Linnea and Yvo were still looking slightly shell-shocked from their conversation with Valeria the next morning. Linnea was clutching Arava tightly as they waited with the others for Karen to open the gate to Earth.
“A-are you really sure we can trust him?” Yvo asked very quietly as he checked through the pile of their possessions, which Valeria’s guards had managed to find where Maran had dumped them.
Lydia supposed that he was talking about their father. She wanted to say yes, but she wasn’t sure that she could. Not after finding out how long he’d been lying to them – even if it was to protect them.
“I trust him,” Valeria said. “Even if I am going to yell at him loudly when I see him. He should have told me.” Her shoulder’s slumped. “I’ve made a total idiot of myself, because I didn’t know what was really going on.”
“I don’t think he wanted us to know, Val,” Dariad said. “He wanted our reactions to be natural so as not to raise suspicions. He’s only tipped his hand now because his son got hurt.” He looked at Yvo and Linnea. “But yes, I think we can trust him. He can get caught up in his own cleverness sometimes, but he was always okay to me when I was a child.”
“And what they’d done in Elapyron City was appalling,” Linnea said softly. “They deserved what happened to them. The Council wouldn’t be cooperating with him if they thought he was evil. Not as much as they are.”
“You’re right,” he said. “It’s just taking some adjusting to. Though I’m really not sure about them allowing a delegation from a dragon into the town even under a truce.” He shivered slightly.
“In the circumstances I’d have done the same thing,” Dariad said. “If it’s stopping another attack, it’s worth the risk. And we are talking about the River Singer. The old stories are so ambiguous about her I’m actually intrigued to meet her.”
“Dad won’t hurt you,” Karen said confidently. “And he’ll get us to Waldhafen. Whether you can trust him entirely is another matter. The Morgan family motto translates as ‘Whatever is Necessary’. He means well, I’m sure of that.” She studied her feet. “We always mean well. Is everything ready?”
“I think so,” Dariad replied and then looked up at a quiet knock on the door. “Come in!”
Alaryia pushed open the door and smiled at him. “You’re leaving soon, aren’t you? I made a small gift for the little one – though they won’t be much use to her until she’s a bit older.” She held out a cloth wrapped bundle to Yvo, who took and opened it.
“Oh!” he gasped and raised one of two beautifully made daggers. They seemed to be made of carved wood, but having heard how Alaryia had made the sword she’d given to Dariad, Lydia guessed they were made of this Mabain stuff.
“I’m sure someone at Waldhafen can teach her to use them once she’s old enough,” Alaryia said. “And then she’ll be able to defend herself if need be. Hopefully it won’t come up again.”
“I- Thank you.” Yvo seemed stunned by the gift. He wrapped them back up and returned them to his pack.
“You’re welcome,” Alaryia said. She walked over to where Linnea was holding Arava. “Goodbye, little Arava. Be well.”
“Bye, Lala!” Arava said.
Alaryia gave her another warm smile and then turned to Dariad. “I’ll see you when you get back, Your Majesty. I hope your war council goes well.” She was gone before anyone could respond.
“This-” Yvo said. “This is unexpected. We could never have afforded goblin made weapons for Arava and she just gave them to us.”
“She’s like that,” Dariad said, but he was frowning.
“What’s wrong,” Valeria asked.
“You’re right, there’s something about her…” he trailed off thoughtfully. “Sometimes she’s just a little too helpful.”
“Hmmm, yes. But her anger and distress at the state Arava was in was genuine, I’m sure,” Valeria said. “I’m not sure what to make of her.”
Dariad looked like he might reply but Karen interrupted.
“The beacon’s up. I’m opening the gate.”
The next few minutes passed in a rush as they scrambled to get everyone through the gate before Karen had to close it. They emerged into a large, high ceiling room which with cream walls and a red carpeted floor. Lydia looked around.
“No furniture,” she murmered.
“We had to move it out, Lyd. Karen’s placement isn’t perfect yet, you might have ended up falling over it or worse if we hadn’t.” Her father was leaning against one wall smiling at them. “Is that everyone?” he asked as Karen emerged into the room.
“Yeah.” She sank to her knees as the gate snapped shut. “I’m definitely approaching maturity, Everything is wiping me out since yesterday evening. Can this just be over, please?”
“Sounds like it’ll be in the next day or so,” their father said. “Just try not to do anything-” he broke off as Dariad swore. “What’s wrong?”
“That’s what was bothering me! She said that she hoped our war council went well. I never told her that it was war council. How the hell did she know?!”