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, 2007
Blood and Snow
Aslaug closed her eyes for a moment. She rose to her hooves and walked to the kitchen to put her beer-bottle down. She didn’t drink American beer. It was sacrilege to do so, as far as she was concerned. An affront to Frej, and she had no particular desire to piss off the the God of fertility and plenty. Life could turn out pretty miserable that way, pretty fast. Admittedly, he probably wouldn’t really mind if she drank American beer, but it was as convenient an excuse as any to avoid imbibing the stuff.
It looked like piss. It smelled like someone had distilled stale water and it tasted like someone had added alcohol to unsalted cabbage soup. In short, Aslaug found it worthless.
She distilled her own mead nowadays, and she bought foreign beer only. She had found a store nearby where she could get all sorts of good beer. At least better than what Americans drank. She would never learn to understand why youngsters thought getting a six-pack of Budweiser was a one way ticket to a good time. Beer was not supposed to be transparent! It was supposed to be dark as tar, almost as thick and pack a punch much like her own.
Outside, the night sky was lit by fireworks. It took her a moment to remember the occasion. It was the Fourth of July. A very important date in the year for Americans. The day they stood up and declared for freedom from oppression. The shieldmaiden smiled crookedly. It was a cause she could support wholeheartedly.
Reaching out, she turned on the radio and shifted through the channels until she came upon something she could bear listening to. Radio and television were certainly nice inventions. She liked both. The music filled the room and her ears as she opened the fridge.
Wasn’t this as good a time as any?
In fact she couldn’t think of a better time, apart from the regular dates. This was, after all, the most important day in the American calendar, and it was non-Christian. It was non-religious. It was the celebration of an ideal. Of a nation, stating it would no longer suffer oppression, injustice or tyranny.
She looked out the window again as a particularly big red, white and blue cluster went off right outside. Smiling that crooked smile of hers again, she shook her head.
Taking a stance against oppression, injustice and tyranny was all well and good. Occasionally, she wished Americans would realize that in doing so they had a historical obligation not to oppress, be unjust or tyrannical themselves. Most of them managed just fine. Some of them seemed to have conveniently forgotten that along the way.
Shrugging, she picked out six bottles from the fridge. In that respect, Americans were no different from any other furs anywhere else in the world. The hypocrisy was just as much on the heads of everyone else as on the Americans. The rest of the world knew that the United States of America was the most powerful country in the world. Ergo, they would bow and scrape and wag their damned tails whenever someone in Washington started using big words. To blame all the evils on the world on America afterwards was wrong. If the United States was guilty of causing all the evils of the world, Aslaug thought, other nations had a moral obligation not to bow, scrape and wag their tails in the first place. Even small nations had a duty to say no when it was the right thing to do.
Everyone was to blame, and everyone tried to point somewhere else to place the blame. The Western World placed blame with the United States. The United States placed blame with faceless, stateless groups of madfurs all over the world, and they in turn placed blame on the Western World…the United States included. A vicious cycle at best.
And until someone stood up and said ‘yes, this is our fault. Stupid mistake, guys, we’ll try to fix it. Our apologies’, it would not be broken. No chance of that ever happening of course.
She flicked the radio off again and headed into the living room. She grabbed a large bag which she used to transport her weapons in whenever she brought them somewhere. Many furs would get frightened simply from seeing it. She put her axes in, hefted it over her shoulder and finally went out. As soon as she got to the street, she was hit by the joyful mood of the celebrations. Furs were shouting and waving fireworks around. Quite a few of them were so drunk the equine wondered how they managed to remain standing. She still nodded to anyone who called out to her. Most furs in town knew who she was. Everyone thought she was simply some form of equine throwback or that her fur was bleached. There were only a few who knew the truth. Annie and Joe Latrans…and the Lutheran minister, William Berg, most notably.
She crossed the park and walked around the school and across the football field. In a few years time, she’d need to move on from this place. Sooner or later, furs would start wondering why she seemingly didn’t age. That was provided she hadn’t been allowed to go to Asgaard…to Freja’s hall, Folkvang, before then.
It was still light out. Midsummer wasn’t exactly dark in Southern California. Still, everyone was busy firing off fireworks already. Aslaug knew full well they’d still have plenty left when the sun finally did set. She closed her eyes for a moment and smiled, remembering the music she had listened to just before leaving home. At first, when she arrived in this world, she had thought their music was strange and unpleasant. Then one day, she had been instructing the team before a game…and someone had walked into the dressing room with a boombox pounding out a very heavy beat. She had felt the bass hammering it’s rhythm through her. She could literally feel it. It had made sense then. The beat had stayed in her. It was still there.
At the core of her being.
The team had quickly learned of her taste in music. To them, it had only made her even cooler. And it had added to the weirdness surrounding her, too.
She liked her music dark. Very dark. She liked to feel the beat shaking her ribcage. There was something martial about a slow, rhythmic hammering like that. She could…somehow relate to it.
Concentrating, she forced the music from her mind.
Then she reached into the bag. She slung the longaxe over her shoulder and grabbed the franciscas. One in each paw. Drawing a large circle on the ground, she took a deep breath. She knew where north was. It was in the direction of the radio-mast by the shopping center, only slightly to the left of it. She marked it on the circle, then drew an even-legged cross, north-south and east-west, within the circle.
Finally, she stood at the point of North. She took the beer out of the bags. Fortunately, none of the bottles had broken but then again, she had carried the bag rather carefully for just that reason. She placed them all at her hooves and closed her eyes again. Let the warm summer wind whip through her mane as she grasped the franciscas again. She smiled and let her eyes close as her head dropped back. These were the moments where she felt most at peace.
She was quiet. Completely quiet. For as much as a minute. Maybe even longer. She stood there, motionless except for the occasional flex of her fingers.
Finally, she raised her head again and looked straight ahead. She didn’t see anything. Her mind was empty of all things apart from what she was about to do. The music was gone. In the far distance, she could hear wolves howling. It made her smile.
The mounts of the Valkyries. She often heard them. But they never came for her. They couldn’t. Not in this realm.
“I invoke the powers,” she whispered. “Odin, Freja, Thor and Tyr, I ask you to bear witness and grant me your favor if my rite is pleasing to you.”
It felt good to say the words, even if no other furs were present to share it with her. This wasn’t about other furs, after all. It was about her…and the Gods. Slowly she took one step backwards and turned, walking clockwise around the circle she had drawn on the ground. She was humming…a tuneless beat, but it was rhythmic. That was all that was required. Not all furs were great skalds, after all. Her own singing voice was an insult to the gods anyway.
When she reached her original position, she took a moment to think and clear her mind again.
“This circle is closed. It will remain unbroken except for children and animals crossing it, for they know no better,” she said, quietly and hung the franciscas from her belt.
She picked up one of the bottles and opened it, holding it aloft. “Hail Odin, Lord of Valhalla, Father of All.” she said. Her voice was clear, but still not loud. There was no reason to shout after all.
Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed movement, but she was concentrated on what she was doing. She drank from the bottle and closed her eyes again. Then she emptied the bottle onto the ground.
“To the spirits of this land, for letting me use it for this rite,” she said, quietly.
The movement was there again. She did not turn her head. She didn’t want to interrupt this rite for any reason whatsoever.
Aslaug put down the empty bottle and picked up a new one. She opened it and held it aloft. She took a moment to gather her thoughts again before she spoke once more. “Hail Freja. Mightiest goddess of Asgaard, I remain at your service.”
There was a brief moment where Aslaug could swear she could hear the songs in Folkvang. Smell the hearth-fire. It was all the confirmation she needed. Smiling again, she took another long drink from this bottle, before emptying it on the ground for the spirits as before.
She picked up her third bottle and opened it. It was as if the world outside the circle had vanished. The movement she had sensed before was probably still there but she didn’t take notice of it anymore. If it was still there, she didn’t know. She could still hear sounds from far away. Distant…ghostly…faint…
But she could hear them.
“Hail Thor,” she said, her voice strong and clear…but still not shouting. The next bottle was held aloft. “Protector of all furs in Midgaard.”
She drank again, then emptied the rest of the bottle before picking up yet another bottle and opening it in turn. Just one to go before she could get to the real business at paw.
“Hail Tyr, greatest of Generals, master of bravery,” she said, before drinking and finally emptying this bottle as well.
Finally, she reached back to her belt and took her franciscas back out. She held them in front of herself. She was at peace. Calm.
If Tigermark, Joe or Aramis saw her now, they’d all jump to stop her, she knew that. They could not understand this. She did not ask them to.
Their God had died on a cross…his blood was sufficient sacrifice for everyone, as far as the Christians reckoned. With that sacrifice, he had purged the sin of all furs. Then he had come back to life.
Aslaug did not agree. One sacrifice was never enough. Not unless it was an individual sacrifice. Not unless there was a sense of giving…or loss…or pain…involved.
“How will this end?” she asked and looked up. It was getting darker. The sun would set soon. The air was fetid and hot, but Aslaug barely noticed it. “I know nothing is written in stone. I know we must make our own fortune. I did. I died…and I am not one of the wise. I don’t know what rules apply to the dead. Please…show me? How will this end?” she asked and held out the franciscas in front of herself.
Then she swung them.
They stopped close enough to her arms that she knew she had cut several hairs in her fur. Slowly, she ran the axe-blades down her arms, cutting two long furrows in her arms.
“I give my blood willingly, in sacrifice. Show me the end of my road.”
She closed her eyes. Her legs were going numb, but she was not falling. She wasn’t afraid. She trusted in the Gods.
“I am a leaf on the wind of your storms…” she whispered and drew the axes down a little further, before calmly placing them back on her belt, holding her arms over the circle in front of her.
Behind her closed eyelids, she could see a blizzard. White snow…everywhere.
It was so cold. She could feel the cold, going into her very marrow. Even if she had been standing in the hot, SoCal evening air, she felt it. She could smell metal. Feel the weight of her armor on her shoulders. She could feel wounds. Wounds she hadn’t felt before.
She looked down. Her hooves were planted solidly in thick snow. Her lower legs were bound in warm fur to keep her warm, even though her breeches were already thick and warm in themselves. She was alone. At least…she was alone in the moment. The snow was perfect. Pristine and pure. The blizzard would quickly cover any impurities, too.
A drop of red hit the snow. Then another. She realized it came from her and she reached up, touching her forehead. They came back wet.
A scalp wound.
She hadn’t even noticed. It didn’t matter, either. She knew where this was. What it was. That the wound was insignificant. She looked down again. A few more drops joined the first two. The color spread a little in the snow, making the red seem significant…for just a few seconds.
Then fresh snow had covered it again.
She looked at her damaged helmet. It would not really avail her anymore, anyway. Especially if her head was wounded already. She kissed it…and smiled a little as she tossed it into the blizzard.
It vanished from sight.
“Are you afraid?” a voice asked next to her. A voice she had missed terribly. She was no longer alone.
“No Thormod. There is nothing to be afraid of,” she answered and turned her head, looking at the enormous bovine next to her. His black fur was longer than she remembered. He was still bare chested. The way he always fought. He was grasping an axe in each paw. Not for throwing.
He smiled grimly. “I’m not afraid either. This is where it ends, though. This is where it all ends.”
“Nothing ends, Thormod. There are no endings. Only new beginnings…” she answered and narrowed her eyes to look into the blizzard.
They were not alone. There were so many others there that she couldn’t count them. All behind her or beside her. She was in the front line. Where she wanted to be. The only place to be in a battle.
“What about your friends, Aslaug? The Christians?” Thormod asked, shrugging.
Aslaug smiled bitterly. “This is the one fight I can’t fight beside them. They’ve got their own battle to fight anyway…”
The bovine nodded. “I wonder what comes after this?” he said, thoughtfully.
“Something will. That’s all we need to know. It’s time to move on, old friend,” the equine answered, shrugging.
Thormod nodded again, falling quiet. They didn’t speak for a long time. Aslaug had no idea how long it was. She looked around again. She could see Jarl Gunnar there, on the line. Old King Gorm in a chariot. She could see the hird. All the furs she had fought and bled with.
She smiled. Where else could she be? What else could she do?
Nothing…that was what.
Everything was as it should be.
The ground shook. Just slightly. But it shook. In the distance…in the blizzard, there was something moving towards them. It was still far away. The weather made it impossible to see what it was, though.
“Do you think this is the end of the Gods?” Thormod asked at last.
Aslaug smiled. “No.”
“Short and to the point…I like that in you, Aslaug.”
“Why waste words, brother?” she asked and turned to face the giant warrior. She extended a paw. “It has been an honor.”
Thormod grabbed her lower arm and nodded. “Likewise.”
In the distance, something was burning. A lot of things were burning in fact. Aslaug sighed and nodded. Surt’s legion. As she had expected.
“I guess this is what it feels like,” she said, thoughtfully.
“What is?” Thormod asked, slightly confused.
“Facing your fear…and overcoming it. I always dreaded Surt…”
“Didn’t we all?”
Aslaug smiled and nodded. “I guess we did. Past tense. Now I’ll tear his flaming heart out and extinguish it in my own blood…”
The bovine chuckled. “Not if I get there first…”
The enemy host came closer and closer.
“For Asgaard then?” Thormod asked and looked at his friend with a smile.
“For Asgaard…” Aslaug answered, quietly.
Then she tucked down her head…hefted her axe…and began to run. Into heat. Into destruction. Into madness.
Her eyes opened sharply. She was still standing at the circle she had drawn on the ground. Her arms were no longer bleeding, but her fur was matted with blood.
She was not alone.
“Why do you torture yourself, shieldmaiden?” a voice asked beside her.
She didn’t answer. Instead, she took a step backwards and walked counterclockwise around the circle.
Once she reached the starting position again, she took a deep breath.
“The circle is open. It is no more, and all may move freely…” she whispered.
“Maybe you can,” the voice said, slightly concerned. “But that still doesn’t explain why you cut yourself and why you’re torturing yourself like this.”
Aslaug turned her head at last and looked at the fur next to her. She sighed a little. She was looking at a beautiful, female feline. Too pretty, in fact. Too perfect.
“Which one are you then?” she asked, grumpily.
“Ahh…I suppose I should have expected this,” the feline said and smiled apologetically. “They call me Gabriel.”
Aslaug raised an eyebrow. “The one with the trumpets and the walls? I always heard you described as male.”
“You haven’t seen me in armor. Anyway, strictly speaking, we’re neither…” Gabriel answered, shrugging slightly. “Angels don’t procreate…”
“How dull. That explains a lot about Aramis’ take on sex, I suppose,” Aslaug said and picked up her remaining two bottles of beer. She popped one open and sipped from it before holding the other one out towards Gabriel.
The angel didn’t take it. “No thank you. We don’t drink either.”
Aslaug chuckled. “No sex, no drink…next I’m sure you’ll tell me ‘no fun’,” she said. “Oh well…that means two bottles for me.”
Gabriel reached out and ran her fingers down the equine’s arm. There was no wound anymore. No scar either. The wound had been deep enough to bleed pretty badly, as the amount of blood in Aslaug’s fur attested to. She had heard about the equine from other residents of Heaven. She was a puzzling creature.
“Can I…pick you brain, as I think the saying goes?” she asked.
Aslaug raised an eyebrow. “Depends on what you want to know, I suppose.”
“Why don’t you believe in God? With all you’ve seen…”
“It’s not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of worship.”
“Define the difference for me?”
Gabriel groaned and nodded. “Please,” she said and smiled apologetically.
Aslaug chuckled. “Your Dad doesn’t educate his angels very well if after all this time you don’t know the difference…” she said.
Gabriel shrugged and sat down, cross legged, next to the remains of the circle on the ground. “I know my definition of the difference. But I think it’s safe to say your definitions of those words are different than mine.”
“Good answer,” Aslaug conceded and nodded, emptying the bottle of beer. “Belief is merely acknowledging the existence of your God. You’re sitting here looking at me. Ergo, I believe your creator is probably there somewhere too. It stands to reason. I have the rare luxury of having seen you…but most furs never will. Or if they do, they won’t know it. So they choose to worship you in the hope you really are there. They tell themselves that they KNOW you are there…that they are absolutely certain beyond all doubt that you are there…”
Gabriel nodded and chuckled. “Which means they don’t believe after all. Belief is tempered with doubt…that’s what faith is all about. Absolute certainty leads to hubris at best. Horrible wrongdoings more often than not.”
“Wrongdoings…” Aslaug said and shook her head. “The bloody cheek of you…”
She picked up her axes and the stuck the remaining bottle of beer in a pocket, setting out to walk home.
“Please…wait. Stop. What’s wrong?” Gabriel asked behind her. “What’s wrong about speaking of wrongdoings?”
Aslaug looked over her shoulder. “My Gods don’t set down laws for what is right and wrong. They tell me to figure it out for myself. They gave me sentience, and they allow me to use it. Your God tells your followers that they are too dumb to understand basic principles of coexistance except if he threatens them with doom, gloom & eternal damnation if they don’t do exactly as he says. So much for ‘God is Love’. What’s the point of giving furs intelligence if they are not allowed to make their own choices? The point is not to tell them what the right thing is, or else. The point is to let them figure out what the right thing is…because it is the right thing. Scaring someone into abject servitude? If it works for others, then fine. But it’s not for me.”
Gabriel winced. “You don’t understand…” she started.
“I don’t even want to,” Aslaug answered. “Was there anything else?”
“I wish you wouldn’t hate us so much, Aslaug. None of us hold any ill will towards you,” Gabriel said and sagged a little. “I’m not here to convert you. I’m just curious…”
Aslaug sighed and dropped her bag on the ground again. “Alright then…” she said, matter-of-factly. “I don’t hate you. I don’t hate Christians. My best friends are Christian…”
“Why are you so angry then?”
“How do you think one of your believers would feel if you turned him away at the entrance, saying ‘sorry, but while you’ve deserved to get in, we won’t let you yet’.”
Gabriel got up and walked up to Aslaug. “That’s no reason to be angry at Christians though…or angels for that matter.”
Aslaug shrugged and ran her fingers through the fur on her arms. The blood was sticky now. Clotting. She’d need to take a shower when she came home to wash it out. “I’m not,” she said at last, “But I get annoyed when time and time again, you tell me the same things. Use the same lines to convince me of your righteousness. Why do you even feel a need to justify yourselves by seeming righteous? Why is righteousness so damned important?”
Gabriel felt momentarily stumped. That wasn’t exactly what she had expected. “Don’t you want to feel that what you do is good and right and just?” she asked.
“I don’t need to pat myself on the back about it. I do what I do, because it is the right thing to do. I don’t need to be confirmed in it. I don’t need others to shower me with praise for doing it. I should not expect to be. I especially don’t need to feel that because I do what is good and right and just, I am better than others,” she said.
“That’s not the idea of righteousness…” Gabriel tried. She was starting to understand why this equine got talked about so much. And why she confused angels so badly.
Aslaug laughed. “You’re almost cute, you know. That kind of naivety would be adorable if you were a twelve year old girl. But in you, considering that you’re aeons old and supposedly a higher form of life, it’s just rather sad. ‘That’s not the idea of righteousness’. Don’t you know that all ideas are constantly redefined by those who use them?”
Gabriel sighed and looked a little affronted by the comparison Aslaug had made. “What’s your point?”
“There are good Christians out there. Very good, decent furs who do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Furs like Tigermark, Joe Latrans, Aramis Dagaz. Like Tammy or Annie or the kids. Furs like William Berg…and millions and millions of others like them all over the world. There are a lot of very bad ones, too. Who are usually a lot louder than the ones I just mentioned, but who will work overtime to show everyone how righteous they are. How holy they are. There are bad ones in all faiths. In my own world, there were bad he?°ni too. They usually tried to make themselves seem like the Gods had marked them in some special way, to do great things. They’d use this to make everyone dance to their tune and do whatever they damned pleased, saying it was ‘the will of the Gods’. Does that sound familiar to you, Angel?”
“All too…” Gabriel admitted and sighed. “But you’re still admitting there are many good Christians out there.”
“Yes, but they are not the ones you see, normally. Are they the ones you see Sunday morning on TV? Are they the ones you hear screeching messages of hate on streetcorners? Oh…oh or the really good one. I heard one recently…a preacher no less…who said that ‘love thy neighbor’ only applied if that neighbor was Christian too. Otherwise it was pleasing to God to hate that neighbor,” Aslaug growled.
“I am not even disagreeing with you, Aslaug…I’m not even disagreeing. I still don’t understand why you’re so upset at me though. Why you’re so hostile…”
“Because you do nothing to change that state of affairs. Because your teachings are formulated in such a way, Angel, that it allows for that kind of thing to happen, and when it does, you do nothing whatsoever to stop it or change it. You simply allow it to go on, in the name of your God. Guilty by damned inaction!” the shieldmaiden hissed.
Gabriel sighed and looked away. “Heaven has a non-interference policy. It’s been going on for close to two thousand years, you know. We’re leaving furs to do pretty much what you are calling for. Letting them figure out what’s right and wrong on their own.”
“Oh how admirable. Still based on scriptures that allow for the maniacs I mentioned before to flourish. In my world…that’s running from your responsibility. Pure and simple. That’s why I’m angry. Do you have your answer now?!” Aslaug said, sourly, picking up the bag again.
She started walking away. This time, Gabriel didn’t stop her. She crossed the football field again and she was about to walk around the school to get back to the street, when she heard someone running behind her. Sighing, she stopped and turned around, expecting it to be the angel again.
It was William Berg. He was pale and shaking, even when running.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
William shook his head. “I didn’t. I saw an angel. I…saw you. I followed. I was going to ask you a thing or two after you were done with your rite but I never got around to it,” he said and swallowed.
“Oh…” Aslaug muttered. She had confided in the mountain lion before, but this was the first time he’d seen something like that. “Well, enjoy it. I’m sure it’s a pleasurable experience for you.”
“It would be…but I just saw an angel get chewed out! Aslaug, for pity’s sake…”
“What? I simply told her the truth!”
William sighed and shook his head despondently. “That’s not the point. I realize you did. But did you have to be so brutal? She was just curious.”
“She asked. I gave a straight answer,” Aslaug said, evenly.
William nodded. “Yes, Aslaug, I know you did, but there’s something you haven’t realized.”
For a moment, Aslaug was about to get angry again. Then she calmed down and nodded to her friend to let him know she was listening and he could go on. She had specifically let him into her confidence because she needed someone to trust, and because he was a decent, helpful and open-minded fur.
“Remember how you said that there were millions of good Christians out there?” the mountain lion said at last.
Aslaug nodded. “Of course.”
William put a paw on Aslaug’s shoulder and looked straight into her eyes. “Then please…please…won’t you concentrate on them? If they are worthy of your respect, then why waste your time on all the idiots?”
For a moment, Aslaug felt stumped. She blinked and opened her mouth to answer. Then she shook her head and looked at the mountain lion. She honestly had no idea how to respond to that.
“You look torn,” William said.
Aslaug sighed. “I am in a way. I mean…what you say is true. I should. I know you’re right. But…”
“But the others anger you…?”
William nodded. He turned Aslaug gently so he could look her straight in the face. “Did you ever consider, warrior…that those ‘Good Christians’ feel the same way as you do about them? That they are just as fed up with them? Just as tired of the abuse of God’s name? Just as tired of the lying and the hypocrisy?”
Again, Aslaug wasn’t quite sure what to say. Truth be told, she hadn’t thought of it that way before. “They do?” she asked at last. She felt uncertain. She was on unknown ground here.
William nodded. “Oh yes. Many of us do. Myself included. We just don’t…get as verbal about it as you do. Or as physical as you can get. But the anger and indignation is there, I can promise you that.”
Aslaug nodded, thoughtfully. She took another few steps, scratching her cheek. “Alright…” she said at last. “Why don’t you do anything about it then?”
“What would you have us do? We are not immortal like you. We are not God. We trust in Him to judge these furs…when their time comes,” William said, smiling crookedly.
“And in the meantime, they can make what you Christians called ‘Hell on Earth’, is that it?” Aslaug snapped. Her voice was a little more shrill than normal. It wasn’t a lot.
But it was enough for William to notice.
He reached out again and took Aslaug’s arm. “Come. Sit down a little. There are some benches over here…” he said, quietly.
He guided the equine towards the benches and sat down next to her. She took out the last bottle of beer and opened it. Taking a sip and offering it to him. He accepted it and took a sip.
“This is good,” he said, approvingly. “Strong.”
“The way I like it…” Aslaug said, quietly.
“What did you see?” William asked after a quiet moment. He almost dreaded the answer.
“I saw…” Aslaug said. Her voice was growing thick. Her throat was constricting.
William didn’t want to interrupt the equine. He’d never seen her on the verge of tears before and it was a little frightening.
Wiping a paw across her face, Aslaug sighed deeply. “I saw blood…on snow…” she said at last. “And I saw the one thing I’ve ever really feared…coming towards me…and I wasn’t afraid anymore.”
William had spoken to Aslaug before about what she believed in. He didn’t need more explanation than this. He reached out and sighed, softly, pulling the equine’s head down in his shoulder.
“It’s okay, Aslaug. I think that would leave anyone shaken…” he said, softly.
Aslaug didn’t answer. She didn’t want to speak and reveal that her voice had broken. But the tears rolling down her muzzle and onto William’s jacket told their own story.