7 ii) Shyan blinks. Her hands ache

Shyan blinks. Her hands ache. Waves of pain flow through her fingers. “What else is there?”

The princess has fear in her eyes. “Things live in the caves,” she says. Her friends and subjects gather around, staring daggers at Shyan. A few even ready blowpipes in case she makes a false move.

“What are they?”

“We do not know,” the princess replies sadly. “They are no worse than humans. Of the village,” she adds quickly, catching herself. She surveys the gang. All but Fassn watch her intently — he’s flat on his back, staring up at the dark sky, his eyes running over with viscous tears.

“And what’s the antidote made of?”

“Mushrooms,” says the princess. “They glow gently in the darkness. You won’t miss them.” The princess gives a gesture to some of her fellow creatures, who march over with a regularity that suggests military training. They guide the gang, including Fassn, who reluctantly gets up, to the mouth of a hot, humid cave.

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