“Well, we gather she has her eyes on Earth,” Matthias said.
“It seems so,” Elsed said. “Which of itself would just be exasperating. Quite a few of the idri council talk about invading Gaia but it’s just talk. The Kithreia changed themselves so drastically that only the strongest can stay there indefinitely. Their former home wears on their essence–”
“Lyr, is that going to be a problem for you?” Matthias interrupted.
Lyrrekka shook her head. “Dragons changed again. We can survive on Earth indefinitely.” She frowned. “It might be a problem for Draylian though.”
“Draylian?” Elsed asked.
“He’s a half-made,” Lyrrekka said.
Elsed cringed. “Poor thing. From what I know it will affect him, but he’ll probably slip up and finalise his transformation before it becomes an issue.”
“How does that happen?” Lydia asked.
“There’s a couple of ways. The most common is to feed rather than being fed by someone. It’s certainly the least painful.”
“He doesn’t want to be a dragon,” Matthias said. “But I’m beginning to realise that he doesn’t have a choice at this point.”
Lyrrekka shook her head. “Not since whichever dragon grabbed him started the process. Something will push him over the edge eventually. His only other option is to force a transition that would purge his essence but it’s extremely risky. It’s far more likely he’d kill himself rather than succeed if he tried. I’ll talk to him if you want.”
“Please.” He turned back to Elsed. “So Xantaria wants Earth but there’s no way she could survive there?”
“Oh, Xantaria could,” Elsed said. “She’s plenty strong enough to maintain her essence. But her followers couldn’t – only idri and the strongest alrari. What’s worrying is that she says she knows a way to make Gaia hospitable to the Kithreia.”
“Do you think she does?” Matthias asked.
Elsed hesitated. “I don’t know. I can’t see how, but Alsia thinks she’s serious and she’s worried. She thinks that any method of making Gaia hosptable to the Kithreia would make it uninhabitable for unchanged humans. Not that Xantaria would care – she doesn’t like humans like Alsia does.”
“The biggest problem with attempting any large scale transformation of Earth is that we’d be all over anyone who tried it,” Sarah said thoughtfully. “So what she’s doing with the toxin may be a massive distraction.”
“But not one we can ignore.” Matthias sighed heavily. “Clever. We need to find out what she’s planning and why now.”
“I’m not sure what she’s planning to do,” Lyrrekka said slowly. “But I bet she’ll need Gaia open to the void to do it. That would explain why she freed Likadrian and why she had to wait until he acted again.”
“It would!” Elsed stared at her wide eyed. “And to rewrite the way a world works would need that, wouldn’t it? Do you have any idea how she’d do it, Lyrrekka-ida?”
“No.” Lyrrekka shook her head. “As far as I know you can’t just rewrite a world like that. You could probably do a lot damage trying though.”
“That’s what Alsia says,” Elsed said.
“Do you know any more of Xantaria’s plans?” Sarah asked.
“Not of her plans, no,” Elsed said. “But one of Alsia’s spies saw her receive an imp from Mitakrian and she seemed to be expecting it.”
Lyrrekka swore fiercely. “That may be the worst piece of news you’ve given us. Those two are bad enough apart.”
“How are things on Gaia?” Valeria asked after they’d finished talking with Elsed.
“Pretty bad, Val,” Sonia said. “So many people died and there are riots.” She rubbed tiredly at the bridge of her nose. “And now all this. Things are bad enough as it is. How are we going to handle an invasion if one comes?”
“We’ll cope.” Matthias squeezed her shoulder. “We’ll talk to the other families at the meeting. Arrange a defence against any invasion and get people working on finding the affected embers so we can treat and train them.”
“You know we’ll help if you need us to, don’t you?” Valeria said. “You’ve helped us often enough.”
“Thank you,” Matthias said. “We’ll bear that in mind. But we should get back to Earth and get planning.” He looked over at where Karilya was playing with Salia and the dryads. “Though Lyr might need to pry Kari away with a crowbar.”