Ythac and I sat on a massive concrete bunker sort of thing, so we could tower effectively over the defendants: Tultamaan, Itharieth, Yarenton. Most of the rest of the remaining Exploring Company were somewhere or other within earshot. Katamerces, acting as their lawyer, stood by their side.
“I put it to you that you conspired to murder Jaraswat, whom you hated for your own several reasons, by means of abandoning him to the doom of Narethy, which you know to be a dragon-killer due to it killed Borybran. How are you to responding?” I said. There is a special register of High Draconic for speech in a court of law, complete with its own full set of verb-forms which are not much like any other verb-forms in any universe anywhere. I do not know it very well. I started out using properly, but by the end I was verging on the ungrammatical in any register.
“I put it back to You that we did not Discuss the Matter in Advance, or, as it happens, even at the Moment. I put it back to You that we have not the Slightest Clue or even the sight of the Purple Flag that might be on top of One as to whether Jaraswat is alive or Dead, triumphant or Dinner,” said Tultamaan. His capital letters indicated what we all knew — Jaraswat was probably dead and dinner, or soon to be. “So the Specific Charge of Conspiracy To Murder is Inaccurate.”
“I put it to you, then, that you worked in concord to strand Jaraswat alone in a universe with a dragon-killing monster and no way to return to Hove or to dragon-worlds in general,” I said, getting the legal register sort of right.
Yarenton twitched his wings. “I put it back to you that we are within the scope of lawful revenge, or nearly so. My life-mate, my urning spouse-equivalent, Fraxtseng was repeatedly subjected to ignominious occurrences by Jaraswat, compelled by physical might, blackmail, and academic coercion. So by the customs that apply to married dragons, I am allowed to revenge these trespasses against my spouse.”
I frowned. “The situation is not wholly parallel.” Ythac started hissing, so I added, “It is not a matter of ordinary versus urning marriages. You and Fraxtseng are not, in fact married. Indeed, you are not a couple. You, Fraxtseng, and Questhraum are a triple. And not one consecrated by any sort of ceremony honored by law or custom.”
“That’s because there aren’t any. Ceremonies for triples, I mean,” said Yarenton. “I put it back to you that there should be such ceremonies. Indeed, they should apply to normal dragons as well as urnings. You yourself, plus Nrararn and Osoth, could be such a legally-hallowed triple.”
Nrararn muttered, “Osoth and I are happy enough with our dragonesses. We have never found the need to bugger each other.” Loud enough for everydragon to hear, too. Sometimes he is beautiful but distinctly not useful.
I breathed a very bright and very loud thunderbolt over the court-grounds. “We are here to consider the more-or-less murder of Jaraswat! Not invent another form of marriage!”
Itharieth reared his head. “By the Law-Court’s Paw-Snorts! I put to you that I, alone, conspired to desert or destroy Jaraswat! I took the wixio from where he had left it, in a drawer of a cabinet in a science hangar, and set it upon Jaraswat that he might lose the wixio — and with it his already-shaky place in the respectability of science. And I destroyed the portal, so that Jaraswat would be trapped on Narethy with the doom.”
Tultamaan snorted frost. “I had the Honor to destroy the Portal as well, in a Simultaneous Deed. With less of a cause than Yarenton or even Itharieth had. Perhaps I Imagined that I was Protecting Hove from a Wicked Scientist as well as the Doom of Narethy.”
“I put it to you that you are all quite eager to claim credit for the imprisonment or destruction of Jaraswat,” I said.
“By the Streulengnork’s Duelling-Fork, I shall fight Yarenton and Tultamaan for the right to stand trial alone!” exclaimed Itharieth. “And I do not claim any right of revenge, for all of his offenses against me were lawful and customary!”
“I shall not engage in Duelling,” said Tultamaan. “Some of my defenses are Not Wholly Customary. I shall yield the matter to Itharieth, if it comes to that.”
“Well, I shan’t,” snapped Yarenton. “I have the right of revenge, except for some legal laradiddles, and I claim before my husbands and the royalty of Hove that I have taken my revenge in full but customary measure!”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.