Still two streets from the fields, Rom knew her sense was right – the workers were running past her in a chaotic stream, more than one bloodied and obviously injured. After being run into for the third time, she took a deep breath and jumped up and onto the nearest rooftop. From there, she took another relatively small jump and landed just near the edge of the final building towards the fields.
A small gathering of workers seemed focused on something not too far from the city itself – they were clustered in a loose circle, and something large and blue moved quickly among them. Screams and calls for help made their way to her ears. She tapped the bracelet and summoned her shepherd’s crook.
“Hold on tight, this is a long jump,” she said. Mulligan complied.
She kicked off, and the winds rustled through the folds and pleated gathers of the dress – only the sound of the fabric and the wind whistling past them could be heard until she landed, just beyond the men.
“Run!” she yelled to them. “Go on, I’ll take care of this!”
A few of the men were reluctant to leave this young white-haired girl – particularly, the ones who did not see her just leap more than a hundred feet across the sky – but enough did so to give her a clear view of the indigo-furred creature.
It was taller than her at its shoulders, with a black mane and a single horn extending upwards from the tip of his nose. It had the look of a large dog, but with pointed ears and enormous bird’s wings protruding from its back. Its tail was long and flicking about, the end barbed with what looked to be a large assortment of quills.
“A mundaline,” Mulligan whispered. “They’re… really tough,” he said, falling substantially short of the mark for his efforts at nonchalance, but overcompensating as he continued, “but I’m sure you’ll best him.”
“Thanks,” she said dryly. “I feel much better now.”
She slapped the staff into the palm of her hand. “Hey, you! Big blue dog-cat-thing!”
It fixed his attention on her and she began to back away slowly, drawing it away from the group of farmers. They opened the circle into a large curving line, standing as if to defend the city against this wild beast.
“Come on, you whatever you are! Come on and fight me!”
“You’re doing great, Rom, he’s definitely doing exactly what you’re telling him to do.”
“Hush, Mully,” she hissed.
“Do you have a plan for this?” he asked nervously.
“A plan for what?” She twirled the staff around a few times to keep its attention on her – the whistling sound created as the curved top cut through the air seemed to work.
His whisper increased in intensity. “What do you mean, a plan for what?”
She sighed. “You need to figure something out about me, Mully.”
She stopped moving backwards, and placed one foot back behind her, turning partially away from the creature and holding her staff in one hand, the top pointed low towards the ground. The mundaline paused, lowering itself towards the ground.
“I never plan things out.”