1 iii) The tree’s rustling soon gives way to chittering voices

The tree’s rustling soon gives way to chittering voices, speaking hurriedly in a language Shyan doesn’t understand. “You ever seen these things, Abia?” she asks.

She shakes her head once, firmly, but speaks an unfamiliar phrase aloud, directed at the trees. The chittering that follows is more animated than before. Leaves drift down from the canopy as whatever is up there moves about.

Meanwhile, Fassn is shaking off the deep burn in his palm.

“We’re just passing through,” Shyan says. Abia translates as best she can, though she’s unsure what the language is. More rustling and chirruping is all that follows.

“Perhaps these insensate creatures are not worth our precious time,” Cang says. He ducks under one of the strung vines.

“Maybe you’re right,” Shyan says. She does the same, but her shoulder brushes a vine and she goes rigid with shock.

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