iv) Mr. Jashenzizok proves useless at gathering kindling.

Mr. Jashenzizok proves useless at gathering kindling. For a while the gang watches him and Burbaloo, just beyond the treeline, bent and muttering. Eventually Shyan begins to pity them, and joins in. Abia gently stirs the soup, as Cang re-packs his oversized backpack, and Fassn communes with Old Ajralan.

Deep, indigo night creeps over the vale. By the time the mushroom man declares they’ve enough kindling, the moon rises from the trees. He and Shyan stoke a might blaze. Burbaloo describes the alchemical process to Cang as he makes furious notes on a scrap of vellum. Abia listens.

The mushroom soup boils. Its earthy aroma floats up and out of the vale, sending the stomachs of our heroes to grumbling.

“Now,” Mr. Jashenzizok says. “Now is the time for alchemical mayhem.”

“Mayhem?” Fassn says. “You can’t eat mayhem.”

Mr. Jashenzizok works his hands in an obscure pattern, likely derived from some old book. He wiggles his fingers and swirls his arms over the cookpot, says some magic words. Abia hears a note of power in his voice, a peculiar doubling effect to the sound of the spell. Burbaloo mouths along with him, trying her best to replicate the gestures.

Sure enough, the brown mushroom soup begins to shift its hue and turn gold.

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