He does not know what to think. The Rainlords have been wounded many times in the past, but the massacre of House Elroy is undoubtedly the greatest scar of his lifetime. The losses in his own family a mere seven years prior pale in comparison and only serve to deepen his sympathy for what the young Zeff and Joana are going through.
And he played a part in it.
The guilt twists his stomach into knots. The shame rips his heart in half. And he can do nothing to mend them. If he confesses his involvement, the other Rainlords will learn of Ibai’s existence. His family will fall to ruin. Parson Miles assures him of that. Only silence will protect his blood.
He observes with disgust and haunting dread as Parson is promoted to the rank of captain general. He is only glad that it means Parson will be leaving Sair.
A small measure of relief arrives when Cousin Melchor returns to Marshrock. After all this time, the man has finally achieved vengeance for their House.
He is fearful that Melchor will leave again--or worse, consider him a traitor for what he has done. But this is not a secret he can keep from the man. If he tried to, Melchor would never forgive him when he inevitably found out. So he explains everything.
And Cousin Melchor consoles him.
Of all the possible reactions, that was the last one he expected. It is enough to make him weep. He could not possibly be any more grateful for his cousin’s return than he is in this moment...
Ismael blinked slowly as his mind came back to the present. The memories still weighed on him, on his soul. They wanted him to quit, to surrender and just let whatever happens happen. It was so tempting.
‘I’m tired, too, you know.’
The reaper’s heavy tone pulled Ismael out of his daze.
‘Don’t act like you’re the only one,’ said Rholtam. ‘I’ve been right there with you the whole time. Your sorrow is my sorrow, Ismael. Your guilt is my guilt. And your worry--certainly, your worry is mine, too.’
Ismael only nodded.
‘But our feelings don’t matter now,’ said Rholtam. ‘It’s time to stop being indecisive. If you intend to surrender, you can’t put it off any longer.’
“Do you think surrendering would make a difference? Once they know the complete truth, do you think they would be merciful?”
‘It’s... possible, but...’