Our Invasion of Dorday
This deserves a full military-style summary.
The Negotiations with the Allies
«Ythac? The mating flight would like to go to Dorday. That’s your territory. Do you mind?» I wrote.
«Are any of you going to rule it — and, if so, before or after you get married?» he asked back.
«No, just being tourists.»«Then enjoy! I will be glad to come visit now and then. I haven’t seen Dorday yet.»
Tarcuna was living in a hotel room not far from the Diplomatic Brigade’s offices. It was small and dingy, and I didn’t much want to come in. The curtains were dusty when I brushed them aside with my muzzle to stick my head through the window.
“Tarcuna, I would like you to come with me back to Dorday.”
“Do I have a choice?”
I had to think about that. “You can, at least, express dissent,” I said after a while.
“I’d rather negotiate.” said Tarcuna.
“I’m going to go visit some family and some friends. You come with me.”
“Oh, I’d be glad to,” I said.
“And you’re not to injure any of them.”
“I should be glad not to injure any more hovens,” I said.
“You are trying to be nicer than me in that. I doubt you can manage it,” said Tarcuna.
“I imagine I’ll want to injure my mother, at least,” said Tarcuna. “I won’t injure her, and you won’t either.”
“You have an unusual style of requesting favors of dragons,” I said.
“Fine. I’ll threaten you: if you kill anyone in Dorday, you’ll have to kill me too,” said my broken hoven.
“I’m not going to kill anyone in Dorday!” I protested.
“Right, then. When do we leave?”
We flew from Perstra to Dorday. The route was free of fighter planes and zeppelins and other hoven-built obstacles. Which doesn’t mean it was safe. Arilash cut her wing on the track of my the Scratch-the-Sky, from a long time ago.
“Subtle, subtle Jyothky, to prepare such a trap for her rival!” said Osoth.
“The wing will heal, the sky will heal. But Jyothky really needs to learn some better travel spells,” grumbled Arilash.
“I learned the Dozenwing Dozentail!” I called out.
“No. Better travel spells,” said Arilash.
Another fiancée point lost, I suppose.
The Actual Assault
The other dragons shrank down to hoven size, and landed in front of the Grand Hotel Dorday Elysium. I landed in my full size — rather amused to be towering over Arilash and Csirnis for once. Dozens of hovens left the street quickly.
“Ho, gendarmes!” I called to five of them who hadn’t left quite so quickly. “Come help me take this woman and her luggage off my back!”
“Bertrand, you go. Distract them until the street is clear,” said the squad-captain. Bertrand walked towards me slowly, as if he actually hadn’t planned to commit suicide this afternoon, and somewhat resented the opportunity to die gloriously in the service of his fellow citizens.
I sang, “I’m not killing anyone today! But take this woman off my back!”
Tarcuna waved her good arm. “Bertrand! Remember me from the Red Spire? Come help me down.”
Bertrand’s colleagues snickered. Bertrand’s fur went muddy. “Doesn’t the Red Spire promise discretion?” he muttered to her, as he opened buckles.
“Oh, I’ve quit the Red Spire,” she said lightly. “I work for Spotty now.”
“I didn’t know anyone quit the Red Spire,” said Bertrand, helping her down.
“Oh, the old rules are gone forever. I’m the first one to quit,” she said. “Not the last, I hope. It’s a horrible place.”
“It seemed pretty nice to me,” he said. “Safe, for one thing. We never had any complaints from it.”
“What was wrong, was something we couldn’t complain about.”
“What was that?”
“Cyoziworms,” she said.
“Right. Cyoziworms. I’ve been there a dozen times, and I don’t seem to be possessed,” said Bertrand.
“They are absolutely real, Bertrand. I was wormridden.”
“Get your story straight, girl. If they’re real, you don’t ‘were’ wormridden. They don’t let you go.”
Tarcuna jumped down off my back, and her hooves clattered on the pavement. “Nothing on Hove can stand against the dragons, nothing. Not our army, not cyoziworms. Nothing. Spotty saved me.” She doesn’t use that awestruck tone when she’s actually talking to us.
Bertrand glared at her, but didn’t seem to want to argue too much with five dragons watching him. “Who’s Spotty?”
I shrank to hoven-size, for better conversation. “I am. Pleased to meet you, Bertrand.”
“Um … Likewise …” he said. He stank of fear and resentment, though.
“We’re not here for blood or destruction,” I reassured him. “We’re just tourists. Just like any other visitors to Dorday.”
”… of course …” he said.
“Spotty, you’re scaring him more,” said Tarcuna, as if I couldn’t smell it. “Bertrand, thank you for the hand, and I promise that the dragons won’t be any trouble. As long as nobody antagonizes them.”
“Even the last time, I didn’t kill anyone who didn’t attack me first. And this time it would be very rude to Ythac if I did,” I added. Which helped not at all.