Hoarding for Fun and Instinct

No, not herding, hoarding, as in what True-dragons and some HalfDragons do, to Rada Ni Drako’s amusement, occasional chagrin, and growing irritation. Irritation because Joschka hordes relatives. Thanks be he has enough resources, and self-discipline, that he can support his extended family and is willing to let them have their own lives, as long as they write, call, and visit regularly. But once he decides that Rada comes under his aegis in more than just a “subordinate and commanding officer” way, he’s going to try her patience sorely. But she’s not surprised. After all, she’s watched Zabet for how many centuries? (A polite author does not ask such things of a lady. Especially if that lady is Rada ni Drako.)

Hoarding is one of those quirks of True-dragon and HalfDragon behavior that everyone understands and works around. Not all of them have the compulsion, and those that do possess it in varying strengths. Zabet and Joschka are on the mild-to-moderate end of the spectrum. Rada’s met a few on the very weak end of the curve, and crossed paths with one who probably ended up in drakonic records for his life-threatening obsession.

No cure exists for drakonic hording, because it is genetic and so ingrained in the nature of True-dragons and HalfDragons that ripping it out would probably destroy the individual in question. And drakonic society, the Houses and other groups, take hoarding for granted. Most do, a few don’t, and that’s how it is. Rather like humans eating or playing games.

Hoarding on the surface resembles collecting. To say that Zabet collects notions – fabric trim including ribbons, braid, bands of embroidery or woven decorations – would be perfectly correct. But the urge to collect is so deeply ingrained that Zabet must acquire the ribbons that she desires, or she becomes emotionally distressed and physically ill. She also acquires information related to her habit, which is how she came to specialize in textiles and high-value art. In Zabet’s case the compulsion remains mild and buying a few especially choice pieces on a regular basis, or getting them as gifts from Rada and others, keeps her craving within reasonable control. Zabet (and Rada) budgets for hoarding. Any accountant who works with the Houses or individual True and HalfDragons knows to ask about the hoarding allowance, and worlds with large numbers of drakonic residents usually ignore hoards when making property evaluations for tax or probate reasons.

Hoarding, if present, appears in late childhood to early adulthood. A toddler True-dragon declaring a pile of toys to be “Mine!” and refusing to share gets reprimanded, because she’s not hoarding, she’s being rude. An 80 year-old True-dragon who wraps her tail around a display case of couture costume dolls and announces “Mine!” receives acknowledgement and people respect the declaration. She is likely also on track to become a curator or designer, if she is fortunate. Some of the best museum staff are also hoarders who lock onto art, rocks, artifacts, or other objects of museological interest. They hoard, and curate, and display, and lecture, and you’d best not be in a hurry to leave if you happen to ask one of the about a particular object or work.

Dr. Leiji Fujimori, the xenologist for the Japanese branch of the Global Defense Force, hoards artillery. Yes, large-bore slug-throwers, as Rada has been known to mutter well out of his ear-shot. He keeps them on Hokkaido, where he can visit and play. Rada is careful not to ask for details, and neither does Graf-General Joschka Graf von Hohen-Drachenburg, military head of the GDF. What he does not know . . .

What about hoarding sapient living beings, like Joschka does? In his case his hoarding instinct remains moderate and tailored to his current society’s norms, where having a large and close-knit family is considered beneficial and meets with approval. And he does not try to keep grown children (and grandchildren) physically close. However, because of the innate nature of hoarding, when one of his family members dies, the pain is far greater than anyone but Rada or another draconic person can understand. The other problem arises when two family members have a falling out, like Joschka’s grandson and heir Leopold and his (now former) wife. Joschka refuses to acknowledge Leopold’s difficulties with Elizabeth, or Liza as he calls her, ratcheting up the strain in an already tense relationship.

In other cases, a True-dragon or HalfDragon hoarding expert may be summoned to help find a way to shift the hoarder’s need onto a more acceptable, or realistic, focus. Hoarding living creatures remains one of the rarest forms of hoarding, and is generally mild. One of Joschka’s maternal great uncles had quite a reputation for being a play-dragon in his youth because he collected actresses. He’d flatter, flirt, and woo until he obtained a portrait of the female in question, then headed off to a new lady-of-interest. By the time he died, he had one of the largest collections of theater and holo-vid portraits within that sector, and experts and costume designers visited to study his collection. Joschka’s mother muttered on occasion that Uncle Andy should have also been visited by diplomats, because he remained on friendly terms with all the females in his collection.

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