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.
But no sooner had he dealt with Tultamaan than Jaraswat stormed over, cutting between Tultamaan and Roroku, and hissed furiously. “What is the meaning of this?”
Tultamaan sighed. “The Meaning of This is that it is our final Dress Rehearsal on the way to the Extraordinary Dangerous Worlds we will Explore, and that All Dragons and All Small People must practice their duties.”
Jaraswat reared up so that his head was higher than Tultamaan’s, and his greater bulk was obvious. “My dragons are scholars and mages, scientists and sorcerers! They are ǡľfrana, in the immortal Chresmalodian idiom! Their time is of the greatest value! The guards should guards — the scholars should study!”
Tultamaan used the Word-Fox on ǡľfrana, and Jaraswat let him: it was Chresmalodian for an intellectual of the highest order, a thinker paid by the emperor to think due to the ineffable beauty of their thoughts, with no duties whatsoever.
“We are not in the Highly Ornate Halls of Chresmalodia. I do not know if Chresmalodia has or ever had Highly Ornate Halls, but we certainly do not. We are on a barren mountainside. Any sort of trouble may lurk around. A deadly insect? Itharieth the biologist will discover it! A lethality in the water? We are fortunate to have the analysis mage Roroku! Did we make camp in the path of an impending avalanche? The cartographer Mirinxan will surely discover before the stones come roaring! This is why your scientists and scholars must assist!” The dragons that Tultamaan named blinked in realization, and set about their exploration duties with vigor and something akin to joy.
Jaraswat hissed, “These are trivialities. Your brutish guards can handle them. My scholars and scientist are eéfixée, as the Wo-Waquoque put it. They mine to command, not yours.”
Tultamaan flicked his tailtip. “You seek to ensure your own power in the expedition. In this matter you are mistaken. As Chief Scientist you have no Actual Power. Your duties are simple: you must know what each scholar is doing, and be able to explain it to Dragons of Actual Rank. You are the Singular Advisor. My own situation is different. As Chief of the Guard, I am empowered and required to attend to the Common Defense. I do have the right to Give Orders.”
“Tultamaan! The Snarẫa have the perfect word: you fauff the situation! Whether you fauff it from ignorance or from your own pitiful need to aggrandize yourself, I know not. But fauff it you do! I have command responsibilities that exceed your own! This is a scholarly and scientific expedition, and, as Chief Scholar and Scientist, I have concomitant duties and powers!”
Tultamaan frowned. “Grand Draconic is a Perfectly Adequate tongue. Some even describe it as Rich With Meaning. Plucking words out of the languages of long-conquered small people that only you know is hardly the way to Communicate Brilliantly, even if the words themselves are perfect. We cannot be always casting the Word-Fox to get the point of your Advice. Usually the Word-Fox itself could provide equally good Advice. And Advice, not Orders, is what you must provide.”
Osoth had been alerted to the quarrel by an alert Hyxy, and he came to Tultamaan and Jaraswat in a grey-winged flap. “My Chief of Guards, my Chief Scholar, this is the time for quick cooperation and incisive activity! Not for quarreling over privileges and authorities!”
Jaraswat hissed. “O Osoth, in whom the royalty of Hove has entrusted the command of this expedition! Tell this insolent brute of a Tultamaan of my responsibilities and powers! He is under a qiliq, as the Aq-Qim Qumidar say!”
Osoth shrugged. “Less of a qiliq than a mos mehedh.” Osoth, necromancer and antequarian, knows many languages. Jaraswat glared to have his proposed ‘mad foolishness’ downgraded to a mere ‘dramatic exaggeration’. Osoth continued, “Tultamaan, Jaraswat is Chief Scientist. His duties include ordering the thrust of science in the expedition, and, as such, he certainly may direct the scientists and mages. It would be appropriate for him to order them to study, say, scorpions rather than lice. It would not be appropriate for him to order them to bring him food.”
He turned to Jaraswat. “Tultamaan, though, is Chief of the Guard. He is in charge of our moment-to-moment safety. This is no small duty, as we must survive each moment; even a single one missed would be a disaster. He may command anyone to anything — even me — as long as he considers it a matter of safety. There are certain limits to this. He may not proclaim, ‘Hyxy, copulate with me immediately, it is a matter of safety!’ Not that he would. But demanding that your estimable and noble scientists use their estimable and noble skills for the common defense is entirely within bounds. He should even command me to raise shades of those who died in the area, to ask them of why they died.” Osoth paused briefly for effect. “Tultamaan, do you understand and agree to these duties, your own and Jaraswat’s?”
“Yes, Osoth. Mine are precisely what we have discussed before.”
“Jaraswat, do you understand and agree to these duties, your own and Tultamaan’s?”
“And what does that mean, Jaraswat?”
Jaraswat snorted. “In the tongue of the Kos Bfrenya, it means ‘I obey absolutely and without question’”
“Very well. Now practice these things as though your lives and honor depended on them. For, in fact, that is precisely the case.”
Osoth flew off. Jaraswat meditated privately that, in the neighboring dialect of the Tyery Bfrenya, umzormondru is used entirely ironically and means, ‘only to the extent that it is forced on me’.