The Wedding (Day 4569)
A grand of mhelvul musicians played The Triumphal Return of the Young Dragons. This isn’t just a small family affair, the way a coming-of-age party is. The royal domain provided a lot of the musicians, and even a lot of the food. (Note to self: acquire a vast number of hoven musicians, and train them in all the proper music before our subjects’ first wedding. Not urgent. We’ll have about a century’s advance warning. Actually, even if we get them now trained, we’ll need to replace them by then, so never mind that note to self.)
The eight of us — excluding Greshthanu, of course, but including Tultamaan because he wasn’t being quite as cowardly as usual — flew to the peak of the Grand Pyramid of Mhel. Which is not a pyramid really, it’s a pseudosphere (a sort of trumpet standing on its bell). Very tall. People perched anywhere on it can see the top clearly. Unlike Ztesofaum’s Pyramid (which, incidentally, is a pyramid), we built the Grand Pyramid. Well, dragons commanded its building, and mhelvul or something actually built it.
I am talking about the Grand Pyramid because I’d rather not write about what happened there today.
Anyhow, we flew around the Grand Pyramid nine times, breathing into the sky each time, because that is How It Is Done By Proper Dragons. Then we landed on the point of the pyramid, and stopped doing things the way they are Done By Proper Dragons.
Nrararn breathed a huge booming web of lighting, just as the first-choosing dragon ought to do. “I claim the right of first choice! Is there any dragon in the flight who will dispute me? No, there is none — there can be none!” I am so used to hearing that from Llredh that it was quite strange on Nrararn’s tongue. But it’s the right thing to say.
Well, the right thing except that every other time the first dragoness says it. So the dragons of Mhel, plus those of Hove and quite a few from elseworld, mostly stared in perplexity, and some tittered or made comments that I refused to hear. Or wondered to themselves or their neighbors, ”Nrararn won? He beat Llredh and Ythac and that Chiriact prince?”
The rest of us answered, “You have the primacy! Yours is the first choice, O Nrararn!”
“Then I take Jyothky as my mate! She will give me eggs to fertilize, she will guard my territory with me, she will strike my foes from the left as I strike them from the right!” Which are just the traditional words, sex-reversed.
And they were quite a delight to hear, even if we had been planning this for a duodecade or so. And even if the audience was wondering, “Small tubby undertrained Jyothky beat Arilash somehow?” I fluttered over to him, breathing sparks of flame and shimmering cascades of snow. “I take Nrararn as my mate! He will sire my children, he will guard my territory with me, he will strike my foes from the right as I strike from the left!”
We flew together, wingtips brushing wingtips for most of the spiral course up and down the Grand Pyramid. When we came to the royal balcony, we split up — Nrararn to the right, me to the left, following the ritual properly — and joined again on the other side, and flew to the uppermost of the three balconies for newly-married couples. The king and queen gazed out at us as we passed, heads high, their demeanour full of dignity and elegance. (Note to self: acquire some dignity and/or elegance. (If possible. (Probably isn’t.)))
Then it was Ythac’s turn. “I claim the right of second choice! Is there any dragon in the flight who will dispute me? No, there is none — there can be none!” To which the remainder of the flight answered, “You have secundicity! Yours is the second choice, O Ythac!”
“Then I take Llredh as my mate!” Ythac and Llredh couldn’t sensibly promise to sire children on each other, and didn’t feel like saying only part of the traditional vows.
There was a great deal more perplexity, and a great deal more tittering and commenting. Llredh ignored it, and roared “And I take Ythac as my mate!”. They flew the spiral course. The king and queen rather scowled at them as they passed, and the king muttered, “I trust you are enjoying your little joke, Ythac.”
They landed on the second balcony, and we hissed down at them companionably. I glanced down. Rankotherium was raking the concrete of the Pyramid with his foreclaws, humilated and furious. I hoped he would eventually be happy that he was bound by his peace-vow. Dessvaria was smirking beside him: she knew what the plans were. Llredh’s parents were pretending, unsuccessfully, to be uninvolved and unconcerned.
Back among the mating flight, Arilash and Csirnis roared in unison, “Then, the winners having selected their mates, we declare this flight over!”
The crowd of dragons boiled with a fury.
“What? The flight cannot be over! A dragoness remains unmated!” roared the king, and, in similar words, half a grand of other dragons.
“I withdrew from the mating flight!” boomed Arilash. “And in any case, no drake therefrom would have me for his wife!”
The king flew up to her. “I do not permit this violation of law and custom! Every dragoness must be married! I decree that you must now select one of these drakes!”
Arilash cocked her head. “Actually, I’m not your subject anymore, O great and puissant King of the Dragons of Mhel. I’m a subject of Ythac and Jyothky, the rulers of the Dragons of Hove.”
“A useless sophistry! Ythac and Jyothky must uphold the ancient traditions of dragons, just as surely as I!” hissed the king.
Tultamaan clumsily pushed himself forwards with his hind legs. “And in any case, the Solution to this Inevitably Unfortunate Situation is quite Obvious to anyone whose Brain is not utterly Buried in the Annoyance of the Moment to remember the Noble Traditions that our Grandparents happened to Invent Not So Long Ago.”
The king glowered at his cousin. “What are you going on about, you amazingly obnoxious frozen turd?”
“If a dragon king — let us say, Arguendo, he of Mhel — discovers that a Mating Flight is not completely Suitable, by reason of one of the Participants remaining Unmarried, the answer is not to Change the Results of that Flight. That is Not Done under Any Circumstances. The answer is to send the Perplexed or Perplexing Participant upon another Flight. Indeed, this process can be repeated More Than Once should the Circumstances Warrant,” explained Tultamaan. “This honorable and highly dignified Precedent can be applied just as rationally to a Dragoness as to a Drake. In the case of Arilash, I should imagine that a Great Many Repetitions will be Required. She is not a Particularly Desirable Dragoness for marriage, despite Desiring and being Desired by a great many drakes in the short term.”
The king beat his tail on the pyramid. “Exiling you to Hove is the only worthwhile part of this situation!”
“Then I believe the Wedding, proper, is offically Over, and we may, finally, proceed to the Miserable Aftermath?” said Tultamaan, frost puffing out of his muzzle.
“Nearly, Tultamaan. Nearly,” said the king quietly. He turned to his subjects, and all the others. “When we assembled this mating flight, we took care to include only the most contemptable of the young dragons of Mhel: the insufferable, the weak, the degenerate, the crippled. This was an unwise choice on our part. In retrospect, it should surprise no-one that the resulting marriages and alliances are insufferable, weak, degenerate, and crippled.” He paused. Half the listening dragons hissed angry things at us, and half were quiet.
The king continued, “Fortunately, these dragons, and many others who are their betters, have emigrated to the distant world of Hove. To the extent that they are our children and were our subjects, we wish them the best there. And it would be dishonorable for so many of us, the decent dragons of Mhel, to attack so few of them. But to the extent that they violate our customs, choose mates backwards, marry drakes to drakes, and, worse of all, leave dragonesses unmarried, we officially proclaim the day after the wedding to be a day of celebration, that such a vile crew is departed forever from Mhel!”
We — the just-former mating flight — cheered and bugled triumphantly. Not that it made much sense after that pile of insults, but
one eight might as well amuse one’s self eight’s selves at least a bit at one’s four’s wedding.