The Beaches of New Fairy
by Rachel Parsons
Part 1 and Part 3|
appear in this issue.
|part 2 of 3|
“Smart and beautiful. No wonder you two back beast everything in sight. You are irresistible, so can’t be resisted.” Before I could answer that with appropriate indignation, he went on. “We are heading to the Temple of the Jabberwock even as we speak.”
“Never heard of it.” I found myself shouting, to overcome the wind drag.
“Of course not. Why would you? It’s only the most important Temple in the wyrm faith.”
“Hey, don’t heap two thousand years worth of turds on me. I’m not the one who persecuted your people. It was the offworlders, remember?”
“I remember you were their darling; dancing at King Ferrell’s Balls, flirting with all the smooth-eared beasties from the stars.”
“And I am paying the price for my superficiality, too,” referring to my curse.
He grinned, which is a terrible sight in a firebreather.
We ascended to the tops of Yggdrasil trees, and I started to feel woozy.
“You all right, Rhiannon?”
“I’m a little faint.” I put my right hand to my head and held on to a spine with my left.
“The air is thinner up here; a lot of humans feel that they cannot get enough breath.”
“I keep telling you, I’m not human-”
“Close enough; most of the wyrms you will meet are Wyvern, and they won’t make a distinction. You are all Georgists, as far as they are concerned.”
“Georgists?” I asked, gasping. Goddesses, my lungs ached for air.
“Like St. George, the chief persecutor of our people.”
“And you call me prejudiced.”
“Both sides have their weaknesses. I suppose a lot of hum-mortals don’t like our eating habits to this day.”
“Well, most of us are fond of our virgins.”
“You would know,” he winked. “You and Branwen. Will you marry her? Oh, I know you and Rosalyn are lovers, but isn’t that a tradition: you marry royalty and have your true lover on the side? Didn’t some Terran King do that? A Henry or a Charles or somebody? One of the later kings of Canada, anyway.”
“I wouldn’t know. And I’m not going to discuss my love life with you. And Rosalyn and I are not lovers. Well, maybe on occasion, when fatigue hits us.”
“Glad you aren’t discussing your love life with me. All right, hang on. The descent here is tricky. If I don’t do it right, we will be splattered on the mountainside.”
“Lovely.” I held to the spine like it was an umbilical cord as we suddenly went faster than light itself through a tiny crevice that nearly scraped my ride’s wings. “Great Hippolyta’s Ghost!” I cried as we dove downward toward a series of rock formations that resembled vermicular towers.
“The Temple!” Tiamat cried as he skidded to a landing, sending me unto his neck. “You can let go now.”
I yanked my hands off of him; they had been almost locked around him.
“Hey, wyrm!” said a longed-necked beastie that slithered up to us.
“Hey, wyrm, yourself!” said Tiamat. And they intertwined necks. I jumped down, feeling the impact on my knees.
“Who’s the naked wench?” the other firebreather asked.
“Rhiannon the Nude,” Tiamat answered.
“Well, I can see she’s nude. What I can’t see is the Rhiannon part. Is it as tasty looking as the rest? And here I didn’t bring you a thing. You have to let me know these things, wyrm.”
“Oh, she’s not a present. She’s the queen of New Fairy.”
The wyrm peered at me. “Too bad. But she looks too rich for my fast, in any case.”
“She’s not a virgin; far from it. How many men have you had, Rhiannon? Thousands, I reckon.”
Oh, that pissed me off, although I did average ten partners a day when I was laced mutton, so he was probably right about the numbers.
“Well, what brings her to us, then? She’s too small and skinny to be much in the way of entertainment, even with those udders. Do all human females have them that big?”
“No, just her.”
“Would you two stop talking about me like I wasn’t here?” They turned, untwined and looked dutiful. “We’re here on behalf of an abandoned wyrmling.”
“An abandoned wyrmling? That is serious. Who is nursing the young’un now?”
I rubbed my wounded nipple.
“Oh, you are not serious,” the snake said.
“We left it nursing on a Llassar cow,” Tiamat explained. “Now you see the urgency, Sirrush.”
“I will inform the Father Superior at once. In the meantime, make yourself comfortable.” He slithered off.
Make myself comfortable? I was high up by the tips of the Yggdrasil trees, almost to the void between the worlds, surrounded by colossal creatures who spit acid and breathe fire; I couldn’t breathe right; I was cold this high up, and feeling a tad vulnerable, as my hosts tended to tie naked girls to posts and eat them, all naked girls, even if they aren’t virgins.
I wanted to go home.
“I wouldn’t worry, Rhiannon. Really, we only eat non-virgins when we get desperate, and there is a whole convent at the base of the mountain that satisfies us with a novice from time to time. And you did save the coffee crop, which we use when virgins are scarce. You would be very distasteful; although I admit that more than one of the brothers here might like to tie you to a pole. You know, just for fun.”
“I had enough of that when I was a harlot. So no thank you.”
He shrugged his enormous shoulders, and flapped his wings. “Here, let me take you on a tour of the garden here while we wait for Father Typhon.”
“How is it you know so much about this place?” I walked beside him as he went around the Temple, which wasn’t one Tower as it seemed from a far, but actually a dodecahedron with towers on each vertex.
“My father/mother wanted me to be a priest.”
“Oh.” Dragon priests? And what did he mean by father/mother? I really was ignorant of these people. Not good, as I sat as High Queen; they were as much my people as fairies and humans.
“You think we’re soulless, don’t you? Just like the early followers of the Man-God.”
“No, it’s just that-”
“You don’t know of the Wyrm Ouroboros or his message.”
“Uh, you got that right.” I bit my lip.
“How he went into the desert, met a human prophet there, and shared what the archangel Gabriel said to them both?”
The garden was one row after another of blue puff balls, each the size of a behemoth. “Incredible,” I said, awestruck, trying to avoid the needles and spindles that would jab at my feet.
“I see you brought your own food, Tiamat. That is good; you nearly ate us out of house and home the last time you visited.”
We turned to see a small, red lizard, with a barbed tail, waddle up to us. When I say small, I mean of course by dragon standards. He was twelve feet tall, had a wing span of twenty-two feet, and looked to weigh at least two tons. He was in robes that made him look like an animated tent.
“Father Typhon,” Tiamat bowed. He still towered over the monk. “And this is not my maiden; this is the princess Rhiannon.”
The father frowned. “Why then is she naked?”
“Haven’t you heard of the curse?” Tiamat asked. To me: “Perhaps you should explain.”
I told my story one more time; of how I had come across the witch Graymulkin in her private and sacred space dancing naked; how I had laughed at her, and how she retaliated by making my beauty a thing of ridicule and shame, as her hideousness was for her. How this meant I could never cover myself. When I ended, the father just shook his head.
“This is going to be a test of our discipline. You look delicious and the brothers have all taken a vow of fasting.”
“She’s not a maiden, father. She has had over six thousand-”
“Tiamat, tie a ribbon around your larynx. I’m sure the father doesn’t want to hear of my escapades with men.”
“Oh, I assure you I do,” the snake said, with spittle coming out of his mouth. I stepped away from the saliva, as it burned little holes in the ground near my toes. “But perhaps now is not the time.” He turned to Tiamat. “Sirrush tells me you have a foundling?”
“Actually, she does,” Tiamat said, indicating me.
“Now, that’s no good. A human rearing a wyrm.”
“I’m not human, I’m a fairy.”
“It is the same. He would eat you alive by the time he is a wyrmnet.”
“My bosoms ache at the memory of his current nursing; I can imagine.”
“Yes, I see the bruises. Do you wish to soak them in acid?’
“No!” The thought horrified me.
“It can be most soothing,” the Father hissed.
“Not to me, I’m sorry to say.”
He nodded. “Well, come into my chambers and let us discuss the situation.” He waddled back to the Tower, with Tiamat and me in tow.
The tower was full of brothers, all in the tent-like garments. I was amazed at the variety of firebreathers. There were red ones, green ones, ones that looked like gargantuan chickens; others that looked like lizards. I commented on this.
Tiamat snorted. “What would you say if I said that all of you look alike to us?”
“Well, it doth seem so if you cannot tell the difference between fairies and humans.”
“I can too. Fairies have pointed ears and your women are skinny with great big mammary glands; humans lack those characteristics.”
I rolled my eyes. Made to say something clever, when a firebreather with a serpent’s neck slithered up. “Hey, wyrm; brought your own food, I see.”
Other monks soon joined in with their own observations.
“Wyrm, I’d like to see that stuffed between two slices of bread.”
“I’d work the rotisserie myself if that was ‘a-cooking’.”
“Oh, wyrm, can you imagine that smothered in onions and garlic?”
“Tiamat, make them stop it!”
“Uh, wyrms: she is not a maiden. She has had at least six thousand-”
“Oh, make me sound like a dime-a-dove, why don’t you?” I put my hands to my head. I didn’t know which was worse, to enter a room and be thought of as a repository for male loads, or as something to be cooked over a slow fire.
“Sorry, Rhiannon. She is the famous Rhiannon the Nude, wyrms.”
“Royalty? That would be a little rich for my blood, even if she were a virgin.”
“Some like it hot, and she looks spicy to me.”
“Never mind Yofune there. He is on a restrictive diet; can only eat naked girls between the ages of eighteen and thirty, and he is already over his quota, so the father superior is forbidding him suppers.” That came from a large reticulated creature with fangs. Yofune looked shy as he was spoken of.
“You really should give us warning, your highness, so we can be properly prepared. How would you feel if you hadn’t eaten in sixty days, except for maybe pudding or rice, and a juicy steak walked in on you?” a two-legged dinosaur asked me.
“This was a bit of an emergency,” I said hastily as Tiamat opened the door to the father superior’s chambers. “I’ll plan it better next time.”
“The wyrmnets giving you trouble?” Father Typhon asked, as we entered.
“Nothing I can’t handle,” I said, noticing Tiamat’s pleading look. I didn’t want to get the brothers in trouble.
Typhon was sitting on a perch that swung from the ceiling of his room. His clawed toes were intertwined. “Please be seated. I am sorry if the furniture is a bit spare; we don’t expect human, or humanoid,” he amended, “visitors here.”
“It will be fine, thank you.” I hoped my chagrin at the spare, hard wooden chair didn’t show. I sat down, and my butt felt like it was freezing to a hard carbuncle. I grinned tightly and tried not to squirm. I had already disgraced myself on Tiamat’s back, although he graciously did not mention it after we had landed, and I didn’t want a repeat of bad manners by overtly showing how much the hard wood hurt.
“Now, your highness, I have had some time to think about your presence here, and your quest for the foundling’s mother, and I think I will have to regretfully refrain from helping you.”
“I could compel your help; I am queen, you know.”
Typhon shook his head. “First, your powers are only absolute in New Fairy, and this is not your territory; secondly, this is a Temple; by your own laws, this is a sanctuary from the crown.”
He was right. I frowned. “I am just trying to re-unite a wyrmling with its mother. Not trying to find a prisoner, and you know that fairies have never had trouble with dragons.” Oops. I called them ‘dragons.’ “With wyrms, I mean.”
“I know what you meant,” Typhon said softly. It came out like a hiss, which sent chills up and down me. “It is just that-”
He never finished his sentence. Flames roared through the open window of his chambers, and he ignited. He looked like a turkey that had been held too long over a wood stove.
Copyright © 2007 by Rachel Parsons