Ibai teleported, leaving Emiliana behind but keeping Chergoa wrapped in a brown tail, and reappeared next to the man who’d been hassling Rafael. Ibai’s shadow ballooned around the man and his reaper, and Ibai jumped away again with both in tow. This time, he reappeared next to the wall.
The man, however, reappeared in the wall. In an instant, his flesh completely fused with the rock, cracking it only slightly and creating a lifeless human statue embedded in otherwise smooth stone.
He didn’t get time to admire the craftsmanship, however. The other reapers had noticed him by now, and the fight broke out anew. Ibai jumped from enemy to enemy, creating even more havoc while they were already scrambling to contain the thrashing Blackburns.
It didn’t last very long at all, and by the end, Ibai had collected two more reapers for himself. One final reaper was fleeing down the hallway, but Ibai caught up to him easily enough, bringing the number of trophies to four. He could’ve called it five, but he decided that it wasn’t fair to count Chergoa. All the same, he returned to the other Blackburns with a grin on his face and a hop in his step.
“Thank you, m’lord,” one of them said. “You saved us.”
‘Indeed,’ said Rafael’s reaper. This one’s name was Ustox. ‘But you aren’t supposed to be here, are you?’
“Aw, c’mon!” whined Ibai, waving his captured toys around. “All the action’s out here!”
‘As you say, m’lord. We could certainly use your help. But how long have you possessed this teleporting power?’
“Er. N-not long...”
‘Indeed? I suppose it doesn’t matter. Here, m’lord.’ Ustox bobbed his tiny body toward the others, and they all seemed to understand. In addition to Ibai’s captives, the others had captured five more enemy reapers, all currently rendered unconscious.
And the Blackburns offered them to him.
Ibai blinked at the apparent gifts. “W-what are you doing?”
‘Our House is outnumbered,’ said one of the other Blackburn reapers. ‘We need you strong, Lord Ibai.’
This was too sudden.
Ibai could hardly believe what he was hearing. For more than thirty years, everyone had told him the exact opposite of this. They’d told him how much trouble he’d been in, how he should try to be more thoughtful, more careful, more gentle.
That was simply the way of things.
But now...? He didn’t understand. Were they testing him? Surely not. That would be cruel.