[Bonus post! I am so delighted of the technical discussion of dragon-duelling (on sythyry.livejournal.com) that I proclaim a bonus post!]
Vaareng picked himself up off the blue pebbles, and put the Great Titan Sanatarium into his disobediently injured leg, restoring it completely. Another tactical mistake: he should have restored his the Small Wall first, he realized as the flames scorched his tail and the blizzard froze his face.
Well, there was no time for that. His enemies were on the wing and climbing. He leapt into the air, ignoring the ache of the broken carpals in his left hind wing and the laughter of his supposed-equal Lergnance.
As he struggled to climb, Melivras and Tyozangi turned and dived at him, in a tight, practiced unison. Both of them swiped at his face with fierce glittering claws, threatening his eyes again. Vaareng refused that injury again, blocking them with his own forepaws.
And was surprised by terrible pain in both forewings. The two smaller dragons had slammed into them, ripping at them with teeth and whatever claws were available. He swing his stinger-tipped tail in a wild lemniscate, scratching Melivras’s flank … but he was falling, forewings newly ruined and useless, one hindwing pressed past its endurance.
The circle of pebbles was extraordinarily hard. Melivras and Tyozangi stooped and struck, giving him vast gashes and gulleys in the scales of his back and flank. Their breath weapons fell upon him as twin hells, and Tyozangi’s tail cracked his skull.
“Hold, hold! I surrender, I yield myself, I am done!” Vaareng wailed.
“The Duello Prolongato style of Terrace goes to twelve touches by each participant,” noted Sgerecs, watching the duel with a duellist’s eye, and commenting on each blow. “Heavens, Vaareng, such a bite from even Tyozangi’s smallish fangs must hurt! And there is the question of whether the ones count which happened before the form was mentioned. Now I know that bite stings; Melivras has bitten me often enough. Of course, I don’t think either of them agreed to the form, and, since you had done them the favor of starting the battle before they had agreed to the form, I do believe that you are still technically negotiating what the form is. The actual duel is yet to come. If you’re still up for it of course. Were you planning on using that foreleg any time soon, Vaareng? I hope not, or those plans will require considerable revision.”
Standing over Vaareng’s ruined body, Melivras asked Tyozangi, “Would it be ungracious to kill him, do you think?”
“Well, technically he is a wedding guest, so I imagine it would be considered a bit rude by some dragons,” mused Tyozangi. “Besides, you were copulating with him yesterday, and killing him today would smack of inconsistency and ambivalence.”
“Quite true, my new and extremely effective husband! And furthermore I think it makes a better story, to be spread more widely and more often, if he tells it himself. I must say, any residual uncertainty about whether I chose well or poorly this afternoon has now been washed off in a pool of our first enemy’s blood! We could have done better in certain spots, and I’m sure after duodecades of battling side by side we will — but this is a delightful start!” She frowned at Vaareng. “Still, I don’t like that stinger.” She bit it off the tip of his tail, and spat it out. “Tyozangi, dear, could you incinerate that for me please, and then keep Vaareng from inconveniently expiring?”
Tyozangi was more than happy to oblige. He lifted Vaareng’s head in one foreclaw, and crammed the Great Titan Sanatarium into him. “No dying, you.”
Vaareng hissed miserably at his victorious rival, and thought for some long time before obeying.