Alarums and excursions ensued. Puîyus looked up from his meditation. He held up his hand and the sword all of hardly rational numbers and solar flares, the sword which Emperor Kàrijoi had ycrafted of flame and lava and the halo coronæ of the Suns, the brand swept up and flew right into his hands. Puîyus swung the sword about, he was ready for battle, be it against the dead or fowl clockwork of monsters that fed off of the wanhope of those unremembered. Princess Ixhúja remained kneeling beside some of the fallen. One Kháfha was glaring at her with a skull half crushed, eyen dribbling out from their sockets, the blurs of their pupils bled upon the rest of their eyen. She saw some Qlùfhem brothers twisted about each other, their tentacles holding each other to the last, afraid to die alone, and she was reminded of the party of Qlùfhem warriors whom her Father the Ĥano of the Red Moons of Khnìntha had ordered her to torture and slay. Before her lay several Qhíng warriors, broken swords and impaling spears about her, she thought of the Qrìngqe Qhíng, the androgynous subrace of the Kèlor many of whom used to dwell in the colonies of Khnìntha before the rest of their Qhíng brethren hunted them down and slaughtered them to the last larva, she remembered seeing the tall and white and and squamous and beautiful Qrìngqe within the glass cities and upon the barges of the ice deserts and in the canalry, the Karyàngqa Qtathnòrpe Qrìngqe Khyìxhu Khyixhwèwesi, and she used to think that these nations Qhíng were the only nations in all of the Land, and when she had met the races of the Empire with their triple sexes and their bright colors, she thought that surely they had been the mutated ones, and to this day she thought of the über-Qhíng as the lost races that had once throve within her homemoons. She bent down and closed the bulbous eyen of the fallen soldier. The Khmìmu were just about to fall upon them all. The lwúnìqte was blaring khmàryor, khmàryor. Puîyus was chuckling unto himself in glee, it was always a joy to fight one’s enemies. Puîyus could not remember the last time he had laughed save in pleasure of combat, and Princess Ixhúja thought that the last time he had laughed surely must have been when his beloved Fhermáta was still alive and breathing within the life-giving dreamlands.
Puîyus began quite a simple, almost a classical attack against the Khmìmu ghūls. For the ghouls were splashing upwards about the dead, the ghouls were flowing with their long and arborescent tendrils, they were knocking o'er the head, smacking against their helms and war shields, they were ploughing through shattered bodies and swords, some of them were picking up the bodies and tossing them aside as they were heading untowards the mutil who had robbed them of the death dreams of the fallen. Puîyus was ready for them, he was spinning the flamescent sword around in a great arc, so eager was he that he did not even wait for the Monsters to reach him, but rather he jumped down into the midst of the breaking wall, he ripped his sword through the torso of one Khmìmu to his right, he hacked through the body of one to the left, he ran among them and was cutting them down as if harvesting them, just as they tempted to harvest the horror of the unlamented dead. Puîyus had to hasten his attack, natheless, for the Khmìmu were flooding against him in such great numbers that he despaired of being ablt to grapple against them. He arose in their midst, he spun the sword around as if it were the soîxhla vane of a great windmill and he slashed through the bodies of the ghūls unto all sides of him. As they fell they revealed themselves to be completely without substance, oozing out from them came puffs of dust and some slight murmurations which had once been the deaths of brave warriors, so that every Khmìmu which Puîyus slashed open, out from it came screaming the last breathes of Qhíng falling off of their burning vessels, and the battle hymns of Kháfha and the songs of the Qlùfhem Aûm and Thùlwu Aûm in their last moments. He cut through the shoulders and necks of several more Khmìmu and thundering up about him arose the screams of an entire battle, the sound that dinosaur mounts make when they are crushing the bodies of their enemies and are being impaled alive with thorn and hastarus, Puîyus only grew the angrier as he severed the Khmìmu and could witness a little the last moments of life for the fallen, for this time of life was private, when the iridescence of one’s souls were cut, when guardian Khweî Khrìqanai were released from one, when a Warrior was uplifted from this land and arose unto a dark river and a dark shore where the Ancestors waited. Puîyus was hewing to his right and left and the Khmìmu were falling, since they had no proper faces or heads he just hacked through the portion of their arboreal bodies that were most in the shape of trunks whence the tendrillar shadow branches were unfolding, and sometimes he sliced right through them in long and vertical hacks so that the portions dangled in weird plasmic gyrations before falling apart in splashes of dust, while others he cut through with swifter and more elegant cuts, he was having to jump more often now and higher in order to keep them from reaching him and lacerate him with their many tentacles, they were crowding about him in such tremendous numbers that he having to fly about them and to leap from trunk and tendril and shoulder as he cut, and all about the Dragon Sword was breathing out long plasmatic archs of fire, sometimes it was enough for some drips of flame to fall upon the Khmìmu to scald them and send them whimpering away, othertimes Puîyus had to cut right through their bodies and send them scurrying in fear, or elsewise open them up completely. And so inspired, so enraptured in the frenzy of battle, that Puîyus could not even feel it when the knife tentacles cut against his face and wrists and tried to drag him down by his ankles, all he could feel was the sound of the deathcries of the warriors and the Khmìmu ghilan falling unto all sides of him.
Why fightest thou against us, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son? We are merely conduits, we are like unto psychopomps, we merely guide the memories away to feast upon them, came the thoughts whispering in the back of Puîyus’ mind. He tried to ignore them, Monsters were seldom creatures that interested him in conversation, in fact he could think of few times when uilebheist had been able to speak with individual and intelligent voices. It was a mob that he felt somewhere in his brain. Puîyus hacked through the bodies of several Khmìmu before him and kicked through the shoulder of one trying to grab him by the legs, and even as the creature fell he jabbed the sword through its neck and used that to propel himself upwards and kick against the ghūls waddling behind him.
What crime, what impiety have we commited, oh Íngìkhmar’s Child? Is it so wrong to experience the deaths of these valiant warriors? We are not the ones to blaim for their being unburied and unmourned here, we just followed within the Winter darkness to try, to taste, so whispered the thoughts of the Khmìmu ghūls.
Puîyus ripped his sword through several more shoulders and began slicing through the forests of umbraged tentacles flowing up before him. He bounced up and began attacking a crumbling wall of ghouls arising about him, their branches jibbering snarling slashing all the while, his lava sword a blur in its fallng, and still the Khmìmu arose about him and were turning their faceless blanks unto him, and he could taste their thoughts upon the deadwings saying, Ours is but a service, we are part of the ecosystem of despair, just as hallowed carrion birds the ravens and crows and jays and blackbirds feast upon the bodies left here forgotten without proper funereal rites, we ensure that still living memories live on within us, just as bodies and flesh and earth grow again in spring, so too mush wanhope be given a time to blossom.
Puîyus hacked back and forth with such speed that all of the Khmìmu upon this particular hill were crumbled and blasted away from him in an instant, and he slashed aside the tentacles and kicked them and murmured unto them in a gruff and hewing tounge as if for to say, It is unholy to be harvesting such memories, the death of virtuous men. Puîyus was slightly irked with himself for even answering the swarmry of the Monsters, it was best not engage them in language or thought or riddle, and yet he could feel the wrath building up in him, and he blurted out in a language of growls saying, It reveals disrepect unto the Ancestors for the bodies of these men to lie uninterred like this, prey to Monsters such as yourself. Puîyus bound up upon a hill and spun around to kick through all of the Khmìmu arising about him, but already he knew he had made a grave mistake in speaking unto mumutzar. The slight murmur of laughter was arising about him. Puîyus just continued to fight. He was a warrior, such was his khnìxho, his gallantry. The laughter grew deeper. Perhaps, though, he should not be recalcitrant in speaking unto all such soulless Monsters, he was rather fond of tlhòqanu who walked and fluttered like great rainbrellas argumizio, and the lwúnìqte of course was a most fantastical creature although it also was a Monster dwelling just at the edge of sanelands.
Clouds of Khmìmu ghilan arose unto Puîyus and hissed, And dost thou imply, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son that thou honor’st the Ancestors? Puîyus arose and attacked this cloud and hacked right through all of the Khmìmu thereunto. Fens of the ghilan were arisen behind him, their tentacles were opening as moss and fern and miasma quaggrowing. We hear thy name upon the winds, upon the dust of sea and sky, so whispered the Khmìmu wights. We hear the lamentation of the Ancestors, they stomp their feet and shake their heads and grinding their teeth together to remember thy name, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son. They claim thou art Heir and yet no longer of them, they claim thou turnest thy face away from them and yet pay filial piety unto them. They claim thou hast two brides, one of the people trained and ready for you, and one of the enemy, a child of Death. Honor’st thou the Ancestors as much as you claim, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son?
Puîyus screamed in wrath, he dove right into the midst of the Khmìmu and began hewing through them in all directions as swift and ferocious as he could. No matter how many of the Khmìmu he was able to cut aside and kick down into the endless folds of the dead, still more were arising and their thoughts were tickling his. Perhaps in thy spleen and heart and souls, haply in thy spirit thou art not a Seqanèqwa a Spear-Jaràqtun, thou art not a Sèqhoxha Saqaîngtaxing a Son of Jaràqtu, but something far else. There is no shame no longer to be of thy people, oh child of Khiêro, surely one can chose of which poploe to be, especially as the War of Heaven rends through all things, we would feel no sadness if thou chose to be a merchant of Qamélo or an artisan of the Allied Viceroy kingdoms. What than canst thou be, if thou do not claim thine Ancestors and thine Ancestors thee adore not?
Puîyus growled, he was in no humor for whatever trickery these creatures hand in mind, in fact his only thoughts were unto ripping apart these creatures all the faster, and unto that end he was diving in the midst of the growing army seas of the Khmìmu and fighting many of them at the same time. He was able to kick against two different ones even in a backflip while his sword spun out and cut through the root legs of the ghilan about him, and in his descent he was already bounding aside and in the midst of fighting the hordes all the more, and yet they arose about him, and in their arising laughter were swarm up unto him and whispering deep within his ear and mind and imagination and saying, We think that thou art rather a Child of the Heresy, an Ifhrúrìpenga a qèjaot tnenátse antipodean, thou art descended of Ifhúri and not of Sweqhàngqu, thou art a mixture of war and reclusive devotion to the Emperor, thou art of the dark side of the family defying the Emperor and yet secreting away his love for yourself. Thou art the nexus of piety and rebellion, miljidawurru, thou art the qlantelingpengpiqhomènya the war storm of the south, oh Puîyos, who breakest the heart of thy beloved lady mother Khwofheîlya.
Puîyus blinked a few times. He decided that he would not, in fact, make a rash decision, he would not succumb unto ojufhongújo, the defeat of reason by emotion, rather, with all of her mental faculties calculating at their fullest, he sheathed the flaming sword, the brand of solar and dragon flairs, the fires that the Khmìmu feared. Puîyus let the Monsters drift closer towards him. The Monsters faceless thou they were, he could feel were still glaring at him, their bodies were opening upwards, their many treeheads bewobbling from side to side, and what could possibly be their shoulders and thews were all becoming the gaze of Puîyus’ own eyen, his glances and blinks, and the Khmìmu were chewing upon the air in joy as they imagined just what Puîyus’ last moments of life would be, some of them, drooling despair from their wound heads were imagining what it would be like for all of the swarms of Khmìmu to arise and crush the life out of this vexatious lad, or perhaps someone the Khmìmu could all turn at once, their tentacles hewing as so many scythes and harvest him at once, perhaps they could all reach out and choke his neck and crush his bones and drink out his horror in death, and the Khmìmu ghūlry could feast upon that for an entire age, and now that Puîyus had set aside the Emperor’s sword and the flames of day, there was nothing left for them to fear. Puîyus waited. The Khmìmu slipped a few tentative steps untowards him. His arms rested at their side, no motion did he make to knife or sword. At last the Khmìmu screamed and charged, they knew that the slaughter of this unarmed lad would be quiet a victorious betrothal banquet indeed.
Puîyus blinked again. He let the ghouls take him. And when they arose and tempted for to rend and jab and cut him, Puîyus, weaponless spun around and grabbed the first Khmìmuxing by his shoulder and smashed all of its head and torso together with his bare hands, and the creature exploded in a confluence of dust and ash and crackling particles. The xhajhyàkhmimu multiple were howling now as they fell upon Puîyus. He grabbed one by the smoke tendrils and ripped them out of the sockets and began to beat it with the edges of its own necroplasmic sherds, he grabbed several of the xatlhàkhmimu by their shoulders and just embraced them in a squid bear hug and crushed them, he grabbed other Khmìmu and beat them against the blood and soil streaked ground until they shattered, he was grabbing the ghouls left and right, he was hooking some of them about his fingers and smashing them against the others, some of them he was catching by their root legs and swinging around above his head and then releasing them against their brethren and so hurling many away at once, others he fell upon and pounced upon their heads and arms and broke them against his wooden shoon. And now Puîyus, Íngìkhmar’s only Son, was howlent in rage. Too late the swarms of the Khmìmu were realizing that it was not the Emperor’s fire sword that they should have been fearing, rather the terrible wrath of the child roaming about them and ripping about with naught but his hands all of the ghouls he could catch. The Khmìmu were screaming in desparation as they tried for to escape, some of them just fled and crushed others before them and left them but as heaps of dust and memories, others of the Khmìmu were tempting to leap upwards and so swirl out, but that only made them easier targets for Puîyus to pluck them down and grab them and choke all the energy out of them. Monsters never died for they were never truly alive, they were closer akin to the Spirit Volk than unto Plantimals and Men, but still the bodies they inhabited to could destroyed and their energy broken apart and sent shuffling back unto its source, and Puîyus was making good use of this fact, he was not trying to defeat all of the Khmìmu, just a few of them and throw them down against their brethren, he did not have to try to trap or kill them, just to frighten them so that he could catch them in their exodus, he did not have to think about what harm he was causing them, they were soulless they were monsters feeding upon death cries, and Puîyus grabbed them and begiggled and betickled some of them as he ripped of their hame and tossed their hame about and the monsters were disappating about him. Puîyus arose. He was punching his arms through the shoulders of several Khmìmu at once. He turned around. He could see that off in the distance Princess Ixhúja was punching aside several of the ghūls, and those that came too close unto her she slashed apart with her swords, one violet and one white, but she was making her way back unto the fantabulous lwúnìqte, for now that Puîyus was flowing right into the midst of the armies of the foes, now that the great guardian clouds of the ghilan were descending about them, she was hoping that the skies would open and the fantastic alary beast would be able to fly the children unto safety and to warn the pirates and Princess Éfhelìnye of this accursed battlefield. Puîyus for a moment thought that perhaψ he should be helping her, for surely warning Princess Éfhelìnye would be their primary duty, she who was the only child of Emperor Kàrijoi and the Virgin Empress whom no man may name, but the Khmìmu were arising about him in such numbers, and his mē̃̃nis was burning hot against them all. Puîyus roared and lept into the midst and let the battle joy overtake him.
Puîyus found himself defacing the untold Khmìmu. It began simply enough, he was punching through the heads of the Khmìmu one by one and ripping off the skin, sometimes with his fingers, and othertimes he bit the side of the broken skin and rend it apart and spat it out. What was left beneath the hame was just a shadow and oozing from it came the deathcries of thousands of warriors. But after Puîyus had done that a few times, the Khmìmu were floating up about him and hissing and whispering, Soulless Monster! Quantum Dæmon! Moon Dragon! Thou art the danger, thou art the one who feedest upon battle and wanhope, thou are the Khmìmu of Khmìmu, oh Íngìkhmar’s Son, forsaker and bane of the Ancestors! Puîyus just punched through several more heads. The Khmìmu were growing faces, a few of them were becoming simple skulls, and Puîyus punched right through them without any compunction at all, but some of the Khmìmu were growing the faces of the warriors who had died here, the Qhíng in their quetzal beards and the tall and stoic Kháfha, and the eyestalks of the Aûm, and Puîyus almost hesitated for a moment, it felt like defiling the dead, but still he ripped apart their faces one by one and scattered the dust and horror of the creatures. Others of the Khmìmu, more puissant and crafty were trying to grow unto themselves the faces of Puîyus’ ancestors, they were not entirely successful in that endeaver, natheless, they became the outline of Sweqhàngqu patriarchs and warriors, some sported the curls of Shield Maidens of long ago, some of the Khmìmu, Puîyus could sense, were trying to grow the faces of his grandparents, but since they had only caught a few glimpses of the grandsires in the whisper of the winds, they could only approximate, and Puîyus grew all the angrier at the Khmìmu and bit off their faces to reveal blinking inner faces within, and he punched through the inner snouts and eyen and broke them utterly apart. Thousands of the Khmìmu were arising and squawking like unto thìpfhitlhir ahool flittermice, and all of them were turning their featureless heads towards Puîyus and trying to grow his own face unto them, and this just inspired him to struggle all the harder. The Khmìmu were panicking, they did not think that Puîyus would actually punch through the reflection of his own nose and mouth, they did not understand that he did not mind crushing together heads that looked vaguely like his own, he grabbed a few of the Khmìmu by the nose and ripping off the skin crushed skull in his bare hands, he was punching and rending and snarling all the faster, he was ripping off the shine of skin and eye, he slashed off outer face and revealed smaller faces of bulbous eyen and jibbering skriking lips, shadow monstrocities screaming insensate against him. And everything was become red. Puîyus was screaming now in his defacing, he screamed at the dishonor of the bodies left here unwept and alone, he screamed at the memory of Ancestors and the heartbreak of filial piety, everything was tumbling about him in the blood frustration, he screamed to think that he still knew not where his Father and Sisters were, he howled to think that he had no conception of a way to defeat Emperor Kàrijoi from stoping the Winter Midnight that was bringing extinction unto all of the land, and as he broke apart swarms of Monsters and hurled their bodies down, gave he voice to a savage feral cry, his souls arising in frustration for the blood sickness that Éfhelìnye was feeling and for which he could possibly find no cure at all, and so he fought and fought and let the seas of the ghilan tumble about him, and he broke it utterly apart.
The sound of the flapping wings of the fantastic lwúnìqte came unto him. The swarmry of the Khmìmu were endless, Puîyus could have fought then without ceasing for moonphase, a month, a year perchance, but the sound of the ban-yip drew his thoughts to the present. Princess Ixhúja was swinging from side to side about the long and insectoid legs of the creature, the violet crescent sword of her Father she held and swung from side to side to hew down the Khmìmu that came too close unto her and the boonyip. She nodded unto Puîyus, he crashcrushed several more the ghilan just for fun, and let their shadow skulls writhe about his bare fingers for a few moments before launching himself high into the air and spinning around in a perfect backflip he landed upon the back of the mörkö of pure heart, and it arose and bleated several times in joy because oncee again it bore upon its humble back the lad who had traveled through the Forest of the Ancestors. Puîyus pointed unto the parting clouds, the Khmìmu were surging unto the battlefield, in their utter confusion some were still searching for the despair of the dead, the despair which Puîyus had removed by giving them the slightest of funereal rites, others were trying to reach downwards and grab the child, and the clouds were revealing a pathway of escape. Puîyus slipped unto the ban-yips ear and bleated unto it to tell it in Qtheûnte the Language of Plantimals saying, Now we can escape and protect the Starflower Princess Éfhelìnye and warn the pirates not to venture unto these blasted asteroids. We should hie, for we would not wish for the Princess to awaken and worry about our being gone.
The lwúnìqte nodded and its trunk unraveled and it blew out some long and sounding notes and flapped its ears and soon came soaring upwards. The clouds were still streaming with the Khmìmu, and Puîyus and Ixhúja both bound upwards and drew their swords and cut against the roots and tendrils that came too close to the alary beast and might have barred the way, but it only took a few cuts, and all of the heavens were springing open. Puîyus sheathed his sword and looked back, the sighing dreamlands of black and grey and brown beneath them were shimmering and shrinking, the oceans of Khmìmu ghouls sinking into the dust quag, at least the warriors would find some peace with their Ancestors, and he nodded to think of returning to Princess Éfhelìnye. Ixhúja kept her sword unsheathed for a few moments, even though the clouds burst apart into the brightest peals of sparks, and all at once battlefolds were gone. She set her sword in its place and snorted and huffed unto her.
I was right about you, my Twin, completely right, Ixhúja was muttering in Qtheûnte the tounge of beasts. All you do all day long is think about Princesses, or at least that one particular and only occasionally remarkable Princess, she is the khnúl the polaris of your thoughts, she must be the first thing in your thoughts as you awaken, you cannot even exault in victory against soulless minions without thinking about how it will affect her. Her! She! In your souls she has granted unto her the honor of her own tòngqa her own personal pronoun fUIs, for who else could she always and e'er be?
Puîyus looked to Ixhúja and blinked a few times to tell her, My beloved Twin delights in the arts of jhpuixanàjhwen of hyperbole. One always strikes, although seldom succeeds, in being gentle, curtious, valiant, chivalrous unto all maidens.
You only think about her, and you know it. It never even crosses your mind to worry about me, although of course I don’t need any succor at all, being superior to you not only in the martian arts but every other form of valiancy. Ah, yes, I shall have to tell Éfhelìnye as soon as I see her just how worried you are about her. Ixhúja and Puîyus both slumped about the neck of the lwúnìqte as it arose eb! through fhtá the luminiferous æther of the upper ær, flashes of burning stratosphere breaking apart as ribbon echelons and unraveling about the beast and the children riding upon it. Ixhúja kept poking Puîyus about his shoulders, she was not about to let him go without a bit more xhmàxhretlha, of the teasing the lads and lasses bejest unto each other. Puîyus tried to keep his eyen unto the rushing of the flame clouds, they reminded him of the painted lanthorns that used to hang upon the verandā of the crannog of his Fathers before the Qhíng had come and scorched all his homeland. Ixhúja poked him several more times and started laughing into her hands, and when he tried to ignore her, she took his hands and began to laugh in them. Puîyus still tried to ignore her, even as Ixhúja slipped up and set herself down right beside him, and Ixhúja tuggd upon the ears of the wondrous lwúnìqte and laughing unto it began to speak unto it in innocent Qtheûnte as if Puîyus were not sitting right beside there.
One can comment enough upon Puîyos’ extreme case of anassaphilia, it truly is a sickness which infests him with age, as the mneme tàqruil the nano-disease waxes in strength, it weakens Puîyos’ ability to make diseases, alas, it is a flaw which becomes far more noticible with age. I suppose that if we all survive this Shibboleth War, if the Emperor does not skewer us all and feast upon our despair as an khmoinálri a midnight snack, quite a tasty ghem it may be, the Emperor has so many good options on how to capture us, trap us, enhook us, drag us down into the evergrowing whorls of Winter Extinction, but that is a tale for another time, I suppose that in the end my cousin will trap and force you into marrying her. Ugh. Dwelling with her night and day, that may in fact be a fate worse than death, don’t you think, lwúnìqte? Imagine having to solve her linguistic puzzles in the middle of the night, imagine being awakened before dawnlight because she wants to dance beneath the purity of the moonlight, imagine having to put up with all of her unfunctioning inventions. One almost wishes to die in glorious battle, just to avoid all of that, don’t you think so, oh wonderous lwúnìqte?
The beast shook its great head and its rolling trunk giggled a little, but not too much, it did not wish to offend Puîyus whose utterly melancholy thoughts it could still taste. Ixhúja swung around the ears of the beast, as they all arose about some of the outer echelons of the asteroids, and she continued in the language of beasts and flowers saying, Oh yes, she already has plans for you, she’s figuring out dwellings and books and children of the future, and one need not even define who this particular pronoun chances to be, does one? Oh yes, you’ll be yoked together, a single mainspring winding both of your hearts, a single pulse to your clockbeat. When Éfhelìnye grows older though and becomes an honored Mother, she will probably have to become aware of the fact that her husband, and by that I mean you, will certainly spoil his princess daughters, although one could not possibly see your contravening any order she gives her household, as parents the two of you will always be close together anyway. However, the moment my cousin’s back is turned, your daughters, all of your nestlings will know that with only you in charge, they can probably get away with almost anything, and by that I mean pillaging, theft, burning, blackmailing, and piracy of all sorts. Don’t you think so, wondrous lwúnìqte?
– Khmàryor khmàryor khmàryor! – bleated the fantastic creature, as it arose in the cloudstrewn skies, and came skipping upwards towards the line of pirate vessels come to investigate the battle.
Now, can you imagine this, Ixhúja continued in the language of trees and ferns and dinosaurlings. Puîyos and my everprincessly cousin are dwelling together in some ramshackle hovel. A great fire is eminating from the kitchen, for one of Éfha’s inventions is gone hay wire, berserk, it is spewing smoke, it is bouncing around, it’s crazy just like all the rest of her handiwork and plans! Puîyos runs off to stop the fire, and while away he hears the sound of playing in the tea room and then the family room and then from the parlour hears he the sound of a vase’s breaking, ochon ochon! He puts out the fire, he dashes into the parlour, he sees twining bits of sherd which had once been the valuable vase, it was war booty I’m sure, perhaps the present from some powerful ring-giving king, and before the vase he sees his eleven daughters. The oldest one points to number two to blame her, and she nudges number three who pokes number four or steps on number five’s foot who yanked the braids of number six or grabs the ear of number seven who cries and points to number eight who does a dance around number nine who licks number ten who picks up eleven the youngest and points to her in blaim. And so there they are and there he is, a broken vase, and someone among the daughters has to be punished. Well does Puîyos remember, oh my feral twin, that when he was young all of his siblings were punished for the crimes of one, that is the custom after all, and the oldest is always responsible for those younger, it is the same for sons and for daughters. However, when Puîyus sees his daughters, with their innocent faces, adorable and sweet, flickers of his family and hers all mixed together, he knows he could not possibly punish them at this time. Ah, this time, we’ll forget about it, he’ll tell them with a gesture, I’ll just tell your mother that I broke the vase, but next time all eleven of you get punished! Obviously next time never comes. Spoilt children, spoilt princesses they will all be. Puîyos? Puîyos? Are you even paying attention to me?
– ?? – Puîyus asked her.
Ixhúja sighed and muttered in sighs saying, Are you even, why do I even ask? You never pay attention. You were dreaming about her, the Princess again, weren’t you?
The lwúnìqte came spinning upwards and before them were arising the skiffs and long boats that had arisen from the spinning rainbrella vessel, the Kurkuîlo and Xhmaûmumum and Khnenyènwa and Fhlùltekh arising and waving their arms and wings and claws. Captain Euqliîna was bouncing upwards and signaling unto the children, and the lwúnìqte burst upwards and drew itself up unto where the Captain was standing. Ixhúja reached up and picked up the captain hat and plunked it upon Puîyus head. Ixhúja and the lwúnìqte shook their heads in sadness. The Captain could see that Puîyus had a few cuts about his face, and flickers of melancholy dancing about his brow.
– What’s happening! What’s going on! – cried Captain Euqliîna. – This isn’t a cookie emergency, is it? Is it! Was there a battle? Were there any survivers? –
– … – Puîyus began.
– You didn’t find any blue lotos, did you? –
– ?? –
– Sweet, sweet tàmar lotos, if you should chance to find any, I’m sure that we can manage to keep it hidden from the middle eye of the pesky acolyte, if you know what I mean … you have no idea what I mean, do you? –
– … – Ixhúja began.
– Are you talking about cookies? – Captain Euqliîna asked. His three eyen began to blink in panick. – Oh what type of cookie emergency can it possibly be! –
Puîyus pointed into the distance and explained – Mew mew mew! –
Ixhúja nodded and elaborated – Purr purr purr! –
Captain Euqliîna pressed his four palms against the side of his lwiikhùwepas, his yagin digir, the side of his head between eye and ear. – I can’t understand a mew you both are barking! Just say it! –
– Mew! –
– Purr! –
– Khmàryor! Khmàryor! Khmàryor! –
–Why do I get the impression that we’ve had this conversation before? – Captain Euqliîna sighed.
Puîyus drew himself upwards, he took some of the dust from his cloak and scattered it into the winds, and Puîyus shook his head to let ash descend about him, and in doing so he drew his hands back and forth in vaguely undulous patterns. Captain Euqliîna considered for a moment, his upper mouth sucking upon his lips, his lower left arm scratching the blue feathers of his head. – So, are you saying that within the folds of these monopole asteroids a tremendous battle of hundreds of thousands of soldiers was waged as the warships of the Qhíng and Kháfha and Qlùfhem and Thùlwu converged, the first two forces aligned against the last two, and the Qhíng and Qlùfhem fell together as well as the Kháfha and the Thùlwu, and in the long and ensueing battle horror all of the soldiers were utterly destroyed to a man, and the bodies remained unmourned uninterred unremembered unsung unsepulchred without the proper funereal rites, but before the carrionfeasting ravens and crows and jays and blackbirds could descend to take their prize that ferocious khmìmu ghūls were drifting outwards and devouring the deathcries and dying knells and final despair of the warriors whose bodies were left to rot beyond the care of their families and who were ashamed to meet their ancestors, and so we must stay clear of these asteroids, is that what you are telling me then? –
Puîyus and Ixhúja looked to each other in surprise. The lwúnìqte blinked a few times. Captain Euqliîna giggled a little. One of his Kurkuîlo sailors looked up with snapping his claws wondered – Did the lad really say all that? –
Dumbstrook Puîyus nodded his head in affirmation. Ixhúja played with a few golden tresses drifting in the winds. The Kurkuîlo asked his Captain – How could you possibly understand that little mew? –
Captain Euqliîna cleared both of his throats and chanted – Perhaps all those years of inhaling tobacco and smoking the blue tàmar and gobbling all the cookies I can find have somehow affected my mind, rather to the better I hope. One can always hope, at least. – A few of the pirates were looking one to another and hiding their mouths with their hands and wings in an attempt not to laugh at their almost ay-hyper Captain, umialik auiriz ampar HoD, their kàpta kàtan ptètar trín fhìstal jhànta xhùfhta Captain, for the rest of his crew were almost completely certain that from a lifetime of his cookie piracy, in his sailing throughout all of the Eleven Seas, in his pillaging cookie and candies and baked goods, in his plundering all of the sugar contraband that was smuggled our from the clockwork worlds of Khnìntha, that their captain probably only had a single candle burning in his lwamfhòtyeu his heart-brain such as the Fhlùltekh els fhársyun have. The Kurkuîlo pyaîpa boatswain cleared his throat and tip tap tapped a few times back and forth upon his crustaceon legs and shot glances of warning unto the rest of the crew, and their giggling subsided a little.
– Mew – nodded Puîyus.
– Purr – agreed Ixhúja.
– Bleat! – cried the wonderous lwúnìqte.
– Yes, let’s get back to our ship where the stash of blue lotos is kept hidden from the acolyte – Captain Euqliîna muttered partially to himself but also the crew. He reached o'er and tossed the captain hat that Puîyus wearing and he grinned with his double sets of teeth. – That is what you were saying, right lad? It was surely close enough? Maybe we can heat up some of the lròyiru that I managed to smuggle out of the south-eastron dreamlands before they fell in the war of the Qhíng and Qlùfhem and all the other oferpowerful muckedy famous, khmaum khmaum, khnéje yummies, nothing like some good and scrumptioussome raw cookie dough to fire up the cockles of one’s heart-brain, eh? I tell you, there’s nothing like having a fast ship and sailing through the heavens with only the Stars to guide one and clumps of raw cookie dough in one’s four hands, it is the greatest happiness in all the worlds. –
Puîyus made sure that Ixhúja was seated safe next to the neck of the fantastic lwúnìqte for it was arising and accompanying the pirates back unto their whirlent rainbrella abode, and he was far too polite to tell good Captain Euqliîna that his pure actually had nothing to do with blue tàmar niilaabja giŝimmarum, rather he was asking whether it would be ready for them to return unto the sqòqhi rainbrella ship yet, for he wished to check upon Princess Éfhelìnye and if she be awake to tell her of what he had discovered. The living ships were arising unto all sides of them, the tàlkhi podships jetons and the jhuîxhyong long shuttlery, their bone oar and solar sails betwining around and they were slowly turning back unto the outer torquations of these asteroids and worlds. Princess Ixhúja yanked the captain hat up from Puîyus’ head and tossed it a few times into the air and catching it spun around and bowed unto the pirates and danced a jig in imitation of the dances she had seen them perform, and Captain Euqliîna and all of his Fhlùltekh and Khnenyènwa and Kurkuîlo and Xhmaûmumum brethren glee laughed and plaudited her with hand and claw and wing. And so it was that the pirates were arising and returning in glad spirits, and Ixhúja danced upwards and plopped the captain hat back upon Puîyus head and sate down next to him, and the ban-yip was opening up its great wings and soaring from side to side, and whispers of smoke grey and dead shimmered far behind them.
So, do you think that’s true, what the most excellent Captain just quod? Ixhúja purred unto Puîyus in a slow and sparkling language, serpentile and undulous and with hints of ice sand within it. The greatest joy in life is to be a Sky Pirate, to sail high and free beneath the balletic grand Dance of the Stars and to have a fresh supply of raw cookie dough in one’s paws? Ixhúja revealed an half smile to Puîyus. One doubts that is what you most enjoy in life.
One has not given it much thought, Puîyus mewed back to her in a similar language. He rubbed his face against the wonderous mörkö gills to ask it, Please tell us, most revered and miraculous lwúnìqte, what is the greatest joy that you find in life?
And the lwúnìqte laughed a deep and crystalline cry and bellowed a few times in the language of innocence to say, What most delights the lwúnìqte, monsters though we may be, is to experience the thoughts and memories and deeds of those who are pure of heart and to enjoy them for what they are. What delights you, oh Moon Princess of the warcrescents of Khnìntha Ixefhífhesii Siîn?
Princess Ixhúja hung about the antler crowns of the wonderous beast and wondering a little purred unto herself, and yet her sighs were like unto primal language to the imagination of the pure beast and Puîyus the Feral Lad. I most love to dwell in the forest, with tree and fungus and dragonfly and dinosaur, I love to roam beneath the moonlight, to migrate with great saurian herds in the shadows, I love to let the insects arise about me and sing their clockwork songs unto me, I love to race the Automata and birds and flying fishes and kine, I love to explore the ruins and inner worlds, and at the end of the day I love finding a nest for myself within the embrace of the trees and knowing that once again I’ve beaten my twin Puîyos in speed and lightning cunning. Ah, how I miss the forests, strong and thick and beautiful and good, the trees that once roamed wild and free upon the face and within the chasms of rubescent Khnìntha. And for a few moments Princess Ixhúja was lost in thought, the forests appearing within the imagination of her heart just as they once had before her Father the Ĥano had begun wasting all of the southron worlds. The lwúnìqte was spinning around some of the peiratical vessels, it dipped and spun around a little, it was like a ptíxi quetzallo’ pterodon drifting through water and cliffcrag and nest all the while. Ixhúja nudged Puîyus a few more times and purred unto him to say, Both the lwúnìqte and I have spoken of our heart’s paradisical desires, so now you must confess and wonder and tell us, so Ixhúja was saying, otherwise we’ll have to concoct our own story about how you too just want to get in a boat and sail away and burn the wharves and gather unto yourself a rich booty of cookies.
Puîyus considered for a moment, the joy of living for him was very difficult to frame into words, not only because he was unused to speaking them in Khlìjha the Babel Tounge, but they were just raw emotions which were difficult to squeeze into the gestalts and images that made up Qtheûnte the speech of Beasts and Plantimals. He clasped his hands together and tried to describe the sensation unto them, he did not want them to think it was an emotion, after all grown men were not permitted to reveal their emotions in public, especially not the highest aristocratic echelons of warriors, and since he wanted the Elders to afford honor unto his Father Íngìkhmar, Puîyus was trying to act as calm and stoic as he could. He closed his eyen and mewing all the while told them, Imagine that I am playing the harp, and music is all the air. Princess Éfhelìnye is beside me, she can be writing in her book or drawing a picture, she may be clapping to the music or dancing or just sleeping, her head lying upon my lap, it does not matter so long as she and I are togther. My Father is in the room, he is beaming with pride because I bring great honor unto our Clan, treasure and war trophies to give unto the Elders of the Land. My Sisters are with me, whatever they are doing I love it, they may be playing a game or baking a pie or tickling each other or running around in circles, whatever it is, their being with me gladdens my heart. I know that my Auntie Qtìmine is safe, that my cousins Xataríyona and Ìkhnos and Pàlron and Eirènwa are near and well, that Grandfather Pátifhar is well, and that all those whom I have met this day have peace in their hearts, mine Uncles Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho the best pirates in all the worlds, Fhólus my little alien friend, you my lost twin from the mirror worlds of Khnìntha, everyone everywhere. I play the music. Perhaps my kittens and ducklings and lambkins and dinosaurlings are listening. When the music finished, I go to the family hearth and light some incense before the image of my saintly Mother Khwofheîlya and my Grandparents and all mine Ancestors and honor them and ask for their blessing. And then I make sure that my Sisters and Éfhelìnye go to bed and are warm and safe, and I dream all the night about adventure and piracy and dragons. Yes, that is a good day, that is the very joy of life. At least that is what I think. So it was that Puîyus was trying to explain unto the lwúnìqte and Princess Ixhúja, but even as he painted the image before them he realized just how ridiculous it sounded.
The lwúnìqte bleated a few times and murmured unto them in growls and grunts as if to say, And yet are not both of you of the Warrior people of the Land of Story, surely the greatest feeling in life is to slaughter enemies and make piles of their skulls and die in glorious battle, at least that is the legacy that Khiêro’s children have left in the billion, billion worlds.
Neither Puîyus nor Ixhúja knew what to say, and they wondered whether they had given the wrong answer and should not have, in fact, mentioned how much they love smiting their enemies and making monuments unto their own glorious victories, and yet neither of them could think of a better response than what they had given. Ixhúja looked unto Puîyus and blinked at him a few times to say, At least your response didn’t involving kissing and wuving my princessly cousin, if you had chanted that I might have punched you across your candy lips.
Puîyus bowed unto Ixhúja and in sighs and glances told her, Whatever it is you do, mine Ixhúja, it gives me the greatest of pleasure. Thou art bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, even though your blood may be different, even if you were grown rather than born.
Ixhúja blinked to Puîyus a few times to say, Sometimes I think thou art far more of a Pwéru than Éfhelìnye is, dangerous and melancholy as thou art. She looked back, the winds were blasting against her golden hair, she felt as if she herself were flying rather than just riding upon the back of the pure lwúnìqte. Tell me, do you still approve of mine actions when I cause mine own ship to implode?
Thus I know to send mine humble vessel for to rescue you, Puîyus nodded unto her, his hands were opening up into most elegant and fluent gestures. And even should I living ships crash and explode in the darkness of midnight, still I am happy for you to be part of this tale.
Ixhúja raised a single violet eyebrow to say, The Story of Puey and the Princess? She turned back. Puîyus was bouncing up, for the lwúnìqte was already hovering up above the very edge of the sqòqhi gōpan vessel, and pirates were rushing up unto the deck and help the fantastic beast alight and to signal for the arrival of all of the rest of the errant vessels. Puîyus however was far too anxious to remain upon the mount, he slipped down the long snout of the beast and rolled out upon the deck and spun around the pirates and already was flying up through the air, the crennelations of the walls beshifting about him, and before him arose the cabin of the vessel, and shuffling away from it came the pirates who were guarding the Princess. He spun into the room, and the smell of the holy incense burning in the xèqtu timzaloz was thick and beautiful in the air. He tossed Euqliîna’s hat of captainsome authoritas aside. Puîyus slipped up unto Princess Éfhelìnye’s bed, it appeared unto him to be a shine all of white, the sheets were cascades of crystals and the pillows were starlight given form. He knelt down beside the bed. Éfhelìnye was stirring a little in her sleep. He leaned o'er a little, although his ears were perfectly attuned to the slightest of vibrations, and especially kean to the whispers of Éfhelìnye, and he almost thought that she was whispering something concerning mathematical conversations and bases in threes and sevens and elevens and all of the fun things that one can do with zero and arithmetic, and it sounded unto him like a strange form of music whose tune was utterly alien unto his ears, for he delighted in the song of freshlettes and mountain streams and luich and cloud, and not so much to the deeper music the buttressed the Creation of the Dreamtime. Her hands lay upon each other outside of the blanket, and he reached up to kiss her hands, and at once Éfhelìnye’s eyen blinking awoke and she gazed unto him for a few moments, and the only sound was the slight burning of incense and candles, and the distal sound of skiffs and shuttles landing upon the outerwharves of the mwavuli vessel, and the clatter of pirates landing and drawing line and setting their course far away from the blasted battlelands.
– Puey – Éfhelìnye whispered.
Puîyus made a motion to tell her to rest and not exurt herself. Éfhelìnye sate up in bed though, and she took his hands into his. – I’m fine, my young knightling, I’m much better. Here, sit with me. Let me take your hands. I don’t want you to be sad about what you saw, I see in your eyen that you witness’d something you would rather forget. You became part of a battle, of the ash and dust of what had once been fruitful here. Let it not weigh too heavily upon your souls, oh my precious princeling. –
Puîyus wanted to turn aside from her, he had come here to comfort her and inform her that they were bringing her far away from danger, and yet she was the one for to comfort him. She reached out unto his face, soft as petals, roseate rhododactylous, and when she touched it he blushed a little to feel her fingers.
– I do not know what path the Immortals, high and mighty and holy as they are, have set before our gaze, our step, oh my Puey – so Éfhelìnye was telling him. – I cannot guess the full horrors that you witnessed, the latest battle fought in Tlhexetsopwekùthuwo, the Shibboleth War, the Emperor’s Final War. But all that I can say is that I have waited mine entire life for you to come and rescue me from my blessed Father’s dragons, and just being with you makes life worth living. I do not know whether a Crown Prince is supposed to find doucer de vivre, swúla lwú xhreû in playing his harp and being with his family, but I do know that no one else honoreth the Ancestors as much as you do, and in turn all of the Ancestors shall bow down before you and give you homage. I think it only right that the new Emperor should enjoy hearth and home and only venture out unto war to defend the innocent, that his home should be warm with plantimals and pets and the love of his family rather than cold monuments to his glory. Accolades of conquest are only glorious when the warrior is one who protects the Real People of the Land of Story. – Princess Éfhelìnye, natheless, sky born, the only child of Kàrijoi and Khnoqwísi, felt weariness once again weighing heavy upon her. She had just enough strength to sit up a little and kiss Puîyus’ cheek, and then she lay down again. Puîyus adjusted the pillows and sheets about her. She closed her eyen. Puîyus reached unto his aurulent torq and took out the harp that he kept slung on silvern chains about his neck and he began to strum it a little. Éfhelìnye sighed and rolled o'er unto her side, her hands were beneath her head, her hair was billowing all about her in flowing rondures of sunset rubies, and her eyelids were heavy. Puîyus strummed out a few lines, the way he plucked the string was just as he plucked the line of the rare bows that sìngeka xhmársya sabonzio employ as they collect the feathers of brilliant œf. Soon came another music, that of the bleating of the wonderous lwúnìqte and the leaping of the Princess of Mars, and they slipped into the room and found Puîyus at his playing his kantele, and Éfhelìnye listening and being lulled back unto restive sleep, and the last thing that the Starflower Princess chanted before fading back into deeper dreams was – Indeed for me, just being with you Puey, this has been a perfect day, the best day of my life. – And she closed her eyen and fell into a febrile sleep, and Puîyus and Ixhúja and the lwúnìqte took turns in looking after her in the midnight darkness, as the pirates fled from the ash of the Emperor’s latest battle.
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