The breakout had been a successful one, the group was safe and secure and sleeping (all but Mason, but he could take care of himself). Kabora had a soft bed to sleep on for the first time in a long time. The dangers ahead of them seemed distant and unimportant now. If they could pull off their masterful escape, they felt they could do anything. But all was not well in another section of town. Eight men were walking together down Rag Market Street. Turning they disappeared into a narrow alley way that led to a familiar hanging of tapestries. The tent was gone but they knew which wall hanging to look behind. “Third one on the right” one man murmured. They threw it aside and barged into the door, which wasn’t locked at night, and strode down the stairs. When they reached the bottom of the stairway they banged on the door in no particular manner until they heard a bolt unlatch and the door open. The lamps were lit in the hall but the person who opened the door couldn’t be seen. “Come out! I know you’re in here! We have a business proposition to make with you!” There was silence for a while, no response was heard, which began to greatly annoy the men. One of them whispered to the other “We ought to tear the whole place down.” The other one answered, “We’re not here to have fun, we’re here on business you idiot.” At length one of the doors opened at the end of the hall and a dark figure stepped out. “Can I help you gentlemen?” he asked in seemingly polite tone. At this, one of the men (the leader apparently) walked forward with a confident swagger. “I think you can sonny, yeah I really think you can. But maybe you would like to hear how we can help you.” “Help me?” The dark figured mused, almost comically. “I don’t see how you could possibly help me in any other capacity that you aren’t already.” “Oh but we can you see. I’m an observant fellow. I watch, I feel, and I listen. There aint much that a fella could put past me, see? And I’m thinkin that these people you’ve been havin us keep tabs on are of some interest to…other parties in this town beside yourselves.” “Well are you going to bask in your inflated opinion of yourself or get to the point, I don’t have all the free time in the world.” “Well…I was thinkin that there are some in this here town as you would rather not know this information. Maybe some people from Merc for example? Oh and we do have officials of the King of North Fort in town, I’ll bet you don’t want them to hear about yer friends here either. Now I’m a simple man, I don’t need much. Nor my lads here.” He said this with a grin. “We have awfully big stomachs and have been havin a hard time keepin’em full. You take my meaning? So you pay us…oh say…20,000 nadyrs, and we’ll get kind o’ forgetful see?” The other man was still and silent, as if contemplating their offer. “Well we certainly must do something about your stomach now mustn’t we?” As the lamp lights started to fade it should have been obvious to the men that none of them would ever see any type of light ever again. Back at Gabe’s tavern the group was still sleeping quite peacefully. But not all was well there either. A dark shadow had begun to creep into Fen’s dreams. She found herself looking up at the night sky. She was in the desert again. The moon was hovering over the hills in the distance. She looked out at the calm desert sands below. It was a very beautiful sight. All of a sudden she felt her skin tingle, she was reminded of how she felt in the relic store. Only the feeling was more distant. Then she saw a long black shape creeping its way over the silvery sand. It appeared to be a caravan of travelers, which wasn’t uncommon in the desert. Some people preferred to walk in the chilly night instead of the blistering heat of day. They seemed to be singing to pass the time. Fen crept closer out of her curiosity. She came close enough so that she could see the individual outlines of the people against the night sky. They appeared to be carrying something upon a large bier. She wondered what it was. Whatever they were carrying seemed to be beckoning to her. She thought she heard a strange voice on the wind “Child, go, he comes for us” it whispered, or seemed to. She couldn’t be sure. Then the wind grew chilly. It seemed to freeze her to the bone. “Brrrrr. Why is it this cold?” The other travelers seemed to feel the same way because they stopped singing and started murmuring among themselves. Then she felt an inner terror creep into her heart. It was fear, but it was worse than fear, because she could not understand where it was coming from. The desolate landscape of the desert that had looked so beautiful before was now threatening with a hidden menace. She had only felt this way once before in her life. She shuddered and tried to keep images from her past nightmare out of her head. Then someone in the group gave a shout and the traveling company came to a halt. They huddled together and cowered on the ground. It was as if the very air had turned into fear that soaked into their skin and filled their chests with every breath. Fen saw what they were cowering from. She looked with horror to see a solitary, dark figure about 100 feet ahead of the company. It looked like a deep shadow that the moon could not illuminate. In fact, it seemed to make the moonlight itself go pale. It was still and unmoving but living horror seemed to flow from it. Then the shadow advanced and as it approached the group, the people appeared to gasp for breath and then fall unconscious. Fen wanted to run away, or dig a hole in the sand and crawl in. But she couldn’t move an inch. She was frozen where she stood. She knew in her heart that this was the same person who made Ernst Vardel chop off his own fingers. However, he paid no attention to her, if he could even see her at all. By the time he reached the group they were either all passed out, or dead, or acting like they were dead. He went to the bier, which they had let fall to the ground, and kneeled beside it. He reached in and pulled something out. She couldn’t see what it was. Without knowing how she could tell, Fen knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was a relic. Then both the man and the relic seemed to fade into the shadows and were gone. Then a clamor arose from behind Fen and she thought she had been caught. A large group of men were screaming and riding on horses. Well, she knew they were horses by the sound of their hooves and their neighing. They looked like an enormous blob of darkness moving over the sand. They were coming closer. Fen got up and ran as hard as she could. The horses were gaining on her. She ran faster. They were only a few feet behind her now. She dived into the sand and fell out of the bed. It was just before dawn and she looked around saw that she was in a room. She was very confused at first but gradually realized where she was and that she wasn’t dead. She looked over at Rapture’s bed, hoping she hadn’t woken her up. She had, and Rapture was simply sitting there shaking her head. “She must think I’m crazy” Fen thought to herself.