Waiting to Leave
Osoth leapt to the top of a hillock. The stage would have been better, but it was being repaired and/or disassembled. “My companions, my fellow adventurers, my friends! We are now on the first wingbeat of a flight into a mysterious and omnipotential — and, we sincerely wish, fascinating and profitable — congeries of universes! Whether we physically leave Hove immediately, or whether we physically leave Hove a month from now, it matters little. Let us consider ourselves to have left Hove already! Actually, let us see if, by some delightful roll of the dice, we will leave Hove already.”
He beckoned to Sjojarn, the senior of the two Travel-mages. Sjojarn, a distinguished and highly elongated gentleman with the most beautiful turquoise scales I have ever seen, performed the final ritual of the Pentagonal Cyclone, within an intricate magical construct, a hhejŝṧhyant to give it the proper name. To hoven perception, nothing happened. To draconic perception, there was a barely-visible thaumaturgic snip deep inside the hhejŝṧhyant, and three or four of the weaker structural elements collapsed.
The assembled dragons murmured unhappily. The hovens murmured confusedly. The undead stood stolidly, or did not look up for their game of dicing for finger-bones.
Sjojarn spoke a moment with Osoth, who nodded and leapt back onto his hillock. “As we expected, we are not leaving Hove today. Some of you may be curious about what just happened. It is not an unusual thing. Sjojarn, wise and skillful in the ways of Travel, even if this is his first actual the Pentagonal Cyclone, opened a portal to an exceedingly hot universe. In this universe, like so many others, energy can be and must be created. If two equal balls collide with a total speed of 144 miles per hour, they will rebound with a total speed of 144-plus-a-tiny-fraction miles per hour. The tiny fractions build up over time. This renders all things extraordinary hot. Should we have simply opened a straightforward portal there, a tiny bit of that heat would pour through, and we should have the Melts of Sjojarn on Hove to match the Melts of Trangbonius on Graulfnir. But, the wise Sjojarn and other wise wizards have included precautions against this very thing, and a vast assortment of other very things! Instead of that terrible heat pouring through, certain particularly fragile bits of the hhejŝṧhyant are instantly destroyed — before the heat even reaches them, and far faster than even a swift dragon can react — and the cyclone is no more.
“Or, if I am being wordy, what happened is: Sjojarn found a dangerous, unliveable universe. The portal closed itself instantly, as it was intended to. We are safe. We are here.
“We are here! We shall practice making camp: as if we are to stay here indefinitely. Indeed, this is the perfect time to realize that we have only a single shovel for all our diggers, or that our water-tanks are leaky. Both these were the case last week, but both have been taken care of today, thanks to the estimable and highly competent Mr. Norb and Mr. Kranbule.
“Ah, and just a reminder to the dragons. We have a number of hovens and even a few chir — that number being sixty-three at last count — who work among us in a variety of capacities. Some of these small people you should esteem as beings of wisdom and rank. Mrs. Dasbrodie, for one example, has been my camp superintendant on four archeaeological expeditions. If she instructs you as to how something should be arranged, you should follow her instructions instantly and without complaint. If you do not, she will discuss the matter with me, and, as I have never known her to be wrong, I will surely bite your tail and tell you to do the same thing.
“But all the small people you should esteem as beings of honor and courage. You consider yourself to have courage, flapping off to face the dangers and horrors of strange worlds — you with your immense vitality, your thick scales, your massive claws and teeth, your devastating breath weapons, your astral magic! But know that the small people with us are coming to precisely the same places, with their candleflame vitality, their soft skin, their tiny fingernails and blunt chewers, their utter lack of breath weapons and magic! Any honor or bravery you award yourself, you must award to our small-people fellow explorers a dozenfold! So give them all respect and all assistance! If you seen Mr. Norb frustrated by a boulder, ask him if you could move or destroy that boulder!
“And now, let all our tents be set up, let all our sanitary ditches be dug, let our livestock be given room, and in all ways let our first camp be made! It will not be our last.