He needed to figure out what to do. Protecting the family was his responsibility. Even if Melchor was physically the strongest, Ismael was the one who had to lead the Blackburns away from the ruin that was knocking on their door.
It was such a mess. The whole reason he’d had Melchor bring the Elroy children here was to divide the other Rainlords’ attention and make it easier for Parson to end the siege at Rheinhal quickly. After which, Parson would come to Luzo and help House Blackburn rout the enemy before anyone became the wiser. But now, Ismael doubted Marshrock would hold out that long.
If it had only been Houses Sebolt and Delaguna, then it might have been manageable, but that one extra Sandlord had proven to be the dreaded wrench in this machine. He was the reason they had completed their soul net so quickly. With all the attempts at interference that the Blackburns had been running, it should have taken at least twice as long. But no.
Certainly, it hadn’t been the best plan with Ibai here, but Parson hadn’t given Ismael much choice. If Ibai’s presence were discovered, it would be the end of everything. It would not matter that Ibai had never actually killed anyone before, nor would it matter that Ibai was Ismael’s only child--the only child that he and his wife had ever managed to create in the past thirty-eight years of trying. The other Rainlords would never allow an aberration to live. There were no exceptions. Especially now, after having kept Ibai a secret for so long, after what his family had done in order to keep Ibai a secret.
No, it was much too late to reconcile. The Elroys would want his house to drown in lakefire before the end.
‘Have you decided yet?’ came Rholtam’s voice with the echo of privacy.
Ismael looked up to see him floating above the center table. To his eyes, the reaper was a pterosaur, glowing faintly gray all over but also with only about a third of its flesh still intact, the rest decaying gorily or just missing altogether. He’d always wondered why his subconscious had chosen to see reapers as undead, extinct flying reptiles. Even taking into account his youth studying paleontology, pterosaurs still seemed like a strange choice. He had more important things on his mind at the moment, however.
“No,” he said aloud, as there was no else in the Hall to hear. “Tell me what I should do, Rholtam. Tell me how this can end well for us.”