Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

Surprise 2 (31/170)

Hyxy listened to my sociological scolding quietly. At the end she said, “I have followed all of your laws to the letter.”

I nodded grimly. “Yes, you have followed them to the letter. But you are a devious and wicked little monster — I mean that in a respectful, even awed, sense — and you have enjoyed some little massacres in ways that do not break the letter of the law.”

Hyxy cocked her head. “But you imply that they break the spirit of the law, and that you want to punish me for them.”

“Hyxy, I don’t want to punish you. I am going to punish you because I need to, or the Insidious Insinuation will fail and we’ll have to work much harder conquering the place and have a miserable gross-years or two before Hove is properly pacified.” (I would phrase that differently to my hoven friends, who don’t want to be conquered and don’t think that any pacification would be proper.) “Anyhow, would you do me the favor of detailing your various massacres, and how you make them lawful, and I will smile at your cleverness, and try to figure out what to do with you.” (I already knew what I was going to do with her.)

Hyxy laughed, short and bitter. “You already know what you are going to do with me.”

Tultamaan flicked his tail, swatting Ngassith in the side. “The Form of the occasion demands a Confession. Or, if you prefer not to Confess, since we are not accusing you of Crimes, you may Boast. Or, if even that does not Suit your Whimsical Fancy, you may keep your muzzle shut and the rest of us will Speak of these Events in Considerably Disapproving Tones.”

“I’ll boast,” said Hyxy. “It so happens that my hoard contains a large number of jasper stones and silver coins. I know these are my jasper stones and my silver coins, because I sprinkled them with tincture of erumathia, imported from Hasqueth, and there is nothing at all on Hove that smells like tincture of erumathia.”

“Why do you sprinkle them with tincture of erumathia?” I asked.

“So I can tell unambiguously in a court of truth that they are my jasper stones and my silver coins, of course,” said Hyxy. “Also, seriously, they are cheap jaspers and silvers, which are hardly the best part of a hoard without some sort of aesthetic improvement. Anyhow, I then took a big double pawful of my (my) jaspers and silvers out for a fly. Jaspers and silvers look rather better by sunlight, even from Hove’s ridiculous suns. Actually I sometimes do that without any extra reason! Don’t you?”

“No,” said Tultamaan. “I would never Imagine such a Passtime. I could not Grasp nor Hold the treasures with my useless forepaws.”

Hyxy glared at him. “That, and you’d rather complain than enjoy treasure. I (I) like my treasure. So I flew to Vlurting Bay, in my territory, where there is a pleasant beach. White sand, blood-red sea-wrack lapping up on it, dead giant jellyfish here and there. In the hours of Eclipse, it is empty. I inspected it carefully: no hovens, no jaspers, and no silvers did it hold. I scattered my treasures on the sand in artful loops, and flew to the top of Vomorzen to wait for the brightest sun to come out of eclipse so I could enjoy them. I did tuck my head under my wing for a nap in a copse of thick trees, seriously.”

“I would not doubt your given word,” I said, “and certainly not about a nap.”

“Three hours later, or maybe four, I woke up. Eclipse was long over. The hovens had come back to the beach. Dozens of them, disgusting things! Crawling and pullulating all over the beach! And it so happened that they were picking up jaspers and silvers, right in their greedy slimy hands. My (my) jaspers and silvers! Which I could identify by means of the sprinkled tincture, so there is no ambiguity about the situation. None!”

I chuckled. “I accept that the hovens were picking up your treasures, the treasures that you had scattered on the beach and carefully marked as yours just as if you expected something of the sort. I don’t accept that hovens are disgusting.”

Hyxy shuddered. “Well, not many dragons really understand how vile and unpleasant small people really are. Anyhow! A beach full of hovens who were seeking out and taking and collecting my (my) treasures! The treaties are careful to specify that hovens who steal a dragon’s hoard may be caught and dealt with as the dragon sees fit.”

“Which was...?”

Hyxy grinned at the memory. “Well, corrosion breath for most of them. A slow mist, so I could watch them become less disgusting.”

“By ‘become less disgusting’ you mean ‘become more dead’?”

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