Luther spun around to confront his sister again. “Enough of this. What is your point? Are you trying to make me believe that you will hurt Lila if I do not cooperate? Do not make me laugh, Helen.”
“She has a husband and two daughters now,” the Queen continued, “but I am sure you knew that already.”
Luther looked at her coolly. “I know you are bluffing, sister. You would never do such a thing.”
Helen expected this. Now she had a choice to make about how best to convince him that she was not bluffing. The temptation, of course, was to stare him down and tell him he was wrong to doubt her with as much severity as she could muster, but she did not believe that would work on this person. This was a man who held no respect for her whatsoever. No, the best tactic here was surely just the opposite. She had to be nonchalant, as if taking the life of an innocent person was of no consequence to her, as if Luther’s suspicion made no difference at all. And that meant she could show no hesitation.
“My only dilemma now is that I have four candidates to choose from,” said Helen. “I assume you care for the husband the least, so I shall begin with him and work my way toward Lila. I am sure you will understand my conviction by the time I reach her. Or would you prefer that she die second as a small measure of mercy for her children?”
“You would never harm a child.”
Helen kept her expression utterly flat. “There are over forty million people in Atreya. Roughly one quarter of them are children. How many of those would die if I were unwilling to take the lives of two foreign girls? I wonder.”
Luther clenched his jaw and squinted at her.
“Perhaps I should start with the daughters, then, and spare the husband. That way might prove more expedient.”
Helen returned the notepad to its place inside her coat. “I will bring them here to visit you so that you can see with your own eyes that I am not playing a trick with corpses. You will exchange words with them, confirm their identities for yourself, and then watch them die.”