Proclaiming the Company
I really need to get a capitol. I’ve been putting it off for duodecades because of dragon politics, geography, hoven politics, economics, and I’m sure that bovine politics and trigonometry would get in the way if they could figure out how, too. (Do I want one in the eastern regions? No, then the dragons of the western regions complain. Mountains and inaccessible regions make it awkward for hovens to tend the place, but convenient places are heavily populated by hovens. Do I want a building in some important hoven city? No, that says that we’re favoring one country of hovens over another. And so on.)
Which is why I called the most important council of the year in the Banners-Far-Above-The-River Potato Shipping Warehouse, in Banners-Far-Above-The-River Village, on the edge of Banners-Far-Above-The-River Canyon, in Fromsio. For meetings, it is one of the best warehouses of the three that I own, largely because it reeks of potatoes rather than machinery and oil. The big doors that once admitted potato trucks work just as well to admit dragons. The hearty farmers of Banners-Far-Above-The-River are supreme quilters, and have draped and decorated the Potato Shipping Warehouse for what I insist must be delightful comfort and fashionable style. (As I have no sense of touch, I don’t know what this ‘comfort’ may be. I am, at best, marginally better on ‘style’.)
I had acquired a goodly collection of dragons of skill and renown though. My husband Nrararn. My co-ruler Ythac. His husband Llredh. The famous explorer Quel Quen, and his husband Hhreamsen. Osoth the necromancer. Tultamaan whose grasp of the heart of any situation is exceeded only by his obnoxiousness. Evrath and Charimaan the fairly unimpressive. Yarenton the historian. Mirinxan the cartographer and Katamerces the diplomat, who had both worked with Quel Quen.
And myself, whose skill was simply that of being the one who had seen the problem, and had enough rank to invite the others to my Royal Former Potato Shipping Warehouse. My skill was notably not that of getting everyone to sit down and shut up for long enough to let me talk a bit. I had my husband do that, with a circular lightning bolt and a square thunderclap.
While their ears were still ringing, I said, “Drakes and dragonesses — actually you’re all drakes, aren’t you? — we have two problems. The first problem faces the entire race of astral dragons. It is simply this: Quel Quen and his company of explorers have retired, and no new worlds are being found for us to conquer, exploit, vacation in, hold mating flights in, write tedious books about, and otherwise enjoy.”
Quel Quen spread his ears in a bit of a blush. “A temporary problem at most, Queen Jyothky. We are scarcely the only ones who are or ever will be capable of exploration. Indeed, there are two smaller companies of explorers poking around the Cluster of Thiabantenes now.”
“Pity. Well, I’m sure they’ll turn up empty-mouthed, and my alarmist declaration of impending disaster will stand,” I amended. “The second one faces us, and by ‘us’ I mean the the drake-marrying drakes and other assorted perverts of Hove. I know, I’m not technically one of ‘us’, but I’m certainly trying to help this ‘us’. And that is, when drakes marry drakes in the way that Charimaan married Evrath, it doesn’t really seem to take very well. They don’t get the same sort of respect and honor that drakes married to dragonesses do.”
Evrath snarled, “The promise of Hove was that we should be allowed to marry and hold territory here! Of what material is that promise — ashes, or cinders?”
Llredh snarled back, “You marry! You hold territory! If you hold it in claws both feeble and slippery, that is the fault of your own claws, not us!”
I crashed my forewings together. This is a very dramatic gesture for most people, because it is quite painful. I wish it hurt me; that would mean I could feel something. “It is both their fault and ours! We respect territory-holding couples on the basis of their deeds. When the deeds are like those of Quel Quen, respect flows forth easily and voluminously. When the deeds are like those of Drestilla and Arwhanc, who were first in their mating flight but have done little of note since, all dragons at least recognize what it means to come in first. So, the slights that Evrath and Charimaan endure are their own fault for coming in sixth in their respective mating flights — and, more proximately, our fault for not providing them with anything that grants honor.” I breathed threads of lightning for emphasis. “Ordinary couples have to struggle to marry, and all dragons honor that. Urning couples simply move to Hove and are given marriage, and no dragons honor that. We must provide something like a mating flight: a way for urnings to earn honor and marriage both. I propose we start an exploring company whose missions shall serve as mating flights for urnings.”
Nobody agreed with me.
Obligatory or Voluntary?
I am going to summarize the discussion by points and topics, not by who said what. It makes more sense this way, and lets me avoid all the times the argument went in circles for a few hours.
First point, made by Ythac, Llredh, Charimaan, and Evrath especially, is that mating flights are awful and horrible things, and mischancy about the results. Quite often, the more urnest of the urnings have the peculiar fortune to fall in love with other drakes, perhaps on the mating flight, perhaps after or even before. A true mating-flight approach would risk ripping these couples apart. (Indeed, a true mating-flight approach rips plenty of dragonesses from their preferred drakes. But that is a separate problem.)
So there was a large contingent who would reject any law or suggestion that some sort of adventuring was necessary to marry.Support this project! Show that you're reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, and the writer at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom's books on Amazon. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.