Hide and Seek (Day 45)
Llredh and Arilash started it, I suppose. They’re usually pretty noisy together. These noises weren’t their usual happy ones though. They were the crash of claws on scales, the roaring rush of firebreath, the hideous crunch as fangs ravaging bones. I peeked out of the cave. Llredh was on top of Arilash, ripping up her left forewing. She was blasting him uselessly with flames, squarely in the center of his Small Wall, and rather more effectively raking him with her hindclaws. They were far past a Caramelle, or even a Tea for Disharmony, and they stunk of rage.
I breathed my sharpest lightning at Llredh’s flank, under his wing, at the edge of his Small Wall. That charred his scales nicely.
Llredh thoroughly glared at me for that. “Jyothky! The great mistake, again she comes on you! By mistake it is a boy you fight as! So little do you copulate, you forget which genitalia you have!”
So I froze his face with cold breath for that. He winced and shook his head. Arilash sank her fangs into his throat and shook him viciously. He turned into an owl to escape her hold. Her heart beat, and she breathed fire on him as he fled to the other side of the river. Both dragons sat and started healing themselves, glaring at each other.
“You looked like you needed a rescue there, Arilash,” I said, trying to get some manners back into the situation.
She glared at me. “I need a rescue from all these dungs of dominance contests. Llredh I can deal with on my own.”
“Deal with by letting me break your wings!” Llredh hooted.
“That’s one approach,” I said.
“Stop teasing me or I’ll crunch your no-sanitary-accidents spell while you’re sleeping and you’ll poop on Csirnis’ foot and he’ll never look at you again without laughing,” she said with a snarl.
‘I am not so rude as that,” said Csirnis in a huff. Most of the drakes had come out of their cave by now.
“What’s going on here now? The dragonesses are all snarly, but Llredh, not Jyothky, is the injuredmost one,” asked Tultamaan.
“Llredh was being pretty insulting. Not that he’s ever exactly pleasant, but telling a girl that she’s the worst lover in the mating flight while your hemipenis is actually in her —– that’s an amazing display of manners.”
“And dead wrong!” chirped Greshthanu.
“How would you know?” I roared at him. “You didn’t compare!”
“Llredh, Arilash, you should not be fighting. Arilash, you are a girl. You may fight with Jyothky all you wish, and that is all. Llredh, you are technically a boy. You have five or six choices of combatants, but Arilash is not one of them,” said Csirnis in his prissiest voice.
So they both puffed flame at him.
Then there was rather a mêlée. I’m not quite sure who attacked who, exactly. Osoth was mostly defending me, which was very sweet of him, but not enough to keep Greshthanu from opening my flank a foot deep from ribs to tail. Most of us got at least one wound like that.
Then we sat around healing ourselves and snarling at each other.
“This is the worst mating flight ever,” moaned Ythac.
“This is utterly standard,” said Nrararn. “Most mating flights get quarrelsome after a few weeks in.”
Arilash snorted sparks. “Which you know because of your extensive experience of … what?”
“I brought both books on mating flights,” said Nrararn.
“He’s right, you know, or at least a Very Crude Approximation of Right. Though we are being Less Congenial than is Typical. Which I know from My Extensive Experience on Two Other Mating Flights,” said Tultamaan.
“Fine. He knows everything, I’m just an ignorant swamp-dragon, I’m sure not marrying him or you either,” said Arilash. “What do your stupid books say we should do about it?”
“Take a vacation from it. And have the mating flight in a place where there’s something else interesting to do. If even the lumpish and stultified Llredh is getting aggressive, we know we need more diversions than each other,” said Nrararn.
Once Llredh had been prevented from ripping Nrararn’s leg off from the insult, we made some actual plans. We’re going to play Hide And Seek, with a quest. Ythac — he’s Seek — will stay here for a day in the caves. The rest of us will scatter as we wish. Then Ythac will go find us. We picked Ythac because he actually can find us with sorcery, if he wants and if we let him. He’s supposed to use lesser means for the first three weeks.
And the quest is to find somewhere good to spend the rest of the mating flight. A nice big island, maybe, with a pleasant and luxury-loving hoven nation that we can lightly conquer and use as our holiday resort for a dozen years. Somewhere with an intricate and exciting cuisine (me), a rich and extensive dramaturgical tradition (Nrararn), an infestation of poisonous insects (Llredh), an ancient history and lots of dead people (Osoth), and so on. Or the best we can find.
I’m going to disguise myself as a hoven and do some exploring.
Coda: My Score
Since the hide-and-seek begins tomorrow, and nobody feels like talking to anybody tonight, and some of the drakes aren’t very cooperative, I’m not going to get to my plan to couple once with each of the drakes except Tultamaan this week. Still, I think I did pretty well on it. I got half of them. And less than half of the encounters were completely miserable or humiliating or spirit-wrecking. If you don’t count the ones that ended up miserable after the deed was actually done, I mean.
I guess that’s not really a good score after all. I’m definitely better off alone.
I don’t want to do scores. Everyone comes in dead last, and especially me.
[[ BB — all the plots are coming up next! ]]