Andrew watched Jayden Emms hard for any sign that the man was aware he was monitoring Kifarin, but he seemed too preoccupied with monitoring the fight himself. Indeed he was pacing up and down the room looking more and more anxious. Suddenly he stopped and scowled at something.
“What the hell is he doing? I told him not to-” he broke off as an indecipherable expression crossed his face followed by a mixture of anger and extreme sorrow. “Oh, Huldre, I was unconscious all that time. I never thought about what it must have been like for you,” he murmured.
Andrew cautiously reached out to Kifarin, but he was involved in a tough fight with Halia and had no idea what Huldre might be doing. He eyed Emms cautiously for a moment before pushing another instruction at Kifarin.
If you can manage it without arousing suspicion let Halia capture you.
Kifarin didn’t respond with words but a sense of mental assent was pushed at him. Andrew got the sense the dragon wasn’t upset with the order. For a moment he wondered why he wasn’t speaking but as soon as the thought entered his head he realised it was to minimise the risk of them being caught.
He looked back up at Emms and found the man was now staring out of the window, still totally distracted.
You have to stop this, Huldre, Emms was either so upset that he didn’t realise he was leaking or he wanted Andrew to hear it for some reason. Neither of us will get what we want if you get us both kill- He broke off with a gasp. Laxmi! They’re going after Laxmi! You must stop them catching her. If they– He cocked his head as if listening. I don’t care if she can beat the daoine girl, the others will go after her. Protecting her is more important than stopping them reaching the core. She knows where we are and if they find out what she is… He trailed off. You can’t win against three of them. Just make sure to bring Laxmi back. We’ll talk then. He turned from the window and walked slowly to one of the chairs that stood around the walls and sank down into it. Andrew tried not to stare at him but the sight of tear tracks drying on Emms’ face was unexpected.
I’d say it was some sort of trick, Kimi said in Andrew’s head. But I can’t see what he’d hope to gain from it and he was really upset.
That’s pretty much what I was thinking, Andrew agreed. But he doesn’t seem the type to leak.
He’s linked to this thing in order to use it. Perhaps that’s how.
Perhaps, but we’ll worry about it later. I want to see how Kifarin’s doing.
Hannah shook with the effort of holding their patch of ground together. She was vaguely aware that Matthias and Lydia had leapt across the gulf between them and the firm ground to take on Huldre, but she was more intent on her task and on watching Ema.
Laxmi must have sensed her coming because she turned just in time to block the blow Ema aimed at her.
“Well,” Laxmi said. “This is interesting. I was trying to avoid a fight but I think I can handle you.” She ducked under Ema’s second blow and swiped at her side. Laxmi’s hands appeared to be empty but Ema screamed as blood spurted from her side where Laxmi had touched her.
Hannah screamed as well as sympathetic pain seared her through their bond, it was bad enough to disrupt her concentration. The scrap of ground she was maintaining crumbled in moments and she found herself falling towards the silvery mabain below.
Her scream was cut off as Alaryia dived down in her dragon form and caught her in her silvery talons. The dragon landed a little way from the fight, returned to her human form and helped Hannah sit down on a nearby rock.
“There, you’re okay and you should be out of the way here,” Alaryia said, then turned her attention to the fight with Huldre who was holding Lydia and Matthias off with effort. “He is strong – I’d best go and help.”
“I’ll be fine,” Hannah said and turned her attention to watching Ema’s confrontation with Laxmi. The Indian woman’s eyes had gone all black again and Hannah could see the faint outline of shadowy claws around her hands. They didn’t look solid, but the savage looking wound in Ema’s side suggested otherwise. As she watched, it became apparent that even with Bennu’s help Ema was on the back foot in this fight. “I’ll be fine as long as Ema is,” she corrected herself. She tried to rise and sank back down with a groan. “I wish I could help.”
“You did just fine, Hannah-alra,” Alaryia said. “I’ll make sure Ema is okay.” She smiled as Halia emerged from the bushes dragging an unconscious dragon who must be Kifarin out on the grass. “Halia, guard Hannah-alra. She’s too tired to fight.”
“Yes, mother.” Halia laid Kifarin out on the grass and sat down beside Hannah.
“Thank you.” Alaryia smiled at them again, then whirled towards the fight.