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Hitherby sits in a cave, and around her flare the pilot lights of their sleeping nostrils. Sometimes a flare will burn her hand and she’ll bite the other to keep quiet. The dragons must not be woken. Someone told her that, once, but she has been in the cave so long that she no longer remembers who.

Her nub of pencil wore away months ago. Sometimes she makes herself write anyway; her hands are scabbed and blistered, and her fingertips are black as charcoal.

“Why is there suffering?” Hitherby scratches on the sandy floor, but she dares not speak the answer.