iii) The runes’ language is choppy and consonant-heavy

The runes’ language is choppy and consonant-heavy. Abia strains with the pressure of slowly decoding the ancient glyphs and replicating their phonemes with her lips.

The smithy seems to darken at the edges as the words are intoned. Each member of the gang feels shadows closing in at their peripherals, hears the crackling of reality’s fabric — all save Abia, whose task takes all her focus.

She holds aloft the book, now searing with heat, in one hand, and with the other, she cuts magical paths in the air. Each chopping movement punctuates her rhythmic chanting, and causes the creeping darkness to expand.

Abia comes to a crescendo, rides the energies at its crest, then promptly shuts the book. The smithy whooshes back to normal, and her companions look around uneasily to find the gloom just outside their perception — but it is gone. Abia inspects her hand, and finds thin, swirling lines reaching down the fingers and palm where she held the book. Her stomach turns when she realizes they’re just like those of Ulxurix.

Just then, the runed lock pops open.

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