Me vs. Ythac
Arilash, Tarcuna, the perverts, and I flew for a third of an hour, and the Melismatic Tempest made it as if we flew for a third of a day. Not that there was much of a reason to go so far. None of us were all that fond of Port-of-Zom, even at its best, and it certainly wasn’t at its best anymore, though.
We passed over water, we passed over jungle, we passed over water, and we came to a shining white cone of an island in a shallow silvery sea. I called up to Tarcuna on my back, “What is this place? Are we out of Vlechinse?”
“Long gone from Vlechinse. This is Esbaril. It’s a wonderful vacation spot for people who can afford it. My parents had their honeymoon here. Um, please don’t destroy it, if it’s all the same to you?” she shouted back.
So we landed on the top of Esbaril. The hovens have built a small pavilion up there, and a wide playground and picnic area around it. There are telescopes mounted on the rim of the mountain, and for a small coin a hoven can peer around at the rich jungle of Esbaril, or tilt the telescope up and perhaps catch a glimpse of home in distant Trest or Vlechinse or wherever. Or spy on far-off Nrararn as he disported himself in the clouds when he thought nobody was watching. Each morning in Esbaril very early, dozens of poor Esbarites load their backs with big packs of nut cookies and pre-made sandwiches, bottles of foaming cider and small beer, spare shoes and straw hats, and whatever else they think that tourists might want, and hike to the top to scrabble for their day’s living. Every morning in Esbaril not so early, hundreds of families of tourists hike up the wide well-paved mountain trails, and mostly have a wonderful time. And if they break a shoe or didn’t bring enough lunch, the poor Esbarites are delighted to help out for a quite fair fee.
Unfortunately, the poor Esbarites didn’t have a very good day today. Neither did the tourists.
The four of us with wings landed at one end of the paved area. Arilash helped Tarcuna off my back. Llredh and Ythac smiled at the tourists and the vendors. “Hi! We’re going to borrow a corner of your mountain for a chat!” said Ythac in Trestean. “We’re completely harmless unless pestered, taunted, or assaulted with high-caliber weapons!”
The tourists and vendors didn’t seem to entirely believe him. Many of them ran for the paths down, and made their escape good and their holiday not so good. A few dozen stayed. Perhaps some had the tactical sense that climbing (slowly) down a mountain to escape from speedy fire-breathing flying monsters wasn’t likely to work very well. Perhaps they were poor and determined to extract whatever money they could from the day. Certainly some of them didn’t look as if they could get down the mountain very fast.
“Tarcuna, please go buy all the vendor’s food. Have some for yourself, if you’re still hungry,” I commanded.
“Sure, no problem,” she said. It was a problem though. She couldn’t carry much, being exhausted and having a paralyzed arm. Even the bravest vendors wouldn’t come close to us.
Arilash listened to Tarcuna bicker with them for a few minutes, and then hopped to the other side of the mountaintop and grinned down at them with a mouth full of very large and very gleamy fangs. “O respected hovens! If we wished to kill you, you would even now be dead. If we wished to melt your mountain, it would even now be a river of stone flowing down to the cities on the coast. We wish neither one. Alarmingly, we wish to buy snacks from you. I will even buy a straw hat! But you must be polite.”
“Arilash, it’s my thurneys you’re spending! My whore’s thurnies, anyways, but it amounts to the same thing,” I squawked as the vendors, their escape routes cut off, brought us their wares. Arilash speared a straw hat jauntily on one of her headspikes. Her rather suspicious headspikes — drakes should have spikes, dragonesses shouldn’t. Arilash has always been rather flashy and masculine in her choices of form. That seemed a lot more suspicious to me today.
Llredh blinked at me. “Jyothky! Of dragons you are the virginest, of dragons you are the properest! The female hoven whore, why do you have her?”
I chilled his flank with winter breath. “You are the grand pervert! You tempt Ythac away from decency! You are not one to talk!”
Arilash adjusted her Small Wall. “I’m a fairly grand pervert too, though I can’t say I’ve managed to tempt Ythac very well, and I was wondering the same thing.” She put on her most conciliatory voice. “Is it that you don’t lust for dragons much, but you lust for hovens?”
“Nothing like that. I’d no more copulate with her than I would with you, Arilash,” I said.
She looked a bit dismayed. “Really? I was hoping for a turn with you now and then. I like dragonesses, as a break from all the drakes.”
”… really? …” I mumbled. That wasn’t something I much wanted to hear.
“Yes. I planned to ask after you’d gotten through all the drakes at least once. That’s polite,” she said.
Well, that was a despair and a half. “I am surrounded by perverts,” I said.
“True, true, you’re from the ‘cripples’ side of the mating flight, and the rest of us here are from the ‘perverts’ side,” said Ythac.
“The grand denial I must make here!” rumbled Llredh. “Neither one side nor the other am I on, but both at once!”
“It’s not like that! What about Csirnis? What about Osoth and Nrararn, for that matter?” I shouted.
“Nrararn has no aeroception and is small and unimpressive, Osoth is exceedingly clumsy, neither of them is very strong in battle, and Csirnis wasn’t part of the flight ‘til the last minute,” said Arilash. “But Nrararn and Osoth could go in a ‘weaklings’ side, if you’d like.”
“You make us sound like the dregs of Mhel’s dragons,” I whined.
“Oh, we are, absolutely. There were, what? four mating flights sent off at about the same time, in the same duodecade, except ours got delayed. We mostly got the dragons that the others didn’t want: perverts, cripples, weaklings. Roroku thought it better to make a grand of enemies for her parents and flee to Chiriact than to come with us,” said Arilash.
I thought about that a bit. I’ve thought about it more since then. I wish I could think of any flaws with it.