“What’s this?” He moved small twigs and fallen leaves aside revealing several sharp, triangular-shaped items of an uncertain gray, thick and curved, each about the size of his thumb.
She put Eden’s basket down, then dropped to her knees for a closer look. She picked up one of the objects and turned it over. “Could they be . . . grut teeth?”
“Then there really were grut here,” he murmured.
“I beg your pardon? Of course there were grut here. I said as much, didn’t I?” She got back to her feet.
“Hmmm.” He shrugged and looked away, as though embarrassed for having been so tactless. “Well, we’d best take them along. They contain powerful magic.”
“What are they teaching in the hood around here anyway?” he muttered. “Yes, they contain very powerful magic. They’re the only part of a grut that might remain after its destruction . . . which is why they’re extremely rare. The beasts can’t attack one who holds a grut tooth.” He looked at her. “Of course the wearer could fall to any number of other weapons, but a grut couldn’t harm him . . . or her.”
Saying nothing more, she collected a total of twelve teeth. After placing eleven of them in a small leather bag tied to her belt, she approached Dixon who’d gone back to hauling wood. She held out one of the teeth.
He put his hand out to accept it, though he refused to meet her eyes. After pocketing it, he resumed his task.
Once they collected enough wood to keep the cabin burning long and hot, Dixon reached forward, his hand in a fist. With a flick of his fingers, a fire burst forth.
Mara sprang back in surprise. “Well then,” she said after catching her breath, “I guess we’d best get going. I have a lot of questions for you. I suppose, since my training has been so abysmal, so appallingly lacking, I’ll need to draw on your expertise for a time. If you’re willing, of course.”
Just then a howl carried through the air. Though well in the distance, it made Mara edgy. “Let’s go.”
Dixon turned away and entered the forest.
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