“I’m Jyothky. I’m a dragon, obviously, and I’m eating it mostly raw, obviously.” Maybe the dragon part would have been more obvious to them if, oh, there had ever been more than one dragon in their world before, and a rather secretive explorer of a Quel Quen at that.
“Joffee, as in short for Joffinet? My daughter is Joffinet too,” said the farmer. The brave, brave farmer.
“Well, then, hello there, JOTH-kee. I don’t know what to make of you, showing up in my barn and speaking all polite-like and stealing my cow.”
That sounded like a fair complaint. On Mhel, we own everything, so it’s not stealing — except from each other maybe, but who cares about just one cow now and then? That’s not true here. Not that I care much what a hoven thinks about me. “I’ll give you something in exchange, if it’s fast.” But the last time I’d offered that, I’d burned a building and gotten into trouble with Greshthanu over it. Maybe I could do something less violent here. “Are any of you sick? I’ll heal someone. Or one of your animals.” I looked at my half-a-cow. “Not this one though. It’s a bit on the dead side.”
The farmer looked very suspicious. “Marfy’s got a bad back, Churdle’s got Moray-Lagrozo Syndrome.”
My magic can’t fix backs quickly, as I know very well. “Which one is Churdle?”
They didn’t want to tell me; they didn’t say anything. But they glanced at him, and he took a half-step back. I smiled at him. “What’s Moray-Lagrozo Syndrome?”
He said something about blood and polysthegides and his Fralian nodes not doing what Fralian nodes are supposed to. I didn’t understand it. Neither did he, I think.
“Come here, then, and I’ll see if I can fix it.”
Churdle didn’t much want to get any closer to the beautiful and powerful magical healer girl from another universe. Perhaps he was thinking of her as a huge fanged clawed blood-spattered carnivorous monster. (Unfair! I didn’t expect company, so I wasn’t trying to eat neatly.)
So I grabbed him with my tail and pulled him into the barn, with him struggling and fighting me the while. The other farmers gabbled about whether they could shoot me without hurting Churdle and suchlike. I sniffed at him — he did not much like being so close to my mouth and flickery tongue! — and, yes, something smelled wrong compared to the other hovens. Too many polysthegides in his blood, I suppose, whatever those are. So I put the Great Titan Sanitarium into him, and the Rose Rescaler. Which was silly, the Rose Rescaler is much better on lizards.
And then I remembered the Arcane Anodyne, which is meant for basic bipeds, and I had to wait for the next heartbeat to put that in him too. It sort of filled him up and flooded out of him. That seemed like a good sign (no more healing to be done), or maybe a bad one (my spells couldn’t do anything).
So I put him down and patted his head. “Did that help?”
He blinked at me, and then ran away.
So I finished the cow, and spent a while grooming myself, scrubbing blood off of me with hay. The next part of the plan was to fly to the city in raven form, get some Trestean money, then travel halfway across Trest to somewhere as yet undecided and be a tourist in hoven shape for a while. That plan had a terrible flaw: flying that far in raven form is exercise, and I was feeling tremendously lazy.
While I was dawdling, some of the hovens came back out. No guns this time, but they had a big pot and a basket of bread.
“I took a blood test, and my polysthegide levels are 210 and 83! 210 and 83!” Churdle was practically dancing.
“Is that good?” I asked.
“Is that good? That’s normal! I haven’t been better than 840-850 and 10 in years!”
“That’s good, right?”
“That’s perfect! … But I gotta know. Will it last, whatever you did?”
“I don’t know the etiology of whatever-it-was you had.” He looked blank at the word. “I don’t know what causes it. If it’s a sickness that you can get twice, you can get it again.” That’s usually true.
“I was born with it. It’s genetic.”
“Then, if it’s better now, it’ll probably stay better.”
“Well, anyhow, I’m quite thankful. That’s worth my bosses’ cow and then some … then lots. Anyhow, if you’re still hungry, we’ve brought you genuine Churry chili and troublecakes.”
Well, after a whole cow, I wasn’t hungry exactly. But the hovens had found my secret weakness! The chili was delicious, and spicy, and full of wonderful unfamiliar vegetables, and spicy, and had a superb blended flavor such as comes from long loving cooking, and spicy, and after about the third “and spicy” the troublecakes were very pleasant and buttery and blandly sweet and not the least bit troublesome.
Then I turned into a raven, flew approximately three and one-twelfth taillengths to the nearest tree, stuck my head under my wing, slept until night and/or not feeling quite so stuffed, flew to the military base, sniffed around for valuables, found them in a building marked “Paymaster’s Offices”, pried open a safe that was unaccountably not built to keep dragons out, collected a large pile of thurnies, stuffed them under my neckscales (or feathers as the case may have been) for safekeeping, and lashed my crow’s tail furiously.
«I hereby do not like technology worlds,» I wrote to Ythac.
«Giant robot bit your tail?» he answered.
«If I were there I’d bite yours. No — the money here is all paper.»
«That’s not very inspiring! I was hoping for piles of niobium and brazinion, and gemstones that do not occur naturally on any dragonworld!»
«Well, you’re going to have to buy them with bits of paper. Or loot them directly.» I answered.
«You know that you just told me a lot about where you are?» he said.
«Oh. Right. Are you going to come drag me home?»
«Not in a hurry. I’m going to go drag Llredh back next, I think, and then Arilash. Enjoy your vacation!»
He’s so sweet.