Emiliana moved to do what Chergoa said, but Marcos was closer and reached Ramira first. With a bit of help from Shenado, the boy lifted his little sister off her feet. Ramira didn’t seem to appreciate being carried, but Emiliana was too distracted by the adults in the room to keep watching.
“Why are you doing this?” Diego asked, all sense of leisure gone from his voice now. He’d taken a wider stance, half-crouched with his arms hanging loosely in front of him.
“Duty,” said Melchor and his reaper. “We will not harm the children. We simply need them to come with us.”
“But why?” said Joana.
“Old mistakes,” was all Melchor offered.
“That’s not good enough,” said Diego. “This is your last chance, Melchor. Either explain yourself or leave peacefully.”
The Lord Blackburn did not move.
The ensuing silence was perhaps the heaviest thing Emiliana had ever experienced. Everyone remained perfectly still, even Marcos and Ramira. Emiliana counted seven Redwaters standing behind Melchor. Not a single one of them looked pleased to be there. Emiliana flexed her one clawed hand unconsciously.
‘Get ready to run,’ came Chergoa’s echoing voice.
‘There’s nowhere TO run.’ So long as the chamber remained covered in Melchor’s soul-empowered mercury, even the reapers wouldn’t be able to leave, Emiliana knew.
‘That’s why you need to be ready when there is,’ said Chergoa. ‘And don’t resist. If Diego and the others lose, just surrender.’
‘I can fight.’
‘You can’t fight THAT.’
Melchor’s mercurial eyes had not changed, but his skin flashed intermittently between pale normalcy and waves of shining metal. Flesh one moment, metal the next, and then back to flesh again. If the man meant the display as some kind of warning, it didn’t seem to be working.
And then, everyone moved at once.
Diego’s reaper Yangéra vanished into his body as well, which caused Melchor to lunge for him. But Melchor’s movement wasn’t anything human. Instead, the man’s whole body turned to liquid mercury and surged forward as if expelled from a fire hose. His suit still stuck vaguely to him, giving an uncertain sense of where his body might be in the middle of that lustrous glob.
Diego didn’t need to protect himself, however. Dimas did that for him, putting both hands forward and shoving Melchor’s liquid mass entirely off course from across the room.
Emiliana had heard about Dimas’ fearsome alteration ability: gravitation.