Sazandigraa [7 Hispis 4385]
The sun was full of fire, but we couldn't see it. There was a main trunk in the way. Seen from, I think, two miles away, the main trunk is an impressive towering wall, extending forever up and forever down, or it might as well. I ought to try to describe it more, but a hundred thousand poets have done so already, and some of them actually have some skill, so I won't.
We hadn't quite gotten to the skybridge when Sazandigraa came charging over to us. Sazandigraa drives a charming but quite conventional chariot through the sky: a white gazebo or tholos with ivy twining its pillars, drawn through the air by three immense pure-white geese. It's fast, though: faster than Strayway.
The geese honked in unison, "Ahoy, the Strayway!"
I teleported (from lunch) to the cockpit, and told my antelopes to roar back, "Ahoy, the Ice Gleam!"
"May I come over?" zie called.
"Of course! Please do!"
"Well, where do I come in? You've got any number of doors on that yacht."
"I'll meet you in the air!"
So I wasted another cley -- and it's only about noontime -- teleporting to the middle air between the skyboats. Sazandigraa did the same, and we hooted at each other and embraced in a tangle of wings.
Sazandigraa:"Coz! It's good to finally meet you in person, after all those letters and all those wars!"
Me:"Yes, indeed. May I invite you aboard the Strayway, wherein there is excellent brandy, and a slightly-in-progress and distinctly Herethroy sort of lunch already in progress?"
Sazandigraa:"Thank you! Let's go!"
Which gave me a chance to look at my closer-than-a-cousin. Today, at least, zie is more avian than I am. We both have feathers -- our line does run to feathers -- but zie has a beak, a rather elegant hawk's beak, looking carved out of blue malachite. Zir feathers are brilliant red on the back, shading to a white so white that it actually glows in the centers of zir wings. Zir flanks are azure, and dusted with glowing squares that suggest the forms of the stars. Zir underbelly switches back to red, with light-drinking pools of blackness right under the bright spots on zir wings. (I don't know what zie looks like without all the cosmetic spells. But then, I doubt zie knows what I look like without mine.) Zie wore only two ribbons, one of which contained a small arsenal of sorcerous weapons, and the other of which matched zir red feathers beautifully.
Sazandigraa:"Coz, it is every bit as gaudy as you said it would be."
Me:"Well, if I can't coat my skyboat with silver, what can I coat?"
Sazandigraa:"I heard that one of our half-cousins had just the same thought. But zie got the idea of coating zirself."
Me:"That sounds unwise. The last time someone did that, zie nearly broke a branch of the tree off." (Referring to a relative who, for reasons that probably seemed sufficient at the time, turned zirself into steel and grew to a truly monsterous size.)
Sazandigraa:"Exactly. It was one of Steelwings' children."
Me:"Metal styling must run in their family the way feathers do in ours."
Sazandigraa giggles like bubbles in brandy.
Sazandigraa:"Did you really populate the entire vessel with the transaffectionate?"
Me:"More or less."
Sazandigraa:"I hope you'll tell me which ones I should offend early, to avoid extraneous flirtations? I have made a solemn vow not to take any more mortal lovers."
Me:"I didn't bring anyone who particularly fancies Zi Ri. Not that I know of, in any case. If your assistant comes over, he may get a few looks he should be prepared to ignore."
Sazandigraa:"Really? Who, then, is your lover on board?"
Sazandigraa:"You've left someone back in writhing Vheshrame? A recent breakup?"
Me:"It's not writhing. And I've been rather single lately ... two decades or so."
Sazandigraa:"Another surprising choice for you! One of many, and none more surprising than staying in Vheshrame in the first place."
Me:"It's my home."
Sazandigraa:"Which doesn't mean you need to stay there. Inihithre is my home, and I make sure to spend a year there every decade. It took you more than a century to get out of Vheshrame even once."
Me:"I've been busy."
Sazandigraa:"When I say, I've been busy, I generally mean I have better things to do with my time than the insipid and tedious task you wish me to do, or something ruder still."
Me:" When I say it, I mean that I've just recently managed to get the nendrai to come with me, so I don't have to stay in Vheshrame and make sure she's peaceful. My main job is being the ambassador to Vae. Greater enchantment is just a little hobby for my spare time."
Sazandigraa:"Ah, the famous Vaisessasilmin has come here? She is perhaps the originator of these extremely creative -- and, now that I inspect them, Mutoc-based -- scrying spells?"
(I had rather intentionally not brought my scrying insigna. Wearing something that says "I'm a Zi Ri wizard!" when one meets one's far older and far more wizardly cousin seemed a bit too arrogant.)
Me:"Yes, that would be her."
Sazandigraa:"Mighty Vaisessasilmin, please forgive me for a moment, but I must obscure your attentions..." Zie did something with Destroc and Illusidor and Magiador. "I imagine she can claw her way through that if she wants, but it should take a little while."
Me:"She could also look out the window. Half my crew is."
Sazandigraa:"Just a quick question, at which I beg your honesty and mean no insult -- does she regard me as an enemy? For we have batted at each others' countries with spells several times."
Me:"You and I have done that too, and we're not enemies." [I am trying to be obscure and oblique in the good Zi Ri style. I meant, "no, not enemies". Sazandigraa knows the good Zi Ri style perfectly well, and evidently understood me.]
Sazandigraa:"You and I, dear coz, are coz and coz. I don't think I'm the least bit related to Vaisessasilmin, not unless one of our grandparents was telling some rather drastic -- if wholly understandable -- lies."
Me:"I daresay you would have noticed. For that matter, I daresay I would have too: your powers of Mutoc, while utterly worthy of a member of the family, are not drastically unusual."
Sazandigraa:"I must ask -- the rumors are thick in Oorah Thrassen. There are other kinds of relative than relatives by blood."
Me:"Vae's mate is a very nice three-headed monstrosity named Oixe. If either has been unfaithful to the other, I haven't heard about it, and I am Vae's confidante as well as her handler. I will admit that Vae is my oldest friend, and that I one of those who lusts after other species: but only primes."
Sazandigraa:"That is probably just as well. I shall endeavour to correct the rumors, if I hear them. So, to summarize: this shall be an ordinary visit with an enemy wizard and a nendrai, uncharged with particular hatred or peculiar love?"
Me:"I imagine that is enough danger for one day!"
Sazandigraa:"You will be staying for more than one day, or so I hope!"
Me:"Not here! In Oorah Thrassen, yes."
Sazandigraa:"Well, it's obviously not enough danger for the whole visit. Will you come to the Temple of the Dark Trinity with me?"
Me:"I should hope so!"