At the end of the day I was sore and grumpy. I was glad that the stable hand was able to take care of Cass, because I basically had no idea what to do. The sort of sore I got from riding a horse was different than the kind from training muscles or getting injured… and I didn’t like it any more than the other two.
Even though I was exhausted, I couldn’t really sleep and woke up early. It was too early to get back on the road, however. While I could push on, Cass had been carrying me in armor and needed a proper amount of rest. There was no point in getting most of the way to the border quickly and then having to walk. I would likely take longer overall. It didn’t feel good to sit around waiting, though.
I couldn’t feasibly grow stronger in a relevant way in a few days. Nor could I just develop an immunity to their poisons. Yet, I was going to try to fight Enok and the rest. If I was lucky, I would have border guards on my side… and if I was unlucky, I would be alone.
Maybe I had built up some resistance to the two poisons they used- I wasn’t sure if they were the kind you could build up a resistance to. Even if I had, they would have more than just the same trick… or the likely wouldn’t have avoided detection so far. That was the real problem… finding them to fight at all.
It was only a guess that they would be heading to the border with Escait. I was headed to the main border crossing that could take me almost directly to the capital… but even if they came near that border crossing, it was unlikely they would actually pass through legally. Even if they were later caught, the penalty for skipping the border would be much less than kidnapping and attempted murder.
I couldn’t meaningfully impact my chances of beating them in a fight, but I had a chance to improve my probability of finding them. I pulled out three guild cards. Timmy had said I could activate Kantrilla’s card to find her- if she was close. He hadn’t mentioned using Enok Csorba’s guild card in the same way… but he didn’t have to. He’d left it with me instead of confiscating it, which was enough. Activating the card had also been the last thing he mentioned… seemingly casually- but that just made it stick with me.
“If you know what you’re doing,” he said. Yet he didn’t tell me what to do. Maybe he really meant nothing by it… or maybe it was surprisingly easy. I first took my own card. Activating it was easy, but there was a problem. Even if I activated it with the intention of trying to determine if I was nearby… of course it was going to work. I had to be nearby my own card or I couldn’t activate it. It turned out I could activate it from a few feet away pretty easily, but with a range of potentially a mile or more… I doubted I could activate it at that range. Actually, I could barely activate it at all when it was out of sight- just around a corner where I could see the glow.
So… what had I learned? I could activate my guild card when I wasn’t touching it directly… but that wasn’t that important. I just needed to see if I could make the other ones work.
Of course, when I tried to activate them, they didn’t glow at all. Did that mean I did it wrong or was it just because neither Kantrilla nor Enok were close by? I had a couple hours to fiddle with them before it was actually dawn, and by then I learned something.
I could probably activate them. It felt like it worked, at least. The only thing I could say for sure that I learned was I could sort of control the radius at which my own card sensed me. Probably. I went out into the hallway and moved further and further away, eventually activating it from the end of the hall. I could also make it not glow even when I still attempted to activate it but restrict its range. It wasn’t exactly conclusive- maybe I was just not using enough mana for the distance, but I tried with more mana and the same intent and it still didn’t activate… but maybe that was because it was what I wanted to happen. My actions earned me odd looks from a couple other early risers heading downstairs in the inn.
Soon enough I was back on the road, being carried by Cass. I couldn’t help but keep Kantrilla’s and my guild cards in my hand, constantly activating them, trying to find comfort in the act of doing… something. There were still several days to the border, and I honestly wasn’t sure what I was going to do there. Should I wait, hoping to catch them passing by… or guess that they were heading to the capital of Escait? Inassas was the capital of Escait, and only a few days travel from the border. More importantly, it was the first big city that had a real adventurer’s guild, according to what I knew. It would be easy to get lost in the masses of people there. Unfortunately, I could only guess that destination based on Enok Csorba’s adventuring history.
Then again, maybe waiting at the border… riding around trying to catch them or something… that might be better. The biggest issue being I didn’t speak the language of Escait. While some of them would speak Othyan, I couldn’t really count on that, and being in an unfamiliar place where I didn’t speak the language didn’t sound good.
I didn’t know, so I kept riding. I would make a choice in a few days. Who knows, maybe I would be Lucky and Kantrilla would have somehow managed to escape by then. I just wasn’t going to count on it. The only thing I could count on here was my own actions, and while I couldn’t say I had the best chances of success… I wasn’t going to give up until I got her back.