A deep sigh escaped from Khita as she looked around and saw nothing but empty dirt streets and plain buildings. There wasn’t a single other person in sight. All the residents of Shelter were inside and staying out of the cold as much as possible. Khita couldn’t blame them for that. The air was chill enough that her breath turned a wispy white when she exhaled. It was a good thing that she had on a nice warm fur jacket. She’d hate to be stuck inside all the time, because the weather was only going to get colder over the next while.
Hearing a shrill voice form somewhere behind her, Khita quickly hurried down a side street. These days, the old woman she was staying with usually ignored her as long as she stayed out of trouble – or at least didn’t get caught – but sometimes the old bag got a stick up her ass, and Khita found the best thing to do then was flee.
Maybe she shouldn’t have come back to Shelter. It was so boring here! Khita sighed again. The problem was that Ironbreak wasn’t much better, and she had good reasons for leaving. It would snow soon, and she didn’t want to get stuck there. Blacknail and the other hobgoblins were all busy preparing for winter, and not doing anything fun. Blacknail had recently also gotten into the habit of sending her to help the work crews whenever she approached him. Ugh, she was far too amazing of a person to waste her time that way. She was a Vessel and she had her own group of bandits!
The redhead stuck out her tongue and made a face. “What a stupid jerk!”
There was also the situation with Herah. Blacknail and her were being gross. Honestly, that girl had problems. Instead of hanging out with Khita, all she wanted to do was stalk Blacknail and act like a floozy. Herah really needed to learn some self-control and how to play hard to get. At this rate, Blacknail would probably grow sick of her before too long.
“Ha, that would serve her right!” Khita chuckled as she kicked a rock down the street.
How dare Herah ignore her bestest friend! Who was it who’d stood by her and taught her everything she knew about seduction? It had been her, Khita! Herah should be acting way more grateful then she was. It wasn’t Khita’s fault that Blacknail had taken so long to fall for her. He was just dumb when it came to women. He’d always been that way, although it had gotten worse after his first visit to Daggerpoint, for reasons Khita couldn’t figure out. Whatever. Knowing Blacknail, it was something pointless and dumb. The point was that Khita wasn’t going to hang around Ironbreak and beg for attention or do grunt work.
“Ugh, everything is so boring. I can’t stand it!” Khita groaned as she looked around. The streets of Shelter were still empty of people. “I miss the big city.”
The truly terrible thing to contemplate was that everything was going to get way more boring before it got any more exciting. With winter on its way, everyone would be staying inside and hunkering down against the cold. They’d harvested their food and had everything they needed stored safely away. It wouldn’t be until spring that the people of Shelter would emerge from their homes and actually start doing anything interesting. The only exception would be a few huntsmen and wood gatherers. Well, there would also be a few village get-togethers. Khita shuddered in horror. Some hot food and socializing weren’t worth putting up with all the villagers’ horrible folksiness. Khita had been to a few of Shelter’s celebrations. Never again. Everyone there would be gossiping like merchants’ wives and there would be regular outbreaks of folk singing. Their only redeeming quality was the alcohol, but Khita could just steal that if she wanted it. Getting drunk alone was no fun though.
Maybe she should go see what some of her old bandit buddies were doing. Hmm, most of them were either working for Blacknail down south or had integrated into Shelter and become no better than the villagers. Stupid sellouts. All it had taken was some simpering village widows pretending to find them handsome, and they’d all settled down the first chance they’d gotten. Geralhd was still around and hadn’t changed or gotten married, but he’d never been all that fun to begin with. Vorscha had been the exciting one of the pair. Khita missed the warrior woman and her fighting lessons.
If Khita did visit Geralhd, he’d probably invite her in for tea and try to discuss philosophy with her. Bleh. Maybe she should have stayed at the forward base down south for the winter. At least then she’d have gotten to rob a few fat merchants before the snow came. It was going to be pretty rough and crowded there though, and Khita liked her simple creature comforts.
A cold wind blew by, so Khita pulled her jacket tighter and snuggled into its warmth. As she was doing that, she noticed movement next to a barrel at the entrance to a nearby alley. Looking up, she saw a pair of goblins peek out and stare at her. Grinning, Khita gave the cute critters a friendly wave. One of them waved back, while the other one just pouted adorably. A moment later, both the goblins cautiously stepped out into the street and looked around. Both of them were wearing scruffy cloaks made from rags, and one of them was wearing a rat skull on his head. They were also both carrying short sharpened sticks that looked like spears in their small hands.
The goblins were undoubtedly hunting rats. They’d been doing that a lot lately. Sometimes their little scuffles got really loud. Sigh. It was truly sad, but Khita was almost tempted to join them. At least they were doing something exciting, if you were a tiny stupid goblin.
“Maybe I should bother the boys,” Khita remarked as she watched the goblins disappear into another alley.
It might be fun to play with the emotions of some of the younger men in the village, even if they were all too plain and stuffy for her. It would pass the time anyway, even if it wasn’t something Khita would normally do, unless they had something she wanted. Fooling around with boys’ feelings was a little mean, even for her. Stabbing people was more her thing.
“Ugh, I’m just so bored. Why can’t a hideous mutant take up residence in the village and start picking off villagers one by one,” Khita whined as she started heading back home.
There was no point just wandering around in the cold. She’d get sick, and that would just make things even worse. Then, she’d be stuck in bed and the old woman would be able to nag her nonstop. With heavy steps, Khita dragged herself back to her home. It was approaching lunchtime anyway, and the old woman would probably be warming up some soup. Since her brother’s death, Khita had gone hungry too many times to ever pass up free food, so she could put up with some annoying conversation about responsibility and knitting or whatever.
As the young redhead approached her destination, a few flecks of white drifted past her. Frowning, Khita looked up. The sky was full of snow. As she watched, more and more of it began to fall from the thick grey clouds overhead. It looked like it they were in for a huge weight of snow.
“Whelp, that settles it,” Khita remarked sadly as she studied the falling white specks. “Now it truly is winter, and I’m screwed.”
Even if she wanted to go to Ironbreak, it would be a harsh and difficult journey now, and she’d be stuck there for who knew how long. Even with a road, getting through the snow would be tough.
“Stupid Blacknail is probably just going to nap his way through the entire season – without a care in the world – and not give me a single thought. What a lazy selfish jerk,” Khita remarked as she pulled the door to her home open and stepped inside to get some soup.
Book 3 is Out!
The third novel in The Iron Teeth series is now out on Amazon. Please support the author and help promote the book by purchasing and reviewing A Bloody Road. Every review and purchase helps a lot!