Valeria took a deep breath and knocked on the door of the treehouse where Matthias was staying with his family. She had meant to do this earlier, but things had moved too quickly. She spent the moments while she was waiting for the door to open trying to erase the lip chewing and other little signs which would give away how nervous she was.
“Your majesty!” Lydia looked cheerful when she opened the door. “Come in! Are you here to see Alban? I’ll go and get him.”
“Actually, I wanted to speak with your father,” Valeria said. “I should have done it earlier.”
“Oh, right! I was just talking with him myself.” The girl gave another cheerful grin. “Come on.” She lead Valeria through the moss-carpeted treehouse to a study, where Matthias was sitting in an armchair sipping something from a mug. Another mug sat by the empty chair. Lydia cleared her throat and he looked up. “Dad, Queen Valeria is here to see you.”
“Val! Come in!” Another chair scraped across the floor to join the other two. “And stop looking so nervous. I’m not mad at you.”
“Are you sure? I shouldn’t have…” she trailed off.
“Gone off the deep end like that?” he asked. “Possibly not, but your husband was murdered by humans and your son couldn’t explain what had happened with Kyle and Darya. It’s understandable, especially since you were being pushed.” He put his mug down. “Where did you meet that troll anyway?”
“I met him-” Valeria stopped and scowled. “I don’t remember. He just always seems to have been around, even when I was a child, but now that I think about it something’s wrong with that.”
“Hmm… He definately wasn’t around when you were a child. I’d remember that. It sounds like he used his mind affinity to make you believe you were older friends than you thought,” he said. “You should let Lucas have a look. He might have left other stuff in there.”
“That’s not a bad idea,” she agreed. “I’ll talk to him tomorrow. Was the dragon you were going to question able to give you any insights about where they’d be keeping Salia?”
“Some. I got the feeling that Silvers and Reds don’t get along. She said that the border is hotly contested and her mother’s court has been gaining some ground since the Warriors killed or at least dissapated a good chunk of Gerian’s best followers two years ago. That in itself seems like a good thing since it means less to fight now, but how the hell we’re going to decoy this Gerian I don’t know.”
“We’ll work something out, Dad,” Lydia said.
“Are you sure she was telling you the truth?” Valeria said.
“She can’t lie to me, Val,” he said. “The collar won’t let her. Which worries me sometimes, because she actually seems to care about the patients I assign her.”
“As I understand healing, she’d have to,” Valeria said.
He nodded. “That’s why Sarah doesn’t believe it. I think I’ll have to show-” he broke off as a tiny, weak looking lightning imp flew in through the window and flew to Valeria. It was flickering and looked like it might fade away at any moment. “Who?”
Valeria’s mouth went dry. “S-salia?” She held out her hand to it. “It’s Salia’s. How did she sneak this out?”
“No wonder it’s so weak then,” he said. “You’d better absorb it before it fades.”
“Yes.” Valeria absorbed the imp, she let out a sigh of relief since Salia was obviously well then gasped as the import of the message struck her.
“What is it?” Matthias asked. “Is she okay?”
Valeria just nodded, too startled to speak for the moment. Her mind raced through the images several times before she felt ready to explain. “She’s fine, but I- my poor little moppet is worried I’ll be angry with her.” She shook her head. “And she didn’t sneak it out. They let her send it.”
“Why would they do that?” he asked. “Show us?”
“Apparently because she was sad.” Valeria projected the images the imp had carried to the other two. “I’d never really thought about dragon children before. But that little girl… I’m not surprised Salia likes her.”
“Yes, and I don’t think it’s fake.” He sounded disturbed. “You should send a reply. Reassure Salia you aren’t mad at her… but don’t tell her about the rescue plan. That dragon woman will probably be monitoring the messages. Then I think we should talk to the others.”
“She was going to bed. I’ll send it in the morning. But yes, we should talk to the others.”
He emptied his mug and rose to his feet. “We’ll have to finish our conversation later, Lyd. Do you mind?”
She shook her head. “This is more important.”
“Good. Come on then. Sonia and the others are on the balcony upstairs.”