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.”
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’?”
“Yes! Exactly! Dead and dissolved, leaving only the bones! Dead and frozen, with the repugnant softness of their skin become tolerable hardness!” Hyxy roared.
“Corrosion and cold. You have the right breath weapons for your tastes,” I said, because I am a sympathetic friend even when my friends are being horrid.
“Oh, Ngassith’s fire breath is just as good. Crisped burnt small people are just as good.” said Hyxy.
“Do Animals revolt you, or is it just Small People?” asked Tultamaan. “For I am contemplating the possibility of supplying you with herds of Cattle, or, if they can be Imported from Graulfnir, perhaps herds of Giant Slugs. You could destroy such things with perfect moral simplicity.”
Hyxy shook her head. “Do these cattle and slugs talk, do they dress themselves, do they enjoy treasure, do they pretend to have honor and scholarship and power the way small people do? That is what is odious: they pretend to be like dragons. They are not dragons! They are a loathsome imitation!”
Ngassith pointed out, “Strictly speaking, they are not imitating us. They developed their civilizations and powers before we came here.”
Hyxy nipped his wing affectionately by way of response, and finished her episode. “Back to the beach where hovens were stealing my (my!) jaspers and silvers. I did what any self-respecting and treaty-abiding dragon would do in the face of thievery. None of them survived. I collected my jaspers and silvers, every one, and flew home.”
I said, “I note that you picked jaspers and silvers, which are immune to one modality of your generally omnicorrosive breath, which was the modality you used. One might suspect that the whole incident was carefully scripted and staged.”
Hyxy nodded. “One need not suspect. I planned scrupulously! I read the treaties! I took great pains to follow them precisely!”
“True, which is why this is a royal court and not a court of law,” I said.
Hyxy grinned. “May I continue to boast?” She could. She did, at length. She ended with, “And so my score is four hundred and eighteen or nineteen hovens, depending on whether that one in the hospital survived or not.”
I turned to my advisor. “Tultamaan, please find out whether it lived or died. If it lived, I will go heal it.”
“Noted,” he said. (It — he — had survived, and was restored to health by a couple of spells. The local authorities were able to find him a foster home after it became clear that he had the dragon queen’s favor. Which is some small and insufficient compensation.)
I turned to my murderous friend. “Hyxy. We can’t have you slaughtering hovens. The exceptions in the treaty are intended —”
”— intended to cover hovens who creep into our homes and try to steal our hoards in some premeditated and intentional way. I know that.”
I glared at her a bit. “I am going to acquire draconic lawyers at great expense from Chiriact, and put together a law code for Hove. It will protect small people from you, even if our treaties with the small people don’t.”
Hyxy shrugged. “I’ll follow your silly laws.”
“You will also be paying for the lawyers. I am confiscating your stipend until the lawyers are paid for. Expect that to take three to five years.”
Hyxy shrugged. “I’ll pay for your silly laws.”
“And I am taking Varna Varfla from you. You have shown that you can’t care for it properly, so you can’t have it.”
Hyxy reared her head, and dripped a bit of slime from her mouth that scored the floor. “What, you’ll give territories to drakes-on-drakes, but not me?”
“You will have territory. Larger than your current territory, even. The Great Kavobma Swales, and the adjoining mountain ranges.” I had had my hoven staff prepare a map on a great sheet of thick plastic, with the new territory outlined in red. “There. It’s a huge territory, but some of the harshest land on Hove. Frozen mountains, deep swamps, and a few algae-clogged lakes and cold conifer forests. Not many hovens live there. We drew the borders to exclude all the towns. One special requirement: Arilash likes this mountain range, so you have to share.”
“As long as I’m not sharing Ngassith!” said Hyxy.
“Arilash holds no appeal for me compared to you,” said Ngassith. “And I would share any territory with you no matter how horrid, or none at all, so long as I could be your husband.” The two nuzzled lovingly, a bit.
I said, “And another special edict for you, Hyxy. You and Ngassith are not personally allowed to enforce our treaties, without my direct permission. If hovens are stealing from you, or even trying to kill you, you must acquire another dragon to take care of the matter.”
Hyxy drooped against Ngassith. “About what I expected. Ngassith, get your hemipenises ready. I’m going to be bored.”
I chuckled. “I will still call on you when I have hovens to kill! Once in a while some country still attacks another.”
“Yeah, how long will that go on?” Hyxy grumbled.
“A few duodecades, if other worlds are any guide,” I said.
Ngassith arched his head up. “O great queen, we accept your judgment and your punishment for our carefully crafted non-crime. We do not dispute it, we do not appeal for mercy or special considerations.”
“Actually, didn’t you design it to be pretty much all mercy? You picked the kind of terrain and climate I (I) like best. And it’s better that it’s not crawling with icky hovens. And you didn’t even garnishee Ngassith’s allowance, just mine,” said Hyxy.
“Ngassith didn’t do anything,” I said. (Except for not stopping her.) “But yes, I am trying to prevent future massacres and give the hovens the appearance of justice being done. Making you miserable is not required.”
“But we wish to make one further request of you,” added Ngassith.
“We do?” asked Hyxy, blinking at her mate.