“So we are agreed, that we shall conquer Eleer and rule it, as four equal kings, each with primacy over a quarter of the world in case disputes arise,” said Vaareng in summary. The other three ¼-spread their wings in assent. Vaareng, the least artful of the four, had been chosen as the chairdrake by universal (viz. fourfold) acclamation.
So, how to do that?
“The eleg are stupid, weak-minded, weak-willed. Let us simply alight in a village — any village — Cwukment is near to hand and will serve. We proclaim that we rule Cwukment and all Eleer. Then we see what challenges arise against us, and defeat them. Probably with a sneeze of breath or a flick of the tail,” said Vaareng.
“As our chairdrake, we grant you the honor of doing so first,” said Mirinxan, who knew Vaareng’s weaknesses well.
“I shall do so, triumphantly!” cried Vaareng, and took wing for Cwukment.
Cwukment was a circle of sod huts where eleg families lived. In the center of the circle are a few more sod huts, built as large as sod huts can be built: storehouses, leatherworks, stoneworks, millery, shrine, and the village hall where meetings are held and all important matters decided. So at the start of the work-shift (Eleer’s linear sun is not useful for chopping time into days), Vaareng landed in his full drakely glory next to the village hall, and roared out, “Eleg, come forth!”
Which certainly got him a substantial audience of grosses of eleg in a matter of minutes.
Vaareng explained to his new subjects, “I am a dragon,” There is no eleg word for dragon, so he said it Petty Draconic. “A mighty creature from beyond the sky, one of four who have come to Eleer. We hereby declare that we are the rulers of your world. You shall do us homage, and obey us. We will raise you up from your simple and rude way of living, and you shall become noble and glorious and in all ways fit to be our subjects!”
The eleg peered at him, perplexed.
Vaareng tried again. “I am a dragon. My brothers and I rule Eleer. You are our subjects. You must obey us and honor us. We will treat you well and make you great.”
The eleg peered at him some more. (I never got a clear description of what the eleg look like, beyond “They’re Basic Bipeds and not very interesting to see.” (They smell incredible, by the way. They communicate by scent as much as by language, and their scent-repertoire has a gross of basic notes and endless variations and combinations. Dragons can perceive all these scents. We do not have the instinctive understanding of them that eleg have, though the Word-Fox can explain them. We can only produce them by means of illusion spells or other artifice, and not easily.))
Vaareng tried once more. “I am a dragon. I rule you now.”
The eleg yelped, finally understanding him. (Honestly the eleg are not quite as stupid as this makes them seem. They communicate by scent as much as sound. Vaareng was not puffing forth a vapor that foundationed his words. His actual scent, of proud and excited drake, was incomprehensible to the eleg; the most they could get out of it was some perplexing gibberish involving horseshoe crabs, concern for carnivores seeing out fertilized eggs, and perhaps something about milling.)
“Ah, you are a dragon. You rule us now,” said the eleg, and started filing into their village hall.
“Wait, where are you going?” demanded Vaareng.
“This is a matter for the village,” said an eleg.
Vaareng, having no particular idea what might be going on, let them process, discuss, and recess back into the square. It took a small fraction of an hour. The eleg announced to him, “You are not a dragon. You do not rule us now.” They started going back to their ordinary lives of farming, stonework, milling, leatherwork, and so on.
Vaareng picked up one at random. “I am mighty! I am a vast and powerful monster, I could crush you or bite you and make you die! I command powers that could burn Cwukment to ashes in a moment, without effort! You must surrender before me, or I will destroy you!”
The eleg looked perplexed.
Vaareng tried again. “Obey, or I will kill you.”
The eleg smelled complicated. Vaareng used the Word-Fox: fear, of course; denial, an urgent need to do ordinary chores, a resigned assertion that things must never change.
Vaareng sneered, “Last chance.”
The captive eleg thrashed miserably.
Vaareng bit its left ear off.
“I obey now!” wailed the eleg. “What must I do?”
Vaareng had no good answer for that.
Cwukment collectively decided that, while Vaareng did not rule the village, he would punish anyone who disobeyed him, so obedience was perhaps a good approach.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.