Hemmo:“As the country which has suffered far and away the greatest injury, we present our demands. (1) that the extradimensional monsters return home and neither them nor any member of their species ever come to Hove again. (2) that before they depart they grant our scientists a full study of their capabilities and limitations, with an eye towards (2.a) our developing weapons against any potential future incursions in violation of (1), and (2.b) the adoption of their capabilities into Trestean technology. (3) Reparations from the Alliance of Freedom totalling ten times the cost of the damage to Trest, since this damage was taken in defending all Hove including the Alliance of Freedom from the alien monsters. (4) A complete waiver of all present and future claims of injury from Ze Cheya.”
Hoven Ensemble:(general nodding)
Draconic Ensemble:(general hissing) Because (1) would be personally awkward for us, and I can’t imagine any way of telling all the other dragons, much less getting them to do it. (2.a) We don’t want them to have those weapons, and (2.b) even if the hovens could use our magic we wouldn’t want them to do so. (3) at least is not our business, but (4) is offensive.
Zakuna:“As the country which has suffered terrible injuries for no more provocation than admitting to our country visitors whom we could scarcely exclude — whom the full military power of Trest was unable to keep out of Trest — we humbly request the consideration of the Empire of Trest for the rebuilding of our destroyed city, plus twelvefold more as punative damages, plus an official apology and agreement that the Peace Everywhere Array not be rebuilt and that Trest repudiate further violence against Ze Cheya.”
Hoven Ensemble:“That’s meek peaceful little Ze Cheya making that sort of demand?”
Of course it wasn’t just Ze Cheya making that sort of demand. Csirnis had discussed the amount and the repudiation with Ze Cheya and various Alliance of Freedom countries in advance. Some parts of Csirnis’ demands came from them, too.
Csirnis:“We will ask only the traditional quantity punishment for an attack on nine dragons and the slaying of one. First, that all hovens involved in the attack, and their families and their closest friends, be delivered to us to take their deaths. Second, that their entire personal fortunes — in this case, including the year’s military budget of the Trestean Army — be given, half to us, half to Ze Cheya. Third, that Trest never again build a weapon capable of injuring a dragon. Fourth, that Trest withdraw its military into its own borders and never again protrude it forth. Fifth, that Trest cease to fly airplanes, though by Jyothky’s particular dispensation they are permitted zeppelins. Sixth, that Trest not object when we hunt hovens ridden by cyoziworms in its territory and do what we will to them.”
Hoven Ensemble:”What???” Mostly at the first item, which I thought would be the least troublesome one. The last one got some snickering, since cyoziworms are generally considered to be legendary. The first one was the real problem.
Hemmo:“Madam Queen, this request is inhoven, is barbaric! Archconsul Shuvanne’s life, and the lives of so much of our military, cannot be made part of the settlement! I demand that the beast exclude itself from the discussions!” There was general agreement. Apparently hovens think that leaders shouldn’t be personally responsible for the atrocities they order committed. This makes no sense to me whatever.
Jingis:“I have no authority to order any such thing. Csirnis, I beg that you withdraw the first part of your demands, in order for the negotiations to continue.”
Csirnis:“I cannot withdraw it. It is simple justice. Additionally it has been at the heart of relations between small people and dragons for all time.”
Hemmo:”We have not been a part of any such relations! You are newly come to Hove! And on Hove, the life of a national leader is sacrosanct!”
Csirnis:“Uncle Holder of Ghemelia is no longer alive to dispute that. I daresay that Osoth could track down his spectre and have him dispute it posthumously.”
Hemmo:“Irrelevant! Uncle Holder had been deposed before he was put on trial for his many crimes!”
Csirnis:“Then depose Shuvanne too. You may use whatever legal fictions you like to fulfil your obligations.”
Hemmo:“Impossible! Further, killing family and friends is an atrocity, a barbarism!”
Csirnis:“A preventive measure only. It discourages a great many vengeful small people from foolish assaults.”
Zakuna:“Csirnis, Csirnis, come, do not insist on this. It is not the way of gentleness.”
Csirnis:“It is the draconic law, Zakuna. I can but uphold it, and apply it mercifully. Or, if Trest refuses to obey it, apply it fiercely.”
And that pretty much ruined the day’s negotiations, right there. The hovens all tried to persuade Csirnis to give up on that. Of course Csirnis couldn’t, and wouldn’t. He even got a bit testy about it, which is unusual for Csirnis. By the end of the day, the dialog was more like:
Csirnis:“I can’t alter that demand. I shan’t alter that demand. If you like we can take it off the table. If you do, we shall need to pursue it privately. You may expect considerable collateral damage. I would rather a dozen, a gross, of uninvolved hovens die than a single involved one survive.”
Hoven ensemble:“No, no, that’s awful, that’s uncivilized, that’s heinous, it’s unhoven!”
Csirnis:“It is no such thing. Trest killed more uninvolved hovens per unit dragon not long ago, in Ze Cheya.”
Hoven ensemble:“But that was different!”
Csirnis:“Yes, different. Both Zeanese and dragon who were killed were wholly innocent, and, indeed, devoted to paths of gentleness and peace.” Which is a bit of an exaggeration about Greshthanu, but not completely false; he was very Uplifty at least.
By the end of the day’s negotiations, we had pretty much alienated all the hovens, even Ze Cheya.