Yemi was dangling her legs in the pool and watching the glowing fish dart around lighting the depths when Kyle and Darya rejoined her. Malisia was sitting by her and they were talking quietly.
Kyle cleared his throat to get their attention and both girls looked around at them.
“I like your friend,” Malisia said. “She’s clever, if a bit jumpy.”
“You’d be jumpy in her situation, Mal,” Darya said mildly. “I was jumpy when I first came here, remember? And I came here willingly.”
“I know,” Malisia said softly. “I wasn’t criticising her.”
“I see.” Darya sat down by Yemi. “How are you doing?”
Yemi gave him a tremulous smile and looked back into the depths. When she finally did speak it wasn’t to answer the question.
“It’s true that the first dragons are like walking affinity zones then?” she asked.
“Er?” Darya said.
Yemi gave a rather strained chuckle. “There shouldn’t be this much water in what feels like an Earth affinity area, so it has to be his presence doing it.”
“Oh! Of course!” Darya nodded. “Yes, that’s because of Ystelyan. I wouldn’t quite call him a walking affinity zone though. The effect only works in the Reaches. The heartlands are too stable to shift much without conscious effort.”
“And it’s important out here,” Malisia added.
Yemi narrowed her eyes at that. “Important? Why? Oh! It reinforces the Reaches against disintegration?”
Malisia clapped her hands in delight. “Yes! You’re quick!”
Yemi looked as if she might say something more so Kyle cleared his throat again. Darya looked around at him.
“I know,” he said. He took Yemi’s hands again. “We’ll be dropping you and the others off near Waldhafen tomorrow morning if you feel up to it.”
“Waldhafen?” She frowned at him. “Why there? It’s a long way from the Storm Palace.”
“Queen Valeria is at Waldhafen, some sort of council,” Kyle replied. “After what happened, she’s locked the Storm Palace down until she returns.”
“Ah! Of course. Then, yes I feel up to it. All these dragons are making me nervous.” Her eyes darted to where Talira stood just outside the door. “No offense.”
Talira shot her a smile. “None taken.”
Yemi looked back down into the lake. “Do you think he would mind if I went for a swim here?” A jerk of her head upwards towards the palace proper indicated that she meant Ystelyan.
Darya chuckled. “Of course he wouldn’t.”
Mela couldn’t believe how hungry she was. She got through two large platters of meat before she felt even remotely close to satisfied. When she’d done she laid her head on the table and groaned. Her head still had that not quite a headache fog feeling and she just wanted to sleep some more.
Ebona nuzzled at her. “You’re not feeling any better are you?”
Mela shook her head. “Worse,” she mumbled.
“Stay with her,” Ishleen said. “She shouldn’t still be like this, especially not in a life affinity zone.Â I’m going to get one of the healers to take a look at her.”
“I’m just sleepy.” Mela just closed her eyes and let herself drift. She barely noticed when Ishleen returned with with a young dryad, though she paid more attention when a mossy pillow was shoved under her head and the frowning healer said she was going to get Sarah and Birke because this was beyond her. Mela lifted her head slightly and scowled at her. “I’m fine, I just need some more rest. No need to worry people.”
“You are not fine,” the dryad replied with some exasperation. “You shouldn’t still be this tired from and it doesn’t look like you hurt yourself when you took the shield down, so I’m at a loss. But I don’t think rest is the answer – at least not on its own.”
Mela wanted to protest more but it obviously would do no good. She laid her head back down on the pillow and waited.
She must have fallen fully asleep before they returned because the next thing she knew, someone was picking her up. She opened her eyes to find Daniel had hefted her in his arms. He looked over at Sarah Tyler.
“Back to my room?” he asked.
Sarah shook her head. “Mine, please. I want to monitor her condition pretty much constantly until I know what’s going on.”
“What’s wrong with me?” Mela asked blearily. Her stomach rumbled and sheÂ scowled. “I can’t be hungry again. I only just ate.”
Sarah laid a cool hand on her forehead. “I’m not sure, but whatever it is you’re not well. And that was a couple of hours ago.”
“What!” The surprise woke Mela up completely for a moment. “I’ve been asleep on the table for two hours?”
“Or thereabouts,” Sarah said. “It took me that long to be sure moving you wouldn’t make it worse. Now, shh, we’ll get you into bed until a pool can be arranged and get you some more to eat.”