Prince Kherènxhuqhe was now ripping apart the tower of the ship and screaming and in his rage throwing aside all of the Dragons closest unto him, and he belched out waves of flame that incinerated all of the barrels and disques and triangular boxes about him, and he spat out rivers of flame and punched aside his fellow Dragons too slow to escape his rage, and skriking all the while and ripping up a wing of the ship, silver whorls of ice and fire whirling from his jaws cried he out – Where is Master Puîyos now! –
Princess Éfhelìnye smiled as she bounced upon one of the flowing and slightly burning nodules of the ship and spinning around in her dance she cried out – Where can Puey be? Where can my Puey be? All of the skies are gleaming with resurrection. The hills are sparkling with shades returning to life. Nations quake for they fear their doom, as the Dragon Emperor comes for them. And yet a couple of flowers remain alive upon the sward. Let this not be your funereal song, let your thoughts not be of the failing of armies and the burning of ideapoleis, but of the beautiful and good. Just because the Prophet is blind does not mean that everything has been left dark. –
Kherènxhuqhe’s wings were sharp and impaling sides of glistening adamant, and so wroth was he that he was slashing from side to side and ripping against the Dragons trying to flee him even as he gouged open the deck and thrust his claws and snout within and began disemboweling the vessel even as he searched for the lad who had defied cælestial Emperor Kàrijoi, and long loops and coils and bleeding wheels and glistening organs he ripped out from the ship, and it screamed and quavered all the while as the Dragon ripped it apart, and so terrible was the flow of oil and flame, that Kherènxhuqhe slipped a few times and had to grasp the corners of the vessel to keep him upon it, even as it he ripped it apart. The suge Prince burst his head upwards and screamed unto the Princess saying – Your dance will avail neither you nor Puîyos! He dies now! –
– I think not! – Éfhelìnye spun around and opened her eyen.
– Where is he? Tell me, and he shall suffer all the less when I devour his emotions! –
Princess Éfhelìnye shrugged. – Here? There? Yon? Who can say? – Éfhelìnye in several different directions at once, and then rolled onto her hands and began walking upon her palms and pointed with her legs. – Maybe he went this way? Or that way? –
– The Emperor was right to begin the ritual sacrifice of all children, to sprinkle their blood upon pyramid and field, at least then the children will be quiet and obedient and some good will come of them? –
Éfhelìnye continued to walk upon her hands and was figuring out how to perform some positions of ballet in thiswise. – The fun thing with Puey is that he just turns all the worlds upside down! He can enter worlds of dream and death and night, he can save and destroy an Empire, he can be at home with aliens and yet alone in his own family. He is like poetry inverted. Poesy is all about play and fun, poetry is about inventing language and letting it all flow and sparkle from one! – Éfhelìnye slipped upwards and landing upon her feet struck a graceful arabesque and bowed before the Dragon and chanted – Don’t you think so? –
Prince Kherènxhuqhe ripped up some of the solar sails and was incinerating them in his palms, and looking around saw that that the Dragons were swarming about the vessel and jabbing it and breathing out spears of light in an attempt to find the lad. Kherènxhuqhe grabbed a passing Dragon, punched it across its jaw, and threw it down the side of the ship, so that waves of tornodoes and light came crackling out of it, and the Dragon rolled outwards into the eclipse swarm and the growing lamentation of the Dragons.
– You’d better start making sense soon, little Princess! – roared Prince Kherènxhuqhe. – I tire of your dance and play. Vex me again, and I start breaking your pretty little balletic bones. –
Éfhelìnye smiled. – I know something you don’t know. –
– Where is the lad? –
– That’s what I know! –
– Where is … –
– There he is! – Éfhelìnye pointed to some crumbling spirals.
– No he … –
– Look at see! –
– You’d better be telling the truth. –
– Princesses can’t lie. –
Prince Kherènxhuqhe swung his serpentile neck around and muttered – Dragons cannot lie, who knows what deceit lies in the heart of a Princess. – The Dragon’s mirror eyen glistened, for indeed swinging about the crashing spires came leaping Puîyus, his dreamcloak spinning blur of violets and blues, but even as the Dragon dashed upwards and breathed flames out towards him, Puîyus was already disappearing in the violence of the light.
– Isn’t Puey just beautiful and dreamy? – Éfhelìnye asked.
– Will you be quiet about him? You know these are your last moments to see him in this life. –
– I refuse to be quiet about my Puey! –
– I’ll let you witness the feast we shall make of his face. –
– There he is! – Éfhelìnye spun around and pointed to the twining rudder towers, and there Puîyus arose and tossed some chains about the rudders that remained, even as several more Moon Dragons were arising about him and trying to catch and impale him with their clawed wings, but he was able to tie and rig the rudders at the same time while fighting with his other arm, and the Emperor’s sword was a blur of solar patterns bleeding outwards and mixing right into the Dragon Breath, but even as Prince Kherènxhuqhe came leaping upwards and struck aside the other Dragons trying to win the honor of killing Puîyus first, Puîyus just sprung upwards through the flames and disappeared in the explosions wracking through the rudders.
– We tire of this game – Prince Kherènxhuqhe cried, and he was throwing aside the other Dragons with such force, that his jade talons ripped through the face of one Dragon and slashed through the wings of another, and splashes of black blood and fire and ice were crackling outwards in growing clouds of malice.
Princess Éfhelìnye spun aside in a few graceful sommersaults and chanted – Why, Puey and I are just warming up to this little game. –
Prince Kherènxhuqhe punched right through the tail of the ship, and all of the aft quarters were rippling about in growing explosions. – The game ends now. –
Éfhelìnye landed upon her toes and spreading out her arms chanted – Now this was quite a graceful tlhiîramet somersault. I take it then, oh Princeling, that you are ready to surrender to me and Puey? I’m afraid the only conditions we can offer you are full, complete, and unconditional surrender. If you had any vassels or land or properties of any sort I would demand them all, but you have nothing really … but Puey and I shall be merciful to you. –
– WHAT! – screamed Prince Kherènxhuqhe as he slashed through the wings of his brothers and dashed towards the Princess.
– Puey and I are giving you a chance to surrender to us. We will be generous. Just sware eternal fealty to me and Puey, and we won’t destroy you, oh how I adore straight-froward commandments. –
– Piasa wyrms, lóng drakes, ryū dlaks, knyrykeos khrūsophúlakes, parthenóphagoi, the rainbow serpents kinthejhekhaûqha kìnthemàrpi xaneuneujhàmfhe, the pteixhàthwufha windspirits, the pàfhathiin cloudlords, Dragons Khyèqhiir Tràlu Xhwàtlhotsu Pènyis are incapable of surrendering. –
– Save to the Emperor of course, and Puey shall be Emperor. –
– Never will Puîyos wear the Starburst Crown and hold the Khátatlhùmpa staff and sit upon the Crystalline Throne! –
– He shall. He must. I’m giving you another chance to surrender. –
– Dragons do not surrender. You should bow unto us! –
– Interesting you should say that, for Puey and I are also completely incapable of surrending. Puîyus has his warrior valor and as a true Son of Jaràqtu he is honorbound never to surrender, his people being the only ones who never formally surrended to my Father, but that’s a story for another time, and by association with Puey and my being of the holy ichor of Pwéru, I cannot surrender either. Actually, the more that I consider it, would be greatly to your advantage to surrender to us both about right now. Now, I know, we’re very small to you and very young, but please consider, if Puey and I survive and become the new Emperor and Empress we shall be quite concerned with the greening of the Land, and all such creatures like Monsters and Quantum Dæmons and Dragons themselves will either have to be our vassels and aid us in restoring fertility to the worlds, or these creatures we shall have to destroy in the years to come. And consider the face of this future, for in time I shall bare Puey many Sons strong and fearless and valorous, they shall be valiant like their Father but also as smart as I am, and I’m not entirely sure you want a family of dragonslaying Princes chasing you around for the few generations to come. – Éfhelìnye hopped up upon her toes and spun up one leg and drew it completely behind her leg and bounced around a little, and then flowing downwards and walking upon her hands chanted – The generations that shall come, if they cry out, Save us from the Dragons, the first to do battle will be Puey and his Sons and Grandsons and all of the other princes who survive this war. –
– Unmoving Dragons cannot sway permanent Pwéru, is that so? – asked Kherènxhuqhe.
Princess Éfhelìnye slipped up upon the burning crennelations of the ship, even as several massive wings burst apart around her and were lost in the orbit and swarm of the Dragon conflagrations. – I ask you again to surrender to me and Puey. Even the Qhíng have surrended unto us, and they are a most ancient and honorable people. –
– Their fears are quite tasty too, when we devour them – Kherènxhuqhe licked his lips a few times – When afraid the Qhíng are like sùlro, like hot sauce λaqwa. –
Éfhelìnye drew out from her pocket a tiny fhatíqinùpfhu, a crystalline and joyful bell which Khiêro old old had melted and carven haiscis and given as a present joyous unto his children long ago, and the bell had come down tunizma IrEgId through the generations, always clear and ringing and beautiful, an heirloom long ago fashioned by an Ancestor who had himself in his day once slain a Dragon. The fhaqinùpfhu bells Éfhelìnye found especially precious and wondrous, they appeared so delicate and the sound itself was so tiny, and yet so pure that it caused all other noise to fall silent, to be drowned in the delight of these tiny crystal bells, and when Puîyus had received this ancient heirloom of his Clan, something made even by his very first Ancestor, he had placed it in Éfhelìnye’s hand and clasped her fingers about it to keep it safe and close to her. She blew upon the bell and chanted – Will the Dragons surrender unto me and Puey, as you once did to my Father? –
– Qìfhis qìfhis, nevermore! – Prince Kherènxhuqhe growled.
Éfhelìnye smiled. Tintinnabula, she rang the tiny bell, and flowing from it came the miniature sound, and yet in its crystalline pealing it sounded a little like purest water cascading down through the layers of stream and woods, the twining of the bell was so wonderous and that Dragons slowed the beating of their tremendous wings and were all turning their heads and cocking their ears and listening to the marvel, the bell was become part of the sigh of the dying steam engines and the clattering of the sampo motors, and the bell was even thirling through the lunar eclipse which blanketed all of the skerries and shors. And as the Princess rang the bell she looked upwards and saw that Kherènxhuqhe’s eyen were ringing in similar harmonies, and that all of his scales were flowing and become of their own accord tintinabulous harmonies.
Suddenly all of the Qlùfhem vessel was veering upwards, and all of the wings and golden solar sails left unto it were spinning around as the vessel partially folded up upon itself and spin through the air and hurled off from it several hundred Dragons that were clinging unto the bone oars and scales and rudder. Éfhelìnye rang the tintinnabulum just a few eyeblinks longer and then dropped it into her pocket and held onto the ropes as the ship turned completely upside down, and Dragons came leaping off of it like so my flittermice, and then the ship began veering downwardsand cme spinning right through the growing darkness of the eclipse, and so wild was its turning that it threw off another hundred dragons right off from it.
– Most honored Prince of the Dragon volk, forgive me, but you should have surrendered! – Éfhelìnye shouted as she held onto the crackling ropes about her. – And you were quite corret, Puey and I did trick you. In fact Puey’s in control of the ship at this very moment, oh, you can see him in the khètro the nerve clusters of crystal balls. –
The burning ship was roaring now as I was spinning around and around and crashing right through the darkening gravities of the eclipse, it was a little as if the Dragons were lobsters and crabs completely surrounding the tendrils and beak of a squid bear who was trying to snatch some mead from a tree, and the squid bear came waddling into the waters and dashed about, and the lobsters and crabs began to loosen themselves and plash about in the flowing waves and get lost in the driftent currents of the river, so the Qlùfhem ship was dashing upwards and crashing against the growing disques of darkness growing outwards from the Moons, some of the Dragons were still crawling about in spindly patterns and trying to hold onto the vessel, others were just thrown about and crashed into each other and blew out clouds all of growing plasma light, and others among the Dragons were so wroth at being struck against each other and they were snarling and biting each other even as they tried to return to the vessel. Princess Éfhelìnye was thrown from side to side, so violent were the jerks and spinning of the vessel as it dislodged the Dragons, but also because the outer layers of the ship had been burnt away and torn asunder in the coming of the Dragons, and there were few safe places left for her to grasp. The ropes kept lashing about her, and she pulled herself upwards and slipped up o'er the flaming gunwail and looking upwards saw that within the bursting steam of the nerve cluster Puîyus was standing and yanking against the levers and spinning the wheel about and directed the ship to whorl about upside down and sidewise against the Darkness. Puîyus looked down and seeing Éfhelìnye nodded and waved to her and with one graceful hand spelt out unto her, Please hold on tightly, this is quite a dangerous manouver.
Éfhelìnye tapped her hands together and in the glowing patterns of Taûsqo the silent language of gestures asked him, Are you in complete control of the experimental ship, then?
Puîyus held up an hand and spunning a mirror wheel about and spelt out, Mostly. The vessel is quite alien. I’d say I control it about … his fingers struggled to find a number and at last settled on júkhe tnút, 80.16%, and he spelt out unto her, I am about 97/121ths in control of the ship.
– That’s good! – Éfhelìnye cried out. She came tumbling about some of the claws of the crennelation and wrapped her legs around some crumbling bit of stone and wood deck as the ship came bursting upwards in a tightening series of spirals that ripped several more Dragons from it. Éfhelìnye was holding on so tight that her knuckles were bone white and her wrists were bleeding again, and she was thinking that when Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho had taken it upon themselves to teach Puîyus the art of piracy not even they could guess that he could be an even crazier pilot that infamous Xhnófho himself.
Prince Kherènxuqhe came crashing up right through the scales and triangles about the khètro and breathed out waves of fire right towards Puîyus, the Dragon was spinning around and around and dragging up its coils and ripping out its barbed wings, and Puîyus drew a knife and slashed it right through some of the spinning pulleys that connected one portion of the nerves to the complexes within, and as the ship began to tumble onto its side in its lose of control, Puîyus rolled backwards and holding up the Emperor’s dragon sword as a shield deflected the waves of fire shot right untowards him.
– The game ends now! – snarled Kherènxhuqhe. – I shall deliver your skull to Kàrijoi! –
Princess Éfhelìnye slipped up about some burning poles and embers and steadying herself cried out to the Dragon saying – Aren’t you forgetting something? –
– I think I’ll rip out her throat just to keep her quiet. Her Mother did not play such games with the Children of Qhalúxha. –
– Aren’t you forgetting something extremely important? –
Kherènxhuqhe spun his head around and screamed – What do you want, Princess? –
– Aren’t you forgetting that my strong and beautiful and wonderous Puey is freeing the Pirates even as we speak? –
– Don’t be absurd, the waifchen is right … here … – Kherènxhuqhe smashed his wings right through the khètro crystal balls, but that only caused the ship to lose even more control and veer from side to side in dangerous quakes. The Dragon breathed out its flames unto all of the platforms where the lad had once been, but Puîyus was already gone, and so he screamed out – Find the Pirates! Slay them now! –
– Too late – chanted Éfhelìnye.
– Be silent, Khnoqwísi’s child! –
– I think I’ll keep a few Dragons around for pets in my new Empire, I think some of you are very cute. –
Kherènxhuqhe punched through the burning floor and wading through the exploding deck muttered – Do not call us cute. We Dragons are anything but cute. –
– Maybe Dragonlettes are cute – Éfhelìnye chanted. – Being demimortal xenásun, Dragons and blue Unicorns and Tèntra are actually born, and everything that is born must be cute. –
Prince Kherènxhuqhe was in no humor to argue with Khnoqwísi’s only daughter, but rather came bursting up through the crackling of the ship and unto the place burning shards and embers where the Dragons had best been able to hold onto the spinning and veering and burning ship, and spinning his head around he saw that the Dragons were arising and filling all of the skies and ship with growing clouds of ice that burst apart into flames which frozen into particles of spinning winds, and in the growing tasking mælstrom that a flash of violet cape was appearing and disappearing so quickly that it was almost in several places at once. Several rainbow Dragons came rolling aside, they felt crackles and shadow rolling about them, one Dragon was holding up part of the ship and felt the pitter patter of little wooden sabot running right upon it. One Dragon was pinning Fhèrkifher unto the deck, and even as Fhèrkifher was gasping for air and struggling to reach out unto the fan and sword kicked away from him, and suddenly Fhèrkifher found himself swinging in the air, Puîyus was flying and dancing upon the snout of one Dragon and sliding down the tail of another, and Puîyus tossed Fhèrkifher upwards and threw sword and fan right untowards him, and the Dragon that was grasping Xhnófho was growling and doing his best to concentrate on the single task of holding onto the asphyxiating pirate tight, and yet Puîyus came spinning through the air, and suddenly the Dragon found himself clasping against the air, and Xhnófho and Puîyus arose sprung right out of its grasp. The Dragons wre all dashing upwards and breathing out their squalls, and even as the pirates were being tossed aside, Puîyus crawled against the bursting deck and held up his sword and shielded most of the flames from hitting himself and the pirates, and so Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho came rolling outwards and bounced up and grasped their weapons right as Prince Kherènxhuqhe came crashing right against them and saw to his amazement that right beneath his snout Puîyus had freed both of the pirates.
– How did you free the Pirates! – screamed the Dragons as they rushed against Puîyus to do battle with him.
– How were you able to do that! – roared Prince Kherènxhuqhe as hurricanes and fire storms flowed out from his jaws. Puîyus just smiled and shrugged at the Dragons and behind him Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho came bounding back up to their legs and tentacles and drawing out their weapons and striking jaunty poises prepared to fight also.
– Do you wish to know how he did that? – Fhèrkifher asked.
– Dragons do not treat with Pirates – Prince Khèrenxhuqhe chanted. – Dragons treat with those of íngajo, of the high castes. –
– What about Xhnófhe here, the Qhíng don’t … – Fhèrkifher began.
– Oh my ear-globes just blushify to hear one speak of me! – cried Xhnófho.
– I command silence from you both! – cried Prince Kherènxhuqhe, and he was lunging right towards Puîyus and breathing out flame all the while even as the Qlùfhem vessel was slowly tipping unto its side, and its solar sails become like wings, and part of its burning shell tumbling off into space and forming a floating gravegarth of jetsam about them all.
– I can tell you how Master Puîyos was able to free us – Fhèrkifher laughed.
– You may not like the answer though – Xhnófho giggled.
– If the puny mutil here be mute incapable of language, then tell me! – Kherènxhuqhe roared, as Puîyus thrust his sword closer and closer to the jaws and leapt upwards to avoid the spinning of the clawed wings about him.
– Puîyos was able to free us humble but still rather valuable pirates even from Dragon claws because … well because he’s Puîyos – Fhèrkifher chanted.
– The Son of Íngìkhmar – Xhnófho added. – Bright eyed Puîyus, of the floppy hair, candy cane tresses, quiet and pious and honorable and all that et cet. –
– You know the rest. –
– Silver footed, fleet footed, good at the war-mew, far shooting, with the two strong arms. –
– That is not an answer! – screamed Kherènxhuqhe.
– Is it, then? – asked Fhèrkifher.
– Just not the answer you want – chanted Xhnófho.
– Would it sooth your cold and dead heart to know that he will become the future Emperor? –
– The Elders of the Land have already drawn up the marriage contract. –
– It takes more than mere words to cause a Crown Prince and Princess to undergo the Xhreyána the ritual of apotheosis, the coronation of an Emperor and Empress, and the Elders of the Land cannot bring such a ritual about. –
– He’s such a gloomy Dragon, isn’t he? – Xhnófho asked.
– He needs to smile a little – chanted Fhèrkiifher.
– Take it from me, you need to learn to celebrate a little. –
– E'er consider plundering? –
– Or a life not consisting of capturing Princesses? –
– I take it there’s no Kherenxhùqhesa, no Wife of Kherènxhuqhe, no? –
Puîyus was leaping upwards in the forfront of the battle while Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho came fanning out behind him and were fighting unto either side, and the Dragons were spilling outwards through the burning hurricane that was becoming the ship even as it was breaking apart and becoming a coiling collection of orbiting and flowing bits of fire and ice and debris here in the destruction of the ship. Puîyus was skipping from side to side even as Kherènxhuqhe snarled and lunged downwards again and again, Kherènxhuqhe was so great that the other Dragons about him were shaking and fearing him a little in his turn and splendor and rage, and the princely Dragon was most eager to destroy Puîyus and so was ignoring the other Dragons and Pirates as he flowed upwards and breathed out growing arches of dripping plasma and lava. Puîyus came leaping upwards high in the air and slashed his sword right against the snout of the Dragon while the wigns struck him in several differing places. And as Puîyus came landing back again unto the burning deck he had to roll aside to avoid the crashing of the metallic skeleton of the ship and the foresting flames of the filaments, and the choking black smoke. He jumped upwards and ran up about the limbs of a passing Dragon and leaping about the horns of its head looked around and saw that Éfhelìnye was climbing up the ropes which had once been connected to a mast which was, and as she slipped upwards and tried to secure her ankles and arms a little, catching Puîyus’ glance she pointed unto the exploding barrels flowing about Puîyus and the tumbling orbit of celia and vegetable fiber which were the main materials of the Qlùfhem ship, and at once Puîyus came leaping aside and he ripped up bits of the burning ship and began hurling them right untowards Kherènxhuqhe’s face, he picked up several bits of bone and rip and thrust them right against the Prince’s neck, he grabbed bits of scale and bark and burning wing, he was himself becoming a tornado drawing unto himself the burning flotsam and throwing it aside, until at last Kherènxhuqhe came crashing right down against the lad and smashed his legs right downwards to pin Puîyus down and begin to squeeze the life right out of him.
– Long live Emperor Puîyos – hissed the Dragon Prince as he opened up his vast and enigmatic eyen, and flowering up and out of them came the images of the maiden dressed all in white, a golden veil about her face, and long tendrils of aurelian locks flowing in the winds. – When you enter the Undergloom tell your Ancestors that it was the Concubine that they chose for you who betrayed you to your death. –
Puîyus punched against the Dragon and rolled aside, but Kherènxhuqhe pinned him down again with his long and impaling tail, and crushing down against the balach he growled out – So my words may seem nonsense now etaion shrdlu, but in time you shall learn the truth of my words – whispered the Dragon, and all at once Puîyus could see images of thousands of great and twirling glass and hot air balloons, and of the aliens within the Qhíng and Kháfha and Aûm shooting off their fireworks, and of the Ptètqiikh in procession before rolling chariots, and of long parades of priests and warriors and uniques, and somewhere in the center the twin Qlùfhem Duchesses who had set the Aumàfhruse into Puîyus’ hands to use as a weapon against the Qhíng, the Duchesses Pereluyàsqa and Khosyaràsqa, were flowing upwards, rippling waves of blues and oranges about them, and they were adorning the maiden standing in their midst and the Qhíng priests Swòngturakh were settling the last of the karuláta flowers in her tresses.
– She should have died to save you, if she had truly loved you – Kherènxhuqhe chanted.
Puîyus did not understand the images, and did not like being reminded that Fhermáta was already dead and accounted among the Ancestors, that just reminded him that she had refused his ring and it lay now in the grasp of his Mother Khwofheîlya, and screaming out in a loud and terrible war-mew, Puîyus punched himself out of the tail of the Dragon and spinning aside ripped up the edge of a tumbling tower and spun it around above his head and hurled it right towards the Dragon’s eye. Kherènxhuqhe screamed and breathed out a wave of flame and heat and deflected the crashing tower so that it barely missed his luminous eye, but the power of it was enough to knock out all of the phantoms and illusions and memories dripping right out of crystalline Kherènxhuqhe. And the Dragon spun around and screamed in horror and broke apart about a third of the ship, so that Puîyus and Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho had to come leaping upwards to avoid getting sucked out of the crashing ruins and flame.
Puîyus however did not have a moment’s respite, even though Kherènxhuqhe was screaming and rolling from side to side, in fact Puîyus arose and picked up some burning spirals of the ship and running upwards jabbed the flames into the wounds and blood of the Dragon, and he thrust against and against even as the rest of the Dragons came fluttering about him to strike and crush him, and Puîyus took up several more burning bones and came running upwards and sought to grasp the Prince by his face and start jabbing the flames right into its glowing eyen and perhaps even impale it through its skull, but the Dragons were coming against him too fierce and in too great a number for him to do so, but had to defend himself in several directions at once. Dragons were spinning about him, in their flight they were orbiting him as if he were become the Sun and in their homage they were offering him flames and snarls and bits, the Dragons were screaming all the while in their ducking and darting through the growing explosions, and although Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho were able to slow the Dragons a little, they were in fact doing very little harm against them, for only Puîyus was the spinning whirlwind of battle in the center, and the Dragons knew it in their crash and fall and scream. Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho came bounding together, they were doing their best to deflect too many Dragons from flying upwards and hurling themselves right at Puîyus, but there was only so much they could do, and their swords were only glowing glass and were not of the marvelous and solar materials drawn of living light whichby Emperor Kàrijoi had created his Eilwiyusàrtyai sword, and moreover, in the center of this burning and screaming and shaking the pirates could not help but notice that the ship was not only almost completely upon its side, so that the floor whereon they were fighting had once been wing and side and flank, and also in addition that the ship was spinning around in a series of cycles which were diminishing in diameter, but also that the ship was descending in what almost certainly had to be a crash, but the Dragons did not care as they arose to do battle with Puîyus, and the Poet Warrior’s face was glowing with halos bursting out from him, and neither Puîyus nor the Dragons appeared overly concerned with the disaster as the ship was rushing right towards the edge of the eclipse.
– Should we say something? – Xhnófho chanted as he was fighting against wings with his tentacles splashing outwards and cutting before and behind him and jabbing all the while.
– We really should say something – Fhèrkifher cried out as he cutting against the limbs of a Dragon flying high above them. – He at least needs a warning. –
Puîyus spun around in the air and punched one Dragon across the nose and hacked downwards with his sword right through the gills of the next, and growing arcs of flame arose about them all as sword and Dragon touched each other, and great was the noise of it all. Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho were soon stumbling outwards and fighting back to back and slowly inching towards Puîyus, and he was bouncing high in the air so that he could fight against the aireal Dragons face to face, and grabbing and jabbing and cutting all the while, and although he was far smaller than the Dlaξ spinning about him, he was still able to cut and punch and wrestle a few of them down.
– Master Puîyus! – Fhèrkifher cried.
– Yes, you tell him – chanted Xhnófho.
– Why must I? –
– You’re better with words. If I could communicate by juggling I would – Xhnófho spun through the air in a seven-tentacled sommersault and slapping against the wings descending about them landed aside and thrust his sword against great crystalline claws.
– Beloved Puîyus, the ship is crashing! – Fhèrkifher cried out.
Puîyus slapped one Dragon against the face so hard that the scales broke and revealed bone within, and in his descent Puîyus rolled out before Fhèrkifher and gave him an expression which could only mean, I know. I made it thus. –
– Pardon! – gasped Fhèrkifher. – You want us to crash on purpose? –
– Did you do something to the tlhòqyi rudders! – gasped Xhnófho.
Puîyus nodded in affirmation, and without even looking behind him punched against the face of an approaching Dragon, and it tumbled down behind him, sloughing downwards as a brilliant frost and stone avalenche.
– Against the eclipse! – asked Fhèrkifher.
– We’re crashing thereunto! – gasped Xhnófho.
– With volition? –
– On purpose? –
Puîyus nodded and made some vague tying and grasping motions to give them an impression of what he had been doing to the rudders and remaining solar sails and the khètro nerve clusters in the center of the ship. And the pirates looked to each other a little in confusion and alarm, and gazing outwards saw that already the outer regions of the ship were scraping against the qunáxenu eclipse and exploding in greater and greater gyrations of light, and the outer tendrils and filaments thyú xhèkhwi, els graisk, zubeinz, ivalu were incinerating in greater and greater waves of light.
Puîyus jumped upwards and as he was fighting several Dragons at the same time, slipping down through the ropes and bones of the shattering vessel came slipping down Éfhelìnye, and she landed en pointe right behind the Pirates and chanted – Don’t worry, we have a plan! –
– A plan? – asked Fhèrkifher.
– We have a plan? – asked Xhnófho.
– We usually just have a long series of disasters. –
– And they sometimes turn out right. –
– But usually not. –
– Lots of fleeing for our lives! –
– This plan is going to work – Éfhelìnye chanted. – We’ll be crashing in just a few moments. –
– Xhnófho, can you save this ship? – asked Fhèrkifher.
– Are we supposed to crash? – asked Xhnófho.
– Don’t worry, Puey’s thought it all out. I think. It’ll work out, it’s all a very clever labyrinthine zugzwang of movements. –
– I love tnúpa chess analogies – Xhnófho chanted. – Great-Uncle Kàrnaka made he practice everyday, and he’d slap mine antennæ when I played poorly, but at last I learnt the game. –
– Uncle Kherotlhátus Tietátus was trying to invent a machine to play jórqha chess against a mortal opponent – chanted Fhèrkifher. – The machine ended up growing quite vast and complicated, it was a great analytical engine khlàmli iqniqutit, it was crashing its abacata together and calculating great sums of numbers, it reminds me a little of the marvelous sword that Puîyus has, actually. –
– My Father crafted that sword and set it into Puîyus’ hand, a brand of bursting flairs and smaragds and endless irrational calculations, for the Emperor wished for Puîyus to have a weapon worthy of him and for to protect me, although I wonder whether my Father intended for the weapon to be used against his own Dragons – Éfhelìnye chanted, and she was shaking despite the intense heat of the pyromachy flaming all about them.
– Who can understand the scientific mis-methods of the Cælestial Emperor? – asked Xhnófho.
– Kàrijoi’s ways are high above ours and not our ways – chanted Fhèrkifher.
Puîyus jumped upwards, for all abou thim the Dragons were spinning even as the outer reaches of the eclipse arose for to engulf them all. Puîyus was hacking from side to side, flame was arising from many jaws at once, the Dragons were crashing downwards and completely overswamping what had once been the side of the ship, and in the bursting shadows, their phosphorescent wings were beating and creating white winds of light that reflected in weird glows against the Moons. Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho saw that the Dragons were completely ignoring them so wroth they were with Puîyus, and they plucked up Éfhelìnye and were about to take her unto safety, but she chanted – Here comes the crash! In three seconds, taê’ áng, taê’ éng, taê’ íng! We hit the eclipse! –
– Lwa! – cried Fhèrkifher.
– I wish we weren’t doing this! – cried Xhnófho. – I can’t do this un-hyper! –
Puîyus punched aside the nearest Dragon and jumped up high into the air as the side of the Qlùfhem vessel touched the growing disque of darkness before the conjunction of the elevens of Moons. At once half of the ship glowed in ripples of shadow and light, and all of the Dragons that were caught upon that half of the ship found themselves hurled out by the dark winds of the Moons. Puîyus flung himself high into the air to avoid the growing tides, and he crawled about the burning wreckage and began to make his slow pathway towards the Princess and the Pirates, and all behind him half of the Qlùfhem vessel was incinerating and becoming a great sphere of dust. The Dragons threw themselves into their floating swarm and so crowded and dazed were they that they kept crashing one against the other, and the snapping of wings and screaming jaws and snapping jade claws chalchiuitl, quetzalitztli were fighting one against the other. Puîyus slipped outwards and came stumbling down right before the Pirates, and Xhnófho plucked him up, and Fhèrkifher held onto Éfhelìnye and behind them the ship was breaking apart in half, the portion of the ship that had slammed against the eclipse was all a brilliant shimmer of black dust, lightning scintillating through it in growing webs, bits of solar sail and stone and bone floating about like so many asteroids crashing againt each other, and Dragons were arising and breathing out their flames and beating phosphorous wings and seeing that the children were yet again escape from them. The half of the ship onto which Xhnófho and Fhèrkifher was clinging was buttressed and slapped away from the eclipse and it bobbled in the heavens for a few moments before it began to turn downwards and veer like an impaling spear the tip held down, the shaft vertical, and the ship was diving downwards, smoke and fires flowing up from the dying hame. Slowly Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho clammered up the side of the burning skin and thrust the children down against burning wheels and helm, and they looked around and saw that although many of the Dragons were still swimming about the Moons and entangled in the eclipse, many of them were freeing themselves and were forming battle lines around Prince Kherènxhuqhe and preparing to dive downwards and snap the children up.
– I hope this wasn’t all the plan! – chanted Fhèrkifher.
Xhnófho slipped up to the helm and grasping the wheels found them boiling hot, and looking downwards saw that the shore and skerry storms were foaming beneath them. – I can steer, but mostly just down. – Xhnófho looked around, his antennæ twitching, and chanted – So, does everyone want to go down for a bit? –
– Puey, what was the other part of the plan? – Éfhelìnye asked, as shadows fell about them all, the Dragons descending unto all sides of them and reaching outwards for to slaughter them all. But Puîyus was not looking untowards her, he was just gazing down unto the waves arising beneath them, and the shimmer of ruins and corals that strangled the shore of the once mighty nations of Syapàkhya. After a few moments he looked upwards, and his glacial eyen, smaragd sparkling winedark khmewuîngo looked upwards and told her, Now I add dearest Ixhúja to the symphony I am weaving.
– I’m definitely going to need a drink after this, even if we don’t survive – Xhnófho chanted. – I’m sure that in Khyixhwìxhwii the garden world of Qhíng paradise that the Ancestors have some sort of fungal dust concoction for to drink. –
– Grandfather Thiêfhilos didn’t mention vast alien powers, he didn’t mention Dragons, and he most certainly did not mention crashing against an eclipse! – cried Fhèrkifher. – Oh, I was not trained for any of this. All those hours of meditation and lighting candles and reading of the Holy Writ, not even the last eleven years of piracy have readied me for this! –
Éfhelìnye looked around, but Puîyus had already disappeared, he was flying up the side of the remnants of the burning ship, as he came spinning downwards, like a burning brick hurling catastrophic and comet bright right towards the sgeir flowing beneath in bone waves outspreading outwards. And Puîyus was flying upwards unto the other side of the ship which had once been the insides where the steam engines and sampo motors and the technic of the Aumàfhruse lay, and everything was rolling outwards in greater and hissing coils of mist.
For it had come to pass that while Ixhúja and Aîya were working upon the clockwork and wheels and billows of the motors, why they were slipping about the muscles and the twining billows of the machinery and trying to get it to awaken and translate a few more times let they be trapped within the oneiric snares that the Dragons were drawing all about them, that the Dragons had come and landed about the ship to attack, and Prince Kherènxhuqhe had come in their midst and began rending and tearing and searching for Puîyus and Éfhelìnye in the place where Akhlísa’s memories had bade him to find the twain, and at that time Ixhúja was yanking upon some of the wheels and adjusting some of the phials, when she heard the tremendous crashing of the wings and the music of the solar winds and the sound of the Dragons spinning all about the vessel, evne though she was still deep within the bowels of the machine. Aîya was looking from side to side, and her six antennæ whisps flickered upwards to listen to the strange calling and the sound of the ice winds and the endless burning waves.
– What the that? – asked Aîya.
– Shhh! – hushed Ixhúja. She set up a few more wheels and twisted some spring around, and as some of the steam engines let out a little mist, and the phials were lighting up with sheer blues and greens, and she listened to the sounds gathering around them.
– What the what? – asked Aîya.
Ixhúja smacked Aîya across two of her faces, and shook her first at the third face in warning stern, and Aîya slunk away and her wings folded upon herself and began crawling down the side of the clockweyth and muttered – Don’t know why being so the mean unto me us them not like doing anything just as curious as Empress Éfhelìnye inquiring heart gizzards just need to know what chancing to happen outside could be anything at all could be giant emlasqráfha monsters crawling all around or a great avelanche of tasty fungal treats yum yum yummy should could use with some treats now specially since someone she ate all the doughnuts not even have a single one for me not calling her selfish or nothing just saying she not even mentioned in the ancient prophecies of the Qhaôtriim Elders, all care about the new Empress garlanded in light petals flowersque all very nice think there can be syrup outside could sure use with sipping up some plàngta soma and jhkhùmu and tyajhetlhíkhat and khótyíkhat syrup yum yum yummissima. –
Ixhúja slapped against the keys and rolling bead coins of the machinery, and the glistening light of the Aumàfhruse began to emerge, and the steam engines shook and in flashes and flexes of color were dissolving themselves into fractals and waves spilling outwards until everything was breaking apart, the wheels and pipes and cyclodes of the engine were resolving themselves into thousands of tiny wheels spinning about each other, the wheels become a blur, a series of crowns and claws snapping about each other, and Ixhúja came running outwards and plucked little Aîya upwards and held her tight unto herself as all of the ship collapsed upon itself and dashed outwards for several leagues and appeared again many leagues away but far closer to the Moons.
Ixhúja set Aîya down, once realities congealed again, and scratching her golden tresses wondered whether she could even get the clockwork and vines and blossoms and growth even to work with each other again, for now all of the engines were opening themselves upwards, and from the jaws long and flowing forces of mist were drifting outwards and filling up all of the inner nerves of the ship. She thought that perhaps she had been quite fortunate to get the Aumàfhruse even to work this once, the fractals were blossoming outwards and choking each other, and almost become a living garden of machinery and celia and filaments and growth. She gathered up her tools and set them back into her belt and pockets and motioning to her clockwork insects bade them to return unto her, and the mechanical locusts and moths and dragonflies came slipping right back untowards her, and she pointed to Aîya and to herself, and Aîya bounced upwards to follow after her.
– Purr purr purr – Ixhúja chanted, for the movement and sound of the flames outside reminded her of Dragons such as she had met within the chasms and mist vales of Khnìntha far beyond the haunts of man. Ixhúja plucked up Aîya and told her, in a language of glances and motions and soft sussurrating purrs told her, the Triîmexhil, If we are extremely lucky there shall be Dragons for us to see outside, and if we are extremely unlucky, there shall be Dragons for us to see without. Dragons are very liminal creatures taês which are beyond power and good and ill and thought, they just are, they are part of beauty and power and ancient horror.
– One has hath had no idea what one saying one – Aîya chanted. – Purr purr purr? –
You’re not very good at purring, Ixhúja sighed. And may I tell you that your accent is just attrocisious, spinnen kehrätä ronronner ronron ronronnement schnurren γurγurizo γurγurisma fare le fusa mruczeć ronronar goro goro mur murlýkat’ ronroneo pfhóror.
– You mock me question? – asked Aîya.
– Purr? –
– Don’t like you. –
– Purr. –
Ixhúja drew aside the flowing curtains of skin and fiber which were growing here within the center of the vessel, and as the motors were quieting down behind them, the machines themselves were sighing with some dying laryngeal and pharyngeal and epiglottal trills of their own, and soon she came clattering upwards through long rivers of mist partially fed by the reality bending of the Aumàfhruse but also from the mist that was gathering upon this side of the vessel, and so as she came upward through the winding esophagal swards and slipped back unto the surface of the ship, or rather the flank of the ship which was no becoming the surface while the outer bark and hame of the ship was being all blasted apart, and they found themselves in large and gathering pools of mist spreading outwards for a as far as they could see. Ixhúja was carrying Aîya all the while, for the mist was higher than Aîya was tall, save for the very tips of her ears and her wings if she stretched them out unto their fullest, and they saw now in a world all of flowing light and water and wind and a sideways ship where mast was become wing and the solar sails and tendrils were become like unto towers, that Dragons were arising and flowing within the mist and spinning about the towers and winding gyres and the great and dizzying spirals, the Dragons were scintillating in their undulation, they were more swimming in the glories than actually flying, and indeed part of Ixhúja’s mind was imagining that she had come sinking down into the Ocean and the Deep beneath the Ocean, but rather than finding it an horrid place qhàyakim, dark and oppressive and everwet, she found herself rather in a place where the moisture was almost like sandfrost drifting upwards in waves, and the Dragons in their twisting and falling were almost like dolphins gamboling about. Some of the Dragons were leaping upwards and were twining about each other, some of the Dragons were just skimming across the surface of the mist, their heads and necks and wings undulating just a little, spray arising about them and burning away in hiss, while other Dragons were leaping upwards in the air and opening up their vast wings and spinning around each other in their play, and the mist was not just a part of the glistening ambiance of these rainbow serpents, it was not just the mist that was being breathed out from their great nostrils, but it was also the glowing with levinflames and with columns of ice arising and breaking apart, and waves of energy washing through them all. Ixhúja came scrambling upwards about some of the drifting and flowing barrels here in this quarter of the vessel and sitting very still she wrapped Aîya in her arms and gave her a motion to remain very still, and all about them arose the thousand Dragons drifting in and out of the eclipse and playing around the vessel.
The Dragons in their movement were dance made manifest and the sound of the buzzing of their wings and the flames of their throat and the evercrackling of ice and wind all through their storm scales was a music such as Ixhúja had only heard in those rare moments when she was able to sneak away from her Tánin tutors Táper and Tselèriter and travel out unto the vales and watch the Dragons in their natural ballet within the dust and craters and darkness of the Moons of Khnìntha. And the music of the Dragons was unfolding all about her, a music partially formed by the action of light and dark within the growing torquations of the eclipse, a music enthused by their dance and rising and falling and also from their own flame breath, it was music that was become chorus and canon arising and folding back down upon itself, the beating of some Dragons mirroring the origamic songs of the others, and some of the Dragons were arising into a counter-canon to sing in responsorial, and their voices were sometimes blending and others times breaking apart, they were a measure study of harmony and dissonance at the same time, their wings and voices sometimes like great stringed instruments, their breathing like percussion thrumimg through the storm, and as the music arose and blossomed all about her and Aîya was a growing and blossoming pulsation completely incomparable to anything that they had e'er witnessed afore.
And Princess Ixhúja, the creation of the Khan Jhkhaîxhor, Warlord of all of Khnìntha, the Princess fashioned of the rib and bones of Puîyus and the blood of slain Emperor Khyìlyikh of the holy Pwéru and molded together with bits of genetic material and distilled within tube and machine was watching in wonder and remembering running through the fields of red tùkhli ferns away from Táper and Tselèriter, for she could run after than her Tutors or any of the Automata, she could surpass bird and skink and even the Monsters formed in her Father’s crystalline laboratory, she could skate upon the very edge of the wind and looking back just laughed as Táper and Tselèriter struggled to keep up with her and just waddled out through the edges of the dying garden and clenched their fists and shouted unto her to return, and Ixhúja ran through the rubescent tùkhli ferns, she came unto the edge of the cannals unto the cottage where Grandfather Tàltiin dwelt, in a small hut filled with masques and carved statues and marionettes, and she only remained long enough to snatch some xhnùjhi sandviĉoj in a Puey sack and soon came dashing outwards always wondering always seeking dashing out unto the new horizon and unto the long and winding vales of heavy mist wherewithin she could see splashes of flame and the flexing of shoulders and the movement of Dragons rising and falling within. And when Princess Ixhúja had finally come into the darkness of the vale she slipped down the edge and walked in the midst of the tremendous and twining menhirs covered in circular and crescent patterns, she walked down the sides of small streams rustling with water and sand, she hid herself behind stone and saw before her the most marvelous sky dance she had e'er seen. At first she was reminded of the flighted peoples of Khnìntha, of the Wthòrthna avians who dwelt within trees so high that they jutted out of the atmosphere and into the luminous æther, and they had cities builded within their tree towers, and bridges and spans and intricate networks of rope and net and drawbridge drifting upwards for leagues upon leagues, and the Wthòrthna fluttered about upon large and delicate ifeathered wings and sailed about through openings at the buttom and on the top and all around their dwellings all oriented unto a folk who delighted in flight more than walking, and she had seen the Wthòrthna only just a little in the glimpses she had had of Khàqra and the other cities upon the plain, but their movement was not so great a dance as the Dragons before her. And she was reminded of the flighted Khnèrthem, their main long and brustling, their tails long and jutting, and heavy and strong of their wings, and the Khnèrthem run across the ground and leap snarling into the air, they are strong and fierce and oftentimes dwell within cities held up by box kites flowing within the skies orange and pink, and jungle cities had they, bright and red within the hotlands of the moons, sprawling and wild cities in places where wild beasts migrated even right into the city, and the Khnèrthem took up spear to fly after them and hunt them all, and Ixhúja had only seen a few glimpses of this folk also, sometimes in their war parades and processions high in the air, but their motion was not so great as the Dragons before her. And so Ixhúja crawled up upon the edge of lichenous rock and watched the movement of the Dragons for hour on end, and rested upon her hands and knees and ate her sandwiches and so passed a lazy summer day.
So it was that now as Ixhúja rested upon the barrels and held Aîya tight unto her, that she was reminded of the beauty of the Dragons as she had seen them before, and of Prince Wthonùkite the grandson of Qhalúxha, the prince whom King Xaîle Qhiikhèrkhmair had slain, and somewhere in the vast and flowing mass before her she wondered whether Òstatar and Qyàthakh were flying, Dragons whom she had met and whose names she had learned. And now as the Dragons were arising and dashing about her, Aîya nudged her a few times and asked – What question we supposed to be doing? Running around running away fear because of Dragons? –
Ixhúja brushed an hand through Aîya’s feathers and purred unto her in very soft and still surrurations in order to tell her, There is no reason for us to be terrified of the Dragons, they were a part of the Creation of the Dreamtime, and their claws and scales lie fossilized even throughout Khnìntha. We should just be still and watch and be careful. Oh yes, Dragons are dangerous, far more dangerous than one can imagine, but we should respect them and honor them, for they are great and beautiful.
– Not quite sure what saying, but soothed calmed quieted all the same – Aîya chanted with all three mouths while she watched the rising and falling of the Dragons about them.
Are they not exquisite, are they not graceful? Oh little one, we need not be concerned, in Khnìntha I walked in the presence of Dragons many times, and they decided not to bother with me, and I knew better than to offend them. Perhaps the Dragons realized that I was quite Tánin and resembled them also.
– Yes, beautiful, hypnotic, elegant all – chanted Aîya, and her heads were arising and falling to watch the movement of the creatures, and she felt as if her spirits were soaring to follow their pace. –Wishing almost to fly to dance like they like Trakàtriim spinning around in metamorophósis. –
I remember that Táper and Tselèriter were trying to explain unto me why it is that one uses the word Tánin as the title for the Clockwork Automata, but that it also can mean being dragonish. They were trying to explain to me the relationship between Federwerk and Rainbow Drakes, I am not at all sure that I understood it at all, sometimes I think that all things in the worlds are just different types of clockwork, all living creatures trees and plantimals and flowers are surely clockweyth, all of dance and music and art are a different type, and the worlds themselves revolve around the dance of the Stars, its own form of rouage.
For a time the Huntress of Khnìntha and little Aîya the child of the Dead just watched the movement of the Dragons and almost felt like nodding asleep because of the beauty of it, and being lulled into the khmèntokh Dragon dreams of it all. But then after a time came rolling outwards a large and ferocious Dragon glistening all of shadow and silver and steel, and his eyen were brilliant thirling lights, and the Prince was breathing out flames and striking his brothers down. Within a few moments the ship was beginning to turn as the Dragons clasped themselves about the wings and prow and deck of the vessel and yanked it right off of the course, and the ship was beginning to scream as its pipes were being bent and the motors had to struggle to keep the vessel intact and aflout. A few moments later the Dragons were arising and screaming all with a single mind, those that were largest and in the front wre leaping outwards and beginning battle while other Dragons were arising and breathing out flames and tearing all of the ship apart. Ixhúja took a few steps froward and tossed Aîya down and drew the violet sword of Khnìntha, but she considered for a moment and stayed her hand, for it was unthinkable that one would day to lift up weapon against such a strong and brave and noble creature as the beautiful Dragons are, for even as the deck was beginning to burn and the steam engines inside scream and struggle against the æther, she could not help but be reminded of those lazy summer nights when she would escape from her own Tánin thralls and wander away and come into blissful moments all of purest beauty.
– Lift thou tálii palm-sole against the Dragons question the now? – asked Aîya.
Princess Ixhúja took a few steps forwards, and then the ship screamed out as the flames began to lick about them and the Dragons began gnawing away the bone oars and outer sails. She sheathed the purple sword and grabbing Aîya by the collar came running back down into the winding esophagous within the vessel, for she realized that in the confusion of battle there was no one left to try and keep the ship from completely exploding, and if she were the only one who could keep the emergence of the Aumàfhruse from exploding outwards and making fractals out of the entire vessel, than this would be her place. She came sliding back unto the motors and seeing that the machine was shutting down and long rivers of plasma dripping downwards and melting away entire steam engines, she that this would be the best place for her if they were going to hope to escape. She tossed a few surgical tools at Aîya and pointed unto the spinning wheels and barked a few incomprehensibile orders, and leapt herself into the heart of the machine to try to save the ship as best she could.
Quem di vult destruire demantant, she could see that the mishmash of parts were all fighting against each other, the substrate of crystals and flowing mirrors were struggling to bring power through the vines and leaves, the clockwork that was binding cockles and steam engine together were spinning around, the wheels were bursting right off of their cochleates, and hissing in the midst of them all was the Aumàfhruse whose cauldrons were bubbling with the forbidden nightmares that the Qlùfhem and Thùlwu had been able to instill from the Emperor and use to fractalize realities. The heart of the machine was fading and cold, it was a large khnòxufhe water wheel, but the waters had all evaporated because of the heat and terrors of the Dragon battle being waged unto all sides of them, so Ixhúja rolled up her sleeves and came slipping into the pipes and winding throats of the machine and setting herself down among the long columns bubbling with lava grabbed the edge of wheels and began turning them unto their place, even as she could feel that all of the ship was beginning to veer unto its side, that huge blasts of energy were arising unto all sides of them, that Dragons were darting in terrible dracomachy. The apparatus of the Qlùfhem in their mongrel variations about her only served to convince her of just how insane the entire race must be, much of the wheels and pipes were just bizarre and enormous amalgamations whose purpose she could not even guess, she could see that several wheels were spinning around the springs and were deliver power, but she was not entirely sure what the system of sundials before the water wheels were supposed to do. She grasped the edge of the great chariot wheels of the khnòxhufhe and began turning them around unto their proper place, and as she did so tall towers all of wheel and gear were clattering into place all around her. She felt as if she were in the center of a tremendous clock, that all about her were flashing the seven hours of the day and the seven days of the week and the seven moonphases of the month, and seasons and years and generations constellate were dancing all about her, and indeed as she was turning the water wheel and bringing all of the machine in line, and binding together the clockwork and wetwork and dreamwork of the Aumàfhruses, she was the living hours. The water wheel was whirling about her now, every few moments puffs of smoke arose about her, and great gasps of dust drawn out from the battle of the deck and sides of the machine, but still she continued to push the great khnòxufhe wheel around. She wished though that she were wearing shorter sleeves as she did so and that her dress were just a little shorter and just a little less formal, for although her cousin Éfhelìnye preferred it that Ixhúja dress in the more honored and elegant fashions of the Khniîkha cultures, and that her knees and elbows be always covered at all times, to her liking Ixhúja would have been content to wear some of the shorter fashions of her people, but now was not such a time for the argument, now she was keeping all of the khnòxufhe water wheel drawing all about her and keeping the ship alive.
Princess Ixhúja, Kàrijoi’s neice, the daughter of Prince Khwìnton Jhkhaîxhor was not entirely sure for how long she had been regulating the water wheel and keeping the hours alight, she was aware though that the clockwork continued to spin for as long as she kept the water wheel moving, and that the pipes were filling with liquidic plasma, and that the machines were not breaking apart, neither pipe nor vine, and that although the Aumàfhruse was inherently unstable and altogether insane, it was not yet bubbling o'er into the cauldrons, and the ship was not ripping itself inside out in horrors of growing fractalization, and so her face was smear with oil and her limbs and hands were reaching out all about her, and water once again bean to pour through the khnòxufhe, and all the while Aîya was running around and tighting up the gears and oiling the wheels and wriggling around and doing her best to keep alive the great and terrible engines whose full purpose neither of them knew. And then the battle with the Dragons arose to such intensity that the machines were screaming all about Ixhúja, and she was thrown right out of the water wheel, and half of the engines lit up and popped. The Princess slipped out and grabbed Aîya to cover her up in her arms, and the engines began to smoulder, some of them were exploding, many of them just belching out with ash and oil and flame. They could feel that all of the ship was flowing unto its side. Ixhúja waited a little while before attempting to restore the machine, even as the cries of the dragon battle grew all the louder, but after a while she crawled back into the khnòxufhe and took Aîya with her even in her arms, just in case they had to escape at a moment, and Ixhúja ran and kept the wheels running even as great clouds of ash and mist began to flow out of the Aûm ambominations bursting all about them. And so when the ship crashed upon its side and turning around burst right into the eclipse of the Moons, when half of the vessel was incinerated at once and began a mass of flowing light and dust, Ixhúja and Aîya came rolling out again from the machine and found that much of he walls and nerves about them újos xhnìrna were crawling aside seno, and walls were become fire and bursting apart, but if it had not been for Ixhúja’s diligence in keeping the machine together and much of the clockwork functional, none of the Aumàfhruse would have survived to this moment, and perhaps it would have already begun the ritual of desecration.