LINGUIST List Homepage LINGQUEST Story Subfield Challenge LINGUISTs of the Day Grad School Challenge LINGUIST List Around the World Premiums Fund Drive Song and Limericks Hometown Tours Image Map

The LINGQUEST Saga Concludes


Chapter 6



The Illocutionary Force gathered again at the Metafortress, having increased their valence with the addition of the Scarlet WHich to their team.


What could possibly be so dark and bewitching that it struck fear into the heart of a bitter old WHich? What dastardly limerick-speaking devil could await the brave Force? And how long did it take to give instructions with just limericks and messenger pigeons?


These and other questions were swirling about in our heroes' minds as they sat thoughtfully in the Metafortress' great antechamber, the Conceptual Domain.


General Ling strode into the chamber, wearing a somber face and his Cloak of Valor for Dark Times. A gift from the Polyglot, the cloak was embroidered with words for courage in thousands of tongues; it had been worn by every commanding General through all the great battles the Force had ever faced throughout its centuries of service. The Force had not seen their leader in this momentous garment since the Great Vowel Grift some years earlier, and many a shiver ran down many a spine at the sight of the battered but majestic old cloak. Peering around the circle of heroes, General Ling spoke:


"Friends, as you know, these are dark days. Upon hearing what the WHich has told us, combined with the troubling reports you've collected all over Panglossia, I've lit the Torches of Impending Cataclysm; every soul in the land has been alerted to the coming of a great battle. Civilians should take shelter; the armies of our allied lands have been summoned.


"The question that faces us now is whence all this evil stems. What is the underlying form of all this chaos? Perhaps the answer lies in the events you faced. Turing Myrmidon, analysis?"


"Enumerating list...


Reanimated corpuses in the Data Graveyard...


Petty prescriptivists casting bewitching diachronic recursion spells...


Vocalic gangsters rigging linguistic markets in Echolalderáan...


A WHich whose grief over her lost ProKnight was used to bring her into an unholy alliance with a limerick-loving demon..."


"And don't forget satyrs and unicorns and Professor P!γαʂɮɜq's tiny bladder," exclaimed Proto Baggins gleefully.


"Be serious!" said L2. "We've got to organize our thoughts; think... THINK! What do these all have in common?"


"Yes, why could this be happening to us, why now?" said the Swadeshbuckler. "I've roamed far and wide through Panglossia with my trusty DAT recorder, helping revive endangered language varieties for quite some time now, all without seeing anything as awful as this."


The WHich stood up gradually, leaning on a post she had conjured as if to gain strength. She at once looked very old and withered but firm in her resolve. "I spent most of my life sowing discord and chaos. I know the mark of an evil madman when I see it, and I see it now. I will try to repent for my misdeeds before my life ends, and what better way than by helping you defeat this menace?


"I wish to share with you one of the dispatches I received from my elusive master. I do not fully understand its significance, but perhaps you will:


Scroll

"What a perfectly awful poem," said Max M. Quality. "It rankles me, but I can't put my finger on why. It just seems to reek of evil."


"It's a bit unkind to the majority of people, isn't it?" the Swadeshbuckler pointed out. "Whoever our villain may be, he seems to have an unfavorable view of the common man."


General Ling nodded. "WHich, is there anything in any of these messages which might indicate where this mysterious misanthrope resides?"


The Scarlet WHich shook her head, frowning. "I can only tell you that every limerick was written on the finest of parchments, in golden ink, each scroll tied with a ribbon of black silk. WHoever he is, the writer is a man of considerable means."


At that moment, two guards burst into the hall, carrying what looked like a bundle of dirty cloth.


"General Ling, sir! You'd best take a look at this. This man was found lying passively on the steps of the Metafortress, and was picked up and carried inside." They deposited the thin, ragged man in a chair.


"Where did he come from, guards? What does he want?" General Ling peered at the pitiful man, who was slumped unmoving in the chair.


"We don't know, sir. He hasn't made a sound, and he doesn't seem to understand anything we're saying."


Semantique cautiously approached the man. His pale eyes were blank and uncomprehending, and scarcely blinked. "Where have you come from? Are you all right?" The man said nothing. Semantique repeated her questions in several languages, signed and spoken, to no effect.


The Swadeshbuckler stood. "I know how to start from a point of no common language— I'll elicit his tale." He pointed to various objects, naming them. "Window. Foot. Beard. Now, I point at you. Can you tell me your name?"


Max M. Quality shook his head. "It's no use, Swadeshbuckler— he's not even following your referential pointing."


"Impossible! Even dogs understand finger-pointing," cried the Swadeshbuckler. "It's a basic tenet of communication among us social mammals!"


"Not chimpanzees, and not this man," said Semantique sadly. "It seems he is incapable of understanding or producing any communication. What could have done this to him? Where could he have journeyed from in such a state?"


General Ling looked the man up and down. "Never have I seen such a broken creature. Would that you could tell us your tale, stranger... Wait! What's that in his hair?"


"You mean that bit of yard waste?" C-Commando carefully removed the large green leaf and held it up. "It's just a leaf, I think."


"Not just any leaf," said General Ling. "I was once a master tracker and botanist. I know the trees of Panglossia, and I've never seen anything like this leaf."


Second Lieutenant raised his hand. "I suggest we consult the Polyglot. She may have seen something like this sprouting from the MultiTree."


"Good thought, L2. Her wisdom is beyond the comprehension of mortals. Let's ask her."


*******


The Illocutionary Force stood once more beneath the Polyglot's many gazes, experiencing a definite deja vu.


The Bound Node Trees

General Ling bowed deeply to the Polyglot, flourishing the Cloak of Valor for Dark Times. "Old friend, we seek your counsel. We suspect that a single mastermind may be behind the dark happenings in Panglossia, and we must find and stop him— but we know not where to look. Our only clue is this ragged soul and the strange leaf on his person."


The Polyglot lowered one of her smaller heads. It winced as it came eye to eye with the silent man. "Ebitsíbu! Evil! Something terribly evil has befallen this man. Its presence causes us pain."


"Pain," concurred several other heads. "It eats at us."


Another head came down to inspect the leaf General Ling held up. "We know this leaf. It comes from but one tree, and that tree grows in but one place."


"Eureka!" cried L2. "Wherever this leaf comes from, so must the evil!"


The Polyglot looked to the south with most of its heads. "South of here, in the Valley of Silence, grows the Whispering Willow. This leaf is from that tree."


"Thank you, Polyglot," said General Ling. "We are indebted to you."


"I hold no debts," the Polyglot said. "You may repay my assistance in one way: destroy the evil which I sense throughout the land. Cleanse the evil which has befallen this silent man. I cannot accompany you, for my place is here with the MultiTree. But please, take this with you."


One head craned backwards, and plucked a perfect yellow sphere from the topmost branch of the tree. "This is the fruit of knowledge, grown at the summit of the MultiTree. It may be of use to you in your battle."


The Force thanked the wise old dragon. "We will stamp out this evil," vowed General Ling. "Goodbye, old friend. I hope we'll meet again."


Provisions were gathered from the Metafortress; the donkeys were outfitted in their battle armor. Messages were sent to the armies of the land, summoning them to aid the Force at the Valley of Silence.


The Force gathered their wits, bolstered their courage, and set out southward.


Even the most stoic heart among them couldn't help but cast one long backward glance at the Metafortress, hoping that they might gaze upon it again, fearing that they never would.


*******


Ellipsis was a peaceful village at the heart of The Valley of Silence. It had always been a respected getaway for those looking to break away from the noise and clutter of everyday life. Its people were warm and welcoming, though laconic, and the town was a favorite of travelers. Its streets usually murmured with quiet conversation, friends strolling together in contented silence, and tradesmen humming unobtrusive tunes while they worked.


Yet now, the atmosphere felt heavy, burdened by a force more ominous than a calm quiet. There was no sound; no whispered discourse; no subdued laughter, no melodious humming. The street and shop signs had no words, no logical symbols; even the pole outside the barber's shop had lost its stripes.


The Bound Node Trees

"By Pāṇini!" cried Proto. "What is going on here? What's happened to the signs?"


The band of heroes made their way down the eerie streets. "My goodness, is that the library?" Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq drew his donkey to a halt and dismounted. "Perhaps some of the town records will tell us what's happened." He entered the building and returned a few minutes later, looking pale and frightened.


"Well? What do the records say?"


"It's nothing more than a warehouse of heavy bundled paper. Not a word on the bindings or the pages. Just paper. It's... terrible." He shuddered. "It's as if all symbols have been erased from Ellipsis. As if the people here never had signifiers."


Just then, a group of people emerged from a building at down the street. They were stooped and hunched, and moved as if in a dream.


"Hey! You!" called L2. "Could you please tell us what's happened here? Where is everyone? Why is it so quiet?"


The people scarcely glanced at the adventurers. They carried pickaxes and shovels, and had blank, vacant eyes. Just like the silent man who'd been found at the Metafortress.


"This is more than a little creepy," Semantique muttered. "Even creepier than everything else we've seen. I've learned to handle grotesque perversions of language, but the total absence of it is much more unsettling."


C-Commando nodded. "Their silence is not the normal type found in Ellipsis. They're not conveying any meaning whatsoever. I wonder where they're going?"


General Ling kicked his donkey into gear. "There's only one way to find out. Let's follow them."


The Force proceeded behind the group of tool-wielding laborers through the speechless streets of Ellipsis. The silent, ragged people were joined by others, and still others, as they moved through the city.


Then, as they rounded a corner, our heroes gasped. An enormous, terrible-looking tower came into view. It rose high into the sky, casting a dire shadow over the town. "That! That must be where they're all going!" Indeed, they could see a wave of people milling around the base of the tower. They seemed to be engaged in hard labor; they were silently constructing various outbuildings and walls around the tower.



The Bound Node Trees

The Scarlet WHich craned her neck backwards and peered into the sky. "I recognize this tower. Some of the mysterious messages included an ink rendering of a building jutting up into the sky."


"Does that mean this is the dark lair of our arch-villain, then?" General Ling turned to the WHich. "The evils plaguing Panglossia are master-minded by someone up in that tower?"


"Yes," said the WHich. "This is the site of your final trial. Whoever is up there, whoever was sending me orders, is surely responsible for the other dark happenings across the lands. Defeat this final foe, and we may set the world to rights once more."


"Well, this is certainly dramatic," said Proto. "Who'd have thought it would all come down to one final, magnificent struggle against an evildoer in a foreboding tower? I never saw this coming."


General Ling stood before his loyal Illocutionary Force, hands clasped behind his back, Cloak of Valor for Dark Times billowing most picturesquely in the wind. "Comrades," he said, "now is the time to summon the entirety of your remaining valor. I don't know what we may find within this tower, but it is sure to test our strength and resolve like nothing we've ever faced. Screw your courage to the sticking-place and we will not fail!"


Love Story

The Force cheered wildly, their yawps echoing through the silent streets.


"Let us enter this tower, and let us rid Panglossia once and for all of the menace within!"


They tied their donkeys outside and patted them farewell, then approached the base of the tower. An enormous set of wooden doors barred their way.


The Swadeshbuckler grabbed the door's iron ring handles and pulled. The doors didn't budge. He braced himself against the doorframe and tugged with all his might, grimacing and straining with the effort. C-Commando and Semantique joined him and pulled as hard as they could, to no avail. "Ye gods, this is a surprisingly heavy door!" the Swadeshbuckler exclaimed. "I fear it may be barred from the inside, or affixed in place with some nefarious magick!"


The Scarlet WHich limped up to the door and studied it. "I believe I know how you can get in," she said. "Push."


The sheepish Force soon found themselves inside the tower vestibule.


Inside, a round, empty stone room greeted them. Nothing was visible except a spiral staircase with an illuminated golden arrow pointing upwards.


Beautiful

"Arrows provide direction," noted Max M. Quality. "That's the first communicative symbol we've seen in Ellipsis. We'd best do what it says."


The Force single-filed up the staircase, with General Ling leading the way. After a short climb, they emerged onto a landing.


"Do you hear that?" Semantique hushed the group. "Listen! Ideophones!"


Sure enough, as the Force listened, they heard a distinct doki...doki... emanating from one corner, and twinkle! from another. The room resounded with all sorts of evocative sensory imagery. "It's almost as if someone had gathered up all the ideophones of Ellipsis and stored them here," said Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq thoughtfully.


"Fascinating indeed— but we'd best keep going," said the General. "These poor stolen ideophones are not what we're here for."


As our heroes continued to ascend, they came to another landing. Disembodied gestures flew through the air, darting around the Force's heads and briefly possessing their bodies. "How strange!" cried Proto, seized by a fit of lascivious eyebrow-wiggling. "How could all these gestures have been piled up in here?"


"Curious indeed," concurred the Turing Myrmidon, who was shrugging convulsively. "Recommend we move on before the obscene gestures find us."


As they climbed, the Force encountered level after level of communicative events hoarded away in the tower.


...Piles of meaningful silences...


...Mounds of pictographs...


...A room full of whistled tonal conversations...


...Shelves jammed with verbs...


...A great reservoir of books, scrolls, and engraved tablets...


...A vast array of signed languages filling a magnificently lit room...


...and as the Force climbed higher and higher, the sounds of speech grew louder and louder in their ears.


"It's a veritable symphony of speech sounds," whispered Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq reverently. "Never, not even within my own name, have I heard such a beautiful arrangement of phonemes..."


"And the full range of communicative acts," said Max M. Quality. "It brings a tear to my eye— the richness of all expression, here, in one building!" Questions, puns, proclamations, greetings, imperatives... a gorgeous tapestry of meaning swirled around our heroes' heads.


"Who could have accumulated such a treasure trove of language?" wondered L2 aloud. "How could all this communication have been severed from the world and isolated in this tower?"


"And more importantly, why?" added C-Commando.


"I think we may be about to find out," said Proto, pointing to a door at the top of the staircase. It was engraved, simply, with the word Enter. Ever-obliging, the brave sojourners pushed the door open.


They emerged into a vast room with high, vaulted ceilings. It was opulently furnished, with gilded tables and plush velvet settees, silk pillows and priceless art.



Love Story

"Hello?" called Superior Whorf. "Is anyone here?"


The Swadeshbuckler peered around. "More specifically, is a terrible villain here?"


The WHich raised a gnarled old fist. "Mysterious wretch, show yourself! You lacked the courage to give me orders in person, but now I'm here! Have the decency to face us!"


A low, smooth chuckle filled the room. "Well, well, well. At last the Illocutionary Farce stumbles into my web."


General Ling's face went crimson. "Who dares malign our good name? I'll cut you to ribbons, you brute!"


"Doubtful." As the Force looked frantically around the room, a chair at the far end slowly rotated to face them. "You fell for the high-backed-rotating-chair-obscuring-my-presence trick. I'm not too worried about your capacity to defeat me. Frankly, I'm stunned none of you tripped on a shoelace and died on the way here."


Sitting in the chair was a dark-haired man of indeterminate age. His mustache was impeccably waxed; his cheekbones were exquisite. He smelled like a sultan's spice orchard.


"Surprised that your arch-villain is extremely handsome, aren't you?" He gestured carelessly around the room. "Have you noticed that I'm not only extremely handsome, but fabulously wealthy?"


"What have you done to the people of Ellipsis, you fop?" cried the Swadeshbuckler, reaching for his blade. "I'll cut the curls right off that mustache if you don't surrender immediately!"


The man snorted. "I don't think so." He gestured to a cluster of sofas facing his desk. "Sit down. I have some monologuing to do."


The Illocutionary Force began to object, but much to their surprise found that they were sitting down. The Scarlet WHich gasped. "You monster! Even I never used Compulsion Magick!"


"And that's why I'm here, in this marvelous tower, with this situation firmly in my control, and you're sitting there gawping like yokels. Now shut up. This is the last speech you'll ever hear, and it's going to be a good one.


I begin by describing my birth. I came into this world on a cool spring morning, weighing nine pounds precisely, and sporting the most beautiful head of hair ever seen on a baby. My inaugural cry was as mellifluous as the ringing of a carillon. Its perfection brought tears to the eyes of the attending doctors, all twenty of them."


"Is this relevant?" protested Max M. Quality. "Could you just get to the part about your evil plans?"


"In good time," said the man. "My early life was a charmed one; I experienced all the finest things possible from the outset. Nothing but the choicest morsels of pheasant to feed my cats. I ate from platinum trays set on the backs of perfectly level-spined servants. My crib was lined with the down of ten thousand albino goslings. Really, I was having a nice time.


"But then, one fateful day, I ordered some functionary to go fetch me a cup of water from the crystal springs of a mountain several hundred miles away. And do you know what he did? He said the following—I'll never forget it—


'Beg pardon, milord, but me and my sister have to go to our mum's funeral tonight.'


"Have you ever heard such an affront? I shudder now just to recall it! How dare he say something so callous, so offensive, so counter to the natural order? 'Me and my sister!' In object position!


"Not to mention, of course, his unforgivable disobedience. I ordered his tongue cut out immediately. From that point on, he was my favorite servant. Need you ask why? Without speech, he became much more docile. Never complained, never objected, never asked foolish questions.


"One problem remained, though: he could still communicate to some extent. Every now and then I'd see him making baleful faces at the other servants, or gesturing pathetically at some injured body part, or scratching crude pictures of escape into the dirt. Luckily, all of our servants were illiterate, so he never tried his stupid hand at scribbling letters. But it got me thinking: if a mute servant is good, wouldn't one with no communicative ability at all be great?


"As I grew into an astonishingly good-looking youth, I began experimenting with ways to achieve my childhood dream. I traveled far and wide, gathering power, from Censoria to Repressistan. I learned the secrets of intimidation; I could strike most idiots dumb with a stern look.


"But something was missing. It wasn't enough to shut people up with my commanding presence— the instant I left, they could say whatever they liked. They could insult my perfect nose, or state some moronic truism, or misconjugate a verb. The thought of the average boor's verbal spew just existing turned my stomach.


"One night, as I sat brooding on a mountaintop, a flawless raven perched on my shoulder and a dark wind ruffling my unimpeachable coiffure, a lightning bolt struck me. Far from damaging me, since I'm far too handsome and wealthy to die, the lightning gave me a new and marvelous power:


"The power to cleanly sever a person from their language.


"I can't explain what a delicious feeling it is to rip the communicative potential from a human being. To suddenly be possessed of their entire lexicon, every idiom they know, their habits of intonation and facial tics, while they stand there floundering to convey the most basic of ideas! Hah!


"I took the next year or two to explore my new ability, merrily silencing every merchant and milkmaid I came across. In that time, I learned two valuable lessons:


"First: a person without language is wonderfully easy to control. Trapped inside their own minds, without the contact and solidarity of communication, their wills disintegrate quite quickly.


"Second: it's easier to steal language when it is already damaged.


"By this point, Illocutionary Force, your feeble little minds should have begun to grasp at my plans. Any takers?"


Semantique spoke up. "Is that why you've been weakening language across Panglossia? So that it will be easier for you to steal it?"


The man applauded politely. "I knew you'd catch on. Care to cite some case studies?"


"You reached back in time and summoned King Prescriptivist?" asked Proto.


"Yes, I've always admired the legend of King Prescriptivist. I like his style. The world would have been a better one—and the language of the people weaker and more constrained—if I'd been able to place him on the throne of history. Alas, those meddling linguists ruined everything."


The Swadeshbuckler let out a cry of rage, tears in his eyes. "You awful monster! You exhumed all those corpuses, didn't you? You kept them from the Rites of Best Practice and desecrated the Data Graveyard!"


"Ah, yes. The corpuses. That was an interesting little experiment. I thought perhaps they'd make a fine addition to my museum here— I'd sent them orders to walk all the way here when you fools smote them. It's such a waste to set all that data free. Now it's going to be quite a chore to collect it all and imprison it in my tower."


"You appropriated the Scarlet WHich to serve your nefarious ends! You jerk!" cried C-Commando. "She was just a tragically misunderstood old hermit, but you manipulated her to spread her madness! And it almost took my leg off!"


"Yes, she proved much less useful than I'd hoped," said the man thoughtfully. "She claims to be a WHich, but her magic is fairly pitiful. At least her capacity for confusion was productive. I very nearly had Echolalderáan ripe for harvest, with most of the town scarcely capable of producing a natural utterance. But again, you meddling linguists... no matter. Once you're eliminated, there should be no hitch in my plans."


The old WHich glared furiously at the man. "I can't believe you persuaded me to do your dirty work, you oily schmuck. But I have to ask: why limericks?"


The man laughed. "You ignoramus. Don't you know that the limerick is the single most perfect achievement of human consciousness? It's the highest, noblest possible form of communication. Duh. Now, are you ready to meet your end?"


"What kind of coward kills people without even telling them his name?" roared General Ling, struggling in vain to stand up.


"My name? My name will never be spoken again, when I'm done with the world. My name is silence. My name is every name that has ever existed, trapped in this tower. Does that answer your question? Stand up, stretch a little bit." The Force suddenly found themselves standing up. "Don't get too comfortable, though. I've got a question for you.


"Illocutionary Force, what is the difference between a language and a dialect?"


"Well, mutual intelligibility, of course!"


"What?! That's the most idiotic simplification—"


The ensuing scene, dear readers, was far too horrible to describe in words. Suffice it to say that ally battled ally, fists flying between those who usually worked in perfect harmony. Superior Whorf pulled out a hunk of Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq's hair with his teeth. Semantique delivered a roundhouse kick to C-Commando's face. Proto and Max M. Quality attempted to garotte one another.


"Stop! Stop, you fools!" cried the Scarlet WHich in desperation. "This is just his dark magic! Can't you see he's attempting to divide and conquer you the way he's done with the people of Ellipsis?"


"I'M RIGHT AND THEY'RE WRONG!" roared the entire Force at once.


The WHich hid her face in her hands and tried desperately to think of a way to salvage the situation. "Wait..." she whispered. "Big PRO and Co!" She closed her eyes and chanted a few words.


A sound like glass shattering, like the sound barrier breaking, like a hundred million nails on a hundred million blackboards—


—and the roar of hooves as the invisible unicorns broke into the visible light spectrum.


The mysterious villain froze, staring dumbfounded out the window. "Did a herd of unicorns just materialize in my courtyard?"


The Force, momentarily startled into inaction, looked at one another with horror. "Were we fighting? Is he really so powerful as to turn us against one another?"


General Ling shook his head and leapt up on a chair, Cloak of Valor billowing behind him. "Friends! Now is our chance— he's distracted and tired from his monologue! Let us work together as one; let us recall that we all have the same goals! We must collaborate in order to save the very existence of language!


"Each of you, eat from the fruit of the MultiTree. With the strength of its accumulated wisdom, we will prevail!"


Each hero took a bite of the fruit. Their minds surged with the combined power of all the knowledge of all the languages of the world. It was a transcendent feeling that none of them had the time to savor.


The Mysterious Villain stared at them. "General Ling, I silence you!" He waved his hand towards the General, looking smug— but nothing happened.


"It's too late, you crazy megalomaniac. The Fruit of the MultiTree is more powerful than your black magic. Collaboration will always be stronger than division; the Force represents respect and consideration for every viewpoint! It brings together all languages and all hypotheses! You'll never turn us against one another now!" said General Ling triumphantly.


Indeed, the Illocutionary Force shone with unity and goodwill. As they looked at one another, bruised and battered from their awful infighting, they felt a renewed commitment to the Force, to one another, and to the noble protection of language.


"Look! What's happening to the mysterious villain?" cried Proto.


"He's dematerializing! Look! His hand is completely translucent," said C-Commando.


"I sense magic ebbing from this room," said the WHich. "I've felt this before— when a summoned creature returns to the netherworld!"


The handsome man was looking down at his abdomen, and at the wall visible through it. "No!" he screamed as he began to vanish. "I won't go! You can't stop me!"


"It seems we already have," said General Ling, high-fiving his loyal army.


The mysterious villain wailed ever more quietly as he disappeared, fading to ethereal nothingness.


A rumbling beneath our heroes' feet alerted them that they'd best exit the tower. They sprinted down the spiral staircase as the walls cracked, the floors trembled, and the tower began slowly to collapse in on itself.


Communicative acts leaked out of the falling walls, sounds and gestures flying down to return to the people of Ellipsis. Surprised laughter, cries of delight, and awkward, halting professions of relief could be heard below.


The Force narrowly escaped the crumbling building, running a safe distance away to where they'd tied their donkeys.


"Well," said Prof. P!γαʂɮɜq, panting, "based on the spectacular demise of that highly symbolic tower, I think we've vanquished the darkness which plagued Panglossia."


"So this mysterious villain was just a manifestation of all of our doubts and fears and disagreements?" said L2.


"I don't know how you reached that conclusion, L2, but okay, sure he was!" said the Scarlet WHich agreeably. "I think he also may have been a scion of elitism and/or a metaphoric indictment of unnecessarily divisive rhetoric, and a nice foil for our message of linguistic freedom and togetherness! Or maybe he was so evil that our friendship was toxic to his existence on the material plane."


"Whatever just happened, I'm glad we're okay."


General Ling nodded. "So am I, Proto, but there remains much to be done. The people of Ellipsis may have regained some of their lost communicative abilities, but this madman did much damage across the land. I received distress calls from many other cities and villages, describing linguistic irregularities; they will need help rebuilding.


"I have summoned the great armies from across the land to assist us. While we remain in Ellipsis, restoring to these people their fluency, the great armies will spread across the world, repairing what has been destroyed:


"To the west, I will send the army of Washington; to the east, the mighty force of Carolina. The Guild of Toronto will travel to the north, while the Melbourne Union will be dispatched across the great sea to the south. The Cambridge Fellowship and the Bar-Ilan Alliance will tend to the villages of the peninsula across the ocean. The Tufs of Tokyo shall provide vigilant leadership in the provinces to the east, and the North-West League to the very tip of the world."


And so proclaiming, General Ling sent the great forces of the world to assist their peoples, to protect them from all those that would steal the light of language.


As for the Illocutionary Force, they remained in Ellipsis until every mind was once more enlivened by discourse, and every heart lifted in conversation. Their work completed, they returned home to the Metafortress, where they guard Panglossia to this day.