--donation bonus week (day 1/5, post 3/5)--
“What is their business here?” said Mariana.
After a spell, Nico said, <“They say your presence is requested in Lagemoor. They’ve come to escort you there.”>
She exchanged glances with Shenado again. “Inform them that I do not intend to go to Lagemoor so long as my husband is not here to look after our children. As I told the man on the phone, I will depart for Lagemoor as soon as Zeff returns.”
There came another long pause. <“...I’m afraid they are insisting, enma’am. Ah! Wait! You can’t enter through there--oh! Whoa. Uh... I’m sorry, Mrs. Elroy, but I don’t think I can stop them...”>
“It’s fine, Nico. You and Jorem, take the rest of the day off.”
<“Oh, ah. Yes, en--”>
Mariana ended the call and waved the butler over.
‘I don’t like this,’ said Shenado.
Mariana was ahead of her. “Claudio, gather everyone into the panic room immediately and arm yourselves. Inform them that this is not a drill and do not come out until I say so.”
Claudio was a middle-aged gentleman of enduring loyalty, having served the Elroys since Zeff was in his twenties. “Right away, my lady.” He walked briskly off.
‘Jonathan and Charlie should have reapers, but I don’t sense them. They must be keeping their distance.’
Mariana moved to the large sofa and removed the soft cushions. A long metal box lay beneath them. It had no lid or point of entry. She ran her hand along the top, breaking it open with her power and revealing one of several such stashes she had hidden around the house. In this one, there were six grenades, ten knives, two handguns, one semi-automatic rifle, three boxes of ammunition, two small black remotes each with twin red buttons, and a single landmine.
She pulled out her cellphone next and called Cisco, arming herself to the teeth while she waited for him to pick up.
‘They’re at the front door.’
She expected to hear an explosion or someone breaking in. Instead, she heard the doorbell.
Shenado cocked a furry eyebrow at her. ‘Little odd.’
Her son wasn’t answering his phone, Mariana realized. She tried Zeff.