ii) “Grandfather, are you hurt?”

“Grandfather, are you hurt?” Shyan asks. The man grumbles and shifts so ineffectually that all her stirs are some pebbles around him.

His cell is quite bare, save for a reeking old bucket and a rotten straw mattress that might once have been fit for a groom’s apprentice, but now befits no one.

“Maybe he doesn’t speak the trade tongue?” Fassn says, poking at the man with his booted foot. Without waiting for an answer, Fassn delivers Ajralani funereal rites in the sacred tongue, which comes out as a jarring babble of syllables bouncing around the tiny cell. Cang mimes covering his ears and waves to Fassn to cut it out.

Meanwhile, Abia stares intently at the old man. His milky eyes blink open and he meets her gaze. “Not hurt,” she says. “Not on outside.”

Tears well in the old man’s rheumy eyes, and he scrabbles at the worn stone beneath him, trying to pull himself up to a more dignified, sitting position. When he speaks, his voice is like snake skin. “So,” he says. The torchlight dances across his face, giving the pitted, slack skin a menacing appearance. “The lich got you, too.”

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