The darkhound retreated a few steps, giving her an appraising look, as though reevaluating an opponent that it had underestimated. The intelligence in its expression unnerved her, and tingling claws of fear walked down her spine.

She heard Mirhalan shout something from behind her, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the darkhound. It ducked to the side, sliding behind a tree, almost as though it was withdrawing. Her brow creased in a frown, and she took just a split second to look over her shoulder—and saw a second darkhound barreling toward her at full speed.

There was no time to move.

She stared into the second hound’s blood-red maw, and saw her own death in its teeth.