Hiding (Day 46)
I’m a hoven!
Well, I was for a lot of the day, I’m a mouse at the moment.
Specifically I’ve been a girl hoven with dim red fur and a couple changes of outfit. And not a lot of luggage, considering how far I’ve been travelling. Also not a whole lot of awareness of geography, or customs of how one buys a zeppelin ticket, or any number of other things that a supposed world-traveller might be expected to know. If the hovens suspected that terrible monsters from another world walked in disguse amongst them, I’d have been the first one they’d finger. They haven’t figured that out yet.
Staying in Ghemelia didn’t sound good. Not to me, not to anyone. The place is a pile of turmoils, and the sophisticated pleasures it offers are probably gobbling down food in a restaurant and hoping to finish the meal before some militia or other explodes the place. We’d probably end up battling the entire Trestean army before we were done. Which would be fine if we were here for exercise, and necessary if we were here for conquering, but would be much more of a distraction from our actual purpose. Of course the whole Hide And Seek game is a distraction from our actual purpose too, but it’s just a temporary and much-needed break.
I decided to go to Trest. That’s the worst choice for finding a small isolated island for us to enjoy — see “battling the entire Trestean army” — but it’s likely the most civilized place in Hove. And it’s a reasonably sophisticated world, with zeppelins and theatres and such. We could probably import some civilization to our presumed island paradise, if we didn’t mind breathing money at hovens. If we had any money, I mean. I’m sure we could get some somehow or other if we wanted it.
Trest isn’t that far away by dragon wings. But I could see Arilash poking around an archipelago from quite a ways off. (She’s good at grownup travel magic. She got there before I even made it as far as Ghemel.) Ythac has better eyes than me, and he’s probably watching, so I didn’t want to fly with dragon wings. The Esrret-Sky-Painted would keep him from seeing me very well, but leave an astral track that he could follow later. And he’s devious.
I’m a very lazy dragoness. I didn’t want to fly that far with seagull wings either.
So I went to Ghemel Airport to take a zeppelin. Yay, zeppelin!
Specifically, I flew to Ghemel with Llredh. The fighter planes came for us. We (mostly Llredh) burned one up, and dived into some trees, and turned into starlings, and flew off separately. I think he went to the harbor.
The airport was full of soldiers. Trestean soldiers in sand-colored uniforms armed with ray guns and hatchets, and Ghemelian soldiers in bright red uniforms with the same sort of bullet guns that the farmers had shot me with, only a bit less battered. I took the opportunity to land on a Trestean’s head and learn Trestean. They smelled very nervous when I got there, and very nervous and very angry a few minutes later as the news of Llredh burning a fighter plane spread. They didn’t pay any attention to a starling skittering overhead, over their ridiculous fences, and onto the wide paved field.
Three zeppelins swayed in the hot winds, tethered at the tops of three narrow ziggurats. I darted into the shadows of a staircase on one ziggurat, turned into a hoven woman in heavy purple indistinct Ghemelian-style robes with mismatched sandals, and climbed to the top. A Trestean soldier glared at me from the gently bobbling open hatch.
“I’d like to buy a ticket to Trest,” I told him.
“You’d what?” he asked.
“I’d like to buy a ticket to fly to Trest. On that zeppelin.”
“That is so wrong I don’t know where to begin. This zeppelin isn’t going to Trest. It’s a semi-local military transport, you don’t just buy tickets on it. You don’t buy tickets on it at all, you’re Ghemelian not Trestean.”
“Well, which one is going to Trest?” I asked.
It sounded like a reasonable question to me. The soldier didn’t like it very much. He pointed his ray gun at me, and said “You stay there, girlie. I’m going to call Ground Security, they’ll come and check you out.” He stepped over to a big brass cylinder with intricate controls, and started doing intricate things to it.
Well, that was annoying. I brushed the soldier with my hukuchô. His fur went flat, and his hands trembled on the controls, but he didn’t flee. Trestean military discipline is impressive. I spat careful lightning at him, ruining his ray gun, breaking his discipline, and sending him screaming into the depths of the zeppelin. Oh, and saving his life. If he’d attacked me, I’d have had to kill him.