Sethaline was still getting used to her sister's disguise. Olivia wore women's clothes in the form of a toothpaste green suit and a tie patterned with notes of money, that alone was something Sethaline seldom saw. Olivia also had on a pair of shades and a wig. She'd played with her wig using spells, it made it look like it was short and artificial green, similar in colour to her suit. Set's eyes couldn't stop travelling to Olivia's hair and she'd noticed other people staring too. One similar looking boy actually complimented Olivia on her style back in the station.
"Aren't your stupid clothes gonna bring us more attention?" Set wondered quietly as they moved through the train carriages, looking for an empty one. Behind them they pulled their luggage. Olivia lugged two large bags, one she wheeled behind her and one she carried in her other arm. Sethaline only had one small case, which squeaked on its wheels behind her. She did carry her football in her other hand though.
"I am a style icon," Olivia retorted, acting offended. "Besides, they're looking for a woman dressed as a man with long black hair. I seem like some new age kid, a bloody spectacularly dressed new age kid if I do say so myself. This look is not what that mysterious 'dangerous crossdressing fugitive' looked like."
"Oh, right," Sethaline said thoughtfully. Olivia was so smart sometimes.
Eventually they reached an empty carriage; so far away from an exit that they hoped that no-one would try to join them. Sethaline betted that her own visage would keep the plebs away; she'd been given had a broken nose and very thin lips and a noticeable scar on her chin by Olivia's magic. Olivia told her that people would describe memorable things, so they must be memorable in a way they're not supposed to be. Set wanted a gnarly scar.
They placed their things in the overhead compartments, which had to be locked for the impending Roads. Olivia took off her songlasses and placed them in there as well. Both sides of the small carriage had seats and so each sister claimed a side.
Looking out into Queen's Cross Station, Sethaline saw it busy with people coming and going to Capital City. After a few moments she began inspecting the cracks in the window in boredom.
"Hopefully we'll get going soon," she said to Olivia, who just nodded.
Set tried to open the window but it didn't give way, rattling the handle several times in the attempt. She tried scratching her own cracks into the window but had no success and eventually just gave a sigh and stopped. Looking around the brown carriage she noticed there was a message scratched on the wall near the ceiling which read: roses are red, here's something new, violets are violet, not fucking blue. It made her smile.
"How was school?" Olivia asked her, breaking the silence. Set looked at her.
"I dunno. The Queen talked. We were gonna be tested for the thing count." Amy had probably been tested by now and Sethaline would probably never see her again. She wished she'd had a chance to say something to her.
"Lapsiternum and lapitae," Olivia provided.
"Yeah that. And I didn't get it." Set wondered if that was some sign that she would get magic now. "Now I'll never know if I'll get magic."
"They can't tell anyway," Olivia said. "And you won't get it… probably."
"I've heard you can if you're over five," Sethaline tried, remembering Olivia telling her that you couldn't.
"Most people get it when they're five. It can happen afterwards but it's less usual. And then almost no-one gets it after puberty. You've started getting your blood; I really doubt that you'd have it after now."
"But it's happened?" Set wondered.
Set was still a little concerned, but she guessed that it really didn't matter either way. "What's the oldest person who ever got magic?"
"There was this famous guy; he was 46 when he manifested."
"He was a he?" Sethaline thought practically no boys got magic.
"Yeah. It's unusual for men to get magic but it happens. I mean especially combined with the Men's, their numbers are low." Olivia shrugged and Sethaline nodded darkly. Set didn't know much about the Men's Disease, but she did know that so many boys died of it every day. In that moment the train started with the whistle blowing. Sethaline observed them leave the station and all the crowds of Capital City behind.
"We should get our seatbelts on, it won't be long before we hit the Roads," Olivia said as she sat up and fastened her seatbelt.
The Roads to Paradise, it had only been a few times Set'd ever travelled them. "I've always wondered; why can't all paths be like the Roads?" Sethaline asked as she fastened her own seatbelt.
"Magic isn't all easy," Olivia began, "It's hard to say but, the Roads to Paradise were made by Patria using the something older and more difficult than any magic I know or most magicians in general. They were the Empire's last great construction. How Patra made the Roads has been forgotten. There's a difference between our Roads and what theirs were. Ours are built with remnants of the old Roads. They still stretch all across Westeria as they did, but like many things they have faded, in time." Olivia almost seemed sad to recount it. "They used to be much more powerful; they had to be after all, people used to walk them, not take trains."
It did seem sad, but it didn't really matter to Set considering Oliver and Acolis and everything really. Set had a thought of her school having paths like the Roads and everyone zooming around the grounds in a blur. It was amusing for a moment, at least.
"I hope Dad's alright," Olivia said suddenly. It caught Set off guard, but she decided to broach a subject she'd been thinking of since they left their apartment.
"What are we gonna do if Dad gets caught?" Set asked as she watched their train leave Capital City.
"I don't know," Olivia replied and she was staring out of the window too, "I hope he doesn't."
"But you let him go so easily," Sethaline replied, she still watched the buildings of the city pass and did not look at her sister.
"I know," Olivia said simply. "I wish it didn't have to be like this-"
"But you just assumed…" Set interrupted, turning to face her. "You just assumed that he'd leave, that it'd all play out like that. You didn't give him a choice!"
Olivia was taken aback at the outburst and for a moment her mouth hung open in betrayal.
"I gave him choice, Set," she retorted eventually. "We'd already discussed something like this happening in the past. He told me that he would always be the one to give himself for us to escape. I hated that. I hate all is happening because it's my fault. And I hate that I left him like that. But it's not as if he has no chance. I enchanted the car to like different. Different plates. It won't last but I tried something. I wish I could…" She stopped herself. Set could see there were nearly tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry what that seemed like, but putting it all out there, it was unnecessary, it was a waste of time. I'm sorry we didn't tell you that but it's not something I just accepted coldly."
Set had to look away from Olivia's piercing gaze. There was a ball in her throat, but she pushed it down. Eventually she spoke, "I'm sorry. We shouldn't argue. I shouldn't have just thought that…"
"It's okay," Olivia said with a ghost of a smile. "We've-"
Both of them were thrown back into their seats, letting out gasps.
The Roads, we're at them, Sethaline thought and everything felt fuzzy. Good fuzzy. Set spared a glance out the window and saw the trees rushing by and the hills sweeping up and down across the horizon. Everything was all so blue and purple; all other colours had lost their meaning, Sethaline couldn't even remember what other colours had been. It was all a strange haze but so utterly wondrous and beauteous.
She felt her rosary bouncing off her chest to the beat of her heart. The Prophetess' sharp arrow pressed into her skin but she liked it. From its icy point there spread warmth inside her in webs and any troubles she'd had in her mind were gone. Her argument with Olivia? So distant. Her woes for Oliver? Forgotten. In that moment everything was perfect, she free to be the greatest girl alive.
Sethaline closed her eyes and it felt like everything wasn't real. She laughed at the absurdity of everything in that moment. Acolis was after them but she and Livy were winning! She heard Olivia join in. Sisters laughing. It made her laugh harder, at nothing. She felt herself running out of breathe but in that corridor of light that the train had become, she had eternal stamina. It lasted for what felt like hours, days, months and years but also just a second, for in a second it was all over.
And then, as quickly as it had begun, it ended. It felt like coming home after travelling a million kilometres. Sethaline's eyes came open. And they were docking the Imperial Station in Labyrinth.
The colours of Set's world turned back to normal and she breathing so heavily but she hadn't noticed. Olivia was too. For a moment the sisters just stared at each other's eyes with their mouths opening and closing as if they were imitating fish out of water.
"I always kinda wonder if that was real after I travel in these things," Sethaline breathed out finally.
"I know what you mean," said Olivia as she undid her seatbelt. Sethaline did the same and both unlocked their luggage
"When Dad escapes the suppies, where'll we find him?" Set asked as she pulled her battered case and football.
"We always met up in Sand's Square, in the past. That's where he'll be." Olivia slid her songlasses back on, but frowned when she saw one of the lenses had fallen out.
They exited the train into the Imperial Station and Labyrinth. Compared to the sprawl of Capital City, Labyrinth was calculated. It was winding but wise in its design. The Imperial Station was a jewel in the centre, the most extravagant Station in all of Albion. Still Patrian make after a thousand years, the Imperial Station had hundreds of marble pillars across its dozens of stations and had walkways stretching up towards the ceiling which was covered in ancient artworks. Labyrinth was a city Sethaline loved but never stayed in for long.
It was a dark day. Usually sonbeams burst through the twenty four immense stained-glass windows which lined the walls of the expansive station, but the sky seemed often clouded these days.
Olivia and Sethaline made their way out of the station down the steps into Cassiopeia's Square which was at the centre of Labyrinth. The walkway where the station opened to the Square had two suppressors on each side and the sisters silently avoided them. It was second nature to them to avoid. Of course, Oliva had hidden their Spirits from perceptive eyes.
"We should get to Mary Jane's Square," Olivia said to Sethaline. "We should be able to find somewhere to stay not too pricy there." It was a week until they'd move on, as they told Oliver. Sethaline had a feeling it would be an uneventful week.
"Do we have to walk?" Set prodded.
"Will you complain if we do?"
Olivia smirked. "We can catch the bus." And she changed their course through the Square.
They walked with haste past the various marble statues which decorated Cassiopeia's Square, which depicted Albanese Queens. It wasn't long before they both sat at a bus stop waiting and Set found herself picking at old bubble-gum under the seat. She contemplated throwing it at Olivia, but with the number of looks Olivia was getting it wasn't something they needed at that moment.
As they arrived in Mary Jane's Square by bus, the son was setting. Eventually they got out and started looking for places to stay. After about half an hour of searching and dodging cars marked with Acolis' symbols, Sethaline was beginning to have sore feet. Olivia had told her that she didn't just want to go back to a place they'd already been but she'd finally given up. Olivia decided that they would return to a hotel they'd stayed at five years ago during their previous 'adventure'.
"Names?" asked the bored receptionist as Sethaline bounced impatiently on the balls of her feet beside her outrageously green sister.
"Sky Blue," Olivia replied, "Trust me; I've heard all the jokes."
"Uh-huh, nice suit," he responded. His eyes seemed damn near half closed "And the little girl?"
"Hey I'm not little," Sethaline insisted, crossing her arms. "I'm like an adult. Nearly."
"You're like ten," Olivia said.
"Name please," the receptionist repeated.
"Ocean Blue, trust me I've-" Set began.
"Shut up," grunted Olivia, giving her a sharp elbow.
The receptionist ignored them, "Here are your keys. It was a week right? Return them next Odensday, room's on the second floor," he explained handing the keys to Olivia and gesturing to the creaky stairs behind them.
"Thanks," Olivia said and Sethaline led the way, still nursing her elbowed stomach. The stairs were inconsistently laid out as they curled upwards; evidently not everything in Labyrinth was built perfectly. It made it annoying for Set to drag up her bloody suitcase.
The clinking keys read room thirty, which was almost a running gag for them at this point. The hotel was even worse than their apartments on Old Sinner's Street, by Sethaline's reckoning. Honestly though, Set was just interested in not having to walk anymore and was dying to sit or anything. She scouted for the room and shouted for Olivia when she found it.
Olivia turned the key in the lock and finally Sethaline was unleashed onto a bed to throw off her shoes and socks and lie the fuck down.
"What a room," Olivia commented as she hovered in. Their room was little more than two white sheeted beds, a table with a chair, a miniscule fridge and a depressing television. A clock hung on the wall as well. It was at least clean, which was more than could be said about the rest of the hotel.
"I've been dying Liv." Set sprawled out further on her bed.
"I can see that." Olivia set everything of hers down and started unpacking.
"At least we have a TV, it could be worse," Olivia observed.
Could it? Set thought.
"I suppose we won't be leaving here much," Olivia said. In that instant Olivia relaxed her magic and Set felt her face tingle. She imagined her cool, messed-up face evaporate into a boring, normal Sethaline face.
"Who'd have thought being on the run from Acolis'd be so boring," Sethaline exclaimed as she realized they'd be stuck in this empty room for at least a week. Her tummy rumbled, "And starving, when was the last time we ate?"
"I haven't eaten since yesterday," Olivia admitted as she sat down on her own bed.
Set's head shot up and she felt like she'd been punched in the face with tiredness. "You're crazy. I've had breakfast at least. We should go out and eat, it's not like anything's gonna be happening around here."
"Don't ask me to cast anymore spells, I'm dying too you know," Olivia said. Giving in, Olivia fell back onto her bed too. "Fuck I should have brought something… bought something." She cradled her growling stomach.
Set giggled and closed her eyes involuntarily, setting her head back onto the mattress. That punch of tiredness seemed to lessen when she did that. She heard Olivia say something, but it really felt like Sethaline was just floating away and the words just muffled. Set felt like a boat on a calm sea at night.
But all of a sudden the sea turned rough and Set was shaking. She produced a noise that would be embarrassing if she wasn't in a dream. She heard Olivia's voice laughing.
"Set, do you want me to get you some things?" That's what the voice had been saying.
"Hugh?" Set grunted. "Yyyeahh." She still had her eyes closed. The bedsheets were so soft like her father's hands...
"I have some l dust to spare. I could go out and get stuff," Olivia's voice told her. Was that even real? Was she just dreaming?
"Sure just don't…" Set mumbled to the dream, "You know just… don't expose us to Acolis and make us to go on the run again… I'll just lie here..."
She heard Olivia say something, but it was so distant. Set ever so slowly tried to heave her eyes open but they remained shut. Why even fight against it? she thought at a snail's pace. So she just continued floating away, across roads of shadow.