Etiquette of Tultamaan (Day 101)
Tultamaan was doing his best to immerse both Arilash and me in burbling corrosive guilt at lunchtime today. “You must remember the only reason I continue to remain in this Distinctly Unpleasant and Dangerous Situation!”
“The chance to stick your droopy little hemipenises in Jyothky’s abrasive little vulva?” said Arilash.
“Hey! Mine’s as big as yours!” I protested. (Haven’t measured. Can’t argue with “abrasive”.)
“I should not have expected any clearer reasoning from a Dragoness whose Main Intellectual Asset is behind her claspers. The situation is Wholly Untenable. Not to put too fine a point on it, the hovens have Snuffed the Life from A Very Large and Powerful Dragon. I see no reason to allow them to Repeat the Procedure, probably with Variations. I should not like to see small people destroy even Ythac or Nrararn, much less Myself.”
“So you’re going to scorch and claw them ‘til they realize that they shouldn’t,” I said.
“I note with a Bored Displeasure your Feeble Personal Attack, Jyothky,” said Tultamaan. “I can, as you well know, neither scorch nor claw. I can freeze and bite, which will serve just as well in nearly any circumstances and better in many.”
“And are you really brave enough to get within breath-range of a hoven, much less biting-range? You seem unduly terrified of them. I suspect your best attack will be to pee on them from far, far above. Out of fear, without meaning to.” said Arilash.
“Your Attempt at Humor confounds me. Which is it more: more Feeble, or more Juvenile?” mused Tultamaan philosophically.
“Juvenile. You’re as skittish as a young dragonet. I needed to put in terms you’d understand,” said Arilash.
“There is indeed somewhat of a Gap in Degree of Understanding between us. You have figured that Important Fact out at least. In other respects you continue your traditions of being Quite Largely Inaccurate, with occasional excursions to the realms of Wholly Wrong and Massively Mistaken,” said Tultamaan.
“You’re trying to seduce her, aren’t you, Tultamaan?” I said.
“I am trying to remind her, and you, that I am a Valued and Important Participant in this punative expedition, and, indeed, on this mating flight. Your appreciation of this important fact has been Slightly Muted. It has been Somewhat Less Than Monumental. One would be hard-pressed to accuse it of Extravagance. Unlike your appreciation for, shall we say, the dragons whose Hideously Careless Tourism and Floundering Flopping at Diplomacy have resulted in stirring up an actual war.”
“Oh! You’re trying to seduce me, too, with your marrow-sweet words and your extravagantly romantic poetry,” I said.
“I do not see any Need or even Hope for affection under the circumstances. I simply point out that I am being Quite Responsible on this mating flight. Additionally I provide eleven-twelfths of the Sensible Advice, among other underappreciated Valuable Services. However, neither of you is taking any Particular Degree of Responsibility back towards me.”
Arilash hissed. “Right. Do something impressively brave punishing Trest, and I’ll grit my teeth and couple with you. Once more. Then I’ll wash the yuck out of my genitalia with cattle semen or something else that’s a whole lot braver and more companionable than you.”
“An imposingly Generous and Wide-Hearted, to say nothing of Wide-Claspered, Offer. Considering that the offerer has several times mentioned how much she misses the variety of drakes available in Fohhona. And that she is so bored of the paucity of drakes here that she should start on the dragonesses, and that the very hovens around us are beginning to look appealing.”
I glared at Arilash for (a) capitulating, and (b) talking about lusting after me. She shrugged. I glared at Tultamaan. “Your sensible advice hasn’t been very helpful. You missed the Peace Everywhere Array, the cyoziworms, and even taking good care of Xolgrohim so he didn’t get loose and start fouling the world up.”
“Your Unclarity of Mind is brilliantly illustrated by your current Lack of Focus upon the Matter at Hand, Jyothky. There is a Purpose in this discussion. This Purpose should not be confused with producing Further Uninspiring and Unfunny Insults. You can do that upon your own time, and I Daresay that you will have a Great Deal of your own time in which to do it.”
I breathed a cloud of winter fog at him. Contemptuously, since he’s got ice breath himself. “What are you getting at, Tultamaan? It sounds like you’re trying to imprison us in a dimension of pure despair.”
“He’s already imprisoned us in a conversation of pure whininess,” snapped Arilash.
“Right then. Arilash, Jyothky, I hereby Resign from this exercise in botchery, degeneracy, and broad-spectrum incompetence that you are somehow pleased to call a Mating Flight. I have been on three, I have heard stories of many, and this is far and away the Worst that could ever be Imagined. I do not require an Intellectual or Spiritual Peer as my wife, but my recent experience with the two of you has shown me how far my Standards could be Endurably Diminished. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a life as a Miserable and Humiliated Batchelor is far, far preferable to spending another Day in the presence of such Arrogant and Stupid dragonesses as yourselves. Or even Dying Gloriously in the Sky of Battle because of Your Utter Worthlessness at Diplomacy, though that Would Be Much Better than marrying either of you.”
“Oh, that’s a bit redundant. We had pretty much written you out of the mating flight weeks ago,” said Arilash.
“Yet again, you fail to capture the Point. It eludes you. It evades you. It escapes you, despite that it makes every effort for you to catch it. It sails across your left flank, waving a Gigantic Purple Flag for your Attention, while you muse brainlessly on the details of your last Fornication with a Supposedly Braver but Certainly Cerebrally Inferior drake and manage to miss it despite staring right at it,” said Tultamaan.
“Not really. There’s really no way I can insult you a twelfth as much as you deserve before you go, but I do feel obligated to try. Back to Mhel, then?” said Arilash.
“Mhel will Do Quite Adequately,” said Tultamaan. “On Mhel the small people do not Shoot At One with gigantic purple ray guns.”
Arilash opened the gate of ice and centuries and death for him, and called up the cyclone of fire and niobium and poetry. He inspected the gate for several moments. “Alarmingly, it does, indeed, lead to Mhel. I had expected some Petty bit of Childish Reprisal for Imagined Insults from you. Such as sending me to Plurdat, where doubtless no dragon will bother to follow for a grand of years,” he said.
Arilash shrugged. “Sure, I’ll send you to Plurdat, if you can endure another eleven seconds of us to my next heartbeat, and if it’ll make you feel more persecuted and thus better.” (Which I thought was the best insult of the day.)
“I suppose I’ll need to tell the other drakes,” I said. “I don’t know that they’d notice the lack of whining, or missing a nominal fifth of their military power, for some weeks, otherwise.”
“Those are your Heartfelt Farewells?” he said. “I can Improve Upon Them Considerably. Indeed, I thank you without irony for your Best Efforts in my regards, and with irony for the rest of them. It has been an Experience involving Considerable Self-Discovery.”
“Please be gone yet,” I muttered.
And he flew off into the Triangular Cyclonette, and was gone yet, finally. Back to Mhel, where he has a dozen years to tell everyone how horrible we are and how hopeless the mating flight is.
Arilash and I looked at each other, and shrugged. “Well, he lasted longer than I expected, anyways. You shouldn’t have encouraged him so, Jyothky.”
“I think you did. By starting to mate with the drakes after he yelled at you.”
So we had a quick little impromptu angry Caramelle, which she won but only by one touch.
None of the remaining drakes looked particularly surprised when I told them. Nor even very encouraged.
I’m not particularly encouraged either. We’re down to three drakes for two dragonesses, which is awfully skimpy choices. Not that I would have chosen Tultamaan over, say, destroying my claspers with many many lightning bolts, but it’ll sound much more impressive to have a bigger choice.
So … Osoth? Nrararn? Both, by their odd arrangement? I’m sure Arilash will come in first and pick Csirnis.
Or maybe we’ll lose all the drakes and need to get some more, or something. I don’t really think I’ll get off with less humiliation than Tultamaan will, at this point. Though more married. Eventually.
To someone I admire and/or like, even. That’s good enough for a bottom-of-the-barrel dragoness like me, right?