iii) “Why you botherin’ the birds?”

“Why you botherin’ the birds, Shyan?” Fassn whispers, looking fearfully to the shrouded space above their heads. “They ain’t what we’re after.”

“I’d rather frighten them before they frighten us,” she replies.

“Gotta be a bit late for that, yeah?” Fassn fumbles with his tinderbox, his dirty hands quaking. He gets his lantern lit and affixes it to the end of his spear, raises it into the gloom. Thousands of tiny eyes catch the glow of the flickering flame. The creatures’ cries grow louder: more shrill and insistent.

“Er,” Fassn says, then falls silent.