4 i) Birds chirp happily in the trees

Birds chirp happily in the trees above the village square, flit between boughs and branches, window sills and eavestroughs. The sun flashes upon their feathers, as though blue, red, violet gems are tossed through the sky, tumbling and sparkling in their arcs.

The dusty ground of the square is rather different. Shaky on her feet, Shyan takes point with Fassn beside her and Abia behind. Shyan adopts the Lilting Puppet stance, bouncing gently on the balls of her feet as the church-going peasants’ mob moves towards her. Fassn chants something to Old Ajralan while Abia scans the environs for escape routes and opportunities. Cang, of course, has already run off behind the church — his companions hope and trust he’s on the ball.

When the first of the peasants enters her strike range, Shyan fells him with a single percussive blow. It sends him to the ground, and sends an unpleasant tingling needles sensation in Shyan’s fist, which she tries not to show.

The peasants are stunned at their companion’s collapse, but only for a moment, before their rage and confusion boils over and they fall upon the gang.

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