I hear there was a fair bit of hanger-visiting going on in a certain fraction of the drake population. Probably among the small people population as well, but I only heard a little of that. Even among the undead: Gimuse Nuthu and Mr. Norb apparently saw a great deal of each other, and conducted a mutually-satisfactory erotic affair entirely by gazing longingly at each others’ untouchable bodies, or something. (I ought to be encouraging or encouraged, since I can’t feel my lovers any more than those two could feel each other, but somehow they managed to enjoy it.)
“There is a great deal of hanger-visiting going on among the drakes!” snapped Jaraswat at a meeting of the leading dragons.
“Anyone with a halfway usable Ear is quite aware of this. Anyone with a halfway usable Tongue may learn the Purpose of the visiting. It seems that there is, in fact, only one Purpose,” said Tultamaan.
“And anyone with a sense of the history of this honorable expedition should expect that purpose,” said Osoth. “We did not restrict it to urnings, but we certainly made it particularly useful to them.”
“Osoth, my scientists and sorcerers are englorné,” said Jaraswat. The other two dragons glared at him, and he added, “It is a Mastelqaat word. Literally it refers to people whose feet are encumbered by muck or squelchy filth. Poetically, the muck and filth are spiritual. This is an intolerable state of affairs!”
Osoth peered at Jaraswat. “Who is having an intolerable affair? And who is unable to tolerate it, for that matter?”
“Driaith, for one! A mage, through and through! He properly belongs to me! But he is engaged in entanglements with Vaareng, who properly belongs to Tultamaan!”
Tultamaan cocked his head. “You are ignoring certain Complexities — that is a Grand Draconic word, which may loosely be translated as ‘Complexities’ — of the situation. I do not own Vaareng. He reports to me, as a guard. I have little say and little interest in which hanger he chooses to sleep in — or disport in. For that matter, as a Defense Mage, Driaith is as much a member of my side of the expedition as yours. We each get One Word of his description. Do not bother Translating ‘mage’ into a dozen languages to get a dozen shares of influence: he is equal parts Defense and Mage.”
“I do not permit this Distraction! Driaith has Extensive Duties!”
Osoth said, “He does indeed. He is warding the lands our flocks graze upon. He is maintaining protections on our small people. He is reinforcing the hangars. He is even helping build the new hhejŝṧhyant. Once we start exploring from here, he will have other duties as well.” He took a very serious expression. “Jaraswat, I am disappointed in you. You permit Driaith time to eat and sleep. He should be constantly at work, along with the skeletons and mummies.”
Jaraswat dipped his head. “Osoth, your sarcasm is hắramash, by which which the Tnegma Tnoin mean, ‘a minor and temporary decrease in your dignity’.” (And the Marssa Tnoin mean ‘a major decrease in dignity, rendering a leader spiritually unfit to lead’, but Jaraswat did not mention that.) “I require him to be capable of doing his duties. Bodily refreshment helps that. This preoccupation with Vaareng harms it.”
“And his preoccupation with Mirinxan does not? Perhaps because Mirinxan, when he is being a cartographer, is a member of your moiety, which is how astral dragons sometimes call a half of an organization, when they are being Erudite or Obnoxious,” said Tultamaan.
“I know nothing about this!” said Jaraswat.
“A pity,” said Tultamaan. “Perhaps you should study your native language a bit.”
“Don’t be any more of a lout than your noxious nature requires, Tultamaan! I clearly said that I know nothing of Driaith’s involvement with Mirinxan!”
Osoth chuckled. “This is not a dereliction of your duties, for you are only required to coordinate their scientific activies, not their secondary ones. In any case. I require everyone to exert themselves to the degree necessary. In urgent situations, all must work with vigor and intensity. The current situation is not urgent. We must establish a comfortable base camp, such as we may inhabit for a few years. Important work to be sure! But if the weather-wards are done tomorrow rather than today, what of it? As long as tomorrow is really tomorrow, and not some indefinite future; and as long as the weather is mild today, which it is.”
Jaraswat snorted sparks. “Osoth. I cannot approve of this jawdidj behavior. If drakes must amuse themselves with drakes, as I suppose they must, let the encounters be little skulking matters, conducted in secrecy and shame, over as quickly as possible. Disgusting beyond all the words that I know, when Vaareng trots to Driaith’s hangar, his tail in the air!”
Osoth laughed, smoke and graveyard dust dancing around his muzzle. “I have no authority to regulate such matters. While I am not interested in drakes myself —”
”— nor I —”
”— I am not either! The very concept is wippixiw to me! —”
”— we who come from Hove can hardly complain about what anyone chooses to do with their private parts. Even if those private parts are fairly public. Jaraswat, you may attempt to persuade Vaareng to be discreet, or scold Driaith about his promiscuity. Or you may attempt to persuade Hyxy to be a pacifist, or scold Gyovanth about his courtly style of movement. I expect equal degress of success, and equal value to the expedition.”