Chapter 15

The Gathering Place

“You okay, Shell?”

Emily clasped Shelley’s trembling hands and smiled. Her eyes, a deep and captivating blue, widened in fear.

“It’s okay, Shell,” said Emily, “it’s me, Emily. You’re safe now.”

Names were an anchor, he mother had taught her. That was why they were so important. Shelley’s oversized eyes darted around the room in a panic, then returned to Emily. With a deep sigh, the panic fled. She was back.

“Fer a moment there, I thought ye were that bloody Sophist seer.”

“I figured that was you out there,” said Emily. Shelley’s projections were not nearly as obvious as Dante’s, but then Shelley knew what she was doing.

“Aye. I wanted tae spy on the Director, but…” Her eyes drooped with disappointment.

“If it makes you feel any better, we couldn’t have got here without you,” said Emily. “Those Sophists had us flanked, and if you hadn’t caused a distraction when you did, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

Shelley wrapped her arms around her chest. “Did Seelie send you here?” she asked.

“Seelie? Nah, this was Dante’s idea. I don’t know what came over him. He just grabbed my hand and off he went. He said something about this place being safe?” That was about all he had said, though — his burst of adrenaline had petered out almost as soon as they entered the building. “He’s been acting a little odd today,” she added. “You’ll never believe it, but we caught him projecting just before we came here.”

If Shelley’s eyes grew much wider, they would have consumed her face.

“I’m serious,” said Emily. “You should give him some tips.” Anything to get the two of them talking again. “Probably not right now, though. He’s already back to his moody old self.”

Shelley replied with the flicker of a smile and a grunt of amusement. It would take a lot of effort to repair that bridge. It might have helped if Emily had some idea of what burnt it in the first place. All she knew was that Shelley and Dante had been childhood friends up until the night Dante lost his mother. The Sophists had a lot to answer for.

And now they were outside, watching, waiting. Emily slipped out of Shelley’s room for a quick scan of the situation. The safe house was one of those modern designs, all wide-open spaces across multiple floors. Shelley’s room was on the second floor, a short distance from the main hallway, where Dante paced back and forth and Alonie stood glowering at the front door. Katrina, meanwhile, was sitting on the stairs, keeping watch over the detoxing Lance Algar while Chris Shaw busied himself with some ‘investigating’. Byron had followed his example. It was, after all, a riddle of a house, lost within a mystery of a fog, trapped beneath an enigma of a shell. They were not the only ones who wanted answers.

As previously mentioned, there was a whole bunch of scenes involving Team Kat (as I referred to them in my notes) making their way into the Scar, including some nice rants from Byron and further details on the memorials (and their purpose). I ended up cutting it out because of pacing issues, and also because it messed with the continuity of which characters were where and when.

Yeah, I have a spreadsheet listing where they all were at a specific time…