Morning came to the companions in Zerul City, for some sooner than they would have liked and others much too slowly, and with plenty experienced throughout the night that left most of them with minds abuzz trying to figure out what to do with these new discoveries.
Angora spent her night with Olan after her nightmare, who happily enthused her with wild stories and theories about the world for as long as it took. Though most of his anecdotes were outlandish and his theories hard to believe, there was a certain sense and rationality to his words that Angora might have noticed, and nothing he said ever actually contradicted what she already knew. Though she might sensibly be unable to believe that any of the things Olan described had been experienced by him personally, especially things that did not seem to have occurred in his lifespan, she would be unable to shake the feeling that the stories themselves were true, just for someone else. Like a true explorer extraordinaire Olan seemed to have collected and memorized numerous stories from others, either people or books, and either because of his confused state of mind or just for entertainment value inserted himself into those stories. He would tell her of far-off lands, strange peoples and cultures, of celebrations and historical figures, and always do so enthusiastically and with a notable focus on the positive, the beautiful, fantastical or amusing. Every now and then his expression would darken for a second as he fell silent, his gaze growing distant, only to immediately spring back and start a new incredible tale, lively and smiling as ever.
He would continue this all night, if need be, and would only stop his performance and retire if Angora managed to fall asleep. He seemed extremely dedicated to distracting her from her troubles, quite unbothered by his own lack of sleep and perfectly chaste all night.
One thing Angora might notice, however, was how much more frequent one of Olan's habits seemed to have become: whenever he was not using his hands to gesture wildly in the air before himself or somehow mimic the things he described, they almost always seemed to find their way to his hips, thumbs turned inward and fingers outstretched as if to grasp something there, only to fumble for a moment before either clutching the hips themselves or moving to cross over his chest.
When morning came and the companions started to stir, Jaelnec did so to his own grim discoveries. By the time the young nightwalker was dressed and out of his room, people might have noticed that he seemed to behave a little unusually, tending to either keep his arms crossed over his chest or hold his left arm in for him unusual ways. Someone perceptive and insightful might have realized that he was trying to keep his left arm raised, his left hand away from the hilt of his sword, though he made no move to explain this newfound reluctance to even get near Roct.
After a breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes at the hands of Angora, it was not long until Jaelnec and Olan found themselves drawn back to the streets in search for their missing comrades. Jaelnec wanted nothing more than to find Aemoten and be relieved of the burden of leadership he felt had been placed upon him once again, longing to discard the responsibilities their knowledge brought with it and leave it in the hands of the semi-immortal man. Olan, meanwhile, just wanted to keep his promise to Thaler: “I promise. I'll never abandon you.”
The two of them ended up wandering the city for a couple of hours, asking around the city, concentrating on the southern part – since that was the direction Aemoten and Thaler would have entered through – in search for their friends. Much to Jaelnec's surprise it actually proved challenging to find anyone who knew anything useful at all. It was to be expected that few would notice Aemoten, who merely looked a bit like a foreigner, and maybe only a few more Thaler, since daywalkers – white-haired youths in particular – were rare, but he had been sure that Etakar would have been noticed by absolutely everyone.
As it turned out though, most people in the city proper were so used to domesticated or caged beasts of one kind or another, be those vulgors, belagons, yths and even the rare lohk or wyvern, that few of them paid much attention to something like a dekkun unless it was doing something in particular to attract attention to itself. Etakar being as well-behaved as it was made him and his riders exceedingly difficult to track. At one point Jaelnec remarked to Olan how the people here probably would not even bat an eye at Murchad, and that their biggest concern with the wolf would probably be that he was not wearing a leash.
After a while of wandering like this, hoping against hope to find someone who more clearly remembered Etakar and his riders and could offer more useful directions, it was ultimately Jaelnec who spotted something familiar... only, it was not what he was looking for. While wandering down one of the less populated streets of the city the squire recognized a face among the relatively thin crowd. He was not entirely sure how he knew the guy, just that it had been at least several months ago, when Freagon had still been alive. Jaelnec remembered mostly because the man was unusually tall, that his demeanor had been almost disturbingly similar to Freagon's, if less aggressive, and that he, too, was a knight. When Jaelnec had last seen him it had been in... Etlon? He thought so, though he did not remember where in Etlon. This guy had also been just one of several knights, others of which had been more impressive.
Jaelnec stared at him for a moment, momentarily distracted from his search, as he tried to remember this person's name. Something with an f-sound, he thought... Falcon? No, that was one of the other knights. And it was a title, not a name...
“Viper,” he said out loud, lowering his gaze to the ground, prompting Olan to stop and look at his younger companion curiously. “He is the Viper.”