Kyle slid down from Lyrrekka’s back, then stiffened as he sensed Marian Laverne nearby. He would have charged in to attack her without thinking but his mother slid back into her human form and placed a gentle hand on his forearm.
Kyle, don’t. Stay calm and stick to the plan. Lyrrekka’s voice was calm inside Kyle’s mind. She’s very dangerous. Let me handle her.
I think that’s her right anyway, Matthias added.
It is, Kyle agreed.
But first I think I’ll deal with the kid on the right, Lyrrekka said. Poor child is terrified of his aunt.
And very unhappy to be here, Lucas agreed. That’s Edwin. He can’t be more than twelve unless my memory’s deceiving me. Why has she brought- oh God…
What’s wrong? Lyrrekka asked.
He was planning to run while they were gone, but Marian brought him along to prove his loyalty because his older brother and sister were killed helping Hannah escape. He gave a violent shudder.
That’s horrible! Kyle felt himself shudder as well.
Don’t kill him, Lyr, Matthias said.
I wasn’t intending to, Matt. I don’t kill children. You know that. She stiffened and looked towards the wards. They’re moving!
Wait for the wards to snap shut! Matthias ordered. Even as he spoke, the second group raced through the gap intending to attack Sarah and the others were already engaged with the first six attackers. There was a loud clapping sound and the gap in the wards crashed shut. Three of them were thrown back outside the wards and two more were trapped like flies in amber but Marian Laverne and her son Adrian were still moving, albeit slower than they had been. Hannah’s sister Kayleigh was still moving as well but only because Adrian had hold of her hand and was dragging her along.
Go! They rushed towards the wards.
Lyrrekka landed behind Edwin and grabbed the child, who was one of those trapped in the wards. A moment later, the boy collapsed noiselessly in her arms. She leapt clear of the fight and laid her target on the lawn some distance away where he wouldn’t be in danger of being hit by accident, then spun back towards the fight as Matthias confronted Marian.
Kyle saw that Adrian and Kayleigh had stopped and were standing back to back, waiting for an attack. The sight of Hannah’s sister helping the family who had killed her mother and tried to kill her sister made him snarl. Was she really so dopey about that prat Adrian? He changed direction to confront them and felt Darya shift to follow him.
You take Adrian, he told his heart friend. Kayleigh is mine.
He summoned two ropes of water and leapt to confront Kayleigh, wrapping them around her. Her eyes widened and she would have flinched back if Adrian’s back against her own hadn’t stopped her.
“But you’re dead!” she said. “They told us at school you were dead.”
Kyle sighed and rolled his eyes at her. “So everyone tells me.” The ropes rose and lifted her off the ground. “It’s getting a bit old and I don’t care to explain to a kin-betraying bitch.”
“Kay, what?” Adrian turned slightly as he felt her back leave his then gave a squeak as he saw Kyle. A moment later, Darya barrelled out of the darkness and knocked Adrian flying. Darya stepped after him, weaving water ropes of his own to tie the idiot down.
“You!” The shriek from Marian Laverne made everyone turn to look. She was facing down Lyrrekka and even in the dark it was clear that she had paled.
“Me,” Lyrrekka said in a mock cheerful tone. “Hello Marian. We have a conversation from a few years ago to finish, I believe.”
“Monster! Protecting the world from creatures like you’ve become are the reason we have to do this.”
Lyrrekka shook her head. “You made us, Marian. If your ancestors hadn’t seen fit to try and wipe out the eskalri for no reason there would be no exiles and no dragons.”
Marian just snarled at her. The pain, rage and grief flaring off the woman knocked Kyle back a step. What the hell? Laverne never lost control like this. The woman was notoriously icy. As he watched, the woman backed up a few steps and flung out her hands. There was an explosive retort and fiery spears grew out of the ground around Lyrrekka and Matthias. “Die for real this time!”
Kyle gasped and nearly ran to aid his mother but she shook her head at him, unphased by the fire. A warm yellow glow broke around her, smothering Marian’s fire before shooting a stream of her own yellow fire at the woman.
Marian dove out of the way, twisting in the air the avoid the coils of shadow that Matthias sent spinning towards her before she landed awkwardly in the nearby stream. Matthias’s shadows entangled her as she struggled to rise and Lyrrekka casually kicked her in the chest and sent her sprawling again.
Kyle’s attention shot back to Adrian Laverne in time to see the water ropes Darya had used to bind him freeze, then shatter in an explosion of razor-sharp ice. As he scrambled to get his shield up, Adrian flipped to his feet – seeming unaffected by the wards – and shattered the ropes on Kayleigh, pulling her to her feet before he dove at Lyrrekka. Her attention was fixed on Marian so before she could react, he had knocked her sideways.
Before Kyle could make a move to help, Kayleigh had flung up a shield of rock shards in front of him and Darya.
“Mum.” Adrian knelt down by Marian. His own shield rose, deflecting anything which made it past Kayleigh’s. “We have to retreat. They’re ready for us.”
Marian looked up at him and shook her head violently.
“We have to. Resonants are always more dangerous as group.” His icy shield glowed around him, shielding his mother and himself from the attacks Matthias and Lyrrekka were throwing at them. He made a whimpering sound as his shield buckled under the relentless assault but somehow held. From the way his face was crumpled he was right at the limits of his power. “You taught me that… and they have their heart friends with them. We have to go.” When she shook her head again he swore violently and grabbed her shoulder. “You’re not well, mum. I’m sorry,” he whispered, then yelled, “Everyone! Retreat!”
He pulled his shield in, clearly intending to jump out with his mother, but was knocked flying by a blast of fire from Lyrrekka as Kayleigh’s shield collapsed. He rolled to his feet and turned back towards his mother but Lyrrekka was standing there holding a fiery wall between them.
“Damn it, boy you’re stronger than you have any right to be,” Lyrrekka said.
Kyle nodded; he certainly hadn’t realised Adrian Laverne was that strong. He’d never shown this much power at school. And what affinity was he using to move so fast? Kyle couldn’t think of anything in Adrian’s spread that could do that but he was running rings around them when the wards should have been slowing him down to a crawl.
Adrian backed away from Lyrrekka, clearly taking in the situation. Kayleigh was struggling as she was dragged into the ground nearby while Hannah and Ema watched coolly. Kenna had one of the Laverne cousins pinned to the ground with horn and hoof while a dark haired woman who Kyle thought might come from one of the Laverne’s satellite families lay crumpled at Lucas’s feet. Edwin was still sleeping where Lyrrekka had left him, leaving only one of the attackers from this group was unaccounted for.
Kyle cast his mind around and located where they’d fled into the nearby bushes at Adrian’s call for a retreat just as they teleported away.
Adrian feinted trying to reach his mother again before scowling and leaping over to Kayleigh instead. “Come on, love.” He grabbed her hand as spears of ice erupted from the ground around her and cracked the rock imprisoning her. He pulled her free of the ground, spun around and psychokinetically grabbed the unconscious woman who Lucas had captured. There was a loud pop and the three of them vanished.
“Not a good day for the Lavernes,” Kyle murmured and turned to stare up the slope to where the others were still fighting their opponents.