Author's Note: This came about as a result of someone accusing me of being too serious. Enjoy if you will, and spot the gaping holes of logic and absolute absurdity.


Most other dragonets didn't have an aunt whom had wrestled mana creatures from another continent, but then again, most other dragonets didn't have T'anreth as an aunt. She visited her brother's household quite often, every season, to be exact, and on the second day of her stay after breaking fast with a steel-head trout would be subsequently free for the rest of her stay after the dragonets' father had settled matters with her.

"Aunt T'anareth, have you seen a hot-air balloon before? You know, one of those human-invented novelties that fly in the sky?"

"Why, but of course," T'anareth replied, picking at her well-endowed jaws with a claw. "I was even stuck in one of them for half a season, and it was absolutely enough of an experience that both Dragonlord and Dragonmother forbid I should ever set foot in one of those human contraptions again. One's wings are most certainly suited for the task just fine."

Sensing another potential tale from their aunt, the brood- all three of them- immediately set about to pawing at their aunt's rich brown forelegs. Bug-eyed tentacled creatures from the deeps were no match for her rifle, as were exotic and equally ferocious animals from the southern reaches of Karnos (which were subsequently prepared in accordance with instructions from the natives and promptly consumed in accordance to T'anreth's philosophy of not wasting where possible). Their aunt had escaped from hordes of barbaric humans, faced down water elementals and helped repair the Bulwark at one point. Surely this would prove to be another interesting tale.

"Well, it all started when I received a very nice letter from Commander Th'raxis at the Bulwark. I did tell you younglings about him before, haven't I? A very nice gentleman, and most definitely generous with the springclaw appetizers, I must say. Anyways, he was planning another incursion for some reason or the other- I can't remember now- and requested my presence immediately at the Bulwark. 'Without High Astromancer T'anareth, no war panel is truly complete,' he wrote in his letter. 'Give me her to advise my armies, and I will crush the brutish Black Dragonflight for once and for all.' Well, he was so flattering, and the springclaw appetizers were really, really good, so I quickly set my affairs in order and set out for the Bulwark."

"But didn't you tell us the last time you visited that you'd once saved the Black Dragonflight's Flight-Mother-" one of the dragonets began, but was shushed quickly by her siblings. Peering at the dragonet in question, T'anareth took her time picking out a pickled anchovy and chewing it.

"Well, yes," she said at last. "I suppose I'm very good friends with the Black Flight, but so am I on equally good terms with the Red, and to support this scheme of Th'raxis' would end the horrible stalemate that has been going on at the Bulwark for as long as everyone can remember, even me. I reasoned that the sooner their spat was over, the sooner peace could return even if it did mean one side losing."

At that, the dragonets nodded in unison. Who could argue against spreading peace and harmony? Picking out another anchovy from the jar, T'anareth chewed thoughtfully.

"Well then, flying to the Bulwark would indeed be a very tiring task from the Arcane Academy, and I wouldn't be very useful to Th'raxis if I arrived worn out. Fortunately, there was a human nearby with this 'hot-air balloon', and I was able to use my connections to hire it from him. While he was not initially pleased with the idea even with the prospect of peace, a small sum of money changed hands, and my valet and I, along with my luggage, were off and safely in the air, powered by two standard model ar-en-kal-seven ether-engine propellors the human had procured a little while back.

"Well, the plan had been to sail directly to the Bulwark and land there, but when we had nearly reached Cinderstorm Canyon we were beset upon a band of Black Flight infiltrators who'd managed to dig their way past the Bulwark. It seemed that they'd managed to catch wind of the fact that I, High Astromancer T'anareth, had come to lend my aid to the Red Dragonflight, and of course no one wanted to lose- both sides were always bad losers, if you get what I mean. Well, without further ado, the brutes started shooting at me, though I don't think they recognized me at that distance, or they'd have stopped immediately."

"How terrible! Whatever did you do, aunt?"

"Well, I'd expected some travel time and thus brought along this copy of 'The comprehensive world encyclopedia, volume seven and three-twelths'," T'anareth said as she proudly produced a gleaming, brand-new copy of the book, its metal covers bright and shining. "Unfortunately, I didn't get to read very much of it- as soon as the brutes started firing at us, I had my valet drop enough ballast so as to have the balloon rise just out of reach of the black-scales' fire, then as their rounds just began to drop back, I swatted them back at their owners with the encyclopedia, killing every single one of them stone dead. Of course, my valet hadn't been idle all the time- while I'd been busy returning fire, he'd picked more stray bullets out of the air with his bare hands and started dumping them in the basket. In fact, he picked out so many that not only was there enough for us to make up for the lost ballast, but so much so that our anchoring rope was close enough for us to descend and loot whatever we could off the bodies without wasting the gas within."

There was a moment of silence as the dragonets digested that. "I thought looting bodies was frowned upon," one of them piped up.

"Oh, we didn't take any valuables. My valet and I thought it would be good to let the broods of those we'd been forced to do in know what happened to them. I don't think my friendship with the Flight-Mother suffered any; it was all a big misunderstanding."

"That was very thoughtful of the two of you."

"But of course. Be a dear and get me more anchovies, will you? Now where was I? Oh, yes. So when we were done, the two of us climbed back into the balloon and dumped the extra munitions we didn't need, and before long we were on our way again. Unfortunately, neither of us had noticed that one of the propellers had been damaged in the crossfire, and by the time we awoke the next morning an ill wind had pushed us all the way across half the continent to Drydust Marsh, and so began a very long season."

"Didn't you say it was half a season?"

At that, T'anareth hemmed, hawed and grunted, actually considering that for a moment. "Well, since you've all been very good younglings, I'll let you in on a secret. You see, when you're bored, time seems to go by slowly, doesn't it? It only stands to reason that if you're really, really bored, and by that I mean stuck-in-a-balloon-over-a-dismal-swamp bored, time won't just seem to slow down, it will really slow down. That's how a whole season to me was really half a season in the outside world. You've got to keep this a secret, though, or else the other professors might try to steal my theory and claim it as their own idea."

The dragonets nodded. That made sense. "Of course we won't tell anyone, Aunt. But why didn't you just leave the balloon and fly home?"

"Well, hasn't your father always told you to return things in the same condition as you found them? No doubt the human would be terribly upset if the two of us returned without his balloon, and I wouldn't feel good about it, either. Now where was I? So there my valet and I were, drifting aimlessly with one broken propeller and not daring to turn our remaining one on for fear of going in the wrong direction- you know, when you know next to nothing about swamplands, all directions seem the same."

"But the sun-"

"Doesn't rise and set in the same direction down there as it does in here," T'anareth replied firmly, clutching at her tail. "It just doesn't- that's one of the greatest mysteries of astromancy. I'm an astromancer, I should know. Now don't interrupt me again with odd questions like this, you hear?

"So anyways, there we were, when a whole swarm of small mana creatures just appeared from over the horizon and started swarming around the balloon; I think it was the engine or somesuch. Now, I've told you before that during my time with the Academy's Exploration and Research Force, I briefly went to the newly discovered continent of Jazul and played a little with the more harmless of the native wildlife. It seemed that they'd managed to track me down in order to express their thanks in their own peculiar ways and to be honest I was glad for their company, what with it being just the two of us in the balloon for so long with a whole pile of trophies we pinched from the black-scales. Good thing a Boinkbong didn't come across the ocean with them, too."

"What's a Boinkbong?" One of the dragonets asked as she absent-mindedly chewed on a rock.

"Oh, they're very ferocious magical creatures from Jazul. They try to eat anything just to see if it's edible; hear they can bite off someone's head in an instant. You can't hear about them or find them in any book in the Academy, because anyone who meets one gets their head bitten off. These anchovies could have used a little less salt. Where's the water trough? There? Good.

"While I was in the Exploration and Research Force, I managed to get a native-made Boinkbong warding talisman from one of my fellow researchers- paid a good sum for it, too, since the natives didn't speak our language and he said it made bargaining hard. Anyways, it most certainly worked- ever since getting the talisman, I never saw a Boinkbong at all, it must have kept them all away.

"So there we were in the air for a whole half a year until we managed to catch sight of the coast, and upon reaching it we let out just enough gas from the balloon so that we could land. There was a convenient leviathan nearby, and my trusty valet wasted no time in rigging a saddle and tow out of spare rigging so that the beast could tow us and the balloon all the way back along the coast to the port city nearest to the Academy. Of course, our appearance raised a bit of a ruckus, but we talked the governor into hushing it up and letting the poor beast go free, with a meal for its efforts, of course. The balloon was duly returned to its frantic owner, and by the time I got back to the Academy Th'raxis had concluded his campain, writing in to say that it was a shame I couldn't come and sending two whole crates of springclaw appetizers."

"But what did you eat, then?"

"Wild birds, mostly," T'anareth replied. "We lured them to the balloon with bits of the gas system that looked very much like worms, then caught them and tied the black-scales' treasures to their feet so they were too heavy to fly away. Of course, after finishing off a bird we would gather together all the bones, feathers and other scraps and grind them up into powder before feeding them to the birds. The poor creatures must have supposed it was milled grain they were getting, and perhaps it was better than grain- after the first breeding pair we managed to catch, we didn't need any more- the birds bred far too fast and too many that we couldn't eat enough of them to produce enough feed for them all and had to let some of them go. What a pity and waste."

Indeed, over the daily meal that day the dragonets agreed that quite probably no one would ever come close to having the sheer amount of adventure their aunt T'anareth had, and her sheer ingenuity at dealing at the most amazing circumstances which would have left themselves stumped.