i) The unknowable leylines whisper to Abia

The unknowable leylines whisper to Abia. They speak of wind, soil, shadow, cells. On the way back to the Jiko camp, they recommend a campsite.

Sheltered from the icy winds, she and her friends find a growth of fibrous tubers, and get a fire going. The tubers smell of pine resin, remind Cang of his home.

Fassn shares his flask around as Shyan tends the fire.

When the unfamiliar stars come out against the ink-black sky, they see in the distance lights from the Jiko colony. It seems brighter, bigger, than it did before.

“We really goin’ back there?” Fassn asks. His breath comes out cloudy, thick.

“Let us not forget they promised a reward,” says Cang. “They needn’t know we spared Grumalla.”

“Won’t take them long to find out,” Shyan says.

Staring into the fire, Abia asks, undirected, “What we do with them?”

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