“I don’t deal with people who truck with demons,” the farmer avowed, pitchfork planted firmly in the tilled earth of his familial land. “They’re no good for nobody. Not now, not ever.”

“Thank you for your time,” Agent Robinson replied, tipping his hat. Kravits’ was the fourth farm he had investigated that week, and nobody had been willing or able to point him in the errant warlock’s direction. He scribbled some notes in his small casebook before turning his attention to the long, dusty road ahead. The department wouldn’t spring for traveling mounts, but at least they ponied up for solid-soled shoes.

“Why do we keep talking to farmers?” his partner asked, after almost a mile of walking. “Wouldn’t the arcane universities have more information, the magical pubs have more rumors about where he’s hiding out?” He was a good kid, but had all the instincts of a murlock.

“I’ve been on the trail of Pete Modego for two years,” the detective began, shaking his head. “In that the I’ve learned two things – first, that he’s too wild and unpredictable for those bookworms, and second –” he stopped, picking something out of the dirt. A small bit of straw, trampled by the few travelers passing through the Wetlands this season.

“Second?” his partner asked, not seeing a connection.

“And second,” the dwarf smiled, stowing the small stalk in his casebook, “the man doesn’t like fancy bedding. No, he prefers the hard stuff, scratchy mattresses made from straw and chaff. He carries some wherever he goes.”

“‘Scuse me for saying so, but that sounds plumb idiotic. You’re saying we’re going to find a rampaging, demon-summoning, soul-stealing, murderous sociopath with a higher body count than the Litch King himself, all through his poor choice of bedding?”

The dwarf looked up at his partner, choosing his words carefully. “Boy,” he admonished, “Modego has been ripping the Eastern Kingdoms apart, piece by piece, hunting for something, and it’s our job to find him and bring him back to face justice.

“The eggheads at the colleges couldn’t track him, the hunters all got killed, and nobody anywhere will admit to even having heard his name. We will take every lead, no matter how small you think it is, and we will bring this warlock down.”

His partner managed to hold his gaze for the tirade, but soon looked away. “You’re in charge,” he admitted quietly, wisely not voicing his concerns about how their fruitless chase was going to kill his career, and his feet.

“I’ve got you this time you fellfire bastard,” the detective swore to himself, his steps energized. “You’ll slip up and I’ll be just the dwarf to catch you.”