According to Ythac, Csirnis had found a home in the island kingdom of Ze Cheya. I didn’t expect his home to actually be a home, just a hotel or something like mine.
I didn’t even notice that at first. I was just flying around over the capitol city, looking down at an odd mix of pointy temples with intricate and probably sacred gargoyles and very bland rectangular buildings where hovens actually seemed to live and work. The Zeanese looked up at me of course — I really ought to remember the Esrret-Sky-Painted — but they didn’t seem terribly worried.
After a few minutes, Csirnis boiled out of the base of one of the largest of the pointy temples, a beautiful gilded tower in the middle of a grand park pink with flowers. “Hallo, my sweet fiancée!” he called out in Grand Draconic. “Be welcome here in my temporary home!” So there was no worry about territory, either.
We circled each other twice, and embraced in the air. That’s always worth doing with Csirnis, even if you can’t feel it. The lluyew of his scales is delightful. In the streets of the city, dozens of photographers recorded the moment of our meeting.
“You seem to be doing well, my beautiful prince! And these hovens seem rather more glad of you than the hovens of the cities the rest of us have visited. Have you conquered them?” I asked.
He grinned at me, his teeth gleaming in the pink light of Virtuet-inside-Floret. “Well, not exactly. If I wanted to rule, I would never have left home! I flew here, and made my home in the Golden Pagoda of the Invisible Cloud, down there, in the middle of the night. Then I offered to heal anyone who came there in the first hour after dawn, of anything I can heal. The first day was a bit light, the second not so light, and by the third there were more hovens than I could manage in one hour. I’m up to two hours; I think that’s enough. Oh, and the occasional quick trip to someone who’s too sick to travel.”
“That’s very uplifty of you!” I said. “The rest of us aren’t being so nice.”
“I saw a bit of a pitched battle over Port-of-Zom earlier today. It was on all the news stations. Oh, I should add, I’m not looting the city, but the people I heal often bring me gifts. I’ve got a statue of a dog made of gold with bright ruby eyes that dates back two thousand years. I’ve got the best television set that Arucu Corporation made last year. And I’ve got a piece of slightly used butcher paper with a crayon drawing of something that might be me or might be a spider, I’m not sure which, with the words “THAK YOU
DRRON GRAGON” written on it. And various other treasures.”
“Oh, you’ve got the start of a hoard now! That’s wonderful!”
“The start of one! I don’t know that the drawing will charm anyone but me. In any case — tell me what happened in Port-of-Zom!”
So I did. He listened with intent politeness.
“Well, I shan’t fault Ythac or Llredh for determination,” he said. “I am glad that, in the end, nobody was injured or conquered in any lasting way.”
“I am too, now that you mention it. I’m not quite sure about the last bit though. It seems to me that Ythac and Llredh were both injured and conquered in a very lasting way. Injured in social status, and conquered by love.” I said, rather pleased with myself. It is rare to score points chatting with Csirnis.
“Well, I was thinking of bodily injury and conquest by invader worms. But you are right as well! It will be a challenge for either of them to live down when they wish to put this incident behind them. We must be careful not to mention it after the mating flight. They may well end up married, but if not, it would hurt their chances later on.”
“Oh! They were sounding like they meant to marry each other.”
Csirnis laughed. “Now that would be rather a challenge. One might imagine them as a pair of old bachelor dragons living not so far from each other and often found in each others’ company, about whom might speculate if one were so inclined but, in all politeness, one should not be so inclined. Though Llredh in particular is quite a potent dragon: a better fighter than I am in many ways. He should not abandon his chances at marriage quite so early in the mating flight! Now, are you hungry?”
“Yes, I am quite hungry. I’ve flown quite a ways today, and didn’t even get any hoven-sized sandwiches in Esbaril.”
“I have no servants or funds per se, but the King of Ze Cheya has proclaimed me an honored guest of the kingdom. A privelege which includes a roaster of oxen! Shall we see how the day’s barbeque is doing? … Oh, and I must warn you. Now and then a hoven will come to the barbeque site wishing for healing. There is no obligation to help — it’s after my promissed hours — but now and then I have been healing them as I ate. It is my appreciation of their Way of Gentleness.”
“I’ve healed hovens a bit too. Mostly with the Arcane Anodyne,” I said.
“Ah, the Arcane Anodyne! It is hideous form for a drake to ask presents of his dragoness —” (And I was so purring to be called his dragoness!) ”— but I have been using the Great Titan Sanitarium, and the results have not been all that one might hope for,” he said. “If you have an hour to spare this afternoon, could you teach me the Arcane Anodyne?”
So we flew to the Royal Racecourse, where three oxen were turning on self-turning spits (hovens have machines for everything) and six hovens tended them with sauces and spices. “Zakuna — the king — didn’t have a feasting-yard for dragons already prepared,” said Csirnis. “But twice a year he holds public races and feasts, and the kitchens here are large.”
“Larger than my appetite? Let’s find out!” I said.