August 16th, 2013 | Published in Dragon Wars
“Well, that was interesting,” Matthias said after Adrian had left. “That young man is actually pleasant when he’s not pretending to be a monster.”
“He was horrible at school,â€ Hannah said. â€œI was glad when he left.”
“He’s always been like that at home,” Tara said. “I think he was putting up a bluff in public because he expected people to hate him anyway.”
“It seems possible at least; at least I think that was more genuine.” He glanced at the window where Ebona and Kenna were standing.
“There was no artifice in his words,” Ebona said. “It’s harder to judge behaviour but it did match the words.”
“That’s what I thought you’d say,” Matthias said. “For now, we’ve got a while to get unpacked before the reception up at the school.” He turned to Kyle. “Send that message to Ystelyan as soon as you can, please. If Julie is Caroline, she may be able to help us.”
“Of course.” Kyle began forming an imp in his hands. “Help how?”
“Getting her family in line,” Matthias said. “I doubt all of Adrian’s followers are going to be as reasonable as him. Most of the reasonable ones contacted Tara and Carl almost as soon as we captured Marian. Adrian’s got the zealots. Caroline was always good at keeping zealots in line.”
“I wonder about that,” Marian said. “He may just have the people who like him. He’s rather charismatic when he wants to be.” She gave Naria a curious look as she started giggling. “What?”
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But pleasant when not pretending to be a monster and rather charismatic when he wants to be are both things people say about Indaturan as well. It sounds like he’s a good fit for his mirian.”
Lydia would have known that the room she was sharing with Karen was obviously the one her sister occupied at school even if Karen hadn’t told her. Everything from the endearing animal posters on the cream walls to the fashion and make-up books on the dressing table and the science fiction DVDs piled by the TV would have screamed Karen to her. The sports posters and action movie DVDs on the other side of the room, not so much, but she presumably shared with someone. She eyed the Doncaster Belles poster above her bed thoughtfully.
“Who do you share with, usually?”
“Maggie Donovan,” Karen said. “She’s okay, you’d like her. She’s a distant cousin – the Donovans are one of our satellite families. I’m sure a couple of them will be along presently but not Mags â€“ apparently she’s stuck in Florida until flights start again. Anyway, what are you wearing this evening? You need to make a good impression.”
She sat on the bed beside her suitcase, pulled out her long velvet skirt and scowled at it. “Darn, it’s dirty from that fight the other day. I thought I’d managed to keep it clean. What am I going to wear tonight?”
“Fights don’t tend to be clean,” Karen said philosophically. “You’re lucky it’s so flarey or it would have got in the way.” She poked through her own case and pulled out a dark red cotton skirt. “This isn’t quite as formal as I’d recommend but it should fit you.”
“Hmm…” Lydia took it and stared at it. “Thanks! I like this.” She found a clean cream blouse and held up. “Will this go with it, Kaz? I don’t want to look like a muppet and you have better dress sense than me.”
Karen chuckled and nodded. “That will look nice. You should wash and comb your hair and let me do you some make up as well.”
“I–” Lydia paused as there was a knock on the door. A moment later Sonia poked her head in.
“You okay, girls?” She spotted Lydia’s outfit lying on the bed and smiled. “Is that for tonight? Good choice.” She paused. “Dad’s just brought some history blocks over and we’ve got time for you to check them out before you have to get ready.”
“Oooh!” Lydia jumped to her feet. “Yes please.”
“I thought you’d say that. They’re downstairs in the lounge.”