“Well, we have thoroughly ruined our chance to scout secretly,” said Itharieth that evening. “Everywhere in Mo-Srad — everywhere in the whole country of Srad, if not further — strangers are being celebrated and honored and called forth, on the hope that they, too, will be benevolent dragons.”
“Also we have heard seven dozen variations on the word ‘dragon’, each worse than the last,” said Psajathrion. “It will surely be unrecognizable by the time any conquerors come. Let us take the part of sometwo very different from our previous shapes: perhaps a newly married couple en route to visiting distant relatives.”
Itharieth grinned. “A deception I should be more than willing to carry out with you, by the Thing-wearer’s ring bearers! If we were a certain sort of drake, we should carry out a mount-duel to discover which of us is to be male and which to be female.”
Psajathrion said, “If I had a tailtip at the moment I would be flicking it. I am not that sort of drake, to fight instead of think, and I do not believe you are either. And the mount-duel is not simply about who shall wear which sex; it is about who shall use it too.”
“By the Ghoralghentergeese’s floral centerpieces! The idea is yours, good Psajathrion. You shall decide which role you shall play, and I shall take the other one!”
“As a punishment for that particularly awkward rhyming oath, you shall play the female,” said the doctor.
Itharieth did so with gusto. Not only did he become a female girg, she became a thoroughly gravid-appearing one, and obligated Psajathrion to tend her in all the traditional ways.
In any case, the next days were an impromptu festival in Srad, and strangers of all sorts were remarkably welcome. Eyeworms were all but eliminated, at least to the extent that the girgs could refrain from saying ‘we will’.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.