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Ismael Blackburn stood. “Before moving forward on that subject, I must tell you all about Parson Miles of the Vanguard. I am sure most of you are familiar with him, but I do not think any of you know him the way I do.”
‘I know he’s one of the more powerful assbags we’re up against,’ said Mevox. His nonexistent bones had a darker glow than any other reaper Hector had seen so far. It made him easier to pick out of a crowd.
“Zeff, Evangelina, and I trained under him for several years,” said Abel Sebolt. “As did Santos, though only for the few months before Lawrence took Parson’s place.”
“Let me guess,” said Ismael. “You think Parson is a fool?”
Abel tilted his head. “He is a fool. But I was never able to determine if that made him bad at his job.”
“Then I give you credit for seeing that much,” said Ismael. “But Parson Miles is more than a fool. I am convinced that he intends to destroy each of our houses. He knows of Ibai’s existence, and he used that knowledge to coerce us into kidnapping the Elroy children.”
‘How convenient,’ said Mevox. ‘Someone to take the blame for you.’
Horatio stood up with Ismael. “We do not pretend to be blameless, but please try to understand our reasoning. Ask yourselves: what did we have to gain by abducting the children? If we wanted them for our own nefarious purposes, then why would we keep them in Marshrock, where we knew you would come looking for them?”
‘Maybe that’s where you keep your freaky torture devices,’ said Mevox.
Horatio’s expression slackened. “This is hardly the time for jokes. The children will confirm that we did not harm them.”
Mevox shrugged. ‘Fine, then, what was your reason?’
“Because the whole point was to draw you away from Rheinhal and keep you occupied,” said Horatio.
“He speaks the truth,” said Ismael. “Parson wanted to divide your forces so that he could deal with you more easily. And given the recent news of Rheinhal, it appears his plan is working. He promised that he would come to Luzo after Rheinhal was secured and rescue us from your siege. Our task was merely to hold out. His only miscalculation seems to have been Lord Asad over there, whose presence allowed you to push your siege more quickly than anticipated.”
The whole room looked to Asad, who just kind of flattened his mouth and scratched his cheek as he observed all the stares.