The most startling thing about a gronom is its face--or more precisely, the absence of one.
Two young kirins were rushing through a sunlit forest, scrambling over tree roots, dodging pine cones and toadstools, rabbits and field mice eyeing them curiously as they passed by.
"Look where we're heading!" said Gilin. "Straight for home. We can't go there!"
Coming to a stop, they looked back and saw no trace of the dreaded gronom, yet knew it was tracking them in its unrelenting fashion.
Grasping Talli's hand, Gilin looked into her green eyes. "We can never return to the clan. You realize that."
A slight tremor shook the earth.
"It's coming!" said Talli, turning quickly, her hair a shimmer of gold in the sunlight.
Now they could see the creature, still distant, striding methodically toward them. The same height as a kirin, it had two long arms, two sturdy legs, and a white hairless body. It resembled no other living thing.
"No face," murmured Talli. "Blank. No way to know what it's thinking--if it can think."
"One thing is certain," said Gilin. "It will never stop following us."
The youths turned to each other and the dark-eyed Gilin spoke. "We must separate. Olamin said it's better for the knowledge to survive in one memory than none. Reydel's gone. We're the only ones left."
Trembling, Talli looked down and touched his right foot with hers in the time-honored kirin gesture of joy, sorrow, greeting, and parting.
This isn't a hook.
It's a first page.
It's cute and all but Miss Snark eats cute for breakfast.