“Thank you,” Matthias said. “We need all the help we can get.”
“Yes, you’re in a bad situation and you really don’t need all this distracting you when you need to be dealing with Likadrian’s mess.”
“This is part of his mess.” Matthias sighed. “And it’s my fault, really. I should have realised how dangerous he was before he gained so much ground.”
Fellaria shook her head. “Not really, he always was clever at deceiving people. He pulled the wool over Kaylaria’s eyes back in the day as well and fooling her was damn near impossible.” She scowled. “Looking back, I think that’s why Xantaria went after her so hard – Kaylaria must have realised she was planning something.”
“You think so?” he asked. “Do you think she’s dead?”
“Kaylaria?” She hesitated noticeably. “I’m not sure, but if she isn’t she may as well be. Xantaria captured her while she was exhausted from opening the exile gate and bound her power into that damned prison as part of the defences.” She shuddered violently. “I only found out a couple of centuries ago but a lot of the rest of the Council already knew.” She glanced around the room and her eyes settled on Sophie Ashbourne for a long moment. Something unreadable passed across her face so briefly Daniel almost thought he’d imagined it before she turned back to Matthias. “I’ll tell you more later if you wish, but we should deal with this situation first.”
“It is rather urgent,” he agreed. He turned to Kelaria. “Can you carry three people? I don’t want Naria having to worry about passengers other than Andrew while she’s knocking people out.”
“Easily.” She eyed Fellaria thoughtfully. “Estaria-miria has spoken of you often, Fellaria-ida.”
“Est is a dear,” Fellaria said. “You’re Rinalia’s daughter, aren’t you?”
“I am,” she said. “We should go, it’ll be time soon.”
I don’t know how many I’ll be able to knock out, Naria said. If they figure out what’s happening and resist I won’t be able to drain them. I’ll hit them fast but it’s likely I won’t get all of them.
Andrew reached down and patted her neck. You’ll do fine, Nari. He looked over to where Daniel, Adrian and Fellaria were all riding Kelaria. You’ve got us hidden right? We’re nearly at the hill.
I have, Daniel replied.
Can you take us in low? Fellaria asked. The closer I am the easier it will be to check if the target one of my kind.
Well we can’t go too low, he said. I can hide us but I can’t stop them feeling the downdraft from Kelaria’s wings.
Of course, she said. As low as you dare, then.
Sure, he said. I’ll let you judge it Kelaria.
Thank you. She circled around gradually getting lower before levelling out about twenty feet above the hilltop and continuing to circle. Will this do, Fellaria-ida?
It’s fine, she said. Now let’s see. There was a long pause. Now that’s interesting.
I’ll say, Adrian agreed. I wasn’t expecting this.
What is it? Andrew asked nervously.
The target isn’t Kithreian or an astral, Adrian replied. He isn’t even an ember, though he does have some defences he shouldn’t â€“ they are artificial. Which is odd but not the oddest thing.
Do I have to wring it out of you? Daniel asked.
Oh, sorry, Adrian said. The target isn’t Kithreian but there is one on the hill and I think he knows we’re here. He isn’t trying to hide, either, which he was earlier or I’d have realised then.
What? Daniel said.
It was Fellaria who replied. The Brigadier is Kithreian.
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