His thoughts were interrupted as thunder blasted the air. On the heels of that, lightning streaked from the heavens to earth, landing somewhere on the other side of the stream. Another round followed the first quickly. The black clouds were still a mile in the distance, but they were roiling and growing fatter, extending their bulbous reach in the trio’s direction. A wall of wind walloped them, blowing their hair into streamers.
Alarm coursed through Bevau as both Egilka and Clajak yelled their surprise. Over the rising howl of the strengthening air current the Nobek yelled, “It’s a quick blow up, my princes! The weather controls will be several minutes before they tamp it down. We need to get to the storm shelter now!”
He grabbed the men’s arms in either hand, running for the woods. Rain was one thing and a normal thunderstorm wasn’t something to give Bevau pause either. A stormburst was another matter.
As if to prove him right, lightning began to flash nonstop, filling the air with ozone. The men raced down the path among the trees which whipped and cracked all around them. The sound of splintering and earsplitting cracks filled Bevau’s ears as violent gusts broke trees in half.
“How much farther, Bevau?” Egilka yelled. Deafening thunder reduced his voice to a whisper.
“Just over this way. Come on!”
The Nobek’s sensitive eyes picked out the domed metal hatch sticking out of the ground a few yards away. The flashes of lightning turned the silvery hatch a blinding white, leaving afterimages superimposed over his sight. Thunder shook the ground like a prehistoric beast roaring its fury.
They reached the hatch. A nearby tree abruptly uprooted in the gale, its length crashing only feet away. Cursing but exhilarated, Bevau threw the heavy hatch open. He guided Egilka first to the ladder that led down into the darkness below.
“Go!” he yelled at Clajak when the Dramok hesitated, obviously ready to let Bevau go first. Fortunately the prince didn’t argue. He gave Bevau a wide-eyed look and climbed into the shelter.
It was Bevau’s turn. He clambered down the ladder and grabbed the handle on the inside of the hatch. The trees were wild thrashing shapes overhead, whipping in the screaming wind. Lightning slashed the seething midnight of the sky.
A hailstone the size of Bevau’s head thudded down, bouncing only inches from the hatch opening. Then more fell, breaking tree branches as they came. He pulled the domed covering over his head, hearing the thuds of landing ice.
Bevau locked the hatch down and climbed after the princes.