Council of War (Day 66)
We gathered in Ze Cheya over the next three days, all nine of us. Arilash zoomed with travel magic, gathering Osoth and Greshthanu and not Tultamaan the first day, Nrararn the second day, and Llredh and Ythac (who had evidently needed some privacy) the third day. Tultamaan must have offended her somehow — I cannot possibly imagine how — and she didn’t give him a travel spell, and he had to fly there with only the Scratch-the-Sky for extra speed, so he got here late today.
Finally it was nightfall in Ze Cheya. We gathered in a rough circle on the Royal Racecourse, where we had made the cooks work very hard in the day and leave the feast for us. No hovens around. (Not even Tarcuna, who had gotten left in the Prevalian Catacombs excavation site. I was definitely not getting my money’s worth of her tour guide skills.)
Ythac stepped into the center of the circle and spread his wings. “Usually it’s the dragoness who does this, and usually at the end of the mating flight, but I seem to be making a life of doing everything the wrong way ‘round. You know it already though. Llredh and I have chosen each other. As mates, I mean.”
“I cannot see that this announcement will have any Appreciable Effect,” said Tultamaan. “This mating flight is already in an Extraordinarily Miserable State. Why not a few more Perversions and Improprieties? There are only so many hours in a day in which we can be Mocked by More Proper Dragons when we return to our home world. They will have to eat and sleep, after all.”
“Your forewings! After more such comments, I will break them, they will be no more useful than your forelegs!” said Llredh with a snarl.
“They will be Healable. Unlike the social damage which will accrue to me for having been Associated with such a mating flight as This,” said Tultamaan, and took a bite of lemon ox.
“Oh, quite true. Half the drakes competing as dragonesses, and still nobody will copulate with you.” said Greshthanu. “Quite impossible to ever live down.”
“Half? Who are the other two?” said Nrararn.
“You and Osoth should know!” hissed Greshthanu, pointing at Osoth with a neatly-gnawed legbone.
“We’re competing for dragonesses, not as them,” said Nrararn, revealing the truth of his words. “In case there’s the least bit of doubt about that.”
“Though we have nothing but the highest esteem for our more spiritually epicene and monoclinous erstwhile rivals,” said Osoth, smoothly if incomprehensibly. “We applaud their bravery in pursuit of their true and essential character, and we offer our most cogent benedictions for the upcoming nuptials, or the invert simulacrum thereof.”
“He said ‘yes’,” I said. “Or maybe ‘no’.”
“He said ‘Glad they’re out of the way,’ is what he said,” hissed Arilash.
Osoth arched his head up. “Nothing so simple and crude as that! I also wished that they would be so happy being out of our way that they would stay out of our way!”
“From the first few days, it looks promising,” said Ythac. He and Llredh grinned at each other and coiled their tailtips together. Still disgusting.
“I trust that you will take an Extended Honeymoon? I understand that the Desert of Vhanff is a Perfectly Splendid Resort for the most Disreputable Sort of hovens. And dragons of your Unnatural Tastes should find no trouble being a pair of hovens for some great length of time to fully enjoy all Sorts of Unmentionable Things,” said Tultamaan.
“Your trust, she is misplaced. Seek her in the place you have lost your manners, your courage, your honor, your forelimbs.” said Llredh. “Of those, surely your forelimbs will be the first you find again!”
Tultamaan reared his head back to breathe at Llredh. Csirnis stuck a wing in front of Tultamaan’s face. “No fighting, Tultamaan, Llredh! You may duel later when important matters have been settled, far over the city where it is safe for the hovens who are our hosts. But remember, Tultamaan, that Llredh is no longer your rival. He is, for all practical purposes, a married drake, and your senior.” Tultamaan crouched before the prince’s glory, and did not strike.
“Also he is, for all practical purposes, seven times the warrior you’ll ever be. Actually, no, we weren’t going to leave the rest of you yet. Unless you drive us out, of course,” said Ythac, glancing at me.
“I’m not going to,” I said, while not eating any ox because I was too upset.
“I’m glad to hear that,” said Ythac, sounding rather sincere.
“I’m going to ruin your wings. Once. Then call us even,” I said. It seemed fair to me.
“Thank you for letting me off so lightly,” said Ythac.
“You’re welcome,” I said.
“Touching little scene, that,” said Arilash.