Llredh and Ythac started climbing on each other and otherwise acting like drakes shouldn’t. Arilash watched with considerable interest.
Tarcuna seemed rather interested too. She’s a professional after all, or a soon-to-be-ex professional. “Your men have three?”
“Yes,” I rather hissed at her. “I told you all that before.”
“Not compared to the whole drake,” I said.
“That’s the small one. The medium and large are even more delightful,” said Arilash.
“My hemipenises, they are for Ythac! The watching, the self-pleasure, these things you may do. The touching of me, she is for one drake alone!” hooted Llredh.
“I’m leaving,” I snapped. “I’ll tell the other drakes, and make sure they don’t get caught by cyoziworms or something. Tarcuna, are you staying or coming with me?”
“I guess I’d better come with you,” she said. “You’ll take me back to Dorday sometime?”
“By the end of our contract, unless we extend it or something,” I said. “Arilash, could you put her on my back?” Arilash did so, not taking her eyes off the drakes.
“You’re awfully serious about the contract,” she said when we were over the Sea of Diamonds.
“We keep our agreements,” I said. “And promises and wagers and such. We don’t make either one very often, not if we’re sensible, but only the vilest dragon would break either one. … Of course, half the dragons you’ve met have been pretty vile, and Arilash isn’t much better, but they’re not wicked that way. I don’t think.”
“I’m pretty vile myself. I loved the wrong way a lot, then got a cyoziworm and pretty much lived in a whorehouse and did … everything. Everything that didn’t endanger me or Bopo. I didn’t care much.”
“You had an excuse. Llredh has a hint of an excuse … he can certainly honor the drake who saved him, but romance is disgusting and I’m pretty sure it was going on before this. Ythac has no excuse at all.” I said.
“I don’t think you quite understand about how we feel when someone frees us from the worm, Spotty. But even before that, I had plenty of choice about Kangbok,” said Tarcuna. “She’s not just a girl, she’s a tappu.”
I poked at ‘tappu’ with the Word-Fox, which gave me several definitions. “What’s a tappu? Religion? Fur pattern? Ethnic group?”
“All of those. They’ve got brown spots usually, Kangbok sure did. They worship Drukah, but they consider Bmern to be the Evil Angel, and regularly try exorcisms against him — can you imagine?”
“I can’t imagine, I can’t understand, and I can’t theocept.”
“It probably doesn’t matter to you anyways. What’s theocept?”
“A pretty-useless little sense for noticing gods in the area. There aren’t any except a dead one Osoth brought with him,” I said.
“Anyways, some hovens are vile, by your standards. Some dragons too. We’re not doing it to you, just maybe near you,” said Tarcuna.
“Well, Osoth had better not be having a secret love with Nrararn, or I’ll bite all his wings off,” I said.
“What’s all this about biting wings?” she asked.
I was as glad to change the subject as she was. “Oh, nothing very much. They’re easy to heal though. And everybody else says that they hurt a lot when you crunch their bones.”
“Oh … how angry do you have to be to bite another dragon?”
“It’s a polite way to say ‘I’m somewhat annoyed with you’ to a peer. I wouldn’t bite a much bigger dragon — like Ythac’s father Rankotherium — not without a really good reason.”
“Polite, in a practical sort of way. How about biting a hoven?”
“I wouldn’t do that unless I wanted to kill one.”
“As long as you remember the difference between people and dragons, I guess we’ll be fine,” she said.