Chapter Twenty Three
Andrew had a split second’s warning to break his connection to Naria only because Laxmi â€“ who was feeding him soup â€“ stiffened. The next moment, the door burst open and Emms burst in. He was flushed and obviously in a fury about something. Laxmi didn’t look around at his entrance but instead rolled her eyes at Andrew and continued carefully spooning soup into his mouth.
Emms muttered incoherently as he stomped towards them. Andrew had to fight to keep his glee showing on his face. Something must have gone wrong for Emms. Even though it didn’t get him out of this mess, the thought gave Andrew immense satisfaction.
“This is bloody ridiculous! I thought Morgan hated dragons. Why is he working with them?”
Laxmi gave a half smile that was gone before she finally turned away from Andrew. “I suspect he hates you more. You did kidnap his son, after all. That would piss anyone off. And you knew he was working with them, so what’s happened?”
Emms winced visibly at Laxmi’s swearing. “Language!”
Laxmi sighed and shook her head. “What happened?” she repeated.
“I had a plan to use the Core to distract the Warriors by attacking their allies in Talonyka, but it’s falling apart because of this alliance with some of the dragons.” He gave a heavy sigh. â€œI think they’re going to move against it as well. We have to stop them.”
Andrew tried not to stiffen and to keep his expression bland, staring straight ahead as he listened intently. It was a shame he didn’t dare link to Naria when Emms was in the room; he’d be able to sense it. But if Andrew could commit their plans to memory, then he could tell Naria after they’d left and she could pass it on to Ystelyan. From there it would surely reach his father.
“Well, you can still get past the wards if Matthias puts them back and they can’t destroy it. Not yet.”
“I can if he puts them back. What if he has someone else do it?”
“Then you really will have a problem.” Laxmi said unsympathetically. “You brought this on yourself, you know. But you’ll find some waâ€“ Oh, I see this isn’t what’s really worrying you. You’re afraid because he’s found allies who might figure out who you are. Which reminds me, you really should get your sketchbooks from the farm before Matthias sees them.”
“They wouldn’t mean anything to him,” he said. “Though I suppose I should worry in case he shows them to someone who would.”
“Yes, they would,” she said. “He’s seen them.”
“When his kids were eight,” she replied. “Chased them through the woods in Devon, apparently. You can imagine why.”
“He told me about it.” She jerked her head in Andrew’s direction.
“You should have told me immediately!” Emms said. “If they find out what we’re planning, they’ll stand more chance of stopping us.”
“You weren’t here,” she replied. “And then I was retuning that damned crystal. It slipped my mind.”
“Damn, I’ll have to go and get them today and make sure Cat doesn’t talk, but I need to stop them reaching the Core.” He tutted to himself. “Do you think you can handle defending the Core if I give you troops?”
“Probably,” she said. “That world doesn’t mess me up like it does most people, but Matthias knows I’m not Resonant, so they’ll be expecting it to.” She looked down thoughtfully. “Send Huldre with me. I’m not that strong so his raw strength may come in useful.
“That’s a good idea. And I’ll send some of the stronger dragons as well,” he hesitated. “But be careful, Laxmi. You’ll never beat them in a fair fight. Use caution and trickery to keep them away from it.”
“Yes, Jayden,” she said in an exasperated tone. “I know that. I doubt Huldre would let me forget if I tried.”
“That’s true. I’ll go and collect those sketchbooks.” He hesitated. “I think I’ll be bringing Cat back as well. I don’t want to hurt her and Morgan or his bloody wife will tease the information out of her anyway if I just block her memories.”
“Now that’s a good idea,” Laxmi agreed. “You need to check her anyway. I still think you botched the boost. You should have asked her first.”
“I didn’t botch it,” he said stubbornly. “And I didn’t ask because she would have said no.” He headed for the door and then paused. “Let him finish his soup himself. I want you to head over there immediately.
“Very well.” Laxmi gave Andrew a smile and pushed the bowl and spoon into his hands. “Sorry kid, gotta go.”
Andrew waited until they’d both left and then quickly re-established his bond with Naria and began replaying the conversation to her.
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