ii) “No one likes it, Cang,” Shyan says

“No one likes it, Cang,” Shyan says. “But they’re hungry people, like us, and they need our help.”

“Share with us your savoury soup,” the man says, his eyes wide, taking in the gold’s gentle glow.

“Our son, too, is hungry,” says his wife.

“Certainly not,” Cang says. “You may snack upon the last of my hardtack. But first, a demonstration.” He shows the larger man how to stir the gold at a consistent pace, then digs through his pack. The crinkle of mylar fills the tiny wagon.

“What was that?” Fassn asks.

“Nothing. Tools. Nothing,” Cang says. He withdraws a square of hardtack wrapped in cloth, passes it to the man and his wife. “See you share with your son, and return what you do not require.”

“You got mylar in there, Cang?” Fassn asks, pressing his way into the constricted wagon’s central chamber.

Cang looks annoyed. “No, Fassn,” he says, surreptitiously covering the silvery bags within his pack.

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