Side Story Three
Two Years Ago
Kyle tensed up and Karen felt a surge of near panic from his mind at Sean’s words. From the startled look which flitted across Sean’s face, he’d felt it as well.
“Are you really that afraid that I’ve been telling you the truth all along, Kyle?” he asked mildly.
“What do you mean, Laverne,” Kyle snarled.
“You know exactly what I mean, Kyle,” Sean brushed his fringe out of his blue eyes and smiled up at the unicorn as she trotted up behind him. “I’m sorry about what my family did to your parents, and I do not agree with it. I’m on your side.”
“Like hell! I know what your family is like,” Kyle snarled. “You’d be dead if you didn’t agree with them.”
“Kyle,” Karen said softly. “Calm down, please. This doesn’t help.” Out of the corner of her eye she noticed that Jason and Sarah had noticed the budding confrontation and stopped. “Let’s just hear him out. Unicorns can’t lie and know when people are, remember?”
“Yes, but she hasn’t said a word yet,” Jason said.
“Well, I haven’t really had chance to say anything,” the unicorn said in a reasonable tone. “But he’s telling you the truth.”
Jason inhaled sharply but didn’t otherwise react. Sarah stared at the unicorn and then gave Matthias’s unsurprised expression a thoughtful look.
“Liar!” Kyle clenched his fists and took a step towards the unicorn. “I don’t know how, but you must be. His family killed my parents!”
Sean’s shoulder’s slumped again. “I know. I’m sorry. But for heaven’s sake, Kyle, I was two years old. I didn’t kill anyone!”
“I know that, but what about your bloody mother? She’s her sister’s right-hand woman!” Kyle lunged at Sean. Karen tried to grab him but he moved too fast.
Panic flashed across Sean’s face and he shot Matthias a quick look. Her father was between the two boys in a blur, bouncing Kyle off his shield. So she’d been right to think Tara Laverne was her father’s spy. Sarah must have noticed Sean’s appeal as well because she narrowed her eyes at him.
“Matt, what?” she asked.
Matthias sighed heavily. “Tara Laverne has been spying for me since just after Marian blew up Sonia and the kids.”
“And you’re sure that she can be trusted?” Jason asked.
“I am.” Matthias nodded and turned his attention back to Kyle. “I know it’s hard, kid, but you’ve got to calm down. What happened isn’t Sean’s fault and he wouldn’t be here if you weren’t going to need him.”
Kyle clenched his fist and took several deep breaths before looking at the unicorn. “Is all this really true?” he asked plantively.
“It is,” she replied.
Kyle took more deep breaths and then nodded. “I guess I have to accept it then.” He didn’t sound very happy about that. “What’s your name, then?”
The unicorn looked at him for a moment and then bowed her head. “I am Zilah, warrior.”
“We’ll finish this conversation when you’re calmer and ready to listen, Kyle.” Sean’s eyes crossed momentarily. “We’d better get going before something else goes wrong.” He set off at a run towards the Storm Palace.
Matthias and Sarah looked at each other and mouthed ‘something else?’
“Wait!” Matthias called after him. “What’s happened?”
Sean paused and looked back. “I don’t know, but something bad is happening.”
The gates were open when they reached the Storm Palace and Karen could see a Storm Sprite kneeling in the courtyard weeping. Matt gasped and strode over to her.
“Val?” he said.
“They’re attacking Esen Peak, Matthias. Kiridan’s there and I don’t think they’ll make it in time even if you teleport them immediately. And it wouldn’t be fair to dump them into a battle like that without even the chance to get to know each other.”
Matthias rubbed her shoulders and said nothing.
“We can fight,” Jason said. “We’re not untrained and we’ve known each other all our lives.” He paused and smiled at the pale Haltia lurking in one corner. “Haven’t we?”
“We have. I think we can,” she agreed. “I want to smile to meet you at last but it seems inappropriate to be happy.”
“I guess we don’t have much choice,” Matthias said. “We can’t ignore the attack.” He said something else then but Karen missed it as another Haltia emerged from one of the doors. He was carrying a bow and had a pair of daggers strapped to his belt. As he caught sight of Karen, a strained smile touched his lips.
“Here you are! Just in time.” He bowed politely. “My heart friend, I am Alban. I am glad to meet you at last. I just wish it were at a better time.”