“I’d like to help!”
They all turned in surprise to see a dragon in light green robes with matching green eyes. Saeaera was with him with an apologetic look on her face, and a semi-skeletal gryphon stood behind them both.
“And it sounds like you need us,” the gryphon said.
“He insisted and we can’t exactly argue with him,” Saeaera said. “Shadavar says he means no harm.”
“Tak!” Alayria leapt to her feet. “You came!”
“Hello, Alaryia,” the dragon said, “It’s good to see you again.” He turned to Matthias. “Dragon Lord, thank you for sending my dear one back to me. I know she wasn’t always polite to you. I did advise her she should be.”
“Well, lack of politeness was understandable in the circumstances. Is she well?” He paused. “I was told you didn’t like humans.”
“I don’t especially, but Likadrian is dangerous enough for me to put that aside.” He gave an heavy sigh. “And she’s well. She’s waiting outside. She wants to help as well. My little one does not like failure.”
“I have a question,” Hannah said suddenly. “If you all intend to help, isn’t there some sort of ban on you visiting Earth?”
“We’ve been talking about that. It’s how I found out what you’re planning,” Takiylian said. “Even the ones who really can’t stomach helping you have agreed to not interfere. The only ones who don’t know are Shalriya and Mitakrian and at least some of the others have agreed to stop them.” He cocked his head at Colette, who was sitting by Agrona. “Please tell me those children aren’t coming with us.”
“No!” Valeria exclaimed.
“Of course not,” Alaryia said. “They’re here because it seems like a safe place to leave them.”
“Oh, that’s a relief,” he said. “By anyone’s standard they’re too young to fight.”
“She’s human,” Alaryia noted in a sly tone.
“Yes, but she’s just a child,” he said. “It’s not her fault.”
“It’s been a very long time, Tak. It’s no one who currently lives on Taloa’s fault.” Her voice softened. “Isn’t it about time you let it go?”
“Perhaps,” he said. “Maybe your friends will convince me to.”
“Well, we’ll try,” Sonia said. She rose to her feet. “Takilyan-mirian, I am Sonia Keefe, the wind warrior. It is my honour to meet you.” She inclined her head to him.
“Sonia-ida.” He nodded in response. “Someone has been coaching you on etiquette.” He turned to Lyrrekka. “I must apologise for my adopted daughter’s rudeness when you met her. She likes neither humans nor yellows. Not surprising, given her history.”
“Oh god,” Lyrrekka shuddered. “That poor girl had been in Shalriya’s claws? No wonder she hates yellows.”
“It’s hardly your fault, Lyrrekka-ida,” he said. “I reminded her you’re a victim in all this as well. It didn’t make her happy but she’s accepted it.”
“All this…” Lyrrekka stared at him in shock. “You don’t just mean Shalriya do you?” Her eyes widened. “That girl is twice-made? But she’s so young…”
“She was carried from Taloa as a baby â€“ by her mother.” He glanced over at Tara. “I suspect the hunter woman remembers her mother, since she wouldn’t have made it off Taloa without her help.” There was no malice in his tone. “When we spoke with her she told us what happened.”
“Shit!” Tara said. “He’s talking about Elise and Alexandra Williamson!”
“Wait, are you saying that she’s Alexandra Williamson?” Matthias said.
“I believe that was her name once, yes,” Takilyan said. “Why?”
“Shit! How are we going to tell Anthony?” Sarah said. “Elise is his cousin. Is she a dragon too?”
“No.” He shook his head. “Elatria-keda is kithereia. She’s part of Andarian’s court – which is to the good. She’s gold after all. Golds tend to make terrible dragons.”
“Elatria was Elise?” Lyrrekka said in a stunned tone. “I never realised. She had to know who I was.”
“She certainly seemed to. Now may we join you?” Takilyan asked.
“Please do,” Matthias said.
Takilyan came in, followed by the gryphon and more reticently by Elzaria and a lightning wolf. The dragon girl had a slightly stunned look on her face as the wolf rubbed up against her.
“She didn’t know?” Alaryia asked.
Takilyan shook his head. “No, she was only a toddler when she was caught up in one of Shalriya’s raids and after I got her out I had no reason to suspect she was twice made. It wasn’t until this one turned up.” He nodded to the wolf. “Then I realised and made effort to contact her mother and find out what had happened.”
“She’s weaker than I’d expect to survive being twice made with little break and without entering transition,” Alaryia said.
“I know,” he said. “She should be stronger, but Shalriya hurt her badly at a very vulnerable age. She may never recover fully.”
“Hey! I am here, you know,” Elzaria said.
Takilyan put an arm around her shoulder. “I know.”
Alaryia rose to her feet and walked over. “Would you let me take a look? Tak’s no healer and it may be fixable.”
Elzaria cast a cautious glance at Takilyan. When he gave her an encouraging smile, she nodded. “I’d be grateful.”
“Well, we have a little time before we’re likely to needed.” Alaryia took Elzaria’s hand and lead her to a corner. She glanced back at the storm wolf. “Would you care to assist me? You should be able to.”
Takilyan hit his forehead. “Of course, I should have thought of having one of my healer’s try that once I found out.”
“Yes, you should,” Alaryia said. She patted Elzaria’s shoulder. “Now let’s see what’s going on in there.”