January 20th, 2012 | Published in Dragon Wars
Chapter Twenty One
While they waited for Rilletta’s food to arrive, Hannah told her about the events surrounding her and her companions’ arrival. Rilletta listened intently, interrupting once or twice to clarify something. When Hannah got to the point where Clara and Simon were killed, she reached out and squeezed the girl’s hand. Hannah looked up at her and saw deep sympathy in her eyes.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “That’s a terrible thing.”
Hannah swallowed and nodded before continuing. When she mentioned someone helping her, she saw the surprise on Ystelyan’s face and paused. “It wasn’t you?”
“No.” He shook his head. “I would have, but I didn’t know about what was happening until you broke through.” He looked intrigued. “I wonder who it was? They’d need to be close by and this is the closest stable territory…” He trailed off, looking thoughtful. “I really have no clue.”
“Well, whoever it was helped us, but I don’t like mysteries,” she added sourly.
“I don’t either,” he agreed. “But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.” He paused. “The history stones you found; do you still have them?”
“Yes, of course,” Hannah said. “We thought that they might be important.”
“I’m certain they are,” he said. “No one hides things like that unless they are important. You should take them to the dragon lord when you leave. I feel he and his kin may have a use for them.”
“I thought you were going to ask for them,” Hannah admitted.
Ystelyan chuckled. “I’ll admit to a certain curiosity, Hannah-alra. I was very young when I had to leave Taloa and anything about there intrigues me, but my gut says it’s more important that your allies have them than for me to satisfy my curiosity.”
“Ah,” she said. “I’ll do that, then. I’m sure Kyle will tell you what’s on them if you ask.”
“Probably yes,” he said then turned as Rilletta cleared her throat. “Rill?”
“What happened after they arrived here?” she asked.
“Nothing really. They walked out of the far reaches and Agrona and her brother met them and brought them here,” he said. “It was as uneventful as a walk out of the reaches can be.”
“I see. That’s good then,” she squeezed Hannah’s hand again. “You and your friends should rest here tonight, Earth Warrior. We’ll see about getting you back to Gaia tomorrow.” She glanced at Ystelyan. “We need to talk to the dragon lord about getting the Core fenced in again. Alaryia-miria thinks that with a concerted effort we can make the wards better than the ones he was able to weave on his own.”
“That’s a good idea,” he agreed. “And it might be the only thing that will help cool this incipient civil war down.”
“Yes, that and helping the Heart take up enough of the slack to make up for what warding the Core so firmly will do to the stability of the world. Even in its current state, it should be able to handle that much.” She frowned to herself. “Once it starts reconnecting to its people they should start to realise the truth, but the next few years are liable to be bad. Alaryia says the Heart is awake about a century earlier than it should be. She set the wards on it to wake it up once it could maintain the heartlands on its own. It still can’t do that. There’s a good chance the reaches will continue to encroach like they have been for the last couple of decades. She has ideas to minimise the damage and, of course, once the Heart is fully healed we can start reclaiming the lost lands as well.”
“I hope so,” he said, “But as you say, the next little while will be the test.”
“It will,” she agreed then smiled as two goblins and the dragon from the door entered the room with several dishes. “Ah wonderful! The food is here. My thanks.” She opened them to reveal steak, minced beef and fish. “Wonderful!”
“Rilletta wants to come here?” Matthias asked after Kyle relayed their message to him the next morning.
“Yes, her and Halindan.” Kyle nodded. “They want to discuss something with you and there are various political reasons Ystelyan can’t come here.” He caught Matthias’s baffled look. “There’s an unspoken agreement between all of the first twelve that none of them come here themselves. Though eventually Gerian or Takylian will if they get their way, but the knowledge that virtually all the others will move to stop them if they do restrains them. No one wants to take their eyes off Shalriya. No one at all.”
“So Gerian doesn’t come after Mela himself because at least some of the others will stop him?”
“Or try to,” Kyle said. “I think he’s mostly worried about what Shalriya will do if the others take their eyes off her to watch him.”
“That’s true,” Lyrrekka said. “That’s why he was so interested in me. I was useful to him because he could use me to stop her.”
“That makes sense.” Matthias frowned. “So once you get her out of the way he’s likely to attack Earth.”
“I’m afraid so,” she sighed heavily. “That’s the problem. But Shalriya needs to be stopped. He’s less dangerous than she is by a street.”
“Can Rilletta come here?” Kyle asked.
“Your house, your call, Sal.” Matthias said.
Sarah tutted to herself and then nodded. “Very well. I think we need to talk to them and we need to stay here as well so we don’t have much choice.”
“That was my thought,” Matthias agreed. “Anyway, we need to get Hannah, Tara and Collette home.”
“And Collette can help me with Catherine’s problem. It’ll be good for her training anyway,” Sarah said. “Speaking of which I should go and check on her. She has a remarkable amount of ability for an ember.”
“You’d be surprised how many do,” Matthias said. “That’s one thing I’ve discovered over the last few years.
“It’s true,” Sonia said. “What they lack in breadth they often make up for in the depth of the abilities they do have. I’ve been wondering if we shouldn’t start seeking out and training them as well.”
“I mean look at Lisa,” Matthias said. “She’s an ember.”
“Well, yes, she is remarkably talented,” Sarah agreed. “It might be something to look into once we get through this.”
“Yes,” he agreed with a smile. “Once we get through this.” He looked at Kyle. “Send the message.”
(A/N: Hey peeps! Last night I wrote and posted a Science Fiction ficlet on my dreamwidth account (where I also post my worldbuilding stuff). I’m not posting it here don’t know if it’s going anywhere yet or how often it’ll be updated, but feel free to swing by and have a look. Comments are here or there are always welcome.)