«Jyothky … Can I get a divorce?» Which is to say, Jyothky, everything I have been doing for three duodecades has been a mistake, starting with that time I insulted you dreadfully at your coming-of-age ceremony, and I was wondering if you could fix it all for me?
Oh, that was a hard question! «Well. The quick answer is, ‘Yes, you can.’ The medium answer is ‘Yes, I will move Hove and Chiriact to make it happen, if you want it.’» Which is to say, Roroku, I accept your complete and utter surrender to me, and you will be in my debt and service for the many grand-years of your life for it. Or maybe just Yes since the rest goes without saying.
«Oh! Thank you! I might want it! I think I might rather be poor than have Gyovanth sneer at me forever!»
I had to finish though. «Roroku? There’s a long answer. Do you know Rankotherium and Dessvaria?»
«Ythac’s parents. Of course I know them,» she wrote.
«They hate each other.» Which is a good first approximation but more extreme and simplistic than the actual situation. «They are still married, have been for gross-years, despite hating each other. Divorce isn’t a simple matter, and even a mighty and well-connected couple like that haven’t done it,» I said. I know too much about this topic, because Dessvaria has been working on it somewhat with me. Also I know that they are still married in part because they have not quite decided if they want to be divorced or not. It doesn’t have to take as long as they have taken.
«… oh …»
«And for you it will be harder, since your husband is a powerful nobleman of another world. If I just proclaim that your marriage is gone, it will be a huge insult from Hove to Chiriact. And since you made some arrangements when you left Mhel for a Chiriact mating flight, if you break the marriage, Mhel will feel obliged to bite someone too, perhaps me and perhaps Chiriact. So I’ll have to track down everyone on three worlds whose honor would be scratched or whose interests might be nibbled. That’s not quite everyone on all three worlds, but it’s not a lazy afternoon’s work, either.»
«I didn’t know,» she wrote.
«Most dragons don’t. I have learned all sorts of unfortunate and ridiculous things as queen,» I said. «Anyways, the politics doesn’t end with the divorce. I can let you stay unmarried indefinitely, maybe by the same legal pretense that I’m using for Arilash, that we’re going to get around to a mating flight when we find a suitable one. If you actually want to get married again to someone you like better, though, there’ll be a huge ridiculous profusion of politics with everyone who might think they deserve a second chance at a wife. If you don’t want to get married again, there’ll be a different and slower explosion of politics from an even larger assortment of people.»
«… I didn’t know that,» she wrote again.
«Did you know that the Marquise of Auxrahm-Dwir, has taken all of Hove’s dragons to court about Arilash?»
«No! How serious is that?» she asked.
«Passing serious. Did you even know that there was a place called Auxrahm-Dwir, on Graulfnir as it happens, and that it had a Marquise, who is the geneological magistrate for the male-female balance of dragons, and whose official duty it is to ensure that as many drakes as possible can marry? Marry dragonesses, I mean. He’s also taking us to court about urning marriages, about which he has nothing at all good to say. And he takes doctors to court if too many baby drakes or too few baby dragonesses survive their Great Separation; that’s his official job.»
«Really? If too many male children survive?»
«Oh, yes. Many more girls survive the Great Separation than boys do. If it were simply parity, we’d have at least three drakes to each dragoness, instead of just two. Doctors are urged — or required, where Graulfnir’s laws are law — to press harder on drakes, to take all reasonable risks with them, so that their sorcery is as strong as possible if they survive. Survival is less likely, with that treatment. For dragonesses, the opposite: survival is important, power somewhat less so. Which is why I have such a good breath weapon compared to most drakes, and such weak magic. And why I’m alive at all. If I had been male, Dr. Dnazhvhens would have kept going after my hukuchô tore, and probably wound up killing me.»
«That’s horrible,» she wrote.
«That’s our species for you. Astral dragons, I mean, since we’re not the whole species. I hear that parents get a bit callous after the first dozen dead six-year-olds. I’m not looking forward to that myself,» I answered. «But you may choose not to have to endure it at all, should you choose to divorce Gyovanth and remain drakeless.»
«You will really help me get divorced?»
«Of course so! It will be tremendously exciting, and keep us from getting bored for a duodecade or four,» I replied. And leave her irremedially in my debt. And probably owing favors (possibly to be paid back as that kind of favors) to half the dragons on Hove, since we’d have to bribe any number of busybody Marquises of Auxrahm-Dwir and the like to allow it, or answer them if they didn’t, and that would mean expense for everyone, and labors for several.
«Let me think about it more.»
«Roroku, think about it until you are sure, one way or the other. When you decide, I will give you a full breath of help.» Because it will cost you more than you can possibly imagine, even if I am as nice about it as I can manage, which I will be. Decide if that will be worse than staying with your horrible husband. It could go either way.
Roroku could read the phrases in italics as clearly as if I had actually said them.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.