43 v) Fassn’s silk glove slips

Fassn’s silk glove slips. Fassn himself lets out a little noise of delight as he descends another few millimetres. The chain of human figures struggles and shakes as he waves his finger at the goo. Abia watches impassively nearby.

Fassn’s voice rises to a help as his bare finger skims the brown sludge’s surface. It’s instantly corrosive and the smell of burning skin and collagen rises from the pit.

“Can I drop him now?” Cang asks.

“Okay,” Fassn says, dipping his finger into his mouth to savour the horrible taste. “Old Ajralan has had his fill.” Cang and Shyan grunt as they pull him up, coupled with sounds of moist lip smacking.

When they’re sprawled, fatigued, on the tile, Cang holds open a hand to Fassn, palm up. Fassn tosses him a coin.

25 iv) “In fact,” Fassn continues, “let me just taste ’em a second.”

“In fact,” Fassn continues, “let me just taste ’em a second.” He reaches for the princess’ necklace with bony fingers.

“I should think not,” Cang says, whisking the necklace away from his grizzled companion. “You shall bring down their value.”

“No way,” Fassn says. “My spit is mystical.”

“Nonsense,” says Cang. “You disgust me.”

“Boys, boys,” Shyan cuts in. “Nobody’s tasting anything. We’re headed straight for a jeweller or a fence. Whomever wants to take this necklace off our hands can do so.”

“Well I want to take it off his hands,” Fassn says.

“Great, just show us the coins.”

Fassn makes a show of patting his pockets, but of course he comes up empty.

“That’s what I thought,” Shyan says. “Now let’s get this done so we can enjoy a hot meal for a change.”