iv) The song to Old Ajralan is warped and confusing

The song to Old Ajralan is warped and confusing — neither Shyan nor Cang know it well, and without Abia’s firm guidance they’re basically lost. All the same, though, they keep their determination up. A cool breeze comes over the boat, the soft cawing of birds overpowered by the meandering dirge. Abia continues to pump water from Fassn’s lungs.

His leg twitches. He stirs. Suddenly he lurches up at the waist, his eyes bulging, their sclera yellow. Snot runs down into his wiry beard. “Old Ajralan,” he burbles. His arms are wide and searching, as though he’s trying to keep his balance on a wire. “Old Ajralan,” he says again, oblivious of his comrades’ presence.

Abia takes up the singing, lending it structure and potency. Shyan and Cang are relieved to once more follow their example, though Cang inches away from Fassn. With Abia’s voice back in the mix, Fassn’s eyelids grow heavy. She helps lay his head back as he drifts off to doze.

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