Daniel stopped outside the door and stared at Rilletta. The renegade Haltia was leaning casually against the wall, not far from his chamber. He probably shouldnâ€™t be surprised – sheâ€™d made it clear that her delegationâ€™s true purpose was to protect Mela from Gerian. He should have expected that theyâ€™d be keeping an eye on her, but he hadnâ€™t expected it to be so blatant. Rilletta wasnâ€™t even trying to conceal herself and seemed quite comfortable with the glares she was receiving from the occasional speaker still abroad at this timeÂ of night.
He almost turned and went back into his room, but Ebona would look after Mela and Rilletta posed no threat to her at the moment. The truce sheâ€™d sworn to saw to that. And he really did need to clear his head, and check on his mother. So he contented himself with glaring at her as he passed. Rilletta just cocked her head at him and smiled softly.
He clenched his fists and ground his teeth. She was mocking him! And he couldnâ€™t wipe the smile off her face without breaching the truce and allowing them to fight back. He had a distinct feeling that would be bad. Ystelyan would have sent capable fighters on such a mission, after all. So he nodded stiffly to her and carried on walking, quickening his step as he headed for the large ramp which lead up to the quarters the Council had assigned to his mother.
His motherâ€™s chambers were particularly fine, encompassing an entire house which stood admidst the branches of one of the large trees that surrounded Waldhafenâ€™s great hall. Daniel had suspected it was out of fear of his father, but they insisted that it was more to do with respect for her sister.Â Which was stupid, because his mother had no siblings.
Now he knocked on the door of the tree house and then pushed the door open. The main chamber was deserted, but it was the middle of the night. She was probably asleep, so he crept towards the bedroom in an attempt not to disturb her. Then jumped as her voice sounded in his mind.
Weâ€™re on the balcony, Dan. Come on up – quietly. His motherâ€™s mental touch was as tired as sheâ€™d looked that afternoon, but it had a confidence behind it which told him that she knew how to use her mind.
He climbed up to the ramp to the upper floor of the tree house and walked quietly towards the doors to the terrace balcony that looked out of the city. He was about to push them open, but froze when he heard his fatherâ€™s voice.
Yes, stay there. Heâ€™s being a stubborn pain again, she said.Â But Sal and I think you need to hear this.
â€œI know youâ€™re mad at me, Sal, but I do have reasons for what Iâ€™m doing,â€ his father was saying. â€œJust let me explain.â€
â€œOh, Iâ€™m mad at you all right.â€ That was Sarah Tylerâ€™s voice. â€œBut not over this Dragon Lord nonsense. Iâ€™m perfectly aware what happened two years ago as well. Jay was there too, remember. Iâ€™m not sure this is the wisest response, in fact I think youâ€™re being bloody stupid, but I do understand your reasoning. You should have stuck to Dragons though. There were other ways to deal with that situation at Elapyron City.â€ There was a pause. â€œNo, Iâ€™m mad that you let me, Lucas and Jay think our sister and our nieces and nephews were dead!â€
Daniel barely managed not to squeak at that. What the hell?!
â€œAh, yes, well…”
â€œFor Godâ€™s sake, Matt, did you really think weâ€™d tell the Lavernes she was alive?â€
Matt? That wasnâ€™t his fatherâ€™s name… except hadnâ€™t his mother nearly used that name for him earlier?
â€œNo, I know youÂ detest them as much as I do,â€ his father replied. â€œBut the more people there are in on a secret the more likely it is to leak out accidentally. Not even the kids know, well Karen does. I told her before I sent her to Brierthorne. She had to know not to mention she had siblings. Quadruplets are rare enough that it would have raised suspicions. Not only would that put Sonia back in danger. I have a feeling all four of them are resonant, like their mother.â€
â€œThat wouldnâ€™t surprise me,â€ Sarah said.Â â€œDoes Karen know youâ€™re the Dragon Lord?â€
â€œIf she does, itâ€™s not because I told her. Sheâ€™s clever enough to work it out though, and who Dan-â€ He broke off with a sigh. â€œYou… Come out, Daniel. I know youâ€™re out there.â€
Daniel pushed open the door and walked on to the balcony. Sarah Tyler, Birke, a white haired haltia he didnâ€™t know and a human teen who looked to be about eighteen were there along with his parents.
â€œYou werenâ€™t supposed to hear any of that. I should know when a Keefe gets an idea theyâ€™ll find some way to make it happen. I really shouldnâ€™t have married one.â€
â€œAh, but you love me anyway.â€ Sonia smirked at him. She was sitting in a chair with a blanket wrapped around her. She already looked better than she had that afternoon and her eyes were clearer than heâ€™d ever seen them. â€œAnd this is growing to be a pointless secret, Matt. Itâ€™s clear the Lavernes are on to us.â€
â€œWell someone is,â€ he sighed. â€œThis isnâ€™t really the Laverneâ€™s style.â€ He looked at Daniel. â€œBut I should probably introduce you. You know Sarah and Birke already; this is your Uncle Jason. Heâ€™s the Sound Warrior and this is his heart friend Caoilainn.â€ He gestured to the strange teen and the haltia who was perched on the edge of the balcony. â€œTheyâ€™re also friends of Karen.â€
â€œCall me Jason.â€ The boy offered his hand. â€œIâ€™m what, two years older than you? Calling me Uncle would be just a bit stupid.â€
Daniel shook Jasonâ€™s hand and nodded to Caoilainn, before looking back at his father. â€œNow do you want to tell me what the hell is going on?â€