As the skies rumbled, the ground began to quake. The cub she called Regulara clamored up the riverbank toward Mother, seeking comfort and reassurance. Atop the hillside, a shimmering blackness rose in Illara’s path like a great, gaping mouth. Regulara was certain it would swallow Mother whole and began to run as swiftly as her small feet could carry her.

Illara paused and turned, a slender hand reaching out to the frightened cat. “Nothing to fear, little one. Only a bit of silliness. My family is so…” Her words trailed off as she distracted herself by running her fingers through the cat’s lush fur. Regulara pressed against Mother’s leg, reveling in the closeness. Her bliss was shattered by a sharp cracking sound in the air followed by a violent shaking of the earth beneath her paws. Her tiny claws were too small to find purchase. She fell past Illara into the open portal, plunged into darkness, spinning, falling through seasons and years and worlds… When she finally landed—on her feet, of course—she felt cold wetness from the pads of her paws up to her chest. She immediately broke free of it, shivering and shaking off the bits that clung to her.

Her body changed during the fall. She felt bigger, heavier. Looking down at her paws, she saw that they were twice the size they had been. She craned her neck as best she could to admire her broad shoulders and sleek, chiseled torso. Famished, she raised her muzzle to the breeze to search for food. A whiff of distant smoke pulled her to the east. Smoke meant fire, and fire usually meant food as small animals scurried for safety and blindly rushed right into her patient clutches. Regulara was about to learn that she wasn’t the only creature that moved towards fire rather than away from it and that some meals required greater effort than others. There was much more to discover in this new world. When she saw Mother again, if she saw Mother again, she was sure to make her proud.

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