Royal Romantic Advice
Four of the nyxyliths were held by specific people: Osoth, Tultamaan, Hyxy, and Roroku. Two were to wander: held this month by one dragon, the next by another. Jaraswat was supposed to hold the last one, but he never wrote to me, so after a month I let it wander also. Not everyone wanted to talk to me: Xilobrax, say, who hates all dragonesses for the events of his mating flight (quoting from some drakes who he complained to) and answered my questions with terse symbols — not even whole words, but the Grand Draconic equivalent of writing “y” for “yes” and “û” for “ûj”. I took him out of the nyxylith rotation as well.
Sometimes I clawed a drake the right way and got an arterial gushing of words.
«Hello, Vaareng. I hope it hasn’t been too tedious waiting for the Travel mages to set up the hhejŝṧhyant and let you go exploring in earnest,» I wrote when he took up the nyxylith. I always say something like that.
He answered with something memorably unmemorable.
«I hear that you have made at least one good friend on the team,» I said.
«What? Driaith? Are you referring to Driaith?»
«I am in fact referring to Driaith,» I said. «Is there some problem?»
«Some problem! Yes! I should say there is some problem! The situation is altogether problems!»
This sounded more interesting than the treaty negotiations between Damma and Echir. I wasn’t even part of the negotiations, other than to emphasize that both Hoven countries were under our protection, even if we had initially beaten Damma into submission and were still extracting nominally-punative tribute from them. I occasionally had to loom at the Echirian ambassador. The details of the treaty were arcana of grain pricing and tariffs and import duties. I wish such things were still beyond me, like they were when I started queening, but I have learned a great deal. They still don’t hold my attention very well. Especially, as I said, when my only role is to glare at an ambassador who says something particularly egregious. So I urged Vaareng on; and glared randomly at ambassadors, which worked just as well as when I glared at just the right times.
«What sort of problems, Vaareng? Is there anything I could do from here to help?»
«Oh, there are problems, all right. I gave in to lust once or twice and let Driaith be a dragoness for me. Rumors of that will get around. I’ll be dishonored everywhere but Hove,» he wrote. «And everyone on Hove will assume that I’m lust-ridden.»
«Well, you are a horny drake,» I wrote back, using an adjective generally applied in a flattering way to drakes on their mating flight. «At least Arilash thinks so. You might as well admit that and enjoy it, and do it right.»
«But — Driaith!»
I had no idea what he meant. «Tell me about Driaith.»
«This isn’t a mating flight. Everyone keeps telling me that. This isn’t a mating flight, and we’re not allowed to be competing for … for … twining. So shouldn’t your … your … partner if that’s the right word … shouldn’t he be faithful?»
«I think you and he will need to figure out the terms of your entwinement. The only rules we’ve imposed are on the dragoness-and-drake couples, who have to be discreet and not make the drakes who would prefer dragonesses miserable,» I said, because Hyxy has been complaining about that rule endlessly.
«Well, Driaith has been with Mirinxan a great deal. Half the time when I seek him out of an evening, he is with Mirinxan, or he stinks of Mirinxan anyhow.»
«I can see that this would upset you,» I said. (I’m usually relieved when Nrararn smells of Arilash, and usually embarrassed when I smell of anyone but Nrararn even though Nrararn has vetted everyone else and is urging me to get all my eggs ⅔-fertilized. But most married couples require fidelity.)
«Yes! Is he mine, or is he Mirinxan’s?»
«No, neither,» I said.
«What? You know of this?»
«He had his turn with a nyxylith last month, so yes, I talked to him. He is taking this time as … not a mating flight … but a vacation in Fohhona, where lust-ridden drakes go to enjoy their lust. He has not chosen a husband!» I said.
«I could not endure the shame of having a husband!»
«But you’re speaking of him as if he is one,» I said.
«What can I do?»