"What are you doing here?" Ilysia asked the man, no sign of fear in her voice. Ilysia was someone who would stare death in the face, and ask why it was disturbing her.
"Don't be like that with me. I told you before, I love you. I'll do anything to take you from this place." His words were slurred and he took an unsteady step towards Ilysia. Reverie tensed, she'd heard the older apprentices talk about this kind of thing. Patrons who grew obsessed with the courtesans, some even became violent. Her skin felt too tight as all at once icy fear, and an unknown burning pressure filled her. She stood up, to climb off her bed and go to Ilysia, and realized right away that had been a mistake. The man's face whirled around to look at her. He squinted his eyes, and tears formed in the corners of them, before his face then turned several shades of red and purple in rage.
"Reverie, go now." Ilysia commanded, but the man turned on her with a roar.
"You! How could you do this to me?! I love you! I love you, I love you, I love you! And you're here raising another man's accident?!" He lunged at Ilysia then, his hands latching onto her neck. Reverie sobbed in shock and fear, even Ilysia's usually calm face looked surprised. She reached her hands up, clawing at his in vain. That moment, as the man lifted Ilysia off the floor by her throat, stretched out for an eternity in Reverie's eyes. The chill of fear had numbed her thoughts, but that burning power insisted that she move. She jumped towards the man, a desperate cry torn from her little mouth, as the power grew and built and clawed at her just beneath her skin. Finally, just as she reached the man, the power burst out from her, like a beast made of fire. The moment the power exploded from her, Reverie had only one thought, and it was for this man to be gone. Suddenly, her hands yanked at his leg, and she could feel his life all around her, like a cocoon. When her power met it, her intention obliterated that delicate cocoon and the man fell all at once. Ilysia collapsed as well, coughing and looking back and forth between Reverie and the man. Reverie was dizzy, a faint buzzing in her ears was all she could hear. Ilysia felt the man's neck and gasped, Reverie didn't know, but she thought he might be dead.
"Reverie, you remember how to breathe right? I need you to breathe!" Ilysia was saying frantically as she scrambled towards her. Reverie nodded wordlessly and sucked in a breath, she hadn't been breathing she realized. Ilysia was still speaking when she reached her, her hands stroking the sides of her face and her usually stoic eyes filled with worry. Just before she fainted, Reverie wondered vaguely if she would be beheaded for murder.
She woke, several days later, to discover that she wasn't going to be beheaded at all. In fact, the city guard had determined that the man had died from an overdose of Pleasure's Grasp. It wasn't uncommon, and there'd been no evidence of any violence other than his own. The dowager of the Garden, the brothel where Ilysia worked and Reverie was being trained, gave Ilysia a week off for the bruises on her neck to fade, but that was it. Ilysia had tended to Reverie on her own, wanting to keep everyone away in case her power suddenly resurfaced. That was what Ilysia explained to her when she saw her stirring in bed.
"I didn't mean to kill anyone." Reverie said softly, tears wetting the pillow under her head. Ilysia, whose face was it's usual cold mask again, placed one cool palm against her face.
"You didn't do anything wrong, do you understand me Reverie? What have I taught you?" Ilysia asked. Reverie swallowed the lump in her throat to answer.
"That everyone has the right to survive." Reverie answered. Ilysia nodded.
"And what have I told you is the best way to do that?"
"To be useful." Reverie repeated the phrase she'd heard countless times. Everyone has a right to survive, and the surest way to do so is to be useful. That's what Ilysia had been teaching her since she could remember, but didn't that mean the man had a right to survive as well? Reverie couldn't let go of her guilt that easily.
"That's right. That monster was trying to kill me, and I'm the one who takes care of you. You made the best choice for your own survival, Reverie. Do not shame yourself for that, instead focus on what you've gained." Ilysia explained. Reverie frowned as she thought.
"What did I gain?" She asked, genuinely unable to think of anything. Ilysia smiled down at her, and it seemed like a very sad smile to Reverie.
"You have gained a way to be very, very useful, and to make others useful to you. Rest for now, and when you're a little better, we will talk about that power you used, and your mother who you inherited it from."