ii) “What’s in the soup?”

“What’s in the soup?” Cang calls out. There’s a note of panic in his voice. Burbaloo and Mr. Jashenzizok look up in surprise.

“Wow, you’re back,” the alchemist says.

“And it appears you’ve acquired the duct?” Mr. Jashenzizok adds.

“Yes, we got the forsaken duct,” Shyan says, dumping it in the dirt. “Looks like we needn’t have bothered.”

“Anger,” Abia says, in a patient, matronly tone.

Shyan rolls her eyes. “Of course I’m angry. We were supposed to get a field of gold, not a bowl of soup.” She notices several of the crates she and her friends had brought, now disassembled and fuelling the cookpot’s fire. “And look at this,” she says, gesturing impertinently.

“Fear not, my friends,” Mr. Jashenzizok calls, his arms up to signal peace and serenity. “Just because you came back from an impossible errand on which I was sure you would die doesn’t mean we cannot celebrate! Come, have a bowl of soup.”

“We did not come in search of soup,” Cang says.

“But–” Fassn begins.

“Friends, friends,” continues the mushroom man wizard. “The transmogrification is by no means out of the question. For before your very eyes, I shall transmute this pot of soup to liquid gold!”

Fassn says, “Tell me you’re not gonna pee in it.”

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