ii) They stand before the magic circle

They stand before the magic circle. It seems smaller, somehow, of inferior dimensions. Perhaps it was stronger when the witch tended to it. Privately, Cang is astonished the circle persists at all. Just one more reason to be suspicious of magic.

Fassn breaks the contemplative silence. “Do we just throw the old bugger in?”

“The last one is a rotten egg,” Cang suggests.

“Circle must be prepared,” Abia says. “No pushing.”

“Well,” Shyan says. “Can you do it?”

“Yes, with time.”

Abia sits cross-legged at the circle’s edge. Fassn guides Bertuun over to the dental chair to wait. With glee, he mimes the performance of oral surgery upon the bewildered old man’s form.

Shyan scans the bookshelves, finds the slot where Abia’s book came from. She opens a volume next to it. The text is illegible, flowing, overlapped by sketches, diagrams, formulae. She puts it away.

Abia begins to sing.

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