“How long?” Sonia asked as she continued holding Andrew’s hand.
“Not long,” Alaryia said. “I’m just about through with unpicking the defences and then we can get him out. She glanced at Andrew. “How are you doing, kid?”
Andrew nodded. “I’m okay, I think. No pains since that first one. B-but I think that he killed all of the dragons I sent to attack him. I can’t feel them anymore.” He swallowed back a sob as he admitted that.
“That’s very likely,” Kiataran said from where he was still guarding the door. His eyes were still swirling with the brown that indicated he was channelling his father.”I believe he was planning to kill them anyway once he had no more use for them, so don’t go feeling guilty.”
“That’s very likely,” Alaryia said. “He was certainly casually abusing from what I saw. It seems that he’s a truely awful person. I could really learn to hate this one.”
“He’s always been eminently hatable,” Kiataran said. “Even Kayla didn’t really like him even when they were allied.”
Alaryia’s hands paused over the panel and she looked over at Kiataran with narrowed eyes.
“Of course, you’re old enough to remember him, aren’t you? Is that why you’re helping us? It can’t be good for your plans.”
“Likadrian’s worse for them,” he said blandly. “And I’m not Mitakrian. I do sometimes do things that’s outside my plans, Alaryia.”
“I know that.” She smirked for a moment before her expression grew grave again. “And you’re not quite as horrible either. But this seems more than that and I wouldn’t trust you as far as I can throw you. What are you after?”
“That’s because you’re clever.” He gave a sly smile. “And what I hope to gain from this should be obvious since it’s right in front of you.”
She gave him a thoughtful look then her eyes widened. “You’re hoping to get your son back! Of course!”
“He’s not really a bad child, Alaryia. He doesn’t deserve to be a slave.”
“Kiataran is neither good, nor a child if what Halia tell me about him is correct,” she said. “Though I’ll give you not evil and that he doesn’t deserve this.”
“Ah, Alaryia. Always so harsh. You wound me, you really do.” He sounded more amused than angry. “I’m not your enemy, really.”
She tutted and shook her head at that before turning her attention back to the panel again. ” Just one more ward.” She looked over at Lucas. “This one is likely to backlash a little no matter what I do. Do you think you could buffer him?”
“Of course!” He strode up on to the dais, slid his hands under the hood and touched Andrew’s temples. A gentle, numbing fog seemed to leak from his fingers into Andrew’s head. “You’d better hurry; he’s not going to be able to concentrate hard enough to keep control of the system while I’ve got him cushioned, and even if the dragons are dead there’s still the circleted Speakers to consider. I know we can handle them but let’s not make work for ourselves.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “But we’re nearly done.” There was a screaming sound from the hood and then it cracked and disintegrated. A searing pain went through Andrew’s head and he slumped into Lucas and his mother’s arms. Alaryia bustled over and laid a hand on his head. “He’ll be fine,” she said after a long moment, then stiffened and turned to the door as Alban came running in with Xania in his arms. “What happened?”
“He’d twisted the building somehow. She broke it but she’s burned her essence doing it. Can you help her?”
“Probably. Lie her down!” Alaryia knelt beside the nymph. “Halia, give me a hand here.” She said softly. “This is going to take both of us.”
“Yes, mother.” Halia knelt down opposite her and placed her hand on Xania’s chest. “Oh, poor thing. She’s really torn herself up hasn’t she? I’ll purge and seal, you weave the scars together?”
“Yes, of course,” Alaryia smiled at her daughter. “She’ll be able to heal herself from there.”