Happy Ending or so
After the royal benediction, such as it was, it was the time to drive off the bachelors. We — my husband (!) and I, and Ythac and Llredh — did our part with considerable glee. We harried Arilash off in the direction of a crowd of bachelor drakes, many of them old companions from her visits to Fohhona, and all of them looking rather less discouraged than they’re supposed to look by this part of the ritual. They reprehended her rather less than the king did, and shielded her from his royal disapproval or at least his royal vision, and, I hear, put on a brilliant and protracted display of heterosexuality.
Since we were acting so normal, the married adults generally followed suit, and evicted the adult bachelors (losers of previous mating flights) in the ordinary way. The king sat on the royal balcony, scowling bitterly and thereby preserving the royal dignity. At least, until the crowd of married mhelvul servants poured out of the underground tunnels leading to the catacomby kitchens, and served the feast. Which was, predictably, whole roast animals cut in half and then with two halves of different species joined together with girdles of bacon or extensive use of toothpicks made from spicy bark. I am entirely sure that the bachelors get unjoined half-beasts, to reinforce their inferior and subordinate status.
The traditional conversations didn’t proceed very traditionally either.
How They Are Supposed To Go:
Guest, to Drake:“Congratulations for that your beauty, your prowess, your skill, your wealth, and whatever other good features you possess were sufficient to attract the favorable attention of a dragoness!”
Drake:“How could it be otherwise?”
Guest, to Dragoness:“Congratulations upon being female! Or, perhaps, encouragement upon your first major act of fulfilling important social roles!”
Dragoness:“It’s OK! At least I got a good drake out of it.”
Instead, we got some predictable variations.
Gyovanth and Roroku
Gyovanth, to Me:“You did not choose Csirnis!”
Gyovanth, to Me:“How could you choose that wriggling worm of a drake over a prince of Chiriact?”
Me:“The question is inapplicable, since I did not choose him. He came in first among the drakes, and he chose me.”
Gyovanth:“How could he beat a prince of Chiriact?”
Nrararn:”… handily? …”
Nrararn:“Yet, somehow, it is what happened.”
Me:“The dragons of Chiaract are impressive and worthy, to be sure, but the dragons of Mhel have their own depths of power and character. I imagine your own wife will someday surprise you.”
Me:“Well, you certainly surprised me.”
Roroku had nothing more to add. I think that evens the score between us, at least sufficiently.