Juniper awoke the next morning, still feeling weary and sore. Her dreams were full of thoughts of both her brother, Julian, and Riffen. She felt uneasy and disappointed in herself. She had hoped that she would find her brother in Xylon and would be able to bring him home, but so far she had not found him. She was lucky to find out some information and was hopeful that Ms. Zafre at The Wicked Scepter had found more about Julian and what kind of trouble he was in.
Thoughts of Riffen also filled her mind. Even though she did not know him for a long time, she leaned on him like she did her brother. They had the beginnings of a nice friendship, but now he was gone. He was still missing and she worried something bad had happened to him. If Riffen was dead, Juniper would feel horrible.
She looked over at Grace who was sleeping in the other bed.
Juniper knew that Riffen and Grace were very close and it seemed to affect her most of all. Juniper knew she needed to find Riffen for his own sake as well as Grace’s. Riffen was supposed to secure transport to Frost Haven as well and she wasn’t sure if Grace would want to make the journey without him.
Grace opened her eyes and blinked a few times as she focused on Juniper.
“How long have you been staring at me?” Grace asked.
Juniper let out a small laugh.
“Not very long,” She said. “I just want to make sure you are alright.”
“I’m fine,” Grace said.
“Nothing that is too bad. I’ve had worse,” Grace said.
“Well that’s good. I didn’t mean to leave you in danger. I thought you’d be safe in the bar,” Juniper said.
“It’s alright. You know that I can defend myself. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Juniper hung her head.
Grace moved to sitting beside Juniper on her bed.
“Juniper. You can’t protect everyone all the time. We’re going to get in danger from time to time. But I know you’ll be there to get my back.”
Juniper looked over at her as tears formed in the corner of her eyes.
“Thanks, Grace,” She said wiping tears away.
“I’m worried about Riffen too,” Grace said. “But I know we’ll find him.”
“Of course,” Juniper nodded.
Grace leaned into Juniper and laid her head on Juniper’s shoulder.
Juniper wrapped her arms around Grace and gave her a big hug.
“Thanks, Grace. I appreciate you.”
“I appreciate you too. Now come on. Let’s go see what the boys are up to.”
Grace and Juniper gathered up their things and met Sigthyme and Tak downstairs. Both of them were sitting at a table with a breakfast spread.
“We got a bunch of stuff. Plenty for everyone,” Sigthyme said.
“Meat!” Tak said as he shoveled a pile of ham into his mouth.
“Save some for the ladies,” Sigthyme said.
“I am starving,” Juniper said taking a seat.
“Don’t make me fight you for them, Tak,” Grace said as she sat beside Tak.
“Small warrior,” Tak said.
“Small but fierce,” Grace said as she took some ham for herself.
“Still no sign of Riffen?” Juniper asked.
“No. He didn’t turn up here during the night,” Sigthyme said. “It’s possible that he found his way to what’s left of The Pilgrim’s Rest, but we haven’t ventured out to check.”
“I guess we can check it out,” Juniper said.
“Or we could check in with The Chief,” Sigthyme suggested.
“Do we have to go back there?” Grace asked.
“It might be necessary so we can see if the City Guard has located Riffen,” Juniper said.
“Well I guess we know where we need to go,” Sigthyme said.
“Wait, what about you and Tak? Don’t you two have some sort of trial today so you can join your monster fighter club?”
“Tak and I have talked about it and even though we both have some interest in joining The Titan’s League, it is more important to find Riffen,” Sightyme said.
“Find Riffen,” Tak nodded.
“If we can find him, we will make our way to The Titan’s League and take part in the trial. If not, it’s alright.”
“I know if we work together, we can find Riffen,” Juniper said.
The group quickly finished their breakfast and said goodbye to Rox Dretter, owner of The White Hat Inn, and they made their way toward The Pilgrim’s Rest.
“Wow, it’s really bad,” Juniper said as the group approached.
The Pilgrim’s Rest was a just a burnt down husk filled with puddles of water and black ash. The back part, which contained the kitchen and Eva’s home, was only partially destroyed. However the front dining area was completely destroyed.
Outside there were temporary barricades set up to guard against crowds of people walking by who were curious about last night’s fire. Inside the barricade there were several members of The Xylon City Guard.
“Keep on moving. No need to crowd the streets,” One City Guard Member said.
“Wait, I know him,” Juniper said.
“You do?” Sightyme asked.
“Yeah he’s the guard that let us into the city,” Juniper said. “Come on.”
The group followed Juniper’s lead and made their way up to the barricade.
“Please keep moving. No need to stop and stare,” The guard said before spotting Juniper.
“Oh.. hey Miss…”
“Juniper. And you are Sir Francis. You remember us from the gate,” Juniper said.
“Uh yeah, I guess,” Francis said.
“Great,” Juniper said with a smile. “We are looking for our friend, Riffen. He entered the city with us and have gone missing. Can you help us?”
“Well, I can’t really do anything. I’m really sorry. You should head to the courthouse to let them know that someone is missing.”
“We’ve done that already,” Sigthyme said. “We were hoping you would know any more information.”
Francis looked down at Sigthyme.
“Well I don’t know anything about any missing person. I’ve been here all morning,” Francis said.
“Please Sir Francis, do you know anything? Any information will help us,” Juniper said.
“I’m really sorry. I wish I could help. But like I’ve said. I’ve been here watching over what remains of The Pilgrim’s Rest,” Francis said. “If you make your way to the courthouse, someone there should be able to help you. They should be back from the raid.”
“Raid? What raid?” Sigthyme asked.
Francis let out a sigh.
“Great. I wasn’t really supposed to say anything but I guess the whole city will know soon enough. There was a raid last night of a suspected hideout connected to a criminal named Krumb.”
“Did they find anything? Or anyone?” Juniper asked.
“I don’t know,” Francis said. “I was assigned to guarding this and keeping people out.”
“Thank you, thank you Sir Francis,” Juniper said grabbing Francis’ hand. “You have been so helpful.”
“I am?” Francis asked.
“Of course,” Juniper nodded before turning to the other members of the group. “Come on, let’s go to the courthouse. I bet Riffen is there!”
“Really?” Grace asked, her eyes lighting up.
“Juniper -” Sigthyme began.
“No time. Let’s go,” Juniper said.
She moved quickly through the crowd with Grace at her heels.
“I’m worried, Tak,” Sigthyme said. “What if he’s not there?”
“Find Riffen,” Tak said.
“No matter what,” Sigthyme said before they both went after Juniper and Grace.
All four of them arrived at the step of the courthouse. They had been here less than 12 hours prior, but now it was nearing mid-day and the courthouse looked busy. City Guard Members walked around, conversing with one another, while others in civilian attire also made their way up and down the stairs. Previously it had been empty and quiet, but now it was busy and active.
“Riffen has to be in there,” Juniper said looking up the stairs. “I can feel it.”
“Juniper,” Sigthyme said.
“What, Sigthyme?” Juniper asked with a undertone of annoyance.
“What if he’s not?” Sigthyme asked.
His words hung in the air for a moment, almost forming a wall between him and Juniper.
“He is,” Juniper said with a firm nod.
She began moving up the stairs. Grace gave Sigthyme a harsh look before running to catch up with Juniper.
Sigthyme let out a sigh as Tak passed him.
“Come on, Siggy,” Tak said and Sigthyme followed.
Once inside the group saw a familiar sight. This is the waiting area they had been in, but this time people were moving too and fro.
Juniper looked around, but saw no sign of Riffen. However, she did see The Chief of The Xylon City Guard talking to a Human Woman wearing a long red and white dress. The Chief looked very different from when they last saw her. Last night she was angry and high-strung, but now she looked sad and sympathetic. Juniper could not see the woman’s face but her hand movements were rapid as she spoke.
“Can I help you?”
Juniper almost jumped. There standing next to her was a member of the city guard who had approached while she was focused on The Chief.
“Oh yeah. We are actually looking for someone. His name is Riffen. He should be here,” Juniper said.
“Alright. Is he a prisoner we are holding?”
“No. He went missing. But we heard about the raid that happened this morning. Did you find him? Is he here?”
“Yes, the raid. That is all everyone is talking about today. We were very close to capturing Krumb,” The Guard said.
“Close? Close. He got away?”
“Unfortunately he did. He seemed to be just a couple of hours ahead of us. But we’re still actively pursuing him and trying to find his next location.”
“What about Riffen? Did you find him? Was he there?” Grace asked.
“Uh. As far as I know, no one was found within the hideout. But apparently there was something major found at the scene. The Chief called The Soulon Emissary here,” The City Guard explained.
“The…” Juniper looked over at the two people talking. “The Soulon Emissary?”
“Honestly I’ve probably said too much,” The City Guard said. “Anyway, is there anything I can do for you?”
“We need to speak to The Chief,” Juniper said.
“Woah. I’m sorry but you can’t do that. She is in the middle of a very important meeting.”
“Please, we need to,” Juniper said.
“Sir, is there any way we could meet with her. We can wait until the meeting is done,” Sigthyme said. “It’s very important we find our friend.”
The Guard looked uneasy.
“I can see what I can do. But no promises,” He said.
“Thank you,” Sigthyme said.
The Guard nodded and made his way back toward The Chief.
“I can’t believe it. He’s not here,” Juniper said as the color drained from her face.
“Hey don’t give up just yet. We will find him, alright?” Sigthyme said.
“Find Riffen,” Tak said.
Sigthyme turned to look at The Chief.
“Do you think that’s her? The Soulon Emissary?” Sigthyme asked.
“Maybe,” Juniper said. “But why would they need to bring in The Soulon Emissary?”
“Well Riffen is from Frost Haven,” Sigthyme said. “Maybe it’s an issue of cross-border crime.”
“Yeah maybe,” Juniper said.
The Guard walked up to the two people conversing. The Chief looked mad to be interrupted. The Guard then turned and pointed to the group of adventurers in the lobby. Sigthyme gave a little wave and The Guard’s expression softened a bit. She said something to The Guard and then began discussing with The Emissary again. The Guard came back to them just as the The Chief and The Emissary began making their way deeper into the building and out of sight.
The City Guard member returned.
“Right. Well apparently The Chief will meet with you now,” He said. “You will be meeting with both her and The Soulon Emissary in a private meeting room.”
Header Photo Credit to Petti Fog on Tumblr