iv) The creak of the bars sends a chill

The creak of the bars sends a chill down Abia’s back, worse yet than the rain pounding down. Shyan groans and grunts as the wrought iron bars are wrenched away from their place in the gate.

With a sudden give, her efforts are rewarded. She stumbles back, her fists still curled around two bars. She clears her throat, spits, and throws them to the ground.

Fassn grabs one, inspects the broken end, and sucks upon it like a lollipop.

Shyan, her breath still ragged, gestures through the newly opened hole in the gate. Abia passes her rucksack through, then slips easily in behind it. She watches from the castle grounds as Fassn struggles through the narrow opening, his paunch getting caught. He keeps hold of the bar, though, and eventually slides in, but not before moaning about the pain in his wings — which of course have long been gone.

Shyan throws her things over to Abia, then climbs in herself. Setting foot on the castle grounds seems to stoke the weather above, and a mighty crash of thunder rings around them.

The castle stands, silhouetted against the mist.

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