October 26th, 2012 | Published in Dragon Wars
“You have to try and summon the key as soon as we arrive, Hannah,” Matthias said. “It probably won’t work and it’s rather a dangerous thing to ask you, given how strong he is – but if he has to fight you for control of it, it’ll distract him at least temporarily.”
“I’m not sure I can hold out against him long enough for it to make any difference,” Hannah said. “He’s really strong. He wasn’t bluffing about me being no threat to him. I’ll try, but I’ll need backup and even then I might injure myself.”
“And if you do we’ll fix you up,” Alaryia said. “But she’s right, she will need a lot of help.” She looked over at Lydia. “Is mother still keeping up her guilty silence? Try asking her how many people it took to take him down last time.”
Lydia closed her eyes for a long moment then nodded. “She says that he and Huldre managed to kill a good quarter of all the Idri last time, but not all at once. She thinks there’s enough of us because his energy won’t have settled yet.”
“That’s true,” Takilyan said. “It won’t have – and that suggests a plan of attack. Something he may not expect since dragons didn’t exist last time and energy manipulation doesn’t come as easily to humans or kithra.”
“Tak!” Alaryia sounded appalled. “That’s horrible!”
“It is practical though, Al,” Estara said. “We have to take him down hard and fast if we are to stop him.” She tutted to herself. “Kitarian, did he spend any time studying dragon capabilities when he had you?”
“No, he was too focused on his goal to do anything like that.” He hesitated. “Lanaria did, but I don’t think she told him what she was doing let alone passed anything on. She seem fascinated by our hunger.”
“She didn’t tell him,” Naria said from the doorway. She was standing there with Andrew. Hannah wondered if they were even aware they were holding hands.
“I know we’re not going with you,” Andrew said. “But can we join you?”
“Of course you can,” his father said. “Though he’s started his ritual so we’ll need to leave soon.” He looked back at Estara and Takilyan. “What was your idea?”
“The edges of his essence will still be very badly frayed by what he’s done to himself,” Takilyan said. “Because of our particular needs, dragons are especially good at manipulating essence. You might say it comes naturally to us. I suspect we could pry those edges up and rip his centre open.”
Matthias shuddered. “That sounds extremely painful.”
“Oh, yes, and it would drop him into transition at the very least,” Estara said. “But he’s strong enough it would likely need all four of us to do it.” She looked over at Alaryia who scowling. “You know it makes sense, Al.”
“It does.” Alaryia frowned. “But I don’t have to like it.” She sighed heavily. “But I don’t see any alternative. It’s the fastest way to stop him and we do need to stop him.”
“Good, good.” Estara turned to look at Ystelyan. She didn’t say anything but she cocked an eyebrow at him challengingly.
“Take that look off your face, Estara-miria,” he said. “I agree with you on this.”
“So as soon as we jump in, Hannah will go after the key with help from everyone except from you four and me, Sonia, the kids and Sal. We’ll go after Huldre and you go after Emms?” Matthias asked.
“It seems reasonable plan,” Sonia said. “The best one we’ve come up with, anyway, and we don’t have time to come up with a better one.”
“Somehow I wish you’d left that last bit off,” Matthias said dryly.
Sonia gave him a gentle smile and jerked her head at Andrew. “You’d better tell Drew about Kitarian.”
“Hmm?” Andrew asked.
“His father wants him to stay as a liason for a while so I’m giving you control of his collar while we’re gone because I don’t know what would happen if anything happened to me while he was wearing it.”
“Ah!” Andrew nodded. “That makes sense. Are you okay with this, Kitarian-idan?”
“I have no objections to the mission and retaining the collar is safer for others than not.” Kitarian raised a hand to his collar. “I wish there was a version of this without the controls. I never realised how much it hurt before. I’m not looking forward to that part of freedom.”
“I see,” Andrew said.
“Good.” Matthias looked around at the others. “Let’s go, then.”