14 iii) Cang puts his shoulder up against the door

Cang puts his shoulder up against the door and leans his weight into it. There’s the slight sound of grinding stone but the door doesn’t budge. Even when Shyan joins him, the door remains stuck fast.

“If this thing’s explaining what’s beyond it,” Shyan says, her breathing becoming ragged with the effort, “why won’t it let us in?”

Cang withdraws a prybar from his bag, lines it up with the door’s seam. With the increased leverage, he’s able to slowly pull the door away from its frame. Rock grates against rock while the door slowly opens, just enough for a person to slip through with bruised temples.

Beyond, a wild, howling blackness that swallows the light.

14 ii) "Oh, I want to hear!" Fassn exclaims, pushing past Cang

“Oh, I want to hear!” Fassn exclaims, pushing past Cang. He puts his filthy hands against the cool stone, runs his palms along the finely-worked geometry of the dark frame.

Cang impolitely clears his throat and Fassn takes no notice. “What’s it say?” he asks.

“I believe the door was due to explain what lies beyond its threshold,” Cang says.

“Talking, what do you mean?” Shyan asks. “This is a talking door?”

Suddenly Cang freezes as the door addresses him once more. “There are riches within, Cang. Vast, liquid riches.”

Cang pales slightly, then, shaking off his discomfort, says, “Well, no sense in dawdling. Let us open this portal, forthwith.” The mushrooms’ faint green glow lights his face up eerily.

14 i) A creaky voice, splintered like shipboards cracking under ocean waves, follows the knock

A creaky voice, splintered like shipboards cracking under ocean waves, follows the knock. “Cang,” it says, slowly, drawling the syllable.

Cang starts, peers at the faces of his friends. They’re distorted in the flickering lantern light, made weird by the bioluminescent hues coming from the mushrooms at their feet. Neither Shyan, Fassn, nor Abia seem to have heard the sounds.

“Cang,” the voice says again. “Why have you brought these others? Are not you curious enough for yourself? Were you not the one who climbed down? Are your pockets not deep enough for what lies beyond?” There’s an amusement in the voice, as though a smile were on whatever face might be speaking.

“Hm,” Cang says, his hand on his chin. “Perhaps not. Tell me, what does lie beyond?”

The gang gives him an incredulous look as he speaks to nothing.