The monster opened its mouth, which was a small revelation unto itself. The creature didn’t have protruding lips of any kind, and until now, the place where its mouth resided had looked unsettlingly empty. But this wasn’t an improvement. Emiliana spotted a tongue and at least two rows of sharp teeth. And by the way its mouth kept moving, the monster looked like it was trying to speak, but no words came out. No sounds, even. Just more uncomfortable silence.
Emiliana had to blink a few times. She hadn’t even thought to try talking to it. After a few moments, she mustered up the courage to ask, “What are you?”
And before she could pose another question, the monster faded away again, leaving no remnant of its presence. Emiliana checked the mirror one more time just to be sure it hadn’t suddenly appeared there in the manner of some freaky horror movie.
Alone again, she wasn’t sure if she should tell Chergoa about what had just happened. The reaper hadn’t been able to tell her anything useful the first time, and it wasn’t like anything had changed since then. Emiliana wrestled with the decision for a while until eventually choosing to keep the repeated encounter to herself. On top of everything, she didn’t need to give Chergoa more evidence that her servant was going crazy.
Melchor needed his sleep. Even for him, it had been an exhausting night. Any time he and Orric had to use pan-rozum meant a bout of punishing fatigue was soon to follow. The recovery period had shortened immensely over the years, but it would still be many years more before they could use it without any recoil whatsoever.
When he awoke, he cleaned himself up and changed into a fresh suit. He let Orric continue sleeping. To his eyes, the reaper was a quaint jaybird, boasting deeply blue feathers with a few splotches of black and gray. The eyes glowed with black light, though at the moment, they were closed and so not luminous.
Melchor was still tired himself, but he knew that it was still a long ways yet before he could truly relax again. He left his empty bedroom behind and made for the Black Hall, where cousin Ismael was most likely to be at this hour. Relatives and attendants filled the barrel-vaulted corridors along the way, but they all made way for him whenever they saw him coming.