Jiri, go.” On the muddy bank, Oza was reaching for his necklace. “Run!” he shouted, and the word slipped into a roar as the shaman changed, grew claws and fangs and black-striped fur.
Jiri clutched her spear, paralyzed.
But we’re winning.
Tentacles wrapped the demon, and the great tiger Oza had become slashed its claws between them, spilling stinking gouts of blood. If Jiri stayed—
The demon threw back its head, and roared a word.
The twisted, evil power of it broke the air. It tore through Jiri’s body like poisoned hooks, filled her lungs like filthy water. The world shuddered around her, dimmed, and Jiri felt herself being ripped away, sent into darkness.
She held on with all that she could, straining for light, for heat, for life, and suddenly she was back in her body, sprawled retching in the mud. Dully, she could see the demon, laughing as it tore limp tentacles off its hide. The massive tiger crouched before it, his gray-shot muzzle bent and dripping blood.
“Oza,” Jiri groaned.
The cat raised his head and his eyes met Jiri’s, old and stern. Then he turned and leapt at the monster, roaring, even as the demon wrapped its claws around him…