Orphic Phantasia

21: Spiral

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It wasn’t far from the truth, but if Leira knew that then Joel would be the least of her worries. The last time she suspected supernatural powers interfering with the lives of her friends it had led to the events that drove them aboveground—and Aliza Adel into the hands of Prince Freyr Venris. Leira Byrne was not one for tact, a bad habit that had rubbed off on her blue-haired accomplice. Emily hoped tonight would be different.

They were about a mile away from the World’s End when she picked up the first rumblings of bass through the ruins. To the uninitiated, the requisitioned research station was little more than a hedonistic hovel where people lost their worries to a cocktail of heavy music, hard drugs and heedless sex. To those in the know, however, the World’s End was merely a veneer over a corruptive temple of nihilistic fervour. At least, that was how Byron would describe it—and the Daughters of Ernmas had seen things that would make even the most magniloquent of minstrels squirm.

Compared to those escapades, saving Dante was a simple task indeed.

The club’s entrance lay at the bottom of a sinkhole that, allegedly, owed its existence to a blunder of the part of wayward digging machines, although others told stories of great battles or terrible experiments gone awry. Emily and Leira took shelter in the surrounding ruins while Shelley headed out on reconnaissance duty. By now, they could make out the songs throbbing away inside the tower.

“Same old shite as always,” said Leira.

“At least they’re predictable,” said Emily.

Shelley passed out of sight as she followed the path down into the pit.

“But, seriously,” said Leira, “the feckin’ World’s End? Why didn’t that eejit just get Orpheus pissed on that shite his old man makes?”

“It’s not the drink I’m worried about,” said Emily. “It’s the people.”

Just as the World’s End called out to those who treated every day as if it were their last, so too did it attract those who took advantage of them. Dante might have had a rather contrasting opinion of the world’s fate compared to the rest of the clientele, but that didn’t mean he was any less vulnerable. If anything, his ignorance—arrogance—made him more vulnerable than anyone.

Emily checked her cellular; it had been over half an hour since Byron’s message. At least Dante didn’t have his mother’s eyes, or it would have already been too late. Assuming, that was, Ophelia Orpheus was even his real mother. Maidens, after all, did not have sons, at least as far as Emily was aware.

“Don’t ye be worrying so much,” said Leira. “The kid’s got the look of Seelie about him, and there ain’t many people who’d risk pissing those bastards off. You, on the other hand,” she fixed Emily with a stern frown, “should’ve worn some feckin’ lenses.”

“They’re irritating,” she replied. It wasn’t a lie. She wondered how her sister coped, but then Alonie would do whatever it took to sever her ties to the Adels.

“It’ll be more irritating when every bloody creeper in that damned place is chasing after ye,” said Leira.

“All the more reason to get this done quickly.”

Thankfully, Shelley soon returned.

“Ye’ll be happy tae know that Badb and Macha are still wanted fer crimes against humanity,” she said with a smile. “They’ve even gone and got themselves a nice new photo of Leira fer their records. Same old Macha, though.”

Leira grinned; she would have hated it if they’d forgotten about her after all this time. “Guess that whole Emily thing worked out for ye in the end,” she said—if only she knew! “Still wouldn’t be risking it with eyes like that, though.”

But risk it she would. It was a bad habit.


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I bet the club’s playing System of a Down. You’d have thought people would be tired of them by now, but…