On the Elimination of Cyoziworms from Perstra and her Environs by Hovens with Extremely Limited Draconic Assistance (Preliminary Report) (Day 2749)
Wulpmegarn tapped his hoof on the leg of his desk. It was a rather impressive hoof compared to the last time I had seen him, having five pearls inlaid into it. It was a rather impressive desk, too. My whole head would have fit on it, and most of my neck too, even if I hadn’t been shrunken to hoven size. Wulpmegarn had done very well for himself.
Power and wealth had not made him a patient man, nor had his victories distracted him from his ultimate purpose. “While you are in Perstra, Spotty, will you have time to perform any vermectomies?”
“That’s medical for ‘taking worms out of hovens’, isn’t it?”, I had to ask. (It was either ask him, ask Tarcuna, or ask the Word-Fox, and Wulpmegarn was far and away the most demanding of the three.) I cocked my head at Nrararn. ”Do we have time?”
“Certainly! I’d be happy to impose on Ythac and Llredh for an extra month or two,” he said. Which was the wrong answer, since I didn’t want to do that much surgery or collect that many lovebound rivals for Tarcuna. (-1 husband-in-training point for Nrararn, not that they count for anything at all.)
I flicked my tail. “I will grant your surgeons the benefit of my healing for a few weeks. I am actually here to see what you have done, though. Ythac said I would be impressed.”
“The Grauzeng Institute has made a good deal of progress. Most of which was made after Llredh stopped trying to direct our research program, and let us do actual research the way we know how to do it. I should say that we have the worms in Perstra somewhat under control, and provide their victims a passable quality of life,” said Wulpmegarn, sickly-sweet and faintly rotten with understatement.
Tarcuna clicked her hoof on Wulpmegarn’s desk, showing off flashing emeralds. She has been doing well for herself, too. “What, exactly, do you mean by a ‘passable quality of life’? I’ve been wormridden. It’s not passable.”
Wulpmegarn smiled. “You did not have access to the modern medical approach to the problem.”
“I had access to the modern magical approach to the problem!” she snapped.
He smiled blandly. “Quite effective in the few cases in which it can be applied. As you can see, we hardly refuse it.”
I blinked innocently at him. “You rather insist on it.”
“We don’t make demands of dragons,” he said truthfully. Veriception is useless in the face of self-delusion. “In any case, the medical approach, while not yet quite as effective as the magical, is capable of broad application. We have some eighteen thousand wormridden patients in our care. Most of them have some approximation of free will.”
“Now that I need to see,” said Tarcuna.
“I had intended for my lead assistant to give you a full tour,” said Wulpmegarn. “Ythac adjusted my schedule, so I will be doing it myself.”
“I’ll count it as thanks for protecting you from him. And getting you into your current comfortable-looking position,” I reminded him.
“Well, yes. Thank you,” he said, with the spoiled-fruit aura of insincerity on his words. “Though I hesitate to describe a position in which I regularly have to deny things to Llredh as entirely comfortable.”