“The General is not Emiliana’s father,” said Zeff. “And neither are you.”
‘Yes,’ said Axiolis, ‘but I think the argument here is that you would be taking a reaper away from the Vanguard for personal reasons.’
“Chergoa has not joined the Vanguard yet,” said Zeff.
‘That may not matter.’
‘Is it necessary for her to have a reaper at all?’ asked Chergoa. ‘If she is only going to live quietly, then why even bother with all this?’
‘Because she is an Elroy,’ said Axiolis in Zeff’s stead. ‘Even if she changes her name and moves far away from here, trouble might still find her one day.’
‘Ah. So I would be her backup plan, then.’
“I would ask you to prepare her,” said Zeff. “If she is forced to fight, I want her capable of protecting herself.”
‘I can do that,’ said Chergoa.
‘And what does the Lady Elroy think of this?’ asked Axiolis. ‘Do you agree with your husband?’
“I think the heart of a teenager is fickle and uncertain,” said Mariana. “She may desire a quiet life now, but what will she want in five years? Or ten?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t want us to decide for her.”
“We decided for Francisco,” she said.
His expression darkened. “We also decided for Gema.”
Mariana’s face tightened, eyes narrowing a moment before looking away. “Gema made her own choices.”
“Only after we took away the one she wanted.”
The woman shook her head and sat down on their bed. “When did you become so indulgent?” she said, still not looking at him. “I thought I married a Rainlord.”
‘Rain isn’t always cold,’ said Axiolis, and Zeff was a bit surprised to find the reaper defending him.
So was Mariana, apparently. “I thought you were on my side.”
‘As a Vanguardian, I am. But as this man’s reaper, and as someone who considers your family my own, I do find your husband’s words convincing.’
Mariana sighed. “All this, because you can’t bear to see your daughter a bit frightened.”
Zeff merely folded his arms.