iv) Cang’s first into the stable

Cang’s first into the stable, vaulting as he does through two open windows and under the stablehand’s legs.

All the same he’s too late; the alchemist is gone. The door’s swinging open, and a fresh, steaming pile greets him as he skids to a stop. He curses, startling the other horses.

Shyan grabs the stablehand’s collar. “When’d she leave? The alchemist?”

“The laddy with the funny hat?”

“Yes, yes, her!”

“Just a moment ago, and I’m thinkin’ now she mighta snuck out on her bill.” He scratches his head. “She a friend of yours?”

Abia greets the remaining horses with a gentle wave. A soft smile creeps across her lips, and she begins to hum. Her eyes flash and go black, glassy, but she blinks and moves as normal.

She speaks in her mother tongue, addressing the horse stabled next to the alchemist’s empty space. All the animals watch her intently, and for the rest of the team, and the stablehand looking on, the air feels tangibly thick with energy.

The horse responds.

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