The following day, Argarin and Xylia returned to Kent with a heavy burden on their minds. They knew all too well that they could not remove the Sodality from the crossroads, but that was not a problem in their eyes; unfortunately, they were also no closer to finding the missing peasant girls.
“They disappear from the fields, right? That is what the parents said?” Xylia pursed her lips with a long fingernail. “Then, we go there, yes? That is what makes the most sense to me.”
Argarin nodded in silent agreement and, upon arrival in Kent, went straight to the fields. The journey from the crossroads had already brought late afternoon to the village, so they had little time to spare, as the farmers claimed that the girls would disappear at the end of the day. The two kept an eye out for any would-be kidnappers and, to pass the time, questioned some of the girls.
“What do you know about the disappearances?” Argarin asked a young girl who was almost too startled by the large dragonborn to answer.
“D-disappearances?” She shifted from one foot to the other when she finally spoke. “What disappearances?”
Argarin peered at her. “The disappearances of the other girls from these fields. Surely you have noticed their missing presences.”
She looked off to the right, but when Xylia followed her gaze, she seemed to be looking indiscriminately at the fields.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, sir,” she said and took a step backwards. “I really need to get to work. It’s getting dark and I still have much to do.”
“Very well.” Argarin walked away from her, followed by Xylia, though she glanced over her shoulder at the girl.
The other girls they questioned seemed strangely resistant to providing help. Others, like the first, similarly claimed to know nothing of the disappearances whatsoever. They soon gave up and stood on the outskirts of the field, on the far side of the village, and simply kept watch.
All day long the farmers toiled on lands that were not their own. Overseers patrolled slowly around the fields to ensure that everyone was working hard. Each day almost all of the daylight hours were spent working on the lands owned by Sir Kendrick. Once the tasks associated with that parcel were complete the farmers were allowed to work the common, less desirable land on the other side of the stream. By the time they were able to work their own fields, the days were nearly over, and with so few hours to spend there they rarely produced much. This made it very difficult for any peasant to improve their standing in life.
When the sun began to set and the silver moon started to rise, Xylia gathered stray foliage, twigs, and a couple dry branches for a small campfire that Argarin lit with his breath. All night they waited, watching the blue moon chase the silver moon across the sky. It soon grew too late and tiring for the workers to continue in the fields, so each and every one, male and female, safely made their way to their hovels to get a few hours’ of rest before the next morning.
There were no signs of wolves, nor brigands, nor forbidden lovers sneaking away. The situation was quite perplexing to the both of them, but the pair hardened their resolve to find a solution to the disappearances, especially after the strange reactions from the other girls. They would endeavor to continue their search when it was light again and after a half-decent sleep for the both of them.
Heroes of Vallhyn