He nodded. “I am Kharia. This business provides what I need to care for my cubs.” He looked over at them. They had frozen in a tangle on the floor, heads and ears raised, eyes bright. When noticed they returned to their roughousing, but it was subdued. They were listening.
“What do you need to know?” Kharia asked me.
I crossed the floor to the furnace and opened the door with a claw. Inside the wood crackled and heat spilled outward, but it was a weak warmth, and the flames rushed without their characteristic glow.
“There is something wrong with the world, Kharia.” I said, staring sightlessly beyond the room. “Fires do not burn as bright. The cold and dark are setting in. It’s not natural, and I intend to find out why.”
He crossed his arms, wariness in his eyes. “How do you plan on doing that?”
I stared at him – all of him, every moment past to present until his outline thrummed with the possibilities he encapsulated – and I smiled disarmingly.
“You are going to help me.”