The silence dragged out uncomfortably. Ema frowned at them thoughtfully but made no move to draw her weapons, so Kyle waited.
“I didn’t think the blue dragons got along with the purple ones,” she said finally.
Kyle blinked. He hadn’t expected that response, nor the calm way she said it. “Y-you don’t seem shocked?”
“I’m not stupid, Kyle.” Ema rolled her eyes. “The Core tried to kill you and you’re alive. I know enough to know there’s only two ways you could have survived that, and one of the first twelve intervening is by far the more likely. I was surprised to sense you ahead of me, but it didn’t take long to work out what it meant.”
“But you’re not ang… Wait, what do you mean two ways?”
Ema gave an enigmatic smile, but didn’t respond to that. “No, I’m not angry. It’s understandable, and I’ve been studying and I’ve learned some interesting stuff. But still, you’re dressed in blue and this is purple territory?”
Kyle narrowed his eyes at her. What do you think? he asked Darya.
Tell her. It can’t do any harm since she already knows a lot, and I want to know why she’s here as well.
Good point. Kyle agreed and then said out loud. “Ystelyan-mirian has sent us with a message for Estara-miria. But why are you here? You hate dragons.”
Ema studied him thoughtfully then sighed. “Like I said, I’ve learned a lot. I’m hoping she knows where her sister is hiding. I think she may have the final answers I need.”
“Er?” Kyle stared at her, nonplussed.
Ema grinned at him. “I went to silver territory to ask the first dragon about the making of the Core. Her chief lieutenant – who isn’t a dragon – said she was away, but wouldn’t say where. I thought her twin sister might know.”
“Er?” Kyle was even more nonplussed by that.
“There’s something very wrong with the old stories but I’m not sure what and there’s not exactly many living witnesses left.”
“If Kylissan-alran wouldn’t tell you where his miria is, I doubt my miria will,” someone said from behind him. Kyle turned and found a young dragon in human form standing on the path before them.Â The boy bowed to them. “But you’re welcome to ask her. I’ve been sent to guide Ystelyan’s messangers in, but you can come as well if you wish to seek an audience.”Â The dark-haired, coffee-skinned boy looked to be twelve or thirteen and reminded him of enough of Talira that…
“Excuse me, but is your name Virian?” Darya blurted out before Kyle could ask.
The boy’s mouth dropped open and he shut it with a snap. “Y-yes. How did you know that?”
“We know your sister,” Darya replied. “She misses you.”
“Tal is with Ystelyan-mirian?” he asked hopefully.
“She is,” Kyle said.
“Oh, thank the radiant! We were separated during our escape. I thought the bitch still had her.” He paused and the shadows tugged at them gently again. “Estara-miria is getting impatient. Tell me how Tal is while we walk.”
“As you wish,” Kyle said. He looked over at Ema. “Are you coming? It sounds like you won’t get the answers you’re after here.” He paused and considered. “Rilletta is at Waldhafen; she might be able to help you with whatever you are doing.”
“Who?” she asked.
“The River Singer,” he said. “She was-”
“Involved in making the Core, as well. Yes I know.” Ema stared thoughtfully back towards Waldhafen. “What’s she doing… Never mind, I expect you can’t tell me.” She shook her head. “I think I’ll speak with this Estara first. I’m already in her territory, so it’s a bit late to get out without being eaten if it’s going to happen.”
“We don’t eat guests,” Virian said. “As long as they don’t attack us anyway.” He eyed the goblin made hammer strapped to Ema’s back meaningfully.
Ema raised one hand to it self-consciously. “This is for defence. I’m not going to attack anyone if they don’t attack me, but I won’t give it up. I don’t trust your people yet.”
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “Too much bad blood.” His eyes crossed slightly. “Estara-miria says that she will grant you an audience and that you can keep your weapon as a gesture of good faith.”
“Thank you, I guess,” she said.
“You’re welcome to our territory, honoured earth child.” He bowed to her. “And you also, honoured water children.” He bowed again, then turned back to the path. “Please follow me.”
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