The daylight was waning, and she was alone. She was also unaccountably afraid. There was a light breeze, and the sound of the leaves rustling was strangely horrifying. It reminded her of a thousand shifting insect wings, the shuffle of footsteps in the dark, the whisper of breath inside a burial shroud. The shape of the Academy loomed large behind her and every time she glanced backward, it seemed to be growing larger and closer, looming over her rather than retreating. She hurried on toward the pond, afraid if she tried to run, she would hear the inevitable sounds of pursuit.
Her approach in the dusk startled the many ducks and geese, which flapped away from her with a cacophony of frightened calls. Their squawks changed to panicked cries of “…not here, not here…” She tried to communicate her peaceful intentions, sent reassurances in all directions. As her Transmission washed over them, the birds shrieked and exploded in exaggerated clouds of feathers and offal, fouling the clean water and clouding the air with a reddish-pink mist. Gemma clutched at the sides of her head and screamed and screamed.