When Adrian returned, he not only had Celeste Laverne and Lucas with him but also an older woman who immediately slumped towards the floor. Adrian caught her and helped her sit on the bed.
â€œI told you this was a bad idea, Aunt Kezia,â€ he said, as Celeste rushed over to Asra.
â€œNo, it’s fine,â€ the older woman said. â€œI need to talk to Caroline.â€ She looked over at Julie. â€œI’m sorry, Caro. Cel and I didn’t want to help them but he… there was nothing we could do. We helped as little as possible. I think that’s why that Xantaria sent in the fake Kayleigh. She was obsessed with some message that our ancestors had left. She had Cel try and read it but she couldn’t.â€
â€œI believe you,â€ Julie said. â€œBut we will need to verify it.â€
â€œWell of course you will,â€ Kezia sounded irritated. â€œYou’re not stupid. This is not a thing to take on trust. And you need to check they haven’t left traps in us either, which is why Lucas is here, I assume.â€ She looked at him. â€œDo Cel and Asra first please. I matter less if they trigger anything before you can do us both.â€
â€œMum!â€ Celeste protested. â€œThat’s not true!â€ She looked over at Julie. â€œMum was just protecting me. It’s all my fault, she’s more important.â€
â€œYou’re both important!â€ Julie snapped. â€œBut I concur with Kezia that Lucas should deal with you and Asra first. Halia-alra can scan Kezia physically while that’s happening.â€
â€œOf course,â€ Halia said. â€œAnd I already checked Asra and know what we’re looking for physically. A sealed venom capsule. Alsia-ida has identified which one and we have the antidote if Xantaria triggers them before we can remove them.â€
â€œI don’t think she will,â€ Alsia said. â€œShe’ll be too distracted by the setback she’s just received.â€
Lucas knelt down by Asra. â€œWill you let me check you for mental traps, Asra?â€
Asra stared at him and nodded. â€œPlease. I want to be sure I’m beyond their reach.â€
â€œThank you.â€ He closed his eyes and touched her temples. After a surprisingly long time he sighed in relief. â€œShe’s clear.â€ He turned to Celeste. â€œAre you okay with this, as well?â€
Celeste nodded. â€œBut be careful, please. I can feel something in my head sometimes and I think I might be forced to attack you.â€
â€œThank you for the warning,â€ Lucas said gravely. â€œIt will help keep you safe.â€ He started his scan and almost immediately everyone in the room felt her lash out at Lucas. He blocked her easily and a moment later she slumped into his arms, unconscious. He kept his eyes closed for a moment longer. â€œWell, that was nasty. A subconscious command to kill anyone who tried to deep scan her. I’ve dug it out. On the upside, it’s also clear from her mind that she wasn’t working for them willingly. I’m going to check for anything else that might have been implanted. Then I’ll check Kezia. Can you check Celeste for venom next, Halia?â€
â€œOf course,â€ Halia said. â€œHer mother is clear.â€ She knelt down by Celeste and laid a hand on her shoulder. â€œYes, she’s got a venom capsule identical to Asra’s. I’ll remove it while she’s unconscious because it’s starting to break down. It looks like removing the command triggered it. We need to get it out before the venom leaks.â€