Valeria swallowed anxiously as she watched Matthias pacing while he waited for Halia.
“I’m sure Salia and Alban are alright.” Sonia squeezed her hand. “Neither of us get sense that the other three are in danger, just Andrew. If Karen’s okay, Alban is, and if Salia’s with with them she’s okay too.”
Valeria felt her stomach unknot slightly at Sonia’s reassurance. “Y-yes, but is she with them? Did they have a chance to rescue her before whatever happened? I don’t think they’ve had time. We”ll have to abort the mission.” Valeria wiped at her eyes. “Sorry, I’m being selfish.”
“Not at all,” Sonia said. “Of course you’re fretting about your daughter.”
“She’s with them and she’s not the only one,” Halia said. “Mother just received an imp from Ilona.” She looked at Matthias. “I’m sorry, it was Jayden Emms. He seems to have grabbed Andrew just after his maturity hit and while the other’s were distracted.” She looked over at Tarian. “Lyrrekka defected.”
“Ah.” Tarian didn’t look especially surprised. “It was inevitable eventually and something was bothering her last time we spoke. Is Kari with her– what am I saying? Of course she is. Lyr wouldn’t leave her.” He smiled to himself. “I’m glad I surrendered, then.”
Halia gave him a half-smile and looked back at Matthias and Sonia. “Jason’s injured. Mother is sending a healer to meet them, but the others are-” She broke off as one of Karen’s imps flew in and began darting around Matthias’s head. It was duller than usual and flickering with agitation.
Matthias absorbed it then jerked back. “Damn! What the hell is he up to? I’m going to-” He stalked towards the doors. Sonia dashed after him and grabbed his hand.
“Matt, wait! You mustn’t rush in!” She sounded frantic. “He’s ready for you.”
“What?” He looked at her. “You’re sure?”
“Yes.” She nodded. “Now, show me what the imp said.”
He must have done it because she stiffened and swore.
“Mother says that she’ll grant you safe passage through her territory, so you can meet up with them.” Halia interrupted. “As long as you promise not to enslave anyone there.”
“I think I can do that. Could she meet us there as well? I think this must mean he’s going to activate his machine. I’m not letting him have you.” He paused thoughtfully. “At least Kyle says she can stop you frenzying when that is removed?” He touched her collar with a fleeting finger.
Halia gave him a brilliant smile. “She can and she will. Her entourage can cover for her absence from Caerdu.”
“Good.” He nodded. “Right, then. Gendalian, attend me.”
Another dragon appeared in the hall and dropped to one knee. “Dragon Lord?”
“Gendalian, go to your mother. She can remove your collar safely.”
“I-” Gendalian looked stunned. “Thank you.” He vanished as quickly as he had come.
Matthias turned to Tarian. “What am I going to with you?”
“Well, even if you let me go I’m not going back to Gerian-mirian. I gather a collar is out for some reason?”
“Yes,” Matthias sighed. “And I don’t want to kill you. Stay close for now. I don’t need a collar at close range. I’ll decide later.”
Sonia in the meantime had returned to her seat and was frowning to herself. “Matt,” she said suddenly. “What about the other part of Karen’s message. How does this Lyrrekka know so much about you? And that unicorn, she-”
“I know,” he said. “I don’t get it either.”
“What is it?” Valeria asked.
“Ah, well…” For some reason Matthias was staring at Kyle, who was staring back with a confused expression.
“What?” he asked.
Matthias took a breath. “There’s a flame unicorn named Kenna helping Lyrrekka, and she was able to attack a dragon,” he said in a gentle tone.
Kyle went white and clapped a hand over his mouth. Valeria didn’t blame him; she was choking at that herself. Rilletta gave Kyle a puzzled look and laid a hand on his arm.
“Kyle?” she said.
“Kenna was the name of my mother’s heart friend,” he said softly. “She can’t be alive unless my mother is.”
Tarian stared at Kyle. “Wait a minute, you’re Kyle Morgan? Lyrrekka said you were dead.”
“No, he’s right,” Sonia said. “Lydia was stronger than your father. You’re only Brightwell because your grandparents adopted you. She must have fled into exile. But that doesn’t explain why Kenna is working with a dragon. I guess she’s the source of Lyrrekka’s information, though.”
Tarian snorted softly. “You could say that. It’s not entirely accurate.”
“Is-” Kyle swallowed. “Is she…” He trailed off but Tarian obviously knew what he was trying to ask.
“Yes,” he said.
“We didn’t know, Kyle,” Rilletta said. “If we’d known, we would have told you. Hell, we would have told her as well.”
“So would we,” Halia said. “We knew she was twice remade but thought she was older than that. No wonder Gerian spent so much effort keeping her away from the warriors last time.”
“Told her what?” Matthias snapped. “You obviously know what’s going on.”
“Ah,” Halia hesitated. “Would it help if I told you that Kithreiri means ‘those who have been exiled’ in draconic?”
Matthias’s mouth dropped open. “You mean…”
“Yes. It seems that Lyrrekka-ida is your cousin, Matthias-idan.”