Then there is the matter of Ystron-Mhavrieth. Ystron-Mhavrieth was an enthusiastic young bachelor, eager to apprentice himself to a mighty and well-connected scholar of the Society. He was the only other one that Jaraswat ever let use the wixio, and that only with Jaraswat present and supervising. Ystron-Mhavrieth unravelled language-garments to thread, and painstakingly rewove them into different shapes, and placed them back on the person whose linguistic competence they were made from, and interviewed and studied and compared and mapped. His work was an intellectually-essential counterpoint to Jaraswat’s, the tedious labor that validated or occasionally denied Jaraswat’s points.
Only two or three years after Ystron-Mhavrieth was admitted to the Society, he vanished. One day Ystron-Mhavrieth dined with three friends of a similar Society rank. The next day, when he was to discuss Barabondo at a study meeting, he simply did not appear.
Considerable puzzlement puzzled the Society. Dragons do not simply vanish as a routine matter!
For greater puzzlement, Jaraswat, whom everyone assumed would be Ystron-Mhavrieth’s detective and avenger, was utterly unconcerned.
After Jaraswat did nothing for a month or so, the Society hired Lhury, one of the few dragons who makes any pretense of being a detective. Lhury started by interviewing Jaraswat, and ended with interviewing Jaraswat, too, seven weeks later. Jaraswat’s testimony was quite confusing. Lhury did not ask Jaraswat to remove his veriception blocks. That request is simply not made even in a court of justice, though occasionally a witness will do so intentionally.
The most perplexing part of the matter was Ystron-Mhavrieth’s … there’s not even a word for it. It’s not a suicide note, for Ystron-Mhavrieth was not dying. But it was about a severe form of self-destruction. Ystron-Mhavrieth wrote:
To whom it may concern,
Be it known that I am deeply ashamed of my use of the wixio. Jaraswat is the only rightful user of that device; for all others it is terribly immoral and wicked. I also withdraw my fifth, eighth, and nineteenth studies from the Society, viz. those which have titles [...]. As a further penance to the abstract principle of justice, and to the Society in particular, I volunteer to have my own linguistic competence extracted and studied. This shall be done immediately upon my completion of this note, which is to say, immediately. Once it is done, I shall depart for a distant universe to dwell in solitude, as the third and final facet of my penance. In dishonor and honor, I remain,
The withdrawn studies were three of the four which contradicted Jaraswat.
“Why did you not reveal this note immediately?” asked Lhury of Jaraswat, when the note was finally discovered, nearly two months after Ystron-Mhavrieth vanished.
“For personal reasons which have nothing to do with the matter,” said Jaraswat, and refused to answer further.
In a community of linguists, the note was of course dissected letter by letter. Now, the note was written in Ystron-Mhavrieth’s own writing, with letter-forms quite different from those Jaraswat employs. Certain turns of phrase were specifically Ystron-Mhavrieth’s, who enjoyed dividing topics into three facets, and generally signed his name with “In honor, I remain ❧ Ystron-Mhavrieth”. Other turns of phrase reminded the reader of Jaraswat, such as referring to studies by number as well as name, and the use of the somewhat archaic abbreviation viz.. “But perhaps Ystron-Mhavrieth has adopted some stylistic flourishes from his master,” said some, “and in neither case is it an unusual point of style. Not even for him. He uses the citation style once, and ”viz.” three times, in his collected papers.”
The suggestion was that Jaraswat had some reason to want to dispose of Ystron-Mhavrieth: professional jealousy and sexual connection were the top choices of reason. Jaraswat overpowered the smaller dragon, and used the wixio to render him incapable of bearing witness against Jaraswat. The wixio is not that precise, and presumably stole Ystron-Mhavrieth’s entire ability to communicate. Unless Ystron-Mhavrieth wore his garment, in which case he would be able to tell the full tale of Jaraswat’s presumed wrongdoings. So Jaraswat somehow disposed of the now-wordless dragon. He presumably wrote the note himself, wearing Ystron-Mhavrieth’s linguistic powers and thus, somehow, perfectly imitate his writing. Then Jaraswat presumably decided that the note would not pass inspection, and changed his mind, choosing to say nothing whatever.
No dragon-styled linguistic garment was ever found. But the searches of Jaraswat’s home came late in the investigation, with Jaraswat’s permission, and anything could have been removed or concealed or changed.
The only other sensible possibility was Ystron-Mhavrieth’s lover, another young bachelor drake of the Society. But he confessed without veriception blocks — he had in fact quarreled with Ystron-Mhavrieth two days before, but thought the matter was reconciled. He certainly didn’t vanish Ystron-Mhavrieth.
No conclusion of Jaraswat’s possible guilt was possible, and nobody bothered to bring him to court for a useless trial. But his stature in the Society was greatly diminished: going from “The great linguist and resurrector of linguistics” to “The one who probably bears considerable guilt in the vanishing of a promising young scholar”.
Jaraswat did not resign from the Society, but was generally to be found on other worlds after that. The massive loss of honor and quasi-exile were taken as a sufficient punishment for the presumed but unproven crime.
Eventually, on Hove, seeking to points beyond.
He was far and away the most experienced scientist who applied to the exploring company. Osoth made him Chief Scholar, on his request, with a modest amount of hesitation.