Coming of Age Party (Day 4)
Well, that was horrible.
The actual proof of maturity wasn’t the horrible bit. Dr. Dnazhvhens — she’s my usual doctor — sniffed at the egg once and declared that it was mine, and sniffed at again and said that it would have been fertile had it been fertilized. She didn’t have to sniff me. She knows perfectly well what I smell like. (I asked her later. Boys usually don’t get any more inspection than that, usually less. Only when there’s some doubt about them is a doctor called in to look. Ythac didn’t say what the doubt was about him. I should find out, preferably before I decide to marry him. I guess I can’t count that as a point against him now since I don’t know what it is. Probably I shouldn’t count it at all since it was actually not a problem.)
The party wasn’t supposed to be horrible. It wasn’t half the dragons on Mhel, but it was a hundred forty-four or a hundred sixty-eight or so. So more than a sixth of them. No mhelvul, no small people. This was something that’s about dragons, and nobody that we’ve conquered gets to see it or know anything about it.
(Probably because they’d just tell a dragonet and that would spoil the fun of the newly-mature dragons trying to scare them. It’s not much different from, oh, Rankotherium’s multiple-of-144-year birthday that we celebrated a while back. Except he got more dragons, plus lots of small people.)
So it was a party. It started off pretty nice. Mhelvul really weren’t invited. They covered a great deal of the castle’s courtyard with food, though, before we drove them off. Mom and Dad made them work all night. Except for Annamhyv. Annamhyv was going to go get married that night, she’d been telling us about it and planning it for a year and a half. Dad didn’t want her to go. Mom got all Uplifting the Small People. She bit Dad’s wing, and told Annamhyv that she, Mom, would take her, Annamhyv, to the wedding hall a third of an hour before the wedding, or he, Dad, would pay for the next slaves out of his own personal hoard because if we didn’t let her, Annamhyv, go to her own wedding, we wouldn’t be able to levy any worthwhile servants anymore ever again.
Which doesn’t make much sense to me either way. I suppose they’re just tense about having so many dragons visiting tomorrow. It’s not like there’s not going to be enough food at the party, or enough small people to do the cooking. Annamhyv isn’t even a very good cook. We mostly have her making leather things or doing masonry. What if she stuffs a sheep with bricks instead of efforasze by mistake. Or by “mistake” … she might be upset at missing her wedding and do something wrong on purpose. Slaves do that a lot, I hear, and even servants do it sometimes. Then we’d probably have to kill her, and an awful sort of wedding present that would be for her. Well, Mom and Dad would — I’ll be off on my mating flight. (!)
Anyways. There was plenty of food. There were roast cattle stuffed with squids and onions. There were roast cattle stuffed with mushrooms and eggs. (bird eggs! If anyone tries to eat my egg I’ll kill them. Not out of maternal instincts. I don’t think I have any maternal instincts. I’ll kill them preemptively so they can’t complain how vile stuff that comes out of me tastes.) There were ratites stuffed with scallops, and ratites stuffed with game birds and grass, and ratites stuffed with spicy peppers and dried yogurt. I’m pretty sure the local ranchers had lots of ratites hatch this year. There were rabbits stuffed with caramelized onions and strong cheese. (Osoth’s rabbit was better. We need new cooks, especially ones who are good at cooking.) There were rabbits stuffed with crushed small fishes. There were salmons stuffed with garlic and fermented snakes, because I like them, even though it’s not a good season for salmon. That’s how you could tell it was my party.
Everything was stuffed. That’s the style for a dragoness’s coming of age. If it were a drake, everything would be skewered instead. I won’t explain why because I don’t think I need to. That’s one of the big secrets which dragonets must never be told. If you’re underage and reading this, act surprised and amused when they tell you about it.
Oh, and you’re supposed to start the dancing too. All the other dragons land. You jump out of a window on the castle’s tower (or whatever you’ve got), and fly around. Oh, and you breathe a lot. Not at anyone. It’s a supposed to be happy sort of party. Just into the air, or at cliff walls, or whatever.
Oh, and in the “supposed to be happy” bit. I showed off all three breath weapons. Most dragons only learn one. A few have two but usually only one is good and the other is a hobby or a half-learned false start, like Osoth and his graveyard and fire breaths. So I got a lot of adults thumping their tails on the ground when I showed the lightning after the fire and the ice. (Not that there’s any much point to having three, or even two. I had to do something while younger dragons than me were learning real sorcery, though. And dragonets are supposed to work on their breath weapons.)
Then everyone who wants to, also dances. And by “dances” I mean “flies around in a very small space above the castle and breathes their brightest breaths and tries to intimidate their friends without actually attacking them.”
And by “friends” I mean “dragons you try to intimidate.” Enemies are dragons you try to hurt.
Lots of dragons were my friend at that party. I was pretty thoroughly intimidated. Even a big, strong dragon could feel intimidated with so many other big, strong dragons around. And I’m not very big and not very strong.
Still, I got to meet the rest of my fiancés.