20 ii) As the stones clatter into place

As the stones clatter into place, Fassn begins singing a low, plaintive dirge in his native tongue. Cang falls silent to listen, and soon only Shyan’s ragged breathing undergirds the melancholic melody. She moves to stand, but Fassn shushes her, keeps her still within the outline of stones.

Only Abia and Fassn himself understand the words, though both Shyan and Cang catch the mention of “Ajralan” sprinkled throughout. Fassn waves his open palms about Shyan’s body, centimeters above the jagged ends of the barbed darts sticking out from her skin.

As Fassn’s song intensifies, the bone darts begin to shake and quiver.

20 i) Shyan lays back, the soft dirt and rocks crunching under her weight

Shyan lays back, the soft dirt and rocks crunching under her weight. Her eyes are closed and her skin’s already losing some of its vibrancy.

Fassn, Cang and Abia crouch beside her.

“More poison,” Abia says.

“This damnable concoction. Should not she be immune by now?” Cang asks.

“Quickly, gather the stones,” Fassn says.

“Excuse me?”

“Gather them, like this,” Fassn says, scrabbling for flat stones about Shyan’s form. He lays them out around her perimeter, a Shyan-shaped outline of rocks a few centimeters from her slow-breathing form.

“Great,” Cang says sarcastically. “A quick break to make art.”