Silence met that question. Kyle looked around and realised that everyone in the room was staring at Tarian without moving â€“ except Lyrrekka. She positioned herself between Tarian and Matthias in a way that made it clear she intended to protect him if needed.
“That’s really your call,” Tarian said finally. He was a little pale but otherwise looked unafraid as he stepped around Lyrrekka and met Matthias’s gaze. “I’d really rather you didn’t kill me but I’m not going back to Gerian. And I don’t think you’d let me even if I wanted to.”
“Certainly not. I barely know you, but Lyr likes you so I’m not going to kill you in cold blood.” Matthias sighed. “But I can’t cut you loose. I’m not sure you’re trustworthy.”
“Lyrrekka-ida,” Alaryia said softly. She was frowning softly at Matthias and Tarian.
“If you ever intend to be in a position to challenge Shalriya, you have to start somewhere you know.”
Lyrrekka stared at her for a moment, then looked back at Tarian. “That’s a point. Tar, would you?”
“If you’re sure you’re ready and if he’d let me, yes,” he said. “You shouldn’t have to ask, Lyr.”
“Challenge Shalriya?” Sonia asked.
“Excuse me, but what’s the suggestion?” Matthias asked.
â€œI’ll explain in a minute.â€ Lyrrekka looked over at Matthias. “Do you trust me?”
“I…” He frowned at her. “Yes, I think so. I know you and whatever your transformations, I don’t think you’ve changed so much as a person.”
“I certainly hope not. But how to explain this…â€ She frowned again. â€œAs the only yellow ida alive, I’m the only person who can challenge Shalriya for the yellow miriate. It’s one of the reasons I’ve had to hide who I am. But if I’m ever to do it there are certain â€“ ah â€“ formalities. The most important of which is that I have to gather my own court.â€
â€œHmm?â€ Matthias said. â€œOh! You mean you’d take responsibility for him?â€
â€œThere’s some formality involved, but yes. He’s already severed his oath to Gerian; if he swears loyalty to me, then I have responsibility for him unless he severs. And I’ll know instantly if he does.â€
â€œDoes he have to do what you say?â€ he asked.
â€œNo, not really. But it’s very bad form, and I’ll know if he does. But I wouldn’t accept him if I didn’t trust him. He’s a good guy, Matt.â€
Matthias hesitated and looked at her for a long moment. Finally he nodded. â€œIf you’re sure… but what if he frenzies?â€
â€œShe’ll be able to stop him,â€ Alaryia said. â€œJust like I could Halia. Just like you can your little half-made.â€ She nodded at Draylian.
â€œWhat?â€ Matthias looked confused.
Alaryia chuckled. â€œYou never even realised that the kid swore himself to you, did you?â€
â€œWell, he did get very formal when I asked if he would serve me without a collar. And I realised I could sense him better after he did.â€
â€œBut you didn’t realise what it meant?â€ Alaryia looked at Draylian.
â€œIt might have helped if he’d explained what he said. He spoke draconic when he did.â€
â€œHe would have done.â€ She gave Draylian a look. â€œYou didn’t explain to him?â€
â€œIt never came up,â€ Draylian said. â€œBut if Lyrrekka-ida believes she can trust Tarian-kedan after he’s sworn to her, she’s probably right. So it only matters if you trust her.
â€œI see.â€ Matthias nodded. â€œDo it, Lyr. It’s probably the best solution.â€
â€œThanks, Matt.â€ Lyrrekka turned to Tarian and spoke quietly to him in draconic. He nodded and dropped to one knee with his right hand clasped to his chest. He bowed his head and spoke equally softly in the same language. Both their auras flared briefly and entwined. Lyrrekka smiled over at Matt. â€œIt’s done.â€
â€œI know,â€ he said. â€œI felt it.â€ He looked over at Tarian. â€œI guess you’re coming as well. What about Kenna?â€
â€œI’d like her to,â€ Lyrrekka said. â€œI don’t see her enough.â€
â€œI want to come if you can hide me,â€ Kyle said.
â€œYou need to,â€ Sonia said. â€œYou can’t stay here much longer without returning to Earth.â€
â€œI can hide you,â€ Matthias said. â€œAnd we’re going to need all the help we can get.â€ He looked around. â€œWe’d better get going. We need to talk to Sal and start tracking Jayden.â€ He turned to the council and bowed. â€œIf anything happens and you need our help just call. Can I leave the prisoners in your hands? The circlets won’t work for me any more, either.â€
â€œWe’ll find some appropriate punishment for them, I’m sure,â€ Saeaera said in a steely tone. â€œI hope you rescue your son.â€
â€œThank you.â€ Matthias opened the gate to Earth.
(And thus ends the second arc. Arc three – The Lost Ones – will start on Friday and there’ll be a side story installment as usual on Wednesday)