Chapter 9

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"Mimoza," Granit said, "please tell your flying rat that the dog ten times its size will devour it when given the chance."

They walked up the hill together, letting the dusk descend as the forest lines became harder to see. The albino bat sat inside Mimoza's satchel. It looked over to the side, and hissed towards the dog following them. The dog tilted its head in confusion. 

Mimoza only petted Nikki as it gnawed her satchel strap like a newborn baby would. "She knows your mutt is all growl and no bite. Just like its owner."

Astrin yelled from behind them both, "burn!"

Granit grumbled. The dog walked closer to the satchel, sniffing the bat like it were inspecting it. Granit said, "your rat will be dead in a week if it keeps hissing at Brutus."

Mimoza replied, "you keep saying that, but I'm beginning to think Brutus sees Nikki as part of his own litter."

Right on queue, Brutus licked the albino bat on the face. Nikki licked the dog back in response, even nibbling on an ear when given the chance. Granit said, "Brutus, its going to eat your eyeballs out."

Brutus whined a bit, but allowed the bat to continue nibbling. Eventually, the bat leaped out of the satchel and landed on Brutus' head, making a nest out of the large dog's head. "Good girl," Mimoza said, "teach Granit to eat his own words."

"Why do you ruin everything I love?"

Doing missions together was nothing new to the three of them. Granit was a Scythian slave that had been adopted as a child and raised in Athens for most of his life. He'd come to like life as an Athenian mercenary. Ten years Mimoza's senior, he was perfectly content with delegating responsibilities to Mimoza if it meant making things easier for himself. Despite being an older man, his body was wide and muscular. He had a lifetime to hone in on his physical prowess, and it made him intimidating as a guardsman.

Astrin was a bit more of a drifter. Blonde-haired and blue-eyed, Astrin never knew how handsome he truly was. He'd make a fine husband and warrior if he was willing to apply himself, but he was too lazy to do so. 'Path to least resistance' was how he approached life. It allowed for his intelligence to truly shine, but at the cost of other skill sets.

"Dances of lights in the night forests," Astrin hummed warmly. "I know we're investigating kidnappings, but I half expect we'll be facing ghosts once we get there."

Granit shivered, "bad omens then. I say we turn back before we piss off a spirit."

Mimoza said, "you know we can't do that. We would be terrible slaves if we did that."

Granit said, "speak for yourself, I'm only in this job to beat up poor people."

Astrin commented, "I envy your commendable fortitude." "

Granit said, "it's not the work I dislike, it's angering spirits that I'll want to avoid. I can swing my sword at some bandits anytime, but I can't do the same against spirits."

Mimoza rolled her eyes, "well, from what I heard, you could just dance the spirits away."

"It doesn't really work that way," Granit grumbled, "I'm on good terms with all the gods from Greece to Babylon, I don't want to start angering any of them now."

"He has a point though," Astrin commented. "Never in history has angering a God helped anyone. Just ask Odysseus."

"They're probably not spirits," Mimoza said more casually. "It's more likely slavers luring children away from their homes. Using lanterns of lights to attract them to the forest, only to take them away on slave ships north from here.

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