Mirrored from Sythyry.
Curse-dreams of curries and cassoulettes simmered me for hours, for days. Bafflements baked me until until golden-brown. Eventually I awoke, to discover that I was tied loosely to a very large bed under a comfortably low ceiling. I quite sensibly started burning the cords off of my legs and necks.
“What!! What are you doing??!! A fire here could be the end of me — of us all!!” wailed Vong. He leapt down and dashed a pitcher of water over me.
It was instantly obvious, even to my sleep-boggled and «Cuisine»-fermented mind, what had happened. We had not in fact escaped onto the world-boat. Vong and his minions had caught up with us. I had been bound. Hditr and Hermen were probably imprisoned or worse. Eric must have escaped, being wholly intangible, and was probably making plans to rescue me as soon as he could find a living ally.
My role was clearly to buy Eric all the time I could manage. “What do you want with me, Vong?”
“I want you not to kill me, you stupid and insane lizard!!” he stated.
“Then let me go, monstrous and wicked toad!” I riposted.
“All right, all right,” he grumbled, and started untying the cords on my legs. I had tricked him! This was almost too easy!
It was, in fact, too easy, for soon Vong proclaimed, “What insolence is this?? “You have made these bonds be wet — be soaking! They cannot be untied!!”
“I think they’re soaked from you dumping a pitcher of water on them,” I pointed out.
“Lout!! Disrespectful beast!! Do not speak thus to me when I am doing a favor for you!!” he snarled.
“Then don’t. I’ll escape on my own,” I snapped, and started gnawing on one of the cords with my ice-head’s mouth. Vong did nothing to stop me; he simply glared. What a hopeless villain!
Well, if he wasn’t going to interrogate me, I would surely interrogate him. While gnawing with one head, I challenged him with another. “What have you done with Hditr, Eric, and that seminary-trained miner?”
“Nothing!!” said Vong sullenly. “It’s what they did to me that you should ask about!!”
One delaying tactic is as good as any other, I supposed. “Well, what did they do to you?”
He sat on a small metal bench or shelf in the opposite wall. When I had gnawed through the cords on my fire-head, I stuck it out to look around. Vong and I were in a small metal room, with two bunks on one side (I was in the upper one), a few drawers and a door and that bench in the other side, and four dim glow-spots in the ceiling’s corners for lighting.
“They got me exiled from Drullguur!!!” said Vong, more emphatically than his usual, hopping to his feet in a sudden passion of fury. “They twisted the minds of the miners against me!!! They raised an insurrection — against me!!! Against a lawfully appointed mayor!!! Who had been working for months for nothing but their benefit and goodification!!!”
“I can’t imagine any other possible cause for an insurrection against you. How could they object to you calling the scriptures ‘fuck poetry’ and having your truncheon-bearing goon threaten them?”
Vong cast himself to the bench despondently. “Exactly!! Exactly!! You understand me, lizard, where neither miners nor mammals do!!” I gathered that he didn’t really understand draconic gestures of sarcasm.
“So, why are we in here?” I asked, getting my forelegs free.
“They didn’t want to share a cabin with me!!” cried Vong. “Me — whose very integument exudes an attar of stulch-rose!! Whose ancestral lineage includes great heroes and mighty insect-finders!! Among whose cousins are numbered both crooners and queens!!”
“… cabin?…” I asked.
“Cabin! And for the entire duration of the voyage to Ixange I must endure their close proximity!! And yours as well!!”
I was perplexed. “Wait, we’re going to Ixange?”
“Yes!! I — exiled from Drullguur!! You and your companions — accompanying me to mock me!!”
“Actually we were trying to escape you and your bully-boys,” I pointed out.
“What?? My bully-boys?? I have no bully-boys!! I never had bully-boys!! I had hired security forces!! But!! They were un-hired insecurity forces when security became necessary!! Instantly they cited a payment dispute and sided with the miners!! Like foul stinking cameoleopard turds born of an improper and infelicitous conjunction between a rotten radish and a festering ferret!!”
That was not an image I much wanted to imagine. In part I was afraid that, if I ever succeeded in imagining it, I would never be able to un-imagine it. “Is there anything to eat here?” After «Cuisine»-fever I was ravenous. “Any croustellines St. Jacques au choufleur, maybe? Or bear’s liver fermented in a sauce of mouse intestines? Or … ” I shook my heads to clear them, which does not work as well for a Yirienian as for a more centralized person, but I had few useful alternatives. “Even anything plausible?”
“Here?? Bah, no!! Nothing!! You must go to the mess room to eat, like anyone!! I shall not be your waiter-slave and bring you delicacies!!” Vong waved a web-fingered hand at a rectangular outline on the metal wall.
I poked at it. Vong snorted, “!!”, and depressed a spring among several on an obscure panel. The door slid aside. I pranced ravenously into the metal tube of a corridor. I used my new-branded powers to cast a spell to seek prepared food — realizing, as I did, that I had become one of the few people in any universe who could do that. It produced directions in the form of a recipe.
1 bunch of dragon heads, fresh if possible, as chef
4 ship’s biscuits
1 pint of reheated lentil stew
Preserved black olives and green pickles
Send the dragon heads leftwards through the steely corridors of the world-ship, and through the third door on the left. Speak the words “Tsu̗vͅh́i̜p̩͒ dw̉exy̻ įr͋n̻ufu̩ lesp͑ d̒w͉̍okty̿ a͈͉l̰bu͓” to the grille upon the wall. When the other ingredients emerge from the slot beneath, thinly slice three biscuits. Make a central well in the thick stew and line it with sliced biscuits. From the condiment assortment, carefully remove and discard the honey-catsup, caramel syrup, and green sauce. Carefully pour the vinegar over one half of the stew, and the mustard over the other half. Crumble the remaining biscuit finely and sprinkle it on top. Serve it forth with olives and pickles on the side to the dragon heads, in full knowledge that no better arrangement is currently possible.