Dariad gasped as the throne projected an image of Ystelyan appearing just outside the wards and promptly sinking to the ground, bright blue blood seeping from his wounds. Rilletta knelt beside him and helped him to stand and they hobbled towards the gate. Daniel followed them and was also bleeding, though his wounds looked much less severe.
“Let them in! Ystelyan-mirian and Daniel-idan need this quickly.” Halia grabbed a jug of the reheated antidote and raced towards the doors.
“Wait for me!” Ebona trotted after her.
Wonderful, now I get to save a dragon’s life, Dariad thought as he opened the wards long enough for them to get inside.
You couldn’t leave him if you wanted to, the throne said. Not when he’s your ally.
I know. The haltia heart laws wouldn’t allow it even though they’ve been degrad– His eyes went wide. Wait! I can feel them again. I hadn’t even noticed I couldn’t. Is that because the Heart is free?
That would be my surmise, it replied. It’s certainly not the Core. There’s going to be a lot of very scared people today.
“Dariad?” Matthias was frowning at him, the gasp must have attracted his attention. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, it’s just I can feel the heart laws again.”
“You mean you couldn’t before?” Matthias scowled. “And you didn’t notice? How odd.”
“You should check with Val,” Sonia said. She sounded weak but was sitting up and leaning on sister’s shoulder and her face was no longer crumpled with pain. “See if she’s experiencing the same thing.”
“That’s a good idea,” he said and reached out through his throne, seeking Valeria’s.
Dariad? She seemed surprised, though that quickly morphed into worry. Is everything okay? Is it Alban?
Alban isn’t back yet but he’s okay as far as I know, though he is involved in a fight. He pushed all the information he had on the situation to her. But that’s not why I’m calling you. I can feel the heart laws again. Can you?
Agai– she began then broke off with a gasp. How did I not notice that I couldn’t feel them? When did I stop feeling them?
Can you feel them now? he asked urgently.
Yes, she said after a moment. Thank goodness I never broke any – I think I came close a time or two. She gave an amused snort. If Ystelyan hasn’t killed my brother and Sirin yet, they’ll be terrified. She paused. More terrified than they already were, that is.
Would you like me to ask? Dariad said. There was a long pause before Valeria replied.
Yes, I think I would. Part of me doesn’t really care what happens to them and their collaborators but the rest of me knows that I should, in spite of what they did.
Okay. Dariad opened his eyes and looked towards Ystelyan, who had been helped into the throne room by Rilletta and Halia while he and Valeria were talking. He was sitting in a chair drinking antidote while Halia tended his wounds. She appeared to be washing them out with more of the antidote. Daniel was sitting next to him with one of Dariad’s own healers sponging out the enflamed scratches on his skin similarly.
“Will they be okay?” he asked out loud. Halia looked around at him and nodded.
“It’s not as bad as it looks. Neither of them got anywhere near the dose mother says Karen-ida got from Gerian, so it’s easier to treat.”
“I told them I didn’t need to rush back,” Ystelyan said.
Halia tutted at him. “Well, no, I suppose you didn’t if you really don’t mind being sick as a dog for a few days and possibly crippled.”
Ystelyan stared at her for a moment. “If I don’t mind being what?”
“Sick as a dog. It’s a human idiom. I picked it up off Matthias-idan.” She gave a wry grin. “No, I don’t get it either.”
“Valeria wanted me to ask you something,” Dariad said. “If you’re well enough to answer. She was curious what you did with her brother and his co-conspirators?” He half expected Ystelyan to refuse to answer or even be angry about her concern but the blue dragon just chuckled.
“I wondered how long it would take for her to get around to asking about them,” he said. “I actually haven’t done anything to them yet – I’ve been letting them think over their situation a while in an unshielded cell. For one thing, I imagine Darya wants to be there.”
“You bet I do!” Darya said.
“I wouldn’t mind being there either,” Lorelei said from where she was sitting with him and Mela.
“Given the number of people they hurt during their coup attempt you could probably sell tickets, my mirian,” Kyle said.
Ystelyan snorted and shook his head. “I probably should consult with Valeria about their fate before I do anything.”
Dariad passed that on. She hummed thoughtfully and thanked him but didn’t otherwise respond.
“The Heart will probably have opinions as well,” Halia said. “Worry about it once you’ve rested.” She looked over at Dariad. “Do you have somewhere Ystelyan-mirian can sleep?”
“Of course.” He looked over at Brita, who nodded.
“I prepared some extra chambers in case we needed them. Follow me please.”