“We have a visitor!” Tilaran must have removed whatever ward had been keeping his wife way because she was standing in the doorway with her arms folded. “You should activate the wards and see her off but I’m sure that you won’t.”
“What?” Tilaran said. “Visitor?”
Mirtalka made a gesture and a bubble appeared between her hands showing Alsia casually leaning against the wall opposite the door to their human apartment. She must have been aware of the scrutiny because she looked up directly into the bubble and raised an eyebrow. “She appeared and deliberately triggered our wards a few minutes ago.” She looked over at her mother in law. “Drive her away before she comes back with an army.”
“Miranda!” Tilaran said in a reproving tone. “Alsia-ida is making no threatening moves and has notified us of her presence. We don’t attack guests.”
“Miranda?” Ophelia asked incredulously.
“My human name!” Mirtalka snapped with obvious distaste. “He knows I hate it so he uses it when he’s annoyed with me in order to torment me.” She scowled at Ophelia as she cracked up. “What’s so funny.”
“You are so not a Miranda,” Ophelia said. “It really doesn’t suit you.” She got herself under control with effort. “But it sounds like she appeared as soon as we started to discuss how to protect me. How did she know?”
“She was probably listening,” he said.
“You were warded!” Mirtalka said. “Even I couldn’t hear what you were saying, and that’s quite apart from the normal wards.”
“You really think wards would stop one of the idri if they were determined, Mirtalka-keda?” his mother said in dry tone. There was a cold emphasis on the ‘keda’ that made Mirtalka flinch back. “She’s strong enough that she could walk in as well if she wanted but she’s being polite and waiting for an invitation.” She turned to Kira and smiled encouragingly. “Go and let our guest in, Kirala.”
Kira looked almost as dubious as Mirtalka but after a moment she nodded. “Okay,” she said. “But I hope we don’t regret it later.”
“We will!” Mirtalka snarled as Kira left the room. “How can you let her in here? We can’t trust them! Bad things happen to people when they trust them. Look what happened last time!”
“What?” Tilaran said. “How does trusting one of the idri relate to what happened to Ophelia’s predecessor? Is there something you haven’t told us, Miranda?”
“Someone empowered a human and sent her after the Key holder girl,” she said. “I don’t know who – they never showed themselves.” She rubbed at her shoulder and frowned. “I assumed it was some high powered alrari playing games but the more I think about it the more I’m sure it was one of the idri. The whole thing went badly and the keyholder ended up with a dose of his venom.”
“She’s lying, you know,” Alsia said from the doorway. “I can believe she’s dumb enough not to know who it was but she knows full well that he wasn’t an alran and if she’d bothered to look into it she’d have identified him. That’s why she’s rubbing her shoulder that way. He scored a hit on her which leads us to an important question. She got the antidote in time so why didn’t Layla?”