Julie leaned back in her chair and stared at the ceiling after they’d described what scrying where the kids were being kept had shown.
“Yes,” she said thoughtfully. “We do need to put a stop to that immediately. They’ll hurt those kids if they keep it up and probably themselves as well.”
“Excuse me if I don’t really care about them,” Carrie muttered. Julie cast a glance at her but otherwise ignored her.
“We need people for the attack who can pretend to be Kithreiri,” she said. “At least well enough to convince the authorities. So warriors and dragons I think.”
“I want Andrew and Naria here to put the attackers to sleep,” Matthias said. “If we can’t stop them by revealing that Robert is a plant.”
“Hmm… not a bad idea,” Julie agreed. “It might cause more trouble in the long run, though. They might just decide to drop a bomb on us. I’d rather come out of this with at least a truce.”
“So would I, but it’s not a small force out there,” he said. “Who’s going to intercept the convoy Robert is in? We need someone who can crack his disguise.”
“I can,” Adrian said. “I’ll need a dragon though so I can do it from above. We don’t want them seeing me and that’s the best way. The timing is going to be critical. We don’t want it too soon before they are due to attack or it might not camouflage our rescue.”
“No, it will,” Sarah said. “It will look like the Kithreiri were trying to distract them so they could attack. I’d move out as soon as possible if I were you.”
“Kelaria and I will take you,” Daniel offered. “That way I can conceal you as well.”
Adrian gave him grateful look. “That will make things safer,” he said. “Give me twenty minutes to get ready. I’m not dressed for flying.”
Julie watched him go then looked over at Lyrrekka. “You should take your little one to someone you trust in Talonyka… just in case.” She turned to Kelaria, who was bouncing her baby on her knee. “Your baby as well.”
Lyrrekka nodded. “I’m going to ask Estara-miria to care for her. I imagine Kelaria is as well.” She looked over at Kelaria who inclined her head in response. “And we’d best go quickly if we’re to be back in time.”
“I’ll come with you,” Sarah said. “I need to visit Waldhafen and beg some healers off them in case it does turn into a pitch battle. We’re going set up a field hospital at Silenia as well.”
“Good idea,” Lyrrekka said and the three women disappeared together.
“Excuse me.” Lydia raised her hand tentatively. “I understand why you’re planning to send us to pretend to be Kithreiri, but do any of us actually know how to shape shift?”
“I do in principle,” Julie said. “Though I’ve never done anything more than cosmetic shifting. I don’t think it will be too hard.”
“It’s easy,” Naria said. “The Kithreiri are very close to human so taking their altered form isn’t a problem. I bet I can teach you in about half an hour and I’m not even a very good teacher. You just need to let your essence leak through you skin without taking your actual resonance form. Your eyes won’t match your essence but I doubt the humans will know that they should.” She tilted her head and looked thoughtful. “But you’d best practice first. It’s a little painful the first time you form essence wings.” She must have noticed the blank looks she was getting because she sighed. “I’m not explaining this well, am I?”
“No, but I think I get it, Nari,” Andrew said. “Possibly because of our bond. Let me try.” He rose to his feet and leaned against the table and expression of intense concentration crossing his face. After a moment it turned to a grimace of pain and his t-shirt bulged at the shoulders before tearing as a pair of wings made of beautiful feather of red ice emerged. At the same time, his normally blonde hair seemed to shimmer, becoming strands of equally red ice as frost crept across his skin. He took a deep breath. “Damn it, Nari, you were right. It hurt.” He straightened up and twitched his new wings. “This feel really wrong, like I’m in the wrong skin.”
“That’s because you’re not a Kithreian,” Naria said. “Your body can feel that it’s being something it shouldn’t. But it’s easy enough to maintain isn’t it?”
“It is,” he said. “But my T-shirt is ruined.”
“Wear your tunic tonight,” Naria said. “It will let your wings through without tearing. I’ll see if I can arrange clothing for the others as well. It should be doable.” She started to form a small imp. “The rest of you should try too.”
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