14 i) A creaky voice, splintered like shipboards cracking under ocean waves, follows the knock

A creaky voice, splintered like shipboards cracking under ocean waves, follows the knock. “Cang,” it says, slowly, drawling the syllable.

Cang starts, peers at the faces of his friends. They’re distorted in the flickering lantern light, made weird by the bioluminescent hues coming from the mushrooms at their feet. Neither Shyan, Fassn, nor Abia seem to have heard the sounds.

“Cang,” the voice says again. “Why have you brought these others? Are not you curious enough for yourself? Were you not the one who climbed down? Are your pockets not deep enough for what lies beyond?” There’s an amusement in the voice, as though a smile were on whatever face might be speaking.

“Hm,” Cang says, his hand on his chin. “Perhaps not. Tell me, what does lie beyond?”

The gang gives him an incredulous look as he speaks to nothing.

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