He had just tossed the stick he’d found outside the city walls when he heard a familiar voice call out to him, “Hey, Frankie!” As Lucky limped off after the stick, Frankie turned to see Scottie and Sky walking toward him. Their pace seemed a bit more hurried than their usual casual stride, and while Scottie’s eyes darted around the dock Sky’s stayed fixed on him. Though he hadn’t really known them all that long, he’d never seen them looking as intense as they did now. Nor had he ever seen them both with their hands on their swords, ready to draw.
But they’d been decent folks and they’d taken to hiring him for odd jobs since he’d first shown up in ‘Cuffs so he sprinted toward them, hoping there was another silver or gold piece to be had. Lucky ambled up with the stick in his mouth, following his best friend toward the couple. Scottie and Sky never slowed nor swerved, causing him to have to hop to the side of them and whirl around as they brushed past.
He nearly had to run to catch back up as they entered ‘Cuffs, his eyes widening as they drew their swords and began to search the tiny establishment, poised to strike whatever it was that seemed to have them on edge. Finally they seemed satisfied that there was no immediate danger and ushered him in, Scottie standing at the entrance and keeping watch over the dock. Lucky, seeming to know this, sat next to him, sniffing at the air.
“Have you seen any strange-looking snakes about lately? Really big, spines growing out of its back?” Sky asked, leaning against the counter and looking obviously relieved that both their establishment and their ward seemed safe. The young man immediately shook his head, then tilted it to the side, his eyes rolling up thoughtfully, “I ain’t seen nothin’, but Lucky’s been actin’ funny. He’ll just start whimperin’ and growlin’ and pullin’ at my leg and all that for no good reason…”
Scottie reached down and pet the dog with a smile, sparing a quick glance at the beast’s one good eye. He’d have thought Lucky a cruel name for an animal that seemed to have lost so much in its life; an eye, a leg, half an ear, but the old boy did turn up at the most opportune times. “He can tell when it’s around. Stick with him and you’ll be fine.”
Frankie didn’t bother to tell Scottie that he and Lucky were never apart, he just kept his attention on Sky. She drew a breath and said, “Whatever that thing is, it just killed someone. Supposedly it went after an urchin. I want you to spread the word to be on the lookout. Lucky should be able to steer you clear, but if not… do you still have that knife?”
Frankie reeled at the thought of some snake carrying off an urchin, but he nodded quickly and produced a rather large knife he had concealed within the baggy old clothes he wore. Sky smiled, pleased he was ready to defend himself, “You learn quickly. Unlike some folks I know…” She cast a playful glare toward Scottie.
Scottie suddenly turned around to catch her glare, “Well… c’mon! I was new and…” With no real excuse he harrumphed and turned back toward the Port, but not before offering her smile anyway.
Frankie rolled his eyes at the two and spoke up, “Sooo… ya don’t have a job for me or nothin’?” Sky reached into her pocket and withdrew a silver piece, holding it out for him, “Your job is to spread the word.”
Scottie turned back to them, flipping the kid another silver piece and pointing at a stack of boxes, “Actually, those just came in from some friends studying new agricultural techniques. They say it’s the finest crop of hops they’ve ever produced. I’m not going to have time to put them to use and the damned things are covered in moss or something. Move them into the Square until I can line up a buyer. Oh, and clean them off, will you?”
Frankie caught the piece deftly and nodded quickly. Sky joined Scottie at the large opening to ‘Cuffs and gave Lucky a pat on the head. She called back once more, “Stay safe. Spread the word.”
The two immediately picked up their conversation, but not as quietly as they had been before. As Frankie surveyed the job ahead he heard them talking about the creature being on a dock and caught the name ‘Phaedra’.