The drizzle of rain was cool on her skin. She raised her arms to wonder at the minuscule droplets the same size and shape as the freckles decorating her bare arms and shoulders. Weeks had passed since the events in Venice. This was the first time she had been able to talk her way off the ship since then. The rain drops seemed to wash away the claustrophobia of being trapped on the ship with her traitorous brother and worsening nightmares of her sister. She tipped her head back and the peaceful feeling dissipated.
Anastasia was so used to the desert sun that the darkness of the rain clouds threatened her courage. The scents of the city sent her head spinning and her stomach knotting. The wet pavement was thick, the gasoline toxic, the metal of the modern buildings stinging. Ana closed her eyes in attempt to focus. The bustling people with their looming black umbrellas shoved past. Raging car horns and roaring engines were deafening.
Mumbling pedestrians seemed to carry the mantra spinning through her head. Fox..wolf..raven..fox, wolf, raven...
Panic twisted the girl's stomach. A figure ahead turned in the crowd to face her. The ebony dress and dark feathered gown chilled Ana's veins. Then it was gone. Someone suddenly pushed past so hard that Ana fell onto the concrete. She scrambled backwards to keep from being trample and suddenly found herself in a tight alley between two buildings. Fox, wolf, raven...
Her hand trembled as she reached into her pocket for her lighter, fingers trembling to get the flame to spark. She yanked the medallion around her neck free and held it to the little flame. The golden light licked on the brass coin. She held it until the metal sweat, before the trembling in her hands caused the lighter to splash into a puddle. Fox. Wolf. RAVEN.
Ana tried to take a deep breath and was instantly overwhelmed by the stench of the alleyway. Her hand pressed against the brick wall for support, the girl lost the contents of her stomach into a heap of trash.
Cool fingers pulled wet strands of copper hair out of her face as she retched. Any other time, hands suddenly on any part of her body would have sent the girl into a panicked frenzy of claws and canines. But the smell of green grass and aftershave were familiar. She leaned back into him with relief.
"I didn't think the coin was going to work," she whispered.
"It did. I had to make sure you were alone. I'm sorry." He took Ana gently by the shoulders and turned her to face him, his brown eyes darkened by concern. "Why did you come here? A fox like you obviously doesn't belong in such a busy city."
The girl felt her breath hitch in her chest. The whispering from her nightmares had stopped, but their threat was still their. "The raven!" she exclaimed, her hands tightening on the warlocks arms. "My sister. She's coming to kill me."