Roroku on Kyspert
So Roroku was the third of us (or fourth if Gemuse counts; the minikin certainly does not) on Kyspert, and the one that I followed the most closely, because she was much more entertaining than the increasingly tendentious and ridiculous whiskey incident. (Naturally the most tendentious and ridiculous of the Chiriact dragons was Gyovanth’s mother, so giving the occasional report about what her son was up to was, at least, a good way to distract her from her poisoned slaves. Especially when, by rumor, Gyovanth and a temporarily-dragoness Xilobrax were flirting extensively while Roroku was busy. My rumors were probably exaggerated, but they were definitely rumors.)
Roroku took the form of a Chiriact songbird and flew through the cyclone to Kyspert. She found herself in a world of floating islands, or floating lumps anyhow. Being an expert at disguise and espionage, she peered at them until she saw a small flying creature, and took that creature’s shape. «I am an odd sort of aerial eel, with fins or fans sticking off where a bird would have wings, and my tail is long and finny too. There is definitely gravity here, I can feel it, but I seem to have some sort of levity or anti-gravity organ. A very hot organ too: it feels feverish.» I relayed some of the conversation to Itharieth. He sent questions; she cast analysis spells. «I have many veins going around the levity organs, and many veins in my fins. I would say that a sky-eel’s body expects the levitator to get hot, and needs to cool it off.»
She left off investigating the sky-eel species from the inside, and fluttered off to the nearest of the floating lumps. «It’s a sort of forky spiky mass: fifty yards radius or so, say. Imagine a snowflake that didn’t want to grow flat or symmetrical. That beard under it is a forest of dangling, swaying plants hanging off the bottom. The local sky-eel population is large and wants to investigate newcomers, but I don’t feel like being investigated so I gave them a tiny brushing with my hukuchô and they flew off.» Not much that lives entirely in the material world can endure the touch of a dragon’s hukuchô.
«Now I am looking at the surface of the lump. It is made of wood! Sort of like wood anyhow. It’s a myriad of little wooden polyhedra, a half-inch in diameter or so, stuck together irregularly face to face. Each one has holes in some of its faces, and a little tiny tentacled creature living in it. Yes, Itharieth, I’ll use analysis spells … that’s odd. The creatures are joined to the wooden polyhedra, and grow them.» Itharieth and Roroku discussed the matter. «It’s a lot like coral, then, but with wooden shells, living in the sky. Sky-coral. We can call it scoral.»
«It’s hot, too. Each of the living scoral creatures has an organ that’s like my levitators — me-the-sky-eel’s levitators. They get hot, and I suppose those tiny tentacles are to dissipate the heat as well as grab things. They’re hot enough to glow. No, they’re hot the way light bulbs are hot, not the way glowing metal is hot: they’re mostly glow and only a bit of heat. The light twinkles out of the holes in the shell. Actually that’s all the light I can see. Kyspert is pretty well-lit, but it’s all scoral-light and eel-light and such. Oh, yes, there are some glowing sky-eels, of much bigger species than me. I’m about a foot long, and the glowing ones are nearly a yard.»
She swam among scoral jags, and tasted the local butterflies like the other sky-eels. «Fatty and sour, like buttered sorrel,» she reported. She disturbed a plant’s dry pods, spilling its seeds out to bobble forth, lofted by their own tiny glowing levitation organs. «Hard and bitter, but aromatic and oily, like … seeds. Coffee beans, perhaps. The sky-eels eat a lot of them.»
And then, «Oh! There’s a kysp!»
The kysp was, to a first glance, devoted entirely to the activity of proving that it was an intelligent being rather than an animal. It had a clever sort of scissor in one tentatail, made out of wood and set with sharp green crystal blades, with which it was snipping occasional blossoms off of the lower vegetation and popping them into a leather saddlebag which it wore around its midriff. In the other tentatail it held a wooden plaque upon which were several rows of markings, and the kysp occasionally held the plaque to one of its body-eyes to read them. It warbled melodically to itself.
«I wonder what it’s saying,» said Roroku.
«You must know The Spilling of the Speech», I reminded her. Which of course she did, though only the child’s version that requires bodily contact. (Which is the one I know too.) So she darted forth and bonked into the kysp, who swatted at her with the plaque. Which she could now read, and learn that it said something like:
Ka-twu-thu is like the nga-nwa bloomSupport 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.
And sweet like nga-nwa honey
Without her I’d go to my tomb
But with her, all is money!