iii) First, they ascend the stairs

First, they ascend the stairs. Berstuun has ceased struggling — in fact, he may well have dozed off already, bouncing gently over Fassn’s shoulder.

Shyan, fists clenched, hears scuffling behind the door, sees shadows moving the rectangle of light. She deliberately kicks the ground, a harsh, sudden sound that attracts the attention of whatever’s beyond. She signals silently to the rest to wait.

The door creaks open, away from the cellar. As soon as a vertical strip of light appears, Shyan pushes her whole body against the door, knocking two of the lich’s moaning man-things off their tenuous balance, and they careen to the floor.

Suddenly, as though from the wainscotting in the walls, or from behind the brocaded wallpaper, comes the steady voice of Ulxurix — now the lich. “Now, now, be careful with my poor, elderly father,” she chides.

The sound instantly alerts Berstuun, who flails helplessly. “I’m not your father,” he sniffles.

Two more doors in the corridor slam open, then another two, then another. From each emerges a loping man-thing.

Shyan turns to Cang. “Find us a way out, would you?”

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