What to Do When You Finally Grow Up
I floated through my bedroom window, and got Osoth to go away, before the egg finally came out. This is a good thing. I might have had to carry the vile thing miles through the air.
And yes, it was a vile thing. Dragonesses are supposed to be very fond of newly-laid eggs. I don’t see how they do it. A newly-laid egg is sticky and glowy and translucent. It smells rather like everything else that comes out of my cloaca. I don’t know any reason why I should like it better than anything else that comes out of my cloaca.
Older fertilized eggs with dragonets growing in them are a different matter. Once they’ve been cleaned up and the shell has hardened, they smell very cute. This is important for the survival of the species. Otherwise nobody would put up with them for the duodecades it takes them to hatch.
But when mine finally went plop on the floor in the middle of my bedroom, it was a real effort not to burn it to ashes immediately.
Of course I mustn’t do that. Mom had flown into the room while I was squeezing the egg the last of the way out. When she saw me rear my head back, she said, “Stop, Jyothky!”
Well, I almost breathed it at her instead. “Why? It’s disgusting! You burn your eggs up every year!”
“We’re going to have to clean this one up and show it around. You can destroy it afterwards.”
“You never show yours around,” I said.
“When one has a sixty-three-year-old daughter, as I do, it is not so hard to convince anyone that one is a sexually mature dragoness,” she said. “You, dear one, are another matter. Everyone expected you to lay your first egg a dozen years ago, and that would have been somewhat late. Since it has taken so long, after that back injury, best that the evidence be undeniable.”
I did breathe fire, just a little, at her then. It could have been very bad, because my mhelvul maid Thujia was next to her, scrubbing away at some disgusting sticky bits on the floor that had come out of me along with the egg. Mom spread her wings to catch the fire. I presume that hurt Mom a bit (Mom, like every dragon I’ve ever met so far, can feel). Mom believes in Uplifting the Small People, which includes not killing them except for some good reason.
(I would have been sad to kill Thujia too of course. I’ve only killed a few small people, more by mistake than not. Sad and embarrassed — now that I’m an adult I’m not supposed to make that kind of mistake anymore. Also Thujia has been my maid the last seven or eight years and I like her.)
Usually when I breathe on Mom, she scolds me. This time she didn’t. She just looked sad. “Let’s go to the river and get you washed up. Thujia can scrub the egg clean.”
“I’d rather go back to the Indigo Desert,” I said. I don’t like being in water very much. (Flying is a bit awkward for me, since I can’t feel where the air is on my body, but aeroception makes up for that mostly. (If you don’t have that sense, it’s awareness of where the air is near you and what it’s doing.) Swimming has all the problems of flying, but of course there’s no such thing as “aquaception”, so I’ve got to rely on less direct senses to know what’s going on. Usually the only one that’s saying anything useful is dangersense, which is constantly shouting you’re about to drown!. So I hate swimming.)
“You don’t want egg-mucus caked up with dust on your belly,” she said. “I know that very well. Once — after you were laid, but before you hatched — I laid an egg out in the Rasputranus Desert. As soon as it was out I wanted your father, and we coupled in the sands for a long time. Afterwards I had to get three mhelvul with hammers and chisels to clean the gunk off. It was as hard as sandstone, and as tough as shell-leather.”
Embarrassment #1: Mom knows more about laying eggs than I do. It’s not fair! Just because she’s done it three hundred times or so, and I’ve done it once. And she can feel what’s going on and I can’t.
Embarrassment #2: Mom was talking to me about coupling with Dad. Adults talk to each other about sex all the time — and in a lot more detail — but not very much when children are around. Except the last fifteen years or so. They’ve been talking to each other about it when I wasn’t quite nearby, but close enough so that I could hear.
But this is the first time I’ve been included in the conversation. With Mom, at least. Arilash says all sorts of things that a dragonet shouldn’t hear. I know how I’m supposed to respond, too, because I was eavesdropping for those fifteen years. I’m supposed to tell a more impressive story on the same topic. Leading to Embarrassment #3: I don’t have any stories. I can’t even make one up, to Mom! She’d know it was fake, veriception blocks or not. Mom can be an adult at me, but I can’t be one at her.
So we went and splashed around in the river. I looked a lot cleaner. And I didn’t smell quite so much like sticky stinky dragoness, so I probably felt a lot better too. Whatever “feeling better” is like.
But … I have my coming-of-age party tomorrow! I can’t wait! And everyone’s eager to get the mating flight flying, too.
I’ve never been to a coming-of-age party before. Children aren’t allowed. Arilash used to tease me about what was going to happen to me. “You have to go copulate with all the grownup drakes on the whole planet!” she told me when I asked her about it.
“Did you, Arilash?” I used to ask.
“I did ‘em all twice, and the dragonesses too! They had to import some extras from Chiaract to satisfy me!” she said.
I stopped believing her when she said she was coupling with other females. I can’t think how that would work, even if anyone could imagine trying to do it.
Ythac never lied to me, I don’t think. He’s one of my fiancés, not one of my rivals, so he ought to be trying to make me like him. I don’t think lying to me would make me like him. Anyways, he said that you’re just supposed to show off a bit, flying and breathing and such. There’s an embarrassing bit where you need to show off your physical maturity. For Ythac that meant producing all three varieties of semen — with just one witness, he didn’t need to diddle himself in front of half the adult dragons on Mhel. And have a doctor proclaim that yes, he ought to be capable of siring dragonets.
For me, I guess I just need to show off my egg. Maybe I get Osoth and Mom to say that, yes, it’s my egg and not a latex model or something. Or not one of Mom’s. I can’t blame people for being suspicious, since I took so many extra years.
Actually, the vile thing smells like me and not like Mom, so I don’t suppose I’ll need to get even that badly inspected. Sniffed intimately, I suppose, carefully enough to tell that the egg is mine.
Drumet Academy recommends that every essay end with a coda — an epilog sort of thing which either summarizes the essay (if you’re boring) or provides an additional ornament on the theme (if you’re clever, which I usually wasn’t in class). The word “coda” means “tail”. It is a sort of symbolic homage to their long-tailed draconic overlords. I’m not exactly sure why I’m doing a symbolic homage to myself in my own diary. I’m mostly going to use the codas for keeping track of how my fiancés are doing. It will be dull, I’m afraid, but if I don’t do it I will lose track.
Here’s who I’m engaged to:
|Ythac||My best friend. His scales are delicate blues and greens, he breathes fire and darkness, he’s pretty big, and he’s good at information magic. He’s a bit quiet and morose.|
|Osoth||The necromancer. Grey scales (but they’re really lavender with blue highlights). Graveyard dust and fire. He is verbose and a bit pompous when he speaks to live people, but he’s perfectly comfortable with the dead. He’s quite sweet. He doesn’t have a chance in the mating flight though.|
|Greshthanu||A huge big strong dragon, who will probably come in first. His scales are orange and blue, and he’s all over spikes. Cold breath, combat magic. He doesn’t have a working hukucho at all, not that it really matters.|
|Nrararn||I haven’t met Nrararn yet. He’s a sky mage or something.|
|Llredh||I haven’t met Llredh either. He’s a replacement fiancé, from offworld — Squeretz I think — after Gorzaldwa got tired of waiting for me and went somewhere else. He’s reported to be big, orange and brown, and aggressive. Fire breath I think.|
|Tultamaan||Rather old for a suitor; he’s been on two mating flights before. Brick red with green chevrons, ice breath. His forelegs don’t work, they dangle floppily and look so sad. He’s a coward, too. I don’t like him very much.|