32 i) The tavern is already bustling by the time the gang arrives

The tavern is already bustling by the time the gang arrives. Low, golden sunlight filters through the grimy windows and gives the assembled commoners a burnt, fiery look. The gang steps inside, standing two abreast, and seeks out the musicians.

They’re at a small, rude table in the back: the stage is empty for now. When he spots them, Fassn gives a wide grin and expansive wave. The drummer, his beard even more wild than the night before, gives his partner, the slender flutist, a look of dissatisfaction. Cang gives Fassn the very same look.

Shyan leads the way over, conspicuously scanning the room, ignoring any free tables she sees, until the gang arrives at the musicians’ table.

“Got the gold?” asks the drummer.

27 iv) “Where?” Shyan asks. “We’re ready to get this deal done,”

“Where?” Shyan asks. “We’re ready to get this deal done, but doesn’t seem like that’ll be happening here.”

“No,” says the flutist. She shakes her head as though to clear the cobwebs from within it, sending her mass of curly hair fluttering. “Our client favours a particular tea room in the Quiet Quarter. Of course, you can’t go dressed like that.”

“Huh?” Fassn asks. He jerks his head up from his fingers, sending the chimes woven into his beard tinkling. “Why not? Hey, can I have some of your hair? I just wanna touch it.” He begins reaching for the curly mass with his bitten-down fingers, but the flutist slaps him away.

“Ridiculous boor,” she snaps.

“Well said,” adds Cang.

The musicians stand, staring down their noses at the gang. “Clean yourselves up and present yourselves on the morrow. We shall go together once you’ve been properly groomed.”

27 iii) “In fact they give you dreams so bad that shadows rise from them to throttle you,”

“In fact they give you dreams so bad that shadows rise from them to throttle you,” Fassn says. He’s still munching on his fingernails, yet he manages to give his words an ominous tone all the same.

“Ridiculous,” says Cang, adding in an undertone, “All the more so when one attempts to sell something of value.”

“Well our client don’t care about no bad dreams,” says the flutist.

“Don’t think he dreams at all,” the drummer adds.

Abia’s dark eyes flash at this. “No?” she asks casually.

“Stays up all night admiring his riches, you know.” The flutist’s eyes take in the gang’s bedraggled appearance. “Maybe you don’t know.”

“Maybe we would if we could get this deal done,” Shyan says impatiently. Most of the taverngoers have filed out, drunk, to disperse in the night. The barkeeper and his staff begin putting up chairs. “So we doing this?”