So, a moment later, Senny returned with two very exhausted and very dirty men in tow. One had huge muscles and a slack, unshaven jaw; the other might have been made from sticks and wore a determined grimace.
“Alright,” said Brandon, after the two had bowed low, rising to leave little bits of dirt on the ground, “I’m the king. What do you have to say?”
The skinny brother opened his mouth and said “ee-gluck-a-gormia. Uuunn! Ung-hunk-grung!” and began to panic.
“Eeehon-eeeeee!” shouted the bigger brother, as his little eyes went wide and his big hands clutched his mouth.
Then the two began grunting and gargling and generally trying but failing to speak intelligibly.
“Sir,” said Senny, over the racket, “they were speaking quite normally a moment ago.”
“I suggest we call the physician,” Alister advised.
“What’s wrong with them?” Brandon asked.
“They seem to be quite tongue-tied. The physician, my lord, might be able to help.” Alister repeated his advice to Brandon, who was clearly a step behind.
“Well, yes, then,” said Brandon. “Send for him right away.”
Alister gestured for Senny to do so. Senny glared at the old man, then turned briskly and left the room.
“Maybe they need something to drink?” Brandon suggested without much confidence.
Alister poured two goblets of wine and brought them to the two filthy brothers. They both downed the wine in one gulp and stood there gasping for a moment. Then the skinny brother held up his finger for attention. He gestured to the larger brother, then to himself and then pointed off to the side.
“You and your brother, want to leave?” Brandon guessed. “Do you have to use the toilet?”
The skinny man shook his head vigorously no. Then his held up his finger again, as if trying to start over. He then began acting very strangely. He wagged his neck around and screwed up his face, pulling his lips up so his teeth showed and making angry growling roaring noises. He flapped his arms in the air and danced around.
“What’s he doing?” Brandon asked Alister, who only shrugged. Roary made a chortley, barking sound which Brandon thought must be a laugh.
The little man paused, dropping the strange expression and nudged his brother, waving his hands about. After a moment, the bigger brother seemed to understand and he too squinted up his face. The two of them began flapping their arms about and making large noises, much to the amusement of Roary, who was rolling on the floor, beside himself in laughter.
Then, the littler brother leading, they bent down and began making slurping noises and licking the ground. After a moment of this, they began to waver about, and the bigger brother fell dramatically to the ground with an ‘oof’ and the littler one flew into a temper, kicking him and clawing at him.
“Oh, I get it!” said Brandon, suddenly getting it. “You’re pretending to be the dragons! And you’re drinking from the Ruby River, and now you’re drunk.”
The two stopped their antics and the little one stood up, nodding vigorously. Then he produced a leather water vessel from his belt and popped open the lid dramatically. At that moment the door swung open and Senny entered, followed very closely by Jaina.
“I’ve brought the physician, as requested,” said Senny, stepping aside for Jaina, who swooshed up in her flowing dress to stand before Brandon.
“He said something about two dirty brothers?” she said, and turned to look at the filthy pair as if she had not seen them standing there as she entered. The skinny brother, Chris, just stared at her, the open jug still in his frozen hands. The bigger one, Lance, grinned, winked at her and flexed the muscles on his right forearm.
“You’re the physician?” Brandon asked, surprise making his jaw a little slack too.
“Who were you expecting?” she asked as she went to inspect her patients. “Open up,” she said to Chris, and he obediently opened his mouth, forgetting, in the face of her beauty, just how much he hated doctors. “Hmm,” she said, and proceeded to Lance. Before she could order him, Lance opened his big mouth and bent down a little so she could see in. “Hmm,” she said again.
“Well?” said Alister.
“Yes, definitely a severe case of Toung-Tied. Their tongues have been magically split and tied into knots, making it impossible for them to speak. It is a completely magical and painless operation and, from what Senny has told me, it apeares that the operation was performed from a distance.”
Brandon stared at her blankly.
“In other words, someone, a very powerful someone, put a spell on them that would cause them to become tongue-tied in the presence of a king, possibly you specifically, although I cannot be sure.”
“Can you fix it?” asked Brandon.
“I am a physician, not a magician. You had best the call the court magician for this,” and with that, she went and took a seat in a corner of the room.
“Well,” Brandon looked at Senny, “go on. Call the magician.”
Senny grumbled something under his breath about ‘errand boy’ but turned smartly and left obediently.
Brandon turned back to the brothers, “you were saying? Er, well, showing?”
Chris grinned and held out the bottle as if he had not been interrupted. Then he poured a single drop from it onto the ground. The dark green liquid fell to the tiles with a tiny splash. Chris put the lid back on the container and was just crinkling up his face and spreading his arms to become a dragon again when the door opened and Senny returned. This time, Tiffy was skipping beside him.
“Wait, don’t tell me,” said Brandon, “you’re the court magician.”
“Well, yes,” Tiffy grinned, “of course!”