28 iii) “No, wait,” Shyan says, but she knows it’s a lost cause

28 iii) “No, wait,” Shyan says, but she knows it’s a lost cause

“No, wait,” Shyan says, but she knows it’s a lost cause as Cang melts away into the crowd.

He follows the bouncing pouches, each a leathery fruit bursting with nutritious juices. He strains his cauliflower ears to hear the clink of coins, glances up to see the pouches’ owners’ distracted faces. Hurrying about their daily business, worrying about where their next coin will come from, unaware their wealth is at risk.

When Cang spots an older woman wearing a girdle of leather between her dress and her money pouch, he knows he’s got his mark. A flicker of a smile appears at his lips and he pads after her, deftly sweeping between the oblivious passers-by. At the right moment, he slips his arm up to grasp the pouch, steadying his breathing as he makes the grab, watching her face for any sign of attention, letting his fingers do their delicate dance.

His smile grows wider as he silently lifts the pouch from her belt, until he notices her nose twitch, crinkle, and turn up in disgust. The smell! She turns her head to find its source…

18 iii) “Is there anything you do not wish to smell?”

“Is there anything you do not wish to smell?” Cang asks.

Fassn cocks his head thoughtfully, then shakes it. “Nope. I wanna smell it all. If they’re coming now, I might get my chance.”

“They’re always coming,” Shyan says. “Master Davit was feared and beloved. I’ve put a price on my head — a price to be paid in honour and blood.” She seems to be speaking mostly to herself. “A day will come soon when it’s spilled.”

Just then, from outside the circle of the gang’s meagre camp fire, the crack of a twig underfoot.