True the her word, Joanne returned a few minutes later with a bag slung over her shoulder.
â€œYou were right,â€ she said. â€œMum wasn’t happy. She thinks you’re planning to kidnap me and hold me hostage. I asked why you’d let me come and explain if that was the case and it was my brain that was torn up, not hers, so she didn’t have a say. That shut her up but she’ll fret like crazy, I can tell.â€
â€œYou pack quickly,â€ Sonia said.
â€œHah! No, this is just some clean undies and my toothbrush.â€ She opened the bag to show it was true. â€œNo bugs, scan it if you want.â€
Sonia was quiet a few moments as she scanned the bag before nodding. â€œWe’ll take you to Indaturan first on our little side trip. We’ve already warned him you’re coming.â€ She looked over at Adrian. â€œI believe he’s at his own court so you’ll need to open the gate.â€
â€œOf course.â€ Adrian held out his hand and opened the gate in the centre of the room.
â€œWelcome to my home,â€ Indaturan said when they arrived. He moved faster than anyone and caught Joanne as she slumped towards the floor with a groan. â€œAnd you must be Joanne. This will help.â€ He slipped a clay pendant over her head as her helped her sit down.
â€œThank you,â€ Matthias said. â€œAnd yes, this is Joanne. We believe you may be able to help her.â€
â€œI should be,â€ he said. â€œBut I need to see what I’m dealing with first.â€ He laid a hand on her forehead and frowned. â€œIt’s not as bad as it could be, but from what I understand it’s only going to get worse so let’s deal with it as quickly as possible.â€ He eyed her speculatively. â€œBut a genuine temporal affinity? You’re an extraordinary young lady.â€
â€œThank you.â€ Joanne flushed slightly. â€œI’m sorry to trouble you this way but we need to keep me functional so I can help find a path through this.â€
â€œSo I hear,â€ he said. â€œWe’ll start work once the most recent damage you have done to yourself has settled down. For now, I’ll get someone to take you to your chamber.â€ He clapped his hands and spoke briefly with the dragon who answered his call. She nodded and led Joanne from the room.
â€œI’m afraid we’re rather loading you up with patients,â€ Matthias said.
â€œWar has a habit of doing that,â€ Indaturan said. â€œAnd I have plenty of room.â€ He turned to Adrian. â€œAnd speaking of my patients, your mother wishes to speak with you and Julie while you’re here.â€
â€œI can do that,â€ Adrian said. â€œHow is she?â€
â€œHer essence is much better,â€ Indaturan said. â€œAnd I’ve managed to get her barrier back in place, though it’ll be a long time before the damage Mitakrian did is fully healed. But she’s still incredibly depressed. I think I’ve talked her out of being suicidal but only because she thinks that would be too easy.â€
â€œThat’s a start,â€ Adrian said. â€œLet’s go and see her then. She wouldn’t be asking for us if it wasn’t important.â€