In the beginning days, before the Riotori civilized themselves, males acquired mates by simply taking them by force. Gangs of half a dozen or more young males would stage mating raids on neighboring villages, taking the desired females by force. Not only would the females' families object—with force—but the females themselves often resisted, and violently.
Blood was spilled. Males were killed, both old and young; families devastated; sometimes ferocious conflicts erupted between villages and entire populations were wiped out. Worst, often the females were damaged: broken tusks or horns, facial scars, damaged limbs, all things that reduced their attractiveness to the males.
It was not unusual for a male to drag his fighting, spitting, and cursing female prize back to his home only to discover she was bleeding from wounds to the face and neck and, worse, a tusk with a jagged and broken tip or a horn broken off or even simply cracked.
The female he found so desirable while scouting before the raid had become severely and disappointingly less so. The female would see her captor and presumed future mate bleeding from wounds in the arms and legs—many administered by her—and also possibly sporting damaged horns or tusks.
The bloom was off the rose before the flower even sprouted.
Riotori were—and are—savage, sometimes vicious, and often gladly allow their emotions to rule their reason. But they are not stupid. It became clear after only a few generations that the attack-and-acquire method for obtaining mates was more trouble than it was worth.
So males and females, young and old, conferenced. Legend has it that dozens of messengers traveled hundreds of miles to announce the first (and last) Assembly. Perhaps a thousand Riotori made the trip to the site, some taking six or seven days to make the journey, packing along provisions and small children. The numbers and distances seemed to increase with every generation's retelling of the event.
There was virtually unanimous agreement that the acquisition of mates needed to change, and change drastically. But what those changes would be and how they would be implemented garnered unanimous disagreement.
Growls, snarls, barred fangs, and even howls marked the discussions over the first day. The old males of the three nearby villages that had agreed on the necessity of the assembly and issued the invitations consulted during the night.
The second day the population was divided into ten groups. Each group still had too many individuals to easily reach consensus, but the odds were better. One individual—a female and brighter than most of either gender—suggested that her group divide again into groups of about fifteen.
This worked. Finally the numbers were low enough that constructive discussions could be maintained. One issue that was quickly decided was that the males would not make the decisions without consent of the females. Older males understandably objected. But, again, they were not stupid.
The same intelligent female pointed out that the whole issue was about them and if the males wanted to resolve the current situation, the solution would involve input and agreement from those most affected.
Word spread quickly and the third day saw the group divided into dozens of small groups, each able to have something close to intelligent discussions without resorting to threats or physical aggression. It was the females that kept the discussions civilized, often with rather uncivilized measures like screaming and horn grabbing.
After many more days than the attendees had ever imagined, the appointed leaders of each of the small groups met to hash out their groups' preferences. Surprisingly to the older citizens, but not the younger, a slight majority of these group leaders were females.
That may have facilitated the results, but following generations have kept the customs agreed upon at The Assembly, making only minor local adjustments.
The next entry will give details of those customs. When that will be, I'm not sure. So much depends on the hours I'll be required to work over the next weeks. Hopefully, though, it will be well before Christmas.