Marcos bit the inside of his lip. ‘You’re not a very optimistic person, are you?’
‘I consider myself a pragmatist,’ said Shenado.
For some reason, that made him smile. And after a moment, he realized why. ‘You... um...’
‘Ah... never mind.’
‘Oh, come now. Tell me. There’s no need for secrets or hesitation, Marcos. I know you’re still getting accustomed to seeing me, but I’ve known you your whole life. I watched you grow up.’
‘Right. It’s just... er, this might sound weird.’
‘I’m sure I’ve heard weirder.’
‘It’s just--you kind of... you kind of remind me of my mother.’
That gave the reaper pause.
‘Sorry,’ Marcos said hurriedly. ‘I didn’t mean to--’
‘No, it’s fine,’ said Shenado. ‘More than fine, actually. I don’t mind being compared to Mariana. Although, you might have things a little backwards.’
‘Not to toot my own horn, but Mariana probably took after me more than I took after her.’
‘Oh...’ Marcos blinked a few times. ‘How old was she when you met her?’
‘She was twenty.’
‘That doesn’t sound like a very impressionable age to me.’
‘Yes, well, I was somewhere around fifteen hundred, so I think I was a little more set in my ways than she was by then.’
‘Ah...’ It was weird to think about, that this reaper he barely even knew had influenced his mother so much. He supposed she was practically his grandmother. Very weird.
But it also opened up an avenue of inquiry that he hadn’t thought of before. ‘How did the two of you meet?’ he asked.
‘Mm. That is not an altogether pleasant story.’
Marcos had figured as much. ‘Please. I want to know.’
The eagle stared at him a moment. ‘Very well. I met her in a little town called Saloma, which is in Steccat, far to the east of here.’
‘What was she doing there?’
‘Ha. You might be surprised to hear this, but your mother was a Cocoran missionary when she was younger.’
Marcos’s brow receded. ‘As in the goddess, Cocora?’
‘The very same.’
‘But she hated religion.’
‘By the time you came along, yes. Even by the time I came along, she’d pretty much lost her faith already. But she told me that she was extremely devout in her youth--enough to embark on a journey to aid people across the world. While also trying to convert them, of course.’