As Glory rounds the corner into another empty stone hallway, she hears a voice.
"Hey, you. Girl. Yeah, you—girl with the cloak." It's barely above a whisper, but can't be from a boy much older than she is. He has an accent she can't place. "Don't let the others know you can hear me, okay? Because they can't. For all they know, you're hearing voices in your head. Got it? Just mouth an answer back."
Glory paused, resisting the urge to look back toward the group. Silently, she mouthed back an "okay" and waited for further communication.
"What's your name?" says the voice. It sounds like it's coming behind her, but if she turns to investigate, there's no one there.
Glory smiled habitually at the concept of making introductions even if it was to an invisible person. "Glory," she mouthed, then added, "And you?"
"Glory..." the voice says, thoughtfully. "Like the flower. Morning Glory."
Glory can almost hear the smile in his voice; he gives a small, amused laugh. "You can call me Pasque, if you want. Everybody does."
Her head tilted, and she mouthed, "Morning Glory. You're the second person to compare my name to that flower in the last day. You don't know Eulalie by any chance, do you?"
She tasted the name in her mind. Pasque. It sounded almost Bellenese, but the accent was nothing like she'd heard before in her homeland.
"Heard of her. Never met her myself," comes Pasque's answer. "Let's just say I know my flowers—a clue that a gentle heart beats beneath my cold, ruthless exterior. Or some shit like that. I'm not a poet."
Glory smiled at his flippant reply. "Pasque the Cold and Ruthless, yet with a hidden gentility. It could make a good ballad in the right hands."
"So you like music, then," he says, clearly pleased.
"I do, very much. It's sort of... My life, really." She smiled and absentmindedly patted the bag her harp nestled in.
The boy speaks again. "So tell me, Glory, what are you doing down here with these clowns?"
Pasque brought her back to attention with the mention of her party and Glory again ignored the impulse to turn back and check on her companions. She dismissed the jab at her group, more curious about this detached voice than indignant over the slight. "We heard a child had gone missing from Brockmyr and while searching for him a trail led us here."
There is a long, thoughtful pause. For a few moments, it seems the voice has left her, only to reappear—this time right in front of Glory, but again there's nothing there.
"The kid. You want him back?"
As Pasque went quiet, Glory worried she had somehow said the wrong thing. When his voice resurfaced in front of her, she drew in a quick breath and nodded. "A child needs parenting to grow up sure and strong. And these folks are terribly worried about him - you should have seen his mother crying - and everyone is wrongly laying the blame at Eulalie's door for the disappearance." She bit her lip to stop the flow of information and waited, worried she'd been babbling and that her lips couldn't be read at that speed.
If there is any difficulty understanding her, he doesn't show it. "Pardon me if I'm not willing to buy into the whole 'parents' speech, and Eulalie's not my concern. But I'll cut you a deal: You take his place. You can't tell anyone where you're going, or why. I'll give them the boy soon enough. Are you in?"
A moment passes before she hears his voice again.
"Going once, going twice..."
Glory hesitated only until he began his countdown. Nodding rapidly, she mouthed, "I agree!"
For the first time, Glory hears some a sound that indicates Pasque's presence beyond his disembodied voice: The sound of metal-on-metal, followed by a soft swoop in the air, quieter than a cat landing on all fours.
"Oh yeah, word of advice: This may sting a little," he says.
She feels cold metal at the base of her neck, and hears the click of a trigger.
Glory's world goes black.