Dante Orpheus — who you began the exam with, I might add — placed better than you. It would seem”—she drew the cellular’s focus to another batch of numbers—”you spent the majority of your time standing around doing nothing.”
Standing around in a trance while her awareness conversed with a Sidhe Prince, more like. Emily forced a blush. “I … might have had a little break.” She would have said ‘lunch’, but the Aethex could have recorded the intricacies of her bodily functions for all she knew.
“I see. So, continuing on from that, could explain your familiarity with Princess Phantasia, please?”
Emily had to think about that one; unlike the issue of her parent’s fate, she hadn’t had six years to come up with an excuse for her acquaintance with the Sidhe. Until today, she presumed nobody would ever know of it. She slipped into a moment, ran the possibilities through her head and grasped for the least questionable answer. For once, it happened to be the truth.
“We met in the forest and I guess we kinda just hit it off? It’s not like I asked her to follow me everywhere.”
Phoenix replied with a hum of suspicion. “The data we gathered suggests Princess Phantasia’s interest in others rather fleeting. She left us within a few minutes of our meeting to go and hound Alonie Kent and Shelley Eoghan.”
“Guess I was the lucky one.”
“So it would seem.”
She knew. She had to know. This was Phoenix Rogan, after all. She wouldn’t have cornered Emily in the first place if she didn’t have something to prove. Emily pictured some full-blown Veritas report playing out across the Theatre screens, denouncing her as a fraud and letting the world know that she was really a troubled seer by the name of Aliza Adel.
And, once the world knew that, her life would be over.
Emily bit her lip. “Can I go now?”
For a moment, it looked like Phoenix was about to back off, but then she raised a finger. “One more thing, if you will?”
It had better be quick. “Yes?”
“Would you happen to recognise the name ‘Verraden Sepulturero’?”
It took all of Emily’s effort — all her mother’s training — to keep her emotions in check, to cast that name away as if she had never heard it before in her life. “No,” she said. “Why?”
Phoenix shrugged. “Curiosity. It’s just a name I heard somewhere. It’s nothing important.”
Maybe it wasn’t important to her, but it was important — life defining — to Emily. As the Veritas girls left for their ‘debriefing’, as Phoenix called it, Emily sank back into the memories of that night, six years ago.
“They got her, Aliana. Pleiades got Ophelia.”
Time for some answers, I think! And more questions, obviously.