Since Strobland is so craggy, and since the talks were so tedious and futile, some of us went for hunting and tail-chasing and tsheriaf around Mt. Monjior. (Scores if you care: Arilash caught one mountain goat, one Ythac, and 166 points. Ythac caught nothing, one Arilash, one Jyothky, and 223 points. I caught a giant climbing spider, nobody, and 208 points.) Then we brought our food and our non-captives, but not our tsheriaf points, back to the royal stable grounds. The hovens couldn’t cook them very fast, and didn’t think that the climbing spider was edible at all. So we made them give us a lot of spicy mustard and cheese sauce. Ythac delicately rotted the meat with darkness breath, and I delicately scorched it with fire, and we shared it and complained about this and that, mostly in Ghemelian. Ghemelian is good for complaining in.
Then Ythac cast a language spell, and wrote to Arilash and me: «Trestean spies are listening to us now. Do you care?»
«I imagine the Tresteans know by now that I liked to copulate with the dragon they killed, and that I miss him,» wrote Arilash.
«And they can count the open-air theatres in Strobland as easily as I can. I was at the only one last night, listening to big hairy brawny hovens chanting epic poetry at each other. It’s not entertainment, it’s a sporting contest.» I re-complained.
«Well, I care. Follow my lead, OK?» wrote Ythac.
Out loud, in Ghemelian, he said, “I just noticed something that would be funny if it weren’t dangerous. You know the Trestean word for ‘ferret’ and the Ghemelian word for ‘sleuth’? If you say them back to back, it comes out as my True Name.”
“Well, you’d better watch out for, um, Trestean military police in Ghemel who are looking for illegal mustelids, then, hadn’t you?” I said.
“Don’t laugh! It’s a real problem! If someone says that to me, I lose all my powers!” Which is silly. There’s no such thing as a True Name. All our powers come from our astral bits, and sound doesn’t even carry to the astral plane. Ythac had been reading Trestean mysticism and magical fiction, which has True Names.
“Really, how likely are you to run into someone who mixes Trestean and Ghemelian like that?” snorted Arilash.
I said the words to myself in my head as I crunched a spider leg in cheese sauce. «Ythac? Why’d you pick Petty Draconic for ‘I’m so doomed.’ as your supposed True Name? You’re not that doomed, are you?»
«That depends on whether my father calms down before he finds someone to cast the Triangular Cyclonette so he can come here and kill me, when he finds out about me and Llredh. But that’s not the joke — I’m not going to be yelling my True Name at me and expecting me to roll over and die.»
«You are so vicious! I know I can’t marry you, but can I twine you a few more times?» wrote Arilash.
«No, but you’re welcome in my territory anytime, once I have a territory,» he wrote back.
“Well, you’re still safer than poor Csirnis. His True Name is pronounced just like ‘Crompies King’. There might even be a fish sandwich store called that in Dorday,” I said. “He could be destroyed at any time by a careless hoven tourist!”
«That doesn’t even fit Grand Draconic phonetics,» wrote Ythac.
«No, but it sounds almost like ‘Give me fermented ham’ in Mhel. Best I could come up with,» I said, and took the last of the goat.
Arilash had been musing and looking clever. “Tultamaan’s True Name is ‘Square Running Bowl’ in Zeanese.” «Or ‘Whiny Aphid’ in Mhel!»
So we carefully doomed ourselves and all of our friends, or worked out some feeble bilingual puns, your choice, for the benefit of the spies.
“So we could all be wiped out by a few people who know the right words, is what you’re saying?” said Arilash.
“I wonder if Csirnis realizes how vulnerable we actually are?” I mused for the benefit of the spies.
“Well, he’d better not act like it! The appearance of strength in negotiating is everything. Besides, it’s not as though anyone is going to stumble on those words.”
“As long as Csirnis avoids hungry tourists. Anyone fancy another fly around Mt. Monjior before the afternoon session starts?”
The flight was nice. The afternoon session was very bickery. Except that Arilash and Ythac and I kept writing bilingual puns at each other, and giggling out loud in the middle of Zakuna’s elegy for the fallen of Ze Cheya or something equally inappropriate.
|Dragon||Stated True Name||Other Meaning||Note|
|Jyothky||Catastrophe Agenda||Late Breakfast Huge||Ythac was in good form with this one!|
|Arilash||Bright Wint-Winter||Too Much Sex||Ythac was not in such good form with this one. He had to stutter one word.|
|Llredh||Slipper of an Old Agent||Destroy Me Now!||I’m proud of this.|
|Osoth||Dung of the Harpy Eagle||Narcotic Miasma||Probably would have been better the other way around.|
|Nrararn||Later, Later, Later||Neither Surprised||Using the same word in three different languages was cute. The translation, not so much.|