Neither Matthias nor Lyrrekka were in the dining room when Lydia came down for breakfast the next morning.
“Where’s Dad and Lyrrekka?” she asked as she sat down.
“Lyr’s gone to the other world to speak with Estara about Marian’s condition. As for Matt, he’s finally gone to talk to his family,” Sarah said. “I’d say I’d like to be a fly on the wall when he tells them he’s been hiding you all this time, but they’re the Morgans. They’ll probably take it all in stride.”
“They’ll probably kick themselves for not realising,” Karen pursed her lips thoughtfully. “Though I think Rini and Lisa suspect something.”
“If Rini does, she never mentioned it to me,” Ian said. “Lisa just thought Matthias was hiding a cadet line. And speaking of Lisa…” He turned a thoughtful look on Catherine, who was eating quietly at the other end of the table. The young woman seemed slightly ill at ease and kept fidgeting and frowning. “How is our guest, and can you replicate what her brother did to her without the side-effects? I think Lisa would be interested if you can.”
“Well, we seem to have got the growth under control with Collette and Agrona’s help.” Sarah also looked at Catherine. “How are you feeling?”
Catherine looked up at her and smiled. “Much better, thank you. I haven’t had a headache since I arrived here.” She twitched again and frowned. “But I think Jayden’s looking for me. Someone certainly is and it’s really irritating.” She rubbed at her arms.
“I’d be surprised if he weren’t, dear,” Sarah said. “I want to check on your progress, so we’ll slip in another session after breakfast since our other guests won’t be awake for a while. I’ll show you how to put up a shield at the same time. That should help with some of your discomfort.”
“Thank you.” Catherine turned her attention back to her oatmeal.
“Who are Rini and Lisa?” Lydia asked.
“Cousins of yours,” Sarah said. “Lisa is your uncle James’s older daughter and Irina is your aunt Diane’s youngest. I’d still like to understand the freak of chance that made her an ember when both her parents are astrals. It might help me understand where we come from better. But Matt is adamantly opposed to letting me poke her around.”
“Well of course he is, Sal!” Sonia said. “She’s a person, not a random curiosity.”
“It’s not like I was planning to dissect her or anything.”
“No, you’re not quite that bad, but you do tend to lose sight of the fact you’re dealing with people when you let your curiosity get the best of you.”
“Sonia’s right, Sal, you do,” Lucas looked around as Karilya and Tarian both laughed. “What?”
“You placed her colour,” Tarian said. “She doesn’t show it much but she’s got to be brown.”
“Yes, I am.” Sarah gave him a thoughtful look. “But-”
“Colour relates to personality somehow,” Collette said. “Agrona’s half-brother told us about it.”
“He did,” Hannah agreed. “Though he only said being orange meant I was brave. I-” She stopped as a fiery yellow imp appeared in front of Sarah with a loud pop. “That’s from Lyrrekka?”
“Yes.” Sarah absorbed it and her eyebrows shot up. “She’s bringing Nerezza back with her to examine Marian – which isn’t unexpected – but she’s also asking permission to bring three more dragons with her. She seems to think it’s safe so I’m going to say yes.” She formed an imp of her own, a tiny construct of twigs and autumn leaves and sent it on its way.
“Three?” Tarian’s eyes widened. “I knew Shalriya was widely hated but that’s a lot of people to pick up from one court – even one as large as Estara’s.”
“Maybe they aren’t just from Estara’s court,” Lydia said.
“That’s possible,” he said dubiously. “But unlikely. There is another possibility since Nerezza is coming.” He looked like he might say more but there was a gentle chiming. “I guess that’s them?”
“Indeed,” Sarah said. “We should go and greet them. They’ve jumped into the stables because of Kenna.”
Lyrrekka was sitting on a bale of straw and chatting quietly with Nerezza. Three dragons – all in human form – had indeed accompanied her from the other world and were standing nearby. She looked up and smiled as they entered.
“Hey,” she said. “This is Estara’s heart friend, Nerezza, and these two are Sarissa-alra and Kasrin-kedan who have requested to join my court.” She gestured to two of the dragons.
“And him?” Sarah jerked her head towards the third dragon.
Lyrrekka opened her mouth to reply but he had already walked over to Sonia and dropped to one knee.
“Sonia-ida, Mitakrian destroyed my home and killed my family. If you are going to challenge him, I am yours if you will have me.”
A/N 1: Could peeps who backed the IndieGoGo campaign please take a peek at this post on dreamwidth blog and answer the question therein here or there? Thanks!
A/N 2: Hey, Targetdrone! I’ve finished your donation story and it’s with the beta reader. What format would you like it in? Asking here because you didn’t reply to my email in early June.