Steam noses over the edge of the cauldron, then coils up towards the damp cavern that yawns over our heads. The Elders crane their necks to watch the shapes made by the steam. The age of the Withering has befallen us! Then she spits.
The fire claws at the sides of the cauldron. The steam thickens and writhes.
Draggle Riders are a goat-hardy, wind-sculpted folk. But still their frighted whispers leap into the air like sparks from a stabbed fire. Pika, the tall, cinnamon-skinned Draggle-Keeper boy, buries his face in his hands. The Withering. Not long ago — but exactly when, no one can agree on — dawn failed good and proper. The steam from the cauldron twines and shifts, until I see grim faces with stretched eyes pulling upwards through the air.
They swarm, until a heavy shadow hangs over the Elders.
Storm by Sarah Driver – cover reveal and exclusive preview
One of the Elders throws a jug of water over the fire, smothering the flames. The steam dissolves slowly, the gaunt eyes fading into nothing. Something terrible is coming. Something worse than a Withering.
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Something even worse than Stag. I can feel it. Mouse is forbidden to leave the mountain — but when their leader is kidnapped, she knows she must go in search of the last Opal, even if this means breaking her promise to Da. Mouse is soon heading for the lands of the bloodthirsty Fangtooths. And as rumours fly about the return of an ancient evil, Mouse knows that she and her crew will soon face their biggest battle — for their Tribes, for their lives — for their world as they know it. The storm is coming…. A cruel winter sun rose over the icy horizon, casting an orange, alien hue over the newly minted valleys and dales of blankness.
I touched the window with my finger. It was freezing. I pushed my frost-crusted snow goggles back over my head, lowered my macrobinoculars, and turned to my co-pilot from the Red Squadron — also, as so often in the Star Wars universe, a blood relation, in this case my younger brother. We were at the bottom. Twenty minutes by foot in normal conditions, or five in a car.
But the cars were sunk up to their wheel rims in snow, their windscreens glazed over, asleep to the world. There was nothing else for it. My co-pilot and I mounted our loyal tauntauns, or at least put the dogs on leads, and began to wade out across the drifts. Our Squadron Commander made sure we were suitably equipped for the dangerous journey ahead, with salopettes and beanies.
Her husband lent us some sunglasses for the snow dazzle that were too big for our faces. We shook our heads. If a bloodthirsty Wampa came for us, we might need to make a fast getaway on foot. We shook such concerns from our shoulders as brusquely as we shook off the snowflakes flecking our hair and marched on.
William Charlton | Philosophy and literature
The winds began to swirl around us, driving icy crystals into our eyes and mouths, but still we strove against the storm. I put my hand on my lightsaber, but the hostile force was already gone, swallowed up by the elements. Slowly, as we mounted the hill, through the strands of blizzard, the smoke-blue silhouette of Echo Base drew nearer and nearer. At last we could make out the distinctive cobalt blue Suzuki four-wheel drive parked outside.
I focused my macrobinoculars. There were no lights on inside. A trap? A hostage situation? As it turned out, a power cut, because of the storm. No video!