“Oh yes,” Kyle returned Karen’s grin and turned his attention to the two uncircleted speakers. Both of them were still shaking their heads and looking confused. Whatever Karen had done to break through their veil had left them seriously out of it. “I’ll take plant guy, if you handle the horsey one.”
She nodded. “Sure!” She glanced back at Alban who had leapt up into the trees to get a better view with his bow. “Can you stop their zombie troops from attacking us? But try not kill any of them.”
“Of course!” He started shooting a rain of arrows, faster than Kyle could see and certainly more than he could hold in his quiver.
“You’ve learned a new trick!” Karen sounded as surprised as Kyle felt.
“It just came to me,” he said.
“You hit maturity?” Kyle asked. She nodded and he smiled. “The same thing happened to Darya after mine, remember.”
“Yeah,” she nodded and then turned her glance to the blonde dragon who was already kneeling by Daniel. “Yeah, that’s what I was going to say.”
Kyle grimaced as he realised that girl was wearing one of the Dragon Lord’s collars. She must have noticed because she smiled at him gently.
“Don’t worry about me, Kyle-alran. I am exactly where I need to be.”
“Halia’s a bit stoic about her situation,” Karen said. “Given that she’s even managed to make Sarah Tyler like her, I think dad’s starting to feel terrible about it. But enough of that. Let’s do this.”
“Yes, let’s!” And they leapt across the stream together to engage the invaders.
They landed back to back and struck out at their targets. Kyle’s urumi wrapped around the Leshy’s midrift and tore into it. The creature screamed and sap-like blood spurted everyone. Behind him he heard the hippocephalus scream loudly and knew Karen had hit home as well. He ripped the flexible blades free and drew his hand back to strike again. The Leshy flinched back and then fled.
“Hmm, not much of a fighter. That’s probably why he resorts to using others to do his fighting.” He pivoted around to find Karen covered in blood and standing over her opponent, who’d collapsed to his knees. Blood was still spurting from where she’d severed his arm.
“This is where you say it’s only a flesh wound,” she said flatly. The hippocephalus just sobbed. “No? I guess you’ll just have surrender and order your slaves to stand down.” She looked to where the alfs were trying to get past Alban’s fire and failing.
The hippocephalus took a few sawing breathes. “I concede,” he gasped finally. “But I can’t override Riabinin’s orders. He outranks me.”
Karen stared at him and then nodded. “If I find out you are lying about that I’ll make you wish I’d killed you.” She prodded him with one foot and his bleeding stopped. “I’ll have Halia patch you up once she’s finished with Daniel.”
“What are we going to do about them?” Kyle asked. “We can’t fight them.” He hesitated and then added. “I’ve missed you.”
“I don’t know.” Karen glared at him, then her eyes softened slightly. “I’ve missed you as well.”
“Let me,” Halia said. A moment later, the alfs collapsed. “Mother’s idea. You should go after that Leshy. He’s likely gone to reunite with his other allies. I’ll deal with patching this piece of trash up so he can get a taste of his own medicine from Matthias-idan.”
“You actually respect the guy who enslaved you?” Kyle choked slightly.
“Daniel?” Karen asked.
“He’ll be fine. Someone had already stabilised him.” Halia replied and smiled at Kyle. “And yes I do, now that he earned it. Anyway, mother likes him and that counts for a lot.”
“I see,” he said thoughtfully. “The Leshy went that way.” He pointed. “Are you coming to help, Kaz? It looks like these guys are planning an attack on Waldhafen if it makes you feel any better about helping out dragons.”
“What!” Karen looked down at the hippocephalus. “Is this true?”
The creature swallowed and nodded. “Yes. We will kill all you damned humans and your sympa-” He broke off as Karen’s foot connected with his groin. She looked back at Kyle.
She looked around at Alban. “Would you stay with Daniel until Dad teleports the reinforcements in? And if this one tries to escape, cut one of his legs off as well.”
“Of course,” he said.
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s go deal with this Leshy then.”
“Are you okay with Ebona bringing the little dragon here? They’re nearly here.” Valeria asked. “Mother says she’ll take them into her sanctury if you’re not.”
“It’s fine,” Chiara said. “We all agree that it’s just a baby and very much one of the victims here.”
“And not just the Council either,” Shadavar added. “Our people agree as well. And the renegade girl needs a healer. Poor thing. We should go down to the gates to greet them.”
“May I come with you?Â I know more about dragons and goblins than you do.” Rilletta was standing in the doorway. “I apologise for interrupting but with all the running about it’s hard to miss what’s happening.” She paused and shrugged. “Also Kyle-alran sent me an imp about what is happening.”
“We’d be grateful,” Weide said. “The two little ones seem uninjured from what we’ve seen, but we can’t be sure until they get here.”
“Indeed,” Rilletta said and fell in behind them as they headed for the gates. Ebona was standing just outside. The Haltia girl had dismounted and was clutching the toddler protectively. She looked at the group with a defiant expression.
“I won’t let you hurt Keladrian or Malidria.”
“No one here is going to hurt them,” Shadavar said. “None of us are in the habit of hurting children.”
“Right.” She cast a suspicious glance at Matthias. “Even him?” she asked in a tone which suggested she knew who was he was.
“Even me,” he said and waited for Shadavar to confirm he spoke the truth. He patted the goblin boy on the head. “I assume this is Keladrian since he’s a boy and the little one on your back must be Malidria, but that leaves one question. What’s your name, child?”
The girl regarded him for a moment and then put the toddler down. “I am Ivina, Dragon Lord.” She laid a hand on Keladrian’s head. “And yes, this is my half-brother Keladrian and step-sister Malidria.” She began trying to loosed the cords tying the dragon baby to her back. After a moment Saeaera and Rilletta moved to help her. Rilletta was soon holding the baby and cooing at her softly. Ivina took a breath and continued her story.Â “When those people came, D-daddy tied her to my back and told me-” She gave a sudden sob. “He told me to run. There was so much screaming. I think my parents are dead.” She sank to her knees and started sobbing.
“Oh sweetheart!” Saeaera swept her into a hug. “I hope you’re wrong. But let’s get you inside and deal with your injuries.”