Orphic Phantasia

43: Changing Perspective

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“You okay?” asked Kat. “Want another drink?”

Dante waved away the glass of elixium. “Who’s Jonny?” he asked, although he already knew the answer.

“Oh, that guy? I thought you met him? I know I did, for all of five seconds, and that was five seconds too long. Creep tried to follow me into the bathroom and everything.” Kat’s lip twisted in disgust. “Probably didn’t deserve what happened to him, mind…”

As her tawny face paled, she took another sip of elixium and grimaced. “Yeah, that’s not helping.”

“What happened to him?” asked Dante. Part of him didn’t want to know, but the other part … the other part hoped it something horrible. Something that would prove his vision nothing more than a self-loathing fantasy.

Kat plucked at a twirl of rogue hair and twisted it around her finger. “Well…” she began, before thinking better of it. “It was a mess, let’s just leave it at that. I don’t think my stomach could take it.”

Where Dante had previously pictured Emily embracing the insidious man in the ragged suit, now he saw her torturing the secrets of Avalon from his bloodied corpse—and he wasn’t sure which vision was worse. Or, indeed, which was real.

Just a dream, he told himself. “Just his overactive imagination”.

“Dante?” It was Emily, her voice reaching him from across time. He was about to reply, then realised it was just her message reaching its conclusion. “Ask Shelley for help with your astral projection. She can teach you more than I ever could. And hopefully, when all this is over, we can focus on more important matters. After all, you still owe me a painting or ten, right?”

She also left a message for Byron, asking that he not try to follow her, and one for Alonie, too, though she didn’t mention her sister by name. “Try not to do anything stupid,” she told her. “I’ve done enough of that for both of us.”

And then, as her voice faded into silence, Dante began to cry.

It was just like before. Just like the night—

“Stop it already!” Kat thrust a tissue in his face. “You’re not a child any more, and crying won’t help anybody, least of all Emily.”

She was watching him with that stern, don’t-question-me expression she had picked up from her mother. Dante took the tissue and wiped his eyes.

“I mean, you are going to help, aren’t you?”

“M—me? Help?”

Kat rolled her eyes and shook her head. “You mean you missed the part where Emily specifically asked you to speak with Shelley about astral projection? Or, as Phoe like to put it, ‘remote viewing’.”

He could hear Phoenix Rogan’s voice in his head, telling him to take advantage of his ‘remote viewing capabilities’. Or was that just a dream? “I—I can’t help,” he mumbled. “I’m not Seelie material.”

He turned away, too afraid to look Kat in the eye.

She clicked her fingers. “I knew it! You were there! And you say there’s nothing you can do to help? Imagine if you could eavesdrop on the people running this place! Or find Emily! Imagine what Theseus would say if you went and did what even Mr al-Hakim can’t seem to do! Not Seelie material my arse.”

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Given how long she’s had to put up with Dante’s self-pity, Kat really is something of a saint.