Returning to Perstra (Day 2745)
Nrararn and Tarcuna and I were a bit wary on our way to Perstra. First of all, we had to fly over a great expanse of more-or-less-freed Trest. Fighter planes rose up to follow us. They didn’t attack — Hove has seen what becomes of fighter planes who challenge my storm-maned fiancé — but they followed, shouting our position by radio to the wary nation. They are, at best, uncertain about my benevolence towards them. I am too, actually. I seem to wind up doing something horrible every time I visit Trest.
The borders of Perstra were marked by brilliant astral fountains. These fountains are only built with much effort and much pain. Kings mark their domains with them; lesser dragons content themselves with lesser marks. «Your fence is beautiful,» I wrote to Ythac, because it was. «Your domain looks regal.»
«I am king of the dragons on Hove,» he answered.
«I haven’t done anything like that,» I said. «It doesn’t seem worth the effort. Chevethna will depose me any year now.»
Ythac and Llredh were close enough for him to shout, “Me too. But Llredh wanted the fountains. I imagine that a former king can keep them, since they’re there already.”
So I spent the last minute of flight telling Nrararn what we had been talking about, and Ythac did the same to Llredh.
I flew politely under Ythac, waving a smallish box of lacquered aromatic woods in my wingclaw. He wrote, «Must you be so formal?»
«It’s an apology disguised as tribute.»
«Oh!» he scribbled, and dived and snatched it from me. “Heavy!” The four of us circled as he opened it. “Oh, thank you!” He tossed one to Llredh, and put his own on: matching spike-rings of palladium and silver with vrexium roses, Ythac’s brightened with turquoise and emerald, Llredh’s with tiger’s-eye and ruby. “I have inspected your tribute and found it adequate! I shall not drive you off with claws and teeth and hellish breath. This time. Indeed, you shall come to my cavern and dwell for a time therein, to ogle the glories and luxuries of Perstra, and know that your own meagre realm holds nothing to compare with them.” «There! Formal enough for you, Jyothky?»