Gyovanth vs. Roroku, last round
Gyovanth did not generally carry a nyxylith, but he snagged one from Mirinxan, who was on duty that week. «Jyothky! You must relay this urgent message to my wife!»
«Messages to Roroku are not urgent any more, Gyovanth. Also I am in the middle of surgery, which is urgent.»
I was, too. As part of the concluding ceremonies of Liberation Day — the part I enjoy — I assist with surgery on the worst cases of cyoziworm infection. (Apologies if you haven’t studied that unpleasant topic; just skip this part. It’s entirely about me and therefore is irrelevant but I want to say it.) In fact the conquest of Trest had its good facets, one of which was that we made the hovens very aware of the mind-controlling parasites in their midst. We couldn’t figure out how to fight them ourselves, but we got hoven science involved, and they came up with some adequate answers. Most of the wormridden are constantly drugged with low doses of barbituates, which render their worms torpid without killing them (killing the worm kills the host hoven, usually.), and merely leave the hosts dull-witted. They have to wear uncomfortable heavy metal-filled vests which prevent the worms from feeding (except under a doctor’s supervision, and from a goat rather than a hoven), breeding, or infesting other hovens. There are still some tough cases — hovens who cannot endure the drugs, relatives of important people, the occasional child who somehow gets infested. The ultimate answer is surgery, and some of the most dangerous surgery ever. A hoven doctor carefully removes the cyoziworm, including the dozens of spines that let it stimulate the victim’s brain. This inevitably damages the worm enough so that it spill poison into the victim. Under the best circumstances, this would kill the victim a dozen times over, and ruin her brain as well. Hoven medicine can’t compensate for that. Draconic healing magic can.
We don’t have very many dragons who will do this healing at all. It’s not hard, but it’s boring and unprofitable and doesn’t give much glory. And tends to get hovens stuck in love with one, which is awkward. (It also gets one into Llredh’s good graces — he was wormridden once — but he tends to express that sexually rather than in terms of political influence, and that’s more of a negative than a positive.) We could use a grand of dragons working constantly! Instead we have a gross of dragons who will put in a few days a year. I’m one of those, and no better than any other: I have four scheduled days of surgery a year, and sometimes add another one or two for some particular political reason, or because it pleases my formerly-wormridden friend Tarcuna.
«No! The hoven will die in a duodecade or four no matter what you do now! My wife will be gone forever unless you act instantly!»
«Gyovanth, your wife was gone forever before I found out what she had done. Ask Sjojarn or Wo Awo for an introductory lecture on how a hhejŝṧhyant works. When you have done, and my surgery is over, I will talk to you,» I answered.
He argued. I pointed out that I was his acting monarch and had just given him a direct order that was relevant to his situation. He argued more. I told Tultamaan and Osoth to compel his obedience — my first interference in the Expedition’s autonomy in weeks, and, I think, the only useful one ever. The two travel mages spent two hours filling Gyovanth’s ears, if not his head, with physico-magical field theories, hhejŝṧhyant construction, transfinite arithmetic, sthega-algebras, and the fact that, without a reach-scale or an imprint thereof, they weren’t going to be able to get to Kyspert and Roroku, nor she to any dragon-world, and that was that.
So Roroku and I were spared the “You must come home!” conversation.Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.