Orphic Phantasia

45: The Hardest Word

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The Chief leaned forward and gestured in the vague direction of the tea set. “Would you believe Deneb baked those biscuits especially for this moment? I asked if she would help me out and she went above and beyond the call of duty! I believe the crockery is hers, too, so you should probably return it when you’re finished.”

Dante picked up a biscuit and took a small bite. From his mother to the Erebus to baking in the space of three minutes. This really was too surreal for words.

“As for me,” said the Chief, “I’d best be off. I have an operation to oversee, even if I can’t be there in person. Perhaps, when this is over and you’re all safely back in Torsten, we can discuss our next move over a nice cup of oolong tea? I didn’t assemble the best troupe in Seelie just to deal with local politics!”

The biscuit slipped from Dante’s fingers. A moment ago, he had been willing to blame his mother’s fate on Seelie, but now, with Rembrandt Payne’s earnest, regretful face looking down on him, he realised there was hope. That—whether she was imprisoned here or in Malkuth or even in the deepest, darkest depths of Kether—he might finally see his mother again.

And he couldn’t even find his voice to say thank you.

The Chief clearly noticed the tear that traced its way down his cheek. “Don’t worry, Dante,” he said, “you’re not alone. If there’s anything you need, or anything on your mind, don’t be afraid to speak with us. We’re here for you. All you have to do is ask. I won’t make the same mistake again, Seelie be damned. The Sidhe be damned.”

Noticing the look of surprise on Dante’s face, the Chief, eyes sparkling with a youthful mischievousness, grinned. “Like I said, nothing gets in or out of this room.”

And then, with a final “Cheerio!”, he was gone.

Dante sat in silence. It felt as if his whole life had just turned a corner and he didn’t know where it would end up. Blood racing with an uncomfortable excitement, he devoured all of Denny’s biscuits and found himself desperate for more. Maybe, if he returned her crockery…

Then he remembered who Denny was sharing her apartment with, and the Chief’s mischievous smirk seemed to reach out across the continent to embed itself in his mind’s eye.

Denny Odette was sharing her apartment with Hermia Adelheid, Alonie Kent, and Shelley Eoghan.


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Those biscuits really are rather addictive, to be fair.