--donation bonus week (day 3/5, post 1/5)--
She’d only managed to decapitate two of the seven, the first of which had already regenerated down to his shoulders. She fixed that real quick, then proceeded to the speaker box by the southern doorway.
“Can you hear me?” she said. “Is everyone alright?”
<“Lady Elroy...”> It was Claudio’s voice, slow and grave. <“Marcos is very badly wounded...”>
Her breath caught. Marcos? She didn’t understand. “Open the door,” was all she could think to say.
The floor groaned and split beneath the decimated banquet table. It separated straight down the center, gradually revealing the thick silver door.
She saw the gaping hole in its nearest corner.
The door pushed open from below, and Claudio’s head appeared. His expression was grim. She followed him down the ladder.
And there her son lay, bunched up in the corner next to a chunk of debris and one of the maids. His neck was twisted grotesquely. Blood gushed from his head wound. His eyes were still open, but only just, and they moved to her, holding on her, recognizing his mother.
The boy could only let out a whimper.
Mariana went to him. She could still hardly breathe, and her hands trembled as she touched his shoulder. Her horrified eyes looked at the maid by his side. The young lady had first-aid training, Mariana knew, but this was certainly beyond her.
‘Mariana,’ Shenado said. ‘I know it’s terrible, but we have to go. If we stay here, they’ll just keep coming.’
Mariana gnashed her teeth. She wanted to argue, wanted to scream, wanted to go back up there and hunt down all their reapers and kill them for good. But Shenado was right, damn her.
She stood. She went to the panel by the ladder. The number pad blurred together as she looked at it. She hadn’t cried since she was a girl. She remembered wondering if she even could cry anymore, but that was certainly not in question now. She couldn’t stop the tears or the snot or the ragged breaths and just tried to wipe her face so that she could see what she was doing.