Chapter Twenty Two
Dariad? Morvena’s voice was as clear to him as if she were there. What in the world is the Core telling me? You have the first dragon there? If I didn’t know better, I’d say it had gone insane.
It has, actually, but that bit’s true. He prodded at the web connecting them. Ah! I think I can use this to show you. He condensed recent events down into mental images and sent them to her, followed by a more detailed exposition of what Alaryia had shown them in the mirror.
There was a prolonged silence once he had finished. While he could feel that she was still there, he could get no sense of what Morvena was thinking. When she finally spoke again she wasn’t as distressed as he expected.
I’m not sure what to make of this, but my throne is insisting it’s true and even she couldn’t lie to a mirror. She hesitated. Is the Heart really still alive?
Yes, he said. It is.
Then I have to help you, but… she trailed off and he thought she was going to object to working with a dragon. He didn’t realise he’d projected that thought until she spoke again. It’s not that – I don’t really mind dragons as long as they don’t try and eat me or my people. I just don’t think I can carry my people with me on this. I don’t think the Core can hear us when we use the throne, but it will realise soon enough that I’m helping you and it will turn them against me. I can use the throne, but…
Morvena! Hush! We’ll work something out, I promise, he said.
Don’t hush me, Dariad, she snapped. I’m not a little gi- She broke off and swore at him. You bastard you were being condescending just to get me to snap out of it.
Yeah, sorry, but I still maintain that we’ll work something out. Use the throne if needed.
I don’t want to do that to my people, she protested.
Who would? he agreed. But it may be necessary. Anyway talk to your throne, may be it’ll have some way to hel- He broke off as he felt someone else trying to reach through the throne. Morvena must have felt it as well because she gave a mental yelp.
Valeria, Dariad’s throne said. He had the feeling Morvena’s throne had passed the same information to her.
Oh, let her in then, he said.
Dariad! she said. Morvena? We need to talk. Matt wants to hem in the Core again.
Yes, he said. Alaryia told me. It’s not a bad plan but we need the help of the others.
What’s the plan? Morvena asked.
Valeria told her and they both felt Morvena frowning. I’ll help if I can avoid the Core finding out in the interim, she said. But you’ll struggle to get the help of anyone else. The Core is really whipping people up against you.
I know, Valeria said. But even your help is better than I expected.
Indeed, Dariad said but something was preying on his mind. But what did you mean, you don’t really mind dragons?
Morvena chuckled in his head. I wondered how long it would take you catch up with that. So she played the Goblin for you as well. She has a fondness for that.
Which is how you knew that you could use the throne this way? Dariad asked. And why you called me rather than just assuming that what it said was true. He frowned to himself. But what was she buying from you?
She wasn’t, she was selling. Weapons, silk, the usual goblin trades. Golden lake is close to her longest border with the heart lands. She’s been trading with us for centuries. None of my ancestors knew who she was.
But you did?
Not until she saved my life, Morvena replied. It’s a very long story. If we get through this I’ll tell you about it. Fortunately it doesn’t know I know and hasn’t seen fit to spring her identity on my people yet.
What would happen if it did?
I really don’t know, she replied. Al’s very popular in the lake but if they found out she was a dragon – let alone the first dragon – I don’t know if that would last. It might; she’s never raided us, after all and everyone knows that the silvers have seen off more than a few raids by other colours. But they also know the stories as well as anyone. She paused and then added. They are far from happy about the declaring war on the warriors though.
I thought the lake people didn’t much care for humans, Dariad said sceptically.
Oh, they don’t but they know we need them, she said. And they aren’t foolish enough to think we can protect ourselves without them. But the truth about draconic origin really would cause issues for you.
Then we won’t let them find out, Valeria said. Not until they’re ready.
Except that it knows, Dariad said. It told my people. It’s probably holding it back for the right moment to cause us even more trouble.
I have some thoughts, Dariad. Alaryia said. Will you relay for me? He opened his eyes and stared at her.
She gave a one-sided smile. I can hear through you but I can’t talk to all three of you unless you relay me.
Oh! Of course I will. He closed his eyes again turned his attention back to the others. Alaryia wants me to relay to you. He waited for their agreement, which came quickly.
Good, Alaryia said. The Core has very good reasons to keep that information from the majority of speakers. It would need to explain it all and it knows and many of your people would begin to see the warriors as victims of humanity, not their vanguard.
You’re right, Al, Morvena said after a long moment. Expressed like that, a lot of people would feel that way. It might even switch some sympathy towards your people. It would need to be done carefully though.
And better to wait until the Core is bound, Alaryia added, then broke of with a startled expletive even as the throne shot a warning into his mind. He opened his eyes just as a roaring noise seemed to fill Caerdu. He gulped and tried not to vomit as he realised the Core was attacking his people.