As they entered the Hall of Promises Kat wished she had listened to Toby. From afar the building was beautiful. It was a large dome shaped building constructed from a material that resembled glass. It glowed with a flickering light from within. However, as they drew closer Kat realized it was not made from glass, nor was it a building; it was a hive. Several fireflies swarmed around it flying in lazy circles. The fireflies were very tiny but Kat couldn't shake the notion of fireflies being hired to murder people and found herself watching the bugs wearily. As Skipper lead her nearer to the hive the hair on her arms perked up most uncomfortably and she found herself jumping at even the slightest sound.
"Stop moving so much." Skipper hissed to her as they reached the entrance to the hive. A large arch cut into the side and laced with skulls crystallized in the hives surface.
"I kind of wish I'd stayed home with Toby."
Skipper raised his eyebrows.
"And you actually expected to kill one of these things?"
"It would be all alone and not in a hive." Kat pointed out.
"Kat, right now they're relaxed wait until you see one in its cursed state. " Skipper said in a tone that made Kat sure she never wanted to.
Skipper led her through the entrance hallway. The walls and ceilings were all covered in the same crystallized golden material which Kat was too afraid to ask what it was. Stuck inside the brunt yellow matter were thousands of little pieces of parchment with writing on them. Kat couldn't make out the words. Skipper caught Kat looking at them.
"Those are promissory notes of death. One of those has your father's name on it."
Kat gasped. She felt herself drawn to the side of the hallway. She gazed through the walls at the suspended notes looking for her fathers but she could not make out the writing on any of them.
"This way." Skipper said, pulling Kat's attention away.
The hallway opened out into the belly of the hive. There was no floor but instead a thick placid lake of slimy orange liquid. A bridge made of gold continued from the hallway to a desk in the center of the room where a young woman was seated. Up above thousands of fireflies swarmed in an indistinguishable mass creating soft golden glow that pulsed and flickered. They sound of buzzing and flapping wings was deafening. It got inside Kat's ears and danced like pointy cold fingers on Kat's spine and mad her cringe.
"Kat whatever you do don't stare at Emmlia." Skipper instructed. "She's the queen of the fireflies, she protects and controls them. She is very powerful and the last thing we want is her upset." Skipper said.
Kat nodded. She followed Skipper as he made his way across the bridge which swayed with each step. Kat felt she was going to be seasick but she pretended it didn't bother her she'd gotten quite good at this over the years. She looked coolly ahead, her mouth set in a determined line.
The bridge let out onto the platform on which the desk was set. Kat was glad to step onto something a little more solid with a little less movement even if she could still feel the liquid lapping under the platform.
"Your either really stupid or brave I'm going to go with stupid." The woman behind the desk said looking up from her work.
Kat took in a shape intake of breath. Forgetting entirely what Skipper had told her about not staring at this...creature.
Emmlia was not a woman. She had the lips and nose of a woman but underneath her pale lips Kat could see the tips of piercing fangs. Her eyes were farther apart than was natural and they were very large, pupil-less and a brilliant green color. But she was beautiful in strange, dangerous way. Her skin was an exotic slivery gold and shimmered in the light capturing Kat’s attention like a trance. Emmlia turned to face Kat, catching her staring.
Kat looked away quickly.
"Emmlia, you look beautiful today." Skipper said, approaching the desk with a smile.
Emmila gave a forced smile.
"Why is she here?" She asked pointing to Kat. "I can smell Adrian all over her. Are you crazy? You’re gonna get her killed!" Emmila said rising from her chair.
Kat gasped unable to stop herself. She stumbled backwards.
Emmila's chest was covered in a hard layer of skin Kat had first mistaken as armor but now as Emmlia rose take saw it was part of her. The armor-sque skin continued down until it ended in a glowing stump in the place of legs. Four transparent wings beat quickly behind her keeping her afloat.
"Hi." She snapped at Kat. "Skipper, get her out of here."
"Just answer a few of my questions first." Skipper said. "We need your help."
Emmlia looked over at Kat ignoring Skippers words.
"Why are you even here?" She demanded.
Skipper didn’t answer. Kat looked to Skipper for any clue as to what to do. Emmlia hesitated, visibly irritated before growling in frustration. She flew over her desk. She landed on the railing off the bridge supporting herself with her arms.
"Get on. Now." She said.
Skipper nodded to Kat and they both climbed on to the bridge. Emmlia pushed with her arms without the slightest signs of effort and the bridge be began to move. Kat yelped as the bridge swiveled very quickly. The orange liquid lapped onto the gold surface.
Emmlia pushed the bridge until it had swung half way around and pointed to the entrance of a small cavity in the hive. Emmlia switched spots, flying around the bridge until she was at the end. She pushed the bridge forward until it made contact with the opening of the cavity.
"Go inside." She ordered.