“Thank goodness she’s alright,” Karen said softly after Valeria showed them the images from Salia’s imp. “At least we know she’s not in any immediate danger. That gives us breathing space to make a plan.”
“Yes, they seem to be going out of their way to keep her happy,” Sarah said. “Probably because she’ll be more biddable if she’s content.” She frowned. “But that dragon child. She’s so…” she trailed off.
“Cute?” Matthias suggested.
“Well yes, but I was thinking of innocent.” Sarah’s scowl deepened. “Dragons aren’t supposed to be innocent, no matter how young they are.”
“I wonder what would happen if you raised one away from their people,” Sonia murmered. “Perhaps a proper upbringing is what they need?”
“I don’t think that upbringing could override their hunger,” Matthias said after a moment. “You’d probably end up with a very screwed up creature who would do more damage because they wouldn’t eat until they frenzied.”
“Well, then teach them to eat responsibly,” Lydia said tartly. “We know that they don’t have to damage their food.”
“That’s a good point, Lyd.” Matthias said after a moment. “We’ve never really known dragons to exercise restraint, but then we’ve never really had any contact with dragons outside of battle. War never shows the best of people.”
“True, but none of them ever came to help us,” Sarah said flatly. “If they weren’t all bad they could have.”
“Maybe we should ask the River Singer why they didn’t?” Lydia said. “Since she seems determined to persuade us that Ystelyan isn’t evil. I mean, either she’s genuine or they have an angle that depends on persuading us of that. If the latter, we need to find out what it is.”
“And talking to her is the best way of ferreting it out,” Matthias said. “That’s another good point, Lyd.”
“She’s definitely your daughter,” Sarah said.
“Was there any doubt?” He looked over at Daniel. “Did Mela say anything about what the River Singer said to her and her aunt?”
“Only that she said that Darya came to Ystelyan because he knew the Core would kill him and Kyle for what he’d found out. She seemed pretty thoughtful, though. We should talk to them tomorrow once we’re behind the wards.” He scowled thoughtfully. “She can be very secretive when she wants to be. She won’t tell me what She who was Elaranor found out about what that dragon did to her either.”
“Oh, that reminds me!” Valeria turned to Sarah. “Can I borrow your bracelet? I want to consult with my mother.”
“Of course, but do you mind if I come with you? I want to be without it as little as possible in the current climate.”
Valeria nodded. “We’ll go tomorrow morning after I’ve sent my reply to Salia.”
Salia was eating breakfast with Lyrrekka, Mia and Karilya when her mother’s imp arrived. It circled warily around the two dragons and then dropped a tiny kiss onto Salia’s nose before hovering patiently in front of her.
“Well, I think it’s safe to say that your mother isn’t angry with you,” Lyrrekka said. “Finish your breakfast and then see what she has to say.”
“Your mother makes pretty imps,” Karilya said. “It’s so sparkly.”
“Yeah.” Salia nodded and carried on eating her breakfast. After a moment the imp settled down on her shoulder to wait. “I’m glad she’s not mad at me.”
“Why would she be?” Karilya asked.
“Well, that is…” Salia trailed off. How did you tell someone that you didn’t think your mother would approve of them?
“I think it’s because a lot of Speakers would consider being friends with you a bad thing, Kari,” Mia said.
Karilya pulled a face at that. “It would be a lot better if everyone would just be friends.”
“Now there’s a fundamental truth of the universe.” Lyrrekka gave a warm laugh. “If only things were that easy.”
“I can’t imagine Gerian-mirian being friends with anyone,” Mia added.
“Not at the moment no,” Lyrrekka said softly. “And he’s been in descent so long I don’t know if he’ll ever break out of it now.”
Salia frowned at them, wondering what they were talking about as she finished the ham they’d served her. As soon as she laid down her fork, the Imp shot off her shoulder and hovered in front of her again.
“Go on then, dear,” Lyrrekka said. “Don’t keep it waiting.”
Salia held out her hand an absorbed the imp. An overwhelming feeling of warmth flooded through her as mummy’s love wrapped around her briefly along with a reassurance that she wasn’t angry and an image of Ignifer being well. But there was a question as well and Salia eyed Lyrrekka speculatively, uncertain how to ask it.
“Um?” she began.
“Um… well…” Salia took a breath and plunged ahead. “Mummy wants to know if I can find out if the other prisoners taken at the Eyrie are still alive.”
“Hmm, yes they will be,” Lyrrekka said. “Killing them would be a waste. They may not be as comfortable as you are. It depends how cooperative they are being. But I’ll see if I can get you in to see them before you send your reply this evening. It shouldn’t be hard to arrange. But for now, I think it’s time for you to get ready for your classes.”