9 iii) Both Shyan and Fassn are sprawled on the floor

Both Shyan and Fassn are sprawled on the floor, their eyes rheumy. Half-heartedly, Shyan waves Old Mossy away. “No need,” she says. “We’re good like this, aren’t we Fassn?”

“Old Ajralan,” he replies. His face and beard are soaked with sweat.

“Yes, very well put, Fassn,” Cang sneers. “Old Ajralan, verily!”

“I’m just gonna get some sleep,” Shyan says, making great efforts to roll onto her side.

“Nonsense. I traded a precious gem for your worthless lives, so this grey creature shall restore them, after which, they shall belong to me.”

Abia levels a stare at Cang until a tiny smirk appears on his lips. “What do you need?” she asks Old Mossy.

9 ii) Old Mossy's control of the mushrooms is smooth

Old Mossy’s control of the mushrooms is smooth, precise, uncompromising. He bends his fingers to keep the knife blade at his knuckles, careful not to pierce his own grey flesh. The phosphorescent mushrooms peel away in thin strips but maintain their shape, now apart but still somehow whole. He signals to Abia to start a pot of boiling water, and as she does so, begins rummaging a small, sturdy cupboard that Cang would not be surprised to learn he built himself. Within, a number of small, canvas bags, from which he pinches a few coarse powders. He puts the powders into his cupped hand and stirs them with his finger as he moves. When the water is ready, he throws the powders into it and the rubbles erupt, roaring past the cauldron’s lip. Old Mossy slides the mushrooms into the water and it calms, landing at a simmer. Satisfied, he turns to Shyan and Fassn. “Now, it’s your turn.”

9 i) Old Mossy's domain is a hovel woven of grass reeds

Old Mossy’s domain is a hovel woven of grass reeds, with a pat earthen floor that has clearly seen hundreds of feet over the years. His sleeping area, a thick pad of straw, occupies one corner, while a simple set of alembics and burners occupies another. Old Mossy bids the gang lay the afflicted down on the straw mattress while he tools around with the alchemical glassware.

“Where, praytell, did you acquire such expensive tools?” Cang asks.

“Trade with the tall ones,” Old Mossy replies, without taking his eyes off his work. Glasses clink and clunk together as he sorts them.

“Until they take princess?” Abia asks.

The grey creature with the long beard nods once, sadly. “There have been… clashes in the past.”

Cang holds his hands palms up. “Certainly not any of our concern, Abianarin. We’re inveighing on this poor fellow’s time enough as things stand, without dredging up painful memories.”

As Old Mossy begins to slice the phosphorescent mushrooms, he says, “Bad memories is right. Just you wait.”