They arrived to a similar sight as their last encounter with the Goryou. Everyone around them was frozen in place. A shadowy swarm was consuming a young man with a drawn gun.
“How do we ceremoniously honour this thing?” Hilde whispered.
“Watch and follow along,” Bianca instructed. “Let’s make it count.” She hurried forward, wanting to get started before the Goryou escaped again. “We have seen your great deeds,” she called out. “We have seen your nobility in pursuing justice. We have seen you in your great battle for justice.” She chanted the words rhythmically. The goryou seemed to be responding.
“We have seen you improve this area,” Hilde joined in. “We have seen your great effort. We praise your valiant battle.”
“But you have done enough,” Bianca came in. “The time has come to rest after your long struggle. The time has come to be at peace, Haufman Richard…”
She was about to add more but the goryou let out a shriek and vanished, returning the time around them to normal.
“I’m guessing we had the wrong person,” Hilde stated. “Or was that supposed to happen?”
“Nope,” Bianca confirmed. “It responded to ‘Haufman’ but it didn’t like being called ‘Richard’.”
“But there was only one Haufman on our list,” Hilde said. She scratched her chin. “Would it respond badly if the good doctor preferred a nickname or something?”
“Only if he really hated his given name,” Bianca said. “Which could be the case, I suppose.”
“Then we’ll have to check with some people who knew him,” Hilde said. “And hope we can get to the bottom of this quickly.”
The next morning, Hilde and Bianca went out in search of Doctor Haufman’s nickname only to hit a major snag. Everyone they talked to referred to him as either “Richard” or “Doctor Haufman.” When asked about nick names, there was no response.
“Looks like we were barking up the wrong tree,” Hilde muttered. “Maybe it was one of the other two after all.”
“If it was, the goryou would’ve gotten mad and taken off as soon as we used the name ‘Haufman’,” Bianca stated. “But it responded well to that part. Maybe if we called it ‘Doctor’ but that wouldn’t explain why he hated the name everyone used for him.”
“Unless we do have it wrong,” Hilde muttered. Bianca looked like she was about to protest. Hilde held up a hand. “I’m not saying it was one of the other two. I’m suggesting that there may have been an unreported death.”
“Maybe,” Bianca said. “Haufman is a pretty common family name. But if it was unreported, how will we find out who it was? I can’t really scry for someone if I don’t actually know who I’m looking for.”
“No need,” Hilde said. “We’re going to pay Isaac Haufman’s flat a little visit.”
Hilde and Bianca flew up to Isaac’s window on Bianca’s broom and let themselves in. “I thought he was a punk,” Bianca stated. “So, why would the goryou consider him noble?”
“Good, noble people can still fall into a bad lifestyle,” Hilde said. “It’s possible that was the case for Isaac but his true character shined through in the end.”
The flat seemed to be out of use. A mouldy half bagel had been left on the table with a couple bites taken out of it. There were papers slid under the door.
“Looks like he has three days to pay the rent or they’re tossing his things out and changing the locks,” Bianca said. “Course, if you’re right that won’t matter.”
Hilde looked over the photographs of Isaac with his friends. “Which one do you suppose is Isaac?” Bianca asked.
“This one,” Hilde pointed. He was a tall, muscular kid with a thin goatee. “He shows up in the most of these photos, including ones that look like selfies.”
“Want me to scry for him and confirm whether or not he’s gone?” Bianca asked.
“I have a better idea,” Hilde said. “Scry for this guy.” She pointed to a smaller, almost ferretish man who appeared in a lot of the pictures. “My guess is that’s a close friend of Isaac’s and he’ll know what happened. We just have to get him to confide in us.”
They found the ferret in a run down pub. He was drinking by himself in a corner table.
Hilde sat down. He looked up at her, surprised.
“That seat is… umm… do you want me to leave?”
Hilde smiled, he clearly wasn’t used to talking with women. “I’d actually prefer you stayed. You see, I have a question I would dearly love you to answer. I’m Hildegard, you are?”
“Clarence, but everyone calls me Weasel. You really have a question for me?” he pointed at himself “Really?”
Hilde nodded. “You see, I was wondering just what happened to Isaac Haufman and I think you know.”
He turned pale and looked about ready to bolt.
“Stay!” Bianca cried out in a commanding voice. He immediately froze, unable to move.
“I’ll cut to the chase,” Hilde said. “I’m not a cop. But I do need you to answer that question. You might not believe it, but lives do depend on it. Plus, my associate is impossible to lie to. So, let’s do this the easy way. Tell me what happened.”
“I… I…,” he stammered, sweat marring his forehead. “I wasn’t even there… it wasn’t my fault… I…”
“Shh,” Hilde said. “Like I said, I’m not a cop and I’m not blaming you. So, tell me what you heard.”
“All right, all right,” he agreed. “But no one can know I talked. Except you two, of course.”
“Agreed,” Hilde said. “Go on.”
Weasel cleared his throat and steeled himself for the story he was about to tell.