The Ancestors, sing we.
The song of the Dreaming Creator, sing we.
The Ancestors, at flickering within the marge. Waiting. Seeing. Hearing the music of Puîyu’s heart. The last generation born e'er.
Lo, this is our song, as written by Kùkhta, the Emperor’s last Court Composer.
Dragons fly out
From Kàrijoi’s breath.
Dragons are coming
Within the midnight death.
The vast war of the skies,
The great war of heaven
The downfall of the Dragon house Pwéru.
Once Éfhelìnye had a cousin
A male cousin, Prince Blorp Fhriîs
Who in days earlier sought to conquer
The Empire and take
His Uncle’s throne.
Prince Blorp opened the gateways Khnìntha.
Clockwork machines escaped.
He was the archtraitor
Unto all mortaldom.
He was put on trial and escaped.
His allies were slain.
Puîyus and Éfhelìnye made it to Khnìntha.
The war machine was booming.
Éfhelìnye caught Prince Blorp.
She grabbed him by his ankle.
He came tumbling downwards
In a clatter of amber spheres
Such as the soldiery of Khnìntha employ.
Condemned of the Ása!
He tumbles down.
Éfhelìnye merely tripped him.
Blorp ran off.
The flames began to eat him alive.
The death of the last Prince of Pwéru.
The Ancestors continue to sing.
The Emperor enthroned
With Black Suns flowing about him
Utter darkness visible.
Dread Kàrijoi, remembers he the Grand Jubilee
Remembers he, when he had a chance at redemption
For to sacrifice himself unto Qhiîqhekh the Watcher of Fate
To prevent the Tánin Uprising.
upon a path to becoming storm.
Puîyus arises before the throne.
He is come to propose unto the Princess.
The Emperor considers his debt of honor repaired,
An honor because Puîyus
Saved his life in the Grand Jubilee.
But Puîyus has sinned
Against the Starburst Crown
For saw he the Starflower Princess’ face,
And spake he with the Starflower Princess.
Kàrijoi weaving together the
Threads of his tapestry.
Dragons fly out
From Kàrijoi’s breath.
Éfhelìnye, very fragile health
The Emperor’s little child puellula.
Dragons are coming
Within the midnight death.
Kàrijoi’s transcendent daughters,
Growinger more and more ill in the Book.
A scientific mis-method.
The vast war of the skies,
The great war of heaven
The downfall of the Dragon house Pwéru.
Puîyus awoke just a few hours o'er and arising saw that Ixhúja was awake and was playing with a few strands of Éfhelìnye’s hair. Puîyus tapped his twin on her shoulder and blinked and bowed unto her a few times to tell her that if she wanted she could sleep and he would stay up on watch and make sure that they ventured untowards Khnúl the pole star. Ixhúja nodded and lay down to coil up beside Éfhelìnye, and the last thing that Ixhúja noticed was the sound of Puîyus trying in vain to whisper Éfhelìnye’s name, and no matter how much the clockwork dragonflies tried to encourage him, and bounce about his wrists and hands, still he could not speak a single word.
Ixhúja arose as dying Suns were making their frustrating attempt to arise upon the face of the horizon. The cold Stars were still sparkling in the heavens, Khnúl appeared completely unmoved throughout all the night. Puîyus was lying upon his knees and elbows and before him a few of the dragonflies were bouncing around and fluttering their glassen wings and their metallic mandibles were spinning and crunching next to each other. Puîyus was taking some deep breathes and he breathed out – Ahhhh? Ahhhh? Ahhhh! –
And the insects were spinning around and clapping their limbs together and answering – Á! Á! Á! –
– Awwww? –
– Á! –
– Awwww! –
– Á’ á’ á’ á’ á! –
Puîyus sighed and collapsed upon his elbows. He rolled around and saw that Ixhúja was brushing frost from the cape and the surface of the rafter, and looking upwards she asked – Huh? –
– … – Puîyus answered.
Ah well, language is not everything, Ixhúja was murmuring unto herself iaith, pük, giramay, it is just a single facet of the song of wheel and causality and life. Ifhúja reached into her pockets and made sure that the still had some pomegrates with her, she wanted to make sure that she had some food to give her princessly cousin Éfhelìnye when she arose from her slumber.
Puîyus lifted up an hand and was peering out into the darkness. Although the raft was small and could only catch a little of the tides of the solar winds, Puîyus had been able to navigate the small vesseling upwards with some skill, and they had journeyed quite far from the warzone where the vast and ancient alien living ships were grappling against each other, striking one another with light and tentacle and lance, and far beyond those flames were they come, and the thundering of the ruins in their downfall, and at long last they were traveling upwards towards some of the breakers and outercliffs skapajols klifavöls arising out of the seas of dust. The jagged edges of Syapàkhya were arising, and about the whispering mountains just the merest hint of smoke and brine all ymixed together. Puîyus turned his attention away from coastline coming into view and marching unto the edge of the sea and to the great cliffs that were arising about the skerries, for something unusual there was about some of them, for some of the cliffs were covered in shells and mollusks and barnacles, and some were the homes of the nests of seagull and ice pterodon, but a few of the cliffs that were nearest unto them were completely barren of life, save for some whispers of light arising from them. Puîyus was squinting his eyen, he could see the outline of some metallic and bone structures arising from them, the hint of fin and bone. He was wondering whether some living ships had landed within the waters and these particular cliffs, almost barren of life, ahd formed about the casing of the ship out of the ambient coraltides in this region of space omnidimensional, or perhaps these were in fact the outer spirals of some vessel, and smoke was trying to arise out from the pumping furnace. Puîyus clasped his hands together and fell into deep thought, it was certainly rather puzzling, and yet he could not quite draw his attention away from those creagment. As the rafter made its way closer, both Puîyus and Ixhúja were gazing outwards as if with a single mind and wondering, they could see now that about the edge of skerries were flapping whisps of some white substance that looked a little like sheets and coppewebs and shreds of ghosts. As the children grew nigher hand saw they that sparkling about the sqaxakàtena atoll skerries were bits of thread and banner, and strange antler growths that reminded them a little of some of the huge vessels they had seen before, the growth of horn and stalagmite crystals that formed themselves unto their own strange and alien mathematics. Puîyus reached unto the rope of his solar sails and began adjusting them, it would be best he thought to avoid these particular skerries and just make their way up through the crashcrumble of the waves and unto the golden sands, even though he found that his eyen had difficulty in sliding away from the sparkling tartan patterns that made up these alchemies, it was a little he thought as if he were in a crowded room with many strangers and cousins and aliens and guest friends but Princess Éfhelìnye also chanced to be in that room, and no matter how polite Puîyus tried to be with the strangers his thoughts kept turning back to the Princess, and no matter how much he wanted to spend time with his cousins, he kept looking around to make sure that Éfhelìnye were in the same room wit him, and no matter how much he wished to hear of the exploits and adventures and warstories of the aliens, still he was asking more often about the Princess, and no matter how courteous he was to the guest-friends and showed them about and tried to make them welcome, all the while he kept looking around, and Éfhelìnye’s eyen were great jacinth flames that were beckoning unto him, and when he looked unto her all of the rest of the room grew dimmer and darker and she was the only source of light, and her eyen were the only matter of import that he could e'er possibly see, so too no matter how he tried to draw his attention to the breaking waves and the promise of the north, thus his eyen kept returning unto the skerry all of chrysalis and illusion and darkness arising from the dust seas.
Puîyus looked around and saw that Éfhelìnye was standing next to him and was wide awake and her face was perhaps three inches away from him, and her eyen were bright and shining as per usual. She leaned her head against Puîyus and hugged him for a few moments and chanted – Oh I missed you so much in my sleep, but it was made bearable knowing that you were right there beside me! I love you, Puey! –
Puîyus nodded and taking her hands kissed them as he bowed down before her. Éfhelìnye offered him her hands again and chanted – I think that it’s very important that every dawntide when we awaken that we embrace each other and tell the other how much we love each other. Oh Puey, I love you more than anything else in the world, including air and the elements and even warmth and light itself! – Éfhelìnye skipped a little from Puîyus but not too far, for the length of the raft that Puîyus had made out of wheel and bits of ticking clockwork and some ruined jetsam was not large enough for a proper dance, just a few pirouettes and some hopping, but it was enough for her to prance about a little. – One day all of the worlds will know the story of Puey, the strongest and most fearsome of all of the wihts in the Dreamtime, the mighty Prince who punishes the wicked, who cannot harm a single flower, who walks among the grass and does not trample down a single blade, who never harms an innocent creature, who is gentle but becomes fierce and terrible when a child or innocent or anyone pure is threatened by storm or monster or sinner, and his power is like a mighty flame, who when he shall become Emperor will be known as benevolent and wise and will only be seen in the houses of true sages. – Éfhelìnye hopped around a little and then turned and saw the dashing of the dust strewn seas and the waves crashing against the skerries and the whisps of thread arising from them. What clockwork was left within the raft were ringing a little with the slight chord of bells, and Ixhúja’s insects were spinning upwards and burrowing themselves back within her tresses, and they were twinkling with a slight cymbol song. – Am I the only one who thinks that there may be in need to be rescued within those skerries? – asked Éfhelìnye.
– Purr? – asked Ixhúja. She looked ot the skerries and found them slightly haunting to her sight, it was as if they did not quite belong within the same ocean sea but were somehow part of this world and another world at the same time.
– Mew mew mew? – Puîyus asked.
– I didn’t say that there was anyone alive within the skerries – Éfhelìnye chanted. – I just think there may be someone within who needs our help. –
Puîyus hesitated for a moment. He plucked one of the clockwork insects from Ixhúja’s hair and shook it in a threatening manner and pointed to it.
– Oh no no no no no! – Éfhelìnye gasped – Nothing dracontine or of wheels or anything like that, I don’t think there is anything of the Tánin volk within. – Ixhúja shuddered and whispered a few purrs in query, but Éfhelìnye just smiled and chanted – No, I don’t think there are any Ancestors within, angry or otherwise, at least no Ancestors of the Xhámi Færie folk, the descendents of Pfhentókha. No, something else lieth within, although what it may be I cannot say. –
Puîyus crossed his arms, he was not particularly fond of riddles, and no matter how his eyen were pulled towards the monuments of horn and chrysalis arising about the coral shreds, he did not think that he was particularly fond of that structure either, in fact it was reminding him more and more of the strange and vast alien living ships that had been incinerating the ruins within the crags where Euqliîna and Qìtien had been lost from their sight. Puîyus could feel that something was just not right within the coral, something eldritch and jagged almost lulling unto them all the while. He reached unto the ropes and began adjusting the length of the ragged solar sail, and the rafter began to veer unto the port and arose through the concourse of the clouds, and the skerries began to make their slow pathway unto the their right. The waves of dust and light were sparkling a little far beneath the children. Puîyus and Éfhelìnye sate down and watched the beating of the waves, and the slow sparkle of light arising and reaching untowards the beachstrand before them.
– Purr purr purr purr! – Ixhúja shouted, and she bounced up and tapped both Puîyus and Éfhelìnye on their shoulders and pointed to some of the horn crags of coral arising from the seas, and she indicated the great many legged creatures that were arising from the waters and feasting upon the foam and dipping back into the dust, beings all covered in scales that were of the same material as the reefs.
– Oh, I suppose you don’t see too many of those in Khnìntha since all of the seas are beneath the surface of the ice deserts there – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Those are fhoràrpi qekhàrpi, they are reef mites, they are made out of coral and skerry in a way. I’ve actually never seen them before today either, but I read about them in the books that Great-Uncle Táto used to bring me in the gardens, and I used to trace pictures of them for my sketchbook. –
Ixhúja nodded and rolled up her legs, for now that the raft was descending a little and coming closer to the gravity of land, now that she could see the froth and waves all the better, the strange and alien sea she could see and the various perculiarities encumbent upon it. She shivered a little to contemplate such vast expanses of open water, and she remembered the roaring echoes she used to hear within the inner worlds of Khnìntha when she visited the oceans in their proper place deep away from the face of the skies, and she remembered when she had arisen in the waters of Eilasaîyanor and seen pools and lakes and streams in abundance and been shocked at the sight of it, and she hugged herself to think of ghostly hands reaching out to her, and Ancestors flowing within water and wave, and the Matriarch Khwofheîlya grabbing her by the throat and thrusting her into the storming seas of the dead, and she bristled a little. She looked around and saw that Puîyus and Éfhelìnye were looking elsewhere and were unnoticing of the slight discomfort that Ixhúja was betraying, and she found that good, for she did not wish for them to know that she feared a little the memory of the wroth Ancestors of the Sweqhàngqu. She swivelled around a watched the waters a little, and then saw something else which she did not expect, a few fins were arising from the waves, and then a great spiraling horn was twisting around and poking through the air, it ducked down again but then another ichthyian form was arising and poking out its head, spume drifting down its side, and sprouting from his snout was a single golden horn. Ixhúja’s eyen grew wide in surprise to think that such creatures could exist in the waters. A couple of the large creatures were arising, and they rubbed their heads against each other, and struck their horns from side to side like swordsmen thrusting and parrying all the while. The great jEgnos splashed back down into the waters, but their fins were rising and falling, and Ixhúja sprang up again and hissed at the wihts and tapping Puîyus and Éfhelìnye on the shoulders again hissed out all the louder and shouted – Purr purr purr purr purr! – The children did not have long to wait until a few more roquals were arising from the waves and fenced against each other and were gamboling in the waters. Puîyus smiled to see the odontoceti and wished that he could fall into the waters and play with them, and Éfhelìnye turned to her cousin and chanted – Those are sopàrkhlu, they are narvals who dwell in the seas, reyðarhvalr, quite marvelous creatures whose can cut the ice apart and fence even in the great gelid waters. I also never saw any sopàrkhlu in the tide that I spent in the Forbidden Gardens and only knew about these roquals from books and pictures, and I must say that they are far more magnificient in life than I could e'er have guessed. –
– ?? – Ixhúja wondered.
– I suppose it must be completely natural, for them to be horned with just a single monocerous, although all of the rest of the qthér qyeîmaxúng, kwydos hartagga horned wild beasts that come to mind certainly have more than one, utsònati rattlesnakes and xhyát and khyánti triceratops and kànuna bullfrogs and sesèqwoya sparrows, but the sopàrkhlu are just one horned, I do not know why, it is just their part in the dance the Immortals have set for them the qílín sabitun sabintu hariharipo hariharimo kỳ lân girin kirin keilun briqen njëbrirësh jednorog jednorog jednorožec eenhoorn yksisarvinen licorne Einhorn unicorno ikkakujū yunikōn unikorn enhjørning jednorożec jedinoróg aon-adharcach sròin-adharcach biast-na-sgrogaig jednorog samorog enorog unicornio enhörning ūnicornis sopàrkhlu narvals. –
Some of the waves were splashing apart and revealing within them several great schools of the reyðarhvalr arising at play one with the other, and although Ixhúja shuddered to see such creatures, vast and strange and tumbling about each other in the great expanse of the waters, she still did not like the idea of the oceans on the land rather than the land on the ocean, and these odontoceti just did not fit into her conception of the worlds. She watched their movement and play and wondered why she thought that way, but then she noticed the rustling sound behidn them, and the slight taste of burning æther, and shadows darting one against the other. Puîyus looked around and sensed it also, he turned around and saw that in the upper airs they were not alone at all, but several smaller and raiding shadows were spilling around high above them, they themselves were gambolling in the dawntide mist. At once he knew that these forms had to be akin to the massive giant vessels they had seen within the ruins before, he did not think that they had been followed, but still it would only be a matter of time before they were detected. Puîyus drew the plasma and fire Dragon Sword that the Emperor had given him, he knew that he would be able to slice through plasma torpedoes that were shot against him, already his mind was calculating whether or not he would be able to sail unto the crashing shore or whether it would be better just to leap and swim now. The shadows were already descending about them, and long and tendrillar splashes were reaching outwards towards them. Ixhúja jumped up and was drawing her violet sword. Several khmuilàrakekh sacars were spinning towards them, and in their approach were opening up their heads to reveal flames dancing from side to side, and veins pulsating down the length of them. Puîyus hopped from side to side in anticipation. There was nowhere for Éfhelìnye to go, so small was the rafter, that she just had to stand beside them. Puîyus swung the sword about, and eruptions of solar light soared through it as he slashed through the first cannon ball. Ixhúja impaled the next and hurled the pieces down into the crashing waves. The purseing shadows were flowing closer to the children. Puîyus looked down and saw that the fall into the waters was not too far, and he slashed through the next torpedo. Ixhúja spun around and looking to Éfhelìnye knew that both she and her cousin were thinking the same thing, for neither of them knew how to swim, and if they fell they would have to hold onto Puîyus. For his part Puîyus was spinning around high in the air, he slashed through several more khmuilàrakekh dashing about them, and he landed just as the shadows began to descend about them closer. He swung the Dragon Sword around. The shadows were almost upon them. Puîyus bowed unto the raiding shades and then prepared to do something most unexpected.
Puîyus saw that the vessels that were arising for to persue him and Princesses was actually rather small, in fact most of it was a dome which was only just a little larger in diameter than the rafter which he had lashed together of his own hands from the twining clockwork and debris from the coralline ruins, but the vessels had flowing from them great drapes of shadow that almost looked a little like zoëtic capes all of fluent amœbæ, and springing out from the domes were antlers twitching from side to side like great and insectoid keraîoi. He was watching these eldritch alien vessels as they darted back and forth in the heavens above the waves of the omnidimensional seas, and he wondered, as they neared him, whether indeed any living creature were actually within the domes, perhaps just a couple of sailors manning it and swiveling the forest of cannons about, or perhaps some slave connected to strange pipes and wheels and made a part of the vessel by the alchemies of the masters of these living ships, in the same way that the Qhíng craft of themselves the Qhoîyekh Mind Slavers who capture thoughts and shred memories and travel down through the minds of others, or perhaps these living ships themselves were altogether unsailored and fetterless unmanned were able to make their own decisions as they scouted and fought for their masters, these living ships themselves being abominable Tánin in truth. Whatever they were, they were swift as they came darting through the clouds, and yet although they were unfamiliar in design, Puîyus could still discern the weapons that they carried, for long ago when Íngìkhmar was but a lad the sages of the whispering mountains and the sylvan priests drew up their auguries and knew that the Son of Jàkopar Khmàntro would be the greatest knight of his generation, and so Grandfather Pátifhar took up his staff, the Alchemist of the Forest, and he traveled through the glistening emerald green hills of Jaràqtu, he passed Syárjha the Ruins of the sacred Silvern Temple which Emperor Khyìlyikh destroyed, and he came upon the crumbling pathways in the midst of the khlèthne necropoleis that sparkled throughout the garthlands and at last traveled he upon the boarders of the fens and unto the ancestrial plantations of the Saûqyufha and then unto the Sweqhàngqu and he came unto Jàkopar and Tàltiin and took their only Son away from them. But from that moment on, Íngìkhmar received the greatest training in arms and strategy and weaponry, training which was only eclipsed in the next generation with his son Puîyus, and Grandfather Pátifhar took Íngìkhmar unto the holy lamaseries in the whispering mountains of Jaràqtu and taught him the use of knife and impaling spear and māccuahuitl and sword, and he took him throughout the Seven Central Realms and taught him how to use the various javelins and darts of the peoples, the floral weapons of the Qlùfhem and the whip-brands of the Qhíng and the various multiple sword techniques of the fencing Kháfha volk, and he even took the child unto the Southron Nations where many of the weapons of Khnìntha were stored from the long ages of the Quarentine and the endless attempts at the children of Triple Tribes to escape and the various smuggling that took place xhratlhengeyàjhwen within the shores of the Red Moons, and so Íngìkhmar grew proficient in the use of the amber spears and the clatterent armor and the fhìlyu şimşīr and the xhàrpe badelaires and the qìlyo craquemartes which were quite common among those peoples and the pirates that snuck upwards from the ay-rebellious South, and in the years of training Grandfather Pátifhar even took his pupil unto Pètekoakh the Lanthorn Temple where many of the weapons of the Archaic Xakhpàlqe were kept, strange and twining cannons that spun about upon angular wheels and almost fired of their own accord, and so it came to pass that Íngìkhmar learnt the weaponry of most men, and as he became the revered Arxhiênakh the Sieur Sionadh, he gathered up the weapons of all of the peoples and even of those whom Grandfather Pátifhar never had a chance to visit and whose weaponry and martian tactics even the Ancient Alchemist never had a chance to learn, and so by the time that Íngìkhmar and Khwofheîlya were bound in matrimony and Grandfather Pátifhar bound their hands together, a few examples of the weapons of all of the peoples from all of the nations and viceroy kingdoms and timelines had been brought unto the barns of the Sweqhàngqu, and when Puîyus came of age and was armed as a warrior at eleven winters, Seigneur Seignior Íngìkhmar opened up the barn doors and revealed unto him all of the prowess of the Fhaiyàmeqor the Second Estate, the Bellatores of the Dreamtime, and Puîyus learnt how to handle the swords of Kháfha and Qlùfhem and Qhíng alike er that he e'er met one of their people. So it was that as the small raiding living ships were darting from side to side, their tendrils swaying from side to side, their cannons swiveling about upon clockwork springs, although Puîyus was curious as to how these living ships functioned, still, he knew exactly how these cannons worked, and as the plasma cannons were swiveling about and aiming themselves right towards him and the two Princesses of the holy blood of the Pwéru, he tossed the Dragon Sword from side to side and watched as brilliant flairs arose from it, great sparkles of slowly blossoming white and orange arising, and jets of red right in the midst, and he was glad that Emperor Kàrijoi had seen fit to forge this brand from lava and dawn and sunlight itself.
The raiding vessels were swirling downwards and firing, and the torpedoes blasting out from their siege engines looked a little like small glassen shells which as they rushed through the air were opening upwards and revealing long blossoms of plasma burning right off from them. Puîyus did not have very much room to manouver upon the small raft which he had builded, but he was able to make good use of what he had for he could jump high in the air, and so fleet was he in his cutting that he could jab in several differing directions at once. The torpedoes were buzzing about him like kanatsistétsi hornet wasps, and a little like those insects, the torpedoes flesh glistened with a slight amœbic quality unto it diezo zum amzia zum. Puîyus swung the eilwiyusàrtyai brand about, and flares and fire and nonrational numbers were erupting out from it, he slashed through three torpedoes at almost the same moment, within the same eyeblink, and so hot was the Dragon Sword that the torpedo volutions were consumed in almost an instant. Several more torpedoes were darting towards him, he spun around in a sommersault and jabbed low through one and then swung the sword upwards to gut through the next, and he kicked aside at the other torpedoes coming untowards him with such force that they spun about confused in the air and exploded against the æther. At once Puîyus wondered what fun it would be start hurling the khmuilàrakekh sacars back unto their masters, and turned unto Ixhúja he winked unto her. Ixhúja was swinging her sword from side to side, but since hers was only glass she could only dent the the torpedo cha spinning towards them all, but Puîyus with his sword all of flame could hack right through them and send the pieces burning fluttering away in their own little volcanic eruptions. Puîyus spun upwards and kicked aside as several different khmuilàrakekh orbiting about him, and nodded his head to Ixhúja in an invitation to do the same. She kicked aside the torpedoes that were arising about her, she tossed her sword into her scabbard and running out fell upon her hands to alk upon them and began kicking the torpedoes in all directions. She found it still a little unfair that Puîyus should somehow in his travels have obtained the idolatrous Emperor’s Sword, even if Kàrijoi had given it to her Twin somehow it was not right that he should have such a kingly gift while she only had the sword of all of the queendoms of Khnìntha, if indeed she ended up being one of Puîyus’ concubines, she told herself, the first thing she’d do is steal the sword for herself and run off into battle to have some fun. Puîyus was spinning around in the air, he was spinning a little like a leaf caught up in the winds, and the dragon sword was spinning about him like the cutting edge of a fhyenántimóli windmill, where the blazing sword cut through the air it left wounds of gaping orange and red bleeding downwards, and as he hacked through the torpedoes spinning about them all, sometimes he jabbed the sword right through the heart of the machine and slew it on the spot, but more often he was growing clever and just wounded it enough so that he could kick it back untowards the living ships that fired it, and he hurled it back with such skill that the torpedoes flew back whence-then they came and exploded within their own living ships, and they began to break apart in shards of burning metal. Puîyus smiled and was thankful that his Father had taught him how these ancient weapons worked, and he knew now from the weaponry that these were in origin living ships of some of the kindreds of the Xakhpàlqe Pwénejhis, even though he could not quite identify insignia and banner and rune. The torpedoes buzzed about him and one by one he cut them just enough and batted them back to their author and the living ships all began to alight one by one like so many lanterns placed about the rafters of a verandā. Just as when in summer nights when the crickets are calling, and Abbá Íngìkhmar and his cater-cousin Sathnòrja of the Saûqyufha were sitting upon the porch and smoking their pipes and listening to the music of the land, and Puîyus would come running out in the fields with his cousins Ìkhnos and Pàlron for to play Xhwongeîthe diamond ball, and they would toss the ball from side to side and run and slide at the plates and sometimes Fhermáta would run out and want to bat, and Ìkhnos and Pàlron would refuse, but Puîyus always took Fhermáta aside and helped her hold the prèkat mallet and showed her how to stand and clasped the mallet in her arms, and when Ìkhnos tossed the ball, Puîyus would help Fhermáta swing, and the bat would strike and the ball would arise high in the air and Fhermáta would squeal in glee to watch their cousins run after it, so too was Puîyus swinging the the Emperor’s Dragon Sword from side to side and as the torpedoes came unto him in a single graceful movement he cut at them and batted them far away and struck the raiding vessels one by one. Ixhúja contented herself with just kicking and jabbing at the torpedoes buzzing too close to them, although she thought that if only she could get her hands upon the fancy Eilwiyusàrtyai she would be plucking down the raiders one by one.
Now that most of the raiders were reduced to burning ash, they were growing more desparite and drawing closer unto the children and firing their torpedoes in greater numbers, and sometimes the torpedoes were exploding long before they could reach impact, and so the raft was shaking in eruptions and light, and Puîyus realized that now was the time to surprise the raiders and perhaps even Ixhúja. He gave Ixhúja a sign to tell her to stay and guard the Princess. Ixhúja sighed harrumph as if to ask, Why? You’re standing right before us! You’re not going anywhere, and why can’t Cousin Éfha learn to fend for herself! Ixhúja bounced backwards in a sommersault and kicked aside a couple of torpedoes that were veering far too close to Princess Éfhelìnye, but when Ixhúja looked back she saw that Puîyus had disappeared. She blinked and took a couple of steps froward, which was as far as she could go on so smalla ship, and suddenly bucking upwards before them arose a torpedo bursting plasma in all directions, and Puîyus was riding it as if it were a wild dinosaur being tamed for the first time. Puîyus was yanking at the nose of the sacar and punching against some of the spinning clockwork, and the torpedo beshook itself from side to side in an effort to dislodge the tlhaupóxa hippodamos, the tamer of dinosaurs, but Puîyus just screamed out all the louder and even began to laugh as he gained control of the weapon and punching a little at the wheels again, suddenly rainbows of amœbæ were erupting out from them, and they sailed upwards to crash against one of the raiders.
Princess Éfhelìnye sighed and clasped her hands and chanted – Isn’t Puey wonderful! He can do just about anything, build a raft, fight a war, ride and tame a torpedo. –
Ixhúja snorted to tell her, Puîyos ain’t so great.
– Oh he is! I’m going to marry him! I love him so much! –
Ixhúja bounced aside and kicked aside at several more torpedoes veering towards them, and catching the wings of one hurled it against another, and in the growing delirious ripples of light coughed a few times in Éfhelìnye’s direction to tell her, I’m sure I could do that if I wanted to. She grabbed the edge of a passing sacar and hurled it against a couple others rushing about them and tried to do so in the most elegant and yet nonchallent way possible, but even as the torpedoes were exploding and blossoms of light red and orange were trickling up about them, they could hear the sound of hollering and whooping, for Puîyus still arose through the air riding his khmuilàrakekh as an hippodamos. Ixhúja ground her teeth and wondered whether in fact her feral Twin were having just a little too much fun.
Puîyus and his torpedo arose to struck the raider, and just a moment before it all shivered and began to explode, Puîyus hurled himself away and spinning through the air landed upon the back of a growling raiding vessel, and all at once the antlers were crackling from side to side in an attempt to dislodge the peskisome child, and the tentacles began coughing up torpedoes for to burn him alive. Puîyus thrust the Dragon Sword down and clove the ship in twain, and at once the pieces broke apart and solar fires were flowing up from it, and as the raiding ship broke apart into volcanic splendory already Puîyus was leaping through the air, he grabbed ahold of a passing torpedo and cried out in a new series of whooping and hollering and he cut it apart and landed upon the tendrils of another raiding vessel. The vessel screamed and could not cough out its torpedoes fast enough, but Puîyus was climbing all the faster and he was cutting the torpedoes apart faster than the ship could bleed them, and within half a moment he yanked himself right into the belly of the ship and cut it open from the inside. The ship broke apart, it was shimmering in stained glass pieces, and Puîyus came sliding down from it, ripples of orange and green and blue descending about him. The torpedoes were arising wroth in the air, the remaining vessels were all beginning to fire against Puîyus and let the torpedoes that were already in the heavens spinnin around and try to destroy the raft and the Princesses. Puîyus threw himself into the air and caught one torpedo and swung up around it and jabbed his sword through the nerves of it seno and then he swung upwards and slid down the side of another torpedo and then another and another, and each one he used just long enough for to transport himself before slashing it apart and landing upon one vessel after the next and digging his sword deep within it. All of the skies above the dust waves and the raft where Princesses Éfhelìnye and Ixhúja stood was sparkling now with thousands of plasma sacars breaking apart and tumbling down in bits of light and metal and stone, and the raiders were blossoming one by one in gardens of explosions. Ixhúja for her part, Prince Khwìnton Jhkhaîxhor’s only child, was quite busy with her own particular battle and in having to defend Éfhelìnye who could only coo and plaudit and cheer for Puîyus in his battle but who did not even pay attention to her own dearest Cousin whose feats of athletic prowess were nonpareil and far more interesting than all that fancy flying stuff and he wouldn’t even be able to slash those alien vessels apart if it weren’t for Uncle Kàrijoi’s own dracontine sword, and let me remind you he wouldn’t even be doing that and having fun at all if someone weren’t here defending this deadweight of a Cousin that I have honestly can Éfha do anything at all besides be pretty and cute and talk about words, she can’t even hold a weapon and gets nervous when I talk about battle scars and all the times that I’ve died.
Puîyus slashed through several more snarlent raider vessels, and he was riding down the edge of the fountains prismatic and bursting up from his brow was inaureoled qhoîrxhii the warrior light. He slid down slides of energy and cut through several more raider vessels, so that only a few remained, but he could sense that these vessels of the labirum Archaic Xakhpàlqe Pwénejhis were able to make some decisions of their own, for as yet he had not seen any living wiht sailing them, and the living ships were darting back and forth and swarming like unto living creatures, and they growing desparite, qan, maljuna, kriš ancient creaking, and firing now all of their torpedoes right towards the raft, and the torpedoes were exploding far off so that Ixhúja would not have a chance to deflect them. At once Puîyus understood what he had to do, and he dove precipitous through the evergrowing waves of light. Ixhúja was jumping upwards and sheathing her sword wrapping her arms about Éfhelìnye who was stumbling backwards. The raft was breaking apart, the triple masts disappeared into fhaêkh, the solar sails became dust. Puîyus hurled aside several exploding torpedoes about him, he did not mind getting burnt on his hands, he had been scorched a few times before and pain was just a sensation to be surpressed, in fact was the heat rolled about him some of it hit him on the wounds he had inflicted upon his wrists and arms, and he could not quite feel the full import of the ardour. Ixhúja was doing her best to grab the last pieces of the raft and try to draw them together, but it was too late, not enough matter existed for it to have its own khwéti, its own pandimensional gravitational force, and so both she and her Cousin Éfhelìnye found themselves spinning through the burning air vetapün tykEvow becrashing all about them. As they fell the air grew hotter and more rarified, and great burning shards of ship and torpedo and flame were falling about them in all directions.
– My, that was exciting! – Éfhelìnye gasped.
Ixhúja wrapped her arms around Éfhelìnye and shivered to see that they were plummeting right towards the rumbling dust seas drifting before them, and they were drawn so close unto Syapàkhya that the waves were changing and were no longer just xhthopùryo the pandimensional space ocean but were become froth and wave of actual tameless and timeless water, and she bristled to think of all that liquid touching her body, it was simply intolerable to a jhakhlèrko an hydrophobe as the children of Khnìntha tend to be.
– Don’t you think Puey was very brave up there, as he fought the torpedoes and ripped the living ships apart all by himself! – Éfhelìnye cried.
I helped a lot! Ixhúja whimpered in an aquaphobic tounge as she looked down and could see that the waves were sparkling upwards, that burning tendrils and bits of wing and thousands upon thousands of scalding plasmatic jigs of torpedo were crashing into the waters and making it all a storm chaosbrewing, and even if suddenly she was fain of swimming in water, still the crashing flame and the descent of the living ships would be enough to frighten even the most seasoned of swimmers. Ixhúja tapped Éfhelìnye on her shoulders and mewling a little asked her in the same aquaphobic language as if to say, Please remind me again, do you know how to swim?
– Ah, well Puey taught me, but I didn’t really master it. In fact, all that I really learned to do was cling onto him while did the actual swimming. Sometimes he would dive for shells and search for black pearls, and I would hang onto his back and kiss him while he .. –
So you don’t know how to swim!
– Not particularly. –
I have no idea how to swim!
– I’m sure we’ll be fine. –
Fine! Fine! Exploding living ships are raining down upon us and water arises up for to meet us and flame and torpedo are … look out!
– Pardon? –
Ixhúja kicked against the air and pulled her Cousin along with her and shielded Éfhelìnye’s body as best she could while some massive carapaces of burning metal fell about them, and the flames crackled up about them so hot and terrible that all of the clockwork creatures that dwelt within Ixhúja’s golden tresses were burrowing themselves in all the deeper and squealing. Several more torpedoes were spinning about them, and long ripples of poqloîsqar bush-khaf-masu and fhwèntu snazh-tukh and sqàtlhapan plasma came rippling outwards in long and stringing loop queues. Ixhúja tried to get Éfhelìnye to duck a little, but Éfhelìnye looked at the splashing flames and only blinked a couple of times for the brightness of the light did not hurt her gaze in the slightest.
– I don’t know why you fret so. So the heavens are burning and water rises up to engulf us and neither of us can swim and even if we could it would be difficult to swim through the endless crashflagration – Éfhelìnye chanted. – But Puey will find us, he always does, and rescue me and then we’ll be safe again. –
Ixhúja blinked a few times and whimpered, Would it be churlish of me to mention that all three of us are lost war refugees being pounced from one pirate vessel to the next and are seldom in a safe position for long and that neither of us know where my twin Puîyos may chance to be? No, I won’t mention that at all, it would be so incredibly rude of one.
– Puey will be swooping down for us soon, I just know it. Soon we shall be venturing unto the horizon. How soon before we meet up with Puey’s Sisters, I miss Siêthiyal and Karuláta a great deal, I hope in time that they may begin calling me Sister and not just guest-friend, I’ve always wanted to be part of a large family and to have lots of Siblings. –
Ixhúja and Éfhelìnye were spinning around and around as the burning wreckage exploded about them, and the waters were just a few cubits above or below or beside them and nearing them swiftly. Ixhúja kept her grasp upon her Cousin, she was hoping that she could somehow cushion Éfhelìnye’s fall if at all possible against the treacherous waves, but she was not entirely sure, for she knew water as something frozen or for rivers and for civilized and tamed cannals and not for the boisterous noise of the sea. She shook Éfhelìnye a few times and in an hurried hydrophobic language asked her, Why are you talking about having siblings and a large family now! We’re about to strike the sea?
– I just think about these things, and now is as good a time as e'er! –
You’re very weird. You’d made a weird Empress, you’ll be a weird lady mother, you’ll have weird children.
– I was wondering something, and if you haven’t given this any thought that’s fine, but I have and I was wondering your opinion on the matter – Éfhelìnye chanted in a single breath, and Ixhúja turned her head aside because she getting the feeling that she wasn’t going to be interested in the least, but Éfhelìnye continued and chanted – I don’t mind it too much when Puey is forced to rescue Princesses, because for some reason our lot tend to get into all sorts of trouble, but I’m wondering, when Puey and I finally do get married, I would rather that he not rush into burning buildings or throw himself off of cliffs or, heaven forfend, fight a fell Dragon to save some Princess, I really don’t want him having to bring home some foreign Princess whom he’s rescued from a crashing clockweyth train or from a stampede of velociraptors or from a falling tower, in fact I’m really hope that not only will he only rescue me but that perhaps he can appoint some other heroes to rescue the other Princesses just to keep them safe and Puey can just stay with me all the time. I hope I’m not offending you, I don’t mind it when he saves you … –
Ixhúja coughed, for she did not think that she needed saving, even though they were about to crash against wreckage and sea, but she lifted up her hands and in blinks and glances told her, So we’re about to get smashed and burnt and drowned and you want to discuss Puîyos’ various chivalrous habits?
– Yes, yes I do. –
Ixhúja sighed a few times and now wished that the drowning would happen a little sooner. She blinked and told her Cousin, Listen, I don’t think that Puîyos will e'er completely stop his habit of saving the innocent, be they damsels or squirrel cats or various Princesses in distress. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and bare him a few Sons who will take up the mantle of saving Princesses, and then Puîyos can stay home with you, but something tells me that no matter how many Hero Sons you may have, that Puîyos will still outrace them into saving a lost Princess, I mean, perhaps your Sons may save a Princess once or twice in order to obtain a sweetheart, but Puîyos just has chivalry in his blood and will probably be doing good deeds until the day he dies in glorious battle.
– I’m hoping that he does with me in mine arms, that we breathe our last … –
Here’s the water! And Ixhúja shouted and clasped her cousin close to her and hoped that they would live so that Éfhelìnye could bore her with more khmèxhnujo sentimentality apiatafol, and all at once everything became flame and metal and crash and water all at once. Ixhúja gasped outwards. Éfhelìnye felt water closing in about her, and as everything became thick and oppressive she wondered whether she were supposed to be holding her breath, water could be a little confusing, especially for one who knew not how to swim. Tremendous heat convections were arising about the smoldering pieces of the raiding living ships, and the shells of the falling torpedoes were still exploding one by one by one even as the waters fell about them. Éfhelìnye felt that her grip was loosening about Ixhúja as they slipped together within the waters, and Ixhúja was shaking in fear and squeezing her eyen shut and trying to imagine herself anywhere but here within the domain of water dark.
And then something unexpected and yet inelectable was happening. Just as Princess Éfhelìnye began to feel that she were drowning, and all things were growing dark save for the shafts of light caused by the torpedoes exploding in the waters, and she could feel great umbrages falling upon them as the last of the raiders came twining in the waters and began to sink down and were making their slow path downwards for to crush the Princesses. And then all at once Éfhelìnye noticed strong arms wrapped about both her and Ixhúja, and a slight warrior’s halo was spinning in the waters. Massive raider living ships were about to crush them, but Puîyus shoved them aside with the fingers of one hand. Ixhúja still had her eyen shut but she could feel that the waters were changing. Puîyus was clutching unto the maidens and dove deeper and deeper and plusdeeper into the waters, deep enough that the raider vessels were all breaking apart, and the shockwaves of the myriad exploding sacars could not threaten for to hurt them, and once the flames and might of the wreckage were beyond them he shot upwards through the waters, he was spinning around faster and faster, and the waters began to lighten until suddenly in spumes prismatic he burst upwards in one of his famous fhúng his salmon leaps šlēm, and Ixhúja opened her eyen at last and saw that she was flying in the air, Éfhelìnye beside her, and Puîyus holding her, and Éfhelìnye was laughing in glee. Water was streaming through their hair, sparkles of crystals and ice flowing all about them, so that rainbow splashes were erupting from them. Puîyus came skimming down the side of a wave and launched himself higher into the air again and Éfhelìnye laughed out as they flew upon the tip of the waters.
– Didn’t I tell you, Cousin Ixhúja! Puey found us! He always does! – Éfhelìnye laughed.
Ixhúja coughed a little, she had the feeling that not only had she swallowed some salt water but some khùsqe brine had flowed up her nose salakvo, and it was perhaps one of the most disgusting sensations that she could possibly imagine. And yet flying through the air with Puîyus as he bounced from the tip from one wave to another was pleasant enough to make her forget her aversion to water, and feeling the joy eminating from Éfhelìnye in their volitation was enough to make Ixhúja love the free waters just a little.
– Fly higher, Puey! Let’s go higher and farther, let’s venture out high within the seas! – Éfhelìnye laughed. Puîyus nodded unto her, and before them arose the endless waves and breakers of Sqasqáli the Northron Sea. He kept his glacial winedark eyen unto the horizon, but he wished for Éfhelìnye to enjoy the ride for as long as she could. Before them were flowing up several waves, they were breaking apart, the waters were sparkling and hanging downwards in patterns of moss and frost, and Puîyus aimed his entire body towards the ronduring wall, even as he held the two Princesses’ unto him, and soon he was sliding up the side of it, his wooden shoon were skating upon the crashing foam as if it were solid ground, and he made it about half the way up the length of the wave before he jumped up into the air and let the momentum of the wave shove him up all the higher. The waters roared, and Puîyus spun up into the air, and all at once they were skyborne once again, and water droplettes were spilling about them in glistening patterns. Puîyus’ blue hair and Éfhelìnye ruby and the golden strands that flowed from Ixhúja were all mingling together as the crystals of water were spinning and sparkling and descending about them, and Éfhelìnye cried out in glee, the winds were swift and wild and free against them. Puîyus came sliding down against the waters but his wooden sabots barely even touched the waves before launching him up higher once again, this time all of the waves were choppy and the children were gliding as the waters were becoming columns spinning upwards and began to topple downwards in great heaps and packs of prismatic light. Before them the waves were spilling outwards, they were becoming forests of spiked water jutting upwards, and Puîyus was bouncing upon the tips of them all as the jumped and floated in the air. All at once before them the waters were shimmering and surfacing came several of the sopàrkhlu narvals and they were nodding their thrawn horns at the children and saluting them with fin, and Puîyus at once dove into the midst of the odontoceti and flew in their midst, and the whales arose in joyous song to fly about him. Puîyus bounced upon the surface of the waves between the patriarchs of the herd and the elders of the pod, he flew about the bucks and does and was leaping upwards as all of the school of sopàrkhlu were breathing out waters from their nostrils, and the sound of the waves was the music of nose fifes in joy, and Puîyus came leaping about the tails of the great roquals and slipped aout the fins of others, and all the while Princess Ixhúja whom he held with his left hand forget all of her xhrìqni nausea noxious and was glad to be flying with Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and sailing about the waters, and Éfhelìnye laughed in euphoria as the whalesong swelled about them.
And now indeed Puîyus was flying all the higher and faster, his violet dreamcape rippling long and sharp and triangular behind him, the narvals were now jumping up higher within the waters, and sometimes Puîyus landed upon their tails and let the narvals hurl him and the Princesses into the air, and sometimes he came sliding down the length of the sopàrkhlu one horned wights and sometimes he came leaping about their fins, and all the while the sighing music of the whales buoyed them all higher and higher, and the waters were become living colors, and in the eyen of Ixhúja and in the laughter of Princess Éfhelìnye all things were become good.
Now the sopàrkhlu narvals began to veer away for they were drawing a little too close to the coastline, and the waves were breaking apart and becoming even choppier so that Puîyus was beginning to struggle to leap upon it and keep both him and the Princess airborne, and so they began to slide down the sides of the suff xhyìqlo and Puîyus’ jumps were becoming less and less. Before them great crags were jutting fanglike from the waters, bits and pieces of foam and coral all twisting upwards and looming with great and rustling shadows, and the waters themselves were growing darker as they approached the geometries khnaînikul jhufhelájoyùtya of these great shafts of coral. Puîyus came leaping o'er the first of the coral beams and soon was sliding about several more, the endless cubits of waves were disappearing beneath his wooden habachment, and yet no matter how swift he was sliding and how fast he arose and how skillful were his salmon leeps, more and more towers of coral were arising jutting up from the waters, and now looming before him came dark skerries, and even the waters about them were become like unto shadows. At once Puîyus spun his body around and began to bring himself and the Princesses twain away from the sqaxakàtena, and yet even when he launched himself again upon the free oceans and came sliding about, he still found himself being drawn back to a new sqaxakatenaôthe, as if they were all formed of magnets and he were being linked back to the source. He came sliding away from the skerries again and slid down the leagues upon leagues of the sea, and yet his flights were shorter and humbler, and Éfhelìnye was no longer whooping and hollering in glee, and before their gaze all of the waters were become ankylotic creags of coral looming skeletal before them and beckoning them all for all the while.
Sker sgeir the sqaxakàtena were arising before the children, sharp and gaunt, hissing and strange, uncouth and eldritch, the coral was not merely bursting up from the waters, it was as if the coral were part of an horrid and alien world that was invading worlds of froth and wave and moisture, the coral jutted upwards and appeared to be in patterns of eternal strife, as if the coral although frozen still were somehow slowly twisting about each other in great bone columns, they were forgrinding against each other and against the world of the waves, and the coral was struggling against the shells of the waters and the edge of the sky. Princess Éfhelìnye for her part had seen the seas for the first time when she was six winters of age upon that occasion when Grandfather Pátifhar and Great-Uncle Táto were commanded to bring her unto the Crystalline Throne to meet her Father for the first time, and Kàrijoi took his Daughter by the hand and ascended up through the highest of the minarets of Twiêkes the Ice Palace and from the summit of enhallowed Eilasaîyanor revealed unto her all of the glassen temples and towers and cwms and all of the Seas of the Worlds, for the Eleven Seas have their source in the midst of the Holy City, and from afar she could see the waves and marvelled at them for the first time, and when at long last she finally had opportunitas to travel unto the violet and ruby rainforests of Khníxher she was able to walk upon rainbow sands and feel the wave kissing the marge, and she wondered to think that she had come to a place where earth and sky met, and the wind was sweet and strong and good, and although she still feared the water a little and dared not enter it ore than a kubit, it was still mirable visu unto her. And so it was that even though the coral was struggling although still and wrestling against the waters, and was all angular and harsh and strange, still the beating of the waves against the sgeir comforted her a little. She looked to Puîyus and Ixhúja and could see that they were having very different reactions to the waters and being drawn back unto the magnetic skerries. Ixhúja was still revealing in the leaping, but as the whimsy was fading away and all of the waves were flowing back unto the sker she was beginning to notice the waters splashing all up about them, open and decadent and strange. Éfhelìnye knew that her Princess Cousin did not like the open waters and in fact before she had come to Eilasaîyanor had only see oceans as estuaries bubbling upwards within caves and within the pèlyo the inner worlds, where the vaults arise to vast and deep that they become inner sky. Puîyus had grown up in plain and field and with some whispering mountains, his people were only of a mariner bent out of the necessity of war since they most preferred to stay at home, but long before he knew how to read he had found pictures of living ships and pirates and dreamt of the waves and sailing high among the clouds and fighting dragons and saving Princess’ fair, so the ocean came with an ambivalence of parlous adventure but also of homesickness wearing upon his heart. The skerries were jutting upwards, the first few crags drifting outwards in long and cutting fangs, it was so sharp, so resolute that they almost appeared more real and made the waves themselves appear like shadows, and the children were the lràya dwimmerlaiξ drifting untowards them lutikäls. And all the while the skerries were the stronger and were heavier and their gravity was pulling in the waves and the children, they were like fisherfolk drawing in their line and weir and net.
And Puîyus, Íngìkhmar’s only Son was still skimming down the side of the waves, and when the waves were about to crash and when he should have begun sinking back down within them he just kicked against the waters with such force that he was able to fly out all the more, but the leaps were becoming less and less and he could feel himself drawn unto the strange coral growing upwards in hornlike patterns. Princess Éfhelìnye was holding onto Puîyus by his neck, she looked to Ixhúja’s belt and made sure that the toy dinosaurlings she had rescued were still tied up and present and safe, for she knew she would be sad if the destruction of the raft had also spelt the end to the gifts she wanted Siêthiyal and Karuláta to have, and she reached o'er and saw that strapped beneath his dreamcape were the metallic books that they had rescued, the artistry and clockcraft of the Fhlistefhértlha moon folk, the Ifhrúrifhínefha selenites descended of Queen Ifhrúri of old, and then wriggling a little out from Puîyus grasp she chanted – I think it would be best if we not fight against the skerries, I almost have the scene that we are being watched. Perhaps we can just rest there for a time, in case those raiders are signaling for reïnforcements for to find us. –
Puîyus clicked a few times to say that if anyone was about to follow them he would arise and slaughter them all and crush their skulls with his bare hands, and Ifhrúri clicked several times to say that she was not tired in the least and certainly did not trust bare coral arising from alien waters. Natheless Éfhelìnye was already slipping from their grasp, for as the waters came up untowards the edge of the sgeir, they were calming down and became like unto pellucid glass. Éfhelìnye hopped away from Puîyus and began walking upon the surface of the waters and chanted – Anyway, I feel as if we are expected within, or if a friend were waiting for us. It’s just a notion that I have, it’s like opening an old book and reading a few pages and realizing that it is a story that one read long ago, that there are familiar lines and patterns to it, and when one turns to the cover sheets one finds that inscribed thereupon is the name of one’s Father, and one knows that he read the story again at one’s age, and so the story lives on for ever and ever. The skerries are stage and craft, and if we fight against them, something worse may happen. –
Ixhúja snorted, for she found Éfhelìnye’s reasoning to be as faulty and emotional as a male child, why her cousin would never survive as a dispassionate warrior, her imagination was always aflutter, her heart always aflight, perhaps that made her a good match to Puîyos he was just as impractical sometimes. Puîyus was turning back as he was skimming down the side of the last waves, and gazing out with his præternatural eyen could see the roquals descending and thousands of fishes sinking back into the umbraged waters, the heavens were sparkling before his ken and he could still see splashes of plasma raining downwards, bits and pieces of craft which he knew had to be the tentaclework of the Xakhpàlqe of long ago, and although he did feel any persuit at the moment, because of the gigantic conflagration he had witnessed before, and the vast dust ruins made up of shattered worlds, and the strange vessels gnawing against each other and the raiders following them, he knew better than to underestimate those who might have once long ago been the Emperor’s first vassels, the Xakhpàlqe who unto his people were but myth. He turned back and could see that Éfhelìnye was running across the waters, she paused for a moment and did not sink upon the placid waves, for she was examining some of the shreds of seaweed and twine that were flowing upwards. Puîyus came bouncing up beside her and was carrying Ixhúja all the while, and soon it was that all three of them walked up unto the first of the crags, first came Puîyus, and his wooden shoon scraped against the coral and he scrambled upwards unto higher footing before placing Ixhúja down, and then came Éfhelìnye, as she danced upon the waters and spun around in a few graceful piourettes, and at last she clomb up unto the edge of the coral. Before them the coral arose in splendors that looked a little like gazing eye sockets glaring right back at them.
Princess Éfhelìnye ran up unto one of the sockets and poking her head around found that the coral was a growth formed of bone and water and shadow and beneath it lay the outlines of something all of metal casing and shimmering wood. – I think that in origin all of these skerries were the spines of some great and wonderous ship, and perhaps it landed here when this was all land and the sea arose encroaching upon it, or perhaps it crashed here and dimensions and realities shifted about it. – She pressed her hand upon some of the coral and then upon the sides of the wall, and rubbing her finger upon some of the rondured glyphs and then upon some of the snags, at once she cut her finger. She set the tip of her finger in her mouth and licked the blood, it tasted a little of copper and cinnamon unto her, but the blood left upon the wall drifted downwards and drew itself outwards into patterns of kùrwa and tsùkhma and xùrfha squares and jànxhe and lwàwimus rectangles, and the blood became rufescent light, and cracked open into a door the smelt a little like cinnamon and copper. The door shuffled away from the Princess, and Éfhelìnye leaned her head within and could taste that the air was stagnant and cold and expectant.
– There is something quite familiar about this – Éfhelìnye chanted. – One could try all manner of analogy to explain it, it is like picking up a blouse one has not worn in a long time and smelling it and remembering a spring years ago, or finding a drawing one had done a summer past and remembering the feel of crayon and pastel, or dancing some ballet and thinking of a pleasant even with Great-Uncle Táto in the Imperial Gardens that once were. –
Ixhúja drew both of her swords and pushed herself in front of Puîyus and walked up unto the threshold of the door and turning around clicked unto them to tell them, Since we’ve come this far, let us go in. I’m going first, I can detect traps better than all of you. Puîyos, I’ll make it safe for you if you’re afraid.
Puîyus coughed to tell her, The Son of Íngìkhmar is incapable of fear.
Ixhúja spun both of her swords around to tell him, There may be wheels within, many wheels, wonderous and whorlent whirling wheels!
Puîyus drew out the beaming Dragon Sword Eilwiyusàrtyai as if to tell her, The wheels of a chariot can be its most vulnerable place of attack.
Thousands of wheels, calculating analytical wheels! Ixhúja grinned to him. Clockwork, all sorts of horrid and scary clockwork to frighten you! Don’t be too afraid, maybe I can tame the horrible clockpunk before it attacks you.
Puîyus growled to tell her, The Son of Íngìkhmars fears nothing!
Don’t forget all that clockwork formed in the imagine of a soul! Oooh! Frightening!
Tick tock tick tock tick tock tick! Ixhúja giggled a few times and then skipped o'er the threshold and at once spun around to land upon her feet in case some traps were set, and so swift and so lithe was she that even if traps were left for intruders, she would have been able to avoid it with ease and grace. Puîyus came following right after her, but he paused and turned around when Éfhelìnye was not following them.
– Ahem! Ahem! – Éfhelìnye cried. Puîyus poked his head in her direction. Éfhelìnye’s hands were on her hips. – Aren’t you going to carry me within and o'er the threshold? –
– ?? –
– No particular reason, I just like being held. –
Puîyus looked around, his eyen were glistening with suspicion as he searched for traps or guards or any nasty clockwork to come spilling about them. Anyway, if he had to carry Éfhelìnye that he’d have to squeaze her tight to leave his other arm free to employ the flaring numinous brand. Éfhelìnye tapped her feet in impatience, and Puîyus could think of nothing else to do.
– Ahhhh? – Puîyus asked.
Éfhelìnye’s face beamed in a smile. At once she launched herself into the air, and Puîyus was forced to capture her, and she kissed him a few times in delight to hear his speaking, albeit such a primal song of Babel, and so it was that with one arm Puîyus was carrying Éfhelìnye across the threshold while his other held the blazing sword of solar light, the brand gifted unto him by Emperor Kàrijoi himself. And the sides of the threshold were gleaming and revealing patterns of white and gold, and staves and circles within, but the children were incapable of seeing the xhthaníqu claviger the janitor artist glistening among the realms and light and time.
The skerries lead into the halls of this ship, and for some time the children walked on in silence, first came Princess Ixhúja, she was peering from side to side, her eyen a gleam of grey, and she was ay-ready, a white sword in her left hand, the violet brand in her right, sometimes she paused and licked the air, sometimes she bound up to the walls and pressing her head against it leaned and listened and other times she came running down a pace and disappeared from Puîyus and Éfhelìnye for a time and then reappeared, and the clockwork insects that dwelt in her tresses were flairing upwards all adizzy atizzy and searching and waiting and their wheels were aclatterent and yet no trap no danger could the find. Puîyus was a bit more measure in his approach, and since he was carrying Éfhelìnye with one arm did not wish to rush and upset her at all, but the Dragon Sword was bursting into flame all the time that he held it, in fact he felt as if he were holding an hilt of stone and leather affixed not to light but to a living geyser which was spewing out the flame, and what was so interesting about the Eilwiyusàrtyai was that the blade itself was always changing, sometimes it was just a blossom of fire, othertimes it had a base of deeper reds and blues and shooting out from that came spirals of white and gold, sometimes the blade consisted of helices of light and other times of growing and melting flairs, and all the while numbers were flowing up from it and were calculating and changing and dreaming of the shape of the universes. So it was that the children were coming, deeper and deeper they traveled through what appeared to be hallways winding around a base, and in a ship which had been sunk many miles into the sea and whose spirals had become beckoning skerry reefs.
After a time though the strange geometries of these halls and limitless rooms became almost like unto a trap for the children. Puîyus was the first one to notice that they were not necessarily traveling deeper into the ship, although he did not think that they were returning in a full circle either, it was just that the ship was not quite builded in the way that the rest of the mortal Real People think, it was looped and coiled about itself, for Puîyus noticed when they had traveled downwards for a couple of miles that suddenly now they were returning back unto part of their journey but at a different angle, for now they were about a third of a mile back and the floor and ceiling had been reversed. Later on he found that the floor beneath their feet was changing and was become the wall and one of the walls became the ground and after a time both he and Ixhúja came tumbling downwards and crashed back down upon the new ground and wondered how long they had been walking upon the wrong side, and then they looked to each other and blinked and laughed a little because it did not really matter which side was up or down, both Puîyus and Ixhúja could walk like insects upon the sides and undersides of things. But then this brought unto them an horrible delimma, for land always necessitates an up, and all living ships form of their own accord an up, but here in the featureless ship they just had to pick a direction and walk upon it for a time. Puîyus walked up one wall and Ixhúja another and neither could decide which to pick. They looked to Éfhelìnye, they thought that surely in one direction her hair would fall and they would decide to call that direction down, and Puîyus shook Éfhelìnye a little and turned her upside down and tossed her into the air a little and tossed her Ixhúja with gentle hand and Ixhúja hurled her cousin back with nongentle competitive hand and Puîyus caught her and no one could decide which way was up at all. At last Éfhelìnye sighed and chanted – This would surely be one of those cases when a fhòrqhera, an up compass such as Qhiêr Qhierémo of Old Invented would be of such uze, zizim gavimiz taztebwed! So many times in life on needs to know the direction of true up, and yet so seldom does one have an up compass with one, alas! – At last Éfhelìnye reached into her pocket and drew out a stick of pastel and tossed it into the air and watched as the piece spun around a bit in indecision, unsure of where gravitas lay, but when it broke apart into primary colors, the reds and blues and golds flow in opposing sides, Éfhelìnye decided – The red is like unto me, and the yellow for Ixhúja and her perfect golden tresses, and the jacinth for Puîyus, and I say we should go in the direction of the blue, for I would follow him and make my family and nation to be among his. –
Ixhúja snorted that thought that was a ridiculous idea, surely they should go in the direction of the gold, her own color, although it really wasn’t her color it should be purple but Éfhelìnye had chanced not to toss a violet pastel and the reds and blues were not mixing to form that color, it seemed to her that in the queendom of rainbows that violets were altèrtrakh they were secondary wives in the harīm els ŝugītum. Already Puîyus was walking in the direction of the violet, and since he was still holding onto Éfhelìnye she thitherweards was venturing, and so Ixhúja trotted up to follow them, and the halls continued in their strange angular shapes, and still the children were venturing onweards and sometimes finding them unto the sides or upside down than where they had come before.
And yet it was not the looping back unto where they had been before nor the indecision of up and down within the halls and blank rooms of this ship that bothered the children before, it was quite literally the strangeness of the geometry, for the walls and ceilings and the nondescript rooms spilling deeper and deeper in the ship buried beneath the seas in great labyrinthine patterns were all formed in the patterns of squares and rectangles, the rarest of polygons in the Dreamtime. The floor-walls were fashioned of metallic squares within rectangles within squares with only a few lreîkhas some right triangles within them rectangled, and yet all of the lines were meeting up in unnatural square angles. The children kept expecting to see spirals and circles and triangles, they thought that somewhere everything would curve unto a great cochleate, in some of the natural flow and wave of shapes so common among the various cultures of the Land. Éfhelìnye remembered when she had seen a preponderance of rectangles in the home of a Qhíng where she had been staying and she found it quite radical indeed, she thought it interesting because with square geometries one could create many interesting angles, but it was not a very harmonious or æsthetic choice at all. As Puîyus traveled onwards he was finding that all the squares and rectangles were giving him an headache, and no matter where he looked even the angle of floor and wall were like unto squares, it was like falling into a chaotic and illshaped nightmare. Ixhúja was growling unto herself, she gnashed her teeth a little, and at long last she spun around and began to screached in anger. Suddenly Ixhúja was spinning in action, and at first she let the swords do the talking for her, as she smashed through one wall-floor and against the other, she cut threw squares and hacked through rectangles, she ran upwards and began knocking one wall against the other, and soon became a livid storm as she came running deeper and deeper into the long and flowing halls, and she was crashing against the featureless square rooms and shredding them apart. And after a time Ixhúja screamed out in quite an angry and yet harmonious language to say, What’s the matter with this freakish race of shipwrights, why can’t they use crescents and triangles or even a few xhnàkhne hexagons like normal people! Whoever these monstrocities are, they deserve to die for this injustice! No, wait wait wait! Ixhúja spun around, she was a furious storm as she hacked through one wall after another, as she was shoving up the ground and grabbing the edge of column and hurling it aside, as she was attacking all of the squares. No, no, death would be too easy for this dracontine people, I want them to suffer to be tormented with all of their square angles, I think their flesh should be broken apart into triangles and parallelograms, I think their skin should be removed in squares and rectangles, I want them to be tortured by their inharmonious use of polygons! Ixhúja hurled aside several more walls and spinning around glared at Puîyus and Éfhelìnye and asked them, Tell me you agree with me! This people, something is wrong with them!
Puîyus looked to Éfhelìnye for although he could sense that something was not quite right about this sunken ship that had formed the skerry, mathmatics was more the domain of the Starflower Princess. Éfhelìnye shook her head, her hair was a rustle of golden and red light and considering for a moment she chanted – Numbers themselves are a form of dance, and different types of numbers of different properties. Tnór, prime numbers are called cælestial, and tnórxha, twin primes are considered royal like unto the Pwéru, and tlhiîpri odd numbers are harmonious and ptaîyo even numbers are chaotic. Although all numbers are part of a single dance, relying too heavly upon these even numbers and square shapes may be a sign of inelegance on the part of the builders. Alchemists need squares and rectangles, but even the pages of a book are not all the same in size, while these rooms seek to echo each other. I think, Ixhúja, with heavy heart I must agree with you, that something is wrong about this people. –
Puîyus nodded. He hoped to find them and punish them. The squares and rectangles were giving him such a terrible headache, and everything about this place bespoke of a barbarious design. And yet the deeper they ventured within, it was not just the strange design and the rectangles that set him on uneasy, even though he thought that if one were to use fhéqhas quadrilaterals it would surely be easier to use jìprujhang trapezoids parallelogramic than squares, but a certain uneasiness was hanging throughout all these halls. At last Ixhúja smashed through the last of the walls and opening up before them came some large rooms glistening like jewels set at the edge of a wheel and long bridges were leading unto them, and while a preponderous of rectangles still lay within these bridges and walls, at least the shape of things were giving way to more familiar curves and triangles. Mist was coiling upon the floor and wrapping itself about the legs of Puîyus and about the hem of Ixhúja’s dress, and as the children came up upon bridges whose struts were tall and white, and the bejeweled rooms were floating up unto them in all directions, the oppressive feeling in the air grew all the denser.
– I feel it too – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted, as she kept her arms wrapped about Puîyus’ neck. – It is wanhope, it permeates all this place. I understand this feeling, I remember when I first came to stay with your Clan in your ancestrial dreamlands in Jaràqtu, I remember listening to the Elders as they were sitting upon their daises and smoking in their chairs and remembering the old days, I remember asking them about the Empress, and all they could do was sigh and despair, and the air felt just like this, cold and dead. –
Ixhúja looked from side to side, he drew her sword through the mist to cut it open for good measure, but the gloam was still falling upon them all. Puîyus however knew exactly how the Elders must have appeared unto Éfhelìnye for he had seen it many times before, as the smoke coiled up about their longbeards and they remembered the music which no man may sing, the Empress’ Songs which have remained silent on penalty of death, even death upon the claw.
– Long ago the Elders used to smile, they told me – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted. – All of the dreamlands bloomed bright, and the youth danced and were given in marriage, and bird and tree and dinosaur blossomed, and the Emperor was happy. And then came the War when all men shivered, even as they ventured forth unto the crimson sands of the South, there came the War where the Royal Family of Pwéru dwindled down prince by prince and princess by princess, and there came the day of Midsummer and the hour of Noontide, in the very middle of the year. Lords and viceroy kings, warriors and princes, chieftains and squires, all knew their power was broken, only despair lay on the land, for the Virgin Empress was dead. The Elders told me that many of them were unable to cry that day, they were still too busy in the war, and a baby had been born upon the battlefield, her parents were already dead and new parents had to be found for her. And yet all knew that without the Empress the Dreamtime could only be wanhope. That’s what the Elders were telling me, even though they had no idea that the Empress had been my Mother, all they knew was that the oceans would free and the heavens become flame and all of the land become a labyrinth leading back to the War. –
Ixhúja was wondering unto herself, even though she was trying to fight against the unsubstantial mist, but growled she a little to tell them, My Tánin slaves revered the Empress who was not even the Empress o'er the Automata folk, Táper and Tselèriter told me that the Empress was Mother even to outcasts like the children of Khnìntha, that he love extended even to those who could not love the Emperor. My slaves told me that we had to have faith in the love of the Empress, that she was sent by the Immortals who hold our souls in their palms. But I do not understand philosophy, I cannot even say. I remember venturing off my my Father’s estate and watching the Dragons in their dance cælestial, it was almost an ærial song, I could not understand it but I had the feeling that it was a dance about the Empress, the Dragons were expressing their despair that she had died, and because of her perhaps all things magical and good would have to die also. So it was that Ixhúja was growling and clicking a little to herself and a little to Puîyus and Éfhelìnye.
Puîyus felt the wanhope clasping against his heart, and although he did not wish to think of the sadness that he felt in his Father, he found himself making the sounds of a requiem and sighing unto the Princesses and telling them, For eleven years now my Father has been like obsidian and stone, he has never smiled in happiness in all my life, his heart has been turned to duty and sacrifice, and when I ask him about the past all he tells me is that I must honor the Ancestors and remember my beloved Mother Khwofheîlya and that the Empress died. All the best of Jaràqtu has been broken at the Moon Empress’ death, he tells me, our war clans are not as great as they should have been, no longer is our land wealthy in sons and arms, we are but shadows. The viceroy kings bow their heads, the lords crumble, and Kàrijoi wears his thornescent crown, and every night my Father sings his dirge unto the midnight, for the Empress is dead, she was taken from him, and all of the Sweqhàngqu will fail. So it was that Puîyus was sighing and clicking a little and speaking of his Father although he did not wish to.
Éfhelìnye kissed Puîyus on his cheek and tugging upon his sleeve gave him the signal to set her down, and she spun around in a few piourettes and chanted – The Elders told me only of battles among the cliffs of Tsànyun and the fall of navies and the burning of forest, they spoke of armies burnt alive by the republicans, and they tell me that marriage is dead and no longer shall youths be given away in marriage, no longer shall the drums and gong intone for them, no longer shall the temples glistening with enchanting perfume, they say that I shall never know matrimony or have a family of mine own, but that everything will crumble away in time. Kàrijoi enfreezes himself, he turns his back to us, and the Elders grow senescent, and the children grow up an unfettered and rudderless generation who can never hope to be as great as their sires. The Elders say dance dies with all flowers, that the Emperor is feasting on innocence, that the dæmons of the night shall reclaim all realties and make them into their own sacrificial worlds where everything will bleed and burn for all eternity, because the Moon Empress died, because my Mother died. And so for almost all mine entire life all of the worlds have been mourning her in perpetual funereal rites, all adults have worn deathmasques for their faces and walked tired and hushed. Poesy is coming to an end along with all children. For the Moon Empress died, for my Mother is no more, and the Elders can conceive of no way at all to save us from the fate that my Father has imposed upon us all. –
For a few moments the children were silent, for Éfhelìnye was thinking about the Mother whom she had never known and whom the adults were constantly reminding her was the best of all women but whom it was best never to mention again no matter how much they longed to remember her, and Puîyus was thinking about his Father in his ay-melancholia and Ixhúja was thinking of the faith which the ninjitsu Automata had tried for to instill in her, and so the miasmic mist was arising about them all. Ixhúja punched against a few walls and caused them to roll aside, but Éfhelìnye came running forwards and saw that the bridges were rustling upwards and looked almost as if they were fashioned of a great forest of wood and metal which had become frozen in an instant and she chanted – And yet I find no reason why we three should remain sad, after all, if our parents and elders cannot heal the worlds, at least we, having faith in our Ancestors and piety to the Immortals, can at least try. None of us can imagine the horrors of the Great War, and yet we find ourselves in one at least as terrible. Why, perhaps we’ll find something in these very ruins which will find us. I still think it was a good idea for us to venture within, I just know we’ll find something wonderful waiting for us. –
Ixhúja slashed aside at some of the mist, if she could just find herself against an enemy she could see and touch and fight she would be better at ease. Puîyus tried to shake the melancholy from himself, after all, his was not the generation lost upon the sands of Tsànyun, his was the last blossom of the worlds. Éfhelìnye came skipping out before the others, she danced in the mist, and Ixhúja and Puîyus found their hearts lightened a little to see the beauty of her movement. The walls were all sliding aside and revealing rooms all of phails and spheres and crackling disques and strange and moving objects whose purpose the children could not even guess, but for a moment it was enough to watch the princessly dance.
– Do either of you know who builded this vessel? – Éfhelìnye asked. – As of yet I have seen no writing, no runes or pictograms for me to decypher, but perhaps one of you have noticed something. –
A strange people who used too mary squares before, Ixhúja blinked and pointed unto the halls behind them. Whoever they are, they deserve a good thumping.
Puîyus lifted up an hand and spelt out some signs to say, I believe these may be the ruins of the Xeriîqe Xakhpàlqe Pwénejhis, for the weapons which fired upon us before belonged unto that people, and I had been trained both to defend myself from those torpedoes and also to use them. It is of course entirely possible that a different people have taken the ruins of the Xeriîqe in their triangular lràxakhel strongholds and made use of them, but somehow I doubt it, for the raiders were just so willful and alien against me, and although much of these ruins appear cold and dead, some cold intelligence resides within.
– It would be terrible and strange if some of the Xeriîqe still survive – Éfhelìnye chanted. – The priests say some of them must still exist, and I don’t think the Synod of Lords e'er declaired them extinct, but so much about the Xakhpàlqe lies veiled in shadow and myth, and I cannot even guess to the truth. –
Princess Ixhúja ran down the length of the bridge and poked into the rooms and was reässured that now that they had come away from the featureless and twining halls that the alien squares and rectangles were returning to regular rounded and triangular shapes, although her spleen was a little uneasy to see that the rooms opening up all about them were crackling with amber light and skeletal white paper was drifting about the ceiling, and the equipment and shape of these rooms, although ancient and alien, was reminding her just a little too much of the pure white laboratories wherein she had spent the first six years of her life, the white bubbles which she had thought were all the worlds. She poked her head into a few rooms, and watched the sparkling of tentacles and strange forms arsing in the mist darkness, and the movement of pipes such as had embraced her when she was very little.
Ixhúja mewled a little to ask, Please remind me again who these Xeriîqe Xakhpàlqe Pwénejhis were? I think my Tánin slaves used to tell me about the ancient androgynous vassels who served the Emperors of old, even in the days er that Khnìntha was inhabited, but I do not remember well the telling of that tale. So it was that Princess Ixhúja was asking in a language of purrs and clicks and wonder.
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