To celebrate author Catherynne Valente’s extra special upcoming visit to the Encino-Tarzana Library on Thursday, May 12th, we are featuring an excerpt from a short story she has written especially for each stop on her current book tour!
The short story is called Nine Lessons from a Wyverary Governouresse and has nine parts.
The Encino-Tarzana Library is proud to present Part 5: On the Nature of Wyverns.
(To read Part 4, click here, and you will be taken to Skylight Books website.)
Nine Lessons from a Wyverary Governouresse
5. On the Nature of Wyverns
Wyverns are very like dragons, but entirely different. The most obvious difference concerns our feet. Dragons have four, Wyverns have two—no ridiculous dinosaur forearms to wiggle uselessly at the moon. In addition, the chief hobby of Dragons is hoarding. They scarf up treasure wherever they can find it—palaces, certainly, that’s an easy mark. But also banks, stock exchanges, law firms, and other monstrous lairs. They are not above clawing raw gold out of the mountainside, nor even sneaking into taverns at night and stealing the 20th Anniversary of the Thrashing of King Goldmouth Commemorative Dish (Realle Golde) right off the wall. Dragons are better at sneaking than you think—they don’t like anyone to know, but I’ve no trouble with tattling on my cousins. A real Dragon can fold up just as thin as you please, like a piece of paper creased a hundred times.
What do they do with all this glittering, lovely treasure? Well, they hoard it, don’t you know. Dragons offer interest rates to rival any investment bank. It’s all a trick to bring in the good stuff without the trouble of sneaking—Stow Ye Gold With Usse, Dubble Ye Money in Just Onne Centuree! And if you come back in a centuree to get it, why, they’ll offer you such riches to let it lie with them for just a few more years! What’s a millennia between friends? You don’t need Granny Squashblossom’s lifesize sapphire war-horse right this moment, do you? And in their caves they run gems over their tongues in the dark, savoring their sweetness.
Wyverns do not hoard. We are not immune to the excitements of treasure—who is? But hoarding is, well, it’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just sitting there on a mountain of doubloons and magic lamps. The brain of a Wyvern is a more organized place. Given a room full of gold and silver and malachite and topaz, we would prefer to sort it. Wyverns love to categorize, to organize, to strategize—anything ending with -ize, really. There ought to be a new word: Wyvernize. To devise ornate systems of organization. This is certainly why my mother was so enamoured of the Library she took as a mate and who was our father—what better system of sorting could there possibly be?
It’s never so simple as gold goes with gold, silver with silver, ivory with ivory, emeralds with emeralds. The possibilities are so much greater! Sort metal with metal, stone with stone—well, that’s easy. But what about Treasure Won by Deceit? Treasure Won by Fair Fisticuffs? Treasure Not Won But Lost? That’s better Better still: Things Which Are Precious Because Someone Loved Them? And Things Which Are Precious Because Someone Died For Them? And Things Which Are Precious Because Someone We Knew Thought They Were Beautiful?
That is how Wyvernization is done.
(To read Part 6, click here, which will take you to the Borderlands Books website.)
Don’t forget to join us on Thursday, May 12th, from 4-5 p.m. for our Fairyland Cosplay Tea Time with author Catherynne Valente!