«Ythac? Where are you and the others?»
«Flying to Perstra. Llredh did something a bit radical,» he answered.
«I saw it on television. What do you think of it?»
«Well, I’m tremendously flattered that he thought of me, of course. A bit ashamed — he’s pretty much giving me a hoard. Like I’m a girl.»
«You’re a better girl than I am!» (Intended as teasing.)
«Doesn’t take much, Jyothky.» (Good, he teased back, he’s not upset.) «Anyways, I’m pretty nervous. It’s a huge country. It’s not properly conquered. Llredh just tortured the leaders ‘til they capitulated, and of course we thumped on the army a little bit. But if we’re going to start out ruling by fear, the country doesn’t fear us very much. And if we’re going to start out ruling by love, well, I don’t think even your whore is going to love us any time soon. It’s a really sweet present, but … kind of daunting.»
«Maybe you could pick out a reasonable-sized territory and conquer it properly? Dorday, say. Dorday is very nice.»
«Only if I need to. Llredh gave me this as a mating-present. I don’t want to offend him by throwing it away … or spoiling it in any way.»
«It would make rather a big mess if you two had to pacify it city by city. Oh, and also your army is planning to kill you. Llredh at least.»
«I can hardly blame them. I’m going to have a lot of work trying to get the country governable, much less do any improvements on it.» His letters looked a bit wobbly.
«Uplifter, you are?»
«Absolutely. Nothing but the best for my hovens.»
«I hope they learn to appreciate that,» I wrote back.
But they’re not going to, not this generation. Tarcuna owes me her life and soul, and isn’t really very political most of the time, and even she will be all upset at Llredh. Poor Ythac is going to have to rule with an iron claw, or not at all.
We didn’t intend anything more vicious than maybe a bit of looting. But we’ve rather trashed several bits of Hove. In any sort of fairness, we should fix them back up before we leave.
|Trest: Trest is now ruled by dragons. Rather in the sense that, if you’ve just burned the head off a mile-long serpent, you’ve technically won the fight, but the thing is going to do a great deal of damage to everything around while it’s thrashing and dying.||I need to, somehow, get Trest in a state which dragons and hovens are both happy with, in fairly short order. Since the hovens hate us, and Ythac can’t decently turn down Llredh’s mating-present, I don’t see that this is possible at all.|
|Ghemel: Ghemel is now ruled, nastily, by a pain-god from Mhel. I don’t imagine anyone but Xolgrohim and maybe Murghal are pleased with that.||Well, if two full-sized dragons didn’t have trouble killing an unprepared Xolgrohim who knew nothing about draconic powers, surely one half-grown dragon shouldn’t have trouble dealing with a well-prepared Xolgrohim who’s been studying us since his undeadification, right? Maybe I can get Osoth to help. This one is his fault anyways.|
|Cyoziworms: We didn’t cause this problem, mirabile scriptu. But I want to solve it … by way of apology to Hove, if nothing else.||Well, I can work overnight and free one hoven from a worm. At that rate, if I work all the time, I accomplish … nothing. Cyoziworms can spread very fast if they want to. I can probably get Llredh to help me, which might be good for the Trest problem.|
|Getting Married: Not a Hoven problem, but mine. We’ve lost more than half the drakes in only a few weeks. I don’t know if any of the remaining ones would actually want to marry me, now that they know me better. Especially if I spend the next dozen years working on Hove instead of mating flight.||No idea. I suppose I can have a second mating flight if I need to. It never happens for a girl not to get married on her first, but I suppose they’d let me try again. Then a third, because I can’t see the second going any better. I doubt that I’m allowed to just hide in a cave for the rest of my life instead of getting married though; dragonesses aren’t. Eventually some drake will surely be desperate enough.|
Oh, and I do mean those “I need to” parts. I’m not the only one who can do them — well, I don’t know about whether I can or not. I’m not the only one who should do them, but I’m the only one who really seems to realize that she should.
End of Book I