The speaking dog is a rarity now.
I’ve brought a few out of the Hollow over the decades, but the ability to speak doesn’t last more than a generation or so. When I do meet them on my lands, they tend to be transplants, much like Octavius, or double-edged blessings like Edgar and some of his raven kin.
Octavius was sleeping in the front parlor, Jim Elroy was still abed in the study, and the raven dozed on the back of a chair when a soft barking caught my attention. When I followed the sound outside, I saw a small mixed-breed pup, no older than three or four months, dart away along the trail leading to Blood Lake.
With my Colts, I took off after the dog.
I made good time down the trail and soon caught sight of the dog as it was joined by a littermate. Within moments, they met with a third, and then a fourth and fifth. They trotted along the trail, tails wagging as they playfully nipped at one another. In a short time, we were at the shore, and the pups raced off into the brush on either side of the trail, leaving me with their mother, who was looking out over the lake.
She turned and glanced over her shoulder at me, nodded, and then stepped down from the stone she’d been on.
“Duncan Blood,” she said, sitting down.
“Aye. We’ve not met.”
“No. I’m Miriam.”
She eyed me for a moment. “Something’s come to Cross.”
I nodded. “I was set to look for you today; see if you mightn’t help.”
“Do you know what these are?”
I shook my head.
“No, I suppose not. You are not from my when, nor are you even from my world. My Duncan Blood is well familiar with these creatures.” She paused, scratched an ear, and then resumed the conversation. “They are Kinderzähne, and they’ve eaten my mate and two of our pups. Will you help me kill them?”
“May I keep my pups with you?”
“Aye,” I smiled. “I’ve a boy at the house who’s in need of good company, and I think your pups will be just that.”
“They need the same,” Miriam stated. “Once they’re safe, I’ll call the pack.”
“You’ve a pack?” I asked, surprised.
“If I could open the Hollow, Duncan Blood, I’d have an army.”
And that would be something to see.