"And…what? Darius wants me to read sonnets at the gravesite? Help dig the hole? What?"
Alora's patience was at an all-time low. She had slept surprisingly well after being awakened but the solution of what to do with Islinn was still very present and accounted for. Plus, she was extremely hungry. An empty, all the way down to her boots kind of hungry and she wasn't in the mood for the usual hemming and hawing around.
And standing before her was someone who looked as though forward motion and coherent thought had never been a matter of instinct. With some life or death message that could change the world if only…he could get the words out.
So, she waited. It looked as though it would be a beautiful day, even though everything would be still and heavy with heat before the sun had risen much higher. She needed to check on Loki still, and make some sort of arrangements about supplies if she were going to head towards Lochedge.
And Islinn. Speaking of, she detected the slight soft step of the girl as she came out of the Livery to see what was going on. The thought of the girl pressed against her back for the long ride made Alora queasy.
Alora noticed Grif was no longer engaged in a struggle to speak. Instead, his flat gray eyes were fastened on Islinn. As she watched, he licked his lips goatishly and grinned.
"Really??" Alora snapped.
Grif's eyes fastened back onto The Twiceborn and then away. Yeah,she was definitely the devil's whore he'd come looking for but once he was done being Darius' messenger boy, he'd have to find out how much the little blond cost. It had been awhile since he'd nutted a woman because he'd had better things to do with his coin but he had a bit extra for once in his life and this little bitch would be well worth the coin. 'Course she didn't have the roundness and soft comfort of an older woman but she was young with a naïve look and a suppleness that left his mouth dry.
Alora waved her hand in front of Grif's face and ignored Duran's snort of laughter. "Unbelievable." She thought as Grif focused and took a step back.
"Darius ' brother died."
"You said that already." Alora spoke slowly in the way one might speak to a small child. The tight clench of her jaw was causing the pain in her face to kick up a notch.
"He says you have the power of the Sineater. Is that true?"
Alora's eyes narrowed as she looked at the gawky man in front of her. Sineating was a little more than the usual smoke and mirrors bullshit they usually wanted from her.
"It's true. What are Darius and Alain? Farmers? Why would they need a sineater?"
Grif rested one calloused hand on his bony hip and winced.
No, Darius calls the shots in Lochedge. Lochedge belongs to the Burons. He said he wants his brother to rest easy with Brede. And not be bothered ."
The story was becoming stranger by the minute. The only thing Alora was sure of was she was not hearing all of it. And the man standing before her represented a bloodline more twisted than a wild growing vine. The idea of a well thought-out sentence dribbling from his lips was far beyond his capabilities.
Grif serenely scratched an armpit through a hole in his dirty robe. Alora noticed he refused to meet her eyes. That didn't surprise her but she had a sneaking suspicion he knew more then he let on.
"That's what he said. Bothered."
"That's all he said? That's it?"
Grif studied Alora and realized he could tell her what he knew and hoped she wouldn't refuse and he'd wind up having to ride back and tell Darius she wasn't coming or…he could not tell her and risk her anger when she discovered he hadn't told her everything. While it was true he might have the IQ of a woodchuck, it was also true he had a strong sense of self-preservation. He gave Alora a fawning smile.
"I don't know what Alain did. All I know is Lochedge has been overrun with Hyntu since the bastard went belly up. We've driven them back with fire but we can't hold out forever. Darius said he'd pay you well if you helped."
Alora looked at Grif, unsettled by the news. The Hyntu belonged to the Night Hags. They were a complicated conglomeration of corpses, spells, and a magical will that kept them animated for however long they were needed. They were similar in construct to The Ruler of Twice and his pack yet the magick was more complicated because the Hyntu possessed a mad, dumb intelligence that could be unpredictable at times. The magick was powerful and the Night Hags only used them when they wanted something very badly.
Alora nodded as she quietly absorbed this news and Grif breathed a sigh of relief. He could now attend to more important matters. His eyes once again slid over Islinn . If he haggled a good price for another 'stag, he could probably afford to buy this girl for a few hours. Maybe the night.
Grif looked at Duran and jutted his chin at Islinn.
Duran gave him an insolent grin and jutted his chin at Alora.
"No. She's hers."
Grif scowled. He didn't appreciate Duran's sense of humor. The little cocky bastard had gotten on his bad side the moment he refused to help him catch his 'stag .But that was all right. Grif planned to stay in town a few days, catch up on some drinking, do a little bit of fucking, and somewhere in between he'd catch this prankster alone and give him a quick double pump with one bony fist. Two nice deep ones to the stomach would have him pissing blood and thinking twice before he decided to josh around at Grif's expense. But…better safe than sorry. He turned towards Islinn.
"That true, girl?"
Islinn opened her mouth then abruptly shut it. Crimson darkened her cheeks and she turned and went back in the Livery. Grif took a step to the side to watch her retreat and was startled when Alora stepped into his space.
"You're done here." She said and gave him a level stare. Grif held his hands up and took a quick step back. "Fuck this." He thought as he looked from Alora to Duran.
He didn't know what kind of game they were playing but he wanted no part of it. He ignored Duran's smirk and turned to head up the road to Fetch's. He planned on being drunker than a brewer's fart in a few short hours and there were sure to be some wenches at the tavern that would be more amenable to his considerable charms. Shame though. The little blond would have been a hell of a ride.