Talen took a deep breath, leaned back, and surveyed his work.

He’d put as much effort and art into the little figurine as he had into anything else, even his master-work – and he’d had years of experience since that. Silver set with jet, it wasn’t the most intrinsically valuable piece he’d produced, but the work itself was as good as he’d ever done. He could call it one of his best without reservation.

Which, considering its intended recipient, was as it should be.