In the shadow of he cave, the old magician scratched a rune in the dirt around a small cage of bones, and whispered a word. Slowly, the bones began to blacken, then to crack and glow from within. As the rain outside began to patter down, shaking hands fed grass into the red coals, and a small flame came forth.
The rain had been falling for an hour, and the tea was boiling when the trader came. Water glistened on it shell, and soaked the silk of the strange garment it wore, something like a brightly-colored blue vest woven with spirals of yellow and red. No beast of burden followed the trader, but it was itself hitched to a small two-wheeled cart, covered with a waterproof oilskin and lashed with ropes.
Stopping before the entrance of the cave, the trader hesitated, the featureless oval of is face reflecting the old man's fire. It raised one of its fore-limbs, a dexterous three-fingered arm the size of a human infant's, and made a sign in the air. The old magician smiled through his beard, and returned the not-so-secret sign which marked a fellow member of the lonely fraternity that traveled the roads beneath black stars and white.
Unhitching the cart and leaving it in the rain, the trader scuttled into the cave on his six limbs, settling down opposite the old man and stretching out his three-fingered arms to warm them by the small fire.
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