Korvius blinked slowly. “What are ye doing here?”
Felicity’s face hardened. “No gratitude or anything, just straight to business I see.” She stood, turning away from the witch hunter to check in on Coral who was leaning against the wall of the alley. “How are you, child?” She asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
Coral looked at Korvius, then back at Felicity with her jaw hanging slightly open. “Who are you?” She whispered, eyes wide.
Felicity laughed, her voice warmly floating through the air over the sound of the rain falling. “I’m Lady Felicity van der Lachen Maan. And who are you?”
Coral, her gaze still locked on Felicity, stammered her a reply. “Coral. Coral, uh, Bart’s daughter?” She gasped, turning to Korvius. “My dad! Was he in there?”
The witch hunter coughed violently into his fist, hauling himself painfully to his feet. “No, Coral. They must have taken him away before I got here.” His eyes hardened. “But I will find him, child, I assure thee.”
Coral looked around, her eyes and head darting as if lost in a deep forest, her breathing growing faster, more panicked, by the second. Korvius hauled himself to his feet, stepping closer to Coral whilst coughing. Before he could reach her, Felicity was already there, stroking the poor girl’s hair and comforting her, glaring occasionally at the witch hunter. Korvius looked at his boots awkwardly, turning to glance around at the alleyway where he found himself.
He could feel Felicity’s eyes boring into the back of his skull, but he didn’t really know what to say in such situations. Instead, he decided to see what he could find out about the attackers. It didn’t take long to find something of interest.
Stamped into the mud along the outer walls of the alley, fresh and still not washed away in the rain, were several boot prints in a rough circle, as if a man had stood here for a long time waiting and shuffling his feet. The alley was somewhat sheltered from the storm, leaving the walls only slightly damp, where Korvius found a smattering of ash from a tobacco pipe having been cleaned onto the plaster. But there was something else that caught the witch hunter’s attention.
A very small sigil was carved into the plaster, low down, near to the level of Korvius’ waist. He crouched down, sitting on his heels, and looked intensely, a theory putting the pieces together forming in his mind.
“Priest, heaven forbid you come over-” Felicity began.
“Halt thy tongue.” Korvius said, slipping further into his Eastern accent.
Felicity stood, helping Coral with her as the tears began pouring down the young girl’s cheeks. Korvius was oblivious to her sobs as he focused on what the symbol may mean.
“What is so damn important over there?” Felicity demanded, sliding smoothly like a shadow over to the witch hunter’s side where she remained standing, one hand on her hip and the other around Coral’s shoulders.
“Dost thou recognize yon sign?” He asked, pointing at the wall.
Felicity looked at it from her vantage point, her keen eyes not needing to be closer to see every detail of the carving. “No, I can’t say that I have.” She snapped. “What of it?”
Korvius rounded on her suddenly, causing the noblewoman to flinch back a step at the dark expression on the man’s face. “We must make haste. Now.”
Felicity was confused at Korvius’ anger, as it had seemingly erupted out of nowhere. He had slipped into an even more archaic manner of speaking, his accent deepening to the point where it was difficult to understand any longer. “To where?”
“Ye be of this land’s nobility, aye?” He asked.
Felicity nodded. “Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?”
Korvius was already on his way to the North, striding purposefully through the rain like a specter. Felicity helped Coral up before sliding soundlessly up to the witch hunter’s side, her curiosity quickly turning back to annoyance.
Before she could say anything, Korvius spoke. “Ye have cults of dangerous nature among thy flock. Something must be done, nay a moment spared.”
Felicity paused, suddenly beginning to laugh over the sound of the falling rain. It was enough to make the witch hunter turn, his face going from grim determination, to confusion, and finally to genuine irritation. “What find ye so funny?”
Felicity waved her hand as her laughter slowly died, but her smile remained. “This is the largest city for many miles, Katzairian; of course there are dangerous cults within our walls. Believe me, we work everyday to root them out already.”
Korvius went back to his bewildered stare. “What? Ye know already of these people?”
Felicity nodded, cocking an eyebrow. “Every major city does. In fact, we do more to destroy them than most others within Isaka.”
Korvius looked at his boots, silently contemplating her words. Finally he looked up, taking a deep breath. “Very well, in that case I believe there be still matters with which to attend this evening.” He looked up into the rain, letting it fall on his face as he relaxed a little. “I wish very much to speak with thy master.”
Felicity made an exaggerated “Hm” sound at the witch hunter’s announcement. “You don’t say. Very well, follow me.” She looked with consternation on Korvius’ attire. “We must get you dry, after all.”
Coral, who until this point had remained in a state of silent shock with her mouth hanging open, suddenly spoke up. “What of my father?” She pleaded.
Korvius stepped over the girl, calmly wrapping his arms around her shoulders as she began weeping loudly. He didn’t know what else to do. “We will find him, soon. There are people who will help us, and I know the master of the city will provide some aid as well.” He looked pointedly at Felicity. “Of that I am sure.”
Felicity pursed her lips, not wanting to object to being volunteered for this journey. “Your accent gets much worse when you’re agitated, Korvius.” She pointed out instead.
Korvius didn’t respond, only ran his hands through Coral’s rain soaked hair as the girl struggled to control her sobs.
“Will we find him again?” She asked.
“Yes.” Korvius said, his deep voice leaving no doubt to his intention.
* * *
“Damn that girl.” Rassia muttered to herself, pacing around the dungeons of Latar Castle. She had received word from the Queen of a new development that required immediate attention, and the disrespectful Felicity had gone off on her own without notifying anyone. What a nuisance she had become. “She’s going to see that priest again, I just know it.”
Her mind drifted back to the Queen’s words, echoing uncomfortably in the deepest parts of the dungeon to make eavesdropping, of the mundane or magical sort, that much more difficult. “There is a knot that has become undone somehow on the mainland. The Gravekeeper has somehow freed himself from my bonds and now works to some end against me. Find him and slay him, take any means necessary. I will send my daughter to you to ensure the completion of this task.”
She was referring to Johannes, of course, the hollow corpse of a man who had tended the graves of Castle Duisternis far to the West for, what was it, two centuries now? For him to have become free was disturbing news indeed. The fact that the Princess was also coming, however, bothered Rassia more than the news of the Gravekeeper did. Was the Princess to assume leadership of the province? That would be most irritating if true.
“If only that damnable whore was here instead of cavorting with foreigners, this wouldn’t be so difficult.” She spoke aloud, her lips twitching around a fang-filled jaw. “I think her and I need a good, long talk.”