“Arturo, please sit down. Your back is bad enough as it is — I’m afraid you’re only going to make it worse,” said Esther. She was tense from watching Arturo pace across the small room. They were still sharing the room the Order of Orion had procured for them — the room the Order was still paying for after their group had agreed to leave for the next town.

Arturo would reach one end of the room, using the wall as support to stop and turn around. He then lurched back across the room, picking up speed until he would stop, turn around, and begin again. He muttered to himself all the while, and it really didn’t help that the room was so small.

“Those serpent creatures,” he said, and stopped himself again. He had reached the end of the room. He turned and started hobbling back, bracing against the wall.

“Shouldn’t they be someone else’s problem? I don’t see why we need to get involved, they were lurking around the Gilded Flame. We wouldn’t even know about them if you hadn’t been sneaking around.” Her tone had developed an edge, and she wanted very much to shout at him to stop.

“Unless,” he said, and turned around again. “Unless they’re controlling the beasts and use them as assassins. We, no, all the people in the city could be in terrible danger.”

Esther was growing more frustrated. “But you outran them.”

He corrected her. “No, I merely evaded them”

“Whichever. Evaded, outran. I don’t care.”

“I got lucky. It was all a matter of luck.” He paused at the end of the room, to consider his words. “And no small amount of skill, I might add.”

“Please don’t. Add, I mean. Never mind,” said Esther. “You’re pretty fast when you have a wall to support yourself. You look hilarious, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past you to outrun those creatures.” Her tone contrasted sharply with her words. She didn’t sound the slightest big amused.

Arturo stopped suddenly, and Esther leapt to her feet in surprise.

“What is it?” she said, tensed for action.

“I have to go back,” he said.

Esther punched him in the face.