iv) Cang rubs his chin

Cang rubs his chin. “I seek an object of beauty, to share with the fairer sex. Jewelery, perhaps,” he says.

“There is an exquisite piece upon the wall, there,” the wizard replies, gesturing vaguely with her elbow.

Cang follows her movement to a shiny, geometric object, composed entirely of intersecting planes. It seems to hum and glow from its place of pride upon the wall. He swallows. “And you are certain I may avail myself of this, and share it with my lady love?”

“Don’t touch that, Cang,” Shyan says.

“But she said I could have it.”

“We’ve already asked enough of the kindly wizard,” she says. “Can’t you feel the weight of the bar in your ruck?”

“Well, yes,” Cang says. “But that was payment for liberated chemicals. Here, I seek something beautiful for Cangette.”

Shyan rolls her eyes.

iii) Wizard good

“Wizard good. Small boons for village folk.” Abia sighs, and for a long moment, listens to the sounds of Fassn’s dental work. “Witch bad,” she continues. “Curse crops, cause drought. Village folk burn.” She watches Shyan closely. Shyan meets her gaze, then sweeps her eyes to encompass Abia’s loose, shimmery robes, her piled, braided hair.

“So?” Shyan says.

“So,” Abia replies.

Shyan grins, turns her attention to Ulxurix working in Fassn’s mouth. Behind her, Cang studies some glittery trinkets on her shelves, his fingers subtly waggling as though anxious to grab something, anything.

“Careful what you choose there, dearie,” says Ulxurix, without looking away from her labour. “Souvenirs make the best magic.”

ii) Why should I lie to a creature who dwells in a lighthouse?

“Why should I lie to a creature who dwells in a lighthouse? Observe her quivering tattoos. This is the work of a witch,” Cang says plainly, his nose up.

Ulxurix replies, ostensibly to Cang, though her gaze remains fixed on Abia. “But witches are awful folks, working charms and hexes. Old Ulxurix would never do so.”

“What about that spark we saw? And you turned soup into gold,” Shyan says.

“The work of wizardry, nothing more.”

The gang turns to Abia — even Fassn, who loses a tool or two from his jaw, which clatter to the floor.

Abia feels the weight of expectation settling upon her as her friends await her verdict.

“Not witch,” Abia says slowly. “Wizard.”

A palpable relief sweeps over Ulxurix. “See?” she says, and returns to Fassn’s dental work. “Your gums look rather healthy. Do you floss?”

“Nope!” comes Fassn’s cheerful reply.

Shyan moves over to Abia, careful to keep her attention on the scene before them. She says in a low voice, “What’s the difference between a wizard and a witch, anyway?”