Foxhound: IX

Waking in the hayloft the next morning, Moslay was still a bit hazy in thought, the ether still somewhat sticking with him. To be fair, he had not fully come off of the stuff before leaving Haludram and only vaguely recalled tying up the pack beasts before passing out. He knew the cart hadn’t been unloaded in the night, but again it was all stuff that could survive the night outside, even in light snow due to the coverings. Still, Moslay rose knowing he should, if nothing else, check-in with the Dinn family and make sure everything was there and accounted for, then would come the hard part. Though he had made clear that sooner or later he would have to return to the forest, the family hadn’t thought much of his vow. Yet, now had come the time for him to venture in and face the nightmare lurking about the Gardens and ruined homes.

Sitting up in a hurry threw Moslay’s head in a spin, but that was not the most baffling thing he found upon first rising. The fierce red-eyed glare from between his feet startled him and immediately made him consider how much he had lost to the ether. Everything from the night was foggy as Moslay tried to step back and view it all once more. He could have sworn there had been a Lo and a brawl and that the cat there had talked. It wasn’t impossible to say any of that had happened, but as he rubbed at his weary eyes, Moslay wondered if he should hazard to ask. If nothing else, he would be talking to himself, the cat wouldn’t answer, and any of the Dinn family who may be in the barn would think him still drunk. The last wasn’t far from the truth, but he preferred to keep a somewhat reputable image in front of his hosts.

Slowly, he reached his hand up to his face, feeling the gauze that poorly concealed slightly warm metal, “I don’t even remember this getting put in.”
“Well, with all the ether that half-blood gave you, I’m surprised you were able to get the cart moving last night. Actually, no, what surprises me is that you’ve woken up at all,” the cat calmly purred, not concerned enough to rise from her comfy position on his legs.
Moslay nodded slowly, “So it wasn’t entirely an ether fueled dreams that made you talk, ey? I should ask what else did or didn’t happen, but I don’t think I care to know just yet. Did I get the shotgun fixed?”
“You think if you had lugged that piece of scrap metal in that little girl could have fixed it for you? You’re lucky she could do what she did if she did much at all, and that she had anything for that little pea-shooter of yours. So, how long until you go after the beast. My boss is still waiting on the bounty,” Liurial mentioned, stretching her paws out across Moslay’s calf.
Reaching over to his coat, slung across the window sill beside him, Moslay drew out the revolver, “Soon as the ether wears off fully. Today, if I can manage it. I’m tired of thinking about it, worrying all night, dreaming of the fiend.”
“Yes, better it were done quick if it must be done at all,” Liurial remarked before finally hopping off the man and moseying over to the steps down.

Liurial left Moslay in search of a mid-morning meal while the man looked over the three handfuls of bullets for the revolver and the pistol itself. Somehow he had not realized the piece had been lifted from his person, but likely that was because he had been so over-wrought with ether that his mind couldn’t keep up. It wasn’t his, hardly recognizable as the old, roughed-up iron that he had carried for most of his career and then the rest of his life. The barrel now boasted a heat-shield that wrapped around to the underside wherein a secondary cylinder had been placed. It was not as dull and standard as the original cylinder that sat in the proper place but was marked with fine, thin, and all too tiny writing for Moslay’s eyes to make sense of their meaning. There were also new sights, not the simple iron bead but two crossing points that looked to be more for dramatic flare than anything else. And then there were the changes made to hammer. It had been switched out in favor of what looked like a thick nail that was pulled back by a lever on either side before it would slide in and strike. Moslay knew that mechanism, slightly, it was developed for safer and more potent firing of specialized munitions. Looking over the collection of rounds he had in the boxes, Moslay had to conclude it was the only safe way to fire even half of those without damage to the gun or himself.

“Moslay! You up there?!” Janos called from the door into the barn. His voice was friendly, which didn’t mean Moslay wasn’t in trouble for running late, but the patriarch of the Dinn family wasn’t usually a harsh man.
Rising on wobbly legs, Moslay made certain to look fully settled by using the railing at the loft’s edge, “Oh, Jan, my apologize about running late last night.”
“Don’t worry of it, Mos, I know you, you’ve got your reasons, I’m sure. Just would never have thought that reason would be a hungry cat. I figured you come back with a pup one day, but I guess seeing you as a cat lover isn’t quite what I had in mind,” the farmer attempted small talk though a hint of knowing was written all over his face.
With a nod, Moslay, remarked, “It kind of just followed me home. I’ll be bringing it back with me tomorrow or the day after.”
“Why’s that? We don’t need more supplies from Haludram until at least a month from now. You got business in town or maybe a pretty girl?” Janos joked, still looking noticeably uncomfortable.
Sighing, Moslay bobbed his head, “Business of a sorts. I’ll be able to pay off what I owe you. I know you said a helping hand was all you wanted in return, but I owe you more than that for calling in the doctor and getting me all patched up. Then I should be up and out of your hair so long as the winter doesn’t get too tough.”
“Mos, you know you ain’t got to do this. There are young men kicking around in the world still and will be for a long time after you and I are gone. We’ve been through our times of doing stupid things, some more recently than others, but it’s not on us anymore,” Janos’ voice broke in the telling. It was apparent he meant well.
With another nod, Moslay simply remarked, “When a man stirs up trouble, it’s his responsibility to put an end to what comes of it.”

Moslay didn’t stick around much beyond the initial morning interaction with Janos. He could neither eat nor stomach to tell the kids where he was going. He collected everything he would need, loaded up the revolver with three rounds of refract and two of shocker, and began towards the bridge. Crossing wasn’t easy, he had attempted it twice before and almost fell into the river both times, but it could be done. The skeleton of the bridge was exposed and connected one side to the other, a width only a human could cross adequately. That was a human or a cat, as Moslay found the cat with its sooty face and gloves sitting on the other end waiting. Though he was immediately alarmed, Moslay forced himself to act nonchalant when faced with the unplanned partner in this endeavor. It was good for him, he thought, to have someone to talk to while he stalked about looking for that sinister fox.

“So, do you think you have the guts to face down this ‘fox’ of yours yet again, farmhand?” Liurial asked as Moslay led the way.
Regarding the red-eyed feline for a moment, he remarked, “Moslay. My name is Moslay, is that hard to remember. I’m not just some farmhand, wasn’t one for my whole life until just the end of fall. And no matter if I got it in me or not, I’m going to have to kill that demon.”
“Well, let’s hope that girl was worth half her salt for all the work she did on you and that toy of yours. By the way, how do they work?” the cat asked a seemingly obvious question.
Thinking a moment, he patted the holster in his coat, “Haven’t fired it yet, I was looking for a good target to take practice on. Are you volunteering?”
“Not the gun you twit, the eye, the glove, and the collar if you can tell if that is working right off or not,” Liurial scolded, annoyed to the point of hissing.
Moslay felt slightly slow for not realizing that much. He was able to flick the missing fingers a bit and saved for color, the eye seemed to work. He let out an amused noise, “I thought that girl wasn’t any good with tinkering.”
“She’s not, but with a little help, anything is possible. Now come on, it’s time to earn what you owe,” Liurial remarked as they rounded the bend onto the lane Moslay’s house once sat.

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