Ebooka przeczytasz w aplikacjach Legimi na:
Odsłuch ebooka (TTS) dostępny w abonamencie „ebooki+audiobooki bez limitu” w aplikacji Legimi na:
By Nixie Fairfax
Copyright 2018 by Nixie Fairfax
All rights reserved
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This work contains explicit sexual content and is intended for adults only. All characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.
“He’s in the alley,” Gaffer Dumfries told Emmaline after she had parked her cart and set up her equipment. The old man pointed one thin, crooked finger at the dark gap between the herbalist’s shop and the Dizzy Dragon Tavern. “Probably gobblin’ down the garbage. Ain’t no way out on the other side, either. You oughta be able to get the mangy cur easy.”
“Thanks,” Emmaline told him. She started toward the alley.
Dumfries frowned, his toothless maw working as if he were chewing something.
“You better get that thing ready, girlie.” He gestured at the crossbow slung over her shoulder. “You’ll probably need it. It was a big one. Vicious looking brute.”
“We’ll see.” She glanced back at him over the top of the crossbow. “And the name is Ms. Carthex, not girlie.”
The old man just gave a snort that made his grizzled, pouchy cheeks briefly inflate.
She entered the alley. Like most of the roads and alleys in this section of Tucks Mills, it was unpaved, the ground just hard-packed dirt, at least where the waste from the tavern hadn’t turned it into soupy mud, often of a rather worrying color. The daylight dimmed, and the air grew cooler. The sky was reduced to a narrow ribbon of blue overhead, crisscrossed with the sooty smoke from nearby chimneys. The stench was awful, a gut-palping combination of stale beer, last night’s vomit, rotting vegetable matter, mud, piss, and probably several other things Emmaline preferred not to think about.
She could smell it well before she saw or heard it. It was the odor of a dog long overdue for a bath. But a healthy dog, she thought. It didn’t have the distinctive stink of old age or illness.
Then she heard the smacks and crunches and gulps of sloppy, rapid eating just up ahead behind a stack of broken, rotting crates. The odor grew stronger.
Emmaline slowly skirted the crates, and the dog came into view. It was devouring a shapeless lump of uncooked, gristly meat, most likely dumped here by whatever passed for a chef at the Dizzy Dragon. The dog was a young adult from the look of it, though the grime and mats that fouled its long, reddish-orange coat made it hard to be sure.
It saw her when she was only a few feet away, and it snarled, its filthy hackles rising. The ferocious look in its eyes made it clear that the dog was ready to fight and kill if need be. Between its black, curled lips, its fangs were huge and yellow and sharp as knives.
Emmaline betrayed not the slightest whiff of fear. She just bent down and gave the dog a bright, friendly smile and said in a soothing, singsong voice, “Hey, puppy. What’re you growling at me for, huh? I’m your friend. Yes, I am.”
The low, ripping noise of the snarl abruptly died, but the fangs remained bared, and the hackles remained as stiffly spread as the spines of a porcupine. Somewhere deep in the dog’s eyes she saw hesitation and confusion, the animal’s savagery suddenly flickering like a candleflame in a strong breeze.
“What do you want to eat old junk like that for?” she continued in the same tinkling tones. “Hm? If you come along with me, I can give you some good food. Fresh food. Eh, puppy? Won’t that be nice?”
The black lips were going slack now, and the dog was blinking at her.
“And a bath. Oh, yeah. You’ll be a smart-looking pup once we give you a bath, won’t you? Won’t you, puppy?”
Its tail, which had been held low and flat till now, suddenly started to rise, and it gave a couple of tentative wobbles from side to side.
“Yes, puppy! That’s it!”
Eyes never leaving the stray, she extended her hand (the left one, of course; she wanted her right hand ready in case she needed to grab the crossbow after all), her palm turned up and tilted toward the dog.
The stray stiffened for a fraction of a second, then carefully stuck out its head and sniffed at her palm. At the smell of her, its tail wagged harder, and it gave her palm a quick lick, leaving a wet, glistening stripe on her skin.
“That’s it, puppy!”
The dog gave a small, eager woof and began lapping at her palm and fingers. Its tail was pumping madly now.
“Yes! There we are! Good boy!”
She scratched the dog’s scalp and under its jaw. Its whole rump shaking with excitement, the dog leaped up and licked at her face.
“What a good puppy! Let’s give the good puppy a belly scratch.”