Orphic Phantasia

38: A Game of Chance

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Katrina listened in silence as Emily recounted events from their arrival in Avalon through to her meeting with Jonas Meeray and journey into the Sultan’s palace. Every so often, she would glance at her cellular, furrow her brow at some unseen information, swipe at the screen with practised fingers.

“And here we are,” finished Emily, “looking for answers.”

Kat nodded. “Everything fits with what we already know,” she said. “I just wish I knew where to begin! We’ve been trying to get intel on this Aliza figure for days. Phoe thinks it’s you, naturally, but the rest of us figure it’s just a massive coincidence. I mean, blue hair isn’t that rare.”

Emily hid her grimace behind a concerned frown. She had to play this carefully or else she risked breaking the spell that kept the brand on her shoulder hidden from sight. “Whoever she is, the Sultan was willing to send synthetics after her. And all these other creeps, like Meeray out there, either want to sway her to his side, or convince her to escape the island before it all goes to hell. Doesn’t explain where they found their magic though.” Sidhe magic, at that.

“I think it has something to do with Ketos,” said Kat.

“Ketos?” Emily was not one to forget a name, even one she had only seen flash across floating screens in the middle of a melodramatic card game. “You mean Andromeda?”

Katrina laughed. “Oh no, she’s just using that name to catch their attention. We don’t have a clue who the real Ketos is. What we do know, however, is that they’re offering some kind of reward to whoever captures this Aliza character. We thought it might be something the Sultan could use to win one over the Oracle, hence why he’s trying to capture her. Or, eh, you.”

Well, that changed things. Emily paced across the bathroom and looked at her reflection in the mirror, at the Maiden struggling to hide behind a Malkuthian veneer. People would go to some pretty fucked up lengths to win themselves a taste of Paradise. “That would explain all those creeps then,” she said. “They weren’t trying to get me to take sides, they wanted to trade me in for…” Trying her best to hide her frustration, she turned to Kat. “I don’t suppose you have any idea what for?” A high price, no doubt.

“That’s why we wanted to know who Aliza Adel is,” said Kat. “We thought it might shed some light on why this Ketos is after her. Current theory is that Ketos has a bunch of synthetics the Sultan could use. Like, proper grade-A types, better than any he has right now.”

“Chris mentioned those,” said Emily, mulling over the possibilities in her head. Whoever this Ketos was, they were almost certainly the one behind the magic Jonas and his ilk were using to influence others—which meant that Ketos was one of the Sidhe.

And a favour from the Sidhe could change a person’s life…

“Is Aliza Adel really worth that much?” she asked. Was she?

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I mean, if Emily wasn’t hogging the spotlight, you might have heard about all these Veritas capers!