Coda: Laws and Punishments in Trest
Tarcuna told me a lot about the laws and gendarmes in Trest. I wouldn’t say that it makes very much sense, but here it is.
First of all, some things are illegal if they happen at all. Murder, embezzling, simony, kidnapping, apostasy from any of the orthodox religions, drunkenness, theft of art, and sedition, for example. These are mostly the more severe crimes, but not all of them. Drunkenness is punished by a fine of a single thurny, which used to be a lot of money but isn’t anymore. Actually people aren’t convicted of drunkenness very often. A drunkenness conviction is a convenient way for the gendarmes to harass someone they don’t like, or for one politician to humiliate another.
Other things are only illegal if they’re noticed soon enough — prostitution (ten days), kidnapping (ten years), use of evil chords in music (ten days from time of the first public performance), adultery (ten years), theft of foodstuffs (ten hours), and bribery (ten hours). And mugging (ten days). I didn’t see how mugging could go unnoticed at all, even by weak hoven senses, but the law is that the gendarmes have to notice it. So the victim has to go find a gendarme and complain quickly enough, or there’s no crime.
In the center of Dorday, at least, the gendarmes do wander around the city, showing their wire circle insignia, and try to make everything peaceful and lawful. That’s in the parts of the city that tourists go to. The dock areas are for sailors and lowlives. And of course, places like the Red Spire of Rented Friends have their own ways of avoiding the gendarmes. Tarcuna didn’t want to explain how that worked. I suspect bribery, noticed after eleven hours.
Oh, and I’m now a criminal, since I killed two hovens. “They attacked first” is a pretty good defense against murder charges in court, and if I went to trial I’d probably be sentenced to two months of penance supervised by my official sect. Trestean citizens are more or less required to maintain a state of ritual purity, though that’s not really observed for anyone, and Tarcuna hasn’t been anywhere close to it for years.
(Actually it’s more than two, isn’t it? Three more when I burned that army station in Drupe-ek-Kavash. I’m pretty sure that’s all so far.)
Then, of course, I’d get tried for atheism, since I don’t have an official sect to impose penances. “My fiancé has an undead god in a bottle. I don’t exactly worship him, but he’s good for romantic advice.” isn’t a good defense against atheism charges in court. Tarcuna gave me a rather odd look when I told her about that.
“You really can’t expect me to worship any hoven gods. Your suns are just natural phenomena, not supernatural powers. I do have a sense for telling where gods are,” I said.
“I’m not a judge! I’d be convicted for prostitution and homosexuality and ritual impurity and drunkenness and lots of other things, if I ever got to court. Besides, you’re my customer. I’m not going to argue with you, even if you want to pretend to be a giant lizard,” said Tarcuna.
“I am a giant lizard,” I said, and turned into … well, I don’t fit in my hotel room really, but a one-sixth-sized version of me does.
Unfortunately, that’s not a very good way to calm a skittish hoven down.
Fortunately, the hotel management is used to prostitutes screaming loudly in the middle of the afternoon in their rooms. Usually, Tarcuna said afterwards, they’re pretending excitement than actually experiencing terror.
Also fortunately, as soon as I turned back, Tarcuna calmed down to the point of not screaming. She even mostly stopped whimpering a few minutes later. Brave hoven, that.