â€œYou surprised him,” Alaryia said when she returned a few minutes later. “He really expected you to kill her, you know. I think you returning her has actually shaken him up a bit.”
“Is that a good thing?” Matthias asked.
“Oh yes.” Alaryia nodded. “He needs shaking up. Holding a grudge for a few millennia is just a little ridiculous.” She gave a smile. “I’ve never seen Tak so relieved as he was when I brought her to him. I’m not sure what she is to him, but it’s not just a normal courtier.”
“She’ll be okay, won’t she?” Sonia asked.
“Yes, of course,” Alaryia said. “When I left he was feeding her. She’ll need a bit of rest but she recover fine.” She cocked her head at him. “Have you decided what to do next?”
“We need to go back to Earth. Lyr reckons that’s where they’ve fled. We’re just waiting to hear back from Ystelyan yet. He might be able to help since they captured Naria.”
“They had a translation device,” Lyrrekka added.
Alaryia gave a low whistle. “That’s obscure. How interesting. I’ve never even seen one.”
“Indeed,” Lyrrekka agreed. “It’s only by a freak of chance I recognised it.”
“Hmm, yes,” Matthias said. “We need to find out if Sarah still has that.”
“And if she sensed the device going off,” Sonia added. “Are we going back to the house?”
“Initially,” Matthias said. “I think we may go back to main house once I’ve warned my family and made sure I can hide you there, but let’s not spring this on them.” He paused as Tarian reappeared. â€œHalindan?â€ he asked tersely.
â€œHe’s fine, but very upset about his sister,â€ he said. â€œYstelyan-mirian says he can’t get any impression of where she is at the moment, which suggests that she’s unconscious. Especially since it felt like she was on the verge of frenzy just before he lost touch with her.â€
â€œHmm, yes. I doubt Jayden would be foolish enough to override the safeties.â€ Matthias bowed his head. â€œWe need to rescue the child before she hits maturity. Her life depends on it.â€
â€œCan I ask something?â€ Valeria looked over at Lyrrekka. â€œIs Gerian likely to come after Salia again? Because if he is, we need to make some sort of arrangement to protect her before you go.â€
â€œHmm.â€ Lyrrekka pursed her lips as she considered. â€œProbably not as long as you make sure she doesn’t stray far from the Storm Palace. There’s a reason he waited until she was elsewhere to go after her.â€
â€œI don’t know,â€ Tarian said softly. â€œHe’ll be angry enough about what’s happened that he might go after her there. The Throne should be able to stop him, though.â€
â€œDon’t fret, Val.â€ Sonia squeezed her hand. â€œWe’ll keep in touch. We can be there in minutes if you need us.â€
â€œI-I was thinking she might be safer with you,â€ Valeria said. â€œIf he does attack the Storm Palace there’ll only be the Throne Defences to keep him out. They couldn’t stop Huldre so I don’t think they could stop one of the first.â€
â€œYou used them wrong,â€ Alaryia said. â€œSpeakers always go on the attack with them, and their attacks aren’t strong enough to more than scratch one of us. They can, however, also be used to create wards that can keep us out.â€
â€œThey certainly did at Caerdu when I was a child,â€ Dariad said. â€œThough I don’t think it was my father’s idea to use it that way.â€
â€œIt was Matt’s, as I recall,â€ Lyrrekka said.
â€œWell that’s something,â€ Valeria said softly. â€œBut a long siege would be…â€ she hesitated. â€œMatt, would you look after Salia for me until it’s safe?â€
Matthias and Sonia exchanged a look. â€œWell, we can, but are you sure?â€ he said.
â€œI want to come home, Mummy!â€ Salia clung to her. Valeria hugged her back.
â€œI know. I want you to come home as well, but not if it means I lose you again almost immediately. Anyway, Alban will be there and I’m sure they’ll make sure we see each other regularly.â€
â€œOf course we will,â€ Sonia said. â€œAnd I’m sure Lyrrekka and Karilya will be going with them.â€
â€œBut I want to stay with you!â€ Salia pouted. â€œCan’t you come as well?â€ She paused and shook her head. â€œNo, you’ll have Queen stuff to do, won’t you?â€ She sighed heavily and leaned her head on her mother’s shoulder. â€œI want to see you every day!â€
â€œWe’ll look after her, and gating is easy enough,â€ Matthias said. â€œWhich leaves me with only one problem.â€ He turned to look at Tarian. â€œWhat am I going to do with you?â€