Xeria pinched the bridge of her nose tiredly and nodded. “I don’t know everything, but I’ll tell you what I do know.” She paused as Malindra hurried over. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll live – I’ve had worse. Please tend to my children first.”
“As you wish, Xeria-alra.” Malindra inclined her head to Xeria before leading the two children over to the other table. Xeria watched her examine their injuries for a moment then turned back to Ystelyan.
“Xanteria has had a bit of an obsession with Taloa for as long as I’ve known her, though she’s always tried to hide it. But about nine trayinri ago she started being more open about it-”
“Excuse me but what are trayinri?” Kyle asked. “I’ve never heard the term.”
Xeria gave him a thoughtful look. “I’m afraid I don’t know talori measures of time.”
“It’s not a word dragons use much, though Kithreia still use it all the time,” Lyrrekka said. “It’s the time taken for the Kithran essence gyre to go through one complete cycle. It’s the nearest thing to a year on Kithra but it’s longer and a bit variable.” She tapped her tongue against her teeth and frowned up at the ceiling. “Let’s see. Nine trayinri would be somewhere between thirty and thirty five years ago. Something must have happened on Taloa then. I wonder what?”
“I don’t know,” Xeria said. “But whatever it was, it wasn’t obvious â€“ so the fact that she knew about it means that she must have been defying the idri council’s ban the whole time.”
Ystelyan narrowed his eyes. “It does, doesn’t it?”
“I didn’t know about this at the time. That’s why I didn’t tell Talira when she came before. But what has happened the last couple of days suggests that she’s been waiting for what Likadrian did. That or she just got really lucky and that doesn’t seem likely. Especially since she seemed unsurprised.”
Lyrrekka let out a sharp oath and slapped her forehead with the heel of her hands. “You mean that ‘when Likadrian breaks Taloa again’ thing, don’t you? Damn! How many people has she caught with that one?”
“Huh?” Kyle looked at his mother blankly but it was Talira who answered him.
“It’s a common Kithreiri idiom – it means a thing that can’t happen. But it’s also an oath modification,” she said. “People use it when they can’t avoid swearing but don’t want to keep it.”
“It’s roughly like saying you’ll do something when hell freezes over,” Lyrrekka added. “And then getting a memo from the afterlife saying it has.” She paused then repeated. “How many?”
“Between the ones who support a war anyway and those she’s got tangled up, just over half the council, though none of the ones that she’d really want except for Andarian-mirian. I think the fact Alsia-ida and Fellaria-ida both evaded her traps has especially irked her.”
“But she got Andarian? Damn!” Ystelyan said. “He always was too trusting. And she’s dragging the council into an attack on Taloa? Why?”
“That I don’t know,” Xeria said. “As soon as I realised, I decided to flee to the rebels but she was waiting for that as well and she… well if Tal hadn’t got us out of there-” She broke off and shuddered. “You will grant us asylum, right?”
“Of course I will,” he said. “Though are you sure that she can’t see through you?”
“I’m sure,” she said. “I severed successfully when we fled. You can check, of course.”
“I will once Malindra has seen to your injuries,” he said. “Do you know how she plans to manage this invasion?”
Xeria shook her head. “I know she has a plan but she hasn’t shared it with many people yet. She said something about the Talori being a weapon against themselves but I’m not sure what she-” she stopped as an imp appeared and flew to Lyrrekka.
“It’s from Matt.” She absorbed it and leapt to her feet with a startled oath.
“Mother? What’s wrong?” Kyle asked.
“I have a bad feeling about this plan of Xantaria’s,” she said before relaying what the imp said about Anthony’s condition.
Ystelyan hissed to himself. “This is serious. I’ll have to send imps to some of the others and find out if anyone has an antidote. Could you get the sample Sarah-alra extracted in case we need to create one?”
“Of course,” Lyrrekka said. “Come on, Kenna.”