iii) Eyeing the flames dancing


Eyeing the flames dancing in their confinement, Abia says, “No.”

“Aw,” says the wizard, a smile on her lips. “What’s to be so afraid of, Abianarin?”

Abia starts at the usage of her full name by a stranger. The wizard shrugs, waves away her concerns. “Touch of the second sight,” she says. “Thought I might smell the same in you.”

“Smell?” Abia asks.

“Bit hard to catch it under all that molten gold, but yes, I do believe it.” Ulxurix goes to a tottering bookshelf loaded with nearly a dozen bound tomes of gilded leather, and withdraws a volume from the set. Abia watches warily, but accepts the book when Ulxurix presses it into her hands.

“Give this a read, and a re-read. It’s got a lot of tough words in there but I’m sure you’ll work it out,” says Ulxurix. She laughs to herself, about what, Abia cannot discern. For a moment, Abia considers dropping the book into the box of fire, but resists the desire. The voices of her friends arguing float up from below, returning her to the present.

“How much?” Abia asks.

“Oh,” Ulxurix says, grinning. “We’ll get there.”


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