ii) The book in Abia’s bag grows hotter

The book in Abia’s bag grows hotter. She withdraws it from the canvas, and the warmth feels pleasant in her hand, for the most part; still, there is some part of herself, deep within, that speaks up against the book — warns her to be rid of it. The feeling is like a bitter aftertaste to something sweet.

“And she gave this to you, why, again?” Shyan asks.

Abia shrugs. The runes on the leather cover twist and swirl like Ulxurix’s tattoos. Abia carefully opens the book to somewhere in the middle, doing her best not to crack the tome’s ancient spine. The room’s air pressure seems to increase alongside with the humidity, and soon, the gang sweats in their gear.

“This had better be good,” says Cang, rubbing his hands together. He’s hunched by the lockbox, ready to get inside.

Fassn says, “The witch wants us to kill the guy, though, not rob him.”

“These are both crimes,” Cang says, as a sort of consolation.

Fassn makes a ritual gesture and says, “Old Ajralan, may you have your fill.”

Abia speaks the sounds of the runes.

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