Guardians of The Flame: To Home And Ehvenor (The Guardians of the Flame #06-07)

Guardians of The Flame: To Home And Ehvenor (The Guardians of the Flame #06-07) by Joel Rosenberg

Book: Guardians of The Flame: To Home And Ehvenor (The Guardians of the Flame #06-07) by Joel Rosenberg Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joel Rosenberg
Tags: Fantasy
compressor—and you put it up against the cow's forehead and pull the trigger. The air pressure sends out the hammer—basically, just a piston—which gives the cow a sharp rap on the skull, hard enough to knock it unconscious at the least, break bones more often. At which point you hoist it, cut it, and let it bleed out.
    Messy work, but within just a few minutes, you don't have something that looks like a cow anymore; you've got parts. Sides of beef, viscera, tongue. Skin flayed off, waiting to be tanned.
    We had even less than that here. The wolves had eaten about half the cow. Actually, they had eaten or carried off the rear half of the cow, legs and all, leaving the front half more mutilated than eaten.
    It didn't make sense. It was too neat—in too many places, the flesh had been bit through cleanly. Possible for a wolf, I guess, although he would have had to be trying hard to be neat. And why would that be? Who would teach a wolf to play with his food?
    But it was wolves—their prints were all over the soft ground. The pack had headed off to the northeast, into the woods.
    Ahira and Andrea had left their horses hitched to the wagon; they joined Tennetty over the bloody mess, the three of them waving clouds of flies away.
    The dwarf's brow furrowed. "It looks like the rear half of this thing is gone, bitten clean away."
    Andy raised an eyebrow. "You mean, like what Ellegon would do?"
    Ahira didn't answer.
    There was more movement inside the shack. Tennetty stalked over and pounded on the door with the hilt of her shotgun.
    "Out. Everybody out. Now. We need to talk to you," she said. You can always trust Tennetty to know just the right way to put everything.
    I would have sworn that the ramshackle building wouldn't have held more than a couple of people, but in a few minutes a family of seven stood nervously on the dirt, the mother holding a baby in her arms, the youngest daughter—cute despite the dirt; they can do cute real well at that age—holding a struggling chicken tightly.
    Tennetty ducked inside. I wished that she would talk things over before she did them; these sorts of things can be death traps.
    But she came out laughing—not just giggling, but laughing hard , one hand holding her stomach. I thought she was going to drop the shotgun. "Yeah," she managed to wheeze out, in between gales of laughter, "they've got a . . . cow in there. And a goat, and I think there's some, some chickens in the cellar."
    Ahira and Andrea were over with the family, trying to calm them down. I sort of got the impression that having a bunch of strangers with guns around wasn't either normal or comfortable for them.
    On the other hand, when she turns on her smile, Andrea can charm bark off a tree.
    "Greetings, all," she said. "We're just here to look into your wolf problem. The baron sent us."
    "Old or new?" the woman asked, suspicious of us, if not of the notion of the nobility looking into predators.
    "New," she said. "Baron Cullinane. We work for him. Tennetty, Daherrin, Worelt, and Lotana," she said, indicating us in turn.
    I'd had a moment of nervousness. Andrea's always had an unfortunate tendency to honesty, and four of us have gotten fairly famous through the Eren regions. That can be handy, but more often it's a problem: more than a few idiots would like to see what holding onto the former Empress of Holtun-Bieme would get them. (Dead is what it would get them, I hope. But maybe they don't know that. Or maybe they don't care what I hope.) And lots of folks would like to find out if they're better with a shortsword than One-Eyed Tennetty or faster with a knife than Walter Slovotsky. (Yes, there are both; but you'll understand that I'd prefer not to demonstrate that.)
    Andy's instincts were right on the money: she had picked out false names for the three of us, but not for Tennetty. Tennetty was fairly famous in her own right—women warriors weren't common, particularly one-eyed ones—and giving her a false name

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