| Healing The Dragon
Journal Entry 082 / 00119
Noren, Virta 09, 00119
Sometime in the night she awoke, feeling hot and uncomfortable. The rain
had stopped, but the humidity was oppressive as she crawled out from
under Pendor's wing. She stood up and felt bones creak in places where
she hadn't known she had places, much less bones. She wandered around,
wondering when daylight was coming. She looked up and saw the approaching
daylight, hours away, and sighed. As she walked, she kicked something;
her knife, which she had dropped when she had shredded her clothes. She
picked it up, looking at it closely for the first time. It was intricately
engraved with a language that was unknown to her.
She was examining the knife under the residual light when she heard the
voice, a high-pitched yet guttural sound. Wondering what it could be,
she turned in the direction she'd heard it come from.
Hands wrapped around her shoulders, and a voice screamed in her ear,
"The Knife points the way! The Knife is the sign! The Knife to The
Key! The Key will be mine!"
Kitty struggled with her assailant, who felt light and hairy. She threw
it against the ground, shouting "Pendor!"
"Help!" she screamed as hands scrabbled for her in the dark. The dragon
rolled over and began to stand. She punched her assailant.
There was a loud "Oof!" as she was released. In the dark she saw a tall,
stick-thin shape against the light of distant ringworld sectors, and it
cast a glance at Pendor. "Mine!" it shrieked, screaming, running for the
dragon. Kitty ran after it, trying to grab it as it leapt up onto Pendor.
Kitty reacted with horror when she realized it was going for the splint.
"Mine! Mine! Mine!" it shrieked more. Pendor screamed aloud as the cloth
gave way and it pulled the staff free, twisting the wing as it did so.
There was another, much louder CRACK! as it leapt off. Pendor howled in
pain and fear. Kitty jumped for the creature, hauling it to the ground.
"Bastard!" she shouted, punching it.
"Mine! Mine!" it shrieked in return, pushing her free and scrabbling to
it's feet, running blindly into Pendor's head. The dragon, incoherent
with pain, opened his mouth and bit down hard. There was a single,
final shriek from the creature, and it died.
There was no answer except for monstrous waves of pain. Kitty took one
look at the wing and her heart broke; there was blood and bone, showing
through the wing. "Oh, god," she said. "Oh god, oh, god." She closed her
eyes; she was going to be sick. "Please," she said, not sure to who or
what. She walked over to the wing, her eyes blinded by tears. "Oh, god."
"This way, sir! I heard it over here!" She turned at the voice. startled,
and waited. A was crossing the woods, followed by more. She seized
the knife in her hand and shouted "Don't come any closer. Any one of
you bastards tries to touch him and I'll kill you!"
"M'Lord," the rider of the lead shouted. "Over here."
Another rode up, this one ridden by a melMephit in a robe and
a light, mesh chainmail. "We heard the screams of an animal, M'Lady,
and came to investigate."
"He's not an animal! He's my friend," tears welled in her eyes and she
said, quieter, "and he's dying."
"Healer!" the Mephit shouted. "Attend to the creature."
"M'Lord?" A Tindal in the back replied. "I've no learning for dragons."
"Do what you can then." The order was direct, the voice commanding. The
Mephit dismounted and made a visible show of leaving his swordsheath on
the ground. He opened his arms wide and said, "We can help. Please."
Kitty's resolve wavered. She dropped the knife and dropped to her knees.
"Please," she said, exhausted, crying. "Please, save him."
"We shall do what we can," the Mephit said, walking forward and crouching
next to her in the wet grass. "What is your name, M'Lady?"
"Kitty... Kitty of The Hall."
The Mephit smiled at her and said, "Then we are kindred spirits, M'Lady. I
am Aaden of Tleil, of late, Lord of Degranni. It is not a role I cherish."
Kitty looked at him; he was smiling, but behind those eyes she saw
honest concern. One of the other riders walked over and said, "M'Lord,
you should see this."
"Will you be well, Kitty?"
"I think so."
"Then excuse me; I have to attend."
"I'll come," she said, rising from the grass. Aaden nodded; the Uncia
guard led them to where Pendor lay, by his head. The guard pointed to
the remains of the creature that had attacked them. "Elahedrel, M'Lord."
Aaden turned to Kitty and said, "Your attacker was a Fell beast, a
creature of seeking, Kitty. Do you know what he sought?"
Kitty shook her head. "When, when he first showed up he was after my
knife, but he tried to run away with my staff."
"This staff?" Aaden asked, picking it up off the ground. Kitty nodded.
"Did he say anything?" Aaden continued.
Kitty nodded and repeated what the Elahedrel had said. Aaden said "May
I see your knife, M'Lady?"
Kitty nodded again and handed it to Aaden. He looked at it closely in
the darkness. "Get me a light," he said to the guard. The guard returned
with a small black bag. Aaden took it and dismissed him.
He opened the bag and removed a small, glowing ball. "Now then," he
said, examining the knife more closely. After a few minutes he said,
"Kitty, come with me."
He led her a distance away from both Pendor and the horses. "Do you know
what you carry?" he asked.
She shook her head. "You are carrying the Sazknife. The forces of Luccas
will do anything to get it. You are in great danger."
"Why do they want it?"
"I do not know. But what you have told me leads me to wonder. Do they
want it, or do they know that she who carries it has something else,
the thing they really seek?"
"My staff?" she asked.
"Aye. What disturbs me all the more is that I know not the why. Is this
staff magical? It surely looks the part."
Kitty shrugged. "I don't know if it's magical. Lucas said it might be. It
was given to me."
"By who, M'Lady?"
There was a slight hiss between Aaden's teeth. "Vatare' himself. I do
not envy you, M'Lady. He has presented you with a burden, the purpose
of which is unknown to us." He turned around for a moment and said
"Mezlo! Attend to me!"
A short, unkempt Felinzi wearing dark robes and an beret with holes for
his ears walked over. "Yeah?" he asked.
"Mezlo, I need you to sit still and advise me in a moment."
"Okay," the Felinzi replied.
"Kitty, I need to ask you a question, and I need you to answer me as
honestly as you can. How do you feel about non-Humans?"
Kitty blinked and said, "What do you mean? I'm a Pendorian; I wouldn't
be here if the Hall didn't think I belonged!"
"She speaks the truth, Lord Aaden. She is not a Luccan."
"Thank you, mage. You are dismissed." Mezlo bowed and wandered away.
"Forgive me, Kitty. I had to be sure."
Kitty nodded. "The Luccas are all human?"
"To a one," Aaden said. "That is why I was suspect; you are human. Not all
humans are Luccas, Kitty, but it is getting hard to tell them apart. The
Luccas do not accept ought else."
"M'Lord," a voice interrupted.
"Healer," Aaden replied. "What news?"
"The dragon will live, Lord Aaden, and he will fly again. He must not move
for several days, however. The Healer's Strength has become unconscious,
M'Lord, and I fear for her; it was a task worthy of Gregor's strength, and
he is not here to see it- she has certainly overextended." Aaden nodded.
"I have seeking proper splinting for the Dragon in the meantime, and
for food. Looking at the beast, it will need food in great quantities. We
may need to call on the Mage."
"Thank you, Healer. Tell the Sergeant that I shall require a constant
watch of three. We shall stay here until the Dragon is ready to fly
"That is an order, Healer. The lady here has become extremely valuable
to our cause, and as she was willing to protect its peaceful dying with
her life, I do not think she would leave it in its healing." Kitty shook
her head. "Therefore, we stay. Also, tell the Mage to prepare to call
Castle Degranni; I shall need to speak to the Captain of the Guard."
"Yes sir," the Tindal replied.
"Come, Kitty. Let's us eat; you must be hungry, and we have fresh meat."
Kitty nodded, dully.
The sergeant at arms, a tall Satryl name Ahamo, was busily setting a fire
now that word had gotten to him that they would be staying a few days.
"'Ere's the stew, M'Lord," he said with a grinding sort of voice.
"Thank you, Ahamo." Aaden passed a bowl to Kitty and took another for
himself. "Are the guards set?"
"They are, Lord Aaden, they are. I'll be on the first watch. You can
call me if y'need me." Ahamo walked away, muttering under his breath.
Kitty sat down next to the fire and brought the bowl to her lips,
sipping it carefully, grabbing hold of a chunk of meat with her teeth
and chewing slowly. "M'Lady," Aaden said quietly.
"Aaden, excuse me if I play out of character for a second, but I don't
know why I'm here, what I'm doing, or what's going on. I walked the Hall
less than a month ago. I feel so... so lost."
"I can understand some of that. As I said, I am a Tleil; I am the only
Mephit in all of BackWater. I'm not sure I'm fully out of IS myself."
"IS?" Kitty asked.
"Incorporation Shock," Aaden replied. "The sudden realization that
'I am a person, not a thing.' Sometimes I am still a pre-programmed
set of memories and ideas. But one thing Vatare' didn't put into me was
BackWater; I came here because it was the fastest way to get away from
everything I knew, to 'find myself.'"
Kitty laughed. "That's funny. Ken put me here for the same reason,
to get away from what I was."
Aaden nodded. Kitty felt safe next to him, and in her exhaustion she
leaned next to him, putting her head on his shoulder. "Kitty?" he said.
"Before you make assumptions, I have something to tell you. I am not
physically attracted to your kind."
"Humans?" she asked.
"Females," Aaden replied.
Kitty rose with a start and said, "You're gay?"
Aaden laughed. "The word is entalie' in Pendorian. But yes. That much
I know. I prefer my own sex to yours."
"I didn't mean- I'm sorry."
"I am not offended. True entalie' are more rare then true erolie',
I am told. I could not have expected you to guess."
"No, no. I mean..." Kitty broke off, feeling uncomfortable. What had
she meant by lying against him like that?
Aaden put his arm around her shoulders and said, "Kitty of the Hall,
how are you?"
"Seventeen," she answered.
"And I am but two. The ground is still wet, but not miserably so. Come,
drag out what bedding you have and sleep by the fire. I have some matters
to attend to."
Kitty nodded and rose, retrieving her blankets. "Kitty," Aaden said,
"How did the dragon's wing break?"
"I... I don't know. He just suddenly got tired and couldn't fly anymore.
And we just fell."
Aaden bit thoughtfully at the thin lower lip of his muzzle for a second.
"May I ask a favor?"
"As long as I do not your friend, may I ask the Mage to examine
him and find out why he fell?"
Kitty returned the thoughtful look, then nodded. "If it'll help."
"It may. It is a mystery, at any rate."
Kitty lay down and bunched her light blanket under her head for a pillow.
Kitty nodded and fell asleep.
Aaden walked over to Mezlo, who was closely examining Pendor's good wing,
a small opaque monocle in his left eye. "What have you found, Mage?"
"I have found out why the dragon lost flight, M'Lord, but an explanation
of it would require that I leave character."
Aaden sighed and said, "People seem to be doing that a lot these days.
Okay, Mezlo, give it to me straight."
"Well, Dragon's aren't terribly aerodynamic. Apparently, even though they
qualify as a full Pendor race, they're at least partially cybernetic in
their own right. When I leave BackWater, first thing I want to read is
on Dragon reproduction."
"My guess is that Dragons are born with a trans-generational
nanotech-level mechanism installed by the previous generation's mechanism
in the womb. The mechanism builds an array of energy- scavenging
"Millions of nanotech-sized gravitics generators." Mezlo nodded. "And
they're solar powered." Mezlo nodded again. "Does this mean all dragons
can't fly at night?"
"No, M'Lord. This dragon apparently had been flying all day; any store
he had reserved had burned out immediately upon nightfall. Also, I can
think of some science that could keep them airborne."
Aaden cursed under his breath. Kitty was asleep; it would have been
useful to ask her how long she and Pendor had been airborne. "Very well,
Mage, you have cleared one mystery. We have others. I must speak with
"Yes, M'Lord. Come." Mezlo led Aaden back to where he had left his
saddlebags and dragged out a small golden sphere. As the Mage muttered
under his breath, Aaden could feel the air coming alive, could feel the
breath stirring in his chest. He felt just a little jealous of the power
Mages wielded, he admitted to himself, even when it was all illusory.
"It is ready; I am in touch with Mara, M'Lord. She has sent for the
"Thank you. Greeting, Mara."
The voice from the sphere said, "Good evening, M'Lord Degranni. How is
your journey, that you wake me so late at night?" Aaden scowled slightly
at her tone. Mara and he had had an encounter he would sooner forget;
it had been that night he had realized his lust ran towards males.
Aaden bit back his feelings and proceeded to tell the entire to
Mara in one long breath, trying to get out everything as fast as he
could. The voice that came over next was masculine and soothing, and he
relaxed when he realized it was Captain Gregor. "M'Lord, that is some
tale. You have the Sazknife in your possession?"
"I do not, Gregor. I have left it with the lady; it is her burden."
"Now one we share. The Luccas have had a pogrom." A chill crept up Aaden's
spine. "They burned a farmhouse on the edge of the Alliance territory.
Seven dead. Although they burned, Mara tells me that the was
tortured before death. They did not 'touch' the family, however."
"Luccas," Aaden hissed. "What was the family?"
Aaden closed his eyes in pain, visions of Lerea, a handsome
boy-stallion who lived with his at Degranni searing in his head.
"Gregor, a reward for whoever knows of the that did this, and
where they might be found."
"Aye, M'Lord. I have news that would interest you as well."
"I shall bring it to you personally. Tomorrow, at noon."
"We are three days from Degranni, Gregor. How do you propose to deliver
"That shall be the news, M'Lord. Speed has come to Degranni."
The dawn spread slowly over the land, and Kitty awoke to the sounds of
fighting. Looking up she saw two of Aaden's practicing in a corner
of the field, striking at each other with swords made of wood.
She turned over to see Sergeant Ahamo peering at her with a slight smile
in his face. "So, you're awake?" he asked. Kitty nodded. "Here, Lord Aaden
told me to feed you when you awoke. It's not sweet, but it will fill you."
Kitty nodded and took the bowl from Ahamo. It was a thick, almost pasty
gruel, and she downed it quickly, thinking to herself that it tasted
vaguely like a combination of Elmer's glue and wet cardboard. She smiled
at the anachronism.
After attending to her body's other needs, Kitty walked over to Pendor.
His eyes were still closed, but he seemed to be breathing evenly.
"G'Morning," she said quietly, touching him on his head gently.
Is it good? he replied quietly, his eyes fluttering open. He smiled a
"Does it hurt?" she asked.
Yes, the dragon replied. But your friends have been kind.
"I'm glad you're okay. I was so worried about you last night."
You thought I was going to die.
"And that's not fair. You're only two days old, Pendor. It was no fair
for you to be like that yesterday."
I am learning, Kitty. He raised his head and nuzzled it against her
shoulder. As I listen to the people around me, connections happen in
my mind. Connections that teach me what I am, what you are, what is
happening around me. I know this is called Incorporation Shock.
Kitty nodded. "I know. I heard that phrase for the first time last night."
Pendor's head turned so he could rest it's full length against her chest.
I also know something else, Kitty. And I know it's embarrassing for you
to tell me. But what you felt when you were riding me- that's called an
orgasm, isn't it?
Kitty's face burned as she thought about the incident. She wanted to
flee for a moment, then shook her head. She nodded. "Yes." Her tongue
felt and dry as she said it. "I'm sorry."
"Because I used you. Because I felt too embarrassed to tell you. I don't
You feel pleasure at riding with me. And they told me you were going to
fight soldiers with that tiny knife of yours to protect me. Isn't that
a kind of love?
"I don't know, Pendor. I just don't."
Do I frighten you?
Kitty couldn't answer for a moment, then finally nodded. It was all so
clear to him, she realized. All so simple. Yet the words, "love," "lust,"
"friendship," had different meanings for her. As Shardik had been so fond
of saying, they were tainted by Terra, Terran words. Inside, she wanted
to hug Pendor and kiss him and tell him how she felt, but she couldn't.
Pendor looked at her. Kitty, I would never you.
But you do, Kitty thought to herself. Just by being so direct, so honest.
Kitty, I have no reason to be dishonest with you. Would it stop hurting
if I were? What could I be dishonest with you about?
Kitty looked up, horrified that he had heard her. She shook her head and
said plaintively, "No, that would just more." She shook her fists in
frustration and said, "Pendor, I don't know if you can understand this.
Please try. I... " DAMMIT! she thought. I can't say it. I've got to say
it. "I love you."
She sighed, grateful to get it over with. "But I can't," immediately
followed her words.
Why not? the dragon asked, his 'voice' sad.
Kitty took a step back. "Because I'm a human and you're a dragon and
we just don't meet, anywhere. Because in so many ways both of us are
less than a year old, and I've only known you for two days, and I don't
What is there to know, Kitty? Pendor asked, confusion in his voice. All
that I am is all that you've seen. I haven't had time to be anything else.
His voice was full of pain. Kitty...
"Pendor, maybe what I feel is the kind of feeling I get when I get a
new kitten, okay? Maybe it's because you're so simple, so direct."
Is that all I can be, then? Are we back to my being a pet?
"I don't know!" she shouted, running away from him into the woods, crying.
In the back of her mind she heard him call, once, Kitty...
She stopped deep in the woods, and behind her she heard the crashing
of footsteps. "M'Lady!" she heard along with the running. The voice
"Over here," she said, her voice cracking slightly.
"M'Lady?" the voice said as Aaden appeared from behind a clump of trees.
"Here," she said quietly. Aaden walked over to her, the heavy soles of
his boots making loud crunching noises on the drying leaves. "What's
the matter?" he asked quietly.
She shook her head. Unselfconsciously, Aaden dropped himself to the
ground. "Here, sit down," he said.
"I'll get my pants wet," she said.
"It's not that damp," he replied. "Please?" he asked. She sat down.
"So," he said, "What was that all about?"
"Aaden, is it possible to love someone you can't have sex with?"
Aaden worked his jaw for a second, as if he were chewing on the thought,
and replied, "I don't know. I imagine it would be very possible, though.
Are we talking about you and...?"
Kitty nodded. "Why can't you have sex with him?" Aaden asked innocently.
"Are you kidding?" she asked. "Look at him!"
Aaden bit his lower lip again, a habit Kitty was beginning to find
annoying. "Kitty, I am a mel. Now, from one standpoint, my body was
designed. I'm the product of a gengineer's fantasy. Being a relatively
competent gengineer, however, Shardik decided not to tamper too much with
the functions evolution had created. So let's be honest for a second
and say that, to be honest, no part of my anatomy is really designed
to be penetrated, to experience the violence of even the tenderest of
lovemakings, the way a part of yours is.
"Despite this little drawback, I, and Shardik, or so I've been told, like
being on the receiving end, so to speak. You're a product of evolution,
Kitty, not engineering. You're a Terran Human. Be honest with yourself.
Your mind evolved to make you a better killing machine."
Kitty looked up at Aaden. "I don't understand."
"Natural selection prefers those that both feed themselves well and defend
their territory and genetic right to evolve well. Humans are omnivorous.
Your kind, Shardik's kind, evolved sentience because it would help them do
what they eventually learned to do better than any other species on Earth.
Kill. Trap. Attack and defend.
"What I'm getting at is that, despite this design intention, humans make
music. They draw. They sing, they paint, and they fall in love. Your
mind wasn't really created to do those things."
Kitty smiled and said, "And your body wasn't designed for some of the
things you put it through, either, I suppose."
"Exactly," Aaden said, grinning.
"Except Ken would disagree with you," Kitty said.
"Would he?" Aaden asked. "How so?"
"Everything comes back to the desire to procreate. That's his claim.
Music, Dance, Love. He told me people just do those to get laid."
Aaden laughed. "How crudely put! Still, I suppose it's possible. But that
doesn't describe me, and it doesn't describe you. I only like males,
Kitty. There's little chance of procreation there, M'Lady. And you've
fallen in love with a Dragon."
"Maybe I'm just being protective."
"Does the why matter?" Aaden asked. "And as for sex, M'Lady, you've two
hands, and he's quite a tongue. I don't see why you two couldn't have
some interesting times together."
Kitty scowled at him, then laughed. "What the Hell," she said. "It was
only a month ago I was willing to be turned into a Centaur."
Aaden laughed and said, "I'm glad that's a decision I shall never have
to make. Come back with me?" Kitty nodded and Aaden led them back to
Pendor had lain his head down on the grass, eyes open. Kitty walked up
alongside him and touched his shoulder, caressing his neck gently until
she reached the ridge that ran along the top of his head, scratching. A
She smiled and increased her pressure, enjoying the attentions she was
giving her Dragon friend. "Pendor?"
There was no answer. "I'm... I'm sorry."
Pendor turned his massive head towards her and said I know. You are a
very silly person sometimes.
That reply made Kitty feel a little angry. "Silly?"
Kitty, you protected me. You were going to give your life for me. What
is that except love?
The anger faded. She knelt down on the grass, noting to herself to ask
someone how BackWater dealt with grass stains. She leaned over and draped
her body along the length of his head and neck. "I don't know. Pendor,
I... I think I love you."
I know I love you, Kitty Moran. You saved my life.
"No, the healer did tha-" she was broken off by the sound of wings beating over head, of a huge, dark-green dragon shape flying by. It
came closer, and Aaden's were pulling out swords and preparing to
deal with it if it was threatening. "Ho, Men!" she heard a voice from
the Dragon, a voice she knew she'd heard before.
Another Dragon! Pendor nearly shouted. Hello!
There was a pause. My name is Pendor. Allegan's a pretty name! Kitty
realized she couldn't 'hear' the other dragon's conversation, a fact
she suddenly found very annoying. She wanted to know everything that
was going on around 'her' dragon. She recognized the feeling as jealousy
and began laughing. "Oh, my God," she said aloud.
"Kitty!" she heard Aaden's voice call her as the Dragon landed. "Come meet
my Captain of the Guard." Kitty left Pendor with a kiss to his massive
reptilian head and wandered over to where Aaden stood. Next to him was a
massive, wiry human, tall, wearing white leather and a steel breastplate.
"Kitty Moran, meet Gregor."
She reached out a hand. The captain bowed and kissed it. "A pleasure,
M'Lady. I am Gregor, Aaden's Captain and at arms." He turned to Aaden
and said, "This is my news, M'lord. We have a dragonfriend at Degranni.
Allegan, meet M'Lord Aaden, Master of Degranni."
Aaden bowed; the dragon seemed to. "A pleasure," Aaden said. Kitty
wondered if he had 'heard' the dragon or not. "This is interesting news.
What have we on the Luccans, Gregor?"
"Nothing M'lord. The people are frightened; they do not want to come
out and admit to knowing anything."
"I am tired," Aaden admitted, "of this entire game. Tales of seduction
and intrigue I admire; Mass murder, even simulated, is distasteful to
me. And the idea that real individuals could be participating in such
behavior revolts me."
"I know, M'Lord. It is unusual of the Gods to throw such trouble our way."
Aaden sighed heavily and then smiled. "Tell me, Gregor, how is Sufi?"
Gregor smiled and said, "His studies are doing well, M'lord. His swordplay
is quick and will be deadly when needed, but with a bow the lad is simply
amazing. I have never seen such an aim. And he speaks of you often. He
truly misses his Lord and Love."
"Good. Can you tell him, Gregor, that I shall be a few more days in the
field, awaiting Pendor's return to flight?"
"I shall, M'lord, although it shall make him most unhappy."
"As long as his studies do not suffer."
"Of course." Gregor saluted. Aaden returned the salute and watched as
Gregor remounted Allegan and the two of them vaulted skyward.
"Healer!" Aaden shouted.
"Yes, M'Lord?" the Tindal asked as he came up from the campsite.
"How is the dragon progressing?"
"We are feeding the Healer's Strength as much as her stomach can handle;
were it not for the immense demands being made of her she should grow
fat and lazy. The dragon will be fit to practice in two days."
"Two days?" Kitty asked.
"Two day, M'lady. It is a monumental task."
The two days passed without much incident. Kitty practiced with a sword
Sergeant Ahamo lent her, and she thought she was picking up the basics
rather quickly, but not without picking up a few bruises along the way.
"Ready?" she asked Pendor.
Of course, he replied. I've been sitting for three days doing nothing.
"It was better than dying," Kitty replied.
I know. Thank you again. Kitty blushed. Pendor bunched his massive legs
underneath him and with a lunge he was airborne. It's a little sore,
he told her as he flew by, but it feels great to be airborne again!
She laughed. "What did he say?" Aaden asked. She relayed the message.
"Well, we did spend a lot of time here. Kitty, could he carry you and
me to Castle Degranni?"
"Ask the healer," Kitty replied. "That's his call."
Aaden departed, returned a few minutes later. "The healer says it's okay,
as long as we let the Dragon rest the second he feels tired."
"Sergeant!" Aaden ordered.
"Sergeant, you are to break camp in one hour and make for Degranni at
best possible speed with your men. I will accompany the Dragon."
"Yes, M'Lord. Good speed to you, sir."
"And to you," Aaden replied.
Pendor landed and offered his back to Kitty and Aaden, and they clambered
on. Kitty noted with some amusement that Aaden gripped her tightly;
he was clearly more than a little frightened by the power and strength
she had befriended. "Is it always like this?" he shouted over the wind.
She laughed aloud and said, "I like it, M'Lord. I find it thrilling!"
I know you do.
"Voyeur!" she shouted at the dragon. "But I love you anyway!"
Good! the dragon replied.
The flight lasted less than two hours following the road before they
reached Degranni. Aaden instructed her to land in the courtyard directly
outside the Castle walls.
A flurry of guards greeted them, surprised by the sudden appearance of
a black dragon, then relieved to see Aaden was one of the riders. "Ho,
Gregor!" he shouted.
"Ho, M'Lord Aaden!" Gregor replied. "And how have you been?"
"Wet, cold, and lonely, Captain. How is the Castle?"
"We await your return. I have been instructed to inform thee that no
matters of court await thee."
"Good," Aaden replied, sliding off the Dragon's back. "Kitty, come with
me. Gregor," he said, raising his voice, "Find bedding for another Dragon,
if you please."
"I will endeavor, M'Lord."
"Excellent." He walked to the gates; Kitty followed. "M'Lord!" a voice
rang out from a set of steps to their left. A (in Kitty's eyes, very
young) Uncia came bounding down the stairs four at a time with such rushed
and unsteady steps that Kitty feared he would break a leg on the way down.
"Sufi!" Aaden shouted in reply as the Uncia reached the bottom step
and ran blindly for him. They crashed together and Aaden swept the
Uncia off his feet, into his arms, and kissed him on the muzzle, hard,
running licks along the fur.
Kitty felt slightly embarrassed watching the display. She had never before
watched two males kiss before; this was far more than an intellectual
acceptance of homosexuality, and she found herself fascinated by it. She
waited, a slight smile on her face, until Aaden dropped Sufi on the
ground again and said, "Sufi, meet Kitty Moran."
"How do you do, M'Lady?"
"I am... well, thank you for asking."
"Come, come," Aaden said. "Let us retire. I, for one, am desperate for
a real, hot meal, a bath, and sleep in a real bed."
"Only sleep, M'Lord?" Sufi asked with a disappointed tone.
"Perhaps other things may be in order. Come."
He led them through the inner gate and doorway, into a large hall filled
with people in all manner of garb going about the business of managing
life in a Castle. Aaden strolled into the center and called out "Pamles!"
"M'Lord?" A femFelinzi came treading out of a large wooden door
to the left.
"Pamles, would you find a room for the Lady Kitty?"
"Of course. If you would come with me, M'Lady."
Kitty nodded and followed.
Aaden smiled at Sufi and said, "Get me a meal from the kitchen, then
join me in the Lord's Chambers."
Sufi grinned and said, "As fast as I can!"
"Not that fast, Lad," he replied, grabbing the youngster by the collar. "I
will bathe first."
"Of course, of course!" Aaden released the Uncia. He shook his head
slowly and smiled, walking towards his chambers.
He made his way to the upper curved hallway of the castle, where the
residences were tucked away. His own, that of the Lord of the Castle,
were the largest; he had three rooms of his own. The receiving room was
the largest of the three rooms, replete with rare rugs and tapestries. The
other two were supposed to have been the bedroom and the office, but he
had converted the second room to suit Sufi's needs.
Once inside, he stripped off his clothing, tossing the leathers over a
wooden rack set up to hold them. The air ruffling through his now-free fur
itched painfully, and he indulged himself in a fit of scratching before
making his way to the bathtub set in one corner of his bedroom. He opened
the sluice set above it, allowing the tub to fill with unheated water,
then filled a pail and placed it above the fire.
As he was waiting for the water to come to a boil, the door opened and
Sufi padded in, carrying a tray quietly, but with an eager smile on his
face. Aaden turned and nodded to him. Sufi's smile grew as he put down the
tray and ran over, throwing his arms around Aaden and hugging him tightly.
"I did miss you."
"I know," Aaden replied. "I missed you as well." He reached up to scratch
the Uncia's head; the response was a deep and joyous purr.
Sufi pulled away to look into Aaden's eyes. "You are unhappy."
Aaden smiled and said, "I could never hide anything from you, can I?"
"If M'lord would forgive me, I am grateful that the court intrigue never
became too intriguing; you could never hide anything from anyone."
"Am I that bad?" Aaden asked.
Sufi nodded. Aaden pulled Sufi back into his lap, hugging him close.
"Sufi, what are you like on the outside?"
"You mean, outside BackWater, M'lord? Not much different. I still look
the same, if that's what you mean."
"The same youthful lad?" Aaden chuckled. "With your hormones raging
"Indeed," Sufi laughed, pushing himself further into Aaden's embrace,
snuggling as close as he could. "Why are you asking all these questions?"
"That's only two questions," Aaden said. "I'm just tired. I think... I
think I've 'found myself,' and I don't believe BackWater does it for me.
It's fun, but it's not what I want. And all the recent bloodshed makes
me very sad."
"And you'd want me to come along?"
"Sufi, you were my chamberboy before Mara, and you have been my love
for almost a year since. You have been special to me." He sighed. "I
wouldn't want to lose you."
Sufi shrugged and said, "I shall make my own decisions, Lord of Degranni.
I... I'm really happy in BackWater, M'lord. The adventure and the fun
are part of it; I don't imagine I could have been your love if I hadn't
started out as your catamite."
Aaden shivered. "Such an ugly word."
"But the truth. I cannot say I did not go willingly, but it is a
Aaden hugged Sufi a little tighter, then yawned. "Are you tired, Sufi?"
"I could stand a nap, M'lord. I see you are tired. The road is long
"Let me bathe first," Aaden said, retrieving the pail of water and pouring
it into the bath. He trailed his hand through the warmed water and found
it to his satisfaction. "Wash me," he ordered Sufi, handing him the box
holding the soap powder.
"With pleasure, M'lord. In a moment." Sufi re-filled the pail with
fresh water from the fount and replaced it in the fire. He returned,
wet his paws in the bathwater, dusted them with soap and started on
Aaden's broad chest, determined to get under the pelt to the flesh
underneath. Aaden settled completely into the water, and Sufi gleefully
stroked and massaged Aaden's shoulders and arms, working with strong,
careful practice. "You're so very tight, M'lord."
"My muscles, or in other things?" Aaden asked.
"Both," Sufi replied, laughing. He leaned over and kissed Aaden gently,
licking his muzzle and playing his tongue over the Mephit's.
Aaden lay in the water, going more and more limp as Sufi massaged the
many days of the road out of him. "Sufi?" he asked. "I'm afraid I'm not
going to be much fun, but I'm exhausted. I don't think I'm even hungry
enough to eat what you have brought me."
"I understand, M'lord. I did not expect anything from you."
"Good," Aaden sighed.
"M'Lord? Do you plan on sleeping in the bath?"
"What?" Aaden asked, opening his eyes; it occurred to him that he had
indeed been falling asleep. "No, no," he said quietly, standing up and
stepping out if the tub. Sufi took the pail of warm water he had retrieved
from the fire, Aaden assumed while he was sleeping in the tub, and ladled
it out over his fur to rinse him. It was a slow and gentle ritual they
had repeated many times in the past year, and the sensation of Sufi's
hands scrubbing under his fur conspired with his exhaustion to put him
to sleep standing up. The feeling of being wrapped up in the towel Sufi used to dry him off afterwards was even more convincing.
"Come, M'Lord. To bed with you."
Aaden quietly obeyed, walking over to the huge bed and crawling in. He
threw the covers off; it was a warm day out and he had enough fur on him.
Sufi drew the curtains, darkening the room. The curtains were not very
thick, and they gave a dark blood-red appearance to everything. He felt
Sufi crawl in next to him, and as he lay on his back, Sufi lay atop of
him, off to his left. He was amused to feel Sufi's paw find it's usual
place atop his sex. He was equally amazed to feel his sex filling with
blood. "Sufi, you're determined to get a roll out of me, aren't you?"
"M'Lord? You are tired. I'm sorry if my presence excites you. I'll leave
if you wish."
"And let my back get cold?" Aaden said, chuckling. "Don't you dare. And
"Yes, M'Lord," Sufi smiled. His paw was insistent on Aaden's sheath,
and Aaden felt his cock harden swiftly. It was an odd sort of feeling,
because he was so very tired, but there was no way he was going to fall
unconscious with this erection. It had been eighteen days on the road,
six days longer than planned, and that was a long time for him to go
without Sufi's attentions.
Sufi stroked his cock slowly, bringing it to full hardness. Aaden
sighed and tried to relax further, letting Sufi play as he would with
him. Sufi's paw closed as well as it could around Aaden's cock; Aaden
smiled at Sufi's original expression of surprise when Aaden had first
taken him; never having had anything to compare himself to, Aaden had
assumed his penis was of average size.
He felt a shifting of the bed, and opened his eyes to see Sufi straddling
his waist. "I have waited nigh on a month for you, M'Lord."
"Are you sure, Sufi?"
"There is no pain anymore, M'Lord. Just pleasure." Sufi held Aaden's
cock in place and pushed down onto it; his sphincter opened and Aaden
felt his cock sink into the warmth of Sufi's body. "I oiled myself while
you slept in the tub."
"How long was I asleep?"
"Just long enough for me to grab the pail of water and the oils." Sufi
began stroking up and down; he was still not taking the full length of
Aaden's cock, a fact Aaden was not surprised at. Sufi had one paw on
Aaden's chest; the other was stroking his own penis. Aaden rose up for a
second and tried to get Sufi's cock into his muzzle, but the best he could
manage was merely the tip. He settled back. "I missed you so, M'Lord."
"I missed you as well, child," Aaden admitted. His pleasure was rising;
he was surprised at how awake he felt sexually, since his body was craving
unconsciousness. It would never happen, not until one of them gave up.
Sufi was determined that it be Aaden; Sufi was stroking himself much
more slowly than usual, and Aaden saw that. Sufi stroked himself harder
upon Aaden's flesh, now finally taking the entire length.
Aaden could see small quivers of pain in Sufi's face with every stroke,
and he could feel the head of his sex hitting bottom. "Are you okay?"
"Fine, M'Lord," Sufi panted as he sped up even further. Aaden's
frustrations rose as his body responded. "I want to make you happy."
"Just a little further, Lad," Aaden moaned. He began pushing his hips
upwards with every thrust, meeting Sufi's buttocks on every stroke. He
was going to climax before the did. He fought it to no avail; his
orgasm, so long denied by the pressures of the road, exploded through him,
a ripping shout of pleasure as his seed flooded Sufi's insides.
Sufi looked down at him and said, "How was that?"
"Fine, you wicked little cub," Aaden mumbled gently as Sufi pulled himself
off Aaden's sex. The sensation made Aaden moan and close his eyes. They
did not reopen as he sank down into unconsciousness.
Kitty found herself not quite so much tired as merely bewildered by
the vast array of activities going on around her; the constant sounds
of animals, the braying of horses, and the shouts and clashes of steel
as Pendrii fought mock combats, preparing for real war. She watched as
a Tindal, not known for their strength, wielding only a light rapier,
repeatedly and quite handily defended himself against a Human weilding
a much heavier sabre. "M'Lady?" a voice said behind her.
"Yes?" she asked, turning around. Behind her stood Pamles, a Felinzi
wearing a heavily embroidered shrift and skirt, belted with a blue rope.
"I have been asked to show you your quarters. We have found a tent for
Kitty smiled. "He's not my Dragon. He belongs only to himself. Are my
quarters near the tent?"
"No, M'Lady. Do you require that they be so?"
Kitty thought about it for a few seconds. "I don't require it, but if
it's possible, I would very much appreciate it."
"Anything is possible, M'Lady. I'll see what I can arrange." She turned
As she left, Kitty wondered how anybody could stand being laced into
clothes as tight as Pamles's appeared to be. She wandered about the
Castle almost at random, coming upon the kitchen only after following
the smell of fresh bread. "Hello?" she asked aloud.
"Greetings, Lady," said a beefy-looking Centaur who was standing next
to a pot that looked just big enough to hold him. "I am Gelvilya. How
can I help you?"
"I smelled food..."
"And you came looking for some, eh?" he asked, laughing. "The right place
this is, trust me. I've some stew, but 'tis no doubt the bread that
just came from m'oven that dragged your nose in here, the rest of ye'
Kitty laughed and nodded. "Here, M'Lady. Grab yon dish and bring it here."
Kitty picked up the bowl, which was about a foot long, a third as wide
and as deep, and brought it to Gelvilya. He took it from her, dropped down
half a loaf of bread into it, tore the soft center out, ladled some stew
from the pot into the depression made in the breadcrust, and dropped the
bread back on top. "There, M'Lady, the household's finest stew. And there
be mead, over on the counter. 'Tis truly some of the finest in the land,
and they be m'bees, too." Kitty thanked him and asked for a spoon. "Over
yon table. Grab any one."
She found a quiet table to eat, although she was busily shooing away
flies much of the time. To her palette the bread was simply incredible,
the stew equally so. She was surprised at how hungry she was, eating
the entire meal so rapidly she worried afterwards about cramps. Still,
it was the first real meal she had had in four days, and her need for
it could not be denied.
She found after eating that she was growing tired. "That's silly,"
she said aloud. "It's not even dark yet." On the other hand, she wasn't
yet used to Pendor's thirty-hour days. How long had she been awake? She
had awakened around... dawn, she thought. She had been getting used to
waking up about then. So that would make it about twelve hours she had
been awake. "Maybe I do need a nap," she said. retrieving her pack and
her staff, she went in search of Pamles.
Pamles found her first. "There you are, M'Lady. We've given you a serving
quarter next to the stables; the Dragon is housed opposite it on the
courtyard. You'd be just a step away from his tent."
"Thank you, Pamles."
"You're welcome, M'Lady. Would you care to see it now?"
"Yes, please," Kitty said, trying to get into the spirit of the accent
and not really doing very well. She shook her head and followed the
female feline out.
Pamles led her through a variety of passages towards the rear of
the castle. To her left was a large stable, from which horses could
occasionally be heard nickering. On the right, a huge and festive-looking
tent had been erected. The flaps had been thrown closed, but she could
hear snoring coming from within. She shook her head and said, "He's
"Seems to do a lot of that, M'Lady," the Felinzi offered. "Also seems
to do a lot of eating. We were afeared that he'd spook the horses,
but there's been no sign of that."
"That's good," Kitty said. "Where's my room?"
"Over here," Pamles replied. She led Kitty through a doorway and down a
short hall. "Second door on the left; the first is storage for the tack."
"Pamles... I didn't move anybody getting this room, did I?"
"Oh, no, M'Lady. This is a spare; You're getting Sufi's room."
"Aaden's..." she fumbled for a word to describe Sufi.
"Mate is appropriate, M'Lady. Yes, I had much the same trouble when I
came to Degranni."
Kitty smiled and said, "Where are you from, Pamles?"
"In Life, or in BackWater?"
"Which is more important?"
"Well, when I came to BackWater I came to Kendre, where I was a... lady
of Senn." She blushed gently. "But it was na' the life for me. I made
my way out to Degranni 'for I wanted to live a clean life. Degranni's
just a little farming castle, no big empires, and Lord Aaden is good to
his folk. As was Lord Ijuf before him."
"And before that?"
"I was a techie at Tangent Arcology. I left when they canceled my
"Why did they do that?"
"Because with the invention of the SDisk system, Tangent To The Arc of
The Ring starship facility was no longer needed."
Kitty nodded. "Are you bitter about that?"
"Bitter? No, merely bored. I was upset; I enjoyed the macroscopic scale
of the thing. But I'm happy where I am. And there's a rumor that it may
be built anyway. If it is, I'll go back."
Kitty nodded and walked through the open door Pamles offered. The room
inside was well-appointed; the bed was big and covered in furs.
"Will you be needing me for anything else, M'Lady?"
"No, that's quite all right. Thank you, Pamles, for both your help and
"You're quite welcome, M'Lady," the Felinzi said as she closed the door.
Kitty sighed and stripped off her clothes. With nothing more than a
perfunctory washing of her face, she fell down into the bed and was
asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.
She awoke with a start, the unfamiliar smell of the bed and the sound
of horses rousing her before she remembered where she was and eased back
down. She did not at all feel tired, now; the adrenaline that had kicked
in with her waking had erased any final sensation of fatigue. She cursed
quietly and got out of bed.
A small oil lamp glowed against one wall. She didn't remember lighting
it, and wondered if maybe Pamles had returned to do so. In any event, she
appreciated the gesture and turned it up, giving the room even more light.
She took a better look around the room. There were a variety of mounted to the wall, all done with charcoal, and all marked with a quen
'Silya' mark, the first initial of Sufi's name. "You're pretty good,"
she said to the drawings. They were of a variety of male figures,
most of them in combat poses. She distinctly recognized one of them as
Aaden. "And that one must be Gregor, the Captain," she said aloud.
She found the bathtub, and the pail. Having read a few gothic romances,
she had a reasonable idea of how to go about making a bath, but the
idea of struggling with the fire seemed like a lot of effort to her. She
sighed and set about the kindling anyway, using the flame from the lamp
and some light straw to start the fire.
She knew for a fact that baths were a privilege, not a necessity, in
medieval stories, but this didn't stop her from going through the whole
rigmarole. She was glad to finally sink into the heated water of the tub.
With an efficient hand she scrubbed off as much dirt as she could. "God,"
she said quietly, "I'm an archeology project, one layer after another."
"I'm talking to myself again." Or maybe she just hoped Luke would answer
her. The book had thus far been silent since she and Pendor had had
their little accident four days ago.
With another exaggerated sigh she climbed out of the tub and looked
herself over. Her body was clean again, and she felt better than she
had in a few days; at least the bed hadn't been as lumpy as the one at
With a little effort she dressed into one of the two changes of clothes
she had found in her pack. She debated taking the pack with her,
deciding against it finally; the less of a deal she made about it,
the less likely anyone was to know it carried anything valuable. She
strapped on her knife and took her staff; everybody seemed to know how
valuable they were. She took her lantern.
The air outside was warm, but the humidity wasn't as bad as it had been
the past couple of nights. She found it comforting. With a glance around
to see if anybody else was about she walked over to the tent and found
a space between two flaps. She found a hook on a tentpole and turned the
light up a little. Inside, Pendor was rolled onto his back, and she found
herself next to one of his legs, which was hanging lazily in the air.
Hi, she heard in her head again. What are you doing up at this hour?
"You sound like my mother," Kitty said.
Do I? the Dragon asked. I'm sorry. It just seems so late.
"Why are you awake?" Kitty asked.
I'm not sure, the Dragon admitted. I guess I slept all day. It wasn't
a very long flight.
"No, but it was your first real flight since the accident. Wing okay?" she
Feels a little strange.
She walked over to the previously wounded wing and felt along it's length.
"The muscles are a little tight."
What does that mean?
"I'm not really sure. It always happen when you strain weak muscles a
little bit. It's not serious, and the more you exercise the less it'll
Can you do anything for it now? It hurts a little.
"Well, I could massage it. I don't know how effective that would be on
Could you try, please?
"Sure. Turn over." She suddenly realized how much of a production that
simple command was going to generate. The Dragon shifted, trying to ease
himself over without hitting a tent-pole and bringing the canvas down.
"Just like that," Kitty said. "Comfortable?"
Sort of. I'm lying on my other wing.
"Is that uncomfortable?"
Not really. But it will get cold in a little bit.
"Okay. I'll try and make this quick." She reached up where the wing met
body and pressed in with both hands, once again shaking her head. There
was no way she was going to make any progress; his hide was too and
there was simply too much of him for her to make any impact. She located
the strained muscles under his body and decided to change tactics; with
the balls of her palms she began striking against his body gently. "How's
Feels good, the Dragon replied. More?
Kitty laughed and began pummeling Pendor's flank harder, feeling the
knots give way slightly under her influence. "Better?" she asked.
Much the Dragon replied, flexing his wing slightly. He rolled over onto
his back again, and as he did so Kitty noticed something caught between
the Dragon's legs. At least, she thought it was something caught until
she realized that what she was staring at was Pendor's erect penis. She
blushed and turned away.
Something wrong? the Dragon asked.
"No, no," Kitty answered quickly, not sure if she should feel humor or
shame and coughing with the effort of deciding.
Oh, the Dragon replied, I understand. I'm sorry, there's nothing I can
do about it.
"No, it's okay," Kitty said. "I should get used to it; it's part of you,
after all." She walked over to his head and kissed him under the chin.
Why? the Dragon asked.
She shrugged. "I don't know. I don't know what I'm apologizing for. Just
think I should." She kept finding herself glancing up along the length
of the Dragon's body, staring at the penis staring back at her. She
finally made her decision. "Pendor?" she asked quietly.
Hmm? the Dragon responded.
"May I go and take a look at your... maleness?"
The Dragon raised its head and looked at her. I don't see why not. You're
not going to me, are you?
"I hope not," Kitty said.
Then feel free. Kitty smiled and walked around the Dragon's body again,
careful not step on his outstretched wings. She walked up to where his
legs hung in the air and stared at his penis. "It isn't that large,"
she whispered to herself. What was she saying? It was almost as big as
She jumped up gently onto his belly, coming face-to-eye with the monstrous
sexual organ of a Dragon. How does it look to you?
"Big," she answered.
You just said it wasn't that big.
"I meant in terms of how big you are. I was afraid you'd be much bigger."
Kitty felt a blush cross her face. She couldn't believe she was talking
about Pendor's sex as casually as she did his wings. But why should it
make a difference? It was just another part of his body. Wasn't it?
She reached out and touched it gently; it was about the size of her arm
and she found it fascinating. There was no way she was ever going to have
any sort of lovemaking with this dragon in the traditional sense. But
she wanted to make him feel good, to feel the pleasure he had given her
every time they had flown together.
Under the lantern light, Pendor's sex was a dark brown color, covered in
veins that pulsed silently under a thin layer of translucent skin. The
sheath it came from was heavily scaled, and she couldn't see any obvious
testes. "Well armored," she reflected quietly.
Under her fingertips she could feel its heat and its strength. It flexed
slightly, and she giggled. What's funny? the Dragon asked.
"I don't know," Kitty admitted. "It just seems so strange, playing with
your... cock, so casually like this."
I like the way your hand feels.
Kitty smiled and took tried to wrap her hand around as much of it as
she could. It was huge, and her hand just barely covered half of it.
Pendor startled; Kitty grabbed ahold of his leg to keep from slipping off.
Careful, he said.
"Shh..." Kitty said. She took his sex in her hand again and slowly
began stroking it slowly. It was hardening under her hand, but it didn't
grow at all. She had to hold on tight when he flexed the muscles in his
groin. But she stroked him incessantly.
A feeling of power grew in her, and of pleasure. Kitty, what are you
She smiled and thought as 'loudly' as she thought she could, I'm giving
you a hand.
It feels wonderful.
You can hear me!
Yes.... The Dragon's 'voice' trailed off as she pulled faster on his sex.
He groaned; she straddled his sheath with her legs and planted her bare
feet against the hollows of his thighs. Every time a shudder ran through
his body she found herself thrilled at the power she was exerting,
even as the effort was becoming tiring.
Kitty... the Dragon seemed to say even as a deep rumble broke through
his throat. So beautiful...
"Good," she said aloud, rubbing faster, giving him more friction. It was
going to be a close thing; her arms were burning with exhaustion. The
dragon shuddered hard, and every muscle in his body tensed. She ducked as
his legs tightened, and then his sex surged in her hands, pulsing. She
felt each pulse through her legs, her thighs. She closed her eyes and
felt his orgasm roll through her head, feeling as good to her as the
pain four days ago had been awful. It was a sweet, joyous feeling.
The dragon lay there, panting quietly, as Kitty slid off of him and went
in search of a towel. She found one on a table in the corner of the tent,
one meant to wash horses with, she noted. She returned and slowly wiped
up the little rivulets of semen that had deliquesced and run down the
sides of his body, collecting somewhat on his left wing.
Kitty... the Dragon spoke after a short while.
"Hmm?" Kitty asked. It was becoming impossible to keep her grin off
Is that what you feel when we fly? That kind of pleasure?
She nodded. "Yup. That's how good it feels to fly with you."
I'm jealous, the Dragon said, the seriousness of his words betrayed by
the obvious pleasure and humor radiating off of him. You can do that
all the time.
"Women are like that, Pendor. A Fact of Life, so to speak."
It was wonderful, the Dragon said. And now I'm tired enough to go back
"Me, too. I should have them bring a bed out here."
Not tonight, the Dragon said quietly. They're all asleep. Wait until
tomorrow. Go sleep in your human bed. He raised his head and leaned
close to her. She took his head in her hands and kissed his nose softly;
he returned the favor, licking her cheek with his tongue.
Goodnight Kitty, my sweet.
The Journal Entries of Kennet R'yal Shardik, et. al., and Related Tales
are Copyright (c) 1989-2000 Elf Mathieu Sternberg. Distribution limited
to electronic media not-for-profit use only. All other rights are reserved
to the author.