It was four in the morning and black as pitch.
The air was frosty and bitter cold. Lilu‘s breath turned to fog. She and Jac had ridden ahead to find Mikmek. The warrior had stolen the ivory idol of Old Sharptooth and ridden ahead on his kobold-sized mount (a sheep they’d ordered in special for him from Restov). Bannon and Kelak, burdened by armor and poor vision, were left long behind. So far, there was no sign of Mikmek. The cold was so bitter that Liluye had wrapped her old shaggy bear pelt around herself to keep warm. In the darkness, Serenity’s warpaint made her look like a mobile skeleton-horse.
Wander’s enormous antlers crested out like the prongs of slingshot before Liluye’s eyes. Gradually, the space between the megaloceros’s antlers turned blue like watery mist:
Liluye was slippery and sleek. She could move faster than she ever knew was possible. Her body was strong, one single giant muscle. There were four other fish in the water with her. Four silver trout and a black minnow. One of the trout floated upside-down, dead, buffeted about by the current.
nothing I can’t
Liluye flared out her fins and caught a strong undertow, gliding like a hot knife through butter. The other fish followed her effortlessly in a tiny chartered school. They swam together. But quickly the water started to taste bad in her gasping open fish mouth.
the current is too strong
Liluye banked sharply and began to swim upstream. The school followed in a motion so immediate it was hard to tell which fish initiated the movement. The water turned sickly warm. The current became much more powerful, actively hurling against her as she tried to swim back. A terrible heat rose behind her, but she couldn’t look back to see what it was.
just keep swimming
Liluye could see in her peripheral vision that the other trout were no longer keeping pace with her. The noise of water flushing was deafening. The water had begun to boil and turn a faded pink color. The druid could feel her scales peeling off as she cooked alive.
Liluye pushed her fishy body to the max. Her gills flared desperately, sucking in more of the sour, boiling water. She could see cool, clean blue water in the distance, but safety shrunk into the beyond. The current flipped her around. The druid was forced her to see what it was she fled. It was a giant lamprey’s maw; a circular disc lined with a million fangs. Chunks of trout flesh were impaled on its teeth. The current sucked her into the predator’s mouth and she was consumed.
Liluye flinched back to reality with a gasp, startling Wander.