Lazy Morning (Day 71)
I woke up after a very long time, curled up in a far corner of the cave. I crept out to the stone couch room. There was nobody there but Greshthanu’s catafalque. So I waddled over and had a one-sided conversation about how I had destroyed the weapon that had killed him and would see about the people presently, and I was sorry I hadn’t managed to couple with him while he was alive but I had offered, and how I was taking good care of the hovens when I could, and … That sounds awfully ungracious. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t hear me. I’ll have to ask Osoth for sure.
And Osoth came to mind soon enough. Eight mummies in matching heiroglyph-encrusted vestments marched into the chamber, bearing a vast copper tray upon which rested the corpse of a yearling cow, dusted with tongue-searing mya-mya powder and tomb-natron, though neither one was sufficient to keep off the scent of putrescence that hovered about it. Behind them three skeletal harpers danced a languid pavane and clattered their instruments against their bare rib-bones as they played. The mummies placed their burden in front of me and made many humble obeisances, bowing more deeply than a hoven still encumbered with the hindrances of living flesh and sinew could have done.
“Oh, Osoth left breakfast for me! How sweet of him!” I said, and started to eat it. It wasn’t as good as the rabbit with onion and efforasze he had given me in the Tumult Sands. Osoth is a better dramaturge than chef.
“The very attentive suitor, that is he!” shouted Llredh from outside.
“Oh! Good morning!” I called back. “Who’s around?”
“You, me, and the sleeping of my husband,” he said. “Looting and scattered, the other drakes are these things, in Trest.”
“Well, they should be. Where’s Arilash?”
“Seeking a suitable mountain, this is Arilash. A sentimental lizard is she! The final sepulchre of Greshthanu she will make from it when she finds it. Who better?”
I ripped a bite of rotting muscle off the foreleg. “I suppose she was the closest thing he had to a friend here, or to a wife. I never did too well on either one.”
“Better taste in friends, she is yours! The best among us, he was your friend first.” Llredh reared his head up proudly. “Elsewhere, that is the place you must seek for your own husband!”
I reared my own up, to breathe something or other at him. He laughed. “Too late, for the dragonessly dominance contests with me! This contest, I win her. A mighty victory is my victory! For I did not know I was competing in that contest.”
I didn’t breathe at him, though. He’s a lot bigger than me, and quite a good fighter. Better to tease him back, or try to. “So, you’re the dragoness of the two of you?”
“Drakes, both of us! The detailed investigation, I perform her! Very often!”
“Shame, she visits Ythac when he thinks of Rankotherium, or of you. Anger, she visits me when I think of cyoziworms. Vengeance, I do not forget her!”
I wiped the platter clean of pungent spice and drippings with the last scrap of hide. “Have you figured out how to get any worthwhile revenge?”
“Not yet! It has been a busy half-week.”
Ythac called out from deep in the caves, “Llredh? Who are you talking to?”
“Your anti-pervert, your prickle queen, with her I conspire!”
“Oh, hi, Jyothky. One minute.” I heard the rushing of fire breath, the rasping of sand on scales, and soon enough Ythac waddled out. “My wing-muscles hurt like anything. I don’t think I’ve ever flown so much at once. It’s only a day and a half, but I think my body aches by the league flown not the time.”
“Oh, claw it, I’d better check too.” A bit of scrying determined that, yes, my wing-muscles were just as unhappy.
“The warm lake, in her you must both lounge and soak!” said Llredh.
“Where is this warm lake?” I asked.
“On equatorial Mhel, many are there.”
“That’s back on Mhel. Hove doesn’t have a molten heart to make warm lakes, though,” said Ythac. ”Are there any here?”
“Such questions, such finding questions, I ask them of my husband!”
Ythac swatted Llredh with his tail. ”Someone insisted on giving me a proper hero’s welcome last night and wouldn’t let me go right to sleep! Or newlywed’s welcome, at least.”
“The resistance, the struggle, the objections, the defiancé — all these were far, far away! The acquiescence, the concupiscence, the eagerness, the compliance — all these came in their place!”
“I don’t think Jyothky wants to hear that,” said Ythac. He was right. “Can you make us a hot lake to soak in?”
So Llredh strutted over to a pond and dammed it closed. Ythac and I levitated trying not to move any more than we had to. All of us breathed fire on it, and when it steamed we sloshed in. The drakes looked happy. Some scrying said that my muscles were happy, too, so I suppose it was worthwhile.
Then I went back to the cave and put some slow healing spells on myself, and wrote this, and went back to sleep.