The Marriage of Quel Quen and Hhreamsen
We don’t yet have a proper Grand Pyramid on Hove for performing proper weddings. A proper Grand Pyramid is a pseudosphere, like a trumpet standing on its bell. Exceedingly tall and exceedingly thin, with perching-spots all over, each of which has a good view of the top. A proper wedding is a display of triumph and arrogance.
Anyhow, we used Khamrou Tirbiklak, the pointiest of the mountains of one of Hove’s mountain ranges. I spent four days in the Khamrous the month before, melting off some of Khamrou Tirbiklak’s more inconvenient ridges, and trying to give it a slightly more symmetrical and proper shape. That worked only so well, and left long trails of aa and obsidian dripping down the sides, but it would have to do.
On the day of the ceremony, we were delighted and rather surprised to see well over a hundred forty-four dragons show up: nearly two gross in fact. Not a huge party compared to some weddings, but there are fewer than five gross of dragons on Hove altogether. And two or three dozen were from offworld: members of Quel Quen’s exploring company mostly. Which is more than any other urning marriage we’ve had on Hove! (That means “drake+drake”.)
Quel Quen and Hhreamsen and some of their companions flew around Khamrou Tirbiklak nine times, breathing their brightest breaths into the sky each time. Here are two significant differences from other weddings you may have attended. First, unlike a normal wedding, only the one couple was getting married: you’d expect three couples, or two if it’s from as miserable a botchery as my mating flight. Second, Quel Quen flew clockwise and Hhreamsen flew counter-clockwise, as if to say that they were in different categories despite both being drakes.
Then Quel Quen and Hhreamsen landed on the topmost peak of Khamrou Tirbiklak, their claws scrabbling a bit on freshly-melted aa. Their companions flew to lower points on the side of the mountain, dropping out of the ceremony. Here’s another departure from a regular wedding: Quel Quen and Hhreamsen did not come in first in their exploring company, for the simple reason that there is not any particular concept of pecking order or dominance in anything but a mating flight. They were not, in particular, claiming to have beaten their companions. This is somewhat confusing but we decided, in advance, to ignore it.
Quel Quen breathed a column of flame into the sky. “I claim the right to choose a mate! Is there any dragon in the exploring company who will dispute me? No, there is none — there can be none!” Again, this departed from the usual wording by not claiming to be first or have beaten the others.
The rest of his exploring companions answered, “You have the right! You may select a mate, O Quel Quen!” The usual words cede primacy and dominance to the first-choosing dragoness.
“Then I take Hhreamsen as my mate!” roared Quel Quen. Hhreamsen blushed until his scales were on the point of melting, from happiness or from embarrassment at having his private vice proclaimed in front of a whole world, I don’t know. “He will guard my territory with me, he will strike my foes from the left as I strike them from the right!” Traditional enough, but omitting the clause about fertilizing eggs, due to a congenital lack of eggs.
Hhreamsen flew over to Quel Quen, breathing sparks of lightning. “I take Quel Quen as my mate! He will guard my territory with me, he will strike my foes from the right as I strike from the left!” And the two of them flew together, wingtips brushing wingtips as they spiralled up and down Khamrou Tirbiklak. They came to the royal balconies, and split to fly around the mountain, and landed together on the peak. My husband and I, and King Ythac and his husband Llredh, did our very best to look dignified and elegant. The other three managed it, and nobody paid any attention to me, I hope.
A usual wedding would have two more couples getting married at that point. Ythac says that several of the expedition-members glanced meaningfully at each other, but they didn’t actually fly up and do it.
So Ythac pronounced a very modified but approximately traditional benediction upon the couple. (Much of an improvement over our weddings, at which the king pronounced an outright execration: an entirely deserved one given how much we broke the ritual and made a mockery of his decisions in our flight.) It was long, so I won’t quote the whole of it. But it had useful advice that one gives to new couples, such as the obligatory combat advice:
I’ve noticed that Quel Quen breathes fire, and Hhreamsen breathes lightning. Now, lots of dragons don’t use more than the Small Wall. Which is a decent little defensive spell, but it is, notably, small. It can be tilted this way or that, so it can block fire and it can block lightning. But, as a married couple, you should learn to coordinate your movements and your breaths in battle, so that without any visible signal you can both breathe at the same enemy at once. And if that enemy has just the Small Wall, it can’t be tilted to block both fire and lightning at the same time, so one of your breaths will get through. And not just the Small Wall! Even a very good defensive spell, like the Hoplonton, will suffer when struck twice at the same instant.
and the obligatory advice on running a territory:
Now, you might expect your home territory to be your own and entirely your own. But, inevitably, you will have visitors! But, inevitably, they will arrive just as you start an extended session of coitus! There is no helping it; it is inevitable; it is probably the revenge of the hovens we slaughtered to rule this world, or perhaps our own dead children.
Still, you must not treat your visitors as the gobbets of cosmic retribution that they probably will act like! You must be nice to them! Accept their tribute, even if it is petty and puny, as it surely will be! Especially accept it if it is purely conceptual or verbal! I think I’ve only gotten actual physical tribute four times since I move to Hove, and three of those were from Jyothky before she figured out how little use we have for formal etiquette here. [Utterly false, I might add; he and I get plenty of tribute.]
Especially, if they are simply passing though — massive monsters of passage seem to be all over, zooming hither and yon. Dragons are in such a hurry these days! They might not stop for long at your home. Is it acceptable, in these uncouth modern times, for them to simply circle you in the sky and make gestures of submission and subservience? I should think so! You may be within your rights to fly up and drive them off — But, I ask you, is it worth it to drive off some lumbering lizard who’s already leaving?
It was an amazingly traditional wedding, in other words. Except in a few fundamental matters, such as the lack of a Grand Pyramid, the ratio of brides to grooms, and, most troublesome of all, the lack of a mating flight.
But everyone regarded Quel Quen and Hhreamsen as married after that, which is more than can be said of Evrath and Charimaan.