ii) Soup slowly drips from Cang’s face

Soup slowly drips from Cang’s face. He blinks, his faculties returning. Before him stands Ulxurix, wreathed in cool, glowing flame, standing at the centre of her magic circle.

“Much better,” she says, through a mouthful of purple teeth. “Though perhaps not a good a fit as yours,” she adds, turning to Abia. Abia’s face is set stone, but fear trembles behind her watery eyes.

“At last I am free?” Cang chokes out. Fassn pats his back like a papa trying to get baby to burp.

“I’m afraid you just weren’t doing it for me,” says Ulxurix. “Too short.”

Cang’s brow furrows but he’s yet too weak to leap from his chair. Instead, he murmurs, “Lich.”

Ulxurix claps, her tattoos shimmering. “Very good, Cang. Who says our tenure together was worthless?”

Shyan has readied her blade. “What about the magic circle?”

“Ha,” says Ulxurix bitterly. “A crafty party trick the witch whipped up. Thought it would banish me!” She chuckles merrily, a grotesque contrast to the mood of the room. She claps again. “Now,” she says, looking to Abia. “Your form would indeed suit me best.”

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