Fleyrgast Droppings

“Miyara,” Lorwyn growls, “please come to the back when you have a moment.”

This is surprisingly tactful of Lorwyn, which I’m sure is for the customers’ benefit. I don’t imagine for a moment though that she does not in fact mean “immediately.” I bow and take my leave, waving at Taseino so he knows to hold the front until my return.

“What’s going on?” I ask once the door has shut behind me, then screw up my face at a terrible smell I’m momentarily too overwhelmed to place.

“What indeed,” Lorwyn says. “It’s my job to brew tea, Miyara. I can’t always have my eye on Yorani.”

Oh dear. In general this hasn’t been a problem, because Lorwyn is so used to dealing with her many younger sisters she can handle Yorani more easily than I can. But there is more than one reason Lorwyn spends so much time at Talmeri’s.

Sadly, no reliable dragon-sitting establishment yet exists.

“What’s she done?” I ask wearily.

Lorwyn points. There’s a cluster of seedy green globules on her desk. I lift my gaze to the teapot on the shelf above them.

“Steeping fleyrgast droppings?” I ask. “I thought you resolved doing that directly was ineffective.”

“Which is why I was trying to do the first soak in oil to draw the fragrance out. Do you know what interferes with that process?”

I sigh. “Baby dragons, I assume.”

“Baby dragons,” Lorwyn confirms, “who have scooped several claws full of foul droppings out of the teapot and littered them across my workspace, which I will be smelling for ages.”

“That’s unfair,” I say. “I don’t believe there’s nothing you can do to cover up the smell.”

“We’ll find out,” Lorwyn says ominously. “Because in addition, your charming familiar has clogged the spout of that pot with seeds to keep the heat from escaping. I keep trying to pry them out, because the longer they’re not immersed in oil the worse their stench becomes. However. Observe.”

She pokes a thin wire up into the spout, presumably to knock the seed back into the pot. Briefly I see the change in air as heat from the pot escapes.

Light scuffling sounds from inside, and the steam stops escaping again. Yorani has plugged the spout again from the inside.

Lorwyn gives me a long look.

“I assume you’ve tried extracting her?” I ask.

“Not only does she smell terrible, she is covered in oil,” Lorwyn says. “I can’t get a grip on her.”

I walk over to the pot and lift the lid.

Yorani sits on a whorl of glowing green globules, their stench rank. She puffs a whorl of smoke at me indignantly for releasing the heat, reaching out both her front claws to pry the lid back from my fingers, but not before I see that Lorwyn has if anything understated the case.

Yorani’s not just covered in oil, she’s bathing in a pool of it.

Taseino pokes his head in the door. “Everything okay?”

“Depends on your definition,” Lorwyn says.

“Slippery dragon in need of extraction from a bath of fleyrgast droppings,” I summarize.

“Oh,” Taseino says, shutting the door behind him. “Can I try?”

Lorwyn and I both step back and gesture for him to feel free.

He pulls a towel off the rack as he passes us, and when he lifts the teapot’s lid Yorani chirps excitedly and pokes her head out and then her front claws—like she’s reaching for him.

“You’re kidding.” Lorwyn’s voice is flat.

Taseino wraps Yorani up in the towel like a cocoon, and she burrows into his chest.

“She really doesn’t smell great,” Taseino notes. “Is it okay if I take her for a walk until she airs out a bit?”

“By all means,” I say in a mild state of shock as he carries her out without a single draconic protest.

Lorwyn and I stare at each other.

“How much will I have to pay him to dragon-sit forever?” I ask.

“Whatever he asks,” she says. “I’ll watch the front while you clean the teapot.”

I wince and accept my fate.

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