Coda: Ze Cheya
Ze Cheya is a smallish and mostly irrelevant country. It’s an archipelago, naturally fortified by rings of ancient coral reefs. They don’t keep it safe anymore, not from zeppelins and jet planes, much less dragons. But they used to. Its big neighbor Damma couldn’t send a huge overwhelming armada to conquer it, they way that Damma did to three dozen other little countries. So the three dozen other little countries are now happy (or maybe unhappy) little states in one of Hove’s great regional powers. Ze Cheya is a quiet, poor, unimportant, and generally backwards country. Or mostly poor. Now that it’s actually reasonably easy to get to, lots of tourists from Damma and Trest and other rich places come there to enjoy the quaint exotic beauty of Ze Cheya.
Then they’re disappointed, because the capital (also called Ze Cheya) isn’t all that quaint or exotic or beautiful. Not everywhere, at least — the temples and palaces are wonderful. But the city itself is very urban, full of tall boring rectangular apartment buildings and tall boring rectangular office buildings. Like Port-of-Zom or Tublier, or the outskirts of Dorday where the tourists don’t go because it’s too boring. Except Ze Cheya (the city) has to fit on a small island, so they built taller and even more boring buildings.
The rest of Ze Cheya (the archipelago) is pretty nice. Csirnis and I flew over to, um, I don’t want to wake Csirnis up to ask him what that island was called. Which is a nice place to the old castles of the bandit princes (Ze Cheya used to be a pretty rough place), and the not-so-old pagodas of the Way of Gentleness monks (Ze Cheya has an indigenous pacifistic religion). And lots of terraced hill farms that look the way they did two gross years ago. Superficially! They’ve mostly got radios or televisions hidden inside of big stocky black wood armoires. So they mostly know that the four-winged beautiful prince flying overhead is friendly, and easy to distract with “Please heal my baby! Please heal my arthritis! Please heal my baby’s arthritis!”
So a dozen times I told the story about healing Churdle and getting genuine Churry City Chili and troublecakes. Which is a fun way to ask for tastes of the local cuisine! The farm’s cook would usually bristle herself up and say, “Well! Churry City Chili is all very well, but have you tasted lampkyos with egg sambar?” Or whatever their speciality is.
Lampkyos are small squids stuffed with spiced grain, and steamed, and served with a sauce that’s about 11/12 ground chilis and 11/12 ground boiled eggs. I know the arithmetic doesn’t work out right, but if you taste it, you’ll understand. They’re too spicy for arithmetic.
Anyways, we tasted lampkyos with egg sambar, and stuffed drum (a squash, not a musical instrument), and candlenut curry, and candied sirenva fruits, and all sorts of rural Ze Cheyan specialties. And left a trail of healed farmers in our wake!
And that sounds like less fun than it was. I’m going to give Csirnis five more fiancé points.
Oh, time for a fret. Csirnis is delicious, but he’s not really being a good dragon. I can’t imagine how we could raise a dragonet the least bit properly, if this is how he’d want to live.