15 iv) Instead of soft silks and beautiful music, Abia finds knowledge

Instead of soft silks and beautiful music, Abia finds knowledge. The darkness is banished behind flat light, less illumination than the absence of dark. There are no gems and jewels, no dead martial arts master, no fine textiles: only the knowledge that all that is a lie, a broken promise, an illusion.

Abia looks about for her companions, finds them. Cang on his knees, scooping rocks and stones into his pockets. Shyan pleading with a gauzy shadow upon the rocky wall. Fassn splayed out in the dust, talking happily to the ceiling. Each unaware of her, unaware of one another. Abia turns to find the stone door they’d come through closed, its outline faintly visible in the cave’s wall.

She wonders how she’ll get through it.

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15 iii) Instead of Master Davit, Fassn finds bundles of spices

Instead of Master Davit, Fassn finds bundles of spices, a bed of fine silks, brocaded draperies. Morning sun filters through the wispy dark’s edges, warming his skin. Unfamiliar incense burns with a pleasant smell.

An unseen choir sings a beautiful song, from no fixed point. The music seems to come from everywhere. Strange trees in foreign hues grow about, and a gentle breeze plays through the curls of his beard.

For a moment, Fassn is certain he hears the voice of Old Ajralan from somewhere beyond the dark.