“Duncan, we have guests.”
The tone of Octavius’ voice was strange. A mixture of fear and respectful awe. While I had not known the donkey long, I knew him well enough to understand I was hearing a tone he rarely used.
I left my seat in the parlor, sliding the Colts back into their holsters and made my way to the kitchen. There I found Jim Elroy sitting on the floor, Miriam’s pups gathered ‘round him, watching the door.
Octavius stood just outside, his head glancing from me to the barn across the yard. As I stepped closer, I saw them. A pack of dogs stood by the barn. They looked at me and waited. I gave Jim a pat on the head, nodded to Octavius as I passed by him, and was pleased to see the ravens in the trees around the yard.
As I approached the dogs, they sat down and waited for me, their eyes never leaving my face.
When I reached them, one of them stood, his shoulders nearly reaching my own.
I’d never seen dogs their size.
“We bring you greetings,” the dog said, speaking in High German. “Deus Canum bids us to patrol the North Road and to devour whatever fell creatures might try to make their way out of your lands. Is this agreeable to you?”
“It is,” I said, nodding. I glanced around. “You’ve quite the pack.”
The dog chuckled. “No. This is my honor guard, Mr. Blood. My troops are already on the road and in the trees, working with Miriam’s pack. I came as a courtesy. I would expect the same in mine own kingdom, so how can I not do the same in yours?”
“There is no answer,” I replied.
“Exactly.” The dog smiled. “We will be on our way. Your ravens will, I expect, inform you when we turn anything back to you.”
“That they will,” I agreed.
“Good.” The dog shook himself, and his guard stood up, forming a loose circle around their liege. “If all goes well, I shall see you soon, Mr. Blood.”
“And if it doesn’t,” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“Then we’ll meet in the afterlife,” he chuckled. “I have it on good authority that you will be most welcome in our place of rest.”
I watched the dogs leave, and I wondered what it would be like to see them in battle.
I believe it would be magnificent.