A Course of Miracles
And, like most miracles, none of these is the least bit miraculous.
Tenasense, or, the Miracle of the Spar
Tenasense is one of our basic senses. It is the direct perception of structural integrity. Weak spots are particularly obvious to tenasense. It works best on physical objects, adequately on spells, and just barely, if that, on philosophical arguments, musical compositions, and other intangibles. It is unremarkable. Three or four species of small people have tenasense, and the ôglop far better than we do. (I believe they use it as their primary sense. Though I have never met an ôglop.) Kysps are not one of these species.
The cottage of Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-Twu-Thu was deep in a cluster of thrusty spars of orange-brown scoral. The couple had used epiphytes and paint, making a scene of amateurish but enthusiastic cozy delight.
“Ka-Twu-Thu? Did you know that the spar right above the house is not very strong?” said Ro-Ro-Ku, shyly.
“H’m? What makes you say that, Ro-Ro-Ku?”
Ro-Ro-Ku clambered on top of the house — kysp buildings are as much meant to be lived on as lived in — and pointed. “There’s a big weak spot right there.”
Ka-Twu-Thu found a solid stick, and poked the spar. “It might feel a bit soft … It could be rotting a bit. You’ve got good eyes, Ro-Ro-Ku! Let’s get that checked out!”
The town tapper was duly called in, with [rolling a 22] his case of carefully calibrated mallets and his ear-trumpets. He tapped here, he drummed there, he struck and ponged and hammered. And he listened with great finesse. “Well, yes indeed,” he said. “There is a diagonal crack in the scoral right there, and rot just starting its insidious spreading-out on either side of it. Excellently guessed, my fine friends! For all my years of tapping, I should not have thought to look there myself! This year the infestation is small! We can squirt in cleansers and glue, hammer on a few reinforcing struts, and the spar will be as good as new! Next year the rot would have been large and stenchulous, and the spar would have had to come down. The year after that, it would have come down all on its own, taking your roof and perhaps your lives.”
The work was duly performed, and the cottage saved. Dze-Ts-Kwy and Ka-Twu-Thu peered at Ro-Ro-Ku when they deemed her asleep, and thought strange thoughts.
«What is Roroku doing?» demanded Gyovanth. It was his turn to carry a nyxylith.
«I haven’t spoken with her today. Perhaps she is reviewing her manuals of etiquette? Particular topic: how to address royalty.»
«Sheśsven’s Manners for the Dragon Courts recommends an easy familiarity for all private spell-mediated communication,» Gyovanth wrote. «Since the venstroma is quite nearly a transdimensional version of the Horizonal Quill in effect, that seemed to be the relevant approach. Now, perhaps your majesty, in her great concern that all behaviors be proper and punctilious, has decreed a successor to great Sheśsven (that scholar for the ages!), and, indeed, published an updated manual. Alas, that the updated manual has not been delivered to Base Camp on Narethy! When it arrives, I shall study it with the greatest of attention!»
Of course he knows all about how to address royalty. Serves me right for trying to pull rank on a dragon from Chiriact.
«It is not yet finished,» I admitted. Not yet started, either, but that doesn’t make it a lie. «Patterns that were perfectly clear with a couple comprising one drake and one dragoness are less so when there are three drakes acting married.»
«Some drakes are too weak of body to win a mating flight, and too weak of will to master themselves afterwards. Such drakes belong on Hove. I daresay they are too weak to follow any reasonable etiquette, either,» said Gyovanth.
«Well, now that you’ve insulted my entire country, what did you want?»
«I want copulation! I want intercourse! I want mating, coupling, erotic engagement! I want to show all these urnings and weaklings what a true drake is about! I want Roroku to come here and do the one thing she is actually useful for!» Except for the last clause, this is perfectly good manners, according to Sheśsven and anyone else.
«Well, Roroku is doing valuable research and collecting valuable data valuably,» I answered. «Perhaps you could ask Driaith? I hear he makes an excellent dragoness when the mood strikes him — which it often does.» Poor Driaith. Actually he is finding that, between Mirinxan and Vaareng both preferring to be male with him, and feuding with each other, and needing constant reassurance that he, Driaith, actually likes them, that he is quite often she, and he rather misses the opportunity to insert one or another hemipenis into someone.
«You suggest I betray Roroku? With a drake?»
«Were you ever actually loyal to her? I hadn’t noticed,» I answered.
«Betrayal among spouses is not a matter of disloyalty, it is a matter of dischastity. And I have not done that! It is a royal prerogative!»
Which I am doing. Under doctor’s orders! On my husband’s urging! (Really. Nearly every time I “take” a “lover” I whine to Nrararn that I’d like to cancel it just this once. He always reminds me that it’s for our unlaid children’s sake and there’s no point to putting it off.) Still, if I try to defend myself on these grounds, the argument will modulate into pointing out that my mating flight was so awful and I was so unappealing that I didn’t get properly ⅔-fertilized at the right time and so now I need to do it at the wrong time. (Really, I don’t think that draconic society is good for anybody. Except, of course, for most dragonesses and the half of drakes who do get married, which is more than half the dragons, so I guess it’s kind of good for the majority. We are trying to set up Hove to be good for the remainder.)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.