Part 8

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Cat paid attention to every detail as he slowly made his way through what little remained of his forge.

What he found that could have used elsewhere had already been packed and stowed, while what could be used by others of his craft that might come afterward remained prepared and stored proper.

Even the fires had almost burned to nothing but ash that would protect the pits until they were next lit.

He sensed a visitor before he saw him at the entrance of the forge.

"Seems kinda quiet around here, now doesn't it." Franklin Tombs observed through the toothpick firmly clenched between his teeth.

Cat looked down on the man who was not entirely what he pretended to be. "How long before Poe and the others catch wind and figure you out?"

Tombs nodded with a frown of resignation.

"The appropriate vampires and lycans already know, and I've gone to great pains to avoid that witch or telling ... any of the others." he walked over to an oven before he turned back.

"I'm hoping that you will respect that."

"You have nothing to fear from me; however, that being said, as Poe furthers his education he will eventually figure it out on his own; of that there is little doubt to consider."

Tombs nodded reluctantly.

"I'm hoping to stave that off for as long as I can."

"Have you shared this ... with your mate? Surely now that you share children she will know sooner than later, unless she too is also ..."

Tombs laughed, as he rubbed his face with the palm of his hand. "No, absolutely not; I've been keeping an eye on them and when they pass puberty I'll deal with it ... if it happens."

"Good choice, no need to worry the villagers unless the dragon really is awake and hungry."

"Not funny ... demon." Tombs replied evenly.

It was Cat's turn to laugh. "Now that is funny, as any true hunter could only appreciate."

The two men eyed one another in the smoldering mist of the forge.

"I've often wondered ..." Cat confided, "... how it is that so little is known of your kind, in particular the females. Personally I've only known of a few and I firmly doubt that they ever knew of each other in passing."

Tombs smiled. "We are not pack by nature as our ... cousins. Our more solitary life has allowed us to sharpen skills that they don't bother to use as precaution to hide amongst their sheep." He paused as his smile faded. "Women don't often survive the initial attack let alone the first change."

"And our Indian deputy with her added complications ..." Cat offered.

"I've only known my kind to give birth after first change and then ... only after, never before." Tombs replied, his features grim. "That is really why they've asked me to come along, to help as I can when the time comes."

Cat raised a brow. "Somehow the image I have of you as a wet nurse is not something I would have actually considered ... even as an option."

Tombs features softened and he gave just the hint of mirth. "I'm not there to nurse anything, I'd be there to protect them from ... her."

Cat suddenly realized what he meant. "Ahh the ever infamous Momma Bear; I can see your point. The children though, they won't ..."

"No, at least mine didn't or couldn't, at least not yet. From what little that I've been able to ... research, puberty is when that may or may not happen ... or not at all." Tombs looked at the furnace. "At least we can hope, even I would not wanted to deal with that at their birth."

"Your mate, how long did she carry yours? I've been given the impression that the Indian might be in more of a hurry than usual." Cat asked reluctantly.

That got Tombs to laugh at a not so stupid question.

"My wife ..." He corrected, "... carried to normal term both times, but then again she isn't exactly one of ... us. Given the blood our Indian carries and from what little I've been able to discern from my sources, her term could be about a third of the expected normal."

He paused in thought.

"When Doc got word to me of the attack and her situation with so little time between, I knew ... and I dare say so did he and the others that the witch will be able to slow it down, but even her methods will have their limits."

Cat nodded solemnly.

"I've been to the place that they call the farm and I've seen what has been kept there. Will what they have available hold her if things go badly? Or should I build in more ... re-enforcement."

"They've held far worse or so Leviticus has led me to believe and I highly doubt he'd belittle the risk involved here. However, even with that, given the circumstances and all involved, I'd do whatever you feel might be pertinent, just in case."

"Yes, I agree."

As he looked around the gloom, Tombs changed the subject. "What about all this ..." he gestured the silent forge around them, "... do you really trust just any smithy that happens to wander in to care for it properly?"

Cat grinned mischievously.

"No, I've sent for a happy wanderer of my own. I expect she will arrive by weeks end. I've warned Poe to watch for her arrival."

Tombs sighed with feigned disappointment.

"Another demon hunter, no doubt ... but, a woman? She'll face challenges that you did not at doing ..." he gestured around them again, "... all this, but then again perhaps she may be better because of it."

"She knows what has happened here and brings her own set of ... skills not entirely unlike mine but perhaps better in some areas than others could even consider."

"Should I even ask?" Tombs sighed, knowing better than to push.

"For any number of reasons, she considers herself a bit of a gypsy. It may be better to learn of her true nature at her own speed of letting you know herself. Certainly you ... for one could trully appreciate that." Cat replied with dark mirth. "I chose her as she was the most ... adept at challenging situations that I could muster on such short notice. I wouldn't worry much about her as she's proven far more of a man than many men that I've met."

Tombs nodded. "I've met a few women like that myself, not the kind to mess with even in jest."

"I highly doubt she worries about being ..." Cat mused at the thought, "... messed with. Steel is her mistress, iron is her mate and she draws blood like an artist. I've seen her work, and what she didn't know when we first met ... I did what I could to teach her along the way."

Tombs pulled another toothpick from his pocket and began to chew on it. "I suppose we'd better get a move on before Poe and the witch get back."

Cat laughed but turned serious. "We better make plans to corner her once we get under way to let her in on your little secret before she starts to get suspicious of the wrong intentions."

"... or warns Poe before I want him to know." Tombs finished solemnly.

"That too ...." Cat agreed, "... that too."

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