He didn’t see it at first. He almost missed it.
They’d been digging for so long that the sap was dripping off his bark and into his eyes. He’d even contemplated giving up a few times, but every time those thoughts entered his head he quickly threw them right back out. It had to be here, it just had to be.
“Can we stop yet, Grove? We’ve been at this for hours and I don’t even know what we’re looking for.”
“We’re looking for proof.”
“So what the hell are we doing here? What makes you so damn sure that we’re gonna find some proof? Durak was cleared of all the charges. Plus this isn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my Friday night.”
Grove grimaced and turned back to his digging. Twig didn’t get it. He never did. Guys like Durak always had something to hide. It’s just a matter of finding that something. That something could mean the difference between life and…
No. Back to work.
At least he could count on Ivy. She hadn’t said a word the entire time they’d been there. Whether she grasped the importance of the situation or if she was just doing her job… Grove didn’t care. She did it well.
Still, Grove couldn’t shake the feeling that they were here on nothing more than a hunch. Twig was right and he had to admit it. They’d originally brought Durak in based on some intel from their surveillance of Splintertree Mine. There were shady comings and goings which led Grove to believe that the mine was a center for trafficking of some sort. Other than a few weak testimonies from old grunts, they had nothing to hold him on and Durak walked free.
But Grove’s roots were telling him not to give up. If he was right and Durak was involved in something then it could potentially lead to finding whoever killed…
No. Back to work. Can’t get ahead of himself.
“The grunts all said that Durak spent his time back in this part of the mine. If he’s hiding something then it’s buried here. We keep digging until we…”
“There’s nothing here, Grove. We should go.”
“Well well well, look who’s finally decided to open her mouth. You chose the right side, sweetleaves. Seriously though, boss, Ivy’s right. Let’s get out of here. Maple’s waiting for me back home. You oughta see the branches on this one. And she does this amazing thing where she rubs her bark all over…
“You’re right, you’re both right. I was just hoping I’d find… something. Let’s get out of…”
He didn’t see it at first. He almost missed it.
A tiny metal corner. Sticking out of the rock wall. A box?
“Ivy. Do you have your tools with you?”
“Let’s get a hole in that wall.”
This is it. This is what he’d been waiting for. All those years ago. Finally.
Answers. From that day so long ago.
Walking home that day.
Leaves, branches, pieces of bark all littering the grass outside his door.
Police everywhere. Moving. Running.
“We’re gonna need you to move, Grove.”
“I’ll fucking kill them. I’ll fucking kill every last one of them that did this.”
“Boss, you okay?”
Grove looked up.
“We’re gonna need you to move. The explosives are ready.”
This part always surprised Grove. He braced himself for a large explosion, just like he always did. And it was always smaller than he expected. Yet it still did the trick. Ivy was good. The best.
“Allright, let’s get this baby open so we can get outta here.”
Grove turned away. He couldn’t look. He was so excited. A clue that might finally lead him to his wife’s killers. After all these years. All this waiting. All this…
“It’s a book. It’s just a fucking book. I told you this was a dead end.”
“Twig, no. This is worse. Grove, you gotta come see this.”
Grove’s heart dropped. This wasn’t the something he was looking for. Still, it was something. And it was part of the job.
“Let me take a look at tha… oh shit. Fel magic!”
Ivy dropped the book. But it didn’t hit the ground. It floated slowly back towards the entrance of the mine where it rested in the hands of an old bearded orc.
“I’m so sorry shrubs, but we’re just not ready to reveal ourselves at this current junction in time. Don’t worry, it’s nothing personal. But without this book you surely don’t expect anyone to believe what you’ve seen here.”
“Listen Durak, I don’t know what your game is or what the hell you’ve gotten yourself wrapped up in, but we’re gonna stop you.”
“Oh, I very sincerely doubt that. You can’t even touch me.”
“Fuck you, punk! You’re not going anywhere!”
Twig’s roots came up underneath Durak and slowly began wrapping themselves around his legs.
“Hahahaha. Like I said, you can’t even touch me.”
Durak disappeared leaving nothing behind.
“Shit. Let’s go!”
“No Twig. He’s long gone. That was good work back there though. Let’s get back to the station so we can drop off our things and get home.”
“What? But we gotta go after him! He just left!”
“Twig, we’re dealing with fel magic here. Besides, you’re the one rushing to get home. Let’s get you out of here. And not a word about this to anyone. Durak’s already walked clean once, nobody’s going to believe us again without any proof.”
They were all quiet on the journey back to the station.
“Mr. Grove! I’m glad you’re here. An urgent message just arrived for you.”
The overeager night clerk ran up to Grove waving the message in the air. Grove read the message slowly while Ivy and Twig stood silent.
“Sorry Twig, doesn’t look like you’re getting home anytime soon.
Aldous needs our help.”
To be continued…