Orphic Phantasia

42: The Seer and the Shadow

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Aliza swiped aside another needless document and tapped on the next folder in the queue. This one was more rewarding.

“Here we go,” she said, “’Drakonic Operations Manual’.”

She might not have been much of a seer, but Aliza knew her way around a computer system. Much to her disappointment, however, Ophion had taken his leave almost as soon as she entered the shrine’s basement. She had to wonder if he was secretly jealous of humanity’s technological advancements.

He was certainly dismissive of them, at the very least, calling the three titans that stood guard over the chamber “abominations of human hubris”.

“We need the spear,” Caelia’s voice reached her through the crystal, and Aliza pictured her standing there by her side, clinging to her arm like a frightened child. “We need the Lorg Lugh!”

Something about the three drakonics had triggered her memories. Lifeless as statues, yet terrifying in their potential, they looked like warrior gods of the seas, their armour plating calling to mind the three sigils emblazoning the chamber’s door: shark, dolphin, squid. If Aliza’s assumptions were correct, then the Nereids used these drakonics as physical vessels.

And, if that was the case, it was surely possible for Caelia to do the same.

Aliza scrolled through pages of introductory text. The document, like the operating system, was of Seelie origin and filled with technical jargon. Drakonics, it said, were a result of synthetic engineering, designed so that human ‘pilots’ could ‘synchronise’ with an artificial being to form a ‘transcendent entity’. Supposedly, Seelie had requisitioned the theories of one ‘Iorwerth Syn’, who pursued the research ‘in his attempt to achieve apotheosis’, to provide immaterial spirits, such as the Sidhe, with a ‘reliable means of interacting with the Outerworld’.

Aliza trembled as memories from Jonas Mireille’s subconscious sprung back to life—memories of innocent women conned into accepting a new life in Avalon, and of gloating monsters feasting on the souls that the cleansing clinics wrest from their bodies.

Ophion was right: these things were an abomination.

“Does this bring back any memories?” Aliza asked Caelia. “There’s all this stuff about ‘transcendent entities’ and synthetics, and somebody by the name of Iorwerth Syn—”

Caelia’s silent scream drove Aliza to her knees. “I want him dead,” she said, her whisper as sharp as ice. “Kill him! We have to kill him! Kill him! Kill him! Killhimkillhimkillhim—”

Her words spiralled into the panicked babble of a junkie clutching at her last threads of sanity as visions of the man who destroyed her flooded her thoughts. As violent waves crashed against the midday shore, Aliza gathered Caelia in her arms and wrapped her in thoughts of reassurance and tranquillity.

“I know,” she said. “I’ve been there. I’ve seen what people are capable of.” She had seen it all. Enough to scar a person. Enough to brand them. Enough to send them begging to the Sidhe for escape.

“We are maedans,” she Caelia. “It is our purpose.”

“No,” said Aliza. “Not anymore.”

She would break the cycle. She would stop Ketos, save Dionysus, and restore Caelia’s soul.

And then she would free them all. Dante, his mother, her own sister, and everybody else who carried the curse of the maedanblood, the curse of generations of social and synthetic engineering—a curse born from the machinations of one Iorwerth Syn and his obsessive quest to touch the Divine.

Aliza blinked back those sudden oddities of thought and found herself, once again, beneath the watchful gaze of the three titans.

Picking herself up, she returned to the console and her search for answers.

Chapter 42 End

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No, that wasn’t a typo. The aether is weird like that.

Meanwhile, you won’t have to wait long for the next chapter: I’m releasing all of Episode Six over the next few weeks (13/2-3/3)!

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