267 A Sly Switch
Despite their lack of sleep, Devina and her Paladins moved swiftly through the city to the docks. They'd been on this mission for five months already, they couldn't let this opportunity to eradicate the shadows in this world slip through their fingers.
"Are you sure you're okay Lukas?" asked Aina, her tone cautious.
Lukas huffed, "I'm fine, not like he can over power seven of us".
At least they hoped. It certainly seemed unlikely.
Kelly huffed, "I still think you should have stayed back to rest. You hit your head pretty hard".
"Drop it, Kelly," Lukas snapped, "I know my body better than you, and I say I'm fine".
Devina doubted that, but she didn't protest. She could not help the feeling within her that she needed all the help she could get.
They rounded a corner and slowed their pace somewhat as the crowd along the edge of the docks thickened with busy workers, sailors, guards and commoners, all vying for the last of the goods that had come in with the morning tide. A few food vendors were set up to the side, lines indicating that they were dealing with the lunch time rush, albeit in the end of it.
Devina's eyes scoured over all of them before Aina hurriedly tapped her arm and pointed a few blocks down to where a pair of priests loitered among the crowd.
Devina and her group moved towards them swiftly, the crowd parting for them when they recognised the fluttering white robes of the Holy Order.
Devina arrived quickly before the priests who hurriedly bowed their heads to her out of respect.
"Where did you see him?" asked Devina, eager to get straight to the point.
"He was purchasing a ticket on a vessel bound for Port Lutte this afternoon, Priestess," the first Priest stated.
"And now?" asked Aina.
"He has been back and forth through the crowd along the dock, seemingly buying time before he must leave," said the second Priest, "Right now he is among that crowd over there".
The Priest pointed to a crowd of people around one of the dock masters they seemed to be arguing about something, though from this distance Devina couldn't tell what about. There, on the edge of the crowd, a figure in a poncho with a deep hood stood. Clearly male, and with a long brown braid emerging from the depths of his hood to run down his front.
Devina frowned. The wrongness, it was not around him.
Lukas stepped forward, but Devina caught his arm as she turned back to the Priests, "Has he noticed you?"
"We thought he had earlier, as he disappeared down an alley and appeared to be trying to lose us, but he emerged from the other side and has since circled around the docks and the vendors," said the first priest, "As I said it merely seems as if he is buying time before a trip".
Devina nodded, then motioned to Priests to move away.
"We out number his easily, Priestess," Lukas stated, "Why do you hesitate?"
"Something is off," Devina admitted, "I don't sense any of that...wrongness. Do you?"
She looked around at her other Paladins before Lukas spoke, "Is it not possible that he can turn it on and off? After all, we do not use our influence over the Mist constantly".
Aina nodded, "Yes, perhaps you only feel that wrongness when he is using his abilities".
Devina sighed. Yes. She was overthinking it. Overthinking it would cause her to lose this opportunity, "Spread out and encircle him, do not move until I command it. There are too many innocents here".
The Paladins nodded, then moved away from her to do just as she'd asked.
Devina watched the monster carefully as he watched the proceedings, he shifted from side to side. Not out of nervousness, it was almost out of boredom. He was so relaxed. It seemed, odd.
No, she was overthinking again. Her eyes strayed to the places her Paladins were taking. The crowd who had spotted their movements shifting nervously. They would draw attention if they were not careful. Their eagerness was too great.
A bell rang to the side, a call shortly following it.
"Passengers bound for the West on The Mariner! Call for Passengers bound for the West on The Mariner!"
Other calls began to sound out after it, "Passengers bound for Holten on The Jolly Fish!"
"Passengers bound for Oretnis!"
"Passengers bound for Felin Deliae!"
"Passengers bound of Lutte!"
Devina's eyes snapped at that. Straight to the ship in question, the quickly back to the hooded monster. He barely flinched at the call. His shoulders dropped as if in sigh as he turned his eyes to the ships. Devina waited for a moment, waited for him to move, towards the ship, to part from the crowd.
She almost held her breath. The crowd passed around her, nodding respectfully. A blonde woman and what appeared to be her daughter. An elderly couple. A few sailors with rough beards. A brown haired young man with violet eyes. A young couple. A-
Devina's breath hitched as she turned in her spot, her eyes drifting to watch the young man with violet eyes, a sack hitched over his back as he made his way through the crowd casually towards the far dock where the first call had been made. Something about him was just so familiar...
"Watch it!" she heard Kelly's familiar call and her gaze snapped back around just in time to watch the hooded figure dart in the opposite direction to her.
"Get him!" Lukas called.
The Paladins sprung into action, and Devina too went to step forward, until she saw the hood on the disappearing figure fall back a little.
Blonde. The man was Blonde.
That wasn't the monster she'd been looking for.
Her eyes darted around the docks. Where was he then? Had the Priests been wrong? Had they been deceived? Or was the Monster never hear in the first place?
She stepped forward, reaching up on her toes to look over the crowd of people that was lining up for the boats around her.
"Last call! Last call for those bound for the West on The Mariner!"
Devina's eyes naturally strayed there upon hearing the loud dock master's voice above all others. Then, frozen, she watched as the brown haired, violent-eyed boy who'd walked passed her showed some papers to the boat captain, then smiled warmly as he climbed onto the ship.
Devina's breath hitched. His eyes may have been a different colour, and his braid cut off, but she'd definitely seen that side profile before.
As the boat began to pull away from the docks, Devina sprinted forward.