“Are you sure it’s Yemi?” Darya asked. He sounded so upset that Kyle wanted to hug him.
“Yes. She was in the last group of uncircleted combatants that were bought in,” Talira replied. “And her mind was pretty messed up. She must have fought them pretty hard when they were controlling her. Ystelyan-mirian had to step in himself to put her back together. She hasn’t stopped crying since she woke up and he got the impression she was a friend of yours. He hopes you can snap her out of it before he sends her and the other innocent ones to Waldhafen.”
“I’ll do my best,” Darya said.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Kyle asked quietly. “Perhaps we should just let them send her to Waldhafen. Your mother will look after her until her clan can be tracked down and it would probably do her some good to have someone to focus on.”
Darya shook his head resolutely. “We will, but I want to talk to her first. Yemi was always a good friend and she’s hurting.” He punched the wall furiously. “I can’t believe they did that to her. I can’t leave her in that state without trying to help.”
Kyle gave him a long look, then nodded. “I thought you’d say that. Just don’t get mad at her if she won’t listen or yells at you.”
Darya sighed deeply. “I won’t. I know she’ll probably hate me, but I can hope.” He pushed open the heavy door and slipped into his friend’s room. Kyle hesitated for a long moment before following. Talira remained outside, which was probably wise. The room was warded so Yemi wouldn’t be disturbed by the presence of the dragons.
Yemi was sitting one the floor in one corner of the elegant chamber staring at the wall. Her blue-black hair was dishevelled, in spite of the brush and comb on the nearby dresser, and tears were tickling down her pale cheeks. She seemed oblivious to the fact that she wasn’t in some horrible dungeon. A slight twitch of one pointed ear in their direction was the only indication the young asrai gave that she was aware someone had entered. But a half empty water jug and a wooden platter with the remains of two trout lay on the carpet beside her, so at least she was eating.
“Yemi?” Darya said softly.
She gave a startled cry at the sound of his voice and twisted around to face him.
“Darya?!” There were a multitude of emotions in her voice and sea-blue eyes. Shock and distress chief among them. But, Kyle was relieved to see, no anger – at least not yet. “You’re alive?”
“And you’re working for that dragon who got that troll out of my head?” She sounded confused now and her tears had been replaced by a puzzled frown.
“I- you- Why?” She shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s a long story, but Ystelyan-mirian saved my life.”
“Not that! I mean why did he expend so much time and effort to free me without hurting me and why hasn’t he eaten me? I’m not a renegade. This sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen.”
“No one’s going to eat you here,” Darya said. “Ystelyan’s a good person.”
“Right,” Yemi said sceptically then gave a little yelp and cowered back as Talira stepped into the room.
“Sorry.” Talira looked down guiltily. “I’m not going to eat you, I swear.” She turned her attention to Darya and Kyle. “Ystelyan-mirian just received an Imp from Rilletta and he’s calling for you both. He sounded worried.
“We’d better go,” Kyle said.
Darya nodded and reached out and squeezed Yemi’s hands. “I’ll talk to you later.”
Yemi clung onto his hands. “Let me come with you, please.”
“What?” He stared at her.
“I’m scared. I don’t understand what’s going on. But if these dragons aren’t bad, they won’t mind me following you. It’s not like I can do anything to them.”
“I…” Darya looked at Talira questioningly.
“I’ll ask.” Talira stepped outside the warded room for a moment then stuck her head in and nodded. “She can come but he’ll be upset if she punches any renegades or goblins, and there are some things he wants to discuss privately with you.” She gave Yemi a shrewd look. “It might be a little stressful for you waiting outside when you don’t trust us.”
“I’ll manage,” Yemi said shortly. “I don’t want to be alone. I think too much when I’m alone.”
It made a sort of sad sense to Kyle. Darya obviously felt the same way, because he kept hold of one of Yemi’s hands even as he wrapped an arm around Talira’s shoulders. “Come on then.”