Crystal research is not going as fast as we hoped. Teams send to the mountains have quite some trouble with the local Spirits. Fey are still notoriously tough to drain properly. Their energy appears to flow away swiftly, taking their life with it. It is quite vexing.
The disappearances have turned out better than expected. Aggression towards the Forest Spirits is at an all time high. People are almost eager to go into the forest and fight. City council stays mostly out of it. Rumors from the Dark Castle are along the same lines. With the exception that there is talk of Spirits having escaped from their castle.
A note: I fear we should have not chosen the Cult to aid us. They handled the kidnappings too well. Some traces of fox or hoof would have been preferable. Some are suspecting it wasn't them at all.
"The kidnappings..." It was the first thing that Deirdre said.
It felt like we had been quiet for hours. Just looking at the letter in surprise and disbelief. She handed it back and allowed me to put it back in the envelope, re-sealing it as best as I could. Again it helped immensely when she put her hand on my shoulder, but I wasn't all there with my thoughts.
"They ordered it?" Deirdre's voice was full of surprise.
I nodded. "It looks like it. To generate aggression?"
"But who did they use for it, a Cult?"
I blinked. "Wait... There is only one Cult I know of."
Deirdre gasped. "Hold on... The Twilight?"
I had a flashback to my first morning with Deirdre. Of a letter shoved underneath the door. How could I have been so stupid. I reached into one of the side pockets of my bag and retrieved it. It was very wrinkled by now, not having liked some of the journey it had gone through. Actually, now that I thought on it, it was surprising that the letters and scrolls were in such good shape.
The sign... Why didn't I think on it before.
"Yes, the Twilight Cult."
She blinked. "Why do you think it's them?"
I sighed. "Where, there aren't that many cults to speak of. Or ones that would be dealt with by the Castle. Also, the disappearances must have been done by very complex magic."
Deirdre sighed. "But... Why would the Cult help them? Don't they hate the Castles?"
That made me think. "Maybe they wanted to set up the castles so the people would reject them?"
Deirdre shook her head. "Doesn't make sense. The people hate the Spirits now, not the Castles."
I nodded. "Also, I have no idea how they made the people disappear. It doesn't feel right at all."
She stood up. "Let's go, we have a lot to think about."
I stood up as well, but stopped her walking back to her horse. "Deirdre, why is it easier to focus when you help me?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. It just felt natural."
It was definitely something I was going to think on. I didn't really understand why Deirdre's touch was helping me. Maybe she could pull the Dark away or something like that. It was too complicated for me now. Though the principles of elemental Magic were fairly simple. Actually understanding them in the deep sense that was required was a whole other matter.
For the moment, we got back up on our horses and rode back to the path. The horses felt our confusion and were, if possible, even wilder than before. They still allowed us though and didn't really try to run away. But they felt rather skittish. Still, they moved swiftly over the path and carried us with ease.
It would only be a few more hours until we were back in Dawnbridge.