The first glimmer of light patterned the dormitory floor of the prison. Baus struggled awake to the sounds of groans, grunts and ill-mannered jests. Dighcan eased himself out of his bed, stooping to lace his battered workboots. He stared out sleepily and mumbled to himself about having to face another day, only a paltry six more years left in his sentence. He backslapped Lopze, a dazed and confused badger-like creature. Valere rolled himself over, grimacing, voicing a rude remark at Yullen, who had nestled himself into the crook of his neck, purring like an infant at his mother’s breast. “Away, you foul-breathed hound!”
On his way to the latrine, Vibellhanz accidentally jostled Paltuik, framing a careless retort that earned him a buffet and a knife-draw. Tustok eased past and innocently belched in Quintlo’s face without apologizing. Upon scenting the reek of last night’s oilfish, Quintlo emitted a vile curse, at which point Tustok mumbled a belaboured objection. Nuzbek stood back by the window, with his rumpled hat in hand and was so engrossed in smoothing back his thinning hair, that when Leamoine sidled up and fondled his behind, he gave a sharp cry and whirled on him like a crane.