Telling Tales 128
Cats Are Very Helpful
“I don’t suppose you’ve ever heard of Count Arnau? A bad man. Not one of the worst, I’d say. Cats are familiar with the worst you lot have to offer and we do talk amongst ourselves. Don’t think we don’t.
Wait a moment and consider the sound. Is that hounds in pursuit of prey? Or is it thunder? It’s one or the other, I’ll tell you that much, and both are present. Of course, I know the difference. I wonder if you do. And if you understand. Or even if you will before it’s too late.
Count Arnau is cursed. Oh, he stole money or he lay with the wrong female or somesuch nonsense. Cats don’t worry about those trivialities. Our categories of sins mean something. Yours are predicated on honor or one or another random point of law that usually falls back on ‘I told you so.’ We’re not impressed.
His curse? You need to pay more attention. You’ve got all the facts already. He’s a bad man, and bad men get punished.
Yes, bad women, too. I don’t know how she’s supposed to be paying for what she’s done, the woman he lay with. It takes two to fight, after all.
The count rides before the storm. You hear his dogs. The storm gathers behind him, pursues him. Arnau is hunter and hunted for all eternity. He must capture his prey before he is captured himself. He may never rest. He may never stop. The thunder might be his horse’s hooves. It might be the dogs pursuing him. It might be his dogs. Hard to say, really.
Dogs. Disgusting creatures. I mean, really. You know they eat their own feces, don’t you?
You’ve got a problem, you have. Here you are, looking for your breath and the Gathering Storm is on its way.
No, I didn’t set this up so that you’d be the prey. That’s simply an unfortunate consequence. Because really, you’re not interested in Arnau. He’s in the way as far as you’re concerned. The trick is that the creatures that are chasing him – keep in mind, this is just my opinion – they’re the ones who’ve got your breath.
That’s it. Get past the hunter cursed for eternity to the creatures that are hunting him and have a nice civil chat with them about getting your breath back.
You don’t have to say thank you. You don’t have to say anything. If you want to be rude. I’m only trying to help. The bobcat asked if we had your breath and we don’t. The only reason I borrowed any at all was to make a point and show you what it was we do with it. You’ve already got it back. I don’t know why you look so upset. Seeing as none of us do have it, I simply thought to save you a step and point you in the right direction. Hear that? They’re coming now. Your breath is coming right toward you. Isn’t that good of me?”