(Whoops! I initially posted the wrong installment and only just noticed. This is the correct one).
Gerian seemed stunned to find himself facing three humans and four speakers. Lyrrekka seemed equally surprised, though after a moment a look of comprehension flitted across her face.
His eyes focused on Ilona. “You!”
“Me!” she agreed and sent a bolt of dazzlingly bright rainbow light at him. Karen couldn’t help gasping as he staggered back several paces. The irisad was bloody strong!
She threw a blast of her own at him, not bothering to try and moderate her new strength. It slammed into him, knocking him off balance. He clambered back to his feet only to be struck by another of Alban’s arrows and a fireball from Lydia. This time he managed to keep his feet and his shield came up but it was flickering badly. Lyrrekka must already have done a lot of damage to it.
“I should have made sure that you were dead.” He glared at Karen, then scowled at Ilona. “And you! Has she gone mad, working with them?”
Ilona didn’t reply. She just fired another blast at him. Then the fire unicorn standing beside Lyrrekka also shot a blast of flame at Gerian and, much to Karen’s surprise, it didn’t fizzle. She didn’t have time to puzzle on that, however, because everyone else blasted at him again.
Everyone except Daniel, that was. Karen frowned and risked a glance at him, then swallowed her anxiety when she saw the distracted, worried expression on his face. The only thing that could provoke that in the middle of a battle was if Ebona was telling him something, and she dreaded to think what it might be.
“You will regret this, Lyrrekka-ida, mark my words,” Gerian said, forcing Karen to return her attention to him. “You’ll come crawling back to me when you find out what’s happening. I’ll be waiting.” He vanished with a pop and a sudden storm of metal shards.
“Well, that went well,” Ilona said. “At least he retains enough common sense to retreat when he’s out-gunned or that could have been a lot messier.”
“My thanks, warriors.” Lyrrekka bowed to them. “I take it you’re a rescue party for little Salia?”
“We are. Though it looks like we turned in to a rescue party for all of you.” Ilona gave a bright smile. “I’m glad.”
Karen continued to half-listen as she turned her attention back to Daniel, who barely seemed to have noticed that the fight had ended. He was staring anxiously in direction of the rendezvous point.
“Dan?” she said. He didn’t respond, so she placed a hand on his arm. “Dan? What is it?”
“Ebona says there’s something going on where we left the others. It sounds like a fight. She’s going to try and see what’s going on from somewhere safe.”
“That’s not good,” Ilona said. “We’d better get back.”
“Ebona is the the shadow-kin unicorn who rescued the kids?” Lyrrekka asked.
“Yes,” he said. “That’s why she’s sneaking around. Doesn’t want to put them in any danger.”
“We’d definitely better get over there, then,” Lyrrekka said.
Ilona speeded their journey and they were nearly back to where they’d left the other three when Daniel suddenly gave a horrified gasp that made Karen’s stomach sink further.
“Dan?” Lydia asked before Karen could.
“It was Emms,” he whispered. “He took Andrew.”
“What?” Lydia gasped. “Shit!”
“Mummy!” The little dragon girl came hurtling towards them and clung to Lyrrekka. “Are you okay? There was a nasty man… he took this boy and then disappeared in to the ground.”
“I’m fine, Kari.” Lyrrekka took her hand. “Now show me what happened.”
“Normally I’d be annoyed at you for killing him like that.” Matthias nudged the body of the dragon Darya had killed with one foot. “But frankly I don’t think I wanted this piece of crap working for me anyway.”
Kyle couldn’t help snorting. “What happened to the others?”
“Well we captured a couple, the goblins took down a couple, and Sonia forced the one she was facing to dissipate. The rest fled when they realised we outgunned them and that their leader had abandoned them.” He turned and looked and Tarian. “And why did you? You have to know who I am and what I’m going to do to you.”
“I know who you are. I also know that Lyr thinks most of your current bad reputation is smoke and mirrors on your part. And anyway I’m not better than a slave as it stands. Not when I’m not allowed to express the slightest bit of dissent or advice my mirian when his plan is plain awful.”
Matthias looked flummoxed at that and Kyle had to admit he was puzzled by that as well.
“How would she know that?” Matthias asked finally.
“Lyr knows, but it’s not my place to tell you her secrets.”
“You know I could force you to answer me,” Matthias said.
“You could.” Tarian shrugged again. “Doesn’t mean I have to betray her confidence by doing it willingly. So will I get a pretty necklace to match Halia-alra’s?”
“As soon as I can send for one, yes.”
“Matt,” Sonia said suddenly. “I think you should wait a while. My stomach is churning when you say that and I don’t think it’s my conscience. You don’t need the collar to control him at-” She broke off and sprang to her feet. “Andrew!”
Kyle turned and looked at Matt – he’d gone bone white as well. “What’s happening?” he asked.
“I-I don’t know. Someone is trying to block us,” Matthias replied. “But they can’t stop us knowing our own child is in danger.” He turned to Halia. “I need to talk to your mother. We have to go and find out what’s happened.”