Lydia? Lydia, can you hear me?
â€œHmm?â€ Lydia opened her eyes slowly and looked up at the vaulted wooden ceiling. â€œIâ€™m dreaming?â€ She frowned as she tried to recall what happened. â€œKaren knocked me out?â€ She looked at the woman kneeling beside her. It was the silver-eyed woman from her memory. â€œYou! Youâ€™re my teacher!â€ She stared at the flames licking round her.Â â€œWhat are you?â€
â€œI am indeed. I thought it was time we talked properly. I need to find out why youâ€™re having such trouble accessing your lessons. I set them up to be remembered if you needed them, my ilsria.â€ The flames died round the woman to reveal silvery blonde hair and pale skin. Together with her eyes they gave her startling resemblence to Alayria. â€œI am Feliaria of the Kithreiri – which means nothing to you, I expect. Are you in Talonyka?â€
â€œWhere?â€ Lydia asked. â€What did you call me?â€
â€œIlsria? It means student,â€ she said. â€œAre you in another world? One with lots of mythical creatures?â€
â€œThatâ€™s good. What are the Kinstrari up to this time to get you summoned?â€
â€œThe wh-â€ Lydia began but then realised she knew the answer. It was what her teacherâ€˜s people called… â€œThe dragons? IÂ donâ€™t know. We seem to spend more time avoiding being killed by Speakers than anything.â€ She gave her teacher a long look. â€œYouâ€™re the same race as them, arenâ€™t you?â€
â€œClever girl, Iâ€™ve never told you that. Yes, the original Kinstrari started out as Kithreiri. They can breed the normal way but they still like to raid our home, steal our children and convert them.â€ She reached out and touched Lydiaâ€™s temples. â€œLet me in, I need to see whatâ€™s blocking you.â€
â€œErr… how?â€ Lydia asked.
â€œJust relax and clear your mind, Iâ€™ll do the rest.â€
Lydia closed her eyes and started to try and still her mind. She should probably be more cautious, but she trusted her teacher. The dreams had been a fixture in her life for as long as she could remember. She counted her heartbeat until it was all she could hear. Silver fire shimmered through her mind, silencing even that. The last thing she heard before unconsciousness took her was her teacherâ€™s voice in her mind.
There we go, I think I cleared it. Iâ€™m leaving you a gift. It wonâ€™t be much help against the Speakers but it should help against Dragons.
She woke to find Eyvindr shaking her. Andrew was kneeling on the other side of her looking frantic.
â€œHuh?â€ she said, then sat bolt upright as the details of her dream came back to her in a vivid detail theyâ€™d never had before. SheÂ gasped in a breath and looked at her hands. Whatever Feliaria had done must have worked – she felt like a wall in mind had gone.
â€œAre you okay?â€ Andrew was talking so fast he almost seemed to trip over his words. â€œKarenâ€™s gone and the rest of us woke up together, but you wouldnâ€™t wake up, and then you burst into flames…â€
Lydia stuck a hand up to calm him. â€œIâ€™m fine. I was talk… Wait! I what?â€
â€œBurst into flames,â€ he repeated.Â â€œThe same colour as your cloak.â€
â€œIt didnâ€™t last very long,â€ Eyvindr added. â€œThey died down just before you woke up.â€
â€œI told them not to worry,â€ Bennu said. â€œI knew you were all right. But I couldnâ€™t touch your mind and whatâ€™s this?â€ He tapped something on her wrist with his beak and Lydia looked down. Nestled against her heart bracelet was a second bracelet. A silvery circle in which she could see flames dancing.
â€œWhat the hell?!â€ she exclaimed.
â€œThis is very strange.â€ Kimi sniffed at the bracelet cautiously. â€œI have no idea what it is. But if weâ€™re where I think we are thereâ€™s someone nearby who might be able to help. I was going to suggest we called on him on the way to Caerdu, but getting arrested intervened.â€
â€œWell, we could certainly do with some help,â€ Lydia conceded. â€œWe would have been toast in that fight if not for Karen, and sheâ€™s not here now. Who is this person?â€
â€I nearly was.â€ Kimi nosed at her side where a section of her fur had been singed off, but the hide beneath was uninjured. â€œSomeone healed me. I know it was worse than this. And heâ€™s my mentor. Heâ€™s a Night Gryphon, my pride sent me to him when I was just a cub. Iâ€™m sure weâ€™re near his lair and I think he could help me and Bennu become stronger. Possibly you as well. Heâ€™ll certainly put us up for a few days while we plan our next move.â€