Beileag soon found Captain Stevan, giving him a small bow of her head out of respect. He’d certainly proved himself enough in combat to earn that. “Cap’n,” she said. “Marcus sed ta keep well clear o’ tha’ dome, there,” Beileag gestured to the icy dome Percula had constructed, “an’ to wait fer ‘em back at tha’ inn with our pris’ners… an’ ta pray fer Caid’n.”
Stevan nodded, his face grim. "Understood," he said, though not without the weight of sorrow in his voice. "I'm not sure what we'll tell Caiden's sister when we get there, but we should catch up to Sarael... Take care of that one for me?" he said, nodding back to the Hidden One priest with the broken arm, who stood there quietly, pale and cowed.
Beileag, Katrina, and Stevan then promptly set off back toward the inn, with the Hidden false priest in tow, and with the Weeping Mage, still unconscious, slung over one of Stevan's shoulders. They quickly caught up to Sarael as she pushed the frozen blacksmith along.
They made good time back to the inn. As they all entered, they found Plexaura, Zac, and even Kye sitting around one of the tables, having some drinks - but they immediately turned as everyone entered, hauling or pushing prisoners along. Zac's eyes went wide and he started to his feet, and Kye nearly mimicked the entire motion, whereas Plexaura rose slowly and stared.
Stevan helped Sarael shove the frozen blacksmith inside, shaking his head.
"Why... how...?" Zac sputtered.
"Long story," said Stevan. "They're all Hidden Ones. Did you have any luck with that tome?"
"Zac solved the whole thing," Plexaura replied. "But we should probably take this somewhere a bit more private, even if nobody else is around at this hour."
They all hauled the prisoners up to an inn room, tying the Weeping Mage and the false priest to chairs and setting the frozen blacksmith aside to thaw. Given how long he had been frozen now, it was quite likely he wasn't going to survive, even when his prison did finally melt.
"You might not want to stick around for this part," Stevan said, laying a hand on Zac's shoulder. The clerk blinked, still in shock over seeing a man frozen solid, before he showed his hands as if in defeat and nodded.
"Y-yeah... clearly," Zac said slowly, looking like he wanted to spout a million questions and only just holding himself back. "I did crack that code, though - and it's definitely important, so, uh, once you guys are done here, I'll... be in the other room."
Zac headed out, and Stevan shut and locked the door behind him before he turned back to the prisoners. Kye stood by silently, still in his human disguise and warily eying the assorted prisoners.
"So he turned traitor, I guess?" he said, glancing at the Weeping Mage.
"I don't think he ever was on our side," Stevan answered darkly. "Now..."
But as he turned to face the prisoners, Plexaura suddenly interrupted with one simple question that made the room fall silent.
"Where's Caiden?" she asked strongly, the gravity in her voice enough to sink a ship. She stood with her arms crossed, only just concealing the deep worry one might catch hints of in her voice.
Stevan hesitated. He swallowed and, for once, suddenly looked almost afraid. He didn't look at her. Anyone even mildly observant could tell he kept trying to form a response, but he couldn't get any of them out.
"Steve," Plexaura insisted, before turning and almost glaring at the others who had been there. "One of you answer me - where the hell is my brother?"
"Plex..." the Templar Captain started almost cautiously, "something happened..."
"To hell with 'something!' Where is he!?"
“I’ll handle it.” Percula assured him quietly. “You just… stay put, okay? Er, or find a place to hide. I’ll have to remove the snowglobe sooner than later…” Saffron realized aloud, giving him another gentle squeeze on the arm before moving away.
Caiden didn't say a word, though he did shift around self-consciously - and he turned to look at the way Percula and Marcus regarded each other... right before Marcus gasped.
“Oh gods, no no nonono, this is worse than I thought! Quickly, I need you to bring Captain Stevan, the male Templar with the round shield, here at once. Tell him I said no one, and I mean NO ONE ELSE gets within 10 paces of this dome. Then get yourselves and the mage prisoners back to the Inn. Ask for Sarael and Plexaura, they’ll help you take charge of them... And tell all our friends, please, to pray. Pray to every god or goddess you follow that we can save Caiden.”
Caiden curled his hands into fists and growled something in his throat, but he didn't say a word. When Marcus limped over to him and rested a hand on his and Percula's shoulders, the Venator's nostrils flared again. He seemed to wince and turned his face away from Marcus in all too apparent shame.
“I’ll stay with you, to help however I can. Caiden, tell me everything you can about what you’re going through. Stevan and I will need every detail to deal with this.”
Saffron’s hands rested on Marcus’s pauldrons. “I can get that for you,” she assured him. “You should go find yourself a healer while I clean all this up, though.” She said, glancing at Caiden briefly. “Caid’s stable, but you’ve still got poison in you…” The pixie frowned. “...My offer to help that still stands, if you take some of this anti-magic stuff off.” Percula added, rapping a knuckle on the back of his armor.
And then, suddenly, Neitha appeared as well, coming over to join the rest of them. "Marcus, take the offer" she said sternly, stepping forwards and gripping one of his arms gently, but firmly. "You've done enough for now, you can't keep ignoring yourself!" she said quietly, though one could clearly hear how upset she was from her tone. "Now, sit down and let her help you."
Caiden, who hadn't spoken this entire while, suddenly said in a surprisingly controlled voice, "Percula, help Marcus. I'll... be fine."
For several more moments, Caiden merely stood there, not looking at any of them, motionless except for the occasional writhing of the tendril in his arm...
But the moment they lowered Marcus to the floor, the moment Percula and Neitha gathered around him to lend him aid - the moment everyone was thoroughly occupied with something else, Caiden acted in one sudden movement. He whirled to face the opening in the ice dome and set off at an incredible run. Without a single word, he made for one of the nearby buildings, his eye on a lower portion of the roof, ready to leap up to it and keep moving. It was clear he didn't plan to stop - or speak to anyone.
((Just to fully clarify character locations...
Sarael, Beileag, Katrina, and the Weeping Mage (who is still in void iron shackles and also tied to a chair, though he is now conscious and capable of speech, if still a bit dazed) are all back at the inn with Stevan, Plexaura, Zac (who is in another room from everyone else), Kye, and the other two prisoners, the frozen blacksmith and the false priest.
Marcus, Neitha, and Percula are still at the alley with Caiden (who is currently attempting to make an escape).))