“So, your father. Is he your birth father?” Valeria asked Ivina as Weide treated the girl’s burns.
The girl nodded. “My birth mummy died in that big fire when I was little. Daddy raised me until he got together with Mummy Kelaria.” She gave them a defiant look. “I know what you’re thinking but Mummy Kelaria’s kind.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Valeria said. “What big fi-” She broke off as her mother spoke to her.
Fires aren’t uncommon in the area of the forest which borders Asalin, but there was a huge one about eight years ago. It would have raged into the Purple Dragon’s territory as well.
“That’s right.” Ivina’s eyes glistened with tears. “I barely remember, it happened so fast. Daddy carried mummy out. He tried to treat her but he’s a life-weaver not a healer and by the time he found one, she was dead.” She hugged her knees. “Why does everyone I love die?”
Valeria hugged her. “Your brother and sister are okay, and we don’t know about your father and step-mother yet.”
From what the Water Warrior told Karen there’s a good chance they’re alive. They seem to have been ‘recruiting’ for an attack here, Elaranor said.
Ivina wiped at her eyes and swallowed audibly. “I-I hope you’re right, guardian. We can free them then.”
Valeria started. “You know who she is?”
Ivina nodded. “She’s the storm guardian, isn’t she? Mummy Kelaria told me that she helped hold the land together.”
I am, Elaranor said. I do.
“That should do it.” Weide interrupted. She lifted her hands from Ivina’s head. The burns on the girl’s feet and legs had faded to nearly nothing. “How do you feel?”
“Much better, thank you.” She looked around anxiously. “Where are Keladrian and Malidria? You said you wouldn’t hurt them.”
“Hush,” Weide said. “They’re fine. The River Singer and her entourage are looking after them. After all we know little of the needs of infant dragons and goblins. I’ll take you to them.”
Kyle and Karen brought the Leshy to bay in the ruins of the village. He must have been going for more reinforcements but of course they’d fled when they sensed the counter-attack approaching. Their quarry, however, seemed baffled to find the village empty of his troops. He was looking around wildly but no-one was there except for a few injured survivors and the dragon-healer attending them. Not counting the bodies, of course.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” Karen said softly. She’d gone pale and was swaying on her feet. Kyle reached out squeezed her hand though he was swallowing back bile himself. He’d had some warning from the images Darya had sent him but he hadn’t thought to warn her.
“You’re still confusing, Kaz,” he said. “You balk at carnage except when you cause it yourself?”
“When I cause it, they deserve it,” she said flatly. She looked down at the remains of a young goblin boy who had been hacked in two and he saw her shudder again. “This… this is-” She broke off with an inarticulate sob and her aura flared again, a far deeper, muddier purple than before. “I am going to kill him.” She launched herself at the Leshy with a scream.
The Leshy didn’t have chance to react before she landed on it in a glowing whirlwind of blades.Â Sap-like blood and lumps of plant-like flesh splattered everywhere. The Leshy collapsed to the ground, but it didn’t look like Karen was going to stop hitting him any time soon.
“That’s pretty much how I am feeling,” the dragon healer said in an overly controlled tone. “But you’d better talk her up if you can before she does herself a permanent damage. She’s only just through maturity, that’s not a good time to slip into descent.”
“Tell me about it,” Kyle muttered. “Been there, done that. I’ll try, but she’s none too happy with me either so I’ll likely get thrown across the village, at best.” He steeled himself and laid a hand on her shoulder. “I think you should stop now, Kaz. He’s not going anywhere.” He looked at the barely recognisable mess that had been the Leshy and shuddered. “Not ever. All you’re doing is making a bigger mess to clean up.”
Karen gave another inarticulate cry and punched at him. He backed off quickly, hoping he wouldn’t have to fight her. Fortunately, it seemed to have shaken her free of her fury. Her axes thumped to the ground as she stared at remains of the Leshy. Then she sank to her knees and started sobbing. He hesitated for a moment, then wrapped his arms around her shoulders. “It’s okay, Kaz. It’s okay. He deserved it.”
“What did I do?” she whispered. “I don’t…” she trailed off and started sobbing again.
“I’ll explain later if I can,” he promised. “Let’s get you back to the border. You aren’t in any emotional state to carry on.”
And a quick update for those wondering when The Haventon Chronicles will finally go live. I have plans. Check out this post on my tumblr (which you are also welcome to follow).