Desmon, Jalem and Allen followed Wellone through the Harvest Festival, the trio dressed to appear more like the locals and those close by, with woven cloaks and custom hats to cover them. They made their way to the perimeter, towards the sloping riverbank when someone above backhanded Allen against the base of the neck.

            He fell hard on his back, his misfortune of landing on a sharp rock in the same spot of the original wound that was once healed and forgotten. Through blurry vision, he saw three hands raised towards the center – two against one, as Allen and Wellone yelled, “Stop!”

            Allen could feel Desmon’s anger burning on one side of him; Jalem’s determination for peace on the other. Above him stood the silhouette of a man that had intimidated him as a child so long ago. Allen laughed as he realized some things didn’t change, despite time.

            “Voba,” he said, “Have I wronged you to earn such a warm welcome as this?”

            The husky man grunted, dismissing the two who still held their weapons against him. Voba hopped down, yanked Allen to his feet, and then clapped his hand against the younger man’s good shoulder. “If you listened to me when I ordered you to that night, the pain wouldn’t be so bad.”

            “You’re bleeding,” Jalem said. Wellone healed it before she could extract anything from her bag. “Wh-?”

            “Ah, zemi-xerofi. I forgot that’s what you used last time.” Off of Desmon’s questioning look, Voba continued. “Atkin’s injury – who do you think gave it to him in the first place? You couldn’t walk or work worth your weight, boy. Didn’t stop you from running off into a devil’s pursuit, never mind the good sense Quinton gave you – or so I thought.”

            “You were wrong about a few things,” Allen said. He saw the bracelet about the innkeeper’s wrist. “And there were many more things you were right about.”

            Wellone added, “That includes the origins of Michael Sorpha.”