I flew back to Damma, where I had left Nrararn. He flew up to meet me, grinning. “You are alone, Jyothky. You didn’t bring Csirnis back?”
“No, he didn’t want to leave Ze Cheya. I think you know why,” I hissed at him. “He told me quite an interesting story.”
“He wasn’t going to…”
“Csirnis is excellent at many things, but not at deception. He didn’t much try,” I said.
I glared at him more. “What makes you think you’re at all competent to marry me?”
Nrararn knows his list, as any drake presumably must. “I’m a good sorcerer, I’m not bad as a fighter. I’ve got dozens of diamonds and thousands of books in my hoard. And six Hoven computers, and I invented a twisty little lightning spell to power them, and learned repair spells to keep them fixed.”
“Compared to Csirnis, who is an adequate sorcerer and the most beautiful fighter on Hove. And has plenty in his hoard, too, even though he’s been collecting a lot less time than you have.”
“Csirnis doesn’t want to marry you though,” said Nrararn quietly.
I hissed, “Did he say so to you? Tell me the whole thing! And take your veriception blocks off!”
He broke his spells, and said, “He would generally like to get married. He’s a bit disappointed that he’s unlikely to have any children, unless Arilash decides to raise a fertile egg alone or something. But he asked if either of us actually wanted to marry you, since you were the only choice anyways. I did. I do. More than I ever wanted to marry Arilash, anyways, and more than someone in the abstract.”
I looked at him suspiciously. “Are you falling in love? A duodecade or so too early?”
He curled his tail. “Well, no, not really.” Which had the far-overripe-fruit character of quibbling over definitions and details. “Not very much. Just what’s decent for a close couple in a mating flight.” Which he thought was true. I don’t much know what he meant by it.
I glared at him. “I think the occasion calls for a Caramelle.”
“A Caramelle it is,” he agreed.
He was wearing the Small Wall, untilted, and some fancy air protections, and had a crowd of sylphs and airy spirits helping him. I flew close to him, with the Melismatic Tempest for speed, and blasted his left forewing with fire (blocked), his right forewing with cold (which hit), and his left forewing with fire again (also hit) in quick succession. He pounced on me in the air, biting and clawing distractingly, and ripping my left hindwing. I couldn’t touch him with anything but cold breath. Then he slammed into me, and we each smashed healing spells into the other. I’m pretty sure he realized he’d be better off losing this fight, so he kind of flailed around and looked fighty but ineffectual while I burned a great patch of scales off his tail, and won.
“What sort of apology would you like?” he asked, after we finished healing each other.
“One that doesn’t make me look like the largest idiot on Hove,” I said.
“Tultamaan is ahead of you there,” he said, so I breathed lighting next to him, very loudly.
“He’s got lots of competition,” I sneered. “But if you’re going to want to marry me, and there aren’t any other drakes around, let’s act married and see how it works.”
He grinned happily at me. I imagine he was expecting more doom than that.
“First, let’s pick where we want for our territory. Not Damma. And somewhere that we can get Osoth and Arilash to live near.”
Nrararn cocked his head. “Arilash is an ally too?”
“I’m working on that. Actually you should work on that too, in a while. You deserve a better lover than me, at least occasionally.”
He looked rather too pleased at that, so I bit him. Just the wingtip, though. One should be nice to one’s husband.
And I’m a little boggled that I’m going to have a husband. Though that’s rather the point of a mating flight, and the common fate of just about every dragoness.