When they reached the hall, Irina was already opening the door to let in Lucas, leading girl of about seven by the hand, and a tall dark haired man carrying an unconscious teenage girl with pale blonde hair.
“Anthony Williamson, welcome to our home.” Irina gave the man a surprisingly formal bow. “You are ever welcome here. Uncle Matt asked me to take you to your rooms. Doctor Tyler is resting but she will be along soon. Follow me, please.”
“Thank you.” Anthony nodded to her. “Selene is getting a little heavy.” He turned to Sonia. “Sonia! It is a pleasure to see you alive and well.” He seemed to be deliberately ignoring Lyrrekka.
“The same here,” Sonia said solemnly. “I was sorry to hear about Callie.”
He closed his eyes at that. “Thanks, Sonia.” He looked back at Irina. “Lead on, Miss Morgan.” He started to follow Irina up the stairs, then paused and jerked his head at the girl who was still standing by Lucas. “Come on, Mel.”
“Coming, Daddy!” She ran up the stairs after him.
Anthony finally looked at Lyrrekka for a long moment, a look that was definitely on the hostile side of neutral. “I’ll be down as soon as I’ve settled Selene in and then we’ll talk.” He turned away and headed up the stairs.
“Somehow I don’t think he’s using the normal definition of talk,” Lyrrekka said after he’d gone. “I’d better make sure Kyle and Mia keep Kari out of his way until I’m sure it’s safe.” She closed her eyes and concentrated. “Ah! They’re in the stables with Kenna. That should be fine.”
“Did he say anything on the way here?” Sonia asked.
“Not really,” he said. “He was busy fretting over Selene’s condition. Even unconscious she was flaring. I’ve managed to damp it down for now but I hope Sal’s okay to sort her out soon.” He paused. “But he shield slammed as soon as he realised how many dragons are here. I don’t think it’s just Kari we should keep away from him. I don’t think he’s planning to attack anyone, but if one of them surprises him…”
“I’ll tell mine,” Lyrrekka said and closed her eyes again for a moment.
“I’ve already told Andrew, Naria and Kadoran,” Sonia agreed. “I hope it’s enough â€“ it’s going to be rather difficult for them not to run into him. I’m sure he’ll come around but it might take a while.”
“I know,” Lyrrekka said. “I remember what happened to him. I can’t blame him for being jumpy.”
“What happened to him?” Lydia asked curiously.
Lyrrekka winced and looked towards the kitchen door. “I don’t know if we should talk about it.”
“He’s still with Selene,” Lucas said after a moment. “And it’s hardly secret. It was during the siege of Caerdu. He was captured by Mitakrian near the end – it was only a couple of hours before we rescued him but he nearly died and was traumatised by whatever was done to him. He’s hated dragons far more intensely than the rest of us ever since, but who can blame him?”
“If Mitakrian hadn’t been trying to get information out of him he’d have killed him out of hand,” Lyrrekka said. “So I suppose he was lucky, though I doubt he thinks of it that way.”
“I’m certain he doesn’t,” Lucas said. “I’ll go and talk to him.” He rose to his feet and slipped out of the kitchen.
Lyrrekka sighed pensively and looked back at Ian. “Shall we get back to work then?”
“Yes, let’s,” he said. They too left the kitchen, leaving Lydia and Sonia alone.
“We should have thought this through better.” Sonia laid her head on her arms. “This is going to end badly. I can feel it.”