ii) The inn is quiet


The inn is quiet, save for the sounds of gambling, and the honky-tonk piano of a frail old woman, who at her age is plainly just going through the motions.

The piano stops when the group of friends walks in lugging their scuffed and filthy crates. Snoring can be heard from a fellow passed out at the bar.

With the inn’s attention on them, Shyan says, “We’re looking to sell. Bottles, phials, the like. There a chemist in town?” A murmur passes through the patrons.

Cang flashes a sign to the bartender, who begins pouring drinks. A woman in indigo robes of a delicate cut stands, throws back her hood. She has an untamed mass of ebon hair, and behind it, a hairline scar running across her forward. She slams another shot of murky brown booze before clearing her throat. “I,” she says, with a suppressed hiccup, “am an alchemist.”


i) Old Ajralan does not, indeed, have his fill


Old Ajaralan does not, indeed, have his fill, for eleven days and twelve nights.

Thereafter, the team stumbles, parched, starving, and bubbling with the last vestiges of fury yet extant after nearly a fortnight bearing crates, by hand, along a dusty and deserted road.

Now, they arrive, filthy, to a mud-smeared cluster of thatched-roof huts. The huts gather around a central square where a large cookfire smolders before a rickety gallows. Lean villagers in roughspun stare at the newcomers with frank distrust as they muddle through their daily tasks.

“Inn,” Fassn rasps.

“Are those wings on your back?” asks a peasant.

“The inn!”

The peasant scoffs to her companion. “Outsiders.” She gestures to one of the huts, alike in aspect to the rest, if somewhat larger. “Sleep it off, wingboy,” she says.