â€œYou summoned me, my Mirian?â€ Kyle dropped to one knee just inside the throne room door.
Ystelyan was seated on the edge of his scrying pool, and Rilletta sat in his lap with her head on his shoulder. They were both watching whatever the pool was showing intently. Ystelyan glanced up and waved a hand at him.
â€œJoin us, my Alran.â€ He frowned and looked past him. â€œIs Darya not with you?â€
â€œHe took Talira swimming.â€ Kyle rose and walked over to them. â€œI didnâ€™t want to disturb them. She needs more friends.â€
â€œShe does. Her transformation was hard on her.â€ Ystelyan sighed. â€œBut Iâ€™m afraid weâ€™ll have to. Both of you need to see this. Iâ€™ll call her.â€ His deep blue eyes glowed.
A moment later, Talira and Darya appeared in a flash of blue light. The dragon girl was handÂ in hand with Darya. Talira looked happier than Kyle had ever seen her as she summoned robes for the two of them.
â€œIt looks like you had a good swim, Talira-alra.â€ Rilletta smiled at the dripping pair.
â€œWe did.â€ She shrugged on the robe and then knelt before Ystelyan. â€œMy Mirian.â€
â€œCome and look at this.â€ Ystelyan gestured to the pool.
The water rippled and reflected the image of three red dragons in flight. Kyle sat down and studied the image, then gasped when he saw where they were.
â€œYes, Gerian tore a gateway and sent them through.â€
â€œHeâ€™s after Melusine?â€ Darya dropped Taliraâ€™s hand and hurried over.
Ystelyan nodded. â€œI doubt he expects to catch her there. This is aimed at forcing the dragon lord to send her back here, where he can hunt her down at leisure.â€ He rose to his feet. â€œWeâ€™ll let the dragon lord deal withÂ this incursion, I want you to get to Melusine before Gerianâ€™s Alrari do.â€
Rilletta shifted in Ystelyanâ€™s lap and looked up at him. â€œTheyâ€™ll probably gate back into Waldhafen, love. I donâ€™t think another raid there would be wise right now. Estara-miria was too surprised to respond last time, but she wouldnâ€™t stand for another raid into territory she claims.â€
â€œHmm, and it would be bad for the city as well.â€ He gave her a thoughtful look. â€œYou have a thought, Ril?â€
â€œI do, but itâ€™s risky.â€
Dariad had been reading inÂ his chambers when the highly agitated lightning imp flew through the wall and hovered between him and the book. He frowned at it. Imps had no mind of their own, so its darting movements betrayed its senderâ€™s distress. That would be Valeria, of course, which did not bode well.
â€œCome on then.â€ He held his hand out and the Imp landed on it. The scene he saw when he absorbed it sent the book tumbling to floor and him running for the door. Hreid was on guard in the antechamber and looked up in surprise as Dariad jerked the door open and rushed in.
â€œYour majesty?â€ he asked.
â€œWake Brita. Tell her to get rooms ready for Valeria, Alban and the Light Warrior. Theyâ€™ll be here within hours. Possibly little Salia as well thoughÂ I donâ€™t hold out much hope. Iâ€™m going to talk to Alaryia.â€
â€œYour majesty?â€ Hried asked again.
â€œIâ€™ll explain later! I need to talk to Alaryia first.â€ He rushed out gesturing to the two young guards in the corridor to attend him. Both looked baffled but fell into step behind him without complaint.
While day and night had little meaning underground, especially underground in a dark zone, Caerduâ€™s people did follow a schedule of sorts. The tunnels and passages were quiet at this time and they reached the door of the goblinsâ€™ chambers quickly.
His knocking brought a young male goblin to the door. The boy betrayed the speaker half of his ancestry only by the few feathers that grew mixed in with his hair. He blinked up at Dariad blearily and wiped the sleep from his eyes. â€œYour majesty?â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry to wake you, but I need to speak with Ambassador Alaryia urgently,â€ he said.
â€œDariad?â€ Alaryia appeared from one of the rooms. She was shrugging on a robe. â€œIs there a problem?â€
â€œNo, yes.â€ He took a breath and then plunged ahead. â€œCan you make the antidote to dragon venom?â€
Her eyes widened slightly. â€œI can, but Iâ€™ll need some information to create the right one. Youâ€™dÂ better come in and tell me whatâ€™s happened.Â Ekrian, fetch my case.â€ She ruffled the young goblinâ€™s hair and gently pushed him towards the door sheâ€™d just entered through. She looked back at Dariad. â€œPlease, your majesty, come in.â€
She led him into one of the rooms which had been turned into a sitting room of sorts and placed a kettle on the fire..
â€œWeâ€™ll have better accommodation for you again soon.â€ He told her. â€œWeâ€™ve got some space, now that weâ€™ve banished the people behind the riot.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry about it.â€ She took the large red leather case that Ekrian had just brought back with him and opened it to reveal rows of glass tubes. Some were filled with herbs, others with powdered minerals, while still more contained different coloured fluids he suspected were goblin, or possibly even dragon, blood. â€œSo tell me whatâ€™s happened.” She selected one ofÂ the tubes and measured some herbs from it into the kettle. They gave off a strange warm smell.
â€œI received an imp from Valeria just before I came here,â€ he began, then told her what the imp had shown him.
â€œRed eyes?â€ she said softly. Her expression was determinedly neutral butÂ she couldnâ€™t quite hide the slight tightening of her lips and eyes.
â€œYes, I thought dragons always had green eyes, but definitely red.â€
â€œMost do. There are exactly twelve dragons who donâ€™t.â€
Dariad felt his mouth fall open and snapped it shut.Â â€œHe was one of the first twelve?â€
She nodded but didnâ€™t elaborate. Instead, she selected a tube of yellow powder and upended it into the kettle, which responded by making a strange whining noise and releasing a cloud of yellow vapour. Then she picked up one of the tubes of liquid and swirled it about before tutting at it. â€œThereâ€™s not quite enough. Ekrian, go wake Iryia. Tell her I need some of her blood.â€ She looked Dariad. â€œThis isÂ going to be close. I can make the antidote with no problem, but it’ll only help if they get her here in time.â€