She walked on dead bodies. From the smell of it, most had been here at least a few weeks. Others, a few days. Lil Aona tried to find cement between the carnage. Stepping on bodies turned her feet in uncomfortable angles. She’d have trouble stabilizing her movements if she needed to defend herself. The Zenth port hadn’t been active for years. What happened here?
One body moved. How could someone still be alive? Lil slowed her pace. Her foot slipped on a dead man’s back, nearly dumping her head first into a pile of bones. The body jerked. She inhaled. A demon was under it. She slipped her blade from its holster. A six-legged animal emerged with a fresh arm in its mouth. Lil put her knife back. They called it a demon. It was a cretin. She had a bigger bite than it did. The ferini’s ancestors had been something called a dog. All animals changed when the Dira took over.
The lesser demon eyed her. She had no business with it. Those animals never bothered with her kind.
She moved her gaze to the dark sky. She had read that years ago, at night, the sky sparkled with stars. The malignant clouds the demons brought with them stopped anything beautiful from touching the world.
A figure sat by the polluted river on a chair made of cleaned human bones. Turning piles of bones— humans, animals and demons— into furnishing, decorations and weapons was a profitable professional with a high mortality rate. Kiotance Mael was one of the few who had been doing this for nearly a hundred years. She turned as Lil approached. Her brilliant white smile had Lil reaching for her knife.
“What did you call me?” Lil asked.
“It’s nice to see you too, Furor.”
“What do you want?”
“You should know better than to talk to me like that.”
Kiotance had the rare gift of becoming uglier when she smiled. Face relaxed, the scars were attractive trophies. Smiling, those scars wrinkled her face in some unfortunate places.
The other female pulled out a red jewel the size of a fist and handed it to Lil. She didn’t take it. The power that female gave off made Lil uneasy—made her reluctant to touch it. Good thing Lil wasn’t the type to become meek before someone stronger than she was.
“You called me out here for this? What am I supposed to do with this rock? Your job is to find these things and exchange them for raims. Beside, Shyne handles our funds.”
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