'I am sorry,' cut in Raest, 'is something happening?'
Antsy's eyes bulged slightly. 'The Hounds of Shadow are loose!'
Raest leaned forward as if to scan the vicinity, and then settled back once more. 'Not in my yard.'
Antsy clawed through his hair. 'Trust me, then, it's a bad night - now, if you'd just step back -'
'Although, come to think of it, I did have a visitor earlier this evening.'
'What? Oh, well, I'm happy for you, but -'
Raest lifted one desiccated hand and pointed.
Antsy and Barathol turned. And there, in the yard, there was a fresh mound of raw earth, steaming. Vines were visibly snaking over it. 'Gods below,' the Falari whispered, making a warding gesture with one hand.
'A T'lan Imass with odd legs,' said Raest. 'It seemed to harbour some dislike towards me.' The Jaghut paused. 'I can't imagine why.'
Antsy grunted. 'It should've stayed on the path.'
'What do T'lan Imass know of footpaths?' Raest asked. 'In any case, it's still too angry for a conversation.' Another pause. 'But there's time. Soldier, you have been remiss. I am therefore disinclined to yield the floor, as it were.'
'Like Hood I have!' And Antsy reached beneath his tunic and tugged out a bedraggled, half-rotted shape. 'I found you your damned white cat!'
'Oh, so you have. How sweet. In that case,' Raest edged back, 'do come in.'
Barathol hesitated. 'What will this achieve, Antsy?'
'He won't die,' the ex-sergeant replied. 'It's like time doesn't exist in there. Trust me. We can find us a proper healer tomorrow, or a month from now - it don't matter. S'long as he's breathing when we carry him across the threshold. So, come on, help me.' He then realized he was still clutching the dead cat, and so he went up to the Jaghut and thrust the ghastly thing into most welcoming arms.
'I shall call it Tufty,' said Raest.
[Raest, a Jaghut Tyrant (retired)]
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