FoxHound

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8.

“Well farmhand, it looks like your search ends here. Now can I have the marks you’ve got on you or am going to have to follow you home?” the soot and snowy cat asked, interrupting very suddenly.

Pressing the full-fingered hand against his face, Moslay grumbled, “Never an easy day under this sun and never a peaceful night beneath this moon.”

“I must apologize, and I truly wish I could help, but all I have to offer is what papa left behind. And I will gladly sell it all to you at a reasonable price if you can return in the morning,” she remarked, trying her best to politely send the man and his cat on their way.

Moslay grumbled, “Look, I don’t have until tomorrow to wait. I need all I can get tonight before I leave town. Right now, I got so much on my plate that another trip into town will be a month off if the snow don’t prevent it. I’ll give you all I got in coin and barter, but I can’t wait.”

“Well, do you know what you need? I have a few things in the back papa wouldn’t have wanted in the showroom, but I’m sure that doesn’t clear up what that is for you,” the halfling remarked, trying to calm herself by playing with one of her long, vibrant green braids.

Relaxing a tad, knowing he might not be leaving empty-handed, Moslay suggested, “If I could come take a look, I’ll give you all I got, and you tell me the difference. I can bring it to you once I come through again. I’m out at the Dinn farmer, west towards the bridge and Gardens.”

“Papa didn’t raise a fool, sir, I can’t just let you back there especially considering the hour,” the girl fired back quickly, showing she had some backbone.

Arching its back, the cat popped down to the floor and strut over to creep between the girl’s legs, “Though I hate to be so intrusive, miss, I shall make certain the man is no miscreant. He shan’t cause a lick of trouble in your shop. He owes enough to the Prancing Unicorn, and I mean to get the marks out of him one way or the other. Should he cause any issue or trying anything funny, rest assured I shall handle him and, of course, cover any costs that might be accrued in doing so.”

“I’m sorry, kitty-cat, but I don’t think you’d fare much better if he got hold of one of papa’s more dangerous tools,” the halfling smiled down on the cat who beamed up at her with those fiery eyes.

Blinking, one eye then the other, the cat met her gaze, “I am no ordinary cat, miss Ezavil. You may know the name Liurial of the Shadow, and if you do not, consider yourself quite lucky. I can handle anything the farmhand might do weather he uses a tinkerer’s finest tool or not. Now, may we step back there and settle this with haste. I was hoping to be back before the night grew too long, haven’t had my dinner yet.”

With a shrug, Ezavil led Moslay and Liurial into the workshop, the far more open room behind the red iron door that was nearly too thin for Moslay to slip through. There were workbenches filled with all sorts of devices, half-complete, and those fully finished. Some had obvious functions, rifles, and various trick weapons, while others were less straightforward. Moslay went straight away to the firearms and began perusing the different munition types set in cubbies along the wall. He not only could find proper bullets for the revolver but all sorts of varieties that would work as well. Spark rounds, lightning shot, dragon’s breath, and purifiers would make more than enough of an arsenal for him if he could only afford them alone. Yet, as anxious fingers moved to slide open the drawers and begin collecting loose rounds, Ezavil came to his side, gently setting a collection of items before Moslay.

With a polite clearing of the throat, she began, “I don’t mean to influence your purchases by any means, but you look as though you could use these. I’m not trying to suggest the injuries are any hindrance to you, but perhaps if you could find someone to patch you up with these and make the connections properly, you could be almost at full strength.”

“What are these even? A metal glove, an eye patch, and what is this some sort of collar? My pardon, miss Ezavil but I’m in the market for guns and ammunition, perhaps another weapon if I can, but I’m on a budget,” Moslay remarked, turning over the various pieces with disdain.

Liurial pounced onto the bench and walked on up to the pile, “If you’re thinking you’re going to go to war against that demon in the Gardens with anything less than one working paw and a single good eye, than you are more a fool than I thought farmhand. I’ll tell you what miss Ezavil, I will front the money for those parts and all the munition this man takes, so long as you install them properly.”

“I can’t do that, what I learned from papa... I never had to practice anything like that and studying it... Look I’m no tinkerer, I’m trying to get rid of all this clutter left from my father, that doesn’t mean I know how to do any of it,” Ezavil spluttered, her seafoam cheeks turning an awkward color as red mixed into them.

No less amused, Moslay regarded Liurial, “I don’t need no new parts, one good eye and a good hand, I’ll make it just fine.”

“Too bad, you get in that chair and make yourself damned comfortable, and you start your work on him. Someone needs to fell that vicious thing, and my money is on someone who has a distinct edge on it as well as some history with the beast. And if I hear one more but, you’re going to see another monster here tonight, in this very shop,” Liurial hissed, forcing the other two into compliance.

Despite his own protests, Moslay wandered over to a reclining chair near the workshop’s center. If nothing else, he figured the tinkerer’s daughter would start then immediately stop knowing she couldn’t perform the task. For Ezavil’s part, she was more than aware that properly connecting the tools would be outside of her experience, but she could attach them without issue. It wasn’t as though she meant to defraud the cat or deformed man, but she couldn’t do it. The situation was no different than any time papa tried to force her hand and make her a tinkerer like he was. Ezavil couldn’t do it then, and she was certain nothing had changed up until now, she’d attach the glove and eye but wouldn’t charge the right fee for them. What use were they if they didn’t properly work? After all, that’s what a tinkerer was for, and she was certainly not capable of it.

Liurial watched from a neighboring workbench as the green-skinned girl start in on the job ahead of her. Ezavil took the easy route first, attaching a collar she explained would increase Moslay’s strength and fortitude overall. How it was the girl did not begin to say, but it was as simple as connecting two sets of prongs above and below the collar into the man. One would sit just between his shoulders while the other came to rest at the base of his spine. The specialty tools of a tinkerer would not go into use here but came into play as she began about the task of attaching the glove. She inspected the inside before sizing it up properly to Moslay’s hand, making sure the missing digits would have mechanisms directly connecting to them. After it was fitted, she opened the breakpoints of the missing fingers, making sure to have all of the corresponding pieces further down the length link up to the artificial finger. Ezavil then proceeded to open a panel on the backside of the hand, tinkering with more internal parts for a length of time that seemed too long for the cat. Still, she finished up and moved onto the last and most challenging operation.

Examining the ruined flesh beneath the eye patch almost caused Ezavil to toss up her dinner right then and there, but she steeled herself. Taking a thin, cobalt blue tank from a side table, affixed with a breather, she put it to Moslay’s lips. Instructing him to take in five lungfuls, Ezavil seemed to calm slightly, as though knowing the ether-like substance would not only numb Moslay to pain but make him less capable should he turn to fury. After a few moments, Ezavil began, prying open the eyelid and extracting anything that may have remained in the way of the incoming part. Still aware she was not doing things correctly, Ezavil ensured the corresponding bits would connect where they rightly should. Even if she wasn’t able to do it right, she wanted any other tinkerer who might come along to have an easy time fixing her mess. It took over an hour of delicate poking and prodding before Ezavil was satisfied with the connections made; she then slid in the silver-lined glass orb. With it in, she could release the tongs on the eyelid and begin to adjust the internal mechanism. That part came almost easy to her, Ezavil had worked on enough miniature clocks for her father, and these parts were not wholly different from those. With that step done, she moved to finish by placing over a shaped plate of metal that would serve to keep the eye steady and in place until it could sit on its own, if it ever would.

It was well into the night when they were through, and much further on before Moslay’s head cleared part of the way. He remembered saying something about the big bounty he was about to collect while sitting in the operating chair coming down from the ether’s effects. Part of him felt like he may have said too much about something, and then had to consider if he let slip the truth of it all. It couldn’t hurt to tell just the one girl, and a cat of all things about the fox and how it came to be, but Moslay felt blurting it all out was dangerous. All the same, neither of the two hassled him on his way out. Ezavil had even tried to deny payment from him since Liurial intended to pay the tab for him upfront. Yet, Moslay made sure not to walk out of the tinkerer’s shop without at least leaving what he had on him. It wasn’t impossible to say he wouldn’t be coming back, but with the three mixed cases of ammunition he picked up, it seemed a less than likely thing. With everything settled, Moslay made his way back to the Dinn farm, almost half a day late, but that wasn’t too big of an issue this early into the season. And even had it been something more concerning, Moslay didn’t have his mind set on worrying. All that he had thoughts for was the fox and the bounty, and he couldn’t wait to get his hands on either.

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