27 v) The flutist leads the way

The flutist leads the way out of the tavern with the drummer close behind. The gang ponders their words for a moment before the barkeeper catches Shyan’s eye. “Aye, what’re you lot still doin’ here? The drink’s not flowin’ so you’d best be goin’!”

“I like this guy,” Fassn says, as the barkeeper ushers them from his tavern.

Standing in the dark street, the gang plans its next move.

“Well if we’re going to do this, we’d best get cleaned up,” Shyan says.

As dawn breaks over the city’s hidden horizon, the gang makes its way to a barbershop.

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?”

26 iv) “Perhaps so,” says Shyan enigmatically

“Perhaps so,” says Shyan enigmatically.

“Doubt you could afford it, though,” adds Cang. He shifts in his seat enough that the jewels clink in his pocket.

“Well, we do better than we look,” says the flutist. She’s gaunt, though not excessively so, and in her eyes is the fire of a devout ascetic. “Where’s it from?”

“A little grey princess,” Fassn says with a grin. “Cang here took it right from her neck!” The glowing sphere bobs over to Cang’s shoulder as though to illustrate which of them he is.

“I would thank you not to name me,” Cang snarls.

“Royalty, eh?” says the flutist, leaning back in her chair. After a long draught of ale, she says, “Maybe we can do business after all.”

26 iii) The gang pockets the necklace

The gang pockets the necklace, and Shyan gives the bartender a nod of thanks. They make their way to the tavern’s bowels, where lanterns gutter and the head’s stench occasionally wafts by. They take their places and watch the musicians. When another tavern-goer tries to appropriate an empty chair, Shyan puts her boots upon it meaningfully and the fellow scampers off.

The musicians play and dance through another few tunes, then to a round of drunken applause, leave their improvised stage. The drummer makes for the bar, while the flutist joins the gang at their table. Shyan respectfully withdraws her boots. When the drummer returns bearing two mugs of ale, the musicians sit. The flutist asks, “You selling?”