“What do we do about Arturo? I didn’t think you’d be willing to leave him behind, even for something as serious as this,” said Alquis.

Nicyes shook his head. “It isn’t this ‘something serious’ thing you’re getting at or even Alquis — you want to know if I’m having the dreams again.”

“Well it would certainly be helpful if you were more forthcoming about these things — but I am genuinely curious what the Order of Orion told you, and what you plan to do about it.”

Nicyes crossed his arms and nodded his head. “The message I got from the Order was that the disappearances have spread to the neighboring towns and villages. Our victory here in Chaika was probably incidental, and unconnected to the disappearances in the first place. We’re jumping at shadows.”

Alquis had a ponderous look for a moment, as he considered whether Nicyes intended to make a joke, decided it was unintentional, and let it pass. He looked at Nicyes. “And Arturo?”

“I think Esther will stay here with him, should we go on. They seem to have some — affinity for one another in light of their recent experiences.” Nicyes rolled his eyes. “She can keep an eye on him, keep him out of trouble, and when he’s healed up, they can join us, we’ll only be a day away, if that.”

“She can also monitor activity here in Chaika, see if our actions made a difference.”

Nicyes snorted. “I doubt she’ll leave Arturo’s side,” he paused, “but we got the monster. Even if Arturo’s fancy warding spell didn’t work, it’s dead. We beat it. It’s gone.”

“And its conjurer?”

He opened his mouth, and Alquis looked at him expectantly. Nicyes closed his mouth, then shook his head. “One thing at a time, Alquis, one thing at a time. We took care of the beast, but I doubt we’ll find its master so easily.”

He paused for a moment, then continued, “You’re right though, as always. Our job isn’t finished here. Not at all.”

Both men looked away, lost in thought. Several moments passed before Alquis asked, “When did you start having the dreams again?”