8 iii) "Well we've come into this one ill-equipped,"

“Well we’ve come into this one ill-equipped,” Shyan says. She carefully climbs down to the floor of the cave and lies on her back, staring up into the popping, fizzy blackness.

Cang sighs and departs. A few hours later he returns with a lantern and a coil of rope.

Shyan and Fassn are both fast asleep on the cave’s stony floor. Abia feels a change in the cave’s air, and can smell Cang before she can see him, his smell that of charred leather and sweat. “What did you trade?” she asks.

“I had a small emerald sewn into my vest,” Cang says. It’s as though admitting the truth in the darkness is easier, somehow.

“Oh?” Abia says.

“Stashed away for some time now, in fact,” he replies. “I ask you do not tell our friends.”

Abia nods, then gently prods her sleeping companions awake to the gently pulsing light of the lantern.

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