iv) A short, sprightly woman appears

A short, sprightly woman appears on the stairs, her hair caught up in a loose bun. She wears a peasant’s homespun robes, and sports distinctive tattoos across most of her visible flesh. A deep indigo colour, they sprout and swirl like ivy. Only some pale skin around her eyes is unmolested.

“What?” she calls again. “I’ve no wish to be interrupted!”

“We are but humble acolytes of the great mage Jashenzizok,” Cang intones, ending with a bow and flourish.

“No we’re not,” Fassn says. He looks at Cang as though he just leapt down from the big moon.

Shyan gives him a swat on the shoulder, to pay attention. “Verily,” she says shakily, sweeping the room with her arm. “And, lo, we bring, well, soup.”

“Soup?” cries the wizard. “From Mr. Jashenzizok?” Her gaze wanders across the scruffy band in her foyer, then snaps to Abianarin. “Sure it wasn’t from this one, then? Seems she’s got a spot o’ the old magic, eh?”

Abia shifts her feet, but glares back.

“The esteemed Mr. Jashenzizok said you could help us turn this soup into gold,” Shyan says.

“It used to be mushrooms,” says Fassn, wistfully. He smacks his gums.

The wizard perks up. “Used to be mushrooms, eh? That’s easy, then! Come, come,” she says, her wheezing voice already retreating to the top of the lighthouse.

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