7 iv) Old Mossy’s craggy face crinkles into a frown

Old Mossy’s craggy face crinkles into a frown. “Gosh, no,” he says, his voice like fingertips on birch bark. “Gosh, I went down there last, what, four seasons ago? Wasn’t nothing down there but death and danger, y’hear?”

“And mushrooms?” Shyan asks, panting now. The exhaustion of standing upright is beginning to weigh on her. All she wants is to lay down, rest and relax, fall off to a solid night’s sleep and not wake with the dawn…

The princess just smiles.

“I’d better be getting back to the celebrating,” says Old Mossy, making gestures to depart.

“Hold a moment, sir,” says Cang in his best tone of placating respect. “Tell us what we may find down there.”

“‘Sides danger and death,” Fassn says as he idly strokes his beard.

“Oh,” Old Mossy says, his eyes filled with regret. “Danger and death is the least of it.”

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