Thursday, May 15, 2008



Parric's wingtip slapped Flavius with a glancing blow across the side of his head, sending him sprawling to the ground. Flavius sprang back up, his face scarlet and eyes blazing.

"Wha'd ya go and do that for?" he shouted at Parric, one fist held ready as his other hand rubbed the side of his head.

"Your obsessings with the Empress is getting you dead once already," Parric shot back, his featherscales ruffled with agitation. "And almosting me, too. You are needing to self-examining, Flavius, and asking yourself if your ruttings with the Empress are worth the consequences."

"Damn it, Parric, yer nae paying attention! I weren't wearing Memory, so I cannae remember if she were worth it or nae," Flavius answered, running his fingers over the pommel of his sword. "But in hindsight, I willnae be making that mistake again. Nae knowing's an awful burden."

"Your corpse'll be thinking about your mistakings when I'm leaving that sword behind the next time."

"Ah, Parric, dinnae be that way. Ya ken I was only having ya on-- No woman's worth dying for, six tits or nae. Risking it, well, that's a whole different thing now. But nae the actual dying."

Parric nodded. "Right. Deading you'll stay."

"What a bastard ya are. Yer just jealous of the fun I'll be having, seeing's how yer hatched from an egg and all--"

"A communal placenta is not an egg," Parric corrected.

"She's got six tits, lad! How's a beastie like ya--what never suckled a minute of yer life--ever going to understand?"

"Are we still arguing about your ruttings?" grumbled Parric. "So helping me, he's never shutting up."

"Hey, now dinnae ye go taking that attitude with me! Yer the one who asked in the first place, so straighten up that or so help me, I'll thump ya."

"You. Thumping me." Parric drew himself up so that he loomed over Flavius, wings crossing his chest. He looked down with a menacing glare.

Flavius glared back. "Just a small thumping, mind ya. Ya are a godless beastie, after all." He cocked his head. "I've got to show ya some sympathy, right?"

Parric's antennae twitched.

A grin split Flavius' face. "I had ya worried there."

"Positiveling terrified," Parric answered, slumping down. "I'm wishing we're not having to go through this posturing of yours every time."

"Ah, quit yer complaining. A little tension's good for the soul--assuming ya have one. Gets the blood pumping." Flavius flexed his shoulders and stretched as he looked around. "Speaking of which, ya got anything to eat on ya? That bastard O'Sullivan hadnae given us a decent meal in more'n a week, and I'm damn close to wasting away to nothing."

Parric pulled a globose maroon fruit with circular gouges dotting its surface from a pouch and tossed it to Flavius.

"A spineapple! I never laid eyes on one before, but I know I love these things. Eat myself sick on them if I could. That's a strange feeling for sure."

Parric grunted noncommitally.

"Ah, ya even plucked the thorns for me. That's mighty thoughtful," Flavius said, pulling it open and sucking at the juicy, seedy pulp. He made a face. "Nae to sound ungrateful, Parric, but whoever sold ya this one stuck ya. It's so overripe the juice has all gone to ferment. And I don't mean that in a good way."

"That's becausing you keep dying before I can giving it to you."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Flavius' eyes narrowed. "This have anything to do with those spider-looking beasties? I dinnae remember them. Do they normally show up during the fight with the English?"

"No. Only after your dying in the Empress' chambers," Parric said. "After your dying, the moironteau are showing up regularling."

"What for?"

"To killing you."

"Kill me? Me? What do they do, ugly me to death?"

"They're chewing you up and spitting out the pieces. They are gooding at it. No uglying needed."

"So..." Flavius looked down at the overripe spineapple, calculating in his head. His face tightened as the numbers came together.

"Your previousing self is dying almost two weeks ago, by your reconing," Parric confirmed. "In the first parallel cosm I'm not finding you at the river. I'm thinking, 'Am I in wrong cosm? Impossibling!' So I go searching the battlefield and finding pieces of Flavius scatterings around. And I'm thinking, 'Flavius is not liking this.' So I'm moving to the next cosm, but you are deading there, too. The moironteau, they're moving fast through the cosms. It's taking me a longing time to catching up. When I do, the moironteau is almost killing me."

"How... how many?" Flavius managed, his voice a strangled knot of horror and rage. "How many of me did they kill?"

"You're deading in all the parallel cosms I'm entering, so I'm assuming you're deading in parallel cosms I'm not entering, too." Parric shrugged. "I'm seeing you dead twenty-seven times myself."


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