This chapter is told from the point-of-view of Stefan Nilsson.
Leila got up from the couch when the wind started to blow stronger and the sky got darker. I watched Emory follow her, then went on talking to Justin, who was telling me about the art he’d been doing. I noticed Kari going over to her as well; she’d been curious about Leila ever since we’d met– and leery of me, though I can’t hold it against her, considering that I’m more than twice her height. I was giving her time to get used to me, and to see that I had no intention on harming her.
Then I saw one of the vampires come and go, and then Kadri’s glowing hands. I remembered the reading of the ballad a few days ago, the way the musicians had described meeting Leila’s ancestors. When Owen Moss had first met Aubré there had been glowing, and now this haltija’s hands were glowing as she reached for Leila.
I practically jumped out of my chair, then called for Jean-Marc to follow me as I crossed the room to the balcony. Justin followed along, evidently curious about what had me so excited. Before I knew it, Larsa and Killian were also in the doorway with us.
Leila knelt down in front of Kadri so that they could look eye-to-eye. Kadri was excited– thrilled, actually. Leila seemed a bit more apprehensive, probably due to all of us suddenly watching. She smiled, and when they linked hands, the soft, leafy green glow expanded to swirl around them both. It got brighter as the color faded to white, and then the light faded in dozens of little sparkling pops.
Kadri giggled as though it tickled her. “It is you!” She cheered.
“It is,” Leila said, speaking softly. I don’t think she knew quite what to say. “I didn’t even have to go out on a big quest to find you.”
“No, I came to find you!” Kadri told her excitedly. “I told you, my homeland is very far away. Ooohh, I was hoping it would be you! But I was so nervous when you didn’t speak up earlier.”
“Yeah,” Leila laughed, a little nervously. “So much was going on at once. I’m glad you came to find me; it’s been a wild past few days, and after helping the vampires with Brielle, I don’t know how I’d manage to undertake a quest.”
“Yes, finding me would be a huge quest,” Kadri agreed. “Even though that’s taken care of now, we still have to find the key, and your palace– oh, and I want to learn all about your instrument!”
“We don’t have our oboes with us,” I pointed out.
Kadri gazed up at me. “Is that what it’s called? Oh-bow?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Leila and I both play oboe. The thing is, I had no idea this place even existed, and she didn’t bring the key.”
“You have the eighth key?” Kadri asked with wide-eyed excitement.
“Not yet,” Leila giggled. “It’s the number seven key left to me by Great-Uncle Morrigan.”
“Ooooohhhh…” Kadri stood there thinking for a moment.
“There’s a lot you yourself still don’t know about Terrans, isn’t there?” I asked. “And about becoming a musician.”
She nodded. I would have expected a shy nod, having to admit such a fault, but hers was much more… emphatic, I suppose I could say. There was an eagerness about her; some might even have called it naïveté, but I don’t think was that bad– not entirely. She wanted to know things, and she was admitting to not knowing, but her level of energy… Well, thankfully the responsibility for teaching her did not fall to me alone.
“Okay. Well, Kadri, when I found out that Leila had a mission here in this world– and that she was accepting it– I told her I’d help her. I play professionally, but she’s been more focused on her writing these past few years.”
Kadri looked back to Leila. “What do you write?”
“Oh, all sorts of stories. Most–”
“We can discuss that later,” I insisted; Kadri was clearly easily distracted. “For now, I think the three of us need to sit down with Brom and make sure we’re all on the same page.”
“The same page of the book containing the Ballad of Ríocht Ceoil?” she asked, her eyes glittering in a way that made me give Leila a hopeless look.
“Well, Evander will be with us, too,” Leila said as she took Kadri’s hand and led her inside. She flashed me a reassuring smile. “He has been very good at explaining things. And Jean-Marc will be with us.”
“He’s the seventh musician!” Kadri announced.
Leila nodded. “Yes, and you’re the eighth. You know Kadri, I’m starting to actually get excited about doing this. Come on, let’s have more tea while we talk.”