Heidi Skulstad stood quietly beside her husband, idly fingering her walking staff. Johann was bent over with his face close to the floor of the tunnel where, the day before, he’d skewered the gargoyle that almost killed the children. The body of the gargoyle was nowhere to be found.
Anders, Paign and Freida stood in a wide circle around the farmer, their lanterns held high as he inspected the area immediately around where the gargoyle had been slain.
Tiny sat quietly on his haunches, next to Freida.
“Strange,” he said. “Look here!” He motioned to Paign for more light. “Do you see? There are two distinct sets of footprints near where the body was. That is, if you can call them footprints.”
Anders squatted down next to the spot the farmer had pointed at.
“Yes, sir. There are two sets. But these are not human tracks. Or Tiny’s. Although they are more like his than ours. They’re similar to the gargoyle’s, which you can see clearly just behind us. There’s only one print that hasn’t been trampled by us, but it is”—he twirled his hand in a wide circle—“the same pattern as these. Large, wide—and with curious scratches beyond the toe impressions.”
“So, a gargoyle creature—or more than one—has been here and retrieved the body,” Heidi said, matter-of-factly, as she leaned on her staff. “They know, then.”
“Know what, Mrs. Skulstad?” Paign asked, noticing her tenseness.
“That someone killed their friend, or comrade, or whatever you want to call it…him. Presumably, more than Bahlkrum’s comrade knows it was a human that dispatched Bahlkrum, since he died from a large, sword-shaped hole in his chest that ought not to have been there.” She smiled at her husband.
“Ah, right. That…” Paign replied.
“But do we then assume that his comrade took care of Bahlkrum’s remains, before coming for revenge? Or did some other gargoyle help him? In other words, when Bahlkrum’s pal died in the farmhouse this morning, did the knowledge of what happened here—in this cave—also die? I’m hoping no other foe knows any of this. But if they do, makes you wonder what they might do about it, eh?” Anders pulled his bow back, pretending there was an arrow nocked on the string.
“Odds are, we’ll find out soon enough,” said the farmer. “Time for us to move on.”
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