“Please do,” Halia sat back on her heels and waited patiently, her eyes still swirling with the silver dots that indicated her mother’s presence.
Valeria glanced at her then reached out and absorbed the Imp. She let out an involuntary squeak at how upset her little one was. As she sorted through the impressionsâ€“ which wasn’t easy because Salia had not been thinking very coherently â€“ her mouth went dry and she swallowed.
“Val? What’s wrong?” Matthias asked.
“Poor Moppet has had another bad day, but a different sort of bad to yesterday.” She closed her eyes and broadcast the Imp’s contents to the others. She didn’t realise she’d also passed it to Halia until the dragon made a choking noise.
“How very like him to insert a dream without it being noticeable but then make its content so obvious that no one could miss the fact it was abnormal.” She sounded amused and exasperated.
“I thought you didn’t like him,” Matthias asked.
“I don’t. He’s a stubborn, overconfident idiot. I really dislike his politics, as well. But Takilyan is of much the same mind as him and we can be civil to each other. Gerian is just a laskriyan.” The draconic word didn’t translate, but Valeria didn’t need it to recognise it as an insult.
“Gerian is a what? Who’s Takilyan?” Matthias asked.
“Hmm… It’s not a translation, but I think you’d probably say an arsehole for similar effect. At least that’s what Halia seems to think. And Tak’s the first green dragon. He’d be okay if he could just get over being bitter. But we shouldn’t get sidetracked. Get Mela to a safe place before the attack happens. See if you can’t get Rilletta to play along as if she’s still here and have Ystelyan launch his decoy at the same time. Gerian will have to deal with Ystelyan’s attack personally if he’s sent most of his people here, and he won’t have sent less.” Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. “And apparently he doesn’t know you are here or he would be coming himself, like he did at the Aerie. Which is another good reason to try and persuade Ystelyan to time his distraction for the attack. You don’t want him turning up here.”
“That’s a very good point,” Matthias said. “And I believe Rilletta knows you. Would you come with me to talk to her?”
“She does. I will.” Halia rose to her feet. “Shall we? Or do you have any more questions?”
“Just two. Lyrrekka told Salia that Gerian is planning to attack Earth. Is that true? And what about you?”
“Oh, yes, definitely – that’s why I really hate his politics. And no, I have no designs on Taloa. Most of my efforts are – and always have been – aimed at protecting the Talori from the others.” She grinned and before he could ask she clarified. “The humans.”
“Ah!” He looked at the two unicorns and the both confirmed her truthfulness.
“Are you satisfied?” she asked.
“For now,” he said. “Let’s locate Rilletta.”
Valeria thought Rilletta seemed mildly taken aback when she saw Halia, Matthias and the others at her door.
“Alaryia-miria! When I suggested he spoke with your daughter I didn’t expect you to manifest through her.” She held her hands out to Halia. “Come in, all of you.” She bowed her head respectfully to Halia. “It’s good to see you again – well not see you – but you know what I mean.”
“It’s good to see you too, Rill, but Queen Valeria’s daughter has sent her a message and it affects the plan they’ve come up with.”
“Hmm?” Rilletta turned her attention to Valeria. “May I ask?”
“Well I suppose you do need to know if you are to help us.” She closed her eyes and broadcast the relevant part of the message to Rilletta.
“Hmm. Gerian’s losing his people. It’s about time.” Rilletta sounded immensely satisfied at that. “I assume you want to hide Mela but have me remain in place as if she was still here, then launch your rescue while the dragons are occupied? The timing will be critical, but it could work. I’ll send a message to Ystelyan.â€ She paused and frowned. “Are you capable of putting up an anti-teleportation ward? We need them to not be able to jump in.”
“I can do that, I think.” Matthias said.
“Good. Get Mela out of here and figure out who you’re sending on this mission while I send a message to Yst.”