Chapter Twenty Two
Alaryia frowned at him, then produced a ball of raw mabain from one of the pockets in her robe. “It was more than worth it. It was absolutely necessary.” She began playing with the ball of mabain, spinning it into random shapes. “You know your entire world is made of this stuff?”
“Of course,” he said. “But I don’t see–“
“Hush, let me explain.” She continued playing with the mabain. “See how it responds to me?” She cocked her head at him and he nodded. “Good. There are three things that hold the world together and stop it sinking back in to chaos. The Heart – supported by the Core, the throne system and the guardian system. However, as much as Mabain is a source of destruction, it is also the source of your whole world. It constantly refreshes and rebuilds it. If it wasn’t constantly being created, it would eventually run out and everything would gradually fade.”
“So I don’t–” he began but once again she interrupted him.
“Mabain is created by human minds and only by human minds. Well, dragons and Kithreiri as well – but there aren’t enough of us to hold it together. If humans die out, your world goes too.”
Her pronouncement caused pandemonium. Dariad wasn’t surprised to see his people turned to the various unicorns among them for confirmation. It was swiftly forthcoming. Alaryia remained leaning against the wall by the mirror until it quieted.
“So you see why I had to do something so drastic,” she said. “It was not a thing I did lightly, nor without consulting those who helped me.” She looked down at the mabain which had formed into a gorgeous dagger. She offered it to the dwarf who had asked the question. “For you, to remind you where you come from.”
“I- I-” He took the dagger in one shaking hand. “May I ask another question. Why did you let everyone think you acted out of malice?”
“Because if you had known the truth, it would too. I had to make it think of dragons as the greater threat and believe it needed humans to fight us. I couldn’t have done that if it had known the truth. Now that it knows, there is no point hiding it.” She bit on her lip anxiously and knelt before them. “People of Caerdu, I come before you to ask you aid to protect both Talonyka and Taloa from their enemies, for just as if Taloa is destroyed this world follows, the converse is also true. Will you give it?”
Silence fell on the hall at the question. His subjects looked at each other, but no one spoke. Studying their faces he could see she was on the way to winning, yet they still seemed unsure.
Much to his surprise, it was Brita who moved first. Leaving her station by the door, she walked slowly to through the crowd and curtsied to Alaryia. “I owe you an apology, first dragon. I have been terribly rude to you and your entourage – especially since I found out who you are. I can’t say as I entirely trust you now, but I do believe you speak the truth on this.” She cast a wry glance at the mirror. “I wish I could do otherwise. So I will help you if you allow me.”
“Thank you, chatelaine Brita. Of course I will.”
A moment later Hreid joined Brita. “Lady,” he said. “My King trusts you and I trust him. I will help.”
“Thank you.” Her smile was radiant.
After that more of his people came forward until only a handful remained undecided, and no one had refused yet. Dariad was forcing himself not to bite his lip or otherwise show his nerves when he felt a gentle pull from his throne. He shook his head, thinking it must be his imagination, but a moment later it came again, stronger. He turned and looked at it with a frown.
You should answer that, Alaryia said in his head. It must be important. The throne would not be reaching for you if it weren’t.
Is that what it’s doing? he asked even as he walked over to it and seated himself.
Dariad! It said urgently. Dariad barely avoided jumping. Valeria had said the Storm throne had spoken to her but he hadn’t believed it.
What is it? he asked.
Queen Morvena of the Golden Lake wishes to speak with you. Should I let her?
What? Dariad said. I don’t…
You and the other throne holders can use the system to talk to each other, Alaryia said. It’s faster than imps and easier than dream speaking but limited to the holders.
Ah! I never knew that, he said and then wondered how Morvena did. He turned his attention back to the throne. Yes, let her.