“Get behind me,” said Aleska. Elysia had her back to Aleska, and took a cautious step toward her in response. Both women were focused by the gang of thugs that were steadily advancing on them.

“There are too many of them,” said Elysia. She ducked as a rock flew past her head and it bounced off Aleska’s shield. Elysia took another step back, and another, until she was next to Aleska. She turned to try and catch the woman’s gaze. “I said, there are too many of them.”

Aleska stepped forward and widened her stance. Another rock flew towards them, which Aleska deflected with her shield. “Stay behind me,” she said, “we have the advantage.”

Elysia gave her an incredulous look, even though Aleska couldn’t see it. “What advantage?”

Aleska swept the legs out from under the first man who tried to get at Elysia. She reached out and agitated the Clamor, disturbing the concentration of the gang as it closed in around her. The distance between them and Elysia would have appeared to widen, Aleska seemed a more pressing threat.

The next man who approached her, she struck just above the knee and his leg twisted as he suddenly found it unwilling to bear his weight. She reached into the rippling Clamor and pulled it tightly around the man and for a moment, it became visible as a soupy, otherworldly fog that impeded his movement.

“I am your enemy,” she said. She neither smiled nor laughed, nor said anything further. Aleska merely waited for the rest of them to come at her. She would fell them like so many tiny tree branches.