v) Horton’s eyes fly open

Horton’s eyes fly open. He throws a quick, uneasy glance at a rack of weapons and armour, then begs of Shyan, “Please, just go!”

“Let us have our gear, Horton,” the leader says in a sweetly supplicating way. “We’ll pay you well, right after.”

“I don’t think so,” Shyan says. “You lot—” as she brandishes her weapon at the men — “scatter.”

The bassy groan of a floorboard creaks as someone shifts their weight. The greasy leader says, “We’ll be back for our stuff, Horton,” then bows deeply and backs his lads out of the smithy.

“They’ll return, you know,” Horton rasps.

“Yeah, I’m right here,” Shyan says. “I don’t care about them. I care about Ulxurix.”

At this, the blacksmith blanches, and sprints for the back door.

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