Friday, January 23, 2009

Hand in Hand Together

The day began easily enough, we had to eat breakfast together, I wanted to sit in his lap but everyone was against that, but Puey and I figured out a way to cut the bread and eat, we just had to figure out what the other wanted and was doing, it was all very fair. There were some chores to do, biddies and fainting goats to be fed, and Puey had to lead some of the giant silkworms to the outer passages, I thought it was a wonderful day and Puey let me hold the shepherd’s staff, and we lead the plantimals out. It became a little bit more difficult later on in the day when Puey had to practice at swordsplay and the martian arts, some of the sages from the whispering mountains were present and they were wondering why I was coming along, and when I tried to explain what I had done, the warriors just looked to each other and laughed, You two glued your hands together! How is that even possible, and no matter how many times I explained that our hands were not affixed with glue, the older warriors just shrugged and chanted, How did they manage to do that? Puey told me that he still had to practice no matter what, it was part of his prowess as a warrior, and the other men were taking up their weapons and preparing to charge against him,and Puey, not wanting me to get in the way, just flung up me over his shoulders and fought one handed. Sometimes I shouted out, Left, Puey! Right! Right! He’s got an axe, as the warriors rushed at him, although I’m not sure whether I helped or distracted him, since he could already sense their presence, and I had left him one armed.
Practice was o'er, there were some other chores to do. Some of the priests were gathering at the Khatelèstan fortresses and were talking to the young men, and Puey and I came to sit down in the midst of Cousin Ìkhnos and Cousin Pàlron and some of the youths of the Khatelèstan, and the sylvan priests told me that the sermon they had to deliver was not really one intended for the ears of a young maiden like myself pèlqir prêt, riproĉdeklamado amziliz, and so I lay down my head upon Puey’s lap and closed mine eyen and did my best to fall asleep in a tiny manner, and as my body rested, and feeling faded away from my limbs and feelings, I heard that the priests were telling the story of Khiipafhifháfha the Kháfha warrior of old who knew that his Heart belonged unto the Immortals alone, and when he had been captured in a Flower Battle and bound in vines, the viceroy kings and lords told him that so famous was he that he did not have to die upon the altar, but Khiipafhifháfha refused, for one does not deny the Immortals anything at all, and so he walked up the long steps of the pyramid and lay himself down upon the table and not struggle at all as his blood became the fire of the Suns, and so it is that to this day Khiipafhifháfha is known as jhkhiîkhing átsafhar, the virtuous sacrifice. By then I was fast asleep.
I don’t think life was too difficult being bound together hand in hand, I found it remarkably easy. Sometimes Puey wanted to go left and I right, and had to decide together, or I would just yank my body in one direction and make him follow. True to my word, though, I did set about finding a way to separate ourselves just in case we should decide on such a course of action, and so we came into the workshop and Puey was quite amazed at what I had done with his Grandfather’s tools, he mewed that it had never been this clean and organized in his entire life, and I showed off some of the clepsydræ and coils and vats that I was constructing, and the various fruits of my jhpèporu, of my mad science, or at least that’s how Puey described it, QeD maw’, rikohs-ek’tal. I showed him some of the drawings upon the tàmpo chalk board, and how I had drawn us together by understanding the musical field of our skin, or at least a vibration which could be likened to music, for it was also like dance and dream.
At dinner time Puey and I had to sit upon the same bench, and Fhermáta would not let me sit in his lap although that would have been the easier course of action. Siêthiyal set the xhranátawa saw upon the table right beside her, and every few moments she took the zimischil and sharpened it a little or used it to slice some cheese or bread when a knife would have been a better tool, and she kept telling me that if I did anything to annoy her she’d come to me in the knife and start hacking my hand off, it would be the merciful thing to do. I started mentioning the story of King Xaîle Qhiikhèrkhmair of old who had only one hand, his hand of flesh was destroyed by the Dragon Prince Wthonùkite, and the King traveled outwards until he found Prince Jhwèsta who was my Father’s own jhpepòrnain, his own imperial mad scientist, and he fashioned for the king an hand made out of silver, and Xaîle of the Silver Hand was able to go out in battle and slay the Dragon Wthonùkite in a glorious battle. Siêthiyal chanted that I was more dangerous than a mad scientist and dragon put together, although I can hardly see how. Karuláta kept reaching forwards and snatching cookies from my plate, and whenever I tried to grab I was using the hand clasped into Puey’s, and he was trying to eat, and so we weren’t quite quick enough to stop the cookie grabbing. Fhermáta made me tell her my plan to dissever me from Puey, I told her all I’d need as a xhrexhméja, a keraunograph to record the lightning, and that should be sufficient enough to change the music, and she told me that tomorrow she would get one, from the Abby or from an allied clan.
I had bene a little anxious concerning our sleeping arrangements, but it seems that Fhermáta and Siêthiyal had already concocted a plan of their own, Puey was to sleep on the floor, and I was to be chained to the bed so that I couldn’t sneak out in the night and drag him with me and conduct what they characterized as rather bizarre experiments. I must admit when Fhermáta started chaining me up it was a little uncomfortable, especially since I was not being granted access to any of my tools, and several times Siêthiyal complained that it would be best just to cut off mine arm now, and we can invent a story for the Emperor later, and when Fhermáta would not relent, Siêthiyal just clomb o'er me and started thrusting the pillow of my face, but Fhermáta made her stop. It was not the most comfortable night’s sleep I e'er had, and whenever I tried to move in the chains, the rattling alerted either Fhermáta or Siêthiyal, and they were watching me all the while. The only one who got any sleep at all was Puey, but he can sleep anywhere and at anytime and has become rather enured to all matter of difficulties.
The next day the Sisters left, Fhermáta went to the Khatelèstan and Siêthiyal to the Saûqyufha and Karuláta to the Tásel and all went in search of a xhrexhméja ceraunograph, and someone even sent word to Auntie Qtìmine to look in the Abby. The day itself was pleasant enough, Puey and I did our chores together, and because I wasn’t allowed to work in the kitchen any more I had lots of free time just to spend with him at sword’s practice and in wandering in the forest, and there was no one to watch us all the day long. The only real difficult came later in the day, when Puey and I were walking about the fens, the wind was blowing about us, I was chasing after some butterflies and caterpillars and drawing Puey along with me, when we heard a scream around us, and some dinosaurs were stampeding and with them came a brontosaur dashing outwards swift and wild, it was pulling a wagon behind it and a maiden was shouting for help. At once Puey sprung through the air, and I bounced about him until he just plucked me up and flew through the air. He was quite graceful, the way that he swung about the necks of the dinosaurs and slid up and down the sides of their bodies, he came sliding about the crashing of the legs, he launched himself into the air and came slipping down their long tails, and soon came slipping outwards right unto the wagon. It was Asiréma, the reins lost, she was crying for help. The wagon was breaking apart, even as the panicked brontosauroids were crashing one against the other. I wished it could have been any other maiden aside from her, but I am not quite as lucky as Karuláta is. Asiréma looked to me and chanted how cute it was that I should come along, and I yanked at Puey’s hand to show that we were stuck together. Oh, it’s very adorable that your little sweetheart has glued her hand together, although a bit impractible it is. I made a fist with my hand in Puey’s and told her, I did not glue our hands together, I just created a new atomic bond consisting of the magnetization of our hands! It’s really very simple, I don’t understand why folk have difficulty in understand it. And second of all I am not his sweetheart, I am his one true love for ever, and when Puey and I grow up we’re going to get betrothed and married! Got it! Now leave him alone! By now the wagon crashed into splinters, Puey had to pluck both me and Asiréma up, her golden hair was flapping in my face, I don’t understand how she can get into so much trouble, can’t she possibly think ahead? Puey came leaping about the stampeding brontosaurs, he came bounding about the head of one and whispered into its ears and then bounced out to whisper unto the next and the next, and so it was that the patriarchs of the herd began to slow and run just a little slower upon their triple elbows and knees, so the bucks and does were slowing and the brontosaurlings thundering mammoth tall about me were slowing also, and Puey carried me and the Poriêriin maiden away from the dinosaurs. Puey thought it would be unchivalrous to leave Asiréma alone among the fens. I tried to slap her a couple of times, but Puey would not move his side of that hand, and he kept grabbing my other hand also. At length he came running outwards and carried us all unto iron cliffs and the ancient creag fortresses of the Poriêrii, the roofs were formed all of webs and gourds, and all of the warriors were wearing armor that looked like lobster nightmares, and ink blots given form, they were frowning and dour, the warriors as they gazed upon us, and the Elders came up to take Asiréma from Puey’s arms and bring her back within. Puey was very respectful though of this people, not quite enemy but not quite friend, a harsh people as if carven out of íya and qlùyun and qlún pumpkins ymix’d with xhyèjejo granite. The Elders swayed upwards, their clothing was rolling sand, and one came froward, I think Asiréma’s grandfather, and lifting up his hands chanted, Mighty indeed is the heir of the Sweqhàngqu, worthy of praise is Íngìkhmar’s Son. Some of the Masters of the War Clans had thought that the time of the Sweqhàngqu was waining, that they would fade away childless and lifeless here in this barren age, but we see that strength resides in your people, perhaps more than in our own. We Poriêrii have been blessed with many daughters, but the other war clans have not been blessed with young men worthy of them. One day we shall tell your Father we have seven or eight virgins to give you, beautiful maidens all fair and with aurelian hair, suitable to be concubines. The Grandfather came forward, he was leaning upon his staff, he leaned o'er to whisper towards Puey and chanted, The priests have been reading about you in the dance of the Stars. Long have you been expected. But we must be sure. We must know that the new age is coming. The Grandfather was about to turn away, but then, noticing me for the first time chanted, How charming it is that your little childhood sweetheart has managed to glue her hand to yours. Even with such a vexatious burdhen you stop a stampede and save a maiden. Commendible. He turned aside, and lifting up an hand chanted, You can tell your Father that our Clan is preparing maidens skillful at weaving, cleaning, cooking, calligraphy, dance, and song. An allience with the Poriêrii may be very fruitful indeed. And at that the warriors all turned around to surround the geron Elder, the warriors were clattering from side to side in their lobster ink blots, their armor all triangles and impaling spears, and Puey and I were left alone at the edge of the plains of flint and precious iron.
These were all portents send down from the Immortals, I knew, the way the Elders were all trying to lead Puey’s clan, the way they had signs for him, but I knew that I alone had the heart pure enough to lead him, and so I dragged him out until the fields until he picked me up and we came sailing back unto the tsàtsesan kachina of the Sweqhàngqu. The sky was darkening, an autumn storm was brewing, and Puey had to outrun the winds. When we returned hom, at the setting of the Suns, Auntie Qtìmine was seated at the table, Fhermáta and Siêthiyal and Karuláta about her, but the saw lay in Auntie’s lap, she did not wish Siêthiyal to hold it, I suppose. Auntie told Puey and me that my Great-Uncle Táto had found a xhrexhméja ceraunograph and would be delivering it tomorrow afternoon or night, and so Puey and I would only be glued together for one more day, and when tried to explain to her that we were most certainly not glued together, she just bade me to silence. Karuláta kept saying that she had the solution to the problem, and it would not involve sawing through my hand even though I surely deserved it, in her opinion, and Auntie relented, and Kàrula ran up to me and started biting my hand again and again, until Puey batted her away. Karuláta does have a strong jaw, but I think she would have succeeded in breaking my fingers or her teeth. We had soup for supper. Qtìmine did not seem in a very good mood, she was very quiet, and did not like it whenever I reached up to play with Puey’s hair. The Sisters told about their adventures, Fhermáta with the Khatelèstan and Siêthiyal with the Saûqyufha and Karuláta with the Tásel, but none of them had been able to obtain a xhrexhméja. Puey started talking about his exploits and I helped because he was particularly brave in swooping down to save that silly girl, although I don’t know what Asiréma was doing there in the first place, she hardly seems to have any common sense at all. Puey did not mention all that the Elders of the Poriêrii told him, but I described their fortresse and armor and how dour they looked. Qtìmine though kept asking about Asiréma and the daughters of that clan, and I chanted that they weren’t particularly interesting at all, in fact Puey and I never even mentioned them. The conflict with the Poriêrii has been simmering on and off for several generations, honored Qtìmine Samájhi was saying. The Sweqhàngqu have exterminated some of the allies of the Poriêrii who in turn have extirpated some of the allies of the Sweqhàngqu. Grandfather Jàkopar of happy memory had talked of marriage between the clans, although such a plan never quite came to pass. I think it would be a terrible idea, I chanted, they’re all so boring and sharp looking, who can trust them at all. Siêthiyal looked up and asked who was I to have an opinion on such a matter, but Fhermáta told her to hush and be civil. Karuláta was too busy steeling cookies from Puey’s and my plate for her to participate.
When supper was ended, I asked to help with washing the plates, but Fhermáta told me that my lifelong ban from the kitchen continued, and she didn’t want Puey in there either, one young man and a princess as clumsy as a young man were two problems too many for her nice shining kitchen, she warned me. Qtìmine came up to us and sniffed me and Puey a few times, and she chanted, As soon as the xhrexhméja comes and you two are dissolved, Puîyus, I think you need to take a bath, and this clothing most certainly needs to be washed. Princess, you still smell as roseate fresh and clean as e'er, but after all of the exertion of the last couple of days, bathing may be wise. Why can’t we take a bath now? I asked. Auntie gave me a look that I could not interpret. There’s no reason Puey and I can’t take a bath together, I chanted, and …

At this point in the story Puîyus clasped his hand o'er Éfhelìnye’s mouth.
– What happened then? – asked Aîya.
Yes, it was just getting good, Ixhúja mewed in the language of wild creatures.
– We want to know how you took a bath. –
Oh my goodness, he’s blushing now! This is what made him embarrassed in the first place! The mystery is solved, giggled Ixhúja in purrs and clicks.
Puîyus removed his hand from Éfhelìnye’s mouth and she cried out – But how we took a bath was such an interesting story! In fact, it’s the point of the entire tale! You see, this way, since our hands were affixed, I could wash Puey’s back and scrub his hair … –
Puîyus clasped his hand o'er Éfhelìnye mouth again and turning Ixhúja and Aîya coughed to say, That is the end of the story.
What’s the end of the story? asked Ixhúja.
– What happened next! – wailed Aîya. – What happened next what happened next what happened next what happened next! – she screamed.
Puîyus kept his hand across Éfhelìnye’s lips, he had rather hoped that she would just skip o'er the ending completely, in fact he was counting on it, but alas, no. He was not sure what to do now. Éfhelìnye reached up with her other hand and and taking his hand across her lips began to kiss it finger by finger. Ixhúja and Aîya leaned close to each other and whispered for a few moments, and then turning back began to shout and purr saying,Tell us the ending! Tell us the ending! Tell us the ending! Tell us the ending!
Puîyus drew away his hand, but Éfhelìnye caught it up again and kissed his fingernails. He was not entirely sure how he was going to survive this now. Ixhúja and Aîya were laughing at him now. Puîyus hid his face in his hands, he just knew that no matter how he tried not to think about it, his face was going to start shining in undulations of ruby and white, he could feel the heat creeping up about him, he could feel the color sweeping outwards and suffusing all of his face, and even though his fingers managed to hide much of his face, Ixhúja and Aîya could see the color appearing upon his brow and ear. Éfhelìnye’s face was slightly red also, and she leaned her head next to Puîyus’ neck and chanted – I don’t want to embarrass you, I won’t tell them the end of the story. –
– Tell tell tell tell tell! – cried Aîya.
You have no choice at all, Ixhúja giggled unto them clicking in a slightly clockwork manner.
– If you don’t tell, we just tell an even more fantastic rumor invented imagined fabricated about you twain the two! –
You did kiss, right?
– They were scantily clad, right down to the feathers, weren’t they? –
I know where this is going. You kissed right?
– !! – Puîyus shouted, hiding his face.
– I just tried to convince Auntie Qtìmine that it would be a good idea if maybe Puey took a bath, and she could put a sack o'er my head or blindfold or something, or maybe we could move the tub close to the door, and I could sit outside and holding up my arm, and Puey could sit in the tub. But no matter what my plan was, the honored nun just shook her head and chanted that it was just not acceptable at all. We would have to wait for tomorrow. And even though Puey never does stink, after all that is why he was hight perfumed and enchanting, tomorrow would certainly be a good night for him to have his bath. To be honest, I don’t understand why I couldn’t at least have washed his hair. I know Fhermáta usually washes it for him, but considering that our hands were still stuck together, it just would have been convenient. –
– !! – Puîyus shook his head back and forth.
– I’ll won’t tell the ending, Puey. I don’t want you to be embarrassed at all. –
Aîya started sniffling. Two of her heads looked down and began shaking. The third head began to cry large and salty tears. Ixhúja picked up Aîya and shook her back and forth a little, and purring told her princessly cousin, Now look what you’ve done, you’ve made the little Triîm weep now! How heartless!
– No heart-gizzard at all! – wailed Aîya.
She’s just a pour little brainless creature!
– Hardly e'er a thought unto me us them e'er! –
All she wants to hear is the end of the story.
– Especially if it end in pie fight, someone falling in mud, and people losing their clothing. –
– It’s prophetic that you should mention that … – Éfhelìnye began.
– MEW! – Puîyus shouted.
– I won’t say a word! – Éfhelìnye gasped.
Aîya sniffled. All three of her mouths were wriggling. Her three eyen watered. Suddenly she burst into fountains of tears. She wriggled o'er unto Puîyus and wrapped her wings around him and wailed – Just want to hear the end of the story! Want there to be happy ending for new Emperor and Empress. –
Puîyus poked up from his fingers. Aîya, seeing that she was noticed, wept all the louder. He shook his head in negation, and Aîya began crying all the harder. – Just want! Just want! Just want the Emperor and Empress to be ha-ha-ha-happy together! Lament! Lament! Woe woe woe woe woe woe! – Puîyus sniffled a little, he could not abide the thought of any living creature in pain, even if just longing to hear the end of a story. He looked up, his face still flushed with waves of apple and rose upon fields all of snow. Aîya flung herself into his lap and wept. He brushed her feathers. He could feel that his heart was melting within him and knew that he would almost certainly regret his decision.
Oh just go on, let her finish the story, Ixhúja told Puîyus in a language all of blinks and grins and nodding.
Puîyus sighed, and mewling unto her asked her, Can one trust you not to tell anyone else?
Yes, Ixhúja nodded.
– No, I we telling everyone – Aîya chanted.
No she won’t, Ixhúja growled. Slowly she reached for her weapon.
– Who I tell! Probably Emperor’s whole family already know … okay okay! I be good future time. I obey. All hail the Emperor of Earth and Ice and Fungus! –
Puîyus brushed an hand through his melancholy blue tresses, and looking to Ixhúja asked her, If beloved Éfhelìnye finish her story, can you promise not to tell one particular person?
I can promise anything, Ixhúja grinned, just as I’m a better racer and runner and fighter than you, so am I a better promise keeper. Just ask anyone.
If you should happen to come across the shade of my most revered Mother Khwofheîlya, please do not let her know.
I won’t say a word, Ixhúja grinned, but she turned to Éfhelìnye and gave her a look that meant, Khwofheîlya already knows right? And Éfhelìnye nodded, for Khwofheîlya almost certainly knew about this rather infamous incident.
Puîyus sighed and formed an khyatsaîke mudra that meant, Thy will be done.
May we just get to the incredibly embarrassing part, Ixhúja was murmuring in a language all of glances and blinks and schadenfroh giggles barely controllable.

Where was I? Oh, yes. So the next day or the next evening Great-Uncle would be returning with the xhrexhméja, the ceraunograph lightning recorder, the piece that I would need to change the music of the friction between our palms, xhmoxhràyaxúng, and the Vestal Nun Qtìmine was just completely opposed to the idea of my even being in the same room while Puey was taking his bath, she was saying that I could not be trusted, there was no rope I could not fray, no lock I could not unlatch, she chanted I was as wily and cunning as any Dragon at all, perhaps my Father the Sómpanaswaqíren Dragon Emperor had a little Dragonlette Daughter of his own. I don’t see how, but she chanted that I just liked to slip in and out of situations and have mine own way, that I flipped things upsy-turvy, that I bent all of the rules.
So that night once again Fhermáta and Siêthiyal were tying me to the bed and making me fast and secure, and I did not resist at all, but was as docile as any lambkin. Puey lay down, his hand and mine still clasped together. It was dark, the only light the smoulder of the hearth, the glimmer of firesheen upon the statues lares and penates. I waited and listened to the breathing of the three Sisters and unto Puey himself. In the middle of the night I made my move, for anticipating that I would be tied up again, I had secreted a tiny unásèqwati pin around my collar, and a tiny tniê safety pin about one sleeve, and struggling a little I was able to affix them together and slip them into a hook into the fhrùxhi brooch in my hair, the brooch which Puey had made for me, but which has broken and disappeared somewhere in our Quest to heal the Land. I set the pieces together and put them together, and as I had planned they formed a powerful lockpicking tool, and all I had to do was listening to the moving of the wheels, and the chains opened up about me, and I arose like a flower blossoming beneath the moonlight, and so tippy toeing downwards, I slipped down next to my sleeping Puey and rested my head on his chest and slept in utter peace for a little time, until Siêthiyal rolled o'er to avoid more sororal drool flowing on her from Karuláta, and Siêthiyal bumped into me and discovered that I had slipped from their trap. This time Fhermáta and Siêthiyal bound me again, and they kept asking me how I had escaped, but I just shrugged and chanted sometimes when one is asleep one can just do all manner of mischief. Fhermáta searched my pajama pockets, and found some crayons and papers, and was about to let me go, but then she found the little tool out of pins, and eyeing me she placed it upon the table away from me, and so once again, bound and still I lay. I waited for all to fall asleep again, and then I tapped my ballet slippers together. I usually sleep bhoso barefoot, for this night I made sure to keep the fhèrntol red and glass dancing slippers on, and as I shook them a little out came rolling a ball of twine with some hooks on it, and I was able to inch and wriggle it unto my fingers, since I am extremely flexible it was not too difficult to twist my legs upwards up to my bound hands, and bringing up the cord I drew out several small screwdrivers, and in a few seconds the floral chains sprang apart, and once again I slipped down and rested beside Puey and slept with my head on his chest. This time it was Karuláta who arose and shouted, Princess alert! Princess alert! She slipped the chains! She busted the pokey! All Sisters arose, their eyen were red and not a little tired from the frequent interruptions caused from looking after me, and this time Fhermáta was mumbling something about letting me stay in the Abby and let Auntie Qtìmine and the nuns look after me and see how I liked that, and now the Sisters bound me with tight rope and extra chains, and Akhlísa lay in the bed beside me, and no more tools had I left for escape. In the darkness I listened to everyone’s falling asleep. The fire died away. A few kittens and dinosaurlings were prowling in the darkness, in the cold, and rain was falling outside and dancing upon the window panes.
I whispered unto the pets. Psssst! Eiya! It’s I, Princess Éfhelìnye! I’m Puey’s beloved! Do you want to come o'er here and unchain me? Puey will be very thankful. A few kittens sprawled up to me, purred a few times, and made a bed of themselves on my lap, they were not too much of an help, but the atalesqiyìsqi ahuitzotl came sliding down the walls, and their long fingers snaked out towards me, and they grasped the rope and chain, and a few lambkins pressed their heads against me to shove me, and a couple of dinosaurlings jumped onto the bed, with their sharp talons poked the chains, and they all sprang open, and with one arm I hugged the otter-monkeys and dinosaurlettes and petted the lambkins and kissed the kittens, and chuckling to myself slipped down to the floor and slept beside Puey, my head upon his chest, and lay undisturbed until it was the first hour of the day, and when the Sisters awoke this time they were no longer even caring how I was slipping from their grasp, and moreover, the atalesqiyìsqi uakaris and dinosaurlings and lambkins were looking at the maidens askance and in a most guilty fashion, and only the kittens came leaping away without a care in the world.
If you can just manage not to get into trouble for a few hours, this entire ordeal will be behind us, Fhermáta chanted. Can you this, Éfhelìnye? I know this quite a lot to ask of you, considering that you’ve destroyed a kitchen, unleashed a killing machine, and glued yourself to my Brother in just a few days. Only the Immortals know whatelse you may have in mind. I tried to tell her that I was most certainly not glued to him, it all had to do with music, but she didn’t care, and she still wouldn’t let me help her wash the dishes.
It was dark even in the noontide, the storm was rustling all of the trees, and as autumn was already heavy upon the land, and the first few hints of winter frost come unto the branches, the leaves were falling in a great profusion. Fhermáta was pacing back and forth inside the crannog, she did not like the winter storm coming, and she kept saying that I was interfering with her plans, appearently she and Puey were supposed to be preparing to be fitted for some ritual, and nobody was bothering to tell me that it was preparation for betrothal, but I was just a guest-friend xenos, ghosti, fraizola, perzimzio, isiqattaaq, qhèsqa qwaô qyikhóxhiti fhìtqe khlót fhlàxhraneung tlhielkhùrqtie, and it was not my business to know such things. Fhermáta was getting anxious since Great-Uncle Táto was not coming in a timely manner. Abbá Íngìkhmar was busy in the fields gathering up the lambs, and Puey told me that where he should be and me with them. Fhermáta took up her cloak and rainbrella and chanted that she would leave to find Great-Uncle Táto and his ceraunograph, and that Siêthiyal and Akhlísa were supposed to look after Puey and guard him from me, but the moment Fhermáta was gone Siêthiyal and Akhlísa started chasing each other around and fighting o'er a doll, they were leaping about the furniture and knocking it o'er and clawing about the walls. Puey took my outside, in the darkning noon, leaves and snow and rain mixing all together and falling in quick and violent sheens. He came unto the pastureland, the lambs were growing afraid, but his hands were gentle and he began leading them and me into the barns, and then he turned unto the giant silkworms and the fainting goats, and he was making sure that the dinosaurs were in their stables, and we came to the place where fierce Stitlhàrkhlo, ferocious and man-eating was kept, and the velociraptor shook his head and snorted and let Puey and me petting his snout many times, the terrible lizard was always gentle around children. By now the wind was howling. Sleet frost drizzle was crashing č”ilči about us tsòthna khmisùlike khmixhrùlike khmixhruliqrùyaqa. I was already coughing from the cold. Puey was holding his cloak about us both, but the waters were arising. In the hills we heard the howling of the winds and the swaying of trees, waves all of autumn leaves flowing downwards and blanketing us, and in the music of the squall came the ululation of so many heavenly nymphs. I was already getting wet, but an idea came to me, we could stay in the workshop and dry off for a time, and Puey thought that was a good idea also, and there were also inklings and tinkerings that I wanted to show him.
The workshop was cold at first, but we builded a small fire in the bonizmiz xhòtwu, and as the light arose, it illuminated the drawings all upon the walls and upon the writing board. Puey helped me to move out several barrels and wheels and I revealed unto him my next creation, but he recoiled when he saw that it looked remarkably similar to the washing machine that I had deviced a few days earlier. Oh no, this one is completely different, it just appears similar because it uses some of the same barrels and tuifhlájhi widgets and khuplàpla gizmos and khùwawa gadgets and thingamapápel umoj, and cranking up the springs and wheels I introduced it to Puey, and the apparatus lifted up its many spiderly limbs, and from its dome arose a fountain of batter and frosting. I told Puey that I was trying to create a device to help Fhermáta in her pie baking, especially because I did not wish for her to be angry with me for ever just because I blew up the kitchen a few times, and the apparatus bowed to Puey and tipped a claw into the churning batter within taûjo and offered some to Puey. With polite but stern hand my Puey declined, perhaps he felt a little uneasy about taking food which a machine was baking in its belly. Anyway, the storm was raging, we were relatively warm and mostly dry within, and I showed Puey some of the different mechanical flowers that I was devising, and a digging machine, and a combination plough and hat, and a model for a walking roof, for sometimes one just needs a roof out in the middle of a field, and a new type of paper that was able to guess what I was about to write, although it still had many flaws to it, and when I held it up to Puey it kept squirting ink in his face. And so we looked at invention after invention, or at least model and drawing of some of the more complicated ones, the ones who final realization lies only within mine imagination, and it was rather serene within, by the crackling flames, and the music of the drizzle and snow and falling leaves outside. In fact it might have become one of my heavenliest memories were it not that every few moments the pie apparatus threw batter right at Puey, and sometimes it spat out bits of crust and chunks of dough. After a time Puey could no longer ignore the machine, I think it must be true that many machines, especially the more complex ones just have a natural understanding that Puey is quite overfain of them. Is that what you think, you little mechanical insects dwelling in my cousin’s golden tresses? Yes? I think so too, in the same way that savage dinosaurs and wild coyotes and kine and squid bears know that Puey is a feral child, and they were kneel down before him and let him ride them and speak all in the same language of grunts and barks and squeals, so too clockwork machines realize that Puey belongs to a very different world, his is of growth and nature and incense, and theirs is of calculation and wheel and oil, and neither of the worlds are quite yet to join together. The machine arose, it was squirting out fountains of dough, its limbs were folding upwards and its knife edges were grabbing chunks of batter and making them like unto snowballs and hurling them right at my Puey. This time, when Puey arose to fight, one armed indeed, he looked at me and gave me a look that meant, Why is it that when you invent these apparatus you give them knife fingers and sword arms? Even if they are meant to dwell in the kitchen, verŝajne you’re almost asking them to rebel bearsarked. I did not have an answer for him, all of the activity was just arising too swift and terrible to behold. The apparatus was spun around, batter and crust were rushing out of it, and Puey had to bat the dough away just as if he were playing Xhwongeîthe and had to swing his mallet about, only this time instead of hitting the ball, it was dough exploding in a brilliant pie fight. The machine was leaping about, its manifold legs were crawling up and down the sides of the walls, and Puey, grasping me all the while was bouncing upon the ceiling, one hand still clutching me, the other hand was swinging a sword around and jabbing and thrusting and stabbing all the while. The machine blew out wads of dough and covered my face, and when I wiped it clean with my free hand, the dough already disintergrating from touching my perfect skin, I saw that Puey had already succeeded in ripping of a limb of the machine, and the limb was running around of its own accord and independent of its host. Puey came crashing through some of my drawings and models, he was beating the pie machine down, and it was erupting just like a volcano in its growing wrath, so that towers of raw dough were splashing outwards and the dough was become like tendrils reaching outwards and wrapping themselves about Puey’s neck and slowly drawing him into the mixing bowls filled all with grinding fangs and gnawing teeth most wailent. Puey gave a tremendous shove and kicked through the barrel, disques and wheels spinning all about, the machine bouncing from side to side. Puey roared, the machine jumped upwards, or at least the skeleton of it, and it was like Puey was fighting against a skeleton drapped in endless pie explosions blossoming up and down its body, and Puey had to wrestle it down with his one free hand and strangle it down, until his fingers clasped about all of the pie holes, dough squirting outwards, now as the machine was dying, dough and oil wellmixing together, wheel crashing and dying against each other. The machine sputtered. The glassen eyen waxed dark. Puey strangled the machine a few more times just to be sure, his eyen were fierce, and even as the machine became limp and cold in his hands, he smashed it about a few more times and crushed the pieces in his hands, and gave it a few solid kicks for good measure. Then Puey turned to me and gave me a look that meant, Please stop inventing anything that can have a knife edge or possibly a mind of its own. I was quite sorry. And Puey was quite a mess, dough dripping down his hair and ears, batter besplattered upon his jerkin and sark, and mud from the storm still lying at the tips of his kilt and trousers, and if anyone were in need of changing and a bath it would be my Puey. The storm was growing e'er fiercer outside, but Puey did not wish for the machine to remain together, he gathered up the pieces and opened the door, and by now the waters were arising a couple of cubits, so that he had to carry me through the flood along with a pile of twitching claws, and knife hands grasping dough, and little wheels occasionally spitting pie batter at him just for spite, and the rain was falling, and the sleet was howling, and by the time we came to a pit, we were both drenched. Puey dumped the offending machine into the abyss, where ash and mud could claim it, and the sleet fell down all the harder, so that both of us began to cough a little. My hair was sticking unto my brow, and as Puey waded through the water, his wooden shoon were squeaking, his hair was become violet in the inundation. The crannog was far away, and the loch was flooding some of the fields, it was good that we had brought the plantimals unto their pens, but we were stuck now in the rain and growing sick from the cold. It would be faster to return to the workshop we realized, it was closer and perhaps by the fire we could wait out the storm, but to hasten unto the crannog would take longer, and both of us were sleeping. My heart, the feminine heart of Empress Pfhentókha, told me that we did not wish for Puey to be ill, so I chanted let’s return to the workshop and wait, and by the time we returned there, the sleet was so thick that I could barely see through the ice curtains. Slipping in the mud all the while, Puey shoved the door closed, the workshop was some cubits above the ground so at least the floor was dry, but both of us were wet and sticky and sneezing all the while and still stuck to each other, and we approached the fire to warm up ourselves and our conjoined hand.
Hailstones began to fall outside, and the window panes were shaking. I started sneezing with violent fneezing. Puey was shaking so hard that I thought his bones were rattling. Our clothing was dripping, and a few clods of pie crust were falling from Puey’s hair. It was then that I had my revelation. It took me a few moments to articulate it, because I kept sneezing louder and louder in my drenched condition, and when I sneezed I jerked the hand still affixed unto mine. At last I managed to tell him, Puey, as matters stand now, we are both going to grow very sick very quickly. We need to take off our outer garments and sit very close to the fire, in fact we’ll probably have to hold each other unless we want to freeze to death. Puey refused to do this, he just inched us both closer to the fire. The hail was falling down all the harder, the winds were howling, the walls were rattling, the storm was growing even more intense. He told me, we’ll just return to the crannog, we’ll be fine in there. What’s the use of doing that, we’ll still end up dragging ourselves through the door wet and bedrazzled as now? Either way, we need to be dry and warm. Now, even though we only have a single free arm each, it shouldn’t be too difficult for us to remove each other’s clothing. If we could figure out how to eat together and walk around and sleep and all the rest, we can surely figure out a single stunt like this. One again Puey refused. He mewed he was fine, even though now his face was turning blue, and since his hand was clutching mine I could feel just how cold it was against mine. I was sneezing many times and probably looked rather pathetic. Puey, we need to do something soon, otherwise we may both die, and I refuse to let that happen. We shall have many more adventures together, we shall sail again upon the cloud seas, we shall venture outwards unto dreamlands as of yet unnamed, but in order to do that, we can’t die of cold now. Anyway, would you rather have us return to the crannog and have to undress while your Sisters are watching the both of us? If we have to do something a little embarrassing, let’s do it here in private, we’ll set your jacket by the fire next to my gown, we’ll sit in your underclothing and wriggle our toes, and no one will e'er know. In fact, this will be a great secret that we can share, we can give each other a glance and say, Remember the attack of the pie machine and the sturm, and he ended up in the fanspηp together, and we held each other tight? I think it will be lovely. So I told Puey, but he just shook his head and refused.
And so wet and dripping we commensed freezing to death. After a time I thought I could no longer feel my toes and limbs. Puey was swaying from side to side, he did not look so well at all. His teeth were chattering, and no matter how we sate before the fire, we were still dripping from head fro to toe to. I was coughing, and Puey was having trouble breathing. I knew that I had to take matters into mine own hands if we were to survive, and the story that I intended for Puey was far too great for us to freeze to death now. I drew out a pin from my pocket and thrust it into my brooch, and I threw Puey upon the carpet and told him, Please don’t hate me, but I only want to save your life. Now, take your jacket off, Puey my beloved my one true love, or I’m going to start cutting it off. Puey made a valiant effort to resist me, but he was shivering all the while, and the quavering hindered me more than his resistance. I was able to remove his free sleeve and pull the jacket away to the sleeve connected to the hand affixed to mine, and I realized that the easiest course of action would be to slit the sleeve, and so one dripping garment was removed. I removed a few of his sharks in similar fashion, and as the shirts fell aside all manner of dreadful knives and glaives and sharp and dangerous pointed objects were falling out. Puey slipped his sword sheathes off himself, appearantly there was a trick to how it was all buttoned. Now as to the matter of his belt, let me tell you, I had no idea that men’s belts were so complicated. Perhaps it’s just a condition of the bauldriξ of the warrior caste aristocratic Jarjhíxhoxe, but the belt was just made up of so many compartments, and wheels and hooks were clasping about each other all the while, it was like taking apart a piece of clockwork. Puey, do you realize that your belt is like clockwork? No? Anyway, so after much trial and error I managed to take his belt apart and …

– Tee hee hee hee hah! – laughed Aiya.
He looks like he’s about to faint now, Ixhúja was purring.
– There’s not much more to tell. Puey, are you sure you’re alright? You look a little woozy – Éfhelìnye chanted.
Puîyus looked around and wished there were a place for him to hide within the egg or to escape outside of it, and especially since he were now untethered from the Starflower Princess he did not have to say right by her side, but alas the egg pod was still as small and narrow as e'er. Éfhelìnye brushed her hands on his face and chanted – I can continue the story later if you wish, perhaps when you’re asleep? No? Here, lie down next to me. Let me just wrap mine arms about your neck. Now, let’s see, we were dripping wet, and I pulled of Puey’s belt. It was not to difficult to remove his wooden shoon and the double layer of stockings he wore, not to mention his kilt and trousers. –
– Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah! – laughed Aîya.

By the time I had reduced Puey to his undershirt he was a frozen Pueycicle just shivering, and I rubbed his chest and and drew us as close to the fire as we could get, but I was still dripping wet also, and fneezing all the while, so I turned to Puey and told him, You’re going to have to help me take my clothing off too. I have trouble reaching the buttons down my back, if you can just unbutton them for me, then we can cut me out of my snowhite gown. Puey unbuttoned the first latch and then …

Thump! Aîya and Ixhúja looked around and found that Puîyus had fainted before them. Éfhelìnye rolled him o'er and set his head in her lap and played with his silvery blue tresses. – I knew the story was going to be too much for him. You two convinced him to let me tell it, but perhaps I should have refused. –
– Hah hah hah hah hah hah! – laughed Aîya.
– Tee hee hee hee hee! – giggled Ixhúja. Then what happened?
– This happened! –
– ?? –
– Puey unbuttoned my top button and then fainted. And let me tell you, having one’s hand affixed to a fainted person while one is struggling out of a gown is quite a precarious situation. I tried to revive him, but when he finally awoke and I had my outer cloak halfway off, and he could see a patch of my shoulder, he just fainted again. Perhaps it was easiest to let him be, I slipped off my rubescent and glass ballet slippers, and took of my outer gown and my blouses until I was in just my slip, and I huddled close next to him and wished that we had a blanket. But at least our clothing could dry, and as soon as the storm passed we could dress again and slip into the house and nobody would be the wiser. Then again, perhaps Fhermáta might notice that both of us had clothing managed at the conjoined sleeve, she could be a bit of a twór detective when she was in pursuit of her goals. After a time though Puey revived, and all about him he heard the rushing of the storm and the crackling of the fire, and when he noticed that I was huddled up beside him he looked up and noticed that we were both quite scantily clad before the fire. He decided to keep his eyen closed at least, but I didn’t mind at all, I don’t feel embarrassed now and I didn’t then. How can I be shamed before Puey my beloved, the lad of whom I have been dreaming all of the nights of my life, my one true love, the boy of my dreams. I did not wish to embarrass him any further though, so while his eyen were shut I wrapped my free arm around him told him stories. I told him stories about knights brave and true who ride off to defend princesses fair about dragons, and he stopped shivering when I started weaving such a story together, his favorites involve dragons and princesses and ravens also. I don’t remember the tales, I was just making them up as I went along and invented them in passing, but inevitably they involved a quest, the knight was adrift upon the waves of fate, the princess was beautiful beyond all reckoning, the Dragon was arising, vast and terrible, snow and flame cracklent from its wings, and a great battle always lay at the end, and the knight prevailed and held up the princess and they kissed and all was well in the land as he carried her off upon his noble dinosaur stead to be married in the healed kingdom. And as I held him and told him stories, the fire faded and we fell asleep in the growing storm.
When we awoke we noticed that the fire was dead and the skies were dark, the workshop swimming in shadows. I crawled up upon Puey’s chest and began kissing him, it seemed as if it had been days since I had had a proper kiss, since Qtìmine and Fhermáta and Siêthiyal were guarding me all the while, but now that we were completely alone there was nothing to stop me. Puey tried to push me away, but I still found his lips, they were perfumed and sweet as usual, and in kissing him I felt warm again for the first time since the storm. The wind was howling a little in the rattling windows, and as I kissed Puey again and again he kept trying to tell me something, something about how the storm had died away, the drizzle and rain were gone, but I didn’t care, I just wanted my kisses, he was trying to tell me that we should don our clothing now, surely it was dry, but I chanted let’s just stay here and kiss for a couple of moments before returning, my lips found his, I thought he was trying to hug me, but he kept tapping my back, and I could feel that he was tracing out gestures and lroîxhmo cheremes which I could read just from the feel of it, and he was telling me, But several people are approaching us right now! We must get dressed! But I chanted, Just kiss me, my Puey, we can worry about them later, life is far too short to worry about every little detail. I wasn’t worrying about the inventions of mine that were less than perfect, why should I be overconcerned with steeling a few kisses in the dark? I think I made the right choice.
The door swung open, someone was holding a painted lantern. I could hear Fhermáta shouting, There’re inside! They must have gotten caught in the storm and taken refuge within. Then came the sound of rustling robes and keys, and long angular legs, and quite a familiar voice was saying, It took some doing but I obtained a xhrexhméja keraunograph for my divine Princess Éfhelìnye. I wonder what experiment she’s conducting now, the Emperor’s concubine failed to mention it! Great-Uncle Táto was chuckling to himself, I could hear that he was leaning to Fhermáta and saying, Why I remember the day I brought her her first alchemy set, she was quite clever with it, performing all of the experiments and devising many of her own. I wonder what marvels she has in store for us now. He took a few steps into the workshop, he set the recorder down, it was large and heavy by the sound of it, Fhermáta slipped up beside him, and swinging the painted lanthorn right towards us revealed me and Puey in our underclothes beside the fire, our clothing lying and drying by the hearth, and I was still leaning o'er Puey and planting a big kiss on his lips. I’d like to say I’m surprised, Fhermáta muttered with clenched, but frankly I’m not. What what? What what? asked Great-Uncle Táto, and when he saw me, I’m afraid that Great-Uncle gasped, and both of his spectacles shattered, long cracks reaching down through the prism. He staggered backwards as if struck and clutched his heart and cried out Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
Wait wait, I chanted, there’s a perfectly reasonable and logical explaination, and when I tried to pull away from me, I ended up dragging him along with him, I had forgotten that we were still affixed. My Great-Uncle waddled a little, his voice grown raspy, and he muttered, If the Emperor finds out about this, if Kàrijoi learns of this, if my beloved Lord should discover that the daughter of his virgin bride dared to touch a lad, dared to kiss one, oh oh oh oh oh, the Emperor can never forgive me, no no no no no, doom upon us all, ah ah ah ah ah, there will be war without end, there will be extinction unto us all. And at that he staggered and began falling out the door.
What’s this? Came the voice of Auntie Qtìmine. Honored Jhakúpa, are you well? She was holding him by the wing. Puey and I inside were frantic. I’ve discovered that it’s actually very difficult to get dressed in an hurry when one is bone chill and only has a single spare hand, and Puey was still blushing at the idea of having to dress me, and somehow he was getting me in my dress backwards, and I could not even figure out how his sarks were supposed to work in the cold and darkness, while Fhermáta glared at us with her painted lanthorn. Fhermáta turned around and told her Aunt, Don’t come inside!
Jhakúpa, we’ll get the priest to see you, you’ve been strick with something, Auntie was saying, but then leaping into the workshop and ducking about the drawings and models, she chanted, Why can’t I come inside? Has someone else been hurt? Puîyus, are you inside? Why aren’t you answering me, I thought that Fhérma … great Ancestors in the Undergloom! I hope my blessed Sister among the Ancestors isn’t watching you now!
Puey was trying to squeeze me backwards into my gown. We were cold and wet and just trying not to die of freezing! I tried to explain, but Qtìmine’s eyen were swimming, partially in judgement, and partially concerned with a princess with knees almost visible beneath her slip and Puîyus with arms partially visible. Just like Íngìkhmar, just like Íngìkhmar in the last generation, Auntie was muttering to herself, although I don’t quite know what she meant by that. I think she on the verge of fainting right now, but behind us came another voice and the sound of a staff, an old man saying, Xhwókh! Xhwókh! Where is my Granddaughter? Where is my precious and dear little Éfhelìnye? I’ve heard she’s been conducting all sorts of experiments.
Grandfather Thiêfhilos, Auntie Qtìmine chanted. She pointed to Fhermáta and chanted, You keep him from entering! Do it! I will not let him see his pupil and Grandchild … oh my Puîyus, just like Íngìkhmar all o'er again, it’s like the Immortals have some strange and cyclical sense of humor. Fhermáta, keep him out, or I’ll punish you to the same degree as these two, you are the oldest Sister, responsible for both the guest-friend, and your addle-brained Brother. Qtìmine glared at Puey and me as we tried to dress, and she chanted, This is our contract. You get dressed now, you get your hands unglued now, we keep this hushed up from both your Grandfather Pátifhar and Abbá Íngìkhmar, and we never speak of this again, and nobody gets punished. If the revered Regent Sylvan or the good Sieur Knight find out, I’m sending one of you packing right back to the Emperor never to leave his harem again, and the other one can go live with the Poriêrii for all I care. And have I failed to mentioned that the Poriêrii bake not cakes! Or pies! Or muffins! Gasp! Gasp! Gaspped my Puey to think of a fate worse than death. Oh, and Fhermáta will not be bringing you any either. I did not have the heart to remind Auntie that Puey and I were most certainly not glued together, but I think the complex reaction was probably not relevant unto her.
Grandfather Pátifhar was on the steps and helping Great-Uncle Táto up, he trying to get him to breathe easier, and Fhermáta kept ducking through the door and saying, It will just be a moment. Éfhelìnye has spilled some of the khwènot tetrodotoxin fugu that Puey had collected from àraka falcons and jhyìsqri birds, and Puey wants to clean up the mess before you enter. Fhermáta was so calm saying it, that I almost believed her myself. Puey and I get dressed very quickly, although most of our clothing was inside out and possibly upside down, but we had not a moment to spare. At least I had all of the calculations in my head and did not have to think of them too much, and although the initial euphoria of the creation of this adhesing music, this creative frenzy born of fasting and last of sleep, although it was all gone, I knew enough to change the music. I cranked up the wheels of the xhrexhméja ceraunograph, and the storm about us was still strong enough, that some lightning was branching in the dark clouds, and flickers were splashing downwards unto the levin machinery below, the wheels were glowing, the light swirling in a shaft, and as I drew my hand and Puey’s clasped together into the light growing, I asked Puey to hum a tune, something that reminded him of me.
Grandfather Pátifhar was helping Great-Uncle Táto upwards, and columns of light were falling upon the workshop. Fhermáta was finding it harder to keep them all from entering again, and Táto was reaching into his vest kanásyo čaleko for another set of prismatic spectacles. The ceraunograph zum zum zum buzzed into lightlife. The beams were sparkling. The inventions within the workshop were all lifting up their hands and wheels, the models and papers all coming unto life, the various claws and barrels and devices almost floating upwards in the grand epiphany. Grandfather Pátifhar drew himself within, and at the last moment Puey panicked, I think he yanked his hand just a little to quickly from mine, and a slight burn mark appeared on the side of his palm and quickly faded away. Grandpa looked around, all of the inventions were floating around, devices whirling about, and opening up their glassen eyen, bits of juke box and wax cylinder and coil, he blinked a few times and chanted How very impressive. However, my children, I think that the storm is returning, we should all retire into the crannog for the night, lest we be caught cold and wet in the rain.
Great-Uncle Táto waddled within and gasped, Please tell me they’re decently dressed now! Oh, my heart! My heart! Pátifhar was about to ask Great-Uncle what he meant, but Táto was still staggering around and gasping. Puey thrust his hands into his inside out pockets, and so he received the slight line upon his hand, from the lightning crackling from the xhrexhméja, but I think the line is fading in time, it was just an heat stroke. Outside came the sound of snorting and rustling, and Abbá Íngìkhmar swung down from his saddle, feircesome Stitlhàrkhlo outside, and shuffling up the steps of the workshop looked around and asked, Am I missing anything?
No, chanted Auntie Qtìmine, We have to go inside, chanted Grandfather Pátifhar, Most certainly not, chanted Fhermáta, Oh my heart! Gasped Great-Uncle Táto, and Puey and I just shook our heads. Íngìkhmar turned to leave and chanted, The storm is returning, winter cannot be far behind. Children, it’s time for you to sleep. I need to talk to the adults about the Poriêrii, their Elders having me pestering me with a rather interesting proposal. So the ceraunograph fell silent, the Grandfather Jàkopar’s workshop grew cold and dark, and as we all left it, for the first time in three days my hand was free of Puey’s. But neither of us, after this time, quite felt comfortable walking with free hands, and so of our own accord we held the same hand together, grasping it tight, and returned to the crannog before the coming storm.
But before we went to bed, Siêthiyal and Karuláta ran up to us, and Siêthiyal just smirked, and Karuláta chanted, Why is your clothing upside down and inside out? Fhérma! Fhérma! Why is their clothing upside out and inside down! Fhérma! FHÉRMA! I’m asking you something! It’s not important, chanted Fhermáta. Their hands have been dissevered at last. We can finally get a decent’s night rest. The storm is coming with the night, and we haven’t much time. Autumn fades away, and we must prepare for the betrothal feast. But why is their clothing inside out? Karuláta kept gasping and running about me and Puey. Oh, this is all Éfha’s doing, isn’t it? I think she’s the trickiest of us all, I think that she’s Raven’s tricky spirit in Princess form. At least though she has a good heart, the same heart that the Empress had.
Come along, everyone. Time for bed, Fhermáta was saying. Princess, I think I speek for my Sisters when I tell you that none of us have gotten a lot of sleep, so if you want to play any of your games tonight we’re not going to stop you. But I just shook my head and told her, I think tonight just rest. I can feel the storm’s gathering also. The Dreamtime is become the warstorm. Innocence and extinction are arising to fight one another, I can feel it in the winds, the conflict is not just of armies and principalities, it is of soul and might, it is the very nature of the alchemy of realty. Nothing is in balance. Everything falls into the abyss. The storm is unleashed, and one cannot even guess what may lie within its eclipse. So I took Fhermáta’s hand and slept in the guestroom set aside for me, and I did not stir at all during the night, and Puey slept in his own room with the kittens and ducklings and lambkins, and the sleet and rain did war outside, ice crackling upon the mud, here in the last of days before Winter was arising to claim Jaràqtu for its own, and was not sure that my heart would suffice to save us all.

– And that’s it, that’s the entire tell of it all – Princess Éfhelìnye chanted. – I told you there was no big or epic story about that mark, it’s not even a proper scar, it’s just an embarrassing experiment that got a little beyond my control. –
– I liked it – chanted Aîya. – Funny. –
Anything that involves embarrassing Puîyos is something I enjoy, Ixhúja told her cousin in a few blinks.
Éfhelìnye looked upwards through the transparent dome of the egg and wondered saying – And yet that seems so far away, even though it was but a couple of hours ago in the dying of the afternoon of the worlds. But Fhermáta and Great-Uncle Táto were still with us upon these life-giving dreamlands, and War was just a rumor born upon the breezes, and everything about us was fresh and wonderful and good. – And Princess Éfhelìnye sighed to remember such a thing, and listened to the beating of her own dragon heart.

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