It seemed there was no hiding it now. Emiliana just tried to keep herself from sounding as panicked as she felt. ‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I’m--I... ah--’ When she looked up from her book, she realized that there was something else wrong.
Spots. Distortions in her vision. It was like the light in the room was bending, somehow; and it made her blink involuntarily, but nothing changed. Those spots weren’t going anywhere. She could feel her breathing becoming even more erratic.
Chergoa’s voice cut through everything. ‘Listen to me,’ the reaper said, more urgently now, yet still carrying that same calmness that she always had. ‘Emiliana, it’s okay. I’m right here. Everything is fine. You’re perfectly safe. Just listen to my voice. Now I want you to try and stand. Slowly. Don’t rush yourself. There’s no hurry.’
Emiliana latched onto those words as if she were lost at sea and they were the only thing that could keep her afloat. She gradually made it onto her feet while a whirlwind of muddled thoughts and twisting light threatened to knock her off balance.
‘We’re going to the bathroom,’ said Chergoa, suddenly much more casual, presumably for the others in the room. ‘Be right back.’
Emiliana saw the door ahead of her. She just had to make it there. To walk straight. If only the floor would stop moving.
‘Good,’ said Chergoa privately. ‘You’re almost there.’
It didn’t look like it, but after a moment, Emiliana realized that the reaper was correct. Her hand was touching the doorknob. She was leaving the room. And it almost felt like she wasn’t the one who’d done it.
All the way to the nearest bathroom, this strange sensation continued.
Then she was in front of a mirror, removing her mask in order to look at her face, at the stubby horns there.
‘Does anything hurt?’ asked Chergoa.
Emiliana had to think about it. ‘No.’
‘Good. That’s good.’
‘You can’t tell? Em, your power is growing.’
Emiliana’s expression twisted into a scowl. Clearly, Chergoa thought this was a good thing, and perhaps it was, but Emiliana would’ve been quite pleased to never have to deal with this again.
Chergoa had told her about this, though. One of the things that made the mutation type so volatile was that, eventually, it had to be used, whether the user wished it or not.