Orphic Phantasia

36: The Scrying Game

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After a few gestures, the door opened. It was an elevator. Unlike the ones that bore the initiates to the surface, with their myriad luxuries, however, this one was a simple grey box, barely large enough for five or six people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder.

“We good to go?” asked Emily.

Jonas frowned. “I’m afraid not. You see, we require a permit for every passenger, or the elevator will not function. I have three permits: my own, personal code, and two … guest codes, for want of a better term. The Sultan knows of the former, obviously, so that one is no good, which means I can only transport two of us. And, since you’ll need me to access the shuttle below…”

How very convenient. Surely, thought Dante, Emily could see through such an obvious ruse.

She turned to her friends. “I guess you guys could try the front door?” she said. “After all, we’re the ones they’re after.”

Dante wanted to say something, to protest, to save her from this blatant trap … but he didn’t have an alternative, a clever plan to get them to their destination. Not like Jonas.

Or, indeed, Chris Shaw, who stepped forward to study the display himself, despite Jonas’s preening protests that there was nothing he could do about it. “Trying to hack the system will only alert security,” he said, hovering around Chris, pawing at his Malkuthian coat. “I really would recommend against it.”

Chris tapped a few buttons, then dug his hand into his coat. “I’ll be fine,” he said, taking out that odd, pen-shaped device he would sometimes fiddle with in lectures. He pointed it at the screen, waved it around a little, then thrust it back into his coat with a satisfied smirk. “There,” he said to an unimpressed Jonas, whose eyes were narrow with suspicion, “one extra permit.”

“Just the one?” asked Lance.

“At least until Serendipity returns my request,” he replied, glancing beyond Jonas’s shoulder and giving Emily a stern we-really-should-wait look as she reappeared from hiding.

“We don’t have time to wait around,” she replied. “The sooner we deal with this the better.”

Jonas stepped up to the elevator. “I suggest young Dante remains in Bolventor for the time being,” he said. “It might help to have somebody on the outside in case things go wrong.”

Which they undoubtedly would. First Katrina, now Emily. Dante was no hero. Not like his mother. And, if he couldn’t even protect Emily, then what hope had he of ever rescuing Ophelia Orpheus? Emily, observant and empathic as she was, must have noticed his pain.

“You can keep an eye on things from out here, right?” she asked, taking his hand in hers.

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One of those Writing Moments where you spend hours trying to figure out a logical reason why somebody can’t do something and hoping people are okay with the end result.