Summoned to Port-of-Zom (Day 62)
As Tarcuna and I were eating breakfast the next day, Ythac wrote to me. «Are you awake yet?»
«Awake and eating delicious steak and pea pie at the world-famous Porphirio’s Buffet. Well, eating steak and pea pie at Porphirio’s Buffet.» I wrote to him, and told Tarcuna that I’d be chatting a bit and she should stop reading the paper to me.
«I have to ask — were you raping that girl, or eating her? And if you were raping her, why aren’t you copulating with your fiancés instead of poor hoven maidens?»
«I what your pardon?»
«The newspaper said you were either raping or eating some unidentified woman on a rooftop in Dorday two days ago. That was you, wasn’t it? Or are there some other dragons in Dorday?»
«I wasn’t doing that. I was doing surgery.»
«On a rooftop? While blasting warplanes out of the sky?»
«Just one warplane,» I said.
«How many hovens have you killed so far?» he asked.
«Just five in Dorday. I think eight total.»
«Are you and Arilash having a contest to see who can kill more? Or even, who can kill fewer?» he asked.
«No, nothing like that. I’m just being a tourist.»
«Dorday is quite a spectacular vacation spot indeed, where tourists do surgery and fight warplanes at the same time!»
«Well, I think they mostly don’t. My native guide got into trouble, is all.» I wrote.
«What kind of native guide needs to be attacked by warplanes?»
«If I let you read my diary, will you promise not to come get me immediately? It’s got my hotel and room number in it.»
«Grand Hotel Dorday Elysium, Suite 406,» he told me.
«I’m going to chew some of your ruffles off next time I see you,» I told him, and fumbled around with my diary and the Devourer of Books and my end of Ythac’s the Horizonal Quill until he could read the whole thing.
«So you hired a whore, didn’t fornicate at all, and did impromptu major surgery on her?» he asked.
«Exactly! Aren’t I horny and honorable and brave and resourceful?»
«You’re buried up to your bulging eyes in Uplifting, that’s what you are. Uruunma would be proud of you. Actually even Uruunma would think you were kind of extreme.»
«It’s not like I’m ordinarily much of an Uplifter. Besides, the five I killed weren’t exactly Uplifted.»
«Wait a minute. This cyoziworm, it was dangerous to you in hoven form?»
I remembered as hard as I could. «It seemed like it could conquer me … like if its egg got its hooks into my brain-in-hoven-form, it would control me just as much as it controlled Tarcuna. It wasn’t so hard to avoid it. It was pretty obvious to dangersense, it didn’t move fast, and it wasn’t a bit tough or smart. I don’t think it could control me in my real shape. It’s not big enough.»
«Llredh doesn’t have dangersense,» he wrote back. «He’s staying in hoven form, refusing to leave Port-of-Zom, being all protective and Uplifty about some hovens there. Says he doesn’t care about the mating flight, or getting married, or collecting any loot.» He scribbled a bit, hesitating, before writing «Won’t even mount-fight me. He’s never refused before. Says he doesn’t want to risk injury. Think he’s wormridden?»
«Can you scry on him and find out? Look inside for a worm shaped like the figure Y, about three feet long, with spikes and ruffles.»
«I can’t do that from here. I told you I wouldn’t drag you home from your vacation, and I won’t. I am going to drag you to Port-of-Zom. Bring your whore too, I need her more than you even.»
«I’m going to chew all your wings off,» I told him, in the Grand Draconic verbal mode indicating a fictional future.
«After we rescue Llredh. Really, Jyothky, this is important. You can have as much vacation as you want after he’s safe.»
«Fine. You owe me,» I said. «So does he, if he’s really wormridden.»
“OK, Tarcuna. My plans just changed. We’re going to Port-of-Zom,” I said.
“Port-of-Zom, in Vlechinse? Isn’t that a rather grotty shipping and manufacturing city?” she asked. “What’s there for us?”
“My fiancé, wormridden I think. Feel like rescuing someone else from the cyoziworms?”
“Everyone, if I could.”
“We’ll start with Llredh.”