“Did you hear me? We’re under attack!” the dreadlocked man stared at Maxine with an intensity that made her want to move out of his view.
“Um, sword?” Maxine flexed her right hand fingers unconsciously.
Before he could answer her, another BANG made the ship tremble and Maxine fell back against the wall of the cabin. The dreadlocked man cursed loudly and yelled to someone as he ran from the door, “Falcon, bring her a sword–a weapon of any kind, really–and tell the crew to hold positions. We aren’t letting this behemoth of a beast bring us down now when we are so close to Minka’s Port.”
Maxine was dreaming but she was only tangentially aware of it. The rain was still pounding and the wind was blowing but she wasn’t sure if she was in the middle of a storm or observing it from somewhere else. She drifted back and forth between one location and the next, simultaneously aware of being wet and cold and warm and dry. Her confused brain tried to make sense of up and down, light and dark. If she was able to form cohesive thoughts, she would say she was in one hell of a quagmire.
When Maxine left her house twenty minutes ago, the air was merely wet. A light drizzle left a soft mist on her zip-up hoodie. As she neared the corner market, though, the promise of a dry sky was quickly thwarted by a billow of cold wind and a swift downfall of heavy rain.
The woonchaj waited in a cave deep inside the big, gray mountain. It closed its eyes and felt for a signal—just like it had every day for the last 500 years. As much as part of the mountain as the animals and plants that lived there, it had been in this world for longer than it could remember.
A slight tremble of earth, soft steps of a hare, a whooshing wind through the pines. The forest was telling the same story it had every day. Deep, deep, deep into the core of the mountain, where even the woonchaj itself didn’t understand the strange connections between this world and another, a man screamed. The woonchaj sent a tendril of comfort to the man and the screams quieted.
I think I’m lost, the cat said to herself. She had hunted in the woods outside the village many times but had never traveled so deep into the foothills. A tame house cat, she never assumed she could compete with her wild cousins.
A plate flew past Sira’s head, catching a stray wisp of hair before landing with a satisfying crash against the wall of the great hall. To her right, a teenage boy heaved a wooden chair up and then slammed it into the stone floor, breaking three of its legs. Anger swelled—no, boiled—within Sira, overpowering any shred of sanity left in her mind and emerging as pure irrational hate.