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"Good Lords of the Fengak," Braden said. "Not you, too."

"You say that," responded Lucasta, "as though there were something wrong with the pass time."

"Not wrong, per se, my pet, only -- well, you know, it is something of a fashion right now. I always thought you a bit more --"

"Original? Trendsetting? Idiosyncratic?"

"I'll let you choose, my sweet, you're so much better with words than I am. But, honestly ... tachyderms?"

"And why not? The Lucretias have a long history in breeding of hunting tachyderms. Granted, some have dabbled with fringe exotics like minmoths, but there have been eras when Lucretia Longhairs were considered worth their weight in Vin de Woldecott."

Braden realized himself on shaky moral, as well as marital, ground, and poured himself another glass, this time of the '23 Rondemel. If he were going to have to listen to yet another tachyderm aficionado, at least he would enjoy the experience.

He did understand the appeal, somewhat. Tachyderms resembled the Nihumet? Mammoths. (There were those who speculated they were related, but they were of the same sort that said that civilization was created by a strange race of Space Gods whose Flying Cigar had crashed in the mythical Xtant Mountains, so who could trust them? I mean, really, even Grayson Dawes wasn't that cracked a pot.) Instead of being large and shaggy, with great flapping ears, mighty trunks, tremendous tusks, and a ponderous movement, however, tachyderms were never seemed to were small, hairless (with one small exception), and never seemed to actually move. They did, in fact, get from place to place, but without (so far as could be perceived) ever moving their legs. Thus the name "tachyderm," from an ancient Kroon dialect for "unstuck."

Tachyderms were, of course, quite intelligent creatures, even though they were only the size of a very small pony or very large (and rotund) dog. Because of their prehensile nose, they were excellent hunting creatures, able to sniff out, reach, and retrieve prey seemingly before anyone seemed to know that they actually wanted to go hunting, which some considered took the sport out of the matter, and others claimed made it a much more civilized hobby.

Another positive feature of tachyterms, as hunters (not so much as house pets) was that their staple of diet was hair and fur. This made hunting for some game natural for them, though they were of little use when it came to tracking down molerats.

There were rumors that, though they could not speak, tachyderms were actually prophets of a sort, or harbingers of fortune or doom. More than once they had been found holding things that seemed unsequential or post-anachronistic (indeed, the Church Of Prescient Anachronism had been founded based on the activities and mute foretellings of one particular tachyderm, Rumbo, who, in addition to having particular large ears (such that some joked he might be able to fly with the proper headwind), had been known to show up in odd places with the most amazing gadgets and samples of flora, only some of which turned out to be neither poisonous nor explosive).


"Yes, my cricket?"

"Your expositing aloud again."

Braden blinked, then looked down at the tachyderm Lucretia was scrubbing down with a sweet spice solution (tachyderms tending to smell of curry, dishwater, and politicians if left to their own devices). He supposed there were worse things his new bride might have taken up doing whilst he was puttering about the countryside, wine tasting and keeping an eye out for one of those souvenir VortexBlasters that occasionally popped up at flea markets. Tachyderms, at least, never seemed to need housebreaking and --

The tachyderm looked up at him. There was a slight stir of movement, a blurring, accompanied by a tingle on Bredan's skin and an odd, faint gonging noise. The tachyderm had something rolled in its trunk, which it handed to him.

"I'm afraid," he told Lucretia, "the little Dickens has been rummaging around in your desk, dear, this looks like some sort of official certificate of some --" He stopped, blinked, looked at the tachyderm, then at his wife, then at the paper again. "Well, that's certainly put a different complexion on things."

"What is it, dear?" asked Lucretia, reaching over and taking it from his abruptly numbed fingers. She read it, while he locked gazes with the tachyderm.

"Well!" she exclaimed, then scratched the creature behind it's large, fan-shaped ears. "Now, isn't that a good one, yes, such a clever one it is."

"But --" Braden paused, then began again. "But ... who'd name their child Simon!

-- From Unlikely Stories Father Used to Tell Me, by Simon Sayers Petherbridge Polz, Earl Eastward (Coffee Press: Bodea-Lotnikk (2998))

Category Creatures

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