Daniel closed his eyes and threw out a ward towards the creature. The ward wrapped around the creature momentarily and held it firm, but only for a moment before it slipped loose and he sensed it trying to dart past them. He still couldn’t see it, but he could sense its panic.
“What the hell?!” From his exclamation it seemed Matthias could sense it now as well; that was something at least. The shadows in the corridor coiled out of the corners and struck at the thing. Daniel blinked at his father for a moment and then threw his own weight behind his father’s efforts but still they couldn’t get a grip on it.
“It’s like trying to keep hold of wet soap!” Daniel complained. “It’s not especially strong but it’s incredible slippery.”
“Whatever it is, we need to confine it,” his father said. “I want to know how it got past the wards.” He threw more ropes of shadow at it while Daniel concentrated on creating a bubble of wards around it.
“I’m trying but it’s not work-”
The door of the practice room burst open and Naria raced into the corridor. A stream of fire lashed out from her hand and struck something before wrapping around it and dragging it to the floor. She walked over, lifted a hand with a glowing blue fireball in it and snapped something in draconic. There was a frightened sob and a boy about Naria’s age with dark hair, pale skin and light green flaming wings appeared.
“Well,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting this. It appears the Kithreiri have been spying on us.â€ She grabbed the boy’s arm, lifted it to show an intricate red tattoo and traced the symbol at its heart with a gentle finger. “He’s from Xanteria’s court. Oathbound as well. What’s your name?”
The prisoner gave her a sullen, frightened look but didn’t reply. Daniel had a feeling he didn’t understand English. Naria sighed and said something in draconic, at which the boy glared some more but shook his head.
“He doesn’t speak your language,” Naria said, confirming Daniel’s thought. “And since he’s not native to Taloa and he’s never been to Talonyka, we don’t have a link unless I can find a language other than draconic that we both speak so we can use me to form the link.” She caught Matthias’ look and gave a wry smile. “I’m worried draconic is the only language he knows. Except perhaps…” She said something else in draconic.
After a long moment the prisoner nodded hesitently. “A little, alra. My parents were very traditional.”
“My name is Naria,” she said. She wasn’t speaking either English or the Haltia language she used when her English skills failed her, Daniel realised. She looked around at them. “Can you understand us now?”
“Yes,” Matthias said. “What language is that?”
“Lova,” she said. “It’s a very old human language. A lot of Kithreiri still know it.” She looked down at the prisoner. “What’s your name?”
“Yedan,” he said.
“Very well, Yedan-alran. I think Matthias-idan has a few questions to ask you. We need somewhere I can put up wards to protect him.”
“Don’t you mean confine him?” Andrew asked as he came up behind her.
Naria shook her head. “Not really. He might try and escape but I doubt it. It’s more important to break his link to Xanteria-ida. He won’t be able to answer your questions until we do.” She looked around as Lyrrekka came racing into the corridor.
Lyrrekka took in the scene and paled slightly. “How the hell did I miss that the Kithreiri were spying on us?”
“Are they wardable against?” Matthias asked.
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I’ll help later. Is he bound?”
“Xanteria,” Naria said.
“Damn!” Lyrrekka chewed on her lip. “Matt, can we borrow the cellar? We’ll need to wrap him in wards. I’m going to send a message to Alaryia-miria. Her husband is a rebel Kithreia and there are stories that they can untangle Kithreiri oaths. I don’t think he’s happy.”
“Yes, of course,” he said.
“Nobody in Xanteria’s court is happy,” Naria said. She hauled Yedan to his feet. “Come on, you!”