After erecting the Mintwall, Roroku raced at her greatest speed through the portal, ripping the sides with her the Scratch-the-Sky. And when she came to the other end, on Kyspert, she struck the portal hard with her vô. No magic could endure such a blow, and the portal collapsed with a dismayed twump. And when she arrived on Kyspert, she giggled, I think, and looked at the reach-scale in her forepaw. «Oh, Jyothky! Guess what I’ve done now?»
«You have, let me see, distracted my attention from the Liberation Day parade in Dorday, where I am listening to speeches that describe my behavior during that ridiculous mess in rather insulting terms,» I said, because it was true.
«I’ve also saved you the cost of a divorce,» said Roroku.
«How is that? I’m not sure that taking care of the fallout of you killing Gyovanth will be much simpler. Though I hardly blame you, if that is what you did,» I said, intending it to be flippant.
«I’ve gone to Kyspert, and taken the reach-scale, and destroyed the portal. Gyovanth and Jaraswat and you are forever held at bay! No dragon can get to me, ever again!»
«Can you get back to dragon-worlds?»
«Nope! I don’t have a travel-token for anywhere but Kyspert. Even if I knew the spells I couldn’t leave!»
Now and then in my life, and perhaps yours too, one discovers that one’s friends have made their own decisions, nonstandard though they are, insane and unwise as they probably are, and have bound themselves forever to a path that is utterly uncharted and unpredictable, and probably will result in a thousand kinds of doom. The first few times my friends did this, I spent quite some time biting them, insulting them, trying to dissuade them from a commitment already made irrevocable, and otherwise wasting everyone’s time and diminishing a friendship already under terrible strain. By my current age, I have learned to recognize the symptoms of the situation, which are simply this: the friend does something ridiculously radical and extreme, and sounds happy about it. I have also learned what to do about it, which is simply this: pretend to smile, and offer to help out however is possible, and hope that the results are less terrible than they could be. (They never are, by the way; all the anticipated troubles are sure to arise to bite one, and some surprising ones as well. Still, your place is by your friend’s side, biting back at the troubles or casting healing spells.)
I took a moment to remind myself of this principle, and the various times when failing to do it made an already-dreadful situation worse. Then I said, «You sound happy about it, I must say, so I will be happy for you. Though I’m glad you kept the nyxylith! I would hate to have you simply vanish forever into mystery!»
«I am happy! I am free! My horrible husband will never bite or taunt me again! Jaraswat will never piss forth his contempt in my face! You will no longer chew my entrails with kindness and forgiveness, while making sure I am your subject and client forever! Nobody here will know that I came in last in my mating flight, nor understand what that means!»
That was rather upsetting, so I decided to have a fight rather than follow the general principle. «I’m sorry I made it onto your list of enemies! I was trying to help, you know. For real.»
«I know you were, Jyothky. I know you were being as gentle with me as our laws and society allow. But can you deny that allowing me on the Expedition was a gift that proves your utter victory over me? Can you deny that I would be your pawn forever, if you arranged for and paid for my divorce? Can you deny that, when our lives are measured against each other, I come in last place — not second of two, but last of two, as if I didn’t have the skills or intellect or courage or power to even put up a contest worthy of note? In the eyes of dragons everywhere, you would have utterly defeated me even more than the dragonesses of my mating flight did. Well, that’s as it may be. The eyes of dragons everywhere will never see me, ever again.»
«That is all true, Roroku. It is not my doing, or the consequences in the eyes of dragons everywhere are not, anyhow. We are not a species to whom kindness or gentleness comes naturally, you know. And I at least wasn’t going to do anything horrible to you. That ‘eyes of dragons everywhere’ matter is more than enough revenge on you. I couldn’t reduce it if I tried, which I was doing by the way, and I wouldn’t have added an ant’s weight to it.» If anyone in Dorday knows what a miserable dragon looks like, they must have thought that the litany of misdeeds I had done (or was thought to have done) during the conquest of Trest was getting to me. Tarcuna and Nrararn, who do know, murmured utterly comforts to me, and I had to put them off and explain my transdimensional trauma later on.
«I know that too, Jyothky. I have been chewing on it every third night for the whole expedition. Gyovanth and Jaraswat get the other two nights of fretting. I don’t blame you for it. But don’t you blame me for being just as glad to escape from you as I am from Gyovanth.»
«I concede defeat in this particular emotional duel, Roroku. I don’t think it’s one of Rhedosaur’s forms, but it should be. You have actually managed to cause me considerable pain, no matter that I couldn’t feel if my body were slowly ground into dragonburger. I request your permission to withdraw from the field to lick and heal my wounds. May I converse with you again, though?»
«Jyothky, I accept your surrender. I think our entire relationship has been beyond any theoretical etiquette I know of. Shall we declare ourselves even, and continue matters as long-range correspondants?»
«Roroku, nothing would please me more.» (Nothing that remained available, anyhow. I had been looking forward to having her as my client, my ally who owed everything to me. Another decent lover for Nrararn, if either or both of them found it appealing. (Yes, I am pandering for Nrararn. Yes, I am jealous, but I mostly manage to be jealous of him-and-everyone-else enjoying their bodies, rather than him-and-a-few-others enjoying his body.) And, yes, I would have enjoyed having that ultimate victory over the dragon who gave me the first devastating insult of my life. But enough mourning for that particular impossible future.)
Roroku, now forever Ro-Ro-Ku, left off with the nyxylith, and stretched her wings, and flew towards her eccentric, insane, incredible self-chosen destiny as the God-Queen of Kyspert.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.