Irrawaddy was pale from blood loss and while his wounds had been cleaned and bound, it was clear to look at him that he was looking at a burial shroud rather shortly. Despite the sepsis eating away at him from the inside already, and the sweat beading heavily on his trembling brows, he was lucid.

“The tiger…” he whispered. “The tiger, yes? As you see…the tiger has got hold of me, dug its claws in deep, left me to die…”

“A tiger did this?” said Sint. “They haven’t been seen around here for centuries.”

“You are aware, yes, of the Three Senseless Creatures? The buddhas tell us that the tiger is anger, senseless and without focus. That was what I felt”

“So it wasn’t a tiger, then, but attached like one.”

“It came at me with no weapon but anger yet anger was enough.” Irrawaddy smiled weakly. “I imagine we would not be speaking now if they had slashed with claws of steel.”

“A man, then,” Sint said. It was a statement, not a question; clearly Irrawaddy was spiraling into delirium.

“A man who attacked with enough ferocity that we actually believed it had been a tiger, for a moment,” added Hayma. “One of the workers, perhaps, starving?”

“Maybe,” said Sint, turning away. “But I wouldn’t expect such canniness from a madman dying of thirst. They waited until Irrawaddy was cut off from the rest of us until they struck.”

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