â€œWelcome, Dark Warrior. Miridan has spoken to me of your quest to warn us of your fatherâ€™s plans,â€ she who had been Elaranor said when Daniel entered her dimly sanctum. What remained of the Guardianâ€™s physical form after her transformation crackled in a pillar of multi-coloured lightning at the heart of the chamber. â€œYou may approach me, Iâ€™m not going to strike you down by accident. You too,Â Mela and Ebona.â€
Daniel blinked. Miridan had warned him to keep his distance immediately. He didnâ€™t realise Elaranor could hear what he was thinking behind his screen until silvery laughter filled the air around him.
â€œWell, he is the Death Guardian. You get too close and his aura will kill you just because you touched it,â€ she said. â€œ Iâ€™ve managed to get most of the story from him, but I suspect it was a little garbled. Miridan has a hard time remembering how to understand people.â€ She paused. â€œAnd things have changed since you spoke to him, anyway, havenâ€™t they?â€
â€œIs that why he kept telling me to visit you? Because he was having trouble understanding me?â€
â€œIndeed. Mir always did have an admirable recognition of his own flaws.â€ Her laughter surrounded him again. â€œThey call me the Communicator for a reason, Dark Warrior. I retained better self-control and more comprehension of those who are not like us than most of the others. Indirian does well enough, of course. But then not even our transformation can shatter the bond between heart friends, so heâ€™s still linked to your father. That grounds him somewhat.â€ A chair grew out of the ground behind Daniel. â€œAnd speaking of your father, why donâ€™t you sit down and tell me all about it?â€
â€œThank you.â€ Daniel composed himself in his seat. â€œIâ€™m honestly not sure I need to warn you about my father any more. He seems to have been lying to us. But I do think you need to be warned about his deputy Jayden Emms. I think Dadâ€™s playing him for some reason but my gut is saying it could all go horribly wrong.â€
â€œSounds quite possible. Matthias is clever, but sometimes heâ€™s too clever for his own good and it backfires. Your father, like his heart friend, tends to overestimate his chess playing skills, Daniel. May I call you Daniel?â€
â€œYou may,â€ he said, then continued. â€œFor as long as I can remember, my father has claimed Earth is ruled by a conspiracy of mages which has deliberately suppressed the innate magical capabilities of the vast majority of humans by making them dependent on magical artifacts – falsely claimed to be technology – to do things they could do on their own.â€
â€œAnd by magical capabilities he means abilities like those your family has?â€
â€œYes, but-â€ he broke off as a shout of laughter filled the air.
â€œI know enough about Gaia to know thatâ€™s exactly the sort of conclusion a wild Astral might come to if they uncovered certain facts without context,â€ she said. â€œBut your father isnâ€™t wild. He knows better than to believe that, so I suspect youâ€™re right heâ€™s playing his wild followers, for some perceived advantage.â€ There was a pause. â€œAstrals do tend to group together for mutual self-protection and companionship, but they donâ€™t rule your world, and they certainly donâ€™t conspire to keep non-Astrals unpowered. They donâ€™t need to. The technology bit I donâ€™t know enough about to say for sure but I kind of doubt that as well. You think this Jayden Emms believes it?â€
â€œHe seems to.â€ Ebona dipped her head to touch her horn to the floor. â€œThough some of what he told us was oddly phrased.â€
â€œWhen I was just a foal my mother taught me to recognise potential circumlocutions in what people say to me. He was implying things without outright saying them. When people do that to a unicorn theyâ€™re often trying to avoid lying. What he said they were planning though, I know that was true. I donâ€™t think the Dragon Lord intends to go through with it, but Iâ€™m sure Jayden Emms does. And once that thing heâ€™s building goes active…â€ she trailed off.
Daniel nodded. â€œEmms is a geokinetic, a strong one. Heâ€™s the one who knocked the walls down at Elapyron City, apparently. Heâ€™s designing some sort of machine – he calls it an artifact – that will allow other people to control collared dragons and speakers.â€ He narrowed his eyes. â€œAnd now that I think about it, Iâ€™m not sure Dad knows about it.â€
â€œAnd once he has them, what does he intend to do with them?â€
â€œIntend? He intends to gather an army and use it to liberate Earth. Heâ€™s got Speaker support as well. Heâ€™s pitching it as getting rid of the dragons once and for all. Heâ€™s also saying that a liberated Earth with a dragon army would have enough magical firepower that it wouldnâ€™t need to enslave Speakers to defend itself-â€
â€œWhich means heâ€™s aware of that messy piece of ancient history,â€ Elaranor interrupted. â€œHow he can possibly mesh the idea that all humans had magic in the past with what happened back then, I donâ€™t know. Even before then most humans didnâ€™t have powers.â€ She paused. â€œIt might just work to get rid of the dragons, except how does he intend to feed them all? Thereâ€™s a reason your father has been fairly restrained about how many dragons heâ€™s enslaved, I think. Keeping an army of dragons would be a logistical nightmare. I think Iâ€™ll talk to Indirian. Matthias is more likely to listen to a warning about this Emms person from him.â€
â€œIâ€™m going to talk to Dad as well.â€ Daniel agreed.
â€œGood.â€ A strand of lightning reached out and coiled around Melaâ€™s head. The mergirl flinched back and Elaranor gave a reassuring hum. â€œStop that, child. Iâ€™m not going to hurt you. I heard Matthias tell Sarah that a dragon did something to you and I want to see if I can work out what it is.â€