Fury! (Day 274)
I am so angry.
Two days ago, Tarcuna sort of vanished. One of the servants told me she had gone off with an appealingly spherical local woman, and said to tell me she’d be back in a few days. I didn’t much blame her. She’s rather bored here, being my retainer in a situation where I don’t need retaining. There aren’t even many books in Trestean to be had. She’s trying to learn Petty Draconic — but we don’t have any books in that — and trying to learn any of the Dammese languages at the same time wouldn’t be easy.
I mostly hoped that her romances were going better than mine.
This afternoon, one of the servants gave me a telegraph.
First of all, the telegraph was in a hybrid of Petty Draconic and Ghemelian, rendered as well as possible (not very!) in squirmy Dammese characters. I had to use the Word-Fox several times to make sense out of it.
I hope that the circumstances of your mating flight have become more pleasant than in the early phases. I offer my condolences for the death of Greshthanu and the departure of Tultamaan, though I hope that the composition and character of your remaining harem of suitors is more to your liking, and that you have found sufficient means for satisfying interdraconic relationships despite your technical difficulties.
It is my unfortunate obligation to inform you that my slaves have kidnapped your companion Tarcuna and brought her to the Pit of Despair Prison in downtown Ghemel. I completely acknowledge that this is unconscionably rude, though I hope it stops short of the start of outright hostilities. I need to invite you, in person, alone, to the Pit of Despair Prison (the name is inherited from the days of Uncle Holder and is no longer strictly accurate). It goes without saying that Tarcuna will be released unharmed into your custody as soon as possible, unless truly regrettable circumstances compel otherwise.
In any case, I look forward to greeting you at the Pit of Despair, and proferring my most sincere and spirit-felt (for I lack an actual heart) apologies for my actions. Please be aware that I have collected the most valuable and portable treasures of Ghemel in the Pit of Despair, and am prepared to emphasize my apology which any or all of them.
I’m afraid that the invitation is for yourself alone. We cannot accomodate even a single dragon more in suitable style, although, should uninvited guests arrive, the divine magic of Mhel combines with Hove’s military science exceedingly well. It might well suffice to discourage unanticipated guests. It will certainly suffice to kill a hoven already in our clutches. This inhospitality, though regrettable and indeed regretted, is quite temporary. After events have completely satisfied their evolution, you and your companions may help yourselves to the valuables of Ghemel with my (admittedly vile) blessing.
Your regrettably wicked friend,
The primary fury: My friend Xolgrohim — or self-proclaimed friend Xolgrohim — has kidnapped my second-best friend in anywhere, and is using her as bait to lure me into a trap! Aside from the obvious difficulties and inconvenience of that, I do not approve of my friends behaving badly towards each other.
The secondary fury: After a bit of consideration, I can’t tell my mating flight about it. I would lose so many fiancée points, there’d be no counting them. I’m sure I could find something more humiliating to do than announce to everyone that I had lost track of my pet hoven and they had to go rescue her. I can’t think of what, though.
Still, I am not without resources.
«Ythac? Do you have time to chat?»
«Only if it’s supremely urgent do I have time this hour, and you and Llredh are the only two who can call on that degree of urgency. Can it wait for an hour and a third?» he answered, and his mindwriting looked a bit ragged.
«It can wait that long, Ythac.» Flying to Ghemel would take much more than an hour and a third.
I’m not a complete idiot. (Eleven-twelfths an idiot I will grant you without the least bit of argument.) I wrote the mating flight a detailed note about what I was doing, and gave it to a slow but reliable servant to copy several times and send to everyone through the slow but unreliable Damman postal system.
So: fly, fly, fly. I had lots of time to think, and not much else to do. I made a few guesses about Xolgrohim’s plans and intentions.
Nearly an hour later, over one of Damma’s interminable jungles: «Right. Executions are properly arranged and sentences commuted for tomorrow. What did you want, Jyothky? Your words looked worried.»
«I am worried.» … and I transcribed Xolgrohim’s whole telegram to him.
«Well, that’s not good,» he wrote back.
«That it is not,» I answered.
«No — what’s not good is that Tarcuna is hidden from finding spells. I can’t help very much from here.»
«Oh, that is bad. I didn’t know paingods could do that,» I said.
«I didn’t either. I wish I could give you useful clues here, Jyothky, but I don’t have many. Do you want Llredh and me to come with you?»
«I do, but I don’t know whether or not it’s a good idea. If he’s being honest, he’s not going to hurt me, and he’d try to kill you if you came.»
«What makes you say that?»
«My best guess is, he’s trying to kill my parents for killing him. Osoth didn’t exactly say very much about it, but that sounds like a very undead reason to do something like this.»
«That’s one possibility. Maybe he’s just trying to get revenge however he can. Killing his killer’s child might satisfy him just as well as killing his killers would.»
I had been avoiding thinking about that option. «Probably that’s not it.» I waved some textual exegesis of bits of the telegraph at him. Unpersuasively, since we weren’t sure that anything was compelling Xolgrohim to be truthful.
«So, the only thing we’re pretty sure of is that Xolgrohim is trying to kill some dragons. Maybe you, maybe your parents. Maybe your parents preferably, but failing that, you. So I am not particularly happy about you flying there alone,» Ythac wrote. «Fiancée points won’t do you much good if you’re dead. If Arilash or anyone is paying any attention to them, which I doubt.»
I scribbled «Well, find out what weapons he’s got for me, and I’ll do something appropriate.»
«The most appropriate thing would be to leave your hoven there. Poor Tarcuna, but you’re a lot more important than she is.» Which is both sensible and true, but I was having none of it. So Ythac poked at the Mystery Zone with his best far-range information spells, but Xolgrohim had blocked them. «That’s all I can do from here. If I were nearby, I could do a lot more.»
«So come nearby,» I wrote back.
«You don’t mind? You’re flying off like some heroine from before the astral era. Thought you might want to do it alone.»
«Esrret’s star! I want whatever help I can get! Besides, you had better help me for your own sake. Your parents offended him nearly as much as mine did. If we let him
live succeed this time, he’ll be after you next. With more expertise for him, and fewer allies for you. You and Llredh had better be flying right outside the Mystery Zone, ready to swoop in for rescue or revenge!»
«Hold on … » I waited a while. «Llredh says that yes, he’d absolutely rather fight an undead paingod than spend a single hour more on the new constitution.»
Which sounds like a plan to me, and a better one than flying into the Pit of Despair all alone.