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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Sythyry's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, February 4th, 2016
9:04 pm
Burial Customs

Burial Customs

The exploring company never cared enough for exploring Narethy. It was nearly useless as a dragon-world, after all. If anyone wanted to conquer it, they had merely to fly over it, gaining considerable land and some treasure but neither subjects nor glory. So the dragons of the company, when they were bored, looked around for what treasure they could find.

And what treasures they were! Few of them were made of precious materials, but their artistry with common stuff was adequate. The narets rejoiced in plate-glass windows with intricate scrollworks etched around the edges. In ceramic vases painted with romantic and pastoral scenes. In cubes of polished granite with poetry calligraphically engraved on five of the six faces. In twisting tattoos, half geometric and half organic; they flayed their decorated dead and stretched their beautified hides in frames in art museums and the walls of mansions.

The best of Narethy’s loot would be worth adding to a dragon’s hoard, if the dragon were either penurious or a collector of decorative art. Or well-storied art, perhaps, especially those flayed hides, which Osoth often persuaded to return to a semblance of life long enough to tell (or even write down) their own stories.

Now, some dragons were such collectors — Xilobrax, Mirinxan, Yarenton, and Osoth himself. More of them were penurious, at least in the sense that their hoards, like the rest of their persons, had already once proved inadequate for the putative purpose of hoards and drakes, viz. acquiring a dragoness. (☣)

(☣) Which leads me to the question, “Does a drake’s hoard actually matter when winning a dragoness’s heart, or, more accurately, her claspers?

To which the flippant answer is, “It is a matter of ššḁ; the actual effectiveness is not quite relevant. But yes, dragonesses are as much moved by ššḁ as drakes.”

Well, my suitor Csirnis was beautiful and skillful and heroic and kind. He was once the crown prince of Chiriact, and to him came naturally all the elegances and brilliances that Gyovanth tried to claim. But he had abandoned his title, for a heroic reason. By the end of the mating flight, he did have something of a hoard — hovens gave him gifts for his heroism, and some were fairly valuable. But he kept every single gift, including a sheaf of oddly-spelled, oddly-worded, and oddly-drawn thank-you notes from hoven children. So his hoard was puny, haphazard, and ridiculous. I will not say that this made Csirnis unattractive, but it certainly diminished his attractiveness to me.

Or, consider Meliavras, the dragoness who chose Tyozangi over Vaareng. Her hoard focussed on drinking vessels. It was not the most spectacular of hoards, but it was very tidy, well-maintained and well-organized: small, but beautiful. Tyozangi had a similar passion and skill for collecting țwery, which is to say (in Petty Draconic), symmetrical metal objects. So the two hoards fit together sensibly into a larger whole, which they have on exhibit in a long gallery in their castle. You can certainly tell which third is Meliavras’, which is their joint hoard, and which Tyozangi’s. But as you walk along the gallery, which I did as part of the research for this paragraph, you get the sense of why their marriage is so right, of how the two distinct persons function as part of a harmonious pair.

(And no, Nrararn’s and my hoard is a vast shaggy mess with neither theme nor order to it. We have hoven curators who try to put it in order, but we don’t have time ourselves. Royal hoards are often like that. We are busy dragons, and have many visitors bringing gifts and supplicants bringing bribes. It is a rare day that we can spend sorting through our stock of treasures. Our marriage works well, but our hoard is a shambles.)

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, February 3rd, 2016
10:34 am
Discharged

Discharged

«You must remember the staff I won from the Quiet Lord, the great necromancer of Cussa,» Osoth wrote to me in one of our daily conversations.

«The one where you proved the superiority of dragons to small people?» I asked.

«That is too favorable a summary by half, Jyothky,» he answered. As the most frequent of my adulterous lovers, he certainly has the right to omit my title. (Unlike most dragons, who simply omit my title without explicit right.) «The battle did not proceed along lines that prove the superiority of often-distracted and partially-trained necromancers to those who have devoted sufficient attention and time to their craft. Ultimately, yes, I changed the terms of the battle so that it was not entirely about necromancy, and indeed that fire-resistance was, at times, an equally important topic.»

«You burned the Quiet Lord to ashes, and broke her extra-life spells. And claimed her staff,» I wrote.

«The staff, precisely. I was hoping to dissect its magics with the aid of Xilobrax. No more! Every last scrap of power in the staff is gone now.»

«What happened to it?»

«I do not know! I had wrapped it most carefully in the bindings woven from the silk of the tomb-bombyx, which of all cloths is the most preservative of things necromantical. No dragon touched these cerements! I know, for mine own seal was upon them, and I should have felt any touch upon it just as surely as I would feel a claw upon my flank. Begging your royal pardon for my unfortunate choice of metaphor!» (I pardoned him. Again. Some days — or lives — it’s barely worth the trouble to complain about one’s handicaps.) «Yet somehow, the staff is wholly empty. It is as if it were simply a bar of preserved cush babies glued together.»

I demonstrated my supreme mastery of physical magicology (or general magicology? I’m not sure.) by saying the very obvious thing. «Xilobrax warned that it was localistic magic, very limited off of Cussa. I wonder if its spells simply failed due to Narethy’s not-being-Cussa-ness?»

«That is possible. Though ordinarily such effects would degrade slowly if unused, leaving substantial magical relics for years after the spells were unworkable. And, to answer your next question, the C♯ Spear and the Minty Bow are unchanged. They have suffered no such catastrophic loss of majesty.»

«The Mintwall Shield, according to Roroku, is on its last legs, but not changed perceptably since Roroku brought it to Kyspert,» I said, since I talk to Roroku and Osoth doesn’t.

«Precisely. Were the spells on the Quiet Lord’s staff more fragile than those on the heroic artifacts — despite her impressive skill? Have I somehow broken them with my everyday practices of necromancy in its presence — despite its insulation? Is our Base Camp world of Narethy somehow imimical to necromancy — despite no trouble to my powers? None of these questions should need to be asked! They are all obvious! Yet, somehow, my staff is discharged.»

I replied with a teasing comment which is appropriately said to one’s male lover. I would describe it as a “childish” comment, for the humor was certainly childish. But the content certainly demanded maturity — physical maturity, if not spiritual.

«Nothing of the sort, Jyothky. I am in all regards faithful to you.»

«Well, you needn’t be, and you shouldn’t be. It’s not as if I’m faithful to you. Even after I finish this belated course of fertilization, I will certainly be my husband’s lover as well as yours.»

«I am not faithful to you out of a misguided hope that you will be faithful to me. Nor, yet, out of a hope that somehow I will win your heart and/or your genitalia for my own. Necromancy, for all its virtues, does not do wonders for the libido. I am satisfied with a one-twelfth measure of a dragoness. A full measure of a horny drake would be more troublesome and less appealing. Should you sever our arrangement, and should I find that celibacy is terribly challenging, I might track down a quarter-share of a drake, I suppose. I am not an urning by nature; perhaps I could learn.»

«The current arrangement stands,» I said. It is actually Nrararn’s arrangement, not mine, and Nrararn’s arrangement is simply to permit adultery with Osoth rather than to actually encourage me to it. But, informally, Nrararn has access to sexy, skillful Arilash, and my friendly but pleasureless tangling with Osoth balances that out. Somehow. I don’t actually understand it. (Or: in a traditional marriage, two people enjoy the wife’s genitalia. This is the case in my marriage, too. The difference is simply that, in the typical marriage, the wife herself is one of the two. I can’t, so I get Osoth to perform that chore.)

Which ended the conversation, without the matter of the necromantic staff being settled or understood.

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, January 31st, 2016
8:51 pm
Perils of Prosody

«Prosody! They did prosody, like a bunch of shit-breathing unmarriageable-girl bethrustards!» And on for a while, cursing and swearing with every wicked word in Grand Draconic. (There aren’t that many.)

«Prosody is the science of analysis of poetry, right?» (It is.) «I am used to it evoking snoring, not swearing,» I said.

«It is! They wrote down every word Thu-Zwy and Kwe-Ma-Mwa said! With accent marks! The prophasians noticed that the angels frequently slipped into trochaics or hexameters, and therefore were secretly explaining that the prophasians were correct and that they should have mercy on the benighted disphasians, correcting them to prophasian-ness! And the disphasians took the very same utterances — and found that neither angel ever used actual trochaic hexameter, so they’re obviously supporting the disphasians

«So they listened to the rhythm of your oracularities, and not the words?» I said.

«Yes! Exactly! And the two camps transcribed the words a touch differently, and I have no idea which one I actually said, since it’s all about emphasis on syllables and I don’t care about clawraped emphasis on clawraped syllables! So they’re a bunch of dishonest vul-dorffs using sacred utterances for their own puny and wicked purposes!»

«As opposed to your own use of sacred utterances?» I said. Unkindly, because I am such a dragon.

«My fake sacred utterances are intended to stop the persecution, and bring a peaceful and benevolent dracharchy to Kyspert! Theirs are used as weapons in sectarian violence!»

«Well, you could take a scale from other forms of dominance,» I said. «Have Thu-Zwy kill a few leading prophasian interpretationists, and Kwe-Ma-Mwa a few disphasian ones. That might at least discourage the others.»

«What sort of a dragon do you think I am? Of course I did that! Each side took their own leaders’ deaths as some wicked plot from the other side, and the other side’s leaders’ deaths as divine reprisals. Next time I swear I am going to do public executions, with a preceding homily, no matter how inconvenient and vacation-destroying it is!»

«H’m. Maybe compose an entirely new liturgy for both sides to use, which somehow finesses the issue?»

«Jyothky, I am not a poet. I am not going to spend a dozen years working out prayers to some gods that I know don’t exist at all, fussing carefully with feet and meters all the while! If I did that I should go mad — I might even start caring about this prophasian/disphasian nonsense!»

«Select some kysps to do it?»

«That’s begging for more sectarian warfare.»

I mused, «Hire Questhraum to collect a gaggle of hoven poets, teach them the tongues of Kyspert, and have them write the thing? Then present it to the kysps as a gift from heaven?»

«… I have no treasures with which I might hire Questhraum,» said Roroku.

«I will take care of it, Roroku,» I said.

Leaving me to wonder if she actually planned the whole conversation including me paying, or if she was simply tired of dealing with the problem.

The liturgy took three years to write, and was considerably more expensive than I had expected. It may take three gross-years before the kysps are unified and pacified behind it. Leaving me rather annoyed with dragons and small people, both.

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, January 28th, 2016
10:42 pm
Sectarian Violence

Sectarian Violence

«This angelic masquerade has its flaws,» Roroku grumbled.

«Geiranthu never recommended it over direct conquest,» I reminded her. Geiranthu, as should be obvious to anyone who had lived with either of us and approximately nobody else, was an old bachelor drake with regrettable historian tendencies, who had been regrettably hired to tutor both Roroku and I when we were very small and very easily bored lizards. “Easily bored” being the most important characteristic, and one which Geiranthu exercised to the fullest. History is not inherently boring — far from it. One cannot say the same about Geiranthu.

«Geiranthu can submit himself carnally to a rampant swe-swu,» Roroku replied.

«I’m not sure about that, since he would have to wind up in Kyspert — that is a kyspian thing, isn’t it? it sounds like one — and he hasn’t even gotten as far as Hove,» I said. «But if you are in a mood for such direct speech, you could tell me about the flaws in the angelic masquerade.»

«Prophasians and disphasians! Killing each other again! Or, when I absolutely forbid them to kill each other over fine points of ritual forms, they find a gross of forms of other violence. They wreck each others’ homes and shops! They don’t neglect the looting, either. They hurl shit-grenades into each others’ temples. They poison each others’ animals to death. They poison each other, too, though generally with the emitic vapors of burning dze-mwe nuts.»

That clearly called for sympathy, which I, draconically, did not provide. «We have a fair lot of that on Hove as well, mutatis mutandis. We are fortunate in that we are nohow required to be responsible for any of it.» That’s a carefully-worded truth: I have chosen to be somewhat responsible for the widely-despised ‘tappu’ religious and/or ethnic group on Hove, hated by nearly everyone. My involvement there is entirely Tarcuna’s fault: she keeps getting involved with tappu women. But that is another story, and no better than Roroku’s, so I did not tell her about it.

«Well, I’m a divine representative. Actually by now I am three divine representatives. I want my world tidy, clawrasp it, and the kysps aren’t cooperating.»

«Roroku? Why are you three divine representatives?»

«☇», she wrote. That’s how we write down a spark-full snort. «I have assumed the persona of the angel Thu-Zwy to the prophasians, and Kwe-Ma-Mwa to the disphasians, and given them entirely unambiguous prophecies that they are to stop fussing about the whole thing.»

«And what did they do?» I had to ask.

«Prosody! They did prosody, like a bunch of shit-breathing unmarriageable-girl bethrustards!» And on for a while, cursing and swearing with every wicked word in Grand Draconic. (There aren’t that many.)

«Prosody is the science of analysis of poetry, right?» (It is.) «I am used to it evoking snoring, not swearing,» I said.

«It is! They wrote down every word Thu-Zwy and Kwe-Ma-Mwa said! With accent marks! The prophasians noticed that the angels frequently slipped into trochaics or hexameters, and therefore were secretly explaining that the prophasians were correct and that they should have mercy on the benighted disphasians, correcting them to prophasian-ness! And the disphasians took the very same utterances — and found that neither angel ever used actual trochaic hexameter, so they’re obviously supporting the disphasians

«So they listened to the rhythm of your oracularities, and not the words?» I said.

«Yes! Exactly! And the two camps transcribed the words a touch differently, and I have no idea which one I actually said, since it’s all about emphasis on syllables and I don’t care about clawraped emphasis on clawraped syllables! So they’re a bunch of dishonest vul-dorffs using sacred utterances for their own puny and wicked purposes!»

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, January 26th, 2016
9:49 pm
A Slightly Inconvenient Truth

A Slightly Inconvenient Truth

«Those repulsory celestial objects are only half the story,» wrote Roroku, some years later (and well after the book otherwise ends).

«Or a third, or a quarter! What have you learned now?»

«Things that radiate repulsion are one pole of two. The other poles radiate heat, or light. Those twinkling levity pods are one instance of this. The repulsors are another. Their other poles are very hot things on the far side of the world, under the Boiling Ocean. Indeed, they are why the Boiling Ocean is boiling!» Roroku lectured.

«How did you find this out?»

«Hah, that? I peered through the clouds of steam, and noticed that the Boiling Ocean was boiling from three spots. Three spots, three repulsors — is it a mystic number? And then a globe revealed that the three spots were precisely opposite the three repulsors. The hot-spots move slowly, the repulsors move slowly the other way, and they are always polar opposites in pairs.»

«I am sure your kysps are grateful for you telling them such useful and important things.»

«Happens this one is useful and important! Do you remember that Ko-Go-Nwa preached that the gods are cooking the world for its sins?» Roroku asked.

I had to look in my notes, but yes, Ko-Go-Nwa had preached that. «Right, of course. Usually the “sins” that a small-people world of technology gets cooked for, are the small people doing something massive and unintentional with chemistry of physics, like building more and more powerful heat-generating reactors than the world can cool off.»

«The kysps are not so good with technology as to do that, though I daresay they’ll get there soon. But it is getting hotter here. One of the hot-spots is right on the edge of the Boiling Ocean, so there’s less insulation between us and its heat. So: hotter.»

«Are you, as the representative of the putative gods, going to do anything about it? If so, what?» I asked.

«I am going to wait another moderate while, as the hot-spot’s path takes it back down under the ocean. That hot-spot has an orbit, of sorts — we can tell, the outside of the universe is worn smooth along its orbit. For twenty-eight years out of every two hundred twenty-seven, it is not quite under the Boiling Ocean. Those are hotter years. No sin and no technology is involved. This time it’s a natural cycle.»

«Well, make sure your kysps don’t build massive levity engines and shove their hot-spots into different and worse orbits,» I said, because I read Hoven science fiction, where such things happen.

«That is a good point. We should figure out how big a levity engine is safe,» wrote Roroku.

I don’t mind if she takes me seriously once in a while.

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, January 24th, 2016
9:10 pm
The Law of Universal Gravitation

The Law of Universal Gravitation

«I got a very strange world,» said Roroku.

«I hope it is strange in a pleasant way,» I replied.

«This one is strange in an it-doesn’t-matter way,» she told me. «Most worlds have gravity, you know.»

«Quel Quen listed “missing gravity” as one of the reasons why a world might be useless. Mostly worlds without gravity are just formless and fruitless clouds of gas.»

«Kyspert, it turns out, does not have gravity.»

«Kyspert, is all over floating islands. But I thought things fell down if you dropped them — down being “towards the Boiling Ocean”?» I asked.

«There are three celestial bodies on the outside top of the world which exert a strong repulsive force. Objects do not “fall down”, they are pushed away from Up. I am brilliant with analysis spells! I can see how the direction that things fall varies slightly from place to place, as the distances and angles to the repulsors changes! They fall a touch more slowly near the Boiling Ocean, which is to say, far from the repulsors! If one ascends to the top of the heavens, the repulsive forces are very strong, and clearly push at one in three directions. It is not comfortable, especially when one has used makeshift sorceries to fly and live in a vacuum.»

«That’s quite odd,» I said. «I’ve only been on worlds with normal gravity.» (Later, of course, Quel Quen told me of the gravitic differences between Basic Balls like Mhel, where things are on the outside of the ball-shaped world, and fall towards the center of the ball, and Typical Toroids like Hove, where things are on the hollow inside of the torus, and fall towards the torus walls. There are choices far weirder than Kysp, too.)

«And the levity pods that hold things up, convert some of the repulsive pressure of the repulsors into heat or twinkly light. I am going to train generations of kysp scientists until they can figure out how that works,» said Roroku.

«You’ve run into the limits of your analysis magic?» I asked, with a polite degree of dominance contesting and challenge.

«The limits of my patience! I would rather enjoy my new world than be forever poking at the fine points.» Which is to say “yes”.

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, January 21st, 2016
9:37 pm
What You Do When You’re All Alone

What You Do When You’re All Alone

«Want to know the best thing about having a world all to myself?» wrote Roroku one day.

«Not having one’s husband’s thunderstorm collection wake one up in the middle of the night, every night?» I asked, for reasons that need no elucidation.

«Being able to lie,» she wrote.

«You can’t lie to me,» I noted. The venstroma is as good as physical presence, as far as veriception is concerned.

«You, my ancient friend, are the only person I talk with as an equal: queen of a world to queen of a world.»

«You’re rather ahead of me on that score! I have to share with grosses of drakes,» I said.

«Exactly! No drakes here, and no dragonesses, and no one with veriception. If I tell a lie, no one notices. Except if they can fact-check it somehow of course.»

«Doesn’t that make you rather, well, foetid? If I tell three lies in a day, I get quite noxious under my veriception blocks.» (Mammalian readers may imagine being in a hot rubber suit, so tight and solid as to prevent all scent from escaping. After a few hours in such a situation, they may expect to be rather smelly inside the suit. Veriception blocks are about the same.)

«Not a bit so! No veriception blocks to hold the lie secret! It dissipates after a few moments!» said Roroku.

«I don’t think I’ve gone an hour without veriception blocks since I was six!» I said.

«I know! I hadn’t either! It’s wonderfully relaxing — freeing!»

«What great and amazing lies have you told, with your relaxed and freed powers?» I asked.

«That I couldn’t go to dinner with Dze-Ts-Kwy because I had too much to write, when actually I wanted to sleep!» said Roroku.

«But can’t you say something truthful there? Like, “I’ve got too much to write. I won’t be coming to dinner.”» Any implication that the two statements are connected is simply a mistake on the listener’s part.

«Yes but I don’t have to! And I didn’t!»

I’m not sure why this is a good thing — it sounds like farting in your own face to me — but she seemed pleased with it.

«Are you still friends with Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-twu-thu, then? How do you manage that and still be an angel too?»

«Nwa-Bher is a major religious center now. I — in my persona as Ro-Ro-Ku the Angel — maintain a pleasant residence there, and frequently confer with my kysp friends, of whom Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-twu-thu are the oldest and most trustworthy. Not quite up to the level of that Tarcuna you have, but that’s just as well.»

«Do you have other personas too?»

«I am Dwa-Neng, a scientist of indeterminate age and unclear origins, but an excellent reputation for making inspired guesses that turn out correct.»

«Guesses based, I presume, on analysis magic?»

Roroku wrote, «Absolutely! As Dwa-Neng I maintain a modest residence in one of Kyspert’s great cities, and have a circle of more or less casual friends. As scientists we enjoy sneering at the pretensions of angels and the religious hierarchy! It’s excellent fun, taking both sides of the social divide.»

«I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself and have found congenial company!»

Which is to say, Roroku is utterly insane, but it doesn’t matter, because she is all alone. Except for small people.

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, January 19th, 2016
9:26 pm
The Color from Beyond Space

The Color from Beyond Space

«Oh! Do you remember ko-oc? The color that is “whiter than white, purer than pure” that only the truly blessed can see? I have decided that it is not a color per se, but that the ability to perceive ko-oc is simply lluyewception,» Roroku wrote one day.

«A sense which you have and kysps do not?» I was pretty sure Roroku had the sense; everyone said she had come through her Great Separation intact. I didn’t know of any small people who had lluyewception, though later on I learned that the spens of Spendularé have a form of it.

«Exactly! So I did their test unambiguously. The pelt of a small climbing animal like a squirrel has a modestly attractive lluyew. So I bleached one white. I had the kysps construct a gross of identical boxes, and we put the pelt in one. We had all the interested kysps of Dwe-Mwe (that’s a big city) try to figure out which one it was in, and about one in 144 got it right. I picked it out every time of course. Cheating half the time! The right box smelled different too. Kysps can’t really smell.»

«Did this cause a theological rennaissance?»

«No, but it put to an end one quarrel between the Kogoans and some of their opponents. The Kogoans are my power base really, and I don’t mind keeping them happy in harmless little ways.»

So I lectured her for a while on why it’s a bad idea in the long term to play favorites. My experience counted for nothing in her estimation. I reminded of Rankotherium’s careful devotion to enforcing his laws fairly, and how his mhelvul have been content about it since we conquered Mhel, and that seemed to count for her.

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, January 17th, 2016
7:58 pm
News from Kyspert: The Annunciation

News from Kyspert

The Annunciation

«I disposed of both prophets today,» wrote Roroku. «Vem-Thu and Ko-Go-Nwa, both relegated to footnotes in religious history, and Ko-Go-Nwa still living to see it, too.»

«And you, of course, are the next and final prophet?»

«I am not merely a prophet, my dear queen!»

«Did you go all the way to declaring yourself a deity, then? Are you one of their current gods, or a new one? If you are declared to be a god, do you show up on your own theoception yet, or do I need to get Borybran to explain to me how that works?»

Roroku wrote, «I wriggle with amusement! No, I took a more moderate approach. I declared myself to be an angel, a messenger and lower-order kinsfolk of the gods. I gave certain signs by which angels might identify themselves!»

«Let me guess,» I answered, because this is a risky but established approach toward conquering worlds, and we have both been taught the lesson by the same teacher (Osoth’s mother, if you’re interested). «The unmistakeable signs of angelhood are things which kysps cannot naturally do, and you are quite familiar with. Shapeshifting?»

«Three signs: being able to turn into a dragon, being able to breathe fire, and being able to heal wounds instantly.»

«Classic!»

«Ko-Go-Nwa was rather deflated when I explained the new order to her! But I reaffirmed some of her prophecies and gave her honors. And of course got most of her followers that way. Vem-Thu was harder to persuade, being dead and all, but Vem-Thu’s successor Del-Nwa-Thu was susceptable to persuasion,» Roroku politely boasted. (Yes, boasting of one’s accomplishments is polite for dragons, and I’m glad to see Roroku being polite enough and self-confident enough to do it.)

«By ‘persuasion’ do you mean ‘claw through the belly’?» Because that’s how Llredh persuaded the government of Trest to surrender to him.

«I simply proclaimed, ‘the judgment of the gods is on you now!’ at the start of our discussion. And whenever he said something I didn’t like, I brushed him with my hukuchô, and asked him quietly if he’d like to reconsider that. After three incidents of intolerable dread and minor convulsions due to no material agency or action on my part, it turned out that he would like to reconsider all such. I gave him a benevolent kysp expression (they can’t smile per se, that would look horrid), and told him that by agreeing with me and working for me, he was becoming beloved of the gods.»

«Classic!» I wrote. (I had a long discussion with Nrararn that evening. He says that torturing even one small person into submission is a vile act, even if thereby you end a war that has been doing worse to grands of small people. It may be the better choice, says Nrararn, it may even be the best choice, but it is personally vile of the torturer, and should be considered dishonorable. I don’t agree in this case. I think that a dragon stopping a small-person war without actually killing anyone is rather impressive, and a bit of low-grade torture is a small punishment for a high priest whose orders have killed and agonized any number of kysps. After an hour or so, when it became clear that neither of us was going to convince the other nor to feel entirely happy with their own position either, we decided to copulate instead of debate. He won that, as always (in the sense of enjoying it.))

«Not as effective as acquiring Ko-Go-Nwa! Pockets of fanatical kysps decided that Del-Nwa-Thu was a traitor and apostate for surrendering to me, or perhaps for working for peace alongside Ko-Go-Nwa. So, fighting, and spellwork, and flying through here and there lashing around with my hukuchô, and burning one scoral away with firebreath, and all such traditional things.» (Nrararn said that counted as a bouquet of massacres and her victory was not nearly as bloodless as she or I said. I said it was a different event and didn’t count as part of the main conquest. Nrararn is right.)

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, January 14th, 2016
9:50 pm
Confession of Fraxtseng

“Fraxtseng! We must speak with you!” Tultamaan and Osoth were down to three companions, though their stories disagree on precisely who those companions were, and it doesn’t matter much, as the companions did approximately nothing but watch.

”… you may,” said Fraxtseng.

“Were you and Jaraswat Romantically Linked last night?”

”… that depends on what you mean by romance,” said Fraxtseng.

“A carnal encounter that lasted much of the night!”

”… less,” said Fraxtseng.

”… me + Yarenton + Questhraum are not exclusive, you must know that … Jaraswat certainly does … he pushed and pushed, demanded and demanded … a stone mage is pretty useless on this expedition … he promised me prestigious publications and deeds if i complied … three or four times a month … never told Questhraum or Yarenton …”

“No murders last night? Of small people in particular?”

”… just sex. one-sided sex.”

Osoth sighed, and turned to Tultamaan. “Jaraswat was telling the truth.”

“Jaraswat is a problem worse than the Murder,” said Tultamaan. “I do believe that he has made Mortal Enemies of two more drakes today — three, if Fraxtseng may be counted.”

”… i was trying to keep it private …” said Fraxtseng. ”… Yarenton would call it rape, but it’s not rape … it’s more of an exchange …”

Osoth said, “We are not concerned with your private life or whoredom. Mr. Norb was murdered horribly, and Jaraswat was briefly the prime suspect.” (Tultamaan reports that Fraxtseng’s reaction to the news was characteristic of an innocent dragon, or of course typical of a dragon who knew what an innocent dragon would do.)

”… Jaraswat didn’t, not last night …”

Tultamaan noted, “In fact he could have done, unless the Encounter with Fraxtseng took all night. But we have no longer any particular reason to suspect Jaraswat, save that he has the wixio and is Thoroughly Disreputable In Unrelated Regards.”

“Then we are back to having no suspects,” grumbled Osoth.

“Oh, our situation is Far Worse Than That,” said Tultamaan cheerfully. “Not only do we have a murder without suspects or evidence, we have an Incipient Vendetta of Fraxtseng’s partners against Jaraswat. If we are not careful and Far More Diplomatic Than You Have Been Today, it could well rip the expedition apart.”

Tultamaan was right, as always. The next week was entirely diplomacy. The murder, while it distressed and confounded the dragons, was a secondary matter. And, lacking all clues, it was not solved.

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, January 13th, 2016
6:45 am
Jaraswat's Confession

Ten dragons — Itharieth and Evrath having added themselves to the party — confronted Jaraswat. Tultamaan took the offense, as often. “Jaraswat! You claim to be Extremely Educated. Wherefore we have a few Questions to ask you.”

Jaraswat, who had been berating Wo Awo over flaws in the hhejŝṧhyant, turned to look at the massive army facing him. (Ten being a massive armu — it doesn’t take ten dragons to conquer a whole world.) “It seems that I am about to be brought to justice.”

“Precisely,” said Tultamaan. “I am looking forward to conducting another Kangaroo Court within the hour. Would you care to make a Complete Confession?”

“Oh, certainly,” said Jaraswat, swishing his tail. “I demanded precision and energy! She responded with carelessness and laziness! A thousand blorrub incidents present themselves. You should know: you were a witness to many of them.”

“I believe you are referring to Roroku. Please make a different confession concerning a different person,” said Osoth.

“Why, of course,” said Jaraswat in an oily voice. “I have trespassed against everyone in all sorts of zenziz ways, have I not? Oh, let me see. I have attempted to extract the greatest skill and focus on the purposes of this expedition from Itharieth, and as a part of correcting him, broke his forelegs. I confess that the treatment was wholly ineffective, and the wyrm still wriggles about, full of frangant futility.”

“That is not the Incident under Question,” said Tultamaan. “Cease these evasions, and explain what transpired Last Night.”

“I refuse,” said Jaraswat. “In any case, it is hardly a crime.”

“Refusal will not engender Judicial Mercy,” snapped Tultamaan. “And destroying Valuable Members of the Expedition is certainly a crime!”

“Nobody was destroyed. There may have been some moaning, but, I assure you, we do not lack for survivors,” snapped Jaraswat.

“Someone was Impaled,” said Tultamaan.

Jaraswat flicked his tail. “Yes.”

“By You,” added Tultamaan.

“Yes.”

“Describe the Circumstances, Jaraswat,” said Tultamaan.

“Prurient little lizard, aren’t you? Well, the circumstances were thus. So-and-so exhibited feminine tendences at me. I chose to honor the matter. We sought privacy in a remote spot. The dragoness — I prefer to use the term ‘dragoness’ considering the circumstances — presented. I impaled her upon each of my male members in turn. You have been on a mating flight, you understand the general concept, though in your case the memories are surely few in number and the dragonesses less than satisfied. Afterwards we returned to the expedition camp separately, wishing a degree of privacy which you are now violating with determined rudeness.”

“That’s all? No small people were involved? No fatalities?”

“What do you take me for, Tultamaan? No small people! No fatalities! Simply a drake and a dragoness disporting themselves in primordeal ways — private ways!”

Osoth raised a wing. “The matter is quite serious. You may wish an alibi.”

Jaraswat snapped, “Fraxtseng, then! I twined with Fraxtseng! Why is it that every other instance of copulation on this expedition may be masked in suitable privacy, but mine may not?”

“Because there is murder and wicked sorcery about, and a valuable small person is dead!” said Osoth.

“Seek them elsewhere! I had nothing to do with them.”

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, January 7th, 2016
9:53 pm
Many Mages

Xilobrax, Lovrian, Driaith, and Borybran were hastily acquired, and Tultamaan, and Psajathrion and Rhosmanthus at Tultamaan’s recommendation. Eight dragons levitated in a circle around Mr. Norb’s corpse.

Osoth spoke his weighty words, and performed his wicked gestures. Borybran flinched.

Osoth snapped, “Borybran! You are displeased! Perhaps you have some reason for fearing the revenance of our pithed factotum?”

“Nothing like that! Your mystic passes, however, offend me in a fundamental but inexplicable way,” said Borybran.

“Me, too,” said Xilobrax. “And, unlike Borybran, I have never been deified, and — with all apologies — I should not like to be.”

“But that is a well-known property of the particular necromantic force you were applying,” said Borybran. “It is very widely blasphemous.”

“Ah, yes. It is. That explains why our most deified drake and our most atheistical drake both wince at the wizardry. But why did the wizardry not work? What was blocking it?”

The assembled dragons blinked at each other. “I saw no opposition” — “Nor did I.” — “There are no counterspells active here.” — “Nor illusions concealing counterspells or blocks.”

“Gentle-lizards!” cried Osoth. “I appreciate the interruption of your day, and your presence here. But you are clearly somehow mistaken or deluded. Here is a corpse! Here is a necromancer! Here are the spells! But — not here are the effects of the spells! Some influence must cause this!”

“I saw nothing,” said Lovrian. “And, though it make me the prime suspect, I say it again: I saw nothing.”

“Nor did I,” said Xilobrax. “The methods of magicology are extensive, and little by way of a broad general blocking-spell could be concealed from them.”

Tultamaan cocked his head. “Is all manner of your Black and Wicked Art blocked, Osoth?”

“I know seven thousand two hundred and eight necromantic spells, if one counts terdigerations and tveth-alternates,” said Osoth. “I have somehow neglected to try them all. You must forgive my omission! I have tried a representative sampling of the appropriate ones! It would do us no good to animate the body of Mr. Norb into a mobile corpse lacking all mind and spirit, all that is truly Mr. Norb, and thus unable to answer questions or describe his murderer.”

Tultamaan said, “Of course not. The only purpose of this Questioning of Us is to see who killed Mr. Norb. Poking at the Nature and Strength of the cryptic necromancy-block is of no Value or Interest to Us at All. So thwacking it with other bits of Necromancy, while likely to Teach us a Good Deal, is Beside The Purpose and Not To Be Tolerated.”

Osoth hissed at his lieutenant. “Tultamaan, speak plainly! Cease these upsetting Backwards Advices, for we are sufficiently upset already, and then some!”

“Animate his corpse, then, and see how the blocking-spell deals with that. Make it work often enough, and it might wear itself out, even,” said Tultamaan.

“Right,” snapped Osoth, and roared, “Corpse, stand forth, obey me!”

Mr. Norb’s body raised its head and hands, and moaned.

“Well, that worked quite normally,” grumbled Osoth.

Tultamaan frowned. “Two possibilities arise Immediately. Well, several others As Well, but these two are waving Purple Flags to get our Attention. The first is that there is a Conspiracy by all Magicologists to kill Mr. Norb. Hush, Lovrian, and hush, Xilobrax! You shall have time to protest later if you Wish. I think this conspiracy Implausible and verging on the Ridiculous To Even Mention, to say nothing of being Technically easy for the rest of us to notice. For one thing, neither magicologist has the slightest Known Motive against Mr. Norb, with whom they have both been Passing Friendly, and whose efforts have Pleased the Both of Them. Whence I discount this Possibility. Now argue against me if you Wish, Lovrian, and bitch thou completely, Xilobrax!”

The magicologists declined to argue.

“And the other possibility is that, somehow, Mr. Norb’s essence has Departed beyond the reach of Osoth’s spells, or imprisoned elsewhere, or, perhaps, been Destroyed altogether. For the results we have seen are as if there were no Ghost Present to Conjure,” said Tultamaan.

”… Yes, any of those would show us what we have seen so far,” said Osoth. “But who of us, save me, has the art to do this thing? And even I could not destroy him.”

“Nobody, to the best of my knowledge, has that Art,” said Tultamaan. “We must consider the possibility that someone has a device that can do it — some strange use of the wixio, perhaps? Jaraswat despised Mr. Norb. Could removing his linguistic ability render his soul unreachable by necromancy — unable to Respond to those itchy Words of Power?”

“I do not know! Let us confront Jaraswat, and see if he can explain himself!”

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, January 5th, 2016
10:10 pm
The Fate of Mr. Norb

The Fate of Mr. Norb

“Osoth, Osoth! Come quickly! A terrible thing has happened!” cried Gimuse.

Osoth put down his writing-drill. “What’s wrong? Where’s the trouble, Gimuse?” Osoth only deigns to use informal contractions with the dead.

“It’s Mr. Norb! Someone has murdered him!” wailed the ghost.

So Osoth scrambled out of his hangar, and scooped Gimuse up with an incantation or something, and flew this way and that to the glade where the small people of his expedition were wont to make their nonmarital assignations.

There Mr. Norb stood, thoroughly murdered. Someone had acquired one of the spars of woven titanium that support Narethy’s peculiarly tilted buildings: five yards of sharp and jagged metal. One end had been hammered into the mossy soil, so that the other end was erect and three yards high. Mr. Norb had been impaled on the spar, so that his hooves were on the ground and the shaft protruded through the back of his neck. His head lolled forward, eyes frozen in misery.

Osoth spread his wings and roared. “Some miscreant of a drake has murdered an important and well-loved small member of my expedition! I shall not permit this trespass against me and mine! I shall bring the deadly breath of justice to the murderer!”

Gemuse cried, “But who is the murderer?”

Osoth looked around. “It is not instantly obvious, so we must perform our detective-works. There are no clawprints, not even in this soft soil so comfortable to small people. No matter. Every dragon learns levitation spells after their Great Separation, and it is no great matter not to leave footprints. Indeed, I am doing the very same levitation myself, without even thinking about it, for I knew I did not want to trample the crime scene.”

He sniffed around, his tongue flicking everywhere. “Again unsurprisingly, there is no scent of any dragon here. We can thus, for a first approximation, exclude Atharis from our list of culprits.”

Gemuse wailed, “Why?”

“Because Atharis is deficient in the magics of illusion and concealment. He doesn’t even have veriception blocks. He could not have cast the simple spell to hide his scent. Which is to say, anydrake else could have done. Well, then. Since the most obvious investigation yields nothing, I shall simply call forth Mr. Norb’s ghost and inquire of him the circumstances of his death. And then, good Gemuse, I shall leave him in a form of animation such as you yourself enjoy, and you may conduct your posthumous romance on more even terms.”

And Osoth spoke seven ancient words that fell on Mr. Norb’s corpse like heavy drops of mercury.

And nothing happened.

“Well, that’s odd. Something has, somehow, interfered with my spell,” said Osoth. He performed an intricate gesture that is blasphemous in every decent religion, and in every decent form of atheism as well.

And again nothing happened.

“It seems that I must work harder at this!” grumbled Osoth. He drew forth a grey powder found only in the interiors of certain extinct stars and cast it forth, with an incantation like the cracking of knouts.

Once again, nothing happened.

“Well, this is bothersome. The murdering drake has taken great pains to prevent necromancy. Well, certain of our scholars could likely manage this: Xilobrax, Lovrian, Driaith, and Borybran, for four. I would like to bring someone in to consult upon what has been done here, but if I bring the murderer himself as my consultant, the results shall be inferior,” mused Osoth.

“Bring all four!” cried Gemuse. “If one of them is balky and interferous, that one implicates himself!”

“An excellent idea, good Gemuse, and one which I shall do forthwith.”

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, January 3rd, 2016
10:10 pm
Challenge and Duel

Itharieth half crawled, half levitated to Psajathrion’s hangar. “Good doctor, have you a moment for some professional attentions?”

The doctor shook himself awake. “Of course, Itharieth! What has become of you? Your forelegs are broken, your wings are in tatters, your face is badly burned!”

“Jaraswat happened to me,” said Itharieth, collapsing gratefully in front of Psajathrion, presenting himself for an initial examination. “He came to me just now and said that he was accepting my challenge. ‘What challenge?’ said I. ‘The challenge to my authority as Chief Scholar,’ said he. ‘And I get to choose the form, which is Rhedosaur’s Duello Prolongato.’”

“I note that there are the regulation twelve injuries, as suitable and standard for a Duello Prolongato, and that he has confined himself to traditional and easily-healed sorts of injuries, at that,” said Psajathrion. “I do hope you gave as good as you got.”

“Me? Hardly. Jaraswat came thoroughly prepared, with Driaith’s best the Hoplonton, and a dozen enhancements, and his spirit in a fury and a half! I was still muzzy with sleep when he broke both my legs. If I got a single bite and two breaths, I’ll be the Frandy’s brandy! Ow, that hurts!”

“Simply medical pain, Itharieth. You do want that foreleg to be set straight, do you not?”

“In fact I do, good Psajathrion. But I am in the mood for self-expression now, and the self I wish to express includes a great deal of pain. Also a certain measure of anger and outrage. I cannot say that Jaraswat behaved unlawfully or improperly, but he certainly used our more violent laws and customs as a very big set of fangs! Also, I might add, his own fangs are plenty large.”

“Well, no lasting harm done, at least, Itharieth. You must have put the first-aid preservation spells into yourself quickly! The injuries were as fresh as if they were just dealt, not the dozen minutes old they actually are. Healing will be quick and thorough.”

Itharieth scowled. “Well, yes. I quickly saw the way of the duel, and spent my time on preservatives rather than, well, actually fighting. He did mention the possibility of long-lasting harm though! He threatened to take my ability to speak away, with that wixio of his, should I persist in defying him.”

Psajathrion worked for a bit longer. “Well, that is what can be done now. You should sleep for two days, or, better, for three. No, no, you should not move so far as your own hangar! You shall have my bed. I shall sleep across the hangar door, and scowl away anyone who attempts to bother you. I do not trust Jaraswat not to challenge you again on some other pretext!”

“The dignity of an autonomous drake, or peaceful sleep? By the Jatt’s cat, it is no contest! I shall take your offer, and gratefully!” Itharieth levitated himself into Psajathrion’s hangar, and embarked on the medically-recommended rest.

Psajathrion discussed the attack with Osoth and Tultamaan, and eventually with me. We were forced to admit that Jaraswat was within the bounds of permissable and traditional behavior. We punished him, in a feeble administrative gesture, by moving everyone who had been involved in the god stalk from Jaraswat’s domain to Tultamaan’s.

Jaraswat’s reaction was simply, “Horiẗotħ.” Nobody else knows what language that’s in, even.

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, January 1st, 2016
9:21 pm
Practical Applications of Vanity

Borybran said, “Now, we could simply depart, our current wishes accomplished, many girgs saved from that nasty little curse.”

“But you have a better idea, by the Glottdrossitēs thought processes!” said Itharieth.

“The gods whose names you profane are unknown to academic theology,” said Borybran.

“I should hope so, by the Curriestaevology’s spurious mythology! They are surely happier that way.”

“As you say. I propose another bit of an experiment. Let us write an accurate summary of our deeds in vast letters on a mountainside, in breath-melted letters. It will at least give the girgs something to think about as they build their civilization. Perhaps they will welcome the next dragons as prophecied deities.”

So Mount Mehtenvu was duly shaved into a seven-sided pyramid by the efforts of Fraxtseng the stone mage. A pleasant little essay was composed about the history of eyeworms, the nature of the girgods, and the beneficience of the dragons. It was translated carefully into the seven major written languages of Girgar, carefully including three from distant continents, and written upon the mountain. And signed, of course, with a profile view of a dragon.

“It will be interesting to see what becomes of that,” said Borybran. “If nothing else, scholars a grand-year hence will be able to translate all of these languages, if they can understand any one of them.”

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, December 29th, 2015
7:37 pm
God and Dragon Diplomacy

Itharieth attempted a diplomatic solution. “Perhaps you could refine your curse, so that it could tell the difference between a noun and a verb? And explain the holy gesture and sign, so that the girgs do not accidentally produce it?”

“I shall not labor to allow dishonest indirect worship of Wiwíl! He is fallen, he is destroyed, he may not be honored at all! Nor will I defile myself with his holy gesture and sign! No! Anyone worshipping him will suffer my wrath! My curse is as I wish it, and I shall maintain it forever, unchanged, unchanging!”

“Well, we must insist that you modify your curse, if not drop it altogether. You are large, and have strong theotonic prowess. But we are quite powerful as well, and suitably prepared, and, should it come to a battle between us, you should have little chance of surviving,” said Itharieth. “Being gentle people, we prefer to negotiate a settlement which is acceptable to you and to the girgs both.” (I have no idea why he thinks we are “gentle people”, but he said so.) “But we must insist that you be flexible on this point, and we are prepared to destroy you rather than leave the curse as it is.”

“I am flexible!” roared the girgod. “I make the curse more stringent! Now any word that has either syllable of Wiwíl’s name shall bring eyeworms! Now drawing a single triangle shall bring eyeworms!”

Itharieth curled his tail in a sign of withheld menace, not that Nahúm had any chance of knowing draconic body language. “This is flexibility, but you must flex in the other direction. Make the curse less stringent! Allow education so that girgs may choose to worship Wiwíl, and those who do not choose to do so shall not be afflicted! Exclude children altogether! These are matters of simple justice.”

“Simple justice is simply that all who worship Wiwíl shall be punished! I would punish them worse if I could!”

“Well, if you will not negotiate, if you will augment the curse rather than diminish it, we will correct you, with violence. Please be aware that you may choose to surrender during our fight. You know our terms already.”

And, so saying, Itharieth and Psajathrion took wing, and struck at Nahúm with their fierce breaths, a bolt of traditional flame from the right, a bolt of equally-traditional lightning from the left. The girgod wailed at the pair of dragon-sized burns on its flanks, and belched forth a clot of theotonic energies at Itharieth. Itharieth dodged it without particular effort, forewarned by dangersense and theoception both. The clot arched about, and coagulated an innocent tree on the mountainside.

Itharieth tried one more negotiation. “You have seen how the fight will go. We will blast you and burn you terribly. You will burp away at us without putting us in the slightest danger. Choose now: a painful death, or an honorable negotiation!”

Nahúm answered with another theotonic blast.

All six dragons have described the battle to me in detail: who was where, what order the breaths struck the poor monster in, how many cubic yards of its flesh were destroyed at each strike, how its aim started out mediocre, and rapidly became worse as pain and injuries clouded its abilities. I find that, while I am happy to glorify the dragons’ motives, which were as close to noble and just as any I have seen, and I am happy to glorify their research, which was clever and well-chosen, I am not going to glorify their battle, beyond saying that it was unhurried and supremely effective. Nahúm never had a chance.

Rather, he never had a chance to win, or even to injure a dragon. He had plenty of chances to surrender and end it. But I suppose that a creature who cannot retreat and does not indulge in dominance contests has no instinct for surrender.

“Well, that wasn’t particularly cooperative of him,” said Psajathrion.

“You’d think a god would know how to fight better than that!” cried Vaareng.

“Not really. I don’t believe that he (or they — I suspect that girgods are hermaphroditic) had ever met anyone of any real power. Nor any girgs, for that matter,” said Borybran.

(In fact, further research revealed that the girgs knew that their gods lived on Wotom. However, they were under the impression that the gods were girg-like, and concerned with the deeds of girgs at a quite detailed level (which is true), but concerned with matters of purity and sin (which is false). They found the truth rather boggling, and I’m sure that a historian would have a wonderful time tracking all the wars and schisms and whatnot that ensued in the gross-year after the revelation.)

Itharieth and Psajathrion visited some of the other girgods, and warned them to use their powers to bless the girgs, rather than curse them. The girgods had watched the dragons easily and amusedly slaughter mighty Nahúm, and were quite cowed. I’m sure a historian would have an interesting time seeing how they behaved in the gross-year after the threat, after the dragons had left.

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, December 27th, 2015
10:58 pm
First Dragons on the Moon

First Dragons on the Moon

The front half of Wotom was rock worn smooth, presumably by the wind of the moon’s travel. The back half of Wotom was covered with mounds or small mountains, with vegetation, with insects and other biology. And with gods.

Girgods are quite large — some hundreds of feet long, and some thirty in diameter, so, physically, they dwarf dragons — and quite like six-legged centipedes or giant caterpillars. Their eyes spring forth on stalks, their mouths are huge filtery things which would not look out of place on a whale or an air conditioner, and their carapaces are covered with runes, spelling their names in some ancient and (on Girgar) magically-active tongue. Their back halves are rooted into the ground of the mountain.

They also don’t particularly have dangersense. When our half-dozen dragons confronted the one who maintained the eyeworm curse, it glowered at them from eyestalks and proclaimed, “You must now worship Nahúm!”

Itharieth, who does have dangersense and knew perfectly well that Nahúm was not much of a threat to him, said, “The details of our worship are somewhat negotiable. You maintain a curse upon the whole world of Girgar, so that any girg pronouncing certain words is infected with eyeworms, do you not?”

“I — Nahúm — defeated Wiwíl!” the girgod roared.

[Translation note: The defeated god’s name is pronounced approximately like “We will” in Sraddic, which is to say, ”Ⱦgőfi”. In the original Petty Dragonic, it was translated as “Sraru”; in English, “Wiwíl”; and if we ever do a Welsh version it will be “Biddwn”, etc.]

“I’m sure you did,” said Itharieth. “This was some time ago, was it not?”

“Before Nahúm there was nothing, nothing that mattered! Nahúm emerged, Wiwíl emerged! Nahúm and Wiwíl claimed the same mountain as their home! Nahúm fought Wiwíl with claws, with shell-bludgeoning, with strentulations, with curses! Nahúm defeated Wiwíl! Behold, there is the scar where Wiwíl sought to implant himself upon Nahúm’s mountain, surrounded by the double triangle that is his holy sign!”

“I see,” said Itharieth. “And the curse?”

“No one may give Wiwíl any honor! If girgs praise and chant the name of Wiwíl, they shall suffer! If girgs make the holy gesture of Wiwíl, they shall suffer! If girgs draw the holy signs of Wiwíl, they shall suffer! This law I impose upon all the world!”

Itharieth sat in the air in front of the ranting god, and attempted to be reasonable. “In fact, the girgs do not know that Wiwíl ever existed, and even if they did know, they would care nothing for a long-dead god. They do not say ‘Wiwíl’ in the sense of your justly-defeated enemy’s name. The same sounds make other words in their languages, including the common phrase, ‘we will’. So your curse makes them miserable, for all that they obey the spirit of your edict.”

“They pronounce the name that I have forbidden! Thus they violate my law, thus do they suffer my curse! This is logical, this is straightforward, this is justice itself!”

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, December 25th, 2015
2:47 pm
God Stalk

God Stalk

A writer trained in physical magicology, or at least theology, would probably make much of the ensuing research. The scholars built a small construct, a hhejởikoƶŧa if you must know its name, and instantly discovered that the source of the curse was beneath their feet.

“I do not entirely enjoy digging,” said Psajathrion.

“Let’s look some more, by the Scrumpet’s trumpets! I have a suspicion that it might be on the other side of this round world. Flying around would be easier than digging through!”

The dragons flew two hundred miles off and applied the hhejởikoƶŧa again, acquiring another vector. “Well, that’s odd,” said Borybran. “The two vectors don’t come anywhere close to intersecting. Some experimental error would not be a surprise, but this is miserable! Does the author of the curse have some twirling obfusticatory shield?”

“Twirling, I suspect, would be enough, by the Girling’s furling! Wait three hours and try again. From here, will do well enough!” said Itharieth. The other dragons made him explain, but, since he was right, we will let him have his little surprise.

Three hours later, the scholars applied the hhejởikoƶŧa again. “Now, another vector, nowhere close to intersecting the other two!” cried Borybran.

“It zooms off into the sky!” cried Itharieth triumphantly. “It points directly at Wotom, the smallest and closest of the moons of Girgar, which was around on the other side of the world some hours ago, but has risen! Triangulation is sure to fail, for Wotom is swift and motionful!”

“Clever drake!” said Psajathrion, and thumped the biologist with his tail. “Now, is the moon inside the atmosphere enough to fly there, or must we make other arrangements?”

It proved to be a mere eighteen miles up, and mounted on an circular track in an ordinary epicyclical way. Air pressure on Girgar is approximately constant — as on Hove, but not on Mhel.

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, December 22nd, 2015
10:05 pm
Wise but somewhat Crunchy

Jaraswat bit Borybran’s other wing, hard enough to break bones and to impinge on the limits of polite behavior. As Borybran healed himself, Jaraswat reared over him and hissed, “Who is it who is Chief Scholar? Who is it who designs the schedules and organizes the tasks of the wooraw hoard of ḋordond fucking-drakes that we are somehow pleased to call scholars here? Is it you? Is this why you proclaim so openly that you are going to go do this unauthorized and inappropriate side-quest?”

“Oh, Indeed,” said Tultamaan. “One should scarcely Breathe or Excrete without the permission of one’s Chief. Why, I Myself would surely prefer to spend all day signing Pissing-Passes for the guards, just as Jaraswat for the scholars! Alas for my forepaws, that writing is impossible for me!”

“Your blorrub joy in the excretory processes which you so delight in is not the topic at hand,” snapped Jaraswat. “This is a matter of actual scholarly investigation. Already Itharieth and Psajathrion have gone beyond the appropriate bounds of researchers, and will be punished for doing so! The question is, is this haramash and unauthorized matter going to proceed further? The answer is, it will not! There is no need for us to involve ourselves in the pesty problems of girgs! And every reason not to! We must not spoil this world!”

“Ah! Jaraswat wants subjects with Ruined Eyes. I suppose that does not harm their Linguistic Interest. Alternatively, Jaraswat wants his Scholars to behave like unintelligent Undead. I am unclear on why we are using actual Dragons as scholars in this case. Jaraswat could get Closer to his Heart’s Desire with Clockwork.”

Jaraswat reared his head and spread his wings. “What? I require and demand obedience from my team! Just as you do to yours!”

Tultamaan laughed frostily. “When I say, ‘Go there and do thus’, my team is glad to do so. Not because of my title, which is worth precisely One and One-Quarter of Queen Jyothky’s Farts. Not because they Like me, for I am Odious. But because I am Frequently Correct in my Apprehensions, and Generally Thought Likely to keep my dragons Alive. I remain Unclear on what Advantage your Chieftanship provides for your dragons.”

“Academic gravitas! A clear focus on the important topics! If I did not constantly chivvy them about, they would spend every day engaging in unnatural junctures instead of investigations! Not just the nights!”

“Remarkable that they Attend to you in the Slightest, then,” said Tultamaan.

Jaraswat roared, and attempted to rake Tultamaan’s face with his claws. Tultamaan was warded by some mysterious potency (at least, I know what it is, but I’m not going to tell everyone about my friend’s defenses!) and Jaraswat’s claws raked the air instead.

“Ah, Jaraswat. Once again your Brilliantly-Reasoned Argumentation and Incisive Displays of Logic demonstrate to all just why you are Chief Scholar, and I am merely the Captain of the Guard,” said Tultamaan, his head lowered obsequiously. There was much tittering.

Jaraswat spat a few choice but incomprehensible words — “A ballibob! A veritable nipperlan juke-taj!” — and swarmed off.

“Well. Since he has blocked the Word-Fox, I am going to interpret those last few words as his enthusiastic encouragement on your expedition,” said Borybran. “Xilobrax, dear, are you with me?”

“Anything to twist Jaraswat’s tail!” said Xilobrax.

“If you are actually going to Quest Forth and Nibble Upon A God, I officially delegate two of the Guards to accompany your Wise but somewhat Crunchy Selves. Driaith and Vaareng, are you here? Are you Interested in adding the Score of a Deity to your Increasingly Impressive Tallies?”

“I should think so!”

“Prepare for an hour; I shall confer with Osoth, and then you shall be off.”

Osoth, it turned out, wanted to hear the end of the story too, and thought that priming the world for draconic conquest would be all for the best. As would thorough documentation of fighting the gods.

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, December 20th, 2015
10:03 pm
On the Investigation of the Eye-worms and Gods of Girgar

“Hallo, Borybran,” said Psajathrion. “A moment of your time, perhaps to extend for several days, in a professional capacity.”

“Psajathrion! Itharieth!” cried Borybran. He is cobalt-blue with white highlights and a single long forehead horn. He also radiates brightly to theoception, having gotten deified somehow as a matter of professional interest. (Don’t make too much of his godhead. It is no more amazing or impressive than that my husband the air-mage braids lightning bolts into his mane.) “What a relief it is, to be consulted in a professional capacity! I have written grand upon grand of theological reports, but, save for Vorav where events happened more swiftly than consultations, theology has been a matter of very little public interest!” One may suspect Borybran of exaggerating his labors.

“By the Gloringe’s door-hinges, it is no longer so, Borybran!” exclaimed Itharieth. “We have a matter of a god on Girgar placing a world-wide curse. We wish to investigate, to discover, to understand — to twist the god’s tail until they lift it, by the Flimnei’s chimneys!”

“Ah, Itharieth, you evoke deities whose names are obscure beyond even my deep study!” said Borybran. (“He makes them up,” Psajathrion muttered.) “But this seems like a veritable case study! Tell me more!”

So they told him more. As they spoke, Xilobrax and Tultamaan and Jaraswat and others slithered by to listen.

“Why, yes indeed!” said Borybran, much amused to be the center of attention. “The combination of eccentric fussiness, peculiar punishment, and oracular unclarity about it certainly does suggest the approach of a certain sort of deity. We must investigate and meditate and triangulate, and much shall be revealed that was obscured!”

Jaraswat scowled. “Borybran. Is your report on the theotonic field on Girgar both quarliq and complete? For that matter, are your reports on Kyspert and even long-departed Vorav kaperkonk in every aspect — do they exist at all?”

Borybran peered at the Chief Scholar. “What does that mean?”

Jaraswat bit Borybran’s left forewing. “Borybran! You spend every moment and every thought on that jawdidj fucking-glade of yours, and not enough on the heart of scholarship! ‘kaperkonk’ is straightforward Cĥẚriptaaan, ‘quarliq’ is equally routine Tlelismaxchi! Both are words I frequently use to convey the degree of perfection I demand from your work! Perfection which you do not deign to supply, preferring to flirt ignominiously with Xilobrax and Rhosmanthus and I don’t know who else!”

“Atharis and Sjojarn are better consorts than any female on any mating flight ever,” Borybran noted. (I dispute his accuracy! Arilash on my mating flight was peerless. I kept the flight’s average low, though.) “Kyspert and Vorav are long-lost; nobody will ever read those reports. The report on Girgar could be enhanced by more interaction with the theotonic field. In any case it’s the girgods themselves who our clients will care about, not just the field, so I’m going to go find the girgods.”

Jaraswat bit Borybran’s other wing, hard enough to break bones and to impinge on the limits of polite behavior. As Borybran healed himself, Jaraswat reared over him and hissed, “Who is it who is Chief Scholar? Who is it who designs the schedules and organizes the tasks of the wooraw hoard of ḋordond fucking-drakes that we are somehow pleased to call scholars here? Is it you? Is this why you proclaim so openly that you are going to go do this unauthorized and inappropriate side-quest?”

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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