On Trial for Treason [8 Hispis 4262]
We were in a small parlor in the Duke's palace. We being:
- The Duke
- Legeriator Darsues
- Lord Eddarna (undersecretary of the Exchequer)
There were some pleasantries for a few minutes. They weren't very pleasant. I wanted to hide under a chair, but didn't.
Duke:"Now, to business. Darseus, I understand that you are accusing my ambassador to Vaisessasilmin of betraying Vheshrame to the nendrai."
Duke:"That is not quite how it was reported to me."
Darsues:"Zie is a potential traitor. Zie said as much at the Legeriat session."
Me:"I said that I can't resist Vae's ..."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Legeriator, please elaborate on this rather remarkable claim."
Darseus:"The honored Zi Ri opposed and refused to entertain any plans to destroy the beast, and, in effect, said that zie would inform it should such plans be propounded."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Now, Legeriator Darsues, why do you suppose that the ambassador would undertake such a treason?"
Darsues:"The answer is obvious. I defer to Lord Eddarna."
Eddarna:"The honored Zi Ri is clearly in the pay of the nendrai."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Lord Eddarna, please explain further."
Eddarna:"The honored Zi Ri has been unwilling to submit proper reports of zir profits from zir dealings as the Duke's ambassador. Indeed, we have not a single correct such report. The obvious conclusion is that the honored Zi Ri's finances are of a nature that zie wishes to conceal."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Lord Eddarna, pray continue."
Eddarna:"Zie has not managed to wholly conceal zir illicit dealings from the sharp-nosed inspectors of the Exchequer. "
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Pray continue, Lord Eddarna."
Eddarna:"A particular blob of purple amber with cyan highlights was sold for thirty-eight lozens on 11 Nivvem of last year. Between six and eight lozens were used for ducal purposes. The remainder was not reported to the Exchequer."
Now I really wanted to hide under the chair. I had forgotten to report that.
Duke:"Ah. You assert that Sythyry will betray Vheshrame for thirty-two lozens?"
Eddarna:"Well. Where the is one illicit embezzlement, there are surely more. Zie was doubtless careless due to the small amount of the extraction. I know for a fact that the sale of an iron implement was not reported, and was made in a way that my inspectors could not fully trace."
Duke:"Later, Kaim-Su. Lord Eddarna, proceed."
Eddarna:"The Exchequer estimates that the honored Zi Ri has amassed between a hundred thousand and two million lozens, and reported not a single terch."
Darsues:"And that is a sum for which a young and inexperienced traitor might be bought."
Duke:"Very good. Are there other topics you would like to add?"
Darsues:"There are a number of rather odd contacts with the nendrai. For example, on the 17 Trandary, the honored Zi Ri, the nendrai, and two quite foreign representatives met the nendrai for an extended conversation outside the city walls."
Duke:"Right. Sythyry, could you please explain that incident to my satisfaction?"
I couldn't, really. It was sort of a practical joke, and that's very hard to explain to a Duke's satisfaction.
Darsues:"I believe my point is fully made."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Kaim-Su, I believe you had further information about the trowel?"
Kaim-Su:"It's in the city vaults, under heavy sorcerous protections."
Darsues:"A very valuable trowel!"
Kaim-Su:"Dangerous. We are protecting the city from the trowel. It might harbor offworld creatures."
Darsues:"So Sythyry was engaged in bringing offworld creatures -- not just monster, but extradimensional monsters -- into the city? That is not merely treason. It is doorwaying."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Legeriator Darsues, do you recommend that we try the ambassador for doorwaying, as well as treason?"
Darsues:"Absolutely! I did not realize that any monsters had actually entered the city!"
Duke:"An important detail. Kaim-Su, did any monsters enter the city?"
Duke:"Please explain how this doorwaying attempt was made."
Kaim-Su:(Describes briefly the possibility of exotic forms of monster eggs or seeds which could potentially be attached to offworld iron or wood or soil. Then explains the steps which we took to ensure that this would not occur.)
Duke:"Please summarize, Kaim-Su."
Kaim-Su:"Your ambassador gave up an exceedingly expensive trowel to the city guard so that it could be placed in a situation under which it does not endanger either the city or the universe."
Duke:"Legeriator Darsues, do you take this as prima facie evidence of doorwaying?"
Darsues:"Not in this case."
Duke:"Lord Eddarna, do you take this as prima facie evidence of improper embezzling?"
Eddarna:"Yes, if Sythyry still owns the horticultural implement."
Kaim-Su:"I don't know who owns the thing. It's not as if we're going to let anyone use it or sell it."
Duke:"Lord Eddarna, would you like to revise your estimate of Sythyry's improper profits?"
Lord Eddarna:"A moment, Your Grace."
Darsues:"The magnitude of the bribery is immaterial; the existence suffices. In any case, the nendrai can provide the honored Zi Ri with more magic than nearly anyone on the World Tree."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Legeriator Darsues, who would you describe as the greatest wizard on the World Tree?"
Darsues:"I am hardly an expert on wizards!"
Duke:"Well, suggest a name or two."
Darsues:"Well. The Wild and Scaly Llezcaryg."
Duke:"A respectable contender. Any others?"
Darsues:"Well, Glikkonen of course."
Duke:"Sythyry, what is your relationship to Glikkonen?"
Me:"Zie is my grandparent."
Duke:"Ah, of course. I had potentially forgotten." Not likely, since Hezimikkinen exploits our grandparent's stature mercilessly at the Duke. "Kaim-Su, is the nendrai notably more powerful than Glikkonen?"
Kaim-Su:"I believe that Glikkonen holds the edge. Especially in matters of bribery. Glikkonen gave Sythyry the Eye of Melizan and Mirizan, and a rather dangerous fire elemental. Vae gave zir an old trowel."
Darsues:"Getting supplies and power from both is not wholly inconcievable."
Duke:"No, not wholly. Lord Eddarna, is your revised estimate ready?"
Eddarna:"Yes, it is. Between one-half and three thousand lozens."
Duke:"And what is Sythyry's allowance from zir ~father~?"
Duke:"Right. Your ~mother~. Hezimikkinen's ~father~."
Eddarna:"Roughly a thousand lozens."
Duke:"So three thousand lozens would be a substantial increase? Quadrupling it?"
Eddarna:[looking uncomfortable]"Well, the allowance is reckoned monthly, and the embezzlement annually."
Eddarna:"So the embezzling is no more than a third of the allowance."
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Lord Eddarna, you seem to have more to say?"
Eddarna:"Yes. The honored Zi Ri does not spend zir full allowance, which makes it hard to measure."
Duke:"Why not?" He stared at me.
Me:"Some is for books, and some for spells, and such as that. I can only read and graft so much. And I'm sharing the part for the servant; I don't need a whole one."
Duke:"Ah. Not spending money you have: one of the luxuries of the young."
Darsues:"Your Grace! There remains a further important point: the intimate relations between the honored Zi Ri and the beast. Zie is a known and admitted transaffectionate person!"
Duke:"Later, Sythyry. Kaim-Su, could you describe the intimate encounter that occurred between the two, two days ago?"
Kaim-Su:"Vae threw a beetle at Sythyry hard enough to break ribs. We had to bring zir to the Healers' Guild for anaesthesia, though the nendrai healed zir to health."
Duke:"A lover's tiff?"
Kaim-Su:"A reprisal for Sythyry thwarting one of Vae's ill-intentioned plans which surely would have been bad for the city."
Duke:"A characteristically treasonous act, I must say."
Darsues:"And the intimacies you hinted at, Your Grace? A nendrai, being ophidian, would naturally appeal to a Zi Ri."
Kaim-Su:"I believe Sythyry specializes in Orren."
Everyone looked at me.
Me:"Well. There was a Rassimel too."
Kaim-Su:"Love, or body-play?"
Kaim-Su:"Like your basic upper-class libertine, that."
Duke:"Ahem. No nendrai?"
Kaim-Su:"The nendrai is prepubescent still, and quite concerned with her appearance to others of her species, so I doubt there are any intimacies with the honored Zi Ri."
Duke:"Darsues? Eddarna? Anything to add before I pronounce the sentence?"
Me:"Later, after the sentence?"
Eddarna, Darsues:"We have nothing more to add."
Duke:"Very well. Lord Eddarna, Legeriator Darsues, I sentence you to read all of Sythyry's reports to the City Guard, and humbly request that you do your research better before accusing my staff of treason. Sythyry, I sentence you to a fine of two hundred lozens, and humbly request that you report everything more carefully to Lord Eddarna."
Darsues and Eddarna argued with the Duke for a while, rather angrily. He was unyeilding, and rather amused. (He also pointed out that it was a rather light sentence, since my reports were more fun to read than most, which I suppose I should be happy about.)
After they left, the Duke wagged his tail to me.
Duke:"One more question. How far off were Eddarna's estimates of your embezzling?"
Me:"Mostly off. I think I got the thirty lozens from that amber, and ... maybe one or two dozen more. Or maybe I've spent that much. I haven't kept very good records."
Duke:" A pity; I was trying to fine you half of your ill-gotten wealth, not four times it. Well, you really ought to embezzle a proper salary. And report it. I should not like to think what would happen if you do not!"
He wagged his tail more. I didn't realize that I was supposed to ask, so Kaim-Su did.
Kaim-Su:"What would happen if Sythyry did not embezzle properly?"
Duke:"Then I should have to pay zir a salary myself!"
Kaim-Su:"We can't have that."
Duke:"Well, this has been moderately entertaining. Gentleprimes, thank you for your time in service to your city. I daresay I shall be calling upon you again in more urgent situations."
He did a flourishy court bow, and strode out of the parlor.
Kaim-Su:"Well, Sythyry. Just the two of us. I suppose you can say all those things you wanted to say, now."
Me:"I think I'll just go sit in the fire and tremble for a while, if it's all the same to you."
Though after a bit, he sent Seeks-Leeks to extract me from the fire and fill me with brandy. From the Duke's cellar, yet.