19 iii) In a fluid dance, Shyan moves through her paces

In a fluid dance, Shyan moves through her paces. Striking Mantis, Untoward Elephant, Bloodsoaked Parasite. Her opponents are shorter than she’s used to, but she adjusts in the moment, connects stances and moves with the smooth improvisational chops of a jazz musician.

The grinning grey creatures spill to the earth, kicking up stones and clods of dirt. Old Mossy, suddenly looking fearful, gives frantic orders, sending his fellows in to be beaten down. Open palms, fists closed, feet and knees and elbows: Shyan is a whirling dervish of flesh on flesh.

As the ranks swarm her, the princess hurries behind their bulk and begins chanting in an unfamiliar language, moving her hands in wide, suggestive gestures. Abia, for her part, feels the background radiation shift, and tapping Cang on the shoulder, points out the princess. He nods and hefts a stone.