Orphic Phantasia

26: Y Ddraig Goch

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Watching the red-haired Winnifred enthuse about sharing her ‘facilities’, as if she were hosting a party in her apartment, rather than her own body, she wondered what price Seelie had paid. Were she not a Maiden and so in full control of her body at all times, she would have stumbled out of the cabin and retched the breakfast from her stomach.

“Man, she were a bit of alright,” said Doyle, as the ship’s manifest soul vanished in a whirl of starlight. “Might have to ask for her assistance later, if you know what I mean.”

Joel managed the slightest of grins before Kaori’s glare put him back in his place, while Byron, still hiding beneath his hat, said nothing. As Doyle’s eyes, wandering for acknowledgement, fell on her, Emily forced a smile.

“Always with the charms,” she said. Blushing, Doyle gulped back on his ale.

A few minutes later, the ship began to rise. If it wasn’t for the view, Emily would have thought them still resting on the Theatre field. Opposite her, Kaori tugged at one of her pendants.

“Flying makes me uncomfortable,” she said. “I don’t like moving when I can’t feel myself moving.” She leaned in close, lowered her voice to a whisper, “I wish they would teach us how to overcome these things. None of us will ever make the Academy at this rate.”

“I doubt the Sophists would be too impressed if Seelie taught us how to jump around town like legendary heroes,” said Emily. She noted a twitch of a smile on Joel’s face, but the ginger guitarist remained silent, knowing well what the slightest slip-up might cost him. “Maybe that’s what this holiday is all about—getting us away from them so Seelie can teach us all a little suspension of disbelief.”

Kaori sat back, still teasing her pendant. “Let us hope so.”

Outside, the morning sun caught a shimmer of swampland to the north as the ship continued to rise. Beyond it, barely a shadow of a line above the horizon, rose the Seventh Wall, the giant structure that marked the end of Malkuth’s expansion and protected its lands from the violent sea beyond. On the opposite side of the cabin, to the south, Malkuth itself stood unchanging, a lonely mountain watching over the country it spared from chaos.

But at what price?

Once the vessel reached cruising speed, which John Smith estimated at a ‘low’ sixty miles-per-hour, Kaori wasted no time in dragging Joel from his seat and marching him away. Doyle gave Emily the I’m-glad-I’m-not-in-his-shoes look, and she agreed. Byron, meanwhile, had started to snore, so Lysander Goodfellow thought it an excellent opportunity to steal his hat. A ripple of laugher spread through the cabin.

If only they knew what was really going on. If only they knew the price.

Doyle downed his last drop of ale and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. “So,” he said, “you wanna check this thing out?”

Emily teased a strand of hair. “I guess I’ve not got anything better to do.” Nothing she wanted to do, at any rate. Were Prince Freyr here, he would be whispering in her ear and urging her to sneak Doyle into one of the private rooms, to start her mission with something—someone—easy. Mark one of twenty-eight.

She needed to find an alternative, and fast.

Chapter 26 End

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Stay classy, Doyle.

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