Bewildering Stories

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by Byron Bailey

First Hoof Streverder wasn’t going to arbitrarily impale anyone on the tip of his horn even if they deserved it. As a member of the Society of Magic-Using Entities that Better the World (SMUEBW), he needed to first have a trial. And besides, he doubted that the rest of the convention-goers would vote for the impalement of Palicus.

“I propose a new bylaw,” Palicus, sorcerer and founder of SMUEBW said. “It reads as follows: it is inhumane and irresponsible for any magic-using entity to utilize or possess weapons that can slash, pierce, stab, cut, burn, or eat through a bear hide.”

“I object,” Streverder snorted.

The fairies, dwarves and elves gasped. The sorcerers, alchemists, and witches shook their heads and hissed. The harpies, sirens, and dryads screeched in protest. Nevertheless, Streverder held his head high, his horn gleaming like a rapier reflecting the sun.

“How can you claim to be a magic-using entity that betters the world and be against this bylaw?” Palicus asked. “Do you have any idea how many deaths and injuries are caused by weapons that can slash, pierce, stab, cut, burn, or eat through a bear hide?”

“I have an idea.”

“Then let me tell you about a young woman I know named Fiershy. She was merely picking carrots in her father’s field when raiders stumbled upon her and her family. These raiders slashed her father’s throat with a rusty knife. They shot her mother full of arrows, piercing her lungs until she died. They stabbed Fiershy’s brother in the gut until his intestines spilled in a glistening heap and they cut off her grandfather’s head. They then burned her grandmother at the steak along with the family’s hogs which were eaten. After the feasting when all of them had had their way with Fiershy, these raiders threw acid in her face, eating away her nose, her smile, and her eyes. Tell me, First Hoof Streverder. How can anyone who knows the story of Fiershy and has a heart be opposed to banning weapons that can slash, pierce, stab, cut, burn, or eat through a bear hide?”

Streverder’s horn flashed angrily. “Fiershy has my greatest sympathy but other concerns must be considered.”

The booing started out soft and then exploded into thunder. Palicus grinned, his white teeth gleaming like a troll’s bone necklace. “I think we’ve heard enough from you, First Hoof Streverder.”

“But —“

“Enough! Let the votes be cast.”

The measure passed six hundred and thirty-four to one. The ogres held First Hoof Streverder down while a sorcerer started sawing. It was a bad time to be a unicorn.

Copyright © 2004 by Byron Bailey

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