The sun is too bright. Bruin aches all over. He’s not used to sleeping on rough ground these days. Where is he, anyways? And what happened to the snow?

He sits up and opens his eyes. It is definitely spring, and he’s definitely never seen this hilly countryside before. Even the wildflowers look strange. He tries to think back… He must have been on a scouting mission. But where’s the rest of the crew? Where’s the escape line? And falling into someone else’s dream normally doesn’t hurt this much.

A small girl, maybe 11 or 12, is walking towards him. She stops three paces away, pauses, then asks, “Does it hurt to fall out of the sky? Dad said it didn’t, but I don’t think I believe him.”

“Where am I?”

“You’re in the middle of a field.”

Bruin gives her a look.

“Well, you’re about an hour from Dovecoral, which is that way.” The girl points over the hills in a direction Bruin judges to be roughly east. “The Wisewood is right over there.” The girl points to the west. “I was going to pick holly! So, did it hurt?”

“What continent?”

“Adults never answer the interesting questions.”

Bruin looks at her sternly. The girl looks away from him and bends over to pick a blue flower.

“Okay, yes, it hurt. I ache all over. Though I didn’t actually fall from the sky.”

The girl looks back up. “Sure, you fell in, not down.”

Bruin looks at her closely. “You a mage?”

“Dad was. Anyways, this is the Dragonomen region. Dunno if the continent has a name. We could ask the Captain.”

“So, you’ll have never heard of Amsplice, right?”

“Yup! It must be somewhere else.”

“Well, looks like I’m going to be stuck here for a while, somehow. I’m Bruin. I come from a place called Hawksnest. Not that you’ll know where that is.”

“Call me Weed. It’s because I’m a foreign hybrid; I don’t belong in a proper native garden.”

“Think you could show me the way to that city you mentioned? Seems like a good place to start.”

“Sure! And you can give me some strange coins that’ll make Mom sad. And I can get holly later, because you’re not an evil spirit!”

Bruin chuckles. “Sure, have some strange coins.”

Weed examines the coppers he hands her, each marked with a hawk’s talon. “Yup, definitely somewhere else.”