Orphic Phantasia

49: The Other Side

Page 6/8

Arided. Shelley—or, at least, her friend—knew more than Dante would have expected. “She lied to me,” he said. “She lied to my mother.” I just wish I knew what for. “It—”

He stopped. Had he said too much already? What would Rembrandt Payne say? What would his mother say? Dante had promised to keep things secret, and here he was ready to reveal all.

Here, in that cavern from Emily’s memory, the one where she confronted her uncle, lost her sister, and cast aside the name of Aliza Adel. Here in her secret, most private of spaces, where she was at her most vulnerable. Here, in the only place she knew she could trust.

“It had something to do with an attack on Torsten fourteen years ago,” he said. “The investigation, Arided, all of it.”

“That’s when the Scar appeared,” said Emily.

“It was an Apostle,” said Shelley. “An Apostle attacked Torsten and Seelie built the Scar tae keep the—” she pulled her arms around herself, “—so the lost souls didnae infect the town. At least that’s what Shuck told me, and he wouldnae lie!” She shot Dante an accusatory glare.

“Well, it all adds up,” said Emily. “If I were in Chief Payne’s shoes, I think I’d want to know why an Apostle, of all things, would attack Torsten. I mean, wasn’t the war supposed to be over by then?”

“But what has any of this got tae do with you?” asked Shelley. “Because your mam was involved?”

“I’m cursed, remember?” She gestured to her shoulder and the black tendrils wrapped around it. “And the ones running this investigation want to find others like me.”

A glint of anger flashed across Shelley’s eyes and she scowled. “And why do they want tae do that?”

“I wish I knew,” said Emily, “but the Sidhe aren’t exactly forthcoming, even at the best of times. All I know for sure is that they can’t see the Erebus for themselves, so they need people like me to act as an intermediary. I only agreed to help them because they offered to hide my brand and let me live out a normal life. If Ketos can prove who I really am, however, that spell will break and their secret conspiracy will come to light. And given that Seelie is supposed to fight the Erebus, not reason with it, that won’t be good for human—faerie relations.”

Dante found himself sharing Shelley’s scowl. So, this was what it all came down to? This was why his mother surrendered herself to Arided? Because of politics?

“Then dinnae admit it!” cried Shelley. “Run away! Run as far away as possible and keep on running until they give up!”

Emily looked to Dante. They both knew where that would lead.

“I can’t, Shell,” she said. “If I don’t stop Ketos here and now, this will just keep on happening.”

“But how? We couldnae even take on a bloody demon and now ye wanna go after one of the Sidhe? This is way, way out of our league. Gods, what would Leira say if she were here?”

Emily managed a sad, but reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, Shell, I’m not about to go running off on some hell-bent crusade again. That’s why I swiped all that intel from Jonas Mireille’s files. I need your help—everyone’s help. I can’t deal with Ketos while half of Avalon is still out there doing her dirty work.”

And not just Avalon, Dante knew, but Pleiades, too. They had just as much to gain—or lose—from this as anyone. This time, however, Dante wouldn’t fall to his knees and cry. He wasn’t the boy on the rooftop anymore. “What do you need us to do?” he asked.

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I guess this means Dante subconsciously knows how to spell Leira’s name now!