“Are you sure I can’t help somehow?” Elzaria said as Darlryan handed out the pendants to the humans.
“Unlikely,” Darlryan said, not unkindly. “Unless you have some insights you can share.”
“I wish.” Elzaria said. “But I feel so useless.”
“You have helped, Elzaria-alra,” he said. “You went and fetched your mother, after all. That was a great help.”
Takilyan grinned as she started. “Yes, dear, you’re an alra now and you haven’t even finished growing into your true strength yet. You’re going to be really strong.”
“You take after your father,” Elatria said. “He was strong as well.” She looked down sadly. “I miss him.”
“What happened to him?” Elzaria said. “Is he dead?”
Elatria shook her head. “Not so far as I know. He was an American student and he went home after he finished his degree. He was trying to arrange a permanent visa when the Lavernes caught up with me.” She smiled at her daughter. “I promise I’ll tell you about him when we get back from rescuing Lydia-ida.” She hesitated. “Assuming I survive, of course.”
“Don’t die!” Elzaria clung to Elatria. “I only just met you.”
“Not something I can promise, sweetie,” Elatria said. “Though I’ll certainly do my best not to.”
“You don’t have to come, Elatria-keda,” Takilyan said. “We have guides with more familiarity and you have already been a great help. Stay with Elza; she needs you more than we do.”
“But my promise…”
“You already kept it by telling us what you know,” Matthias said. “Why don’t you and Elzaria go and find Mianna? You should reconnect with her.”
â€œWell, if you’re sure,â€ Elatria said.
â€œI’m sure.â€ Matthias squeezed her hand. â€œYou owe me nothing, Elise.â€
â€œThank you,â€ she said. â€œI’ll stay with Elza then.â€
â€œOkay, now that’s sorted we should get ready to leave,â€ Darlryan said. He opened the book and the image of a surprising delicate-looking tower hovered over it. â€œI checked my notes and found a weak spot in the design.â€ He touched the image and glowing lines shot through it but there were gaps in the network where the wards were naturally weaker. â€œThat’s where we need to hit. But she’s probably aware of the weak spots too, so I imagine they’ll be guarded.â€
â€œThat’s a reasonable assumption,â€ Takilyan said. â€œWhich is why we shouldn’t give her chance to prepare.â€
â€œThere’s one more person we’re waiting for,â€ Alaryia said. â€œSomebody who feels he owes Lydia-ida a debt.â€
There was a puzzled silence before Darlryan made an enlightened sound. â€œErisan-idan?â€ he asked. â€œYes, that does make sense. I heard about his son.â€
â€œHow is Rantalyan?â€ Sonia asked.
â€œStill recovering,â€ Alaryia said. â€œHe’ll be ready to join you soon. I had to order him to stay put and send an imp to his father rather than racing off and trying to rescue her himself when I told him about Lydia. He’ll be bringing Erisan here once he arrives.â€
Indeed it was only a few minutes before Rantalyan appeared with a solemn-looking Kithreian with deep orange eyes and wings made of orange water. He exchanged solemn greetings with the dragons before turning to Sonia and Matthias.
â€œSonia-ida, Matthias-idan, I have my troops in position around Xantaria’s citadel ready for your command to attack.â€
â€œThank you, Erisan-idan,â€ Sonia said. â€œLet’s go.â€