The news of the brawl spread through the camp instantly. I know for a fact that the extremely useful and supposedly-unimaginative Mr. Norb wrote seven comic poems about the event. I daresay that the undead servitors were laughing about it within the minute, and continued to do so for weeks.
Some people were less amused.
After Psajathrion was finished attaching Vaareng’s scales and unboiling his face, it was Vaareng’s quite difficult task to rest quietly for the afternoon. His consort Driaith soon came to make that task impossible, accompanied by his (Driaith’s) other consort Mirinxan.
Vaareng greeted them with proud excitement. “Hallo, Driaith, Mirinxan! Did you hear of the battle? I have much to boast of! I ripped the muscles of Gyovanth’s upper foreleg, I severed important wing-tendons, I burned a hole through his wing! And him with all the battle-training that a lord of Chiriact can buy!”
Driaith nodded, and said in a low nervous voice, “We did hear about the battle. And the reasons for your involvement in it.”
“What, and you do not come here to celebrate me?” said Vaareng. “Whyever not?”
Driaith sighed. “This may be a difficult conversation. Perhaps we should wait until you are healed.”
Mirinxan, to my surprise when I heard about it, said, “This kind of conversation does not keep. And Vaareng is not stupid, just self-absorbed. You have given him just enough of a hint to render relaxation impossible, Driaith. Do the rest.”
Vaareng blinked. “Hint? — Oh! You seem upset, Driaith, Mirinxan. You do not rejoice. What did you come here to say?”
Driaith crouched and curled his tail around his legs, like an overgrown and very lustrous black housecat. “Well. The reason you chose to involve yourself in that brawl. You had recently twined with Roroku, is the story everyone was saying?”
Vaareng thought about his options for a moment, and, being a drake, chose to attack. “I had! She found me far preferable to her husband! Also! You cannot object! You have a whole other dragon as a lover! He crouches by your side even now! Words like ‘fidelity’ and ‘monogamy’ are in no way part of our … our … whatever you may call it. Arrangement.”
“I would like to call it a ‘relationship’. Not to put too fine a point on the matter, I would like to call it a ‘love affair’,” said Driaith. “You squirm in distress and discomfort at the though? You demur? You deny? What word would you choose, were you inclined to be specific?”
“I am not happy with any words that I have thought of,” Vaareng admitted.
“When night comes and sleep does not, do you shuffle through dictionaries and thesauri to find the right word, as I have been known to do? Do you shuffle through scenarios and possibilities, trying to find one that implies sufficient joy, as I do?” asked Driaith in his quietest voice.
“Or do you prefer not to think about us — as a couple of sorts — at all?” asked Driaith.
“Well. I do meditate on some of our intimacies after the fact,” admitted Vaareng. “The one by the four trees the other day — the river and the round rocks — the cloud-twine — even here two weeks ago. Such memories please me greatly.”
“I was female for all of those,” noted Driaith. “So — what am I to you? Your part-time girlfriend? Whose unfortunate habit of having been born male, and wishing to sometimes indulge that fact, you are willing to overlook for want of a better option? To be abandoned as soon as you catch the scent of a true and full-time girl, even if she is obviously manipulating you and about to steal your hoard?”
“Roroku did not do very well by me, really,” said Vaareng.
“She did not,” said Driaith. “But you did not do very well by me either. You tossed me aside without a second thought — without a first thought, I believe!”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.