35 v) Cang holds his palm expectantly aloft

Cang holds his palm expectantly aloft until the butler places the sack of coins into it. The gang callously tosses the necklace to the butler, who wastes not a single motion in gracefully snatching it out of the air.

Cang weighs the coins in his hand. “This feels fair, if not precisely generous,” he says.

“I am generous only with those in my employ. Isn’t that right, Abianarin?” rasps the dragon.

Abia’s demeanour remains calm, almost as though she didn’t hear the question.

“Well my mouth’s getting awfully dry,” Fassn announces. “If we can’t have those shiny metals I say we go for a shiny brew.”

Shyan makes an awkward half-bow to the dragon. “Uh, thanks for this,” she says.

“I shall have work when you return,” purrs the dragon as the butler shows the gang out.

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.

35 iii) “Fury, that’s right,” Shyan growls

“Fury, that’s right,” Shyan growls, meeting the dragon’s blazing eyes with her own. “We’ve got a lot of anger and not a lot of money. You don’t want to have to deal with us.”

Another slight smile seems to crawl across the dragon’s scaly mouth. It arcs its neck and lets out a high-pitched noise almost like a squealing pig. It’s loud and unpleasant, such that Cang covers his ears.

A moment later, through a plain door recessed into the wall, the dragon’s butler steps forward, bearing a velvet pillow, upon qhich rests a fancy lacquered box.

“Now we’re talking,” shouts Fassn.