Arrangements for a Dragon-War
Chevethna darted up towards us. “Arilash, Ythac, Jyothky! I am so sorry about poor Greshthanu!”
I dived down to embrace her. “I know, it’s so awful.”
“I was hoping you’d marry him. I married Arthane, you knew him on Mhel, didn’t you?”
I smiled at her. “I didn’t know him all that well. He was more Greshthanu’s friend than mine.”
“They were inseparable. They probably saw each other every month. It would have been so nice, if you’d married him. We could have ruled adjacent domains and lived side by side,” she said sadly.
Which did sound nice. “We still can, with whoever I marry, if we’re staying on Hove. But I think we’d better figure out the terms of the dominance war first.”
“Well, if you’re in a hurry to fight —?” she said. “Oh! Right! You’re on a mating flight. You’re fighting constantly!”
I curled my tailtip. “Rather a lot, yes.”
She peered at me intently with half a dozen senses. “Jyothky, you look awful. Arilash! Have you been abusing poor little Jyothky?”
Arilash pounced on Chevethna for a hug too. “Not enough. She keeps challenging me, and I turn her down half the time. I’m really not enjoying the fighting part of it. I’m trying to make up for it with the twining part.”
Chevethna giggled. “That was the fun part! It’s wonderful being married to Arthane, but I did enjoy the promiscuity. Oh! Jyothky? Is that any good for you?”
I shook my head sadly. “No. It’s just as pleasant as having my back broken for me. I know; I checked.” I have only one joke, so I need to use it on every new person.
She hugged me again, which I appreciate conceptually even if it’s just as painful as sex or as delightful as backbreaking. “Oh, Jyothky! I am so sorry. I was hoping that you’d be able to get some fun out of it.”
“Drakes smell nice, at least. That’s worth something,” I said. I don’t like seeing her so sad.
“Well, what have you been up to? You look exhausted or something — the lluyew of your scales is so flat and shatterdy!”
I didn’t really want her to think too much about that, because of the plan. “Oh, I had to kill an escaped undead Mhel paingod this morning. My job, I’m immune to most of his best spells. It was harder than I thought it would be though.”
“Oh, dear! What did he do to you? What did you do to him?”
“It’s a story for after-war feasting, I think. I’ve been having lots of very stupid adventures on Hove.”
“Oh, yes, the war … Do you want to wait until tomorrow? Or even later? You really don’t look like you’ve had a good day at all.”
I shook my head. “No, I’ll be fine. Might as well get it out of the way. I’m pretty much the weakest dragon in the war, except Tultamaan. Me being tired or rested isn’t going to make much of a difference.”
“I think you’re more than a match for Tultamaan, or Ressal, or Ignissa. An equal to Hyxy or Mshai, I think,” she said comfortingly.
“Aren’t you supposed to be boasting how strong your army is and how doomed we are?” I asked.
Chevethna laughed. “You, my sweet young friend, have your head so firmly stuck in the middle of mating flight manners that you have forgotten more ordinary ones. I miss that!”
Arilash smiled. “Well, we are being a bit aggressive and challengy. Could you give us a hit extra, to even the odds a bit?”
Chevethna looked offended for a moment, then grinned. “One hit? I should say not! We outnumber you more two to one! We should grant you twice our hits!” Which would be dishonorable to accept.
“Well, how about you each withdraw after three hits — that’s thrice fifteen, or forty-five for your side. And we withdraw after five — that’s seven times five, thirty-five for our side,” I said. Which was the foregone conclusion, and there was no reason to put off reaching it: enough of an advantage for us so that it’s a respectable contest, but not so much that we could actually win. (In a fair fight, leaving aside our trick.) Picking three for the number of hits, instead of five or seven, probably sounded like we were trying to concede the matter with as little actual pain as possible. Actually it was quite devious. Arithmetic is as mighty as breath, if you use it right.
“I should think that was entirely dignified,” said Chevethna. She called up to Ythac. “Hey! Are you allowed to fight a Caramelle these days?”
Ythac huffed. “If my father knew a grossth of what I have been doing, it would dwarf the pretended dishonor of the Caramelle beyond noticing. In any case, he’s on Mhel, I’m on Hove, and I have better things to do than pay attention to him.”
So we agreed that healing the other side counts as a hit, but healing our own side doesn’t count either way. And dragons can put defensive spells on each other — so Ythac and I gave everyone on our side the Hoplonton, and Boruu did the same on their side.
A friendly little war.