Or Even Longer – Part 4

Trenton felt that it took them a longer than normal time to reach the studio. The trip to Sunny Lakes Campground felt like an eternity. It always seemed to go that way. When he wanted to get somewhere quickly, the trip seemed like a long one.

Finally, they were pulling into the lot. He turned the car off and looked at Holly and Rowan. “All right,” he said, “Rowan, scout from the air. Tell us if you see anything that seems out of place.”

“Yes,” Rowan said, nodding.

Trenton looked at Holly. “We’ll split up and start checking cabins,” he said. As they got out of the car, he said, “Most of them should be empty this time of year, so be cautious of any that look like they’re occupied.”

“Will do,” Holly replied.

Rowan bowed at them, then his form seemed to shimmer and blur. A moment later, a five foot long dragon stood in his place. He kicked off the ground to hover before them for a moment. Then, he blinked his enormous eyes and said, “I will call, should I see anything.”

As Trenton nodded, Rowan flew upward, looking very much like a kite, as his sinuous form swayed in the wind. Soon, he was zigzagging through the sky overhead. Hopefully, anyone who saw him would assume he was a kite. Dragons were rare enough outside of their mountains that most people had never seen one.

“Good luck,” Holly said, slapping Trenton on the arm. Then she hurried down the path that lead south of the lot.

Trenton turned and headed up the other path. Although he kept to the path, he kept his eyes and ears open. He scanned each of the cabins as he neared them. As he’d expected, most seemed to be empty for the season.

He glanced down at the path and noticed tire tracks from some sort of off-road vehicle. They veered off the trail to his right, heading for the lake. He was about to call the others, when Rowan’s voice crackled over the radio.

“There is activity near the lake,” he said. “There is a boat, small, but clearly of Berklian make moored away from the docks.”

Trenton’s brows furrowed. “That’s north of the lot, Rowan?” he asked.

“Yes,” Rowan chirped. “North and west, by the shore. You have found something?”

“Yes, indeed,” Trenton said. He knelt and peered through the trees. “There are tracks here leading down towards the water.”

“I’ll meet up with you and we’ll check it out,” Holly said.

Trenton nodded and stayed where he was. He was squinting through the trees. He knew he wasn’t close enough to the water to see the boat, but maybe he’d see something else. He keyed his microphone and said, “Rowan, can you see any sign of a structure where they might be holding Connor.”

“I do not,” Rowan replied. “It may be hidden by the trees. Shall I move closer?”

“No, stay up where you are,” Trenton said. He looked up, squinting up at the soft violet sky. He could just make out the form of a red dragon gliding far overhead. He looked exactly like a kite at the moment. However, the illusion would be broken if he suddenly dove towards the trees for a better look.

Trenton straightened when he heard someone coming down the trail. A faint smile touched his lips when he saw Holly come around the corner. He pointed at the tracks and she nodded. “We should document them,” he said. This was a time they needed to do everything by the book.

Although they’d been given permission to find and rescue Connor, it was technically a case that should have gone to the Wardens. The only reason Keenan had given them permission was because Connor was an agent. If they failed to handle any and all evidence properly, it might make things difficult for the Wardens and the relationship between the two law enforcement organizations was strained enough without Trenton adding more complications.

Holly nodded and drew a camera out of her bag. She photographed the tracks and then took casts of them. While the casting material was setting up, she smiled at Trenton. “I think that’s everything,” she said.

Trenton nodded. “Without Selyn, we can’t do any arcane forensics,” he said. “That’ll have to wait for later.” When Holly nodded, he turned and set off after the tracks. As he’d thought, they headed down to the shoreline.

As they drew nearer, they could see a small four-wheeled off-road vehicle sitting beside a stand of trees. A fishing hut was nearby, close to the water but under the cover of the trees. Further out, bobbing on the water, Trenton could see the boat Rowan had spotted. He could tell by the bright colors that it was of Berklian design.

Trenton looked at Holly. He signaled to her that she should go around to the right, and he would circle to the left. When she nodded, he flashed a smile at her. Then, they set out. Hopefully, they would be able to catch the kidnappers off guard.