“Lucky guess,” said Diego.
“Not really,” said Melchor. Like Dimas, Melchor also wore a suit, though his wasn’t quite so dark, and he’d left the jacket unbuttoned to let his tie dangle freely. “I’ve known your grandmother for many years, Diego. She considers this castle to be the safest place in Sair. And if it were fully occupied, herself included, I might agree. But since that is not the case, I am certain that Red Lake is too vulnerable a place for the Elroy children at the moment.”
Having taken up a position between the two bodyguards, Joana responded for the group. “I suppose it just depends on who is coming to attack us.”
Melchor paused to look over his audience, letting his emerald eyes do most of the work while his head hardly moved.
The man’s reaper spoke up for him in a flat, dry voice. ‘We’re sensing a bit of hostility.’
“It’s nothing personal,” said Diego. “The Elroys have had a touch of bad luck with unexpected visitors, lately. You’ll have to excuse us if we’re not entirely thrilled to see you right now.”
‘Of course,’ the reaper said. ‘However, Melchor and I did come here by ourselves. If we wanted a fight, we would have brought backup.’
“We appreciate that,” said Diego. “And yet, here you now stand, in the middle of our castle with your eyes on the children. Perhaps you’re under the mistaken impression that you’re strong enough to kidnap them and fight your way out on your own.”
“Rather than that,” said Melchor, “we were hoping you would all return with us to Luzo. House Blackburn will protect the children while the siege is underway.”
“A generous offer,” said Joana, “but I think we will remain here at Red Lake.”
‘Please reconsider,’ said Melchor’s reaper. ‘We have reason to believe that Captain General Parson Miles will be here within the hour with a siege party of his own.’
That left an unsettled quiet in its wake.
‘You do not have the strength here to repel him. But with the full might of the Blackburns behind you, he will be no threat.’
“Why would Parson be coming here when Rheinhal is under attack?” asked Joana.
‘I cannot rightly say. Perhaps it is a testament to how badly the Vanguard wants to capture the Elroys, or perhaps they have reinforcements already en route. We have sent word to Octavia as well, so I’m sure she will be prepared for whatever happens.’