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Thursday, November 26th, 2015
10:59 pm
Spells; Debts


«…And Psajathrion said goodbye again,» I concluded.

«Did he give any particular details?»

«Not this time. If he had a crush on you, this is probably the last squirt of it,» I wrote, and yes, that means exactly what you think it does.

«I don’t think he did. He was friendly enough, but never like that. If any drake were ever not interested in sex, it would be Psajathrion. Any other messages?» asked Roroku.

«That’s all,» I wrote. «From party members and family members. Your father wrote me to say that he is lodging an official protest, but he didn’t explain what he was protesting or what he expected me to do about it. I think we’re going to get a stupid three-cornered spat between Mhel and Hove and Chiriact.»

«I’m very sorry. No. I’m measuredly sorry,» said Roroku. «Send him my love, again, and I’ll be glad to write to him directly if that helps anything.»

«It might. Oh! Do you need any spells, there on Kyspert?»

«By which do you mean, do I need any advanced travel magic spells that let me get back to the dragon-worlds? I am doing quite well so far, Jyothky, and I wouldn’t be casting those spells even if I could.»

«I was thinking of simpler stuff. Small-person healing spells, maybe, or some basic finding-spells. I could see both of those being useful in your new career.»

«Oh! There are a few things I wished I had. My healing is sufficient, and my information magic is plentiful» (I had forgotten — I evidently still think of Roroku as “childhood rival” rather than “analysis mage”.) «Some cosmetic illusion spells though! The perpetual kind. I would like to, say, mark some kysp or some place as one I have personally blessed. Which could be done by illuminating it with a soft green light, or having an illusory sparkling butterfly circle it forever, or some such grace note.»

«Boy-magic! The Adorn the Dancing Drake, perhaps; that’s what Nrararn often uses. Not a spell that a proper girl should know. Which, I suppose, puts it in the purview of the whore-queen of Hove. So I will study it with a tutor in the ordinary way and then try to tell you how it works through the venstroma. Or maybe I’ll give Nrararn the venstroma and have him do the work.»

«I can’t pay you for it,» noted Roroku. «You can get whatever you can get out of Gyovanth’s hoard, but I don’t expect that will be much now, or worth the effort.»

«Of course not,» I said.

«…I’m happy to be more in your debt, Jyothky, but this is a debt that cannot be paid off and will not be paid off.»

«Well, except that I’d mostly have to learn the spells myself, and I have been telling myself for duodecades that I should learn more magic, and I haven’t had the time or the excuse,» I admitted. «If you’d just tell me that you needed something interesting

«Oh! That I can do. I’d have all sorts of uses for one of the spells that makes illusions of fabulous beasts and creatures, which do what I will. I don’t need to cover that many senses, even: sight and scent and sound are plenty.»

«The Fabulous Fantasm, then? I could use that myself! Put a fabulous fantasm of myself on a platform for one of these ceremonies that I have to attend but don’t actually have to do anything at. Then sneak off in mouse-shape and, I don’t know. Twine with Nrararn.» (This because any proper married dragoness needs to say that she constantly desirous. Maybe if I say it enough it will become true.) «Or eat cheese or read a book.»

«Now you’re picking up my bad habit of running away! Don’t do that, Jyothky!»

Oh, good. I think we’re friends again, or as much as we ever were, anyhow.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
10:21 pm

Deech Portero

She was wrong about who wrote it, but we asked Ythac to hunt the author down. So within the hour, I had this conversation with the gentleman in question, in his study, in Tublier, frequently voted as the Least Interesting City In Trest.

“Hello, are you Deech Portero, author of this pamphlet?” I asked, looking like a fairly ordinary hoven girl.

“Why, yes, I am,” he said.

I turned into a small-but-larger-than-him version of myself. “I was curous about how you came to write it,” I said in a very gentle but very lizardly voice. “Oh, it is not a hurry. Take a moment to compose yourself.”

It took more than a moment, and more than one cup of wine. Healing spells can be cast quietly, and can dispose of alcohol as they do other poisons, so Deech wasn’t actually drunk, just under the impression he was. Which is almost the same thing.

“So, now that you are more comfortable, please do me the kindness of explaining how this particular pamphlet came to be written. More to the point, how it came to be written in Petty Draconic, and published in a format intended for a very small and specific audience of very large and scaly people.”

He scowled. “I have witnesses and evidence for all of it.”

“Oh, I am actually aware of the details of my romantic life, and I can only wish it was a grandth part as romantic as your pamphlet says! The facts are not in dispute, and this is not a trial for libel. Technically I could kill you and your family for lèse majesté and sedition, on my own authority. You’d be much safer, legally, if you were still Ythac’s subject … but I may choose to interpret this as an admiring if ill-conceived piece of fanfic. If you are good about answering my questions.”

He demurred a bit more.

“Oh, of course you’re an anti-dragon rebel. I am too, did you know? I don’t have my RARU card on me at the moment, but I did join, a while ago.” As Ythac’s spy, and I’m pretty sure that RARU expelled me forever, but never mind that. They had several days between discovering me and winning most of their country back with my help.

“That is nonsense,” he said. “I wouldn’t tell you for ten thousand thurnies.”

Which was an invitation to bargain if I ever heard one. We settled on three thousand, plus protection.

“I was commissioned by a dragon,” he said. “He (or she) didn’t give a name. Silver scales, sickle-shaped horns, a silver crest, intense blue eyes.”

“I believe I know the gentledrake in question,” I said, because that’s Gyovanth. “Did he leave you anything by way of instructions or source material?”

Gyovanth had left several sheets of paper, covered with rumors and odd tales about me, smelling strongly of himself.

“Yes, indeed I know the gentleman in question.”

So I commissioned another pamphlet from Deech Portero: a detailed study of my more impressive sexual escapades, written in the most florid and disgusted prose he could manage. A hoven reading it might conclude that I was some overblown libertine. A dragon reading it would find it routine and tedious. (Hovens do not know how to have sex well, except for Tarcuna and her ilk — the high-grade sex-worker ilk, that is, not the lesbian ilk or the in-hopeless-love ilk or various the other ilks that plague her life. Dragons do, except for me.) I had it dedicated to “He Who Knows”, which is to say, my husband. I don’t think that Deech liked dragons, or me, very much, but he did at least like thurnies. He included a number of oblique insults and veiled obnoxiousnesses in my pamphlet, and got paid for it. This makes him the second-happiest person involved in the divorce.

I sent a copy to Gyovanth, too.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, November 22nd, 2015
8:52 pm
Gyovanth vs. Jyothky, round 1

A month later, Nrararn peered at me oddly. “Jyothky? Why didn’t you tell me you were a lesbian separatist?”

“I’m afraid it slipped my mind, Nrararn,” I said. “What on Hove are you talking about?”

He gave me a small booklet — not many pages, I mean, but sized for a dragon’s paws. ”‘The Black Curse is a Vicious Dyke’ What a title! The book is clearly meant for dragons, but uses an offensive nickname and an offensive concept that come from Trest. No dragon would call me the Black Curse. They’d just call me a black girl.” My coloration is boring, both in being a matte monochrome, and in being one of the common female colors.

“Read it!” my husband commanded in imperious tones which brooked no disobedience. Or made me giggle, at least.

I admit to not reading the whole of the booklet. It was rather confusing, making the points that (1) I copulate with many dragons I am not married to, (2) I only actually desire females, preferably female hovens or even animals, and (3) everything else about me is horrible in all sorts of ways.

“That’s not too inaccurate. I’ll concede two of the three points,” I said.

“But you’ll leave out (2), like always,” said Tarcuna.

“You read it?”

“I read it,” she said. “I think I know who wrote it. The style reminds me of certain tracts that religious and civil authorities required me to read when I was first discovered to be lesbian.”

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Thursday, November 19th, 2015
10:13 pm
Gyovanth in the Courts of Hove 2

“Very well. As it happens, I do think they tricked you and cheated you,” I said. He looked confusedly hopeful for the first time that day. “Not unlawfully, as I estimate these things. Dragons have been tricking dragons out of treasures for our whole history.” He drooped. “I don’t think that putting you back in this expedition would work: it is clear that they do not want you. But I shall start a list of dragons whom I think deserve a place on the next expedition, and your name shall be first on it.”

“That is a jasper for a ruby!” he snapped.

“Yes. Better than no gem, though,” I answered. “And the ruby is gone.” Meaning the opportunity to gain honor on this expedition.

“Yes. The ruby is gone,” he sighed, meaning Roroku.

“Which I suppose brings us to these claims,” I said. “You demand compensation of various sorts for the loss of your wife.”

“I do. I won her in a proper mating flight! She was —”

“I do know what she was to you,” I said. “She made that quite clear, and every other dragon who talked about you did, too. Now she is a ruby, but only when she is gone.”

“You worked to destroy her proper wifely affection for me!”

I dropped my veriception blocks. This is quite shocking behavior from a ruler, but has become a bit of a custom on Hove. “No, no, that was gone before I first spoke to her after your wedding. If it ever existed at all. She never told me that it did.”

“I object — I demand — I importune!” objected, demanded, and importuned Gyovanth. The ensuing conversation took approximately twelve years, though, technically, it was over by the end of the afternoon. Pofku fell asleep halfway through. I would have liked to do the same, but someone needed to uphold my side of the argument.

Finally — oh, finally! — I got to say, “So, I have listened to everything you have said about the ruin of your marriage, your honor, and your hoard. You have persuaded me that you and Roroku were a terrible couple who should never have married, but, given that you had, you should have been divorced as soon as possible. You demand compensation for her marital flaws and crimes, while not accepting that your own marital flaws and crimes would require similar compensation from you. You also don’t have a good reason why the royal treasury of Hove should compensate you, or anyone but Roroku herself, and you did have her entire hoard for about a day, until you got tricked out of most of it by means that most dragons would regard as ‘ingenous’ rather than ‘criminal’. The physical punishments are simply untenable, as she is beyond reach. I could ask her to chew off her own paws or something, but I’m not sure that I could be eloquent enough to persuade her to actually do it. In short, my answer to your demands is a concrete composed of ‘can’t’, ‘needn’t’, and ‘won’t’, with a substantial inpouring of ‘you haven’t evidence for that’. As always, if you want to bring further and more persuasive evidence for anything, you know how to do it.”

“That is, indeed, what passes for justice on Hove,” he agreed.

I let him have the last word, since he hadn’t gotten anything else of any value.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
9:30 pm
Gyovanth in the Courts of Hove

Gyovanth in the Courts of Hove

In due time, which was just under two weeks, Gyovanth did appeal to Ythac, demanding all his last treasures back (including the magic rings that Roroku had taken to inaccessible Kyspert), and a quite astounding variety of quite astounding punishments for the Expedition members and me. Ythac, as one might expect, told him to take the last clause out and petition me instead. “Or you could demand that Jyothky’s scales be pried off and she be immersed in a bath of caustic slug-leeches. She wouldn’t actually care about the physical part of that. You might be able to persuade her it was a beauty treatment or something. She needs that. She’s so matte-black and feminine.”

So, after another week, Gyovanth presented me with a list of crimes committed against him, and a list of demands. I read them carefully, in the Banners-Far-Above-The-River Potato Shipping Warehouse, and gave them to Pofku, an elderly bachelor drake who knows more about draconic law than most of us. “Oh, good, you’re not including me in the charges any more.”

Gyovanth stared at me. “You know about that?”

“Silly monster! Of course I do. I have been attending this case with considerable care,” I said.

“Are you sure you’re not biased — not unfair?”

“Oh, I’m sure I’m biased and unfair. All I can guarantee you is judgment that doesn’t keep me up at night. You will hate it and consider it biased and unfair, I’m sure. I will flatter myself that I have done a good job if very few other dragons consider it biased and unfair.”

This vague nod in the general direction of justice did not please him much. But he knew he was not going to get a better one.

He started with, “This divorce you have vomited forth upon me. I did not and do not consent to it.”

Pofku nodded. “Not required. Not expected. Unilateral by one spouse.” Pofku was not actually a very good lawyer: he never says a sentence when a single word will do. Gyovanth complained. Pofku had brought books and tomes, and showed Gyovanth certain relevant passages.

I crossed several items off Gyovanth’s list, as based on a fallacious legal argument and thus without merit.

Gyovanth’s second point was, “Your drakes cheated me. They suggested that, if I paid, I would be allowed to stay on the expedition. Then they tossed me — me! — out anyhow!”

So I asked, “Did they actually promise that you could stay?”

“Yes, they certainly did!”

So I got out all my transcripts of the conversation, from three nyxylith users, and compared them to Gyovanth’s transcript. Predictably, my three didn’t include anything close to a promise, and Gyovanth’s did. I checked with Tultamaan and Osoth, who were unambiguous. “Well, then. From this evidence, I have to conclude that you misunderstand and misremember the offer. Would you like to give me more evidence? You could bring in a witness from the expedition. You could repeat your testimony without veriception blocks. You could try to persuade Tultamaan or Osoth to testify without veriception blocks. That’s all I can think of, but if you have any other ideas, you may propose them.”

Gyovanth drummed his claws on an old potato bin. “There are no untainted witnesses. Dropping my veriception blocks would be ignoble. Tultamaan and Osoth would find a way to hide the truth despite veriception. I cannot press this charge further.” By which I understand, he’s approximately lying and knows he can’t get away with it.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, November 15th, 2015
8:53 pm

Tultamaan: “And now we resume. There is one further matter.”

Gyovanth: “What sort of ridiculous trumped-up charge are you going to kangaroo me with next?”

Tultamaan: “Your Determined and Forceful Elimination of a Valuable And Skillful member of the expedition.”

Gyovanth: “Again you bring this charge? I have paid in full and then lots for my Entirely Justified Assaults on Jaraswat and Vaareng.” (Note to self and everyone: never, ever try to mock Tultamaan’s Ridiculous Overcapitalized Speech Patterns. The attempts always come out pathetic, and Tultamaan doesn’t care.)

Tultamaan: “I refer of course to the clever and skillful Analysis Mage who has recently chosen to Depart or even Skedaddle an infinite and insurmountable distance from her Normal Duties, largely as a result of Your Behavior.”

Gyovanth: “What? Jaraswat drove her over the edge, not I! And besides she is a useless she-wombat, a vile and disgusting female toad, a lump of harpy eagle feces only suitable for copulation, devoid of both magical and intellectual force!”

Tultamaan: “The perplexed court notes with some distress what Gyovanth does with harpy eagle feces.” Much amusement from the audience! This was what they were there to see. “We must leave this unimaginable deed unimagined. And I mean ‘must’ in the sense that to do otherwise would leave very unpleasant imagines in our imaginations. ”

Gyovanth: “I splutter in fumaceous rage!” [not his exact words]

Tultamaan: “You do indeed, and with considerable skill. Still: do you assert that you were a pleasant husband, of the sort who would not drive a wife to despairing and extraordinarily radical action? That is, do you live up to the standards of 20,735 drakes out of 20,736?”

Gyovanth: “I simply provided a few points of encouragement towards her greater glory, her worthiness to exist in upper Chiriact society!”

Tultamaan: “These ‘points’ that you mention. Are they, perhaps, the Points of your Fangs and Claws?”

Gyovanth: “When that seemed appropriate! Who among us has never bitten his wife? — Ah, I forget. None of you have ever had a wife, for you are each and every one from the inferior half of the drakes in your mating flights.”

Tultamaan: “Being in the upper half seems to have had a Less than Salubrious Effect upon your Ego. As a matter of Psychic Health, I recommend that you boast about a considerably more Exceptional and Unusual Point: viz. that you are the one dragon so unpleasant as to drive his wife to flee to another universe.”

Gyovanth: “Hah, it is not I who did that! It is Jyothky herself! Roroku would often whine and wail about being in Jyothky’s debt forever!”

Tultamaan: “Roroku could have avoided Jyothky’s Infinitesmal Wrath by the simple expedient of Not Coming On The Expedition. I suppose we can Look Into the Matter Further. Itharieth, Osoth, you know about this point?”

Itharieth and Osoth: “Gyovanth had a dozen measures in Roroku’s litany of sorrow. Jaraswat had a half-dozen. Jyothky got a scant single measure. The assorted urning drakes who resent all dragonesses, a half-measure. That is the sum of it.” I could have corrected them, but didn’t.

Gyovanth: “Bah! I am her husband! Who would know better what she said and thought?”

Tultamaan: “Nearly anyone! It was not Evident that you ever Listened to her, even when you Were her husband.”

At this point, Gyovanth’s legal defense abruptly became an incendiary offense, which I believe to be a legal offense as well. Tultamaan was expecting it, and well-defended. He simply smirked and Gyovanth’s flames splattered off of Driaith’s best handywork and Tultamaan’s own collection of magical talismans.

Tultamaan: “Well put, sir, well put indeed. Have you further Explanations or Excuses?”

Gyovanth: ”… no …”

Tultamaan: “A pity. Does anyone else wish to add anything before I pronounce the verdict?”

Gyovanth: “I do! You are a …”

Tultamaan: “Yes, yes, we know all that already. We have heard it a gross of times, and I make no particular Denials of it. Anyone else?”

Driaith: “You are what Gyovanth was about to call you, but at least you’re a smart one. And your tongue and your wit as sharp as an uncrippled drake’s claws!” Which got him an awkward two-legged curtsey from Tultamaan, and that got him glowers from Mirinxan and Vaareng.

Tultamaan: “There is no doubt that you are guilty beyond the meager extenuating circumstances of Injuring Vaareng, of Destroying Equipment, and of Driving Roroku Off.”

Gyovanth: “I have paid for the equipment! In excessive measure, beyond any reasonable punishment!”

Tultamaan: “True enough! But for the first and the third, you have as yet done nothing. Upon consultation with the senior members of the Expedition, we find you far too Disruptive and Disobedient to allow to remain. Thus we banish you from our number.”

Gyovanth:WHAT?” I don’t blame him for being furious. He had paid for the equipment on an implicit suggestion that he would be allowed to stay, and here he was, being dismissed after being robbed.

Tultamaan: “Banished. You shall leave immediately. Osoth shall send undead creatures to bring your possessions to Hove.”

Gyovanth: “I shall do no such thing!”

Tultamaan’s squad of guards rose to their feet, grinning many terrible grins, shining with Driaith’s defensive spells.

Gyovanth: “I shall depart — but I shall appeal this judgment to King Ythac!”

Tultamaan: “To Queen Jyothky, who is our royal sponsor. Osoth and I shall, of course, abide by her decision. Would you like to make an Intelligent Comment now? No, it seems you shall let your Perfect Record of the day stand? Very well! Be off with you. We have much to repair here, from the damage you have left in your wake!”

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Thursday, November 12th, 2015
10:08 pm
Disposing More of Gyovanth

Tultamaan: “So, then, why did you feel it worthwhile to assault Vaareng? As I understand your Position in this Expedition, you are a Guard. I flatter myself to say that I understand your Position very well, for I am Captain of the Guards, and you report to me. Were your injuries caused, perhaps, by Defending good Vaareng from some Terrible Danger enough to so badly Ruin a Drake?”

Gyovanth: “You know I wasn’t.”

Tultamaan: “What, then, were you doing?”

Gyovanth: “Taking my just and customary revenge upon the drake who committed adulteries against me, who turned my wife from submission to hatred!”

Tultamaan: “The Former Drake is Vaareng, I suppose, but the Latter Drake is clearly Yourself. Still, upon your forelegs we see the Unimpeachable Evidence that you are Truthful in this regard. You did indeed take a most Distinctive and Unmistakeable Revenge upon Your Own Self.”

Gyovanth: “You distort my words! It is Vaareng and Jaraswat, not myself, who are the adulterers!”

Tultamaan: “From previous testimony we understand that Vaareng was rather more of an Innocent and Eager Victim in this regard. Your Former wife manipulated him with a Few Words and a Flick of Her Claspers. She seduced him out of the Mintwall Shield, after all.”

Gyovanth: “She seduced, he seduced, it matters not! The fucking occurred! I am allowed my revenge!”

Tultamaan: “Custom allows you to bite the Seductor of your Wife. But this Custom is Unimportant to the point of Meagreity in Two Important Respects. First is that the Needs of the Exploring Company are Paramount over minor personal annoyances. Second is that Custom does not give you rights over the Seductor of your Ex-Wife.” (This is a bit specious, since the seduction occurred before she was divorced in anything beyond mere truth.)

Gyovanth: “That is specious! The seduction occurred before any signs of the so-called divorce had occurred!”

Tultamaan: “It has been Thoroughly Established that you are unable to perceive Important Signs and Clues. You need not Exert Yourself Further on this point. The salient concern is the First. You were planning to badly injure a Very Useful Member of the Expedition. We fret somewhat less for the result, viz., that, instead, you managed to badly injure a Refractory and thusly Useless Member of the Expedition. Though neither cause nor effect makes you Much of an Asset. Well? What say you?”

Gyovanth: “I was asserting my traditional rights. That is a statement! Not an excuse! No excuse is needed!”

Tultamaan: “The first point is established without any particular rebuttal, or even much awareness of why we might Care About The Matter. Now, for the second point. There was a bit of a tumult in the Portal-Head, at which you and Jaraswat and Vaareng had a Battle. You were the Instigator of this Battle, were you not?”

Gyovanth: “Jaraswat had designs upon my wife, and bitten her without permission! Was I to tolerate such insults? Of course I leapt upon him — I would have thrashed him save that the situation became overcomplicated!”

Tultamaan: “We regard this as an Affirmative Answer. An Incorrect Answer, as the clever Roroku was the actual Instigator. But it was you, not she, who turned the battle from Verbal to Physical.”

Gyovanth: “What? Are you saying that my wife tricked me? Ignominious! If I had my forelegs I would battle you now!”

Tultamaan: “I don’t have mine. Clearly you are afraid of a Fair Fight with the drake you so often and so accurately term a Coward and a Weakling. Which is failing worse now, your Bravery or your Strength, I wonder?”

Gyovanth: [an unreportable and probably somewhat vulgar comment.]

Tultamaan: “Possibly so, but I should resolve to enjoy it if it somehow occurred. For your part, we have stated that you started the physical part of the battle. Do you disagree?” When he doesn’t use spurious capital letters [which are spoken particles in Grand Draconic — BB], he is at his most dangerous.

Gyovanth: “Of course not.”

Tultamaan: “Then there is no dispute that you are the one most responsible for the destruction of all of those instruments and implements.”

Gyovanth: “What? No! I wished to destroy Jaraswat, not the equipment!”

Tultamaan: “Destroy Jaraswat, copulate with Jaraswat, it matters nothing. You chose a course of action for the event, and as a natural and predictable consequence, much of value was destroyed. You will be responsible for replacing it.” Ah, this is not simply a kangaroo court. It is an attempt to recoup some immense losses from Gyovanth’s substantial horde. Gyovanth and everyone understood that instantly, being dragons.

Gyovanth: “I shall never pay from such an extortion!”

Tultamaan: “Ah, you wish to depart from the Expedition instead, and somehow slither invisibly through half of Hove hoping that the Mighty Dragons of Jyothky and Ythac do not discover you to exert their Justice? Such things could happen. Of course, even if they do, you will get no Honor from the Expedition; rather the opposite. I am sure you have a vast litany of Impressive Deeds to your credit that I am somehow unaware of, such that a few minor blots would barely be noticed? Like Losing Your Wife and then Running Away From No Actual Danger.”

Gyovanth: “I am not a coward! By the Narnu, I shall pay as you extort!”

A brief pause of two or three hours was taken while the matter was arranged and made irrevocable. The estimate of damages was quite impressively high, and I believe that two routine sorcerous tools were replaced by far superior creations of Lliashatheny.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
8:49 pm
Disposing of Gyovanth

The next morning, at Base Camp, an exasperated and underslept Gyovanth leapt upon Vaareng, in a brutal and vicious surprise attack. Actually, it was no surprise at all. Vaareng was quite sure that it would happen. Driaith the lover may or may not have actually forgiven him, but Driaith the defense mage did prepare for Vaareng a bouquet of caustic and actinic surprises, and both Driaith and Mirinxan were close at hand and ready to defend Vaareng when the attack occurred. I didn’t get details of that fight, but a duodecade later the bones of Gyovanth’s forelimbs were still riddled with structural weaknesses which could be tenasensed without staring from many yards off. So Driaith’s surprises must have been quite good.

A trial was immediately required. Osoth appointed himself, Katamerces the lawyer, Jaraswat, and Wo Awo as the jury, and Tultamaan as the magistrate. Since Jaraswat, Gyovanth’s enemy in the first brawl, was on the jury, everyone immediately concluded that it was a kangaroo court. Osoth assured me that that was not his intent; Jaraswat, as the second-or-third ranked dragon in the party, demanded and deserved a role in the trial, and he couldn’t very well be magistrate, so the jury was the only choice.

Tultamaan: “Behold Gyovanth, the Mighty drake who has so often asserted how superior his Married Status makes him to the rest of us.”

Gyovanth: “I won my mating flight; you lost all three of yours. The facts are clear enough!”

Tultamaan: “That fact is clear enough. So is the fact that, at the moment, I might be able to best you at Arm-Wrestling. My forelimbs have been Paralyzed from my Separation. But Yours have the honor to be wrapped in Many Medical Materials from Psajathrion working all afternoon upon them. So I daresay they are Equally Flaccid and probably More Painful, but I claim the advantage of Considerable Experience in getting them to do the few things that they can actually do. Shall we Try the Experiment after the trial?”

Gyovanth: “You are armless; I am armless. In a year, you will still be armless, but I will be hale again.”

Tultamaan: “Oh, Gyovanth, I am Ever So Sorry, but the point I am making has Zoomed Past You, waving a Large Mauve Flag to attract your pinspeck little Attention. Let me try again. Open your Mouth Wide, for, although it is no Faster or more Elusive than any Stunned Sheep, you clearly need all the Advance Preparation Available so you don’t miss it.” Tultamaan evidently considers the role of magistrate to be one in which he can show off his skills at offending people.

Gyovanth: “Osoth! I demand a new magistrate! This one is rude!”

Osoth: “If Tultamaan recuses himself, Jaraswat shall take his place, due to his rank in the Expedition.” Everyone was right: this was a kangaroo court and no question. I considered interfering, but to what end? Bringing him to another kangaroo court on Hove, run by myself?

Someone: “No Jaraswat! Tultamaan is easier to understand!”

Someone Else: “No Jaraswat! Tultamaan is also funnier!”

Tultamaan: “I shall not recuse myself. Jaraswat thinks himself to be a Scientist. I note that this makes him Incapable of Intellectual Honesty”

Itharieth: “By the Flawslip’s clawtips, I too am a scientist! Am I then thusly incapable?”

Tultamaan: “Jaraswat thinks himself a Scientist. You are actually a Scientist. There is no real comparison.”

Jaraswat: “Tultamaan, you a juke-taj and an ohio-omorsko!”

Tultamaan: “Jaraswat, I am insulting you Plainly. You have no need to come up with these Obscure Terms. If you wish to Insult me, do so Clearly. See if you have either the Wit or the Courage to come up with some Epithet which has not been used a gross of times already.”

Osoth: “Tultamaan, Jaraswat, if you wish to duel, please do so on your own time. Today we are trying Gyovanth.”

Gyovanth: “In so disorderly and biased a court, there is no justice! I demand a trial on civilized Chiriact!”

Tultamaan: “Civilized Hove, not civilized Chiriact, is the relevant dragon-world. In any case, we shall return to Your Case. Your Forelimbs are, as I have observed already, entirely Swaddled in Medical Items.”

Gyovanth: “You know it. Cowardly Vaareng worked some slight of magic upon me, with the help of his cock-worshipping faggot butt-boy!”

Tultamaan: “You might wish to revise your Testimony. Half the jury is, if not actively Cock-Worshipping, at least working hard to Appreciate Them as a Tolerable Substitute for What Is Actually Desired.”

Gyovanth: “There is no such need. The verdict is decided, is it not?”

Tultamaan: “More or Less, but we must go through the Motions and Procedures. In case, let us say, there is some Extenuating Circumstance which we have Neglected to Notice that you might wish to bring to our Kind Attention.”

Gyovanth: “You are enjoying the chance to get a judicial revenge upon your natural superior, a married drake who exhibits no disgusting lusts!”

Tultamaan: “Ah, the Present Tense! It comes so easily to you, does it not? Woe to you! For you must use the Past Tense for one of those clauses. We shall see what becomes of the other, especially if the Hints of your Extramarital but insufficiently Coy Flirtations on this expedition are accurate.”

Gyovanth: “Oh, get on with it.”

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, November 8th, 2015
10:14 pm
Roroku vs. Gyovanth, last round, part 2

So Roroku and I were spared the “You must come home!” conversation.

So here’s the conversation they did have, instead.

Me: «As far as I’m concerned, I now proclaim both of you, officially divorced and simultaneously widowed. You both have the right to remarry, for what that’s worth. Roroku, um, you’ve only got kysps around, so I don’t know how you’ll manage that, and you probably shouldn’t tell me. And Gyovanth, I have not the slightest idea how you will find a mating flight at your age and reputation, but if you want an urning marriage, you’re in the right place.»

Gyovanth: «Urnings are vile! I breathe and excrete upon them!»

Me: «If you think that, you’re in the wrong place. But you can decide that for yourself. Anyhow, I am going to shut up and just relay messages. If you have anything you want to say to each other, say it now. I can do this again if you have something that needs to be said, hoard locations or the activation words of magic rings say. But I will not do this again simply to let you try to emotionally bite each other after today. Go to!»

Gyovanth: «Roroku! You are the worst wife ever! You whine and complain, you are without skill or grace, your hoard is thin, your copulations are like thin jelly!»

Roroku: «And guess what, Gyovanth? You never have to deal with me ever again! I’m not your wife anymore!»

Gyovanth: «Bah, marriages are perpetual! They cannot be dissolved by a word from a worm-queen!»

Roroku: «You are incorrect about the law. Besides, the queen is just giving official recognition to something I have done. A word from a queen, plus an insurmountable separation at an infinite distance! Gyovanth, you must realize! I am far away, infinitely far, transcendantly far! Almost far enough away so that your moral stench does not reach my tongue!»

Gyovanth: «Unnatural dragoness! What sort of a wife says such a thing, much less does it?»

Roroku: «An ex-wife — a triumphantly-ex wife! Besides, if I have any skill in excessive and overdramatic insults, I learnt it all from you. You rarely said any other thing to me.»

Gyovanth: «You are disgusting and horrible, you are the worst sort of criminal, you wallow in slime, you have coupled adulterously with Vaareng

Roroku: «Oh, I admit the adultery! It was inevitable and strategic though. I could not endure the thought that the last dragon I ever twined with would be you

Gyovanth: «I am a grand times the lover Vaareng will ever be!»

Roroku: «In offensive pungency, yes, you are. In supplying amatory satisfaction, the ratio is reversed. No, Gyovanth, you cannot dispute me; I have data

Gyovanth: «Your data was achieved by dishonorable means and is thus invalid!»

Roroku: «That’s not how validity works. Not how honor works either! Consider Vazvẹŗìth and Snedsaaña, consider Heðex and Maranorse!» Those being famous couples in which marital infidelity had been used tactically and successfully, to the greater glory of one or both of the couple. Vazvẹŗìth and Snedsaaña were Gyovanth’s second cousins once removed, incidentally, so I’m counting that as Roroku scoring an extra point.

Gyovanth: «But now! What a miserable fate awaits you! You will pour forth your inadequacies and woeful weakness upon Kyspert — the world that you stole from us! From me

Roroku: «Also I stole all your beloved magic rings, which is to say my magic rings, since we were married at the time. And Vaareng’s Mintwall Shield, too; I feel a bit bad about that. And think upon your own fate! Shameful it is in some degree to fail to get married. But how much more shameful to be such an awful husband that your wife would rather depart the dragon-worlds altogether than be married to you!»

Gyovanth: «The shame is entirely yours! You fled from me — you could not face me!»

Roroku: «The laughter and mockery of every dragon everywhere: these things are yours now! I at least will never see them again!»

Gyovanth: «Who will mount you now? Who will twine with you? Who will bite your wings and bid you be good?»

Roroku: «Precisely the dragons whom I wish to, Gyovanth, which is to say; none. Who will twine with you now? No dragoness, I wager! If it is anyone, it is some-drake who will demand to mount you half the time, and you will let him and think yourself lucky if it’s only half!»

Gyovanth: «Not so! I am heterosexual — I am married!»

Roroku: «No longer the latter! How long before the need in your hemipenises drives you to be no longer the former? Will it be weeks — or hours? Hah, but who would have you, even among the horny, horny drakes of the Exploring Company? Everyone knows how you treat your lovers!»

Gyovanth: «Your bluster is without merit, and it is vacuous! I am sure to be desirable by all dragons! It is I who will have my choice of them!»

Roroku: «You were never desirable, save that you had lands and title and wealth. And now I am queen of an entire universe: more lands and title and wealth, when I feel like getting them, and none of putrid falsehood-veriception-like Gyovanth to go with them!»

And on and on like that. They went at it for hours as I relayed their words to each other. If Roroku had fought back like that inside her marriage, she might have had a more equal one. But coming in last in one’s mating flight, as she had done and I only barely escaped (if that), is a heavy bruising thing, and none too good for the ferocity or the self-confidence. One cure for which seems to be, humiliating and escaping one’s enemies.

Ah, well. At least I am her friend as well as her enemy, which is more than can be said for Gyovanth.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Friday, November 6th, 2015
5:17 am
Gyovanth vs. Roroku, last round (115/170)

Gyovanth vs. Roroku, last round

Gyovanth did not generally carry a nyxylith, but he snagged one from Mirinxan, who was on duty that week. «Jyothky! You must relay this urgent message to my wife!»

«Messages to Roroku are not urgent any more, Gyovanth. Also I am in the middle of surgery, which is urgent.»

I was, too. As part of the concluding ceremonies of Liberation Day — the part I enjoy — I assist with surgery on the worst cases of cyoziworm infection. (Apologies if you haven’t studied that unpleasant topic; just skip this part. It’s entirely about me and therefore is irrelevant but I want to say it.) In fact the conquest of Trest had its good facets, one of which was that we made the hovens very aware of the mind-controlling parasites in their midst. We couldn’t figure out how to fight them ourselves, but we got hoven science involved, and they came up with some adequate answers. Most of the wormridden are constantly drugged with low doses of barbituates, which render their worms torpid without killing them (killing the worm kills the host hoven, usually.), and merely leave the hosts dull-witted. They have to wear uncomfortable heavy metal-filled vests which prevent the worms from feeding (except under a doctor’s supervision, and from a goat rather than a hoven), breeding, or infesting other hovens. There are still some tough cases — hovens who cannot endure the drugs, relatives of important people, the occasional child who somehow gets infested. The ultimate answer is surgery, and some of the most dangerous surgery ever. A hoven doctor carefully removes the cyoziworm, including the dozens of spines that let it stimulate the victim’s brain. This inevitably damages the worm enough so that it spill poison into the victim. Under the best circumstances, this would kill the victim a dozen times over, and ruin her brain as well. Hoven medicine can’t compensate for that. Draconic healing magic can.

We don’t have very many dragons who will do this healing at all. It’s not hard, but it’s boring and unprofitable and doesn’t give much glory. And tends to get hovens stuck in love with one, which is awkward. (It also gets one into Llredh’s good graces — he was wormridden once — but he tends to express that sexually rather than in terms of political influence, and that’s more of a negative than a positive.) We could use a grand of dragons working constantly! Instead we have a gross of dragons who will put in a few days a year. I’m one of those, and no better than any other: I have four scheduled days of surgery a year, and sometimes add another one or two for some particular political reason, or because it pleases my formerly-wormridden friend Tarcuna.

«No! The hoven will die in a duodecade or four no matter what you do now! My wife will be gone forever unless you act instantly!»

«Gyovanth, your wife was gone forever before I found out what she had done. Ask Sjojarn or Wo Awo for an introductory lecture on how a hhejŝṧhyant works. When you have done, and my surgery is over, I will talk to you,» I answered.

He argued. I pointed out that I was his acting monarch and had just given him a direct order that was relevant to his situation. He argued more. I told Tultamaan and Osoth to compel his obedience — my first interference in the Expedition’s autonomy in weeks, and, I think, the only useful one ever. The two travel mages spent two hours filling Gyovanth’s ears, if not his head, with physico-magical field theories, hhejŝṧhyant construction, transfinite arithmetic, sthega-algebras, and the fact that, without a reach-scale or an imprint thereof, they weren’t going to be able to get to Kyspert and Roroku, nor she to any dragon-world, and that was that.

So Roroku and I were spared the “You must come home!” conversation.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
9:02 pm
Behind the Mintwall Shield (114/170)

After erecting the Mintwall, Roroku raced at her greatest speed through the portal, ripping the sides with her the Scratch-the-Sky. And when she came to the other end, on Kyspert, she struck the portal hard with her vô. No magic could endure such a blow, and the portal collapsed with a dismayed twump. And when she arrived on Kyspert, she giggled, I think, and looked at the reach-scale in her forepaw. «Oh, Jyothky! Guess what I’ve done now?»

«You have, let me see, distracted my attention from the Liberation Day parade in Dorday, where I am listening to speeches that describe my behavior during that ridiculous mess in rather insulting terms,» I said, because it was true.

«I’ve also saved you the cost of a divorce,» said Roroku.

«How is that? I’m not sure that taking care of the fallout of you killing Gyovanth will be much simpler. Though I hardly blame you, if that is what you did,» I said, intending it to be flippant.

«I’ve gone to Kyspert, and taken the reach-scale, and destroyed the portal. Gyovanth and Jaraswat and you are forever held at bay! No dragon can get to me, ever again!»

«Can you get back to dragon-worlds?»

«Nope! I don’t have a travel-token for anywhere but Kyspert. Even if I knew the spells I couldn’t leave!»

Now and then in my life, and perhaps yours too, one discovers that one’s friends have made their own decisions, nonstandard though they are, insane and unwise as they probably are, and have bound themselves forever to a path that is utterly uncharted and unpredictable, and probably will result in a thousand kinds of doom. The first few times my friends did this, I spent quite some time biting them, insulting them, trying to dissuade them from a commitment already made irrevocable, and otherwise wasting everyone’s time and diminishing a friendship already under terrible strain. By my current age, I have learned to recognize the symptoms of the situation, which are simply this: the friend does something ridiculously radical and extreme, and sounds happy about it. I have also learned what to do about it, which is simply this: pretend to smile, and offer to help out however is possible, and hope that the results are less terrible than they could be. (They never are, by the way; all the anticipated troubles are sure to arise to bite one, and some surprising ones as well. Still, your place is by your friend’s side, biting back at the troubles or casting healing spells.)

I took a moment to remind myself of this principle, and the various times when failing to do it made an already-dreadful situation worse. Then I said, «You sound happy about it, I must say, so I will be happy for you. Though I’m glad you kept the nyxylith! I would hate to have you simply vanish forever into mystery!»

«I am happy! I am free! My horrible husband will never bite or taunt me again! Jaraswat will never piss forth his contempt in my face! You will no longer chew my entrails with kindness and forgiveness, while making sure I am your subject and client forever! Nobody here will know that I came in last in my mating flight, nor understand what that means!»

That was rather upsetting, so I decided to have a fight rather than follow the general principle. «I’m sorry I made it onto your list of enemies! I was trying to help, you know. For real.»

«I know you were, Jyothky. I know you were being as gentle with me as our laws and society allow. But can you deny that allowing me on the Expedition was a gift that proves your utter victory over me? Can you deny that I would be your pawn forever, if you arranged for and paid for my divorce? Can you deny that, when our lives are measured against each other, I come in last place — not second of two, but last of two, as if I didn’t have the skills or intellect or courage or power to even put up a contest worthy of note? In the eyes of dragons everywhere, you would have utterly defeated me even more than the dragonesses of my mating flight did. Well, that’s as it may be. The eyes of dragons everywhere will never see me, ever again.»

«That is all true, Roroku. It is not my doing, or the consequences in the eyes of dragons everywhere are not, anyhow. We are not a species to whom kindness or gentleness comes naturally, you know. And I at least wasn’t going to do anything horrible to you. That ‘eyes of dragons everywhere’ matter is more than enough revenge on you. I couldn’t reduce it if I tried, which I was doing by the way, and I wouldn’t have added an ant’s weight to it.» If anyone in Dorday knows what a miserable dragon looks like, they must have thought that the litany of misdeeds I had done (or was thought to have done) during the conquest of Trest was getting to me. Tarcuna and Nrararn, who do know, murmured utterly comforts to me, and I had to put them off and explain my transdimensional trauma later on.

«I know that too, Jyothky. I have been chewing on it every third night for the whole expedition. Gyovanth and Jaraswat get the other two nights of fretting. I don’t blame you for it. But don’t you blame me for being just as glad to escape from you as I am from Gyovanth.»

«I concede defeat in this particular emotional duel, Roroku. I don’t think it’s one of Rhedosaur’s forms, but it should be. You have actually managed to cause me considerable pain, no matter that I couldn’t feel if my body were slowly ground into dragonburger. I request your permission to withdraw from the field to lick and heal my wounds. May I converse with you again, though?»

«Jyothky, I accept your surrender. I think our entire relationship has been beyond any theoretical etiquette I know of. Shall we declare ourselves even, and continue matters as long-range correspondants?»

«Roroku, nothing would please me more.» (Nothing that remained available, anyhow. I had been looking forward to having her as my client, my ally who owed everything to me. Another decent lover for Nrararn, if either or both of them found it appealing. (Yes, I am pandering for Nrararn. Yes, I am jealous, but I mostly manage to be jealous of him-and-everyone-else enjoying their bodies, rather than him-and-a-few-others enjoying his body.) And, yes, I would have enjoyed having that ultimate victory over the dragon who gave me the first devastating insult of my life. But enough mourning for that particular impossible future.)

Roroku, now forever Ro-Ro-Ku, left off with the nyxylith, and stretched her wings, and flew towards her eccentric, insane, incredible self-chosen destiny as the God-Queen of Kyspert.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, November 1st, 2015
9:13 pm
Roroku's Mêlée (114/170)

In the portal room, the mélée had gotten quite out of hand. Jaraswat, Gyovanth, and a rather perplexed and rather proud Vaareng were biting chunks out of each other and crushing each others’ bones in their fangs. I have not gotten a specific report on the battle — or rather, I got seven different specific reports, agreeing neither with each other nor with the verified results of the battle. Jaraswat came off somewhat the worst in it, having half his forepaw bitten clean off. Both other drakes claim credit for having bitten it.

Sjojarn, dismayed at the destruction of equipment, had magnified the interior of the hangar, so that the dragons had grosses upon grosses of yards to brawl in. This had the good effect of saving such equipment as had survived up to that point. It had the bad effect of utterly decalibrating the hhejŝṧhyant, which, as a sensitive device of space-magic, could hardly be expected to endure the sudden tsunami of space-distortion of such a bumptious and hasty spell.

Evrath, who had faced the Mintwall Shield before, poked at it, and struck it with his vô, and did all the things that he had done before that had not worked before and did not work now. “Last time, we roasted small people alive inside of it. This time, what is in there? Roroku, who cannot be roasted, and the portal and hhejŝṧhyant, which we hardly want to roast. The power of the shield lasts only for so long, a matter of hours, and after that — what? Roroku will come out, and we shall ask her what she meant by all this fight-mongering and insulting of her husband.”

“Roroku is a vile adulteress, a stinking shit in dragoness form, a waste of scales and flame!” proclaimed her husband. “I may withdraw a fraction of my approval from her for a time, that she may be duly chastised!”

There was general assent to that plan. Even Itharieth and Evrath, who generally thought well of Roroku, found her actions of the moment to be incomprehensible, overdramatic, unnecessary.

But they were purposeful, tactically dramatic, and well-calculated towards a simple end.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Thursday, October 29th, 2015
9:42 pm
Economics of Roroku 4 (112/170)

Roroku and Everyone

The hhejŝṧhyant and portal were in another hangar; Base Camp was all hangars. A half-dozen dragons were there when Roroku arrived: it was rarely fewer and generally more. Roroku approached the elongated and turquoisian Sjojarn, and asked him, “Where is the reach-scale for Kyspert kept?”

“With all the reach-scales, in the heavy cabinet against yonder wall, in the drawer so mysteriously and obscurely marked ‘Kyspert Reach-Scale’,” he answered. As she trotted over to it, he added, “And what do you need it for? Kyspert is a pleasing world, is it not? Do not crush the scale as we do for the Dull Glows and the Coldest Ices!”

“It pleases me well enough! The scale shall remain intact, shall remain with members of the Expedition!” said Roroku, taking the scale from the drawer.

By this time everyone was staring at her. Jaraswat, still furious from her broiling his face, glared at her from freshly-regrown eyes. “And what zenziz passtimes have you been engaging in these last several hours, instead of producing your long-delayed report?” He snapped at her, leaving huge fang-marks in her flank.

“Jaraswat! What are you doing to my wife?” roared Gyovanth as he stormed in the rear door. “Useless she may be, and incompetent, and a terrible lay, but she is still mine! You may not bite her without my consent! Which is not hard to come by today, but must be asked in any case!”

“I am her manager, her chief! I may bite her whenever and wherever I wish!”

Roroku looked at Jaraswat in front of her, Gyovanth behind her, Vaareng and several others standing about staring. She stepped to the side, closer to Vaareng, made sure of her veriception blocks, and lied, “Jaraswat wants to be more than that! But you have forced your attentions on me for the last time, Jaraswat! Now my mighty husband will destroy you and your so-invasive hemipenises!”

Which got everyone’s attention, even if they hadn’t been staring before. Gyovanth, his honor struck like a resounding gong, had no reasonable choice but to leap on Jaraswat most ferociously. Jaraswat was taken by surprise, and defended himself rather clumsily. Priceless magical and scientific equipment crashed to the floor and was trampled underfoot as the mighty beasts lashed out with tails and wings and swift claws, and as others tried to separate them. None of Rhedosaur’s polite forms of duelling here, but a ragesome mélée.

Roroku darted around the battle, brushing flanks with Vaareng. He followed her to the very edge of the portal. At which very edge she turned and shouted, “I depart! Gyovanth, know that my latest and last-ever lover is Vaareng, and that a moment on his smallest hemipenis is more delightful than all the hours and hours I have spent on your disgusting organs!”

And, so saying, she called forth the power of the Mintwall Shield around herself and the portal.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
5:56 pm
Economics of Roroku 3 (111/170)

Roroku and Vaareng

Roroku clattered her claws shyly on a hangar wall. “Vaareng? Are you within?”

A massive orange and black head with scowly barbels and a spiky ridge extended from the door. “Yes, I am, Roroku. What do you want?”

“Are you still interested in actual females?” she asked.

“I prefer them! Drakes take too many lovers, and they sometimes insist that one assume a female body for them!” said Vaareng. He smelled rather embarrassed.

“Well, I am leaving Gyovanth as soon as the matter can be arranged, and I would like to get a head-start on the proper enjoyment of drakes,” said Roroku. “Would you care to assist me in this investigation?”

“Why, of course I would!”

“There are certain prerequisites. First of all, I need to tell Gyovanth, who is only marginally aware of the matter and does not yet appreciate its gravity,” said Roroku.

“An awkward conversation. I hope it goes quickly and effectively! Gyovanth seems to hate and despise you, so I expect he will be glad to be rid of you.” Vaareng noted the twitching of Roroku’s tailtip, and added, “I myself have admired your delectable scent and conformation — from afar — and heard all manner of good things about your magical and intellectual skill, and I know Gyovanth to be an idiot as well as a lout!”

“It will not go quickly or effectively. Gyovanth hates and despises me, but I am the only sign of his ability in the mating flight, as well as his primary sexual outlet. I am a dragoness, not a mighty drake! I cannot face an enraged Gyovanth alone!” exclaimed Roroku.

Vaareng got the hint. “Well then! Confront the loutish sub-duke in my presence! We shall fight him side by side, as consorts are wont to do!”

“Oh, Vaareng!” cried Roroku, and embraced him, and, if I understand the hints properly, they enjoyed the smallest and fastest form of copulation at that point. “But you have that mighty defensive artifact — the Mintwall Shield? Might I borrow that for the occasion?”

“Of course, dear Roroku!” exclaimed Vaareng, who was rather dazzled and drunken with this sudden heterosexual turn of events, and gave it over.

“Be at the hhejŝṧhyant at the fifth hour this afternoon!” cried Roroku, and patted Vaareng intimately with her tailtip, and leapt into the air.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
9:56 pm
Economics of Roroku 2 (110/170)

Roroku and Gyovanth

Roroku crept into the hangar she shared with Gyovanth, and fussed around a bit. In moments, Gyovanth swatted the door open with his tail, and stomped in. “Eighteen days my wife is away! Eighteen days free from her stupid mistakes and petty whining, to be sure. But eighteen days without access to her claspers! Am I a drake or an antelope, to wait so long? And instead of coming directly to me, she stops here to inspect her hoard! As if anyone in base camp would dare so much as glance at it, since it is my hoard and I am a proper dragon about its defense! Now shut your muzzle and raise your tail, or it will be worse for you!”

“That I will not,” said Roroku.

“There is a ridiculous rumor going around that you are working out some sort of legal separation from me,” noted Gyovanth. “I do not know how this rumor got started. But I will hold it against you unless you prove to me that it is false. And, since your mind cannot frame such a rational discourse, your vulva must speak for you. Stand and present!”

“That I will not,” said Roroku.

He loomed at her, half-spreading his wings, blocking her in the back half of the hangar. “That you must do!” he hissed.

Roroku was not quite brave enough to breathe in his face — for one thing, he knew her combat style far too well. Instead she burned out the back wall of the hangar, and scratched the sky to make her escape. Gyovanth was a dragon, and therefore greedy given to long-term thinking, so he took several minutes to sort through the burnt wreckage of their shared hoard, enumerate the magic rings that Roroku had taken, and fume about how she was going to have to repay that insult.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, October 25th, 2015
10:15 pm
Economics of Roroku 1 (109/170)

Economics of Roroku

Roroku and Jaraswat

“Ah, the quarliq queen returns to grace us with her oh-so-feminine yet oh-so-researchful presence!” hissed Jaraswat. “A mere commoner-style six days suffices for every other investigator, but Roroku takes thrice that to sardoss! She must have prepared an utterly kaperkonk report in the many, many days that the rest of us have been involved in yarmonly quietude!”

“Oh, speak Draconic, Jaraswat,” Roroku said. “Actually, don’t. Just get out of my way.” — the latter because Roroku had attempted to walk around him, and he had scuttled sideways and was blocking her path.

“What, are you gurring for your husband? Eighteen days of celibacy leaves you with but a single blorrub thought in your head — and that thought is not to produce the long-delayed and long-awaited report that two dozen drakes have been awaiting for a twelve-day! Instead you sing, ‘La, no, they must wait longer and still longer, for I must have both normal and ḋordond forms of copulation with my spouse before I am incredibloi enough to talk to anyone else!’”

“I’m not going to twine with Gyovanth,” said Roroku tiredly.

“That is hardly what he said. And I quote! ‘Roroku is eéfixée of horniness! With a hemipenis in her claspers, or some other whomulow bit of her body, she achieves a crellic if not substantial amount of personality and animation. Without that, she is more of a rollimer than a dragon, barely able to exert herself to produce three tedious words or one insipid idea!’

“That’s not a quotation from Gyovanth. Those are your words. Nobody else uses words like that.”

“Perhaps I elaborate, perhaps I respecify, perhaps I surelegante your husband’s quotidian verbiage! The spirit of the utterance is intact! And if you are not going to him, what adulterous lover are you about to, as you so crudely put it, ‘twine’ with? You do seem to be a bit of an anyone-but-your-husband! Ow!”

The last exclamation, unusually clear for Jaraswat, was pain. Roroku had breathed a tight clot of fire directly into his face. By the time he had healed his eyes to his satisfaction, Roroku had cast the Scratch-the-Sky and was gone.

(The Scratch-the-Sky is an easy enough travel spell, but it leaves a long-lasting wound in the atmosphere. I’m sure all the scientists and scholars were constantly cutting themselves on it, or at least twisting to avoid it, for weeks.)

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
10:28 pm
Combat; or the Miracle of the Pirates (108/170)

Combat; or the Miracle of the Pirates

The next day, the Twinkling Jenny came to Nwa-Bher. (Strictly, it was called the Twinkling Dze-Ts-Kwy, but as a matter of literary politeness to our hostess with the very common name, we will not call it that.) The Twinkling Jenny was a floating tub of a boat, covered all over with twinkling levitation pods, and armed with four medium-sized ballistas and one huge one. She [I’m not going to roll to decide a ship’s sex] announced her presence and policies by sending a salvo of medium-sized ballista bolts into the Nwa-Bher market. Fortunately Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ro-Ro-Ku had had the foresight to get a spare melon the previous day, and were not there. A less-forsighted parent of three did get skewered and slain though.

Then a ferocious kysp leapt onto the bow of the Twinkling Jenny, and declared himself to be Nao-Kwu the Joyous, possessed of a letter of marque signed by Vem-Thu personally, and therefore allowed to loot and slay among the infidels as much as he liked. He would exercise these rights in defenseless Nwa-Bher, unless of course the burghers of that fine city would be pleased to pay him a certain substantial sum of money — in good nef-wa! — in a certain moderate amount of time. He commanded another ballista bolt be shot, this one soaked in oil and set ablaze, to underscore the absolute spiritual and philosophical correctness of his position. Or perhaps the relative armaments.

The city’s burghers sent runners from door to door to collect the requisite number of nef-wa. This was the first that Ro-Ro-Ku and her hosts heard of the matter.

“But why do you not fight against this Nao-Kwu?” asked Ro-Ro-Ku.

“He is a terrible monster, albeit a native one to this dimension, and of our size and shape!” exclaimed everyone else in unison. “Strictly, he is a monster in character, not in physical structure, in which he resembles every other adult kysp within a range of variation which kysps find quite significant but actual house-sized extradimensional monsters would not!” (Not their exact words.) “When he is defied, he works a great slaughter and blazing upon towns and cities! Better to pay him and have done.”

“When you pay off the pirate, you never get rid of the pirate,” said Ro-Ro-Ku. She handed over her three scanty nef-wa, and went to the kitchen to get a pair of cleavers.

Ka-Twu-Thu yelped in alarm. “Ro-Ro-Ku! What are you about with those cleavers?”

“I am going to kill this Nao-Kwu the Joyous, and his crew,” said Ro-Ro-Ku.

“They are fiends in kysp form, one and all! They are seasoned murderers! Every morning each of them beats yet another strong adolescent to death as a form of morning exercise!” exclaimed Ka-Twu-Thu, exaggerating considerably in her alarm.

“Then best that I dispose of them,” said Ro-Ro-Ku.

The straightforward logic of this point seemed to escape Ka-Twu-Thu and Dze-Ts-Kwy, who harangued Ro-Ro-Ku all the way to the market. Eventually an annoyed Ro-Ro-Ku gave them back their cleavers, and leapt (and levitated) bare-handed to the deck of the Twinkling Jenny.

Now, when a dragon takes the form of a small person, the dragon becomes clumsy and weak. This is perfectly normal and nothing to be ashamed of. However, the dragon is not nearly as clumsy and weak as an actual small person (pace certain small people, such as the graduates of Trestean enhanced agent program, whom the slowest and weakest of dragons (me) might have had to work a bit to defeat by simply physical means when in small-person form.) Roroku is considerably stronger and faster than me, by the way.

So, when a trio of amused pirates came with their doublespikes and their scrattling-knives to take unarmed Ro-Ro-Ku prisoner on their deck, she deprived them of their weapons and their skeletal integrity before they could finish the phrase, “surrender or die!”.

This scuffle caught the attention of many pirates, who took up mightier weapons and scrambled to confront the still-unarmed intruder. (Most dragons don’t like using weapons in small-person form. It feels undignified.) These many pirates were swiftly crushed, or bisected by their own choppers, or hurled into the marketplace to be slaughtered by vengeful burghers, or otherwise destroyed.

I tried to get Roroku explain the fight in her own words for this book, thereby giving her a chance to boast and to magnify her glory. She refused, saying, «I beat up a bunch of small people. Glory hardly enters into it. Then I spent longer than the fight scouring the ship for the ones who had run away and hidden, and still longer than that trying to bring it close enough for other kysps to get on. I’m not a stupid twinkle-boat sailor!»

The two halves of Nao-Kwu the Joyous were mounted on a pair of spikes, with a sign between them reading “Behold the fundamental non-integrity of the arguments of the disphasians!”

This event got Ro-Ro-Ku entered on a great many interesting lists, not just Dze-Ts-Kwy’s. Some of those lists consisted entirely of Ro-Ro-Ku.

But Ro-Ro-Ku was nowhere to be found. Roroku had returned to Base Camp to report.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
8:46 pm
Miracle of the Stove, 2 (107/170)

After doctor Naw-Fan performed her examinations of Ro-Ro-Ku (which were perfectly normal again), and dined, and left, and after Ka-Twu-Thu and Dze-Ts-Kwy were asleep in a tangle of legs and tails, Ro-Ro-Ku went to the kitchen. She pulled the oven’s inner barrel out, and held it aloft with one tentacle while she replaced the broken pods with the other.

“Isn’t it hot and heavy?” asked Ka-Twu-Thu from behind her, who had come awake from the noise.

“Not too hot or too heavy,” said Ro-Ro-Ku, whose fire breath grants her the best oven-mitts in the universe.

“Still, I wish you’d waited. We were going to do three days of baking today. Now we’ll have to buy from a bakery. We can afford it but it’s a bit of a waste.”

“It’ll be hot by tomorrow.” Ro-Ro-Ku slid the barrel back into the oven, and leaned in, and breathed a careful bubble of fire. “See? It’s up to temperature already.”

Ka-Twu-Thu peered at the flickers of firelight (kysps never use fire in their homes; too much of their material culture is made of wood) on her guest’s face, and sampled the heat with a quick tentatail pat. “So it is. Thank you, Ro-Ro-Ku, for taking care of it so efficiently!”

Ro-Ro-Ku smiled. (She never explained to me what ‘smiling’ is for kysps.) “I am glad to help out where I can!”

Dze-Ts-Kwy said nothing when Ka-Twu-Thu told her, but added that incident to her list, and circled it.

«She saw you breathe fire, Roroku?» I asked.

«More or less,» she wrote back.

«Should I tell Rhosmanthus the illusionist, so that he can work some obfustication to make this look normal? Not that I can think of what he might possibly do at this point»

«Don’t bother Rhosmanthus,» said Roroku.

This should have been a clue, but as I am a tremendously stupid dragoness, I did not notice. Instead I told her about my preliminary work on her divorce: the hundred and five dragons we knew about who had to be informed and variously propitiated, and how the investigation for others was going. She was duly pleased, and a bit overwhelmed.

«I’m not going to have much of a hoard, after paying all of them off!»

I answered, «I’m going to try to split the costs between you, and Gyovanth on the grounds that he caused it, and the throne of Hove.»

«Gyovanth will never pay you. His hoard is on Chiriact, and you cannot reach it,» Roroku wrote.

«Hence ‘try’. He might be cooperative for some mysterious reason. Such as, I could get him in on an older-dragon mating flight at some point — the ordinary heterosexual kind with three dragonesses and six drakes — and there’s no such thing anywhere else.»

«So many negotiations you are making for me, Jyothky! So many expenses and complexities!»

«No better way to prove my utter superiority to you for your insult, or to help out an old friend! Or both!» I answered. I estimate about one part of the first to a half-dozen of the second.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Sunday, October 18th, 2015
10:03 pm
Scent and Strength; or The Miracle of the Oven (106/170)

Scent and Strength; or The Miracle of the Oven

A cooking-oven on Kyspert is a complex thing. An inner barrel made of thin metal provides a place for foods to go. Outside of that are the levity pods of certain plants, pried open wider than they are meant to go in nature, which convert gravity to heat at a substantial rate. Outside of that is a heavy insulating barrel, made to hold the oven down against the pods’ levitation and to keep the heat of the pods inside. The oven is not very controllable. The pods and insulation give it a certain maximum temperature, barely sufficient to bake cakes, and it takes a day or so to get up to that temperature. If the lid is opened for a full minute, the temperature drops, and the oven may not come up to temperature for an hour or two. Top-rate ovens have an extra internal barrel of some dense and heavy material that holds heat well: they may take a week to come up to temperature, but they stay there more easily. Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-Twu-Thu have a finicky oven of the cheaper sort.

Ka-Twu-Thu was baking a beetle-cake. (Recipe: shell a quart of pse-twó beetles. Mash them in a big mortar and pestle with onions, carrots, eggs, salt, hot spices, and beer. Add flour and baking powder to make a batter. Put in a shallow pan and bake until done. (As part of the research for this chapter, I had my cooks on Hove work out this recipe with Hoven ingredients to the point of being pretty good. It came out pretty good! They didn’t like using beetles, so they used shrimp, which I thought was fussy, but you can’t get proper pse-twó beetles — or any pse-twó beetles — on Hove or in any universe within some incomprehensible but vast distance. But Roroku told me that the substitution was tolerably accurate.)

The beetle-cake had been inside the oven for about half an hour. Ka-Twu-Thu popped up. “I think it’s ready now!”

“It’s not, though,” said Ro-Ro-Ku. “Another quarter-hour is needed.”

“Were you an expert chef in the life you have forgotten, to thus prescribe for a cake which you have not even seen? Can you not smell it? Is it not savory?”

“It smells delicious, Ka-Twu-Thu. But it doesn’t smell like it’s done all the way. Two of the levity pods on your oven are broken, so it’s not as hot as it ought to be,” said Ro-Ro-Ku.

“You sure know an awful lot about the inside of my kitchen. Fine then! I’ll give it five more minutes! But poor Dze-Ts-Kwy is starving away to a needle and the cake is coming out soon!”

In five minutes Ka-Twu-Thu popped the lid off the oven and took out the cake and served it forth. The edges were fine, if a bit light. The center was distinctly underdone.

“Well, Ro-Ro-Ku, it seems you do know an awful lot about the inside of my kitchen! As a punishment for my not believing you, we all shall reek of undercooked onion for the day!” said Ka-Twu-Thu. “But I’m not sure about those two broken pods.”

“They’re on the left side,” said Ro-Ro-Ku, tapping the outer barrel with a tentatail.

“That’s as may be,” said Ka-Twu-Thu. “I don’t know how you would know that, or even that it is two not three or one. But even if you are utterly right, we’ll need to take two days to fix the oven. Rather, one to cool it down and fix it and another to let it come back up to temperature. We can’t do that tomorrow, the doctor is coming to dine with us. So, if we’re going to do it, we’ll want to cook three days’ worth of food the day after, then fix the oven on the two days after that. And if it’s not broken, I do expect a long apology for all the bother you’ll put us through, Ro-Ro-Ku!”

“It’s broken,” said Ro-Ro-Ku. “And I’ll take care of it. It won’t be any bother.”

“It’ll still be two ovenless days!” mock-wailed Ka-Twu-Thu. “Without beetle-cake, life as we know it would be impossible!”

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
Thursday, October 15th, 2015
9:22 pm
Analysis; or The Miracle of the Melons (106/170)

Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ro-Ro-Ku went shopping in the larger Nwa-Bher market, in front of one of the many fruit stands. “Let’s get a chwe melon!” said the native. “Or two, one for tomorrow!”

“Certainly,” said Ro-Ro-Ku, and cast a very basic vegetable-analysis spell, and reached deep into the pile of melons to take the ripest one for today, and the largest one-day-short of ripe one, for tomorrow. Because, seriously, which other melons would you pick?

“Why did you pick those, Ro-Ro-Ku?” asked Dze-Ts-Kwy.

“This was the ripest, and that was the largest one-day-short-of-ripe.”

Dze-Ts-Kwy sniffed and tapped them. “You certainly did pick good ones, and without sniffing or tapping at them, too. But you say that they are the best of their category?”

“They are the best of their category, in this vendor’s stand anyhow.”

“How do you know?” asked Dze-Ts-Kwy.

Ro-Ro-Ku did not answer the question, mainly because “I’m actually an extradimensional monster with an academic specialty in investigative magic, currently spying on you” is a very bad thing to say when one is an extradimensional monster with an academic specialty in investigative magic currently spying on one’s hostess. (It may be nearly as awkward when one is not. I just tried saying it to my husband, who told me (1) that he didn’t believe me, and (2) I need better veriception blocks because I stink when I say it.)

Instead she said, “Check for yourself, and see if I am right.”

Well, in no world is it polite for a customer to fondle and thump every melon, especially after she has already bought some and isn’t going to buy more. But Dze-Ts-Kwy did investigate a few of them, and, unsurprisingly, Ro-Ro-Ku appeared to be quite right.

Dze-Ts-Kwy said nothing more, but added the incident to a small list of interesting properties of her peculiar guest.

Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.
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