The only solution
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It was almost weird to walk next to the temple master after he had walked this path alone so often.
Contrary to Ives, the temple master wasn't one to leave him alone when he appeared deep in thought, so the old man's weathered voice reached his ears not too long after the door had been closed. "Missing your beloved already?"

Farin debated whether he could just throw a 'yes' at his master and decided against it. That still didn't keep his voice from leaking his childish annoyance, though. "From what I know, it isn't unusual for couples newly in love to dread any minute apart from each other."
It was as much admittance to his feelings as he could give. The old man chuckled and stroked his long beard before answering. "That is quite true. Forgive me for asking such a stupid question."

"...He said he would try to think of a way, too", Farin whispered after a while. He gritted his teeth at the hope in his voice.
He wasn't a child, even if he felt anything other than mature right now - it would be hard to find a good solution for everybody. He certainly couldn't think of one right now.

"Where there's life, there's hope. Maybe a bit too dramatic for this situation, but it works well enough. I imagine their way of thinking is quite different from ours, who knows, he might just find a solution?"
"You're right."

They quieted down, not continuing the topic as they approached the border, just to be safe.
The temple master was the first to come to a sudden halt, jolting Farin to a stop as well and whipping his head up to see Ives, who was running towards them.

"Master!", he screamed, nearly stumbling over his own feet. Farin, who had the younger body, ran forward despite his long train to reach Ives just a moment sooner, immediately reaching out to steady the panting man.

"What's wrong? What happened?"
"The children, they-" He wheezed, gasping for air. The temple master hurriedly arrived next to him, squeezing Ives' shoulder hard to call the young man back to order.

"One by one, Ives. What happened?"
"Lori is gone", he gasped, his eyes widened. "That boy, that- ...Cyrille's cousin-..."

He stopped his sentence several times, then shook his head and slapped his cheeks. When he spoke again, his eyes had regained some of their calmness. "The children, they've started doing tests of courage. Worse and worse. They just came to me, saying that they were teasing Cyrille's cousin - Alec - and dared him to go out and hunt for a demon beast. The thing is, he took them seriously."
Farin sucked in a breath. "He left?"
"Towards the south, yes. Lori heard the others talk about him and ran after him. It's hours since they've been gone. They only told me just now."

Ives was gnashing his teeth, his fist shivering.
The area south of the mountain was by far the most dangerous. They had built high walls alongside the forest, separating the calmer part from the territory of not only demon beasts, but also intersecting territories of bears and other large carnivores. The animals never cared too much about crossing the wall that was on the border of their territory, so the area around the temple was very peaceful. But the wall was intended for animals: It could be easily enough climbed by a human.

"How could he be so stupid!" Farin's voice was loud with worry, but the temple master knew the reason well enough.
"There are no demon beasts around the capital and the nobles are taught how to hunt from an early age. Surrounded by guards that help them hoard their prey into perfect positions, mind you. That boy is overestimating himself and underestimating the danger."
"They goaded him into it", Ives explained. "They just wanted him to admit that it was a task he couldn't do. They expected him to sulk for a while, not to actually set out. I do believe that that was their intention, but-"

Farin interrupted him. "Why is Lori after him? Why didn't they tell you immediately?"
"Lori must have thought she could drag him back. I don't know why they didn't go to an adult immediately, but they're children, they probably thought it'd be alright."

Pale with worry, Ives dragged his hands over his face. Corpses attacked by the demon beasts were never a pretty sight. It was a cruel death, even more so if the victim was just a child. They all shuddered.
In a macabre way, they also worried that the death of Alec might cause the royal family to kill them all. A boy, close friend to one of the princes - if the news reached them, the village and temple would be raided to the ground for not protecting him well enough.

"How long has it been exactly?", the temple master prodded. 
Their hearts dropped when Ives shook his head. "Four hours at least. Even for children, that means there's an insane amount of ground they could have traveled."

To search for the children inside the huge forest, with no hint as to where they had gone - it was near impossible. A silence full of dread fell over them.
None of them, stuck in a daze, truly noticed the fourth figure that joined them.

"Get him back!", Cyrille shouted, voice breaking. "Get him out of there! He's just a child! You have to-"
His large hands gripped the temple master's collar, shaking him. Ives jolted up in shock, instantly trying to drag Cyrille away from the old man who didn't even resist. "Calm down!", they shouted, even though they knew it was pointless.

Cyrille's eyes were wide and dark with worry. He was biting his lip, trying to rein himself in, but he couldn't keep the worried threat from his voice. "If you don't get him back, I'll-"

"It's almost impossible. We can send the guards into the mountain, but the demon beasts will notice such a large group of intruders, so that's suicide. Going in alone and searching for the children is just as unrealistic unless they're already close to the wall again..."
The temple master rubbed the deep crease on his forehead, continuously shaking his head and mumbling. One by one, he went through the possible solutions and explained why they were impossible.
"Is there no way to lead them closer to the wall? Or send in hunting dogs that can find them?" Cyrille refused to give up. Once more, the temple master had to shake his head.
"Even if we try to lead them by making noise, the demon beasts will be attracted as well. Hunting dogs are no use against them, either. The beasts' territorial markers are too heavy for their fine noses."

Cyrille pulled at his hair with a shaking breath, stumbling back. Ives jumped forward, steadying him. The temple master had lowered his head. Only Farin was staring into nowhere.

"Hunting dogs", he mumbled. "Even in the territory of the beasts..."
Cyrille twitched at hearing his mumble. His eyes fixed Farin. "...You. You have an idea?"

Farin sucked in a breath, looking towards the temple master who looked at him in confusion. He slowly held out his hand. "Master", he whispered. "Please. For the children. Master, please give me the key."
The temple master froze. His eyes grew wide with realization. "You-... you can't! That's-"
"The royal family will raid this place if we don't bring Alec back. They'll find them, anyway."

Seconds, dragging into eternity, passed. It was Cyrille's quiet whisper that jolted the temple master out of it. "I beg of you... Don't let him die..."
They all knew. Even if they found Alec and Lori, there was no certainty that they were still alive. 
Cyrille also knew that the simple fact that the temple master was hesitating so much, meant that this solution had dangerous disadvantages. Still, he took his chance.

"I'll make sure they leave you alone", he hurriedly promised. "I'll think of some story that will make them avoid this place. They will leave you alone, I promise! Whatever you need, just say it, but get Alec out of there!"
He reached out again, with trembling hands. This time, Ives didn't stop him but watched.

"Why would you do that? Just for the life of your cousin?" The temple master didn't hide his suspicion at Cyrille's worry. The relationship between nobles, he knew well enough. He knew the intrigue, the dark stories behind their lives. No matter what, he couldn't see why Cyrille would be willing to owe them for another person.
Cyrille ground his teeth. "My uncle and aunt never cared about him. He was at my place most of the time. Alec-... He's like my son! I pretty much raised him! I don't... I can't watch him die!"

Farin pressed his lips together. How could he not understand that? His siblings regarded him more as a second father than a brother, too. If they were in danger, he'd give up everything to protect them. 
He begged the temple master.

"Please, we are wasting time!"

When the temple master shook off his daze, the decision had been made. He turned on his heel, hurrying back the way they had gone before. The three young men jolted into a run as well, helping the temple master up the path. They were wheezing by the time the door came into sight, but none of them cared.
Without worrying too much about everyone else, the temple master dragged the key out of his robes and pushed it into Farin's hands.

The carrier ripped off the upper part of his robes, the ones that were connected to the long train. Arms bare, he took the key and inserted it into the door. Cyrille only had a rough understanding of what was happening, but he dragged the door open with everyone else, not willing to risk wasting any more time.

Farin was screaming even just a few steps into the path. It hadn't been long since he left. He should still be close.
"Alvarr!", he called, stumbling in the dark and towards the speck of light. "Alvarr! Hurry!"

He fell, scraping over the stony ground. A sharp pain ran through his knee, but he ignored it and dragged himself up. "Someone!"

The light enveloped him as the path opened up before him, a relief after the darkness had felt endless and desolate. A high, shrieking noise echoed through the cave, attracting Farin's gaze to the area on the ground where it came from.
The tiny animal was shrieking, calling out, as it ran towards him, circling around his leg and climbing upwards. The human stared at it, the furry little thing that blinked at him with all hair raised, turning every few seconds to call out into the forest.

"Are you calling him for me?", Farin whispered between his pants. "Thank you."

For the first time, the God appeared accompanied by sounds. Branches cracking, leaves rustling, the thumping of his steps as he jumped through the sea of trees. The last jump brought him almost the full length over to Farin, tail steadying his movements. His wide eyes fixating Farin, full of worry. He didn't even get to say a single sentence before Farin gripped his arm and pulled at him.

"I need your help", he begged. "There are children lost in a forest with demon beasts... With the things that had attacked me in here."
Alvarr's face twisted, causing Farin to jolt.

The raging fury that bubbled in his eyes, his hair that raised up like the fur of an animal. His lips were pulled back in a snarl, revealing the white carnivore teeth.
For the God who always protected the children of his race from being attacked, those words were more than enough. He would never leave them in danger and refuse to help. With a large sweeping motion, he lifted a surprised Farin up and threw him over his shoulder to run forward faster.

"Explain", Farin heard him growl as the darkness of the cave path took away his sight again. The speed of their movement caused his hair to fly into his face, inside it, the little animal that was clawing for a safe grip.
Against all the jolts of the ride, Farin hoped he wouldn't bite his tongue and quickly explained what was happening.

Still some more serious parts
Cyrille is an arrogant ass, but he really does love the little cinnamon Alec (everyone has a weak point, yep)

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