Orphic Phantasia

14: Shelley Eoghan and the Ruins of Dusk

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Shuck was on his feet, ears erect, tails slashing through the air. “Ye’ve got tae stop them, Shell. Call out tae them or something. If they try tae enter the house while the Sophists are right behind them…”

No, they wouldn’t. Why would they? Seelie wouldn’t risk it.

Then Dante crashed though the front door and stumbled into the hallway beyond.

Right in view of the Sophists.

Shelley ducked behind a nearby wall as the armoured figured passed by and stopped in front of the house, just as Alonie slammed the door in their faces.

“If they’ve already defiled the sanctuary, what’s wrong with us following them?” said one with a young, inpatient voice and dull armour, polished to a sheen but insignificant compared to the shining forms stood beside him.

“Because,” said another, his voice older, more commanding that his fellow’s, his armour like a metal bull wrapped around his body, “the Director gave us direct orders not to enter these buildings, no matter the circumstances. I suggest the pair of you inform him of this development while I stand watch. It seems they are using this building as some kind of gathering place.”

“I have a better idea,” said the seer, her words weaving an intoxicating spell into the aether so that nobody could ignore them. Her armour was brightest of all, lithe and feminine, more a shroud than plates of metal. “Mister Grantham, you report back while I help Sir Firenze here stand guard.” The words seeped into the young man’s armour, but struggled to take root in his elder. Shelley watched, spellbound as the seer shaped the aether itself to try to implant her suggestion into her commander’s soul.

“There’s nothing your eyes can do here, seer,” he said, filling his words with enough snarling disgust to deflect her attempts at manipulation. “If we cannot enter in body, we most certainly cannot enter in spirit. A sanctuary is a sanctuary.”

“And this ‘sanctuary’ has a back door. Maybe you should keep an eye on it. Or would you like the Founding Father to know that you allowed suspected hylics to escape because of some dogged obsession with unrecognised protocol?”

There was no need for magic. “Fine,” the commander huffed. “Mister Grantham, go report back to the Director. I’ll check around the back. And you,” he pointed at the seer, “try not to forget who we’re dealing with. These are students of Rembrandt Payne, not some drug-addled vultures.”

Shelley and Shuck stayed hidden as the young peacekeeper jogged past them and towards the marketplace. “Now all we can do is hope Guirlande still has a shred of decency left in him,” said Shuck. “And you should head back inside before that Firenze fella locks the back door down.”

Shelley groaned. The quirks of amateur astral projection were nothing if not frustrating. If somebody was watching that door, then its aethereal shadow would adapt in kind. A shut door was a shut door, and Shelley didn’t have nearly the strength to override another person’s beliefs, let alone to influence the material world with nothing but her own. She might have read plenty of books on the subject, but knowledge could only take you so far.

She was just about to make a break for the door when the world around her shifted, once again exploding into sudden detail.

The seer was looking straight at her.

“You—”

The last thing Shelley saw was the pale eyes of the bloodline, staring into hers. The last thing, and the first.

Chapter 14 End

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I hoped you enjoyed these alternative viewpoints also. Some of them might be cropping up with increasing regularity in future. This story is weird like that.

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