Lydia sat in the large conservatory of the Morgan house, determinedly reading a book of poems she had found in the library and trying not to look up at the glowing tear in the sky. More than that, she was trying not to think about the news reports and all those people who had died. It was not proving easy. The words were swimming around on the page and her stomach kept twisting around. If only she hadn’t been injured. It might not have made a difference but just maybe they would managed to stop him a few minutes earlier and this wouldn’t be happening.
“I know how you feel.”
“What?” Lydia looked around in surprise. She hadn’t noticed anyone come in but the pretty teen who had been introduced as their cousin Lisa was standing there, staring out into the garden.
“I know how you feel,” Lisa repeated. She sounded like she was discussing the weather. “I shouldn’t, you know? I’m just an ember. I’m pretty good with fire but I don’t feel what people are feeling unless they are projecting at me. And I know you aren’t projecting.” She turned and looked at Lydia whose stomach started churning even more. Lisa was pale and sweating noticeably, and her pupils were so dilated â€“ even in the brightness of the conservatory â€“ that her grey eyes seemed to have turned black.
“Lisa, I think that you should sit down,” she said. “Before you fall down.
“My head is killing me,” the girl said in that same matter-of-fact tone before collapsing to the floor. Lydia rushed to her side and bent down next to her. The girl was conscious, but she was mumbling incoherently and seemed unaware of Lydia’s presence. Lydia looked at her helplessly for a moment before reaching for her father.
Dad? I think Lisa is being affected by what Emms did. She shot an image of the state her cousin was in at him.
He was there in a moment. Unsurprisingly, James was with him and he knelt down anxiously beside his daughter.
“Come on, sweetness,” he said softly. “Let’s get you up to bed. Sarah is on her way and she will be able to help.” He scooped Lisa into his arms and headed for the door.
Lydia paced up and down the corridor outside of Lisa’s room. She barely knew the girl but her stomach was churning anxiously anyway. Would she be okay? If this was happening to her, what would be happening to people with less training?
“She’ll be okay, Lyd.” Her mother laid a hand on her shoulder and pushed towards the stairs. “Sarah will fix it. Come downstairs and have a cup of tea. Getting stressed won’t help Lisa.”
“Is this happening to other people?” Lydia asked as she followed her downstairs to the huge kitchen.
“It seems to be,” Sonia said. “At least if the news is to be believed and I see no reason to doubt it. Your father has Ian and Lyr trying to pinpoint the individual cases so we can start arranging treatment for them. You can go and help if you need something to do.” She poured a mug of tea from a large brown teapot and pushed it across the table to Lydia.
“I’m not sure I’d be much use for that.” Lydia sipped her tea. “I don’t seem to be much use for anything at the moment. I even fell over my own feet in the fight. I hate feeling useless.”
“You’re not useless, Lyd. You’ve been very helpful,” Sonia said reassuringly then turned to the door as Sarah came in and sank into another chair. “How’s Lisa?”
Sarah pinched the bridge of her nose tiredly. “She’ll be fine. She’s trained so redirecting the excess energy wasn’t too hard. But she’s the third person I’ve had to do this for today already. I can’t keep this pace up.”
“And you won’t be able to train anyone to help you if you can’t take time for that.” Sonia poured her a cup of tea as well. “I’ll send my dragon to help you if you want and I think we may need to ask Estara if we can borrow her heart friend again.”
“That would be helpful,” Sarah said. “Anthony called me while I was dealing with Lisa. His eldest Selene has collapsed as well and he’s scared to leave his current hideout because there’s rioting outside. Lucas has gone to fetch them.”
“In that case I think that you should have a nap before they get here,” Sonia said.
“That’s not a bad idea,” Sarah said. “I’ll do that when I’ve finished my cuppa.”
“Rioting?” Lydia asked quietly.
“People are panicking,” Sonia said. “We’re lucky we’re out in the country here. I’m afraid that they’ll only panic more if the powers of the embers who are being affected start flaring unpredictably â€“ which they are liable to do. That’s part of why we’re getting all the families together. We need to coordinate a response or we’ll end up with a witch hunt on our hands.” She got back to her feet. “Let’s go and see if Lyr and Ian need any help.”