Hannah felt her whole body stiffen when she saw that Kayleigh and Adrian were indeed walking through the trees towards them. She had to clench her fists tightly enough to hurt to avoid lashing out at her treacherous sister. She didn’t realise that she was holding her breath as well until Kyle laid a soothing hand on her shoulder.
“Breathe, Hannah. Deep breaths and try not to do anything you’ll regret later.”
Hannah glanced around at him and gave a strained smile. “You’re telling me to keep calm? Hypocrite.”
Kyle gave an equally strained chuckle. “Starting an unneccessary pitch battle before the meeting is a bad idea–”
“Shush, children,” Matthias said blandly. “He seems to be carrying flowers.”
“Flowers?” Hannah turned and looked. Adrian did indeed have a bouquet in his hand. “He’s offering a truce and expecting us to trust it?”
“Well I’m not sensing any danger,” Sonia said. “And we have two unicorns; we’ll soon know if he’s lying.”
“I guess.” Hannah’s jaw tightened and she looked back as Adrian paused at the edge of the clearing and said something to Kayleigh. She scowled and shook her head and a quiet but visible heated discussion followed. Eventually he must have won because Kayleigh pouted sulkily and remained at the edge of the clearing as he approached them alone. He came to a stop about ten paces from Matthias dropped to his knees and held out the flowers.
“Our families find themselves sharing an unfortunate position,” he said in a formal tone. “As the aggressor in our conflict I feel it wisest to offer a truce. Neither I nor my allies will act aggressively towards you or your allies at this meeting or thereafter until the situation that caused it to be called is resolved. Will you accept these flowers as a token?”
Hannah looked over at Ebona and Kenna, aware she was not the only one doing it.
“He speaks truly,” Ebona said before anyone could ask.
“That’s good to hear,” Matthias said. He walked over to Adrian who was still kneeling with his head bowed. “We would not have invited you were we not willing to accept a truce, but a question has arisen that you need to answer before I dare accept this. Who are you working for?”
Adrian’s head jerked up and he gave Matthias a wide-eyed stare. “Y-you know. How did you know? No one should be able to tell.” He gave a panicked look in his mother’s direction.
“No,” Matthias said. “I wouldn’t know by scanning you. It’s hard to tell anyway and you are hiding even the small clues somehow. But you are a resonant aren’t you? And you’ve been working for a dragon?”
Adrian gave another wild-eyed look in his mother’s direction before his shoulders slumped and he sighed. “I would have had to tell you at some point, because Indaturan-mirian wants me to give you a message but I wish you hadn’t outed me to my mother.” He frowned at her thoughfully, obviously noticing her lack of anger or distress. “Though she hasn’t collapsed so maybe I didn’t need to worry.”
“Is that why you didn’t tell me?” she asked.
He nodded. “I knew you couldn’t kill me, mum, and I was worried it would break you.”
“It probably would have done,” she said quietly. “I’ve learned some things.”
“So you’re a member of Indaturan’s court?” Lyrrekka asked.
Adrian nodded. “I am, Lyrrekka-ida. He dragged me to him and stopped me killing myself when I realised I was resonant so I kind of owe him a life debt and he’s been good to me.”
“That’s understandable,” she said.
“And true,” Kenna added.
“You were going to kill yourself?” Marian had her hands over her mouth.
Adrian nodded but before he could say more Matthias bent down and took the flowers.
“Then I guess, I’d better accept these,” he said. “For as long as you and yours do not attack us me and mine will not attack you. But you had better rack your brains for what your mirian might be up to that your family’s secret history blocks refused to let you access them.”
“Huh?” Adrian said blankly. “What blocks? You mean the ones Hannah made off with? I’d never been down there before and I certainly never tried to access them.”
“He’s telling the truth again,” Ebona said.
“He is?” Matthias frowned. “That’s interesting. It seems there’s at least one other resonant hiding in your family then and the other one may be an enemy. You’d better come in so we can try and work out who… and let you access the blocks if they’ll let you. You should probably know what they say.”
“Oka–” Adrian paused and looked towards Kayleigh. “Actually give me a second. I’ll send Kay to tell the others that you accepted.” He walked back to where she was waiting and another sharp discussion ensued. After a moment she stomped off towards the main building again. He watched her go and shook his head before coming back to join them.
“That is not normal,” he said before adding in a more normal tone. “Mum, did you do something to Kay to make her like me? She’ll barely leave me alone and our bond isn’t that tight.”
Marian shook her head. “I didn’t, though you’re not the first person to ask me that.”
“Another thing to discuss inside,” Matthias said. “Come on.”