(Posted by Toni V. Sweeney for Tony-Paul de Vissage)
Merci to all the Fuzzies for allowing me to blog today! I thought to promote my new novel, but knowing how much you ladies love animals, I chose also to write about two of the most intriguing characters in the story, who are also most important to the hero--a little red chihuahua and a sorrel saddle horse.
The Chihuahua is the only canine breed indigenous to the New World. Named after the Mexican state of Chihuahua, it is also the world's smallest breed, generally being within 6-10 inches tall and weighing no more than 10 pounds. The Chihuahua originated in Mexico, where it was a companion of the Toltecs as well as a helper to their gods. Dating back as far as the second century, it is believed to have hunted in packs. (Can you imagine a pack of feral chihuahuas?) Called by the Mayans techichi (and those who saw Beverly Hills Chihuahua may recognize that as the name of the city where stolen heroine Chloe is taken by the "lost" tribe of chihuahuas), in the Mayan belief, Techichi was the name of the small red dog who greeted the souls of the deceased and conveyed them to Yaxache, the Tree of Heaven. There they were judged by Huban Ku, the mouth and eyes of the Sun and the Lord of Heaven. The lucky ones were allowed to stay and live under its branches.
In Dark God Descending, Semris the demon has his own techichi. Kidnapped by a publicity-mad scientist and aided in escaping by his human friend, Tuck, he is wounded and lies unconscious in a pasture. When he awakens, he finds himself face-to-face with a small red dog, a chihuahua, who licks his face. At first, Semris thinks he's died and the techichi has come to take him to Yaxache. Only later does he realize that the little animal is the pet of a young woman who comes to the pasture to see her horse, which is an animal the Mayan godling has never seen before.
There was a sudden rustling. A high-pitched bark. A tiny red dog stood there, looking up at him with bright eyes, large ears erect, its tail wagging rapidly.
"Techichi!" Sight of it made him weak with happiness. Clumsily, he rolled onto one hip to face it, hold his hand out to the little animal. "Have you come to guide me to Heaven?"
In answer, the little dog took two steps forward and began to lick the red stains off his palm. Semris stared. It wasn't affected by the touch of his blood! Surely, it was a divine creature!
With another bark, it leaped into his arms, and the demon clasped it tightly to his chest, lurching around to lean against the trough again. The dog yipped once more and began to lick his face.
Semris smiled and turned his head to escape the slavering tongue. "Have you come to take me to Yaxche?"
Yes, that's where he wanted to go! To the Tree of Heaven, under whose branches all good souls rejoiced, where Hunab Ku, the mouth and eyes of the Sun and Lord of Heavens would welcome him. Briefly, he wondered if he would be allowed to sit under Yaxache. He'd been a good ruler, just and fair in spite of his sometimes irreverence. Surely that would count.
Semris closed his eyes, waiting to be swept away by the techichi's magic.
"Paco! Paaa-cooo!" From somewhere far off, someone called. The little dog barked again and placed his forepaws on Semris' chest. The over-sized ears quivered and it turned its head and whimpered. "Paco!"
The techichi scrambled from Semris' arms, dashed around the corner of the water trough and disappeared.
The chihuahua is Paco, inquisitive and spoiled pet of Tuck's fiancee, Shannon. There is another animal in the pasture, once which inspire momentary fear--even in a demon--the horse Wildfire.
Something soft touched Semris' cheek, traveled upward to his temple. There was an odd snuffling sound and warm breath against his skin.
"Techichi?" He raised his uninjured hand, reaching out, and opened his eyes as his fingers touched the same soft object. The next moment, he was giving a startled yell and wrapping his arms protectively around his head as the creature towering above him jerked up its head and stumbled backward.
It trotted a few feet away and stood there, snorting nervously.
Semris dropped his arms, staring at the beast.
He'd never seen a creature like it. Four-legged and taller than a mortal, its coat the same dark red as the mud in which he lay, long tail blown gently by the early morning breeze as was the hair on its thick neck. It didn't appear to be dangerous however, if the mild brown eyes peering from under the heavy forelock were any indication--simply curious, and perhaps, even a little frightened by his sudden shout.
"What manner of animal are you? Are you raised by Tuck's people for food? Are you some strange deer or goat?" The creature snorted again and butted its head against his hand, and Semris came around the other side of the trough toward it. "Nohoch. Big one."
He touched the long neck, resting his fingers against the glossy hide. It was smooth and soft and warm. The creature leaned against his fingers and he began to stroke it gently, sliding his hand down the thickly-muscled shoulders and deep chest.
Both Paco and Wildfire play an important role in Semris' introduction to the world of humans. Paco becomes Semris' companion, following at the demon's heels, especially at dinner time when he sits under the table to receive the morsels of food which a supernatural digestive system can't tolerate. Wildfire plays a more important role as Semris' curiosity about the animal, whom he believes was sent by the sun god to save his life, throws him into an affinity with Shannon. Riding Wildfire, he truly feels he is Emperor of the Heavens, and with Shannon before him on the big horse's back, he thinks he has everything a man could want. It is Wildfire, or Nohoch, as Semris calls him, who makes Semris realize he is experiencing the most human of emotions--and one of which he's always been curious.