Hector saw the other man standing there on the second floor, watching them from over the hefty guardrail. “Hello, Seadevil. And company.”
“I see you have decided not to ambush us,” said Xuan. “That is appreciated.”
“I figured you would want to talk,” said Melchor.
Xuan chortled. “I’m surprised that you would.”
“I am in no hurry.”
Dimas took a step forward. “Only to tell us more lies, I imagine.”
Melchor made no response.
Xuan picked up the slack. “How’s about we stop all this nonsense, eh? Return the Elroy kids to us, and we’ll leave you alone.”
“I doubt that,” said Melchor. “I’m sure you have pressing questions now that would keep you here, regardless. Not that it makes a difference. I cannot give you the children.”
“Why not?” asked Xuan.
“I cannot tell you.”
Xuan pursed his lips. “Are you sure? Because I really hate having to fight scary guys like you.”
“Same old Xuan. I always did enjoy your ability to speak plainly. I would prefer to avoid this as well, if I am honest.”
“Then why are we doing this?”
“Because your loved ones wish to hurt my loved ones,” said Melchor.
Xuan frowned. “I don’t think that’s quite right.”
“Unfortunately, it is.”
‘Why can’t you tell us?’ asked Duvoss. ‘There must be a reason.’
“Of course there is. And I cannot tell that to you, either.”
Several more people entered the foyer from the second and third floors. Hector recognized some of the faces from the photographs Lady Amaya had shown everyone.
‘Nine new souls,’ Garovel told him privately. ‘Melchor makes ten. I also sense the woman from the other day.’
Hector remembered her. The cesium materializer, Silvia Blackburn. Already, Hector was wondering how much use he would be in this fight. He felt Asad touch his left pauldron and realized the man had soul-strengthened his armor for him again. He gave the Sandlord a grateful nod.
Lord Xuan pulled off his small coat and began rolling up his sleeves. “Well, then, if that’s how it’s going to be, then I hope--”
A gunshot cut him off, and Hector saw Xuan’s head twitch and heard the ping of the bullet’s ricochet. Xuan looked up to their right, but rather than looking up as well, Hector noticed the tiny bruise on the Seadevil’s temple where the bullet had struck him.