23 ii) A rush of saliva floods Cang’s jaw

A rush of saliva floods Cang’s jaw, his mouth watering at the prospect of getting into the chest. His fingers play across the iron hide of the padlock, follow its loop to where the seal is cracked.

Silently, he draws the lock from its place in the trunk, sets it down on the wood floor with a soft thunk. He hears the guards moving around below, even hears the shift of the princess in her soft sheets.

Holding his breath, Cang lifts the lid of the trunk, praying to Old Ajralan — though he’d never admit it — that the hinges won’t squeak.

Cang gets his wish, but not entirely. The hinges are silent, but the trunk’s contents are softly luminous — and moving.

i) night falls

Night falls. In the deepening gloom beyond the door, the domed structure on its outcrop quickly fades from view. Dense, waxy foliage presses in against the group, and the humid air is filled with the chittering of insects, their peculiar forms flitting about from tree to tree. Cutting their way through the untamed underbrush, the party hears a juicy snorting sound that can only indicate the presence of a nightpig. Cang swears he can smell the putrid saliva dripping from its yellowed tusks. Shyan signals a halt. She and her companions cast about through the wet night for the nightpig.