sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

Curse-dreams of curries and cassoulettes simmered me for hours, for days. Bafflements baked me until until golden-brown. Eventually I awoke, to discover that I was tied loosely to a very large bed under a comfortably low ceiling. I quite sensibly started burning the cords off of my legs and necks.

“What!! What are you doing??!! A fire here could be the end of me — of us all!!” wailed Vong. He leapt down and dashed a pitcher of water over me.

It was instantly obvious, even to my sleep-boggled and «Cuisine»-fermented mind, what had happened. We had not in fact escaped onto the world-boat. Vong and his minions had caught up with us. I had been bound. Hditr and Hermen were probably imprisoned or worse. Eric must have escaped, being wholly intangible, and was probably making plans to rescue me as soon as he could find a living ally.

My role was clearly to buy Eric all the time I could manage. “What do you want with me, Vong?”

“I want you not to kill me, you stupid and insane lizard!!” he stated.

“Then let me go, monstrous and wicked toad!” I riposted.

“All right, all right,” he grumbled, and started untying the cords on my legs. I had tricked him! This was almost too easy!

It was, in fact, too easy, for soon Vong proclaimed, “What insolence is this?? “You have made these bonds be wet — be soaking! They cannot be untied!!”

“I think they’re soaked from you dumping a pitcher of water on them,” I pointed out.

“Lout!! Disrespectful beast!! Do not speak thus to me when I am doing a favor for you!!” he snarled.

“Then don’t. I’ll escape on my own,” I snapped, and started gnawing on one of the cords with my ice-head’s mouth. Vong did nothing to stop me; he simply glared. What a hopeless villain!

Well, if he wasn’t going to interrogate me, I would surely interrogate him. While gnawing with one head, I challenged him with another. “What have you done with Hditr, Eric, and that seminary-trained miner?”

“Nothing!!” said Vong sullenly. “It’s what they did to me that you should ask about!!”

One delaying tactic is as good as any other, I supposed. “Well, what did they do to you?”

He sat on a small metal bench or shelf in the opposite wall. When I had gnawed through the cords on my fire-head, I stuck it out to look around. Vong and I were in a small metal room, with two bunks on one side (I was in the upper one), a few drawers and a door and that bench in the other side, and four dim glow-spots in the ceiling’s corners for lighting.

“They got me exiled from Drullguur!!!” said Vong, more emphatically than his usual, hopping to his feet in a sudden passion of fury. “They twisted the minds of the miners against me!!! They raised an insurrection — against me!!! Against a lawfully appointed mayor!!! Who had been working for months for nothing but their benefit and goodification!!!”

“I can’t imagine any other possible cause for an insurrection against you. How could they object to you calling the scriptures ‘fuck poetry’ and having your truncheon-bearing goon threaten them?”

Vong cast himself to the bench despondently. “Exactly!! Exactly!! You understand me, lizard, where neither miners nor mammals do!!” I gathered that he didn’t really understand draconic gestures of sarcasm.

“So, why are we in here?” I asked, getting my forelegs free.

“They didn’t want to share a cabin with me!!” cried Vong. “Me — whose very integument exudes an attar of stulch-rose!! Whose ancestral lineage includes great heroes and mighty insect-finders!! Among whose cousins are numbered both crooners and queens!!”

“… cabin?…” I asked.

“Cabin! And for the entire duration of the voyage to Ixange I must endure their close proximity!! And yours as well!!”

I was perplexed. “Wait, we’re going to Ixange?”

“Yes!! I — exiled from Drullguur!! You and your companions — accompanying me to mock me!!”

“Actually we were trying to escape you and your bully-boys,” I pointed out.

“What?? My bully-boys?? I have no bully-boys!! I never had bully-boys!! I had hired security forces!! But!! They were un-hired insecurity forces when security became necessary!! Instantly they cited a payment dispute and sided with the miners!! Like foul stinking cameoleopard turds born of an improper and infelicitous conjunction between a rotten radish and a festering ferret!!”

That was not an image I much wanted to imagine. In part I was afraid that, if I ever succeeded in imagining it, I would never be able to un-imagine it. “Is there anything to eat here?” After «Cuisine»-fever I was ravenous. “Any croustellines St. Jacques au choufleur, maybe? Or bear’s liver fermented in a sauce of mouse intestines? Or … ” I shook my heads to clear them, which does not work as well for a Yirienian as for a more centralized person, but I had few useful alternatives. “Even anything plausible?”

“Here?? Bah, no!! Nothing!! You must go to the mess room to eat, like anyone!! I shall not be your waiter-slave and bring you delicacies!!” Vong waved a web-fingered hand at a rectangular outline on the metal wall.

I poked at it. Vong snorted, “!!”, and depressed a spring among several on an obscure panel. The door slid aside. I pranced ravenously into the metal tube of a corridor. I used my new-branded powers to cast a spell to seek prepared food — realizing, as I did, that I had become one of the few people in any universe who could do that. It produced directions in the form of a recipe.

1 bunch of dragon heads, fresh if possible, as chef
4 ship’s biscuits
1 pint of reheated lentil stew
Preserved black olives and green pickles
Condiment Assortment
Send the dragon heads leftwards through the steely corridors of the world-ship, and through the third door on the left. Speak the words “Tsu̗vͅh́i̜p̩͒ dw̉exy̻ įr͋n̻ufu̩ lesp͑ d̒w͉̍okty̿ a͈͉l̰bu͓” to the grille upon the wall. When the other ingredients emerge from the slot beneath, thinly slice three biscuits. Make a central well in the thick stew and line it with sliced biscuits. From the condiment assortment, carefully remove and discard the honey-catsup, caramel syrup, and green sauce. Carefully pour the vinegar over one half of the stew, and the mustard over the other half. Crumble the remaining biscuit finely and sprinkle it on top. Serve it forth with olives and pickles on the side to the dragon heads, in full knowledge that no better arrangement is currently possible.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

They are not on me.

My head — dragged deep into the bowl of sand and soil! Not deep the bowl, but very deep the dragging!

The human — holding me in two hands when I emerged, jaw and neck, squeezing! Tall! Tall as a couatl is long! Fat! Fat as a grapefruit! Strong! Strong as cooling taffy! Skin of grey! Robes of heavy cloth, symbols embroidered! Gloves on the hands! Clawed sandals on his feet! Necklace of the teeth! Headdress of the wings! Strange and horrid, to a couatl who had never seen a human before, but merely read them as monsters in stories and aliens in the news!

The room — Trash and gauds everywhere! Geometry upon the floor! Burning compost and spices in the bowl! Sword of metal stabbed into shield of flesh! Everywhere the strange things!

The egg — my egg — on the floor!

The human — placed the clawed foot down, slowly! Upon it!

The egg — my egg — crushed! Yolk spilled forth! Tiny thread of my never to be child — poured upon the geometry floor!

The hissing, the frenzy — upon me!

The holding of jaw, the holding of neck — strong are human hands!

The speaking of the human — Cease thrashing, couatl! I have broken one of your eggs! One of them rests in this locket around my neck, with a sharp blade aimed at its heart. A single gesture suffices to crush it and kill your little wriggler. The other two that I took are far from this place. Certain trusted confederates of mine have them. If you manage to kill me, my confederates will hear of it, and they will crush the life out of those eggs, even as I crushed the life out of this one. And you cannot return to Gemgaru by your own arts or connivance, nor is there a single person on Tellosh with the skill to return you to see your other two eggs other than myself. As you can see, then, I have arranged for your utter defeat and pure misery, even if you somehow manage to slay me this instant. Which is not an easy matter! So quiet yourself while you still have five of the six alive, and be submissive to me, or it will go far the worse with you and with them.

Me — quiet. still. what could i do? the situation — hopeless? a well-built trap? unknown! uncertain! my plans — in the egg, like my remaining five children. Plans and children would both require all my care and subtlety to hatch.

The speaking of the human — Kuur Molk Hasp, that is my name. Curse it all you like. I am the supreme sorcerer of Tellosh. I wear spells which will shed your curses as a mountain of power sheds arrows and darts.

The speaking of me — Tellosh — is this Tellosh, then?

For: Tellosh — mythical! half-mythical! land of human monsters in ancient stories! Islands in deep seas, sorcerers wearing headdress of the wings, geometry and symbols to break the thin wall between bright Gemgaru and dread, dismal Tellosh!

The speaking of the human — Yes. You are on Tellosh. I have need of your powers. I am a hard man in a hard situation. Obey me carefully, or I shall be hard upon you.

to do — what?

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

They are not on me.

My head — dragged deep into the bowl of sand and soil! Not deep the bowl, but very deep the dragging!

The human — holding me in two hands when I emerged, jaw and neck, squeezing! Tall! Tall as a couatl is long! Fat! Fat as a grapefruit! Strong! Strong as cooling taffy! Skin of grey! Robes of heavy cloth, symbols embroidered! Gloves on the hands! Clawed sandals on his feet! Necklace of the teeth! Headdress of the wings! Strange and horrid, to a couatl who had never seen a human before, but merely read them as monsters in stories and aliens in the news!

The room — Trash and gauds everywhere! Geometry upon the floor! Burning compost and spices in the bowl! Sword of metal stabbed into shield of flesh! Everywhere the strange things!

The egg — my egg — on the floor!

The human — placed the clawed foot down, slowly! Upon it!

The egg — my egg — crushed! Yolk spilled forth! Tiny thread of my never to be child — poured upon the geometry floor!

The hissing, the frenzy — upon me!

The holding of jaw, the holding of neck — strong are human hands!

The speaking of the human — Cease thrashing, couatl! I have broken one of your eggs! One of them rests in this locket around my neck, with a sharp blade aimed at its heart. A single gesture suffices to crush it and kill your little wriggler. The other two that I took are far from this place. Certain trusted confederates of mine have them. If you manage to kill me, my confederates will hear of it, and they will crush the life out of those eggs, even as I crushed the life out of this one. And you cannot return to Gemgaru by your own arts or connivance, nor is there a single person on Tellosh with the skill to return you to see your other two eggs other than myself. As you can see, then, I have arranged for your utter defeat and pure misery, even if you somehow manage to slay me this instant. Which is not an easy matter! So quiet yourself while you still have five of the six alive, and be submissive to me, or it will go far the worse with you and with them.

Me — quiet. still. what could i do? the situation — hopeless? a well-built trap? unknown! uncertain! my plans — in the egg, like my remaining five children. Plans and children would both require all my care and subtlety to hatch.

The speaking of the human — Kuur Molk Hasp, that is my name. Curse it all you like. I am the supreme sorcerer of Tellosh. I wear spells which will shed your curses as a mountain of power sheds arrows and darts.

The speaking of me — Tellosh — is this Tellosh, then?

For: Tellosh — mythical! half-mythical! land of human monsters in ancient stories! Islands in deep seas, sorcerers wearing headdress of the wings, geometry and symbols to break the thin wall between bright Gemgaru and dread, dismal Tellosh!

The speaking of the human — Yes. You are on Tellosh. I have need of your powers. I am a hard man in a hard situation. Obey me carefully, or I shall be hard upon you.

to do — what?

sythyry: (Default)

This is a morality test! See how decent a being you are!

[Poll #1871770]

Scoring: For each answer 1, score one point. For each answer 2, tally one score. For each answer 3, mark one tally. For each answer 4, chalk up one mark. For each answer five, eat a piece of chalk. Afterwards, be grateful it wasn't any worse.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

Cleiestis is not the easiest person to understand. Unlike me, she’s not really trying to explain her culture and worlds and experiences to everyone. She’s more concerned with surviving them, herself and her eggs. So Bard and I have prepared a few clues for you.

Here’s one important clue. Her language works by paragraphs, not sentences. The first thing in a (normal) paragraph is the topic of the paragraph. Every other part of the paragraph concerns the topic. (Unless, for some reason, it doesn’t. As with most languages, there are all sorts of exceptions and elaborations.)

After the topic comes the word ýśś̀, which we write as just a dash, “—”.

Nouns and adjectives in the rest of the paragraph mostly describe the topic. Some thought is usually required here for how they describe it. Here’s her first paragraph about herself:

Me — a couatl. A snake of four yards. Avian wings of three yards. Brilliant feathers of three visible and four invisible colors. Charming smile. Elegant ruff. Erotically handsome tailtuft, entirely red.

Me (Cleiestis) is the topic of the paragraph. Everything else in the paragraph is about her.

is how we separate the topic from the rest of the paragraph.

a couatl. means that she’s a couatl. It helps if you know at least a little about what a couatl is, so the next phrase tells you:

A snake of four yards. means that she is a snake four yards long.

Avian wings of three yards. means that she’s got bird-style wings with a three-yard wingspan. How do we know that “A snake” means she is a snake, and “Avian wings” means that she has avian wings? There’s no actual way to tell, the way she’s phrased it here. You might get the idea because a snake couldn’t also be a pair of wings.

Brilliant feathers of three visible and four invisible colors. Again, she has those feathers.
Neither Bard nor I, nor «Language», can explain what she means by “invisible colors”. Or why that “three visible and four invisible” phrase keeps showing up.

Charming smile. Elegant ruff. Erotically handsome tailtuft, entirely red. She has these too. She seems to think that they are her most important features.

Further Confusion

Here are a couple other paragraphs, in less detail.

Me — a wife. Tomolrouc — a couatl. Small for a male. Brilliant feathers of five visible colors. Sweetest eyes anywhere on Gemgaru, and full of love and erotic mischief, and entirely red. Two years of marriage.

She’s a wife. Tomolrouc, by virtue of the — after his name, becomes the topic of some or all of the rest of the paragraph. This is an advanced or unusual way to talk, and indicates some sort of identity, equivalence, or strong relationship between the two subjects: appropriate between wife and husband.

Sentences and Motherhood

Me — To be a mother!!!! The rank, it is not sufficient for mothering, not until the seventh florescence. The Tomolrouc rank, no higher yet. But the junior priestess married lottery! It has seven tickets this year. Mine is drawn fifth. Great joy!

She’s going to be a mother!

Couatl-speech does have full sentences. Usually the subject of sentence is merged with the topic of the paragraph, though. So when she says “The rank”, it gets merged with the topic “me” and really means “My rank”.

Not always, though. “The Tomolrouc rank, no higher yet”. This just says, “Tomolrouc’s rank is not yet higher than [the rank that was just mentioned].” It’s a whole sentence without any reference to the topic of the paragraph! If a couatl is speaking formally, she would start that sentence with the particle h́s̀eé, which means “This is a non-topic-related sentence”. But that sounds pretty stodgy, and is not used in a friendly letter like this.

Oh, and the way couatl parenting works is: couatls live too long and lay too many eggs in a clutch to let everyone be a parent. Couatls of high rank get to be parents. Other couatls participate in a lottery for the chance. Nobody, incidentally, is ever allowed more than one fertile clutch.

There’s a lot of ritual around it (“The lustration of back-feathers. The inquisition of career. The lustration of fresh-picked gemstones. The inquisition of health. The lustration of [untranslateable]! The reverse lustration of cloth. …). Some of this is practical — the inquisitions of career and health, Bard and I think, checks that she has the money and strength to support a clutch of children, and that she knows how she will have a career as a priestess even if she has children. The reverse lustration is a ritualized gift of cloth from the temple to her. Presumably baby couatls are messy.

Princess of Septoulny Swamp

She calls me “Princess of Septoulny Swamp”. This is pretty funny.

My mother’s territory is called Septoulny Swamp. It’s about a square mile. Not a much of a queendom or a princess-dom! (It’s formally part of an actual kingdom, and parts of it belong to a few barons and stuff. The bipeds don’t have much to do with us, and they don’t want our swampy soggy land.)

And I’m not old enough to choose a sex yet. I told Cleiestis I was leaning towards female, so she calls me “princess”.

But I’m nothing like a princess. Bard assures me that, in terrestrial terms, I’m somewhere between a woodsman’s tomboy daughter and a particularly articulate gila monster.

Cleiestis’ Story

Letter 1: She was warbling about how happy she was to have a chance to have children.

Letter 2: She was bragging about how she was keeping her eggs safe in a bowl of sand for the seven years they will take to hatch. And she was worrying about the very strange scent that came on the eggs without any visible source.

Letter 3: A human hand (we guess) reached up through the sand and snatched away four eggs. Digging up the bowl did not reveal eggs, hand, or any way that they could have come there. (Cleiestis’s world, incidentally, has spidersen, but no humans.) When I got the letter I thought that Cleiestis was overreacting. My mother lays eggs by the dozen. But Bard reminded me that Cleiestis only gets these eggs, ever.

Letter 4: Cleiestis and Tomolrouc moved the remaining eggs to somewhere that they thought was safe, and kept close watch. The hand appeared in the bowl again. Cleiestis tried to bite it, but got her fangs entangled in the hand’s gauntlet. Another hand grabbed her, and dragged her down into the bowl — farther down than the bowl actually goes.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

Cleiestis is not the easiest person to understand. Unlike me, she’s not really trying to explain her culture and worlds and experiences to everyone. She’s more concerned with surviving them, herself and her eggs. So Bard and I have prepared a few clues for you.

Here’s one important clue. Her language works by paragraphs, not sentences. The first thing in a (normal) paragraph is the topic of the paragraph. Every other part of the paragraph concerns the topic. (Unless, for some reason, it doesn’t. As with most languages, there are all sorts of exceptions and elaborations.)

After the topic comes the word ýśś̀, which we write as just a dash, “—”.

Nouns and adjectives in the rest of the paragraph mostly describe the topic. Some thought is usually required here for how they describe it. Here’s her first paragraph about herself:

Me — a couatl. A snake of four yards. Avian wings of three yards. Brilliant feathers of three visible and four invisible colors. Charming smile. Elegant ruff. Erotically handsome tailtuft, entirely red.

Me (Cleiestis) is the topic of the paragraph. Everything else in the paragraph is about her.

is how we separate the topic from the rest of the paragraph.

a couatl. means that she’s a couatl. It helps if you know at least a little about what a couatl is, so the next phrase tells you:

A snake of four yards. means that she is a snake four yards long.

Avian wings of three yards. means that she’s got bird-style wings with a three-yard wingspan. How do we know that “A snake” means she is a snake, and “Avian wings” means that she has avian wings? There’s no actual way to tell, the way she’s phrased it here. You might get the idea because a snake couldn’t also be a pair of wings.

Brilliant feathers of three visible and four invisible colors. Again, she has those feathers.
Neither Bard nor I, nor «Language», can explain what she means by “invisible colors”. Or why that “three visible and four invisible” phrase keeps showing up.

Charming smile. Elegant ruff. Erotically handsome tailtuft, entirely red. She has these too. She seems to think that they are her most important features.

Further Confusion

Here are a couple other paragraphs, in less detail.

Me — a wife. Tomolrouc — a couatl. Small for a male. Brilliant feathers of five visible colors. Sweetest eyes anywhere on Gemgaru, and full of love and erotic mischief, and entirely red. Two years of marriage.

She’s a wife. Tomolrouc, by virtue of the — after his name, becomes the topic of some or all of the rest of the paragraph. This is an advanced or unusual way to talk, and indicates some sort of identity, equivalence, or strong relationship between the two subjects: appropriate between wife and husband.

Sentences and Motherhood

Me — To be a mother!!!! The rank, it is not sufficient for mothering, not until the seventh florescence. The Tomolrouc rank, no higher yet. But the junior priestess married lottery! It has seven tickets this year. Mine is drawn fifth. Great joy!

She’s going to be a mother!

Couatl-speech does have full sentences. Usually the subject of sentence is merged with the topic of the paragraph, though. So when she says “The rank”, it gets merged with the topic “me” and really means “My rank”.

Not always, though. “The Tomolrouc rank, no higher yet”. This just says, “Tomolrouc’s rank is not yet higher than [the rank that was just mentioned].” It’s a whole sentence without any reference to the topic of the paragraph! If a couatl is speaking formally, she would start that sentence with the particle h́s̀eé, which means “This is a non-topic-related sentence”. But that sounds pretty stodgy, and is not used in a friendly letter like this.

Oh, and the way couatl parenting works is: couatls live too long and lay too many eggs in a clutch to let everyone be a parent. Couatls of high rank get to be parents. Other couatls participate in a lottery for the chance. Nobody, incidentally, is ever allowed more than one fertile clutch.

There’s a lot of ritual around it (“The lustration of back-feathers. The inquisition of career. The lustration of fresh-picked gemstones. The inquisition of health. The lustration of [untranslateable]! The reverse lustration of cloth. …). Some of this is practical — the inquisitions of career and health, Bard and I think, checks that she has the money and strength to support a clutch of children, and that she knows how she will have a career as a priestess even if she has children. The reverse lustration is a ritualized gift of cloth from the temple to her. Presumably baby couatls are messy.

Princess of Septoulny Swamp

She calls me “Princess of Septoulny Swamp”. This is pretty funny.

My mother’s territory is called Septoulny Swamp. It’s about a square mile. Not a much of a queendom or a princess-dom! (It’s formally part of an actual kingdom, and parts of it belong to a few barons and stuff. The bipeds don’t have much to do with us, and they don’t want our swampy soggy land.)

And I’m not old enough to choose a sex yet. I told Cleiestis I was leaning towards female, so she calls me “princess”.

But I’m nothing like a princess. Bard assures me that, in terrestrial terms, I’m somewhere between a woodsman’s tomboy daughter and a particularly articulate gila monster.

Cleiestis’ Story

Letter 1: She was warbling about how happy she was to have a chance to have children.

Letter 2: She was bragging about how she was keeping her eggs safe in a bowl of sand for the seven years they will take to hatch. And she was worrying about the very strange scent that came on the eggs without any visible source.

Letter 3: A human hand (we guess) reached up through the sand and snatched away four eggs. Digging up the bowl did not reveal eggs, hand, or any way that they could have come there. (Cleiestis’s world, incidentally, has spidersen, but no humans.) When I got the letter I thought that Cleiestis was overreacting. My mother lays eggs by the dozen. But Bard reminded me that Cleiestis only gets these eggs, ever.

Letter 4: Cleiestis and Tomolrouc moved the remaining eggs to somewhere that they thought was safe, and kept close watch. The hand appeared in the bowl again. Cleiestis tried to bite it, but got her fangs entangled in the hand’s gauntlet. Another hand grabbed her, and dragged her down into the bowl — farther down than the bowl actually goes.

sythyry: (OOC)

Some people reading Nexterie seem to be having trouble reading Nexterie.

[Poll #1871330]

Any advice or encouragement can go in comments.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

“Is this the right place really?” asked Eric. “I kind of expected a mystic rune to be in, oh, I dunno, the bottom of a dungeon guarded by dragons and liches and hordes of undead. This looks a lot more like, well, nowhere in particular.”

He was right, too. The shelf was a mere three yards wide at its widest, and slanted badly towards the water a hundred yards down. The barren shelf, the barren world-wall, and the boiling sea below.

“Well, we got the dratted dragon and we got the unearthly undead,” said Hditr. “If you two want to stay here and guard. Me, I want to do some measurements and get going.”

Eric frowned. He had evidently forgotten that he was undead.

Porth redirected the force of his engines somewhat. An itchy blue-white light from some instrument on the coracle fell across the shelf. “Tourists! Please observe certain precautions to increase the pleasure and duration of your stay on the rune-shelf! Note carefully the row of spikes that have been affixed to the metal of the shelf with great effort, great risk, and great glue by my wife and myself! These spikes provide you the very best handholds and footholds! If you remove both hands and feet from them and go sliding into the boiling sea, we will take it as a personal affront! We will be so busy being offended that we will not bother to try to rescue you in the roughly two-and-one-quarter seconds you have before you are boiled to death!”

Morth added, “There is only one way to keep us cheerful in such a situation. And that way is, if you have attached one of these chains to yourself. These chains are carefully calculated to dangle you a few yards above the water if you fall. We figure that you have about ten or fifteen minutes to hang there before you steam to death.”

“In this circumstance, you will dangle there helplessly. We will swing you back and forth, perhaps bashing you into the walls, because it is amusing to do so. Then we shall figure out how to reel you back up,” said Porth.

“But we will be cheerful, and we will not require any additional fee for the rescue about it,” said Morth.

Porth slyly whispered, “Though the graceful and well-mannered would be moved to tip very generously under the circumstances.”

Morth took over again. “Now, the geology of the rune-shelf. Note that we are parked here on the flattest spot — the only place that the coracle will actually stay on the shelf. The rune is over there, not quite halfway along the shelf from here. You will need to change chains once on the way there. If we stretched a single chain from this spot to that spot, it would be so long that you would be dropped into the water. We might as well not bother with a chain then, save that, if we did not have one, we would be unable to retrieve your boiled corpse and thereby start a bidding war between your next of kin (to bury you) and the purchasers at the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade (who would like to vary their menu a bit). So then, you will need to do things in the right order when you get to the end of the next chain. First! Take the second chain’s carabiner off its ring. Second! Hook it to yourself. Third! Unhook your first chain from yourself. Fourth! Hook it to the ring. Do not forget step four! You will need that chain to be on that ring when you come back!”

Porth peered at me. “Dragon, can your paws even use a carabiner?”

“I’d use a mouth,” I said.

“Well, Snorb knows you’ve got enough of them,” said Porth. “I apologize, but we did not use the beneficient influence of «Cuisine» on the chains. I suspect they taste terrible.”

“Do not, in your alarm at their inferior flavor, nondelectable fragrance, and degraded vintage, spit them out!” proclaimed Morth.

“I won’t,” I promised.

Porth stared at Hditr. “My fellow badger, what are you doing there?” She was holding in one hand a glass jar with a complicated metal item inside, which might have been the love-child of a praying mantis and an astrolabe. With the other hand, she was scribbling in a small notebook, pressed precariously on her knee.

“I’m measuring the relative pungencies of «Cuisine», «Passerines», «Cloth», and «Manners»,” Hditr said.

“You will be measuring your way into a warm bath if you do that on the shelf!” proclaimed Porth. “One hand and two legs on solid spots at all times, woman, or the only «Cuisine» you ever know will be a cream of Hditr soup!”

Hditr scowled at him. “Oh, go scare the scalamanders. I’ll be fine.”

“No such thing! You will be a fine potage!”

“If I don’t take the readings, the whole point of this silly expedition is lost. I’m not trying to get «Cuisine», after all.”

I muttered, “I am.”

Hditr continued, “I’m trying to measure «Cuisine». If I can’t take the measurements, I’m not going to get any measuring done.”

“Speaking as your research research assistant with three mouths and six legs, how about if I take the notes?” I volunteered.

“Well, you’d better be accurate about it,” said Hditr, but passed over a few sheets of paper and a marking-stick. I assumed that they were somehow the very official and scientific tools required for recording data properly, so I took them in one mouth (marking-stick) and one midleg (paper).

Porth and Morth tied a rope harness around me as best they could, and hooked it to the first chain, and I toddled forth on the soaked, slick, slippery, slanted, spike-lined metal shelf over the seething sea, in shadow. Which was all basically straightforward, since I had seven limbs to hold on with. (Not counting my tail and wings, which I occasionally waved around for balance, and not counting the two holding Hditr’s important scientific instruments, which I could have dropped in an emergency.) Hditr herself was not nearly so comfortable, being rather larger and rather fewer-limbed than me, and burdened in one hand by her instrument. She kept shouting at me to slow down, or to stop and record the numbers of three quarts fifteen ounces one gill or some such, which I dutifully did. She only slipped terribly once, and slid nearly to the edge of the chasm, but caught her chain on one of the spikes and stopped herself before she went over. An adventure-writer would shine up every detail of that trip and make up a near-catastrophe or two more, but this is a nexterie rather than an adventure, so I’m going to pretend (equally falsely) that we gamboled over to the sigil without a hint of terror.

The cylinder walls of Drullguur are of stressed metal. You can see the wavy vertical lines of some ancient torque — or something, anyways. Mostly they are smooth. As we gamboled the wall became worse: first rough, then covered with square mounds, and finally, covered with lumps like huge boils or sores. The largest of these had actually burst, revealing a rough hole a foot high and two feet deep.

The Idol and the ultimate symbol of «Cuisine» is found nearly at the back of the hole. You can’t see it from outside, unless you stick a head into it and look, and even then you mightn’t recognize it, for it is a pattern of razory blades of torn wall-metal. When Drullguur was first being explored, an intrepid badger explorer stuck his hand in to see if there was anything of interest in this, the first and only hole he had seen in Drullguur’s wall. And indeed there was, though he lost the use of his hand for all purposes save magic in finding it.

I reached my uninscribed wing in to enjoy or suffer the same fate.

“No! Stop!” yelled Hditr. “Wait! Write down, three quarts, fifteen ounces, and one gill!”

“Just like every time,” I said, but «Language» and I did.

She braced herself against spikes, and waited for her mantislabe to come to complete equilibrium. “I am ready now, O hungry herpy!”

So, I stuck my wing in, and the blades of «Cuisine» sliced it. It stung! It stung like a cut — a chiffonade of cuts — a chiffonade of cuts sprinkled with finely-ground sea salt, smoked and powdered chilis, and the finest and strongest verjuice or vinegar! «Language» hadn’t hurt nearly as much, though it had stung like insults, cruel words from a former friend.

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” said Hditr. “Hey, lizard, write down that it was up by fifteen gills, then down by twenty-one, then up eighteen, then down twenty-four, then up eleven, and …” She cast a spell of intense memory, and then had me write down the full set of sixty-two positives and sixty-one negatives.

“So, while I was getting stung, the force of «Cuisine» was jumping up and down like water on a hot griddle?” My new domain kept trying to insert itself in every thought and phrase I spoke for some time, like a cook who has just discovered how delicious roasted garlic is and wants to use it in everything.

“Exactly!” said Hditr. “Hopping higher and lurching lower than the normal intensity, for a full minute. Rising to a crescendo about eleven seconds in, and then diminishing gradually.”

“What does that mean?”

“I have not the clumsiest clue,” said Hditr.

“Why’d you come here, if you don’t have a clue?” I asked. I was a bit petulant — this was my triumph, and she was stealing it — with Science!

She gave me an odd look. “I am trying to get a clue, and you can’t pick ‘em up in the market square in Udmurff for cheap,” she said. “Let’s head back now. Can you walk all right?”

I don’t remember the flight to the Bull-Churned Gate at all. I am fairly sure I was having a sous-vide psychosis, or handroll hallucinations, or some other form of munchable madness. Hditr and Eric discussed the experimental results in low voices, but without referring to the notes, which were clutched tight in my coils as I was under the delusion that they were a very valuable salad.

Somehow they got me onto the world-boat.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

“Is this the right place really?” asked Eric. “I kind of expected a mystic rune to be in, oh, I dunno, the bottom of a dungeon guarded by dragons and liches and hordes of undead. This looks a lot more like, well, nowhere in particular.”

He was right, too. The shelf was a mere three yards wide at its widest, and slanted badly towards the water a hundred yards down. The barren shelf, the barren world-wall, and the boiling sea below.

“Well, we got the dratted dragon and we got the unearthly undead,” said Hditr. “If you two want to stay here and guard. Me, I want to do some measurements and get going.”

Eric frowned. He had evidently forgotten that he was undead.

Porth redirected the force of his engines somewhat. An itchy blue-white light from some instrument on the coracle fell across the shelf. “Tourists! Please observe certain precautions to increase the pleasure and duration of your stay on the rune-shelf! Note carefully the row of spikes that have been affixed to the metal of the shelf with great effort, great risk, and great glue by my wife and myself! These spikes provide you the very best handholds and footholds! If you remove both hands and feet from them and go sliding into the boiling sea, we will take it as a personal affront! We will be so busy being offended that we will not bother to try to rescue you in the roughly two-and-one-quarter seconds you have before you are boiled to death!”

Morth added, “There is only one way to keep us cheerful in such a situation. And that way is, if you have attached one of these chains to yourself. These chains are carefully calculated to dangle you a few yards above the water if you fall. We figure that you have about ten or fifteen minutes to hang there before you steam to death.”

“In this circumstance, you will dangle there helplessly. We will swing you back and forth, perhaps bashing you into the walls, because it is amusing to do so. Then we shall figure out how to reel you back up,” said Porth.

“But we will be cheerful, and we will not require any additional fee for the rescue about it,” said Morth.

Porth slyly whispered, “Though the graceful and well-mannered would be moved to tip very generously under the circumstances.”

Morth took over again. “Now, the geology of the rune-shelf. Note that we are parked here on the flattest spot — the only place that the coracle will actually stay on the shelf. The rune is over there, not quite halfway along the shelf from here. You will need to change chains once on the way there. If we stretched a single chain from this spot to that spot, it would be so long that you would be dropped into the water. We might as well not bother with a chain then, save that, if we did not have one, we would be unable to retrieve your boiled corpse and thereby start a bidding war between your next of kin (to bury you) and the purchasers at the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade (who would like to vary their menu a bit). So then, you will need to do things in the right order when you get to the end of the next chain. First! Take the second chain’s carabiner off its ring. Second! Hook it to yourself. Third! Unhook your first chain from yourself. Fourth! Hook it to the ring. Do not forget step four! You will need that chain to be on that ring when you come back!”

Porth peered at me. “Dragon, can your paws even use a carabiner?”

“I’d use a mouth,” I said.

“Well, Snorb knows you’ve got enough of them,” said Porth. “I apologize, but we did not use the beneficient influence of «Cuisine» on the chains. I suspect they taste terrible.”

“Do not, in your alarm at their inferior flavor, nondelectable fragrance, and degraded vintage, spit them out!” proclaimed Morth.

“I won’t,” I promised.

Porth stared at Hditr. “My fellow badger, what are you doing there?” She was holding in one hand a glass jar with a complicated metal item inside, which might have been the love-child of a praying mantis and an astrolabe. With the other hand, she was scribbling in a small notebook, pressed precariously on her knee.

“I’m measuring the relative pungencies of «Cuisine», «Passerines», «Cloth», and «Manners»,” Hditr said.

“You will be measuring your way into a warm bath if you do that on the shelf!” proclaimed Porth. “One hand and two legs on solid spots at all times, woman, or the only «Cuisine» you ever know will be a cream of Hditr soup!”

Hditr scowled at him. “Oh, go scare the scalamanders. I’ll be fine.”

“No such thing! You will be a fine potage!”

“If I don’t take the readings, the whole point of this silly expedition is lost. I’m not trying to get «Cuisine», after all.”

I muttered, “I am.”

Hditr continued, “I’m trying to measure «Cuisine». If I can’t take the measurements, I’m not going to get any measuring done.”

“Speaking as your research research assistant with three mouths and six legs, how about if I take the notes?” I volunteered.

“Well, you’d better be accurate about it,” said Hditr, but passed over a few sheets of paper and a marking-stick. I assumed that they were somehow the very official and scientific tools required for recording data properly, so I took them in one mouth (marking-stick) and one midleg (paper).

Porth and Morth tied a rope harness around me as best they could, and hooked it to the first chain, and I toddled forth on the soaked, slick, slippery, slanted, spike-lined metal shelf over the seething sea, in shadow. Which was all basically straightforward, since I had seven limbs to hold on with. (Not counting my tail and wings, which I occasionally waved around for balance, and not counting the two holding Hditr’s important scientific instruments, which I could have dropped in an emergency.) Hditr herself was not nearly so comfortable, being rather larger and rather fewer-limbed than me, and burdened in one hand by her instrument. She kept shouting at me to slow down, or to stop and record the numbers of three quarts fifteen ounces one gill or some such, which I dutifully did. She only slipped terribly once, and slid nearly to the edge of the chasm, but caught her chain on one of the spikes and stopped herself before she went over. An adventure-writer would shine up every detail of that trip and make up a near-catastrophe or two more, but this is a nexterie rather than an adventure, so I’m going to pretend (equally falsely) that we gamboled over to the sigil without a hint of terror.

The cylinder walls of Drullguur are of stressed metal. You can see the wavy vertical lines of some ancient torque — or something, anyways. Mostly they are smooth. As we gamboled the wall became worse: first rough, then covered with square mounds, and finally, covered with lumps like huge boils or sores. The largest of these had actually burst, revealing a rough hole a foot high and two feet deep.

The Idol and the ultimate symbol of «Cuisine» is found nearly at the back of the hole. You can’t see it from outside, unless you stick a head into it and look, and even then you mightn’t recognize it, for it is a pattern of razory blades of torn wall-metal. When Drullguur was first being explored, an intrepid badger explorer stuck his hand in to see if there was anything of interest in this, the first and only hole he had seen in Drullguur’s wall. And indeed there was, though he lost the use of his hand for all purposes save magic in finding it.

I reached my uninscribed wing in to enjoy or suffer the same fate.

“No! Stop!” yelled Hditr. “Wait! Write down, three quarts, fifteen ounces, and one gill!”

“Just like every time,” I said, but «Language» and I did.

She braced herself against spikes, and waited for her mantislabe to come to complete equilibrium. “I am ready now, O hungry herpy!”

So, I stuck my wing in, and the blades of «Cuisine» sliced it. It stung! It stung like a cut — a chiffonade of cuts — a chiffonade of cuts sprinkled with finely-ground sea salt, smoked and powdered chilis, and the finest and strongest verjuice or vinegar! «Language» hadn’t hurt nearly as much, though it had stung like insults, cruel words from a former friend.

“Well, isn’t that interesting,” said Hditr. “Hey, lizard, write down that it was up by fifteen gills, then down by twenty-one, then up eighteen, then down twenty-four, then up eleven, and …” She cast a spell of intense memory, and then had me write down the full set of sixty-two positives and sixty-one negatives.

“So, while I was getting stung, the force of «Cuisine» was jumping up and down like water on a hot griddle?” My new domain kept trying to insert itself in every thought and phrase I spoke for some time, like a cook who has just discovered how delicious roasted garlic is and wants to use it in everything.

“Exactly!” said Hditr. “Hopping higher and lurching lower than the normal intensity, for a full minute. Rising to a crescendo about eleven seconds in, and then diminishing gradually.”

“What does that mean?”

“I have not the clumsiest clue,” said Hditr.

“Why’d you come here, if you don’t have a clue?” I asked. I was a bit petulant — this was my triumph, and she was stealing it — with Science!

She gave me an odd look. “I am trying to get a clue, and you can’t pick ‘em up in the market square in Udmurff for cheap,” she said. “Let’s head back now. Can you walk all right?”

I don’t remember the flight to the Bull-Churned Gate at all. I am fairly sure I was having a sous-vide psychosis, or handroll hallucinations, or some other form of munchable madness. Hditr and Eric discussed the experimental results in low voices, but without referring to the notes, which were clutched tight in my coils as I was under the delusion that they were a very valuable salad.

Somehow they got me onto the world-boat.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

The room — an egg-chamber, a hatching-chamber, as safe as I could make it! The guards — many in number, both spidersen and couatl! The ways in — watched, blocked! The magical potencies — None that we could see! Myself — coiled around the eggs, holding each in my wings, all hours I am awake!

The hand — it returned! Emerging from beneath the new soil and sand of the new bowl! Impossible! Where is its arm? Yet real – actual!

The egg beneath my wing — grasped by the hand!

My strike — For this strike have I coiled and prepared two weeks! For this strike have I expected each second! For this strike did I strike, and strike true!

The hand — wearing a thick gauntlet of leather and metal chains! My fangs — entangled, caught!

The second hand — around my neck and lower head! Grasping, hard! Nearly a choke!

Myself — dragged into the bowl of sand and soil! Yet — where is the bottom? Where is the friction and stopping of the sand?

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

The room — an egg-chamber, a hatching-chamber, as safe as I could make it! The guards — many in number, both spidersen and couatl! The ways in — watched, blocked! The magical potencies — None that we could see! Myself — coiled around the eggs, holding each in my wings, all hours I am awake!

The hand — it returned! Emerging from beneath the new soil and sand of the new bowl! Impossible! Where is its arm? Yet real – actual!

The egg beneath my wing — grasped by the hand!

My strike — For this strike have I coiled and prepared two weeks! For this strike have I expected each second! For this strike did I strike, and strike true!

The hand — wearing a thick gauntlet of leather and metal chains! My fangs — entangled, caught!

The second hand — around my neck and lower head! Grasping, hard! Nearly a choke!

Myself — dragged into the bowl of sand and soil! Yet — where is the bottom? Where is the friction and stopping of the sand?

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

“Now, there’s only one way to get down to the Idol of «Cuisine»,” said Junctifer, “and that’s by the Porthmorth Passage Company.”

“You told us that the other time we came to this tent. They’re still at dinner, they’ve got that note on the door that says they’re at dinner.”

The mysterious cloaked badger-morph who had been following us ominously from the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent stepped around us and unpinned the note from the door. “I had a feeling you would be customers,” he said. “What with the Mayor kicking you off the shelf in public. I’m Porth. Morth’ll be along in a few. Where do you want to go? You don’t have prospector’s equipment. So Idol of «Cuisine», or the Bull-Churned Gate?”

“Húu háa hakety, with two such destinations, how can I choose but one?” said Hditr.

Porth nodded. “So fly straight across the pond, with a brief stop at the Idol. Departure right away before the Mayor gets his lynch mob lined up. Sure thing, no problem, no problem at all.” He named a price so extravagant that the sheer thunderous force of the numbers made Eric’s intangible eyes bug out, and knocked over trees back in Yirien (or should have done).

“That’s a hair-height high,” said Hditr.

“Fuel’s not cheap on Drullguur! Every drop of it has to be imported from some sunlit world,” said Porth. “And of course there is the organizational matter. You are asking us to accelerate our schedule, so that we depart ahead of Vong’s forces. We are delighted to comply! We simply hate to have a potential customer hung up on metal chains, beaten with barbed wire, pierced by small but sharp hooks, and, of course, roasted over a candle.”

“A candle?” asked Eric.

“Fuel is, as I said, very expensive here. There is enough to cook and fly with, but not enough to waste on torture. So they use candles. Candles are actually worse than bonfires, or so I hear. They take absolutely forever to kill you.”

Hditr nodded. “These are good points. Still, you ought to give us a lower rate for the ghost, he doesn’t weigh anything and won’t cost you fuel. And you don’t have a schedule anyways.” She pointed at a sign behind Porth saying, DEPARTURE WHEN THREE OR MORE PASSENGERS ARE PRESENT.

Porth looked up at the sign as if seeing it for the first time. (It wasn’t. «Language» said that he had written it.) “There is some justice to that. Still, we are currently rescuing you, and deserve a reward.”

“Right then. How’s this delicious deal? I buy four seats not three at the rates on that sign over there. You make one of them half-price for the ghost. If one more passenger shows up before we head off, they get to come with us. Otherwise the fourth seat is pure profit.”

Porth looked at the table of rates. “Highly irregular, but I suppose we can do that.”

Hditr showed four hexagonal coins and a handful of odd tokens, and handed him two. “Other half when we’re all through with the trip.”

I flapped my wings. “You don’t need to pay for me! I have money!”

Hditr frowned at me. “Research assistant. Shut up.” I am as greedy as the next dragon, and shut up.

Porth lead us by secret ways (marked with big signs) to the edge of the shelf. “Now this here’s our sky coracle,” he said. “Climb in, hang on to the handholds or the ropes. Ghost, I have no idea how you stay in. Just stay in, OK?”

The sky coracle was a dish of willow wood lined with straps of leather. The brim of the dish was the levitator: a circle of eccentric gears with intricately-striped nuts (or some other brown vegetal-smelling lumps) mounted on them. “Passengers! Keep your hands away from the gears on the brim! Keep them away! Those gears are going to be whirling really fast in a minute. If you have your hands near them, you are going to lose fingers. Look at me! Do I want to lose fingers? No, I do not! I am keeping my hands far away from the gears! You do that too!” Porth peered at Eric. “Well, ok, you don’t have to. But people with material bodies, keep those bodies away from the gears!”

The hermeneutically-trained spidersen miner trotted up. “Excuse me, do you have room for one more?”

“We have room for two more, but we’re taking off anyhow, one step ahead of the mob,” said Porth.

“Not much of a mob actually. Vong did fire me a few more times, so I think maybe he means it,” said the spidersen.

“Well, c’mon in. Usually we take payment at the office, but you can pay here,” said Porth.

“No, he can’t. I already paid for him,” said Hditr.

“I forgot, I really forgot,” said Porth. “Hop in. Don’t touch the gears.”

The spidersen miner jumped over the side. Eric winced. The miner peered at him, and said, “Honored ghost, I intended no offense.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that where I come from the spiders are smaller than me,” he said. “And their eyes don’t glow quite so much. And they don’t wear nearly so many belts or veils. Or study hermeneutics.”

The miner waved his forelegs. “Perhaps, if there were more spidersen there, some of us might have saved you from whatever miserable fate struck you down and rendered you unto destruction. In any case! I am pleased to be sharing a coracle with you! My name is …” His name was not so much spoken as stridulated.

“Glad to meet you,” I said, but I needed a «Language» spell to repeat his name.

“I can’t pronounce that,” said Eric. “I’m going to call you Hermeneutics, or Hermen for short.”

“I accept this cognomen. It is more dignified than ‘Splinter-Snatcher’, which my fellows used to call me,” said the newly-named Hermeneutics. “I wonder which tent is on fire, and, for that matter, why it is on fire?”

Porth said, “Morth is here!” She was, too: another spidersen, leaping into the coracle as if she owned it. “We depart! Before we learn of the fireness! Or the source of the howling and sound of blows which is now arising from the camp!”

Morth said, “Vong has told the miners that, due to his astounding success in his negotiations with Thabir-Nsog, they must now pay for their own food. For some reason, they do not accept his explanation that our current customers are the ones responsible for it. Instead they are enjoying a spot of rioting.”

“Morth! You break my every plan yet again! I insisted we depart before we learned that, but it is too late. We are now behind schedule. This delay is entirely your fault,” said Porth. He did not stop working to banter. The tiny motor grumbled like a raccoon in a trap and burped spicy smoke, the gears whirred and spun, the nuts twinkled with circular sparks, the coracle fell off the side of the shelf, and everyone who wasn’t used to flying hung on with considerable fear.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

“Now, there’s only one way to get down to the Idol of «Cuisine»,” said Junctifer, “and that’s by the Porthmorth Passage Company.”

“You told us that the other time we came to this tent. They’re still at dinner, they’ve got that note on the door that says they’re at dinner.”

The mysterious cloaked badger-morph who had been following us ominously from the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent stepped around us and unpinned the note from the door. “I had a feeling you would be customers,” he said. “What with the Mayor kicking you off the shelf in public. I’m Porth. Morth’ll be along in a few. Where do you want to go? You don’t have prospector’s equipment. So Idol of «Cuisine», or the Bull-Churned Gate?”

“Húu háa hakety, with two such destinations, how can I choose but one?” said Hditr.

Porth nodded. “So fly straight across the pond, with a brief stop at the Idol. Departure right away before the Mayor gets his lynch mob lined up. Sure thing, no problem, no problem at all.” He named a price so extravagant that the sheer thunderous force of the numbers made Eric’s intangible eyes bug out, and knocked over trees back in Yirien (or should have done).

“That’s a hair-height high,” said Hditr.

“Fuel’s not cheap on Drullguur! Every drop of it has to be imported from some sunlit world,” said Porth. “And of course there is the organizational matter. You are asking us to accelerate our schedule, so that we depart ahead of Vong’s forces. We are delighted to comply! We simply hate to have a potential customer hung up on metal chains, beaten with barbed wire, pierced by small but sharp hooks, and, of course, roasted over a candle.”

“A candle?” asked Eric.

“Fuel is, as I said, very expensive here. There is enough to cook and fly with, but not enough to waste on torture. So they use candles. Candles are actually worse than bonfires, or so I hear. They take absolutely forever to kill you.”

Hditr nodded. “These are good points. Still, you ought to give us a lower rate for the ghost, he doesn’t weigh anything and won’t cost you fuel. And you don’t have a schedule anyways.” She pointed at a sign behind Porth saying, DEPARTURE WHEN THREE OR MORE PASSENGERS ARE PRESENT.

Porth looked up at the sign as if seeing it for the first time. (It wasn’t. «Language» said that he had written it.) “There is some justice to that. Still, we are currently rescuing you, and deserve a reward.”

“Right then. How’s this delicious deal? I buy four seats not three at the rates on that sign over there. You make one of them half-price for the ghost. If one more passenger shows up before we head off, they get to come with us. Otherwise the fourth seat is pure profit.”

Porth looked at the table of rates. “Highly irregular, but I suppose we can do that.”

Hditr showed four hexagonal coins and a handful of odd tokens, and handed him two. “Other half when we’re all through with the trip.”

I flapped my wings. “You don’t need to pay for me! I have money!”

Hditr frowned at me. “Research assistant. Shut up.” I am as greedy as the next dragon, and shut up.

Porth lead us by secret ways (marked with big signs) to the edge of the shelf. “Now this here’s our sky coracle,” he said. “Climb in, hang on to the handholds or the ropes. Ghost, I have no idea how you stay in. Just stay in, OK?”

The sky coracle was a dish of willow wood lined with straps of leather. The brim of the dish was the levitator: a circle of eccentric gears with intricately-striped nuts (or some other brown vegetal-smelling lumps) mounted on them. “Passengers! Keep your hands away from the gears on the brim! Keep them away! Those gears are going to be whirling really fast in a minute. If you have your hands near them, you are going to lose fingers. Look at me! Do I want to lose fingers? No, I do not! I am keeping my hands far away from the gears! You do that too!” Porth peered at Eric. “Well, ok, you don’t have to. But people with material bodies, keep those bodies away from the gears!”

The hermeneutically-trained spidersen miner trotted up. “Excuse me, do you have room for one more?”

“We have room for two more, but we’re taking off anyhow, one step ahead of the mob,” said Porth.

“Not much of a mob actually. Vong did fire me a few more times, so I think maybe he means it,” said the spidersen.

“Well, c’mon in. Usually we take payment at the office, but you can pay here,” said Porth.

“No, he can’t. I already paid for him,” said Hditr.

“I forgot, I really forgot,” said Porth. “Hop in. Don’t touch the gears.”

The spidersen miner jumped over the side. Eric winced. The miner peered at him, and said, “Honored ghost, I intended no offense.”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that where I come from the spiders are smaller than me,” he said. “And their eyes don’t glow quite so much. And they don’t wear nearly so many belts or veils. Or study hermeneutics.”

The miner waved his forelegs. “Perhaps, if there were more spidersen there, some of us might have saved you from whatever miserable fate struck you down and rendered you unto destruction. In any case! I am pleased to be sharing a coracle with you! My name is …” His name was not so much spoken as stridulated.

“Glad to meet you,” I said, but I needed a «Language» spell to repeat his name.

“I can’t pronounce that,” said Eric. “I’m going to call you Hermeneutics, or Hermen for short.”

“I accept this cognomen. It is more dignified than ‘Splinter-Snatcher’, which my fellows used to call me,” said the newly-named Hermeneutics. “I wonder which tent is on fire, and, for that matter, why it is on fire?”

Porth said, “Morth is here!” She was, too: another spidersen, leaping into the coracle as if she owned it. “We depart! Before we learn of the fireness! Or the source of the howling and sound of blows which is now arising from the camp!”

Morth said, “Vong has told the miners that, due to his astounding success in his negotiations with Thabir-Nsog, they must now pay for their own food. For some reason, they do not accept his explanation that our current customers are the ones responsible for it. Instead they are enjoying a spot of rioting.”

“Morth! You break my every plan yet again! I insisted we depart before we learned that, but it is too late. We are now behind schedule. This delay is entirely your fault,” said Porth. He did not stop working to banter. The tiny motor grumbled like a raccoon in a trap and burped spicy smoke, the gears whirred and spun, the nuts twinkled with circular sparks, the coracle fell off the side of the shelf, and everyone who wasn’t used to flying hung on with considerable fear.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

Despair — Very here!

The number of eggs — it was six. Counted by us and by our friends a thousand times! One egg — longer and narrower than the other, within it a boy-couatl for sure! Another egg — two small yellow spots in the third blue ring! Another egg — nine green rings instead of eight! Each egg we knew!

The hand — it was the hand of a mammal! Haired its skin above, slightly rough its skin below, scaleless, featherless! Four its fingers, one its thumb! No sort of person of Gemgaru has such a hand! But a legendary monster human of Tellosh! Smeared, with the ashes of burnt spices and crumbs of bird-shells! Reaching up from below as I coiled around the eggs from above! Grasping four eggs in the bigness of its palm and the wideness of its fingers! Pulling them down into the sand even as I struck at it! Gone before I reached it!

But — When digging in the sand, no eggs of the four! No hand for holding them! Three quarts of sand, then the bottom of the opal bowl! In the bottom of the opal bowl — no breaks, no cracks, no secret door. Just the bowl as it had been since my mother’s father hatched in it.

My eggs — two are here! Four are gone!

Where gone? — Unknown! Impossible!

Rage — is great, for the theft of my eggs!

Horror — is great, for the wicked apparition that steals eggs and is gone to nowhere! Will it come again? Will it take two more eggs?

The remaining eggs — hidden in a different spot! A new bowl made from clay! New sand and soil from our own pondside! Another room! At every minute — four spidersen or more! Two couatls or more! Rarely do I leave!

The remaining eggs — I will protect them with my life and with everything.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

Despair — Very here!

The number of eggs — it was six. Counted by us and by our friends a thousand times! One egg — longer and narrower than the other, within it a boy-couatl for sure! Another egg — two small yellow spots in the third blue ring! Another egg — nine green rings instead of eight! Each egg we knew!

The hand — it was the hand of a mammal! Haired its skin above, slightly rough its skin below, scaleless, featherless! Four its fingers, one its thumb! No sort of person of Gemgaru has such a hand! But a legendary monster human of Tellosh! Smeared, with the ashes of burnt spices and crumbs of bird-shells! Reaching up from below as I coiled around the eggs from above! Grasping four eggs in the bigness of its palm and the wideness of its fingers! Pulling them down into the sand even as I struck at it! Gone before I reached it!

But — When digging in the sand, no eggs of the four! No hand for holding them! Three quarts of sand, then the bottom of the opal bowl! In the bottom of the opal bowl — no breaks, no cracks, no secret door. Just the bowl as it had been since my mother’s father hatched in it.

My eggs — two are here! Four are gone!

Where gone? — Unknown! Impossible!

Rage — is great, for the theft of my eggs!

Horror — is great, for the wicked apparition that steals eggs and is gone to nowhere! Will it come again? Will it take two more eggs?

The remaining eggs — hidden in a different spot! A new bowl made from clay! New sand and soil from our own pondside! Another room! At every minute — four spidersen or more! Two couatls or more! Rarely do I leave!

The remaining eggs — I will protect them with my life and with everything.

sythyry: (Default)

In all of these questions, assume that you are present at the election and able to vote.

[Poll #1868961]
sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

Before one engages the Porthmorth Passage Company, one must first dine at the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent. This is because the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent is the only place to eat in this shelf of Drullguur, and the Porthmorth Passage Company is currently eating there according to the sign pinned to its door, so you might as well too.

“They don’t do fancy here, do they?” said Hditr.

“It looks pretty unpleasant,” said Eric. “I think I’ll just skip lunch. Or order a salad. Do they have salads here?”

“No,” said Junctifer. “By which I mean that you could consider the big bowl of rehydrated seaweed and crudely-chopped scallions, dressed with vinegar and bacon grease, to be a salad.”

“You could also consider it to be the revenge of Snorb,” said Hditr. “Sounds awful.”

“Would you prefer the oatmeal laced with dried onions and dried seaweed and dried shredded shrimps?” asked Junctifer. “Or the grilled bird bits on stale biscuits? Or the soup made from stale biscuits, dried peas, salted pig flesh, and mysterious spices consisting of: salt? Those are the choices today. They are also the choices yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, in case you are here on one of those days. Perhaps they will also be the choices tomorrow. If we are exceedingly lucky, we will get some variety by next week. If you are exceedingly lucky, you will be gone by then. The new choice will not be much better than these choices.”

I balanced on my hind legs (not my favorite), paid an intimidatingly large fee, and was provided with a cold and greasy metal tray with a spoon and a cup chained to it. Toads, their faces frozen in servile misery, threw portions of the four items onto the tray’s four quarters. A grinning badger-morph provided filled my cup with harsh tea. I carried the tray to a cold metal table relatively free of miners, and hopped onto its cold metal bench.

Hditr sat next to me. “OK, let’s see what the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade can do.” She poked at her seaweed salad with her spoon nervously. The salad sat on the tray, biding its time, its true reds and purples largely transformed into less nameable, less appetizing colors by the orange-green light of the Pugnard’s braziers. “This looks horrid.”

“Close your eyes, lady,” said the badger-morph at the other side of the table. “It’s not earthworms meunière from home, but it’ll keep you going.”

“Here it goes…” said Hditr, and took a bite of seaweed salad. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “That’s not highly horrible!” She set to, eagerly.

I tried mine. It wasn’t highly horrible at all! The seaweed tasted of freshwater oceans under sweet-scented skies on nicer worlds than Drullguur. The scallions flashed in my mouths like transient suns. The vinegar sparkled. The bacon grease spoke of woods and fires and the virtues of peasants in the autumn.

“That’s Dibisto for you,” said the miner, grinning. “Used to be, we’d nearly lynch him every meal, with this food tasting no better’n it looks. But he went downstairs, he did, and came back with his arm burnt away. Didn’t change his recipes none. I don’t think he can change his recipes none, since mostly all the food gets brought over from offworld, which means mostly dry weeds and dry meats and biscuits. But it sure tastes good now.”

“It does!” My right head tried some of the oatmeal, and was briefly surrounded by the ethereal glory that is dried onions. Even the oats were perfect: children of the earth. “That’s a lot better than it was in the snack box!”

“Yeah, that’s the thing. Eat in this tent, every meal. If you take your food out, Dibisto’s power crumbles like crude crackers,” said the miner.

Hditr sat up. “Oh, really? How long does it stay good in here?”

“Long enough for you to get your feeds in,” said the miner. “Long enough so you don’t need to worry.”

Hditr gobbled pea soup that tasted like satisfaction. “Now I want to do an experiment. Measure the quality of food as well as we can, and see how it diminishes with time and distance. Then see if goes just the same in our next world, or what.”

“No!! «Cuisine» is sacred in Drullguur!! You shall not pry into its ancient secrets with your abominable mensurations!!” roared Vong from the next bench over.

“«Cuisine» ain’t a god and ain’t in any pantheon I ever heard of!” snapped Hditr. “And its ancient secrets ain’t toad-folk’s ancient secrets! This camp ain’t thirty years old.”

“Do not dare to lecture me with your lecterous deceits about what is sacred to me and what is not!!” snapped Vong. “You are a priest of the Rogalian pantheon!! Not the Pantheon of Ur-Snep!! Ignorance is yours!!” He waved a book at her. “The truth of the Pantheon of Ur-Snep is in here!! I accept no blasphemies!! And I am the ultimate arbiter upon Drullguur of what is blasphemous!!”

I have «Language» on my wing, so I read the whole book in an instant. Like any halfway reasonable scriptures, its gods explain that they are the gods and you and I aren’t. So I quoted to Vong, “‘To the fingers of Bhom-Vrek are reserved the scissors of judgement and of justice. Absolute are the standards of Bhom-Vrek, and sharp his cutting! Mortals are cut away from gods, the lawful away from what is forbidden, truth away from falsehood!’ Page eighty-three of that book you’re waving around.” Half a dozen toads chuckled.

“What witchery is this?? You — you quote to me the Scriptures of Ur-Snep!!” cried Vong.

“I read them,” I said. “They’re pretty good scripturals. Very scriptural.”

“Then you must have read the Poetic Precepts of Doip-Mungee!!” he cried triumphantly.

“Yes…”

“These precepts give to mayors great authority!! They grant me the right to decide what is goodly and what is illy in my domain!!”

I reread that part of the scriptures, and blushed my ears flat. “Well, um, sort of … it’s more a cross between a tax manual and a love poem though.”

“Say nothing against the holy scriptures, three-headed blasphemer!!” cried Vong.

“C’mon, what do they say? I don’t read Vongy-voingy or whatever Vong’s language is called,” said Hditr.

“Is it blasphemy to quote your scriptures verbatim?” I asked.

Vong scowled at me and waved his book around. “How could it be blasphemy?? The scriptures are pure!! You offend Ur-Snep to even suggest that they are not!!”

So I recited,

For you my breasts are as heavy as the tax-rolls.
For you my womb is as capacious as a vast filing cabinet
You, my love, you are as the temple administrator of my heart
You, my love, you are as the mayor of my loins,
In the back offices of the temple we copulate frantically
In the front closets of the temple we do not copulate at all
For you tell to me what is goodly and pleasing to Vilp-Dom
For you tell to me what is illy and displeasing to Vilp-Dom
With your guidance I avoid those place of curses
In which copulation brings attacks of the Dyspepsia of Wrath
With your guidance I seek out those places of blessings
In which copulation brings gravidity with twins

“You misquote!! You are defiling the sacred words!!” cried Vong. “The poem concerns administration and the mayoral dispensation of truth!! It is not a vile and vulgar sex poem!! Miners, to me!! Attack these infidels with cranks and levers, crush them limb from limb, cast them off the shelf!!”

“Look at page 238 first?” I shouted, as several miners pushed their benches back and stood up.

One of the smallest and many-leggedest of the miners dipped his(?) forequarters. “I suppose we can check on the exact wording before we crush this dragon like a small glass bauble.” Like most spidersen, he(?) was smaller than me, but the other miners were of a variety of species, mostly larger.

Vong frantically riffled through the book. “See?? Nothing about improper activities!!”

“That’d be the wrong page though,” said the miner “Nothing about mayors either. That’s the verse about the absolution of Udup-Noin from the sin of constipation, on page 283. You’d be wanting something earlier.” He took the book from Vong. “Page 238, like the lizard said. Huh. I think the lizard got it wrong.”

“… Wrong?…” I asked.

Vong gloated. “Wrong!! See!! Destroy them!!”

“No, no, wrong kind of wrong. Lizard was translating into modern tongue. It’s actually written in the older tongue. You shouldn’t use sesquipedalian words like ‘copulation’ and ‘gravidity’ for that page. Plus you missed the double entendres and stuff. That last couplet is more like Find my pussy when we’re at temple services, fuck me so hard I have twins.

“Deacon!! You exceed your authority in this translation!!”

“I had two years of seminary,” said the miner. “I know my older tongue, and my hermeneutics too. Not that I’m really an expert in these non-insect reproductive modalities.”

“I will not tolerate a miner who uses words like ‘hermeneutics’ and ‘reproductive modalities’ to defend my enemies from my righteous wrath!! Soundproof yourself at once!!” cried Vong.

“Then wrath them on your own time, and don’t bring the scriptures into it,” said the miner. “Some of us actually love those scriptures, wouldn’t you know?”

“You simply love them as fuck poetry!!” screamed Vong.

The seminarian miner’s friends stood up as one. A toad among them said, “Look, Mr. Mayor. Speaking as the First Reader of the First Drullguur Mining Camp Scriptural Study and Appreciation Circle, I would calmly urge you to describe the holy scriptures in terms other than ‘fuck poetry’. It does not reflect well on your undoubtedly high regard for the sacred books.”

“What is this, a seminary in exile, or a mining camp?? Get back to work or you are all fired!!” cried Vong.

“With all due respect — a quantity which I have not yet determined — we shall do no such thing. We have all worked our full shifts for the day. We are taking a spot of dinner before some well-deserved scriptural exegesis, to be followed by our healthful ablutions in foam, oil, and water, to be followed by a dignified sleep in the hollow confines of yon vasty tent. These things are mandated by the divine scriptures, and by the mortal scriptures in the form of the company handbook,” said the First Reader.

“And we punch fat blobby belly of the you if the you stop them!” said another miner. “You no good are stupid-lazy of mayor the shit!”

A non-miner sort of person stepped up, armed well, slapping a truncheon into his palm to make a menacing ‘thwack’. “Hey! You mustn’t speak of the mayor like that!”

“Speaking as a devot devoutee [sic] of some religion or other myself, I gotta say, this might be a good time to make good our goodly escape. Unless you want to incinerate the whole camp in a blaze of dragonfire or something. Both sound kinda good to me just about now,” said Hditr in a low voice, when the First Reader got involved.

“You’re thinking of some other kind of dragon. My fire’s not nearly that big,” I said.

“Eric, how do you feel about getting into a nice bout of fisticuffs?” Hditr asked, already slinking her way to the door.

Eric waved his hand through a miner, who was watching the brewing brawl and did not notice. “I’ll give as good as I get! Which will be — nothing!”

“So we ain’t doing the fighting. Let’s start with the running then!”

We gobbled down our hideous but delicious meals rather more quickly than they deserved, and strolled off, as the theological argument grew more heated.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

Before one engages the Porthmorth Passage Company, one must first dine at the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent. This is because the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade Tent is the only place to eat in this shelf of Drullguur, and the Porthmorth Passage Company is currently eating there according to the sign pinned to its door, so you might as well too.

“They don’t do fancy here, do they?” said Hditr.

“It looks pretty unpleasant,” said Eric. “I think I’ll just skip lunch. Or order a salad. Do they have salads here?”

“No,” said Junctifer. “By which I mean that you could consider the big bowl of rehydrated seaweed and crudely-chopped scallions, dressed with vinegar and bacon grease, to be a salad.”

“You could also consider it to be the revenge of Snorb,” said Hditr. “Sounds awful.”

“Would you prefer the oatmeal laced with dried onions and dried seaweed and dried shredded shrimps?” asked Junctifer. “Or the grilled bird bits on stale biscuits? Or the soup made from stale biscuits, dried peas, salted pig flesh, and mysterious spices consisting of: salt? Those are the choices today. They are also the choices yesterday, the day before, and the day before that, in case you are here on one of those days. Perhaps they will also be the choices tomorrow. If we are exceedingly lucky, we will get some variety by next week. If you are exceedingly lucky, you will be gone by then. The new choice will not be much better than these choices.”

I balanced on my hind legs (not my favorite), paid an intimidatingly large fee, and was provided with a cold and greasy metal tray with a spoon and a cup chained to it. Toads, their faces frozen in servile misery, threw portions of the four items onto the tray’s four quarters. A grinning badger-morph provided filled my cup with harsh tea. I carried the tray to a cold metal table relatively free of miners, and hopped onto its cold metal bench.

Hditr sat next to me. “OK, let’s see what the Dibisto-Glandular Refectionary Brigade can do.” She poked at her seaweed salad with her spoon nervously. The salad sat on the tray, biding its time, its true reds and purples largely transformed into less nameable, less appetizing colors by the orange-green light of the Pugnard’s braziers. “This looks horrid.”

“Close your eyes, lady,” said the badger-morph at the other side of the table. “It’s not earthworms meunière from home, but it’ll keep you going.”

“Here it goes…” said Hditr, and took a bite of seaweed salad. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “That’s not highly horrible!” She set to, eagerly.

I tried mine. It wasn’t highly horrible at all! The seaweed tasted of freshwater oceans under sweet-scented skies on nicer worlds than Drullguur. The scallions flashed in my mouths like transient suns. The vinegar sparkled. The bacon grease spoke of woods and fires and the virtues of peasants in the autumn.

“That’s Dibisto for you,” said the miner, grinning. “Used to be, we’d nearly lynch him every meal, with this food tasting no better’n it looks. But he went downstairs, he did, and came back with his arm burnt away. Didn’t change his recipes none. I don’t think he can change his recipes none, since mostly all the food gets brought over from offworld, which means mostly dry weeds and dry meats and biscuits. But it sure tastes good now.”

“It does!” My right head tried some of the oatmeal, and was briefly surrounded by the ethereal glory that is dried onions. Even the oats were perfect: children of the earth. “That’s a lot better than it was in the snack box!”

“Yeah, that’s the thing. Eat in this tent, every meal. If you take your food out, Dibisto’s power crumbles like crude crackers,” said the miner.

Hditr sat up. “Oh, really? How long does it stay good in here?”

“Long enough for you to get your feeds in,” said the miner. “Long enough so you don’t need to worry.”

Hditr gobbled pea soup that tasted like satisfaction. “Now I want to do an experiment. Measure the quality of food as well as we can, and see how it diminishes with time and distance. Then see if goes just the same in our next world, or what.”

“No!! «Cuisine» is sacred in Drullguur!! You shall not pry into its ancient secrets with your abominable mensurations!!” roared Vong from the next bench over.

“«Cuisine» ain’t a god and ain’t in any pantheon I ever heard of!” snapped Hditr. “And its ancient secrets ain’t toad-folk’s ancient secrets! This camp ain’t thirty years old.”

“Do not dare to lecture me with your lecterous deceits about what is sacred to me and what is not!!” snapped Vong. “You are a priest of the Rogalian pantheon!! Not the Pantheon of Ur-Snep!! Ignorance is yours!!” He waved a book at her. “The truth of the Pantheon of Ur-Snep is in here!! I accept no blasphemies!! And I am the ultimate arbiter upon Drullguur of what is blasphemous!!”

I have «Language» on my wing, so I read the whole book in an instant. Like any halfway reasonable scriptures, its gods explain that they are the gods and you and I aren’t. So I quoted to Vong, “‘To the fingers of Bhom-Vrek are reserved the scissors of judgement and of justice. Absolute are the standards of Bhom-Vrek, and sharp his cutting! Mortals are cut away from gods, the lawful away from what is forbidden, truth away from falsehood!’ Page eighty-three of that book you’re waving around.” Half a dozen toads chuckled.

“What witchery is this?? You — you quote to me the Scriptures of Ur-Snep!!” cried Vong.

“I read them,” I said. “They’re pretty good scripturals. Very scriptural.”

“Then you must have read the Poetic Precepts of Doip-Mungee!!” he cried triumphantly.

“Yes…”

“These precepts give to mayors great authority!! They grant me the right to decide what is goodly and what is illy in my domain!!”

I reread that part of the scriptures, and blushed my ears flat. “Well, um, sort of … it’s more a cross between a tax manual and a love poem though.”

“Say nothing against the holy scriptures, three-headed blasphemer!!” cried Vong.

“C’mon, what do they say? I don’t read Vongy-voingy or whatever Vong’s language is called,” said Hditr.

“Is it blasphemy to quote your scriptures verbatim?” I asked.

Vong scowled at me and waved his book around. “How could it be blasphemy?? The scriptures are pure!! You offend Ur-Snep to even suggest that they are not!!”

So I recited,

For you my breasts are as heavy as the tax-rolls.
For you my womb is as capacious as a vast filing cabinet
You, my love, you are as the temple administrator of my heart
You, my love, you are as the mayor of my loins,
In the back offices of the temple we copulate frantically
In the front closets of the temple we do not copulate at all
For you tell to me what is goodly and pleasing to Vilp-Dom
For you tell to me what is illy and displeasing to Vilp-Dom
With your guidance I avoid those place of curses
In which copulation brings attacks of the Dyspepsia of Wrath
With your guidance I seek out those places of blessings
In which copulation brings gravidity with twins

“You misquote!! You are defiling the sacred words!!” cried Vong. “The poem concerns administration and the mayoral dispensation of truth!! It is not a vile and vulgar sex poem!! Miners, to me!! Attack these infidels with cranks and levers, crush them limb from limb, cast them off the shelf!!”

“Look at page 238 first?” I shouted, as several miners pushed their benches back and stood up.

One of the smallest and many-leggedest of the miners dipped his(?) forequarters. “I suppose we can check on the exact wording before we crush this dragon like a small glass bauble.” Like most spidersen, he(?) was smaller than me, but the other miners were of a variety of species, mostly larger.

Vong frantically riffled through the book. “See?? Nothing about improper activities!!”

“That’d be the wrong page though,” said the miner “Nothing about mayors either. That’s the verse about the absolution of Udup-Noin from the sin of constipation, on page 283. You’d be wanting something earlier.” He took the book from Vong. “Page 238, like the lizard said. Huh. I think the lizard got it wrong.”

“… Wrong?…” I asked.

Vong gloated. “Wrong!! See!! Destroy them!!”

“No, no, wrong kind of wrong. Lizard was translating into modern tongue. It’s actually written in the older tongue. You shouldn’t use sesquipedalian words like ‘copulation’ and ‘gravidity’ for that page. Plus you missed the double entendres and stuff. That last couplet is more like Find my pussy when we’re at temple services, fuck me so hard I have twins.

“Deacon!! You exceed your authority in this translation!!”

“I had two years of seminary,” said the miner. “I know my older tongue, and my hermeneutics too. Not that I’m really an expert in these non-insect reproductive modalities.”

“I will not tolerate a miner who uses words like ‘hermeneutics’ and ‘reproductive modalities’ to defend my enemies from my righteous wrath!! Soundproof yourself at once!!” cried Vong.

“Then wrath them on your own time, and don’t bring the scriptures into it,” said the miner. “Some of us actually love those scriptures, wouldn’t you know?”

“You simply love them as fuck poetry!!” screamed Vong.

The seminarian miner’s friends stood up as one. A toad among them said, “Look, Mr. Mayor. Speaking as the First Reader of the First Drullguur Mining Camp Scriptural Study and Appreciation Circle, I would calmly urge you to describe the holy scriptures in terms other than ‘fuck poetry’. It does not reflect well on your undoubtedly high regard for the sacred books.”

“What is this, a seminary in exile, or a mining camp?? Get back to work or you are all fired!!” cried Vong.

“With all due respect — a quantity which I have not yet determined — we shall do no such thing. We have all worked our full shifts for the day. We are taking a spot of dinner before some well-deserved scriptural exegesis, to be followed by our healthful ablutions in foam, oil, and water, to be followed by a dignified sleep in the hollow confines of yon vasty tent. These things are mandated by the divine scriptures, and by the mortal scriptures in the form of the company handbook,” said the First Reader.

“And we punch fat blobby belly of the you if the you stop them!” said another miner. “You no good are stupid-lazy of mayor the shit!”

A non-miner sort of person stepped up, armed well, slapping a truncheon into his palm to make a menacing ‘thwack’. “Hey! You mustn’t speak of the mayor like that!”

“Speaking as a devot devoutee [sic] of some religion or other myself, I gotta say, this might be a good time to make good our goodly escape. Unless you want to incinerate the whole camp in a blaze of dragonfire or something. Both sound kinda good to me just about now,” said Hditr in a low voice, when the First Reader got involved.

“You’re thinking of some other kind of dragon. My fire’s not nearly that big,” I said.

“Eric, how do you feel about getting into a nice bout of fisticuffs?” Hditr asked, already slinking her way to the door.

Eric waved his hand through a miner, who was watching the brewing brawl and did not notice. “I’ll give as good as I get! Which will be — nothing!”

“So we ain’t doing the fighting. Let’s start with the running then!”

We gobbled down our hideous but delicious meals rather more quickly than they deserved, and strolled off, as the theological argument grew more heated.

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

Form of Reproduction — better than anyone says!

The dish — An ancient opal spun to a bowl. In it were hatched — myself, my mother, my mother’s father. The spell upon it — a comfortable warmth without rasps or tickles.

The sand — from the shores of Seas of Tsurmah. Hatched in that sand — Tomolrouc, his mother, his mother’s mother. The washing — in holy acid and then thrice in pure river water.

The chamber — the basement of our house. Wrapped in old stone. Eleven couatls are in the home, and forty spidersen. The eggs — never without a watcher and guardian. (The need thereof — purely ceremonial. Once thrice in eight centuries have eggs been offended. But of a month of time, ten-twelfths have I spent with my eggs.)

The clutch — six eggs! The number — smaller than most clutches, larger than some. The speaking-to-friends — “My clutch, it is small, some space, I leave for you.” The mollification — success? Only one woman in three or four is ever allowed to lay eggs, or the world would be all asquirm with couatls. My friends — deserve to lay as much as I. The luck — mine, this time. The others of my friends who may lay — not many. Their rejoicing — mixed with envy. I do not blame them. I did that too.

The wait for the hatching — seven years. Not an easy wait!

BUT! The scent — upon the eggs! Burnt stench, broken bird-shells roasted, broiled fish with foul spices, live mammal-sweat, pungency! Whence comes this scent, when the eggs are guarded every moment? No sight can be seen of the scent-bearer, no sound has been heard thereof! The doors of the house, the doors of the basement — these doors are closed, they are of heavy stone. The couatl coiled on the eggs in their sand and opal — myself! Yet — the scent touches the eggs, it comes without a source, it lingers.

And this morning the sand has been stirred, as if by heavy fingers, moving secretly on eggs covered by my wings.

Withal — I apprehend, I fear, I fret, I cast such spells as might protect!

sythyry: (sythyry-doomed)

Mirrored from Sythyry.

This being read for Tllith of Yirien, Princess of Septoulny Swamp, «Language»-mage. This being written by Cleiestis of Gemgaru. Layer of six fertilized eggs is she. Priestess of the third florescence is she, mistress of seven spells and three visible and four invisible potencies. Wife of Tomolrouc is she, who is the assistant administrator of flying insects to the Hoouthgala district. The hope from here is that you are in a state of delighted, and that three happinesses and four contentments are on you.

Form of Reproduction — better than anyone says!

The dish — An ancient opal spun to a bowl. In it were hatched — myself, my mother, my mother’s father. The spell upon it — a comfortable warmth without rasps or tickles.

The sand — from the shores of Seas of Tsurmah. Hatched in that sand — Tomolrouc, his mother, his mother’s mother. The washing — in holy acid and then thrice in pure river water.

The chamber — the basement of our house. Wrapped in old stone. Eleven couatls are in the home, and forty spidersen. The eggs — never without a watcher and guardian. (The need thereof — purely ceremonial. Once thrice in eight centuries have eggs been offended. But of a month of time, ten-twelfths have I spent with my eggs.)

The clutch — six eggs! The number — smaller than most clutches, larger than some. The speaking-to-friends — “My clutch, it is small, some space, I leave for you.” The mollification — success? Only one woman in three or four is ever allowed to lay eggs, or the world would be all asquirm with couatls. My friends — deserve to lay as much as I. The luck — mine, this time. The others of my friends who may lay — not many. Their rejoicing — mixed with envy. I do not blame them. I did that too.

The wait for the hatching — seven years. Not an easy wait!

BUT! The scent — upon the eggs! Burnt stench, broken bird-shells roasted, broiled fish with foul spices, live mammal-sweat, pungency! Whence comes this scent, when the eggs are guarded every moment? No sight can be seen of the scent-bearer, no sound has been heard thereof! The doors of the house, the doors of the basement — these doors are closed, they are of heavy stone. The couatl coiled on the eggs in their sand and opal — myself! Yet — the scent touches the eggs, it comes without a source, it lingers.

And this morning the sand has been stirred, as if by heavy fingers, moving secretly on eggs covered by my wings.

Withal — I apprehend, I fear, I fret, I cast such spells as might protect!

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