“Lovely,” Dariad said as Halia, Kyle and Darya ran into the hall. “We’re dependent on a dragon and a pair of renegades to defend us from another group of dragons.” He was smiling though, so Kyle suspected he wasn’t seriouslyÂ upset.
“I think we’ll be alright with them.” Saeaera smiled at Halia. “I rather like this young lady… you are younger than me, right? It’s kind of hard to tell with dragons.”
Halia laughed. “I think so. It’s can be hard to tell with Haltia as well, but I’m sure you’ve been a Councillor here since just before I was born.” Her expression became serious. “More importantly, what do we have incoming?”
Saeaera’s expression became equally serious. “A dozen dragons; mostly red, but a couple of black ones. They’d have been here already but they’re being harried by a small group of purple ones.”
Halia sighed and nodded. “I guess with what happened there my aunt doesn’t dare put a bigger force up.”
“That does make sense,” Weide agreed. The dryad turned her attention to Kyle. “Where are Rilletta and her people? I thought they were here to help.”
That was a very good question, Kyle decided. He was about to toss an interrogatory thought at Rilletta when she spoke from the doorway.
“I’m here. I’ve got my people scattering to the perimeter to attack the reds as soon as they come in to range.” She turned to Saeaera. “A dozen, you say?”
“Yes, it’s a large force. I suppose we’re lucky he didn’t send goblins as well.”
“It is, and you are.” Halia nodded. “And he put a kedan in charge, so I don’t think we’ll have any alrari to deal with. I can’t imagine either red or black alrari taking orders from one of the kedri, no matter how competent they were.” She paused. “On the downside, this guy is really competent. Mother hates it when Gerian sends him to the border because he’s a genius at doing the improbable with inferior troops.”
“Hmm… but he’s not entirely happy with his mission,” Rilletta said. “We might be able to use that. I just wish we knew what he and the yellow alra had discussed after they left the room.”
“Hard to say, but she’s a decent person from what I know of her, so I doubt she suggested anything terrible to him.” Halia sighed. “Matthias-idan wants him alive.”
Rilletta gave Halia a long thoughtful look. “Do you think he can be trusted not to maltreat him?”
“I-” Halia hesitated. “I think he can be trusted to not deliberately maltreat him and he’s getting better at not doing it accidentally.” She pulled a wry face. “I don’t really want to kill him and Gerian isn’t exactly forgiving of failure… It may be the best option.”
“They’re nearly here,” Saeaera interrupted. “Best get ready.”
Kyle nodded and drew his urumi. “Did you get everyone else to the shelters?”
“Everyone we could without making it obvious that we knew they were coming,” Saeaera said.
Halia’s eyes swirled silver for a moment. “Little Arava and her family?” she asked in an anxious tone, even as the sound of the first clashes reached them from the walls. “What about that baby dragon and her siblings?”
“Yes, of course,” Weide said. “They were among the first. None of them needed any more stress in their lives.”
“That’s good.” Halia blinked and her eyes returned to normal as her mother withdrew. She looked back at Kyle. “How do you want to do this?”
“We don’t know what their plan is so we’ll have to play it by ear.” He sighed. “I just wish Melusine’s dream had shown us more detail.” He cocked his head and listened to the sound of the fight. It was only slowly coming closer. “Sounds like the others are doing a pretty good job.”
“Well I should hope so,” Rilletta said. “That’s what we’re here for. And I doubt Melusine’s dream would have been much use even if it went into detail. It was implanted and even Gerian isn’t quite foolish enough to give away his battle-” She broke off as there was a loud thud and the doors to the great hall shattered from the impact. One of the goblins Ystelyan had sent with Rilletta had been flung straight through the closed doors, the force carrying him halfway up the aisle before he hit the floor. Weide instantly shot to her feet and ran down from the dais to check on him. Kyle didn’t have time to see if the goblin was alive, however. He leapt between the doors and the healer, his urumi at the ready.