Twelve Dooms (Day 158)
“I need a favor from you,” said Tarcuna, looking upset, fur all bristly and everything.
“He-or-she is as good as dead,” I told her. I was rather upset too. The Dorday Museum of Art and Culture had somehow gotten a great deal more tedious since my previous visit. The means by which it had accomplished this feat were not so clear, since none of the exhibits had changed. The company had, though. Osoth was far more aware of the vagaries and idiosyncracies of hoven cultural history than I was then, and than I am now, and he didn’t have very much good to say about the museum. And, since it was a mating flight event, Tarcuna was not allowed to come, despite that she’s a highly-trained professional companion capable of making amusing conversation without the slightest sign of stress or strain. I didn’t actually bite Osoth or anything, but Arilash did invite him to couple instead of seeing the second half of the museum. Sex with her trumped Hoven art and culture with me. Which I would expect from Llredh or Nrararn, but this was Osoth.
“What? No, no, you are not to kill anyone!” said Tarcuna.
“Not one of Ythac’s anyones, certainly, which is everyone but you in Dorday. What favor do you want?”
“Do you remember Prof. Wulpmegarn?” she asked.
I glared at her. “I am totally incapable of remembering the person in whose laboratory we spent most of a day recently. Stupid lizard, me. Didn’t get enough museums as a hatchling.”
“Well, you’re certainly in a mood. Prof. Wulpmegarn is going to present the Twelve Troubles Report to Ythac. If he can get your protection, which is what I’m asking you for.”
I spread my ears. “What’s a Twelve Troubles Report, and why does he need protection?”
Tarcuna climbed onto the chest of drawers so she could be taller than me. “When Ythac took over the country, he asked some professors to tell him the twelve most troublesome troubles facing the nation. They’ve been fussing about the list — they mostly have it, but they’re afraid to tell Ythac. So they asked Wulpmegarn, since you seemed to like him and they thought you might be willing to keep Ythac from killing him,” said Tarcuna.
“I don’t see the problem. I’ve killed lots more hovens than Ythac. He teases me about it, even.”
“I know that, but something in the report is going to upset him. Will you help?”
“Sure, I’d be glad to. It’ll get me away from my fiancés a bit more. That’s got to be good.”
Ythac’s court in Perstra was now a very large tent, on a very large and very muddy avenue. He, himself, sat on a dais which seemed to be made from boards resting on the raised stone flower planters that had once adorned the sidewalk. Llredh had had a similar dais, which was now a tumble of scattered planks and overturned planters. Which may have been the reason that Llredh was not there.
“Ythac, the splendor of your throne room rivals all description,” I told him.
“I know, I know. The hovens of the old regime didn’t get around to building proper state facilites. I tried using the Cauldron of Roses Havocs Arena. This is better,” he said ruefully.
“What was wrong with the stadium?”
He drooped his ears. “Well, the smell, first of all. Hoven sweat, beer, and used beer. Not the atmosphere I wanted to present for my enlightened and dignified reign. And of course when I cancelled a havocs game, the hovens all rioted.”
“I suppose this is better. Anyhow, I’m here to see your Twelve Troubles get read. And make sure you don’t kill Prof. Wulpmegarn.”
He breathed fire at me. “I am not going to kill anyone!” He wasn’t very upset though, or he’d have breathed darkness.
“Hey! I presume that hurt! Also you’d better be careful, or you’ll burn your replacement temporary court down.”
He drooped. “I suppose I had better get some hovens on to building the permanent one. Out of stone and metal.”
“Shall I get you your helpful and nicely-warded professor now?”
Ythac blinked at me. “He rode in on you? What are you anymore, a bodyguard and a taxi service for hovens?”
“I carried him in a brass car that used to be part of the Wheel of Iron in a Dorday amusement park, I’ll have you know. A spare one, to be sure, but I certainly hadn’t paid for it.” Which I had, as an easy way to not crush him.