Have a little of a mystery here. Where exactly did Mab end up? Well, you’re going to have to read War of Nytefall: Loyalty to figure that out.
Endless black surrounds Mab as she floats, her naked body feeling like it is being caressed by cold and welcoming hands. A constant thumping causes her to remain still until she realizes that the sound is a heartbeat. Moving like she is swimming, the vampire rights herself and hungrily looks around for the delicious noise’s source. As her eyes adjust to the strange void, pinpricks of light appear in every direction and create a wave of vertigo since Mab cannot discern up from down. Flailing wildly, she spins in place and gradually moves away from where she woke up. Not wanting to get lost in the darkness, she awkwardly swims back in what she hopes is the right direction and curls into a ball. The tight position makes the thudding in her ears even louder, so she gingerly touches her chest. Gentle quivers against her ribs cause her to remove her hand and stare at her wrist, which abruptly comes into view. Placing her lips against her flesh, she shivers at the sensation of a pulse she never thought she would feel again. With a slight tug on her cuticles, four-inch-long claws burst from her fingers even though she never cast the spell.
A large creature that almost blends into the darkness passes a few inches from Mab’s feet, the moist skin giving off a cool mist that tickles her toes. Looking down, she can barely make out the form of a whale-like beast that vanishes into the gloom. Faint roars and hisses waft through the shadows, those responsible nothing more than flickering shadows. Bursts of clarity strike the vampire’s mind to give her an idea of the endless void, which is filled with hundreds of monsters that have yet to notice the intruder. Some of them are massive behemoths while others are the size of songbirds and travel in swarms. None of them are close enough for Mab to get a clear look even when she starts to regain control of her senses. Gradually, she begins to recognize some of the creatures from old pictures and considers approaching one for help. Before she can move, a stone-winged demon with four arms soars by, his crimson eyes taking in the woman’s presence. The brief distraction is enough for a larger beast that resembles a furry squid with bladed tentacles to catch the Spurge and tear the shrieking prey to pieces.
Driven by instinct, Mab soars through the darkness and comes dangerously close to colliding with another winged monstrosity. Veering to the side, she dodges its beak and flies near its foul-smelling underbelly. Rolling onto her back, the vampire jams her claws into the predator and eviscerates it as she escapes. The dark green blood pools around the thrashing beast like a liquid cloud, which attracts boney scavengers. Unable to stop, Mab struggles to head back to what she hopes is the entrance to this strange world. A chill running up her spine causes her to make a wide turn and she narrowly avoids crashing into a rocky orb that is releasing streams of acid. The bizarre obstacle spins in place and shows no sign of leaving, its fumes driving the vampire far from where she wants to be.
“If you fall then you must climb,” a voice says from the shadows.
“Where am I?” Mab asks, the question having been on her tongue since she woke up.
“A world between worlds that everything holds a door to. Although, not everyone has the key. How did you get the key?”
“I don’t know . . . I don’t feel like myself.”
“Well, you don’t belong here.”
“How do I get home?”
“You deserve to be in the light, so go there. Best do it before he gets you.”
Mab turns around in time to catch a three-headed serpent barreling towards her, its fan-like tail propelling it like an arrow. All of the mouths open and blackened gums stretch to push its jagged teeth closer to the shining snack. For the first time, the vampire notices that she is bathed in a white light and a thin tether is connected to her chest. Flying out of reach of the creature, Mab focuses on the cord while weaving from side to side in the hopes of losing the ravenous predator. Smaller beasts are devoured if they wander into the monster’s path, but the distractions do nothing to slow it down. Feeling its cold breath on her legs, the vampire whirls around and punches the central head with all of her strength. She is surprised at the echoing impact and how the serpent’s nose crumples like a fragile piece of paper. The remaining mouths lance out at Mab, who moves fast enough to practically vanish and reappears several yards away. Teeth are sent floating through the shadowy world as the creature’s maws collide and its barbed tongues get tangled. Shaking its heads, the predator backs away as if preparing for a charge, but it is abruptly yanked deep into the darkness by a hungrier beast below.
A cacophony of roars and bellows erupt from around Mab, who does her best to move by alternating between flying and swimming. Waves of cold rush over her and she can smell putrid breath from the monsters that are converging on her location. Having no other ideas, the vampire reaches for one of the distant pinpricks of light and finds that she can hook it with one of her claws. Getting another nail inside the tiny opening, Mab tries to enlarge it while the swarm of predators comes into focus. It is not until she focuses entirely on escaping that a full-sized portal emerges, the white energy becoming a swirling black that is a shade lighter than the void. She jams her hand into the gateway and nearly screams when someone on the other side grabs her wrist. A distant roar causes the creatures to stop as Mab is pulled out of the shadowy realm that exists beneath Windemere’s surface.