“Why should I believe you?” Seymour queried, stepping backwards a pace.
“Why would I lie?” Moriba countered, stepping out of the scarlet river and coming toward him. “Would I really gain anything by it? I care not which you choose, only that you be fully aware of the consequences. Do you stand by your decision?”
He swallowed and looked up to the stormy sky. “N-no,” he stammered. “No. Don’t kill her. You’re right. Even if she wasn’t my sister, I couldn’t…I wouldn’t…I just…”
“Good boy,” Moriba praised him in a sing-song sort of tone, patting him on the cheek. “Imagine learning morality from me! Ha! In all the eons I’ve walked among your kind, you mortals never cease to confound me.”
Seymour kept silent. There was a ball of guilt growing in his chest, and it burned hot enough to be physically painful.
“I shall feed upon Seoc, then?”
“Do you promise you won’t harm him?”
She laughed dryly. “He is one of the Six, child. Until your quest is complete, Seoc’s life and wellbeing is equally as important to me as it is to you. Now what say you? Seoc or Marka?”
“Neither,” Seymour said mulishly.
“That isn’t one of your options, young one. Choose.”
“I won’t. I don’t want the blame for this.”
Moriba cackled wickedly. “You’re a cunning one, aren’t you, Seymour de Winter? Cunning…and yet so foolish. You wish for me to make the choice for you?”
“Not exactly. I wish to make a different choice. Not a choice between Seoc and Marka.”
“And what would that be?”
“A choice between life and death, such conditions as were already set forth in the initial proposition.”
She nodded slowly. “I can accept your proposal. But…which do you choose?”
“I choose…I wish for all involved parties to survive. I choose that you not kill Marka.”
“So I feed upon Seoc?”
“I didn’t say that. That may be the implied conclusion,” he muttered, “but I did not say you may feed upon Seoc. Is that clear?”
“Yesss,” she hissed. “You would make an excellent politician, did you realize? Ah, but it is of no importance. I shall be seeing you…sssoon…”