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We have a visitor, Valeria, her throne told her as she checked her border wards. She looked up in surprise because she still had her borders locked down.
A visitor? Friendly? she asked.
I don’t know, it replied. Strong, certainly, so they could be a threat, but I sense no hostility and they are waiting inside the first ward so they sensed when they passed through it.
Show me, she said.
It showed her a patch of the moors nearly a mile away and sure enough, there was a blue-skinned white haired female ice dwarf sitting on a boulder. She seemed to be staring directly at her.
Yes, she can sense us watching her, the throne said.
“Rai! Tonara!” She summoned the two thunderbirds to her side. “Take a detail and bring our guest here.” She watched them go then turned her attention back to the image.
“Who’s that, mummy?” Salia had been playing with a couple of younger dryads nearby, but she left her game and came over to the throne to see the image.
“I don’t know, but they got through the first layer of wards with no trouble and are being polite so we’ll hear what they have to say.”
“They’re pretty, whoever they are,” Salia said. “I hope they’re a friend.”
“I do as well,” Valeria said. “Isn’t it nearly time for your morning lessons?”
“Can’t I stay here? This would be a good queen lesson, wouldn’t it?”
She’s right, Val, Elaranor said. It is a good lesson and you know she’ll be quiet.
Valeria pursed her lips thoughtfully then nodded. “Very well.”
“Thank you, mummy!” Salia hugged her and ran over to one of the alcoves to sit down.
“Thank you for receiving me.” The ice dwarf bowed to Valeria. “When I realised you were locked down I feared that you would not. I am called Eseld.”
“You got past my first ward.” Valeria studied her guest thoughtfully then scowled. “That made me curious. You’re a heart friend but you feel old? Are you a renegade like the river singer?”
Eseld laughed and shook her head. “Nooo… my heart friend isn’t a dragon exactly. Though I hear it probably wouldn’t matter to you if she were. She’s Alsia-ida of the-”
“Kithreia!” Valeria gasped. “I’ve heard of her recently.”
“Yes, she had an inkling that you might have which is why she sent me to you,” she said. “Less complicated explanations. She’s in hiding from the Idri Council and she thinks they will know if she tries to contact the astral families on Gaia directly, but she needs to warn them.”
Valeria cocked her head at that. “So she wants you to relay the messages and I seemed your best chance to get in touch? Clever!”
“That’s correct. Will you help me, please? It’s urgent. I have word on what their enemies are planning.”
“I’ll send them a message but I’m sure they’ll agree.” Valeria began forming an imp even as she spoke.
“While you wait for a reply, please accept the hospitality of my palace. You’ve travelled far by the looks of things.”
“Thank you.” Eseld bowed again. “It is indeed a long journey from my home in the ice peaks to here.”
Lydia and the others were still waiting for Sarah to return from calling her friend when Valeria’s imp arrived and flew straight to Matthias.
“Well that looks ominous,” he said as he held out his hand to it. “What else has gone wrong?” He absorbed it and gave a sigh of relief. “Oh it’s something good, or at least helpful. It looks like you don’t need to send a message to Alsia, Lyr. She’s trying to make contact with us.”
“Oh? Via Val?”
He nodded. “She sent her heart friend to her.”
“Clever. We must go and speak with her.”
“We will, as soon as Sal gets back.”