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“Any word from your mentor yet, Lyd?” Matthias asked.
Lydia opened her eyes and shook her head.
“You haven’t, then?”
“I have, but she doesn’t have an answer for us, unfortunately. She says they never figured out how to close it but it gradually shrank and closed on its own after about a year and that she thinks we would be better concentrating on damage limitation. She also says we should get home and check on the news because it’s already begun and we need to be ready to help the worst affected.” She swallowed and rubbed at her arms. “She also says that the idri council is talking about war because of this. Some of them are that afraid.”
Kitarian made a sceptical noise in his throat. “Some of them are using it as an excuse, she means. The Lost Ones can’t survive on Kithra and they know it – it was one of the reasons they chose it rather than one of the more hospitable worlds out in the void.”
Lydia’s expression became conflicted at that and he gave her a curious look.
“What did she say, Lydia-ida?”
Lydia hesitated a moment longer. “She says that Alsia-ida said the same thing.”
“That doesn’t surprise me,” he said equably. “Alsia’s okay when she isn’t trying to rip my throat out for something I didn’t do. We used to be friends once.” He caught the curious looks the others gave him. “I have to admit I looked guilty. If I didn’t know it was impossible I’d have thought I did it. And to be fair, I did do the other thing she accused me of. I just wish she’d asked me why. But she was so angry she slipped into a temporary descent.”
Lydia’s eyes slid sideways as if she was listening to someone. “She says that Alsia is still out for your blood.”
“Yes.” He winced. “Believe me I’ve noticed, but she’s not completely off the deep end at the moment. I have a horrible feeling that might cha-” He broke off with a groan. “I’m sorry. I know this conversation isn’t finished but Kitarian failed to tell me how close he was to his limit, so we will have to continue it later.” The brown swirls in Kitarian’s eyes faded and he slumped forward in his chair. Alaryia was at his side in a moment and she tutted at him.
“Why didn’t you tell him he was pushing you too hard, silly boy?” she asked.
“Wanted to help,” he mumbled. “I’ll be okay. I can’t frenzy with this thing on.”
“Will he be?” Matthias asked.
Alaryia nodded. “He needs to feed again and then sleep, but he should be okay if he doesn’t do that again. If his father hadn’t realised how close he was to collapsing it could have been worse. He really wasn’t just jumping out of a conversation he wanted to avoid. I’ll attend to Kitarian but I think you should take my mother’s advice and get back to Taloa and see what is happening. What she said about it starting already is worrying me.”
“And I’m going to send Talina to visit her mother again,” Ystelyan said. “Perhaps she will have some insight on what the idri council is doing. I doubt she would have mentioned them considering war if it wasn’t a serious threat.”
“I think it might be more of a threat to the Kithreia that the Talori,” Takilyan said. “I didn’t realise how populous Taloa had gotten. They would be swamped by sheer numbers. But it would be troublesome for us as much as for the humans if they tried it so I think I’ll try and talk to my contacts as well.”
“Thank you.” Matthias turned to Valeria. “Do you want us to continue looking after Salia? I’m not sure Earth is going to be safe.”
“For what it’s worth I don’t think Gerian will go after her again,” Alaryia said. “Not for a while anyway. He’s going to be distracted by what happened on Taloa as well.”
“Hmm… It does seem like it’s not so safe any more.” Valeria stared up at the leafy ceiling. “I think I’ll take moppet home with me then.” She ruffled her daughter’s hair. “We’ll send Hannah back once she is well. Call us if you need us.”