View of a Rebellion (Day 126)
“Your homes, your jobs, your families, to them you must return while you still live! The flames, they are ready to harm you!” Llredh circled the rioters so low that his wingtips furrowed the crowd. He kept his hukuchô curled up high in the astral plane, so that they would disperse intentionally or not at all.
“Monsters of evil! Spawn of the anti-gods! Go back to Garchune! Lady of Peppers prepares a woeful soup for your punishment!” yelled Dr. Sband. He had been delivering an incendiary sermon proclaiming that our conquest of Trest was illegal, illegitimate, and evil. (He was wrong. I’m pretty sure it was actually legal.) Grands upon grands of hovens packed Marmelane Square to hear him, and a half-dozen other speakers: brave loyalists to the former regime, or firebrands and rabblerousers, depending on your point of view.
Llredh laughed, a deep booming laugh from his throat and his wings that must have rattled every window in Churry City. “Threats of imaginary spirits, these do not impress me! Threats of riots, these do not impress me either. Burn your city down if you like! You shall not get another!”
I was circling far over Llredh’s head. This conquest is his idea. He can do all the work — and if there are any rewards from it, those are his too, to share with his husband if he wants. But Ythac had asked me to go with Llredh and keep him and Churry City safe. The hovens still had some weapons that could kill a dragon, here and there, and Llredh’s dangersense isn’t much better than my sense of touch.
The crowd didn’t seem to have any serious weapons, or not the martial kind at any rate. They weren’t there to fight us, anyways. They weren’t even expecting us to be there; after all, we’d been in Perstra the capital three hours ago.
The crowd’s weapons were the different kind, and they wore them as their clothes. By the stage two dozen judges listened to Sband, the balance-emblems on their flat-caps damp with the drizzle. Beyond them, a half-grand of hovens wearing the striped teal uniform of Churry City’s civil service, with abacus pendants for the accountants, wire circles for the gendarmes, black bottles for the secretaries, and so on. Behind them was a squad of ritual musicians, a company of refuse-takers, a brigade of shopkeepers, a legion of students. Without their labors, Churry City would be ungovernable and all but unliveable.
Dr. Sband didn’t quite seem to understand the powers at his command, though. So he invoked some powers which weren’t his to command, and, as far as I could tell, didn’t exist at all. “You are arrogant, you are foolish, you overreach yourself! Bmern and Drukah will bring destructions to you!”
Llredh didn’t understand what opposed him, either. He roared, “My might, you doubt her? My ruthlessness, you doubt her? Your country, she is the present for my wife Ythac! I do not tolerate disobedience towards Ythac! Dispersal and obedience, these are your protections from me! Silly gods, fake gods, not so much so!”
“They are serious gods, real gods! You will discover this soon, to your harm!”
Llredh arched his head back, as one does when one is about to breathe powerfully. I squealed at him, “Stop! Don’t do that!” He ignored me, of course. His flames covered the stage and splashed further, scorching judges, singing accountants and gendarmes and secretaries, heating the face-fur of musicians and refuse-takers and shopkeepers. He wasn’t trying to kill them very much though. He uses tighter, hotter fire on his friends.
The stage burned, where it was wood. Hoven clothes and fur burned. Trestean flags set around the stage burned. (We hadn’t yet replaced the Trestean flag, but the hovens were using it as a symbol of opposition to us.) The hovens on the stage fled if they could, but a dozen of them couldn’t. The hovens in the audience mostly fled too. Of course, Marmelane Square doesn’t have very good exits, so some of them fled and some of them fell and got trampled by the others’ hooves.
Llredh boomed, “Who can stand against me? There is no hoven, there is no dragon, there is no god on Hove who can! Peaceful submission to me, she alone is your hope and your survival!” This was a bit of a boast past truth. Csirnis and Llredh are fairly evenly matched.
Rather more practically, I swooped down and landed on the stage. Or tried to; my left hindleg was on the wooden part, the burning wooden part, and fell through. No great matter, really. I swept the fallen hovens off the burning part of the stage, and started putting the Arcane Anodyne into them.
“Jyothky! Your chore, what is she, why is she? These people, they opposed me, they are dying! What could be simpler? There is nothing, there can be nothing!” he said in Grand Draconic. (Actually he talks normally in Grand Draconic, I’ve just made it sound like the way he usually talks.)
“Ythac asked me to keep you from destroying Churry City too much. That includes not killing all the people.”
“My breath, I rendered her moderate! Those who die, they are few in number and circumscribed! The rest, they learn!”
“You’re better off letting them accept your rulership and live. Says Ythac, not just me.”
“Will they live?” Llredh landed nearby, on the stone pavement of the square.
“I’m not that bad with healing spells, on hovens. I’ve had lots of practice, fixing Tarcuna after I killed her cyoziworm,” I reminded him.
He roared and struck the pavement with his tail, so that it crazed and shattered. “The worm, the worm, the vile worm! I do not forget the worm! Soon, soon must I pacify Trest! For my wife, yes, but for my revenge too!”
I scooped up another struggling hoven. A minister or something, it’s hard to tell after their clothes are burned off. “Why are you calling Ythac your wife, Llredh? He’s a boy. You’re both boys.” They’re on the “perverts” side of the mating flight. I’m on the “cripples” side, myself.
“Hah! Last night we have the mount-fight, only without the fighting. The love, that is easy with Ythac. But the sex, there are many choices, some nights we want to not be so careful. The quick game of cards, we play her, that is our mount-fight! Ythac loses. So he is my wife again. So often he is!”
“I don’t see how you can pretend to have the least bit of honor, if that’s how you carry on.”
“The gambling debt, what is more honorable than keeping her?”
“You picked the stakes, though. It wasn’t like an open-ended gamble with a small person, where you didn’t expect to lose and you get surprised by the result.”
“No, it was not that,” said Llredh. ”Zṥràsḫiọ źó Hrašśiǒ” Politeness is lightness.
“Right. Well, the next time I ask a question like that, just look mysterious and superior and don’t tell me the nasty little answer.”