The Character of Aslaug is Copyright Â? Joan Jacobsen
The Characters of Tigermark and TL are Â? Tigermark
The Character of Aramis Dagaz is Â? Aramis Dagaz
The Characters of Joe Latrans and Annie Latrans are Â? The Silver Coyote
Characters are not to be used without prior written permission of their authors.
No part of this story may be reproduced or placed on any website without the written permission of the author.
This story is copyright Â? Aslaug, 2005
To talk… sit… and listen
“You know, Aramis…I didn’t think you would be the one to stay behind in Asgaard?”
It was as much a statement as a question. Aslaug looked at the tabby feline next to her, raising an eyebrow. Since she met him, Aramis had been in a constant state of grief. At least until the battle began. She had expected that he’d want to go home as fast as possible. Leaving it all behind.
Aramis shrugged. “I’ve learned a thing or two as well. Besides, I’m here for a reason.”
Aslaug cracked a grin. “Somehow, I find it incredibly difficult to think you’re here to join up,” she said and prodded the feline’s ribs with an elbow.
The tabby chuckled. “On the contrary…I’m here to make sure you join up.”
Cross-eyed, Aslaug turned her head and looked at her feline friend. “Errhhh…make some sense, will you? I’m already here. Oh…wait a moment, I told you…the first time we met, don’t try to convert me!”
“Well, I have to at least explain the greater concept of God and his mercy to you, y’know. The difference between me and the Christians you’re used to is that for one thing, I can take no for an answer. Secondly, I don’t convert anyone at sword-point.”
Aslaug groaned and rolled her eyes. “Look into my eyes, kitten, and read my lips. NO!”
Aramis grinned. “Okay, I’ve now taken no for an answer. It doesn’t mean I’ll have to stop trying.”
“You’re half a step away from getting the thrashing of your lifetime! Where’s my breakfast anyway? I’m famished,” the equine said, sourly.
She turned around and started walking. There was food to be had and she definitely needed it. Her stomach felt like someone had sucked it empty and she had a distinct feeling of having a hole in her midsection that needed filling. There was a building nearby. In the distance, the golden roofs of Valhalla could be seen. For a moment, Aslaug stopped and looked longingly in that direction, before sighing and continuing. Food…she had to concentrate on food. There was no sense in wishing to go to the castle yet. She hadn’t been called for. Not yet.
Aramis followed with a smug grin on his face. It wasn’t going to be easy getting through to the filly, he knew that. But a challenge was a challenge and this was at least one of the more interesting ones.
“What’re you going to do next? Sit down with your book and start reading to me?” Aslaug asked after a while. She still sounded annoyed.
“Do you want me to?”
“Then I shouldn’t bother,” Aramis answered, shrugging. “There are other ways.”
“Aramis…I’m going to ask you really nicely, just once because we’ve fought together and shed blood together…stop it. I am not interested in it. I don’t mind hearing about what you believe in, but I do mind it when someone tries to make me believe the same things they do. Spreading one’s faith is wrong.”
For a moment, Aramis was the one to feel stumped. He scratched his neck and tried to bend his mind around that. “Y’know, filly…if you don’t preach and spread your faith, how do you expect others to follow it?”
“I don’t! That’s the point. I don’t spread it and neither would any other Hedni. It is not our way. We believe that if someone is ready to find the Gods, they’ll do so on their own. They’ll come and ask, themselves. They’ll witness our rites and find that they are to their liking. Anything. But we don’t go out there and bonk heads with books and words.”
“…no, just with axes and swords.”
“That’s besides the point!” Aslaug muttered.
“Is it? You’re angry that Christians have murdered your brethren…yet you willingly admit that you’ve killed Christian monks?” Aramis asked, very patiently. He was still walking slightly behind the equine.
“I do. After what the Christians have done, killing our wise furs, it’s no more than fair,” Aslaug answered, grouchily.
Aramis sighed. This was really going to be a challenge. He didn’t particularly like the idea of ‘an eye for an eye’, but it sounded quite close to what Aslaug was talking about. Again, he reminded himself that her world was a different one.
“Are you at least willing to accept that where I come from, Christians are not like that? We’ve spoken about this before but not at length,” he finally asked.
“If I ever get to see it with my own two eyes, I will probably be easier to convince. But I will take your word…as a friend…that it is so,” Aslaug answered and pushed open the door.
There was food on the table. A lot of food. Meat, bread, ale, porridge…even cheese.
Aslaug stopped and looked at the small pot of jam…then laughed. “I think someone is trying to send a message here,” she said and held it up. “What’s with the blueberries anyway?”
Aramis entered right after her and chuckled at the sight. “I don’t know. It’s starting to be a continuous theme. Good thing Joe has already gone home.”
“Speaking of which…don’t you think you should be getting home too, Aramis? You’re not going to get a convert with me.”
“Can’t blame a feline for trying?”
The equine narrowed her eyes some. “Try me. You’ll see how much I can blame,” she muttered.
Aramis took a seat across the table from her. “Now, now…there’s no call for that. Why is it so bad?”
“Aramis…you’re in Asgaard. Look outside. You spoke to Freja herself and you’re sitting here, ASKING me to convert? In the lands of my own Gods? It’s disrespectful in the extreme.”
Pondering that a moment, Aramis nodded. “True. I’ll wait until we leave…”
Aslaug poured some porridge into a bowl and looked at the feline. “Who says I’m leaving?”
The feline was about to answer when a familiar voice from the door interrupted him.
Joe opened the door.
Tigermark was probably already playing on the lawn with his tinx, he thought. The mental image made him smile. His big, stripy friend with the sharp claws and the stern world view…reduced to being ‘daddy’.
In a way, it was comforting. It was good to know that for all the harshness of what they did when called off on mission, they had lives to go home to as well. Real lives. With real furs waiting for them.
“Annie?” he called out. “I’m home…”
He didn’t get an answer. What he did get was bowled over by his wife, holding on to him for dear life. Quietly. Not a word spoken.
Joe smiled and put his arms around her. It was good to feel missed. It was good to come home. He did his duty, when he was called off…but he always missed home, terribly. This last one had been awful. So much blood. So many questions. So much death and destruction.
Violence could be necessary, he realized that. But shooting someone at fifty paces didn’t make for the same personal impact as when he was up close and personal with someone, staring an enemy straight in the face, while wielding some paw-to-paw weapon. He was a gentle fur, deep down. Rough around the edges, certainly, but he wasn’t a violent male by any stretch of the word. Doing what he had to do was hard enough. But seeing the light go out in the eyes of someone he had just run through was…getting harder to deal with, every time.
“I missed you too,” he whispered, just holding Annie for the longest time.
He wondered how on Earth he was going to break the issue of Aslaug to his wife. This was probably not the right time to smile widely and say ‘oh, by the way, we’re getting a permanent visitor. Yeah, well, she’s brusque, she’s nearly six foot tall and she’s got a thing for battleaxes. Oh, and she probably won’t be coming to church with us’. Somehow, it really didn’t seem to be the proper moment for it.
There would be better times. Soon, of course. For all he knew, Aslaug might land on the doorstep any second. But at the same time, he felt pretty sure God would at least let him have his homecoming in peace.
“Well, I’m not the only one saying so. We all are,” the voice said from the door.
Aramis turned around to look at it. A dark-haired female wolf with a large, bushy tail was looking in at the both of them. She was quite lovely, really…despite looking like she was probably in her fifties. She definitely kept well. Her eyes told Aramis that she wasn’t quite what she seemed to be though. There was an almost infinite depth in them. It was like staring into the universe and…beyond.
He swallowed and got to his feet. “Maybe…I should wait outside,” he mumbled.
“Only if you feel you must…” the elderly femme said, smiling a warm, friendly smile. She looked slightly tired. There was an air of constant sadness about her, but also one of incredible intelligence.
“I have heard your voice…” the feline said, shaking his head. “But you…were different.”
“I know. You saw me as an even older femme…a squirrel, yes? Gudrun, I called myself. I do that sometimes. Too many would recognize me like this…” the wolf said and sat down, opposite from Aslaug.
The filly had dropped her spoon and the bowl was looking like it might tip out of her paw too. She was staring…openly. Her jaw was hanging loose. Clearly, she was well aware of whom the wolf was.
“I think I’m missing something here…” Aramis mumbled. “Who…are you?”
“She’s Odin’s wife, Aramis…” Aslaug said, reverence and awe lacing her words. “Frigg…the wisest of all the goddesses. Patience…wisdom…her husband’s equal…”
“Ohh…hardly that,” Frigg said and smiled warmly. “My husband is beyond equality, really. But I like to think I have a better grasp of applying my meager skills than he often shows. He does have such a terrible temper and he really could do to learn some patience…”
Aramis blinked. He felt lost for words for a moment. Something important was happening, he was sure of that. But exactly what…he didn’t know.
“Eyr is wondering if you have recovered, Shieldmaiden?” Frigg asked, looking back to the equine.
“I…I have. I feel no stiffness, no pain. The wounds are all closed. I will remember to give thanks to her!”
“I think you just did. I’ll make sure to let her know. She’s very dutiful about such things.”
Again, Aramis felt like he was left out of something. “Erhm…who’s Eyr, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“She’s our healer. The goddess of medicine, healing and recovery…” Frigg explained without facing the feline. “Now, please have a seat. You know, you might learn a few things from this as well.”
Reluctantly…slowly…Aramis sat back down. He had felt so sure of himself only a moment earlier. He and the other Amigos had been told to make sure Aslaug joined the Christian flock and he was confident he could do so. Now…he wasn’t so sure. The look on the equine’s face as she beheld the old femme in front of her was one of absolute reverence and deep, deep respect.
“What would you ask of me?” Aslaug finally said.
“Just that you listen. With an open mind…open your heart as well, and let me tell you something about the way everything works…” Frigg said and smiled that warm, comforting smile again.
Tigermark was sitting on the lawn. He had grass in his fur and the white T-shirt he’d put on was probably never going to be white again. He had a wide smile on his face. Coming home was something he looked forward to. A lot. The older the tiger got, the more he had come to realize that if he didn’t have this solid, grounding element in his life…he’d have gone stark raving mad. Running around strange planets, alternative realities and obscure timelines was enough to twist the sanest of furs. Especially when it happened as often as it did for Joe, Aramis and himself.
It wasn’t a job one could quit, either. Nor was it one he had any wish to give up on. He knew he was privileged. He appreciated it. He gave thanks for it.
But getting grass on his T-shirt like this, from playing rough with his kids, and seeing the smile on TL’s face was something he wouldn’t…and couldn’t…be without. It made life worth something. It gave life meaning.
At least, his life. He folded his arms over his knees and let his mind wander. He’d seen a different way of life now. A different…alternative way of thinking. For him, it was inconceivable to live a life without God. He’d often asked himself how any fur could do that. How anyone could live a life that lacked something so important and fundamental.
The image of a bleeding, berserking equine came to the front of his memory. He’d never seen anything like it. It had been awe inspiring. Even a little frightening. And he didn’t frighten easily.
This mission had been for him, for Joe and for Aramis…that was what he’d been told before being sent back home. Aslaug had been brought into it later. Probably, the tiger told himself, because they had decided to take a left turn instead of a right at the heath…and ended up at her campfire. What if they had turned the other way? If they had never met her? What would things have developed into then?
She was a part of the team now. Tigermark didn’t really know how to feel about that. On one paw, he definitely respected the filly. Not to mention her ability with an axe and somehow, he felt pretty sure she’d be very useful in future nasty situations. But those nasty situations were likely to arise while they were out there doing God’s work. And she…most definitely…wasn’t a good Christian.
Could she even be converted? That had been the task set down to him…and to his two friends. To bring Aslaug into God’s flock. While he certainly wouldn’t mind it happening, Tigermark was enough of a realist to see that the chances were more than remote. Aslaug’s faith was as strong as his or that of either of his two friends. This too was something that struck him as strange. How could someone believe something so strongly…when it was wrong?
He shook his head. It wasn’t wrong. Not in her experience at least.
That was what he had to keep telling himself. Her world…her experiences…her life…was not the same as theirs had been. Would it be right to change her? The first thing she’d told them was not to try to convert her and now they’d been told to do just that.
“Dear, are you there?” he heard TL ask…from far away.
He blinked and broke out of his introspection. “I’m here. Just…thinking is all.”
“Don’t brag, Love,” his wife teased and bent down, kissing his cheek. “I’ve got us something very nice for tonight, by the way…”
“Oh? Do tell? I’m in the mood for a really comfortable evening with the furs I love most,” Tigermark grinned and got to his feet, brushing off his pants.
“Blueberry pie. Would you believe there was this little old lady who sold fresh pies out the back of her truck, earlier? Just before you got home, too. They looked so good I thought I’d get one. I had a feeling you’d be home soon.”
Tigermark blinked. “Blueberry?” he asked.
“Yes…I thought you liked blueberries?”
“A little old lady, you say? How did she look?”
“Oh, it was this really wizened old squirrel. You know the type…bent over with age. She looked like a good witch, really. Out of a fairytale. I know it sounds silly but she really had that look to her.”
Tigermark shook his head slowly. A laugh started to grow from the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t help himself. He just laughed…like there was no tomorrow. It could be chance. Pure chance. He knew it. But there was no way he believed it.
He put an arm around TL’s shoulder and smiled. “I think blueberry pie is probably the best thing you could possibly offer me tonight.”
“Why do I have this feeling there’s more to this than a sweet tooth?”
“If you only knew…”
With that, Tigermark headed inside…smiling all the way.
Aramis was getting a headache. From the look of it, Aslaug wasn’t doing much better. They’d been listening to Frigg explain the nature of the universe and much to his distress, Aramis couldn’t bend his head around the concepts she explained. Sighing, he shook his head and raised a finger as if to underline something he wanted to say.
“What you’re saying is dangerously close to something a lot of furs got burned as heretics for in my world, many years ago. I suppose in Aslaug’s world it’d still be in the future…” he said and instantly went crosseyed. A big part of the problem was that he spoke from a different set of reference material than the shieldmaiden.
“You’re referring to the Cathars? No. This is very different,” Frigg explained, patiently. She didn’t even sound annoyed…despite having already explained several times.
“It sounds like it to me. You’re saying that there is Good and Evil…as in tangible things, and that we must all choose. But that God isn’t the only one…and that you’re also divine…but not His creation. This all sounds incredibly weird to me.”
Aslaug shrugged. “I can follow the part about the Christian God existing as well. I can definitely follow the idea that he isn’t all powerful because there are other gods and goddesses too. No problem. I don’t get the good and evil thing, though.”
Frigg held up a paw to Aslaug and looked at Aramis, giving the feline her full attention. “The Cathars in your world, Aramis, believed that there was one Good and one Evil. And that Evil ruled the Earth, and so they had to consciously rise above it. The real problem in that isn’t the idea of one good and one evil…you Christians already believe in that. The problem was that they said that Evil held absolute power over all things material. That the flesh was inherently evil and under sway of the Devil, as you call him. Aslaug would call the same force Surt…”
The shieldmaiden swallowed heavily and for the first time since he met her, Aramis saw Aslaug look frightened. It was roughly like watching a menacing baby kaht. It was completely unnatural and quite disturbing.
“What is Surt?” he asked.
“Don’t speak that name…” Aslaug broke in, her words clipped with terror. “He’s the destroyer. That which consumes all. There is nothing redeeming about him or his minions. Nothing. At all. Muspelheim is only about destruction. Of all things. The Earth we walk on, the bodies we inhabit…life, love, light, darkness, everything.”
“Aslaug…you’re frightened,” Aramis pointed out. Almost as if he had to make sure he wasn’t getting this wrong.
“As well she should be. Even my husband fears Surt. Only a fool would not. He is a force so destructive he will eventually consume everything there is. Everywhere. The sky, the earth, all living and dead things.”
“That…sounds very, very nasty…” Aramis mumbled and shuddered. “At least our Devil tests us and we can deny him…but what you’re talking about can’t be denied can it?”
“Have you ever stuck your paw into a roaring bonfire, Aramis?” Aslaug asked, regaining some composure. “It’s the same thing. Stick your paw into that and tell the fire not to consume your flesh. If you can do that, you can deny Surt. He doesn’t reason. He doesn’t listen. He simply destroys.”
“I don’t think I like this Surt-character!” Aramis said, flatly and folded his arms over his chest. “He sounds like something that should be editted out of creation!”
Frigg laughed. It was a warm, pleasant sound. Aramis couldn’t help feeling like he heard his grandmother laugh. It was a safe sound. In the sense that it made him feel safe. Surt was suddenly far away…whatever he was. From the looks of it, Aslaug felt much the same way. She was calming down at least.
“Okay…let me try this again…” the shieldmaiden said, thoughtfully. “Where I come from is just…one world? There are many places like it, but they can’t be reached by any travelling method over land or sea…or even the air, except by Gods and Goddesses, or those they choose to send there?”
“That is right,” Frigg nodded.
Aramis listened. He was with Aslaug so far. Her way of explaining different dimensions was primitive but it worked.
“And there are many, many Gods and Goddesses…more than the Aesir and Vanir…and the Christian God? Many of them…from different places? Many of them I haven’t even heard about?”
“That is also right,” the goddess answered.
Aramis sighed. This was where it got difficult for him to deal with. It went against everything he held true.
Aslaug continued nonetheless. “And all these…beings…work together, even though we fight? Even though Christians and Hedni fight each other, you cooperate with White Christ and the Christian God? What for? And…why? I mean…if we fight…?”
“Aslaug…let me ask you a very simple question. You too Aramis. Let me ask you both this. Barring fantastic stories you either hear skalds tell of, that happened centuries ago…or read about in the bible…when has either of you ever experienced the Christian God or the Aesir and Vanir come down on a battlefield, when invoked, to smite the enemy?”
“Erhh…” Aramis began and looked thoughtful. “I see what you’re saying. We shout ‘God is with us’…and storm out and kill whomever we consider to be the enemy. We ask for God to intercede, and give us victory…but it’s our own strength of arms that bring us those victories, yes? It’s not really God coming down to help us. Because He doesn’t want to help us kill other furs…?”
Frigg smiled and reached out, taking a drinking bowl from the table, filling it with ale and sipping from it. “That’s pretty close. Two divine beings won’t help their believers kill each other because it’s not what we are trying to accomplish.”
Aslaug shook her head. “Waaait…so you’re saying it’s always wrong to kill? That makes no sense…”
“That’s not what I’m saying at all. I am saying that if you must kill, then make sure you kill for the right reasons and that those you kill must die. Just because they believe in something else doesn’t make them evil furs by default.”
“Baron Adalbert was evil!” the equine exclaimed. “His idea of belief was ‘be like me or die!’ and that REALLY isn’t right.”
Aramis nodded. Again, he felt the headache coming on. “But Adalbert wasn’t Christian. He called himself Christian and he probably thought he was, but he was really serving something else. He was an evil fur, who thought nothing of what God teaches us.”
“And what does your God teach you, Aramis? What is the first thing he teaches you when it comes to how to interact with others?” Frigg asked.
“That’s easy. To love our neighbours. As in loving everyone else,” the feline said and shrugged…then blinked. Slowly, a grin spread on his face. He looked like someone had turned on a lightbulp behind his eyes.
Aslaug scoffed slightly. “Must be a lot of love where you come from, then…”
“Behave, Aslaug. He’s talking about ideals. Now, let me ask you…what do the Hedni believe about the same thing?”
“That we should show others the same respect we want them to show us.”
Frigg nodded. “Now listen to that a moment. Can’t you hear how similar those ideals are? They’re worded differently but they’re not far apart. That is what all religion is about. All faiths teach some of the same things. Respect for one another, kindness, compassion, being honest and upstanding, setting a good example for one’s fellow furs. Such things are universal. All faiths…all creeds preach these things.”
Aramis smiled. He was getting this at last. He looked at Aslaug, hoping the equine was catching on as well. She looked slightly suspicious, but she was clearly thinking this over.
Frigg crossed her legs and looked between the feline and the equine. “Now…if you peel all religion down to the very basics that they all have in common. If you remove all the extra bits that various furs either invented or misinterpreted…or that each divine being thought could be useful without asking the others first…what do you have left? You have instructions for every fur to be honest, decent towards others, to be truthful and compassionate, to remain peaceful as far as it is anyway possible, not to take the lives of others and so on. If you combine all these things into one fur…what do you have?”
“That’s easy. Christ reborn!” Aramis said and blinked. “I don’t think it’s possible to have all those traits in one fur. We’re flawed…”
“Play along, though. If you could have one fur with all these traits that all faiths teach as common factors…what would you have?” the goddess asked with a chuckle.
“From what you’re saying…” Aslaug said, quietly “…we’d have a truly good fur.”
“That is precisely it. And that is what we work towards. We want each and every fur to choose good. We don’t teach it the same ways, all of us. Because furs are not the same. I can teach things my way to you, Aslaug…but do you think Aramis here would understand?”
“No…he’s Christian. He’d turn to his God for… instructions… oh… bloody… Hel…”
Frigg just smiled and sipped her ale again.
Aramis and Aslaug looked at each other. Neither of them said a word. The shock of the impact was too deep for both of them.
Finally, Aslaug looked back at Frigg again. “So…when we fought the Christians before coming here, we didn’t do wrong, because they had chosen evil? Because they didn’t listen to those basic things that you talk about?”
“Precisely. The basic elements of faith are what makes you a good, decent, honest, honorable fur. Even those who believe in nothing at all follow these things because it’s part of the world they live in. But they don’t have the guidance that believers do. They only have their own sense of right and wrong, and hopefully that is sufficient. In most cases, it is. It’s their choice of course,” Frigg said with a little shrug.
Aramis nodded and ran a paw through his hair. “This is…something to think about. It’s very hard for me to accept that God isn’t behind everything.”
Frigg got to her feet and stretched, as if removing a kink from her back. She smiled and nodded, looking at the feline. “You’re a good Christian, Aramis. That means you need absolutes. Absolute truths…absolute falsehoods. And in your faith…and your personal world…that works. Aslaug is Hedni. We don’t teach our followers absolutes. We accept that we’re fallible. I could use a good chiropractor for instance…fantastic invention, sad they won’t come up with it for another thousand years. What you need to realize, Aramis Dagaz, is that in your world…God is absolute…except when he lets some of the rest of us peek in, to follow one of our agents. He’s not an unreasonable sort, like that. Not at all, in fact.”
“I don’t understand…what do you mean?” Aramis asked, getting up as well. Somehow, it seemed rude to remain seated while the deity got up.
“When your God tells you that he’s behind everything in your world…it is true. When he tells you that he’s behind everything everywhere else…it is also true. When you are in our world…and you ask us, we will tell you that we created ourselves…and everything you see. Aslaug can probably tell you the legend of creation sometime…”
“Gladly…if he’s interested?” Aslaug said and got up as well.
“Probably…but later. So…what you’re saying is He is behind everything, everywhere, and He’s not? At the same time? That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever…” Aramis said.
Frigg just smiled and headed for the door. “Does it always have to, Aramis Dagaz?” she asked, looking over her shoulder.
Aramis sighed. “It would make everything a lot easier…”
“You love absolutes, Aramis. In this case, though…just accept that there are many, many truths. Yours is right. Aslaug’s is right. But in the end…what it all comes down to is how you administer the life you have been given…and what you use it for.”
With those words…Frigg was gone.
Aramis sat down on the bench, heavily. “I have a smashing headache…” he mumbled.
“I know some good herbs that you can chew…it makes it go away…” Aslaug said, helpfully and sat down next to the feline.
Aramis chuckled. There was concern in the filly’s voice. That was rare, although he didn’t think it was beyond her. The glimmer of fright he had seen at the mention of Surt…whatever it was…was something he hadn’t expected and it had taken him aback. Aslaug didn’t get scared. Something was telling him that simply did not happen. Yet…it had.
“I think what it boils down to…Aramis…is this…” Aslaug began, speaking slowly and precisely. Clearly, she was thinking every word over.
Aramis turned his head and looked at the filly, nodding for her to go on.
“What I believe in is good, because it works for me. What you believe in is good, because it works for you. Neither is more right than the other. Neither is more wrong than the other. In the end…it is all about if we lived well. And that is not a bad way to think of this…”
Aramis nodded. “You know…the reason why I stayed, like I told you, was because we were told to bring you into the flock…to make you one of us…”
“But I already am one of you…” Aslaug said, thoughtfully.
“What do you mean?”
“I fought beside you, Joe and Tigermark once. I don’t intend to stop…unless you tell me to?”
Smiling, Aramis looked at his paws. His elbows were resting at his knees. “I don’t think that is what He meant, though…”
“How can you be so sure? Isn’t it possible that your God wanted you to get to know me…to help me learn more about your ways, AND for you to learn more about mine? Isn’t it possible…that we could learn from each other?” Aslaug asked, looking sidelong at the feline.
That got a soft laugh out of Aramis. “You’re not supposed to be so deep, filly. You’re just supposed to hit things really hard and leave the thinking to us felines.”
“Well, maybe I’ll start doing that from tomorrow then,” Aslaug grinned. “I don’t think your God would want me converted, though…”
“Because from what Frigg said…that would be disrespectful. Besides, why would he give you an impossible task, rather than simply a difficult one?”
“Point taken,” Aramis conceded. “So…what do we do now?”
“Now…” Aslaug said and turned around to the table again “…we have breakfast. Before I eat the table.”
The doorbell chimed. Loudly. An intrusive kind of sound.
Joe sighed and got up from his chair. He’d been halfway through the sports-section and having to move in the middle of something that vitally important was very annoying.
The doorbell chimed again. This time it wasn’t a chime. It was an angry growl. At least, it sounded that way. It kept on going, too.
“YEAH, YEAH, I’M COMING!! Good God who’s playing with the doorbell…!?” the coyote shouted.
He opened the door.
“I’m sorry Joe…I told her just to push it once…but I think she finds it fascinating,” Aramis said and smiled apologetically.
Aslaug was busy prodding the doorbell. She had a fascinated grin on her face. “Where does the sound come from? Is this sejd?”
“Nope, it’s electronics,” Joe said and gently moved the filly’s paw away from the doorbell. “There…welcome to the 21st century, Aslaug.”
“What’s ee-lek-tro-niks?” the equine asked and looked at both her friends. “And Aramis, why do I have to wear these ridiculous clothes. I look stupid!”
“Actually, I think you look just fine,” Joe said and saved his feline friend the explanation. “That’s normal clothes around here.”
“There are too many colors. I look like a freshly caught trout under the sun,” Aslaug grumbled.
“We can do something in black and white. At least you didn’t get a skirt. Somehow I don’t think that’d go right with you,” the coyote chuckled. “Please, come in. I don’t think you’ll be leaving the house for a few weeks, while we give you a crash course in what the world is like around here.”
Aramis smiled crookedly. “I think that’s probably a good idea. I have to get going, Joe…I’m already late. You take care.”
“Don’t worry,” Joe said with a smile and a wink to his friend. “We’re the Scruffy Squad…according to Jess. We’ll do fine.”
“Scruffy…Squad…?” Aramis asked. His face fell. “Oh dear. You know, there is this very appropriate old Chinese curse which I believe applies perfectly to Tigermark’s and my own situation from here on in…”
“May you live in interesting times,” Aramis grumbled…waved…and left.