"Oh. And how did I make Rakalaz appear?"
"Magic," Shuchun said.
"Yes, magic," the Lorewalker agreed. "I'm glad we have that settled."
"That doesn't explain anything!"
"Do you remember," Shuchun said, "when I told you that I hoped you wouldn't find out why I was still here?"
"Yeah. You said it about ten seconds ago."
"Well, I really, really meant it."
A rope uncoiled from the distant deck in a lazy spiral and snapped to full length several feet away. High above, a dark figure leapt over the railing and descended at a gut-clenching speed, one-handed.
At the halfway point, Ziya swore. This wasn't an assassin or a thug or some other hired killer. This was someone worse.
Druz, Gallywix's chief enforcer, landed in the sand. His leather armor was as tailored as any suit. A flat case was under his muscled arm.
He, the stories went, had grown up with Gallywix in Kezan. He wasn't infamous because he'd never been caught doing anything truly horrible. But sometimes, great and terrible things happened to Gallywix's enemies, and Druz would be one of the first goblins to extend his condolences.
"Sergeant," he said, nodding at Ziya. "Lorewalker Shuchun. One moment, please."
He knelt in the sand and opened the back of the case toward them. Smooth clicks sounded behind the leather wall.
Ziya groaned quietly. That was another scary little detail. Druz always seemed to know too much about everyone he met. Names. Ranks. Strengths. Weaknesses. She wasn't sure if it was research, spies, or magic.
She wasn't surprised that the enforcer had called the Lorewalker by name. He probably knew the names, boot sizes, and favorite drinks of everyone in Pandaria.
"I saw Rakalaz from the bridge," Druz said as he worked. "That was a thing. Hated that story as a kid."
"All right," he said finally. "Thanks for rescuin' our employee, Lorewalker. Have a good night."
He waited. Shuchun's smile grew larger. Druz nodded and then reached into the case. Instinctively, Ziya gripped her daggers…
Druz tossed a huge bag of gold, Ziya judged by the delicious clink, at the Lorewalker's feet.
"Obviously, there's a reward. Give my regards to little Fen. I hear it's almost her birthday."
"Is that a threat?" Shuchun said quietly. She stood up slowly.
"No. That was me bein' polite. I offer you a reward. I send you on your way with well wishes for your loved ones. It was the furthest thing from a threat."
In a blur, Druz lifted a huge rifle from the case, leveled it at Shuchun, and cocked it. Gun parts spun against each other like oiled continents.
"Now," he said, "this is a threat. So I'll say again: take the reward. Go home."
"You've seen it, haven't you?" Shuchun said.
"Seen what?" Ziya said.
"There's a golden door behind that hole in the wall," Druz said, pointing to where Rakalaz had hit the cliff. The weight of the gun held in one hand did not seem to trouble him. "And we're takin' it and whatever's inside."
"I don't care what weapon you choose to aim at me," Shuchun said, shifting a foot behind her with slow elegance. "I won't let you into the lorevault."
"Look," Druz said reasonably. "Cards on the table. It sounds like there's a weapon in there that can make monsters out of thin air. We want it, and it ain't worth your life."
"I will stop you if I must," Shuchun said.
"Right. Let's assume you take me down." A spotlight from the ship bracketed him, and he shaded his eyes. "The uberzep is gonna hammer the area with cannon fire until they breach the vault anyway. You still lose."
A dagger appeared at his throat.
"I'm getting this strange feeling," Ziya said behind him, "that you're going to shoot her when she turns her back."
"Probably not," said Druz. He didn't lower his gun.
"Probably still bothers me. I kind of like her. Also, I get this other strange feeling that you're planning on going into the vault alone."
"There's the small matter of my finder's fee."
"Your squad ain't found anything yet."
Shuchun watched the two goblins bicker about contractual obligations and high-risk pay with curiosity. She sat down again, ate a few curry balls from her pack, and waited, ignoring the unwavering eye of the gun.
Finally, she said, "It's not a vault."
Her voice, firm and rich, cut through the argument like a molten blade. Both goblins looked back at her.
Druz studied her with unmasked suspicion. "You said—"