43 iii) “Hey, lemme go,” Fassn protests

“Hey, lemme go,” Fassn protests, his feet scrabbling against the smooth stone wall of the pit. “There’s something smelly down here.”

As though his comment makes it real, the gang is hit by a repugnant stench emanating from the pit. Something sweet, like decay, but with a sour tang of vinegar that’s altogether unpleasant.

“Hear that? He wants to go down,” grunts Cang, caught in the middle of the human chain.

“Up to you to let him,” says Shyan, dragging Cang’s ankles back from the pit.

Cang’s crumpled, reddened face furrows further. “Why do I bother?” he mutters, straining against Fassn’s weight.

iii) “Little man gone,” Abianarian says

“Little man gone,” Abianarin says.
“I hate when he does that,” Shyan mutters, too loudly. Catching herself, she signals again, with bulging eyes, this time for silence.
“Cang!” Fassn calls out in a stage whisper.
Rustling leaves from a few metres away, and the pregnant stench of the nightpig.
“He snuck off, Fassn,” Shyan says. “He always does.”
“Right, and I hate it too. Old Ajralan’s got big plans for him.”
“And for you?” Abia asks. She winks.
Fassn puffs his chest up. “Of course! I have his divine strength, will, fortitude!” He smacks a fist against his breastpiece.
“Keep it down, I said!” Shyan whirls on Fassn and finds the vibrant orange eyes of the nightpig behind him.