The Doom that Came to Narethy
The end of the expedition took no more than two-thirds of an hour. I was asleep for it, thoroughly exhausted after a day of diplomatic looming and attempting to thrice-satisfy Nrararn. The greater part of the Exploring Company was asleep as well, after their own collection of scientific and whateverly efforts. A half-dozen of them were exploring the promising and pleasing world of Eleer.
Those who were awake — Itharieth, Driaith, Katamerces — noted the first approach of doom with utter incomprehension. The camp was composed of a collection of portable hangars, which is to say, buildings of a fixed and definite shape, squat trapezoidal things high enough for an airplane or a dragon. Or rather, that is how they were built at the start of the evening. The three wakeful dragons noted that the hangars were leaning, curved as if they were somewhat molten and being blown by a strong wind.
“That’s quite odd and rather disturbing,” said Driaith to Itharieth.
“More than that, by the Gorgon’s florgons!” cried Itharieth. “It is the very same architectural perversion that torments the cities of Narethy, come to us!”
“And not just an architectural one,” said Driaith quietly. “Observe there, with dangersense.”
“There” was some dozens of miles distant, but still it blared like grands of blazing trumpets to dangersense: a triumphant anthem, announcing boldly the advent of a power that could eat dragons the way a lion eats rats. It reared over the trees, more like a jellyfish than a stormcloud, indistinct and hideous.
“We must wake everyone, and flee!” Itharieth reared and bugled his loudest.
But what awoke everyone was far more unfortunate. A triangular projectile came from the still-distant danger, trailing a cord both nebular and intestinal. The projectile did not roar its danger: to dangersense, it seemed wholly safe, or more precisely, wholly absent. It fell into a hangar.
Borybran howled in great pain, and Xilobrax next to him howled with horror. For the fall of the projectile had somehow impaled the deified dragon on a tall and heavy spar of woven titanium, spearing through his scales and his the Hoplonton without visible effort. Xilobrax assaulted the spar with lightnings and the best cleaving-spells physical magicology has to offer, and in a moment had cut it in half. With the strength of his body and the power of his levitation spells, he hoisted Borybran off of it.
Now, having a two-foot spar rammed through one’s belly is a substantial injury for a dragon, no question of that. But it should not have been fatal, not beyond the Rose Rescaler, applied immediately, as Xilobrax did. The spar-hole vanished, and Borybran was whole again. But Boybran sank to the floor of his hangar, and moaned.
And Xilobrax saw the theotonic glow of his deified lover, and more besides, swirl like water in a basin, and vanish into the long intestinal cord that had come with the spar.
“Xilobrax!” Borybran’s voice was shredded and splintered. “Fly. Now. Back to Hove. Close the pathway behind you, and destroy the reach-scale!”
“No! I shall not lose you thus!” roared Xilobrax, and cast mighty spells of healing and protection. But Borybran merely closed his eyes and died.
Xilobrax decided to take Borybran at his word. He snatched such of his hoard (and/or Borybran’s) as was easily mobile, and fled for Hove. He did his expedition-mates the courtesy of producing a great deal of noise, and repeating Borybran’s final advice.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.