and the plan’s abandoned
(well wouldn’t you know)
but the campfire blather will bang on and on again
Sleep came for Shyan. In a dream, she found herself outside a seaside cottage, built of driftwood and thatch. It stood atop a rocky cliff. The scent of sea salt filled the air, and she heard the screeching cries of gulls as they circled above. One by one, the gulls dropped from the sky, dove into the choppy blue ocean without a splash. Many hours passed as Shyan watched for their return to the surface. A bitter wind cut at her skin, but still she kept her vigil for the gulls. The deep red sun set at the horizon, and in the dream, she felt herself returning to wakefulness. As the cottage and cliffs faded from her memory, she saw a gigantic fin cutting the waves, heading fast towards her.
It’s night outside, though no one in the dome has seen the sky for hours. Exhausted, the group unfurls their bedrolls and builds a fire from some meagre kindling, carried in from outdoors. Cang takes first watch, dusting the concrete powder from his warhammer’s grooves. Stealing a glance at Fassn, sleeping deeply, Cang takes a sniff of the powder, recoils from its acrid scent. He blows it away and stares into the darkness, kept barely at bay by the sputtering fire.
The team breaks camp as red dawn creeps toward the horizon. The still, dewy air carries a bitter stink from the domed structure beyond. Fassn meditates while his companions pack their bags. They depart without him — he hurries to catch up when his communion is complete.
Cang wrinkles his nose against the growing stench. “We certainly seem to be headed in the right direction.” Turning to Fassn, he asks, “Have you any more of that powder?”
Fassn holds out a handful of crumbling pebbles. “Crushed to order,” he says.
Shyan gives the order to make camp, and begins staking out the two patchwork canvas tents. Cang butchers the nightpig after cleaning his hammer, and Abia stokes a cookfire. Fassn sits nearby, flaking fragments from the nightpig’s tusks and secreting them into a small pouch.
After their dinner, Shyan takes first watch. Her shift is uneventful, though she hears many strange noises. Fassn is next, but she lets him sleep, instead, fearing what he might do with the tusks when he was alone.
When dawn comes, and her friends stretch lazily awake, Shyan blinks away the lure of rest, and breaks camp, leading the way to the dome.