Girls will be girls

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Warnings/notes: suggested Norathar/Cawti, Morrolan/Vlad, Sethra/Aliera and Aliera/Mario, slightly silly, ooc, drabble-ish.

Disclaimer: The wondrous world of Dragaera was created by Steven Brust.

written at 14th june 2006, by Misura

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Rather a lot of things that can be done by sorcery, can also be accomplished by simply doing them. Contrary to what it may sound like at first, this isn't something some Athyra said a long time ago, after thinking things over for a few centuries. It's just plain truth.

For example, Morrolan can cast a spell to create bread out of thin air. It tastes - not bad, precisely, just very, very bland. But it fills your stomach and does all the things a normal piece of bread would do. By turning that logic around, you get my previous statement. Basically, it means that, sure, you can create bread by casting a spell, but you could also just go to the bakery (or, in Morrolan's case, the kitchen) and get some bread there. Or you get some flour, water and yeast, and bake the bread yourself.

A good spell will allow you to put less effort in casting it, than you'd have to put in doing what you're trying to accomplish without using any sorcery. It's very hard, not to say impossible, for anyone to lift an entire castle, to stick with the Morrolan-related examples, so by that definition, the spell that keeps Castle Black floating would be a damn good one. Would be, yes, because Morrolan's castle is actually kept in the air by his coven of witches. It's a spell, all right, but it's not sorcery. It's witchcraft.

Dragaerans consider witchcraft vastly inferior to sorcery, mostly because witchcraft is traditionally something done by humans. Morrolan is one of the few Dragaerans I know who dabbles in witchcraft, and if he has any opinion about which is better, he hasn't yet seen fit to share that opinion with me. Personally, I'm one of the few humans I know who also uses sorcery, and, well, there's advantages to both of them. I'll never be an accomplished sorcerer - I simply can't afford to spend the hundreds of years it takes to become one. Morrolan thinks he's a good witch, after years of studying, which is rubbish. You're either a good witch, or you aren't. Morrolan is sort of average, really; he knows a whole lot more than I do, but it doesn't mean anything, because witchcraft isn't about quantity. Witchcraft is about quality; knowing how to make do with what you've got, and doing it right.

From what I've heard, Castle Black did get lifted by sorcery. Witchcraft tends to favor stability; you can use it to speed up natural processes, or preserve things, but I wouldn't even know where to begin if I'd want to lift an entire castle with it. Thus, a sorceror put Castle Black into the sky, and then a coven of witches convinced the castle that it belonged there, and ought to keep on floating. If you want to look for it, or are an Athyra, this process probably tells you something significant and insightful.

So, in a sense, I guess you could say that the spell that -lifted- Castle Black all those centuries ago was a good one. Personally, I'm tempted to ask that, really, what was the -point- of it, aside from giving Morrolan a place to live in that literally put him above anyone else? And did he -need- to live in a floating castle to have people talk about him? But that's just me.

The spell Morrolan was showing to me - or rather, showing -off- to me, since hey, this is Morrolan 'I live in a floating castle because I can' e'Drien - was, by my earlier definition, moderately good. It was a spying spell, more sneaky than I'd expect a Dragonlord to bother with. Simply put, it allowed the caster, and anyone with whom he might want to share the experience, to look and listen in on a conversation that took place in any place that the caster knew well enough to be able to teleport to.

It was 'moderately good' because, sure, you -could- simply sneak close enough to overhear every word yourself, but if the three people having the conversation were Aliera e'Kieron and the two women who were once known as the Dagger and the Sword of the Jhereg, there was a pretty good chance you'd get caught. Getting caught would probably have consequences. By casting his spell, Morrolan neatly avoided those consequences and also preserved his dignity as a Dragonlord. Anyone who'd see us would simply assume we were doing something gravely important - at least, they'd assume that -Morrolan- was doing something gravely important. Obviously, as an Easterner, I couldn't possibly be up to stuff like that.

"Heh."

Oh, yes, and Loiosh was there, too. I'd promised him Blackwand wouldn't try and eat him, and that Rozca wouldn't either, even if she'd find out about his spying on her.

x

"So, what's Vlad like in bed?" Aliera asked, as casually as she might have inquired about the weather or someone's willingness to give her a bit of sport with a sword.

Cawti coughed, once. She didn't blush as much as I might have in her place, but then again, I'm not a woman. There may be differences there, aside from the obvious.

Norathar leaned forwards, the expression on her face reminding me of what she'd told me in Dzur-mountain, before she'd been proclaimed Dragon Heir. She'd said she'd kill me if I'd ever hurt Cawti. I wondered now if that meant that she'd just hurt me a lot if I proved to be lousy in bed.

"Maybe she'll only force you to take lessons, boss."

Loiosh has it easy, in that area, and in others as well. -He- doesn't need to worry about someone biting his head off if he doesn't perform as is expected of him. According to jhereg, it's the female's responsibility to make sure the male gets it right. I wouldn't want to trade places with him for all the money in the world.

"He's very ... enthusiastic." Cawti smiled, very lightly. Jhereg simply don't have a knack for smiling, unless it's the 'now, you can make this easy on yourself, or not' smile that Smiley's so very good at. Being an Easterner and, granted, the love of my life, Cawti's smile seemed like a beautiful, rare gem to me. If I'd been crouching around the corner, instead of sitting in Morrolan's study, I'd likely have done something that would have given my presence away.

Aliera snorted. "Enthusiastic is just another word for 'clueless and clumsy like a virgin'."

Norathar nodded. "And 'horny and selfish like a dragon'." From the way she said it, and the way Aliera was nodding, too, I could tell it was some sort of quote. Which was ... interesting, considering that both Aliera and Norathar were Dragons. I risked a glance at Morrolan who seemed completely unbothered by the comment. Perhaps he felt it only applied to female Dragons.

"I don't mean it like that!" Cawti protested.

"Ah, but you did say it like that, sister of my heart," Norathar said. If I hadn't known better, I could have sworn she sounded a little jealous, like she was disappointed that Cawti hadn't caved in and confessed that yes, I was downright awful to share a bed with.

"Sometimes, in an unguarded moment, we may say things we won't admit even to ourselves," Aliera added. I wondered when she'd turned into an Athyra. I also wondered what I'd done recently to annoy her. Norathar, I could almost understand; I mean, if you work, live and kill for years with a person, it's only natural that you develop a bond, and that you want to believe the worst about anyone who that person replaces you with. If she hadn't turned out to be a Dragonlord, I'd have been worried.

"Why am I the only one being questioned, anyway?" Cawti had apparently decided that an attack would be her best defense. I wasn't sure where she was going though. As far as I knew, neither Norathar nor Aliera had any kind of relationship. That would probably be why they were so curious about Cawti's.

"We are hardly questioning you." Aliera snorted, and I could practically hear the 'Jhereg' she'd swallowed at the end of her statement. "We are merely making small talk."

Norathar glanced at her. I bet she, too, had heard Aliera sneering at the House she'd thought she belonged to until very recently. She chose to let it go though, in favor of presenting a united front to Cawti. "We are concerned about a friend," she said. "I love you, and I don't like the thought of someone not treating you the way you deserve." The switch from 'we' to 'I' was interesting, and probably accurate. Aliera couldn't care less about Cawti; former companion of the future Empress or not, she remained an Easterner and a Jhereg.

"Your concern is appreciated." Cawti sighed. I didn't think Aliera was included in that 'your'. I didn't think Aliera cared about that either. "Now, can we talk about something else?"

" 'Enthusiastic' hardly answers our question." Aliera scoffed.

Norathar looked pensive. Cawti shot her a pleading look, and she shrugged, as if to say: 'You're the one who went and got herself involved in a relationship; you can go and get yourself out of this on your own, too.'

tbc