Kyle wondered how he had never recognised Lyrrekka as his mother when he’d seen her in other’s memories. Once you got past the dragon-green eyes, she looked just like she did in the photo he always carried of his parents and the few memories he had of her. She must have used some sort of shield to protect herself from being recognised by her enemies, he guessed. It was something of a Morgan skill, after all.
He chewed on his lip as her watched her talking to Matthias while the troops ran around getting ready for the attack. She was occasionally glancing over at him with an anxious expression – she must be as nervous as he was. A tug on his sleeve drew his attention. He looked around and then down into the eyes of the little sister he hadn’t known he had. She had a determined expression on her face.
“You’re Kyle, aren’t you?” Karilya said. “You need to talk to mummy. She thinks that you’re mad at her.”
“Mad at her?” he asked. “Why would I be mad at her? It’s hardly her fault the Core sold her out to the Lavernes.”
“Exactly! But you need to tell her that.” Karilya pouted at him. “She feels bad for abandoning you.”
“But she didn’t… it wasn’t…” He covered his eyes with one hand and shook his head. “She really blames herself for saving her own skin?” He rose to his feet and strode towards Lyrrekka with Karilya trotting along beside him. When he reached her he swallowed the nervous lump and cleared his throat. She turned to look at him and he bowed. “Mother.” A kick against his shin made him look down at Karilya again.
“Don’t be so formal!”
“Kari! Don’t kick your brother!” Lyrrekka said. “He barely knows me, of course he’s being formal.” She looked back at Kyle and her face became taut with worry. “My son. I am glad to see you well. I- I- thought you were dead.”
“Yeah, that happens to me a lot.” He grinned at her puzzled expression. “I’m the Water Warrior, mother. Don’t tell me you didn’t hear about The Core supposedly killing me.” From the ‘oh’ her mouth made, she had.
“I’ll leave you two alone to catch up, then,” Matthias said in the brief silence and headed over to where Sonia was talking to a group of centaurs.
“I did hear about that, but no one ever mentioned your name,” she said after a moment. “Gerian wouldn’t have wanted me to know.” She looked at him for a long moment, taking in his outfit before glancing over at Rilletta. “Ystelyan-mirian took you in?” He nodded and she smiled. “You could have done a lot worse.”
“I know. He’s been good to me.”
“That’s good.” Lyrrekka hesitated. “I would never have abandoned you if I’d known you were alive, you know. I let you down.”
“No!” He reached out and grabbed her hands. “No, you didn’t. It wasn’t your fault.”
“I shouldn’t have gone off half-cocked like that. I should have gone to Matt or Sarah for help.”
“Mother, when I lost my temper with the Core over selling you and father out, I very nearly blew up the world. I think I can give you a by on losing yours with Marian Laverne for killing dad.”
Lyrrekka stared at him for a moment then gave a pained laugh. “You mean that’s why you tried to destroy the Core?” She stroked a finger along the blue goblin silk of his sleeve. “You were in descent?”
“Darya managed to snap me out of it temporarily.” He nodded to his heart friend who had come up behind him and was watching curiously. “Then Ystelyan talked me down in the long term.”
“Eh, it happens. I might have been better slipping into descent. I tend to become rather coldly analytical about how best to enforce what I want when I do.” She considered that. “But revenge is contrary to my ideals, so I guess that was never going to happen.” She reached out and put her hands on his shoulders. “Look at you,” she said in a tone of wonder. “You look so much like your father!” Her eyes shimmered with tears and she suddenly pulled him into a hug. “I’m so glad that you’re alive! I’ll make it up to you for not being there.”
He hugged her back and smiled. “I do have one question. Why in the world were you working for Gerian?”
“It’s a long story, but the short version is that he saved me from Shalriya. He had to mess up pretty badly before he overwhelmed the goodwill engendered by that life debt.”
“But being Gerian, he managed it,” Alaryia said from where she was sitting. “And that was without her knowing he hadn’t told her about you. I wish we’d known. It would have made persuading you to leave easier.”
Lyrrekka gave a wry snort. “That it would.” She glanced around at the troops then disengaged from the hug and squeezed his hands. “We’ll talk some more later, dear. It looks like we’re ready to go.”
“Of course, moth- mum,” he said.
Lyrrekka gave him a bright smile and another quick hug which made Karilya cheer. Lyrrekka frowned down at her, then looked over at Mia sitting near by. “Look after Kari while we’re gone.”
“Of course, mother,” she said.
“Let’s do this then,” Lyrrekka said and they headed over to join the others.