Takilyan turned back to the others. “Who else is going to help?”
“We’re working on that,” Alaryia said. “Endaria and Gerian have agreed to keep an eye on Shalriya and Mitakrian. I’m glad Gerian’s agreed not to take advantage of this”
“I’m not surprised. Even in descent he knows how dangerous those two are. I’d be more surprised if he hadn’t. And he’s right; someone does need to keep an eye on them.”
“Endaria is sending us some of her troops for the attack as well,” Ystelyan said, then paused as Carl let out a groan. “Carl-iatian?”
“I’m still worried about how we hide this,” Carl said.
“I hate to say it, Uncle Carl, but I don’t think we can,” Collette said. “If Aunt Marian had acted to block it when he started this, maybe, but there’s no way to hide this now. And after we get through this it’ll be even more obvious. The only thing we can do now is damage control.”
“I’m afraid she’s right. We can’t hide the existence of the paranormal but we can keep hiding ourselves – at least for now,” Tara said. “There’s likely to be a lot of chaos in the aftermath. I’m amazed it hasn’t started yet. We’ll have to try and manage things.”
“Yes,” he sighed. “You could be right.”
“Indeed,” she said. “Let’s get through this first and worry about the fallout later.” She winced. “For one thing Marian’s insanity gutted the family. We need to rebuild.” She hesitated then added. “How is she?”
“Catatonic,” Alaryia replied. “In some ways, finding out the truth was the cruelest thing we could do to her. She’s lost in her own guilt. Once we’re through this I’m going to try and bring her out of it, but it may not be possible. Her mind won’t accept that she was a victim in all this as well. It’s kind of sad.”
“What happened to her that you’d be so sympathetic after all she’s done?” Takilyan asked. Alaryia didn’t reply out loud but from the way his eyes widened she must have shot the information at him mentally.
“I- That-” His pale skin developed a vaguely green undertone that Hannah was sure had nothing to do with his hide colour. “That’s horrible. I knew you said that it was broken, Al, but I didn’t think you meant that badly. Are you sure there’s no way to safely get rid of the damn thing completely and reinforce the heart until it’s fully healed instead?”
Alaryia shook her head. “If there is, I haven’t managed to think of it yet. I’ll work on it some more once we’re done.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “That would be a good idea. That poor woman. I’ve heard of people shattering their barrier themselves but for something to deliberately shatter it…” He trailed off.
“You are aware you just called a human from a hunter family ‘that poor woman’, aren’t you, Tak?” Alaryia said drily.
“Yes,” he said. “But from what you showed me that wasn’t her idea. And dammit, Al, no one deserves that. I don’t like humans but I’d never do anything like that. You know that. Dark void, Al, I don’t even think Shalriya would sink that low.”
“No,” she agreed. “I’m sure that she wouldn’t. It wouldn’t even occur to her.”
“I’d agree with that,” Lyrrekka said. “Her moral compass is shot to hell but she isn’t totally without boundaries.” She pulled a face. “Mitakrian, apparently, doesn’t.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “And he would sink even lower if he thought it would serve his aims. He’d do anything if he thought it would do that. He wasn’t like that when he was young.”
“It’s sad,” Ystelyan said. “He’s ruined himself.”
“Long term descent ruins any of us,” Takilyan said with a snort. “Some more than others, but it’s always bad for us.”
Alaryia gave a sharp cough and he chuckled.
“You think I’d be here if I hadn’t finally snapped out of it, Al?”
“No, I don’t suppose you would,” she conceded after a moment. “What did it?”
Takilyan hesitated then nodded to Matthias. “He did when he let Elza go.” He frowned quietly and scratched the gryphon’s feathery ears. “Not at first but Ankou kept on at me until I listened.” The death gryphon made a purring sound and clacked its raven-like beak. “She’s the one who went out and found Elza’s heart friend and persuaded her to come to us as well. I think the fact she was having to dodge her own pack because they’d turned on her after the Core declared war on the warriors helped. Elza was frantic because she could sense someone looking for her but didn’t understand why.”
“She was still scared witless,” Ankou said. “She’d started to sense Elza knew what she was and couldn’t understand it.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “But you talked her around.”
“It wasn’t hard,” she said. “She was on her way, albeit hesitantly, as it was.” She looked over at the wolf sitting with Alaryia and Elzaria. “Weren’t you, Aplu?”
“I didn’t have anywhere else to go,” she said. “But I couldn’t sense her properly until we met and I don’t think that’s because she’s a dragon.”
“No, that shouldn’t have an effect,” Alaryia said. “It may have been the Core.” She frowned at Elzaria. “I think I can fix her essence but I’ll need to put them both into stasis to do it, so it’ll have to wait. I think we all know what we’re doing, so we should rest and wait for the morning.”