Evrath and Charimaan vs. the Lovers of Arilash
Kings and queens must adjudicate quarrels between their subjects. Usually the quarrels are hideously abstruse things that can’t simply be settled by one of Rhedosaur’s bloodier forms of duelling. A scholar of Termigarnian religion accused a scholar of Hornatian philosophy of publishing versions of the Essential Termigarnian Secrets. (He was, too. The Terigarnian religion was based on Hornatian philosophy, and the religion’s Secrets are mostly philosophical points from the less comprehensible philosophers. Why a pair of dragons on Hove should be concerned about fine points of thought from small people on Chiriact is not so clear, except that the two were ancient rivals and enemies.)
In this case, the matter was abstract rather than abstruse in a different way. Evrath and Charimaan are a pair of small urning drakes. “Urning” means that they are married to each other. We scoured every book on Hove to find a non-insulting word for that concept. There are none, but the word “urning” in Hoven was an obscure philosopher’s term for “males who find males sexually appealing, or females who find females so”. In the best draconic tradition, we stole that word, clawed it out of context, scrubbed the adverbs and prepositions off of it, and used it for something we needed a word for, and slew all the small people who complained. Actually no small people complained. Most of them don’t know the word: not even Tarcuna, who wished she had known it ages ago. (I am sure the only reason it isn’t an insulting word like all the others is that it’s too obscure. But we’re trying to keep it clean and shiny and connotation-free when applied to dragons.)
Oh, and by “small” I mean “small”. Evrath is about my size (small for a female, and tiny for a male), and Charimaan is only two feet larger. When they were trying to act like proper dragons, they went on mating flights, and they got trounced: both came in sixth out of six. They were feisty and energetic, so they didn’t come in last out of six; but they were small and slow and weak, so they didn’t beat anyone else. They found each other in one of Chiriact’s bachelor dragon regions, fell in love somehow, spent four duodecades doing ordinary bachelor things which I found tedious to hear and will not relate, and moved to Hove as soon as they heard about a dragon-world in which urnings could urn in peace. They were the fourteenth couple to petition Ythac and me (mostly Ythac) to immigrate.
“In peace” being the difficulty. Ythac granted them a respectable territory in Scorentia, which is to say, near the bulk of the dragons who have moved to Hove. Scorentia is a mountainous region, known to hovens for various things. Sheep, for one: stout thick-coated mountain sheep who clamber up and down the mountains, chased and managed by stout thick-coated mountain shepherds and stout thick-coated mountain dogs. Also, for the Palisorian Pool, a small mountaintop lake which, depending on your choice of myth, was either the imprint of the (nonexistant) angel-or-god-or-whatever Bmern when he stepped out of the sky for the first time, or (according to the widely-hated tappu sect, which considers Bmern to be evil) pissed on the world for the first time. If it’s the latter case the water has become much cleaner over the ages. It’s a pure mountain lake, fed by a couple of underground springs, full of fish and crunchy crabs and spiky oyster things, and in no way different than grand of other mountain lakes except for the religious history.
(The other Scorentian features, like the finest wood-carving in the continent, the knitting of truly amazing sweaters, a great niobium mine of considerable historical importance, classic works of literature, and one of the first printing presses, did not enter the court case. But as you can see it’s quite a nice territory. Ythac was being rather generous. Actually that might enter the story — everyone thought he was being too generous — but not directly.)
Our urning couple Evrath and Charimaan have neighbors. One of these neighbors is Arilash, who makes her home in tall mountains without many hovens around. She is not terribly fond of hovens. Oh, she doesn’t hate them the way Hyxy does, but she’d rather not have to deal with them. She likes dragons, though. Especially she likes twining with dragons — with lots of dragons. She was part of my mating flight for a long while, until she realized that she would rather not get married and pick one drake to be her official mate for the rest of her life. She is also a good friend of mine (I am her only friend who does not twine with her, I’m sure), and a key supporter of my reign (when we were deciding who would rule Hove, Arilash persuaded most of her lovers to my side).
Anyhow, Arilash gets a lot of visitors. A great many of these visitors are bachelor drakes who are planning to enjoy one of the few dragonesses who makes her claspers available to them. Some alarming number of the rest are married dragonesses, married couples, or other collections of dragons who visit the same set of claspers. Arilash is quite a substantial tourist industry. With quite a substantial hoard, since each of her visitors brings something in tribute, as polite visitors should.
Now, it so happens that Arilash’s many visitors generally like to arrive refreshed. The region that Arilash inhabits has its own herds of mountain sheep — to say nothing of climbing antelopes, mountain-bears, giant spiders, wall-wolves, and other excellent prey animals that are not found in such great numbers in inhabited regions like Scorentia. But when Arilash’s visitors come to her, they seem to have something in mind other than immediately going hunting and taking a nap. Indeed, in testimony, Arilash said that she certainly prefers visitors who do not need a lot of tending.
So, her visitors stop in one of the neighboring lands to rest, to gulp down barrelsful of water, to catch and devour a mountain sheep, and pick its thick coat out of their fangs (for it does not do to come to your lover with wooly fangs), and generally to take a break before the final exertions of travel and whatever exertions Arilash will exact after that. This is perfectly ordinary (or would be if dragonesses like Arilash were more common) and nothing to be surprised at.
They often stop in Scorentia.
Now, when they stop in Scorentia, they are more likely than not to snag a mountain sheep off some mountain crag, to plop themselves down by the Palisorian Pool — perhaps to catch a few fish, or crunch down a few crabs or spiky oysters — sleep for an hour or two — and then continue on their way.
What are less likely to do is to fly to the snug castle of Evrath and Charimaan, and to circle seven times and roar out their name each time. If they did so, and Evrath or Charimaan came out to speak with them, they would have the opportunity to give them some minor trinket in tribute, to speak a few sentences of apology for tresspassing, and to ask permission to hunt, fish, drink, and nap. Of course Evrath or Charimaan would immediately grant this request, and everyone would be happy: the traveller, the married couple, and the far-distant or long-dead dragons who worked out the laws of etiquette that should be followed when one dragon travels stops in the territory of another.