The boy sighed. “Not that any of this matters any more. The last time I sat in the holding cells one of the priests came to visit me with a message.”
“He said that “Dekra had been moved from the local temple to another.” Any day now, she is to be wed to this high priest fool, whoever he is. The worst of it is, I do not know where they have taken her.”
From what Tonunda heard of the youth’s account, Dekra may have been drugged. It would account for her sudden change in loyalties and her blissful state.
He slapped a hand down on the boy’s shoulder and gripped firmly, staring hard into his eyes.
I will find Dekra for you, but if she remains with the temple of her own free will, then there is nothing I can do. If she is drugged or manipulated as I suspect, then nothing short of the unknown god’s hand will stop me from bringing her home.
“Thank you,” said the boy, picking Tonunda up in a literally crushing embrace.
He withstood the constrictive grip as long as he could, sure that his ribs would soon pop as the boy wept his gratitude. All at once, he placed Tonunda on the floor.
“What do we do now?”
The question threw Tonunda momentarily. One should ask around the city, but he knew few people and he had little time. Better to ask beasts. That would give him a multitude of eyes and ears around the city. He could ask the dogs, but men and dogs were mortal enemies. His pack would roam the streets picking up Dekra’s trail, only to have crowds either hurl stones or end their lives with steel weapons.
He looked out of the window to see a bird flutter to a halt, perching on the underside of a building’s eaves. It cooed a few times.
Unlike the birds of his mountain, he couldn’t communicate with them as their minds seemed virtually devoid of thought.
A grin curled his lips at the sound of shuffling. in the shadows by the far wall, he could make out three variations in shade.
The rats could do it.
They had an even keener sense of smell than dogs.
His grin fell as a tabby cat hunched further back from the shadows. Tonunda sprang forward, bringing his hand down on the nape of a rat’s neck, pinning it to the floor. The cat flattened its ears, growling indignantly. With a growl to cower the bravest of beasts, Tonunda answered and snapped his jaws at the feline. It hissed, backing off out of arm’s distance, giving off a low unholy rowl.
Pinching the rat by the neck, Tonunda raised it to face him. It swiveled its head from side to side with open mouth, but wasn’t able to bite Tonunda’s fingers.
Tonunda squeaked. I am Tonunda, king of the man – pack.
Let me go.
Not yet. First you must do something for me. I want you to pass the word among your rat brethren to find a human female.