Ythac’s the Horizonal Quill wrote words in my mind. «Llredh broke up the demonstration already, didn’t he?»
«Yes. One cloud of fire, and they all ran off. I’m healing the ringleaders now. You did want them healed, didn’t you?»
«Oh, thank you! Could you make sure they don’t run off before I get them arrested? I’d ask Llredh, but he’d probably sit on them.»
«He’s not very happy with them, or with me.»
«He likes you just fine,» Ythac wrote.
«Right. I was his third-favorite girl in the mating flight.» Which is, of course, calling Ythac a girl, just like Llredh did. I was annoyed at both of them though.
«I really am trying to get you to be friends with each other.»
«I’d be a lot happier being his friend if he weren’t fireblasting crowds of hovens. Or torturing hovens. Or conquering hovens.»
«That’s just an excuse. You’ve killed nearly as many hovens as he has. Your moral superiority over my husband is pretty scanty.» Ythac wrote.
«I don’t torture people or steal their countries,» I answered. If you are ever in an ethical discussion and that’s your best response, you’ve pretty much lost. So I healed the last couple of hovens on the stage. They weren’t exactly very scorched; they’d run up to see if they could help the speakers, and sort of gotten trapped between Llredh and me.
« And neither of you reanimates dead mhelvul paingods and doesn’t take proper care of them and lets them take over major cities, like your fiancé Osoth,» wrote Ythac. «I don’t think any of us are in a particularly strong moral position at this point. I think we’ve got to stay around here for a gross-year or two. Long enough to give the hovens all the benefits of proper draconic rule. By way of apology for all the chaos and devastation we’ve given them so far, even if you’re not much of an Uplifter.»
«We’ve certainly got plenty to apologize for, and I think I’m getting to be an Uplifter.» I agreed. «I’m not sure that Llredh’s style of enforcing rule is going to give us less to apologize for, though.» Dangersense mumbled of a minor threat off from a corner of the square. «Sorry, Ythac, I’ve got to go. Someone’s shooting at us.»
«Thanks, Jyothky!» Ythac wrote.
A purple-furred hoven woman was running across the mostly-empty plaza towards us, holding a big ray gun. When I turned to look at her, she stopped running and pointed it at me. I swatted it out of her hands with a wingtip. She raced after it, shouting, “You killed my husband!”
“I did?” I asked, and breathed lightning on the ray gun before she could get to it. She hadn’t been lying, but I hadn’t killed anyone in a while. At least three or four weeks.
“He’s in the street over there! He fell while everyone was running, and nobody stopped to help him up, they just ran all over him, and you killed him!”
“The error, she comes here with a ray gun!” said Llredh. “The dragons, they did not kill your husband. The hovens, they killed him.”
So I bit his tail.
“What is that for, Jyothky?”
I waddled towards the edge of the square. A dozen or so hovens were lying trampled and bloody by each street out of the plaza, with a few less-injured ones trying to tend them here and there. “Which one is your husband?”
She pointed. Her husband was quite mangled, marked with the prints of many hooves. His right eye was smashed, and many bones broken here and there. “He’s not quite dead though.” I put the Arcane Anodyne into him. Twice, because the first one didn’t fill him.
He moaned, and tried to sit up. Which wasn’t a very good idea. A few barely-healed bones broke again, from the sound of it. So I got his wife to make him lie down again, and put another the Arcane Anodyne into him, and some of the slow healing spells. And then did the other injured hovens, because that seemed fair.
And then the gendarmes came. They weren’t particularly racing to the square all full of obedience to their beloved draconic overlords. But Ythac had been intimidating the gendarmes chief, rather more gently than Llredh had been intimidating the crowd, and had persuaded him of the obvious truism that the citizens of Churry City would be better off if they enforced the dragons’ decrees rather than making the dragons do it themselves.
The hovens at my corner were quiet and subdued. Maybe I was mollifying them by healing their wounded, or maybe they remembered that I had destroyed the Peace Everywhere Array more or less single-handedly. The gendarmes put the husband and a few others of the injured on stretchers, and arrested the wife and some of the other helpers.
“Why are you arresting them?” I asked of the lieutenant or whatever in charge.
The lieutenant looked away from me. “Gendarme chief said to arrest the people in the square.”
“Probably mostly the ones on the stage,” I said.
The lieutenant looked over to where Llredh was towering over some previously-grilled speakers. “Um … Chief said everyone. We gotta do everyone. Starting with these, I guess.” He and his men started asking many, many questions to the people they had captured. “We gotta be thorough. Chief said so.”
On the other side of the square, matters weren’t so peaceful. The uninjured audience members were yelling at the gendarmes who were trying to arrest them. The argument had a few salient and intellectually substantial points:
- The audience members were assisting some injured people. (Quiet gendarme answer: their medics will take care of them.)
- The audience members committed no crime. (Morose gendarme answer: Chief said to arrest you.)
- The audience members are loyal Tresteans; the gendarmes are collaborators. (Miserable gendarme answer: Archons say the dragons are in charge. What’re we gonna do?)
So I waddled over and healed their injured people as best as I could, which helped on point 1 a lot. I didn’t really have much of an answer for points 2 or 3. The dragons in charge are Ythac and Llredh. It’s their territory, I’m just a guest trying to be helpful.
To my best friend, his horrible husband, and his vast empire of exceedingly unhappy subjects. This is getting to be a problem.