28 ii) “We stink like ripe bodies that’ve been on the road too long,”

“We stink like ripe bodies that’ve been on the road too long,” Shyan says.

Fassn takes a whiff of his own underarm. “Oh, yeah.”

“And if our buyer’s as big a snob as those musicians say he is, we’d better get cleaned up.”

And just like that, as the mythic seas, the busy crowd of city dwellers parts to reveal a hand-painted sign featuring a wash basin and a pair of shears. The building it hangs from is relatively shabby, but so too is the gang.

“Ask and ye shall receive,” Fassn says with a grin.

“We don’t have any money, Fassn,” Shyan says. Fassn’s grin fades in an instant.

“Perhaps not,” says Cang, watching the many loose belt pouches passing by just below his eye level. “But perhaps we might earn some,” he continues, letting the sentence trail off ominously.

28 i) When morning comes to the city

When morning comes to the city, a pale blue sky stretches beyond the buildings that seem to rise into the clouds. The streets are busy, with people hurrying about. Those few who take notice of our bedraggled gang give them a wide berth. One surly fellow with a glaring bald patch screws up his nose as he passes, and in a grunting voice, says, “You stink.” He departs, shaking his head.

“Yeah, but stink like what?” Fassn asks.