“Well, they all did it together,” I said in a conversational register to Ythac. “I like trying dragons better than hovens — dragons own their crimes, take honor in them, and do not conceal them.”
Yarenton the historian roared, “I put it back to you that Jaraswat is not such a dragon! He surely disposed of his assistant Ystron-Mhavrieth, whom I am sure he used in the same way that he used Fraxtseng! Yet he did not boast of it; he concealed it!”
So we took a digression to remind or tell everyone the story of Ystron-Mhavrieth, the bachelor drake who was at one point Jaraswat’s assistant, and then vanished with a peculiar quasi-suicide note that was generally thought to have been written by Jaraswat himself. Since this was on Graulfnir, a bachelor drake counts for little, and one known to take drakes as lovers even less. So the matter was investigated poorly; nothing was volunteered, and nothing was proved.
“Unfortunately Jaraswat is not on trial here,” I said. “Perhaps we should have tried him rather than make him Chief Scientist, and perhaps we should have tried him at any of various points during his less-than-wholly-benevolent career. But we did not, and, as he has been rendered unavailable forever or even longer, we are not going to.”
“Still, his crimes are not Precisely Incidental to the matter,” said Tultamaan. “Our action against him may be considered a Preemptive Form of Justice, by which I mean, the Frequently Unjust Justice that is Vigilante Justice.”
“Justice or not, we do not execute dragons by throwing them haphazardly to doom-monsters,” I noted.
“No. We take a protracted and vicious approach to it, making sure that the criminal cannot be healed back to life by repeatedly killing them and healing them back to life until it does not work any more,” said Itharieth. “Borybran died quickly; I daresay Jaraswat may as well.”
“To summarize, then: you three admit to luring Jaraswat away from the portal to Hove, and then slamming the portal behind him, with the intent that either he should be exiled forever or, more likely, be killed by the Doom of Narethy. This in response to a long sequence of insults, assaults, rapes, and malfeasance on his part.”
“Yes” — “By the Grontho’s prontho, exactly!” — “You seem to have been Listening to our Trial.”
Ythac and I had been passing notes back and forth by the Horizonal Quill, and come up with a good idea. “So, we sentence you to a year of complicated labor. Jaraswat has deprived any number of small people of their language, but their speech can be restored if they wear the garment that their linguistic ability has been woven into. Your punishment is to restore as many of his victims as is possible within the space of a standard draconic year.”
(Aside: “Standard Draconic Year” because I might have meant a Hoven year (much shorter) or a Graulfnir year (somewhat shorter), or possibly some other kind.)
“By the Gorllama’s pyjamas, I shall be glad to!” roared Itharieth. Obnoxious and useless lizard! Didn’t he know it was supposed to be a punishment?
Yarenton and Tultamaan had the good sense to look put-upon.
Many of Jaraswat’s research materials were in storage on Hove, including a substantial fashion line of linguistic sweaters. Jaraswat’s scientific precision was at least sufficient so that he indexed each sweater with a modicum of biographic information: the victim’s name, social rank, place of origin, place of residence when the sweater was taken, a sketch of the life-history emphasizing linguistically significant events such as foreign companions or changes of home. This information was a dozen years out of date, if not three dozen, but they served in many cases, like this: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.