January 7th, 2011 | Published in Dragon Wars
The chamber the council had provided for their deliberations looked newly grown. The branches of the tallest tree in Waldhafen had been elongated and woven into an elegant chamber with room for all the participants, and when she stroked the living leaves that made up the carpeting Valeria could feel the strength of the secrecy wards.
“Very good.” She took her seat and looked around at the others. The Council of Waldhafen were already seated and had brought Linnea, Yvo and Arava with them.
“More than satisfactory,” Matthias agreed. He nodded to the Councillors. “If it is all right with our hosts, let us begin.”
“We’re ready,” Weide said. “Do we need to wait for the Air and Ice Warriors and Songstress Lorelei?”
“They’ll be along presently,” he replied. “We can begin without them.”
“The first order of business is to decide exactly what to discuss, I suppose,” Chiara said from her perch.
“What do you think, Val?” Dariad looked over at her. “When you suggested this you mentioned that you’d been reminded that we could still inconvenience Dragons. What did you mean?”
Valeria tapped her tongue against her teeth. “We can’t fight them but we can use them against themselves. The Thunderbirds carrying me and Alban to the eyrie used a dive and split maneuver to trick one of the red ones into crashing into the ground. Knocked it out cold.”
“Not bad!” Sarah said. “Finding ways to trick the enemy into harming itself is a good plan.”
“And we should come up with a training regime for your soldiers,” Matthias said. “Dragons often use goblin foot soldiers and you can fight them.”
“We should also organise protection for Arava and any other young heart friends we can find,” Valeria said. “If this Gerian is seeking them out for some reason, we want to stop that.” She looked over at the Councillors. “I guess you had the same thought?”
“We did.” Weide smiled at Arava dozing in her mother’s lap.
“I thought so. Then we need to get Salia back.” She paused and blinked back tears. “But how are we going to rescue to Salia from him? Karen would have died without that goblin’s help.”
“We’ll figure something out, Val.” Dariad reached over and squeezed her upper arm.
“We need to work out where he’s keeping her first,” Sarah said. “And then we need to decoy him away from there long enough to get her out of there. We can probably handle his underlings, but if we can decoy some of them away all the better.”
“Sarah! You’re talking about slipping through Dragon Territory, invading one of their central courts and escaping without alerting them,” Jason exclaimed. “It’s never been done.”
“Doesn’t mean it can’t be done, but something else is bothering me,” Matthias said. “If he’s gathering Speaker heart friends he must be intending to grab their human heart friends at some point as well, but what does he intend to do with them? He hasn’t got their bracelets.”
“Yeah, and you haven’t got yours,” Sarah said. “I’ve been meaning to ask how you’re using your power without falling over? Maybe he knows the same trick?”
“That’s to do with Indirian’s current state,” he said. “It changed the nature of the bond somehow. It’s nothing he could mimic.”
“Oh, sweet Lord!” Karen exclaimed. All the blood had drained from her face.
“What’s wrong,” Alban asked.
“I just realised. When he caught me after that troll threw me at the wall, Kyle wasn’t wearing his bracelet.”
“You know,” Daniel said after a moment. “I don’t recall seeing a bracelet when he fought me either.”
There was silence for a few moments and then Matthias sighed heavily.
“So Ystelyan has a way around the energy drain, and if he does it’s a fair bet the other first dragons know it as well. That’s a problem.”
“No, it just brings us back to where we were before, we have to find them before he does,” Valeria said. “It won’t be easy, but we can do it.”
“It’ll be harder to find the humans,” Matthias said. “And there’s nothing to say he can’t use them on their own.”
“Perhaps he already has,” Karen said thoughtfully.
“Of course,” Valeria buried her face in her hands. “The Dragon Knights. But if they were warriors he never went after their heart friends.”
“That we know of. It bears consideration.” Matthias looked at Karen, Jason and their Heart Friends. “Could you four put your heads together later and make a list of everything you remember about the Dragon Knights ages and Affinities? If they were Warrior it should be possible to track down their heart friends. They may know something”
“Sure thing!” Karen said. They scooted down to one end of the table, away from the others, and began talking quietly.
“So, Salia,” Sarah said. “Do you think any of the dragons that you’re holding would know where he’s keeping her, Matt?”
“It’s possible. I’ve not actually got any reds but as I recall he has borders with the silvers and blues and I have both of those. In the first instance I think I’ll talk to Halia, she’s the most talkative of them without being forced.”
“The dragon who can supposedly heal? Sarah asked.
“There’s no supposedly about it, Sal,” he replied. “And no I don’t understand it either.” He rose to his feet. “I’ll go and talk to her. We need some intelligence before we can plan a proper rescue, but I’d rather not have her here.”