Constance knocks on the door to the establishment, waiting patiently as she hears shuffling in the background. Sarya answers the door, smiling.
“Can I help you?” she asks, ushering the three inside.
“Has Veltis returned?” Elzeni asks, peering into the bar.
“Not that we know of. She comes and goes with her job, as you well know. I’m sure she’ll return soon as she’s able to. Is there anything we can help you with?”
“Perhaps,” Constance says. “Do you know of any towns on the coast near here?”
“Afraid I’m from the city and haven’t much left it. Let me ask Kymil.”
Sarya walks deeper into the establishment, leaving our trio in the foyer as she talks with the bartender. They chat for a minute before she returns.
“Kymil says the nearest town is Colkirk, about a day’s walk north of here.”
“Thank you, Sarya,” Constance says, turning to leave.
“Pardon, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced,” Cyrus says, extending his hand to Sarya. “I’m Cyrus.”
“And we’re leaving,” Elzeni says, tugging him out the door.
They head out of the town, looking for Captain Kadrian before they set off for Colkirk. They find him in the guardhouse, working through paperwork at a desk. He glances up when the pair enter.
“Ah, Elzeni and, uh, friends. I’m glad you got my message. Have you by any chance seen Ian, the lad that investigated those killings with you?”
“Ian? No, I’m sorry. What’s happened?”
“Damn. I know Ian was quite fond of you and Aymer. He didn’t show up for work two days ago. That’s unlike him; you know how enthusiastic he is. No one has seen him around town. We put a watch on his mum’s, uhh, his place, but no one has come or gone. I was hoping he’d run off to join you.”
“What happened to his mom?” Elzeni asks, her heart sinking.
“Helena? She raised Ian on her own, working at Miranda’s farm to make ends meet. Disappeared a year ago, and Ian joined the guard shortly after. Poor kid. I’ve done my best to keep an eye on him, but he’s a stubborn lad.”
The sinking feeling in their stomachs grows as they remember one of the heads on Caedmon’s flesh creature mentioning Ian’s name.
“We’ve had a number of disappearances over the years,” Kaldrian continues. “Someone wanders too far into the forest and never comes back. We investigate, but… well, I suppose I don’t need to tell you how dangerous that place is.”
“Can we see Ian’s home? Maybe we’ll be able to tell if he was taken from there.”
They walk for a few minutes before coming to a small, ramshackle house a few blocks from the guardhouse.
“Here it is. I have to get back to the station, but let me know if you find anything.”
They nod and enter, Cyrus leaning against the outer door frame and waiting. Inside, they see a relatively small room with two beds. One looks like it hasn’t been used in years while the other is messy like it hasn’t been made in a long while. There are a few clothes, an extra pair of boots, some dried meats and vegetables beginning to go bad.
Constance, while searching, finds a familiar symbol carved into the door frame: two crossed greataxes and a skull. She points it out to Elzeni, who takes a sketch of it. Elzeni shows it to Cyrus, demanding if he knows anything about it.
“That? Um, no. I don’t really deal in cults.”
“What about this symbol?” Elzeni asks, showing him the symbol from her dream.
Cyrus’ face pales. “Where did you see that?”
“In my dream, the one that is leading us to Colkirk. What is it?”
“That’s the symbol of the demon lord who owns my soul, and he is extremely bad news. Well, it’s been fun, but I’m off to-”
“Cyrus, we’re going. What can you tell us about this demon lord?”
“Other than the fact that TIAMAT, QUEEN OF DRAGONS is afraid of him?”
“Yes, other than that. What are his weaknesses?”
“Oh, well, in that case, he’s a sucker for strawberry danishes. He doesn’t have weaknesses, numbnuts. He’s lord of the nine hells for a reason.”
Elzeni rolls her eyes as she and Constance drag Cyrus outside and toward Colkirk.
“We have to destroy the soulstone, Cyrus. You agreed to help us.”
“At what point did I switch from Watcher to Doer?”
“When we saved your life.”
“Hey! You said we were even after the whole Tiamat thing!”
“Do something noble for once,” Constance says, giving him a sour look.
“I am, I just- ugh fine.”
Cyrus walks with them, looking rather resigned, as they head toward whatever danger lurks in Colkirk…
Last part tomorrow, I promise! Turns out we get a lot more done when the boys are out of town…