27 v) The flutist leads the way

The flutist leads the way out of the tavern with the drummer close behind. The gang ponders their words for a moment before the barkeeper catches Shyan’s eye. “Aye, what’re you lot still doin’ here? The drink’s not flowin’ so you’d best be goin’!”

“I like this guy,” Fassn says, as the barkeeper ushers them from his tavern.

Standing in the dark street, the gang plans its next move.

“Well if we’re going to do this, we’d best get cleaned up,” Shyan says.

As dawn breaks over the city’s hidden horizon, the gang makes its way to a barbershop.

26 i) The tavern is full to bursting with sweaty souls

The tavern is full to bursting with sweaty souls, soot-streaked from climbing in chimneys and sunburnt from days in the fields. An upbeat, driving tune comes from a pair of musicians on top of a table, one with a pair of small drums, the other a slender wooden flute.

Fassn and Abia amble off to find an open table while Cang and Shyan approach the ruddy barkeeper.

He raises his hooded eyes just enough to meet theirs, then returns immediately to serving the rowdy patrons jumbled along the bar. Only when, cocking a single eyebrow, Cang surreptitiously shows the bartender the jeweled necklace that he gives them his attention.