Matthias and his group got back not long after Kyle’s arrival. As Dariad let them through the wards, he couldn’t help noticing Halia wasn’t with them. He felt an unexpected pang of worry for the dragon until he realised they didn’t seem upset – though Matthias and Lydia did look anxious. Alaryia must have sent her somewhere.
As soon as they reached the throne room, Matthias and Lydia rushed over to where Sarah was treating Sonia with help from two of Dariad’s best healers. Of course they would have been aware of Sonia being in danger, wouldn’t they?
“What happened?” Alaryia asked quietly. “We were on our way back when they sensed Sonia-ida was in pain but they couldn’t pick up much more.”
“Ah,” Dariad said. “I’ll let Kyle explain. He was there.”
“It was Mitakrian,” he said and quickly brought her, Hannah and Ema up to speed on what had happened. When he finished, Alaryia made a hissing noise between her teeth and closed her eyes, an expression of concentration crossing her face.
“When Halia gets back, she’ll help Sarah treat her sister,” she said then headed for the door. “She’ll be bringing some flasks of antidote to Mitakrian’s venom with her.”
“Wait! Where are you going?” Dariad asked even though he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
“To help, of course. Mitakrian is tough, not especially strong on the offense but very resilient, which gives him chance to wear stronger opponents down. And if we don’t make sure he knows he’s lost this one, he’ll keep coming.”
“He might attack us?” Dariad shuddered at the thought.
Alaryia paused in the doorway and nodded slowly. “He very well might. He’s done it before, after all. But he knows he can’t breach the throne’s wards, so maybe not.” She chewed on her lip. “When Halia brings the antidote, could you get some of your people to warm it ready for when we get back? We’re likely to need it. He likes to use his venom a lot – mostly because, like I said, he’s really not that strong on the attack.”
“I know,” he replied. “He did it a lot during the siege. If the warriors hadn’t found a village of goblins willing to make the antidote for us we’d have-” he broke off and stared at her as he registered the half smile she was giving him. “They were yours, weren’t they?”
“They were,” she said. “There’s no way a village of unaffiliated goblins would have risked bring the wrath of one of the first twelve down on their heads.” She turned and was gone before he could say anything else.
He gave Ebona and Kenna a questioning look. Ebona was too distracted to notice – probably trying to check on Daniel – but Kenna did and gave a neighing chuckle.
“You already know she was telling the truth but you still want me to confirm it?” she asked. “She was telling the truth – it would have shocked me at the time but now that I think about it, they did give some pretty circuitous answers when we asked about their affiliations. I wonder if Lyr ever realised after she became a dragon? I’ll have to ask her when she gets back.”
Halia returned soon after, loaded down with flagons of antidote. Dariad had already called together the healers who were old enough to have worked during the siege and who thus knew how to get the prepared antidote ready to be used.
“Thank you,” she said as they hurried over to relieve her of her burden. She watched their preparations for a few moments, probably checking they weren’t going to ruin it, and then headed over to Sarah.
“Do you need any help?” she asked.
“We wouldn’t mind,” Sarah said. “She isn’t quite in the state she was when she arrived at Waldhafen but she’s in a pretty bad way.” She cocked her head at Halia. “And I think you know how bad she was then.”
Halia nodded. “I did my best to fix it but essence burn is not a one person job, especially not when it’s been left that long.”
“I know,” Sarah said. “It took me, Birke and two of the best healers in Waldhafen to fix her up. I think if he’d brought her to me when it happened it would only have needed Birke and me.”
“Probably, though it would have taken longer,” Halia said as she knelt down by Sonia. She scowled thoughtfully at her and winced. “Oh dear, she really did rip them open, didn’t she? What was she doing?”
“Shielding herself from one of Mitakrian’s attacks. She stopped it but her shield gave,” Kyle said.
“Ah, yes, that would do it. She’s almost the complete opposite of him power-wise. Strong on attack but not very resilient. She’d have done better dodging and attacking him. She’s strong enough to shred his defences.” She looked up as Matthias made a protesting sound in his throat. “Just an observation, Matthias-idan. I mean no disrespect.”