Prologue

The green of the forest threatened to swallow Adam as he sprinted through the undergrowth. Though he couldn't see it, he could hear the river to his right. It would lead him to the village; he had to follow the river. But where was Elizabeth? When did he loose the sound of her footsteps beside him? He stopped, squinting into the darkness, searching for her.

Nothing. He yelled for her, startling birds from their roosts. It didn't matter how loud he was, his breathing was enough to alert the predator hunting him from the trees.

He put the river on his other side and ran. Adam had to find her. Night was approaching and shadows crept against him. His lungs fought desperately for air. The vegetation was thicker now and there was even less light. Where was his machete? His heart fell as he remembered he had given it to Elizabeth. At least she could slice her way through.

Pushing his legs, he struggled to keep his feet moving, but failed to keep his ankles out of the tangle of vines on the forest floor. He fell to the wet, musty earth where Adam feared he would die. He scanned the forest, looking for the pair of eyes that he knew were hungry, luminous in the mist and gloom. He couldn't see her, but he knew she was following him. His fingers desperately grabbed at the tendrils around his legs, but the more he fought against them, the tighter they wound themselves. Panicked now, he tossed his head over his shoulder praying that Elizabeth had made it out. In his chest his heart beat faster than the rattles of the Jaguar Drum. Only, the sound was not inside him, but part of the foliage before him.

The black jaguar sauntered out of the shadows.