Orphic Phantasia

38: A Game of Chance

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Emily followed her housemate out of the arena and through the casino, now barren save for a few indoctrinated addicts sitting slack-jawed in front of the slot machines. Along the way, Kat explained how Ms Thorbjorn had told her that Emily was in the stalls, waiting for her. “It was one of those weird Seelie things, you know?” she said. “Like, time froze around me. I wish they’d teach us how to do that. We wouldn’t have to get up so early for our daily briefings!”

Passing under an arch marked ‘facilities’, they emerged into a long, curved corridor lined with golden doors. Katrina found one with a green light by its handle. With a click, it opened.

“Wait, is this a bathroom?” Emily could hardly believe what she was seeing. As large as her hotel room, with mirrors along the walls, two toilet cubicles framed in gold, and an oversized, ruby-encrusted hot tub that overlooked an illusionary panorama of green hills, white beaches and blue oceans, it was perhaps the most decadent and self-indulgent thing she had seen since her arrival in Avalon.

“We figured they like to keep clean,” said Kat. “Really clean.”

With a shrug, Emily stepped inside. Jonas Meeray moved to follow her. Kat, a scowl on her face, pushed him back.

“What are you, some kind of pervert?” she asked. “Ladies only!”

And, with that, she slammed the door in his face. A moment later, her scowl turned to stammering shock.  “Oh! He is one of the bad guys, right?”

Emily picked up a bottle of soap and frowned. “I’m pretty sure he’ll be standing in the exact same spot when we leave,” she said. Even though she had escaped his magic field, she still couldn’t sense the aether beyond her immediate surroundings. Touching the wall, she felt an undercurrent of magic, a thick weave of powerful words flowing around them. Magic, perhaps even Seelie magic, Sidhe magic. “This place is private, right?” she asked. “No bugs or cameras or anything?”

“Don’t worry, we’ve looked them over,” replied Kat. “These guys are more paranoid than the Aristocracy. Can’t even use our cells in this place without security coming down on you. We have to relay everything through Johno!”

“So long as we don’t have to worry about anyone listening in on us,” said Emily.

Katrina pulled up a stool and sat down. “Where do you think we spend all our time when Annie isn’t playing card games? I haven’t felt this uncomfortable since that time Phoe took us vampire hunting and we stumbled in on a … party.” She coughed with embarrassment and plucked at a wayward strand of hair. “Speaking about mistaken identities…”

Emily laid Dante’s cloak across the back of a chair and pulled up a stool next to a long, pastel-blue vanity table. Its drawers were stocked with every kind of makeup product she could think of, and none of it natural. She found herself a brush and started to run it through her hair, wincing at every stray strand of silver she caught betraying her lie.

“Yeah,” she said, “it’s been quite a holiday.”


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