For Dinner:  Smorgasboard of various Lokiite meats, especially Hymflee meat served various ways.
Mood:  Finding beauty in the strangest places...
Written in the Year of our Lord 3580, April 1st, Monday night.
Location:  At the foothills of the Conqueror mountains, west of Vagnar, on the continent of Laufey.

     Y'know, it really isn't a good idea to start a trip on April Fool's Day....

     Especially over an alien planet where the smallest kid on the street would slit your throat as soon as look at you, if there was something in it for them...

     Not that I'm cynical or anything. Heavens no.

     Glutheim chartered a flying transport. There was a pilot and a copilot/weapons expert, both of them of the smaller, squat bearded Norhym, just like Myranag, whom I met in the shuttle coming to Loki.   (By the way, when the Lokiites are female to age forty...the Norhym have the beard then, also. It's a little disconcerting.) The wings were a little smaller than I expected, compensating for the greater air pressure at sea level.  It was an ornithopter, not going at a great speed. The idea was to tour, not to speed by.

      I tried to introduce myself to the pilot and copilot. Glutheim treated them with quiet contempt.  I guess, in a way, it should make me feel better that humans were not the only sentients in the universe with a problem with race relations...

     However, all they offered were their names.



      Pilot and co-pilot, respectively. So in all there were eight of us...the two of the flight crew, the two soldiers (with one child), Glutheim, the priest Nirut, and myself. The flight crew and soldiers and child were female, and Glutheim, Nirut and myself  were male.

      We followed the river Niria out of Vagnar, following the sun Surtur as it fell in the sky. Like Earth, the sun rose in the east and set in the west.  There was a strange beauty in the sun, slightly more orange than Sol at the best of time, in the swirling multicolored clouds as it dipped into the west, reflected against the river Niria. To the south, we saw from faroff the foothills of mountains, and I guessed those were the Conqueror Mountains that Cynthia Bustilloz had talked of.

       Then the priest, Nirut started singing/reciting.  His beard blazed even brighter against the setting sun, and the corona of crimson that the clouds transformed it into.  He looked gaunt, like Napoleon III.  His singing had an odd inflection, sometimes raising to the pitch that I had thought perhaps was screaming in other Lokiite music. Here is a clumsy translation:
       Setting bloody, the sun is bowing
      Cruelly hot, Creators' bauble
      Far is Fane, Fantasy fulfilled,
      World-forgotten, wanton and wise,
      Might immeasurable, times merry,
      Neverending, denying night,
     The sun is a spark, sizzling slowly,
     Pale against Fane's power, poor and pitiful...

      On the river far below us we saw boats with nets, catching the riverlife darting by.  We passed small villages, some of whom were devoted to the riverlife and its catching, and some which were small industrial plants. Their pollution filled the air...and oddly enough, is one of the few times I didn't get the strong smell of sulphur that tinged most of the air.

      The vegetation was a bright crimson, the predominate color of Lokiite plantlife. The far-off mountains were rubies surmounted with diamonds, as red treelike plants climbed the lower slopes, and ice and snow were near the top.

     Insectlike animals buzzed around me, with vicious stingers. The others seemed oblivious to them.

      We stopped at an inn. As usual there were stares directed to me, the alien. One of the soldiers and one of the pilots stayed with our ornithopter. The meal was a grand smorgasboard of Lokiite food, with an accent of the fishlike life in their rivers. Hymflee was the main meat, served in a dozen different ways.  Of course, I had to alter the food with my nanoprocessor to make it acceptable to my tastes.

       Without that nanoprocessor, I'd starve to death, in the middle of a feast.



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