Stranded on Eleer
«I have terrible news for you,» I told Vaareng. «A vast monster arose and destroyed the base camp. Two dragons are dead, and the rest are fled back to Hove. And the portals are destroyed: you are stranded on Eleer.»
Vaareng had a great deal to say about that. To his credit, he started with, «What of Driaith?»
«Driaith is unhurt, and on Hove. Borybran and Jaraswat are dead, or close enough.»
The rest of his conversation was not worth recording. Then he told Mirinxan, Xilobrax, and Nrusco, each of whom wanted to express their opinions of the situation to me. I regret to say that these opinions were not entirely and uniformly pleased.
After a few weeks they calmed down, and decided to make the most of their predicament by conquering and ruling the best part of Eleer.
Eleer is a Predictable Platelet, a barely-tilted plane (loosely 1/12th of a degree) two hundred and fourteen thousand miles in diameter. One of the largest we saw, which alone made it worth having six dragons out exploring it. The linear sun which twirled in the sky above it had a delightful lluyew. The air was fresh and clean, and full of vast numbers of tasty birds. The greater part of the landscape was low hills or cute mountains, nicely forested (with giant ferns and herbs — the local botany had not discovered lignum, and thus there was nothing tree-like.)
The eleg themselves were the main rot in the roast. They are not too bright.
To be sure, they are smarter than any other native thing living on Eleer. And they are quite smart enough to set up little farming villages, to fight off all the predators with their spears and clubs and arrows, to sew animal hides or the big leathery leaves of the iẋops plants into clothing. Most small people spend a few gross-years at this degree of technology before clumping up into cities, inventing monumental architecture and writing and mathematics and law codes and musical scales and religion and beer-making and all the things that transform life from a way to pass the time until death into a vibrant and civilized experience. Or an amazing pit of misery, if you’re the wrong person. Civilized societies rarely manage to be kind.
The eleg, at least, managed to be kind. They had lived in their little villages for grand-years, lots of them — grosses of them, maybe.
Which is not precisely true. Once in a while some quirk of the weather or seeds gave them enough extra food in one place to multiply and have a village grow to a little city in size. That sort of thing was enough for chirs or hovens or other typically-bright small people to invent civilization. The eleg didn’t invent anything. They just blinked in confusion as their ill-placed latrines spread diseases, as their government-by-universal-agreement could never get universal agreement and never made anything happen, as the luck that had given them a good harvest vanished and their city starved back to village size.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.