Given your exceedingly sensitive disposition, dear Reader, I strongly advise you to avert your eyes from the remaining sentences in this post.

No, really: I mean it.

Just as Asafetida reached out her hand to receive her bouquet of strangler vines and marigolds, there was a sudden gust of wind.

It spun the helicopter around unexpectedly in my direction, dear Reader. Its rotor blades shimmered in the sun.

I shut my eyes.

When I opened them, dear Reader, there was a pile of matchsticks and shredded fleur-de-lovage silk where once there had been a sedan chair; and Rose Madder, lying on the ground with her hands over her head.

Of Asafetida and Vermilion there was no sign.

The helicopter wheeled away, and I caught a glimpse of the pilot, who seemed to glare at me, dear Reader, as if I were personally to blame for Taizhou’s cruel east wind.

There was a pause, while the assembled company regarded the scene of devastation before them. Darren looked pale. Mise peered over the edge of the helipad at her fascinator, caught on the Garden of Remembering horsehead crenellations far below. Lu-Seal sighed, and produced her mop.

‘Come, Miss Scarlet’, I said to Rose Madder. ‘I have need of a PA with advanced self-defence skills. I trust your shorthand is up to speed. I must telegraph Ser Basil immediately.’


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