i) Shyan parries the serpent’s great bulk


Shyan parries the serpent’s great bulk, her shield catching the tip of a yellowed fang. The reptile’s force knocks her to the ground. She lets out a grunt and regains her feet.

The snake is already reoriented, shuttling its massive bulk towards Fassn. He’s flapping his useless wings with all the force he can muster, though his eyes are cloudy. He spits a handful of teeth into his hand and throws them at the ugobok. “Mean little mouses,” it says.

Abia steps behind the spire in one careful movement. Her mouth mumurs an incantation as her hands dance the steps to make the magic happen. Cang, meanwhile, crouches nearby, observing the fight.

The ugobok strikes at Fassn but Shyan is ready, again deflecting the enormous, flared head. The snake’s mass is such that she can barely keep her footing in the loose soil. “All this for a tear duct?” she shouts.

“All this for gold!” Cang says. He wraps his limbs around the spire and begins to shimmy up.


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