Myn flinched at the sound of a gun firing. Matchlighter dropped his wheelock, holding a spreading red stain, a blossoming petunia, on his abdomen. A goblin behind him with a smoking arquebus kicked him over and collected the fallen hand gun.

“There’s that one’s order for him,” the goblin sniffed. “Come, fellows. Muolih awaits.” They disappeared into the hollow that, due to the oblique angle, Myn could not see.

After a few moments’ wait, Myn nodded at Tinain and Niwa and they moved out. The great hollow was, in fact, a cyclopean staircase, made of the same giant stones but set together in such a way as to form a surprisingly ordinary ascent. Through the door at their top, it was possible to see a columned hall but little else.

Matchlighter was still alive and gasping. Holding his gunshot wound, he was clawing his way up the steps one at a time, leaving behind him a trail of dark smeared blood. He looked up at Myn with fear in his eyes. “Help me,” he said.

“Tinny.” Myn nodded at the wounded goblin. “Help the man.”

Tinain looked at the wound carefully and whispered in Myn’s ear. “It is mortal,” he said. “If he does not bleed to death, the wound will rot him from within and he’ll take three days to die.”

Myn looked back at Matchlighter. “I can’t do anything for you,” she said. “I’m sorry.”

“To come this close…only to be cast my own people,” Matchlighter wheezed. “A people I have given my everything to…protect…and nourish…”

“I wouldn’t take it to hard,” said Myn. “They’ve been through a lot. We all have.” She drew one of her wheelocks. “I can give you a shortcut to Muolih if you’d like.”

“No,” cried Matchlighter. “No. I will see the Spreading Darkness soon enough, once Lodii has had her parlay with him.”

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