“Arturo!”

He could hear their yells, and he wanted to yell back for them to be quiet. He knew he’d seen Esther in the cave, and he knew he’d heard her call out to him.

Arturo scrambled over the rocks in the dark, trying both to catch up with the red-haired woman and to get away from the others who wanted to keep him from her. They just didn’t understand. As soon as he caught up with her, Arturo would bring Esther back with him, and they’d see.

It was such a stupid misunderstanding. Misunderstandings like that happened all the time lately, and this was just another in a series of stupid misunderstandings. Usually it was Nicyes’s fault, and sometimes with Mercer or Alquis. But they became more frequent with the inclusion of that Myrtle woman. Arturo shuddered. Everything he said around Myrtle seemed to be a misunderstanding, like she did it on purpose.

Arturo followed the wall of the cavern, and sensed that it was veering sharply to one side, but without the light from Myrtle’s torch or Alquis’s magic, he only had guesses as to which way he was actually going.

No, he knew where he was going — he was following Esther. He froze for a moment when he realized it had been several minutes now since he had either seen Esther, or heard his companions call his name.

Had they stopped following him at last? It meant he could continue after Esther unmolested, but he realized he would have to search in the dark by himself. He remembered their group’s new saying — to never do anything alone. He scoffed.

They had tried to stop him, that they’d at least done together. Had they tried to find Esther with him? No.

There was a glow coming from the chamber ahead, and Arturo approached carefully in case there were Pan’s cultists waiting for him. He clutched the shard of petrified wood, and held it before him — but, no. Esther wouldn’t lead him into a trap, it must be safe. He lowered the shard and entered the chamber, where the glow of silvery script on the walls illuminated everything from the floor to the ceiling.

“Esther?” he said, confused.