The thing had stopped, sort of sniffing in my direction. It wasn’t shaped like a hound. It wasn’t shaped like anything.
“If it would manifest physically, we could shoot it a few times and that would probably do it,” the man said. “You can’t kill a spirit that way, but you can shock them into going home.”
I nodded. That fit. “Well. It doesn’t like churches.”
“Do you like going into somebody else’s home without an invite?”
That was so close to my own feeling on the matter that I flinched. It wasn’t a demon. But it wasn’t a nice thing either.
But maybe. “Well, if it’s a hunting dog, we could try something else. Like…is there anything that would be a…”
“Blast it. Anyone got a lighter?”
I was tossed one. Thank goodness one of them smoked. Stepping forward, I flicked the lighter on.
All of the shadow creature’s attention was on me. Even what had been wandering before. “Want a treat?”
I had a feeling it would want more than that. I looked around. Yes, there was a suitable container in the alleyway.
Getting my point, my erstwhile enemies were picking up trash. Soon, we had a nice little homeless person style fire going. Which the shadow dog was wrapping around like, oh, a constricting snake. Through the barrel, of course.
“It’s a dog. It’s going to respond to treats and maybe a bit of kindness. And then…”
“You can just ask it to go home.”
The smell of stale tobacco and sulfur was stronger, but it didn’t bother me as much right now. I walked up to the shadow and…petted it.
This time I didn’t feel it trying to drain my strength from me. Which I now knew had been a way to get me to stay quiet, while it did whatever or called whoever. “Why don’t you go home, Rover?”
I sensed a purr in my mind.
“It likes you.”
“You won’t be happy here.” My hand seemed to come into contact with something solid. “Good boy.”
Still that purr, not quite fitting the dog image. And then it slowly faded into the fire and was gone.
I turned to them. “So, are you going to shoot me now?”
“Truce.” It was reluctant.
“That’s all I want.” It was, for right now. More might come, but not having to worry about them?
It meant I could worry about worse things.
Like who was sending shadow hounds from Muspelheim after me. Yeah. Like that.