Fate and Inversion arrived at the village shortly after only to find despondent villagers tearing down Harvest Festival banners.

"Wait, what's the deal?" said Fate. "Don't tell me it's happened already?"

One of the villagers looked down from a ladder where he was taking down a sign. "Harvest Festival is canceled," he said glumly.

"What, why?"

The villager pointed at a nearby cart, which contained a number of new signs that said "Human Sacrifice Festival." "I gotta replace all the Harvest Festival signs with those."

"Whose decision was that?" asked Fate. "Who owns this village?"

"Technically," said the woman pushing the cart, "we fall under Haligent, but we're so small they barely pay any attention to us and we've been on our own more or less... until now."

"The marauders came in a week ago," said the man on the ladder. "They killed the mayor and put him up on a pike in front of the town hall, and... well, nobody really liked the mayor, but, also, nobody wants to be the mayor now. I mean, you understand."

"Well, this is no good," said Fate, upset. "There are... people... who are really looking forward to the Harvest Festival. Where can I find these marauders?"

"Is this part of the job?" asked Inversion.

"Technically, no," said Fate, and frowned in thought.

"Shouldn't we be trying to get back to the city?"

Fate looked straight at him, and he looked back at her with his dark, intense gaze. An honest, solid gaze, she thought. She liked it. "Look, kid," she said, "I never really got a read on you. What's your deal, are you a do-gooder? Or a 'nothing personal, it's just a job' kind of guy? Or you got something complex going on?"

He didn't blink. "I don't know," he said.

"Sounds complex," said Fate. "Well, what do you want to do here? You want to stay out of this business and get back to the city?"

He looked at the sign. He then looked at the mayor on the pike, who was actually visible from where they were standing. It had been a few days and the corpse was not looking any better for it.

"I guess it couldn't hurt to find out... a little bit... about what's going on."

"My boy!" said Fate cheerfully. "You get it!"

To Chapter 4: The Butcher That Was a Horse