Dariad had invited Valaria, the Warriors and their heart friends to dine in his personal apartments. His cooks had worn themselves out producing food suitable for humans as well as speakers. The chief cook, an elderly dwarf, had muttered about how he hadn’t cooked for humans since King Indirian’s time and how he wasn’t sure he remembered how. In the end though he had excelled himself. Indeed, from the quality of the food set before the Warriors he suspected they had consulted with the goblins who had similar dietary requirements.
“Have you sent an imp to Matthias asking if he or Sarah can help us route via Gaia yet?” he asked between the soup and the main course.
Karen shook her head. “No, with everything that’s happened I really haven’t had time. I’ll do it now, and I think I’ll mention what happened at the Storm Palace as well.” She turned in her seat and looked at Valeria. “If you don’t mind, that is. It’ll forewarn the council and it is kind of important.”
“I don’t mind,” Valeria said. “It’s probably for the best. But when are we leaving? I want to get there before anything else goes wrong.Â Lorelei should be well enough to travel tomorrow, but I’m not sure about little Arava. We’ll have to ask ambassador Alaryia.”
Karen chuckled. “Things have been a little bit hectic haven’t they?” She cupped her hands in front of her and lilac light began to pool in them and form into a imp. She scowled at the colour. “Why has it changed colour?”
“Probably for the same reason my flames have changed colour,” Lydia said. “Arrats says it means I’m approaching maturity – whatever that is. He has no idea why the goblin silk should match it though.”
Karen opened her mouth and then closed it again. A number of emotions played across her face – not all of them readable and none of them especially happy. “That could be true. Kyle’s water certainly turned blue a few weeks before his maturity. That’s likely to be uncomfortable to say the least.” She scowled again. “And I hadn’t noticed it matched my tunic. Probably because I didn’t want to. I’m not sure that I like the implications of that.”
“Implications?” Lydia asked.
“Colour changes aren’t common. We know they happen sometimes but we never realised it was directly related to maturity. And they mean something, but we don’t know what. It’s possible it relates to being Resonant. If it does, then if the Lavernes figure it out we’re so screwed.” She stared down at the forming imp. “And there’s something else, but I need to think that through first because I have no idea why it should be. But now I need to concentrate on this. I have to get the message right.” She closed her eyes and the imp rapidly finished forming. A small crease formed between Karen’s eyes, testament to her concentration and she sat still as a statue holding the imp for several moments. Then the imp flew up into the air and shot through the wall. Karen gasped and slumped forward on the table. “That was harder than I remembered.” She looked up as the attendents brought in a large pot of stew, a platter of some sort of roasted vegetable and some of the brown food humans called bread. “Ah, good, I’m starving after that effort.” She poked at one of the roots curiously. “What are these? They smell good, but I don’t recognise them.”
Lydia speared one with her fork and sniffed it. “Smells like burdock root.” She nibbled on it. “Yep, definitely burdock. You should try it. It’s one of my favourite wild roots.”
“I intend to. I was just curious.” Karen took some of the root and a chunk of the bread and then spooned out a bowlful of the soup. “I’m sure Dad will send a reply as soon as he gets the Imp.”
They were also eating at Waldhafen when the glowing, lilac imp flew in through a window and began orbiting Matthias’s head. Daniel looked at it curiously; it resembled nothing so much as a light purple Tinkerbell.
“Whose is that?” he asked.
“It looks like one of Karen’s, except that they never used to be purple.” Matthias exchanged a long look with Sarah. “She’s manifested a colour?”
“It looks like it. I’m not really surprised,” Sarah said. “It’s another thing that commonly happens to us. I think it’s all connected.”
“Hmm,” he said. He looked like he might say more, but the imp landed on his nose. “I think this must be important. Karen’s imps aren’t usually so pushy.” He held out his hand and absorbed it. “Well, she has been a busy girl.” His tone was light but he looked worried.
“What is it?” Sonia asked.
“Well, she’s come to the same conclusion Sarah has about the colour change and apparently Speakers are of the opinion that it related to maturity. She also says Lydia has had a colour change as well.”
“Hmm, they are about the right age,” Sarah said. She looked over at Daniel. “Summon some darkness for me, dear.”
“Huh?”Â Daniel said, but did as she asked. “What the?” He wasn’t exactly sure how darkness could appear silver and yet remain darkness but it did.
“It’s the same colour as yours, Matt.” Sarah seemed amused. “What else did Karen say? I’m sure that’s not what’s got you frowning like that.”
“She wants to cut the journey time from Caerdu to here by travelling via Earth,” he said. “Which is a good idea, so we’ll sort that out. I don’t want Karen anywhere she might be seen if she’s close to maturity.” He sighed. “Valeria’s brother staged a coup while she was at Caerdu.”
“What?!” Sarah said.
“The story gets worse. They’ve got the Storm Palace back but some Moss People from here got caught up in the mess. Let’s go and talk to the Council. I don’t want to repeat this more than once.”