Tuesday, January 20, 2009

An Interlude

(Don't forget, only three days until Puey Day 2009! Let the Celebration begin!)
Bān been kockë garmā’ voskor kost ossos gǔ gǔtóu knogle ben been bot graat luu os dzvali Knochen ostó iwi etzem ha.d.dī asthi csont bein hone ppyeo os kauls bongu ghadma ostokhān tarka kość, osso kost’ ossu cnàimh hueso emuka bokka kemik xương asgwrn mfupa, eşemtum, kati, dono, coich, cliuanz, tuλu, wurmbur khyèngo wthènxhe wthòsefha xàrlot xetsàrlut xòxhet pyàka qòkhexhet khmòngu áqefhoi
Those bones, they lay all upon the shore, those bones made up all of the grinding of the seas and the crumbling of sabulous waves, those bones reached upwards jutting out of the waters, they ere forming a lattice work that became the marge, the bones upon the shore were giant tusks swingent upwards in lemniscates and rondures, and skulls were left partially sunk into the hills and partially building up sand and ice about themselves, the bones were a part of shore and froth and yet separate from it all, a vast mastadon boneyard was all of the beach, the femurry spreading outwards and become the very ruins of tòrr and tower, bits of hipbone sprawling outwards and providing shadow and nest for seagull and ice pterodon alike. The little emergency egg ship, glistening with streams of smaragd dust and albescence bright, came streaking upwards and was sailing about the xhtheûrl párśu kosinzia and about the twining umbrizio of the lrèfha ribcage, the egg was sparklig all the while as it arose. The skulls vast and sunken were turning around a little and gazing through the sward of sand and ice, the egg shooting upwards above the shores and firths of Syapàkhya, and the egg in its bobbing and swaying, tiny and almost unseen in the great darkness, was almost clammering about the giant bones, as if entering dimensions intended for a very different type of creature.
Princess Éfhelìnye awoke with a start, and so violent was her awakening that she jerked against Puîyus’ braids, and Aîya came tumbling down about them within the labyrinthine coils of the dreammantle. Puîyus blinked a few times in the darkness, his eyen bright blue and feline gleaming, and he could see that she was shivering in the darkness. Ixhúja was rolling and scratching beside them and keeping her eyen shut in the hopes that there was no real emergency tasking them at the moment. One of Aîya’s heads came slipping upwards, her large avian eye blinking a few times, her beak chewing and all the while wondering why Éfhelìnye had awakened them all.
– It was nothing – Éfhelinye chanted. – It was merely a dream. –
Ixhúja kept her eyen closed, but muttering unto herself in a language of purrs and drowsiness and soul-weariness from the memories of having to lift up her sword against Dragons, the most beautiful and noble of the creatures she had e'er seen within the Crimson Moons, and she told her Cousin, You are prone to nightmares. One thinks there is something profoundly wrong with your brain. And then yawning, Ixhúja rolled o'er again and fell back into sleep.
– Dreamt made out of completely out of cheese! – Aîya’s awake head shouted. – So yummy, so delicious, so scrumpty, could not help but kept eating myself completely. And then I ate myself and was no more, ouroborous, all eaten up. –
– ?? – Puîyus wondered.
– I bet I would be the tastiest one of us all – Aîya’s head nodded unto herself after considerable thought, and then the head snaked downwards and lay down upon the wellplumed torso and soon was fast asleep.
– Sometimes I wonder whether the Traîkhiim folk really understand other people – Éfhelìnye chanted. Now that she was awake she knew she would have trouble falling asleep again. Puîyus sate up next to her and wrapped the dreammantle about her, he could feel a gathering cold coming unto them all, for he was quite accustomed to the fickle warmth of the North where storm and squallcloud were everpresent upon the horizon. Éfhelìnye blinked a few times and leaning upon her elbow chanted – I dreamt that we were come to a shoreline filled completely of bones and made of bones, and it was as real as if I were the one clammering about the ribs and skulls and looking downwards unto the fields of mastadons strewn all out before. Do you think that is what lies outside? –
Puîyus rubbed his head against the inner surface of the eggshell, frost was condensing about his fingers, and before him appeared some blurred images of the bones sprawling downwards, and bits of rewel tusk thrust upwards before the darkness. The clouds that were melting before the faces of the moons were of the long and sad burgoo varieties which through a lifetime of dwelling in Jaràqtu had taught him were snowclouds gathering their strength for a cascade of white flother. Sometimes, though, Puîyus wondered as he drew aside some more frost from the shells, he wondered how it was that sometimes Éfhelìnye was able to see something just around the corner or just about to come to pass, when there was no way for her to witness it with her eyen. He wondered whether indeed that were a property of all princesses or just those born of the Holy House of the Sun the Pwéru themselves.
– For many generations the Tlhàngtor mastadon deinotheria, the hoe tusking gaji have traveled unto these shores, it is a legend passed among the patriarchs of the herds, it is a story told from one family unto the next, and even at a young age the tlhàngtor learn to navigate by the Moons and balletic Stars, they know that when they hear the song of their Ancestors it is time to travel outwards unto these cold shores and lie down and take their final rest – so Éfhelìnye was saying.
Puîyus scratched his ear, and told himself that the next time he spoke with a tlhàngtor trilophodon, he would have to ask it about this vast and sprawlent barrus graveyard upon the froth shores. Wild beasts he knew had many legends, great stories, and sacred songs known but unto themselves, but they were always eager to share what they knew with Puîyus their Játanikh their Feral Child.
– Puey, I’m sure there’s a way to make the walls of this egg like unto transparent glass – Éfhelìnye was saying. – Or at least most of the egg. If you go to the petal structure in the center and turn the leaves about, I think you will find one that will dilate, and all of the egg will respond in kind. –
Puîyus slipped up unto the twining floral column in the center, and the hairs upon the back of his neck were pricking up a little, and so cold was it become that he could feel his own breath frosting about his face, and shimmers of ice were crawling throughout the sectors of the egg. He pulled upon some petals, but the emergency egg was not responding until at last he found a petal which hooked outwards, and all of the flower began blinking like an eye about him. Within a few moments the light of the shell was changing, it looked like scales were falling down from eyelids, it was almost as if the egg were bursting upwards from falling snow and revealing itself to be bright and whole and hale. And the sides and ceiling of the air grew translucent, it was like looking through stained glass at a temple, and all about them appeared the shores and the bones and the crashing waves just as Princess Éfhelìnye had dreamt and described them, and for a few moments they watched as the boneyard of the mastadons stretched outwards unto shimmering and creag hills.
The bones white and ancient and cold, the waves shimmering and dancing aneath the clouds and moonlight, the flicker of the winds kicking up sand and snow, all was a serene tapestry spreading outwards before the eyen of the children, it was almost like looking upon the type of dream which Dreams themselves would fashion in their sleep, a few shells were falling out ot the sea, some strands of hills that looked a little like great footprints were bobbing and falling before the flight of the emergency egg ship, the clouds were parting a little and revealing the face of the moons, and then the clouds began to knit together in long and congealing tendrils and blanket the heavens in silvers arrayed. And for a few moments the children saw all of the fjords opening up before them jhyàrmfhe fjördhr, and the oceans spreading outwards as bejeweled mantles agleaming. The wave and sparkle and cloud were so calming, that Éfhelìnye began to lean back down again, and Puîyus’ heart was gladdened at that, for he knew that sometimes she had difficulty in falling back to sleep, especially when awakened from an anxious nightmare. He slipped up next to her and watched the movement of the clouds and waited for Éfhelìnye to close her eyen, and for all to be well again.
The serenity of the firths and bonegarth was interrupted by brilliant crackles of flame, for it seemed all at once that cymbols were clashing in the welkin, and the silent sound were become long lines of fire spreading outwards from side to side. Éfhelìnye shot up at once and clutched the boarder of the dreammantle unto herself, and Puîyus ground his teeth in anger to think that she was being robbed of potential sleep. The light was breaking apart and becoming the dim outline of bone oarts and towers and sparkling ropes, long and flaming ruins far away.
– Puey? – whispered Princess Éfhelìnye.
– … – Puîyus told her.
– What is happening above the Sqasqáli Sea? –
Puîyus reached o'er and wrapped up Éfhelìnye deeper into the mantle and soothed her downwards unto more of a sleeping position, but when the light grew again, bleeding outwards and streaking through the silvern clouds, she sate up again, and saw the outline of large black wings, the long serpentile coils, and jets of fire.
– Puey, with your eyen so bright, I know you can see what is happening out there. Will you tell me? –
– Mew mew? –
– Please? I won’t be frightened. –
Puîyus turned around and watched the edge of burning wings, and Dragons arising and bursting up through the hull and tower of vessel, and huge waves of explosion where weapons and lance and Dragon beclashed together, and he turned and mewed unto her in a quiet language, all of somnifacient sussurations telling her, The Dragons were patrolling the heavens and they do battle with fleet and are destroying the living ships. I cannot quite see what type of living ships they are, whether cadlong or transport of a sylvan vessel, I do not know whether these were sailors among the Qhíng or Khlitsaîyart or Qája or even among the vast and legendary Xakhpàlqe. But I hear cries as the living ships are burnt and tumble downwards. So Puîyus was telling her, his language that of sorrow and whispers.
– Can you hear their voices? –
Puîyus nodded.
– What do the men say? –
Puîyus spelt out the gestures lroîxhmo of Save me! Save me! Save me!
– How many voices can you hear? –
Puîyus closed his eyen and shuddered a little and then whispering unto her told her in a language completely without sound at all, a language that can only dwell behind the eyelid and beneath skin, and told he her, I can hear everything, although but a little, through these leagues, it is jumbled music unto me which my mind must unravel and pluck apart just as a skilled seamstress can unpluck certain strands from her weaving. I ear the crashing of the bone oars. I hear the sound of fire on metal, and fire on stone, and fire devouring æther. I hear the rattle of armor and the shuffling of doors and weapons. I hear the beating of many organs, drumming hearts and stomaches or whatever organs lie within these men. I hear breathing, or at least panting. I hear the sound of sweat beading upon hame. I hear ship crashing against dragonscale, and different types of dragon scales, differently colored, textured, of different thinkness, all of different sounds. I hear the beating of draconiform wing, the twisting of necks, the blinking of their great mirror eye. I hear the death of living ships as they are being destroyed. I hear the chuckle of Dragons. I hear men gasping their last, they cried out the names of Ancestors and loved ones, but the confusion is so great I cannot discern the name. And as the men fall they cry out Save me! Save me! Save me!
– I wish we could stay, and then you could save them all. –
Someone should save them. Dragons must not be let lose this way.
– I know. –
Those who harm the innocent must be destroyed. All wrongdoers must die. Someone should save the valiant men.
– Only one man could have saved them, a Cælestial Emperor. Puey, when you become the Emperor, when you wear the Starburst Crown and hold the Khátatlhùmpa staff, and all the nations bow down and acknowledge you as Master of Earth and Sea and Sky, the Lord of Life, the Father of the Land, than you will be the one who can save them all. –
I do not wish to be Emperor.
– When we become betrothed, we already become Emperor and Empress. –
I just wish to return home, xhèkhmufha, no matter where that will be.
– Home is what we make it to be. And you will be the greatest Emperor of all the Dreamtime. And then on that day, when valiant warriors are on trouble, you can send our your knights, your troops, your vassels to heal the land, and you can save all. I just hope though that in the years to come whenever maidens and princesses get into trouble, whenever they stumble into a forbidden forst or find a monster or upset a stray and officious dragon, that you let your knights rescue these particular demoisellen, I’d rather have you stay here by my side and not helping these maidens. One princess to be rescued is surely enough, especially when that Princess is become the new Moon Empress. –
Puîyus blinked his eyen. He gasped, and held his side as if in pain. Éfhelìnye sate up and wrapped her arms around him and asked – Are you hurt? Perhaps you were wounded in the labyrinthomachy and are only now growing aware of it. –
Puîyus shook his head in negation, and pressing his forehead told her in blinks and squeals, It’s just the pain I feel at the sound of the living ships exploding, of the men dying. The seas are crashing together. The Fractal Maze is collapsing into the sea, I hear the sound of coral and wheel grinding together, I hear the living ships colliding, I hear everything being made undone. Puîyus shook again and then jerked as if struck by a spear, and in the transparent bubble of the emergency egg, thousands of scintillations of light were appearing, fireworks lighting up all of the silver clouds, and Éfhelìnye was thankful that her hearing was quite normal at all, that she had not the finely attuned warrior senses with which Íngìkhmar’s Son had been born.
– Will you lie down next to me, Puey? – Éfhelìnye chanted as she hugged him. – I promise I’ll close my eyen and try to sleep, in fact if you whisper to me, perhaps it will help me to sleep. Tell me of the maze. –
Puîyus complied, he was too fatigued, to heart-sick to think of anything else to do. Ixhúja and Aîya were fast asleep, about Ixhúja’s brows little dreams involving cogs and wheels and forests were appearing, and in her dreams she was riding upon a mastadon as the entire Tlhàngtor herd was migrating beneath the plenilunes and coming outwards unto hidden shores and places all of glistening rewel-bone. Aîya’s three heads were hissing, and dancing about her head and seeping outwards through the layers of the dreamcloak were images of Fhólus, and Puîyus saw how Fhólus and Aîya used to dance together, how they would skip and kick and whorl and leap about, in those days long ago, before the Qhíng began gathering up their slaves by the millions to be burnt alive by the Emperor, Kàrijoi, Fhìtsarakh’s Son. And Puîyus lay down next to them, and Éfhelìnye drew the dreamcloak above them all, and in the pocket of air and darkness inside the onar mantle, Puîyus was reminded of the little fortress of pillows and cushion and blanket which he used to build with his Sisters Fhermáta and Siêthiyal and Akhlísa. And Éfhelìnye closed her eyen and became as still as possible and listened to Puîyus’ breathing, and he told her, as best he could, in whispers and the gestalts whichby plantimals communicate about the fractal maze.
Even in its downfall, it is a wonder, a miracle fashioned of time and bone. One cannot hear, just from the collapsing of it, just how all of the wheels fit together, but if one had to lickened its sound unto something, it would be like many khràjo grandfather clocks all ringing at once. The seas arise, they are bursting with energy and life. The Dragons and Unicorns are part of the ocean, the Dragons are wave and flame, the Unicorns were riding out upon the fall of the towers, everything is sparkling sharp and twining. And in the storming of the waves, one can hear a little the clashing of some of the larger bits of the living ships, it all resounds, as gongs and bells in my mind, they rustle outwards, it grows greater and greater. But voices sink away from me, nothing is distinct, and no cries, no sloggorne, voice hear I from our illustrious and plucky Pirates Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho.
– They’ve saved us before, Puey, but somehow I think that although they are mortal, that Fhèrkifher and Xhnófho shall never die, just as you and I can never die. And you will save them I’m sure. – Éfhelìnye yawned a couple more times. – You will become the Pwér the Emperor and save us all. –
Puîyus smacked his lips and already was falling asleep. True to her word, Éfhelìnye kept her eyen shut and did her best to follow him off unto dreaming, but for a long time she was aware of her body and her desire for slumber, and she could feel the darkness within her eyelids, and the movement of blanket all about her, and Puîyus breathe which of autumnal leaves was smelling unto her. And it was only when she was completey still and relaxed all control of her mind, that darkness took her and a long and winding sleep.

When Éfhelìnye awoke it was to a world of snow. The first snow she could see was the splattering of snowfall falling directly above her, the snowflother all nearing her and than curving around the ovoid edges of the emergency vessel, for she was lying upon her back, the dreammantle completely wrapped around her, and the snows were falling about. The second snow she could see was the snow blowing contrariwise to the skies, the snow neĝeroj kicked up by the winds so that they were spilling outwards sidewise and diagonal unto the main fall, the snow was almost pealing away from the vessel and stumbling about the icicles and tree tops she could see crowding about her. And the third snow she could see, as she blinked a little and the worlds came into focus here within the twisting poodles of stained glass that was the skin of the ship, was the snow that was blanketing the trees and the layers of bone and the long rising and falling shores throughout all this main. She remained utterly still and just enjoyed the movement of the flakes, they were their own peculiar dance, they were a storm of chaotic and mathematical probabilities flowing about her, and they were sparkling texture, they were living prisms about her. Sometimes she thought that no other form of water could be as beautiful as snow, just looking upon a snowclad field set her mind at eaze, all of the trees glowing with pinnacles of flogs, the dreamlands were peaceful and aslumber in their own way, it was all pure, plucked right out of her dreams. She remembered when she was very little and snowflakes would come twining through the Forbidden Gardens and how overjoyed she would be to run among the bleideag and gather up snow in her arms and hurl them at Great-Uncle Táto, much to his warning and consternation, and she’d knock the basket from his wings and the spectacles from his beak, and he’d stumble around and in his search for his prismatic makaaniani bump into trees, and more snow would tumble all about his head. She remembered being older and constructing complicated structures of the pleòdag, and setting up towers of ice and icicles, and yet the icicles being so sharp and crystalline were far more menacing than the blanket of the snow, and they filled her mind with ideas of the shape of the crystals, and the flowing of the water within them, of triangles and angles rested against each other, the growth of crystal from a surface. It was pleasant, though, here in the present, just to watch the movement of the snow, and hear within this small vessel she could hear the falling of the snow on the outside of the egg shell, the sound of ice forming for a moment, of some īsġiċel were crawling all about the sides of the vessel and growing out pattens like webs and xylem and phloem, er that the ice broke apart again, the egg spinning all the while in the qókhiyàjhwen serenity.
And in her stillness and snow admiration, as sleep slowly began to shuffle away from her, Éfhelìnye was made aware of just how warm and cosy she was, and that she was wrapped up in the warm blanket all alone klitjo gwormo gwereje gwerejo yamanic, Puîyus no longer by her side. And yet she could hear voices about her, a whisper, and when they finally became words to her awakening mind she knew at once that not only were the three speaking of her, but they had been speaking about her for some time.
She’s probably just going to sleep all the day long, Ixhúja was puffing and sniffling in the language of Qtheûnte, the tounge of wild beasts. I am not entirely sure why she should be so tired, she didn’t actually do any of the major fighting or running, and if I recall you were actually caring her through much of the labyrinth. But I digress, Puîyos, because you fail to answer my question.
– If one I we may add something – Aîya chanted with a few coughs. – The Empress was she the engaging in some major fighting if recalling correctly. –
– Mew? – asked Puîyus.
– Why the most important and stunning battle, the greatest fight of all time, epic, titanic, gargantuan, almost miniscule it was, the earth shook, the thunder quook, the maze quook all the more, it was all very tumbly and quacking and … –
Are you words reaching to a conclusion sensible to those of us not completely insane? Ixhúja was asking in purrs and hisses. Does this story have an end.
– Getting to that. The Empress, quite a terrible battle, when girt she herself with this ginormous leather tipped ingeloîxei baton, and she was beating me to my deaths, she smacked my necks and limbs and feathers and heads, she was drawing out my xhepánga, she broke my bones, I think I died a few times as I screamed for mercy, and then she tied me up with ropes and fed me to the Dragons until I died! –
Puîyos, is it permitted with you that I actually teach Aîya the meaning of agony?
– !! –
Just a little! Let me just crack one of her skulls. A slight bruise. May I just thump her around? At least throw her against something.
– !! –
– Help! Help! Help! –
Puîyus growled, and Éfhelìnye could hear the sound of struggling feathers and beating wings, and the leather and cloth of Puîyus’ garments as he dashed upwards and caught up Aîya in his arms and covered her three mouths, and he whispered unto the Pèqlor dancer in a voice all of deep and rumbling purrs, and leaning very close unto her whisp ears told her, One is not permitted to awaken Éfhelìnye from sleep. She is quite foretired. You shall be still and quiet in her presence.
– Yes, Emperor. – Aîya whimpered.
Éfhelìnye is very special, I want her to rest, Puîyus whispered unto the Traîkhiim wibbial eachtardhomhandach, and Aîya flapped her wings a few times, she sounded a little like a tsitáqhai biddie hen trying for to escape from the children coming to bring corn meal for to feed them, the birizo squacking and clucking all the while and not at all helping those trying to feed them.
Always thinking about my cousin Éfha first, Ixhúja murmured unto her in the language of begill’d tsitáqha, quite a smagokik language, filled with trills and clicks, and she told her twin, I suppose the situation could be worse and you never thought about her, although one can hardly imagine that to be true, but you’re still not addressing the issue at hand.
– I won’t wake the Empress at all! – squealed Aîya.
That’s it, I’m teaching you pain, misery, humilation, and then bale, in that order, Ixhúja growled, and Éfhelìnye heard the sound of her princessly cousin bounding upwards, and tempting to give chase in this most tiny of compartments spinning upwards and ovoid, and yanking Aîya by a couple of her necks, choking off the air, and adding, No, I think I’ll teach her torment first, then humilation, and I’ll decide later on upon lessons in misery and pain, or perhaps pain and then misery, both are quite important qualities, one must judge the options. Puîyos, there has to be a way to crack this egg open, than I can dangle Aîya out. Oh let’s just toss her o'er the edge, she won’t fall too far if she can remember how those wings of hers work.
Éfhelìnye heard the sound of Aîya’s squeaking lamentation, and Puîyus’ clothing shuffling, and somehow she knew that Aîya was again in Puîyus’ arms, and he was brushing down the feathers. Ixhúja was giggling and in her rather exasperated purring adding, Fine, Puîyos, keep the little Triîm safe, I care not. All I want is for you to answer the question, and the way you’ve been evading the answer means that it has something to do with Éfha.
– Mew! –
Whenever you act this way, it’s because of her. If you don’t answer right away, if you start getting nervous or blush a little, I know it’s because you’re thinking of her. Now go on and tell me before she wakes up. Especially if it’s an embarrassing story.
– Yeah, want to hear an embarrassing story – chanted Aîya.
Ixhúja cleared her throat as if to say, Quiet, slave. And since when were you able to understand the speech of wild plantimals?
– I can’t – chanted Aîya.
Then how … oh never mind. So what’s the story?
There’s no story! Puîyus hissed back, and he sounded a little like a Dragon as he did so. Nothing at all happened, and I have no possible idea of what you have in mind when ….
– He wriggle wormy like when someone catch eel on an ice hook – chanted Aîya. – Tasty lyangékhi, murene angwhi. Oh, this have something to do with her the Empress she that resurrected us all. –
Yes, note the color sports on his snowwhite cheek, Ixhúja was murmuring. A little glisten of purple is just about to blossom at any moment, and then all of his face starts glowing with the columns of my homerealm, red and orange and pink, like the great autumnal fungoids that grow upon the plain, like the skies of even and dawn, when the Suns are rights of blushment. Ah yes, he’s trying hard not to think of her, but he just can’t.
– Tell embarrassing story! – whispered Aîya. – I remain good and quiet, not make noise at all, won’t wake her up at all. Embarassing story. Really good. –
Go on, say something, Ixhúja was murmuring. We won’t tell her at all.
There is no story to tell, Puîyus was trying to mutter in miaws of yclenched teeth.
I know there must be a few. I’m sure accidently you’ve walked in on her when she was dressing or bathing or drying off, or perhaps you’ve done so on purpose, I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion about you. Why, I’m reasonably certain that at some time last night you awoke, just as the egg was lighting upwards, and you were probably chatting with my cousin late into the night, perhaps holding each others’ hands and gazing with loving glents into each others’ eyen, even in the starlight splendors. One can hardly blame you for being so enamored of her, beautiful Princesses do run in our family, it is a trait quite indicative of those descended of the Pwéru. Ixhúja laughed a little, and Éfhelìnye thought she could hear the sound of Ixhúja’s flicking her hair a little.
There is nothing at all for me to tell you, Puîyus’ squeaking meows were saying. May one change the redirect the flow of this conversation? In terms of our present situation, as we flee from the Dragons behind us …
– Tsae! – laughed Aîya. – Ulta, who cares! Let’s get to the story. –
Danger and dragons can wait, Ixhúja was saying. So tell us the embarrassing story.
When did you first kiss Éfhelìnye?
– Have you given her love shells? – asked Aîya.
Do you like to stroke her hair?
– Do you gather up tàpto for her and smoke it with her? –
Do you tell her that you love her?
– Do you cut your tounge and do a dance about her iglu? –
Do you … pardon?
– The little dance, goes like this, sway the shoulders around … –
You’re not making any sense.
– You’re not as romantic as we Traîkhiim are. –
Puîyos, you’d better answer my question, or the slave and I shall just start making up an embarrassing story about you.
– Ah, yes, do let’s! Let me think. I know, takes charcoal and likes to draw pictures of the Empress on his tounge and face when no else looking. Not like I we like to do that. Have no idea where got that idea. –
No, no, something more embarrassing then, whatever it is you were saying. Okay, you were reaching o'er to kiss my cousin, and she was all blushing and shy, but you were saying, Oh look at me I’m the brave hero I’m going to be a knight so I shall kiss my lady fair, and she was saying, Oh Saints above, I cannot kiss you at all, for I am a delicate maiden of the royal Pwéru, but you may kiss my hand, oh brave hero mine.
– Doesn’t sound like something she would say – Aîya was muttering. – Anyone have any charcoal? –
Okay, and so Puîyos you were leaning o'er and taking her into your arms, but at the last moment she turned and grabbed a leaf or a flower, no a gourd, she yanked up an entire pumpkin and thrust it before you and you kissed it instead. No, wait. She can barely carry a book. I’m not very good at these types of stories.
– How about young Emperor Puîyos he trying to serenade khufhyeyòxhwoim, and he plucking the string of his instrument but so terrible that the strings breaking apart thwákh thwákh thwákh! –
Still needs something. Ah! I know!
– And then Puîyos inhaled all the carbuncles until he they felt sick, and Fhólus had to come running after me and dance on my stomaches until I felt better, and that the last time I tried to eat all the coal. –
I know the embarrassing story, Ixhúja was purring.
– Anyone else noticing that we I us me in this emergency egg, no food at all? It’s been hours since fed in feast in tearing up the Sqòqhi umbrella ship, need to feast feast feast eat eat eat. Anyone have a spare leg-arm not wanting? –
Touch me, and I’ll teach you what your insides look like.
– Gnaw gnaw gnaw! –
Puîyos! Get that slave’s mouth off of my foot! I loathe being touched!
Shush shush shush, Puîyus was whispering and Éfhelìnye could hear the sound of his plucking Aîya away and holding her and trying to keep her still and quiet.
Now, onto the embarrassing story, so Ixhúja was squawking and chirming. So it came to pass that Puîyos here although he was rather fond of Princess Éfhelìnye, who is a little pretty in a ballerina type of way, all the while has secretly been smoldering within his heart desire for Éfhelìnye’s far more attractive older cousin who is better than her in every single way. This cousin, a Princess of a very ancient and noble line, has eyen of shining grey, she is cunning and strong and fierce and fleet, she loves all wild things except for stupid little Triîm slaves who keep reaching out to me! Touch me again, Aîya and I’ll … but I digress. Now, where was I? Yes, this older cousin, who is just completely beautiful, she can run in the forest along with the clockwork insects and wild deer, she can leap into the frey of battle and combat soldier and monster and wild men, she can … Aîya! I’m going to … just stay away. Now … am I trying to bite you? No. You’d better hope that I don’t bite you. I can be even more impulsive than you. So Puîyos, you’ve always been in love with this older Princess, this Huntress, this dashing warrioress, with her flashing eyen, and her flowing porporate hair, she’s so alluring, so exotic. And yet you feel yourself torn, for Éfhelìnye is far more cosy and domestic. Which one are you to love? And so, being completely befuddled by the beauty of the huntress princess, you surcome to your feelings, and just when Éfhelìnye is not looking you chase after her, you can’t help yourself, even though you know secretly that I’m far better at you at everything that you do, and I always beat you in races, and I’m really the superior warrior, still you leap after me and wrap your arms about me and steel kisses from me all the while! And just when your lips are just about to touch mine, xhwókh, guess what should happen, but Éfha walks in on us! Now, isn’t that embarrassing?
– Gnaw gnaw gnaw? –
I’m breaking every bone in your body, Aîya, if you don’t stop biting my fingers.
– Sorry. –
Really though, Puîyos, it is a little disgraceful that you should always be persuing me behind Éfha’s back, that is quite a shame, quite some disrespect to show unto the Divine House of the Pwéru!
– Have you no shame, sirrah! – gasped Aîya.
How embarrassing this must be to your Family to know what a Son they’ve reared up! Éfhelìnye heard the sound of rustling, and then of Ixhúja’s slapping Puîyus. How ashamd your Ancestors must be of you, Ixhúja hissed.
– Indeed, the double the shame the! – Aîya chanted, slapping Puîyus in turn.
What would your Sisters think if they knew you were trying to kiss me all the time! Ixhúja was mewing as she slapped Puîyus again.
– Yes, what would Fhólus and I think if we knew! – Aîya chanted as she slapped Puîyus.
What would your Mother think if she knew you were forcing kisses from me, a sweet and defenseless Princess! How wroth she would be, how all of the Sweqhàngqu would lament! Ixhúja smacked Puîyus a couple more times.
– The same ditto for me! – chanted Aîya. – Advantaging this lassling, we see the way you always looking at her. Trying to draw charcoal on her face. Smoking the tàpto weed! Disgusticating! – Slap!
Disgraceful! Slap!
– Disreputable! – Slap.
Disorganized! Slap!
– Dishrag! – Slap!
Dizzy! Slap!
– Dishonest! – Slap!
Dishonorable! Slap!
By now Princess Éfhelìnye was struggling out of the blanketing dreammantle, for she did not like the sounds she was hearing, and the last of the snowborn weariness was drifting away from her, and looking around and seeing Ixhúja glaring at Puîyus, and his cheeks all aglow, and Aîya fluttering about, Éfhelìnye gasped – What’s happening? –
– Nothing! – cried Aîya, and she slapped Puîyus across the face with one of her heads.
Éfhelìnye’s jaw dropped in shock.
– Probably shouldn’t tell her about all the kisses Emperor Puîyos stealing from you-then – Aîya was whispering in far too loud a voice, and all three of her heads winked to Ixhúja, and Ixhúja just shrugged and gathering up Aîya into her arms made a few dancing mudræ in the air as if to say, Oh what crazy aliens they are, who can truly understand them, it’s probably some arcane ritual with them.
Puîyus was rubbing his jaw and wondering what exactly he had done wrong to deserve this all. Perhaps it was not possible truly to know the happenings that wind in the minds of Princesses, and he was brought to mind of the stories he had heard of when Xhnófho would quarrel with his sweethearts Jèrikes and Wthí Qhòrem and they would slap him about, and the very persistent rumors that his cousin Eirènwa had slapped Fhèrkifher many, many times in the past, and Puîyus, knowing the temperment of the Tásel side of the family was loathe to anger any of the women on that side of the family tree. Why, even Akhlísa was half Tásel, and she could be quite stubborn when he mind was made up. At least, Puîyus was hoping, if he should become Emperor, that would probably make him immune to the possibility of Ixhúja’s slapping him, although he was not exactly counting on that to be true. Éfhelìnye looked to Ixhúja and Aîya, and both of them were doing their best to look quiet and innocent with their four faces. Éfhelìnye for her part was not entirely sure what to think, and Ixhúja just grinned to herself and wondered about the question she had asked Puîyus right before Éfhelìnye had awakened, the question he had evaded in answering all this time.

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