A Surprise of Hyxy and Ngassith
I hadn’t intended any married couples or females for the Royal Name-Needing Exploring Company. They are married, after all, or could be if they wanted to be.
Hyxy was a different problem. Hyxy is a candidate for the title of Smallest Dragoness On Hove. (I am too, although my circumference probably disqualifies me.) Unlike the other candidate, Hyxy is a nimble and ferocious warrior, quite the match for a drake half again her size. Her twin breath weapons, ice and a deadly corrosive poison, have slain more hovens than any dragonfire. She is also my friend and supporter. When the question arose about who should rule Hove, or Hove’s dragons at any rate, Hyxy and Ngassith split up, with Hyxy fighting for me. I rewarded her with the splendid large territory of Varna Varfla, from the great hoven city of Varnoic to the Avernigian Sea and the endless Kivarnis swamps. Hyxy loves swamps.
Hyxy and Ngassith are a very sweet couple, to each other and to dragons generally. They are quite happy and cheerful, and enjoying a few duodecades of each other and wealth and territory before they start the troublesome business of hatching eggs and hoping against hope that their children survive the Great Separation.
As her queen and her friend, it was incumbent upon me to spoil her happiness.
She knew it, too. Her brick-red head darted left and right, as if I were going to have a pair of very large drakes leap at her from the walls and rip pieces out of her. I probably should have: it would have been simpler and over faster. Except that, being Hyxy, she would have damaged the drakes just as much as they damaged her. And doubtless wrecked the Deemworth-Horthumple Trans-Shipping Station, the smallest of my warehouse/courtrooms and the one just across the Avernigian Sea from Varna Varfla. Not that that would be much of a loss: two gross pounds of smouldering lamb’s-wrath and paradise-pine couldn’t cover up the stink of old machinery and oil.
“Hyxy, you know why I’ve called you here, and why we are being all formal about everything,” I said. Wings ⅙-spread, tail coiled around my paws, to say that I was not personally insulted by her actions, but was acting under the force of the duties of my office.
“I do,” she answered.
Tultamaan shook his head. “That is not Appropriate. It is how things are done in the Butt-Ends of Cozy Caverns in which Wicked Rulers arrange the laws with their Evil Cronies in ways that let the Evil Cronies spew all sorts of Alarming Wickednesses out upon everyone and sundry. I do not particularly care about Hyxy’s victims, but I do care that the dragons on Hove shall measure up to all the traditional standards of the Elder Dragon-Worlds in all the ways we can. There are enough Perversions here. We do not need to pervert the Laws and Legal Customs as well.”
Ngassith glared at Tultamaan. Tultamaan shrugged at Ngassith. I crashed my wings together, making everyone else wince. “Right. Hyxy, I have called you here because you have bitten several of our treaties with the hovens. To remind you, we do not rule Hove as your parents ruled the hasque on Hasqueth, or as mine ruled the mhelvul on Mhel. We did not conquer Hove, not exactly, and we do not own it or even occupy it as far as the natives are concerned — and as far as we are concerned as well! We have treaties with nearly all the countries of Hove. We destroy any invaders of our countries, including other countries, mind-controlling worms, and certain internal troubles as well. In exchange, we are given a certain sum of money annually, the ability to change their laws within certain limits, and various assorted rights and privileges that mostly amount to us being allowed to partition out Hove as draconic territories that overlap the hoven countries.
“Territories don’t replace hoven countries, I say. They overlap, they coexist. It is as if we rule the sky, and they rule the land. For the most part we do not exist for their purposes, and they do not exist for ours. Unlike on Hasqueth, unlike on Mhel and Chiriact and Graulfnir — but like on Yyrclarian — we exploit Hove by the subtle method of Insidious Insinuation. We cause the hovens to rely on us for various things they cannot provide to themselves, like peace, magical healing, and melting of mountains. They pay well for that, and we use those fees to buy ourselves all manner of comforts and luxuries.
“Now. This works well if they are generally well-disposed towards us. It works less well if they hate us. For which reason we accept certain limitations on our own behavior. We do not, for instance, use travel spells which crease the sky and wreck hoven airplanes and zeppelins in flight. We do not snatch farm animals, eat them, and fly off; we leave accounting information so that the farmer can get paid. And we do not kill hovens unless they are actively committing crimes against us, or the close associates of hovens who have attempted to kill us, or who have attacked hovens under our protection.”
Hyxy listened to my sociological scolding quietly. At the end she said, “I have followed all of your laws to the letter.”Support this project! Show that you're reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, and the writer at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom's books on Amazon. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.