v) Abia stands when the creature enters

Abia stands when the creature enters her cell. Beyond the gate, Shyan secures the taller creature with a length of rope. Its moaning continues unabated, but its shambling ceases, even though its feet continue seeking purchase on the stone floor.

The other lumbers towards Abia. She raises a hand as though to welcome it, to embrace it, but when it moves within striking distance, she lays her fingertips upon the cold, wet flesh of the man-thing. She channels a change in her molecular structure that slows the vibrations of the creature’s atoms. It manifests as a biting cold, an icy wind sweeping through the fabric of one’s being. Ordinary folk couldn’t stand more than a moment before their lips turned blue.

But this thing — this is no ordinary folk. A look of alarm washes over Abia’s face when she realizes that it isn’t working. The creature wraps its damp arms over her robes before it’s brought down with a harsh exhalation of foul air. Riding its back on the way down is Cang, a tiny knife pressed into its neck.

“You have knife?” Abia asks.

Cang pulls it out. It’s no longer or thicker than a woman’s finger. “For emergencies,” he says.

The gang pulls together in the darkness. A rectangle of hazy yellow light glows above. Shyan leads the way up.

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