Lucius shook his head. “I can ask him at least. He’s on optional duty at the moment. He travelled north with B Company and Lash last week. He’ll be back in about a month, maybe two, and then I think Evil’s forcing him on three week leave.”
“Three weeks? When was the last time he had leave?” Ibby frowned.
“About six years ago. He refuses it every year.”
“Who are you talking about?” Beth asked.
“You don’t want to know, Beth,” Daniel cautioned her.
She looked over at him. His face told her that he was serious. She swallowed and nodded slightly.
“I’ll ask him to come when he gets back,” Lucius said to Isabella.
The purple-haired female, Da’lela, was sat close beside him, a hand on his chest. The two were obviously lovers at the very least.
Ibby shook her head. “No, wait until he gets back from leave. He needs to travel the Crimson Drifts again. On his way back he’ll go through the mountains and stay for a few days with the Covenant.”
Stark silence fell at her final word. The Covenant was obviously not good. Beth looked around. The expressions on everyone’s faces told her not to ask, so she didn’t.
“It’ll be two weeks before he’s ready to come here. Don’t mention anything until he gets back from the mountains.”
“You sure about that?” His eyes flicked to Beth very briefly.
“A simply ‘Yes, Mummy’ would suffice,” Isabella said, raising an eyebrow.
He grinned at her and complied, saying the words without a care.
“There’s a good boy. Now get off the floor; you look daft,” she ordered.
Still smiling, he stood. “Daniel, can I speak with you outside for a few moments?”
Daniel’s eyes widened in surprise. “Sure.”
The two men left the little room, leaving Isabella and Da’lela embracing and joking a little.
Yeah, Da’lela definitely means something to Lucius, Beth concluded.
After a minute or two of standing awkwardly, Beth looked up as the door opened and Lucius and Daniel re-entered. The former had a blank expression while the latter looked rather troubled, as if he wasn’t quite sure about a decision he’d just made. When he looked at Beth, his troubled look got worse. She frowned slightly.
“We’ll be off now,” Lucius said, putting his arm around Da’lela’s waist. “Mother, Daniel has instructions. He will share them with you later.” He kissed Isabella’s cheek and vanished into flames, taking Da’lela with him.
Both Isabella and Beth looked at Daniel. He shifted uncomfortably.
“Anybody hungry?” shouted a voice from out in the corridor.
“I am,” Isabella murmured, opening the door. “Two here, Li-Li.”
Retreating footsteps sounded as a couple other demands for lunch came out of doors along the hallway.
“Two?” Beth asked Isabella.
“You’ll be eating too, with the way you look right now,” she said, reminding her she was thin as a stick.
She nodded compliantly.
“Come on,” Ibby said, holding the door open.