Lydia poured herself a cup of tea from the large pot Sarah had brought into the dining room and looked around as her father and Lucas came in. “What now?”
“Our guests are asleep until the morning â€“ even the ones we can trust,” Matthias said. “So we have time to figure out what to do next.” He sat down by Sonia. “Are you okay?”
Sonia looked pale and tired. “It was a trap, Matt. A very cruel trap.” She folded her arms on the dining table and rested her head on them. “And someone laid it specifically for Marian Laverne.”
Lydia leaned over and started rubbing her mother’s shoulders. “What did you see?”
“Exactly what Marian thought she saw,” Tara said. “Resonants tearing our parents apart and destroying the plane to hide the evidence â€“ or possibly because they enjoyed it.” She took a ragged breath. “It was an obvious illusion when we thought about it but Tarian thinks that Marian would have been in no fit state to realise.” Her eyes hardened and she clenched her fists on the table. “We couldn’t get past the fake but whoever laid this trap is the real murderer of our parents. We have to try again.”
“We do-” Matthias looked up as Tarian re-entered. The dragon was grey and obviously shaky as he took a seat by Lyrrekka. She immediately laid a hand on his arm.
“Are you okay?”
Tarian shook his head. “There is no way that woman should be alive, let alone able to channel her power. Her essence didn’t adapt â€“ it’s completely shredded. The only reason she can is someone was waiting for her to break through and created artificial channels around her own core at exactly the right moment. But it’s not perfect and pressure is building up; if something isn’t done, you won’t have to worry about whether to kill her. She’ll be dead in the next few years anyway. I think she may even be aware of that though she doesn’t know why.” He scowled. “And this sort of re-channelling, I can’t think of many people who could do it. Andarian-mirian, of course, but it’s really not his style. Estara-miria possibly, but that’s even less likely. Idaturan-mirian â€“ if he thought there was something in it for him…”
“Well he’s not the nicest of people but I don’t think there’s any reason he would.â€ Lyrrekka said. â€œAlsia-ida could, I think, but again I can’t see a motive. And their heart friends of course, though that’s even less likely. I know where my money would be…” she trailed off.
“Mitakrian,” Tarian said flatly. “There’s still the question of why, but it’s something he would do.”
“This is all speculation,” Tara said sharply. “We’ll find out who was responsible if we force our way through. We should be able to do it if we all try together.”
Lydia reached across the table and squeezed her hands. “I’m sure we will, but maybe not right now. There’s the rest of your family to sort out first.” She looked over at her father. “Right, dad?”
Matthias nodded. “Though I think we should deal with Marian first. I want to know if she’s fixable if it isn’t her fault.” He stood up abruptly and strode the window. “Her opinions changed so abruptly; we should have looked into it.”
“We were too angry,” Sarah said. “And we wouldn’t have known what to look for.”
“Theoretically, she can be healed,” Tarian said. “But not just by rest and not using her powers, which is the normal treatment for a barrier breakdown. You’d need someone who could have done this is the first place, so it might be wisest to find out who was responsible first. And that’s only the actual damage â€“ her opinions and her sanity may not change and that’s not even the worst case scenario.”
“If we can prove to her she’s been used we might be able to redirect that rage if we can’t diffuse it,” Sarah said.
“Or her mind might collapse completely,” Tarian said. “If you want to get someone who you know isn’t responsible to look at her, I’d say Estara-miria or her heart friend is the best choice. Probably her heart friend since she can’t really come here.”
“Can’t we just kill her?” Hannah asked quietly. “She’s done so much damage.”
“Not if it wasn’t her fault, Han.” Amazingly, it was Kyle who spoke up. “Much as I hate to admit it. But I think Tara’s right; we have to find out what really happened to know for sure.”
“We may yet have to kill her even if it isn’t her fault,” Matthias said sombrely. “If she’s still dangerous.”
“And if she isn’t, we’re not going to kill her even if it is,” Sarah added firmly. She gave a wry smile as Kyle muttered something about ethics under his breath. “Exactly.” She looked over at Lyrrekka. “Can you contact Estara and ask for her help?”
“I can.” She paused and cast an amused look towards the ceiling. “I’ll do it after I say goodnight to Kari. She’s beginning to tap at me to see where I am.”
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