Rescue (Day 1132)
Being a polite and helpful villain, I arranged with Ythac to commandeer an airplane to transport my victims from Tublier to Churry City. One does not carry victims by paw a long way, if one does not want to kill them too quickly, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them ride on my back or make my fiancé carry them. It wound up being over a dozen victims: the eight who had broken into my apartment last night, plus Versley and Dulac, and the head and vice-head of RARU’s Tublier chapter, and two surgeons from Tublier who were members of RARU. The gendarmes I sent around let the second half talk to the first half, and generally spread the story of my perfidy and shapeshifting. My own fault for trusting hovens to follow orders right, when I knew perfectly well that they were fighting me RARU-style and disobeying me at every turn.
Still, I was furious.
The only sort of pleasant surprise was Tarcuna and Llredh joining us in Albanne General Hospital. “We’re not going to miss a chance to see a cyoziworm die,” said Tarcuna.
The next problem was doing the surgery. Dr. Grauzeng was dead. We didn’t want to intrascope Elrique, since we didn’t know how likely that was to kill his worm at an inconvenient time. The surgeons refused to perform an operation to remove something that they didn’t believe existed. Finally, I agreed to do it myself, with some of them stepping in to help when and if the worm was actually revealed.
“Cousin! I am sorry, I apologize myself! I somehow have mentioned your name to spies, and now the dragon wishes to eviscerate you!” cried Dulac.
“Cousin! I do not wish this torture!” cried Elrique, reasonably enough.
“To get rid of your worm, and she’ll heal you afterwards,” added Tarcuna. “She does a pretty good job of that when there aren’t warplanes shooting at her.” She rubbed her still-crippled arm.
“Worm! I have no worm! There is not a bit of truth to the stories of the worm!” cried Elrique, with a dismal miserable stench to his lie, vaguely like a rotting duckling which has starved to death.
“Quiet,” I said. He struck out at the orderlies attending him with super-hoven force, and we had to quiet him ourselves. I did get to show off the Arcane Anodyne on two injured orderlies to the surgeons, who were grumpily envious and grudgingly impressed.
At length — considerable length — we had Elrique forcibly asleep on a table in an operating theatre, with several surgeons standing around, and an assortment of dissidents in various degrees of manacles and restraints behind them, and of course their guards. And my fiancé and Llredh watching from the back, craning their necks high.
I took a small shape with sharp, sharp claws, and ripped Elrique’s udder and chest delicately open. His worm was there, squirming in terror, trying to move Elrique’s unresponsive body to escape somehow. I healed Elrique’s chest, leaving the worm sticking out halfway and caught between two ribs so it couldn’t retract very well, and invited the audience to come and inspect the nasty thing themselves.
They weren’t very eager.
Nrararn poked Dulac in the back with a claw. “Your cousin. Your mistake. Your turn.”
Dulac walked over reluctantly, and poked at the worm, and cupped its fork in his hand. Tarcuna charged into him from behind, knocking him to the floor. Dulac picked himself up, his fur flat, and all sorts of fear and shame mixed in his scent. “It is a horror! I was about to place it to my breast!”
“I didn’t know worms could do that,” I said.
“I did know,” snarled Llredh. “The fools of you, go now and learn of this worm, quickly. Its destruction, she is coming soon!”
I glared at Sporthen. “Your turn.” He didn’t move. “I won’t let it take you.”
Fear and disgust warred with bravery in his scent for a moment, and bravery won. “I am a magistrate. I will judge this for myself,” he said. He strode over and put two fingers on the worm’s fork. All of us watched in horror as he held the fork in one hand and fumbled at his blouse with the other, and none more horrified than Sporthen. Tarcuna and a surgeon pulled his hands away, and he retreated, shaking.
“Well?” I asked him.
“I cannot deny what I have touched, and seen, and been forced to do,” he said. “I reserve judgment on the ultimate cause. You can change shape, you can breathe fire, you can heal fatal wounds. Can you not also create this terrible thing as your servant?”
“No,” I said, which is true.
“I was taken before the dragons came to Hove. I’ve known people who were wormridden for much longer. Wulpmegarn found biological analogies that date back, I don’t know, millions of years maybe,” said Tarcuna.
“So you say,” he answered.
“You can review the science yourself in Dorday. Indeed, when we cast you into the vilest prison in Trest, it will be your only entertainment,” I said. Ythac had been a bit of a prissy stickler, and wouldn’t let me kill Sporthen.
One by one, the other RARU members were lead up to get the experience of a live cyoziworm. There wasn’t much to argue about after that.
Lesser matters fall away under the truth’s inexorable breath, after all.