â€œWe have another favour to ask, Councillor Saeaera,â€ Sonia said. â€œWe wish to put her heart friend in stasis here for as long as Savira is in the shell.â€
â€œHmm?â€ Saeaera said. â€œWhy would you… oh! To put her in a state of mental receptivity similar to an unborn infant so their bond can fix itself? I think that might actually work. Yes, of course we’ll allow it. It will surely help with rehabilitating the dragon.â€ She hesitated. â€œThis Savira, is she brown with an Ice Affinity?â€
â€œYes,â€ he said. â€œYou know of her?â€
â€œOnly by reputation,â€ Saeaera said. â€œShe never raided Waldhafen. From what I know ofwhat she supposedly did, she never raided anyone all that much. She used to concentrate on outlanders.â€ She gave a half smile. â€œThat’s probably why she settled so near to Elapyron. They had a really bad outlander problem. No one really cared that she was hunting outlanders as long as she didn’t attack civilised people. We might have done if we’d known that she wasn’t just eating them.â€
â€œOutlanders are speakers who â€¦ hmm â€¦. well they’ve been driven feral by mabain fumes,â€ Sonia said when she noticed Faith’s curious look. â€œThey are very unpleasant. I wonder why she targetted them. Not just ethics, surely.â€
â€œWe’ll ask her when we meet her,â€ Faith said. â€œI have an inkling that it’s more than just an ethical decision. Shall we go?â€
Savira rose slowly when they reappeared. Her expression was nervous as her eyes fixed on Faith.
â€œYou are the woman they wish to be my mother?â€ she asked.
â€œI am,â€ Faith said.
Savira eyed her thoughtfully. â€œYou have a good aura,â€ she said finally. â€œYes, I think I’d like to have you for a mother, if it’s okay with you.â€
â€œI think it is,â€ Faith said. â€œBut I wanted to ask you a question. Why did you primarily target outlanders?â€
â€œWhy? I thought I might learn something from them. Outlanders â€“ even the rare ex-ones who’ve been rehabilitated – never produce heart friends as offspring even when otherwise their fertility returns to normal. I thought if I could find out why, it would be a clue towards what I wanted to do. So I’d grab them, keep them away from mabain fumes until their minds hopefully returned, then ran my tests.â€ She scowled slightly. â€œI never did find out why, but I did learn that low level mabain exposure has the same effect on normal speakers. I had a working theory and then he put a whole quiver of arrows in it with those damned circlets.â€ Her scowl deepened as she glared at Matthias who had been frowning at her explanation.
â€œI don’t think it was the circlets,â€ he said after a moment. â€œI didn’t have the nymph you are thinking of circleted; I removed the one Elapyron put on her when I rescued a few months before I finally moved against Elapyron. But she was an Outlander? She was completely sane.â€
â€œYes, she was still semi-rational when they caught her but she was an Outlander. If it wasn’t the circlet, then how…?â€ She trailed off with a frown.
â€œSo this nymph had a heart friend child?â€ Darlrydan asked.
â€œBoth partners did,â€ Matthias said. â€œAfter I rescued Izla, she became close to one of Nephele’s friends who was nursing her back to health. I did wonder at the unlikely coincidence but put it down to a freak of chance, but I was more focused on the other half of the mystery.â€ He shook his head. â€œI can’t believe that she was an Outlander.â€
â€œI knew she was an Outlander,â€ Nephele said. â€œPoor girl had perfect recall of what she’d done while she was mabain addled. Sarili spent a lot of time comforting her; that’s how they became so close.â€
â€œOther half of the mystery?â€ Darlrydan asked.
â€œThe two of them were on Earth when they conceived,â€ Matthias said. â€œIt was unexpected. They weren’t expecting the breeding ritual to work there so we didn’t know until quite late on and when I tried to send them back for obvious reasons, both of them nearly miscarried. They had to stay on Earth in order to cary to term. Which is the exact opposite of what should have happened.â€
Darlrydan blinked several times then his expression became speculative. â€œWell, that is interesting. I don’t think there’s ever been a speaker pregnancy on Earth before. I’d love to do a check on where their heart friends are.â€
â€œWhy?â€ Matthias asked even as Indaturan’s mouth dropped open.
â€œYou’re thinking it works both ways?â€ he asked.
â€œWell their heart friend can’t be on Earth,â€ Darlrydan said. â€œAnd humans can’t give birth here. I only see one option.â€