“You did not look precisely competent in that fight, Jyothky. Simply victorious.”
So it was time for the grand mêlée of everyone else.
Rather, it was time to pick sides for the grand mêlée of everyone else.
Llredh and Nrararn were on my side, of course. Osoth was mine naturally, and Csirnis. Mshai and Irssan and Vuuthon, three great vicious beasts, immediately flew beside Chevethna, giving her side the advantage.
Hyxy and Ngassith embraced each other tightly. Ngassith flew to Chevethna, and, rather to my surprise, Hyxy flew to me.
regally stupidly at her. “What are you doing here?”
She nipped my muzzle. “Fighting for you, silly.”
”Why? Your came here with Chevethna, and your husband is on her side.”
“I fought alongside you at Damma. It was fun. I don’t like deserting a comrade-in-arms. Ngassith won’t be upset with me, nor I with him. We’re happy enough whoever wins,” she explained.
“Well, glad to have you here, Hyxy!”, I chirped.
Arilash trumpeted at the remaining dragons, “I am fighting for Jyothky! Anyone who wants to mate with me in the next gross of years is also fighting for Jyothky!”
Nlirei was at her side almost before she finished talking. Ressal laughed, and flew and joined them, though Nlirei hissed jealously at him.
Llredh hooted, “I am not fighting for Jyothky! I am fighting for Ythac! You must nonetheless continue to twine with me when Ythac is otherwise busy!”
Arilash laughed jagged flames. “I accept this variation!”
Psilia glared at Arilash. “I don’t really need the blackmail, Arilash.”
Arilash dipped her head. “Count it as a enthusiastic roar of support, enthusiastic to the point of rudeness?”
Psilia snapped, “So counted. And you’d best make it up to us, alone, and far sooner than a gross of years.”
Arilash smirked. “I can manage that.” Nlirei hissed jealously at them again, but they ignored her.
Chevethna roared at them, “Boruu! Psilia! What are you doing over there?”
Boruu roared back, “Voting for the regime which has provided us with money and sex, without us having to work very hard for either one!”
Psilia added, “And the one which won’t evict us for being too depraved, because, well, they’re worse than we are!”
«Our partisans are pretty embarrassing!» I wrote to Ythac.
«Csirnis isn’t. Actually there’s nothing wrong with Osoth or Nrararn either.»
Gwixion grinned at Arilash, and flew over to my side. “I vote in favor of money as well!”
Ignissa, elegant crippled Ignissa, spat lightning at her husband Gwixion, and drifted towards Chevethna’s side.
«What’s that about?» I asked Arilash.
«Ignissa did not, in fact, give her consent to any amatory adventures on his part. They are not particularly happy with each other,» she wrote back. «For that matter, I’m not particularly happy with Gwixion about that either.»
«Please wait until after the battle to express it!» I wrote.
«He knows. He is trying to get back into my good graces,» she said.
Kuro wordlessly flew next to Llredh. The less said about whatever’s going on there, the better.
Which left Tultamaan in the center. “Twelve dragons on one side, a mere five on the other.” I counted my side, and, yes, I had twelve dragons to Chevethna’s five.
“Tultamaan, observe! Chevethna is there, you must fight for her!” roared Llredh. “Arilash’s claspers, they are clasped tight against you! Ythac’s side, Jyothky’s side, she is not the side for you! Your wings, I shall rip them off and cast you into the sea when we fight!”
Tultamaan looked at him with distaste. “My actual Considerations are rather more Reasonable than a large and brutal creature such as yourself might imagine. Jyothky has a Multitude of Flaws in every conceivable aspect. Fortunately, it is Nrararn, rather than myself, who must Endure or even Pretend To Enjoy the greater part of these flaws. In any case, unlike Chevethna, she is Occasionally Willing to Pay Attention to the Good Advice of her Moral and Mental Superiors. Perhaps, with Practice and diligent Training, her Expressions of Heartfelt and Sincere Thanks will not be quite so labored and difficult. For this reason, and not for Llredh’s implicit and Wholly Peurile threats, I am choosing Jyothky’s side. With Considerable regret.”
“Thank you, Tultamaan,” I said, which was no great effort. “I will endeavour to live up to your expectations. Especially all the flaws.”
Tultamaan chuffed, and looked put-upon. Which is how he best likes to look.
My forces didn’t make a brilliant accounting of themselves. All five of Chevethna’s dragons were mighty. We had Tultamaan, Osoth, Kuro, and Ressal, who, together, accounted for two hits. The first three of them were the first three to be driven from the mêlée, though Ressal was still flying at the end. Nlirei and Nrararn each accounted for three more. Of course, they took time and attention from Chevethna’s mighty five. And the remaining seven on our side were about as good as Chevethna’s five.
As Mshai floundered in the air, with Csirnis and Hyxy and Arilash and Boruu snapping at his wings and Vuuthon, her last ally, trying futilely to distract at least one of the four, Chevethna flew over to me. “I should never have let you get away with beating me.”
“You would not be the first pretender to the throne to regret such an act of mercy,” I said.
“Now, it seems that the forces of adultery and luxury combine to defeat me,” she complained.
“Well, this is Hove. The forces of adultery seem to be overwhelming… Which is to say, I am going to owe Arilash a great deal as queenmaker,” I said. “Oh, Vuuthon is out.”
“He took Llredh with him, at least,” Chevethna said. Llredh thundered through the air to Ythac, bleeding considerably.
“Poor Mshai, all alone with half a dozen enemies,” I said. I curled my tail with my rival’s, and we watched Mshai’s beautiful dexterity and litheness, sufficient to save her for another half a minute, and four seconds more.
After which, it was time for healing all around.
And a bit of thinking. Nobody was really expecting this turn of events.