These were the falls, warm at midday and windy. Leaves rustled, sounding almost the same as the water rushing over the rocks. A little way into the trees stood the shape of a man.
This.. was a gun, a relatively recent bit of re-invented technology of paramount importance at Nightwatch. This was his gun, a flintlock with a rifled barrel and semi-grip hardwood stock. Well-made; he hadn't asked for it but Bereck would have nothing less. It looked.. quietly lethal, reliable - for all he could tell - and had a strange weight that had nothing to do with mass. A good model, he'd been assured when it had been pressed into his hands.
He'd find out.
The basic theory was simple enough. You loaded it like this and held it like this and pulled the trigger like this..
..and then the recoil caught you off guard and a tree seven meters to the left of the paper target splintered as the ball buried itself inches deep.
That had been some weeks ago. He'd gotten used to the crack of acrid smoke and the set of motions for loading and firing, but accuracy.. at least a good number of Deep Ones had decent surface area. He might talk to the gunsmiths.
For now, eyes squinted behind his thick glasses in concentration, Aleck practiced.
Ghost had just about mastered flying. Mostly. On a good day. It was a tiny thing, more fragile even than other whites, with a hide that bruised at even a dark look. The wind wasn't helping, and if it'd been clever, it'd have stayed perched safely on Spins shoulder, letting him do the leg-work while Astaraeth kept the both of them company.
But Ghost was indeed the third of that strange company, and as such, prone to curiosity. It'd stuck with them on most of the route to the falls, but hearing the noises among the trees, it'd taken off, fluttering its weak little way against the wind.
And it found the sound! There, a human, holding something that made noises. Oh, how clever Ghost was! In its excitement, it forgot about flapping, and fell from the sky. Luckily, the fall was more leaf than rock, but none-the-less, the human now had a pathetic white lizard with an unusual iridescence to its hide at his feet.
The firelizard's departure was not enough to make Spins hurry. He knew Ghost couldn't make it far. Luckily, the man was a hurrier by nature, and so, only a minute or so after Ghost fell out of the sky, he pushed his way through the trees and spotted the gun.
That is, the man with the gun. But mostly the gun. He was at his most relaxed, the walk having used up some of his usual energy. But his grin was still wolfish with hunger as he waved.
"Trade you a dragon for the thing that goes bang," he said.
Oh, come now! Even irritated, Astaraeth was the picture of calm. The young green sat at Spins's side, her tail tucked around her legs.
"Sorry." He didn't sound it. "Spooky reminds me that what I meant to say was 'have you seen Ghost?"