‘Alright, then, who here has a reaper for her son?’ Mevox looked across the room at everyone present. Cortes, Garza, Delaguna, Merlo, Redwater, Sebolt, Zabat, and Elroy.
None answered him.
‘Oh, come on. There are eight families here--nine, including Asad’s. You tellin’ me none of us can help her?’
‘We all know reapers who could fill the role,’ said Shenado. ‘The problem is contacting them in time. Do you have a solution to that, Mevox?’
Mevox looked over everyone again and frowned. His head dropped a little. ‘Well, then... is there a servant here willing to give up their life for the boy?’
“Stop,” said Mariana. “I appreciate the sentiment, but you all have families of your own to protect. If anyone is to give their life for my son, it will be me.” She heard the intake of breath from Emiliana. “Instead, after I am gone, I ask that you watch over my children until my husband is free.”
“We are not out of time yet,” said Salvador, though not with his usual vigor. “A reaper might still be found...”
Mariana leveled a stare at the huge man, which was enough to make him shift uncomfortably in his chair. “Yes, well... if such a miracle does not occur, then please consider that to have been my final request.”
The table fell briefly silent.
Joana placed a hand on her shoulder. “Oh, Mary... of course we will take care of them.”
“As if they were our own,” said the Lord Sebolt.
The others all nodded in agreement. Lady Rayen of House Merlo, Lady Socorro of House Garza, Lord Santos of House Zabat, and Salvador and Octavia as well. Their reapers acknowledged the promise, too.
There wasn’t much left to be said after that, but the conversation lasted a while, anyway. They came to a rough consensus that an immediate assault on Rheinhal was not the right course of action and that a non-violent resolution to this conflict was still possible, though unlikely. First, they would send formal word to General Lawrence demanding Zeff’s release, and while they waited for the man’s response, they would muster all available forces and begin calling in favors from allies abroad.