“Do we even have a plan?” Lydia asked as they raced towards the fight. “I mean, we can’t just rush in. This guy’s tough; he nearly killed Karen when she fought him.”
“That was before her maturity,” Ilona said. “I suspect she’d do much better against him now… and there’s more of us, anyway. Even the strongest can be swamped. But still, a plan is not a bad idea. Rushing in gets people killed.” She reached back and patted her back. “That’s why I’ve brought antidote for various essence venoms including Gerian’s, just in case.”
“You’d better stay out of the way with Andrew and Kimi,” Jason said. “They shouldn’t fight when he’s so close to maturity, and you can’t fight dragons at all.”
“I can fight,” Ilona said. “I’m pretty good actually.”
He gave her a surprised look and then nodded. “Like Mela? IÂ suppose that makes sense.”
“Not exactly,” she replied. “But I’m not bound by the restriction against fighting dragons, no.” She stopped in a rocky gully and cocked her head. The sound of the fight was now clearly audible. “We’re nearly there and this is a well concealed place.” She turned to Ebona. “If we take those packs off you and leave them here with Andrew and Kimi, can you sneak around the edge and fetch the young ones out?”
Ebona glanced at Daniel, then nodded. “Yes. They aren’t so big that I can’t carry all of them.”
“Good.” She turned to Andrew. “Are you okay stay-” she broke off and waved a hand in front of his glazed eyes.
“What’s wrong with him?” Lydia’s stomach lurched when he didn’t react.
“I don’t know, but I don’t like it.” Ilona knelt down by Kimi and tried to get her attention, but she was just as out of it. “What I can tell is that he’s much closer to maturity than when we met. Given how recently it was, that’s not normal. It could be because we came through the ice affinity area but I think that someone’s pushing him.” She hesitated. “They’re calling him as well. That’s not friendly behaviour.”
“Emms!” Daniel said with certainty.
Ilona looked thoughtful and nodded. “The one who’s trying to usurp your father’s power? It’s possible. But why?” She shook her head. “We can worry about that after we’ve dealt with the current situation.” She guided Andrew to a rock and helped him sit down. “Someone should stay with him as well. He couldn’t even begin to defend himself in this state.”
“I’ll stay,” Jason said. “I may be better trained than Lydia and Daniel but I definitely don’t have their raw strength. He looked at Caoilainn. “What about you, Cao?”
“I’ll stay here,” she said. “I’m not quite ready to be helping dragons yet.”
Ilona gave her a smile andÂ turned to the rest of them. “Let’s get Ebona unloaded so we can do this.”
Salia nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a speaker’s presence directly behind her with no warning of approach. She tore her eyes aware from the fight between Lyrrekka and Gerian and looked around. There was a beautiful black unicorn standing there.
“We’re with Ilona,” the unicorn said. “Get on and I’ll take you somewhere safer.”
“What about Mummy?” Karilya asked.
Salia looked back towards the fight in time to see Lyrrekka throw a fireball at Gerian which threw him back a few steps.
“I think she’s doing okay.” Salia tugged on Karilya’s arm. “She’d want us to get to safety.”
“Salia’s right. And from what this one said, help is on the way.” Mia lifted Karilya on to the unicorn’s back, then Salia as Coromell scrambled up on her own. “Hmm… I’m not sure I’ll fit.”
“I’ll be okay,” the unicorn said.
“Perhaps, but let’s not risk it.” A look of concentration crossed Mia’s face and she shifted into the shape of a small yellow furred cat. She climbed on to Karilya’s shoulder. “There we are. Let’s go.”
The unicorn walked silently, making a large circle around the fight. At one point Salia saw Lyrrekka look over and see them. She exchanged a quick look with Mia and then dived at Gerian, tossing multiple fireballs at him before slashing at him with her firey blades. She was trying to distract him from their escape. It seemed to be working; he looked very distracted. Even more so when a glowing arrow struck him in the back.
Salia looked up and had to bite her tongue to avoid squealing in delight when she saw Alban standing on a rock above the battle with his bow. A moment later, she saw several other people including Alban’s heart friend surge from behind the the rocks and attack. She didn’t have chance to see what happened next because as soon as the newcomers had fully engaged Gerian, the unicorn burst into a gallop and charged into the snow ahead.