iii) The wagon’s crammed full of sweating, reeking bodies, Fassn’s not least among them


The wagon’s crammed full of sweating, reeking bodies, Fassn’s not least among them. The crude firepit, rolling along with the wagon’s wheels, cracks and spits, a low flame barely keeping the soup bubbles up. When Fassn leans upon Cang to get a better whiff of the pot, Cang lets out an anguished grunt and jumps out, to alight upon the rocky ground.

Larry scarcely notices. Abia gives him a glance but says nothing. Shyan asks him, “Who’s stirring the pot?”

Cang shrugs. “Our uninvited guests. Or perhaps Old Ajralan himself.”

From within the wagon comes Fassn’s canned reply: “May he have his fill.”

“How much further to town?” Cang asks.

Now Shyan shrugs. “The road people likely have a better idea than we do.” She bangs a fist on the wagon, the noise thundering through the small vehicle. “How far to Gabjeoš, friends?”

“Oh, seven days,” says the woman within. “Perhaps nine, at this interminable pace.” A gentle slapping sound floats out. “Wake up, boy, damn you.”

“Sorry about your son,” Shyan says, blushing. “I’m sure he’s all right.”

“Seven days, Shyan?” Cang says. He glares into the thick trees that press in against the rutted road. “All the mylar in the world will not last.”

Fassn pokes his head out of the wagon. “You got mylar in there, Cang?” he asks again.


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