Extraordinary Zoology

Extraordinary Zoology by Howard Tayler

Book: Extraordinary Zoology by Howard Tayler Read Free Book Online
Authors: Howard Tayler
Tags: fantasía, Steampunk
hungrily every so often. Hunting.
    “I’m up,” Lynus said. “What is it?”
    “Shhh,” said Pendrake. “Edrea’s still trying to make that out for us.”
    “Two farrow, Professor.”
    “We’re getting close to Groth’s home, and the village he serves.”
    “Mmm-hmmm,” Edrea said. “One of these is really big. I’ve never seen a farrow this big. Are there dire farrow?”
    “Morrow, I hope not,” said Lynus.
    “There will need to be another book,” said Kinik.
    “They’re following the creek. They can’t miss us, and the big one is hungry.”
    “I’ll teach it a thing or two about hungry,” Horgash rasped wearily. “I was dreaming of bacon.”
    The big farrow paused and snorted heavily. It turned from the creek and looked directly up at Edrea and the others. Their scent or their firelight had finally penetrated the mist. The beast chuffed and stamped, as if preparing to charge. Then it whimpered and looked back over its shoulder at the smaller farrow.
    “I think the little farrow is controlling the big one,” she said.
    “Similar, perhaps, to the bonds among trollkin and the full trolls?” said Pendrake.
    “Hrrmph,” Horgash grunted.
    “We should make ourselves look bigger?” Kinik said. “Open coats, arms wide, stand tall?”
    “Bigger might not help,” Edrea said. “The big one is half again the size of Greta.”
    “We’re not bigger, but we do have numbers,” said Pendrake. She heard the creak as he strung his bow, followed closely by the snap-clank of Horgash’s Vislovski, readied for firing. She thought to reach for her own rifle and felt foolish when she remembered it was leaning against a tree, far out of reach.
    “Here you go,” Lynus said, tapping her on the shoulder. He was holding her rifle, offering it to her.
    She flashed him a smile. “Thank you.”
    The big farrow stopped next to the creek. The smaller one walked past it toward the bluff.
    “Make that twice the size of Horgash’s bison,” she said. “It’s standing down there in the mist. The little one is coming to us. Hands are empty, raised a little bit.”
    “Weapons ready, but low,” said Pendrake.
    The farrow who stepped into the firelight was about as tall as Professor Pendrake, but easily as broad as Horgash. Not exactly “little” after all. Edrea revised her estimate of the bigger farrow’s size yet again.
    This one wore a heavy coat and had several bandoliers of ammunition draped across its chest—no, ammunition and cigars. A large-bored lever-action carbine hung at its side, the barrel cut short. A crime, really. The action and barrel appeared Llaelese, perhaps from a Dunmont, but was now cut down and restocked to look like a common pig iron.
    Edrea decided not to say that aloud.
    “I’m Rorsh,” he said with a grunt. He thumbed back over his shoulder. “That’s Brine.”
    “Victor Pendrake.” The professor nodded, un-nocking the arrow he had ready.
    Rorsh grunted again and scratched his jowl. “Pendrake? Really?”
    “You’ve heard of me?”
    “Hearing Groth tell it, I thought you’d be bigger. But you do have the coat.”
    Pendrake laughed. “I do indeed. We’re on our way to see him. How is my old friend doing?”
    “Well enough. Just saw him this morning. Got breakfast.”
    Rorsh looked around at the others, and Edrea wondered why his gaze lingered on her. Oh . . . she still had a bracelet of runes spinning around her wrist. Rorsh would have no way of knowing whether she was readying a blast of arcane fire or just warming a bedroll. She released the spell. Rorsh gave her a very subtle nod and then turned back to Pendrake.
    “Speaking of which, it’s almost breakfast time again.”
    “We’d be happy to offer you a meal,” said Pendrake, “but I’m afraid we didn’t bring provisions enough for your friend Brine.”
    “Oh,” he grunted. “Well, then. How much for a horse?”
    Edrea blanched.
    “They’re not for sale,” Pendrake said.
    “Neither is the bison,”

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