The Battle of Theredor
“Let’s go and see what we (we!) can find on Cussa!” cried Hyxy.
“Let us, indeed, my love!” said Ngassith. Afterwards, he explained that, when a world is beset by a Dark Lord, even called a Quiet Lord, there are frequently huge armies of fairly evil and unpleasant small people. Since we had just acquired most of the artifacts of Light, or Noise, we had put one heavy paw on the balance of power. He wanted to put a paw on the other side too. Quiet Lords are not terribly pleasing people to have ruling a world.
He was a bit late.
The Quiet Lord did indeed have a huge army of fairly evil and unpleasant small people. A few of them were alive. A few of them were partially alive: cush warriors who had lost a few limbs, and had them replaced by animated zombie limbs. Most of them were simply dead, but whipped into frenzies of activity by spells rather like Osoth’s.
This army was besieging a walled city, which we dubbed Theredor because we never quite got around to finding out the real name. The city had five walls in concentric blobby rings: not designed as successively tougher bulwarks, as one might expect if it had been built all at once, but as the city grew in size and wealth, it built up larger and taller walls.
Unfortunately, there were a great many more dead people on Cussa than there were living people. And the Quiet Lord’s nimble zombies were more careless of their bodies than the living. They climbed the outer wall by, evidently, slicing the flesh off their toes, and ramming the exposed bones into holes and cracks that fleshy living toes would not fit into. They carried two-ended iron chisels in their tentacles, and used them to hammer new holes, or to hold on old ones, as appropriate. They had taken the outermost wall, and, when Hyxy and Ngassith got there, were shoving and chiseling the last of the living Theredorian defenders off.
“If there’s anything more disgusting than a living small person, it’s an animated small person pretending to be living,” said Hyxy.
“O my wife, I shall not disagree with your aesthetics,” said Ngassith. “Shall we clear them off the wall, starting from the back, you going clockwise and me counterclockwise, and meet at the big central gate?”
“O my husband, let us race! I bet you a specific one-dragon-pleasuring sexual act to be performed on the one who clears to the gate first!”
“The challenge is given, the challenge is accepted!” cried Ngassith. He flew above the counterclock half of the city’s walls, and his flames fell upon the Quiet Lord’s conjurelings. (Fire-breathing on zombies does not always work, I should add. You can breathe intensely enough to cremate them, but that requires a tight breath, and is not excellent against a zombie horde. If you merely scorch them with a wide and broad breath, even one that would kill small people by the score, they are likely not to care particularly. So you must use at least a breath of some duration and intensity, so that you outright cook them. Cooked flesh can be animated by the same spells as raw. But cooking coagulates the muscles and weakens the tendons. So cooked zombies are stuck in a perpetual spastic paralysis, and their limbs are particularly liable to fall off. Wave a well-roasted chicken around and you will see.)
“And soon you must pleasure me, my husband!” cried Hyxy. Her cold breath is not particularly useful against zombies: it freezes them solid, but they are nearly as good as new when they thaw. Her breath of corrosion, though, is utterly devastating. Live creatures have a modicum of resistance to it. Dead ones have none.
And when Ngassith had burned his way to the front gate of Theredor, Hyxy was waiting for him, smirking. And amusing herself by breathing huge splashes of death and/or re-death, both into the armies besieging Theredor, and into the living defenders of Theredor itself. “Hallo, my husband! I claim my pleasure and my prize!”
“Right here? On the battlefield, where, if I am not mistaken, you have just declared that we are the enemies of both sides?” asked Ngassith.
“What care I (I) for the emnity of small people? If they take offense, I shall render them more attractive and more mannerly!”
So Ngassith jubilated Hyxy, perched on the front gate of Theredor, as she demanded. Outside the gate, the sharp-toed zombie cush wound their catapults. Within the gates, the confused and despairing living cush recharged their spell-rods and counted their arrows. Hyxy was about to achieve her pleasure(‽) when a heavy stone crushed Ngassith’s right hindwing, and completely distracted his attention.
(‽) Whatever that is like.
Hyxy hissed with frustration and anger. “O my husband! Go within the walls for a bit of privacy while you heal yourself. I shall cause these small zombies to cease to pester us!”
So Ngassith took shelter in the walls of Theredor. The mighty guardscush of Theredor surrounded him, staves and bows at the ready. He lashed at them with his hukuchô, that astral body whose touch few can endure. They screamed and fled, or fainted. Except for a few, who were either far enough for his hukuchô not to reach them, or who were tough enough to endure it. Those few realized that Ngassith had performed an assault upon their countrycush, but did not realize that he had done so to drive them off without lasting harm. They attacked Ngassith with magic and weapons and bravery and strength.
Ngassith is often a gentle dragon. Hyxy is the vicious one in the family. But he is gentle because he is exceedingly strong: alone of the Hoven Royal Exploring Company, he was first drake in his mating flight, and he has hardened himself with constant practice and battle since then. (Mostly with Hyxy, who is just as strong and skilled as Ngassith and much faster.)
Ngassith was not in a particularly good mood. His lovemaking had been interrupted, and his wing was broken. He answered the attack on him with fire.
The outer ring of Theredor, houses and tenements and battlements and cush and all, burned for several days.
Hyxy popped her head over the burning wall. “Is everything OK in there? I smelled smoke!”
Ngassith smiled at her, in the midst of the blazing city. “A bit of awkwardness, but nothing to speak of. I am just healing my wing. It will be fine soon enough!”
“Rightie-O!” chirped Hyxy, and resumed her massive destruction outside.
By the time the couple had finished their excursion, the undead hordes of the Quiet Lord were cinders and puddles, or at least too cooked to be useful. The stronghold of Noise, the greatest free city on Cussa, was in no better shape.
Ngassith was pleased about one thing though. The forces of Quiet and Noise had decided, correctly, that astral dragons were a worse enemy than each other, and concluded a quick peace treaty and alliance against us.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.