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“So it’s a war, then,” Anthony said. “And not the one we expected.”
“We were expecting a war?” Andrew asked.
“Yes,” Sarah said. “Or more accurately, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the dragons had invaded.”
“They still might,” Naria said pensively. “Gerian was certainly planning to and he really hates Xanteria so he might decide to continue with his plan just to get at her.” She cocked her head and gave a wry smile. “Actually, I don’t know anyone who knows about what Xanteria-ida did to Keylaria who doesn’t hate her. If I didn’t know she was red I’d swear she was yellow.” She glanced over at Lyrrekka. “No offence.”
“None taken.” Lyrrekka chuckled. “I know exactly what you mean – she does rather give Shalriya a run for her money. It’s a fine line between being an ideologue and just being excessively stubborn about your beliefs, and sometimes it doesn’t really matter which it is.”
“I guess,” Naria said. “But yeah, there are whole lot of people who’d be quite happy to rip through Gaia to get at Xanteria’s throat â€“ and thanks to the search for the antidote to this venom, my mirian had to tell a lot of people.” She rubbed at bridge of her nose. “Hopefully no one will do anything precipitous.”
“Let’s worry about the problem we know we have,” Sarah said practically. “We need to come up with some way to track the affected so we can treat them before they explode.”
“Did you call Stefan yet?” Anthony asked. “He should be able to help – on mainland Europe, anyway.”
Sarah hesitated and turned to stare out of the kitchen window. “I’ve been afraid to,” she admitted finally. “I think Marian called him before we captured her and if she didn’t I’m fairly sure that Adrian will have. I don’t know how he’ll react – his family are hunters after all.”
“There’s only one way to find out, Sal, and we do need his help.”
“Yes,” she said. “I know. I’ll go and do it after we’ve finished talking.”
“I still don’t know how we’re going to deal with all these people without being noticed,” James said. “Or where we’re going to put them.”
“Use the school,” Karen suggested absently, most of her attention riveted to the news for fear of missing something. “And ask them to bring their own supplies so we don’t have to arouse suspicions by obtaining them.”
“Brierthorne?” he asked.
“Is there another school?” She turned to look at her uncle and sighed in exasperation at how confused he looked. “It’s got plenty of room and it’s tucked away from prying eyes. It’s ideal and you know the Keefe’s won’t mind.”
“That’s a good idea, Kaz,” Matthias said. “We should have thought of that.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “You should have.”
“It’s also a good place to deal with all the people we’re likely to have to help,” Matthias said. “It’s designed for that after all. Sal’s in the kitchen with Anthony, let’s go and talk to her.”
“Use Brierthorne for the conference?” Sarah blinked in surprise. “That’s… that’s actually a very good idea. I’ll ask Dad after I’ve talked to Stefan but I can’t imagine he’ll say no.”
“It’s the best place for training Selene and Andrew as well.” Anthony pushed his now empty plate away and stood up just as the kitchen door opened again to admit Mia and Karilya.
Mia froze momentarily when she saw him then pushed Karilya behind her defensively before looking at Lyrrekka.
“Is he safe now, mother?” she asked.
“He wouldn’t be out of his room if he weren’t,” Lyrrekka said. “Would you?”
“No, but I don’t think I was ever so far gone as to attack a child.” Anthony smiled bemusedly at Karilya, who had leaned around Mia and was staring at him curiously. “Even a dragon child. At least I hope I wasn’t. These are your daughters then?”
“Yes.” Lyrrekka wrapped a fond arm around Mia’s shoulder and ruffled Karilya’s hair as she introduced them.
Karilya obviously took that as a sign that it was safe to come out from behind Mia. She walked up to Anthony and stared up at him boldly.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” she said. “We’re going to need you.”
“Hmm?” He looked down at her. “You are, are you?”
“Yes.” She nodded emphatically. “I had a dream last night.”
“A dream?” Lyrrekka looked at her daughter sharply before kneeling beside her. “Show us, Kari.”
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