iii) The spire is burnished steel


The spire is burnished steel. Cang raps his knuckle against it, sending low, rumbling tremors up its length. The flag at its peak is a deep crimson, rippling on the breeze like the wine-dark sea.

“Don’t do that,” Fassn says. “You’ll wake it up.”

“How do you know it’s sleeping?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Fassn says, pretending sheepishness. “Maybe by the fact that it hasn’t come down here to eat us all up, yet.”

“No one’s eating anyone,” Shyan says.

“Easy for you to say, Ms. Armour.” Fassn works his ruined winglets, ruefully. “Snakes go for us birds first, you know?”

“You’re not a bird, Fassn.”

Just then, rustling bushes. Dry reeds shake, and the scent of sweet meat rises.

Abia pivots on her toes, points at the reeds. “There,” she says, dread filling her voice. “Ugobok.”


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