We spoke for two days.
After Aretas and I had stirred the proverbial pot for a bit, we split up and went in search of reinforcements. While I haven’t seen him since the 27th, I’m hoping he was as successful as I was.
I’d sent out a few ravens in various directions, each with a single message for any dog they saw.
“Duncan would like a word.”
Some of the dogs heard.
I should clarify that.
Some German shepherds received the word.
They arrived by the twos and threes, and by this afternoon, I had nearly a platoon of dogs.
All could speak. It was a marvel and a nightmare all at once.
One or two dogs gifted with speech are impressive and awe-inspiring.
Thirty or so make you want to drink until you can’t hear a goddamn word anyone says. To say they’ve nothing to talk about would be an understatement.
I lucked out with the female who took charge. Her name was Molly, and she was trouble, the kind I could appreciate. Any dog that didn’t listen got a bite on the ass and a growl that put its belly down on the ground. More than a few rolled over and showed their necks, and I have to admit, I was impressed.
She got the dogs lined up in some semblance of order, then turned to face me.
“What’ll you have of us, Blood?” she asked, her voice as deep and powerful as her will.
“There are dead men in the Hollow,” I explained. “They’ve been brought back by my mother, and most are more than willing to try and kill me.”
Molly snorted. “You’re worried about death?”
I chuckled and shook my head. “Not from these. I just need help keeping them contained, possibly rolling up their flanks and driving them back, deeper into the Hollow.”
“That can be done,” she stated. “My pack may be a bit hard of hearing at times, but they listen when it’s time. They do their work, no matter how dirty it might be.”
“That’s damned fine to hear,” I admitted. After a moment, I asked, “How is it all of you can speak?”
Molly scratched the back of her left ear lazily for a moment before she replied.
“Well, Mother had an agreeable disposition,” Molly stated.
I looked out over the gathered dogs, all of whom were siblings, and let out a chuckle.
“I suppose she was.”