‘C’mon,’ Chergoa urged. ‘Alicia’s trying to look out for you. The least you can do is try to carry a conversation with her.’
The reaper was right, Emiliana knew. She attempted a question of her own. “Are all of these people really your family?”
“Ah--well, some of them just work for us, but basically, yeah. Grandma only had one child--my papa--but her sister had nine. So I have a lot of cousins. Or rather, ‘second cousins once removed,’ technically.” She paused. “I looked it up after the last time they visited.”
“Yeah. And then, as if that weren’t enough, Grandma and her brother had cousins with the name Redwater who also had children and grandchildren, so there are even more branches of my family out there. It’s super confusing. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how I’m related to ninety percent of the people here.”
“How many members of your family have reapers?”
Alicia bit her lip. “Oh, I should know this, um...I know it’s only a small fraction of our total number. I wanna say... twenty? I don’t think it’s more than thirty people.”
“That’s still a lot.”
“Yeah. I think only the Sebolts have more than we do.”
“Right.” Emiliana considered bringing up the more pressing subject of negotiations with the Vanguard, but she doubted that would do much to lighten the mood. And besides, she was sure that she already knew more about it than Alicia did. Chergoa had been keeping her apprised of developments--not that there had been very many. General Lawrence had not returned Zeff to Aguarey, and the Rainlords had yet to take aggressive action. Lawrence had, however, made it known that Cisco and Dennex were in his custody at Rheinhal. Apparently, he’d offered them as trade for either one of Axiolis or Shenado.
The allied Rainlords responded by sending him an umbrella.
When they reached the large guest room, Ramira immediately ran up to Emiliana and hugged her.
“What’s the matter?”
“Stupid!” Ramira said. “You were gone way too long!” It didn’t seem like much of a reason, but she sounded genuinely upset about it.
Emiliana couldn’t recall the girl ever hugging her before.