For Zeff, the reapers took on the appearance of overlarge bats--as big as hyenas and with similar faces but also bearing wings and glowing white eyes. They had a curious habit of hanging upside down just as normal bats might, only these ones didn’t need to hang from anything, so they simply floated there in midair.
Among the four reapers here, there was one each for Zeff, his wife Mariana, and Francisco. The last would be the one to resurrect Emiliana.
As Zeff reached out to her, pressing the transparent gas mask toward her face, Emiliana suddenly began to tremble. “Mama, Papa, please!” she said. “I can’t--! Please! Please don’t make me do this!” She was already on the verge of tears and trying to pull away, but her mother held her firm.
A part of him wanted to chastise the girl. She didn’t know how good she had it. Drowning was the original tradition, but having experienced it personally, Zeff decided to spare his own children that agony. He remembered his passing all too vividly. Panicked and terrible. In this very pool. Helium gas was nothing like that. Just as Francisco’s had been, Emiliana’s death would be peaceful and painless, like drifting off to sleep.
He wanted to tell her these things--things she already knew, had been told--but as he looked at her face, at the terrified expression of his baby girl, he found his heart slowly leaving him. He lowered the mask.
Everyone looked at him, the same silent question being asked. It was his own reaper who posed it.
‘Zeff, what are you doing?’ said Axiolis.
“We will wait a bit longer,” said Zeff. He patted Emiliana on the head.
His wife did not look pleased. “Zeff,” was all she said, and Zeff knew she would have said more if the children weren’t present. Fortunately for her, Axiolis was more than happy to fill in.
‘You shouldn’t delay without good reason,’ the reaper said. ‘You’re not doing the girl any favors by postponing things.’
Zeff chose to ignore him and instead eyed the reaper meant for Emiliana. “I apologize for the inconvenience.”