“The problem, you see, is that you have been carried away, rapturously so, by your new discovery. I quite understand why. It has the potential to change everything—in fact I’m quite sure it is changing everything now. But you have forgotten that the old laws—the oldest laws—still have sway, at least for now. They must be appeased.”
“I have not forgotten,” the Chairman starts to say, but the smaller man cuts him off with a wave of his hand.
“You have partially forgotten,” the smaller man says. “You acknowledge your debt to us, which is proper, but you seek to pay us weregild in restitution. Make no mistake, your offer is one we wish to accept, but the oldest laws are clear: there are only two payments that can be offered, the greater and the lesser. Until the oldest laws can be broken, we are bound by them. You are not, it seems—you are a strange thing—but we are.”