iii) Not very friendly

“Not very friendly,” says Fassn, kicking the dirt.

“We do owe her some money,” Shyan says.

“For my teeth,” he replies, smiling.

“Cang in castle,” Abia says.

Lightning cracks. The gang huddles under a tiny overhang outside the lighthouse. The castle is shrouded in black wisps. Shyan glimpses the occasional flash of unnatural purple light from one of its many windows. She says a single word, then sets out into the rain.

The castle’s gates are iron wrought, taller than a person. Shyan grabs a couple of the bars, gives them a preliminary shake. She steps back, sizes them up, then sets her feet and takes hold of two of the bars. She begins to pull.

Abia holds a length of her robes outstretched to keep the rain from pouring into Shyan’s face as she struggles with the bars.

Shyan’s blood boils as she strains. The creak of metal slowly giving is soon swallowed by another burst of thunder and lightning.

One of the bars begins to crack.

ii) Okay, the circle is drawn

“Okay, the circle is drawn. Now bring your friend to it.” Shyan and Abia share a look while Fassn walks into the circle.

Ulxurix grabs him by his burlap poncho with remarkable strength. He feels the magic particles popping in the circle, wants to feel them burst upon his skin. “Come on, let me, witch,” he says.

“No,” she replies. “This circle is for your little friend.”

“But he’s sick from that fang,” Shyan says.

“Aye, sicker by the day,” says the witch. She holds Shyan’s gaze. “The lich will eat him up, minute by minute. Your little friend is still in there, I daresay, but it’ll be hard to get him out.”

“Get him out?”

“Your tall friend, here, she’s strong. It should’ve been her. Her, we could have dealt with.” Ulxurix looks at Abia and sighs. “Well, we almost got there,” she says, trailing off. A moment later, she claps, the sorrow drained from her expression. “Well, time to go,” and she ushers them out the door.