«Jyothky? Has our relationship changed considerably since we last discussed the matter?» Arilash wrote back. I had not controlled my the Horizonal Quill right.
«Oh, no. I meant that for Nrararn!» I wrote to her.
«Alas! I would dearly love to twine you later tonight. Or anydragon. Even if I had to be less obnoxious. But I suppose you won’t be interested.» Arilash wrote back.
«No. I certainly owe you a conversation though. And I deserve every obnoxious for getting that message wrong. I have to get back to Nrararn now though.» I wrote to Arilash. Then I wrote the original message to Nrararn.
«Your cat is bored,» wrote my cat.
«My cat can go skulking around and eavesdrop on the speakers if he likes,» I said. Nrararn was off in a flash.
“Oh, no! Your cat got away!” said an old woman chanting next to me.
“He does that a lot. He’ll be back in a few minutes, I’m sure,” I said, truthfully but just barely.
So we chatted good things about cats and bad things about dragons. Then, “Oh, dear, I’m up next,” she said.
“You’re a speaker?”
“Of course not, dearie. The speakers are just colors,” she said. She fished in her purse and found a knitted purple mask. “Back in a few moments. I hope your cat returns first.”
I found Granny Purple one of the better speakers, perhaps due to my cat being otherwise occupied and me actually listening to what she had to say. “I was a history teacher at St.-Vurne Grammar School for forty-two years. I know our federation’s history fairly well. We have conquered every enemy: second-most of all our distrust and hatred of each other, when we were many nations. Most of all, though, our own self-interest. When each of us worried about his own little duchy or barony, we were weak and warful. When we abandoned those things, we became mighty. The dragons are a sort of enemy more terrible than any we have ever faced. But the same weapons will bring us victory. Not mighty twistor cannons, but the spirits of unity and sacrifice. I defy every dragon. I will lay down my life to oppose them and render their stay here undesirable and noxious. If I were younger, I would go and apply for a job at Ythac’s palace in Perstra, so that I could spill his soup on his disgusting claws and pour bitters in his drinking water. He may have us at a disadvantage, he may have his entire scaly weight on our neck, but he shall not get what he desires from us!”
Her chant was awful, though. “Every monster must go back! Leave, Lareth! Leave, Ythac!” I chanted Llredh’s name properly the first few times, but nobody else was pronouncing it right. Their dialect doesn’t have the right sounds.
Granny Purple, unmasked, got back before Nrararn. “Very nice speech,” I told her.
“Why, I do try to pay attention whenever Granny Purple speaks,”
Granny Purple corrected. “She used to teach, and she seems to have the voice and manner for it. I am Versley, by the way.”
“A pleasure to meet a fellow admirer of Granny Purple, Versley. I’m Jyothky Meragathium,” I said, slurring my name a bit.
“A pleasure to meet you as well, Joffee,” she said. She didn’t seem to catch my family name at all, which is just as well.”
“Might you know where I could go to get a bit more involved in RARU?”, I asked. “I’d like to contribute something to the movement, but I don’t know how to begin.”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Versley. “I’ve never been to a RARU event before.” Lies, of course, but with the cheese-like aspect that indicates a lie shading into a fiction that should be mutually understood. “There are two speakers more. After them, may I treat you to hot tea in a cafe? Who knows, we might encounter actual RARU members there. It is said that they are about. If your cat is back, of course.”
«Nrararn, get your white fluffy tail back here!» I wrote, and explained why. In a moment he was sniffing around Versley’s ankles. «You’re smelling with your nose?»
«If you smell with your tongue, you look very strange as a hoven or a cat,» he pointed out.
«I’ll be careful. I am careful.» Which is approximately true, isn’t it?
The next speaker, Rev. Taupe, mostly proclaimed a stream of religious nonsense about the origin, motives, and powers of dragons. One thing did catch my attention, though. “When the dragons say that one of us is infested by a cyoziworm, when they take them away to those dreadful camps — why do you suppose they do that? Well, I’ve got some statistics for you. Eighty per cent of the camp victims have opposed the dragons in public, and some of them a lot more incautiously than RARU. Eighty percent. They’re not quarentine camps for some imaginary infection. They’re camps for political punishment. Well, I have this to say to the dragons. You can’t stick us all in your camps! We’re too many! We’ll break down the walls of the camps, and we’ll all go free! All Trest will be free!” Every word of that was true, too. Rather, he believed it all, though he was wrong.
«Well, what do you expect?» wrote Tarcuna. «The wormridden know that the dragons know about them, and are trying to eradicate them. They don’t have a lot of choice: they have to push back, or run away, or something. Their worms won’t let them just hope the dragons go away.»