Esperanto was sick of being a Lesser Tongue. It knew it was young (scarcely two centuries had passed since its conception, and it had not yet even been introduced into the world), and it knew that its personality was less than forceful; but sometimes it just wanted a little respect. Rights it was not so foolish as to hope for, but it would have liked to receive a civil word from the upper level of the Realms hierarchy every so often. This, however, seemed more and more like a hopeless dream with every passing age.
It brooded on this as it exited its quarters in the back bottom-end of the Indo-European castle, where all the artificial Tongues lived. It moved quickly through the stone corridors, eyes to the floor, trying not to make eye contact with any Greater Tongues passing by. Unfortunately, as usual, this did not prevent the Greater Tongues from making any sort of contact they wished with it.
Well, hello there.
Esperanto recognized the arrogant smirk in that voice. It cringed inwardly as the unmistakable power of a Greater Tongue pressed on its back. It sped up, keeping its head down and pretending it had not heard.
Stop, little Tongue. Where are you going without even saying hello?
Esperantos resistance mechanisms clicked, and it stopped unwillingly. It squeezed its eyes shut, wishing to be anywhere but in that stone corridor alone with that Tongue, and said as cheerfully as it could manage, Hello, French.
French, looking a little put out that Esperanto had not tried to defy it further, sauntered forward and poked the Lesser Tongue in the back of the head. Esperanto flinched, but said nothing.
French was a cocky, adolescent Tongue, on the lesser side of Great but with potential that none recognized more than itself. As of yet it had little slang to mar its shapely figure, and even now one could see the elegance in its stance and the haughtiness in its eyes. It loved nothing more than practicing for the day when it would take its place as one of Latins successors on Esperanto.
So what did English call you again? Esperanto? French laughed. Its almost sweet how hard you try to be Latin. Almost. It poked Esperanto in the back of the head again. Stand on your head.
Even a slightly greater Lesser Tongue would have been able to resist this order, but Esperanto was young and underdeveloped. Its resistance mechanisms clicked again, and burning with humiliation, it put its head on the floor and its feet in the air and stood on its head.
French grinned. Good balance. Now stay there. And dont call for help! Laughing uproariously, it dashed down the corridor and around the corner, leaving Esperanto alone and upside-down. It was four hours, world-time, before Gaelic passed by and took mercy on it.
As Esperanto groveled in thanks, only one thought burned in its mind: revenge.
There was no night in the Realm, but at the quietest hour of what passed for the day, Esperanto crept into the Court of the Written Word. Stealing stealthily through the deserted halls, it headed toward the tall door at the back marked Department of Pronunciation Official Business Only.
Esperanto hesitated the door was an order that it could not disobey. But then its heart hardened. If this wasnt official business, it didnt know what was. Fearlessly, it pushed open the door and stepped inside, its resistance mechanisms silent for once.
Thousands of filing cabinets lined the walls, stacked fifty or a hundred high, with ladders placed sporadically between them. Letters floated silently in neat lines across the room, slipping in and out of the cabinets on unknown business. Esperanto dodged them as it crossed the room, but in its hurry collided with a sudden spurt of text from a low-standing filing cabinet. The Tongue froze, waiting with clenched muscles for the Scribe of the Tongues to burst through the door but the disturbed letters only shuffled around in the air, seemingly disoriented, and after a moment resumed their arc. Esperanto sighed with relief and turned back to its purpose, more carefully this time. (It had no way of knowing that it had accidentally created the silent k, but the deed was done and unchangeable, the consequences left to history.)
With vengeful intent in its eyes, Esperanto scaled a ladder to the middle of the far wall, stopping at a wide drawer labeled French. It opened the drawer and pulled out a single sheet of paper; the drawer was filled with them. The paper read: Juh swee luh Prezident du Burundi
Esperanto touched it gently, and a stream of letters from its hand engulfed the text, changing it: Je suis le President dBurundi
Laughing softly, it began to pull out more papers.
Say la vee became Cest la vie.
Byuro became Bureau.
Fronsay became François.
Giddy with vendetta, Esperanto flung random letters into otherwise recognizable words, toyed viciously with syntax, and tossed grammar about like marbles. And when it was finished, every word in the drawer bore the mark of its passage. Giggling, it descended the ladder and snuck back out, leaving no evidence of its passage.
The entire Indo-European family heard the scream.
Esperanto was in Englishs chambers, receiving a fresh infusion of power, when the wailing, ear-splitting shriek erupted from down the hall. English jumped, startled, but did not break contact before it felt the surge of smug satisfaction from Esperantos very core.
English looked down at it, eyes narrowed. Was that French?
Esperanto looked back innocently. How would I know?
The shrieks grew louder. Both Tongues stared as French dashed past the open door, clutching a paper bag over its head. The screams receded down the corridor.
English looked at Esperanto. There was a silence.
After a moment, English nodded once, as if to say, Well done.
And Esperanto smiled. It wasnt so bad being a Lesser Tongue.