35 iv) The butler approaches Abia with a steady gaze

The butler approaches Abia with a steady gaze as the dragon watches from its throne. No sound accompanies the box as the butler opens it, revealing a dozen ingots of precious metals, in all hues from gold to blue. Both the butler and the dragon watch Abia closely as she takes in the sight.

Cang stretches out onto the tips of his toes to get a better look. Fassn says “Oh, shiny,” and reaches out to touch the metal, but the butler snaps the lid shut before his fingertips can graze their cool forms.

“An inducement to employment,” purrs the dragon from atop its throne. “But of course, you’re here on an errand of petty commerce.” At that, the princess’ necklace rises of its own volition out of Shyan’s pocket, the glowing sphere turning surprised corkscrews around it as it floats up and away. The butler, his lacquered box tucked away, offers now a small, simple leather pouch of coins.

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