“I am aware,” said Mariana. “I was hoping you would have someone already nearby.”
<“I’m sorry. Several candidates come to mind, but I don’t know where to find them. You know how reapers are, especially without a servant tying them down.”>
“I thought as much. It was worth asking.” Searching for any single reaper could take months or even years, she knew. It was not uncommon for them to disappear, particularly after releasing a long-held servant. For many, replacing their servant meant replacing their very best friend. It wasn’t a thing they liked to rush into. Or, depending on their circumstances, some reapers might go into hiding while they built up a new servant’s power.
<“I’ll make some calls to the other families and see if any of them have someone lined up for your son. With any luck--”>
“You would only be wasting your time,” said Mariana. “Unless you give me your word that you have met the reaper personally and would entrust them with your own child’s life, then I will certainly not be entrusting them with mine.”
There came a long pause. <“I see. And you are planning to...?”>
More quietly, Octavia asked, <“What can I do for you?”>
“I would like to see Emiliana. Did you take her to Red Lake Castle?”
<“I did. Can you make it here safely?”>
“Yes, that shouldn’t be a problem. I will be there shortly.”
“Thank you for all your help, Octavia.”
<“Ah, before you go--do you know why your family has been targeted? Your daughter mentioned that the assailants were Vanguard.”>
“No, I don’t know. I will see you soon.” She hung up.
Shenado floated in front of her.
And Mariana could see her son’s soul in the reaper’s grasp. It was a faint, bluish thing to her eyes, a somehow pyramidic liquid, impossibly holding its shape with slow, trembling effort. She remembered the first time she’d started seeing souls, after years of being a servant already. It was unequivocally strange, suddenly being able to see what Shenado saw. The only apparent difference seemed to be that Shenado could see them even before a person had died, while Mariana could not--with the exception of aberrations, which were suddenly quite easy to pick out of a crowd.