Daniel really wanted to ask more questions but there was no denying the wisdom of his motherâ€™s words. He was tired and sleep would help him assimilate their answers better, so he made his way back down the stairs towards his rooms. Rilletta was still loitering not far away from the door, but he was tired enough that he only gave her a token glare before he went into his room and shut the door.
At some point while he was out, Mela had climbed out of the bath and dressed herself in the clothes his father had given her. She was curled up fast asleep on the bracken with her head lying on Ebonaâ€™s side.
â€œShe said she couldnâ€™t get comfortable in the bath,â€ Ebona said. â€œBut she was lying, even to herself I think.. She just didnâ€™t feel safe and wanted some physical contact to make her feel better.â€
â€œAh,â€ he said. â€œI just had a most illuminating conversation with my parents.â€ He sat down on the bed and mentally replayed it for Ebona.
â€œThatâ€™s disturbing,â€ Ebona said. â€œI think I want to talk to this Jason, hear what he told you from his own lips.â€
Daniel looked at her sharply. â€œYou think he was lying?â€
â€œNo, almost certainly not. But Iâ€™d like to be sure. Accusing the Core of – um – malfunctioning is not a thing to be taken lightly-â€ She broke off at the sound of a light tap at the door.
â€œWha-â€ Daniel opened the door to find Avellena and Weide standing there. â€œCouncillors?â€
â€œMay we come in? We wish to talk with you privately.â€ Weide cast a meaningful glance at Rilletta who just nodded in return.
â€œOf course.â€ Daniel stood aside and let the two Dryads enter. â€œHow may I help you?â€
Weide took a breath. â€œThe Council have been talking with your father and Sarah. We feel it’s necessary to inform the other communities of what is happening. Will you release us from our promise not to reveal your identity?â€
â€œI…â€ Daniel stared at them. That was one request he hadnâ€˜t been expecting. Though perhaps he should have been. â€œI donâ€™t know… is it really necessary?â€
â€œWell, we can work around that bit of the story if we need to, I guess.â€ Avellena sounded dubious. â€œBut itâ€™ll be obvious weâ€™re omitting something, and I think your siblings need to know that you arenâ€™t their enemy.â€
â€œAnd if my father is right, Karen will work it out anyway.â€ He chewed thoughtfully on his lip. â€œBut Iâ€™ve made enemies and they may decide to use the others against me.â€
â€œKaren does need to know that the traitor is still alive, Daniel,â€ Ebona said. â€œHe seemed to have an interest in her, and Iâ€™ll bet that she thinks heâ€™s dead. Even a momentary lapse from shock could prove fatal in a fight.â€
Daniel winced. â€œThatâ€™s a very good point, Eb. Dad will probably warn her himself, but once he does theyâ€™ll know everything anyway.â€ He looked back at the dryads. â€œVery well, I release you from your promise. I just hope that no one tries to use them against me.â€
â€œTheyâ€™ll probably be too busy panicking over your fatherâ€™s identity,â€ Avellena said. â€œMatthias was your predecessor and helped recreate the guardian system. If he really meant us any harm…â€
â€œThat is worrisome,â€ Ebona agreed. â€œBut I donâ€™t think heâ€™d do that. It would help the dragons too much.â€
â€œIâ€™m sure you are right,â€ Avellena agreed. â€œI also think that you can safely trust him to look after Mela. If you really donâ€™t want to trust him, have you considered asking Sarah?â€
â€œThat… thatâ€™s actually not a bad idea.â€ Daniel glanced out at the lightening sky. â€œIâ€™ll talk to her after Iâ€™ve slept.â€
Weide gave a soft laugh. â€œI think thatâ€™s a hint for us to get out and let him sleep, Av.â€
Kyle and Darya were with Ystelyan when Rillettaâ€™s imp flew into the throne room. It was doing acrobatic little flips which suggested that its creatrix was in a good mood when she made it.
â€œI guess things are going well,â€ Kyle said.
â€œWell, Rill certainly thinks they are,â€ Ystelyan agreed as he held out his hand to the imp and absorbed it. Then he chuckled. â€œOh thatâ€™s clever, Rill, very clever.â€
â€œWhatâ€™s she done?â€
â€œShe introduced a water imp into the sap of the trees of Waldhafen and set it to watch Melusine when she canâ€™t. Itâ€™s harmless so it doesnâ€™t breach the truce. It just overheard an interesting conversation between the Dark Warrior and two of the councillors. Tell me, do you think the Life Warrior could protect Melusine?â€
â€œDoctor Tyler?â€ Kyle frowned. â€œWell, sheâ€™s pretty strong and very skilled. Itâ€™s entirely possible she could, unless Gerian went after her himself. If she takes Melusine to Earth thatâ€™s unlikely. You and the others will dogpile him if he goes there himself.â€
â€œHmm… and he knows that. Rillâ€™s right, this could work.â€