Tultamaan rushed around. (When Tultamaan rushes around, both dragons and small people quail in fear. Not because Tultamaan is notably dangerous — no more so than any other drake — but because he must needs rush around on his hind legs. He does grow them large, and with huge clawy feet. But he is an eighteen-foot-tall muscley monster with many spikes who looks as if he might fall on you at any minute. With many spikes.) He called out, “Gyovanth! Hyxy! Evrath! All other Dragons on the Expedition! This is a mediocre time for Lollygagging, or for other such Casual Amusements. Take the Inspirational last paragraph of our leader’s exhortation as Inspiration! Each of us must do our Parts in the construction of camp, just as if we were truly setting up camp on Doomdevildedoom with all manner of Unimaginable Dangers and True Perils all about, waiting to Consume us from Spleen to Soul!”
Hyxy leapt into the air, small and nimble and deadly. “I know my duty and my role here! I (I) shall scout and scour! No danger shall escape me!” She searched in a spiral, her eyes and barbels gleaming with watching-spells.
Gyovanth climbed up the hillock, and peered hither and yon with a mock-intense gaze. “Nothing, nothing. No perils, no devils, just a bunch of dragons and hovens lazing around. Am I doing it right, O bipedal beast?”
Tultamaan peered at him. “Your attempt at Mockery is noted. You are not doing it right. I have been Mocked for my entire life, both by experts and by multitudes. If you wish to Offend me, or Amuse Others at my Expense, you must work very hard indeed to find Words or Concepts which have not become Tedious through their repetition. Furthermore, if there happened to be a Doom-devil-deodand about, it would by now have Swallowed all of you but the Head, which would still be ignorant of its Impending Engulfment.
Gyovanth snorted. “As if any monster could battle me — would dare battle me!”
Tultamaan rested backwards on his hind legs and tail, which is the best he can do if he wants to move soon. “Quel Quen had no fewer than Nineteen companions who thought rather Similarly to the way You do. Some of them had the same Imperial Chiriact combat training that you do, and gross-years of growth and experience besides. Four of them were killed Instantly, and the other fifteen within a Minute of the start of the attack. To say nothing of slower deaths, which are the province of Other Dragons who are not about their tasks either.” He turned aside and shouted, “Itharieth, Roroko! Go to, go to!” Back to Gyovanth he said, “Furthermore, we have our small people Companions, and our useful undead servitors. Perhaps the Doom-devil-deodand fears you, but does it fear Mr. Norb? You are his guard, you are the guard of every hoven! You must keep them safe!”
Gyovanth nodded curtly, and scanned around with his head a time or two, to signify that he conceded some small point under discussion but nothing else. Under his breath he muttered, “Mr. Norb is a small person, of whom there are many. He is easily replaced.”
Tultamaan’s hearing is in no way impaired. “You are a drake, of whom there are too many! You are easily replaced!”
“I am a married drake, one of only two on this flight!” snapped Gyovanth. “Roroku does not count for much, but she does count for a dragoness! I am a mating-flight third, you are a mating-flight last, out of seven! Do not get too full of yourself because some uneducated and ignorant queen made you Assistant Leader!”
leapt to my defense simply said, “If mating flight ranks count for anything, Hyxy and Ngassith are Firsts, Osoth and some others are Seconds, and there is no lack of Thirds like Yourself. Or rather, Thirds who are doing their duties, unlike Yourself. The discussion of the Meaning of Prior Ranks in an adventure intended to Increase All Ranks is one best indulged in while Curled around Campfires. But you seem Content to rest on your Mating-Flight Laurels, unlike anyone else present. Be off, then. We do not need you.”
Gyovanth hissed in a sudden fury. “Insolent and insidious cripple you are! I discern your wicked plan! You wish me to leave, so that you can steal Roroku from me!”
“No such thing,” said Tultamaan, in an unambiguous Grand Draconic phrase more absolute than any three words in any small-person language. He could be lying (I don’t think he was), but it would be a noxious lie indeed inside of his veriception wards. “There is a certain Anecdote connecting Roroku and I. Perhaps you should become Aware of it.” (Tultamaan, like Osoth, was a drake in the mating flight that Roroku humiliated and abandoned at my coming-of-age celebration.) Gyovanth accepted Tultamaan’s denial with a curt nod and a furious return to sentry duty.