Nrararn and I had been playing tsheriaf on the cliff walls by the Sea of Tangay all morning, and were busily eating roasted goatish sorts of things in spicy yogurt, and joking with the cooks about whether he could make flatbreads big enough for us to eat roast goatish sort of thing properly (viz., with flatbread). Tarcuna clomped by my side and whacked me with a clatter of her dragon-taming staff.
“So why are you angry at me today?” I asked her, since she smelled quite angry.
She fumed, “If you’ve saved someone once, you’re obliged to save them again — right?”
“No, but I often will. What do you need rescue from this time? You don’t look kidnapped.”
She tossed her staff down, and the cymbals crashed on stones. “Not me. Bthera. Also Dr. Grauzeng.”
“I remember Bthera,” I said, since I did.
“I should hope so. Well, are you going to go rescue her, or not?”
“Probably I am, if the expression on your face is any indication. From what, or is that a surprise?”
Tarcuna glared at me. “You have not been paying attention to the news from Trest.”
“I have a fierce minion to do that job for me,” I pointed out reasonably.
“You’ve got a combat-grade social secretary, I should say,” Nrararn pointed out. “It’s easier to fight Csirnis than Tarcuna. Csirnis knows how to stop fighting when he loses.”
I nodded. “And when he wins, too.”
Tarcuna picked up her staff again. “Are you going to just talk when there’s lives to be saved?”
“Whose lives are we saving, exactly, and from what?” asked Nrararn.
“We? You’re coming too?” I asked him.
He snorted a gust of incandescent sparks. “I could stay here and eat your share of the goats ‘til you get back.”
“My goats! My goats! My tasty, tasty goats!” I lamented. “Actually, if Arilash were still around, I imagine you’d stay.”
“A drake cannot afford to pass up any advantage in his quest to get a mate,” he noted. Which he says at least twice a day now.
I’ve got about three good answers. I picked, “Csirnis and Osoth have their own approach to the matter.”
“Csirnis and Osoth flee in the face of my intense devotion,” said Nrararn.
“Which has intensified considerably now that Arilash’s claspers are out of the picture,” I pointed out.
Cymbals crashed in front of my nose. “Will you please get going?”
I looked down at Tarcuna. “Where are we going, and why?”
“Dr. Grauzeng’s house got set on fire last night. Snipers shot everyone as they came out,” said Tarcuna. “We are going to the St. Ploque-Dar Hospital in Dorday, where they are in critical condition. To start with. Then we shall see what to do next.”
“Poor hovens! Whyever did anyone do that?” I asked. “But you’re right. Yes, we are going. Nrararn, will you come?” I put the Melismatic Tempest into myself, and, when he spread his vô away, into him as well. I don’t cast it nearly as well as Arilash. Or please my fiancés as well as Arilash. I am pretty sure she’s ahead of me in the mating flight, despite dropping out of it.
More hours than it should have taken later — considering that we had both the Melismatic Tempest and a real tempest behind us — we landed at St. Ploque-Dar Hospital. Not Naliere Hospital, which is what you get when you ask a gendarme in Pourride Avenue “Where is the hospital?” rather than “Where is Ploque-Dar Hospital?” We took hoven size, which was harder for Tarcuna than Nrararn and me. Technically, she was already hoven size, but she had to deal with the flight harness that fell off of me. That is fair because she’s (1) my minion, and (2) the reason I wear a flight harness anyways. It’s unfair because (-3) she has only one working hand. Of course (4) I don’t have working hands at all, and (5) I was supposed to go do some healing.
The secretaries and priest welcoming patients into the hospital were not very impressed. “Ah. More dragons. You must be here to see about the patients in room 71.”
“That would be Bthera, Grauzeng, and family?” I said.
“Who was here before?” asked Nrararn.
“The orange and brown one who styles himself our overlord,” said the priest. Which is to say, Llredh.
“Where is room 71?” I asked. And got directions, and scrabbled my claws on slippery oilstone floors ‘til we got there.
There was healing to be done, of course. Three bullet wounds in the girl; I don’t think she would have died of them, unless one got infected. Only one in the younger boy, who might have died without healing. Five in Mr. Grauzeng, who was in quite bad shape indeed.
The older boy and Dr. Grauzeng had been dead when they got to the hospital. Bthera had been alive, but had died not quite an hour before, as two doctors worked to save her life. Llredh probably could have saved her, but he was trying to hammer healing spells into Dr. Grauzeng at the time instead.
So I bit his tail. “Llredh, you are the useless drake! You let my friend die!”
He bit my muzzle. “Jyothky, you are the unwise dragoness! My useful professor, she is the one I need to be alive!”
“You are not going to make your hovens any happier with your reign by letting them die when you’re standing in room,” said Nrararn.
“Nrararn, you are the irrelevant drake! My hovens’ happiness, of her you understand nothing!”
“He’s right, though. You should have healed them,” I said.
Llredh hissed, “The great fool of Dorday, she is Jyothky! For hoven happiness, it is slaying she should do here, not healing!”
“And what do you mean by that?”
“These children, this man, my doctor, your spare whore — hoven rebels killed them. You and I, we are too much trouble. The hovens who work with us, the hovens who side with us, they are the ones to die.” Llredh pointed to a short spear on a table. Tied to its shaft was a flag, on which “Death To Every Cunya” was stencilled.
“What’s a cunya?” asked Nrararn, and cast the Word-Fox. He stared at Tarcuna. He must be good enough to get etymologies with his spells.