“So it is you, Caroline?” Matthias said. “We thought it might be. Must be strange being what you hunted.”
“Call me Julie, please,” she said. “I’m still getting used to these memories–” She broke off as Marian ran towards her sobbing.
“Marian?” Julie caught her in an embrace and held her while she sobbed. “Oh, Marian! What the hell did that monster do to you?” She sank to the floor and rocked Marian gently as she looked up at Matthias. “It’s not as strange as you might think. Now being called mummy by a woman who looks twice my age is strange.” She looked back down at Marian and her eyes hardened. “But that monster of a dragon needs to die. He killed my husband and destroyed my daughter.”
“Leave it to me,” Sonia said. “I’m going to challenge him.”
Julie cocked her head at her. “You’re… That’s why he wanted you dead?”
“It–” Sonia broke off as Alban snarled.
“Can we trust her? It seems to me that between being a dragon knight and her real identity she has two rather large marks against her.”
“Hey!” The Hercian bird said. “Julie is good and kind. She left that monster when she found out what he’d done to me. Leave her alone!”
“Marema, hush,” Julie said. “Prince Alban has every reason to be angry with me.” She looked up at him. “I’m sorry about your father, really. That wasn’t supposed to happen but Alison… well I’m sure you remember. If I’d been with her I’d have stopped her. Gerian really chewed her out over that one.â€
â€œThat’s true,â€ Tarian said. â€œWell until she started crying, anyway. Then he melted like lump of ice in a fire affinity zone. I swear he really cared about that girl. The only other person I’ve seen him that soft with was his son before he outwalked.â€
â€œNot enough to send her home when this place started getting to her, apparently,â€ Darya said.
â€œHe tried, actually,â€ Tarian said. â€œBut every time he did, she would panic and he’d give in. She was terrified of Taloa.â€
â€œShe was doing that when we sent her back as well,â€ Karen said thoughtfully. â€œThat boy had to calm her down. What was his name?â€
â€œLogan, probably,â€ Julie said. â€œThey were friends and he had a level head most of the time.â€ She turned back to Alban. â€œBut I’m not your enemy, Prince Alban, I swear. I left because of things like that.â€ She hesitated. â€œAnd because of what he’d done to Marema, of course, but I think I would have left anyway. He said Earth was in danger and it seems he was right but he really wasn’t helping.â€
Alban stared at her for a moment and sighed. â€œYou owe my mother a blood debt for father, you know? I’m not at all sure she won’t demand your life for it.â€
â€œI don’t think so,â€ Ystelyan said. â€œEven if she wanted to, Marema was not involved and Valeria would not be so unjust as to harm her even by default, Though I guess we’ll find out when she gets here.â€
â€œHuh?â€ Alban said.
â€œI had Ystelyan contact her when Marema and I got here because I am quite aware I owe her a debt,â€ Julie said. â€œHe used his throne and she asked to come here.â€
â€œI sent Elarian to collect her,â€ Ystelyan said. He smiled when Agrona pouted at that. â€œDon’t worry Ag. I don’t imagine they’ll be long. You’ll have plenty of time to see your family.â€
â€œAnd you can explain to me what in the world is going on while we wait,â€ Julie said.