“That,” whispered Myrtle, “is a really big goat.”

“Nervous?” asked Nicyes. “I sense some apprehension in your voice. Maybe you’d rather chance your escape, alone in the caves beneath the lake?”

“That’s quite enough, Nicyes,” said Alquis. “Myrtle already said she’d help. There’s no point in testing her at this stage.”

“I’d just like to make sure that when things start to get ugly, someone’s going to have my back covered. There’s only so many miracles I can perform on my own.” Nicyes smirked and then focused his attention back on the scene below them.

Myrtle looked at Alquis with an expression of incredulity. “And here I thought dealing with Arturo and Mercer was difficult. I clearly picked the wrong side to throw my lot in with.”

Alquis shrugged. “You don’t often get to choose the right people for the job, they’re usually just handed to you, faults and all.”

Below them, a dozen or more cultists were scrambling to unearth an enormous, goat-headed creature. Its shaggy hair was clotted with dirt, and from a distance, it looked to be dead. One of its horns was cracked, and there was no light or life in its eyes.

“What’s the signal again?” asked Myrtle. “It looks dead, but if we’re going to wind up fighting that thing, I’d rather it were still buried and immobilized when we did so.”

“There is no signal,” said Alquis. “You’re imagining someone else — a group that plans more than just the next step ahead.”

Nicyes leapt clear of their hiding place and vaulted down into the pit. Alquis climbed to his feet. Across the pit, he could see Mercer barreling down the other side.

“Never mind,” Alquis said. “That’s the signal.” He held up his focusing orb and waved a hand over it to clear the cloudy image inside, until the cultists and the enormous, half-buried satyr came into view.