Ab returned to the village. The singing birds sat in the trees. The summer beetles skimmed the surface of the lake. Ab searched the village, but found no homes.
Close to the lake, where weeds tangled into bouquets, Ab found a pile of reeds. It was all he discovered of the homes he’d once known in the village.
Digging between the reeds, Ab found a black rope. It looked like sealskin, too smooth and shiny to be anything else. But when he touched it it did not feel like the skin of any beast he’d ever encountered. He drew his hand back as though stung by a wasp. The rope felt… unnatural.
Ab looked around, but nothing else seemed out of place except the black rope and the lack of houses. Then he noticed it, a faint blemish across the sky, thin, thin wires criss-crossing overhead. They looked like pen strokes slashed across the clouds.
Ab followed the lines in the sky. They were rigidly straight – unnaturally straight. Eventually, they led him to a tower of metal shaped like a triangle with an arch cut out at the bottom. The latticed jumble of metal buzzed.
Ab unsheathed the Sword of Dragons, recovered from the Den of the Furkoni bored into the side of Mount Shadow. But the metal beast did not react.