Once Mom and I finished eating dinner, I curled in her lap. "Mom, I--"
I started. "What does The Monster want now?"
"I don't know--" Mom scratched me behind my ears. "--but he's your pet, and you need to go take care of him."
Even though I knew Mom was right, I pouted my lips. "Fine ... ." Reluctantly, I crawled from Mom's lap and made my way to the front door.
Honk! Honk. ... Hon--"
I blinked. "Huh?" Without using a toy, I opened the door and rushed to where I had left The Monster.
The Monster lay on its side while its form seemed to melt. In its grinding metal voice, it said, "The toy ... . The Anc ... Tanu ... toy ... en sto--"
I leaped backwards to avoid the steaming, liquid metal that used to be my pet, The Monster. "Impossib--" My words died when I began to cry. My chest hurt.
I didn't know where else to go, so I returned to the house and bolted upstairs. One of Maru's men had to be behind this. Upon entering the room, I gasped.
The cage door had been picked, and the only part of Maru that remained was a tuft of his fur. The room carried a sterile smell which meant that Maru hadn't used a toy to escape.
Mom's in danger! This time, I used a toy before making my way back down the stairs--with the aid of a bouncy ball, it only took me one jump to reach the bottom.
Back in the kitchen, I found my mom staring at the wall with a blank expression decorating her face. Her teeth chattered. While I approached, her hand shot to the necklace of Beast-Mancer Orbs. The animal spirits within pulsed. It seemed as if they wanted Mom to draw them into her body.
I swallowed. "Mom ... we're in danger."
"I know." Mom curled her toes.
"Did Maru try to attack you then?"
Mom shook her head.
Then how did she know? I licked my nose.
After taking a deep breath, Mom turned away from the wall. "Maru is not a threat."
My eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
For the third time in recent memory, everything began to shake. The violent tremors ripped pictures from the wall and turned the TV on its side. The sour taste of bile caressed my tongue.
Mom met my eyes. "Your father has returned."
My veins froze, and I began to tremble more violently than the land itself. "Dad ... ."
Back to the start: Part 1