Zeff exchanged looks with Ax and the other Rainlords. After everything that had happened, Salazar’s visit had been the furthest thing from his mind.
“This is your home in this picture?” Sanko asked.
“It was,” Zeff said through gritted teeth. “Until the Vanguard attacked it without warning or cause. I have yet to return there to see if it is still standing.”
‘I’m sure someone told you,’ said Axiolis. ‘That was the attack that resulted in the death of Zeff’s wife.’
Parson blinked. “What? Mariana is dead?”
“Yes,” Zeff said lowly. “Did you not know the extent of your crime?”
“I’m very sorry to hear that, Zeff. I had no idea.”
“You’re not sorry, Parson. Not yet.”
“Zeff, I swear to you, the orders were always to take your family alive.”
Zeff glowered. “You say that like it makes a difference.”
“Doesn’t it? No one was supposed to die, Zeff. I would never have ordered--”
“Keep talking, Parson. That seems to be all you are good for anymore.”
Oddly enough, that seemed to shut him up, which was perhaps why Overra decided to chime in.
‘You’re being unreasonable,’ she said. ‘If Mariana had simply followed her orders, then we could have avoided this whole mess. And she would still be alive, I’m sure.’
Axiolis responded with a hoarse laugh. ‘Don’t try to goad us, you stupid bitch.’
‘I wasn’t trying to goad anyone. But it sounds like it wouldn’t be very difficult. Have you all inherited Mariana’s paranoia now that she’s gone?’
That very nearly broke Zeff’s composure.
But Octavia stepped forward first, tapping her cane against the pavement. “Have some respect for the deceased, lest you find yourself joining them shortly.”
‘Ah, the bloodthirsty Redwater clan. Tell me, are those old stories about how you got your name true?’
“Enough,” said Sanko, and the ground trembled beneath everyone’s feet. “No one says another word unless it is in answer to my questions.” She pointed at Overra. “You. Back inside the Keep. Now.”
‘Why? I’ve done noth--’
The ground shot up around the reaper, encasing her in a cage molded from pavement before anyone could even blink. And then the whole cage moved, speeding away like a shark’s fin atop water. It smashed a hole through the gate and kept going, undeterred until it was out of sight.
Sanko looked to Parson next. “I suggest you join her. And advise her not to return.”