i) The wizard Ulxurix’s lighthouse-top lair

The wizard Ulxurix’s lighthouse-top lair is a small, circular room, with a great pane of glass in one wall, looking out to the grey sea. At the room’s centre is a cookfire, with an iron cookpot atop it. It bubbles with a gold liquid that looks to Shyan for all the world like the same stuff they’d brought here in the first place. She self-consciously feels for the weight of the gold bar, before remembering that Cang’s carrying it. She hopes he still has it.

Lining the walls are machines of brass and wood, ungainly boxes stacked atop one another, connected by looping wires and threads.

Abia’s eyes dart to the bookshelf from which Ulxurix drew the volume she now carries. Its empty spot in the row of tomes glares out at Abia like an abyssal void.

Ulxurix brushes some linens and a small bronze device from a single chair on a low pole, and pats its seat, smiling at Fassn.

“Nice place you’ve got,” he says cheerily, and sits.

Ulxurix claps twice and a gadget recessed into the domed ceiling descends, then stops with a whir just above Fassn’s head. From it dangles a half-dozen drills, picks, hammers.

Ulxurix says, “Open wide.”

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