The Wind to Diplomacy
There really was only choice of who to make negotiate with Trest. Csirnis didn’t object.
There was a lot more choice over whether to negotiate with Trest. Several of us, including me, simply wanted to fly around and incinerate or squash the people we’re supposed to kill, and not fuss. Ythac and Csirnis, who are surely the most decent of us, argued that if we’re going to be insisting that the hovens follow the usual laws, they have to, first of all, know what the laws are, and, second of all, follow them in the traditional way. The first is only fair and practical (though in draconic law it is nowise required), and nobody argued with it too much. The second part was the sticky part. It’s going to take a lot longer and a lot more work to do it right.
“But this is Greshthanu’s death-price. Remember that he refused to mate with Jyothky because she hadn’t been treating some hovens properly,” said Ythac. (I’d rather not remember that part too much, but everyone does.) “So let’s do this properly.”
There was no arguing with that. Though there was a bit of Ythac-wing-biting for how he had phrased it.
Then we had to persuade the hovens that we were creatures who should be negotiated with. Or even that we were creatures who could be negotiated with. Ze Cheya was some help with that, since Csirnis and I had been quite civil there. Of course, Ze Cheya was the other injured party in the negotiations. Several of the leading countries of the Alliance of Freedom, viz. the alliance against Trest, offered their services as mediators and assured everyone that of course they would be completely impartial in negotiations concerning Trest. Trest instantly took exception to the very concept, and several days of bickering ensued. Finally they settled on having the first talks in Strobland, a small island country that never dared either join or oppose the Alliance of Freedom.
I was doing my best to disport myself with my surviving fiancés, and generally enjoy life. If you care, I only disported myself that way once, with Osoth and a goodly amount of Dammanese vegetable oil, and he chattered constantly during it so I wasn’t so bored, so it was almost as pleasant as just chattering with him. (Except for the envious part that he got to enjoy it and I didn’t, as usual.) And he said it felt pretty good and didn’t hurt much, which is all I’m hoping for.
More significantly, Arilash trounced me several times. I wouldn’t flatter myself to thinking that I’m any better an opponent than before. But we are down three males out of seven, and neither of us wants Tultamaan. So first place female gets Csirnis, and second place gets Osoth, Nrararn, or, if she’s somehow Arilash, probably both. And the only reason why we have to spend the next twelve years working on this is that it’s undignified not to.
Anyways, finally all of us moved to Strobland yesterday. Today Csirnis is going to tell Trest’s ambassador about the right way to propitiate us.
Strobland is a tall craggy island country. It’s very wet. The valleys that aren’t underwater are quite fertile, so it’s a very prosperous tall craggy island country in an agricultural sort of way. Technologically it’s rather backwards: there are only seventy-two miles of paved roads and a grand of cars in the whole place. Lots of big slow tractors with very well-maintained brakes though. Politically it’s consular, sort of — that’s the political system of Trest too. It’s not exactly consular, because there are only three consuls and twelve states rather than seven and sixty-three. Even the most devoutly consular Tresteans admit that there aren’t sixty-three proper cities in the whole of Strobland, so there’s no point to a full-sized consular government. There are barely twelve. There’s also a King and Queen of Strobland, a pair of generally beloved nearly-figureheads who override the consuls about once every three duodecades when the consuls are about to do something that offends the dignity and spirit of Strobland, and are otherwise used for potentially-sacrificial purposes like negotiating with dragons.
There aren’t any buildings built for dragons either. There’s a havocs stadium though, so we’re using that for the meetings. The havocs fans are upset that they can’t watch their favorite sport in the height of the season. We’re sleeping in the royal barns. And eating lots of fish, mostly caught by Stroblanders; that’s most of what they do all day, except for the farmers. The fish are upset too, but not for very long.
This all sounded very scripted. There wasn’t really a script, except a little bit on our side, but everyone followed it anyways.
Scene: A big tent taking up half of the Daistrob Havocs Stadium. The tent is gaily striped in red and orange, except for occasional spots of mold. It was last used for the wedding of King Darmund and Queen Jingis a while ago, and stuffed in an attic in case they had a big anniversary party or something.
|Dramatic Person||Nationality / Side||Notes|
|Csirnis||Dragons; Justice||Beautiful and useful! Well, more beautiful than useful today.|
|Hemmo||Trest||Short, fat, grey-furred hoven wearing very precise and modern clothing. Secretary of the Diplomatic Brigade.|
|Zakuna||Ze Cheya||Short, fat, dim blue hoven wearing elaborate traditional Zeanese robes and a phoenix headdress larger than his whole head. The headdress had a small oil lamp in it, so that the phoenix’s head was burning.|
|Queen Jingis||Strobland||Tall, slender, elderly, dim-blue-turning-grey hoven wearing modern clothing that looked like last duodecade’s fashion. (Her tunic had several structural flaws, I looked with tenasense, and a few patches.)|
Plus dozens of functionaries I was never introduced to, and eight other representatives of important countries who didn’t say anything worth mentioning, so I won’t mention anymore.
Jingis:(A brief speech welcoming everyone to Strobland, urging everyone to keep the best interests of Hove as a whole in mind and quickly come to a generally-satisfactory resolution of the unpleasantries.)
Hoven ensemble:(Polite insincere applause.)
Draconic ensemble:(No applause. The tent wasn’t high enough. (No, really. If we sat on our haunches so we could clap with forepaws, we’d rip through the roof and probably sully the memory of the king and queen’s wedding or something. (And clapping your forepaws when your belly is on the ground looks awkward.)))
Zakuna:(A devastatingly polite and indirect speech about the recent unpleasantries. If you didn’t know the background, you’d think that the Tresteans had stepped on his foot or something, rather than killing grands of people and wrecking half his capital city.)
Hemmo:(A forceful and accurate presentation of the injuries to Trest and its allies and interests, from Drupe-ek-Kavash through the Peace Everywhere Array.)
Ythac:[privately]«Jyothky, Scourge of Trest!»
Me:«Ah, the things I do for love!»
Csirnis:(A calm and precise explanation of our side of the story, based on the twin principles of (1) we only destroy hovens when they’re in our way, and (2) in nearly all cases the response has been traditional and appropriate to the situation.)
Hemmo:[In a whisper to a nameless functionary]“They’re sticking to that cyoziworm nonsense. Unfortunate.”
Jingis:(Concluding words thanking everyone for peaceful, considerate, and careful participation.)
And that was all of the peaceful, considerate, or careful participation.