So that part was all fine. That part that wasn’t fine was Roroku.
Roroku has every right not to be fine. She and Arilash are my rivals. Actually, Roroku usually has been pretty nice to me, and Arilash acts more like an older cousin than a rival. It’s not like I’m much of a threat to either of them. (We don’t really need to have a mating flight. Roroku will be first, Arilash will be second, and I will be third or last depending on how much effort Roroku and Arilash spend on defeating me. That’s how it will go.)
(On second thought, there is a point. The drakes have to try to impress us, so that we can choose who marries who. I’ll have my choice of four, at least. That’s not so bad. I can’t really see either Roroku or Arilash wanting Osoth, either. There should be someone left who’s at least a friend, if I decide I want that, even if Ythac gets picked, which he might. And Nrararn was pretty, at least. I didn’t want to set my sights as high as Llredh; Roroku or Arilash would probably pick him.)
I should cross that out, though. It’s wrong.
Late in the party, Arilash’s father flew up higher than anyone else, and shouted in a very loud voice, “And come to our home tomorrow! Arilash and Roroku and Jyothky and six young boys will be going off for their mating flight!”
Which got a chorus of “Finally!“s and things like that. But dragons were more glad for us than anything else.
But then Roroku flew up next to him, and shouted, “You’ll have to wait a few more days. I don’t think any dragon in the mating flight is really suitable for me. So I’ve arranged to change places with Csirnis of Chiriact.”
Which got a chorus of rather angry hisses and growls and gracks from several of us, mixed in a sea of snickers from most of the guests.
My fiancés all were furious. She had said, in front of a sixth of the dragons on Mhel, that they weren’t suitable mates for her. Chiriact is an old rich dragon-world. Mhel is more of a minor frontier. She declared that she was worthy of the scion of an old rich powerful famous family, and they certainly didn’t qualify.
And, of course, the mating flight would be delayed even more. A few days on top of fifteen years doesn’t seem like that much. But having finally gotten the chance to go, and have it delayed yet again, is a grave insult.
I was nearly as angry myself, though. She didn’t say “no drake is suitable.” That would have been bad enough, since I’m going to be marrying one of those drakes who isn’t suitable for Princess Queen Grandiose Roroku.
She said “nobody is suitable”. Like, Arilash and I aren’t suitable rivals for her. Nor suitable companions either. It’s not enough that she’d be first dragoness, with only a little challenge from Arilash and less from me. She doesn’t even consider us worthy to challenge her.
And she announces this to a sixth of the dragons on Mhel. At my coming-of-age party.
It’s usually not very good manners to attack anydragon else at your party. I didn’t think that I could look any more foolish than I already did, though. Unfortunately she was wearing the Ulthana’s Targe, and my lightning just sizzled around her and didn’t do very much. I should have expected anydragon to wear her best defensive spell before making an announcement like that. I should have looked, claw it!
So I wound up looking rude and ineffectual. Just the thing for a happy coming-of-age party.
A while afterwards she flew down to me. “I’m sorry, Jyothky. I just got the word back from Chiriact yesterday, and didn’t have time to tell anyone else. And I really was trying to get a mating flight that would leave sooner, more than about the quality.”
But she had illusion spells all around her that blocked veriception. Like everydragon usually does. She could have been telling the truth, for all I could tell. I’d guess half-truth: she wanted a flight that left sooner, but she didn’t think much of anyone else in the flight. Maybe half-truth about finding out about it yesterday, too. I’ll bet she pushed the issue with them right after she heard about my egg.
I exercised all my wit and diplomacy, and said, “Quite all right.” Yes, this exercised all my wit and diplomacy. Not to come up with a clever phrase. To avoid attacking her and getting even more embarrassed. Or to avoid crying.
Nrararn, at my flank, said “Quite all right, truly. We who remain faithful are getting the better part of the bargain. Even if they send us a two-winged one-eyed brutal idiot, we will be far and away the exchange up.”
Roroku hissed at him. “It is I who will be the exchange up. Chiriact does not breed twee sorcerers, unfeeling children, wild perverts, or lumpish brutes!”
There were an awful lot of dragons around for us to attack Roroku in any serious way. (In case it’s not obvious, her family is pretty important. Mine is not.)
So we bickered at her a bit and let her go. No choice there.