Lady Terra leaned over to one side, so that she would have a better view of Yessonarah around Nichol Borrin’s shoulder. The lizzie city-state was quite impressive. It rivaled Port Dechantagne in overall size, and was much more dense. Surrounded by a great stone wall, it stretched up the side of a mountain on the right and touched the shores of a large lake on the left. Within, were a multitude of wooden and stone buildings. Poking up from among them, were six large pyramids and five other enormous buildings.
“Let’s move along,” she told Nichol.
The iguanodon upon which they sat started forward at his command, but with a pronounced limp due to a horrible gash on its right flank. This uneven movement caused the two men squeezed into the howdah behind Terra to bump into her with its every step. It took the better part of the morning for the poor creature to make it from the hilltop to one of the large gates in the city wall.
As they approached, hundreds of lizzies stopped what they were doing to stare and point and the strangers. It was perhaps not the event that it might have once been. Human visitors were no longer completely unheard of. Still it was an unusual sight, even without the severely wounded mount.
Just inside the gates, the dinosaur stopped in front of a wooden building. Two human men and three lizzies came running out, joining the hundreds of lizzies who were watching from both sides of the broad street.
“Nichol, what happened?” asked a grey bearded man, looking up. “Where are the others? Where is Uncle Phoebus?”
“Dead,” came the reply. “All dead.”
The driver slid down from his mount’s shoulder and tapped the beast on his front leg until he sank as close to the ground as possible. The two men on the back hopped down and then the three of them held their arms up for Terra. The girl climbed out of the howdah, turned, and dropped backwards into their waiting arms.
“Seven men lost on one trip,” said the older man in a barely audible voice.
“Only six,” said Nichol. “Claude broke his arm playing rugby and stayed home.”
“What happened?” asked the other man from the building.
“Gorgosaurus—seven or eight. They hit us all at once. We didn’t stand a chance. I would be dead too, if it wasn’t for Lady Terra. The beast hit Choco on the haunch and knocked us ass over teakettle. She just stood up and shot it in the face.”
“Thank you, My Lady,” said the older man.
“I expected a .45 would only make him angry,” said Terra. “Still it’s better to do something than nothing in those situations. Surprisingly, it hurt him enough to send him on his way.”
“I’ve never heard of the gorgoes working in a team like that.”
“Mating season,” said the old lizzie just behind him in spit-n-gag, as humans frequently called the lizzie tongue. “Unattached males will hunt in groups until mid-summer.”
“I’m Garl Borrin,” said the man, taking Terra’s hand and pumping it so hard her entire body shook. “Come inside where we can offer you some hospitality.”
“We haven’t eaten in two days,” said Nichol. “We used the last of our water yesterday.”
“Sweet Kafira! Come, come. Kellerick will take care of your mount. We’ll get you fed and get some water into you. You must be ready to collapse, My Lady.”
“Well, I wouldn’t say no to a cup of tea and a biscuit, but what I really need is to clean up and change clothes. I may end up naked, as we’ve lost my entire collection of luggage. I shall be very cross if I find a gorgosaurus wearing my best new evening dress.”
Some two hours later, Terra left the building, which turned out to be the offices of The Borrin & Tate Trading Company. Guided by one of the lizzie employees, she trudged up street, among the great throngs of reptilians going about business of their own. The Borrins had supplied her with a fresh khaki shirt and trousers. Though both were size small, they were huge on her. The sleeves of the shirt were rolled up four times, giving her huge cuffs at her wrists. They matched the huge cuffs at her ankles. Her own belt now struggled to hold up those pants and to support her holster and the heavy pistol. She was able to wear her own boots and helmet too, but while she hadn’t mentioned it to anyone, she had simply forgone any attempt at underwear.
As they walked along, the lizzies avoided her even more than they did in Port Dechantagne.
“They have never seen an adolescent human,” explained her guide. He might have meant wild human, as the lizzie word for adolescent and wild were the same.
“Is the god at home?” she asked, looking skyward as they passed the base of a massive pyramid.
“No, but he is expected for the Spring Festival.”
Terra was exhausted by the time they reached the palace gate. She couldn’t remember ever having walked that far. By the gate stood a massive lizardman whose body was painted completely red.
“This human is here to see the king,” said her guide to the guard, and then to her, “I will bid you goodbye.”
Terra watched him walk back the way they had come. She took off her helmet and wiped the perspiration from her brow with her sleeve. Then she looked up at the frightening red creature towering over her.
“If they chopped you up, they could make four of me and still have something left over.”
The lizzie took a step back and hissed.
“Take me to your leader, please.”