It was as if a thick mist, a crackling energy, distracting and unclear. It was not quite silence…it was disturbance…disconnection.

Mina’s felt her roots pull back into her body, her eyes clicking open to the jungle vegetation around her; the dark greens and even dim sunlight were inordinately comforting after the days underground. She could even withstand the humidity so thick that she could barely breathe –it was certainly better than the dankness of the cavern. How she might be the leader of a race of people who preferred that world…

The relief of escaping the underground, however, could not waylay the thread of panic sewing together disparate thoughts to try and explain what she had just experienced. She was cut off from seeking Ketephys, cut off from the place of doors within.

Had she been like this since Mamban? No—in Katapesh, she had reached out and sought Ketephys, and found the Inheritor with him, like a scolding mother. It was not common for her to seek the comfort or word of the gods, but since the incidents with the Sunderer and at the Painted Flutes, Mina wanted to reach out to them, to understand what their purposes were. Why would they stand in the way of her knowing how to control this beastly mark? After the carnage wrought in Katapesh…surely, if she were to fulfill whatever Ketephys sought for her, she would need to be alive, and not destroy the world in the process.

But there was no way to connect. No way to ask them their purpose, no way to seek clarity or guidance. She had never been dedicated to any particular god, but there were at least the usual observances, and since the revelation of her ancestry, Mina had grown to recognize Ketephys as almost a patron god, the god of her mother’s line. Now, though, that thread was snipped.

And Mina was alone, again.