ii) As much as I enjoy a good narrative

“As much as I enjoy a good narrative, perhaps we ought to depart this infernal place,” Cang says.

The old man draws a rattling breath, and, ignoring Cang, continues. “I was a student, once. Came to town to learn the finer arts.” He scrabbles at his moth-eaten sleeve, raises it to his bony elbow. Inscribed upon the flesh, in ink faded with decades, is a series of looping, swirling tattoos — much like those across Ulxurix’s entire body. Even those on the old man’s forearm twist and move, but slowly, lethargically, as though drifting in some unseen current.

“You trained with witch?” asks Abia.

The man nods. “I was Berstuun, her apprentice. It’s my fault, my fault.” He claws himself into a tight ball, squeezes his weightless frame against the dank stone walls. “My fault,” he whispers.

“Speak sense, man,” Cang says, jabbing the old man with his boot. Privately, though, he feels a hypothermic sweat crawling down his neck.

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