[note: The featured picture is an icon of St. Christopher as a cynocephalus — a dog-headed being who otherwise appears human]
All of them, though they had human hands and human builds, had canine heads, most closely resembling those of Labrador Retrievers, but longer, as if with a touch of Greyhound or Magyar agár.
Their coats were glossy and short – a half centimeter, no more, with no undercoat, tapering at the neck as the latter narrowed, shape transforming from canine to human, and its lustrous fur to gleaming skin, roughly the same taupe color as the fur.
“Now you know the reason we communicate with you telepathically, Reggie,” said Aeduuin. “As you likely already suspect, our larynxes work far more like those of dogs than of humans, and our actual spoken language is more like barking than anything you’d recognize as speech. In most circumstances, we communicate with your kind by a combination of sign language and written word. Only when one’s been placed under the influence of a potion, as you’ve been, or advanced to where he or she has unaided telepathic skill can we communicate as we do now.”
“Do you interact with us a great deal?” I asked.
“Look at icons of the saints,” Brother Sinjin replied. “Your Saint Christopher was one of us – there have been others.”
I reflected on the St. Christopher medals that some of the kids wore – he hadn’t looked like a dog to me. I’d forgotten that these creatures were telepaths and could read my thoughts. It was then I noticed a significant difference between these creatures and dogs – their faces had the musculature to smile, for Sir Aeduuin, Brother Sinjin and Lieutenant Hælin all smiled at me.
Brother Sinjin proffered a picture from within his robes and handed it to me. “St. Christopher as he appears on many icons and in several manuscripts.” I looked at the icon. The depicted saint did indeed have a dog’s head that looked very much like the beings who surrounded me around the fire.
“Even the well-intentioned do sometimes deny what stands before their eyes,” Sir Aeduuin said. “But enough about us; Brother Sinjin wishes a word with you.”
I turned my attention in the monk’s direction; his air was still kindly, but his face had grown more serious.
© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.
The Bluebottle Boys (Volume One) and Walking Backward for Christmas: A Tale of Woe from Soggyhall are each now available from Amazon Books. The Bluebottle Boys (Volume Two) is expected to be delayed due to illness and surgery (mine) and to technical problems beyond my control, but should be available in early 2018. The next novel of the series, By Good Angels Tenanted, will be available later in 2018.